Monthly Archives: February 2008

Bobby’s Brother and Mother Campaign for Obama in TX

MAXWELL AND ETHEL KENNEDY ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL IN TEXAS

With all eyes on Texas, and the decisive effect the state’s March 4th primary will have on the outcome of the Democratic presidential nomination, we’ve seen several Kennedys pass through here in recent weeks.

Unfortunately for the Clinton campaign, the only Kennedys campaigning in Texas are Obama supporters. Senator Edward Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy traversed the state last week, and yesterday found Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s mother Ethel and brother Maxwell on the campaign trail in Houston.

While RFK Jr., his sister Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend and sister Kerry are for Clinton, we have yet to see them campaigning for her in the Lone Star State. Considering that next Tuesdays’ primary is one Hillary Clinton simply cannot afford to lose, we hope to see a few Kennedys from Camp Clinton pay us a visit over the weekend.

Below is an account of the “Obama Bobby Kennedys” trip to Texas yesterday, from the Boston Globe.

KENNEDY AND CHAVEZ TRIBES CALL IT A QUEST 

By Sasha Issenberg

February 27, 2008

HOUSTON. — The Chavez-Kennedy tag-team battle for the hearts of nostalgic liberals continues in Texas.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been prominently airing an ad in the state featuring testimonials to her as a “champion for the voiceless” from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Cesar L. Chavez. Today, at its Houston headquarters, the Obama campaign responded with an RFK son and Chavez grandchild of its own.

“Our families are entitled to pick who is the best candidate,” said Christine Chavez, a former union organizer and gay-rights activist, noting that both clans had split between the two candidates. She appeared at a press conference with local labor leaders on Obama’s behalf.

Inside, Max Kennedy, accompanying his mother Ethel, interrupted a training session for Obama precinct captains to offer a pep talk — although the family tradition he invoked to inspire the volunteers was not idealism but tribal politics. Recounting how his ancestors went from penniless immigrants to masters of an urban machine, Kennedy said, “In 1890, the Irish took over the city of Boston and we maintained that control due to hard fieldwork.”

Ethel offered little more than a faint “Si se puede” on Obama’s behalf, but Chavez said it was hearing Obama invoke that phrase — “Yes we can” – that lured her to support his candidacy.

“Those were our first words as a baby,” she said. “To hear him say that was very moving.”

More coverage from the Houston Chronicle:

TWO OF THE KENNEDYS IN HOUSTON TO BACK BARACK OBAMA

The widow and son of Robert F. Kennedy urged volunteers today at the Obama campaign office near downtown Houston to continue working hard to win votes for their candidate.

Max Kennedy congratulated the crowd of about 40 Obama faithful for their untiring effort and reminded them they would have to continue to canvass neighborhoods right up to the minute polls open for the primary election March 4, knocking on doors and speaking with voters.

“We will win this election,” he said. “We will take over this country and we will change the United States.”

Ethel Kennedy shook hands with dozens of volunteers and said she found Obama to be a caring candidate and dynamic speaker.

“We are so lucky to have such an incredible candidate,” she said. “He’s so centered. He really cares about people who have been left in the shadows.”

Dorothy Touchstone, 65, said she was inspired to see the Kennedys endorsing Obama. She hugged Ethel Kennedy and shook her hand.

“It was really a very good feeling to see them reaching out and being involved in what’s going on in the country and trying to make sure the people are being taken care of.” Touchstone said.

By DALE LEZON
Excerpt copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

WATCH THE VIDEO OF ETHEL KENNEDY SPEAKING TO HOUSTON CROWD

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RFK Jr. on Mountaintop Removal Mining

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in West Virigina, July 18, 2007

RFK Jr.’s latest article about the environmentally destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining was posted to the official Google Blog recently.

In all the hubub of this political season, this important story may have been overlooked – so here it is again:

YOU ARE CONNECTED TO MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL

By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

[From time to time we invite guests to blog about initiatives of interest, and are very pleased to have Mr. Kennedy join us here. – Ed.]

In 1810, Thomas Jefferson wrote to a contemporary, “No one more sincerely wishes the spread of information among mankind than I do, and none has greater confidence in its effect towards supporting free and good government.” Almost 200 years later, Google provides us all with unprecedented access to the world’s information. In Appalachia, nonprofit organizations are using that information in innovative new ways to reveal the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining, and to demand for the people of Appalachia the “free and good government” that Jefferson envisioned.

If the American people could see what I have seen from the air and ground during my many trips to the coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia: leveled mountains, devastated communities, wrecked economies and ruined lives, there would be a revolution in this country. Thanks to Google Earth, you can now visit coal country without ever having to leave your home.

Every presidential candidate – and every American – ought to take a few seconds to visit an ingenious new website created by nonprofit organizations in Appalachia that lets you tour the obliterated landscapes of Appalachia. By entering your zip code into this amazing new website, you learn how you’re personally connected to mountaintop removal. Americans from Maine to California can see these mountains and the communities that were sacrificed to power their home. This puts a human face on the issue by highlighting the stories of families living in the shadows of these mines.

The site uses Google Maps and Google Earth as interfaces to a large database of power plants and mountaintop removal coal mines. A November 15, 2007 article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the site as one of the most cutting-edge uses of these powerful tools. And today, the Google Earth Outreach program is launching a featured case study about this project, along with additional resources for nonprofit organizations, in order to help spread the word and make these tools even more accessible to the public.

Each day coal companies detonate 2500 tons of explosives – the power of a Hiroshima bomb every week – to blow away Appalachian mountaintops to reach the coal seams beneath. Colossal machines then plow the rock and debris into the adjacent river valleys and hollows, destroying forests and burying free-flowing mountain streams, flattening North America’s most ancient mountain range. According to the EPA, 1,200 miles of American rivers and streams have already been permanently interred, leaving behind giant pits and barren moonscapes, some as large as Manhattan Island. I recently flew over one 18 square-mile pit – Hobet 21 – which you can now tour in Google Earth.

We are literally cutting down the historic landscapes where Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett roamed and that are so much the source of American’s values, character and culture.

Mountaintop mining poisons water supplies, pollutes the air, destroys hundreds of miles of North America’s most ancient and biologically diverse hardwood forests and permanently impoverishes local communities. For too long, this devastation has been hidden in the remote poverty-stricken communities of Appalachia. This new website finally exposes this national disgrace for every American to witness. Wherever you live, you have a connection – and a responsibility.

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Is Nader Nuts or The Bravest Man In America?

Ralph Nader on Meet The Press Feb. 24, 2008

(Ralph Nader said on “Meet the Press” that he will seek the presidency for a third time in 2008. He plans to announce a running mate later this week.)

IS NADER NUTS? OR THE BRAVEST MAN IN AMERICA?

Let’s face it – to run as an independent candidate in this year’s political climate, you’d have to be either richer than Bloomberg, crazier than Mary Todd Lincoln, or The Bravest Person In America.

Since Ralph Nader’s bank account doesn’t come anywhere close to that of Mayor Bloomberg’s, that pretty much leaves us with the latter two possibilities: he must be nuts or just really, really brave. Which is it? Well…that depends on who you ask, of course.

Ask any “good Democrat” and they’ll likely start sputtering obcenities about how Nader cost them the White House in 2000. Watch the veins pop out of their foreheads as they rant and rave “how dare he run again?” Simply bring up Ralph Nader’s name in their presence, and you’ll start to wonder who really is crazy around here, anyway.

Ask the Republicans, and you’ll get a more polite answer. Naturally. They seem to benefit nicely every time Ralph Nader throws his hat into the ring. Que Sera, Sera, they say with a shrug…whatever will be, will be.

Ask a progressive, and they’ll tell you that Nader is a hero for the common man, a real Democrat in an age of lost liberal principles. They’ll also tell you he’s got balls of steel to take on these corporate-controlled major party candidates. And you know, they’re right.

FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Maybe this is why Nader scares the Democratic party so much. He’s a tireless crusader, unafraid of speaking his mind to anyone. He never played political loyalty games or sat silent on any issue. Whether it was the President of General Motors or the President of the United States (Republican or Democrat), he held them accountable.

The truth of his record over the past 40-plus years cannot be denied. Nader fought for the little guy against big corporate interests and whupped `em time and time again. He was an environmentalist long before it was hip to be green – but never was he yellow. He’s been stabbed in the back by his own Democratic fellows so many times, he could be Swiss cheese with legs.

But that’s not the way it used to be.

Nader was once the Democrats’ Golden Boy in the 1960s; memorably taking the auto industry to task alongside Senator Robert F. Kennedy in nationally televised Senate hearings. He made headlines with his groundbreaking book, Unsafe at Any Speed, exposing those automakers who knowingly put profit above safety. 

Nader became an American folk hero when executives of General Motors hired private detectives to try and entrap him (unsuccessfully) in a sex scandal – they later apologized publicly and admitted they could not dig up even a speck of dirt on the man.

As a consumer advocate, he went on to create an organization of energetic young lawyers and researchers (known as “Nader’s Raiders”) who produced systematic exposés of industrial hazards, pollution, unsafe products, and governmental neglect of consumer safety laws. Nader is widely recognized as the founder of the consumers’ rights movement.

He played a key role in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Freedom of Information Act and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. For the last three decades or more, Nader has continued to work for political reform through his watchdog group Public Citizen.

Ralph Nader testifies before the Senate in 1966

(Nader testifies before the Senate Commerce subcommittee in 1966)

And now, the unyielding consumer advocate who ran for president in 2000 and 2004, says he’s going to make another bid for the White House this year.

“I have decided to run for president,” Nader announced Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Although he isn’t getting any younger (he’ll turn 74 on February 27th), Ralph Nader says he feels a duty to enter the race because the major party candidates aren’t adequately addressing the influence of lobbyists and wasteful spending in government.

In other words, the real issue, the 800-lb. gorilla in America’s living room. The corporate cancer that is eating our country alive. But how can voters expect the two-party candidates to address the issue of corporatism when they themselves rely on corporate money?

“When you see the paralysis of the government, when you see Washington, D.C., be corporate-occupied territory, every department and agency controlled by overwhelming presence of corporate lobbyists, corporate executives in high government positions, turning the government against its own people, one feels an obligation to try and open the doorways,” Nader said.

IT’S A TOUGH JOB, BUT SOMEBODY’S GOTTA DO IT

When Nader formed a committee to consider a White House run last month, he said he believed the current contenders weren’t standing up enough to corporate interests.

“Look at the major areas of injustice, deprivation and solutions that are not being addressed by the major candidates,” Nader said in a Jan. 30 interview with Bloomberg News.

Among other issues, he cited the need for a “practical timed withdrawal” from Iraq, programs to crack down on corporate fraud and a rearrangement of the U.S. tax system.

Nader said last month that he would want to raise $10 million over the course of the campaign. By comparison, Clinton and Obama each have raised more than $120 million in political contributions.

“I offer the prospect of a competitive discourse over major areas of public policy that are being totally ignored or opposed by the major candidates, Obama, Clinton and McCain,” he told Agence-France Presse.

Nader said he expects his candidacy to do better this time around and will work to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states.

“This time we’re ready for them,” said Nader of the Democratic Party lawsuits that kept him off the ballot in some states.

Challenges to his ballot access would not be surprising, he says, given that both political parties typically treat third-party candidates as “second-class citizens.” Nader said he will decide in the coming days whether to run as an independent, Green Party candidate or in some other third party.

Pointing a finger at Republicans, he described McCain as a candidate for “perpetual war” and said he welcomed the support of Republican conservatives “who don’t like the war in Iraq, who don’t like taxpayer dollars wasted, and who don’t like the Patriot Act and who treasure their rights of privacy.”

So if McCain becomes the Republican nominee, expect more Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul Republicans crossing party lines to support Ralph Nader this year. Picking up these populist conservatives will certainly help Nader’s numbers, but will it make any difference against the Democrats in a general election? Even Nader thinks not.

“If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up.”

WILL NADER BE THE RAIDER IN `08?

Nader risks the wrath of Democrats, many of whom blame him for spoiling former Vice President Al Gore’s bid for the presidency in 2000. Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida, the state that decided that election; President George W. Bush ended up winning the state by just 537 votes.

Nader rejected the suggestion that his campaign cost Gore the election.

“If you look at it analytically, Mr. Gore would tell you that if he’d won Tennessee, everything else being equal, he would’ve been president,” Nader said. “It’s his home state.”

Nader won 2.7 percent of the national vote in 2000 when he was the Green Party candidate. In 2004, his independent presidential campaign drew 0.3 percent of the vote nationwide.

Nader dismissed Democratic criticism of his latest bid for the White House.

“For anybody who thinks that the third try is something that should be demeaned, it represents persistence, it represents never giving up the struggle for justice,” Nader said. “The forces of injustice never take a holiday.”

Ralph Nader in 1976

(Ralph Nader at a Public Citizen press conference, 1976)

CANDIDATES RESPOND

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Sunday called Nader’s decision “unfortunate.”

Senator Clinton said aboard her campaign plane on the way to Rhode Island that Nader’s candidacy is “not helpful to whoever the Democratic nominee is.”

Illinois Senator Barack Obama, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, said that while Nader is “a heroic figure” for his work on behalf of consumers, “Mr. Nader is somebody who, if you don’t listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you’re not substantive.”

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said on CNN’s “Late Edition” program Sunday that Nader “would probably pull votes away from the Democrats, not Republicans.”

“Actually, Republicans would welcome his entry into the race,” Huckabee said.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat who supports Obama, said on “Fox News Sunday” that he doesn’t think Nader’s candidacy will affect the presidential race.

Well, that’s not exactly the way they felt eight years ago.

After Democrats lost the 2000 election, the party faithful’s first response was to clobber their old pal Ralph. Even the mainstream media got into the act, blaming Nader for everything from spoiling the election to the invasion of Iraq to the horrors a George Bush presidency has inflicted upon us all. Nader responded with some equally harsh words in a 2000 Village Voice interview, saying:

“By the way, not one of these critics called me to interview me or to get my views. And they’re reporters? They don’t want to have their fixed mindset challenged.

…And Katha Pollitt, I called her. In my view, she was making incorrect assumptions. I mean, I’ve fought for women’s rights since the ’50s. I’ve been a leader in documenting marketplace discrimination against women that jeopardizes their health, safety, and economic rights. Women pay more, whether for dry cleaning or unnecessary operations. This is something we could never get Ms. magazine and Gloria Steinem to take an interest in. She never called me either, and she said false things about me—that I only called her about platform shoes (which, by the way, broke a lot of women’s ankles). But we’ve talked about the WTO, about the plight of African women when they come down with malaria.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. never called me. When they don’t call, you realize there’s something less than authentic at stake.”

So I take it this means a Nader/Kennedy ticket in `08 ain’t gonna happen?

It’s really too bad, you know. If party loyalty weren’t always in the way, these two men should be natural allies. No doubt they would make one hell of a powerful ticket, a force to be reckoned with in November.

Seems that on every substantive issue, RFK Jr. and Ralph Nader are on the same side of the barricades. They’ve fought for the same causes all their lives and share core beliefs. Then there’s that connection to Bobby’s father, dating back more than 40 years.

But that was then, this is now. The party, and indeed it’s principles, have changed drastically over the past four decades – and some might argue, not for the better.

INDEPENDENTS FINALLY HAVE A CANDIDATE

I rather doubt that Nader, at the age of 74, really wanted to run again. He most likely had hoped someone else would do it this time so he wouldn’t have to. But no viable independent or third-party contender came forward. 

No one.

Millions of progressive, independent, Green Party and Libertarian voters cried out for a candidate to represent them — Ralph Nader listened. He took the risk one more time and threw his hat into the ring because…well…no one else would.

Love or hate Nader, you gotta respect the man for standing up again and going to bat for us. He’s doing what no one else dared to do in 2008 – and for that alone he deserves unqualified praise, not ridicule or scorn.

 

For more information about the Ralph Nader for President campaign, visit the official website: VoteNader.org.

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com. 

 

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Op-Ed: Bush and Cheney Should Be in Handcuffs

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. often says that “we need to impeach President Bush as a civics lesson.” Apparently, our Congress does not agree. So if impeachment is “off the table,” what can We The People do to bring these two criminals to justice?

Guest Blogger Jack Mosel suggests in this original Op-Ed piece that it is time to take action at the local level, highlighting the case of one Vermont town which is setting an example as to how it can be done – and calls for other cities around the world to follow suit.

It stands to reason, after all, that if upon leaving office, Bush and Cheney have nowhere to run, they will have nowhere to hide. 

OP-ED: GEORGE W. BUSH AND DICK CHENEY SHOULD BE IN HANDCUFFS, NOT IN THE WHITE HOUSE

Jail to the Chief!

By Jack Mosel

Guest Blogger

“Bush and Cheney: Arrested for Gross Violations of International and U.S. Law!”

A new proposal in the township of Brattleboro, Vermont — authorizing local law enforcement to arrest Bush and Cheney — would make this headline a reality, should either of them step inside the town’s jurisdiction.

The Brattleboro proposal is to be voted on in the coming weeks at a town hall meeting. This innovative solution is up for discussion thanks to the hard work of community activists, who petitioned citywide to have the motion put to a vote.

The petition — with more than 436 signatures, or at least the 5 percent of voters necessary to be considered — was duly submitted and the town Select Board voted 3-2 to put it on the ballot. It goes to a town-wide vote March 4.

“This petition is as radical as the Declaration of Independence, and it draws on that tradition in claiming a universal jurisdiction when governments fail to do what they’re supposed to do,” said Kurt Daims, 54, a retired machinist leading the drive.

Daims has been circulating documents that claim the community acquires a “universal jurisdiction” to take such steps “when governments breach their highest duties.”

“We have the full power to issue indictments, conduct trials, incarcerate offenders and do all other acts which Independent jurisdictions may of right do,” the statement says.

The measure asks: “Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictment for consideration by other municipalities?”

Fearful of the indictment, Bush and Cheney are mounting a counteroffensive. But in town after town in Vermont, the people have voted to support impeachment recognizing that Bush and Cheney have committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

Photo from PirateNews.org

After a concerned citizen’s call to 911, the Tyranny Response Team does their patriotic duty.

JAIL TO THE CHIEF

The Brattleboro indictment of Bush and Cheney is reflective of the tide of opposition to the current administration. The people of this country are refusing to let Bush leave office without facing charges for his criminal deeds.

Just this week, the New Hampshire State House held an impeachment hearing, which was flooded by activists and community members insisting that the state legislature take action.

Hollywood actor Ed Asner wrote a letter for the hearing expressing his support for the resolution, which indicts Bush for “invading Iraq without just cause or provocation.”

This, I submit, is the call for citizen activism for our voices to be heard on the subject of whether High Crimes and Misdemeanors are actually relevant as defined by the Constitution of the United States. 

What I mean by that is simply put: Does the activity of a collection of townships and state legislatures (as of late Westchester County, NY included) taking proactive legal steps towards indictments of our President and Vice President seem over-reactive? Or are they simply stepping up to the plate and doing the one thing Congress lacks the courage to do?

This isn’t a question of a few isolated communities anymore. City, County, and State governments are getting more done at the local level on this matter than the members of the actual House of Representatives, whose task it is to introduce Articles of Impeachment.

The ‘Pyramid’ is upside down… Those folks in Washington work for us, not the other way around.

The elected officials in Washington, D.C. are going to have to take a stand and be accountable for either their ability to represent the best interest of their constituents and their country — or not.

He looks pretty good in an orange jumpsuit

On his perp walk down the runway, the Veep demonstrates the latest fall colors; orange jumpsuits are all the rage this year.

THE CONSTITUTION IS A WAR CASUALTY

A small town in Vermont’s resolution instructing their local police to arrest the President of the United States and the Vice President of the United States for Acts of Treason is awe inspiring… Awe inspiring to the extent that it is embarrassing to our elected representatives in Washington who failed us. Again

Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of every local government which feels that they have no other choice but to do this. I’m quite sure that they would not pursue these activities if they did not have the legal authority to do so. They have taken a bold stand for the rule of law and are sending a strong message to those in Congress, in cities around the country, and indeed around the world.  

There is something burning foks…It’s the smell of a nearly 220 year-old parchment (which our president calls “just a goddamn piece of paper!”), printed from the actual blood of people like you and me. The movement for a free Republic, the Revolutionary war we fought to win that freedom, and the signing of our Constitution in Philadelphia all those years ago is not so different from the activities which are currently going on in Brattleboro, Vermont, Concord, New Hampshire, or Westchester, New York. (Home to both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.).

The Constitution is a War Casualty… This is from the desk of ‘The Decider’. Our voices not being heard and the relentless refusal to not entertain the motions of Articles of Impeachment, is simply un-Patriotic, un-American and un-fair!

Why should we take a stand? Because it isn’t always about us, folks. The rest of the world is watching and waiting to see what we are going to do about our situation. They know that there are huge discrepancies afoot in our country’s actions over the last 8 years…that our deeds don’t live up to our words.

How are we going to save our face and continue to live up to the world’s expectations of America being a great, successful, democratic power if we handicap ourselves by taking the word of a handful of people who unilaterally claim to know best for all of us? Whatever happened to the “consent of the governed?”

When asked to testify for the 9/11 Commission about their prior knowledge of the attack on America, or about their activities on that day, both our president and our vice president balked, delayed, refused, and then finally (sort of) complied. But only with conditions — such as no record of the discussion, no paper allowed in the room, no sworn statements in testimony and no public participation…and we let this happen.

I have serious questions…and to this day, they remain unanswered. Obviously. I am not a nut. I am a father, a husband, an active community volunteer, an environmentalist by profession. I am a New Yorker born and raised, and I am still outraged that this heinous crime was committed in my state. I care about my country and the people I call Americans who live this dream with me, and above all, I am a realist.

The facts we’ve been given about what happened on September 11th and why we went to war just don’t add up.  The ones that do point to politicians at the highest levels of our own government needing to answer these questions, even if we have to arrest them in order to get to the truth. The record needs to be straightened out for the sake of history, the true perpetrators must be brought to justice once and for all.  So that your children and mine can have the same great American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness our forefathers gave us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jack Mosel is an an environmental activist and owner of Aquatic Restoration, LLC. He can be contacted at: moseljack@yahoo.com.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in the above editorial are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. or the owners of this website.

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Does Clinton Have a Job for Bob?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

RFK JR. IN A CLINTON CABINET POSITION? 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been in Australia this week attending the three-day International Solar Cities conference in Adelaide. During his keynote address, Bobby dropped a fascinating hint about a possible cabinet position for him in Hillary Clinton’s White House.

If such were offered, it would be a dream come true for many of RFK Jr.’s strongest supporters, for the country, and for the planet. It’s about time we put a real environmentalist in charge of the EPA!

Kennedy’s comments are tantalizingly dropped at the end of the story below, which tends to focus more on his support of her now-ailing presidential campaign. Does this reporter realize that this bombshell should be the first paragraph, not the last? Now that’s a story!

Kennedy Jr gets behind Hillary Clinton
Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney,New South Wales,Australia

A member of the Kennedy family says Hillary Clinton is still the Democrat’s best chance for president, even as the former US first lady’s campaign suffered another blow.

With Senator Barack Obama taking a crucial win in the Wisconsin Democratic primary on Wednesday (AEST), Senator Clinton’s campaign will now probably hinge on the upcoming votes in Ohio and Texas.

Speaking at an environmental conference in Adelaide, half-way around the world from the election contest, environmental activist Robert F Kennedy Jr said the race for the Democratic nomination was still too close to call.

“I can tell you this, if Hillary does really well in Ohio and Texas then she’s in good shape,” he said.

The son of assassinated presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, Mr Kennedy’s recent endorsement of Senator Clinton put him at odds with Democrat elder statesman Senator Edward Kennedy.

But he said while Senator Obama would make an excellent president and every member of his family was close to both candidates, he still believed Senator Clinton would make the better choice.

“I think we need a president who is willing to go in, have a fist fight, and completely change the course of where we’re going as a nation,” he said.

“I think Hillary has a track record of doing that.”

But Mr Kennedy said whatever the outcome, every member of the Kennedy family would come together to ensure a Democrat was returned to the White House come November.

“Whoever gets the nomination in August, every Kennedy is going to be working to make sure that person becomes president,” he said.

“I think Obama would be a fantastic president and I’ll be working for him full-time if he wins the nomination.

“But I just thing Hillary is a stronger candidate and would be a really strong president.”

Mr Kennedy also confirmed he would be interested in contesting Senator Clinton’s New York Senate seat, should she become president, or in working within a Clinton administration, possibly heading up the Environmental Protection Authority.

© 2008 AAP

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Dallas D.A. Releases Secret Stash of JFK Assassination Files

New JFK Assassination Evidence “Found” in Dallas

President Kennedy in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963

(Moments before the tragedy, the President, Mrs. Kennedy, and Texas first lady Nellie Connolly are all smiles. Governor John Connally looks surprisingly somber as the motorcade makes its’ way towards Dealey Plaza. November 22, 1963)

15 BOXES OF FILES MAY PROVIDE NEW CLUES FOR RESEARCHERS

In a peculiar President’s Day present to historians, The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office has announced the discovery of a trove of documents relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Locked away in a man-size safe for 44 years, these rare documents and artifacts (which reportedly include Jack Ruby’s gun holster and the clothing Oswald wore when he was shot) were kept secret from the public for decades — although their existence was certainly no secret to every Dallas County D.A. since 1963.

Among the documents is an alleged transcript of a conversation between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, planning the assassination together on behalf of the Mafia. This document has aroused the greatest amount of interest but has also been described as “highly suspect” and immediately dismissed as either a forgery or a possible movie script.

Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins explained at a news conference today that the documents were “found” in a safe about a year ago — soon after he took office — and that his staff have been examining and cataloging them ever since. Previous DA’s had decided not to reveal the information, but Watkins said his administration is devoted to openness and felt it was “too important to keep secret.”

“It will open up the debate as to whether there was a conspiracy to assassinate the president,” Watkins stated.

Dallas D.A. Watkins' News conference, Feb. 18, 2008

(Watkins, elected in 2006, is the first African-American D.A. in Dallas history.)

Ruby, the owner of a Dallas burlesque club, shot Oswald while he was in police custody two days after the November 22, 1963 assassination. The transcript has Oswald telling Ruby, “the [Mafia] boys in Chicago want to get rid of the Attorney General [Robert Kennedy]. … There is a way to get rid of him without killing him. … I can shoot his brother.”

Gary Mack, curator of the 6th Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza has pointed out that Oswald is known to have been elsewhere on October 4, the alleged date of the alleged conversation.

The transcript resembles one published in a report by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy’s assassination and determined that Oswald was the lone gunman. The FBI determined that conversation – again between Oswald and Ruby, but this time about killing the governor – was definitely fake.

Mr. Mack suggested that the transcript in the Warren Commission report was probably used as a model for the one found in the district attorney’s safe.

The conversation published in the commission report was a fake account of a conversation between Ruby and Oswald on the same night at the Carousel Club. A now-deceased Dallas attorney “re-created” the conversation after Kennedy’s assassination for authorities after he claimed he recognized Oswald in a newspaper photo as the man he saw talking to Ruby that night.

“The fact that it’s sitting in Henry Wade’s file, and he didn’t do anything, indicates he thought it wasn’t worth anything,” Mr. Mack said of the newly found transcript. “He probably kept it because it was funny. It’s hilarious. It’s like a bad B movie.”

IS THE TRANSCRIPT BOGUS OR EVIDENCE WITHHELD FROM TRIAL?

William J. Alexander, the only surviving prosecutor from Ruby’s trial for killing Oswald in the days after Kennedy’s assassination, told the district attorney’s office he’d never seen the Ruby-Oswald transcript. But it’s labeled with a sticker that says, “Plaintiff’s Exhibit 27.” Typically, exhibits for criminal trials are marked as state’s exhibits or defense exhibits.

The DA’s office said Mr. Alexander, who rarely talks about the Ruby trial, declined to be interviewed.

While the two-page transcript is most likely fake, District Attorney Watkins says he’s never believed Oswald acted alone.

“You know me: I’m always a conspiracy theorist,” Mr. Watkins said. “It was too simple of an explanation. I don’t see that.”

COUNTDOWN IN DALLAS

The safe also contained a 1967 million-dollar contract with the then-district attorney Henry Wade for a movie about the assassination, and the DA’s assistant has suggested that the Ruby/Oswald “transcript” was part of a proposed movie script.

The film, tentatively titled Countdown In Dallas, never went into production. But the timing of the film’s making is certainly curious.

By 1967, a large segment of the American public had openly expressed disdain for the conclusions of the Warren Commission. Several books suggesting a conspiracy were already on the shelves, and most importantly – New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison was at that very moment bringing murder charges against Clay Shaw for the murder of President Kennedy, the only such court case in history.

As all this concurrent activity was brewing, the need for a big-budget Hollywood film to refute the charges of conspiracy seems more than plausible; something to placate the general public and put their concerns to rest once and for all.

While many suspected that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby knew one another, the “transcript” of thier alleged October 4 conversation would have been quite helpful in pursuading the people that although there was some advance conspiratorial planning between the two men, Oswald ultimately was the lone assassin.

The suspect transcript/movie script notwithstanding, perhaps the real hidden treasure within these 15 newly-released boxes is yet to be found. Once the documents are fully opened to researchers (which Dallas officials tell us will be soon), it will be fascinating to see what, if any, previously undiscovered evidence in the case may come to light.

We’ll keep you posted.

(Click here for video of the Dallas D.A.’s press conference from earlier today.)

Copyright RFKin2008.com

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How to Get a Ticket to the CNN Democratic Debate in Austin

a Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocoloate FactoryWilly Wonka's Golden Ticket

Willy Wonka's Golden TicketWilly Wonka's Golden Ticket

(A prized “golden ticket” to enter Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory)

GOT A GOLDEN TICKET?

So you wanna go see the big CNN Democratic presidential debate on the UT campus in Austin Feb. 21st? Information on tickets been a bit scarce? There’s a reason for that, and you’re probably not gonna like it. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…

According to the Austin American-Statesman, attendance to this Thursday’s Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton debate at the University of Texas Recreational Sports Center will be by invitation only, said Hector Nieto of the Texas Democratic Party.

“There are no public tickets,” he said. “The majority of the people invited are going to be elected officials.”

ELITIST, MUCH? 

OK, lots of people are clearly not happy about the news. But don’t take my word for it – read the hundreds of comments posted on the American-Statesman’s blog by readers.

By late in the week, so many public complaints had rolled in that organizers scrambled to change their story (although not necessarily their attendance policy) to something that at least sounded a bit more inclusive. The Statesman’s Corrie MacLaggan soon updated the blog report to read:

All of you who wanted to go have another option. The watch party sponsored by the Texas Democratic Party will be open to the public. But here’s the catch: it will cost $50.

The gathering will be at the Hyatt Regency, 208 Barton Springs Road, from 6:30 to 10 p.m., said Hector Nieto of the Texas Democratic Party.

Nieto said it wasn’t the state Democratic Party’s idea not to invite the public to the debate. CNN officials “were the ones doing all the logistics on this,” he said.

Nieto said Clinton and Obama have been invited to attend the watch party after the debate.

For the $50 entry fee, you get light food and drinks.

Or, if you have CNN or Univision, you can watch it at home for free.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE… 

Well, turns out that Plan B went over like a lead balloon with the general public, too. So organizers scrambled to come up with Plan C, under pressure from the citizenry, to explain why state residents are being shooed away from an event on a public campus their tax dollars pay to support.

It’s one thing to keep the general public (i.e. “riff-raff”) out, but hey, what about the students? Shouldn’t we encourage these young people to feel included and involved in the Democratic process? After all, their momies and daddies pay a hefty tuition, don’t they?

So the story changed again…now debate organizers say: 

The Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton debate at the University of Texas may be by invitation only, but that doesn’t mean students won’t be included, according to a school official.

“The audience will be made up of a very diverse population and a very diverse public, including a very strong representation of students,” said Susan Binford, assistant dean at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, which is helping to organize the event. “It’s a priority for us to have students and to have many, many students in the event.”

Although the LBJ School may insist that it’s a priority to have “many, many students” attend, they are still quite evasive when it comes to providing details as to how many students constitute “many, many” – and just exactly how the selection process will work.

At this point, the word is that tickets will be drawn by lottery. All current UT students are automatically entered in the lottery. Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible. No word yet on how many tickets will be available or when students will be selected.

AS FOR THE UNWASHED MASSES…

The Texas Democratic Party then generously agreed to release 100 tickets to the great unwashed (this means you, the voters) through a drawing.

Those wanting tickets will need luck. Lots of luck. More than 10,000 people had entered the state party’s drawing by Thursday evening. By Friday, that number had jumped to an astonishing 26,000. Expect it to top 50,000 by Monday.

In other words, you have about as much chance of winning a “golden ticket” to this event as you have hitting the Lotto Texas Jackpot. But please do feel free to try, anyway.

Enter online or call (512) 478-9800. Only one entry per person. The deadline to enter the drawing is 5 p.m. Monday; winners will be notified Tuesday.

Oh, and forget bringing a date. Each winner gets just one “golden ticket”.

WANT A TICKET? GET OUT YOUR PRESIDENTIAL KNEEPADS

So why are the event organizers guarding tickets to this event like golden eggs? And who gets to issue those prized invitations, anyway?

The Texas Democratic Party, CNN, Univision, UT and the Clinton and Obama campaigns, of course. And they’ve got a lot of Very Important Friends. More Very Important Friends than can realistically be squeezed into a venue which only seats about 5,000 people nose-to-elbow. Out of that number, 100 tickets go to the general public by drawing, and an unspecified number (expect it to be a small token) will go to UT students by lottery.

So unless you just happen to be a party bigwig, a media mogul, a member of the UT Board of Regents, or are rather highly placed within the Clinton or Obama state campaigns, you’re most likely SOL (no translation necessary). Better stay home and see it on the telly.

Or, if you just love the local Democratic Party, you can always give them $50 to attend the official watch party with those deemed Not-Quite-Important-Enough-To-Get-Tickets.

By the way, that’s the same Texas Democratic Party who excluded Dennis Kucinich from appearing on the state primary ballot because he refused to sign a “loyalty pledge” to support the nominee without reservations or stipulations. So as you can see, this is truly the party of the people. We’re all about inclusion and a participatory voice for all, right?

LBJ and Sen. Richard Russell

LBJ gives Senator Richard Russell the infamous “Johnson Treatment.”

TEXAS DEMOCRATS – THEN AND NOW

To be sure, this ain’t your father’s Democratic party. Or even your grandfather’s. Would the late great Ann Richards give the party a pass on this one if she were still our Governor?

How about LBJ? Would the old man be doing somersaults in his grave? You bet he would.

While Lyndon would no doubt be pleased that such a historic Democratic debate were to be hosted in his adopted hometown of Austin, he wouldn’t stand for the exclusion of UT students and the general public in favor of party elites. That line of reasoning flies in the face of everything his Great Society stood for.

No doubt, the former President Johnson would be using his considerable powers of persuasion to ensure the event was moved to a venue large enough to accommodate “damn near every man, woman and child” who wished to attend. He’d be leaning on state party officials and the candidates to surrender their golden tickets in favor of seating the public. In other words, he’s be telling them how the cow ate the cabbage. And he wouldn’t just be whistlin’ Dixie, either.

THE “JOHNSON TREATMENT”

Back in the day, when Lyndon B. Johnson got in your face and told you to do something, you By Gawd did it. And he didn’t give a damn who the hell you were – or thought you were. By the time he was finished with you, your knees would be knockin’ so hard, you’d have to leave the premesis on a stretcher. Love him or hate him, that’s the way Lyndon got things done – in Texas, in the United States Senate, and as President of the United States.

Furthermore, not only would Lyndon insist upon a venue large enough to seat everyone, he would have demanded that admission to the event be FREE and open to the public. Come one, come all…that was the motto of the Texas Democratic Party in the days of LBJ.

Remember that the very same LBJ Library which bears his name (and who is a sponsor of this debate) is the ONLY Presidential Library in the entire United States which charges no admission fee. This was at the insistence of the late President before his death, and it shall remain ever so.

Lyndon Johnson was certainly no saint, but one principle he always held onto was that one’s economic or social status should never be a barrier in their ability to participate in their own government. This strongly-held belief came from being a small town farm boy himself, from coming up through the political ranks during the Great Depression, and from being a protege’ of Franklin Roosevelt in the New Deal years.

LBJ and John F. Kennedy

(At times, LBJ’s fighting style could be a little too over-the-top even for the cool, reserved President Kennedy, as this photo tellingly illustrates. From the look on Johnson’s face, it seems he might be holding up the wrong finger.)

WHAT WOULD LADY BIRD DO?

Of course, LBJ’s late wife Lady Bird Johnson (who survived him by more than 30 years) took a very different approach to influencing important people. Her style was always softer, sweeter – but no less effective.

Where Lyndon’s bullying failed (although it rarely did), Lady Bird’s gentle persuasion nearly always did the trick. She had this marvelous way of getting people to Do The Right Thing, while never making them feel as though they were at fault.

If dear Claudia were with us today, you can surely bet that she would be appalled by the Texas Democratic Party’s exclusion of the public from this important presidential debate, even more so that it was being done in her late husband’s name.

Without raising her voice, without shaming anyone, and without calling any particular person on the carpet to answer for this boneheaded decision, Lady Bird simply would have placed a few cordial courtesy calls to party leaders, letting them know of her displeasure at the very idea of public exclusion. 

In her gracious, genteel Southern manner, she easily could have made sure that every student of her old Alma Mater was allowed entrance to the debate as well, even if the whole kit’n’kaboodle had to be moved out to the LBJ Ranch in order to accommodate every last person who wished to attend. And that, my friends, would be that.

Less than a year after her passing, it seems that Austin, her beloved University of Texas, and the Texas Democratic Party have already forgotten the legacy of Lady Bird Johnson and Lyndon Baines – if they ever understood it to begin with. Which means it is up to us, the people of Texas, to remind them.

And so, my fellow Americans – get on the horn this week. Call UT, CNN, the candidate’s headquarters, and your local party leaders – and give `em the “Johnson Treatment.”

We shall overcome.

All men are created equal…Those words are a promise to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man’s possessions; it cannot be found in his power, or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom, he shall choose his leaders, educate his children, and provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.”

 — President Lyndon B. Johnson’s landmark Civil Rights Address to Congress, “The American Promise,” March 15, 1965

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

 

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