User Picture

Reflections on Halloween

By: Ohio Barbarian Thursday October 30, 2014 4:54 pm

When I was a little kid in San Antonio in the 1960′s, Halloween was a huge holiday. Scores of kids would dress up in costumes, walk around local neighborhood blocks, and trick or treat, with the emphasis always on the treat part. Just about everybody participated, and those who didn’t were thought of as antisocial tightwads, too cheap to give candy to the kids.

After the kids got home, many adults would pawn them off on babysitters who had to endure sugar-high kids while they went to costumed Halloween parties where alcohol and all kinds of food flowed freely. Many took off work the next day if it was a weekday. Then, in the 1970′s, at least in Texas, things began to change.

Southern Baptist and Pentecostal ministers railed against “The Devil’s Holiday,” fueled by reaction to New Age paganism and movies showing that the Devil might just be real, such as The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Omen. Wild rumors circulated about evil people putting razor blades in apples and poisoning candy. There were a couple of such incidents nationwide, but really few and far between, and always between family members, not between strangers. But much of the media jumped on board, whipping up fear for higher ratings and newspaper sales.

By the time Reagan took office, in my part of the world back then Halloween was essentially dead. Fewer and fewer people displayed any Halloween decorations, and fewer and fewer kids went trick-or-treating. A couple of weeks before Halloween, solemn local newscasters would start warning of the dangers of allowing one’s children to trick-or-treat. It was sad. Years later, I moved to Colorado and found much the same thing going on there and more. Once church in Arvada even went so far as to have a haunted house where they graphically pantomimed abortions and the Devil gleefully waiting in hell to torment women who had them for All Eternity. I understand that eventually Children’s Services got it shut down because they found the Bible-thumping parents who dragged their kids to it every year guilty of psychological child abuse.

Then we moved to northeast Ohio. Halloween’s HUGE here. Weather permitting, hordes of kids flock through the streets trick-or-treating and there are Halloween parties all over the place. It’s great fun, like it should be, IMHO. Maybe it’s Ohioans’ love of celebrating seasons, or of feasting, or both. Maybe it’s something cultural. Whatever, I like it. I have yet to see any fearmongering on local news, or hear many  Christian types railing against Halloween because it’s the Devil’s Holiday, though there is a smidgeon of the latter. Most people here dismiss them as being handicapped by having no sense of fun.

There are haunted cornfields and mazes in the country. There are haunted houses aplenty, complete with costumed folks brandishing chainsaws. There are lots of parties. It’s nice to see what was probably once a Celtic harvest festival with deep religious meaning millennia ago still living on, no matter what form it takes. For that matter, there are real, live pagans and Wiccans here who try to celebrate old Samhain in their best approximation of the ancient rites. There’s ceremony and music and dancing and a lot of fun.

It’s a pity that there are still plenty of people in this country who take after the Puritans and try to ban what is for most just a chance to have some fun, eat some sweets, and maybe swill a bit o’ brew. Funny, you never see them call for a boycott of commercialized Christmas.

Anyway, Happy Halloween! I just finished carving my now traditional Vampire Jack o’ Lantern. Gives the little kids a fun fright, it does. What do you do for Halloween?


Give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

By: wendydavis Thursday October 30, 2014 3:37 pm

(from Creative Resistance, CC)

but mainly those with an H1-B-eee 

(Yes, this post is long, but I consider it a  Labor of Love, and I hope you will, too, and read it.  These are things I believe we need to know.)

‘A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

~ Emma Lazarus

No, no; not so much those nameless deportees that came here to escape the depredations and murderous dangers in the global south, so many of which were aided and abetted by US policies and activities.  They might be carrying ebola.leprosy.drugs.alqaedacards.unbornbabbies.bedbugs.lice.whathaveyou.  writes that Obama deported a record 438,421 people last year, the highest number of annual deportations in US history, and that number is on track to escalate, of course, especially with the reported 60 or 70,000 unaccompanied minors that came over the summer and created the ‘crisis on the border’.  I know you remember reading about it; it was the talk of the nation for a few news cycles.

A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World: 30 Oct 2014

By: KateCA Thursday October 30, 2014 2:31 pm

A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World:

*US.  Fracking has resulted in the “highest level in at least three decades” of US crude oil production, with  379.7 million barrels of oil now stored.  An industry spokesperson, however, said, while they’re “still optimistic about shale growth”,  2014 is likely to be a peak year.

*US.  Scientists have found about 30% (roughly 2 million barrels) of the oil BP’s Macondo Well blowout spewed into the Gulf of Mexico.  Much of the oil is southwest of the well, deep down on the sea floor.  Maps and pics. More.  A recent BP pr effort.

*US.  “The Great Invisible”, a film documentary, records the impacts of BP’s blowout on regular folks along the Gulf.  BP did provide compensation to 100,000+ residents, “but hundreds of thousands of others were refused any compensation.”

*US.  BP and Chevron have struck oil “at a key exploration site in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.  This is BP’s second major discovery in the deepwater Gulf since the 2010 oil spill.”

*AR/CO/PA/OH/WY.  According to a University of Albany-State University of New York study, 8 “poisonous chemicals were found near wells and fracking sites” in AR, CO, PA, OH and WY at levels that far exceeded recommended federal limits.”  Gases included benzene and hydrogen sulfide.  One site’s benzene levels were “Five orders of magnitude over federal limits”.

*AK.  Fellow followed a bull moose walking across his property, only to discover “the deepening piles of ashy cement powder coating the trees and running off into a gravel pit”.  Workers from fracking company Baker Hughes had  dumped what remained of cement mixtures into the woods, reportedly including “a foul-smelling, oily liquid”.

*CA. Drill now, deal with the consequences later”—that has led one man, a former military and aerospace engineer, to run for the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.  Pivotal time, since frackers are trying to get permits from the US Bureau of Land Management to exploit the San Ardo Oil Field, which lies underneath much of “America’s Salad Bowl”.

*CA.  Chevron reportedly  ”greases local elections with [a geyser of] dark money”, including the elections in Richmond.

*CA.  Also up against big oil and gas, Santa Barbara backers of Measure P, designed to protect the county from “under-regulated” fracking, continue their fight.

*CO.  See UT & CO.

*MT.  “Tribal chiefs and leaders” of the Blackfoot Confederacy (one tribe from Montana, three from  Canada) issued a “joint proclamation insisting that the U.S. Department of Interior cancel . . . illegal oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area”.  They also want Interior to “vigorously defend” against a developer’s lawsuit and to establish, with the Blackfeet Nation, protections for Badger-Two Medicine.  (Just three paragraphs down for Badger-Two Medicine info.)

*ND.  A measure on the November ballot would “divert 5% of future oil revenue to fund clean-water projects, wildlife preservation and parks.”  Backed by conservationists and hunters, it’s opposed by the “agriculture industry, oil producers, education groups, builders and business organizations.”

*OH.  Good grief! 400 families evacuated after a natural-gas fracking well blew out in Jefferson County, “spewing natural gas and methane into the air.”

*PA.  A first-term state Congressman, Matt Cartwright (D), has reportedly “just launched an investigation into how his state deals with fracking waste”!

*SD. Keystone XL pipeline opponents in Nebraska will be given “intervenor status” before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission—but “All evidence and testimony must pertain to the project in South Dakota only”.  TransCanada, Keystone XL’s builder, objected, but lost.  Many fear contamination of the Ogallala Aquifer which underlies eight states (see map).

*TX.  Denton has become a major hot spot with a fracking ban on the ballot.  It’s atop the Barnett Shale, and “money has been pouring into Denton from oil and gas companies anxious to stop [the ban] before it spreads to other towns.”

*TX.  Another grassroots effort, this one in Mansfield, to restrict fracking by “enhanced regulation at fracking sites within city limits”, such as imposing a limit of 1500 feet from homes or schools, rather than the 600 feet currently in the city ordinance.

*TX.  Superior Crude Gathering will be paying $1.6 million for “at least 2,200 barrels from two tanks at its facility” that spilled in Ingleside  in 2010.  That’s a civil penalty; the payment will become part of the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

People-Powered Reporting In Action: Jon Walker Testifies at DC City Council, Thanks to You

By: Elliott Thursday October 30, 2014 12:29 pm

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s contributed during our fundraising week. If you haven’t contributed yet, please do. The money goes for tech upgrades and security improvements, site redesign (!), in addition to funding our writers.

We are grateful for your support, you keep us operating.

Your gift makes it possible for Jon Walker’s influential work on marijuana legalization and drug policy rationalization; we’ve come a long way baby, thanks to you. Just today he testified in front of the Council of the District of Columbia to help them establish the best marijuana legalization plan for the city.

From his prepared remarks:

The D.C. Council has the unique chance to make history. It could be the first legislative body in the country to adopt a law approving the taxation and regulation of recreational marijuana use, and it could serve as a model for other states.

While I support marijuana legalization, I will leave it to others here today to make the arguments in favor of it. Instead, I want highlight six specific policy considerations the Council should keep in mind when drafting the final version of the legislation.

And you are the people who make this happen! You’re doing this.

It’s you who make it possible for Kevin Gosztola to report from Ferguson MO. Not to mention all the other civil rights efforts he covers — Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, James Risen, to drop a few names.

And Dan Wright’s work as well, he’s got a sharp tongue he wields where it’s needed as he covers the follies of our government’s policy for us.

Don’t forget our pride and joy, FDL’s Book Salon. What a fabulous place to discuss the most influential books new to the market. And I don’t think anyone anywhere else comes close to BevW’s scheduling crystal ball!

No one else has weekends with Phoenix Woman, Peterr and Masaccio. And BrandonJ’s news Roundup all week long; mornings at Over Easy, and Late Late Nights with Suzanne and CTuttle. New and interesting films every Monday with Jane, you make it happen. This is your community.

So, please give generously. Give what you can. Five dollars here, ten dollars there, it adds up, it matters. You make us possible, and we thank you for that.

Ferguson peacemakers–No Justice Without Peace

By: jeanine4truth Thursday October 30, 2014 9:26 am

Note: The Grand Jury is expected to make an announcement in the Mike Brown case any day now. Supporters of Officer Darren Wilson anticipate violence from the protesters, and the Don’t Shoot Coalition expects violence from the police and a declaration of ‘open season’ on communities of color and political dissenters.

By : Jeanine Molloff

The search for ‘peace makers’ in the Michael Brown tragedy has revealed an activist community more complex than the vapid, two dimensional representation seen on corporate media.

Covering the events here on the ground in Ferguson and the surrounding St. Louis region is akin to performing surgery on a flesh wound and finding a malignancy. The cancers of racism and police brutality have metastasized from Fallujah to Ferguson, and inspired a renewed call for global justice. Oppressed people from Gaza to Hong Kong have sent messages of support to protesters in Ferguson. During this investigation, one thing was clearly evident—there can be no peace without justice.

As the corporate press continues to focus on teargas, rubber bullets and looting—the deeper story focusing on ingrained racism, police brutality, and blatantly unjust laws, is treated as a curious anecdote. In addition to these problems; we have a scenario familiar to the protesters—namely the ‘leaking’ of evidence aimed to vilify Michael Brown and support his police killer.

Illegal ‘leaked’ evidence aimed to trivialize protests… and prejudice juries…

Now that detailed information about the Michael Brown shooting has ‘leaked’ to various news outlets, (ie. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times, The Atlantic and the Washington Post); the pundits are ready to declare that no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson is necessary. Based on the shooter’s police report and the autopsy conducted by St. Louis County—the mainstream media has concluded that Officer Wilson’s story is supported by the same leaked information. A CNN commentator complained that the protesters are still in the streets, in spite of the evidence—all with the exasperated tone of a woman being kept from her mani-pedi.

The fact that the police report and the autopsy were confidential information restricted to the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office and the Grand Jury—is irrelevant to the pundits—the evidence supports the police officer—or does it?   First of all, the leaks are illegal and clearly intended to prejudice any jury pool, in Wilson’s favor. Secondly, the evidence from the autopsy supports the story that there was a struggle between Brown and Wilson—nothing else. I obtained the copy of the official autopsy and it can be viewed here.   (

Contrary to the exasperation of helmet hair broadcasters; the evidence of ongoing police brutality and suspension of civil liberties remains a serious concern to all but the corporate media.

Medical examiner contradicts pundits…

Dr. Judy Melinek was one of the forensic experts the St. Louis Post-Dispatch interviewed. She took the paper to task for misrepresenting her comments. Dr. Melinek explained to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that her comments had been taken out of context.

“I’m not saying that Brown going for the gun is the only explanation. I’m saying the officer said he was going for the gun and the right thumb wound supports that,” Melinek. “I have limited information. It could also be consistent with other scenarios. That’s the important thing. That’s why the witnesses need to speak to the grand jury and the grand jury needs to hear all the unbiased testimony and compare those statements to the physical evidence.” Source : (

Whether you believe the family of Michael Brown, or the supporters of Officer Wilson; one thing becomes clear—the early suppression of evidence, the tacit disrespect and brutality of police, and the battleground denial of civil liberties by Ferguson, St. Louis County and Governor Jay Nixon, speaks to a political culture of repression and police lawlessness.

Not since Occupy, has such a public display of police abuse been witnessed against anyone daring to question the police and their authority.   So, in order to identify the peace makers; an examination of false or tepid peace makers is needed.

False peace maker …the Police….

Ann Jones: Genuine, Handcrafted, Man-Made Government

By: Tom Engelhardt Thursday October 30, 2014 8:05 am

This article originally appeared at To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.


[For TomDispatch Readers: Here’s a special, limited-time offer. Ann Jones is going to pass through New York City early in November.  It’s a rare opportunity to get a personalized, signed copy of her remarkable Dispatch book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story.  If you remember, at age 73, she followed grievously wounded American soldiers just off Afghan battlefields all the way back home, an odyssey of a journey and a vivid education in the true cost of America’s recent wars.  The book is already a classic and we at TomDispatch are proud that it’s in our publication program.  For a $100 contribution to this site, you can get that copy signed by Jones.  Just check out our donation page for the details (and note that signed copies of former Army Ranger Rory Fanning’s book, Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America, and my new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World, are also on offer).  Ann will sign books on November 7th, so make sure to get your donation in before then.  It’s a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity. 

And TomDispatch readers in or near Santa Fe, New Mexico, don’t miss Jones in conversation with Andrew Bacevich on November 12th at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, part of Lannan Foundation’s cultural freedom program. It's an event that shouldn't be missed.  Tom]

From the beginning, it was to be “Russia’s Vietnam.”  First the administration of President Jimmy Carter, then that of President Ronald Reagan was determined to give the Soviet Union a taste of what the U.S. had gone through in its disastrous 14-year war in Southeast Asia.  As National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski would later put it, “On the day that the Soviets officially crossed the [Afghan] border [in 1979], I wrote to President Carter, saying, in essence: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.’” And with that in mind, the CIA (aided by the Saudis and Pakistanis) would arm, train, and advise extreme Islamist factions in Pakistan and dispatch them across the border to give the Soviets a taste of what Washington considered their own medicine, Vietnam-style.

It worked in a major way. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev would later call Afghanistan “the bleeding wound” and, in 1989, a decade after the Red Army had crossed that border, it would limp home to a fading empire on the edge of implosion.  It was a classic Cold War triumph for Washington, the last needed before the Soviet Union stepped off the edge of history and disappeared… oh, except for one small thing: those well-armed extremists didn’t conveniently go away.  It wasn’t mission accomplished.  Not by half.  A taste of Vietnam for the Russians turned out to be only the hors d’oeuvre for a main course still to come.  And the rest of the disastrous history of what Chalmers Johnson would term “blowback,” even before it fully blew back not just on devastated Afghanistan, but on New York City and Washington, is painfully well known and not yet over.  Not by half.

As a result, when the Bush administration launched America’s second Afghan war in October 2001, whether it knew it or not, it was prescribing for itself a taste of the medicine it had given the Soviets back in the 1980s.  Think of it as the worst possible version of do-it-yourself doctoring.  Now, another 13 years have passed.  We’re three and a half decades beyond Brzezinksi’s urge to Vietnamize the USSR in Afghanistan and that Central Asian country is a basket case.  The Taliban insurgency is back big time; the Afghan army and police are taking horrific casualties, and you can bet that, with one eye on the collapsed Iraqi army the U.S. trained and armed, there are plenty of anxious people in the Pentagon when it comes to those Afghan security forces into which the U.S. has sunk at least $60 billion.  In the meantime, the “democracy” that the U.S. promised to bring to the country has experienced a second deeply fraudulent presidential election, this time with a vote so contested and filled with questionable balloting practices that the final count couldn’t be released to the country.  A new government was instead cobbled together under Washington’s ministrations in a way that bears no relation to the country’s constitution.

In the meantime, Afghanistan is rife with corruption of every imaginable sort and, worst of all, its only real success story, its bumper crop, is once again the opium poppy.  In fact, last year the country raised a record opium crop, worth $3 billion, beating out the previous global record holder– Afghanistan — by 50%!  On America’s watch, it is the planet’s preeminent narco-state.  And keep in mind that, in line with the history of the last 13 years of the American occupation and garrisoning of the country (with a possible 10 more to go), the U.S. put $7.6 billion dollars into programs of every sort to eradicate poppy growing.  So, once again, mission accomplished!  Today, TomDispatch regular Ann Jones, author of They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars — The Untold Story, looks back at what those 13 years of “America’s Afghanistan” meant to the women whom the Bush administration so proudly “liberated” on invading the country.  And given its success in poppy eradication, how do you think Washington did on that one? Tom

The Missing Women of Afghanistan 
After 13 Years of War, the Rule of Men, Not Law 
By Ann Jones

On September 29th, power in Afghanistan changed hands for the first time in 13 years. At the Arg, the presidential palace in Kabul, Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as president, while the outgoing Hamid Karzai watched calmly from a front-row seat.  Washington, congratulating itself on this “peaceful transition,” quickly collected the new president’s autograph on a bilateral security agreement that assures the presence of American forces in Afghanistan for at least another decade. The big news of the day: the U.S. got what it wanted.  (Precisely why Americans should rejoice that our soldiers will stay in Afghanistan for another 10 years is never explained.)

The big news of the day for Afghans was quite different — not the long expected continuation of the American occupation but what the new president had to say in his inaugural speech about his wife, Rula Ghani. Gazing at her as she sat in the audience, he called her by name, praised her work with refugees, and announced that she would continue that work during his presidency.

Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Thursday October 30, 2014 4:47 am

Over Easy

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

It’s a good time to make a donation to Firedoglake, to keep this and other discussions going.  The expense is borne by this site, and we all benefit from the diaries that we can post and discussions we can have here.

Cells have been developed in the lab that effectively fight cancer;  research at Harvard has produced a weapon against brain tumors that has been successful in mice and now will move on to tests on humans.

‘In experiments on mice, the stem cells were genetically engineered to produce and secrete toxins which kill brain tumours, without killing normal cells or themselves.’


Dr Khalid Shah, lead author and director of the molecular neurotherapy and imaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said the results were very positive.

“After doing all of the molecular analysis and imaging to track the inhibition of protein synthesis within brain tumours, we do see the toxins kill the cancer cells.”

The closing of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has been called ‘a declaration of war’ by Abbas, as Israel for the first time since 1967 prohibited worshipers from entering to worship there.

Both Jewish and Muslim worshipers will be prohibited from visiting the site “until further notice,”Israel’s public security minister said. Following the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered “a significant hike” in the number of police forces patrolling Jerusalem, Naharnet daily reports.

Palestinian authorities quickly responded to the move, saying it was a “dangerous and blatant challenge” that would lead to more tension and instability in an already volatile situation.

The failed Antares launch in Wallops Island, VA, may have involved the systems that have been under question for some time and are supplied by Russia, leading to an earlier revision of the design involved..

The company planned to do away with the AJ26 engines by 2017 but will now look at alternatives sooner, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

“As most of you know, the AJ26 rocket engines used in that system have presented us with some serious technical and supply challenges in the past,” Orbital chairman and CEO David Thompson said in a conference call with investors and financial analysts.

In May, an AJ26 engine exploded during a test, delaying a prior International Space Station (ISS) mission that was intended to provide the station with fresh supplies.


57 Candidates and Nothing On

By: David Swanson Wednesday October 29, 2014 6:57 pm

I was lucky to attend a debate among the candidates for Congress from Virginia’s Fifth District just before game 7 of the world series. This was the kind of event you can write about while drinking beer and yelling at a television with your family. In fact, I’m not sure there’s any other way you could write about it.

Here are our choices for the House of Misrepresentatives:

The incumbent Robert Hurt, a fairly typically horrendous Republican, if a bit less of a warmonger than his Democratic predecessor, didn’t make a fool of himself at all on Wednesday evening. On the contrary, he disgraced himself by not showing up. Of course, the debate was in the left-leaning corner of a district gerrymandered to keep him in Washington for life, barring a mass movement of a few thousand people for one of his opponents. He would have answered most of the evening’s questions as badly or worse than anyone else there, and that’s saying something. One of the questions, submitted by me on a 3×5 card, was this:

Roughly 53% of federal discretionary spending goes to militarism. How much should?

I doubt very much that Hurt would have answered the question clearly and directly had he been there.

Ken Hildebrandt, an Independent Green who spoke often if vaguely about cutting the military, answered my question by offering arguments that UFOs had visited Roswell. Asked about climate change, he argued that chem-trails from airplanes are manipulating our weather. Pretty much all the other questions he answered: “Hemp.” Hildebrandt is a bit of a mixed bag. He wants progressive taxation but no gun laws. He wants single-payer health coverage but calls it “public option” and claims that life expectancy in the United States is in the 40s. (During the whole debate, neither the moderator nor any candidate ever corrected another’s factual errors, and the opportunities were plentiful.) Hildebrandt wants to stop subsidizing Lockheed and Boeing, but has nothing to say on a lot of topics, seems to think the two men sitting next to him would be about as good in office as he would, runs for office every two years as a routine, has a wife running in the next district, and — less peacefully than one might wish — calls the incumbent a “monster.”

Behind Curtain 2 is Paul Jones, a Libertarian. He said he’d cut military spending in half immediately, that it’s not defensive. “Who’s going to attack us?” he asks. “It’s ludicrous! The reason they would attack us is that we’re over there all the time. . . . Nobody ever wins a war.” Not bad, huh? He wants to end the surveillance state too. Of course, you had to be there to hear him mumble it all. But here’s the downside. He wants that $500,000,000,000 to all go into tax cuts. He also objects to the term “discretionary spending.” It’s all discretionary, he says, no matter what some politician says (such as in a law putting Social Security out of his government-shrinking reach). Also he’d like to cut most of the rest of the government too, including eliminating a bunch of departments — although, unlike Rick Perry, he didn’t attempt to name any of them. He also wants to pay off the debt, use the free market for healthcare (while assisting the poor) and get immigrants to start paying taxes (huh?). He claims no laws can keep guns from criminals or the mentally ill. He claims that India produces more greenhouse gases than the United States.

Last up is Democrat Lawrence Gaughan. He was the most professional, articulate presence. He said he agreed with the other two gentlemen a lot, but it wasn’t clear what he meant. He said he agreed “100%” with Jones on military spending. So, does he want to cut it by 50% right away? Will he introduce a bill to do that? He criticized Hurt for supporting the new war in Iraq. He called the Pentagon a “Department of Offense.” But he said repeatedly that he would cut $1 trillion in military spending, which obviously meant $1 trillion over some number of years, probably at best 10 years, which would mean $100 billion a year. He claimed that the Democratic Party opposes war. And he claimed that his pro-war predecessor Tom Perriello is working with President Obama to reduce overseas bases. (All of this with a very straight face.)

That combination of comments makes Gaughan by far the best Democratic or Republican candidate in this district in living memory, but a bit of a question mark in terms of follow through. Hildebrandt said he wouldn’t have compromised on “public option.” Gaughan said that he both favored “public option” (clearly meaning to say “single payer”) and would have sought a “more bi-partisan solution.” Wow. Gaughan is not even in DC yet and he’s talking as if we’re bothered by “gridlock” more than bad healthcare. He wants to tax corporations and billionaires. He mentions “the 1%” a lot. But he favors a “leaner, more efficient government.” Hildebrandt mentioned publicly financed elections. Gaughan said he wanted to “get the money out of elections” without saying how. He wants immigrants to have a path to citizenship, and he wants to “tighten borders.” He sees the top problem as the concentration of wealth and power, but he sees the root cause of that as low voter turnout (what?). He’s for background checks on guns and recognizing the reality of climate change, but one doesn’t sense a major push for radical transformation. He talks about saving the climate by creating a better America, not a better planet.

Gaughan said he wasn’t taking money from the Democratic Party in Washington. That makes him different from Perriello, who proved very obedient to his “leaders.” No doubt the DCCC isn’t offering money because they don’t think any Democrat has a chance in VA-05. If we were to elect Gaughan, he might not lead Congress toward peace and justice, but he’d come a lot closer to actually meriting the praise that liberal groups gave Perriello, and he just might be answerable to the people who elected him rather than the party that didn’t buy his ticket to Washington. A liberal Democratic Party elections group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is basing its national elect-Democrats work out of Charlottesville, but none of the candidates they’re backing are from Virginia.