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Public memorial for Peter Camejo

A public memorial service for former gubernatorial, presidential and vice-presidential candidate Peter Miguel Camejo is scheduled for 2 p.m. this Sunday, Nov. 23, in the University of California, Berkeley’s International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave.

Camejo, who died in September after a long bout with lymphoma, was Ralph Nader’s running mate in 2004 and was a Green gubernatorial candidate in 2002, the 2003 recall election and 2006; earlier, he had run for president in 1976 on the Socialist Workers Party ticket, and earlier yet had been prominent in 1960s anti-war efforts at Cal. Born in New York City, he spent much of his early childhood in his parents’ native Venezuela; he later would compete as a yachtsman for Venezuela at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Camejo was the co-founder and former CEO of the Oakland-based Progressive Asset Management, a financial investment firm that encourages socially responsible projects; he later founded another such firm, The Camejo Group, also in Oakland.

As I said in September, I had the pleasure of talking with Camejo many times and found him to be a passionate and compassionate advocate of social justice for the poor, the disenfranchised, the uninsured, the immigrants and anyone else he thought was getting a raw deal; a policy wonk who could provide reams of facts off the top of his head to support his arguments; and a genuinely good, nice guy. I hope a tremendous number of people will turn out Sunday to pay tribute, and to demonstrate to his family what a debt of gratitude California owes him.

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On Ralph Nader, the media, parrots and pandas

I spoke with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader about an hour ago in advance of his visit to the Bay Area next week. We talked mostly about the financial market bailout – that’s what I wrote a story about, though I’m not sure if it’ll make it into tomorrow’s editions or Thursday’s – but we also discussed this ad of his:

The YouTube blurb: “Cardozo, here you are from the free flying Amazon jungle to a cage in Utah –albeit an open door cage with a fine master. Do not feel sad, Cardozo. Millions of voters have also been put into an invisible cage. It is a corporate-dominated two-party cage with no open door unless they break out and vote for Nader/Gonzalez. They stand specific and tall for justice, peace and freedom within a competitive democracy.”

Nader sighed sadly as I asked him about it today. “We have the best proposals to turn this country around, practical and seasoned – and Cardoza is the winner for hits on our Web site.”

“It’s all about the theater of the absurd,” Nader said, the same way he’ll be a guest on HBO’s rollicking “Real Time with Bill Maher” this Friday night to comment on the presidential candidates’ debate from which he was excluded.

He has taken tough questions from Conan O’Brien’s Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, he said, but can’t get calls returned from Charlie Rose, Bill Moyers, Terry Gross, Jim Lehrer, Katie Couric, Brian Williams or Charles Gibson due to “the political bigotry against third parties.”

So meanwhile, he’ll talk to parrots.

Nader repeated to me his thought from the video that perhaps he’ll don a panda suit and amble on down to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., to see if he can catch the mass media’s attention. I told him Oakland has been trying to get pandas for almost a decade, and urged him to give me an exclusive. We’ll see.

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Peter Camejo 1939-2008

Extremely sad news: The Green Party of California reports that Peter Miguel Camejo — a three-time gubernatorial candidate and 2004 vice-presidential candidate under Ralph Nader — died this morning at his Folsom home after a long bout with lymphoma. He was 68.

The release said Camejo recently had returned home after his health had declined rapidly over the last few days because of the “aggressiveness of his cancer and strength of the drugs used to combat the disease,” according his family.

Camejo was the Green gubernatorial candidate in 2002, the 2003 recall election and 2006; earlier, he had run for president in 1976 on the Socialist Workers Party ticket, and earlier yet had been prominent in 1960s anti-war efforts at the University of California, Berkeley. Born in New York City, he spent much of his early childhood in his parents’ native Venezuela; he later would compete as a yachtsman for Venezuela at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Camejo was the co-founder and former CEO of Progressive Asset Management, a financial investment firm that encourages socially responsible projects; he later founded another such firm, The Camejo Group.

I had the honor of speaking with Camejo many times over the years, and it was always a pleasure. I meet a lot of people in politics who sometimes are calculating, sometimes self-aggrandizing, sometimes in it for all the wrong reasons; this wasn’t Peter Camejo.

Camejo was a passionate and compassionate advocate of social justice for the poor, the disenfranchised, the uninsured, the immigrants and anyone else he thought was getting a raw deal; a policy wonk who could provide reams of facts off the top of his head to support his arguments; and a genuinely good, nice guy. He knew he wouldn’t win those elections; he gloried in getting his message out, trying to shape the debate however he could. Let’s hope he did. California is poorer for his loss.

Camejo is survived by his wife Morella; daughter Alexandra; son Victor; three brothers Antonio, Daniel and Danny; and three grandchildren Andrew, Daniel and Oliver. Arrangements and memorial services are pending.

UPDATE @ 9:42 P.M.: This from Nader:

“Peter was a friend, colleague and politically courageous champion of the downtrodden and mistreated of the entire Western Hemisphere. Everyone who met Peter, talked with Peter, worked with Peter, or argued with Peter, will miss the passing of a great American.”

[snip]

“When his autobiography (with the working title Northstar) is published, we will all be able to get a vivid sense of the great measure of Peter Camejo as a sentinel force for civil rights and civil liberties, and expander of democracy. His lifework will inspire the political and economic future for a long time.”

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Ralph Nader is coming

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader and his running mate, former San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, will be campaigning this weekend in Northern California.

They’ve got a rally scheduled for 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 2, at the Varsity Theater, 616 Second St. in Davis; a $10 contribution ($5 for students) will be asked at the door.

On Sunday, they’ll hold a 1 p.m. news conference followed by a 1:30 p.m. rally at the Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St.; the same entry contributions apply. Later Sunday, they’ll visit Copperfield’s Books, at 104 Matheson St. in Healdsburg, at 4:30 p.m. for a book-signing and speaking event. And they’ll finish the day with a 7 p.m. news conference and 7:30 p.m. campaign rally at the College of Marin’s Olney Hall, 835 College Ave. in Kentfield; again, it’s $10 at the door, $5 for students.

For more information on any of these events, contact events@votenader.org.

Nader and Gonzalez intend to speak about initiatives they say the major-party candidates have taken off the table, including (in their words):

  • a comprehensive, negotiated military and corporate withdrawal date from Iraq;
  • a single-payer, Canadian-style, private delivery, free-choice public health insurance system for all;
  • a living wage and repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act;
  • a no-nuke, solar-based energy policy supported by renewable, sustainable, energy-efficient sources;
    a carbon tax to deter global warming;
  • an end to the corporate welfare and corporate crime that has resulted in millions losing pensions, savings and jobs and squandered tax dollars; and,
  • more direct democracy reflecting the preamble to our constitution which starts with “we the people,” and not “we the corporations.”
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    Nader has a snit over impeachment hearing

    So the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by John Conyers, D-Mich., will hold a hearing Friday on “Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations.” From the committee’s Web site:

    “Over the last seven plus years, there have been numerous credible allegations of serious misconduct by officials in the Bush Administration,” said Conyers. “At the same time, the administration has adopted what many would describe as a radical view of its own powers and authorities. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I believe it is imperative that we pursue a comprehensive review commensurate to this constitutionally dangerous combination of circumstances. Next Friday’s hearings will be an important part of that ongoing effort.”

    The Committee is expected to examine a range of legal and legislative responses to allegations of administration misconduct and their expansion of executive branch power.

    Among those called to testify will be Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who earlier this month introduced an article of impeachment against President George W. Bush, based on “Deceiving Congress with Fabricated Threats of Iraq WMDs to Fraudulently Obtain Support for an Authorization of the Use of Military Force Against Iraq.” Impeachment advocates shouldn’t get all that excited: Kucinich will have a chance to talk about it, but House Democratic leaders have made that’s not the hearing’s main focus. Instead, the committee aims to generally review what it believes to be the president’s abuses of power. Still, even a discussion of impeachment is a milestone for Kucinich and this Congress.

    Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader isn’t on the list of invited witnesses, and that sure does seem to starch his boxers, as evidenced by the letter he sent to Conyers today:

    July 23, 2008

    Chairman John Conyers
    House Judiciary Committee
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Washington, D.C. 20510

    Dear Chairman Conyers:

    For years I have been urging you to initiate a resolution of impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for chronic, repeated violations of our Constitution and the many “high crimes and misdemeanors” they commit day after day. These two men are the worst recidivist impeachable occupiers of the Presidency and Vice Presidency in American history.

    Since assuming power over both Houses, the Democratic leadership declared impeachment to be “off the table.”

    During our 2004 Nader/Camejo independent campaign for the Presidency, we invited the American people to sign on in support of our demand for the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Many thousands of citizens signed.

    We have had several conversations and two meetings where impeachment was discussed. On March 24, 2008, I wrote you a letter describing the various options open to you as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (see enclosed.)

    A few days ago, it was reported that your Committee will hold hearings this Friday July 25, 2008 on Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s article of impeachment referred to your jurisdiction.

    You have invited four members of the House to testify including, of course, Congressman Kucinich and several observers of the subject, including the inestimable former mayor of Salt Lake City Rocky Anderson, Bruce Fein and John Dean. The Libertarian candidate for President, Bob Barr is also on the witness list, but I am not.

    This is not the first time that I have been excluded from testifying on subjects both of us have been concerned about and have discussed. Remember your invitation to testify at your unofficial public hearing right after the 2004 elections regarding “irregularities” in Ohio? Within two days, your chief of staff, Perry Applebaum, persuaded you to disinvite me.

    Applebaum has been a problem with my appearing before a Committee Chairman whom I have known, admired and worked with for nearly forty years. He has performed his exclusionary behavior on other occasions. It is time to make this public and to ascertain why he prevails again and again with his superior either not to invite or to deny requests to testify regarding subjects well within my knowledge, experience, and forthrightness.

    Sincerely,

    Ralph Nader
    P.O. Box 34103
    Washington, D.C. 20043

    But why should Nader be invited? What special viewpoint or knowledge would he bring to such a hearing that others can’t? Lots of people are “concerned” about it and I’m sure many people have “discussed” the matter with Conyers, but not everyone gets to testify.

    This seems to me like yet another example of Nader’s indefatigable ego: It’s not good enough for him that impeachment is being discussed; HE must be invited to hold forth on it.

    Uh, Ralph? It’s not all about you.

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    Political Haiku, Vol. 3

    Hayashi votes not,
    yet her light goes on and off.
    Ghost voting’ scares me.

    Ted Strickland says no
    to vice-presidential nod,
    yes to “cornhole tour.

    Feinstein hosted meet
    for former Dem opponents.
    “No blood on couch, please.”

    Knowing bad b-ball
    doth not a president make.
    Hear me, Ralph Nader?