The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 13, 2004 - 5A
Nader aims to pull Kerry in direction
Continued from page 1A
And the third is rising tuition. And the
fourth is the failed war on drugs.
TMD: OK. With state appropriations
declining severely over the past few
decades, how can public universities
get the revenue they need while keeping
RN: I think that requires, first of all,
a reordering of the federal budget pri-
orities. When you have half of the total
federal budget operating expenditures
going to the military ... you're going
to be starving the education sector. So
you've got to develop an intermodal
argument; you've got to say less mili-
tary, more education ...
TMD: You've said your first priority
this year is defeating President Bush,
while in 2000 you said there were few
major differences between Bush and
Gore that Gore was willing to fight on.
Is Kerry a significantly better candidate
than Gore, or is there another reason for
your change in priorities?
RN: No, Bush is significantly worse,
which is different from saying that
Kerry is significantly better. Because
what we're saying is that Kerry is bad,
the Democrats are bad, Bush and the
Republicans are worse. Anyway, you
always go after the incumbent when the
incumbent doesn't perform.
TMD: Is there anything about John
Kerry that you think sets him far apart
RN: Yeah, in the following areas.
He's not as bad on Social Security,
Medicare, civil justice, choice and sepa-
ration of church and state.
On the other hand, he is going for
a big military budget, he supports the
Patriot Act, he supports the Iraq war.
He's the same on Treasury policy, Fed-
eral Reserve policy ...
He surrounds himself with some of
the worst corporate lobbyists, and they
answer to lobbying operations repre-
senting pretty crazy corporations. ...
Above all, he refuses to believe that a
democracy requires a constant shift of
power from corporations to labor, con-
sumers, small taxpayers. They're being
stripped of control.
TMD: You've said you will help
Kerry in this election, though, by
attacking Bush on another front. Does
that strategy include avoiding swing
states like Florida, as the Green Party is
advocating this year?
RN: No, because that's not my top
priority. My top priority is getting as
many votes as possible. But a collateral
benefit would be taking Bush apart in
ways Kerry won't or can't - Kerry's
too indentured to his financiers to do so.
And then you can pick it up.
He blew Labor Day badly. I mean,
Labor Day is the great day to draw a
bright line between Democrats and
Republicans historically. And Bush
made it easy, because he ignored Labor
Day. Whereas Kerry should have gone,
you know, coast to coast on the issues
of pensions being looted by corporate
criminals, on the issue of living wage,
the issue of better rights to form unions
by repealing the Taft-Hartley act, and
on the issue of occupational health and
TMD: If you're not worried about
taking Kerry votes in swing states, then
why do you seem to have no campaign
structure in Florida?
RN: Why I don't have - oh, no,
we're being challenged on the ballot in
TMD: Well, you're being challenged
in a lot of states. But according to your
website you still have no campaign
coordinator in Florida; in California you
have three statc\N ide campaign coordi-
nators and 33 local coordinators.
RN: Yeah. in Florida. because it's the
last state we're trying to get on. And we
had 12 Democratic law yers today chal-
lenging us in court in Tallahassee. So
that's what we've been absorbed by. Once
we get on it. we can put it in place.
TMD: So it has nothing to do with
Florida being seen as such a close
RN: Close states, not-close states
- that's not the way we campaign. We
campaign in all the states. I've already
campaigned in 48 states.
TMD: A lot of progressive Demo-
crats, who agree with you on most
issues, say you would be a more effec-
tive agent for change from the inside -
that is, as a Paul Wellstone figure, who
gets elected to the Senate as a Democrat
while remaining to the left of his col-
leagues on most issues. Is there a place
for people like you in the major parties?
RN: There's a place for people like
Wellstone, but I'm - I'm basically a
builder of citizen groups, and I prefer to
be a citizen advocate ... Hope ... that
the progressive Democrats will become
stronger by taking some of our issues and
pushing them and showing that they're
successful vote-getting issues ...
So I think the Democrats, liberal
Democrats, have got to look at them-
selves and basically say - Look, if it's
anybody but Bush. leave Kerry alone.
make no demands on Kerry, it's a pre-
scription for defeat.
Because if you don't pull Kerry in the
direction of people issues, corporations
are going to pull him more and more in
the direction of their issues, and Repub-
lican ones. Therefore, he loses.... It's
a very interesting pattern of oblivious-
ness by otherwise intelligent people on
TMD: OK. let's go over some of the
other candidates' proposals. Kerry's
plan for higher education includes pay-
ing four years of college tuition for stu-
dents who give two years of national
RN: I don't know if it's completely
paid, is it?
TMD: Yeah, well, that's the plan.
RN: Yeah, he pays the whole tuition.
(Pause) Well, it depends what national
service is. (Laughs) Could be the draft.
TMD: Well, it's supposed to be work-
ing in schools, parks, that sort of thing.
RN: The other question is, how well
does it pay. (Pause) So it is, in principle,
it's something worth considering, yeah.
TMD: Michigan Democrats have
filed a complaint with the FEC, argu-
ing that the Republican Party's effort
to gather signatures for your campaign
constitutes a contribution in excess of
$5,000, which you did not report. What
do you say to that charge?
RN: Well. we're not - we didn't
solicit it. There's no coordination ... and
the judge is effectively saying. 'they're
yours; you have to take them.' (Laughs)
The thing is a real tangle. ... I mean,
this one is the most complicated of all
TMD: Do you feel any hesitation
or regret accepting petition signatures
gathered by Republicans?
RN: Well, we've rejected them all.
And then we find ourselves in this mias-
ma in Michigan. ... In Michigan, we're
saying, look, we want to be the Reform
Party candidate. And the judge looks at
it, and he has sees two reform parties,
and he says, well, I can't make a deci-
sion on which of these groups is the
But, well, you have to make one, you
have to look at the two and you have to
decide ... He punted it. And now it's a
State security efforts go high
tech, but lack training efforts
LANSING (AP) - Michigan State Police have a robot
that can investigate the scene of a terrorist threat without
putting one of their officers at risk.
They have a helicopter that can beam live images of a
natural or man-made disaster back to decision-makers
planning a tactical strike or an evacuation route.
They soon could have a "smart truck" that can be outfitted
with chemical weapon detectors, lasers and wireless commu-
nication equipment to track and strike suspected terrorists.
But Michigan's homeland security program doesn't have
much money to hire people or train them to use the counter-
That's where Michigan's homeland security efforts stand
three years after the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "The big need is
"I can't give an exact dol-
lar figure on what we need," the world of ter
said Col. Tadarial Sturdivant,
director of the Michigan State change all the t
Police and the state's home- k
land security efforts. "But it's know what the
never enough.' . going to be. It's
State police highlighted their
homeland security program for that keeps us o
the media last week during a
demonstration at the state's
Emergency Operations Center.
Thanks largely to federal
homeland-security funding, Merc
Michigan has made strides
witl new disaster response
and anti-terrorism equipment. The focus has been on pre-
paring first responders, primarily police and fire depart-
ments, to quickly deal with possible terrorist events. .
The state has 15 regional response team networks across
Michigan. The alliance of local fire department, police and
medical agencies can respond to a disaster anywhere in the
state within two hours.
"We will gain strength and numbers as we move forward,"
said Michigan State Police Sgt. Chris Kelenske, the state's
regional response team network coordinator.
The state also has some high-tech tools for the war on ter-
rorism. Michigan State Police First Lt. Shawn Stallworth
runs a robot with more capabilities than he's allowed to tell
the public. The easy-to-see advantages include wheels to
run on concrete and grass, and conveyers to climb stairs and
negotiate rough terrain.
The robot is remote-controlled and includes a camera.
Stallworth can send it to investigate a bomb threat scene or
a disaster area to let officers know what they're up against
before they advance.
The robot also can disarm some threats.
"You don't have to expose someone, and that's important,"
More than 100 Michigan communities split up about
$62 million in federal homeland security grants for
this fiscal year. Much of the money has been allocated
to big cities and to borders, the places that may be the
most likely terrorist targets.
The funds primarily have been used to buy new equip-
ment ranging from communications networks to bomb squad
trucks to chemical masks.
Money for local Michigan communities has increased in
s the training. In
time. We don't
next event is
in top of that."
- Dave Harper
Chief of training for the
dian Township Fire Dept.
recent years, but barely begins
to cover the $1.5 billion in
equipment needs local police
and fire agencies documented
in a statewide survey last year.
The grants allowed Lansing
area fire departments to buy a
decontamination unit used to
treat victims and responders
in a suspected chemical or bio-
logical attack. The equipment
includes personal protection
suits and a tent outfitted with
a . shower to decontaminate
victims or responders at a sus-
pected attack site.
The equipment is welcome,
but there are equally impor-
tant needs, public safety officials said.
"The big need is the training," said Dave Harper, chief of
training for the Meridian Township Fire Department in Ing-
ham County. "In the world of terrorism, things change all the
time. We don't know what the next event is going to be. It's
the training that keeps us on top of that."
States have argued that the total amount of money allo-
cated by Congress isn't enough to cover their needs.
A final vote on the $32 billion federal Homeland Security
appropriations bill for fiscal 2005 is expected this week. So
far, the Senate has rebuffed efforts to add more money for
emergency workers, railroads and port security.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, says first respond-
ers need more financial help from the federal government.
She wants Congress to add more money to the bill.
"Because I represent Michigan - a state with a long
international border - I feel a special obligation to the
people of my state and nation to press this issue," Stabenow
said in a news release.
State lawmakers play key role
WASHINGTON (AP) - Eight
Michigan lawmakers from both parties
voted last week to overturn new Bush
administration rules on overtime pay.
Michigan's six Democrats voted for
an amendment to overturn the overtime
rules. Reps. Fred Upton of St. Joseph
and Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia
were among the 22 Republicans who
also supported the amendment.
The amendment passed by. a 223 to
193 vote Thursday.
"Congress has sent a strong mes-
sage to the Bush Administration:
Don't mess with the hard-earned pay
of America's workers," said Rep. Bart
Democrats and the Bush adminis-
tration have disagreed sharply over
the effects of the overtime regula-
tions. Democrats say the rules would
jeopardize overtime protections for 6
But the Labor Department insists
that the rules would allow 1.3 million
workers who earn less than $23,660
a year to be eligible for overtime,
while about 107,000 white-collar
workers making $100,000 or more
could lose eligibility.
The amendment was added tn a
down overtime plan
billion in federal subsidies to banks
that provide loans to students.
The amendment passed on a 413 to
Kildee said the loophole is pro-
viding some lenders with a feder-
ally guaranteed 9.5 percent rate of
return, even though other student
loan lenders are guaranteed only
a 3.5 percent rate of return. The
loophole was written into the law
during in 1980, when interest rates
were high, and was supposed to be
phased out by 1993.
"Instead of giving unjustified and
excessive subsidies to lenders, we should
be subsidizing our students directly by
increasing student loan programs and
Pell Grants so that more students can
afford to go to college," Kildee said.