Sunday, November 25, 2007

Edwards Wins Another Straw Poll in Iowa

Now some good cheer out of the heartland of America: Edwards wins a four county wide straw poll in Iowa, finishing with 31.2 percent of the votes, followed by Clinton with 29.9 percent, and Obama with 14.3 percent. The counties were Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Escambia. 150 people who understand that democracies don't survive when their elections become auctions, they fail to tend their wounded soldiers, and they don't educate the next generation better than every other country out their competing for global trade. Too many Democrats who remember why they were uninspired by Kerry and aren't looking for the same stuffed shirt in Hillary Clinton. Liberal Americans who want the President John Edwards will be and the priorities he speaks of in the Des Moines Register:

I grew up in a small, manufacturing town -- Robbins, North Carolina -- population 1,100. My father worked at the mill and my mother was a postal worker. They never had a chance to go to college, but they got up every day believing in the promise of America. They worked hard -- no matter what obstacles were thrown against them -- to give me a chance at a better life. As I travel across Iowa and the country, I hear unease and uncertainty -- real concern that unless we change course dramatically, we may be the first generation of Americans to fail the moral commandment that makes us Americans: the obligation met by our parents to leave our children a better life than we had.

Iowans have a right to expect more than the rhetoric of change. You deserve real substance. Honest answers to honest questions. That's why, throughout this campaign, I have outlined plans that are not only strong and bold to meet the great challenges facing our country, but detailed enough to allow Iowans to make an informed decision.

In fact, this month my campaign is delivering Iowans across the state a copy of a book titled The Plan to Build One America: Bold Solutions for Real Change. It outlines my far-reaching agenda to redeem the promise of our country and ensure a better life for our children.

The change we need starts in Iraq. We should immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 combat troops and complete the process within nine to 10 months. We need a "diplomatic surge" -- engaging in direct talks with all the nations of the region, including Iran and Syria, for a comprehensive political solution to the sectarian violence inside Iraq.

Second, we need truly universal health care that leaves no one behind. I have a bold plan to stand up to the big drug and insurance companies and finally guarantee health care to every American while cutting costs for families and employers. My plan costs $90 billion to $120 billion a year -- paid for by repealing President Bush's tax cuts for those making over $200,000 per year.

Third, we must support working and middle-class families, and end the divide between the "Two Americas." As president, I will raise the minimum wage, strengthen a worker's right to organize and sign trade deals only if they help American workers -- not just multinational corporations. My agenda includes plans to help families save, cut taxes for middle-class families, protect pensions and rein in excessive CEO pay. I have outlined a comprehensive agenda to protect family farms and revitalize rural communities like the one where I grew up.

We must radically overhaul No Child Left Behind, invest in smaller classes, pay our teachers more and treat them like the professionals they are. I've outlined detailed plans to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050, invest in renewable energy, curb the power of special interests, restore our civil liberties -- and more.

I invite you to read more about these ideas at my web site or join me at one of my town hall meetings so I can answer your questions.

I have tremendous respect for the caucuses, and a deep admiration for all those who take the time to learn about the candidates and participate in the process.

You are the guardians of what kind of president we'll have -- and whether our nation will rise up and meet the great moral test of our generation: leaving our kids a better life.

I believe we can -- and must meet this challenge. I would be honored to have your support on January 3rd.

Nothing illustrates the difference between Bush and company and Edwards than our candidate's statement on the Pentagon billing soldiers to seize their signing bonuses for the medical care they need from combat wounds. You'd think in a time of declining enlistment and constant Republican fears that anything negative in the media about our military "gives aid and comfort to the enemy," the neocons would go out of their way to make sure they don't create bad news. Funny strategy the Republicans have there: cover your eyes while you do despicable things and your neighbors won't be able to see you do it. Too bad, arsehats, we see you!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

John Edwards Only Candidate Who Considers Katrina an Issue

Now here's a reason why Democrats who are true to their liberal principles are putting theirmoney on Edwards. Unlike the other candidates running for the party's nomination, he refuses to measure himself against the Republican standard and focus on everything except what happens inside our own borders to actual Americans. For instance, the devastation that still is New Orleans, two years after Katrina. Which is why he understood why it was so right to support the bid by the city of New Orleans to host one of the Presidential debates next year. After all, what other city so exemplifies the debate over the mission and value of the federal government except New Orleans?

As John Edwards points out though, corporate interests have literally taken over this government, and our political process as well. Not that Edwards needed the Presidential debate to make Katrina a priority for him:

"It saddens me to hear that the Commission on Presidential Debates rejected New Orleans' bid to host a debate in 2008 citing evidence that the city has not recovered enough to host the event. I strongly believe this decision was a mistake and I urge the Commission on Presidential Debates to rethink their decision.

"As a nation, all of us have a responsibility to do everything we can to help rebuild this great city, and holding national events in this city, like a presidential debate, will help New Orleans move forward. I have made rebuilding this city a central part of my presidential campaign because I believe we cannot stand on the sidelines as President Bush continues to fail the people of New Orleans.

"The truth is America is not the country of the Superdome in New Orleans after Katrina. We can prove it by fulfilling our moral responsibility to get New Orleans back on its feet. At a minimum, when I am the Democratic nominee, I will push to make sure we hold a presidential debate in New Orleans. And, as president, I will make sure that our government does everything in its power to help restore the city."

Democrats are making a mistake if they think Katrina's not a big issue.

A number of NOLA bloggers are incensed about this turn of events and rightfully so. If New Orleans is good enough for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists annual meeting, various large medical conferences and can host thousands upon thousands during Carnival season, why not one measly presidential debate? If a debate is not held in the nexus of our unraveling as a nation, the cynosure of the descent, the lens that focuses the knowledge that our government doesn’t have a stitch on, where else?

But then, maybe the mainstream media would have to publish stories likethis?

In late October, the U.S. government, through HUD, gave the go ahead to demolish four of the largest public housing projects in New Orleans. On November 15, a federal judge refused to block the demolitions – clearing the way for the demolition of the BW Cooper, CJ Peete, Lafitte and St Bernard developments.

These projects aren’t just structures. These were people’s communities — where 1000’s of people grew up, met, fell in love and raised families. These buildings suffered less damage than other housing in the floods because of their solid brick construction and could house 4,700 families. But the government plans to demolish them and build “mixed income” housing that will include less than 750 units for people with low incomes.

Much of the Black population of this city has been dispersed throughout the country since Katrina. By March of 2007, it was estimated that 200,000 former residents had still not returned to New Orleans and that more than 150,000 of them are Black. The demolition of public housing is yet another way the government is discouraging and preventing people from coming back to New Orleans. In effect the message is: “You’ll never be able to come back home because there will be nowhere you can live.”

The number of homeless people in New Orleans is double what it was before Katrina. Lafitte, which could house almost 900 families but is now almost empty, sits across the street from a homeless encampment where dozens of people live under a freeway overpass.

New Orleans desperately needs affordable housing. Yet the authorities are determined to destroy 1000’s of housing units that could be made suitable for people to live in. Where’s the logic in this?

To anyone concerned about the needs of the people, this is insane. But the people who run this system operate based on a cold capitalist logic. For them what matters is keeping their system in effect and as lean and mean a profit-making machine as possible. To do this, they will demolish public housing, no matter how this impacts people’s lives. For this system, a disaster that killed 1,800 people and forced 200,000 out of the city is an opportunity to rebuild a New Orleans that’s smaller and whiter and rid of those who the system has no need for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why John Edwards Will Work for the American Voter

Now it's official that we can all go insane: one of the radio stations I receive on the way to work when CSPAN bores me played a christmas carol. And it is not even Thanksgiving Day! So if like those radio jocks you need to remember the reason for the season (that comes before the candy canes), John Edwards has a Thanksgiving Day greeting for you. I'd never seen one of their wedding pictures before and they are adorable. Nice to see something wholesome and inspiration up as the Republicans step up their "Swift Kids Against Edwards" campaign, which currently hovers at two or three relinks for the top 20 Google Blog hits for "John Edwards." And there's this nonsense from the "9-11 truth movement" out there, via user laughmore. If not for the user's profile, I'd think it was another smear job from the right, but alas, it's from the extreme left. At least the Freepers now can't complain that John Edwards is loved by those loonies. Going back to the holiday cheer, here's a little thanksgiving for economic populism:

By now most people not living under under a boulder know that John Edwards is considered an "economic populist." Unfortunately, the term is often ill defined, other than a sense of being on the side of working people and vague recollections about a Cross of Gold speech. For Edwards substantively "economic populism" means that he is committed to universal health care, to effectively eliminate poverty in thirty years, and supports Smart trade agreements that benefit workers here and with our trading partners instead of just corporations.

Beyond the specific policies John Edwards's value system is one that comes unapologetically from his small town working class background. But, mill working fathers and passionate speeches aside, what is too often missed about the John Edwards brand of populism, is his insistence on the marriage of economic and political empowerment.

The way Edwards combines promoting a fair economic shake for everyone with de-rigging the political system has appealed to me since he started doing it during his last run. Now, after eight years of top down politics and top down economics from the Bush administration, John Edwards's brand of small "d" democratic Populism is exactly what is needed.

...In a way that no other politician seems to, Edwards gets that the unfairness of our political system is linked to the unfairness of our economic system. In a way that no other politician seems to, Edwards is committed and prepared to change both. And it is that combination of economic Populism with democratic Populism is what makes Edwards such a potentially transformational leader.

A darling blogger in Nevada solicited from John Edwards better questions than the ones asked by the moderators at the Nevada Democratic debate. Here is one which I've snerched:

Q: Sen. Harry Reid has vowed he will do all he can to stop the construction of three major coal power plants in Nevada. Do you agree with Sen. Reid?

A: In March, I was the first candidate to call for a ban of coal-fired power plants that cannot capture and eventually store their carbon emissions... To encourage consumers to use less energy and to use energy when it can be generated less expensively, I will expand the use of smart energy meters, which display energy
use and price at the same time. I will also reverse Bush's budget cuts to the Department of Energy home weatherization program and expand it to $500 million a year.

What am I thankful for? That I live in America, in a country that has a tradition of being a liberal democracy, where people believe that if they dedicate their lives to making the world a better place, they will succeed. We are told all the time by the Republicans that the marketplace is the best way to solve the real needs of the country, and then you go out and look at the skyline of your city, or the declining marine harvests in your estuaries, and you know what they really mean. The market will take care of the needs of the people who dine with silver spoons. Nothing explains the fundamental value of government like the pollution in our cities, like problems of over-fishing, like declining drinking water resources, like the rising cost of heating your home, like the rising cost of milk. For those of us who eat lunch with a plastic spoon instead of a silver one, you know the money being made at the cost of our environment and our local economies is going to buy silver spoons for someone else. We could give in to the Republican mantra. Or be brave enough to refuse.

Hillary wanted a conversation. Barak wanted a picnic. John wanted sacrafice and commitment. How well we remember the heady days after 9-11 when we were ready to come together and show the world the enduring nature of what it meant to be American, land of the free and home of the brave. And George just asked us to take our credit cards to the mall, and spread democracy in the world by increasing the corporate profits of his campaign contributors. Americans know that's not what economic prosperity and good fortune should entail. John wants to ask Americans to do something else, wants a Presidency for Americans that will lead our country towards an open and better future. Where a hard days work puts nutritious food on the table and fills the prescription the doctor wrote. Instead of waiting around for the corporations of the world to save us, for Wal-Mart to cure breast cancer and for Haliburton to end global warming and for Blackwater to ensure fair trade, we American citizens are perfectly capable and morally responsible to do these things. Through diplomacy, through leadership, through millions of choices and opportunities to -gasp- do good. Tomorrow begins today.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Giving Thanks This Year for the Soup Kitchens

Now this year marks the first one that yours truly won't be stuffing a bird for Thanksgiving. Instead, travel out of state looms to visit an ailing grandmother and see my mother's family in a very cold place up north. In between rounding up wool socks, I thought through some of my own money numbers over food. In honor of the holiday, we have a very interesting commentary onfood bank culture in America. And a link to data showing household food insecurity state by state, for a total of 11% of Americans. After the last of the gravy is gone, 35 million Americans will take their place on the breadlines of our country, and mothers from coast to coast will return to the cruelty of trying to feed their families on the $3 per person per day that the government allots them. Our bleeding heart:

My experience of 25 years in food banking has led me to conclude that co-dependency within the system is multifaceted and frankly troubling. As a system that depends on donated goods, it must curry favor with the nation's food industry, which often regards food banks as a waste-management tool. As an operation that must sort through billions of pounds of damaged and partially salvageable food, it requires an army of volunteers who themselves are dependent on the carefully nurtured belief that they are "doing good" by "feeding the hungry." And as a charity that lives from one multimillion-dollar capital campaign to the next (most recently, the Hartford food bank raised $4.5 million), it must maintain a ready supply of well-heeled philanthropists and captains of industry to raise the dollars and public awareness necessary to make the next warehouse expansion possible.

Food banks are a dominant institution in this country, and they assert their power at the local and state levels by commanding the attention of people of good will who want to address hunger. Their ability to attract volunteers and to raise money approaches that of major hospitals and universities. While none of this is inherently wrong, it does distract the public and policymakers from the task of harnessing the political will needed to end hunger in the United States.

The risk is that the multibillion-dollar system of food banking has become such a pervasive force in the anti-hunger world, and so tied to its donors and its volunteers, that it cannot step back and ask if this is the best way to end hunger, food insecurity and their root cause, poverty.

I rounded up my own receipts for food over the past month, and coffee to paper products, dawn to dusk, my expenses as a consumer of organic foods runs at $8.71 a day. The sniffs I hear already. Of course, non-organic and pesticide ridden, antibiotic dripping foods are about 30% cheaper... but that's only because you aren't calculating in the costs of chemotherapy. While cancer fatality rates are plummeting for breast cancer, they are accelerating for just about every other body part. So many of my fellow coworkers comment often on my organic lifestyle with the view that they could never afford it. So I took a little survey. The average cost of a McDonald's breakfast order among them? $6.87. Coffee. Juice. Sandwitch. Hashbrown. At the rate most of them eat, turning to the staple lure of the poor working class (fast food) for three meals a day would cost $21.00 a day before taxes or 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. All with a side order of heart disease and diabetes.

Leaving work today I passed a local Methodist church, and outside their walls stood a mingling crowd. Not for sunday school or services, but in lines for their own bags of food. In this roaring economy that we have. Demographically they were either elderly couples or young women. Yes, young women between the ages of 15-25 standing around in a line waiting for a cheap loaf of white bread and a few cans of soup. Even during the three months I ended up out of work due to a job injury last year, when I took one month's emergency assistance to avoid eviction, when I was down to my last three cans of soup, I couldn't take food from a food bank. I was lucky enough to get help from my mother, but not everyone ends up adult with a family left. I looked into their blank faces as I drove past, and tried to imagine what they stood their thinking in silence, neither looking to the right or to the left, each one as expressionless as the next. That's what I noticed, the lack of frenzy, the lack of consuming need, the lack of any feeling at all. I don't think they can imagine a way out of that food line, and I can only imagine the ends they'd choose if this last shred of respectability came to an end. Yet that glimpse is all the world gets to see of their plight, however horrible, however desperate, however needless.

I hold a high regard for the marketplace and hard work, but let's be real for a moment about the ability of capitalism to raise people up out of poverty and hunger. Most economists tell you that over the past 50 years, that the per captia income has risen "this much" and so life is better than it was before. Yes, the lives of the exceedingly wealthy and the lives of the working poor, canceled out against itself is the measure of economic growth. So no matter how many more people become more poor, as long as a few people become astronomically wealthy, "we all is doing better." We define as the unfettering of competition the fact that the minimum wage fell about 29 percent in real terms between 1979 and 2003, and ignore that it's highest purchasing power existed in 1968 at $1.60 an hour, or the equivalent of $9.12. I worked at Target in 2005, and the highest merit-based wage increase possible under corporate rules I could receive (and did) was .50 cents. Which translates into $20 more a paycheck, or $480 dollars a year. But gasoline increased $1 per gallon from 2004 to 2005, and organic milk increased $1.30 per gallon. Inflation left me paying $7-9 more a paycheck, almost having my merit raise. And there was no cost-of-living adjustment. But there's no calculation for this sort of economic stress, except the expectation that people should degrade their standard of living to the point where they eat $3 a day. We need a better way to fight poverty than the idea that corporate profits will end hunger and send us all to college.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What Cowards Call Anger, Liberals Call Hope

How did Katrina make you feel? Turn the channel and people call you reasonable. Get involved, get motivated, feel anything at all and all you get to be called is "angry." Well, so be it then. We are angry, and also filled with the brilliance of hope and the strength to raise our country up and build our cities anew. And oh yeah, "more beer!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hillary Plants Questions, then Plants Whole Audience

Who wants to start out talking about Hillary, when you can talk about John Edwards. So that's what I'll do. Because I want to see a little courage and a little backbone and real liberal steel in my fellow democrats, that I haven't seen in the last eight years. We are the party of the working poor and the middle class and the unions and the federal employee; Bush said it himself that the base of the Republican Party are the millionaires and the Federalist Society. Democrats should be out there talking about education and global warming and how work should work for the people who... oh work. And yet anytime you talk about the economic reality that has become our country in the last eight years, any time you criticize Bush and the conservative agenda, you get called "angry" by the likes of Hillary, and everyone running just to be her vice-president. Instead of tax cuts for the rich, maybe you want construction funds for public transportation to improve employment opportunities, traffic and smog-reduction efforts in your city. Who cares if you are a federal employee who appreciates being able to leave the car at home? Oh now, you are just "angry." Now don't do anything unlady-like!!

Now last night at the CNN Democratic Debate we saw just the lowest point in this entire election cycle when Hillary ordered her supporters to boo and heckle her opponents. You get a little taste of it above, but it gets a lot worse... And I don't mean just murmurs and a lack of clapping, but systematic and keyed booing anytime another candidate even said her name, in an obvious attempt to silence speech on their candidate. Who are these supporters of Hillary that they have completely lost their minds and forgotten the Constitution and our cherished Bill of Rights? Who are these supporters of Hillary, who would sell out the traditions of public debate in our democracy in a brazen display of immaturity? Who are these supporters of Hillary that all notions of feminism have been tossed into a paper-shredder and then soaked in kerosene before being torched, whenever Hillary smiles and points at her lipstick? Who are these supporters of Hillary who are more suited to a book signing for Ann Coulter? Who are they to muddy the whole Democratic Party with their boos? Oh, they were workers for the Nevada Democratic Party seated in the DNC section!!

Not that it changes the fact that Edwards is still ranked as the caucus winner in Iowa. Eat your hearts out little girls. In a straw poll of UAW workers in Iowa, John Edwards beat Barak Obama 2-1. Even if Obama Rolodexes his way to the regional endorsement for UAW, it's unlikely to sway the local UAW unions from supporting Edwards. And that neither Hillary or Barak will be out there on the WGA strike, fighting for the dream of fair wages and respect for workers in this country, but John Edwards will be marching with the writers today. Doing something productive and meaningful, while Hillary will be out there dreaming up questions to plant at her next public appearance. How about this one Hillary: How's the state of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy these days?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

live blog of cnn debate

Live from drinking liberally your favorite redhead is cheering on john edwards. On a flitched blackberry from blog friend badger. And yes, hillary is magically in the center on the line_up again. Got to love how spot on my candidate is tonight, with the only sensible answer (that actually was a plan and not rethoric) on stability in nuclear Pakistan. Richardson can only come up with the lame complaint that Edwards and we who support him are trying to start a class war. But what does he call Bush's tax cuts but the spoils of a war for the rich taken from the pockets of the working poor. And now Edwards is the first one to pledge that the only kind of torture allowed in his white house will be none.

The moderators duck Edwards on education and the Irag troop surge, but really the only good and cheered points the other candidates could make Edwards made months ago. Kucinich made the mistake of saying that he was the only candidate for the Democratic nomination who came from the working class. Seriously? I guess he doesn't consider factory workers as working poor which is good to know about him. As a member of the working poor. As Edwards says: "this is about what America should be. This is about our party." And as Bush made clear to us, it is the other party whose base is the millionare fat-cats!