Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

John Edwards wants us out of Iraq

John Edwards wants us out of Iraq, and he's leading in the effort to get us out.

Today, a compromise bill is under discussion in Congress that would give Bush all the funding he wants without a timetable for withdrawal. This is disgraceful, when a majority of the American population wants us out. Here's what John Edwards had to say about it:

"The so-called compromise under discussion in Congress that would give the president another blank check to continue his failed war is a serious mistake. Full funding is full funding, no matter what you call it. Every member of Congress who wants to support our troops and end the war should oppose this proposal. If you're in Congress, and you believe this war is wrong, I urge you to use every power you have to stop it if it's brought up for a vote. Block the blank check.

And I urge all Americans who want this war to end to tell your representatives in Congress that you will support them if they stand up to the president. Tell them you understand that when the president vetoes a bill that funds the troop and ends the war, he is the only person in America stopping support for the troops. It is time for this war to end. As I have said repeatedly, Congress should send the president the same bill he vetoed again and again until he realizes he has no choice but to start bringing our troops home. Anything less is everything he needs to prolong the war."

Edwards knows that we must not compromise with this president. Bush's irresponsible leadership must be stopped.

If you agree, please go to supportthetroopsendthewar.com. Sign up to honor our troops and speak out against the war this memorial day weekend.

John Edwards major foreign policy address today

Today at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, John Edwards gave a major policy address titled "A Strong Military for a New Century."

The speech was bold and impressive, daring to say out loud many things that are wrong with American foreign policy and military policy, but that no presidential candidate yet has dared to say. Edwards's leadership was on full display today, demonstrating how a president should be.

Calling Bush's bluff on the Global War on Terror frame, Edwards pointed out that it is nothing but a political slogan used to justify the worst abuses of this administration. Here's an excerpt from his remarks as prepared for delivery:

The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It’s a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world. As a political “frame,” it’s been used to justify everything from the Iraq War to Guantanamo to illegal spying on the American people. It’s even been used by this White House as a partisan weapon to bludgeon their political opponents. Whether by manipulating threat levels leading up to elections, or by deeming opponents “weak on terror,” they have shown no hesitation whatsoever about using fear to divide.

But the worst thing about this slogan is that it hasn’t worked. The so-called “war” has created even more terrorism—as we have seen so tragically in Iraq. The State Department itself recently released a study showing that worldwide terrorism has increased 25% in 2006, including a 40% surge in civilian fatalities.

By framing this as a “war,” we have walked right into the trap that terrorists have set—that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war against Islam.

The “war” metaphor has also failed because it exaggerates the role of only one instrument of American power—the military. This has occurred in part because the military is so effective at what it does. Yet if you think all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.

Tackling the enormous waste in our defense budget is something no presidential candidate I can remember has dared to take on. John Edwards just laid out a detailed strategy for that, stating the need for reform in no uncertain terms.

The military budget itself also needs substantial reforms. Today, dozens of agencies perform overlapping tasks, and there is no central, overall accounting of all security activities performed by all relevant agencies.

I will create a National Security Budget that will include all security activities by the Pentagon and the Department of Energy, and our homeland security, intelligence, and foreign affairs agencies. This would allow more oversight and would also allow us to more carefully tailor our expenditures to our missions. Today, literally dozens of agencies have overlapping responsibilities, missions, tasks and programs. We don’t link these efforts together nearly enough. We have nuclear proliferation programs in the Defense, State, and the Energy departments. We also have more than fifteen different security assistance programs, running out of both the State Department and the Defense Department.

As president, I will send to Congress a National Security Budget that will grow out of a review of our military, our diplomacy, our foreign assistance programs, our intelligence, our global energy, and our homeland security activities. This budget will provide one government-wide strategy for countering nuclear proliferation; a unified strategy for fighting terrorists; a unified strategy for providing security assistance to our allies; and clear guidance for our agencies on how they should set their budget priorities to make these policies work.

The military has gone a long way in making sure that it’s capable and prepared to fight humanitarian crises, as we saw when it provided aid to the victims of the Pacific Ocean tsunami. But this aid is often imbalanced. We’ve got one agency on steroids—the Pentagon—while the civilian agencies are on life support. As president, I will help rebalance the delivery of civilian services throughout the federal government.

Civilians with training and experience need to be involved in stabilizing states with weak governments, and providing humanitarian assistance where disasters have struck. We need bankers to set up financial systems, political scientists to implement election systems, and civil engineers to design water and power systems. As president, I will create a “Marshall Corps,” modeled on the military Reserves, of up to 10,000 expert professionals who will help stabilize weak societies, and who will work on humanitarian missions.

I will also take additional steps to put stabilization first throughout the government. I will put a senior official in the Pentagon to implement these programs. I will harmonize the State Department and Pentagon’s overlapping efforts at diplomacy and stabilization better from the White House. And I will implement new stabilization programs at war colleges and staff colleges.

Just as we need to get our national security budget in order, we must also reform our Pentagon budget. The Bush Administration has funneled an enormous amount of taxpayer money to private military contractors, many run by their political cronies. It’s no surprise that we have seen rampant overruns in the cost of many weapons programs.

I will respond to the overruns and cronyism strongly and directly. We need a modern-day equivalent of Harry Truman’s famous Truman Committee, which traveled the country in the 1940’s to find billions of dollars of waste in military spending. As president, I will direct my Secretary of Defense to launch a comprehensive, tough review of fraud, waste, and abuse—and put an end to it. One example is missile defense and offensive space-based weapons, which are costly and unlikely to work.

We also need fundamental reform of our privatization policies. Almost half of Defense Department contracts are now awarded on a noncompetitive basis, giving companies like Halliburton with millions of dollars. To end this, I will direct my Secretary of Defense to overhaul the rules governing privatization, to punish mismanagement, and to reform DOD bonus policies to reward performance.

Finally, I will challenge the military to continue to modernize for a new century. We need to ensure that the U.S. military is the most modern and capable fighting force on the planet. Modernization will also have other benefits. “Greening the military” will increase innovation, save millions of dollars, reduce reliance on vulnerable supply lines, and help America lead the fight against global warming.

Taking on the hard reforms where he will undoubtedly face stiff opposition. Now that's true leadership!

His speech and the question and answer session which followed were about an hour in length. If you're interested in the vision of a real leader for American foreign policy, I nevertheless urge you to read the entire speech.

I recorded audio of most of the speech (unfortunately I missed about the first minute), so once I find a good place to host a very large audio file, I'll update my blog with a link.

UPDATE: You can download the MP3 file of the speech here. Note that it is a very large file (42 MB) and it is missing the first minute or so of the speech.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards answers my question on John's call for national service

It's NOT a draft. Let me say that right away.

A recent report that John Edwards was calling for mandatory national service confused some people, so when Elizabeth Edwards posted a diary tonight on Daily Kos, I asked her to clarify her husband's position.

Here's her response:

NOT a draft (12+ / 0-)

John is not in favor of a military draft. Never has been. When he was in the Senate and in the 2004 campaign, he proposed a national community service program for high school students, modeled on the program at the public school our older children attended. The habit of public service is one that we want to encourage. Whether that means that high school program or a national public service program for all of us -- even those out of high school -- we know we need to think about it, to get all Americans committed in a real and meaningful way in making America as strong and as compassionate as we can. He saw on the Gulf Coast what committed Americans can accomplish, and he dreams big about how much more we could do.

Join me at http://blog.johnedwards.com

by elizabethedwards on Tue May 22, 2007 at 06:08:17 PM PDT

Here's a link to both the question and the answer.

Mrs. Edwards visited Daily Kos because she was announcing that her husband will attend the Yearly Kos blogger conference in August. She stayed around and answered a lot of questions, so be sure and read her diary and the comments.

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As long as he's breathing: John Edwards’ commitment

John Edwards has said he'll continue to fight to lift people out of poverty and help working people, as long as he's breathing. His commitment to it runs so deep that he opened a poverty center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, started a college for everyone program to send poor kids to college, co-edited a book of essays by poverty experts, has traveled the country to work with unions to organize workers, and last year he gave the proceeds of a book and at least 28% ($350,000) of his $1.25 million earned income to charities like Habitat for Humanity and International Rescue Committee. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty, either. On more than one occasion, he's participated in Habitat for Humanity building projects in the ninth ward of New Orleans.

Edwards is the only presidential candidate with a comprehensive universal health care plan. He’s the only candidate with a plan for fighting poverty.

In this diary, I’ll quote from just a few of the many sources around the tubes showing Edwards’ commitment to lifting people out of poverty and to helping working Americans.


Edwards and Danny Glover in New Orleans

Edwards: "What are we going to do about at least 37 million -- that's the government's estimate -- at least 37 million of our own people, who wake up every day worried about feeding and clothing their children? Because, I don't know about you, but I think it says something about the character of our country, how we treat those among us who are literally worried just about surviving."

Edwards speaking to the IAFF

Edwards: "I have been all over this country organizing workers into unions, because I believe in my heart and soul, if we want to grow the middle class in this country, if we want to strengthen the middle class, if we want to lift millions of Americans out of poverty, the most important piece of that, certainly one of the most critical pieces of it, is to grow the union movement."

Edwards at Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (full speech):

Edwards: "I think we desperately need comprehensive labor law reform in this country. And I want to be very clear with all of you about what I believe. I think if someone can join the Republican Party by signing their name to a card, any worker in America ought to be able to join a union by doing exactly the same thing. That's democracy in the workplace." (standing ovation).

"And, before you sit down, we ought to ban the hiring of permanent replacements for strikers and make that the law of the land."

Walk A Day In My Shoes: John Edwards/Elaine Ellis

Elaine Ellis: "I will remember the Senator as a very nice person. I think that he is eager to learn the fact that health care workers need more attention from the government. It was a good day all around."

Will You Stand Up? (excerpt from speech to DNC)

Edwards: "We can not walk away from our people. We can not walk away from the heart and soul of what the Democratic Party is and should be."

John Edwards – Rural Recovery in Iowa

Edwards: "We want to help family farmers, and the best way to help family farmers, in my judgment, is to create a level playing field, and that means cracking down on and being tougher on these big conglomerate, corporate farming operations."

John Edwards – Iowa Women’s Town Hall

Edwards: "If we really want to empower women in this country, if we want to give force to the women's movement in this country, then we want women to have self-esteem, and strength, and respect, and they can't continue to not have health care coverage, or live in poverty, or get paid $.77 on the dollar for doing the same work men are doing. That's not right!"

John Edwards and the Minimum Wage

Before he announced his candidacy for president, John Edwards worked on successful campaigns to get the minimum wage raised in six states.

Danny Glover: "Somebody that cares about working people, somebody who cares about the right for working people to organize and cares for the right for working people to have a decent wage and benefits: Senator John Edwards!"

Edwards on college costs

at town hall in Newton, Iowa 3/10/2007

Edwards on his college for everyon program: "There was no government money in it. I raised the money for it, got the community involved. This is what we did. We said to every kid in the area, if you graduate from high school, and you're qualified to be in college, and you commit to work at least 10 hours a week while you're there, we pay for your tuition and books. It was pretty much that simple."


The Post Gets It Wrong: Edwards’ Poverty Policy Is Just What’s Needed, by Jared Bernstein

Quote: Here’s what he gets. It’s not just that those baking the pie ought to get fair slices. It’s not even the simple fact that too many poor people are playing by the rules yet still struggling to make ends meet with terribly insufficient incomes. Nor is it the glaringly obvious fact that kids who grow up poor have tremendous disadvantages that it is in all of our interests to avoid.

All those are true and important. But what Edwards gets—and you really want a president who feels this in his or her bones—is that these inequities undermine America. They quietly, slowly, and perniciously erode people’s support for our system of democracy and free markets. Untreated, they lead to distrust and defunding of government, diminished participation in the political system, protectionism and nativism, and a means-spiritedness that is as divisive as it is pessimistic. And I’d argue strongly that this is exactly where we’re headed.

More Piling on the Post’s Edwards and Poverty Article, by Greg Anrig, Jr.

Quote: What’s “new” and “fresh” that Edwards should be praised for is the political courage to focus the public’s attention on this subject after decades of neglect and a set of ideas that, based on research and experience -- as opposed to focus groups and right-wing salesmanship – have the best chance of making significant progress.

John Edwards wants a new Labor Movement (Fortune)

Quote: "The difference between union and non-union is literally the difference between poverty and middle class," Edwards told Fortune. "Hotel workers, restaurant workers, home health workers, hospital workers - at last count there are some 50 million people who work in the service economy. Those jobs aren't going anywhere else. They have to be done in the United States."

Senator Edwards Walks a Day in My Shoes by Elaine Ellis

Quote: Everyday, I provide basic care for nine residents who need attention from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. I've been doing this for eighteen years, and while it might look easy on TV, I'm sure the Senator will now be able to tell you otherwise.

Sometimes I feel like nursing assistants like me are at the bottom of the health care debate, but we are the ones who are holding everything up. We know what's wrong, and we know what we need to do to fix things. If politicians listened to us, then we might be able to get some real changes.

Walk a Day in My Shoes by SEIU

Quote: As part of SEIU’s program to ensure that presidential candidates experience firsthand what life is like for working people in America, Sen. John Edwards on April 11th walked a day in the shoes of SEIU member Elaine Ellis.

Protecting Homeowners and Fighting Predatory Mortgages

Quote: Homeownership is the foundation of the American Dream. For most families, the equity they build up in their home is a source of security and the primary source of their wealth. But for millions of families, the dream of homeownership is slipping away. Home foreclosure filings rose to 1.2 million in 2006 — a 42 percent jump — due to rising mortgage bills and a slowing housing market. In Iowa, 3,445 families experienced foreclosure last year, up 64 percent from 2005. Nationally, as many as 2.4 million subprime borrowers have either lost their homes or could lose them in the next few years. Problems in the housing market could weigh down the economy.

Can Edwards win with an ‘us vs. them’ pitch? (USA Today) March 14, 2007

Quote: Murphy, 50, likes Sen. Barack Obama but says the Illinois freshman "hasn't been around long enough." New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is "too much of a Washington politician." Edwards, he says, "is pretty down to earth and knows what's going on with people at my income level."

David Kuo: Is John Edwards for Real? (Beliefnet)

Kuo: “I believe John Edwards. I believe his passionate statements on behalf of the poor. I believe that the faith he says animates him is real. I believe that he has made quiet and selfless trips to care for the suffering around the world. I believe he knows what poverty is like and that his faith in Jesus requires him to care for the poor. I believe that those who criticize him for living in a huge house while talking about the poor should shut up - by that standard should only the sick get to talk about health care? I really, truly, absolutely believe John Edwards.”

Rural Recovery plan

Quote: "Rural America has been ignored for too long," said Edwards. "Across America, too many small towns have turned into ghost towns. We need to help small towns and rural communities create and keep new businesses and good jobs, and we need a President who will make sure all our communities have good schools, good health care and the support systems they need. As President, I will make sure rural America is never left behind."

Working Society

Quote: Edwards has outlined a Working Society initiative to lift 12 million Americans out of poverty in a decade and beat poverty over the next 30 years. In the Working Society, everyone who is able to work hard will be expected to work and, in turn, be rewarded for it.

More Than Just Talk by Bob Herbert, New York Times

Quote: Mr. Edwards, who announced his campaign for the presidency in the Ninth Ward, has stood by his commitment to make poverty one of his big campaign issues. I mentioned that poverty has not gotten much attention from the national media, and asked why middle-class Americans should care about the issue.

"First, you should care because it's a moral issue," he said. "It tells us something about the character of our country. And, by the way, I think most people do care about it. And second, you should care because if you want to see the American economy grow and strengthen over time, the strength and breadth of the middle class is a critical factor. When we have middle-class families struggling on the edge, falling into poverty or near poverty, those things weaken the American economy."

John Edwards: ‘My Faith Came Roaring Back’

Edwards: What I intend to continue to do, though, if I can bring us full circle back to the beginning of this discussion, is no matter whether anyone asks, no matter whether any other candidate ever raises the issue, as long as I'm alive and breathing and as long as I am a presidential candidate, I will be speaking up for the little guy. And I think that a lot of that has been lost in American politics for strategic political reasons. And their voice needs to be heard--desperately needs to be heard. And if I do nothing else, their voice will be heard through me.

Think a rich guy can't care about poverty or working Americans? John Edwards cares about as much as another rich guy: FDR. That's right. I'm comparing him to the president who effectively ended poverty for millions of American families. Edwards will not rest until he does the same.

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Map widget from supportthetroopsendthewar.com

This is pretty cool. It shows the events happening around the country on Memorial Day to support our troops and end this no good war.

You can get yours from the downloads area of supportthetroopsendthewar.com.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Reviving my blog

It's been a long time since I've posted on this blog, but I've decided to revive it, because it's just nice to have a place of your own.

I've been posting on a lot of other blogs. They comprise my media empire. I plan to give Rupert Murdoch a run for his money and single-handedly take back the "liberal" media.

I've become rather single-minded in my blogging. That's because I've decided that we have one good chance in the foreseeable future to get America back on the right track, and his name is John Edwards. I've put a lot of other things in my life on hold to do all I can as a volunteer for his campaign. The way I see it, I'm most likely to be effective if I'm helping to get the word out, so that's exactly what I'm doing.

Another woman blogger for John Edwards!

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