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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

John Edwards wins Republican debate - without even showing up!

Last night in a surprise upset, Democrat John Edwards won the Republican debate without even showing up! Check out this reaction among CNN's panel of undecided Republican voters.

She's not alone. I've had several Republicans tell me that if John Edwards wins the Democratic nomination, they would vote for him. Electability, for sure!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Edwards Evening News: America Belongs to Us

Welcome to tonight's Edwards Evening News. Today, the Edwards campaign unveiled the America Belongs to Us campaign with a goal of getting one million voters to sign a pledge not to vote or caucus for any candidate who takes money from lobbyists and PACs. America belongs to all of us, and we're taking our country back! Click the image to sign the pledge.

Here's more on why America Belongs to Us from TomP's diary earlier today.

The "AMERICA BELONGS TO US" 2008 Pledge and website was anounced today by the Edwards campaign.

Lobbyists have taken control in Washington and America’s hard-working families pay the price. They've stopped universal health care. They've secured unfair and unsafe trade deals that have cost America good middle-class jobs. They've left our children at risk from unsafe toys. They've sabotaged clean energy legislation that would address global warming. And they've squashed efforts for cheaper generic prescription drugs. Enough is enough. America belongs to us.

If you want real change, Sign the Pledge:

Because I believe we need real change in America and an end to the broken system in Washington that works for special interests and not us, I pledge not to vote or caucus for a Democratic presidential candidate that accepts campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs.


Edwards Walks the Picket Line with Striking Writers in New York

Yesterday, John Edwards walked the picket line in New York with striking members of the Writers Guild of America East. This is the second time during this presidential campaign that he has walked the picket line with striking workers, as Miss Laura pointed out in her front page diary earlier today. (It's definitely not the first time that he's showed up to support union workers, however, having participated in nearly 200 union events over the years.)

Edwards speaking to striking writers in New York

Edwards Explains His Healthcare Mandate

Today, Edwards explained the details of his healthcare mandate, which allows his healthcare plan to be truly universal.

"We need true universal health care reform that covers every single man, woman, and child in America. It is wrong to leave anyone without the care they need. A universal system will work better for all of us – delivering better care at lower cost.

"Barack Obama's plan leaves out 15 million people. The truth is that some people will choose not to buy insurance even though it's affordable, knowing that the rest of us will pay for their emergency room visits.

"But it is just as bad to say that everyone will have insurance without a plan to get there. Hillary Clinton says her plan will cover everyone through a 'mandate' but does not provide even the most rudimentary idea much less a detailed plan of how this 'mandate' would work. To get fundamental change in our health care system, we need a fundamental change in our politics. That starts with being clear and direct about what we are going to do and how we are going to do it."

Edwards' truly universal health care plan will ensure that every American has health insurance. He will require proof of insurance when income taxes are paid and when health care is provided. Families without insurance will be enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP or another targeted plan or be assigned a plan within new Health Care Markets.

Families who lose coverage will be expected to enroll in another plan or be assigned one. For the few people who refuse to pay, the government will help collect back premiums with interest and collection costs by using tools like the ones it uses for student loans and taxes, including collection agencies and wage garnishment.

Ezra Klein at Tapped had this to say:

Later today, John Edwards will announce the specifics of how his mandate works. And they're quite good. Whenever you come into contact with the health care system, or whenever you pay your taxes, you will be asked to provide proof of insurance, presumably a policy number or some similar identifier. If you cannot, you will automatically be enrolled in either a public plan that you qualify for (like Medicaid or S-CHIP) or the cheapest plan offered by his Health Insurance Market. Bills will then get sent out, and if they're not paid, will be collected just like the government collects on student loan debts, or taxes, or anything else, using tools up to and including collection agencies and wage garnishment. (It's notable, here, that Edwards doesn't shy away from saying what his stick will be.)

In this way, Edwards' plan is much less an individual mandate and much closer to a government mandate. The burden is less on the individual to seek new insurance and more on the government to simply enroll them in it. From there, they can opt in to a different insurer if they so choose, or simply stay with their default plan. It's a smart and efficient way to move towards universality, and, for now, it puts Edwards ahead of both Obama and Clinton on the substance of the policy, and the speed with which he presented it to the public.

PSSST! I hear a new ad is coming out in Iowa

I hear through the blogosphere grapevine that a new ad is coming out in Iowa in a couple of weeks, and our own Im4JRE, a longtime supporter from the Edwards blog, was there when they filmed it! So cool! Check out her first hand account:

John was relaxed and joked with all of us and he thanked us for our patience, hah...like it was an effort to see and listen to him...not.

I won't tell you what the ad was about as you will see it for yourselves in a week or two.

After the camera men were through, they took pictures of JRE just talking to the crowd, no sound, and it wasn't about politics, just ordinary people talking about this and that. I did ask JRE that when he won the Iowa caucus, would he wait for me to get to the celebration before he made his VICTORY speech... and he said for all to hear... Count on it!

I wanted to share this event with all of you to let you know that JRE is our man for President and that he is powerful and he will stand with us and for us to make America ours again.

You can read more in her diary. Congratulations, Im4JRE!

Send Out the E-Signal! Upcoming Events!

Edwards will be on Charlie Rose tomorrow, November 29th. Check your local listings. It's on at 12:35 PM where I am in Maryland. Thanks so much to Terre for this information! Charlie Rose also has a page of prior interviews with John Edwards.

UPDATE: Terre also tells me that Keith Olbermann will be interviewing John live from the campaign trail tomorrow on Countdown on MSNBC. Couldn't find confirmation on his web site, but anyway, Keith is always worth watching!

Also tomorrow:

John Edwards will deliver remarks to the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council
Nov 29, 2007
6:00 PM
Hotel Vetro
201 S Linn Street
Iowa City, Iowa
Click here to RSVP

John Edwards will speak to the DNC Fall Meeting outside of DC in Vienna, Virginia on Friday morning. I was at his speech to the DNC Winter Meeting much earlier this year, and it was fabulous! If you are in the DC area, come out to support John! You can RSVP for the event at the link above.

If you can come to an early state and volunteer, the campaign would love your help. Sign up here.

Some Cool Diaries You May Have Missed

Democratic Presidential Ads in NH and Iowa - What do you think? by Ellinorianne

A Plea to Early State Democrats From an Edwards Supporter by RDemocrat

John Edwards, in dead heat in Iowa, quietly starts to move up in NH and SC by JSamuel

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

John Edwards - 37 Days Until the New Hampshire Primary

This is what I was talking about in my previous post! Time to get out there and volunteer in the early states!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Time to Step It Up for JRE

Folks, this year we have an amazing, unusual opportunity where the most progressive of the major candidates is also the most electable candidate in the Democratic field. I think it couldn't come at a more important time.

Let's face it. The Republicans have made a horrible mess during the past 13 years, ever since Bill Clinton lost the Democratic Congress in the midterm election of 1994.

The past 13 years of bad luck have been a time of doom, gloom, and despair for the entire country. As a result of bad trade policies like NAFTA, huge numbers of American jobs have gone overseas, including so many manufacturing jobs that you almost cannot buy anything made in the United States anymore. We've seen our Constitution shredded and our civil liberties taken away. We've seen an increasingly corrupt Congress selling legislation to the highest corporate bidder, while more and more Americans go without healthcare, housing, and even food. Meanwhile, nothing has been done about impending disasters like global warming. Make no mistake about it. This is one of the darkest of times in American history.

What we really need now is a leader. We need someone who will take bold and correct stands on the issues, lead the country in the direction it needs to go, and be willing to fight the special interests in Washington to get there. We are not going to get where we need to go or get ourselves out of this mess if we elect someone who is so enthralled with the idea of political negotiation and compromise that they're willing to give up a lot of what we need before negotiations even begin. In short, we are not going to get there with a political insider.

Enter John Edwards. John Edwards has spent his life fighting against big corporate interests. He made a living doing so as one of the most successful trial attorneys in the entire country. In fact, he was so successful at it that he joined a club comprised of the 100 most successful trial attorneys in the country at the age of 37 and was the youngest member to join. In case after case, he represented average people who had been hurt by the neglect of big corporations and, as he is fond of saying, he beat them, and he beat them, and he beat them again.

In both his legal career and his time in the Senate, Edwards has a reputation for standing up for the little guy against powerful corporate interests. It's exactly what we need, and it couldn't come at a better time.

Edwards has shown his leadership in the presidential race by laying out a progressive agenda based on carefully thought through, detailed policy proposals the scope of which lays out a bold vision for the future the likes of which I have never seen from a presidential candidate. This is the stuff American dreams are made of.

Best of all, head to head matchup polls done by various polling organizations throughout the year have shown Edwards as the most electable candidate against the likely Republican contenders. Not only would he beat the Republicans by wider margins nationally than Clinton, but he also would bring into play red states that neither Clinton nor Obama could hope to compete in. By winning some additional states and their electoral votes, Edwards increases the margin of victory and gives us some insurance against losing another election to Republican shenanigans.

I may as well say it: Edwards is my dream candidate. Edwards is exactly the kind of guy that I've always wished would run as the Democratic nominee, the kind of candidate we deserve, but never quite seem to get. This time around, we have an historic opportunity to elect a truly great president.

So I'm really excited about Edwards as a candidate, but time is running short. As of November 27, we have only 37 days until the Iowa caucus. The race is currently a dead heat in Iowa, according to polls. There are only 42 days until the New Hampshire primary, the first primary in the nation.

Last week, I was up in New Hampshire volunteering on the ground. A lot of voters in New Hampshire are still undecided, which means there is a big opportunity there.

I think it's likely that in all of the early states, there are a lot of undecided voters and that anyone could win in any of those states, but those states will determine the outcome of the presidential race. If you live in any of the early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina, or if you can travel to them or even make calls into them, now is the time to volunteer for Edwards.

You can sign up to volunteer here, but actually I wouldn't even wait for them to contact you. What I did was to find the contact information for the New Hampshire Edwards office and contact them and tell them I was coming.

Get in touch with the campaign in your early state of choice and volunteer. Give money if you can afford it.

We can have the president we really deserve. John Edwards -- a president who will really inspire us. But now is the time to make sure we make that happen.

Throughout the past 11 months, I've been blogging about John Edwards and his incredible platform for transformational change, and in the course of that time, I've met some fellow Edwards supporters who are real American heroes. Some of the Edwards ads talk about heroes of One America, well, my friends and fellow Edwards supporters are my heroes.

I want to talk about some of them today, because these heroes of One America are truly inspiring to me.

TomP, pioneer111, sarahlane, NCDem Amy, mdgarcia, edgery, Ellinorianne, Predictor, Clarkent, okamichan13, jamess, cosbo, jsamuel, ladylib, our wonderful artist in residence, RedJet, and the rest of the contributors and regular commenters on the Edwards Evening News team get the word out about John Edwards on Daily Kos and around the blogosphere on a daily basis and help abhor the vacuum of the mainstream media horserace news with the regular Edwards Evening News series as well as many other insightful diaries.

NCDem Amy, OneCarolinaGirl, sgary, ashlarah, and marratha are citizen journalists and video uploaders who regularly bring us news and video content about the campaign, much of it original.

I also look to other incredible bloggers and citizen journalists like David Mizner, Montana Maven, RDemocrat, Machka, Boadicah, Wade Norris, DK2, and benny06, as well as the many fine state blogs for Edwards.

Regular commenters on Edwards diaries and on the Edwards blog bring us updates from their efforts on the ground, including some people living and volunteering in the early states, such as RunawayRose, Im4JRE, desmoinesdem, and Smucci. Some regulars have been volunteering for John Edwards for years, like nannyboz, Persiflage, bettync, and suswa.

I know I have left some people out and I apologize for that. I couldn’t possibly list all of you who make a difference in your efforts to create One America that works for all of us. I didn't list some people by name because they may not have a blog that I can link to, or in some cases, I may just have forgotten. I know there are One Corps members all over the country and right in my own back yard in Maryland who are working hard to elect JRE. Thank you for all of your work. Each and every one of you is a hero to me. May your efforts come to fruition.

I also want to give a shout out to all the Edwards campaign staffers I’ve met, either online or in person. You all work very hard and I’m thrilled to have such a dedicated group watching the back of our future president day in and day out. One thing is for sure, Edwards supporters, volunteers, and staffers are an incredibly wonderful group of individuals. It makes me proud to volunteer for this campaign.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Edwards Evening News: Report from New Hampshire

Welcome to your Edwards Evening News! I just got back from a weekend volunteering for the Edwards campaign in New Hampshire, so tonight we have my special report from the Granite State. I'll tell you about door-to-door canvassing, making phone calls to voters, putting up a really large sign, and a visit to a house party for Elizabeth Edwards. All this, and the rest of the Edwards news, in tonight's EENR.

Manchester, New Hampshire City Hall

Road Trip to New Hampshire

This weekend, I finally got around to going up to New Hampshire to volunteer for the Edwards campaign. For the past couple of months, I have been meaning to do this, but I kept trying to plan it around an event. The trouble was, I would find out about the events three or four days ahead of time, and by then I would have other plans. Eventually, I had to just plan a trip to New Hampshire when it was convenient for me, and hope there would be an event I could go to. Everything worked out just fine, and on Sunday night I got to go to a great house party with Elizabeth Edwards!

On Saturday and Sunday, I spent most of each day canvassing neighborhoods in Manchester. I went out with other volunteers or Edwards staffers to knock on doors in specific neighborhoods assigned by the campaign. The plan was to try to talk to voters about their choices, answer any questions about Edwards, and at least leave some literature, whether or not they were home. I estimate that I personally knocked on about 150 doors over the weekend.

Front of campaign literature

Most people were not home, but of the voters I did get to talk to, almost all of them were undecided. Based on this experience, I would say that if anybody tries to suggest to you that a particular candidate has New Hampshire sewn up, they do not know what they're talking about. Most voters simply have not made a decision yet. Those voters I spoke with seem to be taking their responsibility as New Hampshire voters very seriously and still pondering the possibilities. Among the few voters I talked to who had made a decision, they seemed as likely to be supporting JRE as anyone else.

Manchester, New Hampshire is a very nice small town that presidential candidates just happen to spend a lot of time in. At first glance, it seems quite normal, but it does become a bit strange when you realize that almost everyone in town seems to have had some sort of contact with a presidential candidate.

For example, I found a great Mexican restaurant, Consuelo's Taqueria, which had the best burritos that I've had since I lived in California. I really miss getting good Mexican food, so I ate there twice. The people that work there are very friendly, and I had some great conversations with them, and in one of those conversations I found out that Bill Richardson just happened to have stopped in there and given a speech recently. Everyday happenings in Manchester, New Hampshire!

On Sunday morning, I had breakfast at the Merrimack Restaurant, which happened to be about the only thing open, but which is also a favorite campaign stop for candidates. They have the wall and the paper menu complete with caricatures of the current candidates to prove it.

I thought the party at the next table were just a bunch of tourists from New York until the camera crew arrived. They had mentioned Rudy Giuliani quite a bit and 9/11, but it took me a while to realize they were actually a group of firefighters who think Giuliani did a terrible job before and during 9/11 and they have formed a group opposing his nomination. I had seen their web site before, and I think I recognized one of the men at the table from this video. Everyday happenings in Manchester, I tell you.

On Sunday and Monday in particular, I spent quite a bit of time with a couple of the Edwards staffers, because I went out canvassing with them. One of them mentioned to me that campaigns always reflect the candidates, and I have to agree, because everybody that I've met on the Edwards staff is really nice. I enjoyed meeting them and talking about the campaign.

Sunday night I drove out to Hampton Falls near the coast to attend a house party for Elizabeth Edwards. Elizabeth was speaking at an old farmhouse that was built in 1753. I could tell it was really old as soon as I walked in. It had gorgeous wood paneling, fireplaces, and low ceilings throughout. Tracy, the owner of the house, told us it was built in 1753. I have not been in very many houses in this country that are older than the nation itself.

Elizabeth spoke for about 15 minutes and then took questions for perhaps another hour. She answered the questions in great detail, usually speaking for more than 10 minutes on a single voter's question. As usual, she was charming and direct and I'm pretty sure she convinced a number of undecided voters to support John. I spoke to one woman afterwards who for sure had decided to support John after hearing Elizabeth. I also overheard someone else saying they were moving closer to the Edwards camp after the event.

I took video of the event, but my camera battery died toward the end of it. The video I have is a little less than an hour long. After the battery died, she also answered a question on restoring our relationships with the rest of the world. I wish I had been able to record that, because her answer was really good. Here's my video of the event:

Here's a shorter clip from the same house party of Elizabeth answering a question about John's rural policy. This video was taken by a campaign staffer:

We hear that Elizabeth is a regular reader of Edward's Evening News, so Elizabeth, if you are reading this, hi there! I'm sorry that I didn't get to speak to you after the event, however, I thought it was more important for you to speak with New Hampshire voters, so I stepped back to let you do that. You certainly seem to have made a good impression.

On Monday, I went back to the campaign office to make phone calls. This proves that I am really dedicated. Making phone calls is probably almost my least favorite thing in the entire world. I think I made about 150 of them.

The purpose of the phone calls was to invite people to come hear John Edwards speak in Manchester on Monday the 26th. If you will be in New Hampshire on that day, he will be speaking at the Millyard Museum at 7 p.m.

I think people in New Hampshire must be really nice, because very few of them were upset at me for bugging them with a political phone call. Or maybe it was just because I was inviting them to see John Edwards, which quite a few of them were very excited about.

In the afternoon on Monday, I went out and did more canvassing with one of the staffers. As you might imagine, even fewer people were home on Monday afternoons than had been on the weekend.

In the evening, we had the pleasure of putting a really big sign on the fence in front of a supporter's house. It's on a very busy street, so it will be seen by a lot of people! Doesn't it look great?

That's about it for my weekend in New Hampshire! I really enjoyed the chance to go and help out with the Edwards campaign, and if you can travel to one of the early states, I encourage you to do the same. You can sign up to do that right here!

More of Tonight's Edwards News

New Hampshire Primary Set for January 8th!

New Hampshire has finally decided on it's primary date and the winning date is January 8th. Here's John's statement on that:

“I am pleased that New Hampshire will retain its rightful place as the first-in-the-nation primary. I applaud Bill Gardner's work to protect New Hampshire's significance in our nominating process. The New Hampshire primary is critical because voters in New Hampshire take their responsibility seriously: they listen to the candidates, look them in the eye, ask them tough questions and size them up. In New Hampshire, ideas truly matter more than money and that is precisely why this is anyone's race.

“I look forward to campaigning across New Hampshire during the final weeks of this campaign. I have spent time in living rooms and town halls in every corner of the state and everywhere I go, I hear from voters that they're looking for real, meaningful change in Washington next November. From now until January 8, I look forward to continuing to meet with voters to talk about my plans to shake up Washington and restore the power of government to the hands of regular, hardworking people.”

Edwards Announces Policies for Fighting Hunger in America

Tomorrow many of us will get together with family and friends and most likely eat WAY too much. But there are a growing number of hungry people in America. At this holiday, when the emphasis is so much on food, be thankful if you have enough to eat, but also, please do what you can to help your neighbors who may be going hungry.

In the spirit of the holiday, today John Edwards announced his plan to fight hunger in America. TomP had a great diary on this earlier, in case you missed it.

The six points of the Edwards plan:

1. Pass a Farm Bill with Strong Nutrition Programs: The nutrition programs in the Farm Bill are critical to increasing food security in America. Just two programs – food stamps and the Emergency Food Assistance Program for food banks – help about 25 million Americans a year each. Unfortunately, federal funding has not kept pace with growing need and rising costs. Last week, Senate Republicans used a filibuster to block the farm bill, sending Congress home for Thanksgiving without helping overtaxed food banks or hungry families. Edwards believes that Congress should quickly pass a strong and fair farm bill with robust funding for federal nutrition programs and President Bush should sign it. [ASH, 2007]

2. Get Food Aid to More Eligible Families: Food stamps – cash assistance averaging only about $1 per person per meal – help families purchase food and provide nearly a two-to-one benefit for the local economy. But one out of every three eligible families is not enrolled in the program, including millions of families who visit food banks and other community food services. Edwards will expand a pilot program, Express Stamps, which provides online enrollment kiosks at local food pantries. He will expand alternative hours at food stamp eligibility offices so that working families can enroll without missing work. To modernize eligibility and benefits, Edwards believes that Congress should quickly pass reforms to raise the minimum benefit level (which has remained at $10 since 1977), allow families to deduct their actual child care costs and protect families with modest retirement or education savings so they do not have to chose between putting food on the table and their longer-term need of preparing for the future. [CBPP, 2007; USDA, 2006 and 2007]

3. Provide Healthy Meals for Children: The 12 million American children who go hungry are 90 percent more likely to be in fair or poor health, have 30 percent higher hospitalization rates, and have lower test scores, attendance and other academic indicators. As president, Edwards will ensure robust funding to meet the nutritional needs of low-income school children through school breakfasts, free and reduced lunches, after-school snacks, fruit and vegetable programs, and the critical but under-used Summer Food Program. [Cook et al., 2004; Frongillo et al., 2005]

4. Strengthen Food Support for Seniors: One in six low-income elderly families does not have a regular, reliable source of enough to eat. President Bush has repeatedly proposed eliminating funding for the critical Commodity Supplemental Food program, which delivers nutritious food packages to nearly half a million seniors in 32 states and two Indian territories. Edwards will strengthen support for this program and expand other supportive services including Meals-on-Wheels for seniors and people with disabilities. [CBPP, 2007]

5. Address the “Heat or Eat” Crisis: Nearly half of the families served by the nation’s food banks have been forced to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel. Without assistance, even more families will struggle with this winter’s anticipated record home heating prices. Today, Edwards called on President Bush and Congress to fully fund the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program — nearly doubling it to $5.1 billion – and adjust the standard utility allowance in food stamp eligibility rules to reflect soaring prices. He will help states implement new low- and no-interest consumer loan programs through states and non-profits and double the funding for weatherizing homes. He also has a plan to fight rising oil and gas prices by creating energy competition, reducing speculation in the oil and gas markets, and bringing down demand through greater building conservation, fuel efficiency and access to renewable sources. [ASH, 2006; EIA, 2007]

6. Support Food Access in Every Neighborhood: Wealthy neighborhoods have over three times as many supermarkets as non-wealthy neighborhoods. Small corner stores are usually more expensive and offer less nutritious food. Food-insecure families in rural areas often face high transportation costs to reach the nearest food pantries. As president, Edwards will launch a public-private partnership to bring fresh, nutritious food to new neighborhoods. He will create a national food access map that identifies neighborhoods lacking grocery stores, emergency food banks and regular access to fresh produce. His new Healthy Neighborhoods Seed Fund will offer needy communities challenge grants for projects including full-service supermarkets, community gardens and food stamp-friendly farmers’ markets. [PolicyLink, 2005

Today, the Edwards family delivered food to a local food bank.

John Edwards is calling on his supporters to do the same by volunteering at a local food bank or donating food. You can find your local Second Harvest food bank here.

Here's a Thanksgiving message from John Edwards:

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Edwards Evening News!

Events in Iowa

The Des Moines Register has a great article today: I Will Shake Up D.C., Edwards Thunders

Presidential candidate John Edwards declared Tuesday night that he would not back down in his quest to defeat the powers that he says have corrupted Washington, D.C.

"If you're considering caucusing for John Edwards, you know what you're gonna get because I'm gonna shake that place up," he told hundreds of Iowans packed into the auditorium at Des Moines' Roosevelt High School.

The former North Carolina senator gave one of his most emphatic speeches of the year before a crowd that had gathered partly to hear musicians Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne sing on his behalf. The musicians weren't the only ones drawing standing ovations. The audience cheered and whistled when Edwards called for their help in fighting to get the country back on track.

A voter asked him whether he had the management experience to lead the country, given that his professional background mainly consisted of confronting rivals as a trial lawyer. Edwards retorted: "Hell, yeah, I'm confrontational."

Earlier today, NCDem Amy had a terrific diary on Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt on the campaign trail with Edwards. I wish I had been there!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

John Edwards on Hillary's Politics of Parsing: CNN Debate

Thank you John for taking on the corruption in our government!

John Edwards-Who will change the corrupt system?: CNN Debate

Clip of the debate from NC Dem.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Edwards's Scissor Hands and Clinton's 5 P's

John Edwards released a statement today about Hillary Clinton's newest slogan (video):

“The war in Iraq isn’t even history yet, but the Bush Administration is repeating the march to war with Iran – and they’re getting help from a person who should know a lot better – Senator Clinton.

“On Saturday at the Iowa Jefferson Jackson dinner, Senator Clinton unveiled her new campaign slogan to ‘turn up the heat’ on the Republicans.

Well, somebody will have to tell me how you ‘turn up the heat’ by voting with Bush, Cheney and the neocons on their path to war with Iran. Because I don't believe that's turning up the heat – I think that's giving them exactly what they want.

Senator Clinton had her chance to stand up and she chose not to use it. Our nation needs leaders who have the strength and backbone to fight the president on his march to war with Iran – not quicken the pace.”

This quote highlights number 5 of Clinton's 5 P's. The Politics of Pretend. Pretend to be a progressive. Pretend to be a leader. Pretend to stand up to the Republicans. Pretend Kyl-Lieberman is all about diplomacy.

Clinton's 5 P's:


On September 26, 2007, Hillary Clinton voted with the majority of the Senate to pass the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which declares the Iranian National Guard a terrorist organization. Senator Jim Webb called the amendement "Dick Cheney's fondest pipe dream."

You may remember Mike Gravel asking Clinton about it in the debate that took place on the same date as her vote.

She went on to defend her vote as putting some teeth in diplomacy.

Clinton: My understanding of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran is that it is promoting terrorism. It is manufacturing weapons that are used against our troops in Iraq. It is certainly the main agent of support for Hezbollah, Hamas and others.

And in what we voted for today, we will have an opportunity to designate it as a terrorist organization which gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran.

We wouldn't be where we are today if the Bush administration hadn't outsourced our diplomacy with respect to Iran and ignored Iran and called it part of the axis of evil. Now we've got to make up for lost time and lost ground...

In the same debate, John Edwards also criticized Clinton for her vote.

Edwards: But I want to come back to a discussion that took place a few minutes ago to make everyone understands what Senator Gravel is talking and Senator Clinton was talking about. Because there was a very important vote cast in the United States Senate today. And it was, basically, in a resolution calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

I voted for this war in Iraq, and I was wrong to vote for this war. And I accept responsibility for that. Senator Clinton also voted for this war.

We learned a very different lesson from that. I have no intention of giving George Bush the authority to take the first step on a road to war with Iran.

And I think that vote today, which Senator Biden and Senator Dodd voted against, and they were correct to vote against it, is a clear indication of the approach that all of us would take with the situation in Iran because what I learned in my vote on Iraq was you cannot give this president the authority and you can't even give him the first step in that authority because he cannot be trusted.

The Real News has some questions they would like to ask Senator Clinton, and if you think this is just putting some teeth in diplomacy, this video cites a few facts you really ought to know.

In the October 30th, debate, Clinton again defended her vote as "diplomacy."

Clinton: I prefer vigorous diplomacy. And I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy. We used them with respect to North Korea. We used them with respect to Libya.

And many of us who voted for that resolution said that this is not anything other than an expression of support for using economic sanctions with respect to diplomacy.

Edwards had this to say about Clinton's Yes vote on Kyl Lieberman during the Democratic debate on October 30th:

Edwards: Well, I just listened to what Senator Clinton said and she said she wanted to maximize pressure on the Bush administration. So the way to do that is to vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written, literally, by the neo-cons.

I mean, has anyone read this thing? I mean, it literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted. It didn't just give them what they wanted. They acted on it.

A few weeks later, they declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, and -- this is going to sound very familiar -- remember from Iraq? The prelude to Iraq? -- proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

The way you put pressure on this administration is you stand up to them; you say no.

A lot of us on this stage have learned our lessons the hard way, that you give this president an inch and he will take a mile. And this is about such an important issue, and we have to stand up to this president. We need to make it absolutely clear that we have no intention of letting Bush, Cheney or this administration invade Iran because they have been rattling the saber over and over and over.

And what this resolution did, written literally in the language of the neo-cons, is it enables this president to do exactly what he wants to do. He continues to march forward. He continues to say this is a terrorist organization. He continues to say these are proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

How in the world is that -- Democrats -- we're not talking about Republicans now, Chris and Joe -- Democrats standing up to this president and saying, "No, we are not going to allow this, we are not going to allow this march to war in Iran"?

Way to turn up the heat, Senator Clinton! The problem is, we want Democrats to turn up the heat on the Republicans NOT Iran.

After the debate, the Clinton campaign claimed the other Democrats had "piled on" Senator Clinton. Her campaign sought to paint her as the victim of an attack. Some people claimed this "attack" would backfire on the other candidates, and Edwards in particular, apparently thinking that people would sympathize with Clinton's inability to answer the tough questions she was asked.

The New Republic, in an article wittily if bizarrely titled "Edwards's Scissor Hands," has a very interesting take on how Edwards's experience as a trial lawyer has taught him how to read a jury or an electorate. (Emphasis mine.)

It was hard not to think of this passage on a brisk morning last Friday in Cheraw, South Carolina, as Edwards warmed up a crowd of some 200 locals. A few days earlier, Edwards had led the Democratic field in its first thorough grilling of Hillary Clinton--at one point urging her to shift from general- election mode to "tell-the-truth mode." Now he was eager to revisit the moment. "I want to start by saying a few words about the debate that took place in Philadelphia a couple of days ago," Edwards announced. "You know, I have a really simple rule: When you get asked a yes or no question, you can't answer yes and no. That doesn't work. ... We certainly can't afford to have a Democratic nominee who does that." The crowd chuckled, then nodded along in approval.

Though Edwards was the debate's consensus winner, the distinction had come with a caveat: What if he'd unwittingly turned Clinton into a sympathetic victim? It was a reasonable question, but one that ignored a key biographical detail: Having spent two decades doing rhetorical battle in some of the most hostile courtrooms in North Carolina, with juries ready to punish the slightest hint of overreach, Edwards arguably has a better feel for how voters will react to his words than any candidate in recent memory.

"There are a lot of people that the jury doesn't want to see you pound on," Edwards told me later. "What happens is, psychologically, they'll put themselves in the shoes of the witness. And you don't want them to do that." Then he picked up on the analogy between a trial and a campaign: "Tough is fine. Juries don't mind you being tough. Voters don't mind you being tough. ... If you're being factual and you're giving them information that's defining their choices, nobody's offended by that."

Vote in the poll

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

John Edwards - Iowa Jefferson Jackson Dinner

Wow, this is one incredibly inspiring speech! Check it out!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

UPDATED: The Peru FTA's Expanded Giant Sucking Sound Just Got Louder

In a few moments, I will sign three agreements that will complete our negotiations with Mexico and Canada to create a North American Free Trade Agreement. In the coming months, I will submit this pact to Congress for approval. It will be a hard fight, and I expect to be there with all of you every step of the way. We will make our case as hard and as well as we can. And though the fight will be difficult, I deeply believe we will win. And I'd like to tell you why: first of all, because NAFTA means jobs American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't support this agreement.

- Former President Bill Clinton speech on NAFTA, Sept. 13, 1993

Well, that didn't work out so well for us, did it? In fact, third party presidential candidate Ross Perot was more accurate when he described NAFTA as a "giant sucking sound." So what's up with the Peru Free Trade Agreement currently being pushed through Congress? Is it more of the same?

Well, we know where Barack Obama stands on the issue.

"Unlike NAFTA and CAFTA, the Peru Trade Agreement includes real, enforceable labor and environmental protections," Obama spokesman Jen Psaki said.

"Speaker Pelosi and Congressmen Rangel and Levin deserve credit for fighting hard for these provisions, and Barack Obama supports their efforts to make sure that our trade policies help American workers, not just big corporations," Psaki said.

Sound familiar? You might even say it...

means jobs American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't support this agreement.

(Bill Clinton on NAFTA again.)

I've got three words for this expansion of NAFTA: Growing Sucking Sound.

So what has Hillary Clinton, the spouse of the man who gave us NAFTA, said on this new free trade agreement? Crickets.

John Edwards, on the other hand, has this to say:

"For decades, our leaders in Washington have pursued trade policies that have devastated communities like the ones I grew up in. Take NAFTA - it was supported by insiders from both political parties, but it has cost us more than 1 million jobs. Now, at a time when American families are terribly concerned about job losses and a weak economy, our Congress is about to vote on expanding the NAFTA-free trade model to Peru.

"The Peru deal will continue the trade policies that have long failed our workers and cost American workers their jobs. It's time to show some guts and backbone, stand up and oppose this trade deal, and demand trade policies that put families and workers first. I urge members of Congress to vote against this deal today.

"The fact that the Peru trade deal is supported by a bipartisan group of insiders, including George Bush and senior officials from the first Clinton Administration - many of whom are now lobbyists, corporate lawyers, and business consultants - should be proof-positive of why members of Congress should join with me and oppose this deal. The benefit to corporate lobbyists from both sides of the political aisle will come only at the expense of hard-working families.

"Senator Obama has chosen to support this bad deal. I strongly disagree with his position, but at least he has taken one. Senator Clinton, on the other hand, has refused to take any position. I urge Senator Clinton to publicly announce, today, her opposition and join with me in encouraging members of Congress to vote against the Peru trade deal."

As John Nichols at The Nation says,

Edwards is Right, Obama's Wrong, Clinton's Useless

As Illinois Congressman Phil Hare, a former textile union leader who has led the fight against the Bush-Pelosi line, notes: Peru is currently threatening striking miners with the loss of their jobs if they do not return to the mines. That's not protecting the rights of workers. Indeed, says Hare, "The striking miners were fighting for, among other things, an eight hour work day. In addition, we recently learned that there are 2 million children working in Peru, many in these very same mines."

"Is this the progress the supporters of the Peru FTA were referring to?" asks Hare, who adds, "Today's news should serve as yet another wakeup call that the best thing to do for workers both at home and in Peru is defeat this unfair trade deal."

Hare's right. But he needs some allies among the party's leading presidential contenders.

Obama's wrong and Clinton's of no use.

Thankfully, John Edwards is reading the issue right.

The House has now passed this bill, since the earlier version of this diary I posted on Daily Kos. It now goes to the Senate. This is our last chance to speak out. Please contact your Senators!

Many labor unions are opposed to this bill.

"The Democratic leadership, I'm surprised at,"Bruce Raynor, president of UNITE Here, a textile and service employees union, told reporters on a conference call opposing the Peru bill this week. "I think they failed to remember that in the last election many Democrats were elected to the House and Senate on the issue of failed trade policy."

TheMiddleClass.org from the Drum Major Institute has this to say about this bill:

The Middle Class Opposes. Increased international trade can contribute to economic growth, but the way trade rules are formulated in agreements like this means that the benefits of trade are distributed unevenly, ultimately undermining the middle class and aspiring middle class in both the U.S. and the nations it trades with. A central problem is that the Peru trade agreement empowers businesses and investment capital to cross international borders more easily, providing a decisive advantage over working people who are not so internationally mobile and whose rights are not equally well protected in all of the nations covered by the agreement. This imbalance of power creates incentives to move U.S. jobs overseas and puts downward pressure on the wages of American workers as they are placed in more direct competition with poorly-paid, disempowered Peruvian workers.

Please contact your Senators!

I'm glad to see that my presidential candidate, John Edwards, is once again taking the right position and leading on an issue where the other major Democratic presidential candidates are either taking the wrong position, or failing to lead. Edwards has been outspoken and clear on his position on this and just about every other issue. This reminds me of a quote from Harry Truman:

There is not a single, solitary man or woman in the United States today who can't find out in two minutes where I stand on the important matters like foreign policy, labor, agriculture, social security, housing, high prices, and all the other problems we as a nation have to face.

But there is not a single, solitary man or woman in the United States who has been able, within the last 2 months, to find out where the Republican candidate stands on these issues.

... except that where Harry Truman was talking about Republicans, we are now having a problem finding out where some of the Democratic candidates stand.


Press Release by Secretary of State Condi Rice:

From: statelists@LISTS.STATE.GOV [mailto:statelists@LISTS.STATE.GOV]

Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2007 11:54 AM


Subject: House of Representatives Passage of the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement

House of Representatives Passage of the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement        

Statement by Secretary Condoleezza Rice                                        

House of Representatives Passage of the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement        

Washington, DC                                                                

November 8, 2007                                                              

I am very pleased by the House of Representatives' strong bipartisan approval of the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. The Peru Trade Promotion Agreement's mutual benefits are clear. It benefits U.S. workers and farmers by giving our products the same treatment in Peru that Peru's exports enjoy in the United States. It helps Peru alleviate poverty by creating jobs and economic opportunities, sharing with the people of Peru the benefits of their democracy and open markets. Through the benefits of two-way trade, this agreement will reinforce the foundation of our deep and strong

relationship. The House of Representatives' strong vote for this agreement demonstrates that the United States remains an active and committed partner in the hemisphere.

I look forward to a Senate vote in the near future, and urge Congress to approve the pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.    


Released on November 8, 2007                                                  



See http://www.state.gov/... for all remarks by the Secretary of State.





Chapel Hill, North Carolina - Today, Senator John Edwards released the following statement:

"I'm disappointed by today's vote to approve the Peru trade deal and expand the failed NAFTA model that has cost us more than a million jobs.  However, I congratulate the 132 members - including a majority of the voting House Democrats - for their courage in standing up and voting against this flawed deal.  The vote should be an alarm bell for President Bush: other flawed trade deals, including South Korea and Columbia, need to be improved before they are brought before Congress.

"I believe that American workers and businesses can compete with any worker or company in the world as long as our government stands up and fights for a level playing field.  American workers deserve trade agreements that strengthen and maintain, rather than undercut and erode, labor rights, environmental standards and wages.

"While I believe Senator Obama is wrong to give this president authority to risk American jobs with more bad trade deals, at least he has taken a position. Unfortunately, Senator Clinton has still refused to take a position on this proposal. I believe voters deserve to hear the truth and I urge Senator Clinton to join me in calling on members of the Senate to reject the Peru trade deal in the coming weeks."



Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Today, Senator John Edwards released the following statement expressing his disappointment in Senator Clinton’s support for the Peru trade deal:

“I am terribly disappointed by Senator Clinton’s support for the Peru trade deal. At a time when millions of Americans are concerned about losing their jobs and the economy, it is dismaying that Senator Clinton would side with corporations, their lobbyists and the Bush Administration in support of a flawed trade deal that expands the NAFTA model.

“As I have said before, there are real and serious differences in this presidential race, and our stands on this trade deal are another example. Whereas voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and all across America have learned that I will fight for safe and smart trade, now they see that Senator Clinton, by supporting this trade deal, has chosen to follow a very different path.

“It’s time for Senator Clinton to stand up for working Americans and stop defending corporate lobbyists and a broken system in Washington.”

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Edwards Takes All the Fun Out of Imported Mystery Food

I'm adventurous when it comes to different cuisines. I love to experiment with different, unknown and improperly labeled food items from other countries. So what if they occasionally contain lead and yummy industrial additives? It looks like that spoilsport John Edwards wants to take all the fun out of my gustatory Russian roulette. Can you believe the nerve of that guy? Imagine wanting our food supplies to be safe!

Today, Edwards introduced plans to take the thrill out of eating something from overseas that might be poisonous, giving your child that shiny new lead painted toy from China, or shining up those pearly whites with tainted toothpaste.

"America is facing a crisis of quality in imported products, food and medicine," Edwards said. "We can no longer rely on corporations to initiate recall after recall while our government sits on the sidelines and our nation's children and families remain at serious risk. Multinational corporations' race to cut costs by offshoring the production of drugs, toys and other consumer goods has come at the price of quality and safety.

"The broken system in Washington has created weak consumer protection regulations and bad trade deals leaving our children and families vulnerable to unsafe products. Worst all of all, this is not by accident – industry lobbying has persuaded Washington to keep protections for families lax and out-of-date. As president, I will overhaul our import safety system and stand up to the special interests who put corporate profit about the health and safety of the American people. It's time for our government to take steps to protect our children from dangerous toys, strengthen food safety regulations and ensure that drug imports are safe.

"But American families shouldn't have to wait until 2009 – they deserve to know right now that their government is doing everything possible to keep them safe. That's why today I sent a letter to President Bush demanding the resignation of Nancy Nord, the acting chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who has accepted travel expenses from the toy industry and opposes congressional efforts to strengthen the CPSC and protect Americans families from dangerous imported toys."

But...but...oh my gosh! I count on those cheap but deadly imported toys to keep my sister's kids happy during the holiday season! That's practically grinchy! Is this going to be the year that Mr. Edwards steals Christmas?! (She cried with faux outrage, knowing in her heart that actually that shiny red paint on her nephew's new fire truck really wasn't worth the brain damage the lead in it might cause.)

Americans now eat an average of 260 pounds of imported foods a year, but the FDA inspects only 0.7 percent of imported food products. China recently admitted that 180 food processing facilities had been caught putting industrial additives into food. [Boston Globe, 5/9/07; CDC, 2007; AP, 4/16/07]

Require Country-of-Origin Labels: Large meat packers, agribusiness lobbyists and retailers like Wal-Mart have blocked implementation of country-of-origin labeling requirements. Edwards will finally enforce mandatory country-of-origin labeling, giving Americans an informed choice and giving other countries an incentive to improve their food safety systems. [USDA, 2007; The Hill, 4/7/05; National Family Farm Coalition, 2007]

Integrate Food Safety Rules and Enforcement: Fifteen different agencies regulate some part of our food supply, enforcing 35 different laws. Different agencies regulate meat lasagna and vegetable lasagna. Edwards will give one regulatory body clear responsibility for food safety and give the FDA the resources to scale up inspections. [National Academy of Sciences, 1998; GAO, 2007; CSPI, 2007; Government Executive, 6/19/07]

Give the FDA Mandatory Recall Powers: Neither the Agriculture Department nor the FDA can order mandatory recalls of the food products they inspect. The agencies are not even equipped to monitor how well companies carry out voluntary recalls. Edwards will establish the power to order mandatory recalls and make it illegal for companies to sell recalled products. [GAO, 2007]

Require Safety Systems Abroad: Edwards will require countries exporting food to the U.S. to have safety systems certified by the FDA as equivalent to our own. This added protection will supplement, not replace, inspections by U.S. officials.

This is a very faux outrage! I want my imported squid a l'orange with dioxin sauce, I tell you! I suppose John Edwards thinks that if imported food has to be inspected, it might lead to U.S. farmers being able to compete and people eating more locally produced, healthy foods! Is there no end to this madness? Check out THIS hidden agenda!

Building on Edwards' Agenda for Family Farmers: Today's announcement builds on earlier efforts to create fairness for family farmers and help them create a healthy, abundant and safe food supply:

Strictly enforcing laws against anticompetitive mergers and unfair pricing.

Passing a national ban on packer ownership to stop the spread of large corporate hog interests.

Passing a national moratorium on the construction and expansion of hog farm lagoons.

Limiting farm subsidies to $250,000 per person and closing loopholes in payment limits.

Expanding conservation programs that help farmers preserve the land.

Yup. I knew it. I knew it. Giveaways to those greedy small farmers who grow our safest, most locally produced foods, too! This is the crime of the century against big corporate agribusiness!

Well, at least Hillary knows which side her Wonderbread is I Can't Believe It's Not Buttered on! You may remember that SHE held a "Rural Americans for Hillary" fundraiser at the office of the lobbyist for those nice folks at Monsanto a while back.

“John Edwards believes family-owned farms are critical to America’s future and that the corporate greed that’s killing the family farm is hurting America. Apparently, Hillary Clinton doesn’t feel the same way. While John Edwards has introduced policies to ensure family farmers can compete against big agribusiness, protect the food we eat and preserve farming communities, Hillary Clinton, beholden to Washington lobbyists, is tailoring her rural policy to reflect the needs of big agribusiness. While corporate America and lobbyists may want someone like Clinton in the White House, regular Americans are ready for someone who will stand up for them and fight for real change.”

As it turns out, there's news out today that really highlights the need for better safety controls on imported products, and this is something I really can't joke about.

Chinese toys are back in the headlines. Today, retailers around the world scrambled to pull a popular toy called Bindeez off their shelves, after a chemical in some shipments of the Chinese-made product was found to mimic the effects of the so-called date rape drug.

The activity followed reports that at least three children had been hospitalized in Australia in recent weeks after swallowing contaminated beads from the toy. As of Wednesday morning in the U.S., where the toy is sold under the name Aqua Dots at retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., the toy was still available in the online stores of Wal-Mart, Target and eToys, though it isn’t clear whether that version poses any danger.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hillary: A Waffle for Every Occasion

I was thinking about Hillary Clinton and the politics of parsing today, and an old song just popped into my head. The song is called "Undecided." I suggested this song to a few Edwards supporters as a good song to describe Hillary. Yesterday, I had written a diary about Hillary's many positions on Iraq and Iran, so I decided to make this video.

Meanwhile, NCDem heard the song and made a video on Hillary's many positions on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

I think we've found Hillary a new campaign song!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What will Clinton do on Iraq and Iran? And Edwards?

I love how the Edwards campaign is getting so bold and so...well...I guess it could be described as snarky. As others have said before me, the truth can never be an attack, but the truth can sure hurt. Here's another example.

Now John Edwards has asked Senator Clinton to answer 5 simple yes or no questions on Iraq. Should be easy, right? It also should be something a presidential candidate should be ready to do. Will she do it?

Is there something that should be hard about answering these 5 questions?

“Senator Clinton has repeatedly said she will ‘end the war.’ Yet she has provided no plan for how she’ll do it. She has only said that she will hold a meeting with her advisors within 60 days of taking office. That’s not a plan. It’s a promise of a planning meeting. On such an important question we need honesty and answers, not double-talk and evasions.

“As president, I will immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 troops to jump-start the political solution that will end the violence, launch a diplomatic offensive with all local, national, and regional parties, and completely withdraw all combat troops within nine to ten months. If Senator Clinton is the Democratic nominee, the debate with the Republicans will be about how much war we will have in Iraq. If I’m the nominee, the debate will only be about ending the war. We can’t be just a little bit better than the Republicans. We have to win this election and bring our brave men and women home to the heroes’ welcome they deserve.

“And so today, I am calling on Senator Clinton to offer specific answers to five questions of most concern to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and all across America.”

Five Questions on Iraq that Every Candidate Should Have to Answer:

Question #1: Do you have a specific plan to end the war in Iraq?

Edwards: YES Senator Clinton: ?

Question #2: As president, will you withdraw all combat troops?

Edwards: YES Senator Clinton: ?

Question #3: Will you withdraw all combat troops within the first nine to ten months of your presidency?

Edwards: YES Senator Clinton: ?

Question #4: Will you conduct combat missions with troops stationed inside Iraq?

Edwards: NO Senator Clinton: ?

Question #5: Will you leave permanent military bases in Iraq?

Edwards: NO Senator Clinton: ?

And these are questions that really SHOULD be able to be answered with a straight yes or no. But will Senator Clinton do it?

It's all very well, you may say, for John Edwards to ask five direct questions that he has already answered and expect Hillary Clinton to also answer them. The cynical among us may even say that Edwards has asked five questions that make his plan look good. Well, yes, but they also pin him down to a specific answer, something we should demand of all the presidential candidates. But surely Hillary Clinton has already been asked and answered these questions, right? Let's check it out.

Question 1: Do you have a specific plan to end the war in Iraq?

Why, yes. Her plan is right here on her website. Well, OK, reading that, it's not very specific.

Wait. Does she really have a plan at all? Does it count if part of her plan is to come up with a plan?

The most important part of Hillary's plan is the first: to end our military engagement in Iraq's civil war and immediately start bringing our troops home. As president, one of Hillary's first official actions would be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She would direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days of her Administration.

Question 2: As president, will you withdraw all combat troops?

Here's what she said in the September 26th Democratic debate:

Russert: Senator Clinton, Democrats all across the country believed in 2006 when the Democrats were elected to the majority in the House and Senate that that was a signal to end the war, and the war would end.

You have said that you will not pledge to have all troops out by the end of your first term, 2013. Why not?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Well, Tim, it is my goal to have all troops out by the end of my first term. But I agree with Barack; it is very difficult to know what we are going to be inheriting. Now, we do not know, walking into the White House in January of 2009 what we are going to find.

That was just the beginning of a lengthy answer that really didn't quite answer the question. I think we can paraphrase that answer as "maybe."

Or... maybe not. Here's a quote on that from the October 30th Democratic debate:

Clinton: Number one, when we talk about combat missions in Iraq, my understanding is that we had the same agreement -- most of us on this stage -- that we would bring out combat troops but we would pursue a mission against Al Qaida in Iraq if they remained a threat.

Now, I don't know how you pursue Al Qaida without engaging them in combat. So I think we're having a semantic difference here. I think we should get as many of the combat troops out as quickly as possible.

If we leave any troops in, like special operations, to go after Al Qaida in Iraq, I assume that we don't want them just sitting around and watching them. We want them to engage them. That is a very limited mission. That is what I have said consistently.

Looks like a firm maybe...or no. A maybeno?

Question 3: Will you withdraw all combat troops within the first nine to ten months of your presidency?

See above. A firm maybeno.

Question 4: Will you conduct combat missions with troops stationed inside Iraq?

See above answer to question 2 again, only this time I think it's a firm maybeyes.

But wait...her goal is to bring all troops out by the end of her first term...but...she "would pursue a mission against Al Qaida in Iraq if they remained a threat." I get it. Maybe it won't be a war anymore. Maybe it'll be a police action. Wait. Wasn't Vietnam a "police action?"

Question 5: Will you leave permanent military bases in Iraq?

Anybody? I haven't heard her answer this question, and I'm not even sure I've heard her not answer it, but with her firm maybeyes to continuing combat missions, I have to wonder where she think she's going to house all those combat troops that may or may not be continuing combat missions while she may or may not be bringing troops home.

But will Edwards answer these questions?

See above. He already has, and with clear one-word answers. He has also provided longer, more detailed answers, consistent with the above one word answers, in debates, speeches, and townhalls.

Here's a link to his plan on Iraq.

What about Iran?

Today in New Hampshire, Edwards is outlining his five-point strategy for dealing with the challenges facing our relationship with Iran.

Edwards outlined his comprehensive five-point strategy to contain Iran and force the country to give up its nuclear ambitions and its support of terrorism and insurgent activity:

First and foremost, end the preventive war doctrine.

Second, use tougher and more targeted economic sanctions to force Iran's leaders to understand that they cannot continue to buck the will of the international community without destroying their ability to be a modern, advanced nation.

Third, use incentives to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions and re-join the world community.

Fourth, reengage with Iran using a new multi-level diplomatic approach.

Fifth, reengage with other major nations like Russia and China on the challenges facing Iran.

This follows on the heels of a speech in Iowa where he laid out this plan in detail.

What about Clinton on Iran?

One thing that we know for sure is that she voted for Lieberman-Kyl , which designates the Iranian National Guard as a terrorist organization, something that Senator Jim Webb described as Cheney's fondest pipe dream.

So does she want war with Iran? Or doesn't she?

Russert: We're going to get to Social Security in a little bit, but I want to stay on Iran, Senator Clinton.

As you know, you voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, the only member of the stage here who did that.

Senator, Jim Webb of Virginia said it is for all practical purposes mandating the military option, that it is a clearly worded sense of Congress that could be interpreted as a declaration of war.

Why did you vote for that amendment which would -- calls upon the president to structure our military forces in Iraq with regard to the capability of Iran?

Clinton: Well, first of all, I am against a rush to war. I was the first person on this stage and one of the very first in the Congress to go to the floor of the Senate back in February and say George Bush had no authority to take any military action in Iran.

Secondly, I am not in favor of this rush for war, but I'm also not in favor of doing nothing.

Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the forefront of that, as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism.

So some may want a false choice between rushing to war, which is the way the Republicans sound -- it's not even a question of whether, it's a question of when and what weapons to use -- and doing nothing.

I prefer vigorous diplomacy. And I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy. We used them with respect to North Korea. We used them with respect to Libya.

And many of us who voted for that resolution said that this is not anything other than an expression of support for using economic sanctions with respect to diplomacy.

I'll take that as a firm maybeyesno. Or as Jon Stewart might say, she supportopposes it...or opposupports it...or something.

As for John Edwards, he had this to say in the same debate:

Well, I just listened to what Senator Clinton said and she said she wanted to maximize pressure on the Bush administration. So the way to do that is to vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written, literally, by the neo-cons.

I mean, has anyone read this thing? I mean, it literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted. It didn't just give them what they wanted. They acted on it.

A few weeks later, they declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, and -- this is going to sound very familiar -- remember from Iraq? The prelude to Iraq? -- proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

The way you put pressure on this administration is you stand up to them; you say no.

The Edwards campaign has, however, backed off their earlier claim that Clinton double-talks and never answers direct questions with a direct answer. I mean, it sure seemed like that after the October 30th debate, so I can understand their mistake.

Sometimes she IS more direct.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Will Clinton take the Edwards challenge on Iraq?

I love how the Edwards campaign is getting so bold and so...well...I guess it could be described as snarky. As others have said before me, the truth can never be an attack, but the truth can sure hurt. Here's another example.

Now John Edwards has asked Senator Clinton to answer 5 simple yes or no questions on Iraq. Should be easy, right? It also should be something a presidential candidate should be ready to do. Will she do it?

Is there something that should be hard about answering these 5 questions?

"Senator Clinton has repeatedly said she will `end the war.'  Yet she has provided no plan for how she'll do it.  She has only said that she will hold a meeting with her advisors within 60 days of taking office.  That's not a plan.  It's a promise of a planning meeting.  On such an important question we need honesty and answers, not double-talk and evasions.  

"As president, I will immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 troops to jump-start the political solution that will end the violence, launch a diplomatic offensive with all local, national, and regional parties, and completely withdraw all combat troops within nine to ten months.  If Senator Clinton is the Democratic nominee, the debate with the Republicans will be about how much war we will have in Iraq.  If I'm the nominee, the debate will only be about ending the war.  We can't be just a little bit better than the Republicans.  We have to win this election and bring our brave men and women home to the heroes' welcome they deserve.

"And so today, I am calling on Senator Clinton to offer specific answers to five questions of most concern to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and all across America."

Five Questions on Iraq that Every Candidate Should Have to Answer:

Question #1:     Do you have a specific plan to end the war in Iraq?

Edwards: YES                           Senator Clinton: ?

Question #2:  As president, will you withdraw all combat troops?  

Edwards: YES                           Senator Clinton: ?

Question #3:  Will you withdraw all combat troops within the first nine to ten months of your presidency?

Edwards: YES                           Senator Clinton: ?

Question #4:  Will you conduct combat missions with troops stationed inside Iraq?

Edwards: NO                             Senator Clinton: ?

Question #5:  Will you leave permanent military bases in Iraq?

Edwards: NO                             Senator Clinton: ?

And these are questions that really SHOULD be able to be answered with a straight yes or no. But will Senator Clinton do it?

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, November 02, 2007

Stand Up for Better Media!

On Halloween, there was something scary happening in Washington, DC. The FCC was holding its final public hearing on localism and media consolidation, and they scheduled it only a week in advance, in the middle of the week, on a holiday. Clearly, they hoped nobody would show up.

Fortunately, thanks to the wonderful people at Free Press, there were hundreds of committed citizens there. I was one of them.

Citizens — some of whom had shown up at 4 a.m. to get in line for a chance to speak — crowded the sidewalk of the FCC for a Halloween-morning rally against media consolidation. Elected officials, civil rights and labor leaders, consumer and media reform advocates, activists and even a squad of cheerleaders all came out to urge the federal agency to stop any rule changes that could create more media consolidation.

Chairman Martin announced the Halloween hearing just a week beforehand and scheduled it during the day when most people couldn’t attend. This was just the most recent in a long line of barriers the FCC has thrown up to deter public involvement in media policymaking. In response, public interest and civil rights groups pulled together to organize a rally where the public’s voice couldn’t be ignored.

“We are gravely concerned that Chairman Martin would try to secretly move on such a critical issue with such a short timetable,” said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, which coordinates the StopBigMedia.com Coalition. “The public is being shut out of the process so that Martin can move forward with his Big Media giveaway.”

What's at stake here is that the FCC is threatening a move toward further loosening of restrictions on media ownership, so that the big media companies could buy up even more media outlets. They tried to do this in 2003, but there was strong public outcry against it, so it was blocked at that time. Now they're trying to do it again, and this time they hope it will slip under the radar.

Frustrating as it is to see Bush appointee Kevin Martin, the chairman of the FCC, trying to stifle public debate and give away our airwaves to big media, it was really inspiring to see the number and diversity of activists that showed up to oppose media consolidation. Almost everyone who spoke at the meeting, either on the panel of invited experts, or in the public comment period at the end, was saying that further media consolidation is a really bad idea.

I wish I had brought my camera and my notepad so that I could give a more detailed report on this, but like everyone else, I found out about the meeting rather belatedly, and it started early enough in the morning after the big Democratic debate on Tuesday that I didn't really plan anything out. It was all I could do to just show up. I was glad that many of the activists that were there came much more prepared than I was.

The panel contained a number of inspiring speakers, including Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., Kim Gandy, president of NOW, Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and Andrew Jay Schwartzmann, president and CEO of Media Access Project. Citizen activists participating in the public comment period after the debate included Medea Benjamin and a group of women from Code Pink, owners of local media outlets, and the FCC cheerleading squad, which gave a hilarious satiric endorsement to media consolidation.

In addition to the hundreds of people that showed up on Tuesday, the FCC has received tens of thousands of letters against media consolidation from all over the country, including this one from presidential candidate John Edwards.

Kevin J. Martin


Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Martin:

I urge you to cease your efforts to radically rewrite the rules preventing excessive media consolidation. You and your fellow commissioners have the responsibility to ensure that our nation's media is open, democratic and as diverse as the American people, and not – like too much of our economy and our political system today – dominated by the wealthiest Americans, large corporations and their lobbyists. Rewriting the ownership rules in the manner you propose is contrary to that responsibility.

For decades, administrations of both parties and the FCC have tolerated and even encouraged the extreme consolidation of our media. In just the two years after telecommunications deregulation in 1996, the ownership of nearly half of America's radio stations changed, and by 2000, one media company had acquired over 1,100 radio stations. Eight business conglomerates now control the majority of media content in America, and two-thirds of all independently-owned newspapers have shut down since 1975.

Any benefits to consumers from vertical integration have been overwhelmed by the threats to competition, fair pricing and journalistic independence. The result of all this over-concentration, Mr. Chairman, is a poorer democracy, with a few loud corporate voices drowning out independent perspectives and local participation.

High levels of media consolidation threaten free speech, they tilt the public dialogue towards corporate priorities and away from local concerns, and they make it increasingly difficult for women and people of color to own meaningful stakes in our nation's media. Rather than further weakening efforts to ensure a diverse media, as you now propose, the FCC should instead be strengthening media ownership and concentration limits so that a few huge multinational corporations are not in charge of shaping our democracy.

When your predecessor Chairman Powell made a similar attempt, nearly 3 million highly diverse Americans wrote to the FCC to express their grave concerns. I hope that you and your fellow commissioners can find the will to continue to deny the ambitions of a small number of media executives and their lobbyists, in the interest of advancing a fuller, fairer democracy.

Yours sincerely,

John Edwards

Cc: Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein
Commissioner Michael J. Copps
Commissioner Robert M. McDowell
Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate

The public pressure does seem to be mounting, and hopefully there will be enough of it before it's too late.

If you have access to television (unlike me), don't miss Bill Moyers Journal tonight! The show will look at the FCC's rush toward media consolidation and what that means for local and minority owned media.

"The FCC has a sad history when it comes to its treatment of women and minorities in broadcasting," remarked FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein at a recent media symposium in Chicago. Adelstein concludes:
"We need to implement policies that will address this crisis before we act on any rules to further consolidate the media, which can only take media outlets further out of the reach of women and people of color."

Still, as reported in THE NEW YORK TIMES, FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin seems determined to push though relaxations on media-ownership rules that currently prevent the same company from owning both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city. "I think it is an appropriate time to begin a discussion to complete this rule-making and complete these media ownership issues," Chairman Martin told THE TIMES.

There's a bit of encouraging news here. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the issue of localism and media consolidation on November 8th.

While this was the last of the FCC’s localism hearings, it won’t be the last of localism. The day after the rally and hearing, the Senate Commerce Committee announced that they were holding a hearing on localism and media ownership on Nov. 8. Responding to the flawed process at the FCC, Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), and Daniel Innoye (D-Hawaii) are increasing the pressure on Martin to serve the public interest, not rush another massive giveaway to Big Media.

Meanwhile, please, PLEASE write to your Congressional representatives TODAY and tell them to stop big media! You can do so right here.



Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,