Paul Oginni, a first year biological sciences major at UC Irvine is impressed with former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.
By continuing to advocate for the nation’s destitute, even after suffering defeat in 2004, Edwards demonstrates the attitude of an ideal politician: a persistent, aggressive devotion to the American people....After losing the election, Edwards could have chosen to fall into a pit of apathy and bitterness, shunning all opportunities to put himself in the vulnerable position of public leadership...He could have become a political pundit, producing a wealth of words that would have been of use to no one but his bloated ego....But refusing to be relegated to the list of society’s could-have-beens, Edwards kept pushing these issues, even after the campaign trail had ended. This type of stubborn integrity is rare in the field of politics. - New University paper
Senator Edwards was recently visiting Fayetteville State University in north Carolina where he made his audience aware that poverty strikes black Americans in greater numbers, especially single mothers who worry daily about meeting basic needs and lacking health care for their children. He said the average net worth of a black family in the United States is $6,000, compared with $80,000 for a white household.
Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it brought to New Orleans, where thousands of poor people were left homeless, brought new awareness of the issue, he said....Edwards dispelled the notion that poor people are lazy or failures. He said people often need help from their families, public schools and other resources to succeed.
“None of us get here by ourselves, and what we do matters as a nation,” he said. [source: FayettevilleOnline.com]
The 2008 Iowa caucuses are about 100 weeks away. The Democrat who visited most often last year was John Edwards, and he plans to return on February 25, when he will speak at the Scott County Democrats' annual banquet in Davenport.
Congratulations to the Jacksonville Bar Association for securing Senator Edwards as the keynote speaker for their annual Law Day luncheon in April. Usually, their keynote speakers get a pretty high figure for speaking, but Senator Edwards is doing it pro bono. Law Week is an opportunity for attorneys in the Jacksonville area to spend time in their community and schools doing pro bono work. They have mock trials and juries and a DUI awareness program in the high schools. They go to local malls and nursing homes and answer any questions that people may have. They also have a run for cancer where they offer free cancer screening.
So the question remains: Will Senator Edwards run for President in 2008 or won't he? The BBC tried to pin him down on during a rare visit and live radio broadcast in Durham, NC last week.
In a taped segment piped to those watching the show through the glass-lined studio, Lustig pushed Edwards on whether he'd run for president in 2008. Although Lustig came at the former U.S. senator from every angle, Edwards maintained that's a decision he'll make "down the road." [source: Durham Herald Sun]
During his first visit, BBC World News' Robin Lustig fell in love with North Carolia. He said,
"Wonderful people. Beautiful weather. Fascinating history. Big, wide-open spaces and some of the friendliest people I've ever met."
I couldn't agree with him more.
At MyDD, Jonathan Singer believes that if Senator Edwards (who recently spoke at a Conference on Poverty at USC) wants to make another run at the Democratic nomination in two years, he should continue doing exactly what he is currently doing - speaking with conviction, directly from the heart:
You can listen to the speech here (a 29.8 megabyte .wav file) and judge for yourself its power and content. For me, it was simply amazing to hear the depth and substance of the address, particularly in comparison to the one I had attended in 2004. Gone were the poll-tested phrases, the multiple planned applause lines, the refinements that come with a presidential campaign. Edwards came to speak about poverty and that is exactly what he did -- with great zeal. Edwards was not at all afraid to speak about the immorality of poverty, calling the participants in the conference into action...After the speech, some of the others in the audience and I could not help but come to the same conclusion: if only Edwards had used that unreserved tone during the campaign... if only the well-paid consultants had not told him to rein in his language... if only he had given this kind of speech on the hustings...
Senator Edwards is taking an active part in the tour for the UNITE HERE campaign, which is a nationwide hotel workers uprising said to be the start of a “revolution” in America. It is an effort to empower thousands of hotel workers employed in cities across North America (including Local 2) as they work to improve their jobs and secure better lives for themselves and their families. Senator Edwards will be joined by other special guests at a landmark kick-off event on Wednesday, February 15 at 4:15pm at the Parc 55 Hotel at Mason and Ellis Streets in San Francisco.
Hotel workers at the Crown Plaza LaGuardia hotel in Manhattan have been on strike for 16 months after management refused to recognize their August 2004 vote to join the New York Hotel Trades Council. Union officials and members have commended actor George Clooney and his camp for refusing to cross the picket line to shoot his upcoming film Michael Clayton.
Since we've been talking a lot about North Carolina, here's an interesting little piece about North Carolina politics, albeit unrelated to Senator Edwards. A Howard Dean basher writes an op-ed about Dean's recent stop at a North Carolina pizza joint.
A response to the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the DOJ's legal ("White Paper") defense of the NSA's domestic wiretapping program, written by a diverse group of 14 constitutional scholars and former government officials who have joined together to question the legality of the eavesdropping program. See Balkinization for a further explanation. (Their original letter can be read here.)
Look at what Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and Stephen Hadley may have done in order to protect one another, escape incrimination, and/or hinder Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the Valerie Plame leak.
On a very much related note, Murray Waas reports that VP Dick Cheney and his former Chief of Staff Scooter Libby knew that the Niger story was false before the leak of Valerie Plame's identity as CIA. source: Raw Story
Tenacious blog reporters John Byrne and Ron Brynaert report that there are dozens of pages of court files in the CIA leak investigation that have gone unnoticed by the mainstream media and that some information in those files may hint that Libby may have outed Plame on the orders of his "superiors." The plot thickens....
The White House Memo Bush and Blair discussed using American spy plane in UN colors to lure Saddam into war This bombshell information from the UK's Channel 4 news, as seen by staff in minutes from a meeting at the White House on January 31, 2003, reveals that Bush and Blair desperately elected to deceive Saddam Hussein once they realized they couldn't get enough WMD evidence for a UN Security Council resolution. (see the video of the news report and the Ming Campbell interview/reaction at linked site).
Phillipe Sands, author of the book Lawless World says it is hard to come up with any charitable explanation for Bush and Blair's intentions as they were seemingly conscious that they could not come up with the big smoking gun that Jack Straw needed from Hans Blix.
To my thinking, this is a rather big deal. The president of the United States caught conspiring to create a modern-day version of the sinking of the Maine? Talk about an impeachable offense. I'm presuming the memo is legit. It was first obtained by British human rights lawyer Philippe Sands for a new version of his book, Lawless World. Sands is a friend of friends of mine. He is a trustworthy fellow, and I know that last year he did succeed in prying sensitive documents out of the British government concerning the legality -- or illegality -- of the invasion of Iraq. His sources were obviously British officials upset with the war. So my informed hunch is that this document is real. If so, how will the White House respond? Will members of the press corps at 1600 Pennsylvania press the point? This revelation -- which is more shocking than anything in the Downing Street Memos -- should be major news here. But will it?
"We’ve had idiots as presidents before. He's not unique. But he's certainly the most active idiot that we have ever had."
- Gore Vidal, talking about the current U.S. President
Imperial Presidential Power Don't let the turds of the media tell you that you're irrational for being concerned
Gore Vidal's statement says it all. Bush isn't the first imperial president, but he's the most deliberate and decidedly the least intelligent one. In American Conservative magazine, Thomas E Woods, author of the anti-intellectual best seller "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History," asserts that President Bush is no threat to America when you consider that the ideological and institutional roots of the imperial presidency extend back at least a century.
The danger of the view of the presidency delineated by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson is not simply that in the name of doing the people's will the president will disregard the separation of powers or other important institutional restraints. Another peril is that the president may define the people's will in a self-serving way and then carry out his own agenda in the name of serving the people.
Mr. Woods is gravely concerned about Bush's power grabs and arrogant ignoring of the People's will and opinion.
"The very initiation of the war in Iraq constituted a breathtaking exercise of presidential power but one that has grown so common that it is hardly even noticed or commented upon any longer except by the occasional isolated constitutionalist."
Mr. Woods holds tight to his ideology while he sends a mocking jab to the Left:
As for the delicate souls whose consciences were so deeply troubled by George W. Bush’s unilateral initiation of war in 2003, where were they in 1999 when Bill Clinton, acting through NATO and siding with the Muslims of Kosovo, orchestrated a bombing campaign against Serbia without the consent of Congress?
I will tell you now that this liberal was extremely concerned in 1999. A scan of the Letters to the Editor of the Syracuse newspapers would show that I expressed public concern at the time. I'm not sure why Mr. Woods imagines every liberal soul is a hypocrite. He's wrong.
I submit that history will show that the decision (ignorance of rules and tradition notwithstanding) made to bomb Serbia was effective and instrumental in the defeat of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.
"How many "Black Hawk Down" movies could be made from the dreadful experiences of just ONE DAY in the terrible neoconservative experiment known as the Iraq War?"
Clinton lands on the right side of history. Can the same be said of Little Bush in Iraq, three years in, with over 2200 troops dead in a still-insecure land and no sign of a palpable victory? I say no, no - a thousand times - no. Bush has driven a nail in the coffin of public trust in Executive power. A blockbuster movie, "Black Hawk Down", was made about Clinton-era Somalia and the awful sight of soldiers being trapped and mauled. How many "Black Hawk Down" movies could be made from the dreadful experiences of just ONE DAY in the terrible neoconservative experiment known as the Iraq War?
When he was president, Woodrow Wilson attempted to strike a balance in the country that would garner the trust of both populists and aristocrats (see his inaugural address of 1913). Bush's speeches have been glaringly strong - often bullying - on the side of those he politically favors. What is often missing is a sense of true moral leadership. Listen to Wilson talk about the cost of greed and self-interest in government:
There has been something crude and heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and be great. Our thought has been "Let every man look out for himself, let every generation look out for itself," while we reared giant machinery which made it impossible that any but those who stood at the levers of control should have a chance to look out for themselves. We had not forgotten our morals. We remembered well enough that we had set up a policy which was meant to serve the humblest as well as the most powerful, with an eye single to the standards of justice and fair play, and remembered it with pride. But we were very heedless and in a hurry to be great.
- Woodrow Wilson, inaugural address 1913
I just can't imagine Bush speaking to America this way, because the policies he has endorsed would make him an instant hypocrite.
In his day, President Teddy Roosevelt was progressive America's most articulate spokesman. He worked to increase the regulatory power of the federal government. Distrustful of big business, despite its close ties to the Republican party in many states, he was known as a 'trust buster', pursuing and tackling anti-trust issues. Under his leadership, forty-four suits were brought against businesses that were claimed to be monopolies. Let's face it, Roosevelt was more of a (NY State Attorney General) Eliot Spitzer than a corporate-crony-coddling George W. Bush.
I believe the real danger for democracy in the Bush imperial presidency stems from
"..none of this would work if we had an educated and informed electorate"
his deliberate anti-intellectualism (Wilson was a respected scholar and moral leader, and let's face it - Bush is not); Bush's allergy to democratic socialism (by 1909, Teddy Roosevelt had endorsed proposals for graduated income and inheritance taxes and other concepts then deemed radical); and Bush's deliberate ignorance of the rule of law.
But none of this would work if we had an educated and informed electorate.
Thomas Woods' writings express the same concern that I have, albeit our respective diversity in ideology, about George W. Bush's radical crusade - unilaterally walking over 200 years of tradition and law. Mr. Woods is worried, too.
From part two of his All the President's Power series:
"Former congressman Bob Barr, a conservative from Georgia, has it right: “The American people are going to have to say, ‘Enough of this business of justifying everything as necessary for the war on terror.’ Either the Constitution and the laws of this country mean something or they don’t. It is truly frightening what is going on in this country."
I still believe in an America where the powers and rights of the People are well-protected. I believe that the Bush administration has gone too far, and its reasons for doing so, even at a time of war, are unsettling. Many believe there has been an abuse of power and that their president has not told them the truth.
"Today's mainstream media has not been a responsible avenue for informing the electorate, and I partially fault them for the place where we find ourselves today."
The sad truth is, most Americans are too ignorant to care. Gore Vidal recently summed it up:
“Our political system is now thoroughly corrupt. Since the educational system for most people is inadequate they begin their lives as citizens with no knowledge of our republic and its history while the media is in the hands of a very few people who have much to hide from us.
The greatest threat to democracy is an uninformed electorate. Today's mainstream media has not been a responsible avenue for informing the electorate, and I partially fault them for the place where we find ourselves today. I wonder why today's well-paid (and complacent) writers fail to see the imperial arrogance and potentially fatal overreach that may hasten the demise of our freedoms. Al Gore has warned America of an impending constitutional crisis, and although the turds of the media love to literally mock Mr. Gore to please their intellectually pedestrian or pro-Republican readers, a certain portion of the citizenry who pay close attention understand and take stock in what Mr. Gore is telling them.
"..the unwashed masses will go on having a field day with Al Gore (or Virginia governor Tim Kaine's left eyebrow) while little Bush and his band of raving lunatics pave the way for the next unnecessary and disastrous war.."
People need to start speaking out on behalf of what they believe. I firmly believe that we have an idiot for a President - and the neoconservatives in his administration are a bunch of idiots. If we fail to point to the emperors who have no clothes (or brains), the unwashed masses will go on having a field day with Al Gore (or Virginia governor Tim Kaine's left eyebrow) while little Bush and his band of raving lunatics pave the way for the next unnecessary and disastrous war that our sons and daughters will be suiting up for (with a likely deficit of appropriate protective armor).
The Senate is preparing to make the case that power between the executive and legislative branches is unbalanced. I would call that an understatement.
"You know, it’s at a time when people say, ‘Well, it makes no difference what we do, you know, if we march and we make speeches, and this and that.’ It makes a lot of difference if millions of Americans just say, “We are fed up! We don't like you. We don't like what you're doing to the country and what you have done to the country. We don't like to live in a lawless land, where the rule of law has just been bypassed and hacks are appointed to the federal bench, who will carry on and carry on and carry on all of the illegalities which are so desperately needed by our military-industrial corporate masters.”
- Gore Vidal
"Don't be intimidated by total turds who insinuate that you are "irrational"."
America is in the wrong hands. Incapable hands. Power-grabbing hands. Scream it from the rooftops. Don't be intimidated by total turds who insinuate that you are "irrational".
Bono halped to bring some subtance back into the meaning of faith at yesterday's National Prayer breakfast. He called the UN Millenium Development goals "the Beatitudes for a Globalised World."
From the WaPo:
".. the U2 front man said it's unjust to keep poor people from selling their goods while singing the virtues of the free market, to hold children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents and to withhold medicines that would save lives. "God will not accept that," he said. "Mine won't. Will yours?"
I wish that our political leaders in the United States were as sincere about their faith as Bono seems to be. E-Robin has a partial transcript and video links to Bono's remarks.
My chosen excerpt from Bono's speech from Sojourners, where Jim Wallis provides additional commentary: (source: sojonet/sojomail):
God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill. I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff. Maybe, maybe not. But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.
God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. "If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places."
It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.
Here's some good news for the president. After 9/11 we were told America would have no time for the world's poor. America would be taken up with its own problems of safety. And it's true these are dangerous times, but America has not drawn the blinds and double-locked the doors.
In fact, you have doubled aid to Africa. You have tripled funding for global health. Mr. President, your emergency plan for AIDS relief and support for the Global Fund - you and Congress - have put 700,000 people onto life-saving anti-retroviral drugs and provided 8 million bed nets to protect children from malaria.
Outstanding human achievements. Counterintuitive. Historic. Be very, very proud.
But here's the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There is much more to do. There's a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.
And finally, it's not about charity after all, is it? It's about justice.
Let me repeat that: It's not about charity, it's about justice.
And that's too bad.
Because you're good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it.