John Edwards Speaks (and Listens) at Gnomedex Conference
Senator John Edwards appeared at the Gnomedex conference today in Seattle, Washington. This is a brief summary of the comments, suggestions, and questions he received from the Gnomedex conferees, who are influencers, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts in the world of internet technology.
America's moving fast and furious into the high-tech universe, more so everyday, and Senator Edwards was humble in deferring to the great technical expertise of his captive audience. He told them that he wants internet services and technology to be available to everyone - not just "the few." He stated that he is a strong supporter of net neutrality.
He commented that he believes what the audience is doing is very important - their creativity is necessary to enhance the ability to improve America's capacity for a healthy national democracy. He wished to engage the audience in a conversation. He made it clear that he was there to learn as well as to speak.
He took questions and statements from the audience.
Elizabeth's health is great and the audience was happy to hear it.
A self-described "third generation red diaper baby" (with a Communist connotation) said, in his own inimitable way, that he was looking for some real courage from politicians. Stating that he realized it may be a partisan issue, the bold and passionate "red diaper" child expressed his wish for Senator Edwards to take his fight for net neutrality to the max. Senator Edwards agreed - no more mealy-mouthed equivocations and weasel-words from Democrats. An example: Universal health care - we should fight for it! We need to show what Democrats are made of.
Another audience member commented that when somneone speaks in a human voice, other human beings recognize it. From Edwards' side of the fence, politicians are so polished and trained that they forget authenticity...and many stay in the safe zone and never try. The result is they say the same things over and over. He says it's not easy to break te politician mold, but he's trying very hard. "Careful and cautious" is all too easy for a politician and he has caught himself many times and consciously come back to realspeak.
A self-described centrist audience member felt the focus should be on local politics and asked how that scene can be made more colorful. Senator Edwards spoke about One Corps, which you can read all about HERE.
On net neutrality and taxation on internet companies: Senator Edwards honestly replied that he has not gven complete consideration to the taxation question just yet. The greatness of the internet is the freedom and democratic voice it has allowed. Bush and 'the gang' monitoring and spying on Americans is disturbing. There are issues, such as online predators and teh danger it poses to our children, that are of genuine concern.
Regarding a war with language: Republicans have used langusage effectively to get the policy they want. Terrorism terms have been employed to make spying on citizens look proper and legal. Democrats need to work on their own language, said an audience member. He commented that even the term "net neutrality" is rather ineffective in getting the average American to understand the issues at hand. Senator Edwards says language does matter, although his own personal focus is talking straight off the cuff and doing his job of deciding and communicating which way he thinks the country should go. He thinks the actual presidential elections are different from Washington D.C.'s everyday national debate when it comes to the use of language. Integrity, character, and trust in leadership are the factors that he believes are important to most people when it comes time to choose a president. More than language, he thinks the Democrats' problem is worrying too much about being "moderate." Language counts, but he believes that voters' belief and trust in the integrity and character of the candidate is what drives presidential elections.
How will Edwards overcome the notion that he's been a "trial lawyer" in days to come? Senator Edwards says there's a battle going on for the soul of the Democratic party. Triangulation and deliberate political maneuvering are being used to try to move the party to some imagined "center" without considering big ideas, which is the only way they can win.
He's proud of having been a trial lawyer.
Comment from audience member: Weblogs have come into their own. Vlogs and texting are the wave of the near future.
Getting Out the Vote: How are we finding new ways and new technologies to move politics into the future? Senator Edwards mentioned the power of technology at the One America Committe blog and other places in the blogosphere. Podcasting has been utilized by Senator Edwards and Mrs. Edwards.
Government spying: Are there ways Senator Edwards can communicate that he does not approve of government having access to the most private aspects of citizens' lives? Senator Edwards says he agrees that our personal liberties are at great risk and danger at this time in our nation's history. A round of firm applause came when Edwards mentioned yesterday's Supreme Court decision. (Hamdan).
A journalist who was the first to use personal media (web video) on Air Force One urged Senator Edwards to give a free seat on his bus to those who would use personal media (from both sides of partisan fence) to communicate and document his campaign, providing that he runs in 2008.
An audience member spoke about the possibility of a Reality TV-type of political campaign broadcasting.
I think it's great advice: "MAKE IT ENTERTAINING"!
Voting Machines: On the ability to track source codes and the operation of voting machines, an audience member asked Senator Edwards to look for a "fix" to this issue. Paper ballots are the best idea.
Distributed Intelligence: There are many ways for politicians to get on the "radar screen." Can there be a forum on how to improve the quality and viral marketing potential of political campaigns? Senator Edwards seemed to love the idea.
"Proving the trial lawyer attitude": An audience member asked: How can you approach the problems of this nation in teh area of technolgy. Would he be willing to use "attack-dog" tactics...taking his experience in supporting people's rights and work vociferously as he did as a trial lawyer to protect individual internet rights? Senator Edwards said anyone who has the capacity to convince others as well as having the ability to present the facts that support the rightness of his or her position has the capacity to win trust and win battles in the public arena. Of course, his trial lawyer skills would be helpful in this area.
Top-down structure: An audience member recommended this: Local governments are the most important place to start to address particular and important issues. Put technology capability into taking technology to the local councils and town and city mayors.
Senator Edwards said he'd like to be looked at, not as a plastic doll, but as who he really is. Technology has helped him to reach that goal. He thanked the audience for supporting a democractizing internet vs. a top-down process.
"...the most religiously zealous administration in our history is invoking the "divine" power to destroy untold millions in seconds in the happy pursuit and maintenance of global nuclear superiority. The Bush administration is, in fact, strikingly eager to proliferate in its supposed war against nuclear proliferation and so is willing once again to turn Americans into nuclear guinea pigs."
- Tom Engelhardt/TomDispatch Tomgram: Chip Ward on Pentagon Fireworks
Andy Ostroy has written a post about Al Gore and his potential as a successful political candidate for 2008. Included is the Ostroy Report's Top 10 reasons why they believe that Gore's the most qualified Democrat for the job. Below is an excerpt of Andy's tough-love comments:
As my readers know, I am a huge Gore supporter and proponent of a 2008 run for the White House. I've been front and center on this, and still believe he's the best candidate for the job. But as we've seen in 2000, Gore's not the best politician. In his televised interviews, he's not being the kind of Al Gore that he must be to win over the hearts and minds of voters. I want passion, fire, animation, personality; a genuine connection. I want a guy who's going to look straight into that camera and not be afraid to say, "This country's a mess, and here's why Bush and the Republican leadership is responsible. And here's what we need to do about it." I want a guy who's going to give a believable answer when asked the inevitable question of "will you run in '08", not some eye-rolling, sighing, long-paused duck as if he's taken aback by such a left-field question. When I want coy, I'll watch Paris Hilton (message to Al: you don't do coy well).
As much as I'm rooting for Al, I can't help but see much of the old nerd making people fall asleep. Forget Bill Clinton. I'd be happy if Al showed the charisma of Hillary, for Pete's sake. Yes, it's indeed true that in private Al's a very funny, charming, affable, laid-back guy. So say his closest friends and colleagues. And it's also true that on the lecture circuit he's amazing. But if he's going to run for president again, which I most certainly think he will, he's going to have to face the camera and learn how to speak in talking points and soundbytes. How to deliver some fiery partisan rhetoric and truly connect with voters. He may never be the guy you want to go grab a beer with, but he certainly shouldn't have the effect of Ambien either.
I, too, have wondered where the fiery orator Al Gore went when I've seen him in recent interviews. I swear it's true that I mentioned the "Ambien effect" (in those very words) to a friend when discussing the recent interviews. He's really going to have to work on his on-camera skills if he's considering a run, and I'm wondering if (and worried that) it's just going to be another media-mocks-Al Gore fest if he does. I deeply respect him and it pissed me off in 2000 whenever a mainstream media prince or princess jumped on the mock-Gore bandwagon. Why do we think that will change if Al Gore's on-camera persona doesn't? I hope Mr. Gore takes Andy's good advice.
Al Gore's Recent Appearance on David Letterman (CBS) Part One
Pay close attention, because this is important news. When swing voters articulate, through public polling, a willingness to sacrifice in the form of raised taxes to achieve shared American goals, it sheds tangible light on the change in leadership that voters will likely call for in November. Asked if things in this country are going in the right direction or if they feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track, 73% of swing voters said they believe that the nation's on the wrong track. 66% of swing voters disapprove of the way George Bush is handling his job as president, with 49% strongly disapproving.
What is even more "telling" is that swing voters have expressed, through this poll, the values that are most important to them when it comes to spending, fiscal responsibility, and the issues on which they'd desire our representatives to focus. It should come as no surprise, after seeing what swing-voting Americans express as their most common values, that the majority of them plan to vote for a Democrat in November.
ERobin [at American Street] has passed along a summary and analysis of results:
Swing voters in swing districts and swing states overwhelmingly support a plan to invest more in clean energy, affordable health care for all, and education when it is paid for by rolling back tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. This support will be strongest and best survive attacks when it includes measures to increase government accountability and when the tax cut rollback leaves enough funds to reduce the deficit.
This survey reflects the views of the “swingiest” of voters in the country—the voters likely to decide the outcome of the 2006 election cycle—in a mood demanding fundamental change in the direction of the country. Their current political disposition suggests both intense anger at the ruling class in Washington coupled with, and related to, a broad sense of economic insecurity and inequity.
These voters embrace an agenda of change, an agenda that invests in the future and focuses on improving lives of average people, not subsidizing corporate special interests and the wealthy. The agenda’s focus on improving education (including child development, preschool, public schools and college aid) expanding affordable health care and addressing energy independence drive support for the agenda. These voters support paying for these investments by rolling back the Administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations.
Importantly, however, these swing voters hold concerns about government, particularly the current size of the deficit and accountability. Thus swing voters’ support of an investment agenda is strongest when it includes measures to increase government accountability and reduce the deficit.
The results of this USAction poll is going to blow Grover Norquists' tax-allergic mind. The conservative agenda that has espoused the oligarchic path to enticing voters with an eternal promise of perpetually lowering taxes is exposed for what it has always been - morally empty. Voters can finally see the empty moral nature of this type of leadership for exactly what it is - an abandonment of low-wage and middle-class American workers and a payback to the richest campaign contributors. Those with the most receive the most while the middle class is eroded and caused to bear the undue economic burden. To me, this poll is an indication that:
- The Republican/Conservative revolution is over. Kaput. Drowned in their own bathtub of greed. The people can only be fooled for so long.
- The DLC has been wrong far too many times. Taking hit after gut-wrenching hit in elections, they've nearly become an irrelevant political organizing force for the 21st Century - by their own design. I'm wondering if it's too late for them to regroup and redeem themselves as a relevant/straight-shooting/convincing force in politics.
- People powered politics is having a real effect on overall politics. Closer attention to and public respect for what is in the hearts of our citizenry is the path to the people-powered political success I'm sure we're going to see - beginning with the 2006 elections.
Watch this decidedly non-eloquent reply to reporters' questions and dumb-as-a-stump-like cluelessness on the legal nature of the subject of the questions. I shudder when I am reminded that this person is the President.
It sounds like he's so accustomed to getting his way (and getting away with it) when he grabs undue Executive power that he is spinning in shock that he failed to get his way this time - and, Heaven forbid the press should ask him questions about it. When he said they were wasted questions, he wasn't just whistlin' Dixie. He is the waste case who had no idea what to say - a deer caught in the criminal headlights.
"We've agreed to take two questions a side. Walking in, I reminded the Prime Minister of one of Elvis's greatest songs, "Don't Be Cruel" -- "
- GW Bush
Ouch. When he says that, he should think about the people who've been held at Guantanamo Bay for years without being charged with a crime or having access to an attorney. He should remember the recent suicides of prisoners there when he says that. Has he forgotten what cruelty is?
Note: Watch for rubber-stamp Rebublicans trying to put a legal face on all of Bush's Guantanamo shenanigans over the course of the next week or so.
Mel White, who graduated from a seminary with a doctorate in religion, was the ghostwriter for the gay-bashing Rev. Jerry Falwell's autobiography. You may find it delliciously ironic that, as it turned out, Mr. White became settled, after many difficult years and struggles, with the simple truth that he was gay. Over ten years ago, he came out of the closet and continues to quietly support the GLBT community while continuing to attend services with his partner at Falwell's church. Mr. White tells Steve Inskeep at NPR that he loves the music and the inspiration that he derives from the musical services at the church and that he hopes to promote understanding from within.
"I believe Jerry Falwell will change and I believe it'll be in my lifetime," White says. "And if he doesn't change, I'm gonna die trying." [source: NPR]
Mel White's partner admits that he doesn't like the services, and I imagine he must love Mel very much for putting up with such hypocrisy and intolerance from within the Falwell organization.
The intolerant yet reportedly easy-going homophobe Falwell, who blamed 9/11 on gays, lesbians, and Americans who value free choice, was interviewed by Steve Inskeep recently and spoke about the invasion of the Tinky Winkies:
His newspaper suggested that a character in the children's program Teletubbies, was gay, a statement Falwell disowns..."But I've had hundreds of little Tinky Winky dolls mailed to me from all over the world and given to all my grandchildren and their friends, and I've populated Lynchburg with Tinky Winkies," Falwell says. "But that's the only benefit I've gotten from that."
Awwww....isn't that a sweet little anecdote? It warms the cockles of my heart - and that's okay because I'm a gurl and cockles are acceptable for me to talk about as long as I don't touch 'em out of wedlock.
"To the political leaders of this capitol city, and from the places you all live across this country, we are here to say something else: the days when you could win the support of the religious community by merely speaking the language of family values and the sacredness of life while ignoring the desperate plight of poor people in this wealthy nation and around the world are over. Because for a growing number of people of faith across the political spectrum, you will now be held accountable for how the leadership you offer and the policies you support impact the lives of those whom Jesus called "the least of these." You see for many of us, poverty is also a life issue and as our bumper sticker says "Poverty is NOT a family value!"
- Rev. Jim Wallis, from his speech this week in Washington D.C.
Streaming audio HERE (Real Audio) and HERE (Windows Media)