Tag Archives: Edwards

Ohhhh, We Sure Could Use John Edwards Now

The first thing I want to say is that I am nothing special nor more intelligent then anyone else.  The one thing that I am is an independent thinker who analyzes a situation and acts based upon what I feel is best, as opposed to acting based upon being part of an “in-group”, the “first-group”, the “cool-group”, the “trend-setting group”, or jumping on a bandwagon.  By the way, how many of you saw Robin Williams on Law & Order this evening and the commentary on “sheep” mentality in America?

I have been greatly disappointed in the future of the United States, generally, and each of us, specifically, since John Edwards (the adult wing of the Democratic Party) dropped out of the Presidential race.  I last and only posted on January 30, 2008 re “Unity Will Flow Naturally From Integrity & Credibility” and  on January 21, 2008 re “The Country Needs John Edwards To Stay In The Race All The Way To The Nomination”.  I never intended to post again since it took 25+ years since my disgust with the Democratic Party following the 1980 Presidential Campaign and the defeat of my candidate of choice in the Wisconsin Primary, Jerry Brown, until this past year when the leadership ideas, backbone strength, and bold courage of John Edwards got me excited again in a President and the Democratic Party for the first time since 1980.  However, the recent sequence of events caused me to be unable to stay silent and to at least make a record that I did my part and tried.  I know that there are many other JRE supporters who feel as I do.

Interestingly, in the midst of the Clinton-Obama unveiling during the past few weeks, the Jimmy Carter of 1980 has resurfaced with a meeting with the terrorist organization of Hamas that seeks to push the Israeli’s into the Sea and destroy the State of Israel.  I guess the botched helicoptor blunder-Iranian Hostage Rescue attempt in the Desert that any Israeli military officer could have advised would be a disasterous failure before it ever began was not enough of a legacy for Mr. Carter nor sufficient damage to inflict upon the Democratic Party.

Now, I have to watch as Mr. Obama, the great questioner of the judgment of Ms. Clinton about going into Iraq, now attempts to squirm and slither his way out from under the exercise of his judgment in his chosen faith leader for the last 20 years, including officiating his marriage, performing the baptisms of his two daughters, and inspiring his book.  Meanwhile, Ms. Clinton continues ahead in the pursuit of the very things that John Edwards legitimately questioned during the debates.  Unfortunately, the mainstream corporate media of America and the significant majority of each of us failed ourselves in not questioning each of the candidates with intellectual honesty and legitimate cross-examination.  Instead, it was easier, less work, and more entertaining (and perhaps more self-serving) to jump on the bandwagon and promote the glitz and glamor of a woman and a black man running for President and ignore JRE, except to cover the price of his haircut, the size and cost of his residence, and his connection to a hedge fund.  Meanwhile, now that it is too late we learn that (1) the income of the Clinton’s and Obama’s is consistent with the income of JRE; and (2) per www.opensecrets.org, the connection of JRE pales in comparison to the campaign contributions received by Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama from the hedge fund industry, the health care industry, the insurance industry, lawyers, and lobbyists.  I guess you “gotcha” on the haircuts…nice-going corporate mainstream media and the majority of Americans who either continue to be sheep, motivated by pure selfishness without any regard for our fellow human being, and/or too lazy to think for yourself.

Ohhhhhh, I am sure that many, many wish that JRE was still around.  By the way, neither JRE nor his supporters owe Ms. Clinton or Mr. Obama anything.  The job of Mr. Obama and his campaign and Ms. Clinton and her campaign is, was, and continues to be showing JRE and his supporters why they should put their support behind one of them.  Thus far, Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton and their respective campaigns have failed miserably.  Perhaps, I set the bar too high, but merely saying you are better than John McCain does not cut it.  I could write pages and pages of why John Edwards is the better candidate, as an individual, and the best Democrat to defeat John McCain, but the time for that has come and gone.  I have yet to see any meaningful, credible, showing by either Ms. Clinton or Mr. Obama that they will carry the torch lit by JRE (although neither had any problem stealing his ideas while he was still campaigning).

I then look to our local election and observe the venomous remarks being made in our local Assembly race.  The self-serving agenda behind such remarks is so obvious, while the goal motivating such remarks moves further and further away.

In the middle of 2007, I was very excited for the first time in over 25 years about the future of our country because I finally saw a person who had the courage, intelligence, and strength to lead our country with integrity and honesty motivated by fairness and justice for all.  As we approach the middle of 2008, I am as disgusted as I was in 1980 and I have seen nothing on the national or local level to cause me to feel otherwise.  I am greatly saddened that the same circumstances that launched Reagan into the White House in 1980 will likely launch McCain into the White House…because of a haircut…unbelievable.

I appreciate that some (or maybe many) of you will not like the content and/or tone of this message.  Perhaps, I could have written this more eloquently and been less direct and candid.  I wrote this the only way I know how.  Therefore, I hope that you will take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the tough questions raised by this message before the tempting immediate knee-jerk reaction to just say that I am a jerk expressing sour grapes.  You see, I do not think I am much different than the very people Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton need to win the Presidency and calling me a jerk or full of sour grapes is going to lead to the other John (McCain) being the next President of our United States of America.

I feel that each of us have failed the generation of our kids.  By the way, the more power, influence, and/or money that you have reflects the greater failure that you have been because you have had a greater opportunity to make a positive difference.  I hope that our kids can overcome our failure.

Unity Will Flow Naturally From Integrity & Credibility – LA Debate Is A Good Place To Start

A few weeks ago, I wrote in about the promotion of celebrity, glitz, race, and gender issues directly by the media and subtly by the campaigns of Senators Clinton and Obama.  Interestingly, Senators Clinton and Obama and their respective campaigns have both stated that neither of them are promoting the gender or race, respectively, card.  Then, lo and behold, it comes out that the Clinton campaign set a “trap” for the Obama campaign on the issue of race and the Obama campaign bit “hook, line, and sinker”.  Only time will tell whether the strategy of  pandering to bigotry by the Clinton Campaign and foregoing South Carolina by promoting race as an issue and the extreme willingness of the Obama campaign to bite without any questions asked will pay off for either Campaign and/or hurt the Democratic Party on Tsunami Tuesday, February 5 and beyond.

More below the flip…

Regardless, the much bigger and underlying issue is integrity and credibility, which is why before I go any further I must point out that I am a supporter of John Edwards, the adult wing of the Democratic Party.  Senator Edwards, as most of you know, last summer was confronted by the national media that he was subtly pandering to the white, male vote in the context of electability in November, 2008.  John, without any hesitation or equivocation, responded directly and forcefully to the effect “If you are voting for me because I am not a woman…because I am not African-American…then I do not want your vote”.  Before that time, during that time, and since that time, JRE has continued to lead the Democratic discussion (and to some extent the Republican discussion) on the issues being addressed during the campaign (i.e. universal health care, economic stimulus package and the economy, predatory lenders and the home mortgage crisis-these are just examples as the list goes on an on).

Recently, I hear the candidates and their campaigns talking about unity.  If the candidates and their campaigns will stick to a discussion of the issues like Senator Edwards has done, then unity will likely not be an issue at the Convention and there would be no reason to discuss such an issue at this time.  However, when candidates and their campaigns welcome, condone, and encourage the media promotion of celebrity, glitz, race, and gender as issues, then I suspect that unity will be very hard to accomplish since these issues are deep-rooted, filled with strong emotional feelings, and very, very divisive.  The City of Los Angeles, the host of the debates this Thursday night, provided our country with a very visible example of the tragic consequences that can result from such divisiveness following the Rodney King state court trial.

Therefore, it seems somewhat prophetic that the Thursday night debate is in Los Angeles and Senators Clinton and Obama have another opportunity to follow John Edwards by doing what he did last summer…by truly being transparent, enhancing credibility, and demonstrating integrity…by showing that this is not about YOU THE CANDIDATE, but rather about US THE PEOPLE…by instilling unity before the nomination process is over rather than later when it will likely be too late even if it may not be politically, strategically in the best interests of YOUR CAMPAIGN and you might not be the next President of the United States of America (but it will be best for the United States of American and each of US who call it home).  The opportunity will be there on a national stage at the debate in Los Angeles for Senator Clinton to tell the voters “If you are voting for me because I am not black…because I am not a white, male, then I do not want your vote” and for Senator Obama to tell the voters “If you are voting for me because I am not white, then I do not want your vote”.  And, mainstream corporate media, for one of the few times in this campaign, show why you were once looked up to in this country as the Fourth Estate and confront Senators Clinton and Obama on this issue if they will not address the issue voluntarily and/or directly and do not accept any non-responsive, non-direct, “beat-around-the-bush” answer.  As a sidelight, the respect Senator Obama would have right now if he had come out and said the foregoing BEFORE the South Carolina Primary and got the same results he obtained would make unity a non-issue right now.

When the candidates and their campaigns directly, expressly, and unequivocally take race and gender out of this Democratic Campaign, the glamour of celebrity and glitz will also fall by the wayside.  The mainstream corporate media will then have no choice but to follow the real issues (and hopefully all of the candidates) that are truly important to the substantial majority of America.  If, or when, that happens, unity will flow naturally following the nomination no matter who the nominee is.

The Country Needs John Edwards To Stay In The Race All The Way To The Nomination

I watched the debate this evening following my reading of news articles that John Edwards should drop out of this election because his continuing presence is divisive to the Democratic Party.  The debate demonstrated that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are clearly capable of being divisive on their own, while John maintained the dignity of the forum and was by far the most Presidential of the three.  In fact, it is John Edwards who has led the way ensuring that the Democratic Party ideals of equality and fairness for all, giving the economically disadvantaged a fair chance at the American Dream, and restoring the moral integrity and leadership of the United States are the issues being discussed in the campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination.  Many “political experts” have said that John Edwards has shaped the issues of the Democratic Primary and Caucus campaign.  In accordance, we, as Americans and Californians, need John Edwards to stay in this race to the end (and I hope into the White House).

I have spoken at many Democratic Club meetings over the past few months on behalf of John Edwards, as well as tabled at shopping centers and street fairs.  I am very concerned about the focus of the media and what I have been hearing in the debates in the context of what I have heard when speaking and/or tabling in the Coachella Valley about the reasons people are voting for a particular candidate.  Everyone knows that it is politically incorrect to advocate voting for Senator Clinton merely because she is a woman or Senator Obama merely because he is an African-American, and thus such comments are not expressly made in this context.  However, the subtle message I continue to hear is real change will come from a woman in the White House or real change will come from an African-American in the White House.  These under the radar views are ignorant and damaging to We The People of the United States of America because real change will come only from Progressive Democratic ideas put forth by someone who is willing to fight to implement and follow through with the Progressive Democratic ideas.  Obviously, I am a John Edwards supporter, and thus feel that JRE is the best Democratic candidate to accomplish this real change because of (a) His life experiences growing up; (b) His professional life experiences as a trial attorney taking on the “Big People” and always battling for the “Little Person” in the courtroom, at the UNC Poverty Center, and on the streets of America; (c) His leadership of ideas coming out first with a Universal Health Care Plan, an Economic Stimulus Package, a Global Warming Plan, and the list goes on and on; and (d) His unwillingness to take money from PAC’s and lobbyists because he knows the fight that lies ahead is a fight for middle class Americans and below and not about compromising their interests.  I appreciate and respect that you may disagree with me that John Edwards is the best Democratic candidate to accomplish such real change provided that you are basing your decision on the position of your candidate of choice on the issues and ability to implement and follow through in this regard, rather than because your candidate is a female or an African-American or because the corporate mainstream media told you who to vote for, either expressly or implicitly by limiting the coverage of a candidate relative to the two (2) celebrity and glitz candidates.  

I will close my remarks with a story that I think is so essential because what I hear from people who I am out talking to about John Edwards is that they want “bullet-point” literature on the issues because the 80 page “The Plan To Build One America – Bold Solutions For Real Change” by John Edwards is too much reading.  I ask these people if you were going to have surgery, or buy a home, or make an investment, then would you want “bullet-point” information or all of the information and details available.  This next election is more important than surgery or buying a home and you are making the biggest investment of your life, and the lives of your children and grandchildren, because of the issues at stake resulting from the past decades of Presidential Policy.  My son, a junior in high school, is a typical teenager and like most teenagers is aware of but not very interested in the upcoming Presidential Election.  However, on New Year’s Day I was watching a CSPAN recording of John Edwards speaking before the Iowa Caucus and my son was in the same room, laying on a couch reading a book (“Eragon”).  I caught my son, out of the corner of my eye, put down the book and proceed to watch John Edwards.  I kept waiting for my son to stop watching JRE and return to reading his book.  Instead, my son watched the entire speech (approximately 45-60 minutes) and when John Edwards had finished his speech my son, spontaneously and without any solicitation or comment from me, says “How could you not vote for the guy?”  The following week I am tabling at the Palm Springs Street Fair where all of the Democratic Presidential Candidates who have a representative are present.  Near the end of the four (4) hour evening, a Hispanic family consisting of a mother, father, and middle-school aged boy approach the Senator Obama representative next to me.  The mother and father ask about buttons, bumper stickers, etc., which they are provided with.  The Senator Obama representative asks the middle-school aged boy if he wants a button and the boy politely responds “No”.  The Senator Obama representative asks “Why not” and the boy responds he “likes John Edwards”, which perked up my ears.  I asked the boy “Why do you like John Edwards?” and he responded “I saw him on C-Span and I liked what he had to say.”

If a middle-schooler and a high school junior have the attention span to watch C-Span, then the least that we adults can all do is take the time to visit the web sites of each of the candidates and see what they have to say, as well as hear each of the candidates out when they speak, rather than follow the mainstream media like a bunch of sheep or vote for someone because they are the first woman or first African-American with a legitimate chance to be the President of the United States of America.  Do not cheat yourself by doing anything less and you owe it to your children and grandchildren to give them a better country then was given to you.

Why I’m Supporting Barack Obama for President

(An interesting endorsement of Obama from one of our elected leaders. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

NOTE: Cross-posted from California Progress Report

On February 5th, California Democrats will play a major role in electing our next President.

For this good fortune, we face a difficult choice between talented and qualified candidates. While every one of them would be an improvement over George W. Bush, Sen. Barack Obama is Democrats’ best choice in 2008. See the extended.

Up until last week I supported former Sen. John Edwards, a passionate advocate for improving the lives of the millions of Americans living in poverty. Whatever happens this year, I hope John Edwards remains in public life – the country needs his important voice.

But I switched to Obama because he’s the only candidate who can awaken a significant number of Americans – the apathetic and disengaged – who have turned away from an unresponsive government and, in turn, our civic life.

Just look at Iowa, where younger voters and independents boosted Democratic Caucus turnout from 124,000 in 2004 to 239,000 in 2008. These voters, who do not normally participate in elections in these kinds of numbers, responded to Obama’s call for Americans to “build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states.”

With a resume unique among American presidential candidates (he was a paid community organizer before he was a politician), Obama recognizes that increasing public participation in our Democracy is the only way to build a consensus for change to take on our most intractable challenges – like passing universal health care and lessening America’s dependence on oil.

While Obama is a consensus-builder at heart, he’s not afraid to stand on principle, even when it’s not politically expedient – he was alone among the leading Democratic presidential candidates in coming out against the Iraq War from the start.

There’s much more to Barack Obama than I can write about here. Go to BarackObama.com to find out more about the man and how you can join his fight for change, either as a precinct captain in your neighborhood or even as a contributor to his campaign.

No matter which candidate wins the California primary, I believe that a Democrat will occupy the White House in 2009, riding a message of change and leadership to improve our country’s standing in the world.

In my view, only Barack Obama can turn that message into a mandate.

Darrell Steinberg represents Sacramento in the California State Senate

Stakes are too high, caucus today!

The stakes are high in the next election and we can’t sit idly. Join the National Presidential Caucus (NPC) effort to confront the heavily compressed primary schedule we’re facing today. NPC is hosting a National Caucus Day on Dec. 7th.


To encourage voters to form opinions before the early primary states and the media determine who the leading candidates will be, NPC is asking people like you to host caucuses in their communities.

To make this work, we need as many caucuses as we can get.

Here’s how it works:
-Post a caucus on the website
-Meet offline on December 7th to talk about issues and candidates that matter TO YOU
-Post your results on our website with all the other caucuses from across the nation

Hosting a caucus is as simple as getting some friends, family, or whomever you want together. It’s really easy to do!

What if every state’s caucus and primary were weighted equally? I don’t know about you, but I’d call that democracy. 

Register to host a caucus today . Together, let’s try to reinvigorate democracy as we know it.

I saw Kucinich, Clinton and Edwards at the Global Warming Forum

Crossposted at Daily Kos.
I Saw Kucinich, Clinton and Edwards at the Forum
by emmabrody [Subscribe] [Edit Diary]

Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 12:50:34 PM PST

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the Presidential Forum On Global Warming in Los Angeles.  As most of you know, all of the presidential candidates were invited.  Only three showed up. 

Dennis Kucinich, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. 

I was invited by a head of an environmental group who was one of the initiators of the forum.  My seat was in one of the first few rows,  so I was able to see each of the candidates from a very close vantage point.

Before I entered the Wadsworth Auditiorium, I noticed  a few members of Code Pink milling about and thought to myself, “This might get interesting”.

Inside the auditorium were a lot of familiar faces.  Global warming experts, state politicians, actors, musicians, a few moguls and Hollywood executives.  I know many of these people to be Hillary Clinton supporters…I will say upfront that I support John Edwards for those who might find this piece biased.

The auditorium was filled with many more faces unfamiliar to me, so my assumption is that there was a strong mix of people from different occupations, each with a deep concern for environmental issues.  There was a panel of three environomental experts set to ask questions of the candidates.  Each candidate appeared alone, gave a ten minute speech, then fielded questions.

They were very different from one another.

Kucinich came first.  He gave a wonderful speech, completely from memory.  I was very touched by his genuine passion, by the fact that he lives what he talks.  He spoke about his modest house, his small car (which gets 35 or 40 mpg), his vegan diet.  He spoke sincerely about a need for Americans to feel empowered to change the establishment.  Grassroots.

From the LA Times:

Kucinich vowed an administration that would push “massive” spending on mass transit, incentives for renewable energy and environmentally safe construction techiniques, and said he would use NASA to press the country to develop “green technologies.”

There were a few areas where Kucinch felt vague, but he rallied. When asked about coal (which he’s against) and the impending loss of jobs should  mines be shut down, he  stunned the panelists by responding that he’d  compensate miners and anyone else whose livelihoods would vanish by environmental policies.

“I’m speaking of a guaranteed annual income”,  said Kucinich.

“For everybody?”, asked a panelist.


The panelists didn’t know what to say.  My sense was that while they admired the integrity of his position, they didn’t feel that his solution was workable.  I found his proposal to be idealistic, even if it seems the right thing to do.  Kucinich scored points with me, though, when he stated that in the scheme of things, when we’re paying for the havoc that global warming will visit upon us, such a plan would be “cheap”.

And he’s  right.  Try getting support on that one, though.  Kucinich received a wonderful ovation.  It was gratifying to see him given time to put his views across.

Then Hillary Clinton.  She took the stage to a standing ovation.  She had a lot of supporters cheering for her from the balcony (with signs) and the audience was a typical LA audience.  Very pro-Clinton.  There were several loud “boos”, but I didn”t know who they were coming from.

She stood at the mike.  Hillary knows her audience.  She’s raised millions over the years in this town for Bill, for her Senate race, and now for her presidential bid (side note:  her campaign was alarmed when many of her past supporters threw in with Obama last spring, prompting a “smackdown” of defectors and a quote that  they “would be remembered when she’s elected”.  Many of those defectors then held fundraisers and gave donations to Senator Clinton).

I have strong feelings re Clinton and I will be honest about that.  I was also open to the possiblity that if she gave a good speech, I would set those feelings aside.  And I thought it quite possible that I would be charmed by her, as I’ve heard so many reports that she is quite charming.  My husband was sitting next to me.  He has heard my opinion of Hillary.  He’s been more neutral on the matter.

Senator Clinton gave a performance.  Let me tell you what I mean by that.  She stood at the podium, strong, ballsey, with a “take no prisoners” attitude.  And let me be clear about this…I love strong, ballsey, ‘take no prisoners’ candidates.  Men, women, whomever. 

But there was something else in her demeanor.  It was a “don’t you DARE fuck with me” attitude.  There was nothing open…no sense of give and take (which I saw in Kucinich).  She was imperious, steamrolling and I had the terrible sense that if anyone was in the way, the’d better watch out.

I waited for a change in her demeanor. 

It didn’t happen.

On the plus side, I did like what she had to offer up.  In fact, I was impressed with her knowledge and policy.  Then I remembered, “Oh right.  That’s almost identitical to the policy John Edwards put out last spring.”  And it was deja vu all over again.  Edwards was first out of the gate with his health care policy.  Hillary came in eight months later with a strikingly similar one.  There were rumbles in the press about this, but they went away.

Hillary finally unveiled her environmental policy just one week ago.  She does, however, have an excellent evironmental rating on her voting record.

I think I understand one component of her demeanor onstage while forcefully gave her speech.  To me, it appeared she had made the decision to “intimidate”. To show the world that she “owned” her power. I felt, though, that anyone who would take her on would be quickly shut down.  I won’t tell you the visual metaphor that came to my head.  I will tell you that I agreed with many of her points. I looked around the audience to see what they were thinking.

The were listening hard, applauding.  Then her Q&A.  She got softball questions, as did all of the candidates.  This was a friendly forum.

I want you to know that I watched Kucinich very closely.  He’s a warm guy.  He impressed me.  I looked at Hillary’s eyes and they were determined, fixed.  But something else bothered me…I didn’t see the passion for what she was talking about. 

My husband turned to me and took me by surprise.  “She doesn’t believe it.”

He was referring to what she was speaking of.  I’m not sure if he’s right.  I think that she MUST believe what she’s saying…but my husband didn’t buy her.

Then out of the audience a man began yelling, “Answer the questions!”

Everyone whipped their heads around and saw a livid guy shouting at Hillary.  He ripped off his shirt to reveal a pink t with the Code Pink logo on it.  His face was flushed and angry.  The crowd started booing his interruption.  Some cheered. 

Hillary jumped on him with a lacerating, “Were you invited to speak?”  Her voice boomed.  She wasn’t going to let him be heard.  This didn’t stop the man, he got angrier, shouted something about the war and profiteering.

Hillary talked right over him.  Things got rough when a couple of security guys and a woman tried to escort the man out of the auditorium.

And as he continued demanding a response from Senator Clinton, something rose up in me and I began applauding him.  Hillary supporters all around me and, still, I started clapping my hands for this man.  I understood his rage.  Code Pink has been doing brave work (starting from a time when no one would stand up) and he was being treated poorly.  Worse, was the way Hillary treated him.  She slapped him down like he was a flly.

I have mixed thoughts about all of this, as well.  I loved this forum.  I loved the respect shown to the candidates.  I even understand how one would think that it was wrong for Code Pink to interrupt an invited speaker.

But had this happened to my candidate of choice, I would hope that Senator Edwards would have had the courage to acknowledge the man, give him due respect, and answer his question.

Hillary didn’t handle this well. She went to her first instinct…Silencing him.  This man is an American citizen who has been on the right side of the war. She should have respected the level of his committment, even if this was a forum on Global Warming.  I would add, however, that one has everything to do with the other.

This is a war for oil, afterall.

Later, my husband told me that he had to resist the huge temptation to stand up and shout, “He’s an American citizen! Let him speak!.  Now he wishes he had.

The man was escorted out.  There were people (some in the same industry as myself) who were glaring at me. One man caught my eye, began staring at me.  I thought, “Okay, here we go.”  I held his gaze for about 20 full seconds until he stopped.  He then appeared to mouth, “Don’t I know you?” to which I smiled. 

It was a stupid game of intimidation.  But it stopped..

Hillary was unflappable.  She continued talking. Her Q&A was winding down with a question on an imperfect Senate bill that would move to curtail emissions, but not by as much as she indicates she would like. 

She refused to say whether or not she would vote for the bill.  Instead, she invoked the name of Barbara Boxer who is on the right side of things and who’s trying to make the bill better:

“I can’t tell you how I will vote because I don’t know what the final bill is going to be.  On the one hand, it is nowhere near what I would want…On the other hand, we have never gotten this far before”

She also said:

So perhaps a thought that you might take away from this forum: ‘There is no way that we will ever produce a piece of legislation that will get through the Congress that every one of you will agree with.’

The audience stood up for Senator Clinton as she left the stage, though the applause, while strong, was less so than the greeting they gave her.  Her words seemed to be about diminishing expectations.

John Edwards took the stage.  He spoke very rapidly from written text.  I know his policy well.  It’s well regarded by environmentalists as having set the bar for other candidates.  He has the endorsement of Friends of the Earth for his stance against nuclear power plants.  I have to say, though, that I’d much prefer for him to speak extemporaneously.  California likes Edwards a lot, but they give their money to Clinton and Obama.  They’re not enamored with Southerners. He needed to prove to this audience that he truly knows what he’s talking about.

He felt nervous, initially, to me, as I’d seen him speak in person several times.  I know he felt that this wasn’t “his audience”, that it was, in fact, Hillary’s and perhaps he felt a little up against it. I’ve seen him speak from prepared text before ( not as effective for him) when he unveils a new speech.  But the substance of what he had to say was strong.

Then the Q&A…And Edwards simply and beautifully wove together the correlation between a bankrupt Beltway system, lobbyists, and politicians who needed to “put political calculation aside and actually stand up with a little backbone for what’s right.”

He didn’t name names. The audience knew who he meant.

Edwards time and again hit the idea that nothing would change until America cut off the rot in DC at the knees.  He advocated public financing of political campaigns.  They audienced roared their approval.

“Why does America not attack global warming int the way that we need to?  We know why we haven’t–oil companies, power companies, gas companies and their lobbyists in Washington DC”

Edwards was asked if a bill should be killed if it was less than what environmentalists wanted or if it should be passed just to get something on the boards.

He declared that this wasn’t an either or.  And began talking about creating a world where American voters, every citizen, would hold politicians feet to the fire.  He is of the strong belief that “we” are the ones who hold the keys to the country.  That “we” can drive our demands into actual action. 

He said, “Believe me, the politicians will follow like lemmings.”

The audience applauded him over and over.  Edwards combined idealism with pragmatism.  Many in the audience were already familiar with his detailed environmental plan.  One of his strongest points is not unlike Kucinich’s in that it creates some relief for those who lose their coal mining jobs.

When asked if he would give potential unemployed workers a “salary”, however, he answered, simply and regretfully:

“I can’t promise that”. .

He does want to set aside several billion dollars (which would come from elimnating oil subsidies) to bring relief and new jobs to those who potentially lose their jobs.  He wants to create  greencollar industries.

He called throughout the Q&A for the country to wake up and change the balance of power. He struck a blow at media consolidation and hit Rupert Murdoch as a prime example of the news being in the hands of the very wealthy few.  It was a sharp rebuke to the Senator from New York.

The panelists were clearly very excited and impressed with Edwards, they were all smiles.  He gave a rousing, powerful case which went to the root of our problems.  He looked down at the clock and seemed startled when he saw that he’d gone past his alloted time.  He kind of jumped and modestly mentioned that he’d gone over.  The audience laughed and applauded.  And they were one their feet.  He excited and moved them.  This “Hillary” skewed crowd was charmed and invigorated.  Edwards said the things few mainstream presidential candidates have ever said.  He won them over.

I was struck by the differences, live, in person, between Senator Clinton and John Edwards.  Senator Clinton clearly comes from a Beltway philosphy.  She felt like the authoritarian parent who says, “vote for me and let us in Washington do the rest”.  I felt as if I was being talked down to.

John Edwards says, “Vote for me, let’s walk together and get this done.”

The difference couldn’t be more clear.

Field of Dreams: A Californian in Iowa for the Harkin Steak Fry

I knew we were close when the bus started crawling along at 5 miles per hour and candidate sign wars stretched out as far as my eyes could see. I was fortunate enough to have caught a ride from my Drinking Liberally friends so when the bus slowed to a crawl most of us decided to disembark and walk the rest of the mile down the road to the Indianola Balloon Field. The excitement was palatable as Fry attendees 15,000 of them according to the Des Moines Register, streamed through the parking lot at times dodging candidate volunteers as they tried to hand you stickers much like the perfume spritzers you have to dodge in department stores. As I walked along I was happy to see a piece of Bay Area art, the Topsy Turvy bus was there espousing budget priorities.

Once inside the main gates I decided to visit the candidate and issue tables that were set up along the perimeter. Every table had swag to give away, from buttons to bumper stickers to placards and cowbells. I remarked to my friend that it was like a Democratic Christmas. As I was inspecting the goods a ripple of excitement ran through the crowd, the first candidate had walked through the gates. There was Senator Barack Obama surrounded by his supporters as they were chanting “I-O-W-A, Barack Obama all the way!” This is what I had been waiting for, the opportunity to see Presidential candidates up close and in person practicing retail politics. Unlike in California, where candidate events have price tags starting from $250 and up here in Iowa, if you’ve caucused before and are undecided, getting a personal phone call from a candidate or their spouse is not unexpected. And for only $30 you can see and shake hands with all the candidates at Harkin’s Steak Fry. I came to Des Moines to see candidates engage with Middle America and hopefully come away with my own choice for President. Senator Obama did his part by working his way through the crowd with the help of his Secret Service agents and a few staff members. Throughout the process he was genial and would happily stop for a photo, an autograph and plenty of handshakes.

My next stop was over to the food tents to get a plate of Iowa steak, beans, potato salad and a bread roll. I was disappointed to see all the food being placed on thousands of Styrofoam plates. I hope next time around Senator Harkin will consider using a more environmentally friendly option. The steak itself was very well done and after a few tough bites I decided that I’d be better off sparing my digestive system. Luckily enough at the same time another ripple of excitement was coursing through the crowd and I looked up to see boom mikes, cameras and supporters surrounding Senator Hillary Clinton. I proceeded to hustle my way to the throng of folks to snap a photo. Her supporters were chanting “H-I, H-I-L, H-I-L-L-A-R-Y, Hillary our nominee!” They were brandishing Hillary for President placards and ringing their blue cowbells. Unfortunately for the attendees Sen. Clinton did not walk through the crowd because there was a 3-foot plastic fence separating her from everyone else. The fence had been erected earlier for the photo opportunity by the grills where the candidates had a chance to greet volunteers and flip a steak. I thought it was an odd choice for her to make and an unfortunate one that differentiated her from how the rest of the candidates were able to network with the Fry crowd. She spent about 20 minutes working the line till she was escorted away by her staff and Secret Service agents.

Senator John Edwards came through the crowd next, his supporters were brandishing placards and more than a few handmade signs some of which read “Iowa Loves Edwards” “Labor for Edwards” and “Iowa is Edwards Country.” Much like the other candidates, he seemed happy to be there and would stop to take photos, sign autographs and of course shake plenty of offered hands. 

By this time it was around 2:30, the scheduled time for the candidates to start making their speeches so I cut through the field and made my way to the stage for a good view. Suddenly, cheers and chants from all the campaign supporters and staff rose up from the crowd of viewers. All of the candidates and Senator Harkin and his wife Ruth were making their way towards the stage. Edwards, Obama and Richardson were walking side-by-side behind them were Dodd and Biden and behind them were Clinton and the Harkins. An attendee told me that Mrs. Harkin was endorsing Senator Clinton while Senator Harkin had decided to remain non-committal. Once all the candidates made it to the stage, the National Anthem was sung and then the candidates took their seats on stage in the order that they would be speaking which had been decided earlier by a random draw. This meant that on stage right it was Obama, Richardson and Clinton and on stage left it was Dodd, Edwards and Biden. It was an inspiring visual to look at all the candidates on the right. It made me proud to be a Democrat to see an African American, a Latino and a Woman vying to be President. All of these candidates represent change in American politics just by virtue of their birth.

Each candidate was allotted 15 minutes of time to make their case for why Iowans should caucus for them. Ruth Harkin was the first speaker and she stepped to the mike to introduce her husband. After Senator Harkin said his piece he welcomed Senator Obama who took the mike and made his case. Some of his key quotes include, “Fundamental change, that’s why I’m running for President.” And most importantly, “We are going to bring an end to this war and I will fight hard in the United States Senate to make sure we don’t pass any funding bill that does not have a deadline.” This was his most important statement to me and it helped distinguish himself from Clinton who has remained silent on the issue. As far as I’m concerned if you are in a position to lead against the war you should. Obama also came out strong in the visibility wars, his staff turned out 2,000 people and a marching band. 

Governor Bill Richardson was next and made the most impressive and electric speech of the day. He crammed as much policy as he could in his 15 minutes as he outlined what he would do if he were President. Highlights include: no residual troops in Iraq, 50 mph fuel standards, a Hero’s Health Card for Veterans to use any medical facility if their VA hospital is too far, $40,000 minimum salary for all teachers and a 1-year community service requirement for graduating college students so that their loans would be offset. He also gave the best joke of the day when he said that he is the Presidential candidate who offers caucus goers both change and experience, a riff on Obama and Clinton’s tedious speeches that focus on “experience” versus “change”.

Senator Clinton went third and hinted at the health care policy that she would reveal the next day. She also spoke about the mothers and daughters that she saw on the campaign trail and how she was happy when the mothers would tell the daughters that they too could be President one day. Her best line that afternoon was when she said that if she was elected in November she would immediately send envoys with both party members “around the world with a very simple message: The era of cowboy diplomacy is over. America is back.” She was also the first candidate to reference the Field of Dreams movie, when she spoke about “What we’re doing today is building a new ‘Field of Dreams'”. Chills ran up my spine when she said that line because as I looked at all of the qualified candidates on stage, I realized that they do represent a ‘Field of Dreams.’ The dream that hard working American’s will take their country back in 2008.

Senator Chris Dodd was next and unfortunately I felt like he spent half his time talking about how great Senator Harkin was, he even mentioned as he was wrapping up “Now having successfully pandered to Tom Harkin..” It seemed like a waste of a good opportunity to distinguish himself from the top tier candidates. He did have a good line when he said, “Politics of fear is what destroys our country. And the other side engages in it every day, and we need to fight back.’

Senator Edwards took the mike next amid chants of “Go John Go!” After the crowd quieted down he gave a shout out to his wife Elizabeth who was in attendance and said, “I don’t know about you, but I kind of enjoyed it when she went after Ann Coulter.” This of course erupted into another loud cheer from the crowd. He continued on his populist message and came out strong for working families and union labor. Some of his best lines of the day started with “You can’t sit at a table with lobbyists, drug companies, ect., and come away with a good health care plan. If you give them a seat at the table, they’ll take all the food!” He also said that we couldn’t replace ‘corporate Republicans’ with ‘corporate Democrats’.  On healthcare he said he would “Outlaw pre-existing conditions,” and asked “What man, woman or child is not worthy of healthcare?” He mentioned unions explicitly and he also called organized labor “the single best anti-poverty movement in history.” He thanked Congress for raising the minimum wage but said it wasn’t enough and as President he would raise it to $9.50 an hour and have it  indexed to rising inflation. He closed with stating, “You can’t just declare yourself the change candidate,” and asked caucus goers to “trust your heart.”

Senator Joe Biden was on last and opened with a joke, “I’ve also seen Field of Dreams and if I’m not mistaken, this has taken longer than 9 innings.” He went on to say that this “election is as serious as a heart attack folks.” He stated that it is obvious to him that Bush is not going to end the war and that the “responsibility is going to fall on one of the candidates sitting on stage and that is deadly serious.” After listing his foreign policy goals he wrapped up his speech by calling for an end to “the obscene amounts of money that is being spent” and advocated for public funding for elections along with a “Supreme Court that recognizes individual and civil rights.”

As the day came to an end the PA system blasted out September by Earth, Wind and Fire. Each of the candidates clasped hands and raised them in celebration as the crowds cheered on their choice. I walked away from the field knowing who I would vote for in February and proud that each of the individuals that spent their Sunday afternoon in that balloon field did so because they love America.

The Californian Primary and Voter Registration

(cross-posted from MyDD.  It is a compilation of a few posts I have written in recent weeks.)

It is interesting to see the national trends towards independents Chris Bowers just wrote about.  Here in California the trend is more pronounced towards DTS (decline to state).  Democrats are losing a lot more ground than Republicans.  This is the most recent chart from the CA Secretary of State.

DTS is up almost 6 points in 8 years.  Democrats have dropped 4.2% and Republicans 1.1%.  The highest number percentage of DTS voters are in San Francisco (29.13%) Mono (24.34%) and Alpine (22.98%).

Overall registration is dropping, now below 70%.  These are not positive long term trends.

This combined with a very strong trend towards permanent absentee (now at 3.9 million voters) is really changing how campaigns are run in California.  It is likely that over half of all voters will vote absentee in the primary.  We were at 47% for the primary last spring.  That number is only supposed to grow.

These two trends will have a direct impact on the presidential primary.

For one, the Republicans are not permitting DTS voters to participate in their primary.  They are allowed in the Democratic primary.  This should skew it slightly right for the Republicans and more moderate for the Democrats.  Californians who are registered as permanent absentee voters get their ballots and begin voting on January 7th, well before the Iowa Caucuses.  For more analysis see my earlier post.

The Republican primary is even more quirky.  They are allocating delegates based on how candidates do in individual Congressional districts.  This effectively turns California into 53 distinct campaigns.  And with district Republican registration swinging between 199,747 (CA-48) and 27,025 (CA-31) this makes some Republican votes worth much more than others.

The Democratic primary by contrast is much more straight forward.  We are starting to see the different campaign’s approach to California based on their early staff hires and campaign appearances.  By far, Clinton is investing the most resources into organizing California.  She is staffing up.  Clinton now has  a State Director, Political Director, Communications Director, Field Director and Deputy Field Director, all in California. They have extensive history working here, especially down in vote rich LA.

Edwards was out here this week for an appearance at Google and a small dollar fundraiser in San Jose last night.  He has hired a CA fundraiser, but I have not seen any news of any other staff allocations.

Obama has hired the Pasadena based The Strategy Group.  Larry Grisolano goes back a long ways with Obama and is a well respected California consultant.

Richardson declared out here and is emphasizing his a Latino and Californian roots.  I have not seen any indication that he has done any California specific hiring.

To run an effective campaign in California you need a lot of money for advertising, think $2-3 million for a week of statewide television saturation.  Then there is rado.  You must have a direct mail guru who can target the DTS and likely Democrats, backed with a robust voter file.  Successful campaigns will run a sophisticated absentee voter campaign with targeted mailings and phone calls.  Voters who turn in their ballots can be crossed off lists.  Door knocking is just as effective here as in any other state, but there is a ton of ground to cover and this requires a lot of time and volunteers.

There are a ton of delegates up for grabs, but campaigns will have to put a lot of resources into running an effective campaign.  Thus far, Clinton is by all indications making that investment.  Will we see the others step up?  She is showing a strong lead in the polls but there is an opportunity for someone on the left to compete directly with her.  Who will that be?

My Convention Take

I’ve been to many a convention, but this one was the most interesting.  You’ve read about most of it by now. This is my Blog post from www.sfgate/community/blogs

To San Diego and Back: Our State Democratic Convention
Posted 5/1/2007 4:45 PM
Politics alert: This Blog contains partisan viewpoints and might not be suitable for small children or those with short attention spans or high expectations.

I’m back from the Convention, thank you for asking, yes it was exciting.  The usual suspects traipsed through to be adored or ignored, depending.  In this case, the usual suspects are presidential candidates (all except Biden, even that Alaskan guy no one ever head of, and he is a fire brand) and Party hacks, with budget reports or passing out awards to volunteers of the year in Visalia. Oh, and Gavin was there, pressing way too much flesh for a guy simply doing his job.

My personal fave is John Edwards. Hands down. He has programs, he has energy. He has hair. (Whoops, edit that out!) He’s a serious candidate who seems to really care about social programs and has the guts to say he was wrong to vote for the Iraq War. Go here for his postcard you can send to your representative.  http://johnedwards.c…  Get out of Iraq.  This was his message, and it resonated with the crowd. See the YouTube footage of his Iraq statement here: http://johnedwards.c…
All the Caucuses held meetings, so did the committees, many at the same time and it was impossible to juggle between them all, especially with mini-crises and important votes that couldn’t be missed. Some of them got missed. Some people left the building early resulting in an embarrassing lack of quorum for an important resolution: Stop funding the Iraq War now. 

You’ve read about the famous quorum call, about which Art was “shocked, shocked, I tell you!”

Aside to Party Leaders:  Please put the important business on first.  Save the awards and back patting until later.  And make the resolutions available as soon as possible, so that all know what they may be voting on and why it’s important to stay in your seats until the votes are cast.

  In other news, our Progressive Caucus rocks, in the word of one Blogger at  http://usliberals.ab…  We elected some new officers (I’m still an Officer at Large) and reported on the progress of our initiatives for the year.  We may be the largest Caucus in the Party now. Yay progressives!

Our own Marin County activist, Mayme Hubert, was elected to the unsung position of Regional Director. That means she rules the roost from Marin to the border in matters Democratic.  Really, she has to keep us all informed and log a lot of miles as she travels from meeting to meeting. 

And there were parties.  Charlie Brown, the once and future candidate against  ethically challenged John Doolittle in Congressional District 4, spurred on the crowd eating family style pasta and eggplant at the Take Back Red California Dinner (cheap eats). In the hospitality suites which took over the meeting rooms in the evening,  you could eat ice cream with Bill Lockyer or drink red wine with the progressives. I did both, but declined the photo op with Bill.

Hope to see many of you in Sacramento in July for the quarterly meeting of the Executive Board.