Benny's World

Saturday, October 08, 2005

What a Lamb!

C-SPAN just had a marathon of 25 hours for viewers to call in. There were 29 guests and all of the hosts took turns for this special event as C-SPAN celebrated 25 years of call-in shows on its channel.

I was surprised to learn on the last hour that Brian Lamb, CEO, does not give input as to where the cameras go. I also didn't know this non-profit received a nickel from cable companies for every household that receives C-SPAN. For a public service, it's worth every penny I pay the cable company--and more. I have learned so much about the Congress's business...and have received more fair and balanced information about the political processes. The mainstream media is generally less than helpful anymore for me to make voting decisions, although I am still somewhat dependent on what they do.

I would have liked to have been a caller for this event, but it's been my experience that one has to wait a long time to get on the air. I decided to enjoy the celebration and listen to the others.

One woman called tonight to say she was paralyzed, yet C-SPAN took her many places. I can empathize as in many respects, C-SPAN is like the books I read as a child during summer vacations and my folks didn't have many bucks for us to go places.

For example, I would not be able to step foot into the chambers of the Hill if it weren't for C-SPAN. I would not have understood all of the symbolism in the Pope's funeral a few months ago, but C-SPAN hooked to Vatican TV and an American archbishop gave the viewers a much better insight about the whole celebration, including pointing out people who worked closely with and for the Pope.

Recently, JRE went to Iowa for the annual Harkin Steak Fry. It was something I really wanted to attend, but could not. But I got the best jists of it through watching On The Road to the White House, including seeing my friend Jackie at the very beginning of the program. I also met Elizabeth Edwards via C-SPAN when she was on the bus campaigning for him last year in Wisconsin.

It would be a pity to see the Lafayette, IN guy, Brian Lamb, retire. He's quite the character--and by far, still the most poised with his guests, and doesn't put up with a lot of balderdash from the callers. Mr. Lamb has done the greatest service for our country outside of fighting a war: bringing the Congress and President into our living rooms without biased political comment. He received a nomination for Congressional Medal of Honor last year.

I will miss the day he takes off his glasses after interviewing someone on Q & A (formerly, Booknotes). He created a shepherd, C-SPAN, to lead us through the political morass. Tomorrow, he turns 64. And we still want him around.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

JRE and Tavis

Tavis Smiley is an icon. He is foremost one of the best African-American talk show hosts. He has been the convener of quite a few programs on C-SPAN that involve the discussion of African-American issues with panels drawing from academics, clerics, and politics.

Last night, Tavis had JRE on his show to talk about the problem of poverty. The following are excerpted from the transcript.

Edwards: ...And among all the choices, this was the thing I felt most strongly about. So I have helped start a poverty center, Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We have got some very good people, two terrific women right now who are working for me there. We are working together on this poverty center.

We have brought in scholars from the university campus. We are bringing in some of the best experts in the country to talk about their views on what the causes of poverty are, the root causes, what can be done to eliminate poverty, looking at it in a very practical, 21st century, forward-looking way. And – as I'm sure we are going to talk about, you know, we are doing lots of practical things. We're having summits to bring in some of the great experts in the country.

I'm going have a panel in November of some of the leading journalists whose have written about poverty, columnists and press reporters to talk about why the press has covered poverty the way it has in the past. Has that changed as a result of Katrina? How will it change in the future, what is the likelihood - the impact that will have on the psyche of the American people? But the real issue - I think, is this window of opportunity, post-hurricane Katrina, is open. The American people are paying attention. The question is, will that window stay open, or is it gonna close?

And will it close? Or will we do "the right thing"?

JRE is asking the same questions I wondered about just the other day, which is why hasn't the press been more vigilant in covering the disparties in our country? Many reporters grew up in the 60's...and now it is as though they got gold watches in their pockets...and threw away the cameras.

To watch the program, click here.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Matter of Dignity and Respect

Former Sen. John Edwards pauses as the band plays the national anthem during a visit to Greene Central High School in Snow Hill, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2005. During his visit, Edwards promised 140 high school seniors in one of the state's poorest counties that they could get free college tuition through a new program that will require them to work while they study. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

JRE wants our younger generations to have the opportunity to get schooled, and have dignity, as well as respect as they work their way to a better life for themselves.