Benny's World

Saturday, September 22, 2007

September via Song: Remembrance of Things Past

Remember that song with my college sweetheart --because of our first date on this date in 1978. And Earth, Wind and Fire's song was popular at the time too. Old sweetheart is a linguist in NJ. He and his parents were great mentors. Too bad I was too young to appreciate all they had to offer, but my family was always in a flux of situations, and I had to be on my own a lot. I thank the government for giving me a hand up during that time for my education, but I also worked to earn my pocket money at the same time.

Back to what I know about myself: I always fall in love in the autumn--summers are great, but fall always felt the best.

My current spouse and I were not far from this pic (shown above) featured on Square State today when I was getting to know my spouse and he was a friend then.

I think JRE was smitten with EE during the fall of 1974, but he took his time not to rush things. He was wise. But EE was bold with the professors at the time, which took JRE's mind towards EE. She was small (meaning not tall) but strong.

I was conceived in October as well, in 1958 as it was lovely then, around Colorado Springs. Maybe that is why I have a proclivity to Colorado.

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Off the Beaten Path: Dennis' Theme Song

As an old folkie, I had to love the duo who put this together for Dennis Kucinich's campaign as his theme song. It is the most original I have heard thus far.

And reminiscent of George McGovern of 1972. Mind you, I thought highly of McGovern when I wasn't old enough to vote, but I wanted peace and out of Vietnam. This is a throwback to that time.

Dennis is going to have to get serious about campaigning in Iowa and NH, instead he is spending most of his time in California drawing from their ATM's. He was not invited to the Harkin Steak Fry nor the AARP Debate because he seldom campaigns in Iowa. Both states expect retail politics, and he will have to play the game, whether he likes it or not, or just say, buh-bye. A friend disagrees that it was wrong not to have invited Dennis to those places, but votes are state matters, not national ones for primaries.

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John Edwards: It Takes More than Just a President

From the Harkin Steak Fry. I filled out one of those coins of ideas for change. I want Universal Health care, but all of the folks in the video express the other ideas of change that I want as well.

One of them was about education. As a matter of fact, JRE came out with an education plan yesterday.

Here's an excerpt:

Edwards' plan for education reform will address the failures of the current system through focusing on the following principles:

Preparing Every Child to Succeed: As president, Edwards will launch a national "Great Promise" partnership to give a quality early childhood education to every four-year-old in the country � starting with poor children in neighborhoods with struggling schools. To reach even younger children, Edwards will create a national "Smart Start" program that will improve child care and invest in child health.

An Excellent Teacher in Every Classroom: Teachers, not tests, are the single most important factor in successful schools. As president, Edwards will increase pay for teachers in successful high-poverty schools by up to $15,000 a year. He will also create a National Teacher University � a West Point for teachers � to recruit 1,000 top college students a year, train them to be excellent teachers, and encourage them to teach where they are needed the most. His plan also will give extra support to teachers in the first years of their careers, reduce classroom sizes, and train more excellent principals.

Making Every School an Outstanding School: No Child Left Behind used cheap standardized tests to measure our children's learning, failed to accurately identify struggling schools, and mandated unproven cookie-cutter solutions for our schools' problems. Edwards will totally overhaul it so it meets its goals of helping all children learn through accurately identifying and improving struggling schools. Based on North Carolina's successful education reforms, Edwards proposed a School Success Fund to allow teams of experienced educators to spend a year at struggling schools helping launch reforms. Edwards will also launch a "Great Schools" initiative to build or expand 1,000 successful schools.

For more specifics, go here.

The one specific I like is this one:
Support High School Service Programs

The energy and enthusiasm of high school students who want to make their community and their country a better place to live. One type of service program, service-learning, has been shown to have positive impacts on students' civic engagement, college enrollment, career development, and personal relationships. Nearly half of school-age children lack the activities and role models that are opportunities to make a difference through helping others. Edwards will create a Community Corps service programs for high school students. It will provide resources to high schools that choose to make community service a graduation requirement, helping them make service opportunities higher in quality and integrate them into the curriculum. [NYLC, 2006; America's Promise Alliance, undated]

Benny's idea: Or, another idea--have them work 10 hours a week for wages to show they can gain work skills and fiscal responsibility as they go to college or attend a trade school. This fits in with College for Everyone.

Let's Change America. Tomorrow begins today.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

John Edwards Hits Homerun at AARP Debate

I don't have the transcript yet, but from watching the AARP debate, most especially observing the applause factor, Edwards' ideas resonated more with the audience than the other candidates. Will post the transcript when I get it.

Now, to all of you Progressive pundits who think the Senate vote was so important today on today. Here's my response on Taylor Marsh's blog, mainly because I am tired of reading that Mrs. Edwards was sent out to make her husband's comments for him.
Despite TM's high regard for a woman who cannot get to the WH on her own without her husband (and I might add, without Edwards' defense of Bill, which got him acquitted--and how he gained national prominence or at least the attention of Al Gore)and Mrs. Clinton will continue to sell out the progressives to wingnuts via Fox News, and American people alike to lobbyists, it's clear to me that Taylor (and perhaps Jane) does not understand Elizabeth Edwards and why (or when) she says what she does.

I've been acquainted with Elizabeth Edwards (EE as she known to long time supporters) for some time, and I know how she is. Mind you, I am not affiliated with the campaign other than an enthusiastic supporter who is glad that Edwards is taking the side of the ordinary American and for the voiceless, since many of the big lobbyists in the drug, insurance, and pharmas don't give a flip about us, and we know it. Mrs. Edwards speaks her own mind, just as she has jumped on One America's own chat room and started a conversation with anyone who wanted to engage her. EE made a comment on my own blog when I wished her happy birthday. Totally out of the blue, but welcomed. However, I seriously doubt John ever knew she was there or posted on non-A list blogger sites until another blogger brought it up at the One America site.

Mrs. Edwards has been the Daily Kos several times, at times blogging with John, but sometimes by herself (and w/a staffer to do the set up of the diary). She's made comments on the DU as well, and on Jane's blog too. The point that I am making is that Mrs. Edwards has been one of us for a long time, more than any candidate or her/his spouse. So she has been out there long before the last couple of months in defense of the netroots. Moreover, the Edwards campaign hired some very prominent netrooters: Tracy Russo, formerly of the Dem Party site, Joe Trippi, and most noteable, Ben Brandzel, formerly of

TM readers, Mrs. Edwards was never sent out to make the criticism of the ad--and even if she were, it bothers me that TM, Jane and others may be playing into the wingnuts' hands by saying she was sent out by her spouse.

This was the same criticism of Mrs. Clinton in the 1992 (when Mrs. Clinton said she would not be at home baking cookies, remember?), and she was forced to negate rumors for a 60 minutes interview to show support of her husband who had accusations of adultery with Gennifer Flowers, and was third or 4th in the polls in NH at the time. And they turned out to be true. Yet, Mrs. Edwards is supposed to be like Laura Bush and it's OK for Big Dawg to campaign for his wife.

Seems to me there is a double standard here, and I expect more of Taylor (and Jane H of FireDogLake) to dispense repeating Re-thug nonsense, especially John Solomon's articles/blogposts because he might as well be on Fox News. Otherwise, if TM readers believe Mrs. Clinton going on Fox News on Sunday AM is OK, considering that TM and Kos have repeatedly said they doesn't consider it a legit news outlet, then one has to examine the mirror a bit more carefully.

For what it is worth, I did e-mail the campaign and I got a response about today's vote in the Senate. From Jonathan Prince, Deputy Campaign Manager, on MoveOn vote:

"On Iraq, we've seen what Congress' symbolic resolutions get us -- more of George Bush's failed strategy. Congress should be voting to end the war in Iraq, rather than on symbolic resolutions that have no effect."

Clinton may have been there to vote against the amendments, as Dodd, and Kerry did too, but we really should be focusing on getting us out of Iraq. If Clinton (and Obama for that matter) says she (and he) can get Republicans to work with them, then they need to prove it.

Clinton will be on all of the major talk shows. Taylor Marsh thinks that the Clinton camp is already starting the general election. While it's nice the corporate media is giving Clinton air time at once, the timing is quite something else. I think her camp is more concerned about John Edwards. He is still ahead on all of the head to head match ups with the Rethugs, except in Alabama, and at that, he can win the South.

Meantime, check out JRE's Declaration of Independence for Older Americans.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

John Edwards to Air Views at AARP Forum Tonight

AARP, IPTV 2008 Presidential Candidate Forums in Davenport and Sioux City

AARP and Iowa Public Television (IPTV) will be holding two Presidential Candidate forums focused on the issues of health care and financial security on Sept. 20 in Davenport and Oct. 25 in Sioux City.

At the September 20 event, Democratic candidates committed to participating and meeting forum criteria include: U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, former U.S. Senator John Edwards, U.S. Senator Joe Biden and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. All of the Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate in the October 25 forum. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and U.S. Senator John McCain have confirmed they will participate.

The forums will be broadcast live from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. (CT) both nights, and will be aired on PBS stations across the country. Judy Woodruff , senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, will moderate the 90-minute discussions.

The Adler Theatre in Davenport will be the site for the Sept. 20 forum with the Democratic candidates and the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City will be the site for the Oct. 25 Republican candidate forum.

BW readers will note that Barack Obama will not be attending. Instead, he will be at a fundraiser in Atlanta. I guess discussing older people's issues aren't his thing, or Barack cannot keep up with the demands of a campaign except DNC sanctioned ones. Well, this is his first real campaign. Not easy to do.

I'll be watching at 7 on WILL, my local PBS station to hear JRE, Dodd, Richardson, and what others will have to say.

I hope all of the questions will be substantive.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

JRE Buzz: Iowa is Edwards Country

Yesterday, I got back from a trip to Tom Harkin's Steak Fry. It was like a cross between a big football game of rivals and a rock concert. It was far more diverse than I expected. One woman commented that she had never seen buses from Waterloo before. Waterloo has lots of African-Americans and Latinos in their town, according to one of my friends.

To give one an idea of the scene: Obamaians marched in from a rally across the street. I spoke with one of Obama's unpaid interns and he was very nice. Most Obama supporters were enthusiastic, but they were not rude like the punks for Madam Clinton. There were young cheerleaders for Madame Clinton who shouted at Fry attendees as we walked in. Then these same punks also tried to hijack an Edwards rally---older Iowans did not like it at all as they were Edwards' supporters. The older ones who supported Clinton didn't do those kind of antics.

Iowans take their retail politics very seriously.

A word about Tom Harkin first. He is so down to earth and he understands his constituents very well. He had some great lines, such as these:

"This is my idea of surge" and reported this was a record turnout of over 12,000 people.
"Ready to do some preaching to the choir. Who is better a better choir than fellow Iowans?"
"We are ready to kick some....elephants!"

Harkin made the grandest speech of the day, outlining things Iowans (and this Illini) wants: bold movement towards universal health care, global warming, etc. I liked it that he used a WWII expression that was the theme of the event, particularly for JRE:

"We will fight, but fear not".

I parked my camp chair and gear by some other JRE supporters in the back as I wanted to sit back, observe what was going on, and get into some conversations with Iowans at the event. The ones I talked to were impressed that I drove from east Central Illinois just to witness "a lifetime" event. I was not too far from the Edwards booth, which offered hand paddle/tambourines to shake and offered John Edwards pasties for temporary tatoos. One could also get face painting. The lady next me got a photo of her little girl with Jack and Emma Claire. That's impressive. I also liked the huge vertical signs that read Edwards 08. They stood out, as well as the airplane that flew about with a banner that read "Iowa is Edwards Country"

A HRC supporter and her husband, who was leaning towards Obama were to my right. I asked the HRC supporter why she supported her. She didn't have a clear cut answer, but my impression was that it was because Clinton was a woman. The supporter mentioned that her son was now in Iraq. I asked her if she knew if Clinton had a plan to get out of Iraq. She confessed that she had not heard one from Clinton. I said that I wish I could ask Clinton that question in addition to another: when in upstate NY International Paper was threatening to burn tires for heat and energy, workers wrote and called Clinton to ask to intervene. Clinton did nothing. They burned the tires, but the state finally got wind of it, and made them stop. So if Clinton was so concerned about occupational hazards and global warming, why did she let it ride?

The supporter's response? "Oh, I didn't know that".

Or when Clinton spoke later and said she would create jobs. I turned to the JRE supporter on my left and said, "She will? Why is it that she touted a foreign company (and paved the way) near Buffalo and said they would create jobs. They have 10 employees and they have outsourced all of the work to India?"

The JRE supporter said, really, and added, "well, she hasn't been to my part of the state, and probably won't get there. " I replied, "and she's not likely to, if your town is only 5000 in population."

Clinton lacked any empathy in her voice. She came across like she is seen in the 1984 video/Youtube. Even David Yepsen thought Clinton was not that great.

I had a few things to say Obama's record as well, such as he voted with the President most of the time and he voted to confirm Condelezza Rice. At this rally, he said he would not vote for supplemental funding for the war without a deadline (whatever that means). He claimed in 2004 there was no black or white America, but I think on that vote, it was more racially based. I also mentioned to the HRC supporter that Obama voted "present" on women's health issues while he was in the state legislature, but was glad to see he has progressed since then. His supporters though showed passion when he used the expressions "Fired Up, Ready to Go" and repeated after him when he said repeated the words 3 times.

"Good cheerleader" said the Iowan to my left.

Bill Richardson canvassed among the crowd. I said hello to him and took his picture. He has a good sense of humor and of himself. But I sure disagree with him on removing all of the troops from Iraq and leaving no residuals within 6-8 months. I don't think that is possible. He also commented that Al Gore was right, but he also hoped Gore would not run. Hmm, is that his worry? I think if I were he, I would be concerned about the uranium stock piles that haven't been accounted for 12 years.

Chris Dodd more or less told his story about being in the Peace Corps, inspired by JFK's call of service for our country. To his credit, the International Union of Fire Fighters were there to help promote him at the event. But Dodd said something really odd, such as that he would "restore the Constitution of the US" on his first day. I know what he meant, it had to do with Gitmo, but it was phrased so weirdly. I liked how he ended the speech with humor, saying that all of the 12,000 attendees were invited to spend the night at the WH if he were elected president.

JRE was by far the most revered of the candidates. (No I didn't get my pic made with him this time, but I got to give him a quick hug and a peck on the cheek which he returned in kind) To get a good summary of what he said (I took too few notes on his since I was familiar with his words), Patrick from the Century of the Common Iowan has a good report on his blog. But I will tell you that when Tom Harkin uttered "John Edwards" the crowd went wild and the folks in the front started chanting. Harkin was pleasantly interrupted a few times during his introduction. And when Edwards said we don't want to trade "Republican Corporate interests with Democratic ones", that got the most applause along with being able to sign a union card as easily as joining the Republican party. I also remember that Edwards said that all kinds of health care coverage would be included. A Native American man, who was on crutches, held one of his crutches up high in support. I took his picture later.

I felt the most sympathy for Biden. He had to follow Edwards, and he took too long to get to the meat and potatoes of his speech. I do remember that he talked about Iraq and it was more like a report rather than what his plan was, although he did believe the country should be segregated into three states so that the Sunis, Shias, and the Kurds would quit fighting each other.

As aside, I wish my good acquaintance Taylor Marsh had been at the Harkin Event and read the other reports about Clinton, whom she has a high regard for. Instead, Taylor has been very critical of Obama and Elizabeth Edwards for their criticism of last week's ad in the NYT about General Petraeus. I have to say that I disagree with Taylor on this one because MoveOn ultimately changed their ad on YouTube to focus on Bush rather than calling the general a traitor. Based on her show yesterday, I think Taylor is a bit displeased with the Edwards Online campaign for not being as responsive, but that's just my opinion. Keep listening to her, BW readers. She's still the best radio talk show host out there.

Speaking of media, you can find me on C-SPAN's show of the Harkin Fry. I'm there for 2 seconds about 2 hours into the program.

Anyway, I left the Steak Fry at 4:30, and didn't stick around as I needed to get to my host's place by dark. But it was a wonderful event. I only wish I could go caucus for JRE as Harkin said, "to make the vote heard around the world" in January.

More JRE buzz l8tr...

Update: Iowa for Edwards has videos of JRE's speech up now.

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