Kucinich Excluded From ABC Debate. Free Speech Expelled From Elections



Constructing Public Opinion

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

America is faced with an interesting dilemma; whom might the citizens place in the Oval Office.  November 2008 will arrive quickly.  January 2009 cannot come soon enough.  Many qualified candidates vie for the attention of the people.  Among the Democrats, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson, and Barack Obama cross the nation each day.  All wish to meet expectant constituents.  The aspirants ask for only one favor.  “Please give me an equal opportunity.” Presidential hopeful, Congressman Dennis Kucinich might make this request with more fervor and with reason.  Kucinich excluded from ABC debate.

Sadly, few in the States will have a chance to see the hopefuls up close and personal.  Three-hundred and one million Americans live in this nation.  Each has a concern.  All are affected by the decisions a President makes, no matter their age, class, race, color, creed, sex, gender preference, or religion.  Four years ago, 221,256,931 were of age and could vote.  More persons, eighteen or older call this country home now.

Of these adults, some see themselves as Democrats, others Republican.  In recent years, most Americans declared they have and are Moving On.  Numerous feel no need to be part of the two Party system.  They are Independent and proud of it.

Moving On

More Voters Are Steering Away From Party Labels

By Rhodes Cook?

Washington Post

Sunday, June 27, 2004; Page B01

Meet a friend of mine.  He is a successful lawyer who lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, has two grown children, and has been a registered Republican for almost his entire adult life.

That is, until now.  Increasingly disenchanted with the GOP, but no fan of the Democrats, he is thinking about re-registering as an independent when he completes a move to a new suburban home and has to change his place of voting.

My friend has plenty of company.  In this starkly partisan era of Red and Blue America, we may need a third color to describe those who formally call themselves neither Republican nor Democrat.  When it comes to registering voters, the two major parties can only look in envy — and dismay — at the swelling ranks of unaffiliated voters.

Since the waning years of the Reagan administration, or basically since the last periodical cicada mating cycle, the number of “other” voters has proliferated.  In the 27 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have been registering voters by party since 1987, the Democratic share has plummeted 8 percentage points, declining from an aggregate total of 51 percent to 43 percent.  The Republican share has stayed steady at 33 percent.  But the proportion of voters who have not identified themselves with either of the major parties has jumped 8 percentage points, from 16 to 24 percent.

What’s impressive about these numbers (at least in the view of political analysts such as me) isn’t the phenomenon itself, but its staying power.  Myriad polls over the past two decades have shown that voters, when asked to identify themselves politically, divide about one-third Democratic, one-third Republican and one-third independent.  But in terms of registration, most have opted for one major party or the other — perhaps because, in some states, that was the only way they could vote in a party primary.  Only recently, have registration figures begun to reflect the poll numbers.

What’s so significant about the rise of the unaffiliated?  Well, it’s one thing to tell a pollster that you consider yourself “independent.”  No particular consequence arises from that self-identification.  But to register as unaffiliated is a stronger statement of preference (or lack of one).  Political parties talk about the “base,” and how to energize it.  These numbers suggest that the base is eroding, or at least is harder to identify and rely on.

Regardless of this reality, in the twenty-seven states that require a Party affiliation, eight [8] percent] of those once registered as Democrats now think themselves ruggedly Independent, researchers and the “objective” news media conclude, if they ask Democrats to discuss only Democrats then they have conducted a comprehensive survey.  Researchers believe a rational judgment is made when Republicans reply to an inquiry such as, what do you think of the candidates in your Party.  It seems only Independents and those outside the mainstream take the actual pulse of the public.  When they do, the results are startling, and quite different from conventional “norms.”

‘Long Shot’ Kucinich Buries Democratic Rivals in Nationwide Poll Among Independent Voters

December 21, 2007

Washington, — Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich, who has been the runaway winner in polls of the Party’s progressive, grassroots base in recent weeks, scored another huge win yesterday by capturing almost 77% of the vote in a nationwide poll sponsored by a coalition of Independent voting groups across the country.

Of the more than 80,000 votes cast for Democratic candidates at http://www.independentprimary.com by self-described independent voters, the Ohio Congressman received 61,477, burying second place finisher, former Senator John Edwards, who received only 7,614 votes, or 9.5 percent. . . .

This is the latest in a string of exceptionally strong finishes by Kucinich in national on-line polls.  Last month, he topped all other candidates in 47 of 50 states in a poll sponsored by Democracy for America (DFA), in which he received almost 32% of the 150,000-plus votes cast — more than Edwards and Senator Barack Obama combined.  In that poll, Kucinich won both Iowa and New Hampshire.

In a survey by the 90,000-member Progressive Democrats of America, Kucinich took 41% of the vote nationwide.  And, in a poll conducted by the progressive The Nation magazine, he won with 35% of the vote.  Obama came in second with 24%, and Edwards was third with 13%.

The creators of IndependentPrimary.com said their poll was designed to measure the impact of independent-minded voters on the Presidential election and was “part of a movement bringing together ordinary Americans who think that the good of the country is more important than the good of the political parties.”

Nonetheless, Party politics continues to thrive in the television arena.  After the Iowa caucus, the first election year “contest” in the United States, and before the first vote was cast in New Hampshire, ABC News hosted another debate.  The premise was people would have a chance to hear the candidates, in each Party prior to an actual primary election.  

Rather than present all the Presidential hopefuls to an eager public audience, the network decided to restrict the forum.  Regardless of the fact that secret ballots nation wide were not yet submitted, ABC declared, it was time to set standards.  Certainly, only the supposed “electables” could appear on stage.  Thus, the gauntlet was thrown down.

Candidates hoping to be included will need to accomplish any one of three tasks: (a) place in the top four positions in the Iowa caucuses, (b) obtain 5 percent or higher in recent national polls, or (c) obtain 5 percent or higher in recent state polls.

If, as the rules state, a Presidential hopeful must achieve one of these criterion, based on the Progressive polls, it seemed Dennis Kucinich would easily qualify to appear.  Yet, he did not.  Apparently, ABC News prefers to honor only specific surveys, those not fully representative of the nation as a whole.  In an era, when the populace craves change, conventional wisdom rules.

Many muse and malign Iowa as not reflective of the nation, which may or may not be true; yet, they are happy to embrace the polls that offer a far less accurate snapshot of what American voters think.  The results in Iowa call the researchers and the media into question.  Democrats did not come out in mass for Clinton.  The race was not as close as predicted.  Nor did Obama come in second.  Independents made all the difference in Iowa.  Perchance, these unaffiliated voters have loud voices.

Astute analysis reveals what most say is true, the elite, the acceptable thought police control the masses nationwide. People with little opportunity to meet and greet a candidate in person peruse the polls, see numerous advertisements, and possibly read what a few hundred canvassed persons say, and then decide what they will do.

White House 2008: Democratic Nomination

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Dec. 19-30, 2007. N=556 registered voters nationwide who are Democrats or lean Democratic. MoE ± 5

“I’m going to read you the names of some Democratic presidential candidates. Which one of the following Democratic candidates would be your first choice for president: [see below]?” If unsure: “Just as of today, would you say you lean toward [see below]?” Names rotated

Hillary Clinton  46 percent

Barack Obama  26 percent

John Edwards 14 percent

Dennis Kucinich  3 percent

Bill Richardson  3 percent

Joe Biden  2 percent

Chris Dodd  [The name appears with no percentage listed]

Mike Gravel  0 percent

None (vol.)  2 percent

Unsure  4 percent

Days before the main event, the Iowa Caucuses, according to this reputable Pew survey, the Clinton coronation was certain to occur. With Bill by her side, the public expected to hear an acceptance speech from Hillary Clinton on January 3, 2008.  ABC News certainly understood this momentum.  Before they decided who would appear on their stage they also polled the public.  Registered Democrats and those that lean Left, were interviewed, or at least a full thousand plus were asked of their possible vote.

ABC News/Facebook poll. Dec. 16-19, 2007. N=1,142 adults nationwide. Fieldwork by TNS. Results below are among leaned Democrats.

“If the 2008 Democratic presidential primary or caucus in your state were being held today, and the candidates were [see below], for whom would you vote?”

Hillary Clinton  44 percent

Barack Obama  27 percent

John Edwards  11 percent

Dennis Kucinich  3 percent

Joe Biden  2 percent

Bill Richardson  2 percent

Other/None (vol.) 4 percent

Unsure  7 percent

Again, only weeks before the Iowa caucuses, a study states Clinton is the candidate of choice. Yet, clearly she was not.  A third place showing is not the ceremonial introduction to her inauguration.  Perchance there is much to learn from the Iowa caucuses.

Iowa ‘Entrance Poll’ Offers N.H. Clues

By Jennifer Agiesta and Jon Cohen?

Washington Post

?Saturday, January 5, 2008; A08

Do the outcomes of the Iowa caucuses offer clues to what will happen in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary? A look at the “entrance poll” taken Thursday night in the Hawkeye State offered five things to watch for next week:

1.  Independents matter.

Independents were a small but powerful force in the caucuses of both parties, and an even higher percentage will vote in New Hampshire.

On the Democratic side, independents made up 20 percent of caucusgoers and contributed heavily to Sen. Barack Obama’s victory margin.  . . .

In 2000, the last time both parties held contested primaries in New Hampshire, about four in 10 voters called themselves independents. McCain won the GOP primary that year by prevailing among independents, while Republicans went for George W. Bush.

Unaffiliated voters in New Hampshire can choose to participate in either party’s primary, and the fortunes of Obama and McCain may hinge on which way independents break.  Washington Post-ABC News polling last month found that more than six in 10 of the state’s independents planned to vote in the Democratic primary.

America is in ruin.  The sub-prime disaster is daunting.  Once solid citizens seek relief; homes are in foreclosure. Credit crunches cause banks to bleed; they fear the red fluid may flow.  Soldiers die daily abroad.  More hemorrhaging.  Very few industrial jobs exist in the United States.  The dollar is devalued. American children are less well educated.  Forty-seven million plus are uninsured. Citizens grasp for straws, even for straw polls.  The State of the Union is fragile.

People are in a panic.  When we contemplate the future, according to a Harvard Report, the National Leadership Index, more than three quarters of Americans think we are in a leadership crisis.  Yet, often, our fellow citizens turn to corporate accounts for accurate information.  This may be most true among the Independents.

34% of Independents believe that the press is not politically biased.

Perhaps, that is part of the problem; people have faith in polls.  Millions trust flawed data.  Fallacies flaunted by the elites that favor the status quo have much influence.  We might ask own owns the media?  The answer is, it is not the average American.  Nevertheless, most Americans rely on the press for fair and accurate reporting.  Even those aware of what is, often forget.

In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book,  The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth.

Still, millions presume opinion polls are the perfect gauge, or at least as good as it gets.  However, ultimately, people are unpredictable.  Yet, every news organization declares they know what will be come election day.  The press maintains the people tell them what they think.  Might we ask, do the media, and the profiteers who own these broadcast organizations tell the people what to believe?

Prominent among the pollsters is the esteemed Wall Street Journal [now owned by billionaire Hillary Clinton backer Rupert Murdoch] and NBC News, a division of General Electric, and a network that energizes the people.  Noteworthy, and also a General Electric company, Newsweek Magazine coupled with prestigious Princeton researchers cannot be discounted.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). Dec. 14-17, 2007. Asked of Democrats, and non-Democrats who said they would vote in a Democratic presidential primary (from a total sample of 1,008 adults nationwide).

“Let me mention some people who might seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. If the next Democratic primary for president were being held today, for which one of the following candidates would you vote . . . ?” If unsure: “Well, which way do you lean?”

Dennis Kucinich  4 percent

Unsure  7 percent

Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2007. N=433 registered Democrats and leaners nationwide. MoE ± 6.

Dennis Kucinich  4 percent

Unsure  7 percent

If the margin of error pendulum travels in either direction, we must ask, how many more Democrats might vote for Dennis Kucinich.  Granted there are those who wish to identify this Presidential hopeful as too extreme or not electable.  However, if we assess the assumption of those that claim to speak for the majority we understand the rationale is flawed.

Dennis Kucinich is not viewed favorably by likely voters — 24 percent have a favorable opinion of him, 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him, 12 percent are neutral, and 33 percent don’t know enough about him to say. Kucinich’s net favorability rating is -7 percent.

With much help from the media and the moguls who own these resources, many Americans have no idea who Dennis Kucinich is!  However, they are intimately familiar with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and even John Edwards.  

Edwards’ supporters say this is not so.  “John is being ignored by the media.”  Wife Elizabeth spoke of this on Hardball with Chris Matthews. The supportive spouse contends; although John placed second in the race, the focus was on Hillary and Barack.  Others picked up on the campaign cry.

Just after the Iowa caucuses, the periodicals were flooded with the premise, Edwards: ‘The People’s Candidate,’ does not receive the attention the other front-runners do. The theory now espoused is, former Senators Edwards’ proposals threaten the corporate tycoons who own the press.  If Edwards is elected, there will be true change.  Profits will dwindle.  Thus, to ensure that the people do not hear Edwards message the media does not cover the candidate.  

While the supposition seems apt, the fact is John Edwards appears prominently in ever poll.  He stands solidly on center stage during each debate.  Edwards receives equal time and is essentially invested in the status quo.  John Edwards does not challenge the conglomerates as Dennis Kucinich does.

John Edwards does not fully separate himself from those who support the standards of today. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Incorporated, legal firms galore, and Fortress Investment Group all contribute bundles to his campaign.

Hedge-Fund Ties Help Edwards Campaign

Firms Increase Political Gifts

By John Solomon and Alec MacGillis?

Washington Post

Monday, April 23, 2007; A01

Two years ago, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, gearing up for his second run at the Democratic presidential nomination, gave a speech decrying the “two different economies in this country: one for wealthy insiders and then one for everybody else.”

Four months later, he began working for the kind of firm that to many Wall Street critics embodies the economy of wealthy insiders — a hedge fund.

Edwards became a consultant for Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based firm known mainly for its hedge funds, just as the funds were gaining prominence in the financial world — and in the public consciousness, where awe over their outsize returns has mixed with misgivings about a rarefied industry that is, on the whole, run by and for extremely wealthy people and operates largely in secrecy.

Transparency, truthfulness, all the public clamors for is indeed hidden from view.  While John Edwards may wish to posture as the people’s candidate and a menace to mainstream media, he is not much of a danger to the elites.  Indeed, each poll includes his name.  Not all the surveys mention Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich.  

Former Senator and Vice Presidential aspirant John Edwards was invited to every public debate.  An organization never thought to question Edwards’ viability.  Edwards has forever been deemed electable.  He has more than equal access to the people.  Dennis Kucinich, the true candidate of the people does not.

While the Federal Communication Commission [FCC] rules, which govern radio and television licenses, states stations must operate in the public’s interest, we can see they do not.  ABC News is our most recent example.  This network limits our option to see and hear each of the Presidential hopefuls, even before the first secret ballot is cast.  Denying access to all the aspirants, to disallow a participant in a debate seems antithetical to the intent of the FCC regulations.  To produce polls to validate and justify obstruction is  not to inform the people.  Yet, here we are.  Inaccurate as these seem to be, the surveys solidify the message the media and magnates wish to express.

American Research Group poll. Dec. 9-12, 2007. N=600 likely Democratic primary and caucus voters nationwide. MoE ± 4.

“If the 2008 Democratic presidential preference primary/caucus were being held today between [see below], for whom would you vote?”

Dennis Kucinich  4 percent

Unsure  10 percent

Gallup Poll. Nov. 11-14, 2007. N=485 Democrats and Democratic leaners nationwide. MoE ± 5.

“Next, I’m going to read a list of people who may be running in the Democratic primary for president in the next election. After I read all the names, please tell me which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the Democratic nomination for president in the year 2008, or if you would support someone else. . . .” Names rotated.

Dennis Kucinich   4 percent

None (vol.)/Unsure  8 percent

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Oct. 17-23, 2007. N=837 registered voters nationwide who are Democrats or lean Democratic. MoE ± 4.

“I’m going to read you the names of some Democratic presidential candidates. Who would you most like to see nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate for president in 2008: [see below]?” If unsure: “Is there anyone you are leaning toward as of today?” Names rotated

Dennis Kucinich  4 percent

Unsure  7 percent

We can see again and again, among the Democrats, routinely Dennis Kucinich often ranks one percentage point below the arbitrary requirement.  The number of undecided voters is high.  Perchance these individuals seek further information.  However, with thanks to the restrictions imposed by ABC News, [and other organizations] a discussion panel meant to enlighten the electorate restricts  their exposure to a meaningful alternative.  

Some of the studies do not even mention the possible President, Dennis Kucinich.  Hence, when the results are released they are invalid; yet, offered as truth.  The American people are lead to believe as the media decides. The press makes the final pronouncement.  They will tell us who delivers the message, when, where, why, and how.  

CBS News Poll. Oct. 12-16, 2007. N=456 Democratic primary voters nationwide. MoE ± 5.

“Suppose the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008 comes down to a choice among Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Who would you most like to see nominated: Clinton, Obama, Edwards — or would you rather see someone else nominated?” Names rotated

Clinton  51 percent

Obama  23 percent

Edwards  13 percent

Other/None  7 percent

Unsure  6 percent

Hillary Clinton is the clear winner . .  .or was, until the people of Iowa decided otherwise.  Since the caucus, all we thought we knew is topsy-turvy, turned on its head, and twisted in the wind, except for the fact that Independents decide.  In This Race, Independents Are the Prize.  If the Independent voter, which might be any of us, has little or no ability to hear from a candidate, we must ask ourselves, is this America, the land of the free.  

If  First Amendment rights are not granted to a celebrated Congressman, a Presidential candidate, can we, the people authentically choose who will represent us.  In a nation where the news is dictated, manufactured, and manipulated, do the citizens actually know who is or would have been electable?  Probably not.  None of us has yet had an opportunity to read the polls that address this issue.

Nevertheless, another canvass did appear, although it was well hidden from view.  This tally was not prominently presented as the other surveys were.  Although, ABC News and Facebook hosted the recent debate jointly, access to this account was concealed.  Yet, here it is.

Barack Obama  60.65 percent

Hillary Clinton  18.21 percent

John Edwards  9.74 percent

Dennis Kucinich  6.51 percent

Bill Richardson  2.61 percent

Mike Gravel  2.29 percent

The definitive Facebook figures show that the future President, Dennis Kucinich placed fourth in the tally used to determine what the voters think of the candidates.  The virtually invisible Presidential hopeful, Congressman Kucinich received a greater number of votes than Bill Richardson, a  contender deemed acceptable by those who supposedly educate the masses.  While Richardson did not receive the required 5 percent in this analysis, he did appear on stage.  John Edwards total was not much higher than Kucinich’s. Had this slate appeared, Americans might have known what we are supposed to. forget  Dennis Kucinich is viable, electable, and purposely excluded from many a national forum.

America, will we  continue to let conglomerates control the message and us, or will we finally decide to take our country back?

Sources, Surveys, and Secrets . . .

The Yellow Brick Road, The Campaign Trail, And Us

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Americans, mired in debt, desperate for adequate Health Care, fearful of foreclosures, and worried about a protracted war, cry out for change.  Compatriots wish for a wizard, one who will work for the common folk, and not solely for self, a Commander-In-Chief who will acknowledge the current crises, and lead us into a Land like Oz.  We want America to be the perfect country.  We wish to be known as benevolent, caring, compassionate super power.  We yearn to say aloud with conviction, “There is no place like home!”  

Throughout the nation, citizens are thankful we have an opportunity to transform this country.  Americans have the right to vote their conscience.  In the land of the free and home of the brave, we can and will advocate for the values that made this country great. Citizens will walk through snow, sleet, ice, and rain to cast a ballot for the man or woman we think right for the homeland.

Democrats and Republicans alike hope to improve this nation and their station.  The difference may be in degrees.  For now, those most desirous of a Progressive revolution are the downtrodden.  Democrats yearn for an event that will take away from the daily grind.  Those on the Left hope for a gust of wind that will place them in the Emerald City where life is Green and clean, and where average people are the priority.  Thus, Democrats participate in the process; they are intimately informed.

Iowa Caucuses, New Hampshire primaries, and the polls.  Do we have a consensus?  Is there a crisis on the campaign front? Might the race be too close to call, or is it all merely a manufactured media myth.  We are told Hillary is ahead, or she was.  Perhaps Edwards has the lead.  Barack Obama is closing in, or was with the help of Oprah, maybe.  Some skeptics say the throngs of fans want to touch a celebrity.  The Obama/Oprah ogling will not necessarily equate to votes.  Bill Clinton can do what no other has.  Certainly, he will boost the New York Senator’s numbers.  However, the charismatic Clinton may not be enough; or perchance he is or has too much, too much power, influence, and baggage.  No one is ever certain what the other Clinton will say or do when he publicly steps onto the stage.  John Edwards might be the come from behind kid.  This man and his family have seen and experienced hardships.  After the pain of his son’s death he, and wife Elizabeth have been on a shared mission.

This synopsis is Democratic politics in America, or is it?  There are whispers of Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson in the halls of Iowa and New Hampshire hotels.  The media mentions these notables may wish to accept another position.   On the hill, the same is said.  Each is considered experienced.  Any of the three would be an ideal Vice President or Secretary of State, or so we are told.  What we do not hear is what Americans would think if they were not told what to believe.

We read the research.  A survey can be slanted to produce the desired results.  Apparently, the polls are designed to deliver the information that the candidates, the campaigns, the columnist think our countrymen must know.  Americans have head the rumors, the rhetoric, and the railed against such surveys.  Intellectually, we understand that studies are skewed.  Yet, we, the people repeat what we are told.  He cannot win; he is too short.  She will polarize the electorate. He is too Black, or is not enough of an Afro-American.  He understands how divided the country is, and he will work to change the system.  He has his place; it is just not in the White House.  He would make an excellent Secretary of State, an Ambassador, or perhaps he serves us best in Congress.

Even the most articulate and educated cannot resist reiterations.  Knowledgeable learned scholars, just as everyday students of the issues succumb to the standards.  Perhaps, since few of us have the opportunity to validate what we trust is likely true, we surrender to the situation as it is reported.  Thankfully, there are moments that allow us perspective.

On the eve of the New Year word spread far and wide.  In electronic communiqués, reality and reason were evident.  New Hampshire voters shared their experience, their distress, and disgust.  Citizens in the land of the free, and home of the brave, are afforded only select choices.  One candidate is dismissed before the electorate can cast a ballot.  Yet, a few spoke out in dissent.  

New Hampshire resident, Helen distressed and distraught wrote to her friends after she received a telephone call.

I just received a political phone call asking if I was going to vote in the primary.  Then she asked if I was voting for a Democrat would it be Hillary, Biden, Obama, Edwards and a couple of others, and I told her she left the best one out – Dennis Kucinich. And she asked, “Is he a Democrat?”  It turned out that she is working for the Clinton campaign.  If she’s representing the Clinton campaign, that’s another reason not to vote for Hillary. The young lady did thank me for the information!

Imagine, within the Clinton Camp an campaigner, a spokesperson for the presumed future President knows nothing of another Presidential hopeful.  A vibrant voice of the people is muffled so succinctly.  The sounds Dennis Kucinich makes are silenced before those that live in the cloudy skies of politics-as-is can hear them.  Fortunately, among the electorate and the friends of Helen there are those who like to label themselves ‘”enlightened” and proud of it.’

A few more-than-typically-well-informed voters care enough to look behind the golden curtain.  Some in Iowa and New Hampshire understand they do not live in the Land of Oz. These compatriots comprehend, even if they themselves are prosperous, others are not.  As good citizens these individual believe to their core they must act in accordance with the Constitution and consider all people are created equal.  Helen cares for the common folk.  See recognizes that Dennis Kucinich lived in dreadful poverty.  He will do more than express false or fragile piety; Kucinich will relate and react to a circumstance that is real for him.  This voter longs for a President who does more than posture and profess.  For this compassionate soul, it is time for true change.  

Like Helen, other people in New Hampshire [and Iowa] do not wish to follow the yellow brick road just because they are told that is the way to the Emerald City.  A few know to trust that promises of fortune, or a solid foundation do not come when, for the most part, the status quo is sustained.  Universal Health Care with Insurers in charge will not cover those who cannot afford the cost at any price.  War will not end if one soldier remains in Iraq to “secure the peace” within a sovereign nation.  

In the Granite State, the constituency can be hard to sway.  A body of voters can challenge the conventions, and they do.  When Aprille received two similar survey calls, she responded with glee, then revulsion.

I have had 2 phone calls just like that one and I did the same thing. The most recent one asked if I was voting for Clinton, Obama, or Edwards. I said….”There are a heck of a lot more candidates running, why aren’t you mentioning them?” She said, “Who are you voting for?” I said…”I’m planning on voting for Kucinich.” She said, “Kucinich?” I said…..”Yes, Kucinich. And if you refuse to include the other candidates, then this is a bogus survey!” As I was hanging up, I heard her say that this survey was paid for by the Hillary campaign! What the bleep!?

Indeed. Might Americans consider what is true.  Contrived, campaign rhetoric, and more importantly push polls [political telemarketing masquerading as a poll], do not give the constituency a choice.  It is all good and well that the people are promised they can take their country back.  However, in truth, as long as the public is told who will win, who is electable, and who is not worth a mere mention, then this election will be just as those we witnessed in 2000 and 2004.  Cast your ballot.  Then, let the courts decide.

America, as long as you vote as the wizards of Wall Street tell you to, if you cast your ballot for the person you believe will win, because that is what the broadcaster say is “spot on,” then this country will not belong to the people on Main Street.  Each time we choose the person defined as a victor, we give up our freedom.  We are but munchkins, ruled by the glorified little man who stands behind the curtain and  pulls the switch.

In fantasylands, citizens may never suffer.  It seems people do not need to settle.  Wizards work wonders.  The people only follow their lead.  In America, if we are all to prosper, life must be  different.  People in pursuit of happiness cannot take jobs just to survive, as they do now.  They must not marry solely for money, food, or shelter.  We can no longer vote for the candidate of “hope and change” while aware of the fact that this person is solidly part of the system that ensures our life is miserable.

In truth, in America, there are no glittery gold pavements, or yellow brick roads, that lead to Emerald Cities.  We, together, the common man, woman, and child, with a leader who fully relates to our plight, must build these communities.  Wizards who can offer us a heart, a brain, or courage do not dwell in the White House or on the campaign trail.  We the people can make magic if we choose to think and act for ourselves.

If life is to be grand, we need to  accept that Presidential hopefuls are humans.  If a leader is to lead well, he or she must be able to relate to what we go through, for they have lived, and continue to live among us.  If a candidate speaks of our carbon footprint, we might ask, what is yours.  When asked of trade agreements, might we muse, Mister or Madame Presidential hopeful, how has such a pact transformed your life.  Talk of deep pockets could prompt a look into the purse that strings an aspirant along.

Americans must be more realistic and less enamored with emeralds that they do not own, if they are to chose someone who will truly represent them.  Just as a small paycheck alone will not secure our future, a political aspirant who speaks for the elite will not help bring us to the bargaining table.  The cash of a spouse who lost his or her job will not bring endless smiles. Nor will our contributions to a campaign that is beholding to corporate influences help cure our ills.

If we wish to live in the Land of Oz, Americans must create it.  We, the people, and a President, who is, as we are, must take our country back.

In our everyday existence, we accept that good looks and charm will not keep us warm at night.  Nor, will the pretty one provide adequate Health Care.  When on the streets, in the office, or at home we acknowledge that a sweet-talker does not have our best interests at heart.  We recognize a colleague who wants only to climb.  A snake-oil salesman smells of no good.  A song and dance does deliver more than a tune.

Common folks flee when they encounter scams during their daily deeds.  Yet, come election season, when Presidential candidates whisper words of all-I-want-to-hear . . . unless we are Helen, Aprille, or perhaps you, and I, citizens will follow the yellow brick road and forget who paints that pavement.

In 2008, and in all the years hence, let us remember that unless and until we recognize the wizard is in each of us, and in a nation united for a just cause, there will be no change.

Words for Wizards, and We, the People . . .

Clinton, Obama, Edwards; The Three Are One



Des Moines Register Debate: Advisors (full)

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

The Des Moines Register Democratic Debate was an event like no other.  Gaffes, gossip, gushing, and gabble were all present and accounted for.  Former Senator Mike Gravel was not.  Nor was Congressman, and potential President, Dennis Kucinich.  Each of these aspirants would have been happy to meet and speak with the people of Iowa, just as they have for months.  However, they were intentionally excluded in this more formal forum.  

Excuses were made, and easily  countered.  Nevertheless, evidence to the  contrary mattered not to the Des Moines Register.  The Editors had spoken and so too would their ultimate first choice for the office of President of the United States speak.  Hillary Clinton clones, and future Cabinet appointees would have an opportunity to commune with the local and television audience.  America had all it needed on the platform, powerbrokers and their pawns, those the wealthy tell us are prepared to be President.

The Register believes “preparedness” must be the primary consideration.  Thus, they were ready to dispute any claims that they may be less than equitable.  Interestingly, among the arguments, explanations, and assessments the Carolyn Washburn, debate moderator and Editor of the Des Moines Register offers an odd evaluation of the event.  The prideful host reflects . . .

I’m pleased to say reaction has not been all one-sided.  I’ve received a slew of e-mails from people thanking us for a civil discussion that gave the candidates equal time, on important issues, with smart questions.

Each person permitted to stand on the stage may have spoken for the same number of minutes.  Nevertheless, The Register in its infinite wisdom did not give Presidential hopefuls identical access to the television audience.  No one cannot deny that even among those who publish in the Register there is some question as to whether all the aspirants were treated alike.  Kevin M. Cashman, Grinnell  also wonders whether Leaving candidates out of debate compromises democracy  Principles our founders established centuries ago may be of no consequence to the Des Mines Register.  Electability may be the one subject of import.  Perhaps a presumed winner is the only issue of worth.  Moderator, Carolyn Washburn made her stance known early on.  The Editor explained the rules and the audience gasped.

“We won’t talk a lot about issues like Iraq.”

~ Carolyn Washburn, moderating the presidential debates in Iowa

To not speak of the war that dominates American policy seemed unthinkable.  However, this restriction was only one of many constraints.  There was much deemed unmentionable in this televised discussion.  The names Kucinich and Gravel would not mouthed.  Although that, for the candidates on stage, was great.  The Big Three had long hoped to narrow the field.  For months, each said to the other, I need more time and attention.  At this assembly, more than the two men excluded from the debate were labeled  taboo topics.

Washburn, the earnest and schoolmarmish editor of the Des Moines Register, stunned the political world when she announced, at the beginning of the Republican debate on Wednesday, that she did not want to talk about Iraq and immigration, at least not in any “concentrated” way.  She continued that policy Thursday with the Democrats, asking not a single question about Iraq.  The words “terrorist,” “Iran,” “Pakistan” and “al-Qaeda” didn’t get even a single mention.

What did viewers get instead?

“Tell us your New Year’s resolution for 2008,” Washburn proposed.  Groans emanated from the media room down the hall.  Hillary Clinton said she would exercise more.  Barack Obama said he would be a better father.  Richardson pledged to lose weight.

Weight was lost.  Little of substance was discussed in this silly “debate.”  What was touched on; yet never fully explored was the inevitable .  Clinton would control the White House, regardless of whether the publication ultimately endorsed Hillary, Barack, or John.  Former Governor Bill Richardson, Senators Joseph Biden, and Chris Dodd were never a consideration for more than Cabinet positions.  With the latter three on stage the Register could offer a façade of fairness.  

Richardson, a former Clinton appointee would walk in lockstep.  Dodd also accepts much of the status quo; he is agreeable when Hillary craves a defense.  Dodd and Joe Biden are formidable legislatures.  They are certainly not Presidential material.  They are not cut from the charismatic Clintonian cloth.  These gentlemen are well versed in how to closet what is.  Neither, in debate, or in deliverance of policy will be the voice of change that must be muffled.

For thirty-five years, or so we are told again and again, Hillary Clinton has trained for this coronation.  As critical as the New York Senator might have been of the young Baracks’s youthful essay in which he declared his desire to be President of the United States, the former First Lady always knew, even if Obama had an edge, if Obama were to win, she would still be in the White House.  This was confirmed at the Des Moines Register Debate.  

While individuals in the media and even some of the candidates complained, the Register Debate offered no revelations, there was at least one  enlightening moment.  America now knows, there is no reason to quarrel over whether Hillary or Barack ultimately become Commander-In-Chief.  Either way Clinton will be in the White House.

[R]eporters  . . .  sensed a major story when Clinton interrupted one of Obama’s answers with a burst of laughter.  When Obama was asked how he would “rely on” so many of former president Bill Clinton’s advisers, his wife cackled, then blurted out, “I want to hear that!”

“Well, Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well,” Obama replied, and Clinton laughed again.

The question was asked.  The quip of an answer was widely appreciated, and reported on the national news.  Had Americans reacted with more than quick laughter, they might have cried with disgust.  Perhaps, upon hearing the banter, a thoughtful public would have pondered, and then exclaimed, “The more things “change,” the more they stay the same.”  We learned regardless of which of the top tier candidates Americans choose, change will only be a word, never said above a whisper.  There is little difference.  The Clinton experience will cloud the Oval Office if either of these marvelously manipulative candidates is Americas choice.

Years ago, the Former First Lady roamed from room to room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  As she strolled the hallways, she encountered those who advised her husband and now counsel her opponent, Barack Obama.  

Barack Obama does not hide his list of advisers, or at least not completely.  A short trek to his website, and Americans can look into the future Obama Oval Office.

For Obama’s presidential bid, Senate staffer Mark Lippert is the critical link between the campaign, the Senate staff and the senator.  Lippert has accompanied Obama on the three international trips Obama has taken while in office.  Lippert, who has a master’s from Stanford in international policy, has had a hand in every major Obama speech and statement on international affairs and deals with the senator daily.

Lippert, a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy Reserve, came to Obama after working on the Senate Appropriations Committee Foreign Operations Subcommittee for five years and has handled foreign policy and defense issues for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

Besides Lippert, the core Obama group consists of three people who worked in President Bill Clinton’s administration: former National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and former senior State Department officials Susan Rice and Gregory Craig.  They meet regularly in Washington.  Lake was the NSA adviser during Clinton’s first term.  Rice was the senior adviser on national security affairs for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004, an assistant secretary of state for African affairs and a special assistant to the president at the National Security Council at the Clinton White House.

Craig — quarterback of Clinton’s impeachment defense team — was director of policy and planning at the State Department under former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  In 2000, Craig was at the center of the fight over Elian Gonzalez, representing the Cuban youth’s father in his custody fight.  Craig met Obama in 2003 at a fund-raiser for his Senate bid at the home of Washington powerbroker Vernon Jordan.

The Obama circle widens, depending on the need for expertise.

During the Clinton administration, Jeh Charles Johnson was general counsel for the Department of the Air Force. . .

The Obama foreign policy team deals with counterterrorism, democracy development and the inter-related matters of energy and the environment, global health, homeland security and nuclear nonproliferation, among other issues.  There’s also a cadre of former Clinton officials who are very involved with the Obama campaign who for now want to stay below the radar screen.

Interestingly, Barack Obama could have obscured this substantial connection to the Clinton White House, for originally, this report was published in the Chicago Sun Times.  Prominent Journalist Lynn Sweet offered this glimpse into the crystal ball months ago.  However, rather than hide the snapshot into another Clintonian strategy, Barack Obama proudly beams.  The Clinton advisory staff is on his side.  Now, we know Hillary will be among them if perchance she is not the President.

When Barack Obama offered Hillary Clinton what some thought a slight, many took delight.  Absorbed in laughter, few pondered the profundity.  A vote for the lead gal or the guy is one in the same.  The truth is, if the Senator from Illinois becomes President of the United States, we may still have the two Clintons in the White House Along with all their counsel.

Numerous Progressives tout, John Edwards is different and he is, in that he is not a woman, nor is he an African American.  A white American male is certainly a novel concept, or so the former Senator Edwards wishes it was.  Beyond this classic characteristic, well . . .

I shouldn’t have to say this – what matters is what the candidates stand for and to whom they’ll be beholden if elected.  My problem is the three don’t look so far apart to me – certainly not enough to justify demonizing one and canonizing another, as my left-wing correspondent does.

The differences seem more like branding: the strong, experienced woman; the black (but not too black) inspirer of hope; the hands-on economic populist crusader.  Or if you prefer, the evil pro-corporate phony and everyone else.  No sooner had Clinton announced her health care plan, for example, than my colleague John Nichols denounced it as a gift to the insurance industry.  Fair enough, but this is the same health care plan that Elizabeth Edwards said with some annoyance was copied from the one her husband – the man who cares about poor people – had put forward months before.

Obama’s plan is similar.  Likewise, on the same day that my colleague Laura Flanders wrote that an Obama campaign rally in New York City was buzzing with progressive energy, I read in The New York Times about his attempt to woo McCain voters in New Hampshire.  Both these things can be true – but isn’t being all things to all people a bit, well, Clintonian?

How real are the differences among the top three?  Let’s take a look.  All three candidates want to disengage troops from Iraq while maintaining some kind of military handle on the place.  If getting all the troops out ASAP is your top priority, vote for Richardson, Kucinich or Gravel.  All of the top three are largely uncritical of Israel (Clinton, in fact, voiced support for a Palestinian state in 1998 and was creamed for it).  Clinton probably is a shade more hawkish than the others, but all three buy the trope of the “war on terror” – in August, Obama even said he would strike Pakistan if that’s what it took to capture Osama bin Laden.  Maybe that was a slip or a mini-pander to 9/11 voters (well, not so mini if you’re a Pakistani).  He has since made more peaceful noises and followed Edwards in supporting the global abolition of nuclear weapons (a position originally put forward by Ronald Reagan, and now by Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn and George Shultz, so let’s not get carried away).

On domestic policy, the three have similar boilerplatish positions on education and immigration; all three are pro-choice without qualifications.  Hurray!  But, although nearly three in ten Americans are poor or near-poor, only Edwards has made a campaign issue out of social and economic inequality.  Only Edwards seems to grasp the significance of our widening class divisions.  Obama, indeed, has suggested he’ll reduce taxes on “the middle class,” which may be code for “expect no big government initiatives.”

How tied in are the top three with corporations and Wall Street?  Hillary Clinton is notoriously unapologetic about receiving large donations from wealthy interests.  But Obama has received a lot of corporate and Wall Street money too – in fact, he’s received more money from hedge funds than Clinton.  Edwards has refused to accept donations from lobbyists (Obama soon followed his example), but this could be merely a nice piece of branding: there are plenty of ways for the interest groups’ lobbyists to put favors in the favor bank besides writing a check to the candidate.  

As we scan a list of the top contributors to John Edwards campaign, we understand the significance of this statement.  Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Incorporated, Deutsche Bank, appear prominently among a list of law firms.  Of course, we might say this is the nature of politics.  If candidate is to be effective, he, or she must communicate their message broadly.  Commercials and print correspondence are costly.  A treasure chest filled with riches is required.  Cash might be nice; it is more difficult to trace.  Paper trails give evidence to what any Presidential aspirant may wish to avoid, the truth.

Vowing not to accept contributions from lobbyists isn’t a foolproof plan for Edwards or Obama.  Both still accept money from state and local lobbyists, employees at law firms that offer lobbying services, family members of lobbyists and former lobbyists.  Contributions from Washington lobbyists have still managed to seep into both Democrats’ coffers.

At the end of the 3rd Quarter, the Edwards campaign listed $4,500 in contributions from seven registered lobbyists, according to Federal Election Commission reports.  The campaign returned one of these contributions in early November, a spokeswoman said, and the refund will be reflected in year-end filings.  When Capital Eye alerted the campaign to the other donations that would appear to violate Edwards’s policy, the representative said the campaign had missed those contributions and would return them promptly.

The Obama campaign had collected nearly $34,500 from 29 registered lobbyists by the end of the campaign’s first nine months of fundraising, according to FEC reports.  The Obama campaign did not respond to several requests to review those records.

Obama and Edwards also refuse money from political action committees controlled by corporations and other interests, but they and every other presidential candidate accept money from employees of corporations and other interests that employ lobbyists.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 14 of Obama’s top 20 contributors employed lobbyists this year, spending a total of $16.2 million to influence the federal government in the first six months of 2007.

Of Edwards’s top 20 contributors, only seven have employed lobbyists this year, spending a total of $6.3 million.  But the plaintiff attorneys who dominate the list of Edwards’s top donors are well represented in Washington by the influential American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America), which has spent at least $3 million on lobbying this year alone.  As for Clinton, all but four of her top 20 contributors have employed lobbyists this year.

Hence, it is easy to understand why the Des Moines Register acted as they did.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel would offer unwelcome nuance to a stage full of affluent agents for the status quo.  Those that think policy as usual is preferable have no reason to rattle the profiteers that sponsor the standards.  Perchance, the periodical’s own endorsement, offered shortly after the Iowa Debate explains what we all knew.

The job requires a president who not only understands the [insert . . . minimal and on paper only] changes needed to move the country forward but also possesses the discipline and skill to navigate the reality of the resistant Washington power structure to get things done.

That candidate is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Indeed, for the staff of this Iowa periodical Clinton is the perfect Presidential hopeful.  She speaks eloquently of transformation and has already altered the face of Clinton.  Bill becomes Hill.  More importantly, Hillary Clinton, the first presumed electable, formidable female aspirant, is deftly able to follow the map laid out before her.  After all, she is, and has long been a audacious part of the White House landscape.  With Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office, we will have Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards, all rolled into one.  

Question: What could be more glorious?  Answer:  For me, sheer bliss would be Dennis Kucinich, as President of the United States of America.  I am not alone in my belief.  One need only acknowledge that in numerous polls the truest candidate of change leads all others Democrats.  Dennis Kucinich is the people’s pick for President.  The aspirant is the one person funded and followed by common folk.  Imagine; if the periodicals, pundits, and the politicos who grab the floor would give the people a choice.  I do dream; I trust the thought is not absurd.  Achieving a Kucinich Presidency is possible.

“Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”

 ~ Miguel de Unamuno [Spanish Philosopher and Writer]

Sources, Sponsors, Secrets, and Special Interests . . .