Schools and Safety; What We Do When We Deny

School and Safety; What We Do When We Deny

© copyright 2013 Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates

Look to the left. Look to the “right.” In respect to education each side is willing to talk about sensitive subjects. Granted the two sides differ in respect to the specifics and the solutions.  Nevertheless, either or each will dive deeply into a dialogue.  

In reference to the subject of Common Core, the Left and Right cannot get enough.  Many Republicans and Democrats want nothing to do with Federally imposed curriculum restrictions and requirements.  “Teacher Professionalism,” each embraces the topic, although again their values and views vary. But publicly state that Black and Brown persons do not feel safe in their neighborhoods and that this veracity has a profound effect on education and people will come after you!

The politically astute and apathetically proud alike, pounce when asked to ponder the problem of urban violence and its affect on parents and children in the community.  Cyber-bullying and bullying in general are constructs we can discuss.  But speak of the unspeakable and people will likely proclaim that you are being unjustly punitive, politically incorrect, or in short, you are a racist.   “Shhh” they say.  Let us not talk about that.  Other subjects, yes.  We can discuss those, but not how anxious an inner city resident feels when in their own home or community.  Instead, let us talk about Common Core, bad teachers, and great ones.  Those topics are fine; even favorites amongst the education elite. But how fragile life is for the Black and Brown persons who fear crime in their communities? Many say: let’s not go there – literally or metaphorically. The effects of crime on the psyches of children of color, and its impact on education, are rarely discussed.

Let’s not go there intellectually either, or at least not in any great depth. Skating along the surface will suffice.  Academics admittedly do not wish to tempt the fate that of the Moynihan Report [1965] on the Black family.  The mainstream too is timid.  On occasion, the Press will dip their toes in the waters of awareness.  Indeed, in recent months and in the last few years nationally Broadcasters gently touch that tender topic of “violence on our streets.” However, mostly these stories feature tales of mass carnage – the shootings in Tucson, Aurora, Milwaukee, and more recently Newtown, a white suburban Connecticut community, but none of these approach that dreaded third rail, violence in Black and Brown communities and its effect on education.  

Mentions of the circumstances that cause youth to use the term  Chi-raq when speaking of Chicago are scant and indiscriminate.   Even these, when discussed, rarely venture into the overlap evident in education.  Neighborhoods severely affected by violence are also the communities in which schools are forced to closed, poverty is high, hopes are low, and fear is ever-present.  

On one occasion recently, we were afforded a glimpse into what occurs in inner cities.  First Lady Michelle Obama paid homage to a teen who was struck down in the heart of the  Windy City. However, once again, the real issue was not on view.  Gun Violence supplanted the subject; frequently people of color, parents and their progeny, do not feel safe in their own urban homes.  And why would they?  Roadways are riddled with danger.  Playgrounds too can be quite perilous.  Incident after incident affirms what remains invisible from the masses.  The streets are not safe and too often, urban schools and surrounding areas are no sanctuary.

As she does at the end of every school day, Rakayia Thompson waited for her 12-year-old outside the Parkside Community Academy just before 3 p.m. last week.

“Next thing you know, gunshots,” she said.

As she stood outside with her 6-year-old son and her 7-year-old daughter, a flood of bullets suddenly came their way from East End Avenue, near 70th Street, next to the playground.

Panic followed the incident on Nov. 20, Thompson recalled. The stream of kids leaving the pre-kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school scattered in every direction.

“There were kids’ shoes everywhere,” said Angel White, who had been waiting for her three kids. “They ran out [of] their shoes.”

Thompson said kids were falling and busting their lips as they scrambled.

“They tried to shoot me!” her 5-year-old son interjected.

Real-life stories from Camden, Philadelphia. Detroit, Baltimore and St. Louis, rarely see the light of day and when they do the discussion is gun violence, not the root causes or the insidious effects of inner city violence.

Again, the public avoids the physicality that is the condition of our communities, and more importantly, emotionally we disconnect. Granted, we study the situation from afar and make recommendations. Experts engage in theoretical and methodological research.  Some study the fear urban residents feel, be it real or imagined. Scholars look at the individual’s sense of vulnerability.  Others examine social disorganization, (rate of marriage, racial heterogeneity,  familial disruption,  socioeconomic status,  and urbanization (core indicators of social disorganization)) and again, avoid the people.

The public favors assumptions.  Some prefer the numbers. Densely populated areas or drugs are to blame for violent behavior, although the statistics do not always bear this out.  Countless of our largest cities are relatively safe. An analytic examination reveals that disinvestment delivers the despair, despondency, and dread that at any moment, you too may be murdered.

Andrew Schiller, Neighborhood Scout’s founder noted that “in many cases, city centers, which benefit from development, an influx of people and more amenities, experience less crime than outskirts and even inner ring suburbs.”

Regardless of the look and separate from the literature, the consensus is the same; stay away from what frightens you. Gun shots. Children murdering children.  Crime on inner city streets, or the inner city itself, people believe these are the problem.  Indeed, a too constant refrain is  “It is those urban communities and the persons who reside within them who commit violent offenses and victimize their own.  Such statements preclude preventative policies. These serve as excuses for suburban and rural Americans who tend to think that people need to take care of their own.  

Oh, the more “sensitive” will say the reactionary rhetoric is not true.  Academics will defend the downtrodden. However, these individuals too take no real ownership. Poverty, the intellectuals will say, that is the problem; it is as simple as that.”  Simple? Safety and the reality that a bullet in the hallway or coming through the window will kill you or your child instantly  is not a simple subject.  Nor is it one that as a society we can rightly dismiss.

It is easy to place blame on a circumstance, or put the onus on the “other,” but perhaps there is more that can be done.  What might that be? Face our selves and our folly.  Ask yourself; will we ever dare do what is difficult; look at the ways in which we, or more significantly our silence contributes to crime in urban poor communities.  Could we acknowledge and accept that the greater paradox and bigger problem is that we do not even challenge our perceptions or see what is right there, in front of our faces.

The children cry. Parents plead; ‘see us!’  Feel our pain!  Understand that we fear crime in “our communities!”  Fifty-four [54] percent of Black adults see violence as a “very serious problem” in their communities.  Sixty-nine [69] percent believe it is fairly serious issue, one among many.  The presence of guns is a grave proposition, one that haunts adults of color each and ever day.  However, it is not the only issue that burdens our poorer and impoverished citizens. It is but the most obvious one, the one uppermost in the minds of persons who by circumstances are forced to question their mortality and it is also the one that is “safest” to discuss.

Fueling these concerns is the reality that for too many Black young children, there are too few safe harbors from these ills that plague their neighborhoods, schools, and for some, their homes. Children and adults alike identify neighborhood violence, drug-related violence, gun violence, and violence in schools as areas of significant concern.

When a young girl in Memphis was asked to name one thing that if changed would help her to achieve her goals for the future, she replied:  “To help me live through this dangerous world today so I can [grow up] to be a marine biologist.”  – Young person, age 11 to 14, Memphis, TN

The prevailing view among Black adults, caregivers and leaders is that today, the situation for people of color is worse than it was a score ago. Disenfranchisement and disinvestment have destroyed the fabric of their communities.   Guns only deliver a more deadly and frequently final blow.  The newer and insidious issues that have emerged in the last few decades,  have had a devastating effect on Black communities and the children growing up in them.  Economic isolation and unemployment.  Disproportionately high Black imprisonment rates, especially among Black young men, and then, of course, the older challenges exacerbate  the crisis’ that plagued Black communities. Violence.  Drugs and addiction.  Failing schools made more so by policies that presume failure before it is proven.  Negative cultural and media influences.  Fractured Black families and communities, which conceivably lead to a loss of moral values.  Teen pregnancy.

Adults, caregivers, and leaders look to the future and express guarded optimism.  Innumerable say they are hopeful, that is if they and the young survive.  According to Black Perspectives on Black Children Face and What Their Future Holds “Two-thirds of caregivers worry a great deal (45%) or quite a bit (20%) about their child or children they know being victimized and a large majority believe that many Black children will be victimized before reaching adulthood.

“I asked a 17-year-old the question you asked me: What do you see in 10 years?  How do you [see your life] in 10 or 15 years? And the bottom line was he said I don’t think I’m going to be living after four years.  Now that blew me away, because I knew the young man was serious.” Low-income caregiver, Washington, D.C.

The starkness of this thought and the reality that prompts such a dire reflection is all too common in disenfranchised communities. Yet, we do not discuss it. The subject is too delicate, or is it the thought that we might be criticized, as Patrick Moynihan was when he asked Americans to assess what their inaction and inattention condones.  Could we at least begin to have the conversations previously left behind?  In June of 2013, The Urban Institute chose to Revisit The Moynihan Report.   Might we?

Surely, silence and surface assessments have not served us, our children, or troubled communities well.  Indeed, Black and Brown people state that life in their communities is now worse.   Saying safety is not an issue for those who live in fear or that it is less significant than poverty as a whole is like saying my pangs of hunger have nothing to do with the reality that there is no food in my cupboard or money do buy fare.

Disinvestment, poverty and hopelessness are borne out of neglect.  Let us neglect no more.



References:…

Stop and Frisk the Research!

Stop and Frisk the Research!

By Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates

Mayor Bloomberg, your supporters, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mister President, the Justice Department, and all you other big city Mayors that think stop-and-frisk is fine please, sit down. Take a break. Stop and Think!   Breathe deeply and ask yourselves; is it not time to stop weighing Constitutionality and think psychology.  If pondering the science is a bit too weighty, please consider our children!  Our young men and yes, young women need to be seen not for the color of their skin, but for the color of their character!

If it is a challenge to see the beauty that is other than skin deep when people are out on the street, then contemplate the cash.  Juvenile Incarceration is costly; $5 billion to confine and house young offenders in “confinement” facilities despite evidence that shows alternative in-home or community-based programs can deliver equal or better results for a fraction of the cost.  As stated in the Annie E. Casey report “Juvenile correctional facilities do not reduce future offending.” These dollars might have been spent on education and could be if we choose to stop-and-think, read the research, or reflect.

Put yourself in the place of a young Black or Brown teen or remember when you were young.  When walking with friends down the boulevard, did adults look at you cautiously?  Did people step aside or cross the street as though they hoped to escape an altercation? When in a store did management follow you, even if only with their eyes?  Oh, it happens to white teens too.  When you are youthful you are fruitful in the sense that you are ripe for victimization.  If you are a young adult of color, watch out.  Consider the circumstances of a Community College student, Nicholas K. Peart, 23.

.

I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.

One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”

I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground – with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.

Contemplate the cost on a young person’s life. Our youth live in fear of what night happen, as do their parents. Siblings too suffer. Reputations are ruined. Respect is lost. Commit a crime or not, once stopped, suspicion lingers.  Scars can be deep. The repercussions can fracture a family and also break the city’s bank.

If the personal is too touchy, and you think practical concerns must be our priority then let us look at the return on our “investment” and the results.  The dollars spent on mass incarceration impair our nation!  In New York City alone, in 2011, $185.6 million was spent to settle legal claims against the police department. This marked a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to a report by New York City Comptroller John Liu.  Liu stated that while it is impossible to calculate the exact legal cost of stop-and-frisk lawsuits it is undeniable that the expense associated with the policy is high.  Suits that address civil rights violations, excessive force and unlawful arrest, are frequently inherent in stop-and-frisk cases Liu said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union stated that, as of March 2013, the police department was nearing 5 million stop and frisks. Of the 4.4 million stops recorded, more than 86 percent of the people involved were black or Latino, and 88 percent of these interactions did not lead to an arrest or citation requiring a court appearance, NYCLU said. Twelve percent is quite the gain, you might say. Obviously, juvenile incarceration is worth the price or is it.

Again, let us stop and think. “Numerous states have closed facilities or lowered correctional populations, reaping significant savings for taxpayers without any measurable increase in youth crime.”

What is so wrong with juvenile incarceration? The case against America’s youth prisons and correctional training schools can be neatly summarized in six words: dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate. ~ No Place For Kids. The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Yet, the beat goes on.  Currently, the U.S. Offers Conditional Support for Police Monitor in Stop-and-Frisk Case.  The question is why “monitor”? Why not read the research or remember your own experiences.  We were each shaped in our youth. Were we presumed guilty even when innocent…innocent as 88 percent who stopped-frisked-and-let-go or as Nicholas K. Peart is and was.  Let us look at  Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Integrity.


5 Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Justice Reform:

Originally Published at API, Psychology Benefits Society June 13, 2013

by EFUA ANDOH

By Kerry Bolger, PhD (Public Interest Government Relations Office)

Did you know that the U.S. incarcerates more of its kids per capita than any other developed nation-and that we spend about $5 billion a year of taxpayers’ money to keep them locked up?

Is that because a lot more kids in America are committing violent acts and getting arrested for them?  No; they’re not.  It’s largely because our juvenile justice system incarcerates many young people for low-level offenses and technical violations, and shortchanges investment in evidence-based alternatives that can save money and make communities safer.

This can change.

Here are five reasons to act now on youth justice reform:

1. Overreliance on incarceration is unnecessary.

Many young people in juvenile correctional facilities are incarcerated for low-level and nonviolent offenses.  In 2010, for example, of the 59,000 youths under age 18 confined in juvenile facilities in the U.S., only 1 in 4 was detained or committed for a serious violent offense.  About 12,700 kids (1 in 5) were confined only for status offenses (such as truancy, curfew violation, or running away) or technical violations (such as failing to report to a parole officer).

A number of states have shifted their youth justice policies away from overreliance on incarceration, with no accompanying increase in juvenile crime.

2. Incarceration doesn’t reduce future crime.

Juvenile incarceration doesn’t reduce re-offending, but rather increases it, especially among youth with less-serious delinquency histories.

That’s no surprise, considering that youth in juvenile correctional facilities are exposed to more serious offenders and to widespread physical and sexual violence in confinement.

3. Evidence-based alternatives work.

A large body of research shows that alternatives to incarceration, including diversion, community-based supervision, and evidence-based interventions, reduce re-offending, even among youths who have committed serious offenses.

Youth who receive post-incarceration community-based supervision and services are also less likely to re-offend, and more likely to go to school and work.

For a minority of young offenders deemed a threat to public safety, the success of the Missouri model suggests that smaller facilities, closer to youth’s homes and focused intensely on safety, youth development, and family involvement, reduce recidivism and increase educational progress compared to juvenile correctional facilities.

4. It’s time for government to stop wasting our money and young people’s futures.

It costs American taxpayers about $88,000 to keep one youth incarcerated for one year.  In contrast, an evidence-based intervention such as Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, or Multisystemic Therapy costs less than a tenth as much and yields a positive return on investment-while actually helping kids and reducing crime.

Incarceration often disrupts a young person’s education, and many youths don’t return to school after being incarcerated. Individuals incarcerated as juveniles are at higher risk (even after controlling for other factors) for being unemployed even years later in adulthood.  That doesn’t help anyone.

5. The American people get it.

According to a recent national survey, 3 out of 4 Americans agree that the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration and should provide youth with more opportunities to better themselves.

How can you act now to reform youth justice?

Connect with groups working on state-based reforms.

Stop and Frisk the Research!

Stop and Frisk the Research!

By Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates

Mayor Bloomberg, your supporters, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mister President, the Justice Department, and all you other big city Mayors that think stop-and-frisk is fine please, sit down. Take a break. Stop and Think!   Breathe deeply and ask yourselves; is it not time to stop weighing Constitutionality and think psychology.  If pondering the science is a bit too weighty, please consider our children!  Our young men and yes, young women need to be seen not for the color of their skin, but for the color of their character!

If it is a challenge to see the beauty that is other than skin deep when people are out on the street, then contemplate the cash.  Juvenile Incarceration is costly; $5 billion to confine and house young offenders in “confinement” facilities despite evidence that shows alternative in-home or community-based programs can deliver equal or better results for a fraction of the cost.  As stated in the Annie E. Casey report “Juvenile correctional facilities do not reduce future offending.” These dollars might have been spent on education and could be if we choose to stop-and-think, read the research, or reflect.

Put yourself in the place of a young Black or Brown teen or remember when you were young.  When walking with friends down the boulevard, did adults look at you cautiously?  Did people step aside or cross the street as though they hoped to escape an altercation? When in a store did management follow you, even if only with their eyes?  Oh, it happens to white teens too.  When you are youthful you are fruitful in the sense that you are ripe for victimization.  If you are a young adult of color, watch out.  Consider the circumstances of a Community College student, Nicholas K. Peart, 23.

.

I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.

One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”

I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground – with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.

Contemplate the cost on a young person’s life. Our youth live in fear of what night happen, as do their parents. Siblings too suffer. Reputations are ruined. Respect is lost. Commit a crime or not, once stopped, suspicion lingers.  Scars can be deep. The repercussions can fracture a family and also break the city’s bank.

If the personal is too touchy, and you think practical concerns must be our priority then let us look at the return on our “investment” and the results.  The dollars spent on mass incarceration impair our nation!  In New York City alone, in 2011, $185.6 million was spent to settle legal claims against the police department. This marked a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to a report by New York City Comptroller John Liu.  Liu stated that while it is impossible to calculate the exact legal cost of stop-and-frisk lawsuits it is undeniable that the expense associated with the policy is high.  Suits that address civil rights violations, excessive force and unlawful arrest, are frequently inherent in stop-and-frisk cases Liu said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union stated that, as of March 2013, the police department was nearing 5 million stop and frisks. Of the 4.4 million stops recorded, more than 86 percent of the people involved were black or Latino, and 88 percent of these interactions did not lead to an arrest or citation requiring a court appearance, NYCLU said. Twelve percent is quite the gain, you might say. Obviously, juvenile incarceration is worth the price or is it.

Again, let us stop and think. “Numerous states have closed facilities or lowered correctional populations, reaping significant savings for taxpayers without any measurable increase in youth crime.”

What is so wrong with juvenile incarceration? The case against America’s youth prisons and correctional training schools can be neatly summarized in six words: dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate. ~ No Place For Kids. The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Yet, the beat goes on.  Currently, the U.S. Offers Conditional Support for Police Monitor in Stop-and-Frisk Case.  The question is why “monitor”? Why not read the research or remember your own experiences.  We were each shaped in our youth. Were we presumed guilty even when innocent…innocent as 88 percent who stopped-frisked-and-let-go or as Nicholas K. Peart is and was.  Let us look at  Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Integrity.


5 Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Justice Reform:

Originally Published at API, Psychology Benefits Society June 13, 2013

by EFUA ANDOH

By Kerry Bolger, PhD (Public Interest Government Relations Office)

Did you know that the U.S. incarcerates more of its kids per capita than any other developed nation-and that we spend about $5 billion a year of taxpayers’ money to keep them locked up?

Is that because a lot more kids in America are committing violent acts and getting arrested for them?  No; they’re not.  It’s largely because our juvenile justice system incarcerates many young people for low-level offenses and technical violations, and shortchanges investment in evidence-based alternatives that can save money and make communities safer.

This can change.

Here are five reasons to act now on youth justice reform:

1. Overreliance on incarceration is unnecessary.

Many young people in juvenile correctional facilities are incarcerated for low-level and nonviolent offenses.  In 2010, for example, of the 59,000 youths under age 18 confined in juvenile facilities in the U.S., only 1 in 4 was detained or committed for a serious violent offense.  About 12,700 kids (1 in 5) were confined only for status offenses (such as truancy, curfew violation, or running away) or technical violations (such as failing to report to a parole officer).

A number of states have shifted their youth justice policies away from overreliance on incarceration, with no accompanying increase in juvenile crime.

2. Incarceration doesn’t reduce future crime.

Juvenile incarceration doesn’t reduce re-offending, but rather increases it, especially among youth with less-serious delinquency histories.

That’s no surprise, considering that youth in juvenile correctional facilities are exposed to more serious offenders and to widespread physical and sexual violence in confinement.

3. Evidence-based alternatives work.

A large body of research shows that alternatives to incarceration, including diversion, community-based supervision, and evidence-based interventions, reduce re-offending, even among youths who have committed serious offenses.

Youth who receive post-incarceration community-based supervision and services are also less likely to re-offend, and more likely to go to school and work.

For a minority of young offenders deemed a threat to public safety, the success of the Missouri model suggests that smaller facilities, closer to youth’s homes and focused intensely on safety, youth development, and family involvement, reduce recidivism and increase educational progress compared to juvenile correctional facilities.

4. It’s time for government to stop wasting our money and young people’s futures.

It costs American taxpayers about $88,000 to keep one youth incarcerated for one year.  In contrast, an evidence-based intervention such as Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, or Multisystemic Therapy costs less than a tenth as much and yields a positive return on investment-while actually helping kids and reducing crime.

Incarceration often disrupts a young person’s education, and many youths don’t return to school after being incarcerated. Individuals incarcerated as juveniles are at higher risk (even after controlling for other factors) for being unemployed even years later in adulthood.  That doesn’t help anyone.

5. The American people get it.

According to a recent national survey, 3 out of 4 Americans agree that the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration and should provide youth with more opportunities to better themselves.

How can you act now to reform youth justice?

Connect with groups working on state-based reforms.

On The Issues

Iss

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Wherever Americans turn, they are asked the same question; what issue is most important to you.  If you could, what would you tell the President of the United States to do?  What do you think must be his priority, or the country’s greatest concern.  Television commentators turn microphones on citizens.  Radio announcers inquire; what does the audience think.  Newspapers poll.  Organizations count survey ballots.  Legislators look for constituent answers in electronic mailboxes.  Each attempts to usher in a new era.  They want the common people to help shape the discussion.  

Is the war in Iraq or Afghanistan the subject you believe he, or we should address first.  Do you have faith that Universal, Single Payer, Not for Profit Health Care would cure this nation’s ill?  Could education, or an equal opportunity to compete be the solution to our problems?  Must Congress restore the Constitution with the support of our Commander-In-Chief?  Might it be that Climate Change is our most pressing problem?  Civil Rights afforded to gays, straights, Blacks, Browns, persons, no matter their race, color, or creed certainly needs to be a serious consideration, as does the oft-identified issue number one, the economy.

Democrats say they will deliver solutions.  Republicans repeat the contention, they know what we should do first and last.  Independents insist neither political Party addresses their anxieties.  The apathetic feel there is no reason to participate.  Partisan politics polarize the nation’s ability to act.  

A few might muse; pragmatism may be the most powerful position.  Surely, the stream of replies to this issue-oriented inquiry will vary.  Each will test reason.  Yet, no lone logic will satisfy everyone within the electorate.  Thus, I submit  an inclusively that is more true for me.

Were I able to speak to the President of the United States of America, if I could stand before Congress and address what matters most to me, I would say there is no interest of greatest import.

For me, all issues are interrelated.  None can be considered more important than another.  Perhaps if people acknowledge that no man is an island we will become better as a world, as a country within a whole.  A lack of green technology starves the people and the planet.  Inadequate health care and education exacerbate the emptiness felt by any or all.  A hungry globe spawns war for dominance.  People want what they need.  Too frequently, individuals and nations are willing to fight for what they think is right, whatever will ensure their own existence.

Mother Nature is no exception.  As she struggles for survival, she does all she can to sustain balance.  Her cries unheeded cause greater harm.  Wounds, left unattended bleed.  The pus from these lesions spills out on Earthy beings.  If we the people allow any of our ills to thrive, surely, no one will survive.  

Please Mister President, do not ignore that we are one.  United we will stand.  If we divide the issues, we all will ultimately fall.

Sources for surveys . . .

A Critical Moment; Can Hope Survive?



Hope: It Could Happen To You

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

We had hope.  For some, the dream was fulfilled.  For millions more desperate and devastated by a multiplicity of issues that confront them each a day, a President, a single person cannot make a difference.  MoveOn.org understands that.  Thus, they sent out an appeal, as though that might help.

You may have received the mail.  It appeared in my cyberspace box late last evening.  I was tired.  The day had been long.  I thought to delete what seemed one more correspondence, one more plea, possibly, another request for a contribution.  As a MoveOn member I take delivery of what, at times, seems to be millions of requests for action, reactions, or donations.  With the election over, I trust there is far more work to be done.  Yet, in a moment of personal weakness or just a want for sleep, I went to bed.

The morning came.  I awoke.  Still, I did not return to read the MoveOn mail.  When I did I realized the weight of this written communication.  I was asked to consider as millions were, what are we to do.

We have some important decisions to make together. Our country is at a critical moment: The opportunity for change has never been greater. But there’s a lot that needs to be done and we have to decide where we should focus first. Click below to nominate a big goal for us to focus on next year:

As I traveled through the net neighborhood, what did I behold.  An inquiry.

1. What should MoveOn’s top goal be in 2009? (10 words or less)

I thought and then penned . . .

Let us ensure Barack Obama pursues Progressive peaceful policies!

The next question was a bit of a challenge.

2. Which category is your goal in?

A screen full of options, all separate and, in my mind, definitely equal.  What was I to do.  Throughout the last few years this question has come up.  How do I choose a singular focus?  Are not all aspects of our lives interrelated.  Fortunately, I saw the possibility that might advance an awareness for what is too often defined as  the impossible dream.

I chose from the list of issues, “other”

Then there was the optional response, the one I thought most essential to share.

3. What would you tell other MoveOn members about why this is important?  (Optional) We’ll post your comment on the next page.

If citizens do not actively demonstrate, each and every day, that we crave change, the President will not have the power to transform this country. No matter the issue the public must be motivated to insist that government acts in accordance with our needs and desires. We, the people, must be out on the streets, in the Halls of Congress, on the Hill, vocal in our local communities, inclusive of cyberspace, if policies are to be altered.   Nothing occurs without our consent.  Barack Obama can be a cautious man. Congress is often more concerned with “matters of consequence” and compromise.  Lobbies loom large.  Corporate campaigners know how to garner influence.  We the people must be the power as the Constitution defines.  No President can do what we do not allow through apathy or action.  If we are to MoveOn, we must be the change we wish to see.

I invite you to share your thoughts on MoveOn or here, at BeThink.  I must admit, I think the Political Action website interface could be much improved.  The software, apparently, does not allow for robust interaction.  

If only each of us could see a list of all the nominations rather than click through each thought separately as it appears, then perhaps we could truly be an active community, connected, and able to communicate our concerns.

Perchance, if change is to come within Washington, if transformation is to arrive nationwide, it might better begin with us.  We, the people must practice what we preach.  If the dream is to survive, it must live.  The vision must thrive through us.  [MoveOn, might we truly assess the importance of issues, see the responses and not search for these?]

I thank MoveOn, members of the Political Action organization.  I appreciate the many who share thoughts no matter who you are or where you may be.  I am grateful the encouragement to think beyond the present.  May we each do more than hope.  Let us MoveOn so that the aspiration may be achieved.

A negative feeling




To view the original art, please travel to A negative feeling

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

I’m starting to get worried about the Democratic race – and about the increasingly nasty tone of both candidates. At the end of the day, this election isn’t really about them.  This week’s toon, “A Word From the Middle Class,” tries to put that in focus.

Presidential Candidates and the People; Politics is Personal

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

A tired and emotionally torn Hillary Clinton trembled slightly as she voiced her concern for the country and her campaign.  A somewhat shaken Senator said, “You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political.  It’s not just public.  I see what’s happening . . . It’s really about all of us together.”  Indeed, Senator Clinton, it is.

For months, former Senator John Edwards has shared a similar sentiment.   Once more, in an interview with ABC News George Stephanopoulos, Presidential hopeful Edwards emphatically declared, “I want to be the president who fights for the middle class, fights for working people. The kind of people I grew up with, George. I said this last night. This is not abstract or academic for me. It is personal.”

Republican hopeful, Mitt Romney also embraced the phraseology a month earlier.  In a campaign advertisement released in his home state of Michigan, Mitt reminded the voters, “For me, Michigan is personal.” The place of our birth, the era in which we evolved, the circumstances of our lives are all personal, as are our reactions to these. When we cast a ballot in favor of a policy or a Presidential aspirant, as profound as we wish the decision would appear to be, essentially it is personal.

Each and every individual is influenced by what occurs in the privacy of his or her home.  Our hearts speak more loudly than our minds.  However, reluctant we are to admit this, humans are emotional beings, who rationalize their resolutions, often after the fact.  

The New Hampshire primary elections, as well as the Iowa caucuses were stark reminders of the fact, we cannot predict what people will do.  However, if we understand what truly motivates us, we may better understand the incomprehensible.  From the moment we enter this Earthly existence, we learn what is Right, Left, Middle, or ‘just wrong.’  

Mommy exclaimed, “Do not do that; it is inappropriate.”  Daddy declared, “No more.  What will the neighbors think?”  Grandpa gave the evil eye when he thought some word or deed not becoming of a little lady.  Grandma gently tapped young Sammy’s small hand when the lass reached for what the older woman thought unacceptable.  Brother James also guided the girl’s decisions.  “What are you; crazy?” he would say.  James’s manner was never gentle.  Sammy’s nursery school teacher was far kinder, although equally critical.  “Young women do not do that.”  “We do not speak that way in class, on the playground, in the cloak room.”  “I hope you do not do that at home!”

What Sammy did at home was never correct.  She wanted so much to be appreciated, especially by her elders.  Even among her peers, Sammy felt it vital to feel needed, wanted, valued, and cherished.  She realized at a tender age, that if she was to be happy, she must obey the rules.  Sammy learned to be a good girl.  Today, she still is.  When voting in the Presidential primaries and in the General election, Sammy will cast a ballot for the candidate her friends’ vote for.  Conventional wisdom is always best.  

There is a certain contentment you feel when others concur with your opinion.  Life is calm  Sammy, prefers agreement; she wants no arguments.  Perhaps, that is why she struggled to decide, whom would she vote for.

Sammy remained undecided up until she spoke with acquaintances of the Clinton cry.  Although Sammy and her friends were not Clinton constituents, indeed, they feared she might be soulless, ultimately; each plans to cast a ballot for the candidate.  Just as women in New Hampshire expressed, it would feel good to possibly place a woman in the White House.  The tears Hillary shed resonated within many of the “gentler sex.”  They thought the candidate’s cry was a show of strength.  Throughout America, and New Hampshire women [and men alike] personally identified with the pain Senator Clinton expressed.

Some New Hampshire women admitted they were touched by Clinton’s display of vulnerability at a local cafe, when a voter asked her how she remained so upbeat and Clinton’s eyes, in turn, became misty.

“When I saw the tear-up replayed on the news, it looked like Clinton was truly moved.  It proved she had soul,” said Carol Brownwood, a New Hampshire voter and Clinton supporter.

New Hampshire women voted for Clinton by a margin of 13 percentage points over Obama, according to exit polls.

James, Sammy’s sibling, was never much for conventions.  He was a rebel.  For him every issue was a cause.  As an adult, James will likely not vote for the most popular candidate.  He plans to weigh every angle, assess each agenda.  James will do his own research before he decides whom to support in the Presidential Election of 2008.

Even as a youngster, James had a mind of his own.  He knew what was truly important and what was trivial.  It did not much matter to James what his Mom or Dad might think.  This chap was certain when he thought a particular point of view right or wrong.  While James valued his parents’ opinions, and he did, he was his own person.

When James screamed “No,” at the age of two, it was not a phase; this tot could be authentically defiant.  No matter his age, James was never afraid to speak up.  “You are just wrong,” he would tell his mother or father.  In truth, James often took what his parents thought to heart.  However, he would never give Mom, Dad, or most anyone else, the satisfaction of knowing that he thought their opinion wiser than his own.

In his youth, James was independent and strong.  Competitions were his pleasure.  Enrolled in Little League, Soccer, and Football at an early age, James learned to be a sportsman.  He understood how important it was to win.  He still does.  

Throughout his life, James has been a fighter.  In college, the young man was considered a radical.  He protested for peace.  The little guy was his friend.  An underdog could soar when in the company of James.  He cared for his fellow man deeply.  This chap worked on a political campaign.  He was an activist, and he was motivated to make more of his life.  James studied as hard as he played.

Later, as an attorney, James did not shy away from a fight.  In his professional career, he retains his principles.  While James could make scads more money as a corporate lawyer, he serves the downtrodden.  James is known as an aggressive trial lawyer.  He fights for what is right.  John Edwards is his candidate of choice.  As he ponders the tales the populace aspirant tells, James relates. For James, just as for John Edwards, the battle for change is personal.

One Edwards supporter, departing after a big rally in Des Moines on Saturday night, said he hasn’t heard a message as passionate or strong since Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign.

Nice clothes aside, Edwards has turned street-fighter for the final stretch run.  His message can be boiled down to a single word — “Fight!” — which he repeats over and over and over and over again: Fight.  Fight.  Fight.  Fight.

Edwards has rolled out anecdotes he never used in the past to make it all the more personal.  They conjure up images that hardly square with his slight frame and good looks.  He was, as he now explains, a brawler as a kid, taking on bullies the way he later took on corporations and insurance companies as a trail lawyer.

“Like many of you, I had to fight to survive,” he told an audience of nearly a thousand people on Saturday night.  “I mean really.  Literally.”

He describes the southern mill town where he grew up as a tough little place and tells the story of getting into a fight one day with an older boy.  “Got my butt kicked,” he says.  When he got home, his father offered a stern lesson in life.

“I don’t ever want to hear, son, about you starting a fight,” he says his father told him.  “But you listen to me and listen to me clearly.  I don’t want to ever hear that you walked away from one.  Because if you’re not willing to stand up for yourself and if you’re not willing to fight, no one will stand up for you.”

Emma, James closest friend is not a fighter.  She is a woman, yet, not one who sees herself as a warrior. While Emma might love to have a woman in the Oval Office, she does not want Hillary Clinton to be her President.  John Edwards does not move this passionate person.  Too often Edwards goes negative.  Emma experienced enough combativeness in her life.  She is turned off by the fervor she experienced in her family home.  

Emma grew up in a good home.  Her parents are well-educated.  Each, is a professional in his or her own right.  Economically, her family is considered Upper Middle Class.  By all appearances, this young woman has had a good life.  She and her folks are healthy, slightly wealthy, and definitely wise.   However, when Emma was young, she realized, for her Mom and her Dad, every event was a drama, a trauma, a crisis, or a catastrophe.

Emma often hid under the bed, went to another room, spent time at a neighbor’s home, just to avoid the chaos she experienced when with her relatives.  As the little girl blossomed, she realized there was fun to be had.  “You cannot choose your family, but fortunately, you can choose your friends.”  A cheerleader, a “Journalist” on the school newspaper, active in a school leadership program, Emma was quite popular.

Academically, Emma had been and continues to be a serious student.  She is enrolled in graduate school, and is doing very well.  She is enthusiastic and energetic; however, she has never been energized by politics . . . that is until now.  Although, in the past, Emma defined herself as apathetic, now she sees herself as an activist.   Emma intends to vote for Barack Obama.  She feels as many throughout the country do.  Individuals, particularly those in her age are excited.  This may be the first time Emma will vote in an election.  She is stoked and not alone in her excitement.  Since hearing Obama speak, for Emma, this election is now personal.

“I just started hearing a lot about him last year, so I started doing my own research,” says Kinkead. “I wanted to know who this guy was that everyone was talking about. I know he has a liberal voting record in the Senate, but he just seems so open-minded to me. He’ll be able to work with Republicans and get stuff accomplished. Hillary Clinton has too much baggage.”

Young voters helped propel Obama’s win in Iowa and McCain’s in New Hampshire. Exit polls in New Hampshire indicated that 31 percent of the youngest GOP voting group went for McCain, with 23 percent voting for Romney; 51 percent of young Democrats supported Obama, while 28 percent supported Clinton.

In Iowa, Obama won 57 percent of the youth vote, compared to 11 percent for Clinton.

The social networking site Facebook has been a huge hub of political interest, with students flocking to Obama on the Democratic side  . . .

Others in the cyberspace community may be connected however, the do not wish to join the rally for Ron Paul nor do the oratory skills of Barack Obama sway them.  Beth is among those who walks to the beat of a different drummer.  This woman is not old or young; however, just as the candidates and constituents she too is deeply affected by her history.  Beth’s parents were and are scholars.  Amidst her earliest memories, Beth recalls research.  Daddy would ask her of newspaper articles she read.  The discussions were deep.  He was not only interested in her superficial comprehension skills he wanted to be certain his daughter became a critical thinker.

Mommy’s style differed; however, the intent, and results were similar.  Beth’s Mom, a brilliant woman, read endlessly.  She spoke of all the information she devoured.  This highly erudite parent encouraged her daughter to be herself, not part of a group, not identified by her gender, not even rigidly tied to which hand she preferred to write with.  Beth, just as her mother, never fit in, and she was fine with that.  Mommy and Daddy were principled people, not influenced by peers or popularity, and so too is Beth.  Perchance that is why she supports Dennis Kucinich.  She feels personally obligated to her country and all the people.  For Beth ethics matters more than an election win.  

I think the question isn’t whether I have a chance. The question is whether peace, health care, jobs for all have a chance. Everyone participating in this chat, everyone reading it, needs to ask what this election means for them. If it means not staying in Iraq until 2013, then perhaps people should consider my plan to leave Iraq immediately and employ an international peacekeeping force. If you want peace in the world, consider that I’m the only candidate who rejects war as an instrument of foreign policy.

This isn’t just about Iraq or Iran, this is about a president wise enough to work with leaders in the world to avoid conflict.  While I wouldn’t hesitate to defend our country, I’ve shown more than any other candidate that I understand the difference between defense and offense. . . .  I’m the only candidate running who voted against the war and against funding for the war. To me it’s inconceivable to say you oppose a war you’ve given hundreds of billions of dollars to.

If people are participating in this and are concerned that they have an outcome in this election that relates to their needs, they should know that I’m the only candidate who would create a not-for-profit health care system that would cover everyone.

No other candidate is saying they would cancel NAFTA and the WTO — I’ve seen the devastation wrought by these agreements. I’ve stood in front of the locked plant gates, with grass growing in the parking lots. I’ve seen the boarded-up nearby business communities, the neighborhoods where people had to leave because they couldn’t pay their mortgages.

I’m the only candidate talking about a profoundly different energy policy, moving aggressively toward wind, solar, and investing heavily in green energy, reorganizing the government along principles of sustainability. We have to challenge these oil companies — we’re in a war in Iraq because of oil, one of the principle reasons we’d attack Iran is because of oil, we continue to destabilize our relations with Russia because of oil.

It’s time for Washington to get control of our energy polices, and the only way we may be able to do that is to take control of the oil companies. We cannot sacrifice our young men and women on the altar of oil. We must regain control in the nation, of our ability to truly be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That’s why I’m running for president, and in the end if I win, the people of the United States will win.

For a time, people, from various backgrounds, also endorsed Dennis J. Kucinich.  Beth met declared Democrats, Independent minded Greens, Libertarians, and even Republicans who thought the Congressman from Ohio was the only one who could and would turn this country around in a way that gratified them personally.  

A wide breadth of the population thought the Presidential hopeful would be the best for the country as a whole.  However, as is oft occurs, personal perceptions became the reality. The true Progressive, Congressman Kucinich was haunted by a claim continually, reiterated by Americans, “Kucinich is not electable.”  This statement was frequently preceded by the phrase, “Kucinich is great, but . . .”   Group think set in.

Intellectuals, pundits, so called professional political analysts, and regular persons would  say this is not so; however, as we assess human behavior, it is a challenge to think otherwise.

A public less aware of the dynamics of a caucus, or familiar with a seventy-two page rulebook, concludes a decision to influence a voter’s second-choice in Iowa might be thought a sign of weakness; perhaps a concession, or even an endorsement.  Some avid Kucinich supporters began to question the candidate’s faith in his campaign.  More importantly, many Kucinich backers felt personally abandoned.  The slogan “Strength through peace,” was less forceful than this allowance.  To suggest an alternative commitment may be less strong than the sweet smell of freshly baked bread or a promise to stroke your back if you rub mine

Intimidation is not unknown. Also, it is possible for a leading candidate to help a weaker rival against a stronger one.

More often, though, the gaming of the caucus and the wooing of supporters is subtler.

In a training video prepared by the Edwards campaign, for example, a cartoon precinct campaign named Joe leaves for the caucus with a calculator, Edwards signs, and fresh bread. The narrator explains: “His homemade bread is perfectly positioned. Everyone can see it and smell it, especially the undecideds.”

Then, too, “there are always stories of ‘I’ll shovel your walk the next time it snows,’ ” said Norm Sterzenbach, Iowa Democratic Party political director.

While these tactics are troublesome, perhaps what worries supporters of any candidate is their own “personal” standing . . . in the community, in a crowd, in the cavern known as their rational mind.

Might we speculate as to why a presumed front-runner receives more funds in support?  After a primary win, contributions come in.  Every person in the electorate scrutinizes a candidate and the company he or she keeps.  The assumed quality of a spouse can be an asset or a deterrent to the campaign.  If nothing else, when humans are involved, whom a Presidential hopeful weds, why, or when, will certainly be a distraction.  Americans, humans are invested in the personal.  People ponder their lives and wish to know what occurs in the lives of others.

Politics is personal.  Running Mates, and these are not possible Vice Presidential choices, warrant an in-depth and detailed article in the Washington Post.  These individual have greater access to the future President than any other person might.  If Americans elect x, y will have the President’s ear, heart, body, and soul in their hands.  The electorate believes spouses are significant.  The personal permeates the political, or at least, Newsweek Magazine thought so.  This periodical devoted a full spread to the Bill factor.

His New Role

By Jonathan Darman

Newsweek

August 21, 2007

“Man, I like that stuff,” Bill Clinton said. “I shouldn’t eat it, but I like it.” It was Sunday, March 4. On a private plane headed south from New York, the former leader of the free world was staring hard at a fully stocked bowl of food. A recovering snack-addict since his quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004, Clinton was thinking about falling off the wagon with a few bags of Fritos and some granola bars. No one on the plane was going to stop him-certainly not Malcolm Smith. The Democratic minority leader of New York’s state Senate, Smith was just happy to be along for the ride. “He sat right in front of me,” Smith later gushed to a Newsweek reporter. “We shared the food.” . . .

For Hillary’s campaign, “The Bill Factor” is a complex one. To some he’s a shrewd politician, a clear thinker, a brilliant explicator who was president during an era of relative peace and indisputable prosperity. To others he’s “Slick Willie,” an undisciplined man who let his private appetites, and his addiction to risk, blur his focus, distracting the country for much of his second term.

Nonetheless, a polished President offers the public a sense of personal security.  The Clintons are a known entity.  They have a traditional marriage, and they have proven themselves in many arenas.  Regardless of whether or not  you agree with their positions, the two are accomplished; certainly not on the fringe.  

Barack Obama is also quite an achiever.  Born to parents who separated when the future Harvard scholar, United States Senator, and front-running Presidential aspirant was but two years of age, Barack  Obama went on to create a stunning and successful Christian family of his own.

When wife Michelle Robinson Obama is by the candidate’s side, audiences marvel.  The couple is physically beautiful.  The two are statuesque and poised.  Each is extremely accomplished.  Michelle Obama is the a vice president at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Initially she was criticized for retaining this position during the campaign.  However, since she agreed to reduce her workload and currently works far fewer hours than she had, the public, many of whom took her to task for her “personal” life, are now content.  People specifically enjoy how real this spouse is.

[Michelle] She has revealed that the man who may become the world’s most powerful politician is sometimes banished to the spare room for being “kind of snory and stinky.” He also admits obeying her instructions to give up smoking before the campaign.

[Michelle] Obama got off to a rocky start in her early speeches when she talked about her husband’s dirty socks and how he was “stinky” in the morning, an image people perhaps might have found a little too human. Those references have since been dropped from her stump speech, and she’s not giving many interviews these days.

On the other hand, Elizabeth Edwards volunteers to speak to anyone, everyone.  Wife of John Edwards, Elizabeth, is equally at ease in most any situation.  She does not hesitate to speak her mind.  

Elizabeth Edwards will say in one breath that her job is made easier by the fact there are now “so many more female role models in careers like entertainment, the media and politics.”  But she will also say she’s not about to make the same mistakes Clinton did.

“Hillary Clinton in 1992 is a lesson in what not to do,” offers Edwards, also a lawyer by training, whose husband is one of Clinton’s opponents in the presidential race. “She was dismissive of the range of options women had chosen, declaring, ‘I don’t bake cookies. . . . I don’t stand by my man.’ That turned off some people.”

Elizabeth Edwards has been startlingly outspoken during this campaign, calling in to a live news-talk program to take on right-wing pundit Ann Coulter on national television and saying there was too much “hatred” of Hillary Clinton for her to win the general election. She maintains she’s not behaving much differently from 2004, when her husband was the Democratic vice presidential nominee. “There’s just a lot more coverage,” says Edwards, who has received additional attention since revealing she is battling incurable cancer.

In a campaign where every issue is personal, even illness can be the cause for insults.  John was judged harshly as he continued to campaign.  Some said he was consumed with ambition.  Many mused, why did Elizabeth not take it easy.  The drive to the White House is long and hard.

Nonetheless, many men, women, and spouses seem up to the challenge.  As we learned in what many thought to be a “personal” attack, some aspirants thought to seek the presidency when they were in kindergarten.  Others decided later in life.  Each has a history of profound accomplishments achieved at an early age.  As Americans, we appreciate a good wunderkind tale.  

In this country, the legendary captivates our attention.  After all, we all wish to aspire to excellence.  The excellence achieved by another gives us reason to believe, and we do have personal stake in a candidate’s story.  

Another aspirant also has a tale to tell.  At an early age, Dennis Kucinich was also considered a genius.  He had dreams and accomplished more than most thirty-one year olds.  Dennis Kucinich was elected Mayor of a major city, Cleveland, Ohio.  The young public official stood on principle against a corporate giant and saved the city and the community millions.  While the yarn is legendary, it is not as distinguished or as frequently discussed as wife, Elizabeth Kucinich is.

True, English born Elizabeth Kucinich is not close in age to her husband, as are the wives of numerous other candidates.  Conservatives John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson married women much younger than they.  However, that is but a minor source of intrigue.  What mesmerizes America and is among the stories supporters felt a need to stave off is the metal in the exquisite woman’s mouth.

O’Donnell: I have to ask you about two very interesting things. Because America has had a traditional of having traditional first ladies, if you will. You would be the youngest first lady ever if your husband were elected president. You have a tongue ring. What about that?

E. Kucinich: What about that?

O’Donnell: Well, it’s very unusual. I don’t know that there are many political spouses who have tongue rings.

E. Kucinich: I’m 30 years old. I’ve had it for 10 years. I don’t see it as being a problem. I do still wear pearls.

The English Elizabeth Kucinich hints at the truth the American electorate is embarrassed to avow.  In this country, politics, policy, and proposals do not garner support.  A president is not placed into the Oval Office when the constituents prefer his or her plan.  Appearances matter more than the issues or a solid, substantive agenda.  

Each ballot is a personal endorsement for a look, a life style, a gesture, a posture, and on rare occasions, a principle.  A vote for a candidate is an endorsement for the values of friends, family, business associates, and anyone who might judge an individual.  Americans want to elect a winner, someone whose rise, will add to a voters personal sense of worth.  

Principally, what most Americans wonder about as they assess the Presidential contenders, what causes citizens of the States to worry, and weep is as a questioner in a recent debate inquired.  “Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?”  If a constituent thinks, he or she can “personally” relate to the answer a candidate delivers or the manner in which they reply, then that candidate can pack their bags and move into the White House on January 20th. In Election year 2008, Hillary, John, and Mitt are correct; for them, you, and me this process is personal.

Personal, Personalities, Preferences . . .

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 . . .