PRIMARY DECISION. Sam Smith of Progressive Review endorses John Edwards:
If Edwards wins the Iowa caucuses, it will be the most significant progressive primary win since Eugene McCarthy got 41% of the vote in New Hampshire in 1968.
While those who prefer the personal, albeit single digit, purity of supporting a Kucinich may scoff, even Ralph Nader agrees that an Edwards nomination would be a historic shift in the political landscape. While the iconographic liberals -- those placing ethnic or gender symbolism ahead of real change -- dismiss Edwards, the obese media and the Washington establishment certainly agree; from the start they have tried mightily to bury Edwards in the purgatory of silence.
Presidents don't make change as much as they reflect it, profit from it and manipulate it. Those seeking our, or their own, salvation from a president come to the wrong altar. What politicians do extremely well, however, is to reinforce whatever is already happening. Lyndon Johnson, for example, was about as far as a saint as one could imagine, yet the 1960s could not have happened without him. Put Barry Goldwater in his place and the story would have been totally rewritten.
That, in fact, is what helped bring an end to the 1960s. Nixon simply stopped the draft and convinced the record moguls to cease advertising in the underground press. An era was over.
Edwards' election would signal the end of another era, namely that of Reagan, the Bushes and Clinton -- one that has wrecked social democracy, returned the economy to robber baron standards and caused us to be hated around the world.
Finally we can begin again. This would not be a reflection of Edwards' virtues so much as of the strength of a constituency for change that this country has not seen for a long time. And it would be a victory for all of us.
See Smith's take on what's going on at Undernews at the Progressive Review.
DODD WINS REPRIEVE ON FISA SELLOUT. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., took a day out of his (admittedly long-shot) campaign for president to stand up for principle in the US Senate. He stood up for the rule of law and made his own Democratic leadership back down on the changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that were demanded by the Bush administration, which would grant retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that illegally surrendered information on their customers to government agents who didn't want to be bothered by warrants, as is required by law, and would grant increased surveillance powers to those agents. Eventually, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to honor the hold that Dodd had placed on the bill, and Dodd made it clear that he would filibuster the bill, Reid was forced to pull the FISA bill from the Senate floor.
See Glenn Greenwald's analysis at Salon.com, check out Dodd's campaign website (and express your appreciation) and contact your senators and your representative to urge them to support the House version of FISA update, known as the RESTORE Act, which contains multiple key oversight provisions and no telecom immunity of any kind.
Also call the senators who helped Foff manage his time on the floor, standing with him on the floor, engaging him in the issue, and providing strong and passionate speeches against amnesty. As mcjoan wrote at DailyKos.com, "they demonstrated to Dodd, to us, and most importantly to leadership that he's not alone in the fight. Here they are so you can add your thanks."
Chris Dodd: (202) 224-2823
Barbara Boxer: (202) 224-3553
Sherrod Brown: (202) 224-2315
Russ Feingold: (202) 224-5323
Ted Kennedy: (202) 224-4543
Bill Nelson: (202) 224-5274
Ron Wyden: (202) 224-5244
KUCINICH EXCLUDED FROM DEBATE. Dennis Kucinich has been excluded from Thursday's Des Moines Register-sponsored presidential debate in Des Moines, apparently because it is too tight with the pennies.
According to the Kucinich campaign, it was informed that the Cleveland congressman was not invited to participate in the debate because “It was our determination that a person working out of his home did not meet our criteria for a campaign office and full-time paid staff in Iowa,” according to a statement from the newspaper’s top officials, including editor Carolyn Washburn.
The Register stated that neither Kucinich nor former Sen. Mike Gravel met the newpaper's criteria of having a campaign office inside the State of Iowa as of October 1, 2007, and employed at least one paid campaign staff representative to perform full-time campaign duties in the State of Iowa on behalf of the candidate since at least October 1, 2007.
"The dismissive reference was to Kucinich Iowa Field Director and State Coordinator Marcos Rubinstein, who coordinates campaign activities from his home office in Dubuque, bolstered by a dozen-or-so other senior campaign staff who have traveled the state over the past several months," the campaign stated.
The Kucinich campaign noted that some polls show Kucinich ahead of “invited” candidates Sens. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd
“The Iowa caucuses have been portrayed as having national implications, and if the Register has decided to use hair-splitting technicalities to exclude the leading voice of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, then the entire process is suspect,” according to a statement from the Kucinich campaign. The Iowa Democratic Party, Iowa Public Television, and well-funded political interests have barred Kucinich from previous public appearances. “The Des Moines Register’s arbitrary and unreasonable exclusion of Congressman Kucinich is consistent with the treatment that the Congressman has received from the entrenched political and institutional interests in Iowa.”
We agree that the Register's decision seems arbitrary and unreasonable. The debate should be open to bona-fide candidates, and we think Kucinich has established his bona fides anchoring the left wing of the Democratic party.
Kucinich, his campaign pointed out, is the only Democratic presidential candidate who voted against the Iraq war authorization in 2002 and every war-funding measure since. He has been warning for years that the administration’s belligerence toward Iran is unjustified and last week’s revelations in the National Intelligence Estimate confirm that. He is the only Democratic candidate who voted against the Patriot Act, and he has called for the repeal of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because of its disastrous effect on US jobs. Kucinich is also the only candidate pushing for a national, not-for-profit, single-payer health insurance system that will cover all Americans.
Whether or not the Register agrees with those positions, they are held by a large segment of the Democratic base, and they deserve to be heard.
Comment and/or submit a letter to the editor of the Regisgter.
A.V. KREBS R.I.P. It is with great sadness that we relate that Al Krebs, our longtime columnist on agribusiness, died on Oct. 9.
Wrote his son, David Arevalo, of North Bend, Wash.:
I wanted to let all of you know that we made sure he got every letter, card and email that was sent, and that they always brought a grin to his face and it would light up every time he would read one. Thanks to each of you for being a part of my Dad's life. He loved his readers, and got a real joy from doing his newsletter each week.
The following was eloquently written by one of his good friends, Barbara Ross, who said:
Al Krebs passed to his eternal reward on Tuesday, October 9th, after a struggle with liver failure. Many of you knew Al Krebs; he perhaps was most well known as the author of the book, The Corporate Reapers, widely considered a stand-alone authority on the history of agriculture and ag. policy. For many years he put out a weekly e-mail publication entitled the Agribusiness Examiner, which was widely read. However, Al was not only a prolific writer, critic, and analyst of agriculture, but also on many other topics.
Al was an intellectual, who could more than hold his own in a discussion or debate on nearly any topic of culture, politics, economics or history. At the same time, he recognized the value of everyday folks and he was an unabashed champion of the marginalized, the left out, and downtrodden. Al aspired to nothing more than being party to the creation of a world of social and economic justice, but he lived a personally modest, uncomplicated ... yes, sustainable lifestyle.
The world has lost a tremendous champion and articulate voice for all things good, right and just, I will miss his public voice, and the world will be less for his passing.
Social Concerns Office
Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo.
The Editor notes that Al helped us get The Progressive Populist started in 1995 and he was a charter columnist with our November 1995 inaugural issue. As "The Calamity Howler," Al contributed to nearly every issue of our Journal from the Heartland. He was a generous supporter and a friend. See many of his columns in our archives. We'll have a fuller tribute in our next issue.
LOOK WHO'S TALKING ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS:
William Douglas of McClatchy Newspapers puts Bush's UN speech in context.
UNITED NATIONS — President Bush implored the United Nations on Tuesday to recommit itself to restoring human decency by liberating oppressed people and ending famine and disease.
Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the president called for renewed efforts to enforce the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a striking point of emphasis for a leader who's widely accused of violating human rights in waging war against terrorism.
Bush didn't mention the U.S. prisons in Afghanistan or at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. practice of holding detainees for years without legal charges or access to lawyers, or the CIA's "rendition" kidnappings of suspects abroad, all issues of concern to human rights activists around the world.
"At first read, it's little more than an exercise in hypocrisy. His words about human rights ring hollow because his credibility is nonexistent," said Curt Goering, the deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA. "The gap between the rhetoric and the actual record is stunning. I can't help but believe many people in the audience were thinking, 'What was this man thinking?' "
JUSTICE OFF TRACKS IN ALABAMA: Jill Simpson, a longtime Republican lawyer from North Alabama, is to give a sworn statement Sept. 14 as the US House Judiciary Committee looks into the political corruption of the Bush Justice Department.
Her testimony is expected to reveal that if there is any state in the Union where the Bush White House and Karl Rove have manipulated the justice system of America for political purposes, it is the state of Alabama.
See the story by Glynn Wilson, new from the 10/1/07 issue.
EDWARDS' POPULIST BROADSIDE: John Edwards calls out the corporate Democrats in his speech at Hanover, N.H., "To Build One America, End the Game."
HEALTH CARE REFORM: See our list of resources (and feel free to suggest others).
SERVER PROBLEMS. We've been having some problems with our email service during the past five days. The problem has not been resolved; we have been assured we'll get the backed-up emails eventually, but if you have an urgent message or if you need a quick answer please resend to this address.
LADY BIRD R.I.P. Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson, the better angel of Lyndon Baines Johnson's disposition, died Wednesday afternoon at age 94. Although she was best-known for her advocacy of highway beautification, conservation of natural resources and -- particularly in Texas, the promotion of native wildflowers that color the roadsides every spring, she also was the enabler of LBJ's liberal "Great Society" programs, from the creation of Medicare and Head Start to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.
It was after LBJ signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bill which he knew would alienate white voters throughout the South for a generation, that Lady Bird, as a daughter of the South, volunteered to undertake a "whistle-stop" campaign tour through eight Southern states as her husband sought election to a full term. In the face of death threats, abuse by crowds at campaign stops and snubbing by most Southern Democratic officeholders, the First Lady persevered and, if nothing else, won the begrudging respect of crowds that came to taunt her. See Rick Perlstein's appreciation, "Lady Bird Is Gone."
See the archive of Lady Bird Johnson coverage at KUT-FM in Austin, including the excellent 2001 documentary, Lady Bird Johnson, Legacy of a First Lady.
TAKE BACK AMERICA. If you weren't able to attend the Take Back America conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Campaign for America's Future, check out the website with agenda, including text and videos of selected events and speakers. See C-SPAN for coverage of some of the events.
CORPORATION TAMERS. With the "Taming the Giant Corporation" conference opening today in Washington and running through Sunday, check out an appreciation by correspondent Morton Mintz of the centenary of publication of Sin and Society: An Analysis of Latter-Day Iniquity by Edward Alsworth Ross.
NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS: Due to a press problem at our printing plant, mailing of the newsprint edition of the June 1 issue was delayed for several days. We appreciate your patience.
BUSINESS SENSE, COMMON SENSE AND HEALTH CARE: Morton Mintz writes on corporate America's turn from resisting to embracing national health care.
WAR GAMES UPDATE: First Republicans crowed about their success in shutting down the Senate debate about the escalation of the Iraq war on Feb. 5. Then they complained that they were being blamed for stifling the debate. ... All this fuss, mind you, is over a non-binding resolution, but as far as we're concerned the filibuster votes accomplished the same thing: They put senators on record opposing the "surge" by a margin that is now 56-34 with the vote on Feb. 17)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after the Feb. 17 vote: "Today, a bipartisan majority of the United States Senate voted against the President's flawed plan to escalate the war. The Senate joined the House of Representatives, put itself on the record, and told the President that America needs a new direction in Iraq. As for the Republicans who chose once again to block further debate and protect President Bush, the American people now know they support the escalation.
"Today's vote against the escalation is not the end of this Iraq debate in the Senate. This war is too important to permit Senate Republicans to brush it aside. The Bush Administration's failures have put our troops and America in a deep hole, and it is time for this country and this Congress to climb out. The Republican Leadership can run from this debate, but they can't hide. The Senate will keep fighting to force President Bush to change course."
With the House voting 246-182 on Friday in favor of a resolution denouncing the troop increase, both the House and Senate, in effect, have voted no confidence in the president. These measures won't stop Bush from continuing the surge; he and Cheney have contempt for Congress and the rule of law and it appears that nothing shot of impeachment of the pair of them will do the trick. But that will not happen until Republican voters turn on their senators.
MOLLY IVINS R.I.P: Molly died at her home in Austin Wednesday evening. She was 62 and had battled breast cancer since 1999.
The Texas Observer, the liberal and chronically underfunded muckraking magazine in Austin where she worked in the 1970s and continued to serve on its board, reported:
In Loving Memory of Molly Ivins, 1944-2007
Syndicated political columnist Molly Ivins died of breast cancer Wednesday evening at her home in Austin. She was 62 years old, and had much, much more to give this world.
She remained cheerful despite Texas politics. She emphasized the more hilarious aspects of both state and national government, and consequently never had to write fiction. She said, “Good thing we’ve still got politics—finest form of free entertainment ever invented.”
Molly had a large family, many namesakes, hundreds of close friends, thousands of colleagues and hundreds of thousands of readers.
She and her two siblings, Sara (Ivins) Maley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Andy Ivins of London, Texas, grew up in Houston. Her father, James Ivins, was a corporate lawyer and a Republican, which meant she always had someone to disagree with over the dinner table. Her mother, Margot, was a homemaker with a B.A. in psychology from Smith College.
In addition to her brother and sister, Molly is survived by sister-in-law Carla Ivins, nephew Drew and niece Darby; niece Margot Hutchison and her husband, Neil, and their children Sam, Andy and Charlie of San Diego, Calif. and nephew Paul Maley and his wife, Karianna, and their children Marty, Anneli and Finnbar of Eltham, Victoria, Australia.
Molly followed her mother to Smith and received a B.A. in 1966, followed by an M.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and an honorary doctorate from Haverford College.
Her full list of books and awards will be abbreviated here. In addition to compilations of her brilliant, hilarious liberal columns, she wrote with Lou Dubose Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (Random House 2000) and Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America (Random House 2003). She was working on a Random House book documenting the Bush administration’s assault on the Bill of Rights when she died.
Molly, being practical, used many of her most prestigious awards as trivets while serving exquisite French dishes at her dinner parties. Her awards include the William Allen White Award from the University of Kansas, the Eugene V. Debs award in the field of journalism, many awards for advocacy of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the David Nyhan Prize from the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School at Harvard.
Although short, Molly’s life was writ large. She was as eloquent a speaker and teacher as she was a writer, and her quips will last at least as long as Will Rogers’. She dubbed George W. Bush “Shrub” and Texas Governor Rick Perry “Good Hair.”
Molly always said in her official résumé that the two honors she valued the most were (1) when the Minneapolis Police Department named their mascot pig after her (She was covering the police beat at the time.) and (2) when she was banned from speaking on the Texas A&M University campus at least once during her years as co-editor of The Texas Observer (1970-76). However, she said with great sincerity that she would be proudest of all to die sober, and she did.
She worked as a reporter for The New York Times (1976-82) in New York and Albany and later as Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief covering nine mountain states by herself. After working for the staid Times where she was heavily edited, Molly cut loose and became a columnist for the Dallas Times Herald. When the Herald folded, she signed on as a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In 2001, she became syndicated, eventually appearing in 400 newspapers.
She never lost her love for The Texas Observer or her conviction that a free society relies on public-interest journalism. She found that brand of journalism the most fun.
In recent years she shamelessly used her national and international contacts to raise funds for the Observer, which has always survived on a shoestring. More than $400,000 was contributed to the feisty little journal at a roast honoring Molly in Austin October 8.
Molly’s enduring message is, “Raise more hell.”
To Our Readers and Friends
Molly Ivins left her editor's chair at The Texas Observer more than 30 years ago and went on to play a larger stage. But she never left us behind. She remained convinced that Texas needed a progressive, independent voice to call the powerful to account and to stand up for the common folk. She kept our voice alive. More than once, when the paper was on the brink of insolvency, she delivered speeches and gave us the honorariums. She donated royalties from her best-selling book Shrub to keep the doors open. Her determination and efforts sustained the Observer as a magazine, as a family, and as a community.
Molly was a hero. She was a mentor. She was a liberal. She was a patriot. She was a friend. And she always will be. With Molly's death we have lost someone we hold dear. What she has left behind we will hold dearer still.
Despite her failing health, and an impending ice storm, Molly insisted on being driven to the Observer’s most recent public event in early January so she could thank our supporters.
Observer writers are useful, she explained to the crowd, in much the same way as good hunting dogs. Turn them loose, let them hunt. When they return with their prey, pat them on the head, say a few words of praise, and set them loose to hunt again.
For the time being, The Texas Observer's web site will be dedicated to remembering Molly, her work, her wit, her contributions to the political discourse of a nation. We invite readers to submit their own thoughts and recollections, to say a few words of praise.
Then, we will return to the hunt.
The Observer's website might be swamped, but check it out for the reminiscences and condolences.
Tax-deductible contributions in her honor may be made to The Texas Observer, 307 West Seventh Street, Austin, TX 78701 or the American Civil Liberties Union, 127 Broad Street, 18th floor, New York, NY 10004.
MOLLY IVINS HOSPITALIZED: As you may have heard, Molly is in an Austin hospital in her recurring battle with cancer, which she is still fighting after three rounds of chemotherapy. "I think she's as tough as a metal boot," her brother, Andy Ivins, told the Houston Chronicle after visiting her Friday, but he said the cancer has spread throughout her body. Some have asked us where they could send flowers or something to cheer her up. We are pretty sure she would rather have well-wishers donate to the Texas Observer. Otherwise, our prayers are with her.
STATE OF THE UNION FACT CHECK. As usual, W told some "stretchers." See ThinkProgress for the analysis.
BILL MOYERS SPEECH on Jan. 12 to the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis. Well worth reading. See other information on the conference, including texts of other speakers and video highlights.