Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

John Edwards' 2008 Candidacy Ends-- His Ideas and Beliefs Do Not

John Edwards campaign for the Democratic Party's nomination for president ended today, January 30, 2008. The following are some of the remarks he made on this occasion.

I began my presidential campaign in New Orleans to remind the country that all of us -- as citizens and as a government -- have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters.

Now, it's time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path. We do not know who will take the final steps to the White House -- but what we do know is that our Democratic Party will make history.

And, along the way, all of you who have been involved in this campaign and this movement for change and this cause, I am asking you to continue speaking out for those who have no voice, just as Elizabeth and I will continue to do. We need you.

Do not turn away from the great struggles before us.

We came here to the Lower Ninth Ward to rebuild. And we're going to rebuild today and work today, and we will continue to come back. We will never forget the heartache and we'll always be here to bring them hope, so that someday, one day, the trumpets will sound in Musicians' Village, where we are today, play loud across Lake Ponchartrain, so that working people can come marching in and those steps once again can lead to a family living out the dream in America.

We sat with poultry workers in Mississippi, janitors in Florida, nurses in California.

We listened as child after child told us about their worry about whether we would preserve the planet.

We listened to worker after worker say "the economy is tearing my family apart."

We walked the streets of Cleveland, where house after house was in foreclosure.

And we said, "We're better than this. And economic justice in America is our cause."

And we do this -- we do this for each other in America. We don't turn away from a neighbor in their time of need. Because every one of us knows that what -- but for the grace of God, there goes us. The American people have never stopped doing this, even when their government walked away, and walked away it has from hardworking people, and, yes, from the poor, those who live in poverty in this country.

For decades, we stopped focusing on those struggles. They didn't register in political polls, they didn't get us votes and so we stopped talking about it. I don't know how it started. I don't know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they couldn't afford to pay for heat.

We know that our brothers and sisters have been bullied into believing that they can't organize and can't put a union in the workplace. Well, in this campaign, we didn't turn our heads. We looked them square in the eye and we said, "We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. And we will never forget you." And I have a feeling that if the leaders of our great Democratic Party continue to hear the voices of working people, a proud progressive will occupy the White House.

Now, I've spoken to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They have both pledged to me and more importantly through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency. . . .

Thank you John Edwards for your passion. Thank you for your ideas. Thank you for your integrity.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

John Edwards in 2008 -- 5

Working Class Issues

"It's no accident that the economy is working well for Wall Street. Our economy is designed to benefit the wealthy and the powerful because it was designed by the wealthy and the powerful. Last year, the securities and investment industry spent $61 million on lobbying. Since 1996, the number of Washington lobbyists has tripled to 36,000 – that's 60 lobbyists for every member of Congress.”
-- John Edwards [go here for program in full]

"I got my butt kicked is what happened in Nevada," he [Edwards] said on CNN's "Late Edition." "The job for me now…is when you get knocked down, you've got to get up. You've got to get up and start fighting again."

I'm not sure who really got kicked in the butt in the hiccup caucuses of Nevada.

Just as it was rare until quite recently to find Hill and Bar on a picket line or in a union hall, it is very difficult to sort out Clinton and Obama's deep down feelings about the place of unions in the nation’s economy today. No need to argue experience v. inexperience here.

Not so John Edwards. Here’s Edwards’ bottom line position on labor and unions:

*[Edwards also] supports banning the permanent replacement of strikers so unions can negotiate fairly.”

Ask Clinton and Obama about this specific point and be prepared for a waltz around the Big Table they both like to hide beneath. Bar in particular would have a hard time with it given his new found role model, Ronald Reagan. Some people do remember Ronnie-boy's breaking of the Air Controllers strike with scabs galore. We are all still paying for that one.

And here’s a portion of Clinton’s thinking straight out of her “Labor” plank!

“I also pushed to include provisions to create more opportunities for entrepreneurs. In New York we have a tremendous amount of skilled individuals who could start businesses and create jobs if given the technical assistance and capital.”

Yeah, that really sounds like pound the bricks support for a strong labor movement in this country. Solidarity forever with . . . the Democratic Leadership Council?!?

Anyone who thinks she or he is voting pro-working class this election season, should not forget John Edwards’ roots. They go deep into labor soil–working class origins, factory worker father, public school education, lawyering for the weak against the powerful, long demonstrated personal public support for unions. No other candidate can match this background and record.

When John Edwards runs against the corporate Republican candidate and Karl Rove puts out what he hopes will be an effective “class war” smear, he will not be far off.

But it won’t be about “class war,” it will be about class justice and class balance that Edwards will be fighting for. Something we haven’t had in this country for nearly forty years.

Three states have voted in the Democratic primaries. There's still time to kick the butts that need kicking.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

John Edwards in 2008 -- 4

Health Care

"We have to stop using words like 'access to health care' when we know with certainty those words mean something less than universal care. Who are you willing to leave behind without the care he needs? Which family? Which child? We need a truly universal solution, and we need it now."
John Edwards [go here for program in full]


What was the name of that book that thrashed the press for failing to do its job in the run up to the disastrous Iraq War? Oh yeah, it was Now They Tell Us .It remains to be seen if the media will ever find the candidacy of John Edwards on the simplistic two rail track, Hillary v. Barak, story line they run endlessly by the voters. This is a track to nowhere as far as issues and programs are concerned. But Edwards' views are getting out. Maybe this video will shame and snap a few journalists out of their Obama/Clinton trance.

See the "What About John? video. Go here for video.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Torture Talk . . and the Real Torture of War

This stares me in the face last Saturday:

Torture terrorists to protect our own [full letter in Terre Haute Tribune Star is here]

"Let us put it this way. If Mr. Daily was on patrol with four fellow soldiers and they were ambushed by a terrorist cell and one of his comrades was captured, as well as one of the terrorists, would he be willing to accept “waterboarding” to find out where the remaining terrorist had taken our soldier?

"Remember, we [they?] use this on our own soldiers in training and unlike us, the terrorists will likely torture and kill Mr. Daily’s captured comrade on video for all the world to see. Regardless of the outcome, I believe this “torture” is not only acceptable, but moral."

Here's my attempt to not convert Mr. Sherrill to morality, reason and practicality, but just get him off my back. [Sherrill is responding to my letter here.]

Gary Daily here, all safe and sound, but who should I thank? Michael C. Sherrill’s hypothetical puts me out on patrol and gets me ambushed by “Islamo-Fascists.” Thanks, Mike. My hypothetical is this: If Sherrill was part of my patrol and managed to capture an “Islamo-Fascist” would he torture this deluded soul in order get more news and grief from Daily? There’s a tough call.

First, full disclosure: My military career was limited to slogging up and down the red clay hills of Ft. Leonard Wood, Misery. This training fully prepared me to defend the state of Connecticut. Which, I might modestly add, I did with great success.

During my time in the service, not one Commie Ruskie cell managed to ambush any late night bar patrol I was part of. Had they done so, carrying off a slow, stumbling comrade of mine, what would I have done had I gotten my hands around an Atheistic-Commies neck? These guys didn’t have video cameras or put their crimes around the world on the internet, but they did have H-Bombs pointing at America’s heart. Should I torture the hell out of my Atheistic-Commie captive? I don’t think so.

And I came up with this all on my own. No drill Sergeant during my basic training ever got up in my face and presented the above scenario to me, finishing with veins popping in his neck and a clenched jaw, screaming at me: “Private Daily, what would George Washington do in this hypothetical situation?” But even though my training didn’t cover this important potentiality, I still feel that something American inside of me would have been saying: You’re a soldier. You represent the best that is the United States. You do not torture prisoners.

Second, and far more important than the above. The men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are heroes. Each and every one. I love and trust them to remain heroes in spite of the horrors they are being required to endure because of a false and failed foreign policy. Right now, even after all we know, too many arm chair, Rambo types, insist on playing a loud and phoney game of chess with the lives of these brave and courageous men and women. The rest of us, the majority, are far too quiet, too timid as this goes on, on to nowhere.

We should be demanding that our heroes come home safe, come home now. It’s past time to really support the troops.

And unless I hear something really new on this subject, I will have to be physically tortured to comment on torture again. There was never a case to be made for torture. Why poke at it with emotional sticks and horrible hypotheticals. It deserves to be left to the historians of the inquistion and the Bush administration.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

John Edwards in 2008 -- 3

An Agenda For American Women

Building One America means ensuring that women can make choices in their lives with dignity and can participate in our society fully, as equals. The reality of women's lives today is still something far less. They are expected to do more, and they receive less. That's not right." -- John Edwards [go here for program in full]


The secret that isn’t a secret to anyone paying attention is out. The press has done a miserable job of covering the John Edwards campaign.

This poor job isn't limited to the lack of coverage, a fault which is easily verifiable by doing simple searches and counts.

[You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to note how, from FOX’s “fair and balanced” clap-trap to the august New York Times, the media have shut out and/or mindlessly diminished the John Edwards message. The day after the Iowa primaries, I searched the Time's coverage of the top three Democratic finishers. (You remember that primary, the media resources devoted to it even outmatched Britney coverage for the week. Edwards finished 2d in an eight candidate race.) Here’s the tally: 32 Obama references, 31 Clinton, and 19 Edwards. A closer analysis shows the Obama and Clinton references to often be parts of substantial stories, Edwards' are brief mentions, usually in a context having little to do with his voter appeal, ideas or campaign strategy or prospects.]
More importantly, throughout the campaign and up until today, Edwards’ programs (easily available and detailed on his web site [go here] and forthrightly presented on the campaign trail), when covered, end up being summarily dismissed under the meaningless umbrella term “populist.”

“Populist”? How helpful is that? -- Are we talking William Jennings Bryan or Tom Watson populist, George Wallace or Ross Perot populist? Or are we to assume that anyone not easily classified within the narrow confines of conventional, moneyed interest politics is, well, a populist? I can’t believe journalists and editors miss the problems with this label, the glaring contradictions following from its too easy application. Currently, this hardening of the analytical arteries of the press and pundits leads to, Ye Gads, Mike Huckabee, “Populist”; John Edwards, “Populist”!

Failure to dig into what Edwards stands for and proposes to do if elected leaves voters who do not have the privilege of hearing Edwards on the crimes and issues of Big Pharma/ Oil/ Insurance, fair taxation, poverty, and his candid discussion of his Iraq mistake-contrition-expiation, are left thinking John Edwards is about haircuts, a huge house and a lucrative career in court rooms.

So the press has sadly failed the electorate. The media’s lazy approach to the campaign is to create a “narrative” in their minds as to what and who the election is about. For reasons of drama, entertainment value, the Democratic party narrative is Clinton vs. Obama. Edwards, despite his second place finish in Iowa, is still shoved into a cul de sac labled “populist,” not part of the controlling narrative that controls the journalists and the stories they deliver. This is stale stuff. This is canned prediction masquerading as discovery and insight. And this is the dirty little secret of journalistic incompetence that may finally be emerging into the light of a political morning. Though probably too late for Edwards.

If Edwards finishes third in N. H. today, look for more of the same from the press, however many votes he receives. Should he finish second, there may be some nervous shuffling of feet and quizzical probes by the previously dormant fourth estate covering Edwards. Only a surprise win by Edwards against the tremendous obstacles set up by the media would finally turn the ocean liner of conventional wisdom and conventional “narratives” around.

John Edwards is vowing to stay in the race “all the way to the White House.” Right now I’d be elated if he just stays in until the press fully covers his needed and iconoclastic programs. Persistence prevailing over paralysis. When the well-kept secret of the timbre of the “Change For Us For a Change” Edwards is fomenting gets out to the voting public, the Obama and Clinton campaigns will be forced to move, as they have already, even closer to Edwards’ positions.

Such moves should (but won’t) embarrass the press. But it will be good for the candidates, turn the Democratic Party democratic, and finally prove that political campaigns can be more than attack ads and sound bites. The story the press is beating to death has been running in the same grooves far too long.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Torture Is NOT the American Way

Here’s part of letter published in the Terre Haute Tribune Star, Dec. 31, 2007.

Get off the high horse on torture

Professor Thomas Steiger’s essay (Sunday, Dec. 23, Page D2) on torture was a ludicrous attempt to equilibrate the actions of our enemies in the Islamic world and our military’s use of “waterboarding” a known terrorist. It would have been humorous were it not so damaging.

It is written to weaken resolve and equalize a truly barbaric enemy who acts to create fear and horror with the necessary methods for gathering information to prevent those horrors. . . .

Is it something to be proud of? No, but climbing on a high horse and spouting manure about the “American way” while denigrating those protecting us is shameful. Professor Steiger displays a contemptible willingness to correlate our intelligence/military’s justifiable actions with the abominations the “enemy” is perpetrating. He also displays an immense void where knowledge of our history is concerned and whether that is intentional and thereby sinful or from a true lack of that knowledge, I fear for those learning from him either way.

Oh, and by the way, I do dare, and yes I believe, you are a “liberal, idealist wimp” as you suggested.

Here’s my response.

Reader's Forum: Jan. 6, 2008

Founders rejected practicing torture

Thomas Steiger (”Torture in any form is not the American way”, Dec. 22, 2007) illuminates the practice of torture by agents of our government, pointedly and correctly asking: “Where is the outrage?”

Because Michael C. Sherrill (”Get off the high horse on torture,” Dec. 31, 2007) is so quick to name-call and ridicule Steiger’s grasp of history as “dense,” here’s a short lesson for him about how a “truly barbaric enemy” was dealt with at the very beginning of our nation’s history.

The “truly barbaric enemy” of the War of Independence turns out to be the British. One example, at the battle of Drake’s Farm in New Jersey, February 1777, American troops attempted to surrender. They were left on the field, murdered. A Revolutionary War vet reported on the aftermath: “[the British] dashed out their brains with their muskets and ran them through with their bayonets, made them like sieves.”

The Brits, mighty imperial power that they were at the time, sniffed at any outrage expressed over their conduct. However, the good guys, the barely established, hanging-by-our-fingernails Americans, led by directives from Gen. George Washington, took an entirely different course throughout the war. To our everlasting credit and glory, our just-born nation followed what historian David Hackett Fischer calls “The Policy of Humanity.”

Early in the war, after the battle of Princeton, Washington issued this order on the treatment of prisoners: “Treat them with humanity, and Let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British army in their Treatment of our unfortunate brethren.”

Perhaps John Adams best expressed our stance and faith in those perilous times: “… the cruel Murders in cold blood … harrow me beyond Description.” Nevertheless, Adams stood by the policy of humanity stating: “— Piety, Humanity and Honesty are the best Policy. Blasphemy, Cruelty and Villainy have prevailed and may again. But they won’t prevail against America, in this contest, because I find the more of them are employed, the less they succeed.”

This from Washington and Adams, or as Sherrill might have it, just two more “liberal, idealist wimps.”

Friday, January 04, 2008

John Edwards in 2008 -- 2

A National Goal: End Poverty Within 30 Years

"Restoring our moral authority means leading by example and making clear that the hard challenges don't frighten us. There is no better opportunity than the challenge of poverty – the great moral issue of our time."

-- John Edwards [go here for program in full]

New York Times, January 4, 2008
The Odds of Becoming President
By David Leonhardt
How much did the Iowa results change the odds in the 2008 campaign? A lot. But not completely.

Barack Obama is still an underdog to win the Democratic nomination, and Mike Huckabee remains a downright long shot, according to the traders at Intrade, an online market where contracts tied to the results of the campaign are bought and sold.

On Friday morning, Hillary Clinton was still given roughly a 52 percent chance of becoming the Democratic nominee. Barack Obama’s odds stood at about 44 percent.
(Here’s how Intrade works: A contract that would pay $10 if Mr. Obama won the nomination was trading for abou $4.40 on Friday morning. That suggests traders collectively thought he had about a 44 per cent chance.)

But if Mrs. Clinton remains the favorite, she is a much weaker one. Heading into caucus day in Iowa, Mr. Obama’s odds were only 25 percent, and back in October they had fallen below 15 percent. A few days ago, Mrs. Clinton’s odds were at roughly 70 percent.

John Edwards was at 3 percent on Friday morning, down from 6 percent before the caucus. . . .


Why would a wannabe Fat Cats "market" have any meaning or significance for Democrats in search of real change? Isn't the market driven ideology, to the exclusion of the human and the suffering in this country, the mechanism which needs to be reined in, regulated? And given this as an avowed goal of John Edwards, is it surprising that his "stock" with the phantom Army of Armani is a negligible 3%? These are the guys who gave us the S & L debacle, the bubble and the sub-prime loan mess that is crushing the sultans of hedge funds along with small home owners. Why should what passes for rational decisions among these wheeler dealers in their game board market be considered anything more than a diversion from what the election should be about?

By the time November rolls around, the story behind Intrades careful bets will change dramatically. Then, with the writing on the wall showing the U.S. economy tanking big time, even the mavens of the not-really-free market will be whipping about looking for an FDR look alike to save capitalism and their personal version of the free enterprise system again.

In this, _Fortune Magazine_ has already hedged their bets by spreading transition to the political center ink in a favorable surge (sic) toward H. Clinton. Someone they can work with, someone more like (surprise!) Bill and Rubin, I assume. Watch for Obama to get the same treatment from the moneyed right. And a deadlocked Democratic convention will mean the return of Gore. Money will accept someone who is green, if they can protect the machinery that very selectively spits out the green stuff that matters to them.

John Edwards, however, will always remain a traitor to those in his new found economic class level. Making your fortune fighting, and beating, the Big Boys is not an endearing trait with these types. Owning a McMansion doesn’t make you a part of the club.

For all their supposed heavy duty, super computer, rational to the max analyses, Players of the played insist on people knowing which side their bread is buttered on. And, more importantly, they insist and defend the belief that the butter is always safely part of their own very private stock. Edwards' populism threatens to break into their luxurious private pantry and dibby out the butter to those who have been satisfied in the past with nothing more than left-over crusts.

So as long as Edwards’ “stock” remains in the single digits with these false slice and dice traders in America’s dreams, you can be certain he’s continuing to send the right message. It seems to be reaching the people who are without health insurance, those regularly finding a meal in a soup kitchen so they can afford to pay for their prescriptions, people shivering at the gas pump, putting $5 bucks worth in their always empty tanks, and the crowds who enjoy the wonders of the free market by holding garage and lawn sales out of desperation.

Of course, the main stream media are more interested in their self-manufactured Woman vs. the Bright Young Af Am man election drama. No wonder their ratings and circulation stock are so low with the economic underclass.