As Alice Bonner explained so eloquently at The Root, I was looking forward to voting for John Edwards. The reason, in a one word: class.The manifestations and disparities of class give rise, Hydralike, to aspects of American society as varied as race, health care, education, taxation, housing, even environmental issues. The reality of class, the prevalence of poverty, is something that few in this country care to contemplate. Poverty is decidedly unglamorous, after all, so much so that people avoid even acknowledging it, as if doing so meant risking contamination. It is, for many, evidence of moral failing - thus the emphasis in some quarters on helping the "deserving" poor. In a culture where the virtues of wealth, attainment, and upward striving are extolled from cradle to grave, the notion of two disparate Americas separated by wealth is, well, a political clunker. To say nothing of being - in the age of The Apprentice, Paris Hilton, ad nauseum - a real media downer.
A presidential candidate with the courage to push class front and center, given the culture's hostility to the concept, was an easy pick for me.
Of course, Edwards' campaign was doomed from the start for that very reasons. Other circumstances (like being a plain old white-guy-running who lacks the compelling historical/rockstar interest of a Clinton or Obama) seem incidental in comparison. The sad fact is that forty-four years after the declaration of the War on Poverty - and incredibly, two years after Hurricane Katrina - this society simply isn't ready for the core message Edwards brought in his two White House campaigns: that policy, not charity, is the path to helping the poor.
Edwards' chief role in the 2008 presidential race had been that of progressive conscience/gadfly to the two frontrunners. His presence in the race served to prompt Clinton and Obama into making, at the very least, supportive noises on poverty issues. As it turned out, that was the best Edwards could hope for - and that alone would have justified voting for him. What interests me, though, is what happens now that the lights have gone dark and Edwards has retired his campaign.
You may have noted the recent LA Times piece on how news organizations scramble for notice by über-gossipmeister Matt Drudge.
Today, July 27th, marks what should have been a joyous celebration, perhaps including a party filled with family and friends. Today would have been LaVena Lynn JohnsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 22nd birthday.
The month of July also marks another solemn milestone.
Two years ago this month the body of PFC Johnson was returned to her family and laid to rest, but there can be no rest for her her family and friends. The military continues to claim that LaVena took her own life while serving in Iraq, despite several indications to the contrary.
Two dead women, half a country apart. One of them dying in a failing hospital in Los Angeles, the other while being held in a St. Louis jail. Both of them failed by systems and authorities charged with watching over them. The Los Angeles case is making national news, while the St. Louis matter remains a local story...for the moment.
In Los Angeles:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of George Bush's celebrated new best buddies on the world scene, is now finding out what Tony Blair took years to learn: Partnership with Bush is a one-way street.
What do you say to the war dead on Memorial Day?
You tell them, perhaps, that you are sorry you never got the chance to know them. Who they were, what they loved and feared, what they hoped for. That opportunity is gone, replaced by mute stone and silent earth.
You tell them that you honor the choice they made in serving, even though that sacrifice goes unhonored by an army unwilling to answer families who want only to know how their loved ones died so far from home.
You vow to keep the unfulfilled promise of the dead in your heart. What they would have valued. What they might have accomplished. Who they would have been, if only.
On Memorial Day, you tell the war dead - you swear to them - that you will not forget.
A change in the way the people of St. Louis get their news may be on the horizon, as Chad Garrison relates in the May 9 issue of the Riverfront Times:
Diane Farsetta, senior researcher for the Center for Media and Democracy, examines the subtexts of the April 24 House Oversight Committee hearing. In today's CMD Report titled "War vs. Democracy: Untold Stories from the Lynch / Tillman Hearing," Farsetta looks beyond the cases of Cpl. Pat Tillman and Pfc. Jessica Lynch to explore the rights and responsibilities of citizens during wartime when faced with military misinformation, embellishment, and deception.
The concept of a drop-off facility for unwanted infants may be new to Japan, but not elsewhere. "Baby-Klappe" hatches at hospitals are being pushed in ad campaigns in Germany in response to several documented infanticides. Here in the US, the emphasis has been on more general safe haven legislation, sparked in large part by a query made in 1998 by WPMI reporter Jodi Brooks to county District Attorney John M. Tyson, Jr. in Mobile, Alabama. A Stateline.org article by John Nagy relates this exchange between the two following the trial of a mother and daughter convicted of drowning the daughter's unwanted infant son: