Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Collateral benefits of a people’s candidate

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I don’t know about you, but to me the election coverage seems more like a highly sophisticated episode of Jerry Springer by the day. After wading through the bitter debate over the insignificant phrases of candidates for over an hour, I was simply looking for anything else to read. End Politics as Usual talked about something I saw on the Colbert Report the other day called DonorsChoose.org. This website allows teachers to post the needs of their classroom and the specifics of the project the supplies will be used for, and donors can pick and fund the projects. It’s a great example of how the internet and technology can benefit public education.

Stephen Colbert posed the challenge to his Nation to donate in the name of whichever Democrat they prefer. I guess John McCain is just left out of this contest, but it’s still interesting to see the results. At the time of this posting, these are the totals:

Colbert will have Michelle Obama as his guest on the Colbert Report tonight, April 15, 2008. Hillary Clinton will be his guest on Thursday, April 17th. It should be an exciting week for his show and the Democrats. I sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction with Michelle Obama as if she might end up saying something seeped in a culture many Americans don’t understand. It’s really the same with Cindy McCain, who is constantly showing just how much of a princess she’s been all her life. As far as spouses go, Michelle Obama has overcome more in her life. The role of the First Lady is often to facilitate humanitarian and charitable work, which makes me wonder about each of the three spouses. Bill Clinton’s involvement in Kiva has been of particular interest to me.

It’s got to be near impossible to be a terrible First Lady (or First Husband), but this season I give the edge to former President Clinton, who has been there through it all, helped the economy, and works for some great humanitarian groups. The beauty of Kiva is that they don’t donate, they facilitate microcredit loans. It’s the same idea as that “give a man a fish / teach a man to fish” quote. This is a great PBS film detailing the history and effectiveness of microfinance. The pioneer of this concept, Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on this project. Here’s what the Norwegian Nobel Committee said about him:

Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty.

Just a few thoughts about the positive things these people are doing every day, when not getting attacked for their word choice.


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