Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is blogging today from Gaza over on Rep. Steve Harrelson's blog.
Somebody asked about this junket. I have questions in for the full details. Will add here on receipt.
UPDATE: McDaniel details the trip on the jump.
It's related to my Aspen Rodel Fellowship. There are about 20 elected officials from all over the country on this trip. The Aspen Institute is world renowned, and the trip is paid for by the Institute. I will report the value when that information is provided. Its funding is completely philanthropic -- no corporate, lobbyist or taxpayer dollars of any kind are involved.
For our regular meetings we have thick reading materials on the history of democracy and leadership philosophy. We have professors from Harvard and Princeton lead discussions in full day classes on what lessons can be gleaned and applied to our positions and duties today.
Each fellowship involves two foreign trips. The first is to the Middle East and the second is to China and india. We are meeting 14-17 hours per day with party, military, foreign affairs and other officials in Egypt and Israel. We just met for an hour with the Governor of the Bank of Israel. He was hand chosen by Netanyahu to be Fed Chairman Bernanke's counterpart.
We have met with ministers and opposition leaders to discuss issues ranging from Egypt's support for genocide in Darfur to the viability of a two-state solution for Israel and the West Bank.
We will meet the nation's chief archaeologist at 10:30 tonight to tour the tunnels beneath the Western Wall. We started at 7:00 this morning to go to Gaza.
Former Oklahoma Congressman Mickey Edwards (Author of "Reclaiming Conservatism" and other books, Princeton faculty member and friend of David Pryor) is the Executive Director of our Fellowship program. Mickey is speaking at the Clinton school later this month, but is available by e-mail now if you would like to get a comment from him about the value of this bipartisan program for both officials and their constituents.
I have found the experience to be exhausting (rarely more than 4 hours of sleep per night), but wonderful.
I am the first Arkansas nominated to be an Aspen-Rodel Fellow, and I am honored to be among such outstanding leaders from around the country. I am trying to represent Arkansas honorably and to pass on the opportunity. RNC Chairman Michael Steele was a Rodel Fellow when he was Lieut. Gov. of Maryland. I have nominated for the newest class the democratic Attorneys General of Maryland and Kentucky and Arkansas State Senator Robert Thompson. They will all be better people and better public servants for the experience.
I hope this helps. I'll be back on Sunday.
PS-the US Ambassador to Egypt is Ms. Margaret Scobey. We had a very productive meeting with her on Monday. Interestingly, she grew up in Memphis. Her family roots are in Greene County, Arkansas! I love to see it when children of the Delta do good!