Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Medicare

The Medicare prescription drug law is completely confusing. It’s not the best that we can do for millions of our senior citizens, who struggle with poverty every day. The program was made for the Republican special interests and much of it was written by pharmaceutical industry lobbyists. Instead of looking out for the people who need help the most, the Republicans have again sided with powerful special interests.

A culture of corruption pervades this Republican Congress and the White House because they put special interests before the American people. The drug and HMO industries spent $141 million on lobbying in 2003. Political contributions from the drug industry to Republicans in 2002 was $21.7 million. At the time it was estimated that it would increase the drug industry profits by $182 billion. in 2005 there were 1,274 pharmaceutical industry lobbyists working on Capitol Hill. This one group alone has spent more than $758 million on lobbying since 1998.

When Bush was attempting to persuade Congress to enact the Medicare prescription drug benefit, many in Congress raised concerns about the cost and design of the program.  Rather than engage in open debate on the basis of factual data, the Bush regime withheld facts and prevented Congress from hearing testimony from the principal administration expert, who had compiled information showing the true cost estimates, which were far higher than the numbers given to Congress, by the President.

Seniors don’t realize that they are locked into an HMO plan for a year, but the providers can raise their rates at any time. Reimportation of drugs from Canada, which experts have said are safe, have been kept illegal to ensure pharmaceutical industry profits. Medicare is barred from bargaining for lower prices like the Veterans Administration does for veterans.

Democrats are suggesting three important solutions.
1. Extend enrollment by six months to allow America's seniors to make sense of the confusing options before they have to select the option that works best for them.
2. Allow reimportation of safe FDA approved drugs from Canada, which should bring down the costs of drugs in this country.
3. Allow Medicare to bargain for lower prices on behalf of all Americans.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Balance of Power

Al Gore believes; it was not necessary for Bush to break the law to protect Americans from terrorism. Faithfulness to the rule of law strengthens our democracy, and ensures that those who govern us operate within our constitutional structure of checks and balances. The informed consent of the governed requires transparency, which insures that executive branch not operate in secret without constraint.

The more powerful the executive branch becomes, the more difficult it is for the judicial and legislative branches to perform their constitutional roles. When, the executive branch goes beyond its constitutionally prescribed role, it’s able to control access to information that would expose its actions. It becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches of government to police it, and once a healthy balance of power is lost, democracy itself is threatened. When the executive branch is unchecked, we become a government of men and not laws.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not authorize what the National Security Agency to has been doing, and no one inside or outside the Administration claims that it does.  Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.   

Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted, so he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. Attorney General Gonzales concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute.  Gonzalez says that they were told this probably would not be possible.  Now the Bush regime argues that the authorization for the use of military force implicitly authorized it all along.

A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General Gonzales to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what is a serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice.  Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

Bill of Rights

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Bush has twice taken this oath of office, but seems indifferent to the clear, precise language of the document.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights established a system of checks and balances for separate, but equal branches of government because it did not want the executive branch to have an excessive amount of power. Our founding fathers wished to control their own destiny and create a government of the people and for the people. To avoid misunderstandings they made it easy to understand, without ambiguity, and it states precisely what is constitutional.

The fourth amendment affirms: "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." This president has violated his oath of office by not using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. More importantly, Bush has proclaimed checks and balances don’t apply because he is above the law.

Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr said,  “The President has dared the American people to do something about it.  For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will.”

The fifth amendments states: “no person shall be held for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury and without due process of law.” The sixth amendment asserts: “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” In violation of the fifth and sixth amendments, Jose Padilla was held in a Navy brig for 3 1/2 years as an “enemy combatant” before being sent to civilian authorities. The original accusations have been dropped.

Whistleblower

Benjamin Franklin wrote: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety.”

Russ Tice, former National Security Agency officer was one of a dozen sources for “The New York Times” story on NSA’s eavesdropping program. Tice reported a crime, which the president didn’t want the American people to know about. The crime was that Bush violated his oath of office by failing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. By not using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Bush conducted himself as if he is above the law and that the Constitution’s checks and balances don’t apply to him.

Bush claims that Tice’s actions are shameful.  In 2004, Bush reassured the nation: “Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires a court order. Nothing has changed. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.” Humbug! Bush’s actions are shameful because he had personally approved domestic spying without involving the surveillance court in 2002.

Tice feels his action are not shameful because he reported a crime, and he’s not worried about the leak investigation, because he hasn’t revealed any classified material. It may not be true that eavesdropping program is limited to people with contacts that are considered dangerous to us. Tice wonders; why wasn’t the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court used? 

Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr said,  “The President has dared the American people to do something about it.  For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will.”

After shutting down the domestic spying investigation Senate Republicans caved in to political pressure from the White House by proposing a compromise bill, which they claim will provide "very rigorous oversight" of Bush's no-warrant domestic surveillance program. The bill would allow Bush to authorize wiretapping for up to 45 days without seeking a warrant. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has been in place to accommodate emergency eavesdropping, but it was too much of a hassle for this arrogant regime.

Bush committed a crime and broke the law, but this Republican controlled Congress responded by creating a new law without holding anyone responsible. Again, we are expected trust that Bush will not violate the new law.

Russ Tice lost his job, because National Security Agency officers don’t have whistleblower protection. Congress would be considering a whistleblower protection law, if they weren’t Bush’s bootlicks.