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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A New President

Congress has made it clear that the Iraq War undermined our efforts to deal with al Qaeda and given the Taliban an unnecessary advantage in Afghanistan. Presently, there is no limitations on Bush’s authority because of his veto power, which is usually supported by nearly every House and Senate Republican.

Nevertheless, Congress has begun to fulfill its responsibility as a coequal branch of government. Any status of forces agreements negotiated between the US and Iraq’s government, dealing with the defense of Iraq have no legal effect unless the agreement is a treaty that the Senate has given its advice and consent or is specifically authorized by an Act of Congress.

The House of Representatives has barred contracting out governmental functions in combat areas. It approved policies that have set accountability requirements for military contractors and their employees. Private contractors and their employees are barred from interrogating prisoners and legislation has been approved, that requires videotaping and electronic recording during detainee interrogations that the Defense Department controls.

The Department of Defense is barred from using funds authorized by legislation for propaganda. The enforcement mechanism calls for oversight by the Department of Defense Inspector General and the General Accounting Office.

The House adopted a host of health amendments that protect the women and men serving in our armed forces. These benefits continue after discharge and include addressing the disturbing number of Iraq war related suicides.

Senate Armed Services Committee legislation has called for changes in three broad areas: (a) providing our armed services with resources, training and technology so that combat and stabilizing operations can succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan; (b) recognizing that the readiness of the military to perform necessary missions to prevent and protect has been seriously neglected; (c) transforming leadership in our Defense Department to deal with threats to our security in the 21st century.

The House and Senate have laid the basis for polices that should lead to greater cooperation between the Department of Defense, Congress and a new President. These policies will work only if the new President is committed to a new direction, based on an orderly withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, which enables us to meet our responsibilities to the Iraqi people and that country’s rebuilding efforts.
 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

War Whoops

As previously noted, the Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter from Joseph L. Barrett on 7/11/08.

“I see that more than 1,200 brave Americans re-enlisted in Iraq on the Fourth of July. Now I wonder what John Kerry and that silly little group of actors in the Delhi Town Square would say?

“I believe that it would go something like this: ‘Oh boo-hoo-hoo, those poor ignorant knuckle-dragging, misguided savages. Don’t they realize that if we could just beg forgiveness from bin Laden and admit that 9/11 was all our fault for flaunting our freedoms in the faces of those Allah-fearing, oppressors of women, all the badness would just go away and the mean people will leave us alone?’

“I say thank God for those brave young people in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are made of many races and religions but in those uniforms they are Americans all. World War II may have produced the finest generation, but to me today’s military is a close second. To you I say may God watch over you and I thank you for protecting my country and family (yeah and even the families of protesting wienies). Semper Fi and Hooah!”

Yesterday, the Oneonta Daily Star published a response from John C. Ryan, who with his wife Kate started the Peace Vigils in 2002, long before the invasion of Iraq. John's letter to the editor speaks for many, who have attended these vigils for nearly six years.

“When I first read the letter of Joseph Barrett on July 11, I became angry, but that feeling quickly turned into sadness at his ignorance. Those ‘actors’ and ‘wienies’ that stand at the Delhi Village Square consist of, among others, a Vietnam veteran and two Korean veterans, one a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps (I say this only for Mr. Barrett’s information, not because anyone needs to be a veteran to protest against folly). We started our protest in October 2002 because we saw that an Iraq war was being promoted among the American people through lies and deceit at the highest levels of government, a suspicion that is now a proven fact.

“We, too, care about our men and women in uniform and protest their being sent to Iraq to be bloodied and maimed, not to protect America but to serve the interests of money and power. Their courage and loyalty deserve much better than that.

“We protest also because we care about this country and feel that it’s our patriotic duty to do so when we see its people deceived, its wealth squandered, its armed forces abused, and its principles perverted to serve the interests of selfish and self-seeking men.

“Not all will agree with us, but we do hope that they will have the awareness and understanding to see that we are people like them who care very much about our country.

“However, I suspect that Mr. Barrett will continue to bellow his war whoops and battle cries. But should anyone be interested in joining us or in discussing the issues with us, you'll find us on the square in Delhi on the first and third Saturdays of the month between 11 a.m. and noon. We’d be glad to see you.”

I’ve asked the Oneonta Star to publish my rebuttal, to Mr. Barrett’s juvenile remarks, but because of that newspaper’s 30 day limit my letter will not be published until after Aug. 3rd. However, I posted my response on 7/12/08.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Good Policy?

Our economy and financial system have gone down hill. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that the economy is facing numerous difficulties, which include strains on the financial markets, rising unemployment and the housing crisis.

Bernanke warned that inflation is getting worse and that rising prices for energy and food are making the chances of inflation even worse. The Labor Department reported wholesale prices shot up 1.8 percent last month, which means inflation is now rising at a faster pace than at any time in the last 25 years.

Bernanke’s testimony came two days after the federal government made provisions to assist Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the event they need it. These two companies hold or guarantee $5 trillion in mortgages, almost half of all the mortgages outstanding in the nation. As more and more people default on those mortgages, the bigger the problems that are created for the companies that are holding that paper.

One of the nation’s big banks, IndyMac, failed and has been taken over by the federal government. People in southern California waited in long lines to withdraw their money a scene reminiscent of the Great Depression.

Investment bank Bear Stearns went belly up in March and was eventually taken over by JPMorgan Chase. More than 90 banks nationwide are currently on the FDIC watch list.

Furthermore, corporate profits are slowing and the stock market is tanking. Energy prices continue to surge, while the dollar continues to hit record lows against the euro.

Nevertheless, Bush recently assured us that our financial system is “basically sound.” When asked when will the economy turn around? Bush responded: “I'm not an economist, but I do believe that we’re growing...I’m an optimist. You know, I believe there’s a lot of positive things for our economy. But I will tell you it’s not growing the way it should. And I’m sorry people are paying as high gasoline prices as they are. And all I know is good policy will help expedite, you know, an will strengthen our economy.”

Bush doesn’t tell us why he’s optimistic or any specifics about the “positive things for our economy.” He’s sorry about higher gas prices and states the obvious, which is a “good policy will help expedite and strengthen our economy.” Unfortunately, we aren’t told what the good policy might be, because Republicans don't have a clue.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Forgiving Ignorance

As promised yesterday, this is my response to Jennie Koppman’s letter.

Based on what I’m able to see hear and touch, I’ve reached the reasonable conclusion that many righteous Christians and Papistical Catholics are responsible for this county falling apart.

Since electing Bush, we have lost 3.3 million manufacturing jobs. We have higher unemployment, more Americans without health insurance, and a record number of home foreclosures. The median family income is down $1200 and purchasing power is down $4500. Prices have skyrocketed for everything from gas to food.

More than 4,124 young America men and women have been killed and over 30,409 wounded. Over one million Iraqis have met violent death and four million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes.

By reelecting Bush, many righteous Christians and Papistical Catholics played a role in fostering the disrespect, violence, vulgarity and shootings, we see in America today. Bush’s preemptive war against innocent Iraqis has set a terrible example, for our youth.

In 2003, an Associated Press poll found that 77% of Evangelicals favored the Iraqi war. At 62%, significantly fewer Catholics and mainline Protestants were in favor of war, but only 44% of non religious citizens favored the war.

In 2004, a majority of Evangelical Christians and Catholics continued to support Bush after he claimed God “instructed me to strike Saddam” and ordered our military to invade Iraq.

Is Jennie Koppman ignoring that Bush took the Lords thy God’s name in vain by claiming God instructed him? Does she recognize that our imperialistic military invaded Iraq, because big oil coveted thy neighbor oil? Does she deny that in the lead up to the invasion, members of the Bush regime presented false witness to the United Nations, Congress and the American people?

I recommend things go back to the way they were in the 1940’s. During our elementary school education, we recited a pledge which didn’t include the words “under God.” In 1954, Congress added the words “under God,” after a vigorous campaign by the Knights of Columbus at which point the Pledge became both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

Effort to undermine the separation of church and state doctrine reached it’s peak in the 1950’s, when Congress created a prayer room in the Capital and added the words “In God we Trust” to all paper money.

The 1960’s, a Supreme Court decision ruled it unconstitutional for public schools to allow prayer, even though the prayer was non-denominational and students were allowed to abstain from the exercise. Kennedy replied that he understood many people were angered by the ruling, and that there was “a very easy remedy -not a constitutional amendment but a renewed commitment to pray at home, in the churches and with their families.”

I agree that there isn’t anything wrong with showing pride and love in your God and country, but as Michael Parenti pointed out in his book Super Patriotism: “U.S. leaders repeatedly weave piety with patriotism.”

Atheists and devout Christians appear to be incapable of being intellectually honest, because they can’t admit that when it comes to the existence of a Supreme Being they don’t “know.” Reasonable people recognize that no amount of scientific evidence can prove or disprove the existence of a creator.

How sweet of Jennie Koppman to add in the last paragraph of her letter: “I’ll say a prayer for you and maybe God will forgive you for your ignorance.” That remark has got to be one of the most revealing sanctimonious comments, I’ve ever read.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sanctimonious Sermonette

On 7/21/08, Jennie Koppman of Cooperstown had the following letter published in the Oneonta Daily Star. The letter by Mr. Roberts, that she is responding to was posted on this web site 7/16/08 and entitled “Grounded in Reality.”

“This is in response to William F. Roberts' letter, "Stop talking about religion," on July 9:

“Please! In my opinion it's the nonbelievers who are causing this country to fall apart.

“Religion has held this country together for centuries; it stemmed from churches to politics. Millions have died for the freedom of religion. Thousands are still dying for our freedoms.

“If you don't believe in God, that is your privilege, but who are you to say that everyone should "shut up," as you put it, about religion?

“Prayer has been removed from schools, and in its place we have disrespect, violence, vulgarity and shootings.

“I believe things should go back to the way they were in the '60s and '70s.

“Families going to church together, put prayer back in our school, put the "In God We Trust" back in the courthouses, go back to placing our hand on the Bible when sworn in, in court, in a political office, whatever.

“There isn't anything wrong with showing your pride and love in your God and your country.

“If you don't believe, so be it. No one is forcing you to pray, no one is trying to change your mind on your beliefs or your way of thinking.

“If you're not proud of God and country, maybe you should relocate to a place where everyone thinks the way you do. That way you'll fit right in and all of you can be miserable together.

“Just because you cannot see, hear or touch something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

“I'll say a prayer for you and maybe God will forgive you for your ignorance.”

Tomorrow, I’ll post my response to Jennie Koppman’s letter:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Feeding the Pig

Every day 85 million barrels of oil are produced around the world. And 21 million of those are used here in the United States. That’s 25% of the world’s demand, being used by just 4% of the world’s population.

We have had seven and a half years of failed energy policy by the Bush regime. We have a faltering economy and Republicans running for office need a distraction. John McCain has the nerve to suggested that if Democrats would allow oil companies to drill in protected areas, the price of gasoline would come down and the economy would be better off. However, Bush resently acknowledged in a press conference that drilling in these protected areas would not bring down the price at the pump.

Speaker of the House, Pelosi will not allow the issue of offshore oil drilling, to come up for a vote on the floor of the House. She insists on exhausting other remedies in terms of increasing supply in America.

Democrats asked Bush to free up 10% of the over 700 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is supposed to be used for dire emergencies. Our strategic reserve is 97.5 full, which is the largest supply ever and it has already been paid for by the American taxpayer. Putting that oil on the market will increase supply and reduce price. Once the price comes down, we can buy back the oil for our Stategic Petroleum Reserve at a lower price. Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would bring down the price at the pump in 10 days. More drilling would take 10 years.

Pelosi insists: “Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices by cracking down on price gouging, rolling back the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and royalty relief given to big oil and gas companies, and increasing production of alternative fuels.”

The House of Representatives has passed every one of those initiatives, but have run into a brick wall with Republicans in the Senate and the White House. Four dollars per gallon gas can be attributed to oil men in the White House and their protectors in the Senate.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Amen!

On 7/24/08, I listened to Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin and was surprised, by what I heard at the end of the speech.

“I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes. And there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions. But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived at great costs and great sacrifice to form a more perfect union, to seek with other nations a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom. Indeed, every language is spoken in our country. Every culture has left its imprint on ours, every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us, what has always driven our people, what drew my father to America’s shores, is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people. That we can live free from fear and free from one. And we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please. These are the aspiration that join the faiths of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart.

“It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people everywhere became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation, our generation, must make our mark on the world. People of Berlin and people of the world, the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope with an eye towards the future with resolve in our hearts. Let us remember this history and answer our destiny and remake the world once again.”

At that point of Obama’s speech, I proclaimed: Amen! Obama had demonstrated the courage to continued a patriotic tradition begun in 1847, by a freed slave. In Syracuse, New York, abolitionist Fredrick Douglass proclaimed in his speech entitled: “Love of God, Love of Man, Love of Country,” that “I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard on this or the other side of the Atlantic, 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.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Offshore Drilling

Regarding our invasion of Iraq, right-wing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News said: “The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That’s bigger than any tax cut in the any country.”

Unless, you consider the looting of Iraq’s oil a policy, Bush has been in charge for seven-and-a-half years and has not provided a coherent energy policy. American voters are expected to believe that it’s the Democrats’ fault.

Bush is insisting that Congressional Democrats are preventing offshore drilling and many Republicans in Congress have joined Bush in attempting to lay the blame for $4 a gallon gas at the feet of Democrats.

House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi says expanding offshore drilling would do little to lower gas prices in the near future. California Governor Schwarzenegger says it’s not the answer and instead we should work toward alternative energy sources.

Oil companies have 68 million acres under offshore lease that are not being developed. Furthermore, we have a shortage of refinery capacity and even if more oil became available immediately, the issue of where we would take it to turn it into gasoline would remain.

Offshore drilling would have no bearing on energy prices now or in the near future. The problem isn’t the availability of areas in which to drill, it’s our inability to motivate oil companies to spend money to look for oil. Why would they be interested in spending money to develop new sources when their currently raking in record profits?

The answer is for Americans to go on a low oil diet. If we didn’t waste so much fuel we wouldn’t be in such poor shape. Let’s walk a half mile to the gym instead of driving.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Viable Solutions

“Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.” - Al Gore

Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t realize that high gas prices and our economic downturn is related to climate change and the war in Iraq

Al Gore insists our problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed. The common thread running through them is our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels and by pulling that common thread all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we’ll find the answer to ending our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Furthermore, enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of our electricity demand.

We’ve been sending money to foreign countries to buy nearly 79 percent of the oil we use every day. They build skyscrapers and Americans lose jobs. Our government must begin spending that money on building solar arrays and windmills, which would build competitive industries and provide good paying jobs in this country.

Our present system is dysfunctional, because the solution to high gasoline prices is not drilling for more oil ten years down the road. Buying into those counter productive solution have nothing to do with the real problem and is only perpetrating our dependency on carbon based fuels. There is one sure way to bring the costs of driving a car down and that is to end our dependence on oil by using renewable sources.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi proposes that we not allowed oil from Alaska to be exported to other countries.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

National Values

A recent letter from Congresswoman Gillibrand stated that she favors redeploying U.S. troops out of Iraq and “ultimately leaving only U.S. special forces to combat terrorists.”  

Shortly thereafter, in a speech entitled “New Strategy for a New World,” Senator Obama said: “After this redeployment, we’ll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq’s Security Forces, so long as the Iraqis make political progress.”

Either Obama and Gillibrand favor redeploying our troops out of Iraq, or they don’t. This is why some antiwar Democrats believe they don’t have a choice in November.

Retired Lt. Gen. William Odom used to head the National Security Agency. He said: “The concern we hear the president and his aides express about a residual base left for al-Qaida if we withdraw is utter nonsense. The Sunnis will destroy al-Qaida if we leave Iraq. The Kurds will not allow them in their region and the Shiites detest al-Qaida.”

Odom insists that Iraq is the worst place to fight a battle for regional stability and that the invasion of Iraq didn’t serve our interests, because Iran and al Qaeda benefited the most, and that continues to be true every day our forces remain there.

Invading Iraq remains the greatest strategic blunder in American history. However, Obama and Gillibrand remain stubbornly commitment to Bush’s failed strategy in Iraq. Odom points out: “History teaches us that if we understand ourselves and remain true to our own national values, the prerequisites for cultural understanding are minimized. This war is a violation of our national values.”

Looting Iraq’s oil is a national value for some voters in the 20th Congressional district. However, our only realistic chance to purge that “value,” is to reelect Gillibrand.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guarding the Gate

In yesterday’s post, Devvy Kidd stated that she hasn’t participated in the efforts to impeach Bush, because she knew it would never happen. I haven’t participated in efforts to impeach Bush, because the numbers aren’t there. For Democrats to start a fight they can’t win, would be costly politically for the party and financially costly for taxpayers.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has said: “I ruled out impeachment before the election in terms of priority for the new Congress. Impeachment is always on the table, depending on the behavior of the President of the United States. I said impeachment was off the table, for the following reasons. Our country has serious problems, some of it springing from this president’s backward-looking policies. Pursuing impeachment would have further divided the country, which is not a good idea, right now.”

Pelosi believed that the country had significantly higher priorities for Congress to address, which included the minimum wage, the cost of college, and benefits for veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

House Democrats have worked to challenge Republicans, but Senate Democrats appear to have caved on issues like the war and FISA. However, the rules of the Senate and the House are very different. In the House, the power rests with Pelosi, who sets the agenda. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needs 60 votes to get anything accomplished. Those 60 votes are hard to achieve, because the Republicans in the Senate are guarding the gate for their president. They have perpetuated the war in Iraq on behalf of Bush. Republicans recognize that forcing Bush to veto bills pertaining to Iraq or FISA would be very damaging to their Party.

With Obama as president, the Senate Republicans will no longer need to guard the gate and it’s anticipated that the Senate could enjoy much more bipartisanship.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Not an Option

In an article Devvy Kidd wrote that Democratic leadership doesn’t want Bush impeached, because keeping him in office provides political currency. Furthermore, she believes that the agenda being pursued for world government and every country who doesn’t fall lock step into line will be invaded and occupied until the desired results are achieved. And, that agenda includes making sure control of the world’s oil supply is in the hands of the power brokers who own the U.S. Congress.

Devvy insists: “Paid mouth pieces and party hacks on the stupid tube shout that any American questioning Bush’s motives during a time of war and the invasions of two non threatening countries are somehow aiding and abetting the enemy. ‘Soft on terrorism.’ Classic propaganda. It is our duty to question the motives and policies of those allegedly elected to public office on any issue - especially war.

“I have not participated in the efforts by dozens of groups and organizations out to impeach Bush because as I said above, I knew it would never happen. Should Americans remain silent when a president commits ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’? Absolutely not. However, reality is reality and that’s the bitter pill Americans have been tasting for years as the Democrats continue to go right along with Bush’s insanity. Both parties continue to approve hundreds of billions of dollars that don’t exist to fund his lunacy. Every single penny thrown away in the Middle East has to be borrowed because these crooks, cowards and criminals called Congress, have spent this country into a $9.5 Trillion dollar debt. It makes no difference to them. They keep spending on these endless wars because the people allow it.”

Mrs. Kidd ran for Congress in 1994 and 1996 as a Republican, but she is now an independent. Both she and CNN’s Lou Dobbs are former Republicans, who are very cunningly selling an agenda, which says that our government is worthless. They’re uncompromising independents, who have plenty of complaints, but offer no realistic solutions.

Many independents are liberated Republican, who don’t want to be labeled Republicans at this time. Some independents will vote for McCain, because he’s considered a maverick and they like to consider themselves mavericks. Much of the information Kidd and Dobbs report is accurate, but their agenda is to convince voters that our Democratic process doesn’t work and that all politicians are ignoring the will of the people.

The will of the people elected Bush in 2000 and 2004, which makes the voters responsible for our present situation. The will of the people could change in November, but the ranting of Kidd and Dobbs tends to produce more anger, frustration and hopelessness. I don’t consider hopelessness an option.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Medicare Improvements

It was reported in the Oneonta Daily Star that Fox and Bassett hospitals were bracing for cuts in Medicare. "Two local hospitals will lose out more than $1 million combined if the Senate doesn’t pass a measure to prevent a 10.6% cut in Medicare reibursement rates to physicians.”

Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand helped pass the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which would reverse those pending 10.6% payment cut for Medicare doctors.  This health care package improves preventative and mental health benefits under the Medicare program and enhances benefits for rural and low-income seniors. 

The bill has been endorsed by National Rural Health Association, who insist the bill: “focuses on strengthening primary care and takes significant strides in protecting rural seniors’ access to care.”

The bill contains a requirement for all Medicare physicians to use e-prescribing by 2011. Rep. Gillibrand reports: “Each year, more than 7,000 Americans die from preventable medication errors, and it is time that our health care system comes into the 21st Century. E-prescribing will lower health care costs, save lives and improve the administration of our health care system.” 
 
The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act eliminates the pending 10.6% cut in Medicare payments to physicians for the remainder of 2008 and provides a 1.1% increase in Medicare physician payments for 2009. It will provides financial incentives to doctors in order to encourage the use of e-prescribing technology. It will extend a low-income assistance program for Medicare beneficiaries with incomes below $14,040 so that their Medicare Part B premiums are paid, and reduce the copayment for mental health care for seniors and improves access in rural areas.

Gillibrand said: “Upstate New York has a shortage of physicians and this legislation will improve the quality of, and increase access to, high-quality, affordable health care for our seniors.  It is essential that seniors have access to doctors in their community, and this bill will allow doctors to keep treating Medicare beneficiaries by preventing unsustainable reimbursement cuts from taking effect. Seniors should be receiving the gold standard in health care, but unfortunately the federal government has failed to always provide adequate care.  This bill will help bridge the inequitable gap in services that many rural residents experience.”

Ted Kennedy returned to the Senate in order to help override Bush’s veto of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act. It was only the third time in Bush’s presidency, that the Senate was able to override a veto. In the House the margin was a lopsided 383-41, well beyond the two-thirds majority needed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Withdrawal Timeline

Iraqis want our troops out. However, no one was expecting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to speak up in favor of withdrawal because, he’s close to the Bush administration. But with elections coming up in Iraq and a great majority of Iraqis opposed to our prolonged occupation, Maliki can’t afford to toe Bush’s line. Al- Maliki surprised many, by suggesting a timetable for troop withdrawals and a date to end the war.

As a result, the “endless war agreement” Bush has been pushing fell through. For years hundreds of thousands of Americans have pushed Congress to stand up to Bush’s proposed treaty with Iraq, which would have tied the next President’s hands and made it much harder to get out.

Even the Pentagon is considering faster timelines. Michael Hirsh at Newsweek wrote: “a forthcoming Pentagon-sponsored report will recommend a big drawdown of troops, which suggesting that U.S. forces be reduced to as few as 50,000 by the spring of 2009, down from about 150,000.”

Barack Obama is using these developments to hammer home the point that McCain and Bush are now isolated in their resistance to any kind of timeline for withdrawal. Recently, Obama wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times that reaffirmed his commitment to a timeline that would have all combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months.

Obama concluded: “Unlike Senator McCain, I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea. . . For too long, those responsible for the greatest strategic blunder in the recent history of American foreign policy have ignored useful debate in favor of making false charges about flip-flops and surrender. It’s not going to work this time. It’s time to end this war.”

Furthermore, Barack Obama described the Bush-McCain approach: “George Bush and John McCain don’t have a strategy for success in Iraq—they have a strategy for staying in Iraq. They said we couldn’t leave when violence was up, they say we can’t leave when violence is down. They refuse to press the Iraqis to make tough choices, and they label any timetable to redeploy our troops surrender, even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government—not to a terrorist enemy. Theirs is an endless focus on tactics inside Iraq, with no consideration of our strategy to face threats beyond Iraq’s borders.”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Distortions

Recently, Barack Obama stated: “I’ve always said that I would listen to commanders on the ground.  I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability.  That assessment has not changed and when I go to Iraq and I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”

The McCain campaign called Obama a flip-flopper and the media has been running with that story. Even though, this is exactly the same position, he stated at the debate in New Hampshire last September, when neither Obama, nor Clinton, nor Senator Edwards would commit to absolutely having troops out of Iraq by 2013.

Last September Obama said: “We don’t know what contingency will be out there.  What I can promise is that if there are still troops in Iraq when I take office—which it appears there may be unless we can get some of our Republican colleagues to change their mind and cut off funding without a timetable, if there’s no timetable—then I will drastically reduce our presence there to the mission of protecting our embassy, protecting our civilians and making sure that we’re carrying out counterterrorism activities there. I believe that we should have all our troops out by 2013.  But I don’t want to make promises not knowing what the situation is going to be three or four years out.”

In February, Obama told Steve Kroft at an interview on “60 Minutes” that he would not pull out of Iraq according to a timetable regardless of the situation: “I always reserve, as commander in chief, the right to assess the situation.”

Republicans are again resorting to distorting the facts and changing the subject away from the real issues to inconsequential things like lapel pins. Obama is demonstrating that he’s politically savvy enough to take irrelevant issues off the table.

In an interview Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared to defended Barack Obama from the accusation of being a flip-flopper by pointing out: “Flip-flopping is getting a bad rap, because I think it is great.  As long as he’s honest or she’s honest, I think that is a wonderful thing.  You can change your mind. Changing your mind, moving to the center in just reasonable politics.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Grounded in Reality

On 7/9/08, William F. Roberts of Otego had the following letter published in the Oneonta Daily Star.

“Like most actively interested voters, I have some interests that take priority. Right now, one priority matter is a wish that everyone would shut up about religion. Apparently, it was too much to hope for that, with Huckabee and Romney out of the Republican campaign race, religion would fade from sight and mind, where it belongs.

“Then came Internet clips of Pastor Jeremiah Wright, followed by “news” of McCain’s evangelical supporters. Now we read of a Pew Forum poll on religious belief that states that 92 percent of Americans believe in a “God.” As a non-believer in “God” and polls, I have to wonder just what the Pew Forum agenda is and what methods are used to arrive at the percentage published from a sampling of citizens.

“I am suspicious of the agenda of those behind the Pew Forum polls and of the timing of the published poll. But then I suspect the motives of any person or group that seems intent on muddying the political scene (surely muddy enough most times anyway) with irrelevant religious intrusions.

“One marginal note: If the Pew Poll is anywhere near to the actual state of belief in the U.S., it means only 8 percent of citizens are grounded in reality _ and some wonder why the country is falling apart!”

P.S.
Bill Roberts and I have been exchanging letters for 3 years and he has been writing letters to the editors of area newspapers, since the Vietnam War. I’ve been aware of Bill’s disdain for irrelevant religious intrusions and of polls for some time. Consequently, I laughed out loud upon reading his last paragraph.

God bless you, Bill :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gore’s Endorsement

The following excerpts are from Al Gore’s speech endorsing Barack Obama.

“If you lost your job, if you’re struggling with your mortgage, you know that elections matter.

“And this election matters more than ever because America needs change more than ever. After eight years of lost jobs and lower wages, we need change. After eight years of incompetence, neglect and failure, we need change. After eight years in which our constitution has been dishonored and disrespected, we need change.

“After eight years of the worst, most serious foreign policy mistakes in the entire history of our nation, we need change.

“In September of 2002, I argued strongly that the invasion of a country that had not attacked us would be a mistake and would divert attention, resources and resolve from the effort to track down and capture those who had attacked us. I argued that the occupation of Iraq would be dangerous and harmful for our country. And I well remember how few elected officials were willing to take that position in favor of protecting our national security by remaining focused on the right objectives. But I remember that an eloquent legislator in Springfield, Illinois named Barack Obama spoke up boldly and clearly, with the force of reason and logic to join in opposition to that blunder.

“To those who still do not understand that the withdrawal of troops from the search for bin Laden in order to launch a misguided invasion of Iraq was a mistake, it’s time to say we need a change.

“To those who want to continue making that same mistake over and over again indefinitely, it is important for us to say loudly and clearly with our votes this November, we need change. We intend to have change.

“To those who want to continue borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf and burn it in ways that destroy our planet’s environment, it’s time to say we need change.

“Barack Obama knows that we are too dependent on foreign oil and carbon fuel and has proposed a plan to create millions of good new jobs in renewable, green energy, conservation and efficiency. Here in Detroit, you know we need to revitalize our automobile industry with a commitment to plug-in hybrids and low emission vehicles to solve the climate crisis and create the jobs of the future.

“The future is ours not to predict, but to create. But make no mistake, we need to change our policies on climate. Not too many years from now, the next generation will look back at the decision we make this coming November and the policies we put in place in January of next year. Were we to ignore the warnings of the scientists around the world and look the other way as the entire North polar ice cap melts before our eyes and the consequences we’ve been warned about unfolded, our children might then well ask, what were they thinking?”

Monday, July 14, 2008

Natural Gas

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that vehicles on the road account for 60% of carbon monoxide pollution and one-third of hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions in the United States. As federal and state emissions laws become more stringent, many requirements will be unattainable with conventionally fueled vehicles.

There are more than 7 million natural gas vehicles in use worldwide, but only 150,000 of those are in the United States. Natural gas vehicles combine top performance with low emissions. The California Energy Commission reports that greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas are 23% lower than diesel and 30% lower than gasoline. According to the EPA, the Honda Civic GX Natural Gas Vehicle is the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle in the world.

Natural gas is significantly less expensive than gasoline or diesel and in places like Utah and Oklahoma, prices are less than $1 a gallon. Natural gas is our country’s second largest energy resource and a vital component of our energy supply. Seventy percent of our oil is purchased from foreign nations, but ninety-eight percent of the natural gas used in the United States is from North America.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recently announced that 16,800 old diesel trucks will be replaced, and half of the new vehicles will run on alternatives such as natural gas.

Residentially, commercially and industrially natural gas is one of the cleanest, safest and most useful forms of energy. Domestic natural gas reserves are twice that of petroleum. And new discoveries of natural gas and ongoing development of renewable biogas are continually adding to existing reserves. Although, it is a cheap, effective and versatile fuel, less than 1% of natural gas is currently used for transportation.

We currently use natural gas to produce 22% of our electricity. Harnessing the power of wind to generate electricity will give us the flexibility to shift natural gas away from electricity generation and put it to use as a transportation fuel. Thereby, reducing our dependence on foreign oil by more than one-third.

Building new wind generation facilities and better utilizing our natural gas resources can replace more than one-third of our foreign oil imports in 10 years.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

America’s Addiction

America is addicted to foreign oil and it’s threatens our economy, environment and national security. Some people think more drilling is going to help, but that sort of flawed thinking is what got us into this mess to begin with. Instead of prolonging our addiction to oil, we need to look beyond fossil fuels and invest in new solutions.

In 1970, we imported 24% of our oil. Today it’s over 70% and growing. As imports grow and world prices rise, the amount of money we send to foreign nations every year is soaring. At current oil prices, we’ll send $700 billion dollars out of the country this year alone, which is four times the annual cost of the Iraq war. Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion and represent the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

Every day 85 million barrels of oil are produced around the world. And 21 million of those are used here in the United States. That’s 25% of the world’s demand, being used by just 4% of the world’s population.

Despite growing demand and an unprecedented increase in prices, oil production has fallen over the last three years. Oil is getting more expensive to produce, harder to find and there just isn’t enough of it to keep up with demand. The truth is that the days of cheap oil in America are gone forever.

The good news is that the United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power. Studies show that the Great Plains states are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world by far. The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America’s electricity can come from wind. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country. In the United States wind power currently produces enough electricity a year in to serve more than 4.5 million households. That is only about 1% of current demand, but the potential of wind is much greater.

Even if only 20% of wind power could be captured, a 2005 Stanford University study found that there is enough wind power worldwide to satisfy global demand 7 times over. Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20% of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion. It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns. That’s a lot of money, but compared to the $700 billion we spend on foreign oil every year, it’s a bargain.

Developing wind power is an investment in rural America. Sweetwater,Texas was typical of many small towns in America. A shortage of good jobs resulted in their youth leaving to search of greater opportunities. The town's population dropped from 12,000 to under 10,000. After a large wind power facility was built outside of town and the population grew back up to 12,000.

North of Sweetwater, is the town of Pampa, where T. Boone Pickens' Mesa Power is in the process of building the largest wind farm in the world. At 4,000 megawatts wind farm will provide the equivalent output of four large coal-fire plants. When completed the Pampa facility will double the wind energy output of the entire United States.

Today’s wind turbines stand up to 410 feet tall, with blades that stretch 148 feet in length. The blades collect the wind’s kinetic energy. In one year, a 3-megawatt wind turbine produces as much energy as 12,000 barrels of imported oil. In addition to creating new construction and maintenance jobs, thousands of Americans will be employed to manufacture the turbines and blades. These are high skill jobs pay on a scale comparable to aerospace jobs. Wind turbines don’t interfere with farming and grazing, so they don’t threaten food production or existing local economies.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ten Questions

On 7/11/08, the Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter from Joseph L. Barrett of Delhi, N.Y.

“I see that more than 1,200 brave Americans re-enlisted in Iraq on the Fourth of July. Now I wonder what John Kerry and that silly little group of actors in the Delhi Town Square would say?

“I believe that it would go something like this: ‘Oh boo-hoo-hoo, those poor ignorant knuckle-dragging, misguided savages. Don’t they realize that if we could just beg forgiveness from bin Laden and admit that 9/11 was all our fault for flaunting our freedoms in the faces of those Allah-fearing, oppressors of women, all the badness would just go away and the mean people will leave us alone?’

“I say thank God for those brave young people in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are made of many races and religions but in those uniforms they are Americans all. World War II may have produced the finest generation, but to me today’s military is a close second. To you I say may God watch over you and I thank you for protecting my country and family (yeah and even the families of protesting wienies). Semper Fi and Hooah!”

I’ve asked the Oneonta Star to publish the following rebuttal.

As member of “that silly little group of ....protesting wienies,” in Delhi, I’m writing in response to the sarcastically juvenile letter published on 7/11/08.

Our Peace Vigils oppose the continuing occupation of Iraq and I ask those supporting the occupation the following questions:

*Granted as Americans, we’ve a right to defend ourselves, if attacked, but isn’t our military for our defense, period?

* Do we really need all of the 737 military bases that we’re maintaining in over 130 foreign countries?

* Does the Constitution authorize that American lives and treasury be sacrificed on wars, which were based on lies or advertised as promoting nation building?

* Is it our obligation to remove a dictator from any foreign country by invading and killing anyone in our way?

* Is it our responsibility to invade a foreign country to promote democracy?

* Is it our responsibility to occupy a foreign country to protect a neighboring country or to settle religious or tribal differences that have lasted for a thousand years?

* On September 13, 2001, Bush said: “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” Six month later on March 13, 2002, he said: “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” What precisely is our priority?

* In October of 2004, the top CIA weapons inspector for Iraq announced, that Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass destruction years ago and had no ability to produce more, under sanctions. What was your reaction upon learning that there were no weapons of mass destruction?

* What was your reaction upon hearing from a White House officials that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Doonesbury

A recent Doonesbury cartoon by Garry Trudeau shows Mark a “sympathetic” reporter interviewing Doug Chumley a Republican “consultant.”

Mark says: We’re back with Republican consultant Doug Chumley! Doug, is it fair to say that your brand is in trouble?

Chumley admits: Yes, but we’re fighting back, Mark by eliminating voter fraud! All over the country, Republican legislators are working tirelessly to create barriers at the polls! By mandating strict ID requirements, we can disenfranchise the poor, the infirm, students, minorities - anyone who can’t be counted on to vote responsibly!

Mark: So instead of making your tent bigger, the strategy now is to make the Democratic tent smaller?

Chumley: If we learned anything from Florida in 2000, it was that disenfranchisement works - That Republicans can win even if they lose!

Mark: So the new GOP is all about hope?

Chumley: Hope and change! Changing the rules, changing the subject - we’re change agent!

Disenfranchisement worked again in 2004. A Rolling Stones article entitled: “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” by Robert Kennedy Jr. made a convincing argument that a Kerry victory in the 2004 presidential election was subverted by a far-reaching Republican strategy of fraud, vote suppression and other crimes against the democratic process. Kerry would have won Ohio if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.

The efforts to disenfranchise Democratic voters in 2004, were headed by Ohio secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, who was both the chief election official in the state and co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in Ohio.

Every foul-up and arbitrary new regulation, that occurred in Ohio in the election favored Bush. A range of problems and dirty tricks have come to light. Such as, the shortages of voting machines and the long lines with waits of seven hours or more occurred in urban areas and discouraged mostly Kerry voters.

“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have democracy, second the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.” - Edward Dowling 1941

Thursday, July 10, 2008

College Costs Reduction

Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand has announced that interest rates on need-based federal student loans will drop from 6.8% to 6% on July 1st.  This automatic decrease was part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which Congress passed last year and will gradually reduce interest rates in half until they reach 3.4% in 2011.

Rep. Gillibrand said: “I am pleased that this Congress was able to lower interest rates and significantly help the thousands of Upstate New York students who acquire student loans. Young adults should not be saddled with an unmanageable debt burden when they graduate from college, and this decrease in interest rates will allow more students to choose a career in public service or continue on with their education. A college education should be affordable and accessible to every young person and their family. As a mother of two young sons, I understand that every parent wants to give their child the best education, and I will continue to work on making college affordable for everyone so every student can reach their God given potential.”

Once the interest rate cuts are fully phased-in, the typical student borrower in New York will save $4,570. In New York, students with need-based scholarships from a state public school graduate with an average debt of $14,276.  Each year, over 240,000 New York students take out need-based loans at four-year public schools.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act is the largest increase in student aid since the GI Bill. In addition to cutting student loan rates in half, the bill increases the PELL Grant scholarship by $500, which will benefit over 420,000 New York students; provides tuition assistance for undergraduate students who agree to teach in a public school; and provides loan forgiveness for public servants, including police officers, firefighters, first responders, prosecutors, nurses, early childhood educators, and public defenders. 

Gillibrand has been a leader on ensuring that higher education is affordable for upstate New York families. Last year, she introduced the College Affordability Tax Relief Act, which would make up to $10,000 in college tuition tax deductible for middle class families.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Obama’s Appeal

Conservatives and Libertarians find themselves attracted to Obama, because they believe that he has surrounded himself with pragmatists. Conservative blogger Megan McArdle wrote: “His goal is not more government so that we can all be caught up in some giant, expressive exercise of collectively enforcing our collective will on all the other people standing around us in the collective; his goal is improving transparency and minimizing government intrusion while rectifying specific outcomes.”

Conservatives are very angry over the Iraq war, because it offends their core principles. It’s their frustration with the war and McCain’s statements about victory at any cost, that has led many conservatives into Obama’s camp.

Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich believes that the war in Iraq has undermined the possibilities for conservative reform at home. The prospects for a conservative revival depends on withdrawing from Iraq. Bacevich concludes that “For conservatives, Obama represents a sliver of hope. McCain represents none at all. The choice turns out to be an easy one.”

The National Review, is the intellectual anchor of the conservative movement. Jeffrey Hart has been a senior editor at the magazine since 1968 and Wick Allison once served as the magazine’s publisher. Both have been very impressed by Obama’s rhetorical grasp conservative issues. They both like the way Obama formulates his speeches in a language, which uplifts and promotes harmony. Wick Allison’s wife wrote in The Dallas Morning News: “He speaks with candor and elegance against the kind of politics that have become so dispiriting and for the kind of America I would like to see. As a man, I find Mr. Obama to be prudent, thoughtful, and courageous. His life story embodies the conservative values that go to the core of my beliefs.”

I'm a pragmatic Democrat, who identifies with many Conservative and Libertarian views.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

“Fear Itself”

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”- FDR’s first inaugural address

Historian Rick Perlstein has documented in “Nixonland,” that American voters turned to the right in 1966, when Democrats suffered major setbacks in Congress and Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California.

According to Perlstein the cause of that turn to the right was white fear of urban disorder and the fear that fair housing laws would let dangerous blacks move into white neighborhoods. “Law and order” became the rallying cry of right-wing politicians like Nixon, who rode that fear factor into the White House. Fortunately, during the Clinton years, the wave of urban violence receded and with it the ability of Republicans to exploit racial fears.

For decades, Republican politicians succeeded in convincing many voters that government spending on welfare was unacceptable. They insisted that bureaucrats were taking workers’ hard-earned money and giving it to welfare queens. Again, there was definitely a racial element to their argument.

The political discourse about welfare was vastly disproportionate to the actual expense of Aid to Families With Dependent Children, but Clinton’s reforms took that issue off the table. Today, racial divisiveness, has become much less important in American politics, because Clinton ended welfare as we knew it.

The fear factor raised its ugly head again after 9/11, when Karl Rove accusing liberals of being soft on terrorism. Rove sounded like Nixon’s, disgraced vice president Spiro Agnew, who accused liberals of being soft on crime.

In “Superpatriotism”, Michael Parent’s points out: “Once fear takes hold, evidence becomes largely irrelevant.” Should Obama win in November, it will symbolize a great change in American politics, because racial polarization used to be the dominating force. For now, the question remains, are we still paralyzed by fear?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bombing Iran

The following is a synopsis of an article by Seymour Hersh entitled: “The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.”

According to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources, last year, Bush requested four hundred million dollars for covert operations, which were designed to destabilize Iran’s religious leadership and gather intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program. Congress agreed to fund these covert operations against Iran.

However, the scope of these covert operations have recently been expanded according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities had not been specified and some congressional leaders have serious questions about their nature. Under federal law, these covert intelligence operations are highly classified, but they must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and ranking members of their respective intelligence committees.

Reportedly, these expanded covert operation have focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and accomplish regime change by working with opposition groups and passing money. There was a significant amount of high-level discussion, but funding for the escalation was approved. Secretly, some members of the Democratic leadership went along with a program to expand covert activities in Iran.

Military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon share the White House’s concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but there is disagreement about whether a military strike is the right solution. Some Pentagon officials believe, that bombing Iran is not a viable response to the nuclear-proliferation issue, and that more diplomacy is necessary.

Secretary of Defense Gates warned that if a preemptive strike is made on Iran; “We’ll create generations of jihadists and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.”

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen insists we’re “pushing back very hard” against White House pressure to undertake a military strike against Iran.

The most outspoken of at least ten four star officers has been Admiral William Fallon, who until recently was the head of U.S. Central Command, and in charge of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In March, Fallon resigned under pressure, after giving a series of interviews stating his reservations about an armed attack on Iran. Last year he said the real objective of U.S. policy was to change the Iranians’ behavior and “attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice.”

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Terrorists

There are more terrorists in the world today, who want to kill Americans than at any time. The fires of hatred in the Muslim world were fueled anew, when our military preemptively invaded an oil rich Muslim country. Furthermore, Abu Ghraib and the use of torture has damaged our moral authority throughout the world. You don’t have to be Muslim to understand the very human experience that if you’re invaded and your country is occupied the people affected are going to remain angry.

Homeland security has been neglected and our military is over stretched in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The 9-11 Commission has given failing grades to in almost every sector of homeland security. We remain unprepared with respect to chemical plants, nuclear plants, and our port facilities. We still can’t screen the cargo that goes onto airplanes or container ships coming into our ports.

Weapons of mass destruction and a desire to spread democracy to the Middle East were pretexts for our invasion and continued occupation. The reason we continue to occupy Iraq and the escalating tensions with Iran is that they sit on two of largest deposits of oil in the world. Congress continues to pretend that our government’s occupation of Iraq and preoccupation with Iran has nothing to do with oil.

We have five percent of the world’s population, but are consuming 25 percent of its oil. America has the world’s largest fleet of modern aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles and support systems. In fact, our Department of Defense is the world’s leading consumer of petroleum. The 133 million barrels of oil used by our military in 2005 is equivalent to the total oil consumption of Sweden. Do you suppose that the Pentagon’s addiction to oil is a major reason we invade oil rich nations?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Judgment

We’re facing the most important election in a generation.  As Americans, we must ask ourselves which candidate will bring about the change our country so desperately needs.

Obama had the judgment to oppose the war in Iraq, before it began. Now, he is ready to bring our troops home and end the occupation of Iraq in a responsible way. Obama will engage in the diplomacy that is necessary to bring stability to the Middle East. On the other hand, McCain emulates Bush, by resorting to saber-rattling and threats to invade Iran, while revealing his ignorance of the basic issues that define the politics of the region.
 
Our national security requires that we carefully evaluate threats. The Pentagon reported a serious threat, which is being ignored. Reportedly, China’s military buildup is destabilizing Asia and indicates that China’s massive military buildup is aimed at far more than simply preventing Taiwanese independence. The report says: “Current trends could provide China with a force capable of prosecuting a range of military operations in Asia.” Several aspects of China’s military development have surprised military analysts, including the pace and scope of its strategic nuclear forces. It is “quantitatively and qualitatively” improving its long-range nuclear missile force.

Five years ago, thirty percent of our national debt was held by foreign lenders. Today, our debt has grown by another $3 trillion, with foreign lending accounting for 80 percent of the increase. The quagmire in Iraq is by far the primary reason for the enormous increase in our national dept. The money we have borrowed from China has enabled them to pump billions into their military. For 7 years, we have subsidized communist China’s massive military buildup to the tune of $100 billion a year, which could easily double over next five years.

National security is about judgment!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In order for every Americans to realize “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” we must become advocates for world peace and cherish the self-evident truth that our common humanity is vastly more important than national origin, political party affiliation, class, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Those that cherished the self-evident truth, that all men are created equal would never have approved of the preemptive invasion of Iraq. Our troops were sent to kill and be killed. The purpose of the invasion was to enable multinational oil companies to loot Iraqi oil.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” will never be realized by the 4,113 American that have been killed, and their families will endure a lifetime of grief. Many of the 30,247 Americans, that have been wounded in action may find the pursuit of happiness an impossible challenge.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” will never be realized by 1.2 million Iraqis that have met violent death, since the invasion. Happiness has eluded the four million Iraqis that have been displaced from their homes and the eight million that have no water, sanitation, food or shelter.

More than 1.2 million desperate Iraqis fled to Syria. Facing starvation, as many as 50,000 women and girls have been forced into prostitution, because this is the only work available. Eighty percent of the girls working as prostitutes in Damascus today are Iraqis, some as young as 13 years of age.

Some believe that I’m being unpatriotic by pointing out these facts on Independence Day. However, before passing judgment consider the words of a man that was born a slave. In a speech entitled: “Love of God, Love of Man, Love of Country,” American abolitionist Frederick Douglass said: “I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard on this or the other side of the Atlantic, 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.”

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Qualifications

General Wesley Clark spoke honestly and bluntly about what it takes to be Commander in Chief. He said that while Senator John McCain’s service made him a hero to millions, including Clark himself, McCain’s experience doesn’t trump the poor judgment that he’s shown on some of the most important issues in recent years.

The media has twisted his words and accused him of saying things he didn’t say. CNN even went so far as to accuse Clark of “swift boating” McCain. These characterizations are totally false. Here’s what General Clark actually said in response to Bob Schieffer’s questions:

Schieffer: “How can you say that John McCain is untested and untried?”

Clark: “Because in the matters of national security policy making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable.”

“John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world.

“But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded—that wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle this publicly? He hasn’t made that calls.”

Schieffer: “Well, General, maybe—could I just interrupt you?” Clark: “Sure.”

Schieffer: “I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences, either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.”

Clark: “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fox News

Fox News has tried to paint Barack Obama as foreign, un-American, suspicious, and scary. They’re sending the message that our country’s first viable racially mixed candidate for president is not “one of us.”

Isn’t it interesting that, Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter, who like Obama are racially mixed are almost never referred to as that black professional golfer or that black Yankee shortstop.

After Senator Obama won the nomination, he and his wife gave each other a fist “pound.” Fox News anchor E.D. Hill called the act of celebration a “terrorist fist jab.” Obviously, E.D. Hill doesn’t watch the N.Y. Yankee’s celebrate a victory at the end of a game, with fist jabs.

A Fox News on-screen graphic referred to Michelle Obama as “Obama’s baby mama,” which is slang used to describe the unmarried mother of a man’s child. It was an attempt to associate the Obamas with negative cultural stereotypes about black people and an insult not only to Michelle Obama but black’s in general.

A guest on Fox News pretended to confuse Obama’s name with “Osama,” thereby associating him with terrorism. Then, she said that the assassination of both Osama and Obama would be a good thing. It’s unconscionable for an organization that calls itself a news network to advocate the assassination of a presidential candidate.

These aren’t one-time incidents, but a pattern that continues no matter how often Fox News is forced to apologize. Their producers and on-air personalities uses innuendo to prey on fear and racist stereotypes that ridicule the progress, politics and personalities of Black America.

This pattern grew even more noticeable when Barack Obama became a serious presidential contender. Fox’s smears against Obama are part of a much larger effort, which includes anonymous emails and fear-mongering ads paid for by local chapters of the Republican party. These tactics are designed to take advantage of the racist fears and prejudices ingrained in our society.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Alternative to Gasoline

John McCain suggested a plan to build 45 more nuclear reactors and Obama has said that he’s not opposed to nuclear power. Wind power has become much cheaper than oil, but wind and solar power are only small substitutes, for the energy we will need. If we would push nuclear energy in this country, we could begin to unhook ourselves from oil.  Nuclear is coming and if people have to choose between the risk of nuclear power and the near-term reality of high gasoline prices that are killing the average family economically, they are going to go choose nuclear.

Our nuclear powered ships have steamed 90 million miles without a reactor accident or release of radioactivity. The state of New Jersey gets 50% of its electricity generation from nuclear power plants. However, France has become 80% nuclear for electricity generation, because they have no intention of being held hostage by the oil-producing countries that support terrorism.

Unfortunately, the earliest, we could have a new nuclear power plant on line in this country is 2014. Like it or not Democrats and Republicans politicians will eventually have to agree that nuclear power plants operate much cheaper than coal plants and can be our salvation.

At the time, General Motors’ chairman unveiled the EV1, at the Detroit International Auto Show, it appeared that there was an alternative to gasoline. GM built only about a thousand EV1’s, which were available only in California and Arizona. EV1 was the car of the future, but it has become a thing of the past. General Motors pulled the plug on its electric car, after ten years and investing over a billion dollars.

They only leased the car and later demanded every EV1 be returned. Greg Hanssen, who leased the EV1 said: “I could out accelerate most of the cars on the road without using a drop of gas.” Greg Hanssen led a campaign to save the little cars from the crusher.

When the EV1 was introduced California was setting tough new standards for cutting air pollution from cars. Unfortunately, General Motors and other automakers went to court delaying those standards and with the pressure gone, the EV1 went, too.