*Intelligent and positive governing! – In spite of Republican opposition the House has passed the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007. The bill will provide the single largest increase in college aid since the GI bill in 1944. Millions of students will benefit. It comes at no new cost to taxpayers and is funded by cutting excess subsidies paid by the federal government to lenders in the student loan industry (an industry recently exposed for excessive interest rates and kickbacks to colleges and college loan advisors).
*Mature approach to terrorism - Sec. of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff tells us that, “Summer time seems to be appealing to them,” he said of al-Qaeda. “We do worry that they are rebuilding their activities… Chertoff said there are not enough indications of an imminent plot to raise the current threat levels nationwide. And he indicated that his remarks were based on "a gut feeling".
It is time for our leaders to act like adults. When this administration needs political cover for failed policies they trot out the “fear” factor. Recall that leading up to the presidential elections of 2004 each time that Bush slipped in the polls the Department of Homeland Security raised the color that indicated an increase in the threat level from terrorists. For the rest of our lives our nation will have to be alert to terrorist attacks. The threat does not ebb and flow. It is necessary that we always be on guard. An adjunct to this approach should be policies that do not spawn new terrorists.
*New Olympic sport – For each new Olympics a sport is usually added. I would like to suggest television jumping – an event in which I could earn a medal. Almost every time that I watch a Bush administration official offer testimony to a congressional investigative committee I want to jump into the TV to smack them on the side of the head. Maybe veracity would pop out.
*Support the Troops, a Republican shell game – Democratic Senator Jim Webb’s amendment would have required as much down time for U.S. troops serving in Iraq as time in deployment and that reservists and National Guardsmen be home for 3 years after serving one year on active duty. The amendment was killed by Republican opposition.
It is time to stop complaining that the Democrats in congress cannot get anything done. To pass almost any bill in the Senate 60 votes are required (67 votes to override a veto). With only 51 Democratic senators the Republicans have the ability to block most legislation. There is an answer to this problem but it will have to wait until the 2008 elections.
*There is a bill in the Senate that would restore habeas corpus to U.S. detainees. I am disappointed that three of the people I supported in their successful 2006 election to the Senate have not signed on as co-sponsors of this bill. I will be contacting Senators Casey, Tester and Webb this week to voice my concerns.
*Families of our troops are also over-extended – From the Sunday NY Times, “Experts cite three causes of eroding morale among military families: longer and multiple deployments, the continued chaos in Baghdad, and the growing death toll…”
*There have been so many criminal and sexual scandals committed by Republicans that GOP leaders fear that social conservatives will stay away from the ballot box in the 2008 presidential elections. From their lips…
*People who live in glass houses … - Last week the Pope stated that Catholicism was the only way. This week it is reported that since 1950 the U.S. Catholic church has paid out over $2,000.000.000 (yes, billions) to settle sexual abuse charges. Evidence has shown that the church hierarchy covered up these abuses. The problem is not limited to the United States. In any organization there will be individuals with problems. The “sins” of the Catholic Church included: looking the other way and actively covering up rather than admitting to and addressing the problem; abusive clergy did not get help, were not fired, and were thereby enabled to continue and spread their abuses; lives of parishioners were destroyed; dedicated, selfless, caring, and quality priests and nuns became tainted by association.
*Bob Woodward reports that in November 2006 CIA Director Hayden spoke to the Iraq Study Group. In reference to the Iraqi government he said, "the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible." President Bush and Gen. Patraeus admit that the military cannot solve Iraq’s problems. If the military cannot solve Iraq and if the Iraqi government cannot solve Iraq I have a gut feeling that Iraq is unsolvable
*The Prescriber I – President Bush on healthcare in America, “The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America," he said. "After all, you just go to an emergency room." Mr. Bush did not offer his insight for the 45,000,000 Americans who do not have health insurance.
President Bush also said he would oppose any attempt to federalize medicine because it would lead to less innovation. Barbara Ehrenreich at the Huffington Post notes that the only innovations by healthcare insurance companies that come to mind are the deductible, the co-pay, and the pre-existing condition.
*The Prescriber II - The White House said on Saturday that the President would veto a bipartisan plan to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, drafted over the last six months by senior members of the Senate Finance Committee. The current program will expire on September 30, 2007. Over the past year it insured 7.4 million people. Hopefully, the children loosing this coverage live near an emergency room.
*Your tax dollars at work? – The N.Y. Times reports that on July 11th two or three guards stole $282 million dollars (not Iraqi dinars) from the Es Salaam bank in Baghdad. It has not been reported who the money belonged to or who now holds these funds. It was felt that the robbers belonged to one of the militias because of the many checkpoints they would have to navigate in their escape. It is alarming to imagine the destructive devices such a sum could purchase.
*The concentration of wealth in the U.S. continues while globalization drains U.S. manufacturing and decent paying jobs from employment rolls. I am hopeful that Democratic candidates will address these issues in the coming months.
*Now I know why the U.S. invaded Iraq. It took over 4 years for the “truth” to be revealed. From a press conference on July 12th: ‘President Bush, defending his troop surge in Iraq, insisted that the insurgents attacking US troops in Iraq "are the same ones who attacked us on Sept. 11.’ (Please reference television jumping).
*No Fly Zone ~ Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport –The Federal Aviation Administration has been accused of covering up mistakes by air traffic controllers at Dallas-Fort Worth. With increasing frequency we learn of another federal agency that is in a holding pattern instead of performing its mandated responsibility.
*Affirmative action – Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin signed into law ethics legislation that includes the requirement that legislators get ethics training. 12 Steps for Politicians?
*Environmental responsibility – At the following website you can sign a pledge and learn about responsible actions for the environment: http://www.algore.com/dccc.
*Bloomberg business news reports that Exxon is the first publicly traded company to be worth over a half trillion dollars. A serious number that is equal to the cost of the Iraq war.
*Creativity in government –The FBI has a solution to its admitted problem of illegally collecting data about Americans. It will address the dilemma by having a private firm hold this information. I was under the impression that it was against the law to accept stolen property.
*Enough said – Last Thursday the NAACP held a forum on civil rights. The 8 Democratic candidates for President showed up. Only Tom Tancredo of the 9 invited Republican Presidential candidates appeared.
* Dr. Richard Carmona, Surgeon General from 2002 until 2006 testified that his work was hampered by political appointees with an ideological, theological or political agenda who censored his speeches or kept him from speaking. In a similar vein NARAL Pro-Choice America has discovered that U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has altered its website: http://www.4parents.gov/sexrisky/teen_preg.htm. In order to satisfy the anti-choice agenda of Bush and his social conservatives the site offers information that does not have a medical or psychological basis. For example, “abortions make women feel sad; resort to drugs and alcohol”.
*Bush The Historian - Seymour Hersh at New Yorker Magazine reports that Bush likes to compare himself to Winston Churchill. Sources close to the President have heard him “say things like, ‘It’ll be 20 years before they appreciate me. … Yes, I may be at 30 percent in the polls, but in 20 or 30 years, they’ll appreciate what I’ve done.’” Another perspective would be that it will take decades for the havoc that Bush has wrought to be undone.
*Sung to the tune of “Summertime and the Living is Easy” - Facing increasingly difficult negotiations and legislation that might bring a semblance of order and reduced violence to Iraq, the Iraqi parliament is taking the month of August off. No word yet on the vacation schedule for U.S. troops.
*Being married is much more difficult than running the federal government. Each time that the Bush administration is brought to task they seek safety behind “executive privilege”. When my wife asked me why I didn’t repair a clogged drain I said it was because of executive privilege. She proceeded to exercise her right to change the locks on the doors.
*A stain on the honor of our country – Amnesty International reports that after 5 years of Guantanamo prison there are approximately 385 prisoners, 1 has been convicted of a crime and zero have been released after a court proceeding. Many of these prisoners have been tortured. I do not want this to be the present or the future for America. If it is, the terrorists have won.
*Religious freedom is an American benchmark – On July 12th we saw an historic first for religion in America’s civic life. A Hindu was invited to be the guest chaplain for the Senate. As the ceremony began it was disrupted by 3 Christian right activists. I find it ironic that the invocation included “lead us from darkness to light”. At the age of 23 Ghandi said, “It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow human beings”.