Statements of Belief
with Talking Points
- Americans overseas in a
combat situation should be members
of the military and must obey military law.
Many of the Americans in Iraq are private citizens working for private
Many are not trained soldiers although some are. Many
(drivers, builders, etc.) are not working in sensitive jobs but some
(prison guards, bodyguards, etc.) are authorized to employ deadly
force. They are not subject to military justice and are only
responsible to their employers. Should America be a country
employs mercenaries? These people usually demand very high
wages and their employers are similarly very well paid on government
contracts. We are spending huge amounts of money on these
companies, there is very little accountability, and the budgets lend
themselves to being hidden when the costs of the conflict in Iraq are
- Except for the Cabinet,
high ranking officers in Executive
Departments work for the American people under the jurisdiction of the
The President's Cabinet makes policy and should be able to talk freely
with the President at any time. Below the Cabinet / Policy
level the people in the federal government are employees of the United
States and should be answerable to the American people and their
elected representatives. Obviously there are exceptions:
proceedings, contract negotiations, military secrets, personnel
matters, etc. Other than these, federal employees must not be
what to say and must be able to freely answer questions from Congress,
at scientific meetings, or from the press.
- Abortion should be safe,
legal, and rare.
The human sexual drive is extremely powerful. The only groups
have successfully suppressed it have died out, such as the Shakers.
However, with good parenting and social support, most people
learn to delay gratification until an appropriate time. Until
then our young people need good information so that they can understand
how important it is to treat sex responsibly. Then they need
information on and access to contraception so that unwanted pregnancies
do not occur. If these measures are not enough, and they
in all cases, the young women need a good "safety net" so that they can
obtain needed medical care, nutrition, housing if necessary, and
support so that they can continue on in school or in a job when they
and their child are ready. If all this is available, and they
still feel that they need an abortion, it should be available.
With this sort of support the occurance of abortions should
minimized. Studies have shown that more abortions
performed when abstinence-only positions are enforced than when
education and support are provided. These illegal abortions
more dangerous, self administered, or performed in dirty back rooms.
Many more young women die.
Following a conversation: I had a long conversation concerning
abortion. The following are my immediate thoughts.
several days of thinking about this issue I wrote down my thoughts in this separate web page.
Is the person truly interested in
reducing abortion or do they want to make a religious point?
If they were faced with a young women who was considering an abortion -
would they be willing to support the young woman financially through
childbirth, raising, clothing, feeding, etc. the child and then
supporting that child through all the education he/she will need to
achieve a satisfying productive start on life - remember, some children
grow up to become physicians who commonly graduate from medical school
with student loans in excess of $150,000. That is what they
asking the young woman to do.
I have known and served at my table and eaten at theirs as close
friends and/or members of my family who have been Christians, Moslems,
Jews who fought in the 6 day war, Palestinians, Mormons, a Jesuit
lesbians, Buddhists / Shintoists, Atheists, etc. They all
allowed me to make
my own decisions and even if they thought I might go the Hell or
whatever - they didn't try to force me to accept their own decisions.
- A college or technical
education should be available for
all who desire it, have the aptitude, and are willing to work for it.
Following World War II and the GI Bill, the US moved from having
millions of young men having very few job skills and no jobs to having
the most highly educated work force in the world. Our
colleges were the envy of the world. Now after 30 to 40 years
of neglect and raising tuition and other fees we now again have young
people who can't afford to go to college or technical schools.
India, China, and the European Union are graduating more
engineers than we are. Our biggest and best tech companies
like Microsoft and Google are petitioning Congress to allow them to
hire more foreign engineers because the US can't provide enough.
We need to expand post-secondary education and make it
cheaper so that graduates do not start their working career buried in
personnel and their dependents should receive
guarantees of medical treatment as soon as they finish basic training.
Young men and women go into the military knowing that at any time they
may be ordered to go anywhere in the world and be faced with injury and
death. Now in Iraq we are seeing many of them coming home
with debilitating wounds, many of these are not immediately obvious
like brain injury caused by explosions. In many cases the
military is refusing to pay their medical expenses saying that the
soldier cannot prove the injury was combat related. They
joined the Armed Forces whole, they come back broken. There
should be no question. As soon as you offer to fight and die
for your country, your country is under an obligation to make you as
whole as medical science permits. This must also be
guaranteed for their dependents, a soldier who is disabled cannot work
and support children. Optional: "guarantees of medical
treatment for life", this is my feeling.
- The tax code needs to be
simplified and changed so that it
rewards work and not wealth.
The tax code is huge and is getting bigger by hundreds of pages per
year. There is an entire industry doing nothing but
interpreting tax law. There is also another entire
industry doing nothing but writing new tax
laws. The tax code needs to be scrapped and re-written so
that any high
school graduate can calculate his own taxes. Most of the
revisions over the last 30 years have concerned tax reductions for
wealthy persons. Very few so called "tax breaks" have shown
up in witholding statements. Saving and investing are great
but why is the income from these taxed at a lower rate than the income
from working at a job? All this does is guarantee that those
with money continue to make more money and those who work for all of
their money pay for this.
- The President, the
Congress, and the Courts are equal
members in the governing of the nation and all are accountable to each
other and to the American people.
The duties of the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court are
described in the Constitution. Recently the President has
usurped some of the powers of the Congress and the
courts. All three branches have the right to question the
actions of the others. Those answers must be forthcoming.
One of the reasons the founders of our nation split the
government into three separate but equal branches is so that no one
group could accumulate power at the expense of the other two.
That is the main reason we fought the Revolutionary War.
The Executive branch of the British Government, the King, had
assumed complete power over the colonists. Our founders were
not anarchists who rejected all government, they believed in
government. They just believed that the people should have a
say in that government. Any branch of our government that
attempts to take over powers allocated to the other branches is
violating the spirit and the documents that our government is based on.
- The War on Terror is a
war based in ideology, not
territory. It needs to be fought by military, police,
political, economic, and diplomatic efforts.
Terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11. They came from
many countries, primarily Saudi Arabia. The proper response
to small groups of terrorists is law enforcement. In the days
following 9/11 the whole world was on our side and offering to help.
The attack on Iraq was based on plans created by the far
right wing of the Republican Party in the late 1990's. The
main authors were Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.
The reasons for the plans were ideology (they wanted to
create an American Imperial Power) and economic (they wanted to control
the oil in the Persian Gulf). The War in Iraq followed a plan
developed by Rumsfeld and executed by our military in 3 weeks.
It was a complete success. The occupation which
began at that time and continues even now has been a complete failure.
The military occupation has alienated the Iraquis and much of
the rest of the world. The only economic efforts we made were
to get the oil flowing, and without sufficient police that has been a
failure. We won the peace following World War II by providing
the defeated countries with assistance under the Marshall Plan.
This might have won Iraq. We never tried.
- All children
should be guaranteed health care.
This is obvious. Just who is going to tell the parents of a
sick or injured child that he or she isn't important and can't get
health care. Well this is exactly what the current
administration is doing with the most recent ruling that tells states
that they must apply more eligibility tests before a child can receive
medical assistance. If someone truly believes that some
children do not deserve health care, let them stand in front of the
Emergency Room door of a hospital and turn them away in person: just
make sure that the press are there with their cameras.
- We all need
to act as "Good Stewards" of the
earth. We must leave this earth in better shape and healthier
than when we arrived.
Again this is obvious. We are fouling our nest and we are
building a bonfire at the base of our tree. Pollution is
increasing except where we have taken positive steps. The
problem with the ozone layer is being solved. The amount of
lead in the environment is going down because of unleaded gas.
If we try, we can succeed, and it does not involve terrible
costs. There are some costs but not nearly as great as the
alarmists say they will be. Our current biggest problems are
pollution from coal fired generators (in China and elsewhere) and
These will both be difficult to solve but both can be solved
if we continue working on them. The costs if we do not solve
them will be horrendous.
- America has
always led the way into the future.
We need to invest more in energy research, high speed internet and high
speed trains, science and technology, and knowledge-based jobs.
Through out history there have been several major advances in
and the nation that invested in this technology became
a world leader. Rome with organization and road building,
Spain and then Holland with wind power, Great Britain with coal powered
steam engines. Most recently it has been the United States
with oil and internal combustion engines. America is still
the most powerful nation on the earth but our production of oil is
decreasing and it is getting much more expensive. Other
countries, China, India, European Union, are catching up fast.
No one knows what the next world changing technology will be,
but unless the US maintains our investment in science and technology it
not be the US. If our investment is primarily in oil and
technologies based on oil we will not be a major participant in the
next major change.
- We need to
reform lobbying and campaign
financing, allow no gifts or "freebies" to legislators,
require reporting of all contacts with lobbyists, and explicitly
labeling all "special" bill provisions.
With the advent of television running for public office has changed
dramatically. Before T.V. if a politician wished to campaign
he had to
come back to his home district and make speeches. With
television a politician helps prepare a short campaign commercial and
simply ships it to the television stations in his district.
He doesn't have to go to his district but he has to have a
great deal of money to pay for air time. The "sound bite" has
replaced the "policy position speech". We need to change this
so that the best predictor of success for a politician is again good
ideas and and a deep commitment to the country instead of how much
money he has.
We also need to eliminate the "payoff
legislation" where a powerful lawmaker can put in a private amendment
to a bill. An example of this is the "Bridge to Nowhere" in
Alaska. The senator put in this bridge to pay back his
supporters in the construction industry. There are times when
specific bills are appropriate but they should be explicit with regard
to whom they benefit and which legislator sponsored the bill.
government has two aspects, protection and
There are two major functions of government, defending the integrity of
the nation, both from external and internal harm, and to provide
for the citizens as they live in the nation.
- Protection: military,
police, fire, social security,
environmental, consumer, public health, balance of powers, governmental
openness, explicit rights.
Protection is about defending the nation from harm. There are
several aspects of this. The first and most obvious is
defending the nation from external threats. The military is
our defense against external invasion. Given our military
prowess, external invasion is probably the least likely scenario.
determined enemy could attack with biological, chemical, and nuclear
weapons, in fact they could even fly planes into buildings - and this
was predicted, in intelligence reports and in fiction.
Another attack that was predicted in fiction and actually happened this
spring was computer attack. On April 28, 2007 the small
European country of Estonia was attacked, probably by Russia but there
is no definitive proof. Many web servers came under attack
including newspapers, banking, military, universities, etc.
The attack was not completely successful but for a number of
periods over days Estonia was cut off from communication with the rest
world. It may sound funny but if the banks can't work, if
credit cards don't work, if military communications don't work, there
is a real problem. This attack stopped after two weeks; was
it a test run? (Wired magazine, Sept. 2007)
Another protection is from internal threats. These are things
like fire, police, public health threats such as
epidemics, and natural or environmental threats.
programs (like social security) protect citizens, both young and old.
which is often not thought of now but was very important for the
founders of our country and can be seen in the Declaration of
Independence and the Constitution are threats from within our own
country and government. These are things like the separation
of powers into three branches of government, requirements that the
government be open to the press and the public, and explicit rights as
listed in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution as well as more recent
- Empowerment: roads and
bridges, education, banking, courts,
foreign policy, SEC: stock markets, FCC: communication regulation.
These are the things that can be considered the "common wealth" of the
nation. These are the things that have been determined by our
government to be so important to everyone in the nation that they are
provided by local, state, and federal governments and funded by general
taxation. Many of these could be done by individuals but the
expense and conflicts that would arise make it much more efficient to
perform them at a governmental level
- Medicare and Medicaid
need to be continued, improved, and
put on a sound financial basis.
These two programs have never been funded properly and many of the
provisions were put in strictly to financially help the insurance,
drug, and managed care industries. The only reason that they
exist in the way that they do is because progressives wanted to
institute universal health care, conservatives wanted to eliminate all
governmental provided health care and this was the best deal the
progressives could get. Conservatives have fought to destroy
these programs. This was not politically possible so they did
best thing, they loaded the programs down with provisions that rewarded
their supporters and made the programs as likely to fail as they could.
These two programs really need to be scrapped and replaced by
a good universal health care system. However until this
happens they need to be improved.
- Social Security needs to
be continued, improved, put on a
sound financial basis and not privatized.
Conservatives have been trying to destroy Social Security ever since it
was first proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. After it became
obvious that it was politically very popular they gave up for a long
time. However, with their rise in power they again
see an opportunity to attack Social Security again. After 70
needs some modifications to reflect current conditions. The
have refused to make these changes. Instead they have
proposed to "privatize" a part of it. If this were to be
successful it wouldn't be long until the entire social security system
would become a part of an investment retirement fund. There
is nothing wrong with saving for retirement, but anyone can do that
now. We don't need stock brokers controlling all of
our retirement savings.
- Affordable health care
needs to be available to all
Far too many citizens lack the health care they need because
their insurance doesn't cover it or they have no insurance at
all. Whether we go all the way and institute a single payer
government health care plan or whether we maintain our current system
with changes, we need to cover every person in the nation.
- We need to expand
economic opportunities in Rural
I need some help with his one. What are our proposals to
- NAFTA, CAFTA:
Trade is good, exporting jobs to
slave wage factories is not.
The North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central American Free
Trade Agreement sound good when discussed by their supporters,
However there are two very serious problems and a whole host
of minor issues. The first serious problem occurs when a
closes a factory in the United States and moves all of
the jobs to Mexico or Central American countries.
is of course good for the management and stockholders but the workers
and their local community don't see it as a gain. The second
problem is when the factory opens in Mexico or another country and
recruits workers. Very often the wages are very poor, the
workers are recruited from rural areas and move to slums, their social
networks are disrupted and they are more likely to travel to America
joining our immigrant problem. An example of a minor problem
is the price of corn in Mexico. Before free trade Mexico
produced a lot of corn. American crop support of corn
produced surpluses. After free trade this surplus was sold to
Mexico at a very low price destroying their corn farmers. Now
with the advent of alcohol for energy the price of corn for food in
Mexico has risen greatly causing shortage and raising food prices.
- IRAQ: We won
the War in three weeks.
When are we going to end the occupation?
No matter what you thought of the war, our military performed superbly
and we conquered Iraq in three weeks. Our military then
proceeded to occupy and guard the Oil Ministry and many of the drilling
and refining areas. Unfortunately the management (Bush,
Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc) hadn't planned for any of the rest of the
occupation. There has been widespread dissatisfaction with
the course of the occupation. The only way we are
going to "win" the occupation is by a massive increase in troops (at
least to five hundred thousand or perhaps a million) and a complete
reconstruction of the infrastructure of the country - very similar to
what we did in Germany after WW II. If we are not willing to
make that sort of commitment we need to get out and get out now!
- The United States has
produced two of the most remarkable documents in the history of the
World: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
up to them.
- Next item, help please
Talking Points ---