Statements of Belief with Talking Points

  1. Americans overseas in a combat situation should be members of the military and must obey military law.

    1. Many of the Americans in Iraq are private citizens working for private companies.   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 that 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 evaluated.

  2. Except for the Cabinet, high ranking officers in Executive Departments work for the American people under the jurisdiction of the Constitution.

    1. The President's Cabinet makes policy and should be able to talk freely with the President at any time.  Below the Cabinet / Policy making 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: legal proceedings, contract negotiations, military secrets, personnel matters, etc.  Other than these, federal employees must not be told what to say and must be able to freely answer questions from Congress, at scientific meetings,  or from the press.

  3. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

    1. The human sexual drive is extremely powerful.  The only groups who have successfully suppressed it have died out, such as the Shakers.  However, with good parenting and social support, most people can 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 won't be 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 be minimized.  Studies have shown that more abortions are performed when abstinence-only positions are enforced than when education and support are provided.  These illegal abortions are much 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.  After 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 are 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 Priest, gays, 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.

  4. A college or technical education should be available for all who desire it, have the aptitude, and are willing to work for it.

    1. 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 debt.  

  5. Military personnel and their dependents should receive guarantees of medical treatment as soon as they finish basic training.

    1. 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.

  6. The tax code needs to be simplified and changed so that it rewards work and not wealth.

    1. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.    

  9. All children should be guaranteed health care.

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. 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 global warming.  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. 

  11. 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.

    1. Through out history there have been several major advances in technology 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 will 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.        

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

  13. Progressive government has two aspects, protection and empowerment.

    1. There are two major functions of government, defending the integrity of the nation, both from external and internal harm, and to provide support for the citizens as they live in the nation.  

  14. Protection: military, police, fire, social security, environmental, consumer, public health, balance of powers, governmental openness, explicit rights.

    1. 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.  A 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 of the 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.  

      Social programs (like social security) protect citizens, both young and old.  

      Another area 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 additions.

  15. Empowerment: roads and bridges, education, banking, courts, foreign policy, SEC: stock markets, FCC: communication regulation.

    1. 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    

  16. Medicare and Medicaid need to be continued, improved, and put on a sound financial basis.

    1. 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 the next 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.

  17. Social Security needs to be continued, improved, put on a sound financial basis and not privatized.

    1. 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 years it needs some modifications to reflect current conditions.  The conservatives 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.

  18. Affordable health care needs to be available to all citizens.

    1. 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.

  19. We need to expand economic opportunities in Rural Communities.

    1. I need some help with his one.  What are our proposals to satisfy this?

  20. NAFTA, CAFTA:  Trade is good, exporting jobs to slave wage factories is not.

    1. 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 business closes a factory in the United States and moves all of the jobs to Mexico or Central American countries.  This 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.

  21. IRAQ:  We won the War in three weeks.  When are we going to end the occupation?

    1. 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!

  22. The United States has produced two of the most remarkable documents in the history of the World: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Let's live up to them.

  23. Next item, help please

    1.     ---  Talking Points  ---