Sunday, February 26, 2006

Thoughts From the Heart on John Kerry

I haven't written too many posts on this blog the last week or two.

It isn't that there haven't been plenty of things to write about. I could have written about Vice-President Cheney and his hunting fiasco.

That wasn't about bad aim. That wasn't about the Vice-President not caring about who and where he was shooting. It wasn't about the fact that he didn't even have an appropriate hunting tag on his license.

It was about arrogance. About not feeling any connection to the American people to share with them and the press information about an unfortunate incident. And when Cheney finally got around to a softball interview on Fox it was once again about not being connected to the American people.

I could have written about the port sale to the UAE. But that wasn't a new idea. That shows this administrations arrogance and phoney concern for national security. Above all, profits are more of a priority than Prophets.

I could have written about the Cartoon Scandal in Denmark. But that wasn't about cartoons at all. That was about anger in the Arab world about Shock and Awe, about Abu Ghraib, and about Guantanamo. But that isn't news at all.

Some people giggle when I say I am still for John Kerry. They believe that we should be more strategic in our leadership selection. We should pick a governor from a Red State or maybe someone from the South. How can we re-nominate a Senator from Massachusetts?

But what America needs is not strategic political views. We don't need politicians who place fear in our hearts instead of hope. We don't need politicians who use wedge issues like guns and then don't handle guns appropriately. We don't need politicians who talk about the Axis of Terror and then sell of America to one of the points near that "Axis". We don't need politicians who talk about our "petroleum addiction" and then pass Energy Bills laden with pork for those fat cats. We don't need an Administration who speaks about AIDS and then with their "Mexico City Policy", denies condoms for Africans at risk for this deadly disease. We don't need an Administration who talks about Education and then cuts funds for student loans and reduces funding for schools in the inner city while talking about "No Child Left Behind". We don't need an Administration that talks about conquering disease and then undermines the very basic science research to cure diseases that might utilize embryonic stem cells otherwise destined for the garbage dump.

We need John Kerry for President in 2008. We need an American hero who understands what it is like to be an sent to fight and maybe die for a mistake.

We need John Kerry to speak truth in the face of lies, to bring America back to the place we all know. A place where freedom is something to be proud of, instead of a place where we worry where our Google search has been, or which books we have checked out of the library, or who is listening to our phone calls or reading our emails without warrants. America is a place where laws are obeyed and hope is instilled in our hearts for a better future. A place where laws trump expediency, where no person is afraid of what they may speak. A place where the color of one's skin or one's national background is just an interesting fact and not a source of possible arrest, rendition or detainment.

America Deserves Better. And we deserve John Kerry!

No, I don't blog as often as I do. But that doesn't mean I have changed my views, my support, or my enthusiastic support of the Senator from Massachusetts!

There is a time for writing and a time for being calm. And 2008 is the time for Kerry!


Friday, February 10, 2006

"Loose Lips Sink Spies"

This is Porter Goss, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Goss believes in keeping spy secrets secret. For National Security.

He wrote today in the New York Times:
"I take seriously my agency's responsibility to protect our national security. Unauthorized disclosures undermine our efforts and abuse the trust of the people we are sworn to protect. Since becoming director, I have filed criminal reports with the Department of Justice because of such compromises. That department is committed to working with us to investigate these cases aggressively. In addition, I have instituted measures within the agency to further safeguard the integrity of classified data.

Our enemies cannot match the creativity, expertise, technical genius and tradecraft that the C.I.A. brings to bear in this war. Criminal disclosures of national security information, however, can erase much of that advantage. The terrorists gain an edge when they keep their secrets and we don't keep ours."

This is Scooter Libby.Mr. Libby was the Chief of Staff for Vice-President Dick Cheney. This is a picture of the Vice-President.This is a picture of Valerie Plame:As related by former Nixon attorney John Dean:
"On July 14, in his syndicated column, Chicago Sun-Times journalist Robert Novak reported that Valerie Plame Wilson - the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, and mother of three-year-old twins - was a covert CIA agent. (She had been known to her friends as an "energy analyst at a private firm.")"
Jim Marcinkowski and Larry Johnson,former CIA operatives know how important it is to keep CIA agents identities confidential. Theycommented to CNN's Bill Hemmer back in 2003:
"HEMMER: Larry, tell me, what's the damage, though. Be specific, as best you can right now. Have lives been lost? Have people been sacrificed?

JOHNSON: I don't know if lives have been lost yet, but we have to start with the damage to Mrs. Wilson. Her life has been put at risk. The people that she was working with overseas who were spies, they are potentially at risk. You could potentially have people dead because of this. But the odds of finding that out as far as the CIA coming forth and detailing it, we are not likely to hear that because they have to protect the sources and methods."
And today it is reported:
WASHINGTON — Former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has told a federal grand jury that his "superiors" authorized him to leak highly sensitive intelligence to journalists, including a New York Times reporter he allegedly tipped off to the name of an undercover CIA operative.
Mr. Libby's superior was Vice-President Cheney.

But Mr. Cheney knows how important confidentiality about CIA information is. He commented about the leaks about wiretapping:
"The terrorist surveillance program was highly classified, and information about it was improperly given to the news media," the vice president said.

Noting that Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales had appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, Cheney added: "As the attorney general pointed out this week, it's easy to imagine America's enemies shaking their heads in amazement that anyone would disclose this information, thereby giving notice to those enemies and [endangering] national security, putting our citizens at risk. But that is what happened."
Thank you for expressing this so clearly Mr. Cheney.

And let me repeat your quote of Attorney General Gonzales,
"'s easy to imagine America's enemies shaking their heads in amazement that anyone would disclose this information, thereby giving notice to those enemies and [endangering] national security, putting our citizens at risk. But that is what happened."
America deserves better. We deserve an Administration that does not put our own CIA agents and their families and contacts at risk to advance a political agenda. We deserve confidentiality from the highest Office in the land. Every American must follow the law. Even the President and the Vice-President.

As Mr. Goss so eloquently stated today:
"The C.I.A. has put many terrorists out of action since 9/11. In our pursuit of the enemy, we accept the unique responsibility we bear as officers of a clandestine service serving an open, constitutional society. But we also know that unauthorized disclosure of classified intelligence inhibits our ability to carry out our mission and protect the nation."
And what kind of high crime and misdemeanor is it to disclose a CIA agent? And to interfere with the CIA protecting our nation?

Keep on coming Senator Kerry! We got your back! Together we can get America back on track!


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

England Covers for America's Foreign Aid Failure!

President Bush delivered the State of the Union Address last week.

He warned us about isolationism. About avoiding problems overseas.

He stated:
"To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, and the drug trade.

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our country. I urge Members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America."
But has this actually been the case?

In January, 2001, shortly after being elected President, Bush re-activated the "Mexico City Policy" that denied family planning clinics in Africa and elsewhere, caring for impoverished African women, access to funds from the United States if they counseled for or provided funds for abortion.

As the President himself decreed:
"January 22, 2001


SUBJECT: Restoration of the Mexico City Policy

The Mexico City Policy announced by President Reagan in 1984 required nongovernmental organizations to agree as a condition of their receipt of Federal funds that such organizations would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations. This policy was in effect until it was rescinded on January 22, 1993.

It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad. It is therefore my belief that the Mexico City Policy should be restored. Accordingly, I hereby rescind the "Memorandum for the Acting Administrator of the Agency for International Development, Subject: AID Family Planning Grants/Mexico City Policy," dated January 22, 1993, and I direct the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to reinstate in full all of the requirements of the Mexico City Policy in effect on January 19, 1993.


# # #
And yet what has been the effect of this misguided policy? Have African women started using abstinence only to deal with their pregnancy plans? Have they been putting these unwanted children up for adoption for anxious American families seeking children?

In fact, something far worse has been transpiring.

As summarized:
"While proponents of the gag rule maintain that its imposition is necessary to reduce the number of abortions, research shows that it accomplishes just the opposite. The restrictions cause more unplanned pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, and more deaths and injuries of vulnerable women and girls. In addition, it makes no distinction between the varied and sometimes tragic circumstances that lead women to seek an abortion. Whether women and girls are rape victims, HIV positive or simply too young to have a child, the policies of the United States give them only one choice: to continue an unwanted and potentially deadly pregnancy or risk their lives by self-induced or otherwise unsafe abortions. The underlying message of the gag rule is that women's lives simply do not matter."
Hilary Fyfe knows about the "Global Gag Rule".Ms. Fyfe is the chair of the Family Life Movement of Zambia. Her organization lost funding from the United States.

As reported:
"I think they are killing these women, just as if they are pointing a gun and shooting. There is no difference," said Hilary Fyfe, chair of the Family Life Movement of Zambia. Her organization opposes abortion, but still lost approximately $30,000 in U.S. funds for telling adolescents and young adults that unsafe and potentially fatal abortions are one possible consequence of unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancies.

The report, titled "Access Denied," is the first to document the effects of the policy on health services delivery around the world. The policy was reinstated by President Bush on January 22, 2001 and marked the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that decriminalized abortion in the United States. Three vocal critics of the policy, Population Action International, Ipas, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, put together the report based on interviews and field research conducted since the policy was reinstated.

"When we counsel, we have to talk about abortion. You can't do counseling on reproductive health without talking about the whole business," Fyfe said by phone from Washington, D.C. where she is helping publicize the new report. "We were told, 'you talk about abortion, you're out,'" she said.

To retain funding, grantees must certify that they will comply with the rule barring discussion of abortion.

In 2000, Fyfe's organization counseled adolescents and families in nine provinces in Zambia, offering information on birth control, family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention. They had to cut services in four provinces due to the funding cuts. Planned Parenthood of Zambia also scaled back programs when it lost 24 percent of its funding, according to the report.

In Kenya, a total of five family planning clinics, two affiliated with Marie Stopes International, have been forced to close, the report said.

A state department official pointed out that these organizations had made the choice not to comply with the policy and could have kept their funding had they chosen to comply. The official also pointed out that the amount of money distributed by USAID has not been reduced and that USAID is committed to spending it through other programs and organizations that agree to comply with the Mexico City policy.

Organizations receiving U.S. funds are also prohibited from promoting the liberalization of abortion laws in their country. "It denies organizations the ability to participate in an important policy decision in their country," said Amare Bedada, executive director of the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

The association lost 12 percent of its funding directly and another 25 percent that it received from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which also refused to comply with the policy. The Ethiopian association curtailed programs, lost members of their senior staff and ran short on donated contraceptives due to the policy.

In Ethiopia, abortion is permitted when the mother's life or health is in grave danger. Legislators there are debating liberalizing those restrictions. The World Health Organization estimates that one in seven Ethiopian women die from pregnancy-related complications. According to the Ministry of Health, unsafe abortion is the fifth leading cause of maternal death in Ethiopia.

In Zambia, women are permitted to have an abortion if three doctors write letters saying that her life or health is in danger. In practice, said Fyfe, this is a requirement that few women can satisfy. "They end up dying, either from the pregnancy or from an abortion induced by themselves," Fyfe said.

In Romania, women have an average of 2.2 abortions and regard birth control methods with suspicion due to long indoctrination by Soviet administrations. Family planning organizations that signed the rule can not partner with abortion providers, hindering family planning advocates that try to reach women who undergo multiple abortions in the absence of information on alternatives.

Rule Cuts Condom Distribution
Bedada's organization also provides contraceptive services and HIV/AIDS prevention counseling, traveling into isolated rural communities to treat women who could not make the arduous and time-consuming trip into a town.

"The whole rural program came to a standstill," said Bedada, who has joined Fyfe in trying to publicize the damaging affects of the rule. "It is jeopardizing the programs we have been doing for 37 years," he said.

Both Bedada and Fyfe cited in particular shortages of condoms. Increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention, especially among adolescents and young adults, has led to a growing demand for latex condoms--a demand these organizations can no longer meet. "There are condoms in the shops, but young people can't afford them," said Fyfe.

Fyfe would send those interested in condoms to Planned Parenthood affiliates in her area, but those affiliates are running short of condoms because the International Planned Parenthood Federation based in London lost $20 million in USAID funds when it refused to sign the rule. The USAID donations of cash and supplies, including condoms, made up about one-fifth of the federation's annual budget.

The agency and the United Nations Population Fund are the largest donors of contraceptive supplies, including condoms, to the developing world. The agency is the most important single donor, delivering about one-third of all donated supplies, worth about U.S. $75 million. (In a separate action, the administration eliminated $32 million in support for the U.N. fund as well.)

By 2002, the policy had cut off shipments of USAID-donated supplies to 16 developing countries, according to the report, because the only recipients in those countries were members of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The leading family planning organizations in 13 other countries, including Ethiopia and Zambia, were also cut off."
And this is about "Family Values"? This is about some "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Leave it to Beaver" naive Americans forcing their ignorant and insensitive values on those who have the most to lose. Causing death, illness and suffering among the poor in Africa!

This denial of abortion services to the poorest of the poor has led to at least 70,000 deaths every year by women forced to utilize backstreet abortionists as estimated by the World Health Organization.

Since we export such a short-sighted foreign policy that places women at high risk, it was good news to read that England would provide funds for these services that have been denied by the United States!

There are still some areas of the world that still believe that providing medical services for women is a human rights issue. As reported:
The UK is to give £3m to organisations denied US aid for providing safe abortions in developing countries.
International Development Minister Gareth Thomas said he hoped the move would persuade other nations to step in and help prevent thousands of deaths.

The World Health Organisation estimates backstreet abortionists cause 70,000 "agonising" deaths every year.
America and the world deserves better!

The article explains:
Since US President George W Bush imposed this so-called "global gag" rule in 2001, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) has had to close dozens of clinics.

But with Britain's £3m it will set up the Global Safe Abortion Programme to improve access to safe abortion services and "support other partners that have had to cut back on reproductive health services because of the impact of the gag rule".

The IPPF says 19 million women can be spared serious injury, illness or death if safe and legal abortions are accessible alongside other health services.

At present, 13% of maternal deaths worldwide are due to unsafe abortions - 60% in some countries.
America must do better!

We don't need our Allies helping us out to cover for our failures! We need an American foreign policy in line with the needs of women and children and the needy in Africa and around the world.

Senator John Kerry has stated:
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry recognized 10th anniversary of ICPD, saying, “We must do more to address the needs of women, to ensure they and their children live healthy lives.” Sen. Kerry said that as president, he would reaffirm America’s “leading role” in fighting for women’s rights, adding, “I will repeal burdensome restrictions on family planning, restore U.S. funding to [UNFPA] and double U.S. funding to fight AIDS.” Kerry also commended the world leaders who committed their support to the goals of the Cairo conference.
America needs a President who lives in the 21st Century and not in the Dark Ages!

We need leadership that works to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and educate the ignorant. We don't need to export our own Puritanical view of sex to the rest of the world suffering from backstreet abortions, AIDS, and sexual exploitation of women.

America Deserves Better! We have your back John! Keep on coming!