Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Concerned About America!

I am concerned about America.

You really shouldn't worry. I am just a blogger. I sit at my keyboard and peck away; creating entries for the world to read. But what I read makes me cringe.

I hate acts of terror. The terrorists who slammed planes into the Towers that morning makes me seethe. We must be strong in our fight against those who would undermine our freedoms and seek to intimidate.

But I am also an American. And that means more than just living in a country on the North American continent.

America is about freedom. America is about hope and opportunity. America is about progress and the future. America is about all of that and more.

But today our nation is led by individuals who do not feel the same loyalty to those values which make America, America. We have a President who is asking for laws to allow torture of "terrorists", the suspension of the Geneva Conventions by redefining and limiting the definition of torture, the exemption of prosecution from those who torture, and the admission of confessions brought about by coercion. We have a President who feels he is above the law, and makes signing statements to legislation placed on his desk, who ignores the law in wiretapping Americans when the FISA court is there for him to use, and who has manipulated the media, paying for journalists to write stories favorable to his policy. America is even now a nation of secret prisons and extraordinary rendition.
This is not the America I know.

I am afraid for that America. I look for Statesmen who can rise to the occasion to meet this challenge to our nation. I see a glimmer of hope when some Republicans stand up to the President of their own political party.

America is not a nation who tortures. In America no man, not even the President is above the law. There is nothing as important in America as the Freedom of Expression and the Freedom of the Press. Those who dissent are exercising their patriotic duty as free citizens. Our rule as Americans is not 'if you are not with us you are against us' but rather if you are not with us, you are an American as well!

Let us hope and pray that America will come home once more. That voters will awaken to their senses and restore America to its rightful place as a beacon of liberty and freedom among nations.

It cannot happen any sooner.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Digging a Ditch Around Baghdad: Life Imitating Art?

In a novel twist, a strategy has been announced to protect Baghdad from insurgents and car-bombers with a 60 mile long ditch. As reported:
"CBS/AP) Iraqi security forces will dig trenches around Baghdad — a distance of about 60 miles — in an attempt to prevent insurgents and explosive-laden cars from infiltrating this city of 6 million, the Interior Ministry said Friday."
But can a ditch work? Will this settle the Iraq conflict and make the Capitol safe from violence?

Army Ants on the March

It struck me that this strategy had been tried before. I had read a short story in Junior High about such a strategy. In this case it was Leiningen fighting off Army ants
"This water-filled ditch was one of the defence measures which Leiningen had long since prepared against the advent of the ants. It encompassed three sides of the plantation like a huge horseshoe. Twelve feet across, but not very deep, when dry it could hardly be described as an obstacle to either man or beast. But the ends of the "horseshoe" ran into the river which formed the northern boundary, and fourth side, of the plantation. And at the end nearer the house and outbuildings in the middle of the plantation, Leiningen had constructed a dam by means of which water from the river could be diverted into the ditch.

So now, by opening the dam, he was able to fling an imposing girdle of water, a huge quadrilateral with the river as its base, completely around the plantation, like the moat encircling a medieval city. Unless the ants were clever enough to build rafts. they had no hope of reaching the plantation, Leiningen concluded."
Leinengen even built an inner-moat:
"Finally, he made a careful inspection of the "inner moat"--a smaller ditch lined with concrete, which extended around the hill on which stood the ranch house, barns, stables and other buildings. Into this concrete ditch emptied the inflow pipes from three great petrol tanks. If by some miracle the ants managed to cross the water and reached the plantation, this "rampart of petrol,' would be an absolutely impassable protection for the beseiged and their dwellings and stock. Such, at least, was Leiningen's opinion."
Unfortunately, like this misbegotten strategy, Leiningen fared poorly:
"The ants responded to these vigorous and successful measures of defence by further developments of their offensive. Entire clumps of huddling insects began to roll down the opposite bank into the water. At the same time, Leiningen noticed that the ants were now attacking along an ever-widening front. As the numbers both of his men and his petrol sprinklers were severely limited, this rapid extension of the line of battle was becoming an overwhelming danger."
Has our military strategy been reduced to a Junior High School short-story? Can we withdraw just into the city of Baghdady and build ditches to prevent the insurgents from entering?

It seems that America deserves better. We deserve leadership that recognizes the difference between military strategy and folly. We deserve direction in times of war and not the never-ending unchanging "stay the course".

It is time for a change in direction.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

John Kerry Gets it Right! Campaign 2008 Continues!

Senator John Kerry is visiting Iowa this weekend.

Regarding his past and his future as a Presidential candidate, Kerry had this to say:
"“I think the American people can understand I lost to a lie about Iraq and lie about me personally,” Kerry said while en route to Iowa. “I think people will say, Kerry was right about the war, he was right about health care, he was right about energy policy.

“I think people wouldn’t mind having a president who knows how to get it right,” he added."
Kerry has reminded Americans that the terrorists that struck us on 9/11 were not connected to the Iraq conflict; instead, they were connected with Taliban bases in Afghanistan. America needs to address the inadequately attended war in Afghanistan not the Iraqi conflict which was an unnecessary Iraq war. Kerry pointed out:
"“Iraq is not the center of the war on terror,” he said Friday. “Afghanistan is in greater trouble today and we ought to be redeploying our forces in a way that helps us properly fight this war.”
Thank you senator Kerry!

Senator Kerry had it right in 2004.

America is ready for John Kerry in 2008.

Iowa is waiting. All of America is waiting. The stakes have never been as high.

Keep on coming John. We have got your back.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Boehner has No Sense of Decency!

Congressman John Boehner, the Republican House Majority Leader owes America an apology.

Mr. Boehner, asked about the Democratic response to the President's 9/11 5 year anniversary speech had this to say:
"REPORTER: Mr. Leader, a number of Democrats said last night that the President should be -- well, let me quote Senator Kennedy - should be ashamed of his performance. He did not unite the country but in fact used or commandeered the airwaves to build support for a war in Iraq.

I wanted to know what your reaction was to that, and was the President playing politics last night?

BOEHNER: I think yesterday was intended to mourn the loss of our 3,000 fellow citizens for what happened 5 years ago and to remind Americans that we are in a serious war and winning the war against the terrorists is the only option, and so I do not know how you separate all of that and be honest with people.

I listen to the questions today and I listen to my Democrat friends, and I wonder if they are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people.

This debate has gone on now for several years. We went through it on the floor back in June. And the fact is, is that these people want to kill Americans. They have killed Americans. And if we do not go after them and defeat them they are going to continue to injure and kill more Americans."
Shame on you Mr. Boehner.

Great American that YOU are.

Your family seal is the Philip Morris Seal.Congressman Boehner you are a fine patriotic American! Your services are always for sale. As Bloomberg reported:
"Boehner, 56, who has been in Congress since 1991, has said he and DeLay have had conflicts in the past, and other lawmakers say they are not close. Even so, Boehner has strong connections to lobbyists: He met weekly with leading lobbyists to enlist their support and discuss strategy during his four years as House Republican Conference chairman, from 1995 to 1998."
AND this moment of infamy:
"In 1995, Boehner handed out campaign checks from the tobacco industry to members on the House floor at a time when lawmakers were considering eliminating a tobacco subsidy.
But your patriotism knows no bounds. And you haven't given up your addiction to niccotine have you?

As reported by the Washington Post:
"The stories are numerous. Just hours after Blunt was named to the House's third-highest leadership job in 2002, he unsuccessfully tried to insert a measure benefiting Philip Morris into the 475-page bill creating the Department of Homeland Security. Blunt's ties to the company are thick: He was very close to a company lobbyist, Abigail Perlman, at the time, and married her in 2003. She does not lobby Congress. One of his sons, Andrew B. Blunt, lobbies the Missouri legislature for Philip Morris.
And I suppose that you are the fine, upstanding Congressman who should question the patriotism of the Democrats, when your own loyalty has been contracted out to big tobacco and big business?

Those of us who fight for the protection of Civil Liberties in America are the true Patriots.

Those of us who question the NSA spying WITHOUT warrants are protectors of the Constitution.

Those of us who question the propriety of torture and rendition to secret prisons are not traitors Mr. Boehner, we are Americans who love this country and who cringe when we see Republicans like you trash our values, sell-out to tobacco lobbyists, and profit from disease and death.

Senator John Kerry had this to say:
"KERRY: “Enough has been written about the comments made yesterday by House Majority Leader John Boehner.

I’m not interested in asking Mr. Boehner for a clarification or a retraction or even an apology. His statement was very clear, and equally despicable. His words are beyond redemption.

“They are, however, sadly, what we’ve come to expect in politics today.

What I am asking, today, is for the Senate to be the Senate. We talk here about ‘my friend’ from across the aisle. We talk about the traditions of the Senate. We talk about civility. But in the last years, I’ve seen things happen here that never would’ve happened in the Senate that I joined in 1985.

We’ve come a long way since the days when Bob Dole and George Mitchell refused to campaign against each other. I’ve seen colleagues say in the cloakroom that they thought it was wrong to see the courage of their friend Max Cleland attacked, but on the floor of the Senate – silence.

I think there are good people here who still long for civility. I’ve heard it. I heard the junior Senator from Oregon say just this summer, ‘My soul cries out for something more dignified.’ My friend from Arizona just this spring said that ‘self-expression sometimes overwhelms our civility.’

This is one of those times – but it is much more. I’m asking for my 54 Republican colleagues across the aisle, to stand up not just for civility, but for truth, and to come here and condemn Mr. Boehner’s remarks in no uncertain terms if they disagree with them.

That is a test of the kind of place we’ve become and the kind of politics we’ll tolerate. It’s a test of the character of the United States Senate, and I think every American would benefit from hearing where each and every Republican stands on Mr. Boehner’s words just yesterday.”
Thank you Senator Kerry!

Thank you for standing up for decency and civility in America!

The United States Senate could use a bit more of your leadership and your decency.

America could use more than this Joe McCarthy tactic from the Republicans.

Have you no sense of decency Mr. Boehner?

Keep on coming John! We have got your back!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Kerry on National Defense at Faneuil Hall

Senator John Kerry is providing leadership in America!

On the eve of the 5th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Senator Kerry spoke at Faneuil Hall and had this to say about the Bush Administration's Iraq policy:
"We have a Katrina foreign policy, a succession of blunders and failures that have betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it."
He also commented, bringing back memories of Vietnam discussions, pointing out
"It is immoral for old men to send young Americans to fight and die in a conflict without a strategy that can work," Kerry said. "It is immoral to lie about progress in that war to get through a news cycle or an election. It is immoral to treat 9/11 as a political pawn."
He went on:
"There is simply no way to overstate how Iraq has subverted our efforts to free the world from global terror," Kerry said, according to the prepared text. "It has overstretched our military. It has served as an essential recruitment tool for terrorists. It has divided and pushed away our traditional allies. It has diverted critical billions of dollars from the real front lines against terrorism and from homeland security."
Also Saturday, in a letter printed by the UnionLeader, Kerry wrote:
"Iraq has made America less safe. The terrorists are not on the run. Terrorist acts tripled between 2004 and 2005. Al-Qa-da has spawned a decentralized network operating in 65 countries, most of them joining since 9/11. Only Dick Cheney could call this a success."
Kerry urged an emphasis on the struggle in Afghanistan against the Taliban:
"The situation in Afghanistan deteriorates steadily. The Taliban now controls entire portions of southern Afghanistan, and across the border Pakistan is one coup away from becoming a radical jihadist state with nuclear weapons. Only George Bush could declare this “mission accomplished.”

It’s time to refocus our military efforts from the failed occupation of Iraq to what we should have been doing all along: destroying al-Qaida. We need to redeploy troops from Iraq — keep up the training and counter-terror operations, establish an over the horizon military capacity — and free up resources to fight the War on Terror."
Kerry concluded:
"We must send significant reinforcements to Afghanistan: at least 5,000 more troops, equipment, and reconstruction funds. Five years after 9/11, the politics of deception and smear stalks this land. But this cynical strategy can not redeem a Katrina foreign policy or re-elect a rubberstamp Congress. Americans see the truth through the fog of fear.

On the other side, the only thing they have to offer is fear itself. It’s up to us to offer a new course that will actually win the war on terror."
Thank you Senator Kerry! While we have this President and Vice-President parading across the networks proclaiming how we 'haven't had an attack in five years since 9/11' let this nation not forget that it was on this President's watch that we were struck. Do not ever let this President forget about the briefing that was on his desk: "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.". So soon we forget.

Thank you Senator Kerry! America needs to be safe again. We need to have leadership that knows in which direction the enemy lies. Not a President that initiates a war against the wrong party with the wrong reasons.

Keep on coming John! We have got your back!


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Has President Bush Admitted Another Impeachable Offense?

As reported:
"WASHINGTON -- President Bush, calling on Congress to quickly authorize trials of suspected terrorists by military tribunals, acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that the Central Intelligence Agency has subjected dozens of detainees to "tough" interrogation at secret prisons abroad and said the remaining 14 have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to await trial."
Tougher interrogation?

When does that become torture?

The story continues:
"To bolster his case, Bush offered unusually explicit details about how the interrogation of Zubaydah gave the CIA invaluable information about Al Qaeda, and how the tougher interrogation led to the capture of Mohammed and other operatives.

"Were it not for this program," Bush said, "our intelligence community believes that Al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland."

Bush, calling the tactics "an alternative set of procedures" for interrogations, said the Justice Department had deemed them lawful. But the vast majority of information gleaned from detainees that he cited Wednesday appears to have come during a 29-month period in which Justice Department lawyers relied on a now-repudiated definition of "torture.""
So if you call torture "an alternative set of procedutres" is it not torture anymore?

Last year Jennifer Van Bergen wrote about secret detentions. She stated:
"Common Article 3 (CA3) of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which has been described as "'a convention within a convention' to provide a general formula covering respect for intrinsic human values that would always be in force, without regard to the characterization the parties to a conflict might give it," protects any detainee under any circumstances. The denial of its protections is therefore a grave breach of Geneva and a war crime under the United States' War Crimes Act of 1996.

CA3 prohibits taking hostages, and it prohibits outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating and degrading treatment. It also prohibits the passing of sentences and carrying out of executions without a previous judgment by a regularly constituted court affording all judicial guarantees.

Additionally, transfer of any person who is not a prisoner of war out of occupied territory is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, as well as a war crime. Deportation is also a crime against humanity under the Nuremberg Charter.

Enforced disappearances are also barred by international law, as are arbitrary detentions. According to Article 7 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1992, "no circumstances whatsoever" may justify enforced disappearances.

A U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that U.S. detentions without status determinations constitute arbitrary detentions in violation of the Third Geneva Convention. The Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council resolved in 2003 that the detentions in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and elsewhere were unlawful.
Column continues below ↓ International law also bars incommunicado detention, even when it does not constitute "disappearance." The Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law states that both disappearances and prolonged arbitrary detentions violate international law.

The Geneva Conventions provide that prisoners' whereabouts must be documented and made available to their family and governments, and that the International Committee of the Red Cross must have access to all detainees and places of detention -- except where prevented by military necessity, but even then, only under exceptional and temporary circumstances.

The Geneva Convention also prohibits holding prisoners in "close confinement." Holding detainees "in dark, sometimes underground cells," according to the Post, is clearly prohibited."
But how is this enforced in America?

Here is the punchline:
"The 1996 War Crimes Act provides for severe criminal penalties for grave breaches of the Geneva and Hague Conventions, including Common Article 3."
It is a federal crime to violate the War Crimes Act.:
"(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death."
As has been noted elsewhere, in 2002, then Counselor Alberto Gonzales warned the President in a memo about the War Crimes Act:
"In a memo to President Bush dated January 25, 2002, then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales suggested that Bush find a way to avoid the rules of the Geneva Conventions as they relate to prisoners of war because that "substantially reduces the likelihood of prosecution under the War Crimes Act." A week later, Attorney General John Ashcroft sent a memo to the president also stressing that opting out of the Geneva treaty "would provide the highest assurance that no court would subsequently entertain charges that American military officers, intelligence officials, or law enforcement officials violated Geneva Convention rules relating to field conduct, detention conduct or interrogation of detainees." Ashcroft reminded Bush, "The War Crimes Act of 1996 makes violation of parts of the Geneva Convention a crime in the United States.""
But the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the Geneva Conventions do apply to "enemy combatants."

As this news report relates:
"Since 2002, the administration has contended that the Geneva Conventions would be respected as a matter of policy but that they did not apply by law to terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or in U.S. military custody elsewhere. Administration officials have voiced concern that the conventions are too vague and could expose the military to second-guessing about appropriate treatment.

But the Supreme Court rejected that view in a 5 to 3 decision last month, ruling that a Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay could not be tried by a special military commission established by the Bush administration. The court held that the commissions violate U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions."
So there is only one way out for this President and his Administration who have already twisted and bent the law on so many issues of civil liberties and Constitutional protections: to bend and change the law retroactively. As reported:
"The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments.

Officials say the amendments would alter a U.S. law passed in the mid-1990s that criminalized violations of the Geneva Conventions, a set of international treaties governing military conduct in wartime. The conventions generally bar the cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment of wartime prisoners without spelling out what all those terms mean.

The draft U.S. amendments to the War Crimes Act would narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 specific categories of illegal acts against detainees during a war, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking.

Left off the list would be what the Geneva Conventions refer to as "outrages upon [the] personal dignity" of a prisoner and deliberately humiliating acts -- such as the forced nakedness, use of dog leashes and wearing of women's underwear seen at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- that fall short of torture."
Have we had enough of this in America?

It is time for a new direction in this country.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thank You Al Gore!

Thank you Al Gore!

I had the opportunity of seeing An Inconvenient Truth last night. If you haven't seen the movie, make a point of taking it in. The former Vice-President presented the issue of global-warming in an easily grasped fashion. I shall not review the movie here, but it remains timely and required viewing.

Just today, it was reported how an ice core from the Antarctic ice pack revealed that we live in times of record CO2 levels, highest in 800,000 years.

As was noted in the report:
""Carbon dioxide has increased by about 35 per cent in the past 200 years. Before that 200 years, which is when man's been influencing the atmosphere, it was pretty steady to within 5 per cent," Wolff said.

The core shows that carbon dioxide was always between 180 parts per million (ppm) and 300ppm during the 800,000 years. However, now it is 380 ppm. Methane was previously never higher than 750 parts per billion (ppb) but now it stands at 1780ppb.

The rate of change is even more dramatic, with increases in carbon dioxide never exceeding 30ppm in 1000 years - and yet now carbon dioxide has risen by 30ppm in 17 years.

"The rate of change is probably the most scary thing because it means that the earth systems can't cope with it," Wolff told a British Association meeting.

"We have little capacity to adapt to changes that are much faster than anything in human experience."
Also, take a look at this story about the Greenland Ice Cap in which it is reported:
"According to satellite data, Greenland's ice is melting at a rate three times faster than it was only five years ago.

The estimate of the melting trend that has been observed for nearly a decade comes from a University of Texas team monitoring a satellite mission that measures changes in the Earth's gravity over the entire Greenland ice cap as the ice melts and the water flows down into the Arctic ocean.

The same satellites tracking Greenland's ice cap also are monitoring the melt rate of Antarctica's ice cover, and there too the melting is adding to the global rise in sea level."
Al Gore has put this issue on the national agenda.

But Senator John Kerry has also been working at bringing this to the fore. He wrote last month in the San Francisco Chronicle:
"It's time to put Washington to the test. No more bite-sized ideas that tinker at the edges of outdated policy. It's time to put global-climate change at the top of the national agenda.

There are three big steps that are imperative to addressing global warming.

-- First, we must establish a mandatory program to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

-- Second, we must provide the incentives and resources to transition to a low-carbon economy.

-- Third, we must recognize that climate change is a global problem requiring a global solution.

Under President Bush, efforts to reduce U.S. emissions have been limited almost exclusively to voluntary activities. It's clear that the voluntary efforts are not getting the job done. The proof is in the numbers -- over the past several years, overall U.S. emissions have been on the rise. While voluntary programs can contribute to a domestic-climate change program, they cannot stimulate the global action that we know is necessary. Each year since 1992, the science has become more certain and Al Gore's summer movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," has brought the science home to Americans in a persuasive way.

So, what are we going to do about it? We need a plan that does what the science tells us we have to do. That's why I am introducing legislation to stop and reverse U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. My bill establishes a mandatory cap-and-trade program to reverse emissions growth, starting in 2010. After that, we will progress to more rapid reductions and end at 65 percent below 2000 emissions by the year 2050. We have lost too much time for voluntary measures to be put to the test. We can't just set a mandate -- we have to provide incentives to businesses and industry to make the mandate achievable."
Thank you Senator Kerry! Thank you Vice-President Gore!

While this blogger has been working hard to get Senator Kerry's name out for the 2008 election, America needs the support and cooperation of all of us to deal with the threat of Global Warming and the consequences of ignoring the continuing evidence of the threat to this planet.

Keep on Coming John!

And thanks so much Al!

America needs strong leadership that can use science and not abuse science to deal with the challenges facing our nation in the 21st century!

A new direction is needed!


Monday, September 04, 2006

Senator Kerry Moving Up in the Polls for 2008

Senator John Kerry is gaining traction among American voters!

The White House is waiting Senator Kerry!

As reported by Angus Reid, according to a Opinion Dynamics poll released by Fox News, and conducted on August 29th and August 30th, 2006, 32% of Democratic voters would vote for Hillary Clinton, Al Gore is next at 15% followed by Senator Kerry at 13%. Other candidates behind Kerry included John Edwards at 9%, and single-digit support for Senator Joseph Biden, retired general Wesley Clark, Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

Keep on coming John! America awaits your insight, experience, your courage, tenacity and leadership!