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A Crisis Looms


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Who should be Gore's running mate?
Evan Bayh
Joe Biden
Barbara Boxer
Wesley Clark
Hillary Clinton
John Conyers
Howard Dean
Dick Durbin
John Edwards
Russ Feingold
Rush Holt
John Kerry
Dennis Kucinich
Barack Obama
Jack Reed
Harry Reid
Bill Richardson
Mark Warner
Someone else
Not sure
  
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Grassroots for Gore is a team blog of volunteer bloggers. The blog is neither authorized by Mr. Gore nor is affiliated with any of the organizations that he is a part of. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual authors and commenters.

Saturday, December 31

Talking about what matters

The indispensable Avedon Carroll points to PolicyByBlog’s analysis of Hillary Clinton’s declining grassroots support. It includes Robert Kunst’s open letter to Hillary Clinton:

Two weeks ago, I made CNN, St. Pete Times, Air America, News Max and NY Post, trying to overcome doubts about you, when you were pushing a ban on flag desecration as your priority on the very same day that the '9/11' Commission was giving Bush and 'f' for failing to see their recommendations to thwart another terrorist attack with any real urgency or commitments.

While you had a grand opportunity to expose Bush's failures that is putting this nation at risk, and offer the answers regarding what dangers we are facing....while you could have led an identity missing in the Dem. Party that they even care about national security....while you could have demanded for New Yorkers, what Bush is ignoring....all of this and more was missing, while you focused on a 'non-issue' of banning flag desecration.


At a time when the current maladministration is pursuing a policy of torture in the name of national security, when a CIA Case officer has been betrayed, when the administration is engaged in systematic abuse of power, to talk about a flag burning is to make a joke of public discourse. It insults our intelligence and shames us before the world as a nation unwilling to confront reality.

Of all the possible Presidential contenders, only Al Gore is talking about the real problems that confront the United States of America.

Read and comment here.

Tuesday, December 27

Restore the constitution, Al Gore for President

Senator Feingold has promised to fix the Patriot Act after the Senate recess. That is a little like fixing small pox. Of all the possible Democratic contenders, only Al Gore has called for the repeal of the Patriot Act. This is the same Al Gore who knew the Iraq War would be a disaster. This is the same Al Gore who has been consistently right about everything since the theft of 2000.

If we want to halt the cycle of defeat so brilliantly described by Peter Daou we need a leader free of all illusions about the nature of our opposition of the uselessness of our press. We need Al Gore.

Read and comment here.

Monday, December 26

Open Thread

Open discussion thread.

Read and comment here.

Sunday, December 18

EXPOSE'? National Debt Ceiling to be breached again

An observation: the run away Bush National Debt. which stood at $8.1 trillion on 12/15 will soon hit the National Debt Ceiling that was raised in November of 2004 to $8.18 Trillion (yes, after the election).

A simple estimation shows that the Federal Government will default on its payments, effectively a bankruptcy, from around the 12th of January, if not earlier, unless the Congress plays along with thisgrotesque mismanagement by Bush, Cheney & Co and raises the debt ceiling again.

Being X-posted across: Daily Kos, My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, myDD, political Cortex. Volunteers for posting this at Democratic Underground (I can't post a new topic there yet) are welcome.


Key Words: National Debt, Debt Ceiling, Patriot Act, Legislative Activism, Activism


  1. Statutory National Debt Ceiling: $8,180 Billion
  2. Current National Debt (12/15) $8,099 Billion
  3. Rate of increase in debt: $2.83 Billion per day
  4. Number of days to max out: 28
  5. Est. date of Federal Bankruptcy: 1/12/06

Resources:

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In fact, it may be worse. Brillig.com link at the moment of this writings claims that The Outstanding Public Debt as of 18 Dec 2005 at 10:24:49 PM GMT is $8,156,993,192,732.62. Interestingly, there was a precipitous drop in the BOPD figures on 12/15 compared to 12/14. If we work with Brillig's numbers, we get:


  1. Current National Debt (12/18) $8,156 Billion
  2. Number of days to max out: 8.5
  3. Est. date of Federal Bankruptcy: 12/26/05
(Merry Christmas! Just a little something special from uncles Chimpy and Darthy.)

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The politics

I am a bit surprised that this apparently hasn't been observed by the Democrats nor has it been reported on the media. A quick google news search at the time of writing gave these headlines:


Wilder floats spending plan
Richmond Times Dispatch, VA - Dec 17, 2005

Saudi Arabia's 2006 Budget,
Saudi Arabia United States Relations, D.C. - 2 hours ago

CHELSEA New hope for school fix-up
Kennebec Journal, ME - Dec 15, 2005

(hmm, interesting. Didn't know that Saudi Arabia actually puts out a budget plan.)

My guess is that as before, BushCo was hoping to sneak it through after the Congress votes on the Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy (i.e, tax cuts for buddies), some of which are apparently due to expire.

Now that we know, what can be done to thwart these biblical levels of incompetence, mismanagement, and corruption?

In most other democratic nations, the government would be brought down and either new leaders would be elected by the parliament or fresh elections would be called for.

In our case, with impeachment being the only constitutionally available option (other than resignations; and that option being ruled out since the tooth fairy apparently doesn't really exist), and with the presidential line of succession being stacked with none too comforting choices, I have no idea what can and should be done. Any opinions?

A few more figures and thoughts:

  • BushCo assumed a national debt of $5.7 Trillion on 1/21/01 following their SCOTUS-assisted coup in 2000.

  • the projected budget surplus then was $5.6 Trillion over a ten year period

  • the current debt of $8.1 Trillion is a 2.4 Trillion dollar bump up in just under 5 years, which is about $480 Billion per year.

  • each citizen's share of the national debt is $27,371.51

  • the Debt Ceiling was raised a few times in the last five years, with the last one having been on Nov. 17, 2004, after successfully hiding it from the public through the election. See these articles: 10/14/04, 11/04/04, 11/08/04, and 11/17/04. Given that Treasury Sec. Snow was "pleading" days before the election as reported in that 10/14 article, why didn't Kerry's economic team expose this before the election?

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How can you help?

You should call your Members of Congress (MoC) and talk to them about this and the also critical patriot act (Friday's vote was just the beginning of the struggle to fix the act)

Here are two key links for contacting your congresspersons and senators:

  1. congress.org
  2. EFF's detailed help page

Visit both the pages, equip yourself with the contact info, and call/write/fax your MoCs. Here are suggested talking points:

  1. tell them not to raise the debt ceiling again

  2. suggest that they explore possible options to oust this incompetent and corrupt administration from power

  3. on the PATRIOT Act, thank your house representative if he/she voted against the conference report version of the bill H.R. 3199, and express your utter dismay and strong disappointment if they voted for it (don't let the 44 democrats that voted for it get away with it)

  4. thank your senators if they voted against "invoking cloture" in the senate (and anger, dismay etc otherwise)

  5. as I have written earlier, ask them to co-sponsor/vote for Leahy/Sununu's S. 2082 bill in the Senate that extends the debate by 3 months, and Conyers' H.R. 4506 in the house. Read the justification for this bill by Leahy/Sununu here. It is important for you to know that even the Senate version that was unanimously approved (without a public debate) in July is only compromise (and issues such as the NSLs and spygate that have surfaced since that version was written, as well as other possible administrative excesses, should be thoroughly scrutinized), and most provisions will become permanent even with that version. Please ask your MoCs to make way for and hold open floor debates, and ask for a 2 year sunset on the entire Act which would allow for a periodic review of the Act.

Thanks.


Read and comment here.

Sunday, December 11

When in our history

has there ever been such a disjunction between the majority of our 'leadership class' - journos, pundits and pols, including national Dems (Al Gore is a brave exception) - and the majority of the American people?

The former flatter themselves with the conceit that they are fighting another WWII (with other peoples' kids). The latter know that we are stuck and getting stucker in another Vietnam.

As Barbara Tuchman pointed out so eloquently in her many books, men in possession of both great stupidity and great power can lead the rest of us into messes so intractable that there is no 'right', much less good, way out of them.

None of the options now available to us will allow us to feel good about ourselves in the end, because even when we try to do good our very presence will only fuck things up the more. We need to get out of a place where we never should have been. Bringing the criminals to justice who caused this war is now the only honor we can give the dead.

Read and comment here.

Thursday, December 8

Al Gore (11/03): Repeal the PATRIOT Act + ACTION ITEMS!

Yahoo! News is reporting that a deal has been reached between the house and the senate representatives on patriot act reauthorization. It appears that the conference committee will propose 4 year sunsets on two or three provisions and make the rest permanent.

This is time for action!

Here are some of my thoughts on what we should seek (by calling our respective members of congress): LINK

Briefly, IMO, we should ask for:

1. rejecting or filibustering the conference committee version
2. open floor debate on a new smaller version
3. 2 year sunsets on the entire bill, so that it can be reviewed periodically.

Please start calling your members of congress (the DC officies are probably closed, but most of their local offices should be open), and follow through next week. Please post feedback on your calls.

>><<

Links for Contacting Members of Congress: The links below provide comprehensive information on Members of Congress (website, phone, fax, address, and web-forms and/or email) based on your zip code:
  1. congress.org directory listing
  2. Senate's own member listing
  3. visi.com search tool
  4. ACLU's search page
  5. Congressional leadership listing
  6. dKosopedia's Election 2006 page


You may need cookies turned on for some of these links to work.

Below the fold, please find Al Gore's 11/03 speech and several recent diaries by Rep. Conyers and Sen. Feingold.

To follow is a speech by Al Gore on 11/9/2003, where he called for a repeal of the original PATRIOT act, asking instead for a few of its provisions to be crafted into a new, smaller, law. Please see below the fold for the text of the speech.

Some suggested action items follow the transcript.


Freedom and security

by Former Vice-President Al Gore, November 9, 2003.
(Delivered at a moveon.org and American Constitution Society event, DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC)

... pleasantries ...

And perhaps the most important of these issues is the one I want to talk about today: the true relationship between Freedom and Security.

It seems to me that the logical place to start the discussion is with an accounting of exactly what has happened to civil liberties and security since the vicious attacks against America of September 11, 2001 --- and it's important to note at the outset that the Administration and the Congress have brought about many beneficial and needed improvements to make law enforcement and intelligence community efforts more effective against potential terrorists.

But a lot of other changes have taken place that a lot of people don't know about and that come as unwelcome surprises. For example, for the first time in our history, American citizens have been seized by the executive branch of government and put in prison without being charged with a crime, without having the right to a trial, without being able to see a lawyer, and without even being able to contact their families.

President Bush is claiming the unilateral right to do that to any American citizen he believes is an "enemy combatant." Those are the magic words. If the President alone decides that those two words accurately describe someone, then that person can be immediately locked up and held incommunicado for as long as the President wants, with no court having the right to determine whether the facts actually justify his imprisonment.

Now if the President makes a mistake, or is given faulty information by somebody working for him, and locks up the wrong person, then it's almost impossible for that person to prove his innocence --- because he can't talk to a lawyer or his family or anyone else and he doesn't even have the right to know what specific crime he is accused of committing. So a constitutional right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we used to think of in an old-fashioned way as "inalienable" can now be instantly stripped from any American by the President with no meaningful review by any other branch of government.

How do we feel about that? Is that OK?

Here's another recent change in our civil liberties: Now, if it wants to, the federal government has the right to monitor every website you go to on the Internet, keep a list of everyone you send email to or receive email from and everyone who you call on the telephone or who calls you --- and they don't even have to show probable cause that you've done anything wrong. Nor do they ever have to report to any court on what they're doing with the information. Moreover, there are precious few safeguards to keep them from reading the content of all your email.

Everybody fine with that?

If so, what about this next change?

For America's first 212 years, it used to be that if the police wanted to search your house, they had to be able to convince an independent judge to give them a search warrant and then (with rare exceptions) they had to go bang on your door and yell, "Open up!" Then, if you didn't quickly open up, they could knock the door down. Also, if they seized anything, they had to leave a list explaining what they had taken. That way, if it was all a terrible mistake (as it sometimes is) you could go and get your stuff back.

But that's all changed now. Starting two years ago, federal agents were given broad new statutory authority by the Patriot Act to "sneak and peak" in non-terrorism cases. They can secretly enter your home with no warning --- whether you are there or not --- and they can wait for months before telling you they were there. And it doesn't have to have any relationship to terrorism whatsoever. It applies to any garden-variety crime. And the new law makes it very easy to get around the need for a traditional warrant --- simply by saying that searching your house might have some connection (even a remote one) to the investigation of some agent of a foreign power. Then they can go to another court, a secret court, that more or less has to give them a warrant whenever they ask.

Three weeks ago, in a speech at FBI Headquarters, President Bush went even further and formally proposed that the Attorney General be allowed to authorize subpoenas by administrative order, without the need for a warrant from any court.

What about the right to consult a lawyer if you're arrested? Is that important?

Attorney General Ashcroft has issued regulations authorizing the secret monitoring of attorney-client conversations on his say-so alone; bypassing procedures for obtaining prior judicial review for such monitoring in the rare instances when it was permitted in the past. Now, whoever is in custody has to assume that the government is always listening to consultations between them and their lawyers.

Does it matter if the government listens in on everything you say to your lawyer? Is that Ok?

Or, to take another change --- and thanks to the librarians, more people know about this one --- the FBI now has the right to go into any library and ask for the records of everybody who has used the library and get a list of who is reading what.

Similarly, the FBI can demand all the records of banks, colleges, hotels, hospitals, credit-card companies, and many more kinds of companies. And these changes are only the beginning. Just last week, Attorney General Ashcroft issued brand new guidelines permitting FBI agents to run credit checks and background checks and gather other information about anyone who is "of investigatory interest," --- meaning anyone the agent thinks is suspicious --- without any evidence of criminal behavior.

So, is that fine with everyone?

Listen to the way Israel's highest court dealt with a similar question when, in 1999, it was asked to balance due process rights against dire threats to the security of its people:

"This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it, and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it. Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. Preserving the Rule of Law and recognition of an individual's liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding of security. At the end of the day they (add to) its strength."

I want to challenge the Bush Administration's implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists.

Because it is simply not true.

In fact, in my opinion, it makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama Bin Laden.

In both cases, the Administration has attacked the wrong target.

In both cases they have recklessly put our country in grave and unnecessary danger, while avoiding and neglecting obvious and much more important challenges that would actually help to protect the country.

In both cases, the administration has fostered false impressions and misled the nation with superficial, emotional and manipulative presentations that are not worthy of American Democracy.

In both cases they have exploited public fears for partisan political gain and postured themselves as bold defenders of our country while actually weakening not strengthening America.

In both cases, they have used unprecedented secrecy and deception in order to avoid accountability to the Congress, the Courts, the press and the people.

Indeed, this Administration has turned the fundamental presumption of our democracy on its head. A government of and for the people is supposed to be generally open to public scrutiny by the people --- while the private information of the people themselves should be routinely protected from government intrusion.

But instead, this Administration is seeking to conduct its work in secret even as it demands broad unfettered access to personal information about American citizens. Under the rubric of protecting national security, they have obtained new powers to gather information from citizens and to keep it secret. Yet at the same time they themselves refuse to disclose information that is highly relevant to the war against terrorism.

They are even arrogantly refusing to provide information about 9/11 that is in their possession to the 9/11 Commission --- the lawful investigative body charged with examining not only the performance of the Bush Administration, but also the actions of the prior Administration in which I served. The whole point is to learn all we can about preventing future terrorist attacks,

Two days ago, the Commission was forced to issue a subpoena to the Pentagon, which has --- disgracefully --- put Secretary Rumsfeld's desire to avoid embarrassment ahead of the nation's need to learn how we can best avoid future terrorist attacks.

The Commission also served notice that it will issue a subpoena to the White House if the President continues to withhold information essential to the investigation.

And the White House is also refusing to respond to repeated bipartisan Congressional requests for information about 9/11 --- even though the Congress is simply exercising its Constitutional oversight authority. In the words of Senator McCain, "Excessive administration secrecy on issues related to the September 11 attacks feeds conspiracy theories and reduces the public's confidence in government."

In a revealing move, just three days ago, the White House asked the Republican leadership of the Senate to shut down the Intelligence Committee's investigation of 9/11 based on a trivial political dispute. Apparently the President is anxious to keep the Congress from seeing what are said to have been clear, strong and explicit warnings directly to him a few weeks before 9/11 that terrorists were planning to hijack commercial airliners and use them to attack us.

Astonishingly, the Republican Senate leadership quickly complied with the President's request. Such obedience and complicity in what looks like a cover-up from the majority party in a separate and supposedly co-equal branch of government makes it seem like a very long time ago when a Republican Attorney General and his deputy resigned rather than comply with an order to fire the special prosecutor investigating Richard Nixon.

In an even more brazen move, more than two years after they rounded up over 1,200 individuals of Arab descent, they still refuse to release the names of the individuals they detained, even though virtually every one of those arrested has been "cleared" by the FBI of any connection to terrorism and there is absolutely no national security justification for keeping the names secret. Yet at the same time, White House officials themselves leaked the name of a CIA operative serving the country, in clear violation of the law, in an effort to get at her husband, who had angered them by disclosing that the President had relied on forged evidence in his state of the union address as part of his effort to convince the country that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of building nuclear weapons.

And even as they claim the right to see the private bank records of every American, they are adopting a new policy on the Freedom of Information Act that actively encourages federal agencies to fully consider all potential reasons for non-disclosure regardless of whether the disclosure would be harmful. In other words, the federal government will now actively resist complying with ANY request for information.

Moreover, they have established a new exemption that enables them to refuse the release to the press and the public of important health, safety and environmental information submitted to the government by businesses --- merely by calling it "critical infrastructure."

By closely guarding information about their own behavior, they are dismantling a fundamental element of our system of checks and balances. Because so long as the government's actions are secret, they cannot be held accountable. A government for the people and by the people must be transparent to the people.

The administration is justifying the collection of all this information by saying in effect that it will make us safer to have it. But it is not the kind of information that would have been of much help in preventing 9/11. However, there was in fact a great deal of specific information that WAS available prior to 9/11 that probably could have been used to prevent the tragedy. A recent analysis by the Merkle foundation, (working with data from a software company that received venture capital from a CIA-sponsored firm) demonstrates this point in a startling way:

* "In late August 2001, Nawaq Alhamzi and Khalid Al-Midhar bought tickets to fly on American Airlines Flight 77 (which was flown into the Pentagon). They bought the tickets using their real names. Both names were then on a State Department/INS watch list called TIPOFF. Both men were sought by the FBI and CIA as suspected terrorists, in part because they had been observed at a terrorist meeting in Malaysia.

* These two passenger names would have been exact matches when checked against the TIPOFF list. But that would only have been the first step. Further data checks could then have begun.

* Checking for common addresses (address information is widely available, including on the Internet), analysts would have discovered that Salem Al-Hazmi (who also bought a seat on American 77) used the same address as Nawaq Alhazmi. More importantly, they could have discovered that Mohamed Atta (American 11, North Tower of the World Trade Center) and Marwan Al-Shehhi (United 175, South Tower of the World Trade Center) used the same address as Khalid Al-Midhar.

* Checking for identical frequent flier numbers, analysts would have discovered that Majed Moqed (American 77) used the same number as Al-Midhar.

* With Mohamed Atta now also identified as a possible associate of the wanted terrorist, Al-Midhar, analysts could have added Atta's phone numbers (also publicly available information) to their checklist. By doing so they would have identified five other hijackers (Fayez Ahmed, Mohand Alshehri, Wail Alsheri, and Abdulaziz Alomari).

* Closer to September 11, a further check of passenger lists against a more innocuous INS watch list (for expired visas) would have identified Ahmed Alghandi. Through him, the same sort of relatively simple correlations could have led to identifying the remaining hijackers, who boarded United 93 (which crashed in Pennsylvania)."

In addition, Al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhamzi, the two who were on the terrorist watch list, rented an apartment in San Diego under their own names and were listed, again under their own names, in the San Diego phone book while the FBI was searching for them.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but what is needed is better and more timely analysis. Simply piling up more raw data that is almost entirely irrelevant is not only not going to help. It may actually hurt the cause. As one FBI agent said privately of Ashcroft: "We're looking for a needle in a haystack here and he (Ashcroft) is just piling on more hay."

In other words, the mass collecting of personal data on hundreds of millions of people actually makes it more difficult to protect the nation against terrorists, so they ought to cut most of it out.

And meanwhile, the real story is that while the administration manages to convey the impression that it is doing everything possible to protect America, in reality it has seriously neglected most of the measures that it could have taken to really make our country safer.

For example, there is still no serious strategy for domestic security that protects critical infrastructure such as electric power lines, gas pipelines, nuclear facilities, ports, chemical plants and the like.

They're still not checking incoming cargo carriers for radiation. They're still skimping on protection of certain nuclear weapons storage facilities. They're still not hardening critical facilities that must never be soft targets for terrorists. They're still not investing in the translators and analysts we need to counter the growing terror threat.

The administration is still not investing in local government training and infrastructures where they could make the biggest difference. The first responder community is still being shortchanged. In many cases, fire and police departments still don't have the communications equipment to talk to each other. The CDC and local hospitals are still nowhere close to being ready for a biological weapons attack.

The administration has still failed to address the fundamental disorganization and rivalries of our law enforcement, intelligence and investigative agencies. In particular, the critical FBI-CIA coordination, while finally improved at the top, still remains dysfunctional in the trenches.

The constant violations of civil liberties promote the false impression that these violations are necessary in order to take every precaution against another terrorist attack. But the simple truth is that the vast majority of the violations have not benefited our security at all; to the contrary, they hurt our security.

And the treatment of immigrants was probably the worst example. This mass mistreatment actually hurt our security in a number of important ways.

But first, let's be clear about what happened: this was little more than a cheap and cruel political stunt by John Ashcroft. More than 99 percent of the mostly Arab-background men who were rounded up had merely overstayed their visas or committed some other minor offense as they tried to pursue the American dream just like most immigrants. But they were used as extras in the Administration's effort to give the impression that they had caught a large number of bad guys. And many of them were treated horribly and abusively.

Consider this example reported in depth by Anthony Lewis:

"Anser Mehmood, a Pakistani who had overstayed his visa, was arrested in New York on October 3, 2001. The next day he was briefly questioned by FBI agents, who said they had no further interest in him. Then he was shackled in handcuffs, leg irons, and a belly chain and taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Guards there put two more sets of handcuffs on him and another set of leg irons. One threw Mehmood against a wall. The guards forced him to run down a long ramp, the irons cutting into his wrists and ankles. The physical abuse was mixed with verbal taunts.

"After two weeks Mehmood was allowed to make a telephone call to his wife. She was not at home and Mehmood was told that he would have to wait six weeks to try again. He first saw her, on a visit, three months after his arrest. All that time he was kept in a windowless cell, in solitary confinement, with two overhead fluorescent lights on all the time. In the end he was charged with using an invalid Social Security card. He was deported in May 2002, nearly eight months after his arrest.

The faith tradition I share with Ashcroft includes this teaching from Jesus: "whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me."

And make no mistake: the disgraceful treatment suffered by many of these vulnerable immigrants at the hands of the administration has created deep resentments and hurt the cooperation desperately needed from immigrant communities in the US and from the Security Services of other countries.

Second, these gross violations of their rights have seriously damaged US moral authority and goodwill around the world, and delegitimized US efforts to continue promoting Human Rights around the world. As one analyst put it, "We used to set the standard; now we have lowered the bar." And our moral authority is, after all, our greatest source of enduring strength in the world.

And the handling of prisoners at Guantanamo has been particularly harmful to America's image. Even England and Australia have criticized our departure from international law and the Geneva Convention. Secretary Rumsfeld's handling of the captives there has been about as thoughtful as his "postwar" plan for Iraq.

So the mass violations of civil liberties have hurt rather than helped. But there is yet another reason for urgency in stopping what this administration is doing. Where Civil Liberties are concerned, they have taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, "Big Brother"-style government --- toward the dangers prophesied by George Orwell in his book "1984" --- than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America.

And they have done it primarily by heightening and exploiting public anxieties and apprehensions. Rather than leading with a call to courage, this Administration has chosen to lead us by inciting fear.

Almost eighty years ago, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote "Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards.... They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty." Those who won our independence, Brandeis asserted, understood that "courage [is] the secret of liberty" and "fear [only] breeds repression."

Rather than defending our freedoms, this Administration has sought to abandon them. Rather than accepting our traditions of openness and accountability, this Administration has opted to rule by secrecy and unquestioned authority. Instead, its assaults on our core democratic principles have only left us less free and less secure.

Throughout American history, what we now call Civil Liberties have often been abused and limited during times of war and perceived threats to security. The best known instances include the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798-1800, the brief suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the extreme abuses during World War I and the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids immediately after the war, the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the excesses of the FBI and CIA during the Vietnam War and social turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

But in each of these cases, the nation has recovered its equilibrium when the war ended and absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret.

There are reasons for concern this time around that what we are experiencing may no longer be the first half of a recurring cycle but rather, the beginning of something new. For one thing, this war is predicted by the administration to "last for the rest of our lives." Others have expressed the view that over time it will begin to resemble the "war" against drugs --- that is, that it will become a more or less permanent struggle that occupies a significant part of our law enforcement and security agenda from now on. If that is the case, then when --- if ever -- does this encroachment on our freedoms die a natural death?

It is important to remember that throughout history, the loss of civil liberties by individuals and the aggregation of too much unchecked power in the executive go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin.

A second reason to worry that what we are witnessing is a discontinuity and not another turn of the recurring cycle is that the new technologies of surveillance --- long anticipated by novelists like Orwell and other prophets of the "Police State" --- are now more widespread than they have ever been.

And they do have the potential for shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of the state and the freedom of the individual in ways both subtle and profound.

Moreover, these technologies are being widely used not only by the government but also by corporations and other private entities. And that is relevant to an assessment of the new requirements in the Patriot Act for so many corporations --- especially in the finance industries --- to prepare millions of reports annually for the government on suspicious activities by their customers. It is also relevant to the new flexibility corporations have been given to share information with one another about their customers.

The third reason for concern is that the threat of more terror strikes is all too real. And the potential use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist groups does create a new practical imperative for the speedy exercise of discretionary power by the executive branch --- just as the emergence of nuclear weapons and ICBMs created a new practical imperative in the Cold War that altered the balance of war-making responsibility between Congress and the President.

But President Bush has stretched this new practical imperative beyond what is healthy for our democracy. Indeed, one of the ways he has tried to maximize his power within the American system has been by constantly emphasizing his role as Commander-in-Chief, far more than any previous President --- assuming it as often and as visibly as he can, and bringing it into the domestic arena and conflating it with his other roles: as head of government and head of state --- and especially with his political role as head of the Republican Party.

Indeed, the most worrisome new factor, in my view, is the aggressive ideological approach of the current administration, which seems determined to use fear as a political tool to consolidate its power and to escape any accountability for its use. Just as unilateralism and dominance are the guiding principles of their disastrous approach to international relations, they are also the guiding impulses of the administration's approach to domestic politics. They are impatient with any constraints on the exercise of power overseas --- whether from our allies, the UN, or international law. And in the same way, they are impatient with any obstacles to their use of power at home --- whether from Congress, the courts, the press, or the rule of law.

Ashcroft has also authorized FBI agents to attend church meetings, rallies, political meetings and any other citizen activity open to the public simply on the agents' own initiative, reversing a decades old policy that required justification to supervisors that such infiltrations has a provable connection to a legitimate investigation.

They have even taken steps that seem to be clearly aimed at stifling dissent.

The Bush Justice Department has recently begun a highly disturbing criminal prosecution of the environmental group Greenpeace because of a non-violent direct action protest against what Greenpeace claimed was the illegal importation of endangered mahogany from the Amazon. Independent legal experts and historians have said that the prosecution --- under an obscure and bizarre 1872 law against "sailor-mongering" --- appears to be aimed at inhibiting Greenpeace's First Amendment activities.

And at the same time they are breaking new ground by prosecuting Greenpeace, the Bush Administration announced just a few days ago that it is dropping the investigations of 50 power plants for violating the Clean Air Act --- a move that Senator Chuck Schumer said, "basically announced to the power industry that it can now pollute with impunity."

The politicization of law enforcement in this administration is part of their larger agenda to roll back the changes in government policy brought about by the New Deal and the Progressive Movement. Toward that end, they are cutting back on Civil Rights enforcement, Women's Rights, progressive taxation, the estate tax, access to the courts, Medicare, and much more. And they approach every issue as a partisan fight to the finish, even in the areas of national security and terror.

Instead of trying to make the "War on Terrorism" a bipartisan cause, the Bush White House has consistently tried to exploit it for partisan advantage. The President goes to war verbally against terrorists in virtually every campaign speech and fundraising dinner for his political party. It is his main political theme. Democratic candidates like Max Cleland in Georgia were labeled unpatriotic for voting differently from the White House on obscure amendments to the Homeland Security Bill.

When the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, was embroiled in an effort to pick up more congressional seats in Texas by forcing a highly unusual redistricting vote in the state senate, he was able to track down Democratic legislators who fled the state to prevent a quorum (and thus prevent the vote) by enlisting the help of President Bush's new Department of Homeland Security, as many as 13 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration who conducted an eight-hour search, and at least one FBI agent (though several other agents who were asked to help refused to do so.)

By locating the Democrats quickly with the technology put in place for tracking terrorists, the Republicans were able to succeed in focusing public pressure on the weakest of the Senators and forced passage of their new political redistricting plan. Now, thanks in part to the efforts of three different federal agencies, Bush and DeLay are celebrating the gain of up to seven new Republican congressional seats in the next Congress.

The White House timing for its big push for a vote in Congress on going to war with Iraq also happened to coincide exactly with the start of the fall election campaign in September a year ago. The President's chief of staff said the timing was chosen because "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

White House political advisor Karl Rove advised Republican candidates that their best political strategy was to "run on the war". And as soon as the troops began to mobilize, the Republican National Committee distributed yard signs throughout America saying, "I support President Bush and the troops" --- as if they were one and the same.

This persistent effort to politicize the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism for partisan advantage is obviously harmful to the prospects for bipartisan support of the nation's security policies. By sharp contrast, consider the different approach that was taken by Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the terrible days of October 1943 when in the midst of World War II, he faced a controversy with the potential to divide his bipartisan coalition. He said, "What holds us together is the prosecution of the war. No... man has been asked to give up his convictions. That would be indecent and improper. We are held together by something outside, which rivets our attention. The principle that we work on is, 'Everything for the war, whether controversial or not, and nothing controversial that is not bona fide for the war.' That is our position. We must also be careful that a pretext is not made of war needs to introduce far-reaching social or political changes by a side wind."

Yet that is exactly what the Bush Administration is attempting to do --- to use the war against terrorism for partisan advantage and to introduce far reaching controversial changes in social policy by a "side wind," in an effort to consolidate its political power.

It is an approach that is deeply antithetical to the American spirit. Respect for our President is important. But so is respect for our people. Our founders knew --- and our history has proven --- that freedom is best guaranteed by a separation of powers into co-equal branches of government within a system of checks and balances to prevent the unhealthy concentration of too much power in the hands of any one person or group.

Our framers were also keenly aware that the history of the world proves that Republics are fragile. The very hour of America's birth in Philadelphia, when Benjamin Franklin was asked, "What have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?" he cautiously replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it."

And even in the midst of our greatest testing, Lincoln knew that our fate was tied to the larger question of whether ANY nation so conceived could long endure.

This Administration simply does not seem to agree that the challenge of preserving democratic freedom cannot be met by surrendering core American values.

Incredibly, this Administration has attempted to compromise the most precious rights that America has stood for all over the world for more than 200 years: due process, equal treatment under the law, the dignity of the individual, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom from promiscuous government surveillance.

And in the name of security, this Administration has attempted to relegate the Congress and the Courts to the sidelines and replace our democratic system of checks and balances with an unaccountable Executive. And all the while, it has constantly angled for new ways to exploit the sense of crisis for partisan gain and political dominance. How dare they!

Years ago, during World War II, one of our most eloquent Supreme Court Justices, Robert Jackson, wrote that the President should be given the "widest latitude" in wartime, but he warned against the "loose and irresponsible invocation of war as an excuse for discharging the Executive Branch from the rules of law that govern our Republic in times of peace. No penance would ever expiate the sin against free government," Jackson said, "of holding that a President can escape control of executive powers by law through assuming his military role. Our government has ample authority under the Constitution to take those steps which are genuinely necessary for our security. At the same time, our system demands that government act only on the basis of measures that have been the subject of open and thoughtful debate in Congress and among the American people, and that invasions of the liberty or equal dignity of any individual are subject to review by courts which are open to those affected and independent of the government which is curtailing their freedom."

So what should be done? Well, to begin with, our country ought to find a way to immediately stop its policy of indefinitely detaining American citizens without charges and without a judicial determination that their detention is proper.

Such a course of conduct is incompatible with American traditions and values, with sacred principles of due process of law and separation of powers.

It is no accident that our Constitution requires in criminal prosecutions a "speedy and public trial." The principles of liberty and the accountability of government, at the heart of what makes America unique, require no less. The Bush Administration's treatment of American citizens it calls "enemy combatants" is nothing short of un-American.

Second, foreign citizens held in Guantanamo should be given hearings to determine their status provided for under Article V of the Geneva Convention, a hearing that the United States has given those captured in every war until this one, including Vietnam and the Gulf War.

If we don't provide this, how can we expect American soldiers captured overseas to be treated with equal respect? We owe this to our sons and daughters who fight to defend freedom in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.

Third, the President should seek congressional authorization for the military commissions he says he intends to use instead of civilian courts to try some of those who are charged with violating the laws of war. Military commissions are exceptional in American law and they present unique dangers. The prosecutor and the judge both work for the same man, the President of the United States. Such commissions may be appropriate in time of war, but they must be authorized by Congress, as they were in World War II, and Congress must delineate the scope of their authority. Review of their decisions must be available in a civilian court, at least the Supreme Court, as it was in World War II.

Next, our nation's greatness is measured by how we treat those who are the most vulnerable. Noncitizens who the government seeks to detain should be entitled to some basic rights. The administration must stop abusing the material witness statute. That statute was designed to hold witnesses briefly before they are called to testify before a grand jury. It has been misused by this administration as a pretext for indefinite detention without charge. That is simply not right.

Finally, I have studied the Patriot Act and have found that along with its many excesses, it contains a few needed changes in the law. And it is certainly true that many of the worst abuses of due process and civil liberties that are now occurring are taking place under the color of laws and executive orders other than the Patriot Act.

Nevertheless, I believe the Patriot Act has turned out to be, on balance, a terrible mistake, and that it became a kind of Tonkin Gulf Resolution conferring Congress's blessing for this President's assault on civil liberties. Therefore, I believe strongly that the few good features of this law should be passed again in a new, smaller law --- but that the Patriot Act must be repealed.

As John Adams wrote in 1780, ours is a government of laws and not of men. What is at stake today is that defining principle of our nation, and thus the very nature of America. As the Supreme Court has written, "Our Constitution is a covenant running from the first generation of Americans to us and then to future generations." The Constitution includes no wartime exception, though its Framers knew well the reality of war. And, as Justice Holmes reminded us shortly after World War I, the Constitution's principles only have value if we apply them in the difficult times as well as those where it matters less.

The question before us could be of no greater moment: will we continue to live as a people under the rule of law as embodied in our Constitution? Or will we fail future generations, by leaving them a Constitution far diminished from the charter of liberty we have inherited from our forebears? Our choice is clear.

Please see there diaries by Rep. Conyers and Sen. Feingold both of whom have been fighting on this front in Congress:
  1. http://www.dailykos.com/...
  2. http://www.dailykos.com/...
  3. http://www.dailykos.com/...
  4. http://www.dailykos.com/...
  5. http://www.dailykos.com/...
  6. http://www.dailykos.com/...


Thank you.

Read and comment here.

Sunday, December 4

Why I hope Al Gore is our next President

In 1988 when I was first aware of Al Gore he seemed young, but there was something special about him as a candidate. When he spoke you could tell that he cared about the things he was talking about, that he was knowledgable about his subject and that being knowledgable was also important to him.

Here are the things I know about Gore...

Cross posted at dkos
Cross posted at PoliticalTheaterBlog


He is dedicated to the environment:

There are scientific warnings now of another onrushing catastrophe. We were warned of an imminent attack by Al Qaeda; we didn't respond. We were warned the levees would break in New Orleans; we didn't respond. Now, the scientific community is warning us that the average hurricane will continue to get stronger because of global warming. A scientist at MIT has published a study well before this tragedy showing that since the 1970s, hurricanes in both the Atlantic and the Pacific have increased in duration, and in intensity, by about 50 %. The newscasters told us after Hurricane Katrina went over the southern tip of Florida that there was a particular danger for the Gulf Coast of the hurricanes becoming much stronger because it was passing over unusually warm waters in the gulf. The waters in the gulf have been unusually warm. The oceans generally have been getting warmer. And the pattern is exactly consistent with what scientists have predicted for twenty years. Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming. [applause] It is important to learn the lessons of what happens when scientific evidence and clear authoritative warnings are ignored in order to induce our leaders not to do it again and not to ignore the scientists again and not to leave us unprotected in the face of those threats that are facing us right now. [applause]
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He is not afraid to criticize Bush or republican policy:

The direction in which our nation is being led is deeply troubling to me -- not only in Iraq but also here at home on economic policy, social policy and environmental policy.

Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country and that some important American values are being placed at risk. And they want to set it right.

The way we went to war in Iraq illustrates this larger problem. Normally, we Americans lay the facts on the table, talk through the choices before us and make a decision. But that didn't really happen with this war -- not the way it should have. And as a result, too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price, for the strategic miscalculations, serious misjudgments, and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm's way.

I'm convinced that one of the reasons that we didn't have a better public debate before the Iraq War started is because so many of the impressions that the majority of the country had back then turn out to have been completely wrong. Leaving aside for the moment the question of how these false impressions got into the public's mind, it might be healthy to take a hard look at the ones we now know were wrong and clear the air so that we can better see exactly where we are now and what changes might need to be made.

In any case, what we now know to have been false impressions include the following:

(1) Saddam Hussein was partly responsible for the attack against us on September 11th, 2001, so a good way to respond to that attack would be to invade his country and forcibly remove him from power.

(2) Saddam was working closely with Osama Bin Laden and was actively supporting members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group, giving them weapons and money and bases and training, so launching a war against Iraq would be a good way to stop Al Qaeda from attacking us again.

(3) Saddam was about to give the terrorists poison gas and deadly germs that he had made into weapons which they could use to kill millions of Americans. Therefore common sense alone dictated that we should send our military into Iraq in order to protect our loved ones and ourselves against a grave threat.

(4) Saddam was on the verge of building nuclear bombs and giving them to the terrorists. And since the only thing preventing Saddam from acquiring a nuclear arsenal was access to enriched uranium, once our spies found out that he had bought the enrichment technology he needed and was actively trying to buy uranium from Africa, we had very little time left. Therefore it seemed imperative during last Fall's election campaign to set aside less urgent issues like the economy and instead focus on the congressional resolution approving war against Iraq.

(5) Our GI's would be welcomed with open arms by cheering Iraqis who would help them quickly establish public safety, free markets and Representative Democracy, so there wouldn't be that much risk that US soldiers would get bogged down in a guerrilla war.

(6) Even though the rest of the world was mostly opposed to the war, they would quickly fall in line after we won and then contribute lots of money and soldiers to help out, so there wouldn't be that much risk that US taxpayers would get stuck with a huge bill.

Now, of course, everybody knows that every single one of these impressions was just dead wrong.

link


He is a man of faith but a real one who believes that we should value diversity and strengthen all families:

Two reviews of his and Tipper's book JOINED AT THE HEART :

From Publishers Weekly:

"For us, as for most Americans," write the former vice-president and his wife, "family is our bedrock, and we believe the strength of the American family is the nation's bedrock." But the American family has changed substantially in the last half century and so have the cultural and economic conditions under which it exists. The families the Gores have encountered in a decade of research reflect these changes: one couple has children from the husband's three different relationships, a gay white couple adopts two black children, a single mother struggles with poverty. The couple add stories from their own marriage and consult with historians, sociologists, psychologists and educators, giving the American family the same comprehensive treatment Al's Earth in the Balance gave the environment. Al and Tipper examine subjects as diverse as the increased divorce rate, the parent-teen gap, dual-income households and the health problems associated with sleep deprivation. They divide the book into themes, including love, communication, work, play and community, and show how these factors influence one another, taking a holistic approach to the underlying problems affecting today's families. Yet although they declare America should "provide every possible support to those most important to us," they make very few firm recommendations on government policy; those reading with an eye toward identifying planks in another Gore presidential campaign will have their work cut out for them. "

Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

"Coauthoring this very readable work, the Gores affirm their respect and support for culturally and structurally variant American families, loving individuals committed to each other's welfare. Based on personal experiences and interviews with others in traditional and nontraditional relationships, the authors offer a sampling of caring individuals struggling to balance family, work, play, and community to support one another, adults and children, together with the future of this country. The Gores relate these families' experiences to the environments in which they live, offering a critique of the social programs needed to support successful family life: affordable shelter, reliable and competent child care, pre- and post-school time supervised activities, employee family-leave provisions, well-run community facilities, and services for all age levels. They argue that it is increasingly critical to maintain and grow our country's various sources of "social capital," to understand and support families, the too often unacknowledged vital units of our American society. This convincing, multiresourced work is recommended for public and academic library purchase. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/02; also released this November is The Spirit of the Family, a photography book edited by the Gores.-Ed.]-Suzanne W. Wood, formerly with SUNY Coll. of Technology at Alfre."

--Suzanne W. Wood, formerly with SUNY Coll. of Technology at Alfred
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

link

Yes while he is a brilliant policy wonk he is also very funny:

The veep's playful antics are particularly legendary among staff members. On one flight home after a trip to the former Soviet Union, Gore ambled back through the staff section and came across his national security adviser, Leon Fuerth, fast asleep against a window. Sensing a photo op not to be missed, he sat down beside him and launched into an animated discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia. Gore leaned into him and grew increasingly demonstrative as Fuerth remained slumped down, totally oblivious to the tongue-lashing, the photographer and the circle of giggling staff members who had gathered around. According to his aides, Gore is notorious for such stunts -- and usually makes sure his unsuspecting target receives a copy of the photo.
.......snip......

Presidential adviser Paul Begala called Gore's dry wit "a really rare gift because it deflates egos, it eases tension. In a very deadpan, exaggerated, comic sort of way," Begala said, "he'll make fun of the president or of other big-shots by sort of pretending to be an absolute yes man: 'That's a great idea. We should definitely do that. Why stop there?' It's a kind of humor that requires a deep reservoir of self-confidence, a sense of real familiarity with your colleagues ... and obviously high intellect to be able to turn it around."

link



He is visionary in matters of the environment and technology:

"The project, which would need approval by Congress, is expected to cost between $20 million and $50 million. Gore sees it as an invaluable resource for scientific, educational and weather research.

It would show hurricanes and other threatening weather patterns, forest fires, cloud formations and other phenomena in real time. There are no full-Earth images now available, although existing satellites track regions of the world.

The vice president announced the program Friday at a technology conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

"As we connect all our classrooms to the Internet, we have the opportunity to bring new education and potential scientific projects as well as global weather observations to millions of American classrooms and living rooms via television and computer," Gore told an audience of academics, industry leaders and politicians."

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He was right about Social Security:


Stance on Social Security reform featuring private accounts: opposes.

"We have the chance to reform Social Security the right way, in a way that preserves its basic guarantees, pays down our debt, keeps our economy strong, and enables us to meet our other great challenges." Gore has detailed a plan to keep Social Security solvent through at least 2050. As President, Gore would use today's budget surpluses to pay down the national debt and use the interest saved from debt reduction to shore up the Social Security Trust Fund. Gore would also raise benefits for widows and eliminate the motherhood penalty that reduces benefits for women who take time off from work to raise their children. Gore supports a guaranteed benefit for Social Security and opposes raising the retirement age. "Social Security isn't supposed to be a system of winners and losers. It's supposed to be a bedrock guarantee of a minimum decent retirement,"

[Source: press release for speech delivered at Fordham University, NY May 16, 2000] more


And he was right about about the war in Iraq:

"I want to talk about the relationship between America's war against terrorism and America's proposed war against Iraq.

Like most Americans, I've been wrestling with the question of what our country needs to do to defend itself from the kind of focused, intense and evil attack that we suffered a year ago September 11th. We ought to assume that the forces that are responsible for that attack are even now attempting to plan another attack against us.

I'm speaking today in an effort to recommend a specific course of action for our country, which I sincerely believe would be better for our country than the policy that is now being pursued by President Bush. Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.

To begin with, to put first things first, I believe that we ought to be focusing our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and who have thus far gotten away with it. The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold-blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor apprehended, much less punished and neutralized. I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from this urgent task simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy than was predicted.

Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another. We should remain focused on the war against terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

And, I believe that we are perfectly capable of staying the course in our war against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion. If you're going after Jesse James, you ought to organize the posse first, especially if you're in the middle of a gunfight with somebody who's out after you.

I don't think we should allow anything to diminish our focus on the necessity for avenging the 3,000 Americans who were murdered and dismantling that network of terrorists that we know were responsible for it. The fact that we don't know where they are should not cause us to focus instead on some other enemy whose location may be easier to identify. We have other enemies . . ."

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I have no idea if Al Gore has any plans to run for President. But I do know that he is the best qualified candidate for the job IMO.


I wanted to include this information on Gore's new position on healtcare. As one of the posters below reminded me, Gore decided that single payer healtcare was the only thing that would save our broken system.

In Surprising Shift, Gore Says He Favors Single-Payer Health Care System WASHINGTON – Noting that 40 million Americans now have no health insurance, Al Gore says he now favors "single-payer" national health coverage, a proposal that would require a massive change in the health insurance system

With single-payer coverage, money to pay for health care – such as insurance premiums and tax dollars – would be collected by a single agency, which would then pay for comprehensive coverage for all citizens.

Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee and a potential candidate in 2004, offered his views in response to a question at a synagogue in New York during a tour promoting his book "Joined at the Heart," written with his wife, Tipper.

"I was planning to wait and make a major speech on this and I probably should, but I'll just answer your question candidly," Gore told the moderator.

Gore's comments Wednesday night were first reported by ABC News' Internet political report "The Note" and were confirmed by Gore spokesman Jano Cabrera, who said any details would come in a future speech on health care.

"I think we've reached a point where the entire health care system is in impending crisis," Gore said. "I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we should begin drafting a single-payer national health insurance plan."

Depending on the details, calling for a single-payer plan could be a very dramatic step for Gore. During the 2000 primary campaign, Gore attacked Democratic rival Bill Bradley's central proposal – universal health care – calling it too expensive and not expansive enough to help poor people afford full coverage.

Another potential Democratic candidate for president, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, pushed for health care for all Americans in a speech Thursday night to an education group in Washington. He wants to expand coverage under Medicare and Medicaid to cover people who don't have insurance.
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How to split posts and other posting tips

Hi everyone,

just posting a brief note on splitting your posts. Here is how it can be done.

See below the fold..


1. Draft your post as if it is a single long post Using either the "Compose" mode or the "Edit hmtl" mode (the former editor mode is more user-friendly, and the latter is for better control but it requires some knowledge of html).

2. Use the "preview" feature to see how the post will look like. Repeat the editing process until you are satisfied with how your post looks and reads.

3. When the post is good to go, decide if and where you want to split the post into frontpage portion and the rest. If you don't want to split, just click "Publish Post" and revisit the blog to see how the post looks. You can re-edit the post anytime afterwards.

4. If splitting, switch to the "Edit Html" mode of the editor (unless you were already using it), and identify where you decided to split, and copy and paste these two lines at that spot:

More below the fold..
<span class="fullpost">


5. Then while still in the html mode, at the very end of the post, add the following code line:

</span>


6. That's it. Go ahead and publish your post, and reload the frontpage to see if the post and the split worked as intended.

Have fun (splitting and) posting!

Update: I will start compiling a collection of posting tips in this post. For starters, here are some blogger.com help pages for the (WYSIWYG) editor available:
- Posting and Editing FAQ
- How do I make a link to another webpage?

More help and links to follow in due course.

If you are having trouble with any feature of the blog including posting, this would be a good place to post your feedback as comments.


Read and comment here.

Friday, December 2

Al Gore Has the Good Judgement

Al Gore has done a couple of things that really put him in a good position with the base of the party. The issue that is on everyone’s mind right now is the War in Iraq, and how we got into the war.

While several other well-known Democrats are now trying to explain themselves to voters. This article from the New York Post explains it all. And, please note how Al Gore is mentioned. But, before everyone gets too excited, I’d like to suggest to people that a lot more issues will come and go before 2008, so in my opinion, we all should stay calm. We may not actually have many forces in Iraq in 2008. The issue will be one of judgment. Who was correct in voting and speaking out against the war?

We know that Al Gore was on the right side of this issue from the beginning.


Read and comment here.

Thursday, December 1

Let's Make Al Gore 'Inevitable'

While many wise heads in the blogosphere counsel against premature endorsement, I feel we Democrats need to impose our own brand of inevitability on the 2008 election before the msm and dlc get any more of a head start than we've already given them.

As we all know, Al Gore should have been president for the past five years. Imagine how different our world would be today if the SCOTUS had not staged a coup in 2000! No one is more aware of this than Gore himself. It's Gore who has been giving the well-reasoned, ballsey policy statements on the critical issues facing us today. It's Gore who opposed a pointless - now edging toward genocidal - war from the very start. Al Gore has taken the full measure of our enemy as has no other Democrat. Yes, let's make him inevitable. Let's make him president!

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National AIDS Day

Support World AIDS Day

Good Morning,
Today is National AIDS Awareness day. Wear your ribbons or tell a friend to get tested, or get tested yourself. It's not just an illness in Africa. Evidently a lot of young gay men think now that it's an "older" gay man's disease. The fact is, it's still a problem in this country, especially among young black women. Anyway, educate yourself at the link above and spread the word, not the disease.

Blessings,
Joy

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Draft Gore Petition