Monday, July 30, 2007

Get Serious About Global Warming: Pass a Carbon Tax Now!

With the US being world’s largest producer of CO2, it is past time that the US gets serious about reducing CO2 emissions. Instead of seriously addressing the issue however, the US passes feel-good measures like ethanol mandates, tinkers with CAFÉ standards, builds a few windmills and appropriates money for research grants. The inconvenient truth is that to curtail CO2 emissions we must account for the externality of global warming produced by those carbon emissions. The two ways of doing this are a system of cap and trade or a carbon tax. This excellent article from Weathervane, the website sponsored by Resources for the Future, examines the pros and cons of a system of cap and trade versus a carbon tax and tells why a carbon tax is preferable and how it should be designed. Rod

Should We Abandon Cap-and-Trade in Favor of a CO2 Tax?
A Weathervane Commentary
by Ian W.H. ParryMarch 23, 2007

With widespread agreement that global warming is occurring, the birth of carbon permit trading in Europe, and various state-level mitigation initiatives in the United States, it is clear that federal government action to control U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is long overdue. Where people disagree is how stringent these policies should be and what instruments should be used. Following the success of the sulfur trading program imposed on the power sector, the momentum in Congress is clearly for some form of cap-and-trade permit system. But before Congress passes new legislation, there is a serious alternative to consider: a CO2 tax. To continue reading:
http://www.weathervane.rff.org/policy_design/taxes_and_subsidies/Should_We_Abandon_Cap_and_Trade_for_CO2Tax.cfm?pf=1

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Former Reagan Assistant Defense Secretary Calls for “Immediate and Sweeping” Changes in Iraq Strategy

I do not pretend to have the knowledge or the wisdom to know what strategy we should pursue to get out of Iraq. But, I can only hope we use more care in getting out than we did in getting in. Somewhere between “cut and run” and “stay the course” there must be a solution that will avoid disaster.

While watching C-span this weekend, I was impressed by the presentation of Lawrence J. Korb testifying before a House Committee on Iraq troop deployment. Mr Korb is the Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a Senior Adviser to the Center for Defence Information. He served as Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1981 to 1985 under Ronald Reagan. For his service he was awarded the Department of Defense’s medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Mr. Korb has solid credentials as a supporter of national security and the American military and he also has been a consistent critic of the Bush Administrations decisions that led us to war in Iraq and of the conduct of the war. He says the surge strategy is not working and cannot work and Iraq’s squabbling leaders are not making progress in reaching a political accord. “The US needs a new strategy,” says Mr. Korb, “that will prevent Iraq from becoming a launching pad for international terrorist groups and a source of even greater instability in the middle east.”

He calls for withdrawing American forces from Iraq by the fall of 2008, and positioning them in neighboring countries where they could prevent Iraq sectarian violence from spreading beyond its borders. He also calls for a major diplomatic initiative to encourage Middle Eastern leaders and the UN to continue working with Iraq to peacefully settle their differences.

The recommendation of the Iraq Study Group, while valid at the time, are not a guide for the future, he says. The recommendations of the Iraq Study Group have been overtaken by events and no longer apply. He calls for an immediately halt to the training and supplying of the Iraq military forces. By arming and training the Iraqi military, we are in effect arming different side in the Iraq civil wars and we may also be arming forces that will turn their weapons on us as we began to disengage.

We need to make immediate and sweeping changes, says Mr. Korb, not further experiments and tinkering.

To read an article by Mr. Korb expressing these views, see the following link. http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070713/OPINION03/707130338/1110/OPINION03

For more on Korb and his analysis or Iraq, the following link, links to more articles he has written on the issue.
http://www.americanprogress.org/experts/KorbLawrence.html

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

But, Everyone Thought Saddam Had Nuclear Weapons

Bush loyalist continue to insist that despite not finding any nuclear weapons in Iraq, that absolutely everyone who had adequate knowledge to have an informed opinion had concluded that Iraq had nuclear weapons. The argument is that we can’t blame Bush for being wrong; everyone else was wrong also.

“Why did Clinton three times cite the nuclear danger of Iraq in his December 1998 speech?” a fellow group member on a discussion site to which I belong asked in a recent exchange. “The Clinton and Bush Administration had exactly the same basic intelligence estimate regarding Iraq.” Statements from Al Gore, Sandy Berger, Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, John Kerry, and numerous others will be quoted to justify Bush’s decision to go to war with Iraq.

But what the Bush loyalists choose to ignore is the time factor. At one point in time, the Clinton Administration did conclude Saddam probably was reconstituting his weapons program. They did believe he was a threat. And, I think Bush was correct to apply pressure on Saddam, forcing him to allow the IAEC inspectors back in the country. But then, Bush ignored what they found. But by the time Bush led us to war, the inspectors had been back in the country and the IAEC testified they could find no trace of nuclear weapons.

By the time Bush decided to go to war, there was ample reason to believe Iraq did not have nuclear weapons. The important issue facing us now, is how to get out of Iraq, not how we got in. Nevertheless, the truth should be told, from time to time, simply so it is not forgotten. And maybe, by acknowledging our mistakes we will be less likely to repeat them. If told that an event occurred a certain way often enough, then overtime it is easy to forget what really happened.

In the March 7, 2003 presentation to the U.N. Security Council on the progress of the inspection effort in Iraq, Agency Director General Mohamed of The International Atomic Energy Commission stated that the IAEA had conducted a total of 218 nuclear inspections at 141 sites, including 21 that have not been inspected before. These inspections were not only visual inspections but analysis of sediment and air and soil samples. In addition to the sites, 75 facilities such as military bases and storage facilities had been inspected. They also interviewed scientist and technicians with knowledge of nuclear development. The IAEA director stated that Iraq had been forthcoming in its cooperation.

He said that as of that date “there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities” and that “ there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990”. Also. “no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment.”
And finally, “no indication to date that Iraq imported magnets for use in centrifuge enrichment program.”

Don’t accept it when a Bush apologist says, “Everyone thought Saddam had Nuclear Weapons”. For the full transcript of the March 7th IAEC report, see the following link:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/03/07/sprj.irq.un.transcript.elbaradei/

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Dads Pay Support for Other Men's Kids

DNA tests expose inconsistency in Tennessee courts
By MELVIN CLAXTON and SHEILA BURKE Staff Writers

Five years ago, James Ridley was running scared, facing possible jail time after falling seriously behind on his child-support payments.

Ridley, left blind in one eye and permanently brain damaged after a brutal carjacking in 1995, owed $11,635 in support. The Nashville native said the court's solution, garnishing $104 from his weekly wages, left him nearly broke.

But there was something Ridley didn't know: The 9-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl he struggled to support were not his biological children. That bombshell would remain a secret until 2006, when DNA tests recommended by his lawyer revealed Ridley hadn't fathered either child by his former girlfriend. For the rest of the above story: http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070722/NEWS01/707220377

You would think that if a DNA test proves a man is not the father of a child that he should not be required to pay child support, but that is not the case. Thousands of men in Tennessee and maybe hundreds of thousands across America are paying child support for children that are not theirs. This is an outrageous injustice and should be corrected.

In Tennessee Rep. Stacy Campfield, (R-Knoxville) introduced a bill in the state legislature that would correct this injustice but unfortunately the bill did not become law.

“If a person was improperly imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, upon discovering irrefutable proof of innocence, the punishment should be set aside and the true criminal pursed,” says Campfield. “It is unjust and inconsistent logic to hold someone accountable for a crime he did not commit just to satisfy the victim’s need for justice. The same logic should apply in child support cases.”

For Campfield’s full essay on the issue: http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070728/OPINION01/707280314/1008 (does not open in new window, hit "go back" button to return)

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Democrats Get Bitchy!



Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and his wife, Jeri, arrive at the Bloomberg News party after the White House Correspondents' Dinner April 29, 2006, in Washington. (Joshua Roberts/ Getty Images)
.
Democratic Party operative Susan Estrich accuses former Sen. Fred Thompson of being a cradle-robber:
“The reaction I hear from every woman I know, those who have gotten sick to their stomachs over seeing middle-aged men cavorting with girls barely beyond their teen years, is a giant ‘yuck’.” http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2007/7/13/93121.shtml
Jeri Kehn Thompson is forty years old, a native of Hastinngs Nebraska, and a graduate of Indiana's DePauw University. She has worked as a political media consultant at the Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson, and Hand law firm in Washington, D.C. Before that, she was employed by the Senate Republican Conference and the Republican National Committee. Fred and Jeri were married on June 29, 2002 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Naperville Illinois. In October 2003 Jeri gave birth to their first child. A second child was born to them in November 2006

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Live Earth: An Ice Cream Pig Out to Raise Obesity Awareness

Here is an interesting take on the Live Earth Event from fellow blogger Jimmy Smith.
I have little doubt that global warming is real and that human activity is the primary cause, and maybe the enhanced public awareness justifies the energy gluttony. However, there is something offensive about being lectured to by those self-indulgent egotistical pop stars like Madonna. Rod

"One single Live Earth performer, Madonna, created more carbon emissions getting to the concert in her private jet than I would create in 120 years. And just one of the 8 Live Earth Concerts used as much electricity (with it's corresponding carbon emissions) as my house would use in 3 years."
Live Earth: An Ice Cream Pig Out to Raise Obesity Awareness

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The Missing Republican Urban Policy

Writing in today’s Washington Post, columnist David Broder says the Democratic Presidential race had developed a “different and welcome dynamic-a sharp competition among the leading candidates to become champions of the urban America.”
(Urban America's Moment http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/20/AR2007072002047_pf.html) It is welcome news that the Democrats are placing a renewed focus on urban issues and the deafening silence from Republicans on urban policy is disappointing.

Jack Kemp seems to be the last Republican who had an Urban policy. To give Bush credit, however, his American Dream Homeownership Initiative (ADDI) has increased homeownership among all Americans including the urban poor. And, his Faith Based initiative has leveraged federal funding to help the poor by allowing religious based organizations to access federal dollars. Both of these programs have had positive results. Otherwise, however, the Bush administration and Republicans in general have been silent on the issues of black poverty and urban problems.

Unfortunately the Democratic “champions of urban America” are offering all the wrong solutions. Republican neglect of the issue may be preferable to the Democratic “solutions”. Their solutions center around raising the minimum wage, expanding the earned-income tax credit, new subsidies for housing, easier access to college and job training, and universal health-care. I would like to see the Republicans join the debate so the full range of solutions are presented rather than the issue be restricted to a Welfare-state expansion bidding war.

These are the elements I would like to see in a Republican Urban policy.
1. Keep doing right the things that have worked:
· Homeownership expansion: The ADDI program has worked. The massive mortgage defaults we are seeing in housing is not among those new homeowners who received the ADDI down payment assistance, instead it is occurring among those with sub-prime loans. To qualify for the ADDI program, participants had to qualify for a good mortgage, so the program actually kept people from turning to sub-prime lenders. Expansion of homeownership builds individual wealth and strengthens families and communities. We should seek new ways to increase homeownership among the poor.

· Faith based initiative: It is a wise use of federal fund to fund those who have a passion for helping the poor.

2. Expand Welfare Reform-Stop the retreat. In the early 90’s Presidential candidate Bill Clinton vowed to "end welfare as we know it". Pushed along by the Republican Contract with America, which called for toughening the criteria for receiving welfare, the Republican Congress passed and President Clinton approved the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996. Critics made dire predictions about the consequences of welfare reform. But, those dire predictions did no prove correct and Welfare Reform was a tremendous success. The New Republic concluded, "A broad consensus now holds that welfare reform was certainly not a disaster--and that it may, in fact, have worked much as its designers had hoped." Overall welfare rolls were cut by over 50% and in some states they were cut almost 90%! Former welfare recipient found work. Since then however, we have retreated on Welfare Reform. A Republican position should be a proposal for a Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act II which would revitalize the program and continue the progress. In the short-term, Welfare Reform is more expensive than subsidizing poverty, but it is worth the investment.

3. Expand and continue the HOPE VI program. Launched in 1992, the HOPE VI program was a drastic change in public housing policy and one of the most ambitious urban redevelopment efforts in the nation's history. It replaced distressed public housing projects occupied exclusively by poor families, with redesigned mixed-income housing and provided housing vouchers to enable some of the original residents to rent apartments in the private market. The program was mismanaged in some communities, but were it worked, it worked well. One of the results was a net decrease in the amount of public housing and a destruction of federally created ghettos of poor people. It is bad social policy to put all poor people in big developments were there are no other examples of what life can be. Public housing creates a culture of poverty. HOPE VI corrects that and should be expanded. (http://www.urban.org/publications/411002.html http://www.brookings.edu/urban/20040517_metroview.htm)

4. Support marriage and stigmatize single motherhood. This would have to be a multifaceted program and would have to be approached with delicacy and compassion, but strengthening the black family and marriage should be public policy. The 2000 U.S. Census shows only 44.9% of black householders live with a spouse, compared to 80.6% of whites. Single motherhood must be addressed as a leading cause of black poverty.

5. Continue support for No Child Left Behind. The program may need to be renamed and redesigned, but the goal should be the same. Easier access to college and job training are going to help very little in a community where most black boys drop out of school and those who graduate may not be able to read but have a worthless high school diploma. Accountability, Charter schools, incentive pay for teachers who teach in the worse schools, single-gender schools, and other innovations needs to be part of the solution. The educational establishment is an obstacle to school reform. Those who owe their election to the education establishment special interest group are not going to advocate meaningful reform in this critical area.

5. Think outside the box. Advocate bold new solutions. One bold solution, proposed by Sociologist Charles Murray, would provide a grant of up to $10,000 per year for life for everyone over the age of 21. Admittedly, initially this would be an expensive program, but by replacing other forms of public assistance and with a modification of tax policy, it probably is not more expensive than current social policy spending and it has the promise of changing private behavior and values. Single men who father a child would be subject to having their grant taken to pay child support. (http://bostonreview.net/BR31.5/conley.html). I understand a serious candidate may not wish to advocate something as radical and as specific as the Murray plan, but should offer a promise of a bold new initiatives

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Whose Reagan?

Inside Track: Whose Reagan?
by Sean R. Singer

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Ronald Reagan famously told Mikhail Gorbachev in Berlin on June 12, 1987.

Usually only the last sentence of this quote garners attention, its context lost on casual observers who interpret it as a crusader’s command. But when read in context, it is not a demand; it is a conditional statement. Reagan does not assume Gorbachev wants peace, prosperity and liberalization, but observes that if the general secretary chooses them, there remains only one course of action: Gorbachev—and not Reagan or the U.S. military—must tear down the wall, not out of compulsion, but of his own volition.

To continue reading: http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=14992

This short article from the National Interest reminds us that Reagan was a "optimistic realist" in foreign affairs and " a reasonable and cautious man", who displayed "flexibility and pragmatism" These characteristics are absent in the current administration and those Republicans aspiring to succeed it. Unfortunately no Republican today is in the mold of Ronald Reagan or can lay claim to his mantle.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Al Gore's Chilian Bass Dinner Party was "Green" After all.

Pity poor Al Gore. It is tough being a prophet; everyone wants to see if you have feet of clay. Looking for any inconsistency by Gore to justify their dismissal of his global warming message, people even look to see what he is eating. Talk radio and the Internet were full of stories that he served endangered Chilean Sea Bass at his daughters' wedding party.
Well, it turns out he was serving an endangered species but the Chilean Sea Bass he served were farm-raised and did not endanger the endangered species.

Even if we do find that Mr. Gore is not "Mr. Green" in some of his personal behaviour, that should not invalidate the message. Bill Bennett wrote a book called "Book of Virtues", and then we discover that he is a high stakes gambler, hardly a virtuous activity. I resent being lectured to about conserving by people who fly private jets and consume more carbon fuel in a day than I will in a year. And, I resent being told to be virtuous by a high-stakes gambler. But the message is no less valid, because the messenger is flawed.

This time, Al was vindicated. The original story got a lot more attention than the follow-up that proved he was eating "green" after all. Those who jumped on Al ought to help set the record straight, but I won't be holding my breath.
To read the story:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/07/19/eagore119.xml

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Americans Would Drive less if Gas Cost More

Wow! What a concept! If something cost more, you will purchase less of it. Rod

Americans would hit brakes if gas hits $3.50: poll
Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:25AM EDT
By Rebekah Kebede
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some 40 percent of Americans would curb their driving habits if retail gasoline prices shot up to $3.50 a gallon, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
To continue reading:
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN1724728220070718?feedType=RSS&rpc=22&sp=true

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Vermont Town Bans Public Nudity

Hey! I got an idea! To keep winning elections we Republicans need to reenergize the religious right and take people's mind off the war and Bush's abuse of power. We can't allow Vermont to let people run around nude, can we? How about, Let's pass a constitutional amendment to ban public nudity? Rod

Vermont town bans public nudity after brash displays
Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:43AM EDT
By Zach Howard
BRATTLEBORO, Vermont (Reuters) - A Vermont town that is gaining national attention for brash displays of nudity -- from teens in the buff to naked elderly people -- awoke on Wednesday to an emergency ban on nakedness in most public places.
Officials in Brattleboro voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday night for a temporary 30-day ordinance prohibiting people from going about in the nude.

To continue reading: http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSN1823185120070719?feedType=RSS

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Why the United Nations Belongs in Iraq

Part of the way forward and out of Iraq is to recognize that Iraq is a "problem for the whole world". A humanitarian crisis in Iraq and a regional war should be of concern to all the world. If we fail, while we will be responsible for causing the crisis, it will not be our problem alone. If the UN can help us get out of the mess we created, we should grab it. It is encouraging that our UN Ambassador is welcoming the help being offered by the UN. I hope Bush has the wisdom to listen to his UN Ambassador and pursue UN help in solving the Iraqi crisis. In this New York Times editorial, United States UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, explains why the UN needs to intervene. Rod
July 20, 2007
By ZALMAY KHALILZAD
AFTER meeting with President Bush on Tuesday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the Iraqi situation is “a problem of the whole world” and that the United Nations is prepared to contribute to the “Iraqi government and people to help them overcome this difficulty.”
To continue reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/20/opinion/20khalilzad.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Predatory Lenders Lose one

Tennesseans to share $2.7M predatory loan settlement
Associated PressPublished: Tuesday, 07/17/07

Thousands of Tennessee consumers are eligible for a share of $2.7 million in restitution from Ameriquest Mortgage Co. and its affiliates as part of a national settlement of a predatory lending lawsuit against the companies, state officials said.
Under the settlement, more than 481,000 borrowers who were customers of Ameri quest Mortgage Co., Town and Country Credit Corp., and AMC Mortgage Services Inc. between Jan. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2005, are eligible for the restitution payments.
In Tennessee, about 5,690 consumers are eligible for shares of the settlement, which is estimated to be $325 million nationally.
The settlement resolves allegations that Ameriquest and its affiliates, among other things, misrepresented and did not adequately disclose the terms of home loans, such as whether a loan carried a fixed or an adjustable rate.
Other allegations were that Ameriquest and its affiliates charged excessive loan origination fees and prepayment penalties, and improperly in flated appraisals used to qualify borrowers for loans.
http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007707170330

As a Housing Counselor with a HUD-approved non-profit organization providing Loss Mitigation and Mortgage Default counseling, I witness the abuse by the low-life predatory lenders. I have witnessed customers who were refinanced five times in five years with each refinance stripping equity from the home until the customer lost their home. I know of one clients who's annual income was less than her annual house payment and the loan officer was aware of her income when he took the loan application. I have seen fraudulent appraisals and phony gift letters. I am pleased justice was served in this case. Hopefully Ameriquest will mend their ways and this will send a message to other lender. Real justice would result in some predatory lenders ending up in jail. Rod

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When "Good News" is Bad News

Consumers Finally Get a Break on Gas Prices
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 9:35 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON -- Food costs went up again but consumers finally got a break at the gas pumps in June, helping to lower inflation to the smallest increase in five months.
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that the Consumer Price Index edged up a virtually minuscule 0.2 percent in June following a 0.7 percent surge in May, which had been the biggest jump in 20 months.
The price moderation reflected a 1.1 percent decline in gasoline prices, which pushed total energy costs down by 0.5 percent, offsetting a 0.5 percent rise in food costs.
http://www.newsmax.com/scripts/money/printer.pl?s=pf&page=http://www.newsmax.com/money/archives/st/2007/7/18/93715.cfm?s=mo

When is “Good News” bad news? Every time consumers get a break on gas prices.
That sound you hear is not only change in the pocket of the consumer, but the sounds of a warming planet, and the sounds of another exploding bomb purchased with petrodollars. The decrease in gas prices means another consumer decided to purchase a gas-guzzling SUV rather than a fuel-efficient compact, another home buyer decided to move to the distant suburbs, a developer decided to close the deal on a low-density sprawl development rather than an in-fill development in the city, someone drove their car to work rather than took the bus, and an alternative fuel development became no longer viable. rod

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Campaigns and Cleavage

Sunday morning as I was hanging around the house preparing to go out and work in the yard, I had the TV on in the background but was in and out of the room and only vaguely aware of the program that was on. The program was To the Contrary which describes itself as “commentary from a variety of women’s perspective” or some such characterization. Suddenly the words “push-up bra” and “cleavage” caught my attention. (Words like that always seem to catch my attention.) The panelist were discussing the wife of Presidential undeclared, maybe-a-candidate Fred Thompson. I did not catch enough of the program to find out which panelist was saying what, but they were speculating how the public would respond to the wife of Fred Thomson as the potential first lady. I was surprised that they were even having this conversation and discussing her cleavage. The gist of the conversation seemed to be that she is so glamorous and sexy that it may cost him some votes, if he should run.

Wanting to know more, I later in the day, googled “Fred Thompson’s wife” and surprisingly found 1,570,000 hits! It seems that she has been fodder for gossip columnist and political pundits recently. Joe Scarborough who hosts a daily newscast on MSNBC as well as providing commentary on CNBC and NBC’s “Today Show” created controversy by speculating whether she “works the pole”.

A New York Times story referred to her as Fred’s “Trophy wife”. A feminist site called “Guerrilla Women of Tennessee” questioned: “The church ladies are going to vote for Jeri as First Lady?”

While the hip and sensitive are quick to condemn the slightest hint of sexism, bigotry or the slightest prejudicial remark or characterization of any group, it seems that beautiful women are still fair game. After all, people will tell a “dumb blond” joke who would not dare joke about any other identifiable group. And, in an age when "profiling" is taboo and we are to consider an Arabic-speaking, dark-skinned man in robes as an equal security threat to airline security as granny on her walker, it is still OK to assume that a younger attractive women with an older successful man is with him for suspect motives.

When we elect a President it is not just his policies we are voting for but whether or not we like the person. In the television age, the campaign is, in part, a beauty contest. “Charisma” may be more important than the candidates position on Social Security reform. Ronald Reagan had a likability that certainly helped him. Bill Clinton also benefited from being likable. He seemed like a guy with whom I would like to go bar hoping. I never voted for Bill Clinton, but I couldn't help but kind of like the guy. On the other hand, Al Gore seemed to suffer from a lack of personality. If Al Gore would have had only a little bit more of Reagan's or Clinton's likability, he might have been president.


Fred Thompson just looks “Presidential” and inspires trust and confidence. Maybe it is that deep voice and the roles he has played in the movies. He is the strong father-figure type and that can’t help but benefit him, should he seek the office. Along with the candidate however, the candidate’s family is also a consideration. We are not just selected the President but The First Family. JFK was certainly helped by having Jacqueline for a wife. She brought style and grace to the office along with JFK’s vitality and good looks. On the other hand, having Teresa Heinz Kerry as his wife did not help John Kerry.

Jeri Thompson is not the first beautiful glamorous blond in the life of Fred Thompson. When Fred was serving as Tennessee’s Senator he dated another beautiful, glamorous blond; country music star Lorrie Morgan. Jeri Thompson, it turns out, is not a country music singer or a Hollywood starlet. She has worked as a political media consultant for a large Washington law firm and has worked for the Senate Republican Conference and the Republican National Committee. She is 24 years younger than Fred Thompson and they have two young children. She is not a home-wrecker. Fred Thompson was divorced for seventeen years before he even met his second wife.

If Fred Thompson runs, it will be interesting to speculate which demographic will most likely vote against him because of his attractive wife. Will it be the “church wives” or the drab and less attractive, which may or may not be "church wives"? Single women or married? Will it help him with any demographic? Maybe it will actually help him with some voters. Maybe people won't hold the couples' good looks and charm against them. As for me, I will not hold it against Fred Thompson that he has a young, blond, beautiful, busty, brainy wife.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Senator Alexander Breaks with President on Iraq, Advocates Baker-Hamilton Report

I am very proud of my own Senator Lamar Alexander for breaking with the President on Iraq and advocating a responsible way to get out of the mess we created. He has co-sponsored legislation with Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) that would make the Baker-Hamilton report law. Alexander has been consistent supporter of the Iraq Study Group recommendations since it was issued late last year. The legislation he is sponsoring would not set a timetable for withdrawal but it would, said Alexander, get the US military “out of the combat business in Iraq and into the support, equipping and training business in a prompt and responsible way.”

The handwriting is on the wall. The US is not going to continue our current combat level of commitment to Iraq indefinitely. With many troops on their third tour of duty in Iraq, we cannot continue the current commitment with our worn-out all volunteer military and no one is going to support a draft.

However, an immediate withdrawal, which many Democrats desire, could be a disaster. It is not inconceivable to see genocide on the scale of Darfur. Al qaida could gain a foothold in the country, and an expanded war with Iran supporting Shai and Saudi Arabia supporting Sunni factions is a realistic possibility. Also, Turkey is not happy with a Kurdish state on their border and the incursion of Kurdish gorillas into their country. The tension between Turkey and Kurdistan could lead to war.
I hope we use much more care getting out of Iraq than we did getting in. An immediate withdrawal would be the heights of irresponsibility, equal to the irresponsibility that got us in Iraq.

While most Republicans want to wait until September when General Petraeus gives his report on the result of the surge before taking any action, Alexander has said there is no reason to wait. Lamar says we need a strategy for getting out of Iraq and said the surge is “a tactic, not a strategy” and that, “The surge makes much more sense when it’s considered in the context of the Baker-Hamilton recommendations because it’s part of a long term plan.”
Senator Alexander said, “President Bush is right that we can’t afford to fail in Iraq. That is why I support the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group,” “It is important for the president, the Congress, our country and our troops if we speak with one voice on Iraq. The Iraq Study Group report is a way to build that bi-partisan consensus.”

We need more Senators like Lamar Alexander who do not blindly following the President but neither do they advocate an irresponsible policy of “cut an run”.

For more on this topic: http://alexander.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Home.Home
http://host1.bondware.com/~citypaper/news.php?viewStory=56955&cache_id=4159
http://www.usip.org/isg/index.html

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Conservatives Challenge Presidential Power Grab, Demand Reforms to Restore Checks and Balances, Protect Civil Liberties

The following is a press release from American Freedom Agenda


WASHINGTON– An alliance of prominent national conservatives today announced the formation of the American Freedom Agenda (AFA), a campaign to restore governmental checks and balances and civil liberties protections under assault by the current Administration.

The AFA’s mission is to reign in abuses of executive power that reach into three primary realms of our national foundation of government that have the greatest likelihood of adversely affecting personal liberties without appropriate checks and balances: the judicial and criminal justice system; national security; and the proper role of congressional oversight.

The launch of the AFA, and its mission to restore executive accountability, Tuesday coincided on the same day that the Justice Department’s Inspector General testified before Congress on his findings regarding DOJ’s misuse of its power to use warrantless searches to secretly go through people’s financial, Internet and other records. In addition to these hearings, the introduction of the AFA occurred in a week where Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is facing calls for his resignation from some Members of Congress in light of a series of revelations over the abuse of executive power ranging from the FBI’s exploitation of national security letters of inquiry to controversy over misleading statements by DOJ and White House officials regarding the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys.

“The controversy with the Attorney General is symptomatic of a more serious illness within this Administration – which is the desire for unchecked power,” said AFA Chairman Bruce Fein. “As fellow conservatives, we believe we have a greater responsibility than most to stand up to this particular Administration and demand that it respect the checks and balances established by the Founding Fathers. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, regardless of party affiliation, and we can no more remain silent to the abuses occurring under President Bush than we could if a President Clinton were in office. In advancing the American Freedom Agenda, we are all Conservatives, we are all Liberals, we are all Republicans, we are all Democrats. We are above all Americans who cherish the Constitution more than partisan advantage.”

Fein, a constitutional scholar and former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, was joined at the launch of the AFA by David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization; Richard Viguerie, a writer and political activist who is considered one of the main architects of the conservative grassroots movement over the past quarter century; and Bob Barr, a former Member of Congress who served as an impeachment manager of President Clinton.

At its launch, the AFA outlined a legislative package that would bind the current and all future occupants of the White House, irrespective of party affiliation, to restore congressional oversight, personal civil liberties, and governmental checks and balances through the following:
*Restore habeas corpus to prevent the illegal imprisonment of American citizens;
*Prohibit torture and extraordinary rendition;
*Prohibit unconstitutional wiretaps, email and mail openings via warrantless searches;
*Protect journalists from prosecution under the Espionage Act for reporting on stories on national significance that do not reveal troop locations;
*Prohibit Presidential Signing Statements that allow the President to sign into law legislation passed by Congress while rejecting line-item aspects of that same law;
*Reform the ability of the federal government to win dismissal of constitutional grievances by private parties by claiming state secrets;
*Reform executive privilege by creating legislative-executive committees to arbitrate disputes.

“We do not favor a crippled Executive,” said Congressman Barr, who will work with his former colleagues to seek passage of the AFA’s legislative package. “Rather, it is our belief that in times of danger, checks and balances will make for a stronger – not weaker – government because the people will more readily accept a muscular Executive if barriers against abuses are strong. We want to ensure that no man is above the law.”

Keene and Viguerie, two of the most active conservatives in working to build a national grassroots conservative movement during the past decades, noted that one of the key objectives of the AFA would be to create a national grassroots network of support for the effort to return to basic conservative values that cherish individual liberty over excessive governmental power.

“We’ve spent the greater part of our lives working to build a national network of like-minded conservatives who remain true to the founding principles of our country, outlined in our Constitution, and we do not believe that any President– Republican or Democrat – trumps these principles,” the two men said. “We plan to work through our networks, and to reach out to all Americans, regardless of partisan or ideological affiliation, to build a movement that demands that our government return to those principles upon which our nation was founded.”

As a means to gauge the seriousness of current candidates for the Office of the President, the AFA unveiled a "Freedom Pledge," based on the principles outlined in its legislative package, which it is issuing to all Presidential candidates of both parties to sign.
Congressman Ron Paul, who has announced his candidacy for the Presidency, has signed the pledge, and the AFA will continue to work with the campaigns of all other candidates of both parties to secure their signatures, especially Republican aspirants.
##
My commentary: I applaud these prominent conservative luminaries for their patriotism and putting country above party and initiating the freedom pledge. Look at the list of complaints. These are serious charges. With our constitutional liberties under attack, it is no time to play partisan politics. Richard Viguerie has been called the “funding father” of the modern grassroots conservative movement and has been the fundraiser for dozens of conservative organization for the last thirty-five years. With people like Barr, David Keen and Richard Viguerie taking the lead, no one can claim that the criticism of Bush is simply a left-wing effort to get Bush. It is time for other Republican candidates to step up to the plate and take the pledge.

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Surrendering Our Freedom in the Name of Security

NSA Sued On Wiretap Claim
PORTLAND, Ore., March 1, 2006
(AP) Civil rights attorneys have sued the National Security Agency, claiming it illegally wiretapped conversations between the leaders of an Islamic charity and two of its lawyers. The charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, had been accused of aiding Muslim militants, though charges were later dismissed.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland asks that electronic surveillance by the NSA be shut down, arguing the agency illegally wiretapped electronic communications between a local chapter of the charity and Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, both attorneys in Washington, D.C. The complaint also seeks $1 million in damages for each of the plaintiffs. It alleges the NSA did not follow procedures required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and failed to obtain a court order authorizing electronic surveillance of the charity and its attorneys.

Dave Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in Oregon, said the complaint is similar to other lawsuits the ACLU has filed recently. “The law couldn't be clearer on this issue,'” he said. “Not only is the NSA's spying program unauthorized by federal law, but we suspect that conversations of thousands of Americans have been subjected to illegal surveillance by the NSA.”

For the rest of the story: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/03/01/national/printable1357628.shtml

I want our government to protect us from terrorist. It would be dereliction of duty, it they did not. But, I am fearful we are surrendering our freedom in the name of security and we can have both. Following the law is not burdensome. I am not ready to repeal the 4th Amendment for the sake of convenient surveillance.

"Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. "

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Reagan appointed Judge Criticizes Warrantless Taps

Ex-Surveillance Judge Criticizes Warrantless Taps
By Michael J. Sniffen
Associated Press, Sunday, June 24, 2007; A07

A federal judge who used to authorize wiretaps in terrorism and espionage cases criticized yesterday President Bush's decision to order warrantless surveillance after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."We have to understand you can fight the war [on terrorism] and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war," said Royce C. Lamberth, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington and a former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, speaking at the American LibraryAssociation's annual convention.

Lamberth, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan, expressed his opposition to letting the executive branch decide on its own which people to spy on in national security cases. The judge said it is proper for executive branch agencies to conduct such surveillance. "But what we have found in the history of our country is that you can't trust the executive," he said."The executive has to fight and win the war at all costs. But judges understand the war has to be fought, but it can't be at all costs,"Lamberth said at the Washington Convention Center. "We still have to preserve our civil liberties. Judges are the kinds of people you want to entrust that kind of judgment to more than the executive."

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which Lamberth led from 1995 to 2002, meets in secret to review applications from the FBI, the National Security Agency and other agencies for warrants to wiretap or search the homes of people in the United States in connection with terrorism or espionage cases. Each application is signed by the attorney general. The court has approved more than 99 percent of such requests. Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to spy on calls between people in the United States and terrorism suspects abroad without warrants. The administration said that it needed to act more quickly than the surveillance court could and that the president has inherent authority under the Constitution to order warrantless domestic spying. After the program became public and was challenged in court, Bush placed it under court supervision this year. The president still asserts the power to order warrantless spying. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Bush believes in the program, which is classified because its purpose is to stop terrorists' planning. The program "is lawful, limited, safeguarded and -- most importantly -- effective in protecting American citizens from terrorist attacks," Fratto said. "It's specifically designed to be effective without infringing Americans' civil liberties."

Lamberth took issue with Bush's approach. He said the special court, established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, met the challenge of reacting quickly to the Sept.11 attacks. Lamberth was stuck in a carpool lane near the Pentagon when a hijacked jet slammed into it that day. With his car enveloped in smoke, he called marshals to help him get into the District. By the time officers reached him, Lambert said, "I had approved five FISA coverages [warrants] on my cellphone." He also approved other warrants at his home at 3 a.m. and on Saturdays."In a time of national emergency like that, changes have to be made in procedures. We changed a number of FISA procedures," Lamberth said.

Normal FISA warrant applications run 40 to 50 pages, but in the days after Sept. 11, the judge said, he issued orders "based on the oral briefing by the director of the FBI to the chief judge of the FISA court."Lamberth would not say whether he thought Bush's warrantless surveillance was constitutional. "Judges shouldn't give advisory opinions, and I was never asked to give an opinion in court," he said. But, he said, when the NSA briefed him about the program, he advised the agency to keep good records so that, if any applications came to the FISA court based on information obtained from the warrantless surveillance, the court could rule on the legality. He said he never got such an application.

for link, see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/23/AR2007062301125_pf.html

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What If You Had A Debate and No One Came?

At last week's NAACP GOP Presidential Candidate Forum, of the nine Republican candidates invited to the forum only Tom Tancredo showed up. All the Democratic Presidential hopefuls showed up for their forum. The excuses given by the Republican campaigns mostly had to do with scheduling conflicts. Many will see this as an indication of the Republican party's commitment to civil rights in America.

Democrates usually start with upwards of 90% support from this easily identifiable demographic group that makes up some 12% of the population. So, the Republicans may reason, why waste our time? Republican efforts to court black votes have not proven effective. When Blacks vote as a Democratic block, then they can't expect to be courted by Republicans.

Still, I wish Republicans would not give up on them. Republicans have a record of which to be proud. Bush's faith-based initiative, the Bush Housing initiative which increased Black homeownership, increased employment in the Black Community, and prominent Black cabinet members in the administration such as Rice and Powell are all things of which the Republicans should remind Black voters.

If Republicans appearance before a black audience does not win them black votes, it is still a good place to talk about important issues. For the good of America, we need to address the issues that effect black America such as poverty, the war-on- drug policy, the black aids epidemic, and failing schools. The forum would have been a good opportunity for a Republican candidate to talk about continuing welfare reform, economic opportunity, and personal responsibility. Even it the blacks in the audience don't care what white Republicans have to say, I would like to see how the Republicans would address the important issues that effect black America and therefore effect us all. I do not think a Jack Kemp would have turned down this opportunity.

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Kansas Seeks Free-Market Health Care Reform

If conservatives do not offer market solutions to solve our health care problem, then I fear we will have a nationalized health care system. President Bush tried to move in that direction but did not have the political capital to achieve any success. This is an interesting article. I am reaching no conclusions on the specifics of this plan, but find it reassuring that someone is looking at market solutions.


THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE
19 South LaSalle Street #903Chicago, IL 60603
phone 312/377-4000 · fax 312/377-5000http://www.heartland.org

Kansas Seeks Free-Market Health Care Reform
Author: Erica Schatz
Published by: The Heartland Institute
Published in: Health Care NewsPublication date: June 2007
A free-market health care plan promising less government interference and no new taxes could be on the horizon in Kansas.
KanCare, created by newly elected state Rep. Jeff Colyer (R-Overland Park), is billed as an alternative to the traditional big-government, complicated plans already in existence. Colyer is a medical doctor and member of the state's House Health and Human Services Committee.
The plan is made up of a series of bills that will take several years to pass. In March, the House passed by voice vote H.R. 6009, which charges the state bank commissioner with educating state-chartered banks about health savings accounts (HSAs).
This is only one aspect of the plan; the legislature did not have time to consider any other parts before the session ended in April.
"Right now the health care system in Kansas is like a wobbly, three-legged stool--divided unevenly between growing government programs (23 percent), shrinking private health insurance coverage (65 percent), and the uninsured (10.9 percent)," Colyer explained in a statement on his Web site. "We strengthen the wobbly three-legged stool [in]to a table with four sturdy legs."
KanCare's four parts are:
Combine tax credits with market competition to automatically reduce costs.
Shift Kansans from Medicaid to private insurance plans, with comparable affordability.
Allow consumers to set aside money for health-related expenses in savings accounts, and offer wellness incentives.
Improve charity care through free or low-cost clinics.
Using Market Competition
For the full story: http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=21158

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Another Republican Hypocrite

It is embarrassing when Republicans, who run on traditional values and court the religious vote are caught with their pants down, so to speak. Since the Republican Party has identified itself as the Party of God-fearing Christians, it is more embarrassing for a Republican to be caught in a sex scandal than a Democrat, because we expect more moral behaviour from Republicans. Much more of this and the public will stop believing in the moral superiority of Republicans. rod


Senator's Number on 'Madam' Phone List
By Shailagh Murray Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, July 10, 2007; A03
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) apologized last night after his telephone number appeared in the phone records of the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," making him the first member of Congress to become ensnared in the high-profile case.
The statement containing Vitter's apology said his telephone number was included on phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates dating from before he ran for the Senate in 2004.
On his Senate Web site, Vitter says he is committed to "advancing mainstream conservative principles" and notes that he and his wife are lectors at their hometown church.
Here is the link to the rest of the story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/09/AR2007070902030_pf.html

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Confessions of a Right-leaning Pragmatic Centrist

It is hard to get excited about being pragmatic. Pragmatic people are, well, in fact, kind of boring. No one mans the barricades in the name of centrist pragmatism. I have always voting Republican, except in the last Presidential race when I could not bring my self to vote for George Bush. In my youth I was a committed conservative. My conservatism was always tinted with a little Libertarianism and for about 4 months when I was 25, I called my self a “Libertarian” but never joined the party or voted Libertarian. I have subscribed to the conservative political journals, worked in campaigns, joined organizations and contributed money. In recent years my views have shifted somewhat. Part of it is that I think the Republican Party has betrayed many of their principles and, few can say what the Republican Party stands for. Also, the denial of global warming, and promotion of intelligent design have proven embarrassing to me. And, I think Iraq was a terrible mistake. But, something else is happening.

While I would not say I have become more liberal as I have grown older, I have become more pragmatic and less ideological. While I believe in certain principles, sometimes doing what works is more important than the principles. I believe in private property, however, I live in a neighborhood with a conservation overlay and am glad we have it. The conservation overlay is not as restrictive as historical zoning, but no one can put Aluminum siding on their home or make certain other improvements that are not in character with the neighborhood. I believe in good land use planning and zoning. But, I am bothered by condemnation. Recently the Supreme Court ruled that a New England town had illegally taken the home of of a property owner. The city had condemned the property and turned it over to a private company to develop in order to enhance the tax base. I was pleased to see the court rule that that was an improper taking of property. However, it is a fine line between using condemnation for slum and blight clearance and using it to facilitate private development. So, while I would say I am a champion of private property rights, I see a large roll for government in regulating property usage and in planning. In my twenties I was a much more adamant believer in private property rights, and would have thought it an outrage that the government could prohibit you form putting aluminum siding on your house.
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In my twenties I was a member of the National Rifle Association. I still do not want the government confiscating weapons, and do not think we can just ignore the second Amendment. But I think we are safer with fewer weapons in circulation rather than with more. Would I feel less safe or more safe if people could carry their hand gun into bars? Less safe, generally, except I know that a ban on guns in bars will mean that responsible people with gun carry permits will not carry their guns in bars and criminals will anyway.  However, I have no problem with laws that restrict where you can carry your weapon. I feel better if people cannot carry their weapons into courtrooms and airports. I have no problem with a hand gun waiting period and think we should close the gun show loophole.
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My point is discussing both of these issues is that I see more and more nuances, more shades of gray, on almost all issues. I no longer see very many issues as just black and white. And, I while I see “slippery slopes”; I also see fine lines. So, while I have certain principles I believe in, I am a lot less dogmatic and am more pragmatic than I once was. And when I come to a conclusion, I am not so absolutely certain that I have found the truth. I often tend to think the other person has a valid point even if I disagree with it. And, having changed my mind on issues in the past, I am not so certain of my current position as I was at one time. I don't know if that makes be more liberal, or just older.

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Waiting to be Wooed

By DAVID BROOKS Published: November 30, 2006
I’ve never been a swing voter before. For most of my adult life I’ve felt the Republicans tended to have the best approaches to expand economic opportunity, meet foreign threats and restore a culture of personal responsibility. But over the past few years I’ve grown estranged from many Republicans, especially the ones leading the House. I’m one of those suburbanites who thought the G.O.P. deserved to lose the last election, and now I find myself floating out there in independent-land, not a Democrat, just looking for something new.
It’s like being the belle of the ball, because the Republicans really need to woo back people like me. I hope they won’t mind if I offer a little advice on how to do it.
First, don’t listen to your consultants. Over the next few months, pollsters are going to pick out the key demographic groups (left-handed Catholic orthopedists) and offer advice on how to kiss up to those people. Majorities are never built that way. You end up proposing inconsequential micropolicies and selling your soul.
Don’t focus on groups, focus on problems. If you have persuasive proposals to address big problems, the majority coalition will build itself.
Second, be policy-centric, not philosophy-centric. American conservatism grew up out of power and has always placed great emphasis on doctrine. Today, in the wake of this month’s defeat, Republicans are firing up the old debate among social conservatives, free-market conservatives and others about the proper role of the state. This stale, abstract debate will never lead anywhere and only inhibits creative thinking.
The Republican weakness is not a lack of grand principles, it’s a lack of concrete policies commensurate with the size of 21st-century problems. If they would shelve the doctrinal debate for a second, Republicans — while not doing violence to their belief in the market, traditional values or anything else — could find plenty of policy ideas to deal with China and India, the entitlement crisis and so on.
Third, create a Republican Leadership Council. In the realm of ideas, Democrats own the center. Moderate Democrats have the Democratic Leadership Council, the Third Way and various cells within the Brookings Institution, such as the Hamilton Project. Republican moderates are intellectual weaklings. They have no independent identity, so it’s no wonder centrist voters prefer Democrats on one domestic issue after another.
Fourth, support stem cell research. This has become a symbolic issue denoting fundamental attitudes about science and progress. Moderates can understand why somebody is anti-abortion. But opposing stem cell work seems to close off research that could alleviate human suffering for the sake of a theoretical abstraction.
Fifth, support free trade, while responding to the downside of globalization. When the industrial age kicked in, many European nations built an elaborate welfare state, but didn’t aggressively expand educational opportunity. Americans didn’t build as big a welfare system, but, as the blogger Reihan Salam pointed out recently, we spent a lot on schools to foster social mobility.
The American way is to help people compete, not shield them from competition. Today that means nurturing stable families in which children can develop the social and cultural capital they need to thrive. (A significant expansion of the child tax credit would ease the burden on young parents.) It means publicly funded, though not necessarily publicly run, preschool programs in which children from disorganized homes can learn how to learn. It means radical school reform: performance pay for teachers, an end to the stupid certification rules, urban boarding schools where educators can set up local cultures of achievement, locally run neighborhood child centers to service an array of health and day-care needs.
Sixth, spread assets. Every citizen, from birth, should have an I.R.A.-type savings account. The tax code should encourage personal and employer contributions. These accounts would enhance savings and encourage an investor mentality, and once Americans became comfortable with them, they could be used as tools to reform Social Security and health care funding.
Seventh, raise taxes on carbon emissions and use the revenue to make the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends permanent. This would spur energy innovation and encourage investment more generally.
Over the past few years, the G.O.P. has become like a company with a great mission statement, but no domestic policy products to sell. Now’s the time to get granular. And the thing to remember is, we disaffected voters are easy. We want to go home with you if you’ll give us a reason.

My Comment:
I was delighted to see David Brooks article on how the Republican Party can woo the voters. He offered seven specific proposals. I agree with all of them. A couple, I was really excited about. His point number 4 was Support Steam Cell Research. yes!. I am pro-life, but we have allowed the nuts in the pro-life movement to weld too much power in the party. The Terry Shivo issue and steam cell research opposition is extreme pro-life. I know the difference between studying a frozen zygote that was to be discarded anyway and killing babies. And, I think most Americans to do.
His point Seven was Raise taxes on Carbon Emissions. YES! No one wants to pay more for gas, but we need to. Democrats believe in global warming, were out front on the issue and they own the issue; but, they don't have the guts to do anything about it. The science is in, it is for real and we need to do something. The public is concerned about Global Warming and I think they would embrace a call for a carbon tax if it was offset by an increase in the standard income deduction and other tax reform. If someone would lead, I thing the public would follow. If we would raise the price of gas and then all of the alternative fuels could flourish.
These two points I was delighted to see and other were also good.
I would add a commitment to ending poverty. Not subsidizing it, but continuing well fare reform and addressing the problem of the permanent underclass.
The Republican Party of today is not the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan. I feel like I have l ost the party I was committed to and cared about and believed in. Spending like drunken sailors and the Iraq fiasco leaves me feeling not at home in this party anymore. I want to be wooed also.
Rod Williams Nashville TN 37203http://us.f565.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Rodwilliams47@yahoo.com&YY=65379&y5beta=yes&y5beta=yes&order=&sort=&pos=0

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thomas Friedman on the Power of Green

This is lengthy, but is an excellent article. It is
Thomas Friedman on The Power of Green. If lays out a
very logical argument of why we must address the
Global warming/energy problem and why everyone should
get on board. He makes a compelling security argument
and an economic argument as well as the environmental
argument. By now, everyone who can be persuaded has
been persuaded that global warming is real. We have
seen enough polar bears on ice floes. What is missing
is serious discussion of how to deal with it.
changing out light bulbs and properly inflating our
tires is not going to do it. We need a real plan to
reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Friedman says "We have not even begun to be serious
about the costs, the effort and the scale of change
that will be required to shift our country, and
eventually the world, to a largely emissions-free
energy infrastructure over the next 50 years." He says
"today's presidential hopefuls are largely full of hot
air on the climate-energy issue. Not one of them is
proposing anything hard, like a carbon or gasoline
tax, and if you think we can deal with these huge
problems without asking the American people to do
anything hard, you're a fool or a fraud."
The article explain how get developing countries to
"go green". If the developed countries do it, the
market place will make clean development competitive
with dirty development and the role of international
trade will make developing countries change their
ways. Security hawks, greedy businessmen, and
tree-hugging vegetarians ought to be on the same side
of this issue.
This is the best thing I have read on the topic.
http://www.nytimes./ com/2007/ 04/15/magazine/
15green.t. html?ex=11775600 00&en=2989acb5a9
c75b84&ei= 5070&emc= eta1

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How the Holy Rollers and Neocoms stole the Republican Party

Did anyone see Victor Gold on Cspan2 BookTV a few weeks ago? As a disgruntled Republican, I was delighted to see someone say the things I believe. His book is Invasion of the Body Snatchers, How the Holy Rollers and the Neocons stole the Republican Party. He says the Republican Party must die to be reborn. He was close to Bush and Cheney but is now angry at the administration.

Here is more on Gold and his books and some links: Victor Gold served as press aide to Barry Goldwater and speechwriter and senior advisor to George H. W.Bush (in addition to coauthoring his autobiography),Victor Gold is absolutely furious that the Neo-Cons and their strange bedfellows, the Evangelical Right, have stolen his party from him. Now he is bringing the fight to them. Invasion of the Party Snatchers (April 17), is a blistering critique not only of the Bush-Cheney administration but also of the Republican Congress. After four decades as a Republican insider, Gold is ready to tell all about the war being waged for the soul of the GOP, including the elder Bush’s opinion of his son’s work domestically and abroad, the significance of the newly elected Congress, and how Goldwater would have reacted to it all. Gold reveals, among other explosive disclosures, how George W. has been manipulated by his vice president and secretary of defense to become, in Lenin's famous phrase, a "useful idiot" for Neo-Conservative warmongers and Theo-Conservative religious fanatics. Although there have been other books by dissident Republicans attacking the Bush-Cheney administration’s betrayal of conservative principles, none have been by an insider whose political credentials include inner-circle status with Barry Goldwater and George H.W. Bush. Invasion of the Party Snatchers is a protest and a warning directed not so much at Republicans, as at the American people as a whole. Gold sums up his thesis in the section of the book that takes a hard look at the Neo-Cons, Theo-Cons, and political hacks that now constitute the leadership of the Republican Party.http://www.sourcebooks.com/cart/shopexd.asp?id=1200 and this one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/01/AR2007040101211.html

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