Whadda you hear?
WE ARE MOVING!!! For now, the old Blogger address will bring you to the new location -- but that can change at any time. Please update your Blogroll, Links, and Bookmarks NOW:
WE ARE MOVING!!! For now, the old Blogger address will bring you to the new location -- but that can change at any time. Please update your Blogroll, Links, and Bookmarks NOW:
WE ARE MOVING!!! For now, the old Blogger address will bring you to the new location -- but that can change at any time. Please update your Blogroll, Links, and Bookmarks NOW:
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. Judges should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing, and should themselves observe, high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved. The provisions of this Code should be construed and applied to further that objective.Everything in the Code is to be read in light and supportive of Canon 1. And, what does the Code actually say about judges giving speeches and talking in public? Well, the judge got part of it correct, Canon 3 does prohibit comment about pending matters:
Judges should abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in any court . . . .Apparently, the judge thinks that means it is okay to talk about the issues surrounding a pending court case, as long as he disclaims that he is talking about that case. Here are some of his comments:
Stevens said local problems caused by illegal immigration include citizens having to pay for illegal immigrants’ “visits late at night to emergency rooms when no one’s around.” He also knows first-hand that law enforcement is frustrated when the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement tells officers who have apprehended illegal immigrants to “let them go.”And, to be sure, judges are encouraged to speak out on matters relating to the administration of justice, but to do so in a way that will not suggest partiality on any issue:
Stevens called for “common sense” decisions in courts when dealing with illegal immigrants. He said the federal government should allow state and local police to enforce immigration laws, county district attorneys to prosecute offenders and county and state judges to hear the cases.
Stevens said the money the federal government would save could be given to local governments for enforcement. “The law will be enforced and we won’t have the strain on our city resources that we have now.”
Judges, subject to the proper performance of their judicial duties, may engage in the following quasi-judicial activities, if in doing so they do not cast doubt on their capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before them: A. They may speak, write, lecture, teach, and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.But none of this is proper justification for a sitting appellate court judge to wax on in support of an ordinance being challenged in court -- even if not his own court. But, more fundamentally, what the hell was the judge doing as the featured speaker at a partisan political event? Forget what he was talking about, why was he there at all? Remember Canon 1 -- it is first for a reason:
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society.Here's the official comment to the Model Code on which the Pennsylvania Code is based, explaining the importance of Canon 1:
Deference to the judgments and rulings of courts depends upon public confidence in the integrity and independence of judges. The integrity and independence of judges depends in turn upon their acting without fear or favor. A judiciary of integrity is one in which judges are known for their probity, fairness, honesty, uprightness, and soundness of character. An independent judiciary is one free of inappropriate outside influences. Although judges should be independent, they must comply with the law, including the provisions of this Code. Public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary is maintained by the adherence of each judge to this responsibility. Conversely, violation of this Code diminishes public confidence in the judiciary and thereby does injury to the system of government under law.Proceeding from these first principles, consider Canon 7, o'erlooked by the judge and reporter here:
A judge . . . should not . . . make speeches for a political organization.Regardless the topic of the speech, a sitting judge should not even be attending a Republican Party event -- much less being the featured speaker, much, much less expounding on an issue hot in the courts in NEPA.
From The Carbolic Smoke Ball this week:
REPORT: JETBLUE IS OWNED AND OPERATED BY PENNDOT
HARRISBURG – The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported today that Federal Aviation Administration filings reveal JetBlue Airlines is actually owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. David Neeleman, who is listed as JetBlue’s CEO, is actually a low-level staffer in PennDOT’s northeastern highways division.
Both PennDOT and JetBlue claimed they were caught off-guard by the February 14 storm, and both blamed poor communications for the transportation woes. JetBlue hopes to be back in full operation on February 21; PennDOT hopes to have made at least one pass on its roads by that same date....(more)
BUSH PERPLEXED WHEN ASKED IF HE EVER THINKS ABOUT HIS LEGACY
PREZ CONFIDES IN AIDE: "I DON'T EVEN OWN A SUBARU"
HAZLETON ��� Although city officials have heard a multitude of complaints about the way snow was plowed and removed after last week���s storm, the only member of the public to speak at Wednesday���s city council meeting questioned who was removing snow in the city.
Local government watchdog Dee Deakos asked Mayor Lou Barletta if a relative of his works for the Triple K trucking company ��� a private contractor the city hired to remove snow after the storm. (More)
On about February 20 . . . .
I'm easily distracted . . . . work, life, oral surgery, hanging with peeps, visiting offspring . . . . I'll be back, a more miserable bastard than ever, sometime after the great President's Day Holiday Event . . .
"Congress must save NPR and PBS once and for all. Congress should guarantee permanent funding and independence from partisan meddling."
h/t to The Liam McEneaney Experience:
I grew up in the city of Cleveland, the oldest of seven children. My parents never owned a home. We were renters, we kept moving, with each new arrival to our family. We lived in 21 different places, including a couple of cars. I know first hand what happens when someone in the family lacks adequate health care, or daycare or doesn’t have the money for college or can’t afford to pay the utility bills.
I remember where I came from. My priority as President will be to create economic opportunities and prosperity, to rebuild America’s cities, to repair America’s neighborhoods, to restore America’s industry, to renew America’s schools, to reclaim America’s health. I will ask our Democratic Congress to pass a single-payer not for profit health care plan, Medicare for All, a Universal Pre-Kindergarten bill, a Rebuild America’s Infrastructure bill, and legislation to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace and Non-Violence, which takes Dr. King’s dream and makes it an everyday reality.
Of all the candidates for President, I not only voted against the authorization but I have consistently voted against funding the war and I have a 12-point plan devised with the help of international peacekeepers, to bring our troops home and to end the war.
Of all the decisions a President must make, the most far reaching is whether to commit the lives of our young men and women to combat. I believe that I have demonstrated the clarity and foresight people have a right to expect of a President. This war would have never occurred in the first place if I had been President. But we do not have to wait for 2009 and my Inauguration as President to end it.
Right now, the Democratic Congress has the ability and the power to end the war and bring our troops home. This past November, Democrats received a mandate from the American people to end the war. Democrats have an obligation to reclaim Congress’ constitutional power to end the war. If we support the troops we should bring them home. Money is there now to bring our troops safely home. Supporting my 12 point plan, Congress can require the Administration to end the occupation, close the bases, and bring the troops home and stabilize Iraq.
I want to stress, the Democratic Congress must deny the President the money he wants to keep the war going through the end of his term, money which he can also use to attack Iran. If we give President the money the Democratic Party will have bought the war.
This past summer I implored our government to intervene to stop a blood bath between the Israelis and Lebanon. As it turned out, our government encouraged the destruction My wife and I traveled to south Lebanon immediately after the war. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw in South Lebanon: Bridges, water systems, sewer systems, schools, social clubs, recreation areas, stadiums, cemeteries, fruit groves, factories, small businesses, mosques and churches, all bombed. Countless cluster bombs were strewn about and landmines lined roads and adjacent fields, making on-foot travel perilous. The smell of death was everywhere. Over 30,000 homes were destroyed. We traveled through village after village, with names like Aita, Maroun Raas, and Bent Jabil stopping to assess the damage, talking with people through interpreters, moving cautiously through the rubble of children’s toys, household appliances, televisions, computers, clothing with popular American insignias. Because the bombs were widely assumed to have come from America, big bold signs declared “This is your Democracy, America”
Our last stop was in Qana, where the Bible tells us Christ performed his first miracle. We arrived unannounced, late at night. We asked to express our condolences to the families of dozens of villagers who had lost their lives when a thousand pound bomb dropped on a four story apartment building, collapsing the structure and crushing everyone inside. We were led to the town square, now a makeshift cemetery. Lights from our vehicles illuminated the graveyard where rows and rows of the family pictures of the deceased sat atop the graves. Elizabeth and I stopped at one gravesite. The picture of a beautiful little boy of cherubic countenance smiled at us. It was the type of family picture American department stores specialized in years ago The first response was to smile at the picture of this smiling little boy with his freshly cut hair and his bright red sweater, then the realization that this precious child was dead. As Elizabeth and I stood weeping an arm extended around my shoulder and comforted me. The person guided us to the next grave, that of a woman and three children. “This was my family” our comforter said through an interpreter. This experience transformed us. Someone who had lost his entire family had been comforting us.
We were led by villagers down a narrow street and over a large mound of rubble to the site of where the bomb dropped. Light from the headlights of motorbikes lit up the rubble where fragments of the bomb and pieces of clothing were intermingled. The word spread that an American congressman was present, a crowd quickly gathered. We had no body guards. We were surrounded by people who had suffered great loss, who had every right to express anger or even rage, yet instead they expressed a remarkable depth of forgiveness, compassion and a desire for peace and reconciliation, speaking calmly from the crowd through interpreters.
“Tell the American people we love them.”
“We don’t hate America. We love the American people”.
“We do not like what your government does.”
“America could have saved our families.”
“Please tell the American people we are not terrorists.”
“We are not terrorists. We do not hate Israel.”
“We want to be safe in our village. We want to be left alone.”
“We want peace.”
“We want peace.”
I promised the people that I would bring the message from Qana back to America.
And before we left Elizabeth and I knelt at the grave of that beautiful little boy and I made a promise to work for a world where all children are safe.
The people of the village retrieved a fragment of the bomb which destroyed so many lives and they gave it to me. And here it is. I want to show it to you because it is time that we took a stand to stop the destruction of the lives of innocents, whether they live in Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, India, Sudan, or America. We must make it our priority to work for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world.
We have lost so much since 9/11. It is time to bind up our nation’s wounds from 9/11. It is time, in the words of Lincoln, to move forward with malice toward none and charity for all.
This is the philosophy behind the 9/10 Forum, an idea of Elizabeth’s. As we travel across America, Elizabeth and I will bring together groups to rediscover who we were before 9/11, to envision the community we want and to create a plan to get there. Through sharing in a process of Appreciative Inquiry we can rediscover the beauty of ourselves and our nation. Please contact Kucinich.US to join our efforts to restore the soul of America through reconnecting with our highest aspirations in truth and reconciliation with compassion.
This presidential campaign and my Presidency will lift up this country, reclaim all that is good about America, remember the land we love, the America which heals the sick, feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, comforts the afflicted, lifts up people’s hopes; the nation whose soul magnifies what is good; a shining city on a hill whose spirit rejoices and sends forth its light. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good. Thank you.
When we were first invited to speak here today, we were all told that each of us would have only seven minutes …
Seven minutes … to tell you how we’d create better jobs, expand health care, save the environment, improve our schools, balance the budget, fight terrorism, get out of Iraq, and bring peace to the Middle East.
I don’t need seven minutes. I can do that in four words: “Elect a Democratic president.”
You’re on your second day of hearing political speeches. And you’ve heard from some of our best. Our country would be a lot better off with any one of them serving in the White House- as my Vice-President!
But the truth is, we will only win the White House if we, as fellow Democrats who share core fundamental beliefs, don’t tear each other down.
We are a party built on a platform of ideas and ideals. We share a fundamental belief in the notion that equality is not achieved by knocking someone else out of the way and kicking them when they’re down. Instead, we believe in offering them a hand and lifting them up.
It’s why today I’m calling on all the other Democratic candidates to agree to run only positive campaigns in this Democratic nominating process. And further, I call on the Democratic National Committee to pass a resolution demanding that all the candidates run clean campaigns and not attack each other.
I don’t buy this nonsense that negative campaigns toughen up a nominee.
Save it for the Republicans.
Now, I could tell you, in a positive way, that we need a Democratic nominee who’s brokered international agreements, understands the Middle East, and fought global warming. A nominee who’s served as a Governor, balanced budgets, created jobs, covered people with health care, and turned an economy around.
In fact, I think that sounds pretty good.
But the truth is, most of America doesn’t want to hear another political speech right now. And honestly … I don’t blame them. They see enough politics in their nightly news … in the grim statistics of a war gone horribly wrong. A war that’s mostly about politics and posturing and saving face. And that’s the worst sort of politics imaginable.
Our challenge as Democrats is to not just break through the voters’ cynicism … but also to convince them that we’re up to the job they’ve entrusted us with.
We’ve won the Congress, but we still have a lot to prove. We need a Democratic nominee who’s able to stand up for our principles, make the case to the American people, show them we can get things done, and create a lasting Democratic majority.
Because I’m tired of hearing that Democrats don’t stand for anything. We do. The American people need to know that we’re standing up for them. And they need to know that we can get the job done.
I’m proud to be a Democrat. And I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in my home state of New Mexico.
How many of you have visited New Mexico? Well, it’s time the rest of you paid us a visit.
We have over 80,000 new jobs, many of them in high tech industries. We have the lowest unemployment rate since 1978 … up to sixth in the nation for job growth … seventh in the nation for personal income growth.
And we didn’t abandon union families along the way. One of the first things I did as Governor was reinstate collective bargaining for public employees. We secured the first public works labor agreement in New Mexico history. And we made our prevailing wage a union wage.
When it came to standing up for the rights of working people, we didn’t compromise our ideals. We acted on them.
To create all those jobs, we first passed a specific tax credit for creating good paying jobs. We made the rural jobs tax credit permanent, enacted a three-year tax holiday for high-tech startups, and invested state money in local companies that showed great promise for success and job creation.
Rather than use tax cuts to reward the wealthy … I use them to reward putting people to work.
We balanced the budget. But we also increased school funding by $600 million
dollars … and we made sure it all went into the classroom and not the bureaucracy.
In fact, the first thing we did was give teachers a raise … and we’ve given them a raise every year since.
When I came into office, we were 48th in teacher pay … with this year’s raise we’ll be 27th … and we’re aiming even higher.
Our teachers deserve it, our children are better off, our schools are improving, and our parents believe in us again. If we can do that in New Mexico, we can do that across this country.
We expanded state health insurance to cover every child, lowered the cost of health care for working families, and we’re helping small businesses create purchasing pools so they can get the same low insurance rates as large employers.
Two of the bedrock principles of the Democratic Party are equal access to an excellent education and equal access to health care. For too long in this country, we’ve had neither.
But we’re making great strides in New Mexico and we can do that across this country if we have a Democratic Congress, a Democratic president, Democratic Governors in a majority of the states, and a Democratic mandate to finally lift this country up.
In New Mexico, our fight for equality extends to sexual orientation. For the first time in state history we have a hate crimes law. We’ve extended civil rights protections to include sexual orientation. And we’re providing state health insurance for domestic partnerships.
Some call New Mexico the land of enchantment. I now like to think that we live in a state of enlightenment.
Finally, Mark Twain said “Everybody complains about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.” Well, when it comes to global warming and climate change, we’re doing something about it in New Mexico.
I set tough standards to reduce greenhouse emissions. We’ve invested directly in energy efficiency. And no other state has done as much to promote renewable energy – with tax credits for using wind, solar, and biofuels … we’ve eliminated taxes on hybrid cars … and we’re requiring utility companies to start producing energy from renewable sources.
New Mexico has become the clean energy state. There’s no reason we can’t become the clean energy nation.
Every one of these accomplishments can be done at the national level.
But it’s not enough to just win the Congress back. We need someone who can win the White House back.
And I know the usual rap on Governors – that we don’t know anything about foreign affairs. Well, maybe you can say that about Governors from Texas.
But not this Governor.
Last December, I was visited by a delegation of North Koreans seeking my advice before the disarmament talks. They wanted to know how in the world they’re supposed to work with an administration that thinks “axis of evil” is a bargaining position.
When I visited Darfur last month and negotiated a cease fire, I saw thousands of widows and fatherless children trying to escape the genocide … waiting in line in 100 degree heat for a month. They wanted to know why it was taking the United States so long to do something.
And the Middle East wants to know how we can expect to bring peace to the region while shutting Iran and Syria out of the process.
The War in Iraq is not the disease. Iraq is a symptom. The disease is arrogance.
The next President must be able to repair the damage that’s been done to our country’s reputation over the last six years. It’s why experience in foreign affairs has never been more important.
But whatever you may think of a pre-emptive war grounded in the clouded reasoning of a vengeful administration and a misled Congress … the reality is, we have done in Iraq what said we would do.
We have rid the world of a brutal dictator. We have brought about free and fair elections three times over. The Iraqis now have a constitution, over 200,000 armed soldiers, and they have oil revenue.
It’s time for our troops to leave with honor.
When it comes to this president, I don’t know how someone can be so blind to the hurt and anguish in this country … and so deaf to the will of the people.
This is not presidential greatness. This is a great tragedy.
America is better than this.
A struggle for human rights is worthy of military intervention. A true threat to our country’s security is worthy of war.
But a struggle between a country’s warring factions, where both sides hate the United States, is not worthy of one more lost American life.
As someone who served in Congress for 14 years, I know the power they hold should they choose to wield it. The Congress passed a resolution authorizing war. They need to pass another that overturns that authorization … and brings our troops home by the end of this year.
You would think that when the Congress realized they were lied to, they would have done something about it. Well, they still can.
Once our troops are gone, we still have a role to play. We have a moral responsibility to bring the Sunni and Shia together in a national reconciliation conference. And we have a strategic interest in organizing a regional conference with all of Iraq’s neighbors, including Syria and Iran, to help stabilize Iraq.
But more than anything else, we have a moral obligation to those Americans who have laid down their lives.
Some say we cannot let their sacrifice be in vain. But you will never convince me that those slain patriots would have wanted a single additional life to be lost just to validate their own sacrifice.
Instead, the moral obligation is to honor their service by bringing their mission to a close. By ending the bloodshed … and finally letting the Iraqi people set their own course.
Those would be the principles of my presidency. And those would be the ideals I would seek.
Thank you, God bless you, God bless the Democratic Party, and God bless the United States.
Governor Dean. As a lifelong Democrat––proud when my party did great things and occasionally ashamed when it did the wrong things––I honor and commend your leadership in rebuilding the party in every corner of this nation. Even more, you have my respect for your earlier and outspoken opposition to the Iraq war in your own presidential candidacy.
I plan to speak truth to power today. You, the delegates, have the power to decide who will be the Democratic nominee. I also plan to speak truth to the American people, who have the power to choose the next President of the United State.
But first, I have one small favor to ask of all of you. Whenever anyone raises the question of my age in this campaign, please point out that Washington is in great need of adult supervision.
Permit me to introduce my wife Whitney, the love of my life, and my sister Marie. Between them with the iconic hat, is Granny “D,” Doris Haddock, my strongest supporter in New Hampshire. Other candidates may have large campaign bank accounts; I’ll take Granny “D” on my side.
Fairness. Freedom. Justice. Morality. Opportunity. Peace. All goals of our Founding Fathers and concepts central to the character of most Americans.
Our Founders envisioned the People and their political leaders working together to nurture these goals and to shape these concepts from generation to generation. Unfortunately, early on, in a compromise to perpetuate the evil institution of slavery in the Constitution, the People lost their power to amend the Constitution and make laws. The compromisers knew the People would not ratify a Constitution that legalized slavery and would outlaw it if they had lawmaking powers. The results of this moral compromise brought about the primacy of representative government and its monopoly on lawmaking power.
History teaches us that nations fail when leaders fail their people. The decision to invade Iraq without provocation and fraudulently sold to the American people, by a President consumed with messianic purpose, sadly confirms this lesson of history.
The Democrats controlled the Senate on October 11, 2002 and provided political cover for George Bush to invade Iraq. The Senate leadership could have refused to even take up the resolution, or a few Senators who opposed it could have mounted a filibuster.
But the fear of opposing a popular warrior President on the eve of a mid-term election prevailed. Political calculations trumped morality, and the Middle East was set ablaze. The Democrats lost in the election anyway, but the American people lost even more. It was Politics as Usual.
Given the extreme importance of any decision to go to war, and I am anguished to say this, it’s my opinion that anyone who voted for the war on October 11––based on what President Bush represented––is not qualified to hold the office of President.
Political leaders must bring two qualities to any public office: political integrity and moral judgment.
If political calculations trump morality and occasion substantial loss of human life, it reveals the sense of moral responsibility these candidates are likely to bring to the office of President.
Saying “I would not have voted for the resolution if I had known the mess it would create”––or worse, saying “the decision was right but Bush botched the job”––is inadequate rationale for a person who may hold the most powerful political position in the world. Presidents have moral responsibility for the life and death of millions of people.
Politics as Usual is not acceptable for the presidency.
I feel I am entitled to raise this issue because when I served in the Senate, during the Vietnam War, I spoke truth to power.
I officially released the Pentagon Papers, and as a result, Richard Nixon sued me all the way to the Supreme Court.
I successfully filibustered to force an end to the military draft.
I filibustered alone and with others to end the appropriations for the Vietnam War. Those are my credentials. I’ve been there and know how hard it is to oppose the majority of your peers.
I ask that you hold other presidential candidates to the same standard. Political leaders who had the opportunity and the power to stop the Iraq war before it could get started and did nothing––allowed it to happen..
America's current political leadership must not continue to avoid the obvious: Our presence in Iraq exacerbates the problem. Eighty percent of Iraqis want American troops to leave their country, and 70% of Iraqis think it’s OK to kill American soldiers.
We made a grave mistake. We should have the courage to admit it. We must bring our troops home now––not 6 months from now, not a year from now––NOW! One more American death for “our vital interest” is not worth it. We all know “vital interest” is code for “oil.”
If we don’t bring our soldiers home now, what do we tell the families of those killed and maimed between now and some future arbitrary date? The sooner we get our military out of Iraq, the sooner we can turn to the international community to help with a diplomatic solution to bring an end to the sectarian civil war we caused.
The Democrats in control of Congress need to act resolutely––and I’m not talking about some mealy-mouthed, nonbinding resolutions. They need to precipitate a constitutional confrontation with George Bush.
Under the Constitution, the Congress is the only body that can declare war. Implicit in that power is the ability to end a war and make peace. Even a Commander-in-Chief executing a war is subservient to the Congress’s war powers. The Founding Fathers specifically created this constitutional check on executive authority and it was re-affirmed by the War Powers Act of 1973. Congress is the only hope we have, between now and January 20, 2009, to halt our continued involvement in the carnage and death George Bush has unleashed.
Our nation is in crisis. This crisis is greater than most people realize, and in some ways more significant than terrorism and the Iraq war.
We have become a nation ruled by fear. Since the end of the Second World War, various political leaders have fostered fear in the American people––fear of Communism, fear of terrorism, fear of immigrants, fear of people based on race and religion, fear of Gays and Lesbian in love who just want to get married, and fear of people who are somehow different. It is fear that allows political leaders to manipulate us all and distort our national priorities.
Fear has allowed our political leaders to spend more on military armaments than is spent collectively by all the other nations in the world.
Who are we afraid of? Are we that paranoid?
Despite the trillions of dollars we spent on defense, the Bush Pentagon sent our soldiers into harms way in Iraq without the proper body armor and with insufficiently armored Humvees.
And worse, the Bush Administration plays games with the problems of our veterans, in effect waging a budget war against the only Americans who made any sacrifices in George Bush’s oil war.
Shame on you, George Bush, for letting the profits of arms contractors trump the needs of our veterans.
President Eisenhower, upon leaving office, warned of the dangers to democracy posed by a military-industrial complex. Since his warning, we have seen a rise in the culture of militarism. His concern that our foreign policy might be dictated by the financial interests “of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” has been fully realized.
We should remember a lesson of the First World War: the presence of excessive weaponry in the hands of nation-states by itself is sufficient to induce WAR.
The decision to wage preemptive war in Iraq raises the specter of a much deeper problem facing the global community––nuclear proliferation. On this issue, we should first look at ourselves. The U.S. has more deliverable nuclear devices than the rest of the world combined. Just one Trident nuclear submarine can hold the entire world hostage. Yet we continue to build more nuclear devices. Who in the world are we prepared to nuke?
We started an arms race in space a decade ago, without provocation. Now the Bush Administration is pressuring Eastern European countries to let us station anti-ballistic missiles on their soil. Most Americans are unaware that the Bush administration, under the cover of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been aggressively initiating a new arms race with Russia and China, whose defense budgets are a small fraction of our own. Our political leadership, controlled by military industrialists, insists on pursuing a Cold War strategy in a post-Cold War era.
American political leaders often boast of American exceptionalism, as you head from this dais. We are indeed a great nation, one that has made significant contributions to humanity. But our leaders are promoting delusional thinking when boasting that the United States and Americans are superior to the rest of the human race. We are no better and no worse.
Unfortunately, the United States is not number one with what counts.
There are only two industrialized nations in the world that do not provide health care for all their citizens: the United States and South Africa. Despite spending more per capita on health care than any other nation in the world, we rank 37th for overall health performance.
The United States ranks 49th in literacy. Time magazine reported last spring that 30% of our students don’t graduate from high school, condemning them to a diminished economic existence.
Of the Global Fortune 500 companies, only 50 are American. Wall Street and many corporate executives are awash in huge salaries and bonuses, yet the average American worker’s compensation grew only .1% in the last decade.
China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan hold 40% of our government debt. Any one of these countries could throw the U.S. into an economic tailspin.
America’s political leadership is in denial as to the gravity and scope of our problems, viewing them almost exclusively from a national perspective. In fact, the major problems we face are all global in nature––energy, the environment, terrorism, drugs, war, immigration, disease, economic and cultural globalization. These problems require global solutions that can only be addressed by concerted diplomacy and cooperation, not jingoism about America’s Super Power superiority.
Ask the current and former residents of the Gulf Coast to rank our national political leadership for effectiveness either now or during the 17 months following the ravages of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These tragedies exposed to the world that large numbers of Americans subsist in what is closer to a “third world” economy.
They exposed how callous we are to the plight of the poor.
They exposed strains of racism we refuse to acknowledge.
But in the face of a painfully slow and ineffective government response, this tragedy has inspired many average Americans to volunteer and help rebuild not only homes, but a spirit of community.
Our political leadership must begin to tell the Americans the truth. So I’ll start right now:
Here are some of the areas where the United States is No 1.
* We are number one in the production of weapons,
* We are number one in consumer spending,
* We are number one in government, commercial and personal debt,
* We are number one in the number of people we have in prison,
* We are number one in energy consumption, and
* We are number one in the environmental pollution we produce.
Our Democratic Congressional leadership is attempting to address some of these problems, but there are serious limitations to the ability of even well-intentioned political leaders, in part because of the limitations inherent in representative government, and in part because of human nature.
Some skeptics might say that twisting truth for political ends is just Politics as Usual––and that Politics as Usual is in the nature of representative government. They accept as benign a system with 30,000 Washington lobbyists bundling campaign contributions for the election of politicians who then support and vote for the interests of the lobbyists’ clients.
But the system is not benign. The corruption is real and cannot be reformed by those who are enriched by the corruption. Only the People can correct these structural flaws of representative government––if they can become lawmakers, as envisioned by George Washington when he said, “The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”
He was right to affirm the role of people as lawmakers on a par with their representative lawmakers in Congress.
We, the People are the fount of all political power. We have the right to propose and to enact the National Initiative for Democracy––a legislative package that includes a constitutional amendment and a federal statute that empowers Americans as lawmakers. A majority of Americans, about 60 million, will have to vote for it in order to become the law of the land. The National Initiative does not abolish representative government, but it adds another Check to our system of Checks and Balances––We, the People.
The National Initiative will provide a mechanism for us to finally have a government not just “of” and "for" the People, but, for the fist time in our history, a government “by” the People.
I believe that we can have laws and policies that are more moral and more reflective of the public interest if citizens can exercise their collective self-interest by voting on major issues that affect their lives. Twenty-four states and several hundred localities already permit citizens to make laws.
I hope you will visit the web site––NationalInitiative.us––to learn more and vote. Think about it. Do you agree or disagree that we need to reform our government’s structure by bringing people into the operations of government as lawmakers in a partnership with their elected officials.
I’m proud to announce that the Democratic Party has been responsible for a number of great social advances in the past. However, as one Senator pointed out, it now anguishes for a new identity. Let me suggest the National Initiative as an epoch-defining identity for the Democratic Party.
The National Initiative would provide an opportunity for the Democratic Party to reclaim its role in American history, with an advancement in human governance on a par with the nascent Republican Party’s role in ending slavery on American soil.
The Democratic Party has the opportunity to undertake a change in the paradigm of human governance and to champion the lost vision of our Founders, and help make We, the People lawmakers. The statements of our Founders cannot be clearer about their vision. They had faith in the American People.
Can we have any less faith in ourselves?
In this campaign you will hear from many who would be President. Judge us not on how much money we raise from those who buy influence. Rather judge us on what we have done. And judge us on the solutions we offer.
I have unreserved faith in the American People and my presidential candidacy will champion empowering We, the People with real power, the central power of all governments! lawmaking