Sunday, January 24, 2010

Privatization - the Bush gift that keeps on giving

It has been a Republican mantra for decades that private enterprise is more efficient than government. In 2005 President George W. Bush led the charge to privatize Social Security. Between the collapse of Enron and the banking system can you imagine where we’d be if he hadn’t failed? When the same president led us into the war in Afghanistan his administration used private security contractors, mercenaries - many of whom are not American citizens, to provide security for supply convoys and military bases. When President Bush led us into the war in Iraq his administration further privatized the war effort by using mercenaries to protect state department personnel leading to the alleged atrocities by Blackwater guards at Nisour Square where 17 innocent Iraqi civilians were killed.

During that same period President Bush appointed two new members to the Supreme Court. Those two members recently joined with three other activist judges from the right in a decision that effectively privatizes the United States Congress and Presidency. The decision in the Citizens United vs. the FEC which allows corporations both domestic and foreign to effectively purchase federal elected officials could well be the most enduring legacy of the George W. Bush administration.

Populist activists from the right and left, like the Tea Party and should make common cause to call for a constitutional convention as provided for by Article V of the U.S. Constitution to reverse this disastrous decision by amending our constitution.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Failing memory and poor reasoning skills should send Cornyn and Hutchison into retirement

Senator John Cornyn sent out an email today proudly stating the following “I have voiced my criticism of the intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board that aircraft, as well as the Obama Administration’s decision to treat this al Qaeda terrorist as a common criminal.” Perhaps the Senator has forgotten that his good friend former President Bush’s administration did exactly the same thing to Richard Reid, the shoe bomber and went on to convict him.

The Senator continues “The decision to hand Miranda rights to Abdulmutallab rather than interrogate him as an enemy combatant may have cost this nation critical intelligence necessary to prevent future terrorist attacks.” Again perhaps Senator Cornyn has forgotten the actionable intelligence our legal and ethical interrogation was able to extract from Mr. Reid.

Finally Cornyn says “I, along with Senator Hutchison, have written to President Obama urging him to reconsider the decision to try the Christmas Day Bomber in civilian court. Abdulmutallab should be designated as an enemy combatant, transferred to U.S. military custody, and interrogated using all lawful methods.” If all the military is going to do is use lawful interrogation methods then why is Senator Cornyn so interested in having Mr. Abdulmutallab in their custody? After all the F.B.I. most certainly has far more experience in interrogation than the military does.

I find that I must question Senator Cornyn’s memory and reasoning in this matter and since Senator Hutchison our would-be Governor apparently agrees with him then I must question her reasoning skills and memory as well. Given that neither of them can reason well nor apparently remember an important national security event which occurred on their watch with any clarity I believe that neither of them is qualified for the offices they hold nor the governorship Senator Hutchison seeks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Letter to Congressman Cuellar in light of the Massachusetts special election

Dear Congressman Cuellar,

Immediately after the Massachusetts Senate special election a Research 2000 poll of Brown voters in shows 82% of Obama voters who went for Brown support the public option and by a 3:2 margin think that the current bill doesn't go far enough. The Obama voters who stayed home think the bill doesn't go far enough by a 6:1 margin.

The Democratic Party has less than 10 months to start governing as a people-powered party, or we will lose both the House and the Senate. With the election of Scott Brown to fill Sen. Kennedy’s unexpired term the damage is done. Unless the Democrats move aggressively to correct the perception that we are the party of backroom deals and massive corporate bailouts, 2010 will be more of the same. Given that the Cook Political Report rates TX 28 as even between the Democrats and Republican you’re on the bubble and are likely to be one of the losers if the party fails to pass populist legislation.

So if you want to activate base voters you need to get behind a big jobs bill to put the nearly 10% of Texans who are unemployed back to work. You need to pass a strong health care reform bill with the Public Option. Surveys show that likely 2010 voters "oppose a mandate to purchase private insurance by 64% to 34% but support a mandate with a choice of private or public insurance by 60% to 37%."

You and the party need to pass green energy legislation and come to grips with the fact that global climate change will happen within the lifetime of many of today’s voters if you don’t do something now. Finally it’s time to stop pouring blood and treasure into Iraq and Afghanistan and bring our troops home so we can spend the money here on infrastructure, health care and education. Those are winning issues in the upcoming election.

I like a quote I read recently, "… a Democratic Party that would abandon their central initiative this quickly isn't a Democratic Party that deserves to hold power." I would add that if the party doesn't stick to the principles it professes to hold and stand up to the lobbyists you’ve kowtowed to from the start, "holding power" won't be anything you have to worry about because the Tea Party is gunning for you. In order to be re-elected you’re going to need the party base proud of what you’ve done and actively campaigning for you and not sitting on their hands at home like the folks in Massachusetts.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ken Mercer and company show disrespect to the citizens of Texas

Wednesday last week the State Board of Education, the elected officials charged with determining the curriculum standards and textbooks that Texas school children use, held a public hearing. This was the one and only opportunity for parents, community members and concerned citizens will have to make their concerns heard on Social Studies standards for the next 10 years. Texans from all over the state signed up to speak and many travelled hours in order to take the opportunity. Many took the opportunity to urge the board not to use its power to promote a narrow political agenda. Many others claimed the schools were much too liberal and needed to be reined in.

On many previous occasions the board has allowed the hearings to run late into the evening in order for citizens to be heard and Thursday evening debated issues after a dinner break until past 10:30 p.m. Wednesday evening though District 5 member Ken Mercer and the rest of the religious conservative bloc voted to end the hearings around 6:00 p.m. thus depriving dozens of citizens the right to be heard by the full board. I think it was incredibly disrespectful and Mr. Mercer should be ashamed.

Fortunately those of us in District 5 will have an opportunity later this year to replace Mr. Mercer with someone else. Hopefully it will be Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau who has made respect for teachers, citizens and potential fellow board members a focal point of her campaign.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why does Obama continue to cover-up deaths at Gitmo?

Will the Obama administration continue to be complicit in a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at Guantánamo in 2006? The story in the January issue of Harper’s Magazine is based largely on interviews with Army guards who were there and a report by the Seton Hall University Law School.

The three prisoners who all knew that they were likely to go home soon as investigation had shown that there was no evidence that they had been involved in Taliban or al-Qaeda activities and release was being negotiated. The manner of death initially reported as cloth shoved down their throats was suddenly changed to hanging hours later. Guards whose duty it was to check each cell every 10 minutes supposedly missed three people hanging from wire fencing for several hours but were never disciplined.

Decorated veteran Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman, a man inspired by Ronald Reagan to join the military, has provided testimony to the Justice Department which is at odds with the report provided by NCIS. His testimony is corroborated by and expanded upon other Army personnel on duty on the night of the deaths but the Justice Department has ignored it.

Not only did NCIS not collect all the various documentary evidence available like video footage of the corridors around the cells of the deceased but they didn’t even bother to interview the Army guards at all.

Why is an apparent cover-up from the Bush administration being continued by the Obama administration?

Monday, January 11, 2010

When will Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison stop lying to her constituents?

In today’s constituent email she claims: “The President and the Democratic leadership have pursued a radical approach to health care reform that will not only result in higher taxes and penalties, but will also increase premiums and reduce patient choices.” The fact is that nothing in the legislation will reduce patient choice, in fact it will expand the choices of many of the six million Texans who now must rely on emergency rooms for treatment.

In her next sentence she claims: “In fact, under the bill, Americans will be taxed for four years before they will see any benefit of insurance reform.” But it’s not a fact the reality is that according to CNN “some benefits would start immediately, including provisions that would require private insurers to provide a minimum level of coverage, Medicare improvements, provisions to decrease administrative costs and targeted assistance for certain people ages 55-64.” In addition wholesale reform of something as large and complex as health care can not logistically occur overnight, after all Medicare Part B took two years to fully implement and this is even bigger.

A few paragraphs later she claims: “The bill passed by the Senate, with only Democrat support, represents a massive government expansion and federal takeover of our health care system.” That’s a lie, there is no takeover, as outlined in the Senate bill there is no government run health insurance program nor is there an expansion of Medicare.