Friday, December 28, 2007

Business Benefits from National Health Insurance

Business Benefits from National Health Insurance
By Jerome Grossman

Alone among the nations of the world, the U. S. has relied upon private health insurance to cover the majority of its population, but far from all - 47 million are left out. This system is inefficient: it costs too much and the business community overpays. The private insurance industry spends about 20% of its revenue on administration, marketing, and profits. Further, the industry imposes on physicians, hospitals and businesses an administrative burden in billing and insurance related functions that consume another 12% of insurance premiums. Thus, fully one third of insurance premiums could be drastically reduced if we were to finance health care through expansion of government – run Medicare to every U.S. citizen. Medicare overhead is estimated to be about three percent.

Most of these unnecessary costs are borne by U.S. business, now held captive by the Washington lobbying of the private insurance industry. It is time for the advocates of a single-payer, (the US government) to make common cause with business interests to modernize the health system in the interest of delivering a better health product, eliminating unnecessary costs, and making U.S. business more competitive around the world. The Committee for Economic Development, a high powered business group, says, “The competitiveness of American firms is threatened by the cost of health insurance.” U.S. business has no obligation to insurance companies. It should pass the cost of insurance to the government just as it does when it lays off thousands of unneeded workers.

The recent agreement between General Motors and the United Auto Workers featured an important change in the health-care obligations of GM. No longer will they be in the health-care field, but will devote all their energies to their own products. Their competitive position will be improved as they are freed from the ever-growing costs of health care.

Some business executives believe that this model should be applied to all companies so that the responsibility for the health-care of the nation would be assumed by the Federal Government, paid for by general tax revenues. The objectives would be to lower the cost of health care, to include all Americans and to help business become more competitive by eliminating a major expense.

Here are ten reasons why business should support national health insurance as developed by Physicians for a National Health Program

10. National Health Insurance will reduce liability insurance and workers compensation costs.

9. National Health Insurance will eliminate the constant headaches of running a health benefits bureaucracy, annual negotiations with insurance companies, etc.

8. National Health Insurance will limit complaints by employers over rising premiums and co-pays and conflicts with labor unions over benefit cuts, givebacks, etc..

7. National Health Insurance will reduce the incentive to hire part-time workers and enable them to attract better employees.

6. National Health Insurance will curb health-related bankruptcies, reduce health spending by low income workers, and free up money for consumer spending.

5. National Health Insurance will reduce the cost of providing health benefits

4. National Health Insurance will eliminate retiree benefit costs for those with obligations to provide coverage.

3. National Health Insurance will eliminate unfair competition from employers who don't provide insurance.

2. National Health Insurance will reduce absenteeism and produce a healthy and more productive work force.

And the number one reason for National Health Insurance from a business perspective is….

1. National Health Insurance will allow health-care costs to be controlled and predictable, eliminating it major source of business uncertainty and a barrier to planning.

And, oh yes, it's the right and moral thing to do.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Most Important Issue

The Most Important Issue
By Jerome Grossman

President Ronald Reagan said that nuclear weapons are “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization.” On March 23, 1983, President Reagan's proposed to “eliminate the weapons themselves.” In 1985, at their Geneva Summit Conference, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev made their joint statement that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

In January 2007, a conference on nuclear weapons was held at the very conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Four of the participants produced an article “A world free of nuclear weapons” that appeared in the Wall Street Journal: Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under President Nixon, George Shultz, Secretary of State under President Reagan, William Perry, Secretary of Defense under President Clinton, and former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. All were conservatives; two were Republicans, two Democrats. All knew a lot about nuclear weapons. They quoted Reagan and spoke from experience, urging implementation of the neglected goal of worldwide nuclear arsenal reductions, negotiated in full embrace of the ideal of abolition.

The four conservative gurus had a political plan-to insert into the presidentential campaign a serious discussion of the most important issue facing the United States and the world. Their conservative backgrounds would allow their ideas about nuclear security to be accepted as a framework for a national colloquy, bypassing the prejudice against liberals and peaceniks in imperial America.

However, it did not happen. The Republican candidates simply ignored the issue. The Democrats acknowledged the dangers, but chose to focus their campaigns on Iraq, healthcare, immigration, personality and electability. For the media and the organizers of the repetitious and boring debates, nuclear weapons abolition was ignored.

But the real failure must be assigned to the voters who have not demanded answers from the candidates. They know that the arsenals of the U.S. and Russia are powerful enough to irradiate the entire planet, to threaten the existence of the human species, to destroy civilization. They must realize that if North Korea, Iran and Pakistan can manufacture nuclear weapons, that capability is within the range of dozens of other countries, that nuclear weapons are the great equalizers reducing the great powers’ ability to use conventional force. And nuclear terrorism may be just around the corner.

It is only a few minutes before midnight on the atomic clock. Time for a wakeup and time to prepare for abolition by adopting:
A declaration of no first use of nuclear weapons
A universal policy of taking all nukes off hair trigger alert
An international plan to secure all nuclear materials
A ban on building new nukes
A ban on all nukes in space
Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
Reductions in the size of nuclear forces in all states that possess them

Voters of America: ask your favorite candidates for President, Senate, and House of Representatives what they are doing to save the world from nuclear annihilation -- the most important issue of our time.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Look at Waterboarding

Another Look at Waterboarding
By Jerome Grossman

Forgive me for pursuing waterboarding torture now that the subject has slipped from public attention. I can't let it go because there is an outside chance that one of my ancestors was a victim of waterboard torture 700 years ago during the Spanish Inquisition. That was pure evil then, it is pure evil now.

Beyond that motivating factor, I may have surmised an explanation for the illegal destruction of the videotapes by the CIA of interrogations of prisoners during which extreme methods were used, including prolonged exposure to cold, heat, nudity, physical discomfort, and waterboarding. In waterboarding, water is poured over a prisoner's mouth and nose to produce a feeling of suffocation. Sometimes, in the absence of restraining equipment, the prisoner's head is pushed into a toilet until he says “uncle” or “Osama bin Laden” or whatever confession is sought by the torturers.

According to intelligence officials, interrogation tapes were destroyed out of concern for the physical and legal safety of CIA agents who appear on the tapes. However, the physical danger would be nil as long as the tapes remained in the possession of the CIA; the legal exposure would be protected by the secret legal opinions of the Justice Department that waterboarding and other pressures are not torture and are lawful acts. These opinions rely on the President's wartime powers, enabling him to contravene the Geneva Conventions and the Army Field Manual which protect prisoners of war.

Let me suggest alternative explanations for the unauthorized destruction of the videotapes, destruction in violation of government regulations and a specific court order. Isn't it likely that the repeated use of waterboarding that brings the prisoner to the verge of suffocation could actually have resulted in death by drowning or heart attack or fright? In that case, destroying the tape would be a cover-up.

Another possibility is that the tapes might reveal that the punishing techniques were not effective. President Bush and other government spokesmen have claimed that CIA harsh interrogation has produced crucial information but experienced FBI agents have opposed the use of coercive techniques as counterproductive and unreliable. For the tapes to decide these differences, they would have to prove that accurate information was obtained, information important for operations. If the tapes did not make the case, then the tapes had to be destroyed to protect the careers of those who've made wrong decisions.

The moral and legal questions about torture cannot be put aside. For generations, Americans have been appalled and sickened by the use of torture by other countries. We like to think that America is above such reprehensible conduct. It will take a thorough housecleaning and change in policy to restore our self respect, the first step in achieving the respect of the people of the rest of the world.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Costs of the Iraq War

The Costs of the Iraq War
By Jerome Grossman

About two thirds of Americans now regard the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as a serious mistake. The mistake was planned and organized by President George W. Bush and his administration with the help of too many Democrats who went along with his imperial fantasy. Too many Americans, carried away by superpower imperial glory, expected an easy victory at low cost.

They were wrong. Whether or not military victory will have been achieved at some future time, the costs have been high and far more than the anticipated benefits.

Some of the costs are painfully obvious. About 4,000 U.S. military deaths, about 40,000 U.S. military wounded, Iraqi insurgents and civilians killed and wounded estimated at one million; Iraqis who have fled their homes and their country to foreign lands estimated at two million; cost to the U.S. taxpayer estimated at one or two trillion dollars depending on eventual length of the war; the dramatic decline in U.S. reputation among the 1.3 billion Muslims and most nations, a decline that is harming U.S. business and diplomatic interests.

Some of the costs are less obvious. The power and influence of Iran in the Middle East has been greatly increased. The Sunni regime in Iraq that was a buffer to Iranian expansion was overthrown and succeeded by a Shiite regime friendly to Shiite Iran. If and when the U. S. military leaves Iraq, the new Shiite bloc might threaten traditional U.S. allies, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

Perhaps the most important costs to the U.S. have been the increase in the price of oil which has doubled since 2002, driven up by the Iraq war to $90-$100 per barrel. As the American consumer increases his insatiable consumption of oil and gasoline, the flow of these liquids is matched by the flow of U.S. dollars to oil suppliers.

When the oil producers were buying U.S. Treasury bonds, the effects were minimal. However, the oil royalty have modified their financial strategy by using their U.S. dollars to buy U.S. assets, taking large positions in Citigroup, News Corp., Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Pepsi, Time Warner, and Walt Disney, to name only a few. Land, real estate, and skyscrapers are also targets. And the sophisticated investors have hired prominent American bankers, media experts and Washington lobbyists to protect their interests in the U.S. This represents an historic transfer of wealth, unprecedented in human history, financial conquest without firing a shot.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Subsidizing Iowa

Subsidizing Iowa
By Jerome Grossman

The political eyes of the nation focus on the farm state of Iowa where voter caucuses will choose delegates to the Democratic and Republican conventions on January 3. The Iowa caucuses are important because they are the first selection of delegates in the country. For many elections Iowa has determined the political trend by giving enormous political publicity to the winner, boosting his/her chances in the New Hampshire primary and beyond.

As in other states, the candidates are evaluated according to personality, electability, endorsements, organization and positions on issues. In this election, the main issues discussed are the Iraq War, immigration policy, and health care.

But the holy issue in Iowa is not discussed because virtually every candidate has pledged to maintain and increase the enormous subsidies for corn and ethanol production given by the federal government. Only one presidential candidate has declared his opposition, Senator John McCain, and the most recent poll gives him 5% in Iowa, far below his national average.

This year, Iowa's farmers and ethanol refiners will receive tax breaks and subsidies amounting to $2 billion. For ethanol this amounts to $.51 per gallon. Iowa gets back from the federal government. $1.10 for every dollar it pays in taxes; the state is not paying its fair share for the military, education, health, etc. and is actually making a profit on the tax system.

Iowa’s representatives in Congress have guarded the state's interests well, particularly their senators, Charles Grassley (Republican) and Tom Harkin (Democrat). They have important seniority as chairs of powerful committees so that it does not make any difference which party is in power. They have it covered.

The corn subsidies were originally installed to protect small farmers from foreign competition and from the big farmers with lower costs. However, as the small farmers disappear, the subsidies enhance the profits of the biggies.

Production of ethanol from corn is controversial. Federal law requires that this biofuel be 10% of all gasoline sold and the industry is trying to get this raised to 20 or 30%. The fundamental purpose of ethanol is to reduce reliance on foreign oil suppliers. However, some experts question the value of ethanol. They point out that the conversion of corn to ethanol requires so much energy that there are no net savings, that the conversion process requires too much water, that ethanol rich blends are corrosive for metals and plastics, could hurt car durability.

These programs have driven up the price of corn and products derived from corn significantly. Corn prices have doubled and diversion to ethanol is raising the overall cost of food as well as diverting grain from poor countries. Today corn syrup is used to sweeten jams, condiments like ketchup, and soft drinks. It is also a favorite ingredient in many so-called health foods. Big increases in the price of foods with corn syrup will affect the diets of millions of American families, and much bigger grocery costs as well.

As ethanol refining plants spring up all over Iowa, conservation of oil and energy is not receiving necessary attention. Subsidization of rational policies for the solution of local or national problems is an appropriate management tool. In this case, the objectives would be national energy independence and efficient use of energy. The technology exists to dramatically cut auto emissions, to reduce automobile consumption of gasoline, to reduce use of electricity, to operate machines with less energy. Let the federal government subsidize these energy-saving installations initially, modernizing our energy system. Simply replacing every old – fashioned electric light bulb in the country with the latest technology is already making a difference. We could do it with a fraction of the trillions of dollars we are spending abroad on oil, on oil related warfare and occupations, on support for client oil-producing states.

The Iowa caucus campaigns would be a prime place to raise these questions. Is there a candidate from either party with the courage to defy conventional Iowa political wisdom, who will demonstrate innovative thinking and the ability to manage the energy problem, by leading the country in a serious discussion of a serious problem? The solution to the energy problem is not in the Middle East but here at home where we can apply our technological skills for the benefit of all 50 states.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Political Religion in America

Political Religion in America
By Jerome Grossman

Religion has long been a favorite topic for Republican candidates for political office. The looming Iowa GOP presidential caucuses may be decided by the religiosity of the competitors, particularly former governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, and how they relate to the beliefs and values of the Evangelical Christians, estimated at some 50% of caucus participants.

But the three leading Democratic presidential pretenders, former Senator John Edwards, Senator's Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have also opened up about their faiths, the role of prayer in their public and private lives and the ways that religion molds their views on policy and government. They walk a fine line, appealing to the religious voters, while not alienating secular voters.

Clinton talks about her faith tradition, Methodism, and has even said that her religion helped her to deal with her husband's infidelity. Obama frequently quotes scripture, emphasizing that his political commitment rises from his faith. Edwards recalls growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, and when talking about his serious family health problems says, “It’s the Lord who got me through.”

Religion looms large in the campaign for the White House. All candidates are grilled about their religious beliefs, some are eager to talk about faith, others play down the issue. The voters clearly want to know about the faith of the candidates and the candidates are more willing to talk about it than in previous elections.

As recently as the 2004 election, the Democratic nominee John Kerry steered away from his religious beliefs, even when he was denied communion by some Roman Catholic Bishops for his choice position on abortion. Now he defends discussion of theology in American political life, says that candidates should discuss their religious backgrounds with the voters, reminds the public that he was a teenage altar boy, that his mother was converted to Catholicism, etc. etc.

President George W. Bush has accented the religious trend by reporting on his talks with God and Jesus as well as establishing regular prayer meetings in the White House. In addition, Bush set up a White House Office of Faith - Based and Community Initiatives and arranged for federal funds to finance social and educational programs based and housed in religious institutions.

The New York Times has reported that the Evangelicals are active everywhere -nationally and locally - on foreign policy, war, abortion, education, evolution, creationism, etc. etc. “A religious subculture once on the fringe has moved into the American mainstream.”

Our political leaders need to be reminded that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution reads in part, “No religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any office or Public Trust under the United States.” The very first Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, begins “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or promoting the free exercise thereof.” There is no reference to God or to any religion in the Constitution, yet Senator John McCain refers to the U.S. as a “Christian Country.”

Our nation has avoided the religious combat that has plagued so many countries for centuries while fostering cooperation among its diverse components by adhering to some very important traditions: the separation of church and state; the practice of toleration of religious groupings; and treating religion as a private affair. America is organized primarily for economic competition: we must avoid drifting into competition for the salvation of souls.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Iranians Have Disappointed Us

The Iranians Have Disappointed Us
By Jerome Grossman

Gosh, what a disappointment. You can't even trust the CIA anymore. Imagine, all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies agree that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Where is George Tenet when we need him - to give us a slam dunk or whatever we asked for? Or Saint Colin Powell who would vouch for the war program after some sobbing.

And the intelligence community has admitted it was wrong. That is no way to run a government operation. Rule number one: never admit a mistake. We pay them $44 billion a year to do what we order so the least they can do is give us the intelligence we need to get other nations to do what we want. Or else. As Don Rumsfeld always said, “You go with the intelligence you have, true and accurate or not. And if the other nations are not guilty of what we accuse them, they will be some day, so why wait?”

Sure, I said in October 2007, “If you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” Knowledge is very dangerous. I learned that at Yale and Harvard Business School. It prevented me from making a buck in three oil businesses I ran (interesting pun) in God's country, Texas. They tell me the knowledge to make a nuke is in the libraries. We have to do something about libraries.

My staff told me not to talk about World War III, that Iran didn't compare to the original axis of evil, Germany, Japan and Italy. But it sounded so good, such a big deal, put me on par with my old man, that World War II hero. Besides, even though Iran is a small country, it might unite the 1.3 billion Muslims against Christian America. Fighting World War III would put me on Mount Rushmore with Teddy Roosevelt, and save the American eagle like President Wilson in World War I and FDR in World War II.

I don't know why the Muslims won't allow us to build military bases in their countries. We already have 737 bases in 130 countries. And everybody is happy. That's spreading democracy just like God told us too. And if anyone tells us to go home, resisting the will of God, we do God's work by cutting off their trade or their bank accounts or their heads (joke), whichever is easier.

The new intelligence report was given to me just last week, so I did not know the new findings when I threatened Iran with the U.S. fleet at anchor in the Persian Gulf, loaded with missiles, planes and nuclear weapons waiting to kick the shit out of the Iranians. Our nuclear weapons are a force for good, for democracy, and the National Football League that I watch every Sunday. How about them Patriots? Could a liberal like Ted Kennedy play that game?

Well, last August, before I declared World War III, Admiral Mike McConnell walked into my office and told me that there was new intelligence about Iran and nukes. I didn't ask him the bottom line, because the typing hadn't even been completed and the Redskins were coming on the tube. Besides, I would never interfere with intelligence collecting. I make it up as I go along

Now, I find out that the Iranians stopped their nuclear weapons program because of a cost - benefit approach. I remember those words from Harvard Business School. That proves the Iranians are unpatriotic and dangerous. My great country, the only superpower on God's earth, maybe on the entire universe, never, ever, stops building guns and ammunition of every size and capability. How else could we spread the word of God and prepare for his return?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Less Violence in Iraq?

Less Violence in Iraq?
By Jerome Grossman

The U. S. Government and the media report that American military and Iraqi civilian casualties have declined significantly for several months. Given the record of the Bush administration in manufacturing information, the American people have a right to be skeptical and suspicious about the accuracy of the count. While the media echoes the same numbers, too often their reporters reside in the comparative comfort and safety of the protected Green Zone and pass along to the public the figures released by the government.

In spite of this positive news, U.S. public opinion polls have not changed. Solid majorities still say that the war was a mistake, that it has been poorly executed, that the troops should come home.

Assuming that the government reports are accurate, what has caused this change? What new techniques did General David Petraeus install? What are the chances for continuation of the reported trend? How will it affect the occupation?

Some of the Sunni leadership was won over by putting them on the U.S. payroll, using crisp $20 bills for distribution to the lower ranks. They also received weapons for current use that may be saved for the anticipated civil war. This makes the ruling Shiites very nervous.

U.S. troops have arrested the men of military age they can find, incarcerating them by the thousands in the new prisons built for this purpose.

Between 2 and 4 million Iraqis have fled the country, reducing the pool of people who might have been slain or wounded.

The "cleansing" of the neighborhoods has been largely completed: Sunnis killed or driven from Shiite areas, Shiites killed or driven from Sunni areas, reducing the casualties as fewer were present to be attacked.

The U.S. military "surge" has placed more troops within the dangerous neighborhoods, decreasing intramural Iraqi fighting, but probably increasing casualties of those who seem to be potential dangers to U.S. troops.

Most important has been the decline in activity of the Mahdi Army, the largest private Shiite militia commanded by the powerful clergyman Moqtada Al-Sadr. For six months he has frozen Mahdi activities and virtually disbanded the organization. At the same time, Al-Sadr disappeared from Iraq, living quietly in Iran. The Iranian government is the prime sponsor of Al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. Is it possible that Iran is cooperating with the U.S. military by restraining Al-Sadr in order to delay or prevent the threatened U.S. attack on Iran? Restraining the Mahdi Army would be proof of Iranian good faith in helping the U.S. end the Iraqi insurgency, thereby averting the devastation of Iran by the enormous U.S. air and naval power at anchor in the Persian Gulf, waiting to be used?

The resistance of the Iraqis to U.S. forces is likely to continue at some level as long as the occupation continues. The decline in casualties may persist as long as these U.S., Sunni and Iranian policies continue. Surely, the Bush administration will describe the situation as proving the correctness and effectiveness of its policy. The continuation of the insurgency at a low level can be used to justify the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Iraq for the indefinite future.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Will the U.S. ever Leave Iraq?

Will the U.S. ever Leave Iraq?
By Jerome Grossman

Since achieving majority control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Democrats in Congress have forced 40 votes on bills limiting President Bush's war policy. Only one bill was passed by both bodies and that was vetoed by Bush.

However, every one of the 40 bills contained a special section providing for a residual U.S. military force to remain in Iraq with no time limit to perform the military tasks U.S. forces are now doing. The exact wording is listed below.

While public opinion is dominated by opposition to this military adventure and by desire for withdrawal, few Americans read the fine print that allows continued occupation. Democratic office holders and presidential candidates do not discuss the details and agree on the maintenance of the residual force. And the media do not inform Americans about this key section.

In the meantime, the Wall Street Journal of November 12 writes, “U.S. digs in to guard Iraq oil exports. Long-term presence planned at Persian Gulf terminals viewed as vulnerable. While presidential candidates debate whether to start bringing ground troops home from Iraq, the new construction suggests that one footprint of U.S. military power in Iraq isn't shrinking any time soon.”
Bill H.R. 4156, November 13, 2007
Title 1 – Policy on redeployment and conduct of operations in Iraq
Section 105 (e)
After the conclusion of the reduction in transition of the United States Armed Forces to a limited presence as required by this section, the Secretary of Defense may deploy or maintain members of the Armed Forces in Iraq only for the following missions:

1. Protecting United States diplomatic facilities, United States Armed Forces, and American citizens.
2. Conducting limited training, equipping, and providing logistical and intelligence support to the Iraqi Security forces.
3. Engaging in targeted counterterrorism operations against al- Qaeda, al- Qaeda affiliated groups, and other terrorist organizations in Iraq.
The activities listed in H.R. 4156 section 105 (e) essentially cover the current programs of the U.S. military in Iraq. These programs are now carried out by 162,000 troops. A continuation as specified in the bill would require approximately the same number of troops. Any reductions are likely to be token in size and cosmetic in purpose.

Given the importance to U.S. world hegemony of Middle East oil and gas reserves, protection of U.S. client states (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Israel), current construction of the U.S. embassy in Iraq (the largest in the world), the refusal of the leading Democratic candidates for president and the Democratic Congress to commit to full withdrawal, it is most likely that Iraq will have a permanent American garrison of considerable size for the indefinite future.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's All about Her

It's All about Her
By Jerome Grossman

The presidential election of 2008 is not primarily about the problems facing America: the Iraq war, relations with Iran, illegal immigration, and healthcare. It's all about her, and her name is Hillary Rodham Clinton: her personality, her smile, her laughter, her marriage, her honesty, her courage, her husband, her toughness, her ability. Hillary's position on issues attracts some attention as does her managerial skill, but Democrats and Republicans, men and women, liberals and conservatives are simply fascinated by her mind, body and especially her chutzpah. Let me count the ways.
1. Hillary dominated the Democratic debates, her opinions and personal style were constantly under analysis, review and attack.
2. The media regards Hillary as a prize for their business. Loving or hating her keeps interest alive in a contest already boring the nation.
3. The attacks upon Hillary make the repetitious and sloppy debates watchable. Will one of the candidates finally act out his hostility and frustration by actually roughing her?
4. The National Journal’s political expert writes, "The Democratic race is a locomotive with Hillary Clinton's face on it."
5. A poll of parents of kids 12 years old and younger asked this question: of the presidential candidates, which is the most and least trusted to baby-sit their children? Hillary won both, the best and the worst.
6. For a large section of the electorate, Hillary is too liberal while many Democrats think she is too conservative.
7. The new French President Nicolas Sarkozy, absolutely frenetic in a rushed trip to Washington, DC, the capital of the world, finds the time (15 minutes) to call Hillary, but called no other candidate.
8. National Public Radio reports an incorrect rumor that Hillary failed to leave a tip in an Iowa restaurant. The Clinton campaign rushes another hundred dollars to the waitress (on a $200 group lunch). The rival campaigns race around the country interviewing other waitresses.
9. At Hilton Head, South Carolina, on November 12, at a McCain rally, a woman asked the candidate, “How do we beat the bitch?" McCain smiled and replied “An excellent question."

So far Hillary appears in command of the competition, maintaining her self-control, knowing the issues, and getting good marks from disinterested observers (is there such a category?) on personality, appearance, demeanor, ability to give impromptu organized answers, defending herself when attacked, attacking when necessary.

This woman is in charge. Who or what will replace her as the object of our tangled emotions once the campaign is over and she becomes the mother (but not the lover) of us all? But for now - it’s all about her

Monday, November 12, 2007

A City upon a Hill

A City upon a Hill
By Jerome Grossman

Americans like to think of themselves as an exceptional people in an exceptional nation. Puritan Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts preached in 1630, “For we must consider that we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us….” For almost 400 years these words have echoed initially across the continent, then across the globe. Leaders and preachers have described America as another Israel, chosen and sanctified by God to bring its message of Democracy to the world.

Given these ideals and aspirations, how can our government authorize torture on human beings, assaulting the very idea of civilization? The eyes of the people of the world are upon the United States as it debates the issue of torture in general, and water -- boarding in particular. U.S. government officials have admitted to systematic use of torture, including extraordinary application of heat and cold, high decibels sound, forced nakedness, hanging of living bodies in extreme stress positions, attacks on sexual organs, various forms of penetration, etc..

All tortures are forbidden under international and U.S. domestic law. Water- boarding is specifically banned by the Army Field Manual, and illegal under the Federal Anti-torture Act, Federal Assault Statutes, The Detainee Treatment Act, The Convention against Torture, and the Geneva Conventions.

Despite these laws, on November 8, the Democrat controlled Senate voted 53 to 40 to confirm Michael Mukasey as U.S. Attorney General even though he refused to say that water -boarding was illegal. The Democrats could have defeated the nomination by declaring a filibuster that requires 60 votes for passage of legislation, a maneuver used regularly by Democrats and Republicans alike. Why didn't they do this? Why didn't they seize the moral high ground by denouncing these inhuman practices and demanding that the law of the land be enforced? The American people were sickened by the abuses in Abu Grabib, by the Japanese tortures of American prisoners in World War II, by the torturing of John McCain and others by the Vietnamese, as well as similar acts by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao?

Some Democratic senators, especially Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have pointed out that torture as a method of interrogation is ineffective, producing incorrect and unreliable information, placing captured U.S. troops in danger of torture, harming the reputation of the U.S., decreasing support for U.S. policies around the world, and increasing likelihood of “blowback” revenge attacks on Americans at home and abroad.

Effective politics is a process of involving citizens in public affairs on one side or another. Surely the issue of torture would resonate with voters morally and practically, giving political advantage to the Democratic Party in the 2008 elections. Taking a strong stand for enforcing the law and rejecting torture would redeem us and tell the world that the U.S. is indeed “A City upon a Hill,”
protecting the rights and liberties of all.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Who is the "Change" Candidate?

Who is the "Change" Candidate?
By Jerome Grossman

The candidates for President of the United States present themselves as the leaders who will bring "change" to American political institutions, to the way we manage the domestic affairs of the nation, to how we handle our foreign affairs.

Overused and underspecified, "change" has become a political cliché, a trite, stereotyped expression, designed to give weight to the most innocuous proposals that do not modify the form, nature, or content of our politics by making it different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

The leading candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties are carefully playing in the political center, the Democrats slightly to the left,, the Republicans slightly to the right, both avoiding challenges to the military and business interests, the dominant elements in superpower America. In our representative government, authentic Democratic change would respond to the demands of their basic constituencies, labor and liberals. Republican change would heed the business interests. Instead, they emphasize bringing the nation together with programs that satisfy the lowest common denominator.

The problems of the present system are discussed ad infinitum, but only mini - modifications of current practices are offered. Nevertheless, they are hyped as solutions, as "change", for policies that are not working on Iraq, healthcare, immigration, etc.. The only candidates offering real change, meaning entirely new approaches to these issues are Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich. Paul would control the all-powerful military- industrial complex and restrain presidential power. Kucinich would end military adventures like Iraq and restrain dominant business interests. They would be authentic changers of the U.S. political system but neither has any chance of election. Does that mean that the voters do not want real change, but only the appearance of change?

With some justification, Americans are often accused of being faddist, fascinated by the latest toy, invention, song, thought, philosophy, and religion. So political sloganeering of "change", even without specifics or content, has a comfortable temporary appeal. But in order to make a significant difference in the lives of Americans, "change" must challenge the dominant powers in society to keep them relevant to public needs. Otherwise, it is a mere slogan, tempting the masses with implied promises, avoiding real change, signifying nothing but political bankruptcy.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The American Idea

The American Idea
By Jerome Grossman

The Atlantic Magazine celebrated its 150th anniversary by asking an eclectic group of thinkers to consider "The American Idea", its meaning and its future.

David Foster Wallace asked, "Are some things worth dying for? Is The American Idea one such thing?" Jerome’s comment: Exactly the wrong question. Better ask, is The American Idea worth living for, a more important and relevant question in imperial America.

Biologist Edward O. Wilson: “The central issue for America is sustainable development. Somehow, we and other countries, have to find a way to continue raising the quality of life without wrecking the planet." Jerome’s comment: A solid observation taken from experience.

African-American historian John Hope Franklin: “If The American Idea was to subdue Native Americans and place them at the disposal of European settlers, to import several million Africans to the New World and subject them to a lifetime of slavery, to impose on Asian immigrants a lifetime of discrimination, then perhaps The American Idea was not so admirable."
Jerome’s comment: The afflicted never forget, nor should they, for we should always be reminded.

Historian Alan Brinkley: “For much of American history, this messianic sense of the nation's destiny was a largely passive one. The United States was to be a model to other nations-a light shining out to the wretched world and inspiring others to lift themselves out. But in the 20th and 21st centuries, as America has ascended to global preeminence, that sense of mission has become linked to a series of attempts-after World War I, World War II, in the attacks of September 11, 2001 to reshape the world." Jerome’s comment: Yes, to reshape the world for our profit and hegemony.

Columnist George Will: “Talk about “The” American Idea is dangerous because it often is a precursor to, and an excuse for, the missionary impulse that sleeps lightly, when it sleeps in all, in many Americans." Jerome’s comment: Even this center right icon is worried.

Novelist John Updike: “The American Idea, as I understand it, is to trust people to know their own minds and to act in their own enlightened self -interest, with a necessary respect for others."
Jerome’s comment: God bless America, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Professor and writer Joyce Carol Oates: “How heartily sick the world has grown, the first seven years of the 21st century, of the American Idea! Speak with any non-American, travel to any foreign country and the consensus is: The American Idea has become a cruel joke, a blustery and bellicose body -- builder luridly bulked up on steroids, consequently low on natural testosterone, deranged and myopic, dangerous... Perhaps the most pernicious of American Ideas is the revered. “My country, right or wrong.” Jerome’s comment: The myth of American exceptionalism is over; the city on the hill was a dream; we are like other nations subject to the strengths and flaws of the living flesh

Friday, November 2, 2007

It’s the Oil, Stupid

It’s the Oil, Stupid
By Jerome Grossman

While President Bush praises the invasion of Iraq as spreading freedom, while the Democrats in Congress are overcome with admiration for the U.S. troops installing democracy by the barrel of a gun, the rest of the world is saying, “It's the oil, stupid.”

The U.S. is stuck in the Middle East, just where it wants to be, without an exit strategy because it never intended to leave, not as long as the area contains 60% of world oil reserves and 40% of world natural gas reserves.

Do the math. Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves, more than five times the total in the United States. In addition, it is the least explored of the world's oil-rich nations. It has been estimated that Iraq has 300 billion, yes billion, barrels of undiscovered oil. U.S. forces are now occupying in Iraq one quarter of the world's oil reserves. And these forces are now in position to protect the oil of Saudi Arabia and to threaten the oil of Iran.

At today's prices, which may be low given that consumer demand is growing in China, India, etc., the value of Iraqi oil would be about $30 trillion. The projected cost of the U.S. invasion and occupation is about $1 trillion. I won't try to evaluate the 4000 U.S. dead soldiers and 90,000 U.S. wounded.

Was the strategy of invading Iraq for its oil reserves developed at the secret meeting of the Energy Task Force in late 2001 organized by Vice-President Cheney? The oil and energy executives attending discussed the world situation at length but the administration refuses to release the details. But they can't fool Alan Greenspan, who was clear on the matter in his new book: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraqi War is largely about oil.”

While the immense profits were certainly part of the overall plan together with eliminating a dedicated opponent of Israel, neither the money nor Israel was decisive. Probably more important was control of the oil as a tool, or perhaps a weapon in support of U.S. world hegemony. Modern industrial nations require oil for productivity and consumer satisfaction. Crossing the interests of the U.S. will carry the risk of being shut off from the indispensable liquid. The invasion/occupation of Iraq was more than a defensive measure for oil supplies; it gave the U.S. a potent offensive tool to keep other nations in line with American policies.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Senator Frankenstein goes to Washington

Senator Frankenstein goes to Washington
By Jerome Grossman

The Democrats need to win more seats in the U.S. Senate in the 2008 elections if they are to achieve their agenda. While they have a working margin in the House of Representatives to pass legislation even with the defection of some conservative Democrats, in the Senate, the margin is a narrow 51 to 49. But in practice the margin is closer. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who calls himself an independent Democrat, votes often with the Republicans on foreign affairs and sometimes on domestic matters, according to which Halloween mask he is wearing.

However, Democratic prospects are excellent for 2008. The GOP must defend 22 Senate seats, while the Democrats play defense on only 12. Republican retirements already number at least five, creating open seat election opportunities for the Democrats as the GOP loses the enormous benefits of incumbency. Of the ten most competitive Senate seats, nine are now held by Republicans, only one by a Democrat. No wonder the Republicans are scared and depressed.

One of the closest Senate races will be in Minnesota, where the incumbent Norm Coleman is running for his first re-election for the seat previously occupied by flaming liberal Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash just before his anticipated re-election. Coleman is a supporter of the war in Iraq, and a loyalist to virtually all the policies of President George W. Bush.

This race is sure to attract national attention, because the likely Democratic nominee is a professional comedian and entertainer, Al Franken, running for office for the first time and starting pretty close to the top. It will be fun. Franken is a liberal who has promoted the agenda of the Democratic Party on radio and television while making his living telling jokes, a new way of starting a political career, but reminiscent of Ronald Reagan.

Franken has a national reputation. In comedy style he covered the 1992 presidential conventions on Comedy Central TV and has delivered his unique blend of humor, disrespect and analysis at many universities and corporations. He is never at a loss for words, comments and jokes. Franken keeps the listeners awake.

Al Franken's best friend and his partner in show business is Ben Stein, a mirror image, a hard-line conservative paired with a flaming liberal. Stein is an actor who was a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, and believe it or not, writes a column for the New York Times business section every Sunday.

In their acts, the pair is presented as Stein/Franken, because, as Al jokes, Stein is older and thus more deserving. However, others tell them that a more descriptive name would be Franken/Stein, after the horror of the same name.

Of course, Ben Stein will not be a partner in the ascendancy, but the usually humorless Republicans may choose to play with the Franken name, making mistakes on purpose. The title of the novel “Frankenstein” refers to a scientist who creates a being in the likeness of man but people have tended to refer to the horrible creature, composed of body parts taken from the dead, as “Frankenstein.”

Will the new Senator use his formidable nickname to intimidate his political opponents? Or at least get Senator Lieberman to behave? If Senator Al begins to strut around the Senate floor in imitation of the strung-together monster, will he be censured for disrespect? Or will the Republicans bring Vice President Cheney to shoot this caricature of a manufactured Senator? In any case, there will be no love interest in this movie on C-SPAN and the tedium of the Senate will have been eased by a comic routine. A new day may be dawning in the U.S. Senate. And where is Senator Groucho Marx now that we need him?

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Perils of Running for President

The Perils of Running for President
By Jerome Grossman

The last stage of the campaigns for the Democratic and Republican nominations for President has begun. The candidates have started to attack each other. No more nice guy - the gloves have come off - and as history shows - just about anything goes in American politics.

In the 2000 campaign, John McCain was probably the most popular politician in America, among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. His maverick positions, straight talk no nonsense style, combined with his war record as a wounded prisoner in the Vietnam War gave him cachet much more attractive than the establishment background of Texas Governor George W. Bush, who had the big money and the party apparatus behind him.

In a stunning upset, McCain defeated Bush in the New Hampshire primary by a massive 18 percentage points, becoming a serious threat for the nomination. But he had to confirm the victory in the next primary in South Carolina, to prove that the New Hampshire election was not a freak. People of unknown origin, perhaps associated with Bush, perhaps Bush supporters working on their own, organized a whispering campaign to destroy McCain’s reputation - and they succeeded.

Examples: Push telephone polls asked questions like, “If you knew that John McCain fathered a child out of wedlock, would you vote for him?” Whispering campaigns spread rumors that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child, that he was homosexual, that his wife was a drug addict, that he had committed treason as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, that he scorned the Confederate flag, etc..

Will there be similar dirty tricks or appeals to secret prejudices in the current elections?
Against Barack Obama on account of his color?
Against Hillary Clinton on account of her sex?
Against Mitt Romney on account of his Mormon religion?
These prejudices may not show up in the polls but they certainly exist in some people to some degree, influencing their conduct and their votes.

Keep in mind that the United States has had 45 presidents and all but one has been male, white, Protestant. Some Americans have a built-in idea of what a president should look like, his background, his voice, his personality. The only president to vary from the expected mold was John F. Kennedy, who fulfilled the built-in idea in every way except that he was a Roman Catholic.

Can another Roman Catholic be elected, for example Rudolph Giuliani, the GOP front runner? And if that factor is overcome, how about his ethnic Italian-American name? In the 1988 election, by far the most talented Democratic politician was the Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, successful executive, recognized intellectual, powerful speaker, effective politician. Surprising the entire political world, Cuomo did not seek the Democratic nomination, opening the door for Governor Michael Dukakis. Cuomo told his intimates that he thought the country would never elect a person whose name ended in a vowel.

Another hurdle for Giuliani: at least one of his three marriages violated the marital rules of the Catholic Church. Will he be granted communion when he seeks to worship or will he be denied that right as was John Kerry in the 2004 campaign, denied in such a public manner that it became a political issue that probably cost Kerry votes.

The dangers are great, some obvious, some hidden like roadside bombs. It is impossible to prepare for all of them. But, then again, the reward is enormous - President of the U.S.A. - right now the equivalent of President of the World.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The "Madness" of King George Bush

The "Madness" of King George Bush
By Jerome Grossman

On October 17, President George W. Bush issued a stark warning to the entire world, that if Iran obtained nuclear arms, it could lead to “World War III.” A few days later, Vice- President Richard Cheney reiterated the message, sending a more specific warning to Iran: “We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

Why did President Bush use “World War III?” A U.S. attack on Iran need not involve other nations; Iran has no allies with the obligation, the power, and the inclination to come to their aid. Invoking a World War was a way to send an indirect threat to Russia and China to prevent them from helping Iran achieve nuclear weapons, now or in the future, even as eight other nations have done. Is Bush threatening to set the whole world on fire or did he make another speaking error?

The Russians were scheduled to ship nuclear fuel rods to the Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr in November. The contract is legal under the Non-Proliferation Treaty as long as the degree of enrichment is three to five percent. Weapons grade nuclear material must be enriched to a much higher level. The Iranians claim that the reactor will be used only to produce electric power and deny high enrichment.

However, if the reactor becomes operational in November, it would be impossible for the U.S. to bomb the installation. The fallout from the bombing would turn the city and surrounding area into another Chernobyl. In addition, the bombing would release radioactive material over a wide area, as happened in Chernobyl, contaminating the land and causing loss of life throughout neighboring countries in the Middle East, including Israel, perhaps into parts of Europe.

The U.S. wants to preserve its option to bomb Iran from the U.S. fleet in the Persian Gulf, U.S. bases in Europe and the Indian Ocean. The U.S. is trying to prevent Russia from making the shipment. Russia has already delayed once. In the meantime, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is in Eastern Europe suggesting that the U.S. defer installing missile defense hardware in Poland and Czech Republic, a program that deeply offends Russia. This could be the basis for a deal: no fuel rods for no missile defense system in Poland.

If U.S. intelligence reveals that the shipment of nuclear fuel rods is on the way, the U.S. will bomb Iran before arrival to prevent the Chernobyl effect.

Talk of World War III sounds extreme and even wild: the use of “madness” is a method to obtain concessions by threatening an irrational act. President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger liked to use it, frightening opponents into thinking that Nixon was irrational enough to do the unthinkable, thereby obtaining concessions to appease the seeming craziness, a very dangerous way to manage a nation and the world.

These people are playing with millions of human lives.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Better to Jaw-Jaw Than to War-War

Better to Jaw-Jaw than to War-War
By Jerome Grossman

In the last five years we should have learned that military intervention in the Middle East is difficult, bloody, and expensive. The enormous advantages of the U.S. in equipment and trained personnel have not brought victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. The indigenous unorganized resistance has found ways to counter the awesome organized superpower.

Nevertheless, as incredible as it may appear, the Bush administration is moving our nation closer to another costly invasion in the Middle East, this time against Iran. It will be billed as virtually cost free; fire-power from the naval battle groups now in the Persian Gulf, B-2 bombers flying in from Missouri, primed to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq and any people who get in the way.

Also destroyed will be what is left of America's reputation. For the 1.3 billion Muslims world- wide, attacking three Muslim nations simultaneously will have all the earmarks of another crusade against them. They can be expected to attack U.S. interests everywhere. To the rest of the world of other faiths or no faith, a third war will be conclusive evidence of the determination of the U.S. to crush any challenge to its world hegemony.

Already, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has told his soldiers to prepare for more “unconventional” wars, that is, wars where the weak resisters become guerrillas with homemade weapons and tactics. Will this take the rest of the century?

This scenario is not in the long-term interests of the United States. Our quarrels with Iran over its nuclear programs can be negotiated through the International Atomic Energy Agency in a manner similar to the current successful solution to North Korea's nuclear program. Our objections to Iran's influence in Iraq can and should be negotiated by the so-called free and democratically elected government of Iraq, supported by the U.S.

Diplomacy should be the initial response to international arguments before sanctions and international pressure. Military action is a last resort and then only with the broadest international support, hopefully with the blessing of the United Nations. The government of Iran has repeatedly asked for meetings and negotiations but the U.S. response has been military threats and Congressional resolutions so harsh that they have been described on the floor of the U.S. Senate as “tantamount to a declaration of war.”

The stakes for the U.S. and the entire world are enormous. Let us remember the advice of a warrior, Winston Churchill, “Better to jaw-jaw, than to war-war.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

? Divide Iraq into Three States?

? Divide Iraq into Three States?

By Jerome Grossman

For several years, Senator Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been promoting a division of Iraq into three separate states, Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd, linked by a weak federal government. The theory is that the separation will allow each group to organize itself in accordance with its own traditions and objectives, to adopt separate policies, to elect its own leaders, thereby minimizing conflict and ending the civil war now raging for power and resources.

The plan needs to be taken seriously, because in September the U.S. Senate formally voted approval by 77 Democrats and Republicans. However, the Prime Minister of Iraq and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq immediately criticized the Biden plan as ineffective and unworkable.

Although each of the three groupings dominate particular areas, in many cities and towns they had been living together for years. Separation would require mass migrations involving loss of homes, jobs, as well as schools and associations that would be painful for all concerned and would certainly lead to local conflict in the very process of separation as people are forced to dispose of their assets.

How would the borders of each state be set? There are no natural divisions and the resolution of the border problem would surely lead to conflict.

How would the oil revenues be divided? Iraq lives off its oil with no other significant assets. In the likely Sunni area, there is no oil. Would they receive a fair division of the revenues? Would it be on a population basis, on area of land, on needs? How much would be stolen by people in the other two states?

Will each area have its own defense forces, or its own police? Would one area import enough arms and foreign soldiers in an attempt to conquer the other two? Would an arms race develop for defensive or offensive purposes?

Could each area afford the inevitable triplication of services notably more expensive than services by a single, unified government? Could each state support itself?

Would these three little weak countries be dominated or absorbed by powerful neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia?

Would Turkey allow an independent or semi -- independent Kurdistan? The Kurds are the largest ethnic group, 25 million, in the world without their own country. They are anxious to unite their scattered people now residing in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria. Those nations refuse to surrender any part of their territory to the Kurds. Right now, Turkey has many troops on the border of Kurdish Iraq to prevent Kurdish infiltration.

The fact that the U.S. Senate promotes the Biden plan is additional evidence of the dominance of the U.S. in Iraqi affairs. The U.S. has the controlling military power, as well as the political power through the puppets the U.S. selected, installed and supports. However, the Bush administration is unlikely to adopt the Biden plan. The practical difficulties are too great and partition is contrary to the prime U.S. interests in the Middle East. The U.S. needs Iraq as a military base to dominate the area where 60% of the Earth's oil reserves and 40% of the natural gas are located. Control of those reserves will give the U.S. another tool to influence the policies of other nations. The U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq without an exit strategy because it never intended to leave. The continuing occupation will have fewer problems with a unified Iraq. With 737 military bases already in 130 countries, control of Iraq will add another region to U.S. hegemony.

Monday, October 8, 2007

President Hillary is Inevitable

President Hillary is Inevitable

By Jerome Grossman

Now that Hillary is really inevitable, the professional pundits are protecting their careers by opining that her election is not inevitable. But if you want to bet on Hillary going all the way, the legal bookies in Ireland will pay you only one dollar for every two bet: she is the odds-on favorite. Possessing a magic name, the best organization, the most experienced managers, the most connections to the biggest donors, her main weakness was her unfavorability rating hovering at 48 -- 49%. How could she be elected when half of the voters didn't like her? That barrier has been broken: the negative number is down to 37, where most politicians are. Americans learn to love front runners, to admire success.
To cinch the case, here are poll numbers conducted in late September by ABC News / Washington Post, covering just about every personal and issue valuation of the three top Democratic candidates. No need to analyze the Republicans. In my book, any Democrat nominated for President will defeat any Republican. It's all over folks.

Regardless of who you support, who do you think ___?
(Dems) HRC Obama Edwards
Is the strongest leader 61% 20% 13%
Is the most honest and
Trustworthy 35 26 22
Has the best chance of
Getting elected 57 16 20
Is best able to reduce
partisanship in D.C. 42 20 24
Best reflects the core
VIs the most inspiring 41 37 14

Regardless of who you support, who do you trust most to handle ___?
(Dems) HRC Obama Edwards
The war in Iraq 52% 22% 17%
The U.S. campaign
Against terrorism 51 20 19
The economy 56 17 17
Healthcare 66 15 14
Corruption in gov’t 40 28 20

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

George W. Bush is Happier

George W. Bush is Happier

By Jerome Grossman

President Bush enjoys off - the - record lunches with favored journalists from time to time. One of the rules for the occasion provides for absolutely no direct quotations, but allows for reference to the matters discussed. At a recent lunch, Bush seemed more buoyant and especially interested in presidential politics and the 2008 election. He expects Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the Democratic nomination and probably the general election. He did not seem too perturbed by the prospect. He indicated that the Democratic candidates were coming around to his point of view on the Iraq war and that Hillary would continue his Iraq policy once she appreciates the dangers and difficulties. What may have caught Bush’s attention was Hillary’s statement that she “hoped” to withdraw troops by 2013 as well as her plan for a residual US military force. Here is Hillary's latest plan for a residual U.S. force of undetermined size in Iraq with no time limit: To protect the U.S.Embassy and other U.S. installations: to train the Iraqi army, to fight insurgents, and to deter Iran.
Bush thinks that a Democratic President continuing the occupation would validate his Iraq policy and restore his reputation and standing in history. His model is President Harry Truman, like Bush lowly regarded at the end of his presidency, now a hero of the Cold War in some history books. Bush hinted at some back channel advice emanating from the White House to the Clinton campaign.
Could it be from Bush to his father to buddy Bill Clinton to Hillary?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hillary Isn't President Yet

Hillary Isn't President Yet
By Jerome Grossman

My blog on September 22 warned that President Hillary might find it necessary to prove that a woman is tough enough, resolute enough, to be commander-in-chief in time of war. It took only four days for her to prove me prescient.

On September 26 she voted in the U.S. Senate to brand the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization based on intelligence offered by the Bush administration that furnished the faulty intelligence that took us into Iraq. Senator Jim Webb, D-VA, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, argued that designating part of Iran's government as a terrorist group represents a de facto declaration of war on Iran.

This amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill was written by Senator Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn, and Senator John KYL, D-AZ, and was adopted 76 -- 22. The original version was much more provocative, actually calling for using all military instruments against Iran, but cooler heads prevail.

Presidential candidates Biden and Dodd voted NAY, Obama was not present but said he would have voted NAY, Edwards criticized Hillary for her vote saying "You cannot give this president the authority and you can't even give him the first step in that authority because he cannot be trusted." Amen.

Hillary defended her vote:" it gives us the options to impose sanctions... to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran." Tough talk, There are strong rumors in Washington and around the world that the U.S. is preparing a massive air strike on Iran. Then we will be fighting three wars against Moslem countries simultaneously, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, with a worn out military 10,000 miles from home, and a purpose that has been rejected by almost all other nations. Let's see know-it-all Hillary manage that as President.

In another in -your -face to the American people, Hillary staked out some hawkish ground on Iraq in the presidential debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover New Hampshire, on September 26. She refused to commit, but “ hopes” to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2013 - that is no misprint - 2013. And she was echoed by her main rivals, Edwards and Obama. Only the also-rans, Richardson, Kucinich, and Gravel gave answers that would satisfy the voters who gave the Democrats control of Congress in 2006. So much for the Democratic Party commitment to end the war.

Basking in her political sunshine with a 20 point lead, President Hillary is already sounding like President Lyndon Johnson did on Vietnam-and she is not even nominated or elected yet. Where is Gene McCarthy now that we need him to talk peace and political courage? Dead and buried, that's where, but remembered as the hero who began the political process that got us out of Vietnam But if a worthy successor springs up, watch out Hillary, you aren't President yet.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hillary: What kind of President?

Hillary: What kind of President?
By Jerome Grossman

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for President. She leads the field in the polls of the key early voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida. If she wins these states there will be a landslide. In the general election in November, there is every indication that the hungry and angry Democrats will turn out in force, while the Republicans, demoralized by scandals and policy failures, will vote in lesser numbers than in the GOP heyday. The Democratic nominee will be a cinch to win.

Hillary will be the first woman President. What kind of President will she be? How will her being the first woman affect her performance?

Hillary brings important qualities to the office: she is informed, educated, well spoken, hard-working, experienced. She has been a social worker and lawyer, ran programs in Arkansas and the White House, and served six years as a United States Senator from New York. She can do the job. She has political smarts to weave her way through the competing interests in the fifty states and indeed the nations of the world.

Hillary's politics are centrist, just like husband Bill’s. They have made their way by locating the consensus of their time and supporting it. They make their peace with the dominant interests and are clever in selling the policies produced to the public. Hillary, the social worker, had no problem accepting the mantra that “the era of big government is over “and the ensuing decline in federal social services.

Experimental programs seeking new approaches to intractable problems, like crime, drug addiction, segregation, income inequality, etc. will get short shrift. Hillary's health care program protects the interests of the major players, making no attempt to adopt the single-payer approach used by every other industrialized nation. The liberal constituency of the Democratic Party is sure to be disappointed in her domestic programs as she finds another Robert Rubin to guide her through paths approved by Wall Street.

Hillary's biggest problem will be her performance as Commander – in - Chief at a time of international upheaval, guerrilla insurgencies, terrorism and war. In spite of her business - like style and her demonstrated ability to compete with the boys, the public instinctively sees in this woman, or any woman, a caring, sympathetic, loving, tender person with the warmth and social skills they remember from their mothers, whether or not the mothers actually had them.

Is a woman tough enough, resolute enough, to be Commander – in - Chief in time of war, to make decisions that will cause loss of life and limb, to attack when necessary, to command in times of stress, to make the often brutal call for the military? That is the question that will be asked of Hillary during the election campaign and her first term. Many Americans will reply that a woman, any woman, cannot command with the necessary authority.

Hillary has prepared herself for these questions. She voted for the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq and refuses to apologize. She has voted every year for the enormous U.S.military budget, larger than the military budgets of all other countries in the world combined. She has never questioned Pentagon development of new weapons. As First Lady, Hillary participated in Cabinet meetings and favored the Clinton military interventions in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia. Together with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Vice President Al Gore, Hillary pushed a reluctant President Bill to adopt a policy of humanitarian military interventions later used by the neo-cons to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Will President Hillary be able to resist military solutions to international problems? Will President Hillary challenge the ever higher military budgets requested by the Pentagon? Will President Hillary resist Pentagon demands for new nuclear weapons? Will President Hillary resist making an attack on Iran? Will President Hillary withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq?

The example of Prime Minister Margret Thatcher in Britain,” the toughest person in the Cabinet” seems to indicate that a woman must be tougher than a man to prove that she can handle the duties of a Commander – in – Chief in time of war. Electing a woman President may not be the path to peace.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007



by Jerome Grossman

The leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States have proposed reforms of the nation's health-care system. The plans of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are similar in outline, but not necessarily in detail. Especially noteworthy is their retention of the basic system relying on business and insurance companies to finance health care.

However, each candidate articulated themes contrary to the current basic system. They praise government - run Medicare for low administrative costs, high efficiency, and for not cherry picking patients. They praise the government - run Veterans Administration for the same features as well as consumer satisfaction. They praise government -run systems in other industrialized nations pointing out that the U.S. lags behind all most all of these nations in adult longevity and infant mortality. Yet the candidates insist on retaining our current system with minor modifications. Universal Medicare would eliminate the cost of health insurance to businesses and lower insurance costs by about 25% percent by eliminating advertising, big execuitive salaries salaries and insurance company bureaucracy aimed at increasing market share and profitability.

The primary constituency of business is the stockholder and the primary activity is to cut costs and maximize profits. In health care this usually means insure as few workers as possible for the fewest ailments. Insurance companies are also focused on the bottom line, charging as much as the market will bear while avoiding the large expenses of the very sick The maneuvers toward these objectives inflate the cost of healthcare

Expanding Medicare to the entire population would realize the goal of universality, improve the national health, lower administrative costs, shift control of care to doctors and hospitals. Why should seniors and veterans be the only groups receiving government subsidies for health care? What about that 10 year old girl I see through my window? How about the worker who repairs my necessities?

Only a universal health system run by the government is defensible morally and politically. Equality and democracy require it. How long will the voters allow this unfairness and waste of money on a basic right to life to continue? Will one of the presidential candidates, from either party, endorse the Medicare approach and arouse the voters to demand it?

The answer to that question is " NO." American political leaders are understandably intimidated by the economic and political power of the health and insurance industries. They remember how Hillary Clinton's mild health reform proposals of 1993 were defeated, and even worse, ridiculed to such extent that it affects her campaign for president 15 years later.

Any proposed change must not be perceived as attacking the profit motive, the most dynamic element in the American economic juggernaut. However, certain communal activities do not lend themselves to the profit model. Health care, education and the military rely on the values of equality, cooperation and even sacrifice. The model for each is common benefit before individual advancement and profit.

However, there may be a way to resolve the dilemma, by following the example of big business. Our government cannot drive the health and insurance industries out of business to install a universal Medicare, but it could buy them out and make health a government monopoly. Give them their profit, give stockholders, executives, workers a big payout, something on the order of100% profit or a years salary. Even if costs one trillion dollars, the lower costs could return the capital outlay in ten years or less. The new efficiencies, the new satisfactions, the increased longevity, the saving of children's lives could transform our lives as they have already benefited our senior population since 1965. And think of the value of increased happiness, of diminished worry about the precious gift of life. Do we have the courage to break the pattern of the past, for ourselves and future generations?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Stop Funding for the Iraq War

Stop Funding for the Iraq War
By Jerome Grossman

After defying the expressed will of the American people, President George W. Bush has laid out a plan for withdrawal of some U.S. troops from Iraq - maybe. Perhaps some by Christmas, perhaps more next spring, perhaps another group by the November election, depending on conditions on the ground. Bush is stealing from the Democrats an idea that will not work. At least 130,000 troops will remain indefinitely to implement what Bush calls an “enduring “role in Iraq, an open-ended commitment there. This is a perversion of the popular demand and continues the series of mistakes committed by the administration. However, Bush and the Democrats in Congress seem to have arrived at the same point. While the Democrats demand “withdrawal”, every piece of legislation they pass on Iraq includes provisions for a residual U.S. military force to remain in Iraq without a time limit to protect U.S. installations, to train Iraqi troops and to fight Al Qaeda and the insurgents. The residual force would require between 100,000 and 160,000 troops. The leading Democratic candidates for president, Clinton, Obama and Edwards also say that they will retain that residual force when elected. It's time for the Democrats to stop playing political games that perpetuate the war. The only way to stop the war is for the Democratic Congress to not appropriate funds for the war. Just don't vote on it because if the funding bill is passed, Bush would veto and be upheld. However, a failure to appropriate will work legally and constitutionally. The U.S. now has 737 military bases in 130 countries. Do we need another in Iraq when the American and Iraqi people have so clearly indicated their disapproval?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Democrats in Congress

The Democrats in Congress

By Jerome Grossman

If the Democrats in Congress argue about the details of the Bush war strategy in Iraq, they will validate the illegal war.

If the Democrats in Congress argue about the size of American troop cuts, they will concede that some troops can remain in Iraq.

If the Democrats in Congress argue for an American residual force in Iraq, they will be defending the occupation.

If the Democrats in Congress argue about the degree of success of the military "surge", they will be accepting the right of U.S. forces to fight in Iraq.

If the Democrats in Congress argue about the performance of the Iraqi government, they will be treating it as a puppet.

If the Democrats in Congress accept a partial reduction in U.S. forces in Iraq, they will be accepting the remainder as legitimate occupiers.

If the Democrats in Congress accept the responsibility for training Iraqi troops and police, they will confirm U.S. control of the country.

If the Democrats in Congress support retaining any military bases in Iraq, they will confirm a policy of permanent occupation and control.

If the Democrats in Congress fail to insist on a firm date for total troop withdrawal, they will be accepting a long U.S. occupation.

If the Democrats in Congress accept a token troop withdrawal, they will give President Bush a clever victory: sending 30,000 troops, then withdrawing 10,000; diminishing the public pressure for withdrawal, the occupation goes on.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Out of Iraq Now

Out of Iraq Now
By Jerome Grossman

The nation is on the verge of a most important debate on the Iraq war. It is crucial that you send a message right now to your senators and representative with your opinion. Even if they have similar views to yours, try to spur them into more action. We must end this war now. We must withdraw all troops now. We must not leave a residual military force that would continue the illegal invasion and occupation. American lives and dollars are being sacrificed for no legitimate purpose. It must end now. Please do your part.

Military Intervention and Democracy

Military Intervention and Democracy
By Jerome Grossman

The paradox of American policy in the Middle East - and in other regions - is that almost everywhere there are free elections, the side supported by the Americans tends to lose. According to The New York Times, one reformer in Saudi Arabia said “It’s the kiss of death, The minute you are counted on or backed by Americans. Kiss it goodbye, you will never win."

The Palestinians voted for Hamas. The Iraqis voted for a government sympathetic to Iran. The Egyptians have voted in increasing numbers for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Hezbollah won a significant number of seats in the Lebanon election. President Musharraf is hanging on to his office in Pakistan, but just barely.

Western values revere democracy, but when forced upon a people it can raise serious questions about independence, sovereignty and freedom, even leading to violence and civil war. Bribery of the elites to accept the form if not the substance of democracy will not win elections when the voters are fully involved.

American policies around the world are so focused on military power, 737 military bases in 130 countries, manned by 500,000 soldiers, that we have forgotten how to influence political decisions. In the 2006 elections in the Palestinian Territories, the U.S. could have prodded it’s ally Israel to make concessions before the balloting, such as releasing part of the Palestinian import tax funds the Israelis were holding, or easing some of the checkpoints in the West Bank that inhibit Palestinian travel . Hamas won the election with the argument that only a hard-line can achieve concessions from the Israelis. After the election, Israeli policy did ease somewhat, but too late, Hamas had won.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah benefited in a similar fashion. The centrist government implored the U.S. and Israel for military equipment and financial help, but little was forthcoming - until Hezbollah made significant gains and achieved political power. Now, there is big help for the Siniora government, but too late, Hezbollah is already politically powerful.

The politics of Iraq have been a disaster. The original American plan was to install as leader an Iraqi émigré based in Washington D.C. When that failed, we turned to a strongman who also failed, then a Shi'ite who had spent 20 years in Iran. After World War II, MacArthur in Japan and the U.S. generals in Germany knew how to use military power to shape and control those nations. The Bush administration does not know how to use the power it has. At the same time, the immoral and illegal invasion has so badly damaged the US militarily and politically around the world that we suffer the worst of both worlds.

This is a familiar pattern, not exclusive to President Bush. Virtually every president has embraced the spreading of the American form of democracy abroad. For example, the Clinton administration conducted several military interventions, which they called humanitarian interventions, with the stated aim of establishing democracy. However, in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, American-style democracy failed to take root and the reputation of the U.S. has suffered because of the military interventions.

We are learning that there are limits to the power of the superpower, that the military can gain victories, but not always acquiescence.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Democrats’ Dilemma

The Democrats’ Dilemma
By Jerome Grossman

When Democrats talk about their party these days, it sounds like a ritual confession. They apologize for being too liberal. They are afraid of being tagged as antimilitarist. They are talking about saying "no" to the large, influential special interest groups that have traditionally been identified with the party.

To do so would be to reject their history and their reason for existing. For more than 150 years, the Democrats have been the party of social and economic justice, representing the interests of small farmers, immigrants, religious and racial minorities, trade union members, poor people, women, and other out - groups. For the first hundred years, the Democrats were antistatist. Their platforms called for laissez-faire, states rights, and low tariffs. To Jeffersonians and Jacksonians, the state was a bastion of wealth and privilege, and to be antistatist was to be democratic and egalitarian. However, from Roosevelt's New Deal, the party learned to use federal power to promote economic justice. From the civil rights revolution, the party learned to use federal power to promote social justice. Now the party has to figure out how to keep its commitment to democracy and equality while weaning itself from an excessive reliance on government.

This is no small problem. The Democrats dilemma is a major issue for industrial societies in the twentieth century: Can you advance the cause of social and economic justice without increasing the power of the state to dangerous levels? The serious social democrat will say no, but you can ensure that the power of the state is democratically controlled. The answer won't get you very far in this country, where suspicion of government is a primordial value.

One thing is sure. The Democrats cannot turn their backs on the women, the workers, the blacks, and the peace activists, because without these special interest groups they wouldn't have a party.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Liberal’s Creed: Seeking to Narrow the Gaps

A Liberal’s Creed: Seeking to Narrow the Gaps

By Jerome Grossman

Liberalism in the United States is different from classical liberalism, American as apple pie. It draws its inspiration from the Declaration of Independence: “that all men are created equal.” Equality is the master idea, in race, wealth, and gender. Yet liberalism does not advocate the absolute economic equality implied in socialist systems, because liberalism is restrained by its advocacy of the freedom of the individual and unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor. Liberals do not believe it is possible to create a perfect society but that we should try to reach the ideal.
Rooted in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive movement, liberalism accepts with typical American pragmatism the dominance of business interests while seeking to modify the imbalances of political, social, and economic institutions. Big government is the instrument of modification for, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “There was a time when the limitation of governmental power meant increasing liberty for the people. In the present day, the limitation of governmental power, of governmental action, means the enslavement of the people by the great corporations.”
However, liberals are also wary of big government, unwilling even for the goals of equality to sacrifice the protection of individual rights, the rule of law, and personal freedoms. It is this tension between two objectives that makes it so demanding to be an American liberal: eternal vigilance is required.
Liberals know that absolute equality can never be achieved. But, optimistic believers in the essential goodness of humanity and in human rationality, they promote change that will allow the aggressive and the talented to benefit from their efforts while promoting reforms that will minimize the differences in benefits, thereby cutting the equality gap.
The motivations are moral and pragmatic: moral in that equality reflects our communitarian heritage and love for all human beings; pragmatic in the sense that inequality spawns revolution and crime.
While conservatives are by definition the party of the status quo, they demonstrate by their actions a realization of the moral and pragmatic problems. Their answer is private charity to relieve the pressures generated by economic inequality, and political tokenism to make up for the differences in power.
For liberals, the conservative answer is insufficient. Only the government, as the instrument of the entire nation, should be responsible for providing the minimum conditions necessary for a decent existence. These conditions include not only adequate food, clothing, and shelter, but also education and employment.
The growth of industrial society has produced great inequalities of wealth and power. Liberalism insists that it is in the interests of all parties to narrow the gaps. This is American pragmatic idealism at its best: right and practical at the same time.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blair, Bush and Democracy

Blair, Bush and Democracy

By Jerome Grossman

After more than a decade as Prime Minister, super politician Tony Blair has resigned his powerful leadership position under the pressure of fallen approval ratings from the British public. Now that Blair is out of power, political observers have begun to analyze his tenure and its meaning for democracy in Britain and around the world.

How was Blair able to retain the leadership of his party and the nation in the face of strong opposition to his Iraq policy by a margin of more than two to one, opposition that has been passionate for years? If he had an ideological blind spot on the war, why didn’t his party oust him when he began to lose seats in the House of Commons?

In a democratic system all power flows from the voters. They vote for members of Parliament, whose responsibility it is to represent the masses. The members in turn elect a leader who takes power when he has a majority. The Prime Minister, after winning a general election, can do pretty much what he wishes. Party favors and party loyalty give the PM power virtually unchecked. Blair whipped Parliament into supporting the Iraq war obtaining 578 out of 646 seats, selling a short war against a weak opponent, a war sponsored by big brother George W. Bush and his invincible superpower. It did not work out as anticipated and the British people want to get out of the war – now.

But why is it so difficult for the politicians who constantly praise the idea of democracy to bow to the will of their own people. British and American politicians find reasons to continue the occupation of Iraq even though the people regard the war as a mistake and want to save the lives of their soldiers. Here are some of the reasons: the Iraqi factions will kill each other; they will kill our troops on the way out; they will seize our equipment; they will create chaos in the region; they will sell their oil to someone else; they will conquer the world with their headscarves and AK-47s, etc, etc. Leaders have a perfect right to try to convince the people on policy but there must be a time limit to prevent dictatorial conduct. How many years of fruitless fighting without popular support?

Blair metamorphosed himself from a politician who prided himself on his sensitivity to public opinion when running for office to one who prided himself on his ability to ignore it when he achieved power. So did George W. Bush. When defying public opinion Blair and Bush regularly said, “I know I'm right about this, I will be true to myself.” Both are proud of their stubbornness and even insist that they are doing God's work. Are they practicing a modern version of “L’ Etat, c’est moi” (I am the state) and the divine right “Dieu et mon droit” (By God and my Right)

Both have succumbed to a form of magical thinking about their ability to will away obstacles and opposition. In their resolute belief in themselves, not the will of the public, they attack the very basis of Democracy, a decent respect for the opinions of the people.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Relentless Liberal: A Bio

...I’m a follower of Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt, a
Republican, in a whole series of debates that he had with Woodrow Wilson
in 1912 when he was the Bull Moose candidate, he said that corporations in
America have become so big and so strong that there needs to be a
countervailing power to control them, and that the only possible power big
enough to control them was the federal government. Wilson didn’t believe
that. Wilson said, “Let’s cut corporate America down to size.” Theodore
Roosevelt said, “That’s impossible.” The dynamics of the modern world
under capitalism tend toward the growth of large corporations with semimonopoly
positions. That’s my basis for supporting a big government, is to
control big corporations.
At the same time I lived through all the provocations of J. Edgar Hoover....

Great interview about trying to end the war in Vietnam. Has anything really changed?
Click here: Biography of the Relentless Liberal

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Next Vice President

The Next Vice President
By Jerome Grossman

Some Democrats believe their dream ticket for 2008 would be Hillary Clinton for President and Barack Obama for Vice President. It won't happen. Yes, Hillary is the likely nominee for president at this time but she is unlikely to select Barack as her running mate.

Personal like or dislike will have nothing to do with the decision. The Vice President is selected to win a state or increase constituency support for the ticket. In 1960, John F. Kennedy needed Lyndon B. Johnson to carry Texas. In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt needed John Nance Garner to carry Texas. In neither case, was there affection or affinity. It was strictly business, the political business of winning.

Obama, Senator from Illinois, is not necessary for the Democrats to win that solidly Democratic state. In 2004, John Kerry carried Illinois 55% to 44%; in 2000, Gore beat Bush there 55% to 43%. The Democrats hold the governorship, both Senate seats, both houses of the Legislature and a majority of U.S. House seats.

Would Obama increase the African-American vote nationally for the Democrats? Only marginally. They already vote about 90% Democratic and Hillary does not need validation with that constituency.

As the party nominee, Hillary will be looking for a Democrat who would bring a state or two to the Electoral College that do not usually vote Democratic. In New Mexico, Bush defeated Kerry narrowly 50% to 49%; Gore carried the state by a mere 365 votes. The Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, was elected in 2002 with a 55% of the vote. Democrats have also gained control of the state legislature, one senator and one of three U.S. House seats.

Forty two percent of the population of New Mexico is of Hispanic origin, Arizona 14%, Colorado 17%. Hispanic Americans now comprise 15% of all Americans and is the fastest growing minority. Richardson comes out of that community, father was an Anglo, mother Hispanic. They know him and his background. While they vote Democratic narrowly, this constituency offers an opportunity for significant Democratic expansion.

If not Richardson, the vice presidential nominee will be someone who can make a difference in the Electoral College. For the Democrats, politics in 2008 is desperately about winning, love and sentiment will have to wait for another time.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Epitaph on a Tyrant

Epitaph on a Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

January 1939

Friday, August 17, 2007

My Position on Iraq By Governor Bill Richardson

My Position on Iraq

By Governor Bill Richardson

I believe that we need to withdraw all of our troops within six months. That's all of our troops. Other than the customary Marine contingent at the embassy, I would not leave anyone behind. And if the embassy isn't safe, they're coming home too.
No airbases. No troops in the Green Zone. No embedded soldiers training Iraqi forces, because we know what that means. It means our troops would still be out on patrol - with targets on their backs.
A regional crisis 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.
With all due respect to my Democratic colleagues, Senators Clinton, Obama, Dodd, and Biden have all voted for timeline legislation that had deliberate loopholes. Those loopholes allow this president, or any president, to leave an undetermined number of troops in Iraq indefinitely for the purposes of training Iraqi security forces and providing force protection. Troops protecting troops training troops? We've heard this before - it sounds a lot like Iraq today.
For those who believe that we should leave behind a residual force, one question must be answered: how long does that force need to be in place before we can leave? One year? Two years? Ten?
There is not a single sign that Iraq is improving. To the contrary, every indication is that it's getting worse, and a smaller force will do nothing to change that.
How many more Americans must die before we leave an Iraq that will be no better off than it is today? And in a war where American troops are the number one target, who are the poor souls being left behind?
Congress should use its authority under Article One of the Constitution to de-authorize the war and require the president to withdraw ALL troops - and the President cannot veto that. If they don't do it, I'll issue the order on January 20th, 2009.


Odiogo allows end-users to listen to content either on their PCs or on portable devices such as iPods, MP3 players or cellular phones.