Why Hillary Clinton Should Keep Running

We, the PEOPLE!! often quotes the US Constitution, adopted in 1787, and perhaps the finest example on Earth of a charter by which people govern themselves.  This blog obviously takes its title from the opening remarks of that document:

“We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”  You can read more about the US Constitution HERE.

Far less perfect, but by no mean less influential upon history is the US Declaration of Independence, written prior to the Constitution in 1776, and which contains this famous passage:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  You can read more about this document HERE.

For over one hundred and thirty years, based partly upon the wording of the Declaration of Independence, most states within the USA did not allow woman the right to vote.  Hillary Clinton’s mother, in fact, was born before women in the USA had the right to vote in every state.  Under those conditions, a woman running for president of the USA would have been laughed out of existence in those days.  After all, women were supposed to stay home, stay pregnant, raise kids, cook, clean, sew and perform all the other tasks that Judeo-Christian tradition demanded.

The only problem with that was that women were citizens of the country that claimed to be the beacon of liberty to the world (just not to its own female citizens).  It took a women’s movement known as Suffrage (read more about it HERE). 

The Suffrage Movement women fought to achieve the right for women to vote, and there were numerous organizations at the time that opposed them.  It was not unusual for a Suffragette to be verbally abused, and told to drop out of the movement and “get back into the kitchen where she belonged”.

Nonetheless, in the face of abuse and scorn, this movement and its women were able force a change to this unfair practice in 1920 with the passage and implementation of the nineteenth amendment to the US Constitution.  This amendment gave American women the right to vote.

Since then, there have been women throughout recent history who claimed to be running for president of the USA, such as Shirley Chisholm in 1972, but these attempts were more political statements than true efforts to win a serious party nomination.  It was not until 1984 when Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as his vice-presidential running mate that a woman was seriously considered for high elected executive office within the US government.  And as history would have it, Mondale and Ferraro were seriously defeated in a huge landslide re-election victory for Ronald Reagan in 1984.

All of this history underscores the extraordinary events of the democratic presidential primary campaign of 2008.  For the very first time in history, a woman has had a real run at the nomination for president of the USA of one of the two major political parties in the USA.  And while Hillary has made some mistakes, so has her opponent, Obama, whom, it must be stated, is making history of his own (a subject to be covered at “We, the PEOPLE!!”), the fact of her running and reaching as far as she has to date is history in the making.

Hillary Clinton has achieved a milestone that a short year ago would probably have been considered impossible for a woman (or an African-American) to achieve:  She has won approximately half of all the votes cast in the democratic primaries within the USA to date, and stands to achieve an even higher percentage with a predicted sizable win in the Puerto Rico primary this Sunday, June 1, 2008. 

And while it appears almost certain that Obama will outrace her to the democratic nomination for president in 2008, even he has publicly acknowledged Clinton’s historic accomplishment this primary season, and how his own daughters will benefit from Clinton’s efforts.

So why are there so many folks (one suspects mostly men, but that is unproven) demanding that she abandon her historic quest now, with three primaries still to be held, that she simply drop out of the race because her chances of winning seem so remote?

One wonders if these same “Liberty and Justice for all” Americans that are demanding Clinton cease and desist might also be standing short of the finish line at the Boston Marathon, demanding that all runners after the winner “drop out of the Marathon, since they can’t win”.

Obviously, these folks seem to be motivated by something other than democratic ideals.  They are either Hillary-haters, oblivious to history, or are so impatient about the race that they will hang on anything and everything, including Clinton’s misspoken statement about RFK’s assassination (for which she has apologized and the apology accepted by the Kennedys and Obama himself), as justification to have that “shrill-sounding bitch” get out of the race (and back into the kitchen, perhaps?)?

Whether one is a Clinton, Obama, or McCain supporter, one must acknowledge the obvious historical reality of these times.  Clinton has accomplished something that no woman in history has ever done:  She has come exceedingly close to winning the democratic nomination for president of the United States of America.  She has broken down barrier after barrier against women being accepted as strong and competent competitors for national office of the most powerful nation on earth.  And she has irreversibly opened the door for other women to seriously run for president of the USA in the near future.

Those who continue to demand her withdrawal from history should hang their heads in shame.

A Five-Decade Champion of We, the PEOPLE

Over the past few days the world had learned that a great American and champion of the “little people” has been diagnosed with a terminal malignant brain tumor.

The news alone is devastating for those of us who know Senator Edward M. Kennedy, recognized throughout the world as Ted Kennedy, who is the last surviving brother of his generation.

The Kennedy family, which has contributed so very much to the American political scene and to the benefit of working and disadvantaged Americans, has suffered unimaginable loss, more than any family should ever have to endure.

Ted Kennedy’s oldest brother, Joe, was a bomber pilot killed in action over the English Channel in World War Two. His next brother, John F. Kennedy, was the youngest, and perhaps the brightest president the United States has known, but was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963. The following brother, Robert (Bobby) Kennedy, was well on his way to winning the democratic nomination for president in June 1968, when he was assassinated in Los Angeles, California.

Ted Kennedy’s son had his leg amputated due to cancer. His nephew, John F. Kennedy Jr., died in 1996 when his plane crashed just short of Martha’s Vineyard.

And, of course, Ted Kennedy himself was involved in the tragic death of Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969, which is perhaps the real reason that he didn’t run for president in 1972 and 1976. You can read more about Ted Kennedy’s life HERE.

During his forty-six years in the US Senate, Kennedy staunchly and faithfully defended the working men and women of America, as well as its poor and disadvantaged. Ted Kennedy continually gets reelected to his senate seat term after term by huge majorities, which wouldn’t happen if the folks he represents were unhappy with his performance.

He is known as a solid liberal on issues, and for good reason. But he also is something of a miracle worker when it came to building bi-partisan support for issues and legislation in the senate. He worked with the republican Bush Administration to pass the “No Child Left Behind” law. He worked with republican John McCain to co-author comprehensive immigration reform. And there is an endless list of people-friendly legislation that he was instrumental in getting passed in the senate throughout the years.

Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for the democratic nomination for president against Hillary Clinton. Despite that, before the entire nation on network television, Clinton last night complimented Ted Kennedy and wished him the very best in his battle with this horrible disease.

The cancerous tumor Ted Kennedy has been diagnosed with is a malignant glioma, which is considered to be the most lethal form of brain tumor. Survival generally is from six months of diagnosis to a year, possibly up to three years. There is no cure, and treatment with radiation and chemotherapy generally serves to slightly delay the inevitable.

When one considers that perhaps $600 billion that has been spent so far on the pointless war in Iraq could have possibly been spent finding a cure for cancer, it is hard to be proud of the present direction of this country.

On the other hand, it is certain that there are those whom couldn’t be happier that the “devil-incarnate” from Massachusetts is going to be gone soon. But this family has seen that kind of sub-human hatred before. After JFK was assassinated in 1963, folks in certain southern states were heard on party lines (still in use in some places back then) to be celebrating, saying things such as “So that n_____ lover got shot dead, huh? It’s about time!”

If you are a person of that sentiment, I forcefully request that you stop reading this blog and never return.

If, on the other hand, you are an intelligent and thoughtful person whom, respectfully agreeing or disagreeing with Ted Kennedy’s politics, you understand the incredible loss that this icon of democracy would be for the United States, then please keep him and his family in your thoughts, and consider sending him a well-wishing message HERE.

In 1980, at the democratic national convention, Ted Kennedy conceded defeat for the democratic presidential nomination he had unsuccessfully sought against incumbent president Jimmy Carter. Kennedy subsequently gave what many believe was the speech of his life. You can read (or listen to) that speech HERE.

At the end of that speech, Ted Kennedy made a statement that probably epitomizes who he is and what he believes in when he said,

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Ted Kennedy, may you beat the odds, fight off this horrible malady, and rise to fight to improve the human condition yet another day.

Gas: Still Cheaper Than Bottled Water

At four dollars a gallon (US$4), gasoline costs one dollar a quart or fifty cents a pint. Bottled water, on the other hand, can cost from $1.25 to over $2.00 a pint, depending upon where you purchase it. From this perspective, gas, which requires drilling, extracting and refining at a minimum, is two and a half to four times cheaper than bottled water, which primarily requires filling, labeling, and capping a bottle.

Hey, gas is still much cheaper than bottled water, right? So what’s the big deal?

Armed with this ugly fact, people struggling with the rising price of gas might wonder what the point of the comparison is. After all, we revel in our ability to bash the oil companies, the oil commodities speculators, and the U.S. government in the form of the executive branch, GW Bush present proprietor. But who is really to blame, and what can we do about it?

Back in the fall and winter of 1973, after the conclusion of the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur war, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting States (OPEC), decided to punish the USA and its citizens for America’s support of Israel. OPEC embargoed its oil, and the USA had to depend upon its own reserves, as well as whatever it could import from friendly non-OPEC countries.

Those old enough will remember the long lines at the gas pump in the dead of winter, gasoline prices doubling almost overnight from thirty-five cents a gallon to over seventy cents a gallon to a dollar, and frequent rationing at the pump by the gas station owner, who was simply trying to service as many customers as possible. Home heating oil went up as well, making it difficult to impossible for some to heat their homes during the 1973-1974 winter.

And if you were around then, you’ll remember as well the promises of alternate fuel development potential and  the promises of universal relief from imported oil back in that same timeframe. You’ll also remember that the US Strategic Petroleum (STP) Reserve was initiated during that time to insure that the US would have a supply of oil to draw from in time of war or other national emergency.

Fast forward to 2008. That alternate energy potential and promise didn’t work too well, did it?

America today is even more dependent on foreign oil than it ever was. The only alternate energy product in any kind of nationwide use is ethanol, and then only as an additive to gasoline as a replacement for that nasty, cancer-causing MTBE chemical additive. The White House is occupied by a president whom, along with a similar vice-president, has the strongest possible ties to the rulers of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, you see, are owners of Earth’s largest petroleum deposits, and control OPEC to a large extent.

With the price of regular gas approaching an average of US$4 or more a gallon in the USA, inflation is rearing its ugly head, just as it did during the Arab oil embargo. After all, if the costs of manufacturing and transportation go up, so will consumer prices on EVERYTHING.

The incoming gasoline supply still seems to be adequate, because there are no long lines of folks waiting to get their rationed gas at stations. The only thing presently limiting the amount of gas you can personally buy is your ability to pay for it.

However, it is a fact of the present free market that oil speculators bid on oil based upon what they think the price will be in the future. This, in turn, is based, among other factors, on supply and demand. That is one part of this equation that the administration could easily address, i.e. if we can increase the supply of oil by suspending the deposit of 70,000 barrels a day of petroleum into the STP reserve, and instead divert that oil into the US marketplace, the price might begin to at least stabilize and perhaps begin to go down. The STP reserve, by the way, is presently 97% full.

In other words, Bush could simply order a suspension of deposits into the STP. But Bush’s friends in OPEC and the big oil companies might not like the idea of interference with their enormous obscene profits. So Bush has done nothing except watch his oil stock profits go up while the American quality of life goes down.

One can almost hear them in the White House: “Hey, gas is still MUCH cheaper that bottled water, right? So what’s the big deal?”

The US congress wasn’t buying it. Yesterday, May 13, 2008 both houses of congress, including many republicans, decided to take matters their own respective hands. By a vote of 97 to 1, the senate voted to suspend deposits into the STP. The House of Representatives followed suit with a 385-25 vote. Bush, whose main activity these days seems to be vetoing everything, has promised to veto this as well. You can read all about it HERE.

The veto may not be effective in stopping this action. Both votes are veto-proof, meaning that they are more than enough to override his veto.

But what does it say about an administration that so blatantly turns its back on its own citizens, and its own faltering economy?

Flying, Huh? So You Feel Lucky Today?

If you are in any way paying attention to the news lately, you know that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an agency under the direct control of the Bush executive branch of government, has committed the epitome of mismanagement and corruption of what was, before Bush, the safest and proudest aviation system in the world.

The press has reported the cozy relationship between the FAA, which is chartered by federal law to regulate the aviation system of the USA, and Southwest Airlines (SWA). The FAA inspectors allowed SWA to delay required inspections of its fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft (B737) with a wink-wink-nod-nod, potentially putting hundreds of thousands of passengers at risk.

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As a result of getting caught with its hands (and other body parts) in the cookie jar, FAA reversed itself. SWA, after getting caught, and other airlines, including American and Delta, canceled hundreds of flights to quickly get their aircraft into compliance with the “FAA airworthiness directive” requirements, many of which are the result of analysis of previous airline crashes, intended to insure the highest levels of safety in the American aviation system.

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Today, May 8, 2008, it was reported that an FAA inspector received thousands of dollars worth of flight training in a B737at SWA, to the point that he became fully certified to fly the B737s for free. You can read about it HERE. And if it weren’t for the press, no one at FAA would care.

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The agency known as FAA used to be a proud agency of a proud US government. It has been historically charged with protecting the highest level of safety and integrity of the airways, passenger safety, and system quality. Not so anymore.

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In the seven and a half years of the Bush syndicate, the failed war in Iraq has taken financial center stage. The money necessary to wage that useless war has decimated budgets of the other agencies of federal government such as the FAA. Bush appointed Marion Blakey to be FAA Administrator for five years in 2002 and her marching orders were simple: Cut costs, at ALL costs, safety INCLUDED.

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Blakey began the decimation of the FAA. Her five-year term is now over, but her hand-picked successor, acting-FAA administrator Robert Sturgell, continues her lunatic legacy. Even the senate refuses to confirm him as successor FAA administrator because of the repeated failings and incompetence demonstrated by the FAA in recent years. And as bad as all of this is, it’s actually worse!

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The airplanes in the sky are controlled by the nation’s air traffic controllers (ATCs). These folks, at high cost to their own health, keep the nation’s airplanes from hitting each other and other obstacles. These folks are permitted to retire at age 50 if they have 20 years of FAA ATC time, and must retire at age 56 because of the toll that the stress of the job extracts from them.

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Most used to stay until age 56 to maximize their pensions. But now, they’re leaving in record numbers, not at age 56, but as soon as they can. Why? Because the FAA decided to lower the staffing at the air traffic control facilities to skeleton levels in an effort to save money.

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And even where the FAA is hiring new trainees, it has cut the pay scale of new hires so that many of them, seeing the draconian working conditions that these guardians of the skies are forced to work under, are resigning before becoming fully qualified ATCs. It used to be that controllers would leave the military or small contract towers, to work for the FAA. Now these same folks are resigning from the FAA to go work for the military or small contract towers. Or they are simply leaving air traffic control completely, because they cannot accept the lower pay and bad working conditions.

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The FAA, in its eminent stupidity and in compliance with Bush anti-labor initiatives, imposed jailhouse-like work rules upon the air traffic controller work force on September 3rd, 2006. Since then, over fifteen hundred controllers have retired early rather than stay and work for an agency that treats them like slaves. This has left many ATC facilities at 50% staffing.

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The result is a severely understaffed and overworked controller work force, watching the skies and trying to keep them as safe as they can. But these folks are extremely tired, worked forced overtime week after week after week, unable to get time off when they need that time, unable to stay home sick when they really are not up to work the enormous task of keeping YOUR airplane safe.

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Think about a surgeon who must operate on you to save your life. Would you want that surgeon to be tired and disgruntled before cutting you open?

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There are many who feel that a major mid-air collision between two airliners is just a matter of time. A prelude to that possibility is the incredible delays that are starting to surface and multiply at places such as New York, Newark, Dallas, Miami, and other airports.

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So…If you’re traveling by air this summer, bring a book and a change of clothes in your carry-on. And buy lots of flight insurance. Your beneficiaries may just need it.