The Promise of 2009

When one looks back at the year 2008, one can find events that both make one smile and make one frown.  Some events might even make one laugh while other make one cry.  We all like to preserve the good times and discard the bad times. 2009 has every opportunity to do that.

The first and most positive event to look forward to going into 2009 is that George W. Bush, inarguably the worst president in American history, ceases to be president just three short weeks from today.  While he will still be the worst in history for some time to come, his ability to act as the decider guy for the USA will be gone.  He will simply become a footnote in history.  It cannot come too soon.

Also gone will be vice-president “Tricky Dick” Cheney.  As the architect of the USA’s non-existent energy policy, set by Tricky Dick’s oil industry buddies, he must have been in his glory when gas spiked last summer at US$4.15 a gallon for regular gas.  He’s also the guy who, after claiming six years ago that weapons of mass destruction were hidden under every rock in Iraq, stated four years ago that the Iraqi insurgency was “in its last throes”.  You can read the news item HERE, as well as his prediction that the Iraqi war would be over before the end of Bush’s second term.  For those following along at home, there’s three weeks left in Cheney’s window.

We also have every reason to believe that the economy will improve in 2009.  After all, it has nowhere left to go but up.  2008 will be notable for the worst economic downturn since the great Depression of the 1930’s.  It hearkens back to John McCain’s statement during the 2008 presidential campaign when he said the “the fundamentals of our economy are strong”.

In fairness, four hours later he said the economy was in crisis.  Luckily, McCain’s only connection to the economy in 2009 will be his ability to spend a million dollars on jewelry for his wife, since both he and she are unimaginably wealthy.  The more they spend, the better the economy will do.  Since he no longer has to worry about financing a presidential campaign, he should have tons of cash to throw around at the yacht store.

Other good stuff is coming in 2009.  Young-minded Barack Obama and a star-studded cast of advisers and staff are coming to Washington to address the neglect and abuse of the past eight years.  While no one expects perfection, it may well seem like perfection to have a government that actually works for the good of the people.

However, remember that Obama is not perfect, as his initial choice for director of national intelligence demonstrates.  John Brennan is purported to have been involved in the CIA’s secret prison and harsh interrogation techniques (torture) program, as you can read more about HERE.  Although Brennan has denied support for such practices, Obama has since accepted (directed?) Brennan’s request to be removed from consideration for the post.  This action alone demonstrates that the future president is not arrogantly stubborn, as his predecessor has been for the past eight years.  That’s a refreshing change for 2009.

2009 will also see an absence of vice-presidential candidates demonstrating a total lack of understanding of anything beyond the borders of their resident state, while espousing the virtues and merits of shooting furry animals for sport, and claiming religious piousness while a daughter gets pregnant, probably as a result of the information (or lack thereof) that she learned (or didn’t learn) during forced “abstinence only” sex education.

For 2009, at least, the ex-vice-presidential candidate and human factory in question is no longer a national office candidate (other offices may apply, however), and that makes it likely that the rest of us will not have to endure embarrassing interviews with this person in 2009.  However, before you throw another mooseburger on the “Bar-Bee”, be prepared for more exposure of this good looking Alaska governor who seems to think that after four short years of reading Newsweek, she’ll REALLY be ready this time`to challenge the sitting democratic president in 2012.  After all, those winks are fun to watch, aren’t they?

For those who like the Clintons, the good news for 2009 is that they are not going away.  Hillary Clinton will be the next US Secretary of State, while her husband Bill continues his Clinton Global Initiative.

This is a chance that 2009 will see a democratic victory in the longest senate election in history, occurring in Minnesota as this is written.  At last count, Al Franken was leading incumbent republican senator Norm Coleman by fifty votes in an election recount with most of the 2,900,000  ballots cast recounted.

And even if Coleman somehow is able to retain his seat in the senate, the democrats will still have a 57 to 41 majority in the senate.  While needing 60 votes to stop a republican filibuster on any issue, the chances are good that at least three republicans who are concerned about their reelections in 2010 will side with the dems on most issues.  Something else to look forward to in 2009.

Finally, the year 2009, with all of its promise of improvement in the lives to the middle class, has one other thing going for it.  China, the worst polluter of air and water on the planet, is realizing the need to curb its wanton destruction of the environment.  It is launching programs to begin to control the massive amounts of greenhouse gases it produces through car exhausts and industrial plants, as well to reverse the chemical destruction of its water sources.  And if a country such as China can learn to do such things, then so can every other nation on Earth.

Even us.  🙂

We, the PEOPLE!! wishes every visitor to this blog hope, happiness and prosperity in the new year 2009.  We’ll be here thoughout that self-same new year 2009 telling it like it is.

You can take THAT to the bank.  🙂

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to All

In consideration of the fact that everyone is going nuts over the Holiday Season, what with buying presents while trying to pay the mortgage or sitting frustrated at an airport while the plane naps at the end of the jetway,  We, the PEOPLE!! wishes all the very best Holiday Season.

May all the joys that everyone wishes for be fulfilled, especially the political ones!!  🙂

We, the PEOPLE!! returns next Wednesday with another full-fetched article for your reading pleasure!!

Why Caroline Kennedy Should Be Senator

Those whom have been loyal readers of We, the People!! are aware that Hillary Clinton, the ex-first lady of the USA and current US Senator from New York, as well as US Secretary of State-designee for the Obama Administration, was endorsed here to be president of the US in the recent presidential campaign.  When it became clear in June 2008 that Barack Obama would win the democratic nomination for president, We, the People!! enthusiastically endorsed Obama, and published repeated articles of support for him.

The transition from Clinton to Obama was actually easy to do.  After all, they espoused very similar ideals and programs for the country. Although it took others a bit more time to make this move, it is clear that the vast majority of Clinton supporters did so, based upon the final presidential vote in the various states where Clinton had won primaries, most notably, but not exclusively, in the Midwest.

So it is a bit discouraging to witness, at this late date, ardent Clinton supporters rejecting Caroline Kennedy as their choice for appointment by the governor of New York State to fill the senate seat that Hillary Clinton will leave when she is confirmed Secretary of State.  One would expect that type of prejudice from right-wing Kennedy-haters, but not from supporters of Hillary.  Their motivation seems to be that both Caroline Kennedy and US senator Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama over Clinton during the primary season in January 2008.

This highly emotional bitterness on the part of some die-hard Clinton supporters is misguided and reckless.  It is no different than people voting against someone because of the way they comb their hair, and is a testament to the way human emotions can sometimes (or frequently, with some folks) outweigh human logic.

The truth is that Caroline Kennedy is an accomplished lawyer who has written books about the US Bill of Rights, has defended civil rights, and has worked to expand education, health care, interest in the arts, and equality, to name a few.  She has spent most of her adult life in public service.  In this era of executive branch abuse and suspension of habeas corpus and constitutional rights, one would think that anyone with a resume such as Caroline Kennedy’s would be a welcome addition to the US government.

She also has a keen understanding of the political process in the US, having been around it her entire life.  Her father was John F. Kennedy (JFK), one of the most beloved presidents in US history who was assassinated after less than three years in office in 1963.  JFK had also served both as congressman and senator from the state of Massachusetts before that.

Caroline’s uncle Robert (Bobby) Kennedy (RFK) served in his brother JFK’s administration as close political advisor and US Attorney General.  He continued in the latter capacity under the Johnson administration after his brother died.  In 1964, RFK ran for and was elected US senator for the same seat now occupied by Hillary Clinton and pursued by Caroline Kennedy.  RFK was assassinated in June 1968 as he was running for president of the USA.

Caroline’s other uncle Edward “Ted” Kennedy has served as US senator from Massachusetts from 1962 to present.  He is known as the “Lion of the Senate.  He and Caroline are close.

Caroline also has cousins who have served and are serving as US congressmen.  So it is eminently fair to state that she is no stranger to the American politcal system and process.

And in addition to all of the above, she brings with her a quality that some say has not existed in American politics since the death of her father in office, and until the rise of Barack Obama:

Hope.

After eight years of dismal failure of almost every facet of American political, diplomatic, and economic life, hope is exactly what the American people, and in fact the people of the world need most of all.  The election of Obama to the American presidency is a great start and to date his cabinet selections are furthering that great feeling of hope in an otherwise dark environment.

Many folks run for politcal office because of personal ego and ambition for both power and monetary gain.  Caroline Kennedy has no use for any of those factors.  She already comes from one of the most famous families in American history.  Her Dad was one of the most revered presidents of all time.  She is an acomplished writer, lawyer, and philantropist.  She can make more money just doing what she’s doing than she will every make in the US Senate.

Her motives seem to be very similar to Obama’s.  She wants to make a difference that will improve peoples’ lives.

That desire to actually help people is never in too great a supply in our government.  New York governor David Peterson, as well as those sour-grapes Clinton supporters and all those right-wing kennedy-haters, would do well to remember that.

The Useless Expensive War on Drugs and Sex

Mexico is a beautiful country, full of beauty, warm, friendly people, culture, great food, historical pre-Colombian archeological sites, exquisite hotels and resorts, and invitingly warm sandy beaches.

Because of its attractions and relatively cheap living, many Americans and Canadians retire to Mexico.  Their every need is met there, with the possible exception of specialized medical care and good police protections:  not that there aren’t plenty of local and national police, but many of them are most probably on the take from the enormously entrenched, hugely successful drug cartels.

To be sure, corruption within the police forces north of the Mexican border also exists, albeit not to the extent it does in Mexico.  But illegal drug money is huge and it buys a hell of a lot of silence and cooperation.  This is the real situation, and it’s as bad as it has ever been.  Unfortunately, Mexico is not enbroiled in a law enforcement crisis because of the drug cartels, but this has been a long time coming;  it did not occur overnight.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the conservative peoples of the world deemed the possession and use of any substance capable of providing pleasure by altering mental states as something to be withheld from the average citizen, partially to protect that citizen from himself/herself.  And for time immemorial, those self-same conservatives have been trying, for all sorts of self-defined reasons, to stop folks from having and enjoying the pleasures of sex.  But let’s deal with the drugs first.

Numerous countries had prohibited the sale and/or use of alcohol, a recreational drug, over the past couple of centuries, just as the Islamic religion has prohibited it for more than a millennium.  When the USA decided to deprive returning World War 1 solders and sailors from indulging in their favored alcoholic beverages by imposing (via an amendment to the US Constitution, no less) Prohibition from 1920 to 1933 (ending through repeal of the aforementioned constitutional amendment by an additional amendment). the country unwittingly chose to encourage the creation, nurturing and growth of the largest underground organized crime operation (drug cartel?) in history, known as the Mafia.

One would think that the monumental failure of this “noble experiment”, as it was called, would teach a historic lesson that neither governments nor countries can effectively or successfully legislate how people will find their pleasures, short of harmful crimes against innocent, non-consenting victims.

Not a chance, unfortunately.  Coca Cola put cocaine in their beverage until it finally stopped in 1929.  Marijuana was banned in the USA in 1937.  And then there was the “War on Drugs”, a phrase coined by the second-worst president in the USA, Richard Nixon.

The basic idea of the war on drugs was to pool all the resources and do a unified assault involving federal, state, and local law enforcement on the illicit drug sources bringing and distributing illegal drugs to and throughout the USA, perhaps the largest consumer of illegal drugs on Earth.

That was almost 40 years ago.  And the results?

To date almost US$50 billion dollars has been spent in this country on the failed “War on Drugs”.  And all that this expenditure has really accomplished to date has been to make the USA the country with the highest proportion of its population incarcerated of any country in the world for which reliable statistics are available, reaching a total of 2.2 million inmates in the U.S. in 2005, or almost 1% of its people.  This statistic includes 225,000 incarcerations a year for possession of marijuana, the world’s most popular recreational drug after alcohol.

This amount of money does not include the actual cash expended by the users of these drugs as they are bought, much of which money leaves the country, none of which is taxed, and all of which is available to the drug cartels to effectively fight against the “War on Drugs”.  And guess what?

They’re winning.  HUGE! We’re losing.  HUGE!

Throwing good money after bad continues to fund the Mexican drug cartels to buy under-paid law-enforcement folks by the thousands.  Your taxpayer dollars and the salaries of many are going to fund the cartels’s operations, even in the face of threats of violent death for the perpetrators.  And why?

Because the most stupid thing that government can do is attempt, as religious organizations have in the past just before a group would subsequently split off from the mother faith, to control the pleasure-seeking and indulgence-seeking of humanity.  Imposed control lasts for a short time, but in the long run, the human drive is relentless and wins out.  People will find a way around the regulation, or religious requirement, or what their mommies tell them.  It’s true regarding sex and it’s true regarding the pleasure some people get from recreational drugs.

The only intelligent strategy is to decriminalize these substances, regulate them, control them, and tax them.  Continuous education regarding the dangers of drug abuse would cost a tiny fraction of the money spent now on the losing war of drugs.  After all, we spend money on sex education to teach about the dangers of unprotected sex, so why not throw a few hours of classroom lessons in to teach about the dangers of drugs?

Would that work?  Well…no one buys moonshine or bathtub vodka anymore and no one buys illegal tobacco cigarettes, either (which, by the way, SHOULD be illegal.  But that’s another blog.  🙂  )  There’s no market for those items because one can obtain the legal versions easily.

Additionally, the money saved by terminating the war on drugs would be better spent on a whole variety of health-care issues and better law enforcement against crimes that have victims, like robbery and murder and rape.

But perhaps the most useful benefit of this plan is that a whole new source of tax revenue would be created which, if handled correctly, could drastically reduce, or perhaps even eliminate the US income tax.  Imagine the enormous amount of money presently flowing unbridled to the drug cartels.  Imagine if that money stayed right here in the USA, and was taxed.  That cash flow may well rival the amount of money that We, the PEOPLE!! transfer to the oil companies every quarter, which accounts for their gargantuan and obscene profits.

And while we’re at it, stop chasing the prostitutes and wasting money on stupid programs like “Abstinence only”.   Stop refusing to teach about contraception, which invariably leads to unwanted pregnancies and unwanted children, which are far more expensive than prevention.  Take a lesson from Nevada with its clean, regulated, medically monitored, taxpaying brothels and Holland’s control and regulation of quality sex workers.  Stop spending money on the war on sex, as if you think that you will somehow overwhelm and stamp out human sexual drives.

Bet on it:  It ain’t ever gonna happen.

Disclaimer:  This article is NOT intended to encourage the use of drugs.  It IS intended to DIScourage the use of public money to try to accomplish a totally unrealistic goal.

Sex, on the other hand, is ALWAYS encouraged.  🙂

Republicans for Obama, a.k.a. the Bush Legacy Part 2

It is said that if one lives long enough, one is apt to see almost anything.  A case in point is the extraordinary witnessing of some well-known republicans praising president-elect Barack Obama.

Last week, Karl Rove, the republican architect of GW Bush’s successful presidential campaigns and many internal White House operations, including possibly the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, publicly praised Obama for assembling an economic team that possesses “surprisingly positive clarity”.  You can read about this HERE.

Shortly thereafter, syndicated conservative radio talk show host Bill Bennett told Wolf Blitzer on the CNN show “Situation Room” that he was very impressed with the national security team Obama has put together, including Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Yesterday, Robert Gates, the Bush-appointed Secretary of Defense whom has been asked to stay on by Obama, stated that he is “impressed” with statements made by Obama regarding the Iraq war and other issues.

We the PEOPLE!! is fascinated that such high-profile republicans are praising a man who essentially destroyed their collective agenda of getting another GOP member elected to the highest office in the land.  But perhaps there is a simple explanation that only now is receiving increasing attention as the Bush abomination winds down:  the Bush legacy and everyone’s desire (especially republicans!) to run as far away from it as possible.

When the details of eight years of the Bush administration (if one can call it that) are finally written with an eye to their place in history, that place will probably be scary to small children and the faint of heart because of the massive abuses of constitution, law and individual freedom that occurred during the past eight years.

Of course, everyone is familiar with the not-so-secret prison at Guantanamo, and the non-existent super-secret CIA prisons that are reported in some foreign countries.  It’s doubtful that there is an educated person anywhere on the planet that doesn’t know about the suspension of constitutional and Habeas Corpus rights, as well as violation of more federal laws that one can shake a legal pad at.

Folks are now aware of the “Bush Doctrine” of preemptively invading sovereign countries based upon flimsey and faulty intelligence (unless you’re Sarah Palin).  People also know that Bush decimated the federal government’s operations by placing incompetent political cronies into positions of running federal agencies based solely on their political campaign contributions (remember FEMA’s Michael Brown during Hurricane Katrina?), and placing other folks in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who had no use for pollution control.  This happened a lot.

Americans remember cringing whenever Bush spoke publicly off the cuff, not being able to put two coherent sentences together at the same time.  Most know that Bush declared war on labor unions and science, and believed that the best economy is an uncontrolled economy where greed is acceptable.  (note:  after eight years of this “free” economy, we are now in a recession)

But what many may not remember right away is the extent of Bush’s war on women’s rights.  An avid abortion foe, Bush and his cronies pushed taxpayer-funded, ineffective and unrealistic “abstinence only” programs, not only in the USA, but anywhere on Earth where the US was funding health-related projects.  They shut off education about birth control, making “non-information” the policy of the US government.  They opposed the “morning-after” pill for women and encouraged physicians and pharmacists to not prescribe or fill prescriptions for the time-critical “Plan B” morning-after pill.  Read more about this abuse HERE.

It seems the Bush syndicate would like future generations to believe that they were “pro-abstinence” until marriage, and then “pro-pregnancy”, and thus, “pro-child”.  But if that is the case, then why did Bush veto the the bipartisan SCHIP bill (HR-976) that would have continued health care for needy infants, children and expectant mothers?

In the past week or so, Bush has been interviewed about what he regrets most.  He has said that he regrets the faulty intelligence that he got about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that led to the US invasion of Iraq.  But he doesn’t regret the invasion itself.

He also states that he leaves office (and not a minute to soon) with the same values he brought with him when he took office on January 20, 2001, and that this will be his legacy.

Uh-huh.

When one considers the real legacy of this horrible administration, run by the man who repeatedly has said he is the “decider guy”, one has to wonder what kind of values Bush is talking about.  To justify the violation of constitution and law, to torture, to violate human and women’s rights, to allow an economy to “greed” itself into a damaging meltdown, to reward cronyism over competence or excellence, to shame America before the world, to stand stubbornly upon the arrogance of naked power….these are not the values that mothers should be teaching their children.

The Bush legacy isn’t pretty. Bush will probably be branded as the very worst American president in history.  But that isn’t enough.   Bush’s legacy should be taught to every child in America and the world in brilliant academic detail.

Like other infamous historical events, no one should ever forget the horrors that people in power are capable of, or the need to prevent a future recurrence.