Monday, January 30, 2006

Duncan Lee's Ideal Candidate/Jerusalem/Imagination

(P1) Political

My Friend Duncan's President

I'd like to introduce my friend Duncan Lee who is going to provide us with some well thought out ideas for what he personally would like to see in a presidential candidate. You might not agree with all of this, nor do I, so I'd like to urge each reader to respond by pressing the "Comments" link below. However, at least Duncan is using his good mind, formulating what he is looking for, and even putting together an action plan for his candidate once he/she gets into office. He's giving us lots to think and comment about.

Now, here's Duncan's contribution and don't forget to comment:

"For someone who doesn't like talking about politics I got a little carried away here.

I think Winston Churchill said this: "Democracy is not the
best form of government, it's just better than all the others".

But, I've done some thinking lately and here's a start on my theoretical

First, there's getting elected. So, my candidate is male, younger than 70,
fairly fit and attractive. When this man speaks you know he means what he
says, he's intelligent and articulate, can speak extemporaneously with ease, is poised and
exudes a sense of professionalism and leadership. The kind of guy about
which you don't hesitate to say, "I'd follow that guy into combat". I met a
young man in 1971 who had done some campaign work for then governor Reagan.
He said you could be in a room full of people, not looking at the door, and
you would know when Reagan entered the room unannounced. That's the kind of
guy I'm looking for. (Not like Reagan, but you know what I mean.)

The Campaign: Here are the issues. They are not necessarily the issues laid
out by the other side, they are MY candidate's issues.

1. Economy. ( Don't forget Clinton's famous words, it's the economy,
stupid.) When voters go to the polls they are thinking of their wallets.

A. Prices:
Gasoline, gasoline, gasoline.
Electricity, electricity, electricity.
Heating fuel, heating fuel, heating fuel.
Energy companies' scandals. Oil companies' obscene profits.

This issue must be hammered on non-stop.

Pledge a reform and equitable system.
Bring it to the common man. Don't harp on tax breaks for the rich. Hammer
hard on the average citizen being able to understand his tax return and that
reform will reduce taxes for everybody. If indeed that is the case. No BS in
this campaign.

Corporate irresponsibility and lost jobs. This is dangerous to the fund
raising side, but it's courageous. Must be done. Auto industry, airlines,
others, must be made examples of poor management and judgment. Pledge gov't
aid in getting organized, but not money.

Cost of Iraq. Not why we went in, etc., but when are we getting out. Hammer
hard constantly on the cost, the cost, the cost. Talk about all that can be
done with the money here at home, but more importantly who's paying for it.
The debt is out of control under a so called conservative administration.

Cost of Health Care: Come up with a national health care plan BEFORE the
campaign and unveil it. If you can't do it before you're elected, how can
you do it after? Ask Bill and Hillary.

B. Education. Part of this comes under cost, but more importantly is the
quality of graduates. Compare to other countries. No Child Left Behind is
said not to work. Introduce a plan that will. (Small sidebar: the greatest
cause of teenage death is auto accidents; most schools "can't afford"
driver's ed anymore, but they can afford football teams.)

C. Security. Phone taps: this is easy, get a warrant for the taps or get the
legislation in place for a workable plan. (Sidebar: After the news of the
wire surveillance was published (leaked) Democrats began screaming bloody
liberties. The top Democrats were briefed on what was going on for, what,
FOUR years? Why no screaming before now?)

Secure the ports and borders. Just do it, don't talk about how difficult it
is. Going to Mars is difficult but we're going to do it.

Find the #1 target, you know who I mean, but I don't want to put his name in this because of issue C. above.
Stop making our troops drive down roads in Iraq so they can
be blown up and find this guy. It can be done.

Okay that's about it for the campaign for now. There will be more issues, but
three is about right. The education one is a bit iffy, so it may get
shuffled down the list.

Now, my guy is elected over all odds. Please notice he didn't say anything
about the environment unless asked. He wants to ensure a healthy
environment, but he doesn't make an issue of it. Why? Like abortion, only a
few people really care enough about it to vocalize the issue, the rest aren't interested
because they
can't see how it touches them. Abortion is a dumb issue and should be
shunned unless really pressed for a position.

My president assembles his cabinet for the first time and lays out the

Defense: Budget will be cut by at least one third. No argument, just figure
out a plan to secure the country with that budget. That includes securing
all ports and borders effectively. If it means reducing forces in So. Korea, Europe, or
elsewhere, so be it.

Homeland Security: You're abolished. Sec'y of Defense, Atty. Gnl., CIA and NSA come up with a plan.
All those agencies: Cooperate with all pertinent info or the directors will
be replaced.

Education: Get together a workable plan for all levels. Think outside the

Medicare: Fix the prescription fiasco. Finalize the pre-election health plan and
come up with a plan that will provide
affordable health care for everyone. Meanwhile, president to tell insurance
companies to take a hike.

Transportation: Start building railroads, NOW.

Energy: Start building nuclear and natural sources of energy and figure out
the waste storage problem. Yucca Mt. is not the only answer.

State: Tell China they must adjust their currency values NOW or US will
impose huge import taxes on all goods. Tell Taiwan the gravy days are over,
run your own country or do a deal with China, US will not fight your
battles. Tell Israel it they start another Middle East war our alliance is in
big trouble. Tell Palestine same thing.
If Iraq is not already in all out civil war, start getting out fast and let
the war start after we leave, which it will, and we will stay out of it. If
it's already started, get out anyway. Tell Mexico to clean up the drug trade
or we will do it for them, and follow up. (Side bar: Why are we setting up a
democratic, functioning government in Iraq when our closest neighbor has
always been dysfunctional and corrupt? Why don't we rebuild Mexico?)

Congress: Many members will not accept these plans, but President must be tough on them. Not
waiting for Congress, new president introduces legislation that bans campaign donations from any group or corporation. And the
limit on individual donations is $10,000.

Okay, I'm out of steam for now. This is all idealistic, of course, but one
can hope. Ending on the negative, however, as I am want to do, it's going to take about $400,000,000 to run a campaign in '08.
Where is my guy going to get that? Is our system beyond repair?"

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(P2) Philosophical

Jerusalem, Jerusalem




-from Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940) - Nobel Prize winning Swedish novelist in Jerusalem, 1901

(P3) Poetical

The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from
earth to heaven;

And as imagination bodies forth the
forms of things unknown,

the poet's pen turns them to shapes,
and gives to airy nothing

a local habitation and a name.

- from A Midsummer Night's Dream (5-1-Theseus)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oprah Out, Al Gore In for 2008 / A Poem / A Blog Cartoon

(P1) Political

Ed Says, Bye Oprah and Hi Al - 2008

Al Gore is my choice for President in 2008. What happened to my campaign for Oprah? Let me explain.

Even before she told her TV audience "never, never, never (public office)!" this past week, she'd already demonstrated a "gullibility factor" that rubbed me the wrong way. While I can understand her espousal of James Frey even in the face of the fictions in his "memoir" (after all the book seemed to be doing some good) what was with her fawning over Tom Cruise and perpertrating the sofa-jumping event"? But, I let that all go. I thought her good works and powerbase could bring about a change in politics. I realized it was a long shot. The more I watched her show, I knew she was in the right place. With her "never, never, never" response to a question about political office, Oprah gave me the out I realize I had been seeking.

At approximately the same time, Al Gore leaped back into my consciousness with his impassioned and well-reasoned speech calling George Bush to task for "breaking the law" with the literally un-warranted wiretapping as well as the conduct of the war, torture, unjustified interments, and the management of Katrina.

But is one speech enough? Of course not. I've also strongly considered two other men of the people, John Edwards and Barack Obama. The latter needs more seasoning. The former will be a great ticket-booster as VP candidate. But Al Gore is a proven WINNER! He won the popular vote against Bush in 2000! He probably also won the electoral vote but for Florida, Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris, and the debacle of the courts.

So, why not also consider Hillary Clinton? Because Hillary and her husband have always pandered to the center which wasn't so bad when we weren't caught up in a constitutional crisis at a time of maximum government corruption and decisions which must be brought down. A striking example during the Clinton administration was the sell out on healthcare and the establishment of the "managed care" mess we have now. But perhaps Hillary has emerged from her battles ready to lead the progressive charge? Hardly....

...Read Molly Ivins wonderful Sunday 1-22 column titled "Looking For One Brave Democrat" in which she writes, "I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president...Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges."

Then Ivins discusses the courage of Eugene McCarthy in the past and wonders what sort of "courage" it would take now to speak out for what the public "wants." In other words, why would Hillary Clinton dodge the big issues when the majority of the public believe the war was a mistake, that single-payer health coverage makes sense, raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do, reducing the deficit by reducing corrupt defense spending and raising taxes instead of reducing domestic spending is the way to go, and repealing Bush's transparent tax cuts for the wealthy must happen. With the people on her side, who is Hillary going after? Not only won't she get the religious right or any appreciable number of votes from the right in general, but her candidacy would be a lightening rod for the worst forms of personal attack and ignoring the issues.

Al Gore, on the other hand has always been issues-oriented. He is a good man. He is experienced. He is speaking out with passion. Oh, and let's no forget his environmentalism. He is my candidate for 2008!

(P2) Poetical


a stooped little man beside the unhearing pillar

a white tea rose beside the black marble pillar

a bug-eyed child’s distended belly against the iced-white pillar

a voice of reason echoes off the density of pillar

a shard of moonlight snaps in half against the bonelike pillar

a tiny repulsive mongrel blithely pisses on the pillar

- Edward Coletti - Jan '06 -

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(P3) Philosophical

Monday, January 16, 2006

Wiretaps/War Hypocrites/PersonaHealthcareStory

(P1) Philosophical

Of Bush, Wiretaps, & Benjamin Franklin

"...there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talkin about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution." - George W. Bush

(for immediate release - Office of the Press Secretary - April 20, 2004 - Buffalo, NY)

Had there been even a milligram of truth to the preceding, the following words of Benjamin Franklin would still pertain:

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

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(P2) Political

Who Are The Chicken Hawks?

As a Vietnam Veteran, I thought my readers might be interested in seeing this revealing list of politicians and pundits who did and didn't serve in the military. While I don't necessarily subscribe to the concept that veterans are any better than non-veterans, I do believe you'll find it revealing that those most anxious to send U.S. troops into Iraq combat have never been in the military themselves. They also tend to say "no more spending" but, when it comes to oil and Iraq, they want not only our youth to be their cannon fodder, but also appear on the road to spending a trillion dollars on this adventure by 2010.

Some Democrats Who Served:

Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71. * David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72. Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72. * Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade. * Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam. * Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII. * John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts. * Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea. * Max Cleland: Captain, army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star,Vietnam Paraplegic from war injuries. * Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53. * Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74. * Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91. * Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. * Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit. * Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart. * Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V. * Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star. * Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57 * Chuck Robb: Vietnam * George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII. * Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy. * Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953 * John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and AirMedal with 18 Clusters. * John Murtha (35 years in the Marines and Marine Reserves, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts - Vietnam).

Republicans who did not serve at all or avoided combat:

Dick Cheney: (Several deferments, the last by marriage). * Dennis Hastert: * Tom De Lay: * Roy Blunt: * Bill Frist: * Mitch McConnell: * Rick Santorum: * Trent Lott: * John Ashcroft: (Seven deferments to teach business). * Jeb Bush: * Karl Rove: * Saxby Chambliss: (Bad knee. This is the man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism). * Paul Wolfowitz: * Vin Weber: * Richard Perle: * Douglas Feith: * Eliot Abrams: * Richard Shelby: * Jon! Kyl: * Tim Hutchison: * Christopher Cox: * Newt Gingrich: * Don Rumsfeld: (served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor. No combat experience) * Ronald Reagan:(due to poor eyesight, served in a non- combat role making movies). * B-1 Bob Dornan: (Intentionally enlisted after fighting was over in Korea). * Phil Gramm: * Dana Rohrabacher: * John M McHugh: * JC Watts: * Jack Kemp: (Knee problem, although he continued in the NFL for 8 years as quarterback) * Dan Quayle: (Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard). * Rudy Giuliani: * George Pataki: * Spencer Abraham: * John Engler: * Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer. * Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base. And.... * George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard duty; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.

Right Wing Pundits, Preachers & Icons who DID NOT serve:

* Sean Hannity: * Rush Limbaugh: (did not serve (4-F with a pilonidal cyst.) * Bill O'Reilly: * Michael Savage: * George Will: * Chris Matthews: * Paul Gigot: * Bill Bennett: * Pat Buchanan: * John Wayne: * Bill Kristol: * Kenneth Starr: * Antonin Scalia: * Clarence Thomas: * Ralph Reed: * Michael Medved: * Ted Nugent: (He only shoots at things that don't shoot back.)

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(P3) Poetical

A Very Personal Story Followed by a Poem

This is a very personal account of how arbitrary political grandstanding can affect individuals. In this case my 91-year-old parents, John and Anne Coletti long ago elected to have their Medicare go directly to Kaiser Permanente's Senior Advantage Program. This covered them fully for all healthcare. They also pay a relatively small monthly premium. When George W. Bush decided to go after a few votes by pretending to create a program of Medicare drug coverage ( a program virtually everyone saw through as being grossly inadequate, confusing, problematic, and a deception), virtually everyone over 65 was thrown into a tailspin from the poorly planned implementation. You all have read about this.

In Anne and John's case, they suddenly were disenrolled from Kaiser. I spent well over a week attempting to figure out what was going on. It turns out that Dad had an old virtually unused healthplan as a New York City retiree. As a result of Bush's "plan", that healthplan automatically enrolled Dad and Mom in something called Part D, and the "fun" began. The Medicare computer picked this up and "spoke" with the Kaiser computer. Apparently, Medicare recipients cannot belong to 2 plans. The NY plan pre-dated the California one, even though Anne and John have belonged to Kaiser for 20 years.

The first notice received from Kaiser was confusing saying that, after being disenrolled, they were again enrolled. We'd received no notice of disenrollment. So, I called Kaiser and discovered that lots of people were also calling. Ultimately, I learned they, in fact were disenrolled, had to do a number of written statements (which I did for them), drop the NY Programs which I discovered how to do, and see what happened. Finally, I worked it out that I was told they had nothing further to worry about. (I should mention here that, during this entire process, Mom was IN the hospital). So I took it on faith that all was well until Dad received written notice that he and Mom were 2 months in arrears on their monthly payments to Kaiser.

Back to the phones. "They are on automatic bank deductions, what's going on?" Well, when they were "disenrolled," the automatic payments were automatically stopped. Suffice to say, I got that all going again, and all appears to be well with the Kaiser world again.

Question: "What happens with 91-year-old people who don't have a son who can take care of all of this for them?" What is the role of government? Doesn't the constituion express an interest (at least implied) in the health, happiness, and welfare of its citizens? Is mine a merely "rhetorical" question?

I found the following beautiful poem and work of music that, for me at least, pertains:

So Did You Die of History

o did you die of history,
Each innocent of dogma dead,
Purloined to play in some fool's head
The drama of his destiny.
Even in your hapless herds,
Miracles to men unmoved,
Being loved as you were loved,
Even thus, you were but words.
Reason seeks what reason knows.
Each alone must bridge the gulf,
Loving all as if oneself,
Else blood with reason endless flows.
Vanquished, you must still live on,
Each murdered soul a monument,
Nor what you mean be what you meant,
The private to the public gone,
Held long as letters carved in stone.

Music: Fugue in C# Minor
By Dimitri Shostakovich. Sequenced by
J. Marques.

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