Archive for the ‘Al Gore’ category

A Larger Conspiracy?

December 14, 2007

Many of us have written about the incompetence of the Bush/Cheney Administration and have shown enough examples to have a reasonable case.  It will be years, if ever, before historians uncover the real reasons for the policies behind

  • Rejecting the Kyoto Protocol
  • Abdicating the ABM Treaty
  • Marginalizing Gays and Lesbians
  • Embracing “intelligent design”
  • Driving a wedge between the US and Mexico
  • Invading a sovereign country – Iraq
  • Adopting an anti-Russian foreign Policy

The list goes on.  It is almost too easy to label these as “wrong headed”, misguided, foolish, or short sighted.  There are just too many intelligent people in Government to seemingly get it wrong every time.  Why then did Bush/Cheney get it wrong every time?

Here is a suggestion:

1. In the early 2000’s, Russia was spinning out of control as they tried to institute Democracy into a country that has never lived in a democratic environment.  The Russian capitalists were doing what every capitalist does, make as much money as you can within the laws (and forgeting the laws if you can get away with it).  Suddenly the wealthy were becoming more powerful than the leaders.

2. In the US, the lack of a cold war was undermining the “military-industrial-bank” complex.  They were use to having enormous amounts of public spending passing through their hands.  In essence these still wealthy people and corporations saw themselves getting less wealthy.

3. They also saw something even more disturbing.  Wealth was rising in India and China and projections into the future forecasted a dramatic change in world wealth distribution.  With more that 2 billion people between them, India and China represented a force that rhetoric could not beat.

4. The solution was an alliance between the right wing/neoconservative elements of the US and the backers of Vladimir Putin.  This unusual alliance called for the US to act unilaterally and pre-emptively around the world so that its actions frightened most of the other nations.  The Russians in turn would suppress their capitalists and re-establish authoritarian rule under Putin.  Then Russia would step forward to confront diplomatically the US around the world.  Countries would then be asked to align themselves again, as was the case with the cold war.  With most of the countries in one camp or the other, Russia and the US could exercise leverage should China or India step out of line.  Under this thinking, China and India could be shorted on raw materials and energy supplies and thereby disciplined back into line.

5. The most elegant part of this alliance was the promise to resolve all Russian-US differences and unite as partners if China and India were to circumvent the aligned nations’ influence.  Europe and Japan would be compelled to join the US-Russian alliance and China and India would again be at the trading mercy of the great powers.

You may be thinking that this is fanciful.  But think about what has been happening and are these events logical or necessary?  Think about the one sided thinking of the Administration and the lock step support by the neoconservatives.  The holders of this type of absolute power do not care about principles or individual civil rights.  They care only about the rewards that flow to those who hold power.  If you build bombs, it matters little who they are dropped upon.  The money to buy them flows to the bomb maker and his bankers.

It is not necessary to prove or disprove this theory.  It is necessary, however, to break the chain of events that could make this a self fulfilling prophesy.  The next President, and his/her Administration needs to reject faith based initiatives in favor of fact based ones.  It needs to choose economic and diplomatic means and discard the military option (keep a strong military but don’t use it).  It needs to build healthy and respectful relations with China and India while rejuvernating the American manufacturing engine.  And above all, it needs to build “one American” where all people are respected and shown the dignity that each of us wants.

Do you see such a Presidential candidate?

Al Gore

December 10, 2007

As Al reflects on his Nobel Prize and appreciates the World’s opinion of him versus George W Bush, it must provide Al some sense of reward.  We must remember that Al knew he had been screwed in 2000 but chose to accept the Supreme Court verdict without further appeal in order that the country move forward.  If he had known then what he knows now, I wonder whether he would have made that decision again.  And even more puzzling, do you think if fortunes had been reversed, that George would have gone willingly and then worked on environmental issues?

As I wonder why Chris Dodd and Joe Biden stick around in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina with no chance at all, I assume they are playing the only game available.  They must assume that out of the “Hillary, Barack, and John” litter, there will emerge no winner.  The role of the dark horse, compromise candidate will fall to one of them.

I am wondering whether in that scenario an experienced candidate who speaks of hope might not step forward.  That of course would be Al.  He would be free of damage from this circus of debates and would throw the Republican smear campaigns for a loop.  In fact a ticket of Gore and Clinton (with Hillary as VP) might be both poetic justice and politically shrewd.  Gore and Obama might be even more exciting and prepare Barack for the future.

My only concern about Al in this type of play out is that if it is Al, then it is not Mike Bloomberg.  Life is not perfect.

The Big Five

November 28, 2007

The Big Five means various things.  In South Africa it represents 5 species of wild animals.  In Philadelphia it represents 5 local colleges that play basketball.  But there is another big five that each of the 2008 candidates needs to keep in mind and develop serious plans around.  These big five may determine our future as a nation.

1. Dependence on foreign fossil fuels.  Dependence on fossil fuels as our primary energy source is a serious matter but when the bulk of our fuels are coming from foreign sources, it exposes both our Government and our large energy companies to unwanted temptation.  The Iraq War is a current example and many argue that indirectly the Vietnam War was also based on unproven, but potentially large oil reserves.  We must rid ourselves of the need to import. 

  • Fund the development and use of renewable energy sources
  • Reduce current usage
  • Significantly increase the fleet average “mpg” for vehicles
  • Increase taxes (over 10 years) on gasoline to be equivilent to Europe and Japan
  • Provide consumer tax incentives in order to switch to renewable energy source

2. Green House Gases.  The Government must take seriously the generation of green house gases and regain the moral high ground.   By the US acting responsibly, the US can help the developing world to also play a constructive role.  This is a very tough problem in the face of increased energy usage.

  • We need a “man to the moon” type assault on solar, wind, and thermal energy capture and use.  Government funding and coordination are key.
  • Reduction in our use of fossil fuels is a step in the right direction.
  • We will need to share green house gas saving technologies with all others.

3. Return to traditional American values

  • Reaffirm a clear separation of church and state.  Schools are for science and education, churches are for worship.
  • Habeas corpus is a right of anyone under American authority
  • Due process and probable cause should be part of all American run court procedings.
  • Rendition and extreme interrogation have no place in America or any place where America operates around the world.

4. Healthcare and social security.  All Americans should be secure that their health and their old age will be protected and honored by the government.  This should be a two way partnership where all citizens who are able should contribute towards the cost with money and the avoidance of risky or unhealthy life styles.  

  • We need a national dialog on what should be the basic responsibilities of each person towards their own health. 
  • Government needs to ensure that an average level of care (such as in Europe) is available to each citizen.
  • Levels of healthcare above the average level should be available for those who wish to pay more
  • The social safety net provided by social security must be safe guarded.  Forced savings and segregation of the social security fund are key steps.
  • There needs to be also a national dialog on the subject of America’s responsibility to those who can work but do not, those who could be healthy by choose unhealthy life style habits, and those who are in the country without having contributed to the funding of healthcare or social security.  (I would assume Americans will look more kindly on those who are unable and less kindly on those who could but don’t).

5.  One America.  We need to open our minds to the “one America” concept.  This idea proposes a common union of Canada, Mexico, and the USA.  This need not be a single government (with Mexico and Canada being the 51st and 52nd states).  This more should recognize the commonality of our mutual interests such as:

  • Freedom of movement
  • Freedom of labor employment
  • Distribution of water
  • Common rules on commerce
  • Common efforts on energy and green house gas reduction
  • Appreciation and respect for each country’s diversity and culture.
  • Anticipation of future needs for independence from foreign sourced manufactured goods.

This list is not likely to make any candidates talking points.  We are much more likely to hear the panderers promise swift and punitive action against the good Mexican workers who are employed here but lact proper paperwork.  From some we are likely to here that little Mary or Johnny should be able to say a prayer in school but be sure that person does not mean the prayer that Moshe or Abdul would know.  With energy sources having finite life times we need to begin the process of both reducing our usage and switching the source to renewable fuels.  But most likely we will hear that Americans want inexpensive gasoline and do not want to be told about energy conservation.  We will hear that Americans should be able to drive SUV’s.  (I agree with this but would accept a corresponding higher gasoline bill, like Europe, to support my choice).

Each of these Big Five carry some very tough thinking and decisions.  We need the next President to at least be able to move this ball forward.   

Surrender versus Occupier?

June 4, 2007

“Surrender Is Not an Option” is John McCain’s tag line and his hook to raise money.  It says nothing and says everything at the same time.  If you are a hawk (especially a chicken hawk), these are fighting words.  No sissy liberal anti-war patsy will push through a troop withdrawal resolution on John’s watch.  But in a way you have to admire his use of words.

No one should be the slightest confused that the military strength of our troops, whether naval, air, or ground is vastly superior to anything in the Middle East and certainly within Iraq.  In any engagement with insurgents, the US wins the shoot out.  But Iraq like Vietnam is not a war like World War II or Korea.  It is a war with no front lines or safe areas.  And to make matters worse, Iraq is a land with no leadership consensus or police capability to enforce any peace.  In this regard Iraq is somewhat similar to South Vietnam where individual South Vietnamese Army units were controlled by regional leaders and were largely used to protect local property in return for kick backs.  Iraq’s Army is much the same and the results are military units that do not pursue any national goals and spend most of their time responding to local sectarian influence (including “do nothing”).

So, why would the word “surrender” stick and catch the attention of so many?  Why would John McCain’s use of it and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney’s full endorsement of the surge (defacto use of “surrender”) be the Republican Party’s path forward?  Here are some thoughts:

1. John McCain and all the other Republican candidates know very well that Bush and Cheney have driven the US bus so far down a dead end street that there is no turning around or backing up possible in the time between now and the 2008 election.

2. Many Americans believe (despite the evidence to the contrary) that Iraq was in some way involved with 9/11 and further that the US stands for freedom and values human life (despite the fact that we invaded Iraq and subsequently have looked the other way on the Geneva Convention, created the US Gulag of Guantanamo, and denied due process to hundreds of prisoners).  The Republican candidate’s view is that if people think that way why try to change their minds.

3. The Republican candidates are marking time and plan to run two campaigns, one for the primary and one for the general election (once they see who their candidate will be).  In the general election, they can always blame the Iraqi Government’s inability (and unwillingness) to meet their promises as the reason to alter US policy.  (This is relatively safe because what ever policy they lay out, there will be no way to prove it will work or not work prior to the election.)

4. In no case with any of these candidates do I suspect they actually believe we can win (that is bring peace and security to Iraq), so what we are hearing is rhetoric and the wild hope that some Democratic candidate will take the bate and say “we should surrender” (no likely).  You must judge whether you find this type of pandering worthy of your vote.

For the Democratic candidates, particularly Hillary, John, Barack, and Bill it is more difficult to describe what will take place when troops are withdrawn.  Here is what they are thinking:

1. Troop withdrawal will take time, probably well over two years.  There could be a quick decrease and then a much slower one as we monitor what is happening as we withdraw.

2. Diplomatic efforts will likely not pay off on the Bush/Cheney watch because this White House is simply not mentally suited to international multi-party negotiations.  The best you can say for the current White House is that it might have been better in the cold war.

3. The next administration can make progress in diplomatic relations if it “walks the talk”.  Unilateral renunciations like the ABM treaty and Kyoto Protocol say more about the respect the Administration has for other countries than words themselves. 

4. The next Administration needs to strike from its thinking a long term presence in the Middle East and at the earliest moment has to demonstrate we are no longer occupying Iraq.  Again, actions will speak louder than words.  The next Administration’s foreign policy must recognize Syria and Iran as sovereign countries with legitimate aspirations.  (You can not pledge to help India with the bomb and tolerate Pakistan exporting nuclear technology, and then take an entirely different position with Iran.)

5. During the campaign, I would suggest the Democratic candidates emphasize that they will end the occupation of Iraq and will pursue constructive and positive relations with all countries in the Middle East. (end of statement)

So it will be that John McCain will raise a little money and slowly become marginalized.  His friend Fred Thompson will soon enter the race and John’s fortunes will fade even more.  Although he does not light up the room, I still think Robert Gates would make an excellent President. 

Both undeclared Al Gore and Michael Bloomberg could run strong campaigns clear of any Iraq stain and both would represent a clean break from the past.  Of the two, Bloomberg would represent the best centrist candidate. 

Guantanamo, Indonesia, Atlanta, and DC

May 31, 2007

There were four separate news reports today on four different subjects.  Let me describe them and then I will connect them to the 2008 Presidential Election and the process to select the standard bearers.

1. A Guantanamo prisoner was found dead in his cell yesterday.  The reports do not identify him nor do they tell why he was there.  All we can be sure is that he was denied his right to counsel, he was denied habeas Corpus, and he was denied due process.  We know that because everyone in Guantanamo is denied these rights we take for granted.  We do not know if he was a real bad person or was someone who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  We do not know him and probably never would. 

What we do know is that Guantanamo will be seen again around the world as an American gulag.  We do know that the already tarnished national image got a healthy dose of new tarnish.  We can be fairly certain that the Bush Administration will scarcely notice this event and we can be almost certain that this man was not a threat to our security or anybody else’s. 

2. On different subject in a much different land, the Indonesian high court ruled 2/1 against a woman seeking to officially leave her Islamic religion and join the Catholic church.  The court’s ruling left standing the Islamic Sharia rule that says no one can leave the Islam religion with the Sharia court’s permission.  This strikes me as repressive and discriminatory but in a religion where caning and stoning are accepted methods of punishment, this decision should not surprise.  The important point is that American tradition would see someone who is a member of Islam (or any religion), that the rules of the religion should be the rules that person must live by unless they ceased to be a member.    And further, Islam (or any religion) should refrain from imposing their rules on those who do not wish to belong.

3. A Georgia resident who had contracted a rare form of TB was told by US health officials not to travel by air.  Shortly there after, this person traveled to Europe, to several countries in Europe, and return to Canada, and then drove to the US without anyone stopping or questioning him.  He is now in quarentine and about to receive the health care he needs.

The real story here is that we have home land security and “no fly lists”.  How did this person fly without being stopped?  The bureaucratic scare and fear tactics of this Administration’s approach to home land security is very apparent.  Airport lines, pat downs, hand baggage searches in no way translate to security and never have.  They were intended to impress the passengers that their government was doing something.  A secondary benefit was to drive fear into the voters that there must be a terrorist someplace on every plane.  What we see from this is the TSA has no idea who is actually flying. 

4. Lastly, the Supreme Court ruled 5/4 against a women seeking compensation due to discriminatory pay policies.  The Supreme Court reversed a favorable ruling by a lower court on the basis that the woman’s suit was not timely.  The decision shows little regard to the issues surrounding sex discrimination since they did not rule on the facts of the case and only on a technicality.  You are left with the impression that the Court favored business by using the Ostrich approach.

These four reports all underscore the need for careful consideration of the potential 2008 Presidential candidates.  Which candidates will continue Guantanamo and continue to drive down America’s image across the globe? (As our image sinks, so does our influence and our ability to negotiate!) Which candidates will embrace due process, habeas corpus, and the right to counsel?  Which candidates on the other hand will claim the ends justify the means?

Which candidates will tolerate the interferrence in the political process of any religious group?  Which candidates will stand up and say it is wrong when a church official to tell his followers how to vote, especially when it is directed against one or more candidates?  Which candidates will say I do not want the voters support if it is because a church has spoken against his opponent?

Which candidates will consider substance over sizzle when filling Administration positions?  Which candidates will choose to promote fear and silently leave the nation’s ports of entry unguarded?  Which candidates will hold their Administration accountable and take responsibility (with real corrective action) if things should go wrong?

Which candidates will choose  choose new Supreme Court members from the well qualified center?  Which candidates will likely work with the opposite party so that consideration of Supreme Court nominees can be fair.

These four reports underscore how many more issues there are to be considered rather than just how good the candidate looks or how much money they have raised. 

2008 Presidential Outlook

May 25, 2007

There is a lot of talk about Al Gore entering the Democratic race for the nomination.  He of course denies it and then schedules another public appearance.  What is the case for Al?

1. Flash back to 2000 and his majority win but electorial college loss.  Al lost the election largely because (1) he was not the person you would go have a beer with and (2) he turned his back on Bill Clinton and would not accept his help.  When you compare Bill Clinton’s transgression with that of George Bush and his band of merry men and women, Bill once again looks like Sir Lancelot. 

2. Al has been emphasizing science and fact based decisions as we approach some huge problems facing the US and the world.  In contrast to George the creationist, this is a refreshing change.  Science usually makes Americans squirmish and confirms that they would not want to have a beer with Al.  Yet, we have seen where the “higher authority” has lead little George.

3. Al seems to be free of any fueds with other Democratic candidates and as a result looks like a statesman.  It will be a test when and if he announces his candidacy how he will handle the inevitable criticism that his Democratic competitors will throw his way.

4. Hillary and Barrack would today be the likely President/Vice President given age, experience, money, and backing.  But Hillary and Barrack will both be firsts if they run and firsts if they are elected.  On the other hand, Al and Barrack would be a tempered version and with Al’s experience and the charisma of Barrack, it would be a very attractive combination.

5. As with all other candidates, Al stands heads and shoulders above George Bush.  So much so it is a misleading comparison.  But looking at Rudy, John, and Mitt, Al would be in my opinion a much safer risk.  Whether Al would make a better President than Hillary, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, or Chris Dodd is hard to say and probably not important, Al would be competitive.

Al Gore might have much more difficulty running against Robert Gates, Fred Thompson, or Mike Bloomberg but these individuals are currently not declared candidates. 

It is not important at this time to worry whether Al will run or not.  It is refreshing, almost like baseball to know you have a relief pitcher like Al Gore waiting to enter the game if needed.  With George Bush self destructing each day, it is hard to see a way that the Democrats do not win in 2008 (but they have grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory before).