Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Are Bush Republicans And The Fed Playing Dirty?

The Fed decided today to not raise interest rates. It is my belief that it will limit rate hikes under Bush for as long as possible and will likely be more willing to raise rates with greater frequency should the next president be a Democrat. (Yes, I'm beginning to think the Fed plays politics.)

Clearly, the U.S. is swimming in a deep, deep sea of red ink, the result of irresponsible policies of the Bush administration and, what once was, his lackey Republican majority in Congress. So, not only will Bush attempt to pass off his colossal failure in Iraq to the next president, but all of that red ink as well.

I am convinced that Bush and the Republicans in Congress had intended to create so much debt and red ink so that Democrats would be forced to make huge cuts in various social and entitlement programs. That way the cowards don't have to go on record as opposing FDR's New Deal legislation and other popular Democratically inspired programs.

Bottomline: Republicans suck -- "BIG TIME".

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sen. Kerry Calls Bush White House An International Pariah

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry levelled some serious criticism at the Bush administration during a speech in Davos, Switzerland where experts and decision makers from around the world have gathered to consider the important challenges and trends facing the world today. Sen. Kerry expressed his view that the Bush administration has caused the United States to become "a sort of international pariah."

He went on to say, "So we have a crisis of confidence in the Middle East — in the world, really. I've never seen our country as isolated, as much as a sort of international pariah for a number of reasons as it is today....We need to do a better job of protecting our interests, because after all, that's what diplomacy is about," he said. "But you have to do it in a context of the reality, not your lens but the reality of those other cultures and histories."

I agree completely with Sen. Kerry. Those looney tunes in the White House have done great harm to the United States both at home and abroad. The level of stupidity, arrogance and incompetence seems almost incomprehensible to think that such stupidity and mismanagement could be even a possibility to the degree that we've witnessed in this day and age is shocking. These people are dragging the country into the ground on so many levels and with such ferocity that one begins to wonder whose interests they are representing. It has reached a point now where two out of every three Americans have lost faith and trust in the Bush administration to successfully represent and promote our strategic interests both at home and abroad. Congress and the Judiciary needs to quickly assert its status as co-equal branches of government and hold this administration accountable for its actions!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

During Interview, Cheney Calls CNN's Wolf Blitzer's Line of Questioning "Out of Line"

During a recent interview on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Cheney accused Wolf Blitzer of being out of line for having the audacity to ask him about his lesbian daughter's pregnancy.

"Out of line"? If anyone has been "out of line", I think the overwhelming consensus, outside of the White House and its enablers in Congress and in the media (Fox News), is that Cheney holds a monopoly on being "out of line". His rather lengthy record of spewing lies and deceit in promoting the war in Iraq is shocking, abhorrent and disgraceful to the extreme. What makes it so shocking is his alarming persistence in repeating and spreading his program of lies despite having those pronouncements irrefutably exposed as blatant lies and deceptions.

If justice were served both Cheney and Bush would help patrol the streets of Baghdad so that they could play a more definitive role in executing their Iraq policy and witness, first hand, the wisdom of their policies.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Did Bush Escalate the Escalation Process For the "Surge"?

Speaker Pelosi's Criticism Hit The Proverbial Nail On The Head

Yes, the escalation has begun. In fact, Bush escalated the escalation process when confronted by the real possibility that Congress would withold its approval and funding of the "surge". Bush pretended for two months to be weighing his military and diplomatic options in Iraq. Turns out, he knew all along that he wouldn't listen to anyone outside his inner circle. His mind had already been made up. During this phony deliberative stage, plans were already being executed to mobilize the "surge" -- before Congress would have an opportunity to stop it.

What Nancy Pelosi said is true: Bush rushed to put the extra troops in play for Iraq to avoid having to finally listen and conform to others' points of view. His play for time was merely an attempt to convey a false "image" that he was deeply considering others' opinions. Image over substance -- PR and spin over truth and reality -- These will be known as the earmarks of this Bush administration.

The truth of the matter is that he felt that he already had all the answers and to hell with everyone else. His stubborness, a euphemism for stupidity, manifested itself again to the dismay and consternation of most observers within the United States. Once again, he domonstrates that he is impervious to reason and logic when it differs or conflicts with his own.

One could reasonably ask if Bush is a "dictator". And the shocking truth is that one can reasonably answer the question in the affirmative. The argument by some against such a label or definition is that Bush is merely executing his authority as "Commander-in-Chief". This argument, however, loses its appeal in rather dramatic fashion when viewed in the context of his history in office. Domestic spying, "Signing Statements", Patriot Act, Rendition, Habeas Corpus -- all these point to an alarming centralization and concentration of power in the Executive branch. And this is just the short list. There are many other examples of constitutional overreach. The point is that Congressional and Judicial oversight has never been more important in our nation's history. The integrity of our constitutional democracy weighs heavily in the balance. The results of the midterm elections confirm this analysis. People are concerned. And justifiably.

Friday, January 19, 2007

George Bush: Dr. Strangelove, Part Deux?

The time has come for Americans to assert their independence and shout, "What the hell?!" when confronted with the possibility that Bush will actually take that next step and move to enlarge his colossal mistake in Iraq by making an even larger, super-duper colossal mistake by expanding the area of conflict to include both Iran and perhaps Syria and, ultimately, maybe even the entire Middle East. That would certainly make for a Texas sized humdinger wouldn't it?! Heeyah! Rock 'em. Sock 'em. Go get em! Heeyah!!!

The image that comes to mind is a scene from the movie, "Dr. Strangelove". In that movie, a pilot of a nuclear-armed B52 is tasked with delivering a nuclear hit on the then Soviet Union in retaliation for what turns out to be just an imagined or fictitious nuclear launch on us. And at that point when his plane is just about to reach its target and run out of fuel at the same time, this cowboy pilot (who actually wears a Stetson-like cowboy hat) manages to hop on the back of a nuclear missile, as if hopping on the back of a wild bronco. As the nuclear missile drops from the belly of the plane, we see this pilot waving his cowboy hat wildly with one hand as he grabs the missile with his other and yells, "Heeyah!!!" as he urges his missile on to its final target as if riding a bronco in some kind of old Western bronco-busting contest.

Does this sound ridiculous? It should. But the real tragedy is that it is actually a believable metaphor for what could happen, given the mindless stupidity of the current occupants of the White House.

Now is the time when America and the world needs real leadership here in the United States. Will we and the world be rescued from the mind-numbing recklessness of the Bush administration? Congress and the Courts need to stand firmly together to reign in this wild bronco that appears to be suffering from some sort of rabid ailment. God help us.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Domestic Spying Seriously Threatening Our National Identity

History has taught us that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The recent spate of revelations of domestic spying involving various governmental agencies is alarming and represents a serious threat to the idea of America as a land that cherishes and promotes freedom and liberty as valuable national ideals to be protected and preserved.

Those individuals who seem to be in favor of such spying activity need to ask themselves if they've given any thought to the fact that hundreds of thousands of their countrymen have paid the ultimate price to protect and preserve our freedoms guaranteed to us under our Constitution. It is essential that the sanctity of our Constitution not be subverted in order to protect us from tyranny in its many guises. And yet so many seem so willing to so easily and quickly surrender their constitutional rights! Their silence on this subject is deafening and disheartening. All Americans should be outraged with this serious violation of our Constitutional protections!

In my view and in the view of many of my countrymen, the Bush Administration has exceeded its authority and has gone too far in their overzealous efforts to prosecute the war on terror. It only serves to change the face and dynamic of our country in ways that are abhorrent to freedom loving people.

Our system of checks and balances, which has served us well since our country's birth, includes the absolute necessity of having a free and independent press. It plays an essential role in keeping all of the players honest and our system free and open. This system seems to have gone awry in the Bush administration's quest to assimilate, consolidate and concentrate an unprecedented amount of power in the Executive branch. Of course, this accumulation of power comes at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches. (Whatever happened to the concept of three separate but equal branches?!) This is simply too high a price to pay for patriotic Americans.

Why are people so willing to quickly surrender their freedoms for the sake of what essentially amounts to an infinite, unending war on terrorism? Isn't it understood that collectively we are being asked to permanently sacrifice our freedoms? It is useful and imperative that we put this "War on Terror" into some kind of reasonable context. Important questions need to be asked so that we don't become the unwitting victims of our own efforts to protect our country and our way of life from our enemies. Important questions need to be asked in order to put the "War on Terror" into proper perspective: "What are the conditions of victory in this War on Terror? How do you determine when this war has been won? Who makes that determination? Are we sacrificing our national identity in our quest to prosecute this seemingly unbounded war?" These are all critical and necessary questions that need to be asked in framing this war in a national context. It is an important dialogue that needs to take place. Communications must remain free and open. It is also important that all points of view be freely given a public airing as dissent and debate have always played a pivotal role in protecting and preserving a healthy democracy.

If we are not vigilant, we will awaken some day soon to find that the net result of all of this domestic, anti-terrorist activity has only served to create an all-powerful, secretive, Soviet-style central government. We will have lost this war and not from enemies outside our borders but more accurately from those proponents within our own borders who argue for more security. Do we really want "totalitarianism-lite" and the real possibility of tyranny and dictatorship that are its inevitable result? All of our elected officials have taken a solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Apparently, it is more solemn to some than to others.

As loyal and patriotic Americans, it is our essential duty to ensure that these Constitutional guarantees remain in full force. For it is that document and that document alone that defines who we are as a people and a country. Without that document, and the spirit that it represents, we are nothing but a group of several hundred million people inhabiting a piece of the North American continent. But with that document guiding our thoughts and actions, we are AMERICANS!

Protect liberty. Contact your congressmen and insist that they take action against this outrageous spying program. It is an alarming and deeply disturbing assault on the essential freedoms and system of government that have served us so well since our nation's infancy when our Founding Fathers had the wisdom, intelligence and spiritual insight to codify that wonderful document into our nation's identity -- our political DNA.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bush to Use Failure in Iraq as Pretext for "Plan B"

Plan B: Engage Iran and Syria in a Major Escalation of the War
While listening to MSNBC after Bush's statement on Iraq last night, both Brian Williams and Tim Russert said that they, along with a group of other news anchors, etc. were given a surprise visit by Pres. Bush. When Pres. Bush was asked about what the U.S. would do in the event of another failure, he said that he didn't want to get into the details of "Plan B". I worry that the idiot in the oval office, who is a dictator by all definitions, will attack both Iran and Syria and engage the entire Middle East in a conflagration that will make our current folly in Iraq seem insignificant by comparison. This man is dangerous! He has planted his own seeds of self-destruction through what amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy. His blatant incompetence and stupidity has set the stage for "Stage 2" or "Plan B" as he likes to refer to it. This occupier of the Oval office is marching headstrong into the abyss of another colossal failure that will make the war in Iraq seem like a minor skirmish. He will use his own failure in Iraq as a pretext or reason to launch "Plan B". It has now fallen upon Congress to save America from any further harm from this man! Impeach, isolate, ostracize or minimalize this man, but do something and quickly please.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

U.S. Bottom Line in Iraq: U.S. Oil Companies to Control 75% of Iraq's Oil Production

Yesterday (Jan. 9th), I was listening to an NPR interview with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and was stunned to hear what appears to be a little known fact concerning our involvement in Iraq. I was stunned insofar as this fact has not been made very public and not given the degree of attention that it so richly deserves. The first time that I heard it mentioned from what can be regarded as a highly respected source was just yesterday. That it hasn't been given the range of public airing that it so richly deserves is astonishing. To paraphrase Speaker Pelosi, the little known but HUGE fact is simply this: the Bush administration has stipulated or mandated that the Iraqi government must grant U.S. oil companies control of 75% of Iraq's oil production as a fundamental prerequisite or requirement. Let me repeat this because it is stunning: U.S. oil companies must be granted the rights to control 75% of Iraq's oil production.

We've all heard so many different reasons or justifications for our involvement in Iraq from the Bush administration over the past four years that by now, many of us forget what our original "official motivation" for intervention was. Well, the original officially sanctioned motivation promulgated by both the Bush administration and the very compliant mainstream news media was to depose the despot Saddam Hussein and destroy his arsenal of "weapons of mass destruction" before the despicable tyrant had a chance to use them against us. The original motivation could then be summed up as "self-preservation". (Remember the Condi Rice comment to the effect that it was imperative for us to act quickly against Saddam's Iraq or that smoking gun may very well turn out to be a mushroom cloud.) Such preposterous nonsense. It's despicable. Yes, Bush's Orwellian Ministry of Mistruth has been working overtime, hasn't it.

Turns out that what many suspected all along is the real reason behind our involvment -- our "pre-emptive" invasion of Iraq was motivated by just plain, good old fashioned greed. Yep, Black Gold. Texas Tea. All of those noble ideas about democratizing Iraq as a precursor to regional democratization and stability was just a possible side-effect and not the primary reason for our involvement. And let's not forget one of Bush's most recent arguments against leaving Iraq in the lurch anytime soon: Iraqi rebels will use the money derived from its oil reserves to finance hostilities against the U.S. and its allies.

Questions for Pres. Bush
What's next, Mr. President? What does the next chapter hold? More looting of our public treasury perhaps? More American lives needlessly lost because of your poor judgement and your administration's gross ineptitude and foolish arrogance? Do you plan to pass your Iraqi Baton of Failure on to the next president of the U.S. and by so doing hope to avoid personal responsibility for your unspeakable failure?

Clearly, any window of opportunity for victory in Iraq has long since closed. The simple truth is that without the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, there can be no victory. When more than 70% of the Iraqi population would not mind seeing U.S. soldiers killed, it becomes rather difficult to regain their trust and support, don't you think? Or, Mr. President, are you arguing for an extended stay in Iraq where we will militarily enforce our will on the Iraqi people? Does might make right, Mr. President? Are we now to subjugate the soverign interests of the Iraqi people to the political and economic interests of the United States? (Where's the democracy in that?) How will the rest of the Middle East respond to such a posture? My suspicion is "not very well". It will only serve to buttress, support and bolster the recruitment efforts of various and sundry terrorist factions and organizations in the region. It will only serve to make the U.S. far less safe and far less secure, and not the opposite. You will have created a new group of enemies for us to worry about. Was that your secret goal Mr. Bush?

Is it your goal to perpetuate the "war on terror" so that the "Patriot Act" will become the new operational document or instrument by which our country is organized and motivated? Are we to toss the Constitution of the United States of America and the Bill of Rights aside as quaint documents of the past that have outlived their usefulness? No, Mr. President, Americans will not stand for such treason by allowing our sacred freedoms and way of life to be so easily swept aside by a crass, manipulative culture of fear and oppression. For it would only serve to motivate a nation of true Patriots to Act against such vile attacks to their integrity and sense of purpose. Give me liberty or give me death or, as they say in New Hampshire, Live Free or Die will continue to resonate strongly with true Americans -- true Patriots.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

110th Congress to Combat Republicans' Class Warfare Agenda

What can or should the 110th Congress do to combat the Republicans' Class Warfare agenda? A good place to start would be on establishing legislative controls on corporate America's efforts to outsource the American economy to foreign interests. Also, any rational and intelligent debate will reveal that just about all of our "free trade" deals have been nothing more than a free pass for foreign economic interestes to rape and pillage the American economy. Certainly, Fair Trade must be given pre-eminence over Free Trade if America is to regain its economic strength domestically.

I was pleased to see that Sen. Reid will be pushing serious "Lobbyist reform" early on in the 110th Congress. I was also heartened to hear that Democrats will also tackle campaign finance reform as well, with public financing of campaigns a legislative goal.

All of these efforts will benefit the average American citizen, negating the self-destructive trend where corporations were allowed to rule America with few constraints. Finally, average Americans will have "their" interests represented in Congress.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Corporate Greed and the Threat of Communism

What I find so troubling is the fact that it didn't take American corporations very long to dump the American worker, along with his family, after the threat of Communism was removed in the 80s. The American family stood tall and strong against the corrosive tide of Communism, playing a pivotal role in helping to finance our military effort to curb and control its spread. The American corporation of course, representing our sense of individual freedom, was the primary beneficiary of this protection. And now with this threat removed, the American family -- the American middle class -- is being tossed aside without so much as a second thought. Where is the dignity in this?! Where is the fairness? Where is the sense of shared community?! Is this and corporate globalization our reward for defeating Communism?!

Where is the gratitude for having stood shoulder to shoulder in helping to nurture, build and defend our concept of freedom from those that would seek to userp and control? Where is the gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price in its defense? Do you honestly think that our sons and daughters gave their lives so that corporate America could export jobs overseas so that a few could profit at the expense of the many? Is this the kind of society that we've fought and died for?

In my view, "corporate globalization" spells the end to an America that we all came to believe and trust in. It is destroying that which we all labored so hard and so long to build over the years. The fundamental principles and allegiances which we all shared during the "Cold War" years -- that sense of American patriotism and unity -- has been discarded and tossed aside on the altar of corporate greed.

Yes, the middle class is shrinking while sustaining a continuing series of economic body blows delivered by a corporate mentality that justifies its actions on the basis of "global competitiveness". If this process is allowed to continue unabated, there will be disastrous results within our economy as we will no longer have a middle class -- the true engine of our economic prosperity -- to rely upon to pull us out of our inevitable recessions. We are already beginning to see this happening.

The American dream is fading fast. And the Bush administration, along with a compliant congress, seems completely apathetic to this disturbing process, opting instead to unwittingly embrace this culture of economic and societal self-annihilation. The American "way of life" that we have all come to know and love is rapidly disappearing, a sacrificial lamb on the altar of corporate greed. It's a sad, sad time in America and we need to do something about it. And it has to begin with our political system.

We need to bring sanity and a sense of fair play back to the political discourse. We need to replace words and slogans with actions that produce a healing of sorts. We need our politicians to restore a sense of sanity and fair play where the larger good and concern for our traditional American "way of life" is given priority over corporate and personal greed. We must establish firm rules and guidelines, free of loopholes, that help foster and promote that which will serve to protect and defend the American citizen -- the American family -- against the onslaught of corporate greed and globalization. For if we fail in this effort, the world will no longer know the kind of America characterized by generations of its citizens who worked, fought and died to protect and preserve the principle of "liberty and justice for all".

These fundamental principles, which served to inspire America and the world, are quickly becoming just empty political slogans -- a fading memory of a time where we all stood together in strong defense of freedom and justice against its enemies. Yes, we are losing a sense of cherished sovereignty -- as corporate greed exercises its formidable political leverage to recreate a world of markets devoid of societal and political integrity. This is very, very WRONG!

Our national soul and spirit is being whittled away by corporate greed. We need to nurture and cherish those principles that have been the bedrock, the foundation stone, to our society. We need a society of informed and enlightened citizens where principles and fairness stand head and shoulders above a crass, market-based culture that is dictated by corporate greed. For if we fail, it most certainly spells our doom -- both personally and collectively.

Little did we know that while fighting to preserve freedom and democracy against communism that another threat would emerge within our own borders -- a threat inspired by personal greed and characterized by selfishness and ignorance. God help us.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Bush to Pass His "Baton of Failure" in Iraq

Many political observers, including myself, are of the opinion that George Bush's intent is to deliberately burden the next president with the weight of his political mistakes so that the blame for failure in Iraq can be assigned elsewhere -- to the next president and not to him. To any serious student of George Bush, this is just one more manifestation or example of a serious character flaw that surfaces when he is confronted with or challenged by unwanted or undesirable consequences of his personal actions or behavior. His entire life has been one of escaping personal accountability, in many cases through the explicit assistance and help of others -- his enablers. Unfortunately, it appears that he never really learned how to deal with his mistakes in a manner that would foster personal growth and build character. The consequence to the United States of this personality deficiency or character flaw has proven to be monumental and tragic.

What I find most disturbing is the apparent fact that this president is willing to go so far as to be willing to sacrifice more American lives on the battlefield in Iraq just so that he doesn't have to make a personal admission of failure. His personal ego is more important in his mind than the actual lives of our sons and daughters -- of our men and women in uniform. This is outrageous and points to a clear and undeniable lack of leadership, both moral and otherwise.

There have been recent reports in the media that some in the Bush administration have privately acknowledged that the war in Iraq is lost -- that it cannot be won militarily, that only a political solution should now be pursued to achieve some level of political stability in the region. If this is true and Bush's subsequent actions are merely to prolong the Iraqi engagement until he can pass his personal baton of failure to the next president, then Congress must once and for all take it upon itself to hold this man accountable for his actions and misdeeds by forcing closure on this colossal mistake. Congress must do what others were apparently reluctant or unable to do during Bush's formative years: force Bush to acknowledge his mistakes or errant ways, demand a sincere apology, and take appropriate corrective measures to ensure that such irresponsible behavior is not repeated. In other words, George Bush must be publicly scolded and held to account.

It is incumbent upon Congress not to be another in a long line of Bush enablers by forcefully taking a strong leadership position in this matter so that America will not be made to needlessly suffer any further as a consequence of yielding to this man's ignorance and personal flaws. For to do otherwise would be an act of tacit compliance in helping to perpetuate this crime against America and, let us not forget, the Iraqi people (who clearly have suffered the most).

Friday, January 5, 2007

Paperless Electronic Voting Must Go!

This morning I signed a petition dealing with election reform that will be circulated to members of Congress in an effort to provoke official action by highlighting the extreme importance of restoring integrity to the election process concerning how our votes are registered, counted and tabulated. Our democracy, after all, begins and ends with the election process. If you would like to participate in this important process, the online petition can be found at the following URL:

Americans no longer trust in the outcome of our elections. It has reached a point where reasonable men and women are demanding a more transparent and verifiable approach to ensuring that their vote counts in the manner in which they intended. Electronic voting has been responsible for creating this distrust as there is no effective way to validate, verify or confirm vote counts in a way that would restore complete faith and trust in the process. In this period of high tech, where our elections are concerned, Americans are far better served by low tech -- by restoring the pre-eminence of the paper ballot. After all, the paper ballot cannot be fraudulently modified or altered without easily being detected. It can be counted, and recounted, in a very precise manner that would go a long way in restoring unwavering faith in the integrity of our election process.

Election alarm bells are ringing loudly when historically accurate exit polling data is no longer corresponding with the voting results as tabulated largely by electronic voting machinery. We must aggressively and quickly enforce corrective measures so that Americans can once again honor and respect the results of the people's voice. Yes, Americans must once again trust in the election process -- that their voices are being registered and heard accurately. For absent this, our democracy is nothing but a sham, where the interests of a powerful few trump, silence, or veto the voices of the majority. And such a scenario is certainly not a democracy but, more accurately, a dictatorship.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

End of Cold War Ushered in Corporate Excess

It seems obvious to me that once our principal enemy was defeated in the mid-80s - the Soviet Union (Communism) - corporate America no longer felt the necessity to compete for the minds, hearts and souls of those within its purview. Consequently, the shift to the right has been steady and staggering on a societal scale. What we are left with is a corporate elitism that serves a different master -- a "global economy" with a global citizenry (consumers) -- and not one normally served by the more traditional body-politic, namely - you and me.

Such a social arrangement as described above is devoid of those essential elements that constitute a viable, vigorous, and enduring nation-state. Specifically, where's the spirit, that sense of shared community? There is none in such a vapid social compact. It's a harsh way to live and strips away our sense of national identity, pride and purpose. Our revered allegiance to those principles enunciated in our foundational documents -- our Constitution and Bill of Rights -- are being tossed aside like a cheap, dime novel, under the guise of prosecuting an unending global war on terror.

The political and economic changes that have been wrought from this corporate elitism is so very anti-thetical to the spirit and meaning of our Constitutional democracy. We seem to be devolving into a two-class system consisting of a "ruling elite" and a lower class. The middle class is being swept aside in a rush for corporate profits on the global stage.

Americans must awaken to the threats that these new trends pose and forcefully reassert their fundamental beliefs and sense of identity as espoused in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. We must communicate our concerns to the new Democratic Congress in no uncertain terms. Hopefully, the new Democratic majority in Congress will forcefully and eloquently resist these elitist trends and work to once again embrace all Americans in a quest to restore "liberty and justice for all".

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Real Political Reforms Desperately Needed

As a democrat, I was delighted with the results of the past congressional elections. My first thoughts were that finally we'd have some real oversight in Washington. The Republicans would no longer be able to shove their elitist agenda down our throats or sweep their unmentionables under the rug. They would finally have to face reality and deal with their gross mismanagement, corruption, and abuse of power -- both on the Executive and Congressional levels.

Clearly, the recent period of Republican rule proved the age-old theory of "absolute power corrupts absolutely". Only in this particular stretch of time, most notably the past six years, the abuse of power was dramatically more insidious than in previous incarnations -- even more so than those chronicled during the Nixon/Watergate era of the 70's.

To be complete, there are so many areas within our government where reforms are urgently needed. Our democracy is in peril, the result of years of abuse, many recently authored by the Bush administration and his rubber-stamp Republican congress.

For purposes of this post, I'll focus my comments and suggestions on what I regard to be a top priority -- Election Reform. For absent election reform, our democracy will become a pointless sham (if it hasn't already). Many thoughtful Americans are of the belief that the past two presidential elections were stolen and not the true representation of the people's will. As a result, America and the rest of the world are suffering the political and economic consequences of this treachery.

1. Election reform - The strength of our democracy depends upon fair and open elections that are tamper-proof. Uniform standards are needed that insure voting integrity and accuracy. Let's start with dumping electronic voting. Restore paper ballots to a pre-eminent position as our exclusive voting technology. Also, impose severe criminal penalties for those who attempt to, or have tampered with, the integrity of the voting process.

2. Lobbyist reform - We need public financing of our elections. Let's admit the obvious: we will not have fair and transparent elections so long as K St. runs the show. We must find a way to remove lobbyist money from the political equation. Our elected representatives are forced to focus too much time and attention to building a campaign treasury for the next election cycle. And in so doing, their true constituencies suffer the consequences as their representatives must first satisfy the demands of corporations and their hired lobbyists rather than address the real needs and aspirations of their constituency -- the average citizen. The consequence of this arrangement with respect to the average Joe is "taxation without representation". We need public financing of our elections.

Also, and very importantly -- new rules must be implemented that prohibit former legislators and/or their staff members from joining lobbyist groups for a period of at least five years after leaving their prior position. Among other things, this hideous process has been largely responsible for selling out America to foreign interests. In such a scenario, greed and self-interest often take precedence over what is truly in the best interest of America. This must be stopped. There are, of course, many other areas that scream out for real reform. Future posts will address these areas in equal measure.

I realize that many of you will conclude that my suggestions will never be pushed, that I'm being impractical or idealistic. And all I can say to those of you who share that perspective is that such a view does not in any way diminish or alter the fundamental truth of the matter and that is simply that without the reforms highlighted above, the vast majority of Americans will continue to be disenfranchised both politically and economically.