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This is a guessing game. It’s supposed to be fun. You do the guessing. I’ll reveal the answer at some point in the future. Bottom line, I am interested in how this plays out. (To keep answers out of moderation, no links please.) You may use the categories above for some helpful hints, but knowing me, don’t expect to find the answer that easily.) 🙂

1) Foreign policy/defense: I want American imperialism rolled back and American interventionism halted, as the same time we begin to pull free from the military/industrial complex by slashing the budgets for defense and homeland security to reasonable levels.

2) Civil libertarian issues: I want to see gay marriage legalized; drugs decriminalized; Real ID abolished; the Patriot Act gutted; and immigrants viewed as human beings. I want intrusive government the hell out of my life.

3) Fiscal sanity: I want a government that stops growing and taking an ever-expanding bite out of my paycheck; I want to see wasteful programs cut, and to have Congress faced with the same sort of imperative the Delaware General Assembly had to face this year: balancing the budget.


Because that……. is what we do.

Technology has made the old FISA bill obsolete. Back in the seventies when the original bill was written, FISA did not apply to listening over the air. The air was public domain and listening over the air was hard to make illegal. Most domestic conversations were then handled by land lines, and so to tap into a land line, requited a court order.

Since most foreign communications were handled by satalites and domestic communications were carried over wires, this bill was protective of Americans right to privacy.

Times change.

Today, most domestic conversations are airborne. And because of the internet, most foreign conversations follow the path of least resistance which usually brings them through the United States. Chances are good that a call from northwest Pakistan to southern Pakistan, will be routed through the continental United States.

This creates an interesting paradox. Under the old law, listening to Americans cell phone conversations is legal, but listening to foreign adversaries, whose conversations are within fiber optics, is not……

Obviously some changes need to be made. It is not good when American do not have privacy protected by our Constitution, and yet foreign entities do.

The House of Representatives has made a good bill that makes it illegal to listen to any American, even if they are on foreign soil. There is oversight within the bill to insure that our privacy is not violated and if it ever were, damages could be obtained.

If it were that simple, Congress would have passed it awhile ago.

The sticking point is with the Telecom immunity clause that the administration coupled to this new bill. The old bill passed last summer, did not have it. Amnesty for telecom companies is being sought for who violated or broke laws in the past when they chose to do what the president asked……even though all knew it was highly illegal.

The administration is so adamant on this clause that it is willing to postpone any of the critical elements needed, preventing us from listening to a group of Pakistanis who picked up throw away cell phones at the Bonn airport, on their arrival from an Al Qaeda camp in Pakistan. Under the old FISA, we need to first compile a probable cause brief and then find a judge in order to listen in. Because of backlog, where they are going, and what they plan to do, is lost to us forever.

That is why the House bill needs to be passed and not the Senate. Americans are currently and will continue to be at risk if Republicans continue their game of linking these two unrelated measures: Security and Amnesty

So why is the Amnesty Bill so important for Bush?…….Some say it will cost telecoms millions, or less than one thousandth of one percent. But that is not a very good reason to bind our intelligence service’s hands. One thousandth of one percent? No that cannot be the reason. Recently the administration has mumbled that the trial lawyer lobby (is there such a thing?) is pushing this clause to enrich themselves with lucrative lawsuits. But there has been no evidence of that. Most of the lawyers who are even involved are Constitutional lawyers, not trial lawyers. They work for peanuts compared to litigators defending large corporations. No…..that cannot be the reason.

The only reason that “sticks” is that this administration is petrafied that if these lawsuits come about, the public will find out the extent of what the did, and become outraged. That is the only plausible explanation for Republicans 1) voting to kill a stop gap extension that would keep the surveillance continuing under the new rules, and 2) not be willing to compromise on letting telecoms be considered under another bill so that this bill could pass and intelligence could continue in real time.

The administration is running scared. Its only protection is removing these cases from our court system where exploratory procedures can not happen. Apparently they are so scared that they are willing to play with our security, in order to make amnesty happen.

Make no mistake. Republicans are at fault on this. Democrats in the House need to send the bill without amnesty back to the Senate. America needs then pressure Senate republicans, forcing them to pass the House Bill now.

For the House bill has better security and better privacy protections than either the Senate version, or the old FISA bill which we are currently under now solely because of the stubbornness of the Republicans party. Passing the House Bill and forcing the President to veto or sign it, is the right way to go. Amnesty for those who knowingly did wrong…… not.

Those of us who study history are often amazed how little things taking place miles away will ultimately cast a huge impact over all.

Imagine living in Georgia, waking up on April 19, 1775 working the farm, eating and going to bed without even remotely having a clue that over a thousand miles away, a shot fired would be heard around the world.

Honey, did you hear ‘dat noise?
“Yep, somebody must be out catchin’ ’em some food.”

And now some two hundred and thirty-three years later, after fighting first for this country, then against this country, then against opponents of that country, then against a country of opponents, and finally Georgia is where it is today.

And it all originated on a Green in the center of Lexington, Massachusetts . There, blood was spilled in defense of the truly original American notion that: I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore.

Tomorrow an event of much greater magnitude will take place and probably will go unnoticed by even WDEL. Before I go on, can anyone guess what it will be?

I refer to the revised FISA bill that goes up before a Senate vote tomorrow, February 12th, 2008. Those of you who do not follow Constitutional politics may be scratching your head, wondering why this would even be considered on the scale of the Battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775.

First: some background.

FISA was originally passed after Nixon had confused the concept of National Security with that of “Nixon’s security”. Thereby assuming both were synonymous, it was morally perfectly acceptable to bug the Democratic headquarters thereby enabling Nixon to stay in power by knowing in advance where Democratic “punches” would land.

FISA didn’t change much. It just said that someone else needed to look over the Executive Branch’s shoulder, and approve and insure that American values were protected. After 9/11 Cheney used the hysteria to say that no one should be looking over their shoulder. Having someone do so would endanger our safety. Although it made little sense, many went along and allowed it to happen.

To everyones surprise but mine, these new powers were not focused on terrorists. They were used predominantly on government employees, to vet out those within the State, Energy, and Defense Departments who might latter oppose ridiculous policies when they came forth. Fortunately the legislators put an end date, thereby killing this policy on a certain date. December 31, 2005.

In a hasty move, an extension was rushed through before the Congressional August holiday, extending the powers until two Friday’s ago. ( If your computer and internet connection seems to responding better today, you now know why. )

Tomorrow a vote takes place on a replacement FISA bill. Included in this bill is a blanket protection of immunity of all telephonic companies who complied with illegal searches of citizens records: searches that had no bearing on National Security. The telephone companies answer is, as expected: “Cheney made us do it.”

In a usual courtroom case of first degree murder, twelve members of the jury usually do not acquit a murderer of a spouse and innocent children, simply because he was told by someone else to do it. However it is certainly possible, that the trigger person could deal with the D/A and get a much reduced sentence by explaining the truth as it REALLY happened. There is a benefit to society in doing so. Currently there are at least seven lawsuits against these telephony companies who broke several basic privacy laws that have stood for centuries. By granting immunity to these companies there will be no way of getting them to testify, thereby enabling the American public to determine once and for all, that no wrongdoing was evident.

Since the sweat beading on the brow of this administration and the foreheads of all the telephon execs is telling, their innocence appears doubtful.

Therefore this ploy of granting immunity can be seen as an attempt to protect the “evil doers”, those very same who wish to undermine all American values.

The House has voted “No” shutting out any immunity for the telecoms. The only hope left to Cheney is for the Senate to vote Yes and then in secret negotiations with the House, re-add these immunity parts to this bill.

In the Senate, a yes vote looks likely, partly in thanks to Tom Carper. Hence, those few Senators still not compromised by Cheney, nor bought out by the telephony corporations, will attempt a last stand by use of a filibuster on the Senate floor. Chris Dodd leads the charge beginning with the procedural statement, ( Mr. President, I refuse to yield.) He will be joined by Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, and now, Patrick Leahy, each who will jump in with a question to the Senator long enough to insure that no puddles stain the Congressional carpet. These precious few will attempt to hold the floor until enough heat is put on the administration and Harry Ried by you, the public, forcing them to fold their hand.

So why is this important?

Great question. Up until this point the United States has been a nation created for the people, of the people, and by the people. If this bill goes forward, we will have switched our interpretation of the Constitution and become a nation for the corporation, of the corporation, and by the corporation. In other words, the needs of the corporation will from this point hence, take precedence over the needs of the citizen.

Some of us think that is just wrong. Corporations can’t vote. But with enough money and creative advertising, they can steer us to vote for who they want. But didn’t our ancestors fight so that we could be free and independent, and not beholden to some corporation?

Of course in a sense we are beholden to corporations most of our lives. Does one own your house? Your car? Does one cover your automobile accidents, your heath cost overruns? Does one supply your power, your fuel, our your paycheck? Stop and think for a moment just how much of your personal income is turned over to our corporations. Most if not all?

Now I don’t mine being beholden to a corporation if I am getting something that I want: a house, a car, a flat screen TV, especially if I couldn’t have any of those things without their help. But to have no recourse, and be forced to vote their way on issues, only because they know secrets of my past known to no one else, sends our country down the path to more corporatedom, than is good for the people. Essentially this bill will change Bedford Falls into Pottersville.

This bill tomorrow will help determine whether we hasten down the dark path of corporate domination, or whether we have tools at our disposal to check them and balance things when they step out of line. Will we be in charge, or will they?

This bill decides.

Right now, those corporations who chose to spy for the Bush administration are desperately trying to escape criminal prosecution. But if this precedent is allowed, any future corporations whether seeking past due amounts, or fishing to break your lease or steal your property, will always refer back to this bill to justify their further encroachment of our rights.

Little know fact: In Delaware three years ago, one jury actually took a stand, declaring by their verdict that even in the most justifiable of circumstances, even when used against the most odious, sickening elements of humanity, privacy issues were sacred and could not be touched.

There is precedent here. A jury of twelve random people has forced upon a court the decision that neither private individuals, nor corporations have any right whatsoever to release another’s private history. Tomorrow it is time our government itself become subject to the same laws as its citizens.

So while you go about your daily duties, somewhere far away, a handful of very motivated and angry Senators, are fighting for your’s and your grand children’s right to privacy. Whether they succeed or fail, their ripple in time will be felt perhaps as long as the next two hundred and thirty three years….

The Pinnacle of Experience within the Democratic Party

Courtesy of Bloomberg

When you live with someone you often get frustrated at little things and forget to look at the big picture…. How many heated arguments have erupted over misspent monies and a week later, everything is fine? How many disruptions has one faced over the exact timing a certain chore is to be accomplished?

All advice-gurus recommend stepping back in those situations and looking at the whole picture…. Will I be happier sixty years from now with this person or without them…… That long term perspective tends to smooth some of the wrinkles out of everyday relationships.

The same holds true in politics. We know our Senator, especially one who has been our elected official since the 70’s. Some of you may think the world needs to slow down a little and focus on conservative values more often, but we cannot fault the character of this man who believes he has what America needs to right its ship of state, and steer the battered hulk of this nation into port for repairs.

Since the excitement of Iowa and New Hampshire, those writers who are more serious, have written a lot on the eclipse of Dodd and Biden. Just who were these guys and just what did they offer the nation?

A nice article that one tends to finish, especially if they are from Delaware, popped up on Bloomberg. (If the guy (Bloomberg) is running, he sure knows how to curry favor.)

Those of you who are still too young, may scoff.

Because they weren’t able to register on the national poll thermometers it is easy to scoff at them as simply being the usual, run-of-the-mill members of Congress who throw their hats into the ring either in a fit of dreamy optimism or to get their 15 minutes of fame.

But that doesn’t describe Biden and Dodd.

On the qualifications front, Dodd had the type of record on core family and children’s issues that most candidates would love to tout in Democratic primaries. He didn’t just vote the right way on children’s issues; he started the Senate Children’s Caucus, wrote the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Child Care Block Grant program and was once named Head Start “Senator of the Decade.”

As the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, he would have gone to the White House with a high degree of expertise on what is likely to be a major economic pain even in 2009 — the housing and subprime crises.

Biden may have had an even more viable posture for a 2008 presidential run. At a time when Democrats are reeling from the assault on civil liberties and the separation of powers, Biden was the man who waged the battle that defeated the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork, a judicial scholar who Democrats everywhere argued was outside the legal mainstream.

Legislative Partner

He was President Bill Clinton’s main legislative partner in passing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.

And in the post-Sept. 11 environment, he brought a highly attractive combination of presidential qualities: the personable and authentic, back-slapping nature that people seem to like in George W. Bush, with the foreign-policy expertise, bipartisanship and statesmanship that our current president desperately lacks.

It is heartbreaking to remember how close Biden was to orchestrating with Republican Senator Richard Lugar an alternative Iraq resolution that might have soothed so much of our national rancor, reduced suffering and repaired some of the harm done to our international reputation.

So what went wrong. Nothing really. Both were victims of Obama entering the race, and the method by which he entered. When the calculations were being made over a year ago, both knew that it would be a race among Senators. Hillary Clinton, Senator of New York was to be the front runner. The only challenger so up to that point, would be John Edwards, ex-Senator of North Carolina, and John Kerry, Senator of Massachusetts. Each of these two, Biden and Dodd, had better credentials and fewer negatives than the three possible front runners. They had good shots of positioning themselves against Hillary as being the alternative candidate.

Then a junior Senator, not yet finished his first term, appeared on Oprah, and the entire scenario changed. Money awaiting the Clinton alternative, flowed down this diverted channel, leaving only a trickle for those with solid credentials.

Edwards is now feeling the same fate. As a wonderful human being, he is just not able to compete with the celebrity status of Obama. Writing is on the wall, and unless some cataclysmic event were to befall either Obama or Clinton before Edward’s funds dry up, he will eventually bow out and we will no longer hear of 2 Americas.

Americans have always been easily fooled. After all, this is the “pet rock” generation making our decisions today. This is the generation that believed in UFO’s and crop circles. The generation that sought after psychics and watched Ricky Lake. It appears that quality is losing out to popularity.

The principles of High School electioneering have now permeated our national politics. Celebratory status is more important than doing things. But perhaps it has always been so. But as one looking back for short while, things were nicer when we thought that competence in our leaders mattered……….If it was a misconception that we unknowingly carried, at least back then, we were happier for it…..

Here is what scares me. Anytime a new boss comes in, and starts reorganizing priorities, things get messed up. There is a time when old vrs. new values have to compete and usually the experience level of all those employees who remain drops considerably. Only after surviving serious mistakes, and learning from the same, do we get to the point where we again finally reach the level of competence we were before the change.

To this date I still don’t know what Obama will do once elected. He never seems to say. I was clear on what Biden would do. And by our collective decision made in Iowa, it appears that our country will not resurrect itself as well as it could under able leadership.

There are still grounds for hope. If offered a Vice Presidency, I sincerely hope that Biden accepts. Since the realignment of the Vice Presidency by Al Gore and the the continuation of that power by Dick Cheney, the Vice Presidency is no longer an office for flakes. It is central to running of the country. Perhaps only then can America receive the benefits of Biden’s expertise and inner connections so that one day looking back, the world will wonder how America, when on its back for the final count, dug down deep and found the reserve to shake off its slump and get back into the fight………

Does America truly need Joe Biden as its president?

That is a surprise question to many of you who have given thought only to the top three front runners in each party, and to which of those three, you will give your vote……..

But assume instead that you start with the basics and think for a second about what this country needs for its president. Then from that criteria which you came with, you look to the candidates and see how they compare to your own assessment…..

Want to try it? ….Let’s begin ….What does America need?…..

For one America needs to move past politics-as-usual…Currently every time one party gives, the other one takes, causing a tug of war “across the aisle” that has disfranchised almost every American towards their own government.

For two, America need someone responsible to us, and not the corporate benefactors that finance the campaigns…….

For three, America needs someone with experience, who is not green and must “learn on the job.” Unfortunately the Republicans have left a huge mess that must be cleaned up before the next watch…..We need someone who already knows what needs to be done.

Fourth. Americans are in dire need of another FDR. Someone who talks like us, thinks like us, and comes from a background just like us…We do not need another aristocratic Washingtonian who thinks that if it’s not on the Mclaughlin Report, it really doesn’t matter.

Fifth. Americans need someone with stature to return respect back to our White House and our country. We are in need of a George Washington who can keep a tight ship, and groom this next generation of independent thinkers into effective leaders for years to come…….

We do not need to worry who has the best health care plan…That will get settled in Congress…Nor will we have to worry about who has the best economic plan. That too will get settled in Congress. What we do need to worry about, are the unseen events that will rise up and bite us in the future….What we do have to worry about is whether we have a balanced person is in charge of our country, and not another round of what we have today………And, of course, we do need to worry about how much we, as a nation, are living on borrowed money……

So against those criteria, how does each the candidate stand?

The first criteria was to put politics aside and begin to fix a broken America…..I do not see many people cooperating willingly with Hillary. Of course not much cooperation was given to Reagan during his first two years either, ….but those who hate her husband, still may not be willing to follow her bidding just because she says so……unless she wins by 80% of the vote. That magnitude of an event tends to change things. Nor can I see Capitol Hill giving much initial respect for Huckabee who has not served in Washington. Obama although “clean” on his Iraq vote, really hasn’t served long enough to give him clout among the “old school,” ie he has yet to be re-elected even to his own Senate seat……Giuliani will totally confuse the entire Congress with his multiple cell phone interruptions. Edwards with his haircut, will also inherit Obama’s problem of not serving long enough to understand exactly how to get things done…..But I can see Biden, working both sides of the aisle to get legislation passed quickly. And of all the candidates, he has both the experience and respect of knowing all the ins and outs of Capitol Hill….

Secondly, we will need someone loyal and responsible to us…who will say “screw you to the corporate sponsors”….Currently both Hillary and Obama owe their office to a whole slue of “someones” …. Their campaign money did not come from us, you and me……..Once in, they will have no choice but to fulfill the agenda of those who paved their way with green. That is exactly what happened in 2000. We would be fools to do it again….The way out, the way to change, is to vote for someone who is running on a shoe string…someone who reaches out for 5, 10, 20 dollars from average citizens. So of the candidates, which ones owe someone else big-time? Obama, Hillary, Edwards, Giuliani, McCain, Romney. And who of the candidates doesn’t? All the second tier candidates on both sides…..So in this category any front runner at this stage is bad, any one in back of the pack is better.

Thirdly. America needs an experienced hand on the wheel, as we bounce over the lack of a road in our near future…..Hillary has it. She has worked hard, and grudgingly even Republicans have called her the main work horse in the Senate. Biden too has legislated through the aftermath of the Vietnam years, the years of malaise, the bounce-back Reagan years, the collapse of the USSR years, the Saddam, Bin Laden, and now the Iran years….His foreign expertise is unparalleled. Whereas Hillary has had 6 full years of being in office, Biden has had thirty-four. The others: Dodd (32), McCain (24), Ron Paul (16), Edwards (6), Obama (3), , Guiliani (a mayor?) Romney (0), Huckabee (0) have far less….

Fourth: Americans need another FDR. Biden has lived in Delaware and commuted on the Federally financed Amtrak every day back and forth. He is not a millionaire. The other person running who’s not millionaires is Huckabee, We need someone who hears, and truly understands, how energy costs too much, how gasoline companies are gouging us, and how financially difficult it is to buy Chinese toys only to throw them away because they are contaminated. We need, at least during this election cycle, someone who is more comfortable in a fire hall than in an entrance hall of some mansion…..Others may complain about long-windedness in a politician. ButI like it.. At least with loquaciousness, we know where that person stands….unlike those who cryptically say they are for clean water, then raise the arsenic level as soon as they’re sworn into office….

Finally we need someone with stature to return respect back to our country and to the White House. Taints of scandal will always be associated with Hillary….Do we want the endless train of veiled accusations pumped out by right wingers with nothing else to do? Huckabee too has his skeletons …Guiliani …(well…he comes from New York)….Romney will never escape the flip flop stigma (after all… he comes from Massachusetts) Biden is not a new face…We have seen him every Sunday on the talk show circuits…..Any time there is foreign crisis, he is there, explaining it to America in real language we can understand.

So if one takes each of these 5 values as being what one wants their president to represent, they can then compare all the candidates to see how they rank when stacked in each of those 5 categories?

1) Respect from both sides of the aisle in Congress. Hillary, Biden, McCain, Paul, and Dodd.

2) Someone without a “corporate” sponsor. Biden, Kucinich, Dodd, Edwards, Huckabee, Paul.

3) Foreign Policy Experience: Biden, Dodd, Paul, Kucinich, Hillary, McCain

4) The Common Touch: Biden, Paul, Huckabee, McCain

5) Stature: Biden, Obama,

Results: Biden (5), Paul (4), McCain (3), Dodd (3), Hillary (2), Huckabee (2), Kucinich (2), Edwards (1), Obama (1). All other candidates ranked 0………

Based on what you have just said you want your president to be,… Biden leads the pack….

Of course that is not what you hear our news channel polls telling us? Not at all. They’re are telling you who Corporate America wants to win, which after suffering over the last seven years, I am afraid would continue to be bad for all of us….Obviously the media can attempt to misinform you, but they can’t change your vote…..Under the American Constitution, it is up to you to make the right choice. And as you have just found out, based on your own parameters, Joe Biden may just do the trick…….

If you haven’t already, he is worth a second look…….