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Apparently decriminalization works. All evidence from Portugal seems to lead thought in that direction.

That is a far cry from when they announced they would decriminalize opium, as well as other narcotics. Tales of gloom and doom, of addicts laying in streets begging for another hit, of college students flocking to Portugal to indulge legally in recreational drugs….

It was then, forgotten…..

But two years ago the Cato institute published data on it’s effectiveness. Here are some surprises….

“Except for some far-right politicians, very few domestic political factions are agitating for a repeal of the 2001 law.”

“Data indicates that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes.”

Drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically.

Since Portugal enacted its decriminalization scheme in 2001, drug usage in many categories has actually decreased when measured in absolute terms.

The number of people in methadone treatment leaped from 6,040 in 1999 to 14,877 in 2003, an increase of 147% . . . . The number of places of detoxification, therapeutic communities and half-way
houses, has also increased. .

The number of newly reported cases of HIV and AIDS among drug
addicts has declined substantially every year since 2001…

For the period 2001–2005, Portugal—for the 15–64 age group—has the absolute lowest lifetime prevalence rate for cannabis, the most
used drug in the EU.

For usage rates of cocaine (the second-most commonly used drug in Europe) for the same period and the same age group, only five
countries had a lower prevalence rate than the Portuguese rate. Most EU states have double, triple, quadruple, or even higher rates than Portugal’s, including some with the harshest criminalization schemes in the EU!

By freeing its citizens from the fear of prosecution and imprisonment for drug usage, Portugal has dramatically improved its ability
to encourage drug addicts to avail themselves of treatment. The resources that were previously devoted to prosecuting and imprisoning drug addicts are now available to provide treatment programs to addicts.

The Portuguese have seen the benefits of decriminalization, and therefore there is no serious political push in Portugal to return to
a criminalization framework.

This policy works. Now if it had the hell taxed out of it, we could eliminate this country’s deficit in a very short time.

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Rumors were that New Castle County Executive Chris Coons was holed up in Delaware’s Democratic headquarters last night to plan his strategy for taking bead on Mike Castle… Delaware’s whiningest politician… (or is it winningest? idk)….

Both are running for the Senate seat to be vacated by Delaware’s most effective public servant ever to work in Washington…

Initial speculation was that Chris Coons will have a tough fight… (He is running against a well funded cardboard cutout...)

cardboard Castle with Post It zits

After all, Coons has been beat up a little in the tug of war between the people living, dying, and breathing in this county, versus the interests of the developers and labor unions…. But beat up politicians are the expected par for course when you decide to take someone who isn’t new to the process… And one good thing about politicians previously beaten up: they tend to have more longevity….

Fortunately for us, politicians evolve. But right now, if one were to ask me, the election would be between a rock and a piece of paper… The scissors would decide the outcome… Coons was vibrant his first race in 2000… But working in the dark of the New Castle County building can take a little life out of the man… He will need to revisit his youth and find the tone he once had… especially down in Sussex County… It would be nice to hear him guffaw once in awhile…

Mike Castle stands for ancient history… He will say he is experienced having served 18 years in Congress already… But experienced at what? What did he do to help our state over his entire term while he was in office… Word is… he will say he voted… That’s good. But anyone can vote…..

A Delaware Senator needs to get results. We are not a giant state.. We only have one Congressperson… Therefore our Senators must share a larger percent of the burden of getting Federal money NOT to go to another state, but to come here…. Each senator here has 33.3% of the responsibility of getting money into Delaware… That’s compared to the 3.2% of responsibility a Senator from New York has

Mike Castle has not delivered 33.3%… We Delawareans are suffering because of it… If he didn’t deliver in the House… what makes one think as he gets older and older and older and older and older that he will deliver 33.3% in the Senate?

I’m sure in this fair state, there will be at least one knucklehead who will support Castle.. That’s acceptable. No one can be perfect and win unanimously.

The winner of this contest will be the one who can break out of his mold and convince voters of Delaware that he will bring change to both Congress and Delaware… Right now, change is a hard concept for Mike Castle to sell.. Against conventional wisdom at the moment, I’m telling you that according to the numbers not out yet, the ones forthcoming in October of 2010, Chris Coons will have the edge….

But he will need all the help he can get…… Now is the time for Jason330 to dust off Mike Castle’s record……… again..

The official results do not come out until later. But preliminary evidence has now proved beyond all doubt that no recession this grave has been experienced during the lifetime of anyone younger than 69 ( a good number by the way).

There are signs that those in the know like to watch, which tell the future years down the road and those signs now point to a Great Depression. It would be wise to note, that these “shades of what may be to come” as mentioned in Charles Dickens Christmas story can still be altered by changes in future events…

The fate was solidified with this which occurred on today’s last broadcast of CNN’s Late Edition. Vice President Dick Cheney, known among betting men, as “the man who is always wrong”, today declared “that its premature to call it the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

Being the one to know, Mister “He-who-is-never-right”; with a record of wrong choices a mile long, some of which include statements such as: “I am the best person to serve as the Vice President of the United States”; “Deficits Don’t Matter”; “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid”; “There are stockpiles of WMD’s in Iraq and we will find them”; “We have to make America the best place in the world to do business”; “We will in fact be greeted as liberators”; …… always seems to make sense at time, but after ample time has passed, seems to have strung us along, fully knowing what he was saying was not backed up by facts, and each time seems to have bettered himself financially by having us believe in what he says, and take him for his word.

So if we look at his record, we see that he was wrong on Iraq, wrong on Afghanistan, wrong on Iran, wrong on Israel, wrong on Syria, wrong on Georgia, wrong on tax breaks, wrong on the deficit, wrong on securities deregulation, wrong on the economy, wrong on global warming, wrong on renewable energy, wrong on Enron, wrong on education, wrong on environmentalism, wrong on ethics, wrong on Executive privilege, wrong on gasoline prices, wrong on immigration, wrong on privatization,wrong on racism, wrong on what’s best for America; we can only assume by his track record that he is also wrong when he says it is too premature to call this episode equal to the Great Depression. Of course you can go against conventional wisdom and bet against him, ……… but the odds of winning are long…… way too long……

As his track record shows, he is fully aware of the facts, and each time he makes such a brash statement, it is ultimately proven to be wrong and designed to throw us off. Therefore the best option to take away from his last interview as Vice President on CNN is to accept the premise that we ARE in a Great Depression, and pull out all stops now to stop its slide, ….. before it is too late… That means pulling out ALL stops, so that the opposite of this foreboding last statement by Cheney is not given its chance to come due:

“The days of looking the other way while a despotic regime tramples human rights, robs it’s nations’ wealth, and then excuses it’s failings by feeding it’s people a steady diet of hatred … are over.”

As of this writing we have 8 days and twenty hours before it really does comes true………. Let’s not jinx ourselves by listening to any arguments being made by Cheney’s compatriots now arguing against the passage of Obama’s “Economic Jump Start”. Remember all along, they were just as wrong too……..

When The Whole Country is Going South, Look to the North, as In Northington
Photo Courtesy of Northington 08

It is hard to run a Congressional campaign… sometimes things go wrong…

But sometimes one does things right, and that in itself, is an achievement worth celebrating…

Jerry Northington has run a good campaign from his own bootstraps… Not only is it good, but running without the “backing” of the state’s primary neutral Democratic party, he has emerged as one who has the potential to ruin Republican Mike Castle’s dream of his last election…

And that, is what this years Delaware election is all about…

I don’t need to preach to the choir about how Mike Castle has voted the Republican line… I don’t need to preach to the choir about how Mike Castle has voted for the war of oil; I don’t need to preach to the choir about how having a Republican in the extreme minority of the House (it will be entirely Democratic) will affect our slice of federal money; I don’t need to preach to the choir about how having a Congressional Republican from Delaware, puts growth in this state on ice. No…. you all know that already.

You also know that the challenges we will face in the next four years, here at home, 200 miles away in Washington, and across the world, will require a new path to be taken. They will require new ideas to inspire. They will require smart people for a change…. smart enough to work out the details….

And what impressed me about Jerry… was his intelligence…

(Now don’t get all hot and bothered if you support another candidate…I’m refusing to make comparisons…You can discuss it among yourselves if you wish…)

Intelligence… that IS a relative term…..Let me explain….I (cough, cough) have been called on occasion, by misguided people, “intelligent” at times for some of the posts I have written here…. But… I would not expect Dave or Hube to EVER utter such a compliment (except perhaps at my funeral) …. for based on what they represent….(making the assumption they are intelligent too)… my ideas appear bunk… 🙂 But, without them, the blogosphere would fall like a thud, cracking our asses wide open like a seesaw that someone has jumped off too quickly. The world needs some type of balance. We need those guys for constructive dialog, just as they need us….

So real intelligence is the understanding that even though we put the best argument for OUR side up for debate, we NEED another side to debate against, in order to get what we need done…..

I know… it is a big concept to grasp….(come back to it later, will you?) The big guys get it…. I think Clinton got it mid term… I actually heard Newt a year ago in New Hampshire, and I think he got it too. Despite our distaste now for Carper, I know he gets it… and the reason Castle has won so big so many times, is that he gets it…

So let me tell you about Jerry….

First if you haven’t, you should check out the Congressional Primary Debate here.… You should, really… For we are talking about our strategy to navigate this state over the next ten years….

Usually since the beginning of this nation, an outgoing administration has set in place, plans that self perpetuate over several years before they become obsolete.. This administration, however, has been so preoccupied with day to day dilemmas, that they are leaving us with no future plan and an empty treasury starting January 20th……

We need to choose someone smart.

Why? For what happens in Washington, for those of you that do not know, is that a lobbyist shows up at your door with a pre-written bill, he wants you to sponsor it, you horse trade, and then you set your staff on bringing it to the floor… The bills are never read by Congressmen, maybe only by two staffers, and the rest is all hype. To really change Washington, we need smart people to say, “wait a second, why are you billing us for this…?” Dumb people, oh dear, will just rubber stamp…..

I am afraid to say that Mike Castle has become a rubber stamper,…. In his defense, if I had been there as long as he, as I got old I would probably evolve into the same… In the twilight years it just gets so hard to read reams of paper; the cocktail circuit is much more intriguing and fascinating…..

There comes a time, for an old general to retire…. His past victories though glorious, are meaningless if he leads us into one more battle that loses it all……..History is full of such generals who have stayed on a little bit too long…. The best way to preserve ones legacy, I think, is to walk away from it while it is still intact….

Jerry is tall enough to fill Mike Castle’s shoes… To be honest, he is the first Democratic candidate since Mike and Tom flipped, to do so…
In listening to Jerry, one gets the sense that we will do ok if he represents us… He is not harsh like the last candidate…. He is open and understands that he has been led down a miraculous path, one he could ever imagined would continue as far as it did…..

The only reason he is not yet considered a strong contender, is because so few people have gotten to know him… My sources and calculations show him winning on Tuesday… Soon more will learn how good a candidate he really is… We know he’s tough… His gentle toughness has got him this far… But what impressed me most, was that he is solidly balanced….He may not be the raving Liberal that some progressives want….

Unlike most previous candidates for that office, I sense he understands the need, that if America is to get better…. WE ALL HAVE TO GET BETTER AT THE SAME TIME… Conservatives too.

It’s time we had a smart person in Congress. And Jerry can, I believe, push a moderate form of Health Care that will cover all Americans, without busting the budget…. His focus will be on prevention… If a pill taken early costs $3 dollars and a surgery costs $30,000, preventive heath care makes sense…

My favorite line, and the one I think that pushed me to understand that this man has not only the smarts to represent Delaware, but the charm, confidence, and intelligence to make things happen ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, was this one:

“Ladies, and gentlemen, I’m a veterinarian… My medical experience…is that;… taking care of sick animals… We have known in veterinarian science, that the cheapest, most cost-effective way to treat a large population of animals…. is through preventative health care… We have known that for 100 years….. Now if we have known that, and we can accomplish it for animals….why in hell’s name,… can’t we come to an agreement, to do it for Human beings?”

Yeah, I think,……… he’s the one.

After the funeral was over, I had some serious thinking to do. I had been one of the last to arrive, and was parked off to the side. So as the rest of the procession pulled out in groups of four or five, I stayed.

From this point on, it was all business. The last wavering thread of sentiment disappeared with the exhaust of the last car.

As if by magic, the casket appeared to descend. Apparently it hung, for suddenly one leaped into the open grave and bounced up and down. I could not help but remember the fine delicate carvings of pearl we had admired just minutes earlier.

The funeral directors huddled in the winter wind discussing operations, and then finally the hearse left as well. Two construction site pickup trucks, decked with emergency lights pulled up. Two men gathered all the flowers and stainless scaffolding that supports the casket above the grave, and placed them in the truck. The green Astroturf was then rolled, and also thrown into the back of a truck. Once done both departed.

Left only was the one person who had seemed out of place at the grave site service, dressed in overalls and knee high yellow neoprene boots. Expecting him to pick up a shovel, he walked instead a hundred yards, and climbed into the backhoe ubiquitously parked near any graveside service.

Deftly he raked the pile of soil over and into the grave. At various points, he tamped the loose aggregate with the full force of the mechanized machinery. Wham! Wham!

No sentimentality there. Just a job to do. Mysteriously be backed up, and drove down the road to an obscure forested plot of land. He climbed out and disappeared into the forest. After few minutes he returned, climbing back in and driving back to the grave site. The remaining dirt was now piled up four feet high above the casket. He turned the backhoe around, and with the front loader, filled the basket with the brown loose soil.

He carried it past me. I was alone. Minutes later he returned for another load. After he was gone I returned to the grave, said some words, and fought the winter wind back to my car.

As I started the ignition. I saw it had been twenty four minutes.

Anyone who as stood at the end of a birth canal, and welcomed a new soul into the world, would be humbled to know its over in such a short span.

I drove the long way out. Passing crypts, rich graves, poor graves. I wondered how much the family had shelled out for that coffin, which no one would ever see it again. I wondered how vain were those who chose to embellish their sites, and exactly what they were saying about themselves in doing so. I wondered if when the graves were first purchased, if those survivors had any inclination that another stranger’s gravestone would eventually abut theirs, as space ran out.

The funeral industry is a valid enterprise and I certainly do not wish to create financial hardship for what are mostly family businesses. But if one takes one’s own death, and looks at it analytically, the only thing that really matters is how we lived when we were alive, soul and body……..

For without the soul, we are just atoms, the same ones formed in some distant star……………..And now separated from the soul, they are free to move on to some distant purpose.

Whether coincidental or happenstance, the local blog scene has become mysteriously quiet since the signing of the wiretap law just before last weekend. Only Jason has defied the danger, and out of professional courtesy, I do not think he should face MR. CHENEY alone.

In one of my comments on another forum, I was (politely) told that I did not know what I was talking about when I was discussing wiretapping. Although I knew a lot from sources close to the business, after my weekend research on today’s methods (post internet), I came to the conclusion that they were right. I really did not know what was going on………..

No one is talking facts, making it doubly hard to investigate. Based on information culled strictly from the public domain, here is what I could find so far.

Granted the old wiretapping descriptions were out of date. As fiber optics invaded America, switches were placed at all network hubs, allowing for the passing of all information through the government’s hands during it’s journey en route from sender to recipient. These hubs were all on American soil, and therefore, under the old laws, required some type of oversight by FISA or another court, to issue a “wiretap” or other intelligence gathering device.

Had we suspected that a Saudi Arabian national, withdrawing money from an ATM in South Portland, Maine, just up the street from the Mobil station right there at the exit off 95, was about to commit a dastardly act that would change the future of this country forever, getting court approval in real time, would be difficult, if not impossible.

As Bonner “leaked” on national television, (where’s the outrage? Oh, he’s republican) a federal judge had declared such practices illegal. Why? Was he too, one of “them” liberals? No he just decided that the propensity for the system’s misuse, far outweighed it’s gain to society.

What could be more important than saving American lives?

That is a good question and needs a lengthy answer…. American lives are important…..In fact, the primary reason that most Americans are against Cheney’s Trillion $ war going on today, is that they feel it is squandering lives……American lives. But whenever lives are being sacrificed for a real purpose, Americans feel much differently, as polls taken during the Afghanistan campaign readily show…….

So there must be something hidden that is so controversial or so big, that Americans place a higher value on it, than they do saving lives. One questions, what could that be?

William Wallace says it best in “Braveheart“: Freedom!

I can see everyones eyebrows raise. Are we jumping the gun here? What reasonable person could expect an elected official of the United States government to spy on, control, and imprison their own citizens?

Apparently that is the fear that most Americans share. It is for that reason alone why everything must be kept secret and hidden from public scrutiny. For within this administration, everyone is scared to death that the public will someday find out……..

If you are hearing this for the first time, as I did last Saturday, it shows that their clamp on this intelligence and information about this story is working. But across the web and in various newspapers, are enough leads that put this picture in perspective.

Here is what we know. The technology out there is equal to what is available on most PC’s today. It is just the size and scale that blows everyone’s mind. Apparently everything that is ever said, written, posted, e-mailed, filmed, in the entire world, is being saved. Most of this will never be touched. We know this capacity exists: for how often has a commercial enterprise solicited us due to a pattern detected based on our personal trends? And how often have we football watchers been correctly told, based on probability, just where the quarterback is going to throw the ball, and guess where he then throws it to?

This coupling of voice recognition, the entire library of data, and a massive scale of sorting computer software all together under one roof, leads to a profile on every single American citizen at the touch of a button.

If we elected saints as our political saviors, we wouldn’t care. Sure, find the bad guys; just leave the good guys alone. But unfortunately instead of saints, we chose to elect republicans who we have found can be trusted far less than God, as our coins and old bank building in Millsboro, so declare is our intention. Our founding fathers were quite lividly adamant that any government should NOT have unlimited powers of search and seizure. So with today’s technology, our family jewels are safe within our home, but our private thoughts and conversations are not……..

So what is wrong with listening in on private conversations…….I do nothing wrong……and I’ve got nothing to hide……listen all you want, damn it….. That is the defense we hear from right wing nuts whenever they defend this invasion of anyone’s privacy. To stupid people that may make sense. But it only takes a small amount of intelligence to realize how readily that ability can be abused.

Tom Carper, along with many democrats voted for the unlimited use of this technology, done legally at the discretion of the Executive branch itself with no one watching…..This is the same guy who once took great effort to dress up as Commodore McDonough and speak to little school kids about the greatness of this country……Can anyone reasonably expect that such a cognitive switch which jumps away from America’s true ideals to those of a totalitarian state, was NOT coerced by some type of blackmail?

What dirt do they know on Tom Carper? He should count his blessings…..for he is one of the lucky ones. Were he squeaky clean, he could have shared the same fate as Tim Johnson…..or Jon Corzine…..or Paul Wellstone. Speculation to be sure, but it goes to show to those who implicitly trust their leaders, just what can happen when government is given the free hand to spy on their citizens.

But let’s take a more realistic example. One that occurs worldwide today. Over at Delaware Liberal there is a lot of anger focused on the current administration. That blog has become a better source of news than delawareonline, or its printed companion, the News Journal. Of course if you want obituaries, you should still buy the paper. But major news stories are broken day’s ahead of the controlled media, and create firestorms of public opinion that are detrimental to the establishment of the Cheney ideals, which are even occasionally sponsored in part by the republican party.

So how to stop it? This might work. An anon post describing some to the conversations that took place last February could just be enough. It would take a strong Hillary at one’s side to say that did not create any problems. And where would those conversations come from? Apparently they are stored, right now, along with those of every reader, pulled at will with a couple of keystrokes next to your name………..

Yes this technology can corral terrorists…..but it can also be used to know what Biden will say in the next debate, who sold Obama his cocaine when he was young, and whether Hillary is or is not returning the favor her husband gave her during the previous scandal. It can be used to silence witnesses: find and expose whistle blowers, thereby killing them. It can be used to publicize a politician’s health problems, say erectile dysfunction, or blackmail those who don’t ask, and don’t tell.

It can be used to find which of an opponents supporters are “still on the fence” and get to them first. Why do you think Karl Rove resigned the first business day just after the law was passed? Being good for six months, this ability to eavesdrop on each and every Democratic or republican candidate will, unlike Watergate, be legal to well after all the big primaries have all been settled.

Lawsuits against reporters who won’t reveal their sources? A thing of the past, for this law now makes all those irrelevant. There are going to be a lot of dead people turning up soon.

This power can be used in political appointments to insure that only a “yes sir…as you wish sir”…mentality becomes firmly entrenched within the decision making process of our executive branch, and all previously conflicting conversations that have so far kept our country from driving over a cliff, become no more…..

It can also make average citizen afraid to write criticisms such as this…..never to be heard again. Based on what I have seen so far, Jason turned out to be the only one with a “Bravehart” enough to continue….. (my apologies if I missed someone). Yeah…..it affected me. (Call me Robert Bruce.) But like Nathan Hale, before me, I too now decide to walk up to the gallows, put the noose around my neck, and plainly speak my words of wisdom, which hopefully will far outweigh anything I could have done to help this nation, had I cowered and remained silent…………………..

Sometimes a lightning bolt of a thought strikes from nowhere. When it does, you know you have found your answer.

There is a false quality many have mentioned about the front runners. Scripted to every detail, repetitive as a hammer, their responses seem nice, agreeable, and flat……

The problem with the political process, is that Americans are not involved. Each candidate is a carefully marketed bag of rice, and all the marketing is designed to say: “pick me.” In our busy lives, we are not only responsible for picking out the “rice”, but also the milk, the car, the cereal, the dessert treats, gasoline, etc. The election process boils down to just another product piped into my home by cable, mail, or obscene phone banks.

Normally these things happen to me in a church pew, but this time the answer I needed came from a surprising source.

In a recent comment, Tyler Nixon dished up the answer. As soon as I saw it, I realized that those of us who care about the future of Constitutional Government need to steer the campaign towards this direction. Speaking of Biden, Tyler says this.

Biden, for example, has emerged as not only a “gaffe machine” but a Teflon one! Why? Because he is forgiven these “sins” as coming from a genuine man revealing himself rather than a plasticine politician exposing himself.

Like the other candidates I mentioned Biden’s foibles make him “real”. One thing a professional politician can’t fabricate is a good foible. If you have none, you are not to be trusted in my view. Those who would present themselves as perfection have the most imperfections to hide – if not the worst ones….

In such a similar way Reagan endeared himself to millions of Democrats, thereby enabling the beginning of the Republican regime. One knows a long termer is wary of trips and hazards, and Biden is a long termer. Comparatively, the newness of some of our front runners, is not reassuring. No Senator since Kennedy has attained election as the most powerful person in the world. Perhaps that is why relations between Congress and Executive are at an all time low…..

What I’m looking for in a candidate is someone I can trust. I don’t expect perfection, not in this day and age, but I am looking for an old warrior. Someone who has seen up close both the good and the bad of human nature, and will do everything to promote the good, and anything to stop the bad.

Democrat or Republican does not matter. Fixing America, does.

I’ll trust an imperfect friend before I’ll trust a salesman who attempts to sell me on his candidate’s perfection.

“Troops out now”. We hear it all the time. It is the opposite of “Stay the course.” But how many troops are going to leave? How many troops are going to stay? Those answers from the candidates, may surprise you.

Two candidates have forthrightly said, we need to pull all troops out now…….Both of those candidates, Kucinich and Richardson make up less than a combined 2% of all poll numbers. The big movers and shakers, Hillary, Obama, and Edwards have much different messages.

When we hear “withdrawal of American troops from Iraq” we think of all our troops coming home to parades and flags. However what is really being said, is these major candidates support the withdrawal of “combat troops” or “combat brigades.” These effective fighting forces, at the most, make up only 45% of all troops in Iraq. The rest, who are unmentioned, one can assume are to remain there for a long time, especially now that we have a new embassy and need to maintain our new military bases.

Why? Because any serious contender for President cannot publicly be for the chaotic fall of any country in the Middle East……..in other words….the loss of oil….

So the Democratic front-runners must promise voters that they will end the war — with not too many ideologically laden ifs, ands, or buts — while they assure the foreign-policy establishment that they will never abandon the drive for hegemony in the Middle East (or anywhere else). In other words, the candidates have to be able to talk out of both sides of their mouths at the same time. Ira Chernus: The Democrats’ Iraqi Dilemma: Questions Unasked, Answers Never Volunteered

It is time to begin ending this war…. Start bringing home America’s troops…. within 90 days ” says Hillary Clinton. Excuse me but did anyone hear the word “all”? It seems to have been casually omitted. Previously she said this: “We have remaining vital national security interests in Iraq…. What we can do is to almost take a line sort of north of, between Baghdad and Kirkuk, and basically put our troops into that regionOne reporter admits that Clinton expects U.S. troops to be in Iraq when she ends her second term in 2017. She wants 80,000 more troops with an emphasis on special forces.

Obama is not pulling all the troops out either…..To control everything and everyone, he wants “the strongest, best-equipped military in the world.… A 21st century military to stay on the offense.” That, he says, will take at least 92,000 more soldiers and Marines. Like Hillary, Barack would remove all “combat brigades” from Iraq, but keep U.S. troops there “for a more extended period of time” — even “redeploy additional troops to Northern Iraq” — to support the Kurds, train Iraqi forces, fight al Qaeda, “reassure allies in the Gulf,” “send a clear message to hostile countries like Iran and Syria,” and “prevent chaos in the wider region.” “Most importantly, some of these troops could be redeployed to Afghanistan…. to stop Afghanistan from backsliding toward instability.”

Obama plans to use redeployment as a carrot. The redeployment could be temporarily suspended if the parties in Iraq reach an effective political arrangement that stabilizes the situation and they offer us a clear and compelling rationale for maintaining certain troop levels.

Edwards goes further than either Obama or Clinton in spelling out that we “will also need some presence in Baghdad, inside the Green Zone, to protect the American Embassy and other personnel”. Edwards continues: : “I would put stabilization first.” “Stabilization” is yet another establishment code word for insuring U.S. control, as Edwards certainly knows. His ultimate aim, he says, is to ensure that the U.S. will “lead and shape the world.”

The top Democrats agree that we must leave significant numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq. This is remarkably similar to the Republican position. However,…..both sides politely seem to dismiss any mention of the number of Iraqis and/or servicemen killed during our lengthy stay………..

Well, perhaps it’s time Americans started asking such questions. A lost war should be the occasion for a great public debate on the policies and the geopolitical assumptions that led to the war

Tomsdispatch.com puts the challenge before us in clear terms. “Bush, Cheney, and their supporters say the most important message is a reassuring one: “When the U.S. starts a fight, it stays in until it wins. You can count on us.” For key Democrats, including congressional leaders and major candidates for the imperial Presidency, the primary message is a warning: “U.S. support for friendly governments and factions is not an open-ended blank check. If you are not producing, we’ll find someone else who can.”

This is a debate about tactics; not about goals. Among the American people a greater debate is raging. At stake is whether America should be allowed to create a war to further certain interests of its own economy?   Or………… should America agree to play by the same rules it insists that all other’s abide by: thou shalt not invade another country for resources. At first glance it appears that in their courtship with the powerful elite for those delicious campaign dollars, the leading Democrats have placed their foot in the very same traps that snapped shut upon the feet of the Republicans.

It is time that all Americans look hard at this duplicity.

Perhaps in such a reflective light, many of the minor candidates, such as Biden, do appear to have the better shine after all…………..

The clock is ticking down……less than forty hours remain. Friends….that is only 2400 minutes! Or even worse, just 144,000 seconds. The countdown continues…..

Remember when the General Assembly was sworn in early in January, At that time the 1st of July seemed a long way off.

But in 2359 minutes, it will be here! January to June, let us see…..six months? we should be tidying up by now with just a few knick knacks left to finalize…..Right?

Let us see what is on the agenda’s of today’s General Assembly.

In the Senate: as of 12:00 (yesterday) only one thing: Tony De’Luca’s bill to have various organizations within the state, look for extra money and report back on 12/21/07 on what they find. I find this a little confusing. Why do we need to tie up the remaining 2398 minutes with a bill that does nothing but say “we need to do this”. On the surface, when you first hear it, it seems sound good. “I, Tony DeLuca, got tough with our bureaucrats and demanded they look for other ways to fund our government.” But isn’t that naturally what happens when you, your business, your government runs out of money? Your first priority becomes to find “where you can get more”……….Since there is no funding within the bill, and there is really nothing new in the bill, this bill, as it says from the outset, it is just a proclamation……..A commission, proposed within this bill, could just as easily be appointed by the governor to find revenue streams and report back.

If someone could get back to me on why this bill is important, I would like to hear. But in reading it, it sounds like ‘much ado about nothing.” One would think with only 2397 minutes left, we could find something far more worthwhile to debate……………..

On the house side more is going on. You have Senate Bill 36 which quietly sells government employees down the river. AFSCME may still be around for years, but as for saving pension plans or bargaining for better insurance, forget it. This bill would forever remove those items from the collective bargaining table:

Position classification, health care and other benefit programs established pursuant to Chapter 52 of Title 29, workers compensation, disability programs and pension programs shall not be deemed to be compensation for purposes of this section;

So if in the future if it becomes necessary for the state to economize by cutting benefits to minimize costs, the unions will be unable to protest it. This appears to be the first quiet, hidden attempt to cut state employee’s benefits. This Rubicon, if crossed, will forever diminish labor’s effective voice. Due to the lack of outcry, I doubt if most of them know……….or will know with only 2396 minutes left.

Next comes HB 177, the fusion bill. This would eliminate candidates who may have lost the primary, from running as a third party candidate in any general election aka Joe Lieberman or Connecticut. As Delaware Watch points out this bill would force organized labor to support just one of the two major parties. And you know they won’t support Republicans. Obviously this is one Democrat’s attempt to keep its rank and file from trickling away, aka the Berlin Wall. Thanks to the watchfulness of Dana this bill became public knowledge. But with only 2395 minutes left it had a good shot at going through.

Next comes HB 208, which says that a person has committed burglary as soon as they enter a building without permission. They do not have to steal anything, just be there. This would effectively cut down on the solid American tradition of checking on elderly neighbors, just to see if they might need medical attention. But most likely this issue will not be raised with just 2394 minutes left.

House Bill 251 prevents convicted criminals from becoming volunteer fireman. Perhaps this is ok, but I think there is no harm in letting Freeberry fight fires if she wants to. But these ramifications will go unnoticed with only 2393 minutes left.

The Senate Joint Resolution 3, organizes a leviathan task force to see what can be done with Wilmington’s schools. The makeup of this monstrous 33 member task force, will be big on names, but seriously short on talent. It will pass on the feeling of “lets do something nice for Wilmington” because no one will have time to look too hard at it with only 2392 minutes left.

House Concurrent Resolution 32 creates another task force, this time of 23 people, to look at new assessment possibilities instead of the current DSTP used in schools today. 3 of those will be on the above task force as well. (I hope they have daytimers). This report is due late May 2008, too late for serious action by the second half of this General Assembly. But it should generate plenty of controversy for the upcoming election. 2391 minutes and counting.

Senate Bill 119 seeks to insert this clause into the Delaware code: “(1) The amount to be raised by taxation shall not exceed 20.97 cents on each $100 value of real property in Sussex County for the tax year 2008, 22.23 cents for 2009, and 23.50 cents for 2010 and all years thereafter.” This is to fund Vocational Schools only. And with only 2390 minutes left, no one will even know……..

Senate Bill 123 further seeks to streamline and professionalize the educational process by controlling who those parents are on the advisory boards, which used to be siphoned from the Delaware Congress of Parents, but now are to be hand picked by the Secretary of Education.

Senate Bill 126 finally does some good. This bill alone should save the state billions over its lifetime if enacted. This bill returns the determination of fines back to the discretion of the judge, by eliminating the predetermined amounts, which unfortunately sent many people into our correctional system, who really did not need to be there. Let’s hope there is enough time, with only 2388 minutes left.

House bill 189 removes one more roadblock that stands in the way of remaking Sussex County into a sea of aluminum sided houses. This obsolete law, which on its surface makes sense to update, will, by its removal, allow many developments to go forward which have been so far held back. This bill still is stuck in committee. It may not see light in the next 2387 minutes left. Oops just passed the House.
HS 1 for HB146 seeks to mandate stateside recycling. Unlike most bills before the House this time, this one has the means to pay for itself. However constant vigilance and discipline need to be exercised to insure the recycling fund is not pilfered by Republicans whose modus operandi has always been: “see it, spend it” despite their political rhetoric to the contrary. Oh! Just got shot down…………..

House bill 241 seeks to make this change which will affect 5 employees of the state………all well known to every legislator.

Section 1. Amend §5201(b), Title 29 of the Delaware Code by adding the following sentence at the end thereof:

“An Individual qualifying for a service pension under §5522(e) of this Title shall not be an ‘eligible pensioner’.”.

Section 2. Amend § 5501(d), Title 29 of the Delaware Code, by inserting therein a new paragraph to read as follows:

“(22) Service as a per diem employee with the House or Senate of this State.”.

Senate bill 133 seeks to mandate the separation of children from sex offenders. This is a good bill. Let’s us hope it gets a hearing with only 2384 minutes left.

HB 220 could with tongue- in- cheek, be called the John Atkins bill. Should he ever return to political notoriety at a whim, he could be hauled in and tested. This bill extends alcohol monitoring indefinitely instead of ending in one year. This could be a good thing for those repeat offenders, but more than likely, knowing how most legislators can put down several very stiff drinks in a very short span of time, it could also be used for intimidation and control once an arrest was made. But in their stupor, there is no time to consider this, with only 2383 minutes left.

House Bill 172 seeks to impose the monitoring of uninsured motorists driving upon the road. It tightens reporting requirements on those who get insurance to buy a car, then let it lapse with no payment. Within ten days the state will know. But, to those who like to hold public officials accountable for their actions, this warning is appropriate: you had better make sure your insurance gets paid on time…….

HB 240 seeks to clarify criminal offenses by switching many minor ones over to civil offenses where they belong. This bill is an interesting read for it includes a list of minor infractions that should be civil in nature. Check out for yourself how many times you were a criminal, and because you did not get caught, you never knew it? This bill is overdue. The cost savings from tying down courts, the AG’s office, and law enforcement, over the life of this bill, should save billions.

HB 212 widens the area sex offenders cannot be seen in to include parks, playgrounds, daycare centers.

SB 160, again by DeLuca, provides one more slap in the face specifically to those American workers who get HURT ON THE JOB. They are being asked to incur at least 15% of the medical costs that occurred from accidents while they were on the job. Currently, they receive medical attention at no cost to themselves for employer mandated accidents. Considering that most current Americans do not have enough money to pay for gas , electric, ARM mortgages, car insurance, or car payments,….. their answer to the question “Do you want to go to the hospital for that?” will turn into an emphatic “no,” a decision that may perhaps kill them a few months later from its complications, but save them from paying their part of the 4000 dollar medical bill, which if paid, would push them into bankruptcy. This is just one more example of how a leadership position, removes a thoughtful person away from reality.

Senate Bill 111 seeks to move one offense the other way, towards a felony. Violation of a Domestic violence protection order, will be upgraded from a Class A misdemeanor, to a Class F felony. Knowing how those to violate these orders, are under passionate emotional influences, and immune from normal rational thought , this bill falls into that feel-good status, (look, we did something) just as mandatory sentencing did, and not into effective control. The only effective difference will be the charge presented to the court, long after the women and children are dead.

House bill 266 attempts to standardize the definitions of abuse thought the state’s governmental system. However, based on their definition of “emotional abuse” that definition could be in a thesaurus under “marriage”.

SB150
will give those medical professionals who help out during emergencies, freedom from any liability for any action occurring as a result of their involvement, the same way state emergency responders are protected.

HB 207 seeks to give the same penalties for selling counterfeit drugs, as for the drugs themselves. No more getting off because the actual drug sold, acetaminophen, was not on the controlled substance list……… but was being sold as something that was……..

SB 35: Section 1. Amend Subsection 1014(a) of Title 26 of the Delaware Code by striking the figure “$0.000178” in the first sentence thereof and replacing it with the figure “$0.000356”. This extra money goes into the Green Energy fund at the residential electrical cost of .18 cents per household. This is to generate home grown energy projects on a person’s own property.

And most importantly, with ramifications greatly affecting all Delawareans, is the Dick Cathcart sponsored HB 245. This bill will change history by changing the method moist snuff is taxed within the state of Delaware.

UPDATE: JUST LAID ON SPEAKERS TABLE

Keeley HJR 7 establishes yet another task force, again devoid of funding, to look into statewide recycling. I guess she doesn’t have the necessary votes to pass HB 146.

Then there is the HB 250, the appropriations bill for 2008: all 256 pages of it. But no worries, mate, there still are 2377 minutes left. (9.28 minutes to read and absorb each page, that is if so choose not sleep.)

Hopefully they are taking amphetamines. Because if they decide to get a good night’s rest over the next couple of working days, they will squander 480 minutes of that time left. One must assume that they will sleep on the floor of the offices, because commuting times will bite into 120 more of those minutes. Unless they eat while working they will use up 120 minutes and estimated bathroom time should fall between 100 and 120 minutes. So if we are willing to forgive these personal indulgences (a whopping 820 minutes), they have only 1577 minutes left……a little over twenty six hours to do all of the above and the bond bill as well, which as of yet, has not arrived out of committee…

There is a lot for our legislators to absorb in the next several minutes. To make it even tougher, our lobbyist’s contingent insists… that our legislators follow the Dr. Pepper rule these last few days……..

Dr. Pepper rule? Don’t know that one? That is a classic. It stands for having two drinks by ten, two drinks by 2, and two drinks by 4. Is it any wonder that our citizens get the short end of the deal at the end of every legislative session?

For true insight on how democracy works, show up at legislative hall on Saturday night.It is free and open to the public…… And bring a camera phone.

I find it ironic that:

Dick Cheney says pulling out of Iraq will embolden other Arab nations, and yet his company Halliburton moves its headquarters to Dubai, so it has a free hand to do business and pump up those very Arab nations he warns us about…..

That Mike Castle feels giving billions to the wealthiest few is important, but body armor to our soldiers, is not………..

That under democratic leadership in WWII, we fought two wars similtanously, and won, in less time than we have been in Iraq under republican supervision……………..

That everyone who has ever had the misfortune to be involved with Iraqi war, has suffered considerably, except one: Cheney………………………..

That a president who smoked pot and “didn’t inhale,” fared much better in making policy decisions than a president who was arrested for over drinking when he was young…………..

That Organized Labor, who singlehandedly confronted factories and coal companies and forced them to pay its workers at fair rates, is now kowtowing to the same large corporations such as NRG, thereby screwing its worker’s families with higher energy prices and lung disease……………

That Republicans can even think, that to save a son’s or daughter’s life, now stationed in Iraq to protect Dick Cheney’s oil,……. is playing politics to the far left extreme of a certain political party……………………….

That the candidate in the 41st special election, who is sponsored by the “party of the people”, has thrown his support towards a large corporation, NRG,who is intent on taking over Sussex Counties airspace with its pollution………

That the more some republicans emphatically argue that Bush is different than Hitler, the more he sounds the same……………..

That some Republicans had the guts to stand up to Adkins, and Democrats, didn’t…………………………..

That Republicans even to the point of fake television shows, went to great lengths to portray 9/11 as the fault of Clinton’s democrats, when it was those very Clinton Democrat holdovers, Tenet, Black, and Clarke, who were the very ones who pleaded with Condoleeza Rice to aggressively pursue Al Qaeda and disrupt its ability to organize just such an attacka 9/11, and each time, were unceremoniously shut down………..

That blogs, are more intellectually stimulating than newspapers…………………………..

That people complain about money corrupting politics, but avidly determine a candidate’s credibility and their vote, by how much money he or she has raised………………

Republicans gained credibility under Reagan’s crusade against Communism, and under Bush, who embraced Communisms way of dealing with opposition, they lost it…….

That the only candidate for governor to offer voters a fifty point declaration of great ideas for this state to grow and develop, is bashed by the News Journal editors as being inconsequential.

That up until this legislature started, all we heard was Karen Petersen’s open government legislation, and now, no one even mentions her anymore………..

That NRG even has an “environmental manager.”

That it is parent’s responsibility to “educate” their own children, but when they attempt to “educate” the administration by a midterm election, it is dismissed as an irrelevant event.

There is room for so many more, but I ran out of time……………………..