Only 99 years, 10 months, 19 days More in Iraq

Only 99 years, 10 months, 19 days More in Iraq
David Schlecht

I got an interesting and amusing e-mail from James Carville, today. He did a good job of explaining the Republican perspective on Iraq, only 99 more years:

That’s how long we have until American troops can leave Iraq according to John McCain’s recent comment that we could stay at war for “maybe 100 years.”  McCain also said such a ludicrously long timetable “would be fine with me.”

The thing is, John McCain isn’t the only Republican senator who doesn’t have a clue on Iraq.  At least four of the DSCC’s top targets have a long and sordid history of blindly supporting the Bush-McCain status quo.

You can see just how lockstep they all are in the latest DSCC web video.  We match the records of four top Republican targets with John McCain and George Bush point for point and quote for quote.

John McCain and the rest of the Senate Republicans may be fine with continuing Bush’s failed policies for the next 100 years, but most Americans couldn’t disagree more.  They want real change, not Senators who echo the Bush status quo in their quotes and their votes.

Not only are the Republicans in Congress continuing in lock step with the failed Bush president, they are so sure thatAmericans are too stupid to realize they are ALL voting party over the good of the country that they even follow lock step behind Bush’s worst decisions, such as the Telecom Amnesty Bill, misnamed as Protect America bill. How stupid do they think we Americans are? Obviously they think we’re pretty darned stupid.

The most amazing thing is that Bush and the rabid Republicans party has managed to keep all the Republican presidential candidates in lock step behind the Bush failures, even though Bush is the most hated president in American history.

Other than stealing elections, again, how would a misguided party like this ever expect to win any races in a country they hate so much?

They Need Our Help

The organization started and intent on helping women and couples deal with family planning issues is under unrelenting attacks by the “Forced Pregnancy” arm of the Conservative Radicals. Without our help, another pillar of our free, informed society will fall, women will be lied to by the Heritage Foundation and their liars and America will suffer for generations to come.

Can you spare $20? $100? Do you have 10 minutes to write a letter or make a phone call? They need our help. Here is their statement:

Family Planning is under attack in Washoe County.
Nevada women need your help.

The Washoe County Board of County Commissioners and the Washoe County Board of Health have scheduled meetings to discuss the process for distributing Title X funding (America’s family planning funding for low-income women). When Planned Parenthood Mar Monte received a two-year grant to run Street Smart, a program for HIV/AIDS outreach for youth in our area, several commissioners raised questions about the Health Department budget and grant program. There is a chance they may recommend the Title X funds not be accepted by the County.

Take action now! One minute of your time will make a big difference – please write an email to the County Commissioners and the Department of Health to show your support of Title X funding and access to family planning.

Use one or more of these points in your message:

  • Washoe County should not refuse to take Title X funds.
  • I value family planning and comprehensive sex education and outreach as the best way to protect women, family and teen health.
  • Preventing unplanned pregnancies saves Nevada taxpayers – every dollar spent saves $4 in Medicaid costs for pregnancy and newborn health care.

Washoe County Commissioners:

Bonnie Weber, District 5

Jim Galloway, District 1

David Humke, District 2

Robert Larkin, District 4

Kitty Jung, District 3

Washoe County District Health Department:

Report Back: Email with “I took action” in the subject line to let us know that you sent your email in!

In addition, the Washoe County Board of Health is proposing to cut family planning funding 90% over a three-year period. This means the county may no longer provide family planning services or the Teen Health Mall program. If this happens about 700 women a year will go without family planning services – this is in addition to the 44,000 in Washoe County who already can’t access family planning they need for breast and cervical cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment and affordable birth control.

Other ways you can take action:

  • Call the County Commissioner’s office at (775) 328-2005 to voice your opinion. Call the Washoe District of Health’s office at (775) 328-2400.
  • Go to the joint meeting on 2/26: Commission and Board of Health at 1pm, Commissioners Chambers in Bldg A, 1009 E Ninth St, Reno NV 89502.
  • Go to the Board of Health meeting 2/28: The Board of Health meets at 1pm, Health Department, South Auditorium, 1009 E Ninth St, Reno, NV 89502.

P.S. Thank you for your support! Learn more about Title X.

Where Do You Get Your Morals?

Where Do You Get Your Morals?
Paul Johnson

Let’s start by considering two people who we would agree are moral and two who we wouldn’t consider moral and see what shakes out.

Mike and Marv are two moral people. Mike goes to church regularly, and has been brought up getting his morals from the church. It’s the Golden Rule and the 10 Commandments that he lives by.

Marv goes to church regularly and feels that his morals mesh well with the church-taught morals, but feels that it’s important for him to know “why” some things are moral and others are not.  He says that understanding “why” helps him better decide the morally correct decision in areas not so well defined by the Bible.

Mike says that his Bible tells him what he needs in order to make decisions, and if he can’t find it, he can always seek guidance from elders in his church. He would never consider deciding on his own without considering his religion.

Now let’s consider Billy and Bobby. Billy is devoutly religious and knows that he’s doing the wrong thing but just “can’t help” it when he’s doing immoral things. He knows that being gay is wrong but he can’t help his homosexual inclinations, though he suppresses them as best he can. He also knows that the man is the king of his domain and his wife better just succumb to his demands or he has the support of God in his brutality.

Bobby was raised in a religious family but feels that his church is persecuting him and his friends for being gay. He says if God made them gay, then the church has no right to condemn him.  He wishes he wasn’t gay but he feels he is who he is and is healthier for accepting the facts.

Which of these people would be better able to make moral decisions and which would have difficulty?

Obviously, Mike admits that he is unable to “make” moral decisions on his own and must rely on moral decisions defined thousands of years ago and rewritten countless times. Mike has never exercised his moral decision making process. What kinds of decisions does he make on a daily basis? Basing his morals on his book, how often does he apply the wrong moral to a situation? Of all the Mikes I’ve known, there aren’t any that I would trust to make a moral decision on their own.

Marv would certainly do better at making moral decisions as he has demonstrated a desire to understand the issues and has a demonstrated experience at making moral decisions.

How about Billy the wife beater? He can justify every awful evil thing he does by following the letter of the religious laws while not understanding or caring about the intent. How would you feel about having someone like Billy on a jury?

How about Bobby? Does his religious upbringing make him better at moral decisions? Since he has abandoned them, I’m inclined to say no.

How about if we take someone who is really awful and who confesses to not having a religious moral compass? Stalin comes to mind. He was responsible for millions of deaths and murders. We certainly wouldn’t want him making moral decisions for us. We know who he is.

Mike, on the other hand, frequently makes moral decisions involving people around him. Mike may even be a president of some third world county. Then again, so may Billy. Their religious decision making process is not only broken but outright destructive. We would be less inclined to accept Stalin but could be worse off still with either Mike or Billy.

The defining difference between someone good at making moral decisions and someone bad is the obvious criteria, knowledge and experience.  Dogmatically following a religion’s moral decisions makes us really lousy at making moral decisions. Only when we understand the premise of the morality we find in our religions or elsewhere, can we be good moral people.

In other words, you don’t become more moral by going to church, but you certainly could be less moral.

Capital Punishment and Justice

Capital Punishment and Justice
Paul Johnson

So, it’s just a coincidence that the Bush Administration has decided to wait until now to prosecute bad guys #1, #2, and #3, all responsible for 9/11. (By the way, I thought Bush was responsible for failing to protect us from 9/11, but that’s another story.) So, if we ignore the unreliable nature of tortured confessions, and ignore the totally unethical and deceptive Bush Administration, and ignore all the questions about how Saddam (oops, I mean Osama) has gotten EVERYTHING he demanded from the US, ignoring all these things, if we find the bad guys guilty and everyone really believes it, how do we punish them?

On another note, there has been new evidence discovered around the finding of the latest dead victim of the Nevada UNR serial rapist. The charity fund to help find the poor missing girl is now redirecting their efforts from finding the girl to exacting “justice”.

In yet another news story, there have been hundreds of deaths every year caused by greed in the medical industry. Back when our country was young, and for thousands of years before that, when someone killed or crippled a friend or neighbor or customer through greed or stupidity, we felt obligated to ensure that the victim and his family were taken care of.

So, what is justice? I should remind you that justice is not, in any way, the same as revenge. Revenge is a lousy moral trait. No amount of killing or suffering will ever bring back someone’s ability to walk or live and breath.

What is capital punishment? It’s nothing more than revenge, plain and simple.

Electrocuting someone to death doesn’t bring back loved ones, it only causes more pain, suffering, and death, and not just for the hopefully correctly convicted convict, but for his friends and family as well. And why should we care? Because we’re better people than that.

The Death Penalty does not exact justice, but only revenge.

Pay attention to the number of people on death row and in lifetimes of incarceration who have recently been  found innocent. Imagine how many have already been put to death who were also innocent. In these cases, the “justice” in the form of revenge, has become murder, cold blooded murder on our parts. That’s not something we want to be a part of.

So, what is the purpose of our penal system if not for revenge? I suppose everyone can answer that. Our penal system is supposed to serve two purposes, first, it acts to discourage wrong-doing through fear of the consequences, and the second is to protect society from the bad apples.

In the first case, the term penal system is incorrect. What we really need to call it is a re-education system. The best way to ensure that convicts, innocent and guilty alike, turn to crime when they leave the penal system is to fail in our efforts to rehabilitate or re-educate them.

In the second case, the penal system isn’t intended to reform or re-educate criminals, but to prevent them from doing further harm to society.

In neither of these cases is “Penal System” the correct solution. No wonder it doesn’t work.

So, we seem to have a pretty good handle on what “Justice” is not. But what, exactly, is it? How, exactly do we reform our penal system into a correctional system?

Looking at the three examples in the beginning of this essay, we have three overlapping solutions to three very different crimes, and yes, malpractice is a crime.

#1. Will fear of death prevent religious zealots from trying to infect the rest of society? I guess that’s pretty obvious, but needs to be stated. Punishment, especially the death penalty, does not discourage the mentally unstable. This is true not just of religious fanatics, but applies equally well to any crimes done out of emotion. In other words, the only crime that punishment will discourage is crimes done by high-society aristocratic spoiled kids getting their kicks. This will not discourage emotionally driven people, and will obviously not discourage desperate people.

Putting to death religious zealots will only breed more religious zealots.

#2. What is justice for the doctor who is performing so many operations that he can’t keep them straight and ends up cutting off the wrong limb? Just as in the past, this greedy doctor should be responsible for the victim and his dependents for life.  What about cases where the perpretator has no means of supporting the victim and family? Then a life of servitude is in order. Serve that family in any way you can, and if that means going door to door begging for food for the victims, then get to it.

Will a million dollar punitive damage settlement be fair justice? Perhaps, if that’s what will make the victim feel fairly compensated for the loss of his sight, or hearing, and if the family will feel fairly compensated for the loss of a loved one and the loss of decades of care, help, and income. But, really, would you trade your eyesight for a million dollars? How do you put a price on something like that?

Keep in mind, that this corrupt industry is trying their best to limit their need and inclination to provide restitution to those they’ve harmed. This is immoral in so many ways. Yes, we need to reform our medical industry.

#3. The serial rapist currently preying on the girls and young women of Reno’s UNR campus is not discouraged by fear of death. He is encouraged by his belief that he will not be caught. I guess if we had the cops that are currently busting people for smoking pot, or watching adult movies, or prostitution out there on the streets dealing with real crime, then the criminal would be much less inclined to rape and kill, but he would still yearn for it and would eventually succumb to his weakness.

When caught and convicted, will the correction system be able to rehabilitate him? Was Willie Horton on the path to rehabilitation? I’m not a psychologist, but I know that some people are not able or willing to rehabilitate. Can a jury decide this? I suppose not. Since I’m not a psychologist, I couldn’t decide, and nor could all but a very few jurors. However, many jurors are driven by emotions, especially in cases like this. Decisions based on emotion, are what got us in this mess, it’s obviously not the solution.

In cases where the bad apples must be separated from society, rehabilitation should still be a regular part of the incarceration, but keeping the bad apples out of society has to be the primary focus in these cases. For those who we are unable to keep out of society should then be considered candidates for a more permanent solution. Is that solution Capital Punishment? I don’t think so.

In conclusion, what do we do with the people responsible for 9/11? I suggest we start with impeachment. If we fail to impeach, will that encourage criminal behavior by future presidents? Maybe in some cases, but it’s not a solution in itself, either.

What do we do with the three 9/11 suspects delivered by Bush? Maybe we could start by apologizing for being so un-American and torturing them and refusing them legal council. Then, if they truly are guilty, we could rehabilitate them and use them as poster children on anti-terrorist propaganda to broadcast to religiously fanatical groups here and abroad.

More Telecom Insanity

More Telecom Insanity
David Schlecht

Can anyone believe that our Congress is still pussy-footing around with the Telecom Amnesty bill? Nobody believes that this debate has anything to do with our security or safety. Nobody is that insane. Our elected officials are trying to find a way so slime this one under the table and protect their high-paying Telecom donators from prosecution.

The voters have been watching this very closely and it’s not so easy for Congress to slime it away without being caught, so they’re trying to make it look like they did everything they could to save us but the president and the Republicans scared them and they made a little oopsie.  The Senate has failed America. Now it’s up to the House to do their duty.

The Blue Dogs are sure to side with the enemy — all except a few that are afraid of being caught.

We don’t need a more divided Congress, but as long as the anti-American Republicans are voting in lock-step, the only alternative is for the majority of America to vote in lock-step and vote them out — all of them. Look it up and see if you have a Blue Dog in your area and  write a letter to your newspaper, call a radio talk-show, and, at the very least, write them a letter explaining what they need from Congress and asking if we can get it from them. If not, the answer will be obvious come election day.

The Need for Compromise and Moderation

The Need for Compromise and Moderation
by David Schlecht

Over the past 8 years, the American Conservatives have been totally unwilling to even consider compromise. In fact, Bush’s claim that he had political capital to spend is indicative of the attitude of the entire misguided Republican Party.  Even now, with a slim Democratic majority in the Senate, the Republicans are still refusing to come together for the sake of America. True patriots, don’t ya think?

By a slim and fleeting majority in two branches of the government, the Republican Party decided they could enact their most unsupported and damaging changes, not through moderation and compromise but by turning a deaf ear and even in most cases, a lie of compromise, to those encouraging common sense.  During this time, the Republican Party has moved America off the cliff to the right. The country now is trembling and faltering from so many years of this type of mis-management.

At this point in time, with America teetering so close to the abyss,  it is time to make a major course adjustment to get us back on the reality road, and try to minimize the obvious and pending damage caused by the Republican control. It is at this time that many of the Democratic leaders are clamoring for compromise and moderation and, “oh, let’s all just get along and work together.”

My God, man (and women in Congress), when you’re quickly approaching a cliff, you don’t just make minor adjustments. You slam on the brakes!

It is not time to compromise! It is not time to make minor adjustments! It is not time to find a middle ground. The middle ground is still off the cliff!

It is time to put America back on the right track.

Only then can we feel safe enough to start negotiating and compromising with those intent on destroying America, the Republican Party. Only then can we consider the folly of destroying our tax structure by creating an untouchable upper class and crushing the lower class under the tax burden. Only then can we consider the Republican plan to turn America into yet another Theocracy, similar to all the failed theocracies in the middle east. Only then can we listen to the Republican Party try to explain to us how we’re safer by making enemies with more people and by invading countries under false pretenses.

Until then, compromise and moderation should be off the table. Get back on track first.