Saturday, September 29, 2007


Should we wait until all the US is this crowded?
Over Populated - Are We There Yet?

The quotes below come from Urban and Slum Trends in the 21st Century by Eduardo Lopez Moreno and Rasna Warah (UN Chronicle Online Edition, The State of the World's Cities Report 2006/7). Emphasis added.

Sometimes it takes just one human being to tip the scales and change the course of history. In 2007, that human being will either move to or be born in a city, and demographers watching urban trends will mark it as the moment when the world entered a new urban millennium in which the majority of its people will live in cities. It will also see the number of slum dwellers cross the one-billion mark, when one in every three city residents will live in inadequate housing, with no or few basic services.

There are now about 6 billion people on earth and 1 billion of those people live in urban slums. Also from the report,

This report unfolds a new urban reality, showing how poor living conditions impact slum dwellers: they die younger, experience more hunger, have less or no education, have fewer chances for employment in the formal sector and suffer more from ill-health.

And finally,

The growth of slums in the last 15 years has been unprecedented. In 1990, there were nearly 715 million slum dwellers in the world. By 2000, the slum population had increased to 912 million and to approximately 998 million today. UN-HABITAT estimates that if current trends continue, it will reach 1.4 billion by 2020.

Over Populated - Are We There Yet?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Huckabee - Prepare For Armed Revolt

My previous post hit some of the low points of Governor Huckabee's speech to the NRA, but the more I thought about it, I decided it was important to focus on one part of his speech that clearly shows he is not qualified to be President of the United States.

He said "The Second Amendment is about preserving freedom." and then he said of the Second Amendment:

“It is the last goal line. The last bastion of defense against even our own government should it go completely awry and turn into tyranny. And I know that sounds a little radical in this day and time, and some people don't understand it, but if they really would think through it they would realize that an unarmed citizenry is a citizenry that has no capacity against even its own government should its government forget what it is supposed to do.”

Yes, Governor, that does sound a little radical.

What he is saying is that citizens should arm themselves just in case they need to take up arms against their own government! He wants to be President of the United States, the head of the Executive Branch which is charged with enforcing our laws, and he is telling people they should be prepared to take up arms, violently break the law, if the government does things they don't agree with.

At what point should we take up arms against the government? First Governor Huckabee suggests it is when our government goes "completely awry and turn[s] into tyranny." Later he expands on this benchmark and suggests armed revolt when the "government forget[s] what it is supposed to do."

Does he understand the Constitution? Does he understand the concept of checks and balances? Does he not believe that, as a country, we can continue to follow the constitution and protect the rights of its citizens? Does he have no faith that people elected to office will honor their oaths to the Constitution? Doesn't he have confidence that citizens will use their votes to correct problems before we reach the need to start shooting at each other?

Does he understand that what he is proposing would be civil war and the end of the United States?

He is not advocating sedition, but he is saying you should prepare for it. He believes our government is clearly capable of going "awry" or forgetting "what it is supposed to do". Crimes so heinous that armed revolt would be justified.

By the way, he makes the point in another part of the speech that you can't count on getting a weapon when you need it, which means you should get a weapon before you need it. I think this explains why he is not in favor of a ban on assault weapons. You are not going to take on the government with shotguns and deer rifles.

It sounds like Governor Huckabee thinks it is quite possible that the United States government will "go completely awry and turn into tyranny" which means he is not ready for prime time. I find his logic frightening. It makes me wonder if his interpretation of "Militia" in the Second Amendment is closer to the militia currently terrorizing Iraq - lawless citizen armies that fight a government they don't believe responds to their desires.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Huckabee Panders to the NRA

Ask candidates for office if they take money from the NRA and if they do, don't vote for them. I caught part of Rudy Giuliani's speech to the NRA and all of Governor Mike Huckabee's speech. Before Republican's complain about how Democrats pander to, they should watch these speeches (click here and then on Archived Materials/Browse Archive). The way these guys torture logic may not be covered by the Geneva Convention, but it should fall under the rules of common sense.

Huckabee described the time he chided a reporter who stated she didn't understand why a hunter needed an automatic weapon. The reporter clearly didn't understand the difference between an automatic and semi-automatic weapon (which she should have) and asked Huckabee to explain. Huckabee drew a laugh from the audience when he admitted he wanted to respond by questioning the reporter's intelligence. Huckabee and the reporter obviously shared a bond of ignorance (pun intended).

Huckabee then went on to try to explain why the Second Amendment is just as important as the First Amendment. I suppose that might be true if we choose candidates using bullets instead of ballots. Or if we made laws based on the size of your gun rather than the strength of your ideas. Actually, maybe Huckabee and his friends at the NRA would consider trading ballots for bullets, read on.

Note to Huckabee: Guns may be required to defend a democracy from external physical threats, but it is speech, debate and ideas that build democracies, keep them strong and growing and protect them from insidious internal threats.

Governor Huckabee spent a great deal of time explaining that it was important to protect hunting and a way of life many Americans value. I agree. But like too many NRA members, he couldn't stop there. He also argued that the Second Amendment was about more than just hunting. Smart move, since the amendment starts with "A well regulated Militia". He then spoke about the importance of guns for self defense and finally about guns as the final defense against a rogue United States government. Here is a man who wants to be President of the United States telling people to arm themselves so they can overthrow the government if it isn't doing what they want. Unbelievable! Would citizens taking up arms against the government still qualify as "A well regulated Militia"?

To his credit, he never raised the possibility that we would all need to get out our guns and man the barricades against Islamic Fascists!

Huckabee was fired up. I wasn't sure if he was energized by the smell of gun powder or the smell of power. He admitted he had a permit in Arkansas to carry a concealed weapon. A fact he wanted critics of his politics to know about and he wasn't talking about critics in the Republican party. Listening, I had to wonder if, as President, he would give the State of the Union address while packin' heat.

Just to make sure everyone in the room understood he was also a cowboy, he included a wistful thought about the United Nations breaking off and floating down the East River. That, of course, energized the crowd. That wimpy lot over at the UN talk too much for these NRA gun slingers. For that matter they probably also think too much.

If Governor Huckabee gets the nomination there is enough material in his speech for the Democrats to make at least half a dozen good campaign commercials.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Straw Men Deserve A Medal

How do you know when the President and Republicans have no clue how to extricate us from Iraq?

When their best option is a preemptive attack on

Someone should start a body count of the straw men who have been sacrificed in defense of this administration. They certainly deserve a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Were Senator Clinton's Answers Delayed?

Was it just me, or was there a delay between the end of a Chris Wallace question from the viewer's perspective and the start of Senator Clinton's response (Fox Views Sunday, 09/23/2007)? It looked like it might have been a small satellite transmission delay. It was not as long as a delay as we see on interviews from Iraq, but it was long enough to make it look, at times, like Senator Clinton was pausing before each answer. A couple of times I thought it made her look like she was being tentative with an answer.

I didn't notice the delay when Senator Clinton was being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC News' 'This Week' even though I believe Senator Clinton was interviewed from the same location. It is quite possible the ABC interview was prerecorded and they had the delay edited out.

For all their proclamations of Fair and Balanced, I don't trust FOX.

Hillary Out-foxed FOX!

Senator Hillary Clinton was a guest on FOX Views Sunday this morning. Chris Wallace served up a knuckle-ball question to lead off the interview and sprinkled in a couple of screwballs and curves, but Senator Clinton didn't take a swing at any of the junk pitches thrown at her. In a hostile stadium and without the home field advantage, she hit a home run and took home a victory.

For those of you who don't like sports analogies, she refused to be goaded into confirming stereotypes and kept her message clear and focused. She consistently made the point that she was more interested in solutions than partisan distractions. She handled all the questions, serious and right-wing red meat, with ease. She looked prepared, intelligent, serious, reasonable and presidential. Even worse, for the Republicans, she looked like a winner.

By the way, as always, Chris Wallace told her at the end of the interview that she was always welcome on FOX Views Sunday. I doubt that she will be invited back for another one on one interview with Chris Wallace. She out-foxed FOX!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Time For Change! Time For Action!

I'm tired of hearing that the Democrats only want defeat in Iraq or that the Democrats have no plan. It has become clear that the President is the one who has given up. He doesn't want the failure to come on his watch so his plan is to stall and turn the mess over to someone else. There is hope for Iraq, but the new ideas are not going to come from this administration.

Senator Joe Biden has been talking about his Plan For Iraq for over a year. He has, with Senator Brownback and Senator Boxer, sponsored a bill to implement this plan. Please read his letter below and sign the petition. The vote on this measure is coming up next Tuesday and we need to put pressure on members of the House and Senate to get behind this approach.

The following is a letter from Senator Joe Biden sent to supporters.

As it becomes clear that President Bush plans to pass the Iraq war off to our next President, the debate over our policy there has reached a fevered pitch in Washington, DC and around the country.

Surge, Don't Surge, Timetables, Funding, Militias, Iran, Al Quaeda -- with all the lingo and spin being thrown around by everyone, it's easy to lose track of the most important factor that will determine what happens in Iraq.

That's the need for a political settlement in Iraq among Iraqis. Every Democrat and most Republicans agree there is no purely military way to stabilize Iraq -- there has to be a political settlement. That begs the question: what is that political settlement?

When you boil it all down, there are really only two choices in Iraq:

1. Continue to support, as President Bush has done, the idea that a strong central government will emerge in Iraq that will pull the country together, or

2. Realize that there is too much hatred and distrust for the various groups to reach consensus on the big issues, and begin to establish a federal system -- where each region of Iraq is given a great deal of control over its laws and government.
President Bush, and many Democrats continue to cling to choice #1, hoping against hope that if we just keep enough troops in Iraq long enough, or threaten to leave one more time, we can build or force unity where none exists.

Five years into this war, what's left for us to say to the Iraqi government? "We really, really, REALLY mean it this time."

It's time to abandon this strategy. It's not working.

I have called for a loose, federal system with strong regional governments for more than a year now, as Iraq's constitution provides. It would give Iraq's people local control over their daily lives -- the police, education, jobs, government services, etc. And people from both sides of the political aisle are joining me to try to make this a reality.

Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and I introduced the Biden-Brownback-Boxer amendment, which calls for working with the Iraqis to transition the country into a federal system, as their Constitution allows and securing the support of the United Nations and Iraq's neighbors for this plan.

Majority Leader Harry Reid has called on Dems to unite in support for the measure and Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chuck Shumer (D-NY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-AR) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) have joined us as co-sponsors. In an important display of bipartisanship, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Gordon Smith (R-OR), and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) are also supporting the amendment.


There are 3 things you can do today to help us reach the only viable political solution in Iraq and begin to bring our troops home without leaving a bloodbath behind.

1. Click here to sign our petition in support of the Biden-Brownback-Boxer amendment. We will send your signatures to other members of the House and Senate to convince them to support the amendment.

2. Call the presidential candidates in the Senate, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Chris Dodd to urge them to vote against the failed Bush administration's policy of propping up a central government by supporting our Biden-Brownback-Boxer amendment.

Hillary Clinton: (202) 224-4451
Barack Obama: (202) 224-2854
Chris Dodd: (202) 224-2823

3. Call the other presidential candidates, Bill Richardson and John Edwards, and tell them to support a federal system in Iraq by supporting the Senators behind the Biden-Brownback-Boxer amendment.

Bill Richardson: (505) 828-2455
John Edwards: (919) 636-3131

As I said earlier, the choice is pretty stark: you either think the central government in Iraq can get the job done or you don't. It's time for our nation's leaders, especially the ones campaigning to be President, to take a stand.

I know where I stand.

Join me to convince others that this is the best way to end the war and avoid a total catastrophe when we leave. Your action today will help shape this debate. Please act and forward this message to others who care about what's going on in Iraq.

Thank you,

Joe Biden

09/25/2007 Update. It looks like the vote won't happen today which means there is still time to call and ask the candidates and your Senators to support the resolution.

09/26/2007 Update. The bill passed the Senate today 75-23. Maybe we can change the course in Iraq before January, 2009. Thank you, Joe Biden!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Note to Senate: Stand Up For The Troops!

Back in December, 2004, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously said,

"As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want."

As has been demonstrated, this administration inherited a damn good military. What shape will the military be in when President Bush leaves office in January, 2009?

It is time to pass the Webb-Hagel Dwell Time Amendment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ban Assault Weapons, Not Gay Marriages

Ask candidates for office if they take money from the NRA and if they do, don't vote for them.Several years ago I heard an NRA spokesman downplaying the idea that allowing the sale of assault weapons in the United States could be a problem. As I recall, he claimed that an assault weapon had not been used to kill anyone in the U.S., or something close to that. I thought at the time that it sounded like an absurd claim.

This week we have a report from the Associated Press that assault weapons are now becoming the weapon of choice for gangs in Miami (Assault-Weapon Attacks on Rise in Miami Area, Where Police Officer Was Slain, by Matt Sedensky).
The spray of bullets that killed a police officer and hurt three others
this week came from something increasingly common on this city's streets: a
high-powered assault weapon, fast becoming the gun of choice for gang members
and violent criminals.
Will the United States become like Iraq, where you have to have an assault weapon in your house to feel safe? How long before builders are advertising houses with bullet proof glass and walls so people don't have to worry about stray high powered bullets?

We consider ourselves a civilized country. But does a civilized country allow weapons designed for war to be sold legally for as little as $200?

There is something very wrong in this country. We have people who will only vote for politicians who support a ban on gay marriage, but don't seem to be the least upset that we allow our country to be filled with guns meant only for war!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Return On Success - Stay On Failure

The Conventional Wisdom Watch in this week's Newsweek (September 24, 2007) nailed the new Bush policy:

Return On Success - Stay On Failure

Actually, this doesn't sound like a new policy. It is just a better explanation of their policies from day one and explains why President Bush has been saying for several years that getting out of Iraq would be a task for the next president. The man knows his limitations.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

President Bush The Actor

Fred Thompson has entered the presidential race. He joins another famous actor, Ronald Reagan, in his pursuit of the presidency. Maybe he will make a good president, but we have an actor in the White House now and it is not working out very well.

The first excerpt in Slate (read excerpts here) from Robert Draper's new book, Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, makes it even more clear what motivates President Bush's policy in Iraq. To pursue anything but clear success in Iraq would be to dishonor the men and women who have fought there. Especially those who were wounded or died there.

Here is an excerpt from the book,

He viewed it as the commander in chief's obligation to visit with those who had suffered loss as a result of his decisions. "Sometimes it's not pleasant, and I understand that," Bush said as he leaned back from his vanquished bowl of ice cream. "And they have every right to be unpleasant. Sometimes there are disagreements. ... Yeah, it's hard. And to see the wounded, the head injuries. But that's part of the presidency, to immerse yourself in their emotions. Because they look at the president and they—most of them—say, 'My son or daughter did what they wanted to do.' The interesting thing is, the healer gets healed. I appreciate it."

And later,

For the first and only time in that seventy-minute monologue-dominated conversation, Bush fell silent for several seconds. "Yeah, well," he finally said. "When you're responsible for putting a kid in harm's way, you better understand that if that kid thinks you're making a decision based on polls—or something other than what you think is right, or wrong, based upon principles—then you're letting that kid down. And you're creating conditions for doubt. And you can't give a kid a gun and have him doubt whether or not the president thinks it's right, and have him doubt whether or not he's gonna be supportive in all ways. And you can't learn that until you're the guy sitting behind the desk."
To admit doubt or misgivings would be telling these men and women that their sacrifices were for nothing. He could never look a wounded warrior in the eye again. He could never face the tears of a grieving parent, spouse or child.

No, George Bush will not let polls change his direction. He won't logically reflect on what might be best for the country at this point. He can't he even consider what might be best for the troops who haven't yet been wounder or killed. His plan is to stay loyal to the troops who have made sacrifices and insist that the cause is worth their effort as long as he is president. Someone else will have dishonor their sacrifices. He has to play the part of a President loyal to his troops. A script he wrote himself.

Stay and Play

With the revelations from the new book Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush by Robert Draper (read excerpts at Slate) we have learned that President Bush's Iraq slogan has morphed again.

He has gone from "Stay the Course" to "Stay and Pray" and now to "Stay and Play".

Senator Biden's Plan For Iraq

I heard a Republican strategist on TV whining that Democrats complain about President Bush, but she hadn't heard any of the Democratic candidates put forth their own plan to deal with Iraq. That's probably because she never listens to anything except Fox Views. Or maybe she said she hadn't heard any Democratic plan to WIN in Iraq. Which would be even more absurd because it is clear that President Bush's plan is to pass Iraq off to the next president.

Below is a copy of an email sent by Senator Biden to supporters. In it is a link to the Plan For Iraq that he and Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, proposed in May of 2006.

Republicans may disagree with Senator Biden and Mr. Gelb, but they should stop saying no one besides President Bush has a plan. (By the way, I heard a pundit say that a version of the Biden plan is being quietly talked about in the White House as plan CWDWDN, the fall back if the President is forced to do something.)

Text of Senator Biden's September, 4, 2007, email:

Yesterday we learned that President Bush went to Iraq to survey the situation on the ground first hand. This is good news. The President needs to see what the rest of us have seen and know. While his plan for a surge in Iraq has had limited and temporary military success, it has not brought about the kind of political reconciliation the President and his Cabinet had hoped for.

It is my sincere hope that the President went to Iraq, not with an outcome in mind, but with his eyes open looking to learn the facts on the ground. And the facts are: there is no chance that Iraq can be governed by a strong central government no matter how many troops we have there.

We'll be hearing a lot about the "surge" over the next several weeks, but we all must remember its original purpose: to buy time for the central government in Iraq to get its act together and win the trust of all Iraqis.

That will not happen.

Absent an occupation which we cannot sustain or the return of a dictator which we cannot support, Iraq cannot be governed from the center at this point in its history.

There is no trust within the government, no trust of the government by the people, no capacity by the government to deliver security and services, and no prospect it will build that trust and capacity any time soon.

I've been making that case for over a year. And so have more and more experts, in and out of government.

Back in November, CIA director Michael Hayden made this very point in a private meeting with the Iraq Study Group. He said "the inability of the [central] government to govern is irreversible." There is no "milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around," he said. "We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government... that cannot function."

Two weeks ago, our entire intelligence community came to the same conclusion. The National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq found that "Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively" and predicted that "the Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to twelve months."

As everyone knows, I have offered a plan ( that contains the possibility, not the guarantee, of promoting stability in Iraq as we leave. It's based on the reality that Iraq cannot be governed from the center.

Instead, we have to give its warring factions breathing room in their own regions, with control over the fabric of their daily lives - police, education, jobs, marriage, and religion.

A limited central government would be in charge of truly common concerns, including protecting Iraq's borders and distributing oil revenues.

The good news is: the federal system at the heart of my plan is already in Iraq's constitution and in its laws.

We should refocus our efforts on making federalism work for all Iraqis. It is past time to make Iraq's the world's problem, not just our own.

Thank you,

Joe Biden

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Should we wait until all the US is this crowded?
Over Populated - Are We There Yet?

I watched NOVA on PBS last night, "Dimming The Sun". They described some of the scientific research that proves that airborne particles (and the cloud formations that they facilitate) significantly reduce the amount of sunlight that strikes the surface of the earth. This reduction in sunlight has a measurable cooling effect on the earth.

While this reduction in sun light and the cooling effect might seem to be a beneficial counter to global warming, it also causes problems. Scientists believe it may have contributed to some of the devastating droughts in Africa and, of course, air pollution is a serious health concern.

The most sobering observations were that global dimming has masked the effects of global warming and that as we continue to make progress decreasing air pollution, we will greatly increase the rate of global warming. The current models that attempt to project the rate of global warming do not take into account the full effects of global dimming. We may have much less time to bring global warming under control. Many decades less time. There is a point at which the effects of global warming begin to cascade and there will be nothing we can do to reverse it. Let me say it again, there is a point where reversing global warming will be completely out of our control. That time may be closer than we think.

It has taken decades to convince people that global warming is real. How long would it take to convince people we should stop trying to prevent air pollution until global warming is under control?

I'm sure there are people who will argue that global dimming is just as unreal as global warming, but they've been arguing against global warming for years and so far no good, hard evidence has appeared to suggest they are correct. Global warming is a big problem that will take massive and, probably, painful solutions.

One of the solutions to global warming should be population reduction. Reducing the world's population by itself will not reverse global warming fast enough, but it should be a another tool.

Doesn't common sense tell us that more people on the planet will only make our environmental problems worse? At some point there will be more people on earth than the planet can support. When that time comes we can reduce population several ways: nature can make drastic reductions (disease, famine, loss of habitat), governments can force family planning or we can make voluntary reductions. Since the first two have already occurred in some places, shouldn't we be proactive and start voluntary reductions?

By the way, if we don't bring global warming under control soon, population reduction will occur.