Planet News Views

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Autumn, Meet Winter! The Season That Just Can't Wait

Inside, it's warm and cozy.

On a cold, dark autumn afternoon,
snowflakes fall on the landscape.

Photos by Scott McLean

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wishing You a Wonderful Week!

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm getting hungry for a feast and plan to have seconds of cranberries and yams. But I would leave some for you, if you were here...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wrangling With Congressman Rangel Over His Terrible Draft Idea

By Scott McLean

Someday it might be cool to get a senior citizen discount. But don't rush me. For now, being 'barely' middle-aged has its privileges, such as being too old for a proposed draft by Congressman Charles Rangel, a draft idea that has shocked Americans. In my opinion, nobody, regardless of age, should be drafted to fight in Iraq or in this war on terror.

While this strange draft idea doesn't appear to be going anwhere with his fellow Democrats, who will in January take over the leadership in Congress, it does raise a red flag that there could be trouble ahead for Congress trying to figure out what to do next about Iraq.

Congressman Rangel would be better off using his time and energy working with the Democratic leadership on realistic proposals to bring an end to the war. Rangel's draft idea seems to have the goal of causing more opposition to war in Congress and among the elites who would be afraid their grown children (from age 18) would be drafted.

Now, I might as well add my name to the long list of people who think the war in Iraq is looking more like the Vietnam War everday.

It's a protracted military involvement and doesn't appear to be a war that can be won, which is basically what Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, has said, and a sharp contrast with President Bush's belief that the war can be won.

That doesn't make it necessary to have a draft, or increase the number of troops as Senator John McCain and others including some Democratic Senators, Senator Hillary Clinton included in this group, as I understand it. No, not at all.
The only way to bring the war to an end is to decide to do so, then decide the timetable and stages for withdrawal of troops.

Without a plan in place, the war could go on and on for a very long time. It would be the right approach for Congress to deal with this directly, rather than propose a draft or increase troops in order to get out later.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Candidate McCain in Search of Conservatives

By Scott McLean

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) is running for president, or at least it looks that way. McCain is known as a fiscal conservative and is hoping to set himself apart by stressing his conservatism.

Last week at a Federal Society dinner, McCain said Republicans lost their majorities in Congress because they abandoned their political beliefs of limited government. The senator's remarks are in a press release on his web site. (I'll add my thoughts, but first let's see what he said on the topic of conservatism.)

“Hypocrisy, my friends, is the most obvious of political sins. And the people will punish it. We were elected to reduce the size of government and enlarge the sphere of free and private initiative. We increased the size of government in the false hope that we could bribe the public into keeping us in office. And the people punished us. We lost our principles and our majority. And there is no way to recover our majority without recovering our principles first," McCain said.

Now what I wanted to say:

First, I agree. Republican politicians lost their advantage on the money issues. Republican candidates over the years have won elections by criticizing Democrats for raising taxes and then spending the money.

Now, Republicans are spending money like it grows on trees, and instead of finding revenues to offset the spending, they have chosen to run up huge deficits, adding to the national debt.

There seems to be little interest in reducing waste in spending on the war in Iraq. Conflicting priorities is one reason. Conservatives typically support a strong defense, the meaning of which has been expanded over the past five years to protecting the United States from terrorism and going after terrorists abroad.

I believe there should be limits on this so-called war on terror.

The congressional elections showed Americans are fed up with this war in Iraq without timetables, without spending limits and without limits to how many casualties are too many.

After Republicans got trounced in the elections, some conservative radio talk show hosts made excuses and said the majority of Americans are still conservatives.

I'm not listening anymore to them put down liberals and moderates. This evening I was just flipping the radio dial and got an earful of them saying more angry words. They get paid big money to mouth off and say some absurd things.

I don't believe most Americans are conservatives, as they claim, but I do think Americans want Congress to quit wasting so much money on the war.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just Enjoying Friday Night

I'm back. The latte is great! I had to stir it a bit. And when I got home, I added some milk. I'm still sipping on it as I write. It's an iced latte.

I suppose most people prefer a hot drink on a cool autumn evening. But it's only light jacket weather, dry outside, not raining. I'm going to get some rest and publish again on Saturday.

Friday Night Latte and Politics

I'll be drinking my Friday night latte in a few minutes. Once I head on over to the local coffee house. Maybe then it will make sense why some political talk show hosts don't seem to understand this world is made up of all different kinds of people.

No it won't. It doesn't make sense now, and it never will.

Anyway, after a tasty latte, I will be back with some comments on American politics and whatever else seems interesting to me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Talk About a Timetable for U.S. Troops Leaving Iraq

By Scott McLean

Democrats won majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in last Tuesday's congressional elections. Opposition to the war in Iraq was a top reason so many Republican incumbents were defeated.

While there's not much talk about pulling out of Iraq right away, the fact that there is talk about a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal shows that political change is coming.

Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is talking about a way to gradually get the troops out of Iraq. I like what he's saying.

The following is an excerpt from Senator Levin's statement at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq:

"The only way for Iraqi leaders to squarely face that reality is for President Bush to tell them that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months. That is not precipitous. It is a responsible way to change the dynamic in Iraq, to stop the march down the path to full blown civil war on which the Iraqis are now embarked. Yes, some U.S. troops would need to remain in Iraq for the limited missions of counter-terrorism and training of Iraqi Security Forces, and to provide logistical support and force protection. And yes, we should also convene an international conference to support a political settlement and to provide resources for Iraq’s reconstruction."

I hope Senator Levin can get some action on this idea in the Senate. By the way, does anyone know what the strategy is in Iraq? I don't expect an answer. But just think about it. Whatever the strategy has been, it hasn't worked.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow didn't give an inch when the proposal for phased withdrawal was brought up Monday at a White House press briefing.

"As far as phased withdrawal, the President has always said, look, this is dependent upon the conditions on the ground. And that remains our position. The President believes that as Commander-in-Chief it is his obligation to make sure that our forces get the job done so that people don't die in vain, have not died in vain. And, furthermore, that we have the ability, when this is all over, to be able to say to moderate Arab states, we have been here, we have defended your interests; to say to the Iraqi people, we have kept the faith with you; and to say to terrorists, you failed," Snow said.

The conditions in Iraq are far from the kind of peace the president has said is his goal for the country. The matter is whether chaos is a reason for troops to remain in Iraq or to bring them home.

At the same time, it's difficult for most people to understand the meaning of "moderate Arab states" when there is so much violence motivated by religious hatred in the Middle East.

Snow's statement might be an accurate representation of President Bush's position on Iraq. However, Bush used to say over and over his policy was to "stay the course" in Iraq, which was the main reason Democrats won control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Americans voted for a new direction, especially in Iraq. A timetable for troop withdrawal, such as Senator Levin's proposal, would be a step in the right direction.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Senator Reid Outlines Democrats' Priorities in Spanish

Democrats won control of Congress last week. President Bush met with Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. They said it was time to put partisan differences behind them and work together.

Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, is expected to be the new Senate majority leader as Democrats won a majority of Senate seats.

In an effort to provide post-election information to Spanish speaking immigrants, I have decided to post a press release in Spanish from Senator Reid. The press release follows:


Friday, November 10, 2006
Washington, DC—El Líder Demócrata del Senado Harry Reid (D-NV) emitió hoy las siguientes declaraciones sobre cómo los demócratas cumplirán con traer la nueva dirección que las familias latinas están exigiendo.

“Desde Searchlight, Nevada a Brooklyn, Nueva York, los estadounidenses a través del país hicieron un llamado por un cambio este martes. Los hispanos también se dejaron escuchar y ellos expresaron abrumadoramente su deseo de una nueva dirección de esperanza y prosperidad que los demócratas estamos comprometidos con lograr.

“Los demócratas hemos escuchado el mensaje de las familias latinas y estamos listos para cumplir con ellos y con todo el pueblo estadounidense. Necesitamos una mejor dirección en cuanto a educación, salud, la economía, inmigración e Irak para asegurar un futuro de esperanza para nuestra nación.

“Los demócratas estamos comprometidos con una serie de prioridades, incluyendo arreglar nuestro sistema roto de inmigración. Nuestro país necesita fortalecer la seguridad en nuestras fronteras, traer a millones de indocumentados fuera de las sombras de nuestra sociedad y restaurar el orden legal para nuestro sistema de inmigración. Los demócratas tenemos muchos deseos de trabajar con los republicanos para lograr una verdadera seguridad fronteriza a través de una reforma inmigratoria bi-partidista, fuerte, justa y práctica.

“Además, tenemos que atender los temas de educación y la crisis de salud que muchas familias latinas enfrentan. En la actualidad, los hispanos tienen la tasa de deserción escolar más alta del país y la cantidad de personas sin seguro médico más alta – uno de cada tres latinos no tiene seguro médico. Esto es inaceptable. Los demócratas vamos a luchar por las prioridades de los trabajadores estadounidenses y de la clase media. Ha llegado un día nuevo y los demócratas estamos comprometidos con cumplir para proveerle un mejor futuro a las familias de nuestra nación”.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Democrats Win Control of Congress

Democratic leaders talk about working together and change of strategy in Iraq

By Scott McLean

Democrats are now in control of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to become the next House speaker, while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be the Senate majority leader.

Election Day was as interesting as it's been in a long time. Before Election Day, I thought Democrats had a good chance of winning majorities in the House and Senate, but it wasn't a prediction, just an educated guess.

Americans were fed up with the war in Iraq and angered by a Republican-controlled congress unable or unwilling to deal with pressing domestic issues and at the same time give the president everything he wanted to fight the unpopular war.

Now things could get much more interesting as President Bush and the Democrats in Congress will have to work together to be effective.

After many of the election results came in Wednesday morning, Congresswoman Pelosi spoke about the kind of Congress Americans could look forward to under Democratic leadership.

“The American people voted for a New Direction to restore civility and bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. Democrats promise to work together in a bipartisan way for all Americans. The American people voted to restore integrity and honest in Washington, D.C. And the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi said.

President Bush in a press conference Wednesday talked about finding "common ground" with Democrats on issues including immigration reforms and energy policy.

"The people expect us to work together. That's what they expect," Bush said.

Bush said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation would have happened regardless of the election results.

Still, the mandate for change on Election Day was clear. American voters want change, especially regarding the war in Iraq and Rumsfeld received a lot of criticism of late.

The war on terror may not be over any time soon, but a timetable for leaving Iraq could be discussed by government leaders before long.

Senator Reid on Wednesday made it clear he wants a new strategy in Iraq.

"Today, I ask the President to convene a bipartisan Iraq summit with the leaders of Congress and the Chairman and Ranking Members of key national security committees. After more than three years of a failed strategy, we must come together to change course and give the American people and our troops the real security they deserve," Reid said.

It's also quite likely Democratic leaders will want more details on current strategy in Iraq and oversight of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the war thus far.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats To Lead Congress

By Scott McLean

Democrats won control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday. At the time of this writing, they are also close to taking control of the Senate, as the Democratic candidate in Virginia has what looks like a comfortable lead in the vote count. That senate seat would give Democrats a majority in the Senate.

President Bush in his press conference Wednesday expressed a willingness to work together with Democrats to find "common ground" on some issues.

Bush, a Republican, said he would meet later this week with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader who is expected to be the next House Speaker.

The president must find ways to work with Democrats to avoid gridlock if he intends to keep his priorities moving forward.

Next time, I will have comments by President Bush and the Democratic leaders, along with analysis of the congressional elections.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Have a Great Evening...

morning or afternoon! Take care.

Congressional Elections About Direction of U.S. Government

Democrats may not be providing enough details on what they will do if they take control of Congress, but Republicans have fallen short in leadership and getting things done

By Scott McLean

Democrats and Republicans are at it again. With verbal pokes and attack ads abundant, the races may be fun to follow for political activists, but one can't blame most Americans for wishing the campaign spectacle would just go away.

And then there is the fine art of the political 'spin'. The White House is a good place to look for Republican campaign talk--and spin--because President Bush wants another two years of Republican control of Congress.

If Democrats take control by winning enough House and Senate races for a majority in each chamber, the president will have hard time getting what he wants from Congress.

Tony Snow, the White House Press Secretary, a national talk show host prior to taking this job, seems like nice guy and a great spokesman for the president, who in my opinion deserved those poor poll numbers. Snow's job must be very difficult, although at times he makes it look easy.

There seems to be little problem getting reporters to like him, the problem is trying to make voters like Republican congressmen. At one time Congress had worse poll numbers than the president.

What are Democrats going to do as leaders in Congress if they win big on Election Day? Tony Snow wants to know! During this week's White House Press Briefing he said Democrats don't have a plan.

About Democrats in Congress, Snow said: "They've talked about a whole series of things, in terms of complaining -- looking back over their shoulders and complaining about past decisions. But when it comes to the key issue, how do you achieve victory -- they say they want to achieve it, but they won't tell you how. They will tell you what they oppose what the President is doing. They oppose the Patriot Act; they have opposed the Terrorist Surveillance Program; they oppose the program by which we detain, question and bring to justice the worst of the terrorists. So they have opposed all of those things, so we know what they oppose, but we don't know what they're going to do."

I do agree, they should say what they will do, but if the Democrats decide to reverse some of these programs or at least ensure that the programs will not violate the civil liberties of regular Americans, then that is a plan. It's a great plan as I see it.

The scope of these programs must be limited to preventing terrorism and catching terrorists, and the government should stop violating the privacy rights of regular Americans.

But it begins by having a Congress that doesn't just let the president do whatever he wants in the war on terror, especially they need to stop wasting billions of dollars as though it were pocket change.

I know Americans care about those billions, which now adds up to well over $300 billion spent on the war in Iraq. I seem to recall Republicans were against wasting taxpayer dollars. Times have changed. It doesn't appear they have such a big advantage over Democrats on that issue anymore.

Republicans are responsible for enormous waste of Americans' hard-earned money. Maybe that's the kind of plan Snow was talking about. If so, he may be right. I doubt that Democrats have a plan to waste so much money on the war.