Monday, October 17, 2005


The question asked was: is there anything you HAVEN'T screwed up since you became President?

(this column will appear in the 10-20-05 THE ALBANY JOURNAL)

None of us non-medical people would ever dream of walking into an operating room, pushing the surgeon aside, and telling him we could do that heart transplant better than he could. We non-pilots wouldn’t jump into the captain’s seat on a jumbo jet and try to fly it. And it’s doubtful more than a few of us could step into the quarterback’s spot in the middle of a pro football game and run a pro offense without getting killed by the first blitzing linebacker. But when it comes to running the most powerful country in the history of the world, every American considers it his or her God-given right to tell our government where and how it is screwing up and how we could do it better. So in that grand tradition, forthwith, here is my immodest contribution: If I were President instead of Bush, the things I’d do differently:

I’d push for every dollar of stem cell research possible.

I’d take money away from big ticket weapons systems- nuclear powered submarines and carriers- and invest in more manpower for port and border security and and more benefits and pay for the “grunts.”

I’d appoint only judges and justices who have careers which demonstrate the highest regard for the Bill of Rights and that they care about human beings- and who are courteous and even tempered.

I’d act immediately to stop America’s contributions to global warming and pollution.

I’d push for investment in energy efficient and environmentally safe energy sources (solar, wind and geothermal power) and for investments in energy saving vehicles.

I’d get our troops out of Iraq in six months and replace them with peacekeepers who are Muslim Arabic speakers.

I’d push for bi-partisan agreements in Congress to reduce the deficit, including new rules that prohibit attaching unrelated funding bills to Homeland Security and Defense spending.

I’d pardon people in prison for non-violent drug offenses and instruct the Attorney General to cease all prosecutions of doctors and patients who use medical marijuana in States which have legalized their activities, such as Oregon and California.

I’d stop trying to wreck Social Security by privatizing it and instead raise the caps on earnings, put capital gains and interest income into the mix, and lower overall rates (this would also stimulate the economy)

Instead of gay bashing, I’d order the Defense Department to rehire every gay Arabic translator fired and order them to stop enforcing “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Instead, my policy would be: as long as you can keep your hands to yourself (i.e. don’t sexually harass other people whether you are gay or straight) then you are welcome.

I’d speak in places where ordinary people- not just military audiences or hand picked supporters- could attend.

I’d give press conferences and answer questions honestly- including admitting mistakes when made.

I’d fire Karl Rove and keep out of the White House any person who thinks his or her job is mudslinging or partisan attacks on my opponents.

I’d support the United Nations peacekeeping missions and work to create an international force that could and would react to global terrorist attacks from places like Afghanistan and genocide in places like Darfur, Sudan.

Until that happened, I’d immediately tell the leaders of Sudan that they have 24 hours to stop the genocide and stand down the government sponsored killers. If they didn’t, I’d mobilize an international force, including troops from other African nations, to come in, take over the government, and put in a U.N. protectorate that would stop the genocide.

I’d make the U.S. part of the International Criminal Court and send Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush to stand trial for war crimes.

I’d stop classifying documents that didn’t need to be secret, and issue executive orders to comply fully with Freedom of Information Act Requests.

I’d dismantle the Department of Homeland Security and simply tell the heads of the CIA, DIA, FBI, NSA and other intelligence agencies that if they can’t make their employees share information with other American agencies trying to stop terrorist attacks, then they’re fired.

I’d tell Iraq that they can forget about putting in a Constitution that doesn’t include a First Amendment which guarantees Freedom of Religion and Freedom from an establishment of religion. Although I wish we’d never invaded and taken over their country, it would be a disgrace if American soldiers died so that they could institute an intolerant, Taliban like religious dictatorship.

I’d tell North Korea that they can waste all the time and resources that they want building nukes- but if they continue to create a viable nuclear weapons program which has produced bombs, then if any nuke explodes anywhere in the world whose home address we can’t determine, we’ll assume it was theirs and act accordingly. The only way they can be sure to avoid a nuclear retaliation will be to disarm their nuclear bombs, dismantle their nuclear weapons facilities and allow free inspections. And I’d tell Iran, Pakistan, and India, the same thing.

I’d permit federally funded family planning clinics to resume giving out all information ways to prevent pregnancy.

I’d come up with a single payer plan for all medical expenses paid by insurance or HMO’s. I’d push for a Federal plan for catastrophic health insurance for every American.

I’d promote campaign finance reform that would eliminate all non-public money from federal campaigns. In the meantime, I’d instruct every U.S. Attorney to prosecute every campaign donor and every recipient who had a reasonable expectation of a quid pro quo for the money contributed- i.e. defense contractors, pharmaceutical companies, telecommunications companies, and so forth.

I’d read books. And newspapers.

And lastly, I’d spend a good bit of my time going out to different parts of America and having conversations with regular people about what they want their government to do for them.


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