Monthly Archives: September 2011

Meet the real Georgia killers

georgia board of pardonsMeet the five people responsible for the death of Troy Davis – the Georgia Board of Pardons. We don’t know how they voted. It is possible that one or two of these people is innocent. As a group, however, they conspired and announced their death sentence. Troy Davis will be killed on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 7:00PM.

(Update: Troy Davis was executed by the State of Georgia and pronounced dead at 11:08PM. Witnesses reported that his last words from gurney with the needle already in were addressed to the victim’s family and his prison guards, “I’d like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I’m not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight. For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls.”)

Troy Davis was convicted in 1989 for the murder of Savannah of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. No physical evidence linking Davis to the murder was presented at the trial. No gun was ever found. Seven of the nine witnesses in his trial have since recanted their testimony – several later testified they had been coerced by the police and the prosecution. An eighth witness, Redd Coles, has admitted that he was the killer.

“Calls for Davis to be spared execution have been made by numerous dignitaries, including former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director William Sessions, former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher and Larry Thompson, the former deputy U.S. attorney general. Davis’ advocates, including Amnesty International and the NAACP, have used social media to rally worldwide support. Last week, Davis’ supporters presented the parole board with the names of more than 663,000 people asking that Davis be granted clemency.” – AJC.com

The Troy Davis case has been problematic since the beginning and is a poster child of what can go wrong, even in modern day Georgia, when political pressure to convict in a police shooting meets a poor black defendant. (Wikipedia has a quick overview.)

“This has been an extraordinary legal saga since the murder in 1989, and two years ago the United States Supreme Court did something it almost never does – instructed a District Court in Georgia to take another look at the case, hold a hearing,” Toobin said.
A Savannah judge did just that, Toobin said, and issued a 170-page opinion saying that, despite the recanted testimony, “there is no substantial doubt cast on the verdict as far as this judge could tell.”  – CNN News Blogs

The argument of whether the death penalty is just or effective aside, no one should be sentenced to death when there are such questions of guilt. Commuting the sentence to life in prison would hardly have been much of a compromise for society. The members of the Georgia Board of Pardons, all appointed by Sonny Perdue, may have done their political duties, but should never sleep well again. This is not justice.

The following is from the Georgia Board of Pardons web site:

Chairman James E. Donald

Chairman James E. Donald (click here for his facebook page) began his term as Chairman of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles July 1, 2010.  Chairman Donald was elected to the position by the Board Members in June.

Chairman Donald is the former Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, and was the driving force behind groundbreaking transformations in one of the State’s largest departments. As Commissioner, Mr. Donald oversaw the fifth largest prison system in the nation, some 200,000 felons in prison or on probation, 15,000 employees, of whom 10,000 are sworn peace officers, and an annual budget of more than $1.2 billion.

Mr. Donald’s commitment to Governor Perdue’s vision of a safer, healthier, better educated and best-managed Georgia has resulted in several revolutionary initiatives. Under his leadership, relocation of the Corrections Headquarters and its Training Academy to Tift Campus in Forsyth, Georgia began. This decision will save Georgia taxpayers $4 million annually. Additionally, his decisions to realign and reduce staff positions in the central office, combine many facilities and probation support functions, and transform medical support practices are estimated to have saved taxpayers over $16 million.

Also, Mr. Donald opened and began operating seven new 200-bed Pre-Release Centers, 10 new Faith and Character-based dormitories, six new “non-resident” Day Reporting Centers, and added over 2,000 new beds for transition centers or work release programs.

Prior to his appointment as the Commissioner of Corrections in 2004, Mr. Donald retired as a Major General of the United States Army Forces Command. He earned the Bronze Star for his bold leadership as a Task Force Commander with the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” during Gulf War I. He also served as Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific, Assistant Division Commander to the 25th Infantry Division, and Director of Operations/J3 U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii.

Mr. Donald is a native of Jackson, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History. He earned his Master of Public Administration from the University of Missouri. He is an avid supporter of his church and community activities, and serves as a member of several government and civic boards.

Vice Chairman Albert Murray

Vice Chairman Albert Murray was appointed to the Board on May 15, 2010, by Governor Sonny Perdue.  He was elected by the Board to the position of Vice Chairman in June and began serving in that role on July 1, 2010.

Mr. Murray began his service to troubled youth in his native state of Tennessee, including being appointed to assistant commissioner of juvenile services for the state of Tennessee. His successful career in Tennessee resulted in his appointment as the first commissioner of the newly created Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority in 1996. During 2003, Mr. Murray served as Deputy Commissioner of Programs for the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Mr. Murray was sworn in as Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice on January 23, 2004. He ended his tenure May 14, 2010, as the longest serving juvenile justice commissioner in Georgia’s history. Included in his many accomplishments as Commissioner of DJJ, is a SACS accredited school program, new and strengthened community programs, a newly created victims advocacy component and expanded training opportunities for staff. A major accomplishment as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice was the completion of all requirements for the release of the agency’s memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on May 5, 2009, ending eleven years of federal oversight.

Mr. Murray has a wife, Connie, and two adult daughters, Andrea and Camille.

Member Terry Barnard

Member and former State Representative Terry E. Barnard served nearly 16 years in the Georgia House of Representatives prior to being appointed to the State Board of Pardons and Parole. During his 8-term tenure, the Coastal Georgia Lawmaker faithfully served the state as a member of several key House Committees to include Appropriations, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Children and Youth, Rules and State Institutions and Property, where he served as the distinguished Chairman for 6 years.

Mr. Barnard joins the State Board of Pardons and Parole with a vast intuitional knowledge of the Georgia Department of Corrections from a legislative perspective. Passionate and persuasive, since 1994, Rep. Barnard shepherded every bill introduced into the Georgia Legislature that had any impact on the Department of Corrections.

In 1995-1996 Mr. Barnard guided through the Georgia House, the frame work for the State Sex Offenders Registry and Sexual Predators Review Board. Today with just a click of a mouse interested parties may see if a convicted sex offender is living in a neighborhood of interest.

Mr. Barnard is a native of Tattnall County having been born in Reidsville in 1957; he and his wife Susan make their home at Shellman Bluff on the Georgia Coast. He is a graduate of Atlantic Community College and has a strong background in business. He has owned and operated several businesses, among those a Real Estate Brokerage. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, he served as Vice President and Manager of First Citizens Bank of Reidsville, and as a regional marketing director for Green Tree Acceptance, a national mortgage lender.

He is involved in a local Baptist Church and takes part in many community events and activities.

Member Robert E. Keller

Member Robert E. Keller from Clayton County was appointed to the Board by Governor Sonny Perdue on January 3, 2007.

Mr. Keller served as executive counsel of the  Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia. He is the former chairman of that organization.   Before joining the Prosecuting Attorneys Council, he served as both assistant district attorney and district attorney of Clayton County. He also maintained a private practice from 1974-1977. Keller served as a member of the Georgia Board of Public Safety, the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Judicial Retirement System, the Georgia Code Revision Plan Committee and the Commission to Assess Crime Laboratory Needs into the 21st Century. He served as vice-chair of the Governor’s Commission on Certainty in Sentencing. Keller earned a bachelor’s degree from Birmingham Southern College and a law degree from Emory Law School. Mr. Keller brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the criminal justice system, and his reputation and credibility among the judiciary and prosecutors is highly admired.

Member L. Gale Buckner

Member L. Gale Buckner was appointed to the Board on January 1, 2005 by Governor Sonny Perdue. Ms. Buckner received her Bachelors  Degree from Georgia State University, and her Graduate Degree from Brenau University.

Ms. Buckner brings a broad base of experience to the Board. She started her career as a communications officer at the Chatsworth Police Department, rising to the level of Sergeant and was honored as Officer of the Year. She began her service with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in 1981 as an undercover operative, and specialized in corruption and white-collar crime cases, earning the Director’s Award for Outstanding Investigations in 1984. While at GBI, she also served as Director of Personnel facilitating the modernization of human resource projects, and as Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs coordinating legislative activities both with the Georgia General Assembly and with the U.S. Congress. She is a graduate of the 169th session of the FBI National Academy.

In 2000, Ms. Buckner was appointed Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Office of the Governor. Under her leadership, the agency administered $100 million annually in federal grant monies for Georgia’s criminal justice community, received three national awards for its State Analysis Center, and also served as Georgia’s Crime Victims Compensation Board which provides offender-generated dollars to the innocent victims of violent crime. Ms. Buckner coordinated criminal justice policy initiatives regarding offender reentry, victims services, and other public safety projects during her tenure.

During her distinguished career, Ms. Buckner has served as a member of many law enforcement associations and advisory boards including the National Criminal Justice Association, the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange, the International Association of Women Police, the National Center for Women and Policing, the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel, and the Georgia DARE Advisory Board. She is also a member of the Parole Association of Georgia, the Peace Officers Association of Georgia, and state and national Chiefs of Police Associations.

She is the recipient of the 2002 Distinguished Alumni Award from Georgia State University, and the 2001 Secretary of State Outstanding Leadership as a Georgia Woman in Public Safety Award. Ms. Buckner has worked in many arenas of the criminal justice system, and has a unique vantage which will enhance the implementation of the mission and vision of the Board.

Leadership, Carville & Truth

Leave it to James Carville to get people thinking. His advice this week to President Obama was to panic, fire a bunch of people and indict some of the people responsible for the financial crisis. I, respectfully, differ.

This President has done his darndest to play the traditional role of cheerleader President. No matter the reality, reassure the masses and do the “right thing.” Find compromise. Reassure his base through incrementalism. Reassure his opponents by putting everything on the table. I don’t think that I am the first to say that this ain’t working.

These are not normal times. The opposition party sold out their patriotism a long time ago for corporate favor and corporate-sponsored ideology. President Obama is being played. Over and over and over again.

I have a suggestion. Tell the American people the truth. Sounds un-American, doesn’t it?

Sure, the stock market up 30% since Obama took over and the Bush economy that was going down the toilet is growing again slowly up the side of the bowl. Sure, some of the bleeding has stopped, but there is a limit to what a President can do without Congress. Even less with a Congress that is doing everything they can to undermined America. I say, cut the crap and tell us the truth.

Tell us that the banks have been lying and most are insolvent – as bad as as what’s going on in Europe. That we face a multi-trillion dollar under-capitalization of banks. Tell us that we, the treasury, has colluded with the financial industry to allow them to classify assets as preforming that are junk. Tell us that the only thing that has kept them in business is the abuse of the Fed window allowing them to bet on a totally rigged Wall Street – and, of course, the continued rape of consumers – aka: Americans. Tell us truth, while reminding us that bank CEOs are paying themselves billions in bonuses – while we are wondering whether this is the week that a bank will repossess our house with fraudulent documents. Then remind us that our homes can’t be sold for what we owe and that millions of repossessed houses aren’t even on the market, yet.

Tell us that we are in real trouble. That most of our pension funds are also insolvent. That they have invested in worthless real estate and our treasury has colluded with them to pretend it isn’t true. That those empty office buildings around the country are being counted as if they were worth something. That commercial real estate is a scam and it is the other shoe that will drop, unless we can just pretend our way out it this mess. Tell us the truth: there is a limit to how many offices Homeland Security and the NSA can lease.

Tell us that we are in unwinnable wars around the world. That Iraq and Afghanistan are as big a mess as when we arrived. That we continue to fight them because we are terrified at the thought of bringing 300,000-400,000 fully armed private mercenary soldiers, along with a 200,000 of our real troops, back home where there is no work. Tell us, that we have had a wartime economy since Reagan. That if we were to have peace, this depression would be number one. Tell us the truth.

Tell us that most of the the 13 million official unemployed will never work again for real wages unless we do something to change it now. Tell us that 10-20 million more who are doing everything they can to keep their families together by working fast food and driving cabs, shouldn’t expect find real work again, either. Tell us that the reason we haven’t done re-training of these Americans so they could find jobs, is that there aren’t jobs to be found. Tell us the truth. That stimulus was misnamed. A third of of it was typical pickle barrel stuff to get votes. A third of it went straight to the states to keep them from firing people. And the final third, was, well, a mix of shovel ready jobs and liberal aspirations that was oversold.

Tell us, that, we the people, have screwed up big time. That corporate bribery of our Congress is so rampant that we have totally f’cked our tax system and need a new one. That we have an economy where the American dream, aka: Bernie, is really dead. Tell us 90% of us are slaves to the other 10%. Tell us the real plot of Ayn Rand capitalists is to get the wages of the poor down to the pennies a day they pay in third world countries. Tell us the truth.

Tell us the truth that organized labor working with organized business is what created the middle class and made our economy the envy of the world. Tell us the truth about the bill the Republicans passed last week to weaken the NLRB. That it is an attack on the middle class at a time when we need Labor more than ever.

Tell us the truth that tens of thousands of bridges and roads are crumbling and that investments in our infrastructure to rebuild them will create good jobs and lasting value for all of us.

Tell us that our nation’s school systems are failing and that the most important investment we can make is in our next generation. Tell us how we can fix it.

Tell us the truth that our farm subsidies have ruined family farmers around the world and caused deadly food inflation in the places most vulnerable. That our subsidies for corn is a huge part of the obesity problem. Tell us the truth that by subsidizing corn and corn ethanol, which will always be inefficient and penalizing sugar cane and sugar-ethanol imports, which are very efficient, we are preventing our own southern hemisphere from a rich and sustainable future.

Remind us that gasoline costs over $10 to get to the pump, but that the Federal Government subsidies allowing you to buy it for $3.50 – something that has to stop. Tell us the truth that free trade is not fair trade. That low prices are good for Walmart customers, but not people wanting a job anywhere but Walmart. Admit that you caved on ozone rules because you were afraid it would cost you reelection and that the new rules need to be implemented. Apologize to all those you could have appointed during recess, admit you were afraid of Senate Republicans and promise not to do it again.

Tell us that the reason Medicare and Medicaid are in trouble is the greedy bastards in the pharmaceutical, medical equiptment and health insurance industry who have rigged the system. Tell us to look at every other country in the world and we’ll see that we are a nation of chumps. Tell us that “Obamacare” is a bullshit compromised bill. That it should be repealed and replaced with a new bill with a single payor that would give us all better care for way less money. Tell us the truth: that privatization is just a more expensive way of doing the same thing, but will make some individuals rich, but not you. Tell us the budget deficit is meaningless to most of us, but the rich do want the government to pay them interest. Tell us the truth: that if the rich won’t pay taxes and the poor can’t, just who the f’ck is left pay? We, the whoever is still working, are. Tell us that we are acting like lemmings marching behind the t-party idiots off the cliff.

Tell us that unless we get rid of the bastards in the House and push back the lowlife lobbyists on K-Street, the whole friggin’ thing, our American way of life, is going to topple down. That we the people will starve in the streets of the richest country in the world while the top 1/10 of 1% are laughing their asses off behind their gated communities. Tell us the truth.

Remind us that the President is part of the executive branch of government. That the executive powers are limited to carrying out the wishes of Congress. And when Congress, or their lobbyist masters, wishes the country to go in the ditch, the President is powerless to stop them. Tell us the truth.

Tell that creationism and intelligent design are silly and that evolution is fact. Tell us that global climate change is real, will kill us all and may already be too late to reverse. Tell us that tax cuts do not and never have created jobs. Tell us that water boarding is torture. Remind us that Santa and the Tooth Fairy are not real. Tell us the truth about Roswell, Kennedy and Elvis.

Tell us that the games are over. That he, President Obama, is going to tell the truth. That when these crazy pink Republicans say blatant lies, he’s going to call them on it. That we are going to hell and take the world with us unless they stop this idiotic fantasy.

On the other hand, maybe he should just fire a bunch of people and indict some of the people responsible for the financial crisis.

Learning from the Past

911For those history buffs out there, here’s a test. What country could be described by these conditions, which occurred over decade or so:

• Injured national pride;
• A new national leader who had not been elected by majority vote;
• An economic calamity that almost overnight destroyed the middle class standard of living;
• Long term unemployment/underemployment over 25%;
• A terrorist event, forewarned to the leaders, that set ablaze a symbol of the nation and resulted in laws passed allowing increased domestic security, monitoring of personal communications, arrest of suspicious people to be held without access to lawyers, military tribunals and an all out war on terrorism;
• Private army of over 400,000;
• Rise of a new minority political party that:

– is ultra right wing and fanatical;
– has a short and easy to remember name;
– funded by bankers and wealthy industrialists;
– panders to lower class white men with disciplined messages about Christian purity, anti-communism, free enterprise, the military, nationalism, freedom and the protection of the homeland;
– effective in propaganda, staged events and use of their own media;
– uncompromising in denying passage of emergency legislation needed during a crisis to undermine the sitting government;
– with leaders who make simplistic, often inflammatory rhetoric against well-educated elite in government and media.

Please use the comment box for your answer.

Authors note: For the last few weeks, I have been working on a story about the ethics of political hate. My intention was to discuss teachings of different religions and historic figures from political movements; examples of divided government and failed democracies; etc.  Each time I began writing, I kept returning to stories of one particular failed democracy. I’ve stopped working on the piece, at least for now, until I can approach it with a fresher angle. In many ways, my story kept sounding way too much like this piece, which I hadn’t read at the time, written eight years ago: http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0316-08.htm – I encourage you to take a look at it. We are living in scary times. I not referring to war and terrorism, though they are scary, I am referring to us.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana, The Life of Reason The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

Live Thursday Night: Futility, the Series

Obama before joint session of CongressThursday night, our President will address a joint session of Congress to again ask Congress to take up emergency measures dealing with unemployment and the greatest economic crisis facing our nation in three generations. He asked to give the speech on Wednesday. Republicans said, “No.”

President Obama is expected to ask that Congress extend unemployment benefits for those fortunate enough to have had a job to lose when Bush’s economic crisis struck. Republicans are expected to say, “No, the unemployed need to get a job.”

President Obama is expected to ask that Congress extend a payroll tax cut for those fortunate enough to still have a job. Republicans are expected to say, “No, they just need to get a second job.”

President Obama is expected to ask Congress for a bill to rebuild decaying public schools, which will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Republicans are expected to say, “No, not until we also subsidize rebuilding of Christian schools – wait a minute, we already do that – no.”

President Obama is expected to ask that Congress create an “infrastructure bank,” enabling states and local governments to pay for rebuilding decaying bridges and highways, creating thousands of jobs and keeping us all safer. Republicans are expected to say, “No, not until a Republican is in the White House.”

President Obama is expected to ask that Congress renew the gas tax, which funds highway construction and will save millions of jobs. Republicans are expected to say, “Once it expires next month, it would be a new tax and Grover won’t allow us to do that. We’ll just wait. Then, no”

President Obama is expected to ask that Congress renew FAA funding from landing fees, which will save thousands of jobs and increase safety for those wealthy enough to afford flying. Republicans are expected to say, “Maybe, if you outlaw unions. Otherwise, not until a Republican is in the White House and we outlaw unions.”

President Obama is expected to ask Congress for additional FEMA funding to help those affected by recent natural disasters. Republicans are expected to say, “Maybe, as long as you let us gut Medicare and Medicaid. Wait a minute, weren’t those disasters in blue states? We’re gonna need to gut Social Security, too.”

President Obama is expected to ask that Congress approve trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia that have nothing to do with jobs, and likely will make things worse. Republicans are expected to say, “Maybe, just get rid of that human rights crap.”

President Obama is expected to make vague references to green jobs, investments in alternative energy and building a smart energy grid. Republicans are expected to say, “No way. You tried that and it didn’t work.”

President Obama is expected to remind Congress that tens of millions of Americans are out of work and need their help. Republicans are expected to say, “Liar.”

President Obama is expected to remind Congress that times are really tough, that action must happen now, and that the risk is global. Republicans are expected to say, “What world are you living in? Bring it on.”

President Obama is expected to ask that Congress end Washington political games and remind them that they were elected to help all Americans. Republicans are expected to say, “No, we weren’t.”

President Obama is expected to challenge all members of Congress to put country before party. Republicans are expected to say, “You have got to be kidding.” Democrats, on the other hand, are expected to say, “That all you got?”

Futility: my speech or my silence, indeed any action of mine, would be a mere futility. – Joseph Conrad

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Update 090711:

What I’d like President Obama to Include:

  • I’d like him to deliver each initiative written and as a separate bill and hand it to the Speaker during the speech with a challenge of a debate and an up or down vote on each.
  • I’d like him to say that everyone in our country deserves a chance to pay taxes (click for more details), which means they deserve a chance to have a job and a living wage in order to do so. I’d like him to remind Congress of the grotesque waste each non-working American represents in terms of their and their families happiness and their productive contributions to society. I’d like him to challenge Congress to imagine what our country would be like and what great things we could do if 20+ million of us were working again.
  • I’d like him to announce a new deal: anyone unemployed can exchange their unemployment compensation – or their disability check – for a job paying at least minimum wage. Then I’d like him to ask Congress to allow it, fund it and include incentives for companies to keep them as permanent employees. Then I’d like him to announce the private corporations – for profit and nonprofit, who have agreed to honor it. I’d also like him to list the governmental agencies who also would – the park service, the military, VA, FEMA, EPA, etc., as well as states and municipalities. I’d also like him to ask for a similar program for our vets. And an extension of unemployment compensation for one time, to anyone who doesn’t, or doesn’t still qualify for unemployment compensation.
  • I’d like him to ask Congress to fund a free education initiative to teach or re-train our unemployed and underemployed workers about senior and preventative care; mental illness and substance abuse care and other important and costly needs our nation has. I’d like the Medicare and Medicaid rules amended to allow this new work force to help those who need help with in-home care.
  • I’d like him to ask Congress to fund a ten-year NASA-like program to find answers to our fossil fuel dependency – a private and public initiative where the patents would be owned by all of us. Then do the same to cure cancer and other horrible diseases.
  • I’d like him to ask Congress to open the Federal Reserve discount window to states and municipalities to use the money as they see fit – for industrial development, infrastructure and lend capital directly to businesses who will create jobs. Click for more details.
  • I’d like him to ask Congress to charter a new national bank – privately owned, but nonprofit, that could operate in all 50 states to provide consumer debt relief. The idea is simple – this new bank would contract directly with consumers and their credit card lenders that would allow anyone in the US to enter into a contract with the following provisions: 1) consumers must agree not to get into any more debt during the term of the deal; 2) consumers could combine all revolving family credit card debt into a single payment at a 2% interest rate and amortized over five years; 3) the new bank would contract with the credit card lenders where the lenders would freeze the accounts, immediately get the money owed, but the lenders will still have the risk of default until it is paid in full; the fees would pay for the cost of servicing the debt. Click for more details. I’d also like them to create a national mortgage company to do the same for people in foreclosure and help people stay in their homes.
  • I’d like him to ask Congress to re-write the tax system. Make it flat or flatter with deductions only for charity. Offer progressive standard deductions. Get rid of corporate income tax, but tax shareholder dividends as income. Likewise estate taxes. And most important, roll payroll taxes and Social Security into the rate. Click for more details.
  • I’d like him to ask Congress to allow any business that believes providing private insurance to their employees is to costly, to be able to buy-in to Medicare.
  • And, yes, I’d like him to ask for all of those things we expect him to, and those things people much smarter than me, would add.
  • Finally, I’d like him to ask Congress to reinstate the draft – require graduation from high school or require military or alternative service for those who drop out. Yes, this sounds crazy to be mixed in with jobs initiatives, but if we are going to have jobs for the next generation, we must find a way to keep our kids in school. Service is a much better alternative than lifetime poverty or prison.

I’d like President Obama to pull out all the stops. To think big. To use this national emergency to fix structural problems we have. To set us on a path for a better tomorrow. Almost none of this will cost taxpayers anything, but any costs in the short term could be covered by bringing our troops, and our private war contractors, from around the world home.

There are so many other productive things we could be doing instead of bickering about regulations, size of government, and how best to divide lobbyists’ campaign contributions. This should be a national referendum. One that decides who we are as country and whether anyone in office deserves to be in office, next year. Take the risk, please. Have the audacity. Do this, and maybe, I’ll forgive you for selling out our clean air by caving on the ozone rules – no, you need to fix that, too.