Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Senator Tom Harkin has a request for you

Republicans support failure. And they are willing to continue to obstruct the will of the vast majority of the American public. It is that simple. We need to make the cost of continuing to do so outweigh their need to kiss Presidential behind. One way to do that is to turn up the heat. Whatever it takes, however long it takes…the time for accountability is now.

Call your Senators toll free, and let them know what you think about the Grand Obstruction Party and the Republican commitment to more of the same failure:

1 (800) 828 - 0498
1 (800) 459 - 1887
1 (800) 614 - 2803
1 (866) 340 - 9281
1 (866) 338 - 1015
1 (877) 851 - 6437

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Meeting this spring

Sign up here at DFAlink.

I've been offline building a new business since August, but I'm back. We've learned a lot this past year, we've gained some ground, but the sad fact remains that the madmen running the country are still running the country.

We've got to fight harder. We've got to keep the pressure on, whether it be writing our local congressional reps, our Senators ( you might have better luck there) calling radio and TV stations and Letters to the editor. WE MUST KEEP THE PRESSURE ON until we are satisfied that our government truly represents us!

So keep the faith, and don't let up now. We are making a difference!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

HOWARD DEAN: Democrats have been playing defense for too long.
Our fearless leader Howard Dean has sent out a request for funds. It's certainly a worthwhile investment.
Over the past few months, though, something has shifted. When it comes to national security, Democrats are playing offense for a change -- and it's working.

It's not enough to respond to the daily misinformation coming out of the White House, or defend ourselves against outrageous claims from Dick Cheney. We can't let them dictate the national conversation.

We have a fundamentally different vision for our security than the Party of Bush. We want a new direction in Iraq, more competent security at home, and the restoration of America's moral leadership in the world.

And we have a plan to take that message to voters between now and Election Day with person-to-person outreach in all 50 states. We have staff on the ground ready to take a strong Democratic message to voters -- supporting candidates up and down the ballot and spreading the word that it's time for a change.

We're going to fight for the Democratic vision on national security -- will you make a contribution to help fund our plan?

People trust Democrats to handle our national security. In the latest CBS News and ABC News polls, more people trust Democrats to make the right decisions on Iraq. And in the latest Newsweek poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that the war in Iraq has not made us safer from terrorism.

Meanwhile, as Iraq descends into civil war and becomes a new training ground for international terrorists, cargo coming into our country still isn't being inspected.

While the Party of Bush scrambles to write its latest talking points calling anyone who opposes them "al Qaeda types", nuclear materials sit unguarded in the former Soviet Union.

While the administration organizes lawyers to try to salvage its illegal domestic spying program, Osama bin Laden continues to remain free roaming around northwest Pakistan making videotapes five years after the tragic events of September 11th.

We're strong, we're right, and the people know it. Now let's get our message our to voters in all 50 states. Can you donate to help make it happen?

Republicans have won two elections by instilling fear in people, and they're trying to do it again this year.

But it's not going to work. The President's foreign policies have failed. Iraq is sliding into civil war. Iran and North Korea are more dangerous than they were five and a half years ago. And the Taliban continues to present a threat in Afghanistan.

People have had enough. This administration cannot be trusted with our security.

Democrats are going to reclaim American leadership with a tough, smart plan to transform failed policies in Iraq, the Middle East and around the world.

We will double the size of Special Forces to destroy Osama Bin Laden and terrorist networks like al Qaeda.

We will implement the bipartisan 9/11 Commission proposal to secure America's borders and ports and screen every container.

And we will fully man, train, and equip our National Guard and our police, firefighters and other first responders.

Let's get this message out to Americans who need to hear it:

When it comes to national security, the Republicans have not led.

We will.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Chairman, Democratic National Committee

P.S. -- We are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq. That's $2 billion each week, $267 million each day, or $11 million each hour. For what we spend in three weeks, we could make needed improvements in order to properly secure our public transportation systems. For what we spend in five days, we could put radiation detectors in all of our ports. And for two days in Iraq, we could screen all air cargo.

Can you donate to help make those things happen?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Democrats: Stand for something
Republicans: Your Iraq BS is over.

The loss by incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman to DFA-backed candidate served notice to the Washington DC Establishment that the time has come to stand up and be counted.

For six years, we've heard from the smug, failed leadership of Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill. Now the voters have spoken -- and it's not a message that is going to be well-received by the "don't rock the boat" entrenched status quo Dems on Capitol Hill.

The biggest reason Lieberman was rightfully defeated was that he repeatedly supported policies of failure. The Lamont voters aren't wild-eyed love-in peaceniks. They oppose the Iraq War, for the most part, because it was founded on lies and, more importantly, it's a failure, an utter fiasco. It only persists because no one has the guts or wherewithal to stand up to the lies, thuggishness and bullying of the Bush Administration. We have a continuing war because the people who began it aren't men enough to admit their mistakes.

---Buzzflash editorial

There will come a time in the near future when a politician will lose all pretense of politeness and call this Iraq occupation exactly what it is:


How much more "evidence" is necessary for the American people to put a stop to everything happening in our name around the world and here at home? The expense to our country will be felt for generations. The poor leadership and failed stewardship by the Bush administration of American interests globally and domestically for the past six years will undoubtedly plague us for the remainder of our lives, and possible our children's lives as well.

Ned Lamont represents to us a change for those of us actually concerned about real security, not the lipservice sell-your-ports-to-the-terrorist-bankers-UAE cronyism that the neocons pretend is security.

The American electorate has given the neocons all the chances they can take, and finally seen the rhetoric for what it always was: empty words designed to scare and exploit.

Oh sure, we'll see a LOT more of it between now and November, but the reality is that the public, except the die-hard ideologues that are a shrinking minority, is out of tolerance for these insane traitoroous profiteers.

Because the policies Lieberman champions for the Bush Administration are merely the fig leaves that cover up unprecedented failures that in their bumbling implementation and multi-year bankrupting of America weaken our nation in a way no terrorists could.

Ned Lamont represents the Democratic Party members who are concerned about national security based on reality, not neo-con fantasies that have totally flopped. Lamont represents the Democratic Party members who don't believe America is safe as long as someone capable of the lunatic, inconsistent, mendacious and arcane proclamations of Donald Rumsfeld is in charge of our defense.

If the Capitol Hill Dems don't back Ned Lamont, they will have the fight of their lives on the their hands. But it won't be with the Republicans, with whom the DLC is so chummy.
It will be with Democratic voters who are ready to throw out the elitist Democrats who value their cozy jobs more than they do the will of the people and the security of our nation.
If these Dem "leaders" continue to stay arrogant and unwilling to heed the call of democracy, they will share the fate of Joe Lieberman.

Find out more about Ned Lamont here

Friday, July 28, 2006

Election nears: events in Ventura County this weekend

I hope I cover them all, and please contact me if you need to publicize your event, but this is what we have on tap for the weekend of July 28:

The Democratic Reunion event, happening in your town, has several notable local events:

  • Penne Letson is hosting an event in Newbury Park from 2-5 in the afternoon.
Featuring Assembly Candidate
Ferial Masry

Details and driving directions at this link:

  • Christina Chavez is hosting an event at 12 noon in Camarillo with more details to follow at this link:

  • Diana Shaw and the Democratic Alliance for Action (DAA) are hosting a picnic at Bouquet Canyon Park in Santa Clarita , at 4:30 PM , details :

  • Mike Hickerson is hosting a Saturday evening event at his home in Thousand Oaks at 7:15 , Featuring congressional candidate Jill Martinez.

details and a map to the event :


Then Monday evening , MoveOn is sponsoring a dessert party with several Ventura County locations to choose from

Link for this event:

Just desserts- Coffee and pie - Mike Hickerson's Home 14 registered participant(s) (150 maximum) Thousand Oaks CA 91360 Description On July 31st, MoveOn members across the country are going to get together to share some delicious pie and launch our massive get-out-the-vote program. We'll link all the parties with a conference call featuring Senator Barack Obama and Al Franken, and we'll fill everyone in on how the program works and what you can do locally to help give Republicans their "just desserts."

... for the humanity! - Ventu Park Rd. south of Lynn 4 registered participant(s) (40 maximum) Newbury Park CA 91320 Description Please join us in discussion of the coming elections and the future of our society. Dessert, coffee, and tea will be served. To those with allergies, we share our home with "Rocky the Cat."

Meet Your Moorpark Neighbors! - Near Mtn Meadow & Tierra Rejada 5 registered participant(s) (20 maximum) Moorpark CA 93021 Description Please join us in Moorpark to coordinate efforts for the up-coming election in November. Together we can get out the vote to defeat Arnold and put Ferial Masry and Jill Martinez into office. I look forward to meeting you! (Not handicap accessible.)

100 Days to Win: Just Desserts - 5 miles away View Mesa and Conejo Mesa 0 registered participant(s) (30 maximum) Moorpark CA 93021 Description Gather by the backyard pool for potluck desserts, then national conference call with national progressive leaders in preparation for the November elections. Young, especially newly-registered or qualified-to-register, voters are encouraged since this event is hosted by a teen-ager (who is much concerned about the direction of our country) and his Mom

I love dessert! - 8 miles away Conejo View between Argos & Driver 7 registered participant(s) (10 maximum) Agoura Hills CA 91301 Description My condo is in the Annandale II complex above Agoura High School. I have 3 small dachshound dogs who may or may not be there depending on how many RSVP's I get. Everyone must park on Conejo View Drive and then walk to my condo or be dropped off. Unfortunately there is no visitor parking in the parking lot. I believe it is wheelchair accessible and probably accessible for anyone using crutches as well. Call me @ 818-597-8790 if the directions below seem unclear. Leave your # clearly so I can return your call. Thanx!

So, feeling active? We need to get the people to the polls or all this online carping will be for nothing! Contact one of these hosts ASAP and pitch in.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The problem: ILLEGAL EMPLOYERS, not illegal immigration
Thom Hartman wrote a column that precisely captures the problems with this election year hot issue.

Reclaiming the Issues: "It's an Illegal Employer Problem"
By Thom Hartmann

Every time the media - or a Democrat - uses the phrase "Illegal Immigration" they are promoting one of Karl Rove's most potent Republican Party frames.

The reality is that we don't have an "Illegal Immigration" problem in America. We have an "Illegal Employer" problem.

Yet it's almost never mentioned in the mainstream media, because to point it out could slightly reduce the profits and CEO salaries of many of America's largest multi-state and multinational corporations - who both own the media and contribute heavily to conservative politicians. Republicans would prefer that the "criminals" covered in the press are working people, and that corporate and CEO criminals not get discussed.

As the Busby/Bilray contest showed, "illegal immigration" is a red-hot issue for American voters. The Democrat Busby was way ahead until she committed a faux pas before a group of Latinos, leading to (false) media reports (particularly on right-wing talk radio) that she was encouraging illegal immigrants to vote for her in the upcoming election. Her Republican opponent seized on this and hammered the district with ads for the last few days of the campaign (while voting machines curiously went home at night with some of the poll workers), and now a Republican lobbyist has taken the seat of a Republican congressman convicted of illegal deals with Republican lobbyists.

Encouraging a rapid increase in the workforce by encouraging companies to hire non-citizens is one of the three most potent tools conservatives since Ronald Reagan have used to convert the American middle class into the American working poor. (The other two are destroying the governmental protections that keep labor unions viable, and ending tariffs while promoting trade deals like NAFTA/WTO/GATT that export manufacturing jobs.)

As David Ricardo pointed out with his "Iron Law of Labor" (published in his 1814 treatise "On Labor") when labor markets are tight, wages go up. When labor markets are awash in workers willing to work at the bottom of the pay scale, unskilled and semi-skilled wages overall will decrease to what Ricardo referred to as "subsistence" levels.

Two years later, in 1816, Ricardo pointed out in his "On Profits" that when the cost of labor goes down, the result usually isn't a decrease in product prices, but, instead, an increase in corporate and CEO profits. (This is because the marketplace sets prices, but the cost of labor helps set profits. For example, when Nike began manufacturing shoes in Third World countries with labor costs below US labor costs, it didn't lead to $15 Nikes - their price held, and even increased, because the market would bear it. Instead, that reduction in labor costs led to Nike CEO Phil Knight becoming a multi-billionaire.)

Republicans understand this very, very well, although they never talk about it. Democrats seem not to have read Ricardo, although the average American gets it at a gut level.

Thus, Americans are concerned that a "flood of illegal immigrants" coming primarily across our southern border is, to paraphrase Lou Dobbs, "wiping out the American middle class." And there is considerable truth to it, as part of the three-part campaign mentioned earlier.

But Dobbs and his fellow Republicans say the solution is to "secure our border" with a fence like that used by East Germany, but that stretches a distance about the same as that from Washington, DC to Chicago. It'll be a multi-billion-dollar boon to Halliburton and Bechtel, who will undoubtedly get the construction and maintenance contracts, but it won't stop illegal immigration. (Instead, people will legally come in on tourist and other visas, and not leave when their visas expire.)

The fact is that we had an open border with Mexico for several centuries, and "illegal immigration" was never a serious problem. Before Reagan's presidency, an estimated million or so people a year came into the US from Mexico - and the same number, more or less, left the US for Mexico at the end of the agricultural harvest season. Very few stayed, because there weren't jobs for them.

Non-citizens didn't have access to the non-agricultural US job market, in large part because of the power of US labor unions (before Reagan 25% of the workforce was unionized; today the private workforce is about 7% unionized), and because companies were unwilling to risk having non-tax-deductible labor expenses on their books by hiring undocumented workers without valid Social Security numbers.

But Reagan put an end to that. His 1986 amnesty program, combined with his aggressive war on organized labor (begun in 1981), in effect told both employers and non-citizens that there would be few penalties and many rewards to increasing the US labor pool (and thus driving down wages) with undocumented immigrants. A million people a year continued to come across our southern border, but they stopped returning to Latin America every fall because instead of seasonal work they were able to find permanent jobs.

The magnet drawing them? Illegal Employers.

Yet in the American media, Illegal Employers are almost never mentioned.

Lou Dobbs, the most visible media champion of this issue, always starts his discussion of the issue with a basic syllogism - 1. Our border is porous. 2. People are coming across our porous border and diluting our labor markets, driving down US wages. 3. Therefore we must make the border less porous.

Lou's syllogism, however, ignores the real problem, the magnet drawing people to risk life and limb to illegally enter this country - Illegal Employers. Our borders have always been porous (and even with a "fence" will still allow through "tourists" by the millions), but we've never had a problem like this before.

And it's not just because poverty has increased in Mexico - today, about half of Mexico lives on less than $2 a day, but 50 years ago half of Mexico also lived on the equivalent of $2 today. Our trade and agricultural policies are harmful to Mexican farmers (and must be changed!), but we were nearly as predatory fifty years ago (remember the rubber and fruit companies, particularly in Central America?).

Yet fifty years ago we didn't have an "illegal immigration" problem, because back then we didn't have a conservative "Illegal Employer" problem.

As the Washington Post noted in an article by Hsu and Lydersen on June 19, 2006:

"Between 1999 and 2003, work-site enforcement operations were scaled back 95 percent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which subsequently was merged into the Homeland Security Department. The number of employers prosecuted for unlawfully employing immigrants dropped from 182 in 1999 to four in 2003, and fines collected declined from $3.6 million to $212,000, according to federal statistics.
"In 1999, the United States initiated fines against 417 companies. In 2004, it issued fine notices to three."

The hiring crimes of Illegal Employers are being ignored by the law, and rewarded by the economic systems of the nation.

Proof that this simple reality is ignored in our media (much to the delight of Republicans) is everywhere you look. For example, check out a series of national polls on illegal immigration done over the past year at A typical poll question is like this one from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in June, 2006:

"When it comes to the immigration bill, the Senate and the House of Representatives disagree with one another about what should be done on the issue of illegal immigration.
"Many in the House of Representatives favor strengthening security at the borders, including building a seven-hundred-mile fence along the border with Mexico to help keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States, and they favor deporting immigrants who are already in the United States illegally.

"Many in the Senate favor strengthening security at the borders, including building a three-hundred-and-seventy-mile fence along the border with Mexico to help keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States, and they favor a guest worker program to allow illegal immigrants who have jobs and who have been here for more than two years to remain in the United States.

"Which of these approaches would you prefer?"

The question: "Or would you prefer companies that employ undocumented workers be severely fined or put out of business?" wasn't even asked. The word "employer" appears nowhere in any of the questions in that poll. Nor is it in the CBS News immigration poll. Or in the Associated Press immigration poll. Or in the Fox News immigration poll.

Only the CNN poll asked the question: "Would you favor increasing penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants?" Two-thirds of Americans, of all party affiliations, said, "Yes," but it went virtually unreported in mainstream media coverage.

"Illegal Immigration" is really about "Illegal Employers." As long as Democrats argue it on the basis of "illegal immigration" they'll lose, even when they're right. Instead, they need to be talking about "Illegal Employers."

Politically, it's not a civil rights issue, it's a jobs issue, as working Americans keep telling pollsters over and over again.

"Mass deportations" and "Fences" are hysterics and false choices. Start penalizing "Illegal Employers" and non-citizens without a Social Security number will leave the country on their own. And they won't have to confront death trying to cross the desert back into Mexico - Mexican citizens can simply walk back into Mexico across the border at any legal border crossing (as about a million did every year for over a century).

Tax law requires that an employer must verify the Social Security number of their employees in order to document, and thus deduct, the expense of their labor. This is a simple task, and some companies, like AMC Theatres, are already doing it.

For example, Cameron Barr wrote in The Washington Post on April 30, 2006, that: "At one area multiplex owned by AMC, the Rio 18 in Gaithersburg, 11 employees 'decided to resign' this month after they could not rectify discrepancies that arose during the screening, said Melanie Bell, a spokeswoman for AMC Entertainment Inc., which is based in Kansas City, Mo. She said such screening is a routine procedure that the company conducts across the United States."

Not wanting to be an Illegal Employer, the Post noted that AMC "has long submitted lists of its employees' Social Security numbers to the Social Security Administration for review. If discrepancies arise, she [company spokeswoman Bell] said in an e-mailed response to questions, 'we require the worker to provide their original Social Security card within 3 days or to immediately contact the local SSA office.' She said the process is part of payroll tax verification and occurs after hiring."

Easy, simple, cheap, painless. No fence required. No mass deportations necessary. No need for Homeland Security to get involved. When jobs are not available, most undocumented workers will simply leave the country (as they always did before), or begin the normal process to obtain citizenship that millions (including my own sister-in-law - this hits many of us close to home) go through each year.

Republicans, however, are not going to allow a discussion of "Illegal Employers." Instead, they will continue to hammer the issue of "Illegal Immigrants," and tie that political albatross around the necks of Democrats (who seem all too willing to accept it).

Bob Casey, for example, was beating the pants off Rick Santorum in the Pennsylvania senatorial campaign, until Santorum began running an ad that says:

"Bobby Casey announced his support of a Senate bill that grants amnesty to illegal immigrants, shocking hardworking taxpayers all across Pennsylvania. Now Casey's trying to wiggle out of it by saying the bill doesn't offer amnesty and requires illegal immigrants to pay their back taxes. Either Casey didn't read the bill, or he's trying to deceive you. The Washington Times reports the legislation gives amnesty to 11 million who are here illegally, and paves the way for 66 million more immigrants to enter the country. The bill also forgives two of the last five years of back taxes for illegal immigrants, something the IRS would never do for you. This Casey-supported bill even gives illegal aliens Social Security benefits for the time they were here illegally. Fortunately, Rick Santorum voted against the bill, and Rick's leading the fight to make sure it never becomes law. Now you know the advantage of having in our corner a fighter like Rick Santorum."
Casey is still ahead, but the ad is visibly eroding his support. As George Will pointed out in a June 18, 2006 op-ed titled "Calculating Immigration Politics":

"Many Republicans, looking for any silver lining in an abundance of dark clouds, think the immigration issue might be a silver bullet that will slay their current vulnerability. The issue is, as political people say, a 'two-fer.' Opposition to the Senate bill, and support for the House bill, puts Republican candidates where much of the country and most of their party's base currently is -- approximately: 'Fix the border; then maybe we can talk about other things.' And opposition to the Senate bill distances them from a president who, although rebounding recently, has approval ratings below 40 percent in 29 states."
Now even Bush is talking like the Republicans in the House of Representatives - time to "get tough" and give Halliburton a few hundred billion to build a fence.

But still nobody is talking about the real problem here - the Illegal Employers.

Hopefully one day soon a dialogue like this fictitious one may ensue on, for example, Face The Nation:

[Bob Schieffer] Senator, do you really think the solution to the illegal immigration problem in America is to offer amnesty instead of building a fence?

[Senator Stabenow] Bob, I think you've been drinking some of Karl Rove's Kool-Aid. Illegal immigrants aren't the cause of undocumented workers driving down wages in this country. It's caused by Illegal Employers. We need to do something about these corporate criminals.

[Bob Schieffer (baffled)] Illegal employers? But what about the illegal aliens?

[Senator Stabenow] Bob, the aliens wouldn't be here if they didn't think they could get a job. Of course, we need to clean up US agricultural subsidies and trade policies that are causing human suffering in our neighboring countries, but to truly protect the pay standards of workers here in the United States we need to crack down on the Illegal Employers. They're the magnets that are drawing people in from all over the world, many of whom come in as tourists and then overstay because they get illegal jobs. And these Illegal Employers are breaking the law - both immigration laws and IRS laws. I suggest that we need to tighten up these laws against Illegal Employers, adding huge fines for first offenses, jail time for CEOs for second offenses, and the corporate death penalty - dissolve their charters to operate - for repeat offenders.

[Bob Schieffer (stammering)] The, the, er, did you say "corporate death penalty"? You mean against companies?

[Senator Stabenow] Better companies die than human beings. These Illegal Employers, in their quest for ever-cheaper labor, are drawing people to cross our borders in ways that cause many people to die in the deserts of the southwest. These people were executed, for all practical purposes, by the policies of a few greedy and lawbreaking American companies. When companies are repeat offenders, they should be dissolved, their assets sold to reimburse their shareholders, and let other, more ethical companies pick up the slack. We used to do this all the time in America when companies behaved badly. Up until the 1880s, an average of around 2000 companies a year got the corporate death sentence in the US.

[Bob Schieffer (bug-eyed)] But what about the illegal immigration problem?

[Senator Stabenow (patting Schieffer's hand)] It's okay, Bob. You shouldn't listen so much to those Republicans. There isn't really much of an illegal immigration problem - it's an Illegal Employer problem. When we clear up the Illegal Employer problem in this country, we'll be back like we were before Reagan started allowing employers to behave illegally. When non-citizens can't get a job, most of them will go home, as they always have in the past. We don't need a fence, we don't need amnesty, we don't need mass roundups or deportations, and we for sure don't need guest workers. We have as many unemployed citizens in this nation as there are illegal immigrants - in my state of Michigan, for example, Flint and Detroit have massive unemployment since Reagan and his corporate cronies declared war on working people. When we get rid of Illegal Employers, that's one step in helping the job market tighten up so that legal employers will have to pay a living wage to attract legal citizens to work. That and rational labor and trade policies, and we can begin to restore our middle class and put our cities back together.

[Bob Schieffer (nodding)] It makes sense, Senator. An "Illegal Employer problem." Who would have thought of that?

[Senator Stabenow (smiling)] Well, Bob, the Republicans thought about it, back in the 1980s. But they thought it was a good idea. Which is why we have this mess today. Get rid of the Illegal Employers - toss a few CEOs into jail and shut down the outlaw companies - and the rest of this part of the problem will be easy and inexpensive to fix...

Thom Hartman's site is here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

HOWARD DEAN's 6/24 Radio address: THE HARD TRUTH
Good morning. This is Governor Howard Dean.

Nearly four years into the war in Iraq, over 2500 brave American soldiers have been killed, more than 20,000 brave American soldiers have been wounded, and $2.5 billion dollars are being spent every week as sectarian violence continues. Corruption and fraud are rampant, and the overall quality of life for the Iraqi people has not improved. Religious fanatics harass women and business owners just yards from the green zone in Baghdad and renegade militia within the Iraqi army are fomenting civil war.

In the meantime, the Bush Administration has left Afghanistan exposed to a resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda; and taken its eye off the ball in places like North Korea and Iran which have now become greater threats.

Those are the facts on the ground.

The bottom line is that the Republicans don't have a plan. 'Stay the course' is not a plan. Saying the problems in Iraq will be left to the next President, is not a plan. Our troops deserve better.

Democrats are determined to set a different course for our Nation, to tell the truth to the American people, to save the lives of our American soldiers and keep America safe. We want to act now rather than let political wrangling lead to more dead and wounded Americans.

We will defend America, but we will be tough and smart.

A majority of democrats have called upon the President to change course in Iraq. Democrats have also offered a plan that asks the president to responsibly redeploy our troops. We believe that we ought to focus on training, logistics, and counter-terrorism, and we can do that with a redeployment of our troops.

The phased re-deployment strategy proposed by Democrats this week calls on the President to do the following:

· First, work with the Government of Iraq to begin a phased redeployment of United States troops from Iraq by the end of this year;

· Second, submit a plan to Congress by the end of 2006 with estimated dates for the continued phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq;

· Third, we have also told the President that we demand accountability for the resources being spent in Iraq. The cost of the Iraq war will be at least one trillion dollars, enough to finance a health care program for every single American - including our veterans coming home from the war.

· Fourth, expedite the transition of United States forces in Iraq to a limited presence and mission of training, providing logistical support, protecting United States infrastructure and personnel, and participating in targeted counterterrorism activities.

· Finally, our plan recognizes that during and after the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq, the United States will need to sustain a non-military effort to actively support reconstruction, governance, and a durable political solution in Iraq.

The Iraqi leaders themselves have set a six-month goal for assuming their responsibility for security. Our proposal for the beginning of a phased redeployment by the end of this year fits the goals of Iraq's leaders very well.

We have asked Republicans of good will to come forward to support a policy that is good for America and good for our troops. And some have.

Democrats will continue to offer America a real change, a new direction for our country. We see a country in which honesty, openness and respect is restored to our government. We see an America where we are all on the same team again, working together to deal with problems American Families face, Defense, Security, Health Care, Jobs. We see an America where the Government does not question the patriotism of any American if they disagree with the President.

The parallels between the mistakes being made today in Iraq and the behavior of our government a generation ago are striking. Troops are sent to fight by an administration that refuses to listen to the advice of military leaders. The Administration decides it's ok to conceal information from the Congress and the American people. Promises like "stay the course" "Peace is at Hand" or "the insurgency is in its last throes" are made by an increasingly desperate Administration.

A majority of the American people don't believe the President is telling the truth, while the Administration and its supporters question the patriotism of veterans who disagree with them, accusing them of "cut and run".

And among the victims are brave American soldiers who are the targets of an insurgency because of failed political leadership and a lack of foresight and planning. We don't want another wall with 55,000 names of courageous Americans who were let down by their Government.

The words "cut and run" don't belong in this debate. That's a disservice to our courageous soldiers. This debate is about not making the same mistakes our Government made a generation ago.

Democrats believe it's time for a new direction in Iraq that's tough and smart, and we offer America a security strategy that's tough and smart.

This is Gov. Howard Dean proud of our troops, and proud to be part of a party offering America a new direction.