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10-27-03 Update

How many deaths is it going to take in Iraq before our leaders wake up and realize that “staying the course” is not going to work?

Two or three soldiers are getting killed every day there. Will we start to think differently when we look at a headline reading that 20 or more died?

It’s unconscionable.

And no one can say how long we will be there or what the outcome will be.

On October 16th Donald Rumsfeld put together a memo voicing concerns about our ongoing efforts in Iraq, which included a comment that we could be in for a “long, hard slog.” The very next day Howard Berman, my opponent, was among those who voted to support Bush’s $87 billion aid package for Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you think this is bad, just wait until a year goes by and that money is about gone. Bush will ask for more billions. And congress will give it to him.

They’ll talk it over. Democrats will grumble about it. The bottom line, though, is that they’ll give Bush what he wants.

On the home front, federal, state and local budgets will continue to be tight. Governors and mayors will need to make hard choices in order to stay out of the red. Programs that people need will be gutted or cut.

We desperately need new leaders. We need principled individuals who aren’t afraid to speak up for what’s right.

What’s right with regards to Iraq is that we work with the United Nations to rebuild Iraq and help Iraqis shape a new government. This would still, of course, require U.S. involvement. It would, however, allow us to bring most of our soldiers home.

UN involvement in Iraq would likely lead to a faster track for that country becoming stable. It makes sense because a UN force would more likely be viewed as a temporary force, there to assist. U.S. and British forces, on the other hand, are obviously viewed more suspiciously, and thought of as an occupying force.

We need to learn some lessons from Vietnam. We were there too long. Too many soldiers died and it cost us lots of money. A “long, hard slog,” as Rumsfeld puts it, is not what most Americans want when it comes to Iraq.

Speaking of Vietnam, I want to address the issue of vets suffering from illness related to doing service in the Gulf. Nearly 700,000 Gulf War I vets remain ill and many aren’t receiving adequate medical treatment from the Department of Defense. It’s plain unacceptable to fail to promptly treat our vets and investigate the causes of their health problems. We did this with our vets who suffered from Agent Orange in Vietnam, and we should not repeat this failure with our veterans of the Gulf Wars.

Speaking of health care, it is clear, especially in light of the recent MTA mechanics and grocery workers strikes, that we need to start now to develop a plan for universal health care. Health care costs are continuing to rise. Much of this can be attributed to prescription drug and insurance costs. We can save in both areas if we move toward universal health coverage.

HMOs, big drug corporations and insurance companies will surely fight any individual or group who pushes for universal coverage because they are responsible for the high costs. Case in point: Canada. In Canada, a country with universal health coverage, the health administrative costs are $307 per person vs. $1,059 per person here in the U.S..

Contrary to what those who defend the present health care system would argue, comprehensive universal health care for all would save money. England, another nation with universal health care, spends 6.7% of its GDP on health care vs. the 13.6% that we spend.

Quality care would be a concern. We can’t just use Canada or England’s blueprint because we obviously have a much greater population. We can tweak it in places that address the demand Americans would have for quality. I’m confident that those issues, over time, can be addressed before full implementation of any plan.

We have to start moving on this issue, though, folks, because insured individuals are continually paying more for less coverage. Furthermore, it would be absolutely unconscionable for us to fail to act to help the 43.4 million Americans(16% of our population) who are without health insurance coverage.

* * *

I just want to close this update by acknowledging the hundreds of people I’ve spoken to in San Fernando over the past 2 weeks. I appreciate you allowing me the opportunity to introduce myself and express some of my views on the issues. It was also very good for me to hear your thoughts and concerns. Every candidate for office ought to do this.

Too often, a candidate will make a photo op here and there, and mail you a pamphlet just before an election that discusses what he’s done for you. Ask yourself, though: Is he really aware of your concerns??? Does he care about solving real problems???

8-28-03 Update

Someone in Washington D.C. ought to be up front with us about a timetable for our stay in Iraq. Soldiers are being killed every day and our occupation is costing taxpayers $4 billion a month. I’ve heard people mention a range of 2-5 years. Either way you look at it, the ultimate price will be staggering.

The death toll could rise to well beyond 1,000. That alone, to me, is unacceptable.

One thing we need to consider is that the Iraqi people may never be willing to accept having a democratic form of government. It’s a thought difficult for many of us to entertain, but we ought to.

Think of what we’re doing in Iraq in terms of force-feeding a small child.

“Eat your spinach, Johnny,” says mom, while poking a spoonful in little Johnny’s mouth.

Johnny makes an ugly face and tries to turn his head away, but mom is relentless. “Come on, Johnny. Come on.”

Finally, the spinach goes into Johnny’s mouth --- but he spits it up and cries.

Well, you get the picture.

Now, Iraq might come around and accept what we’re trying to force on them. If they do --- great. However, if they don’t want to have a democracy there --- will we recognize it?

If it becomes clear that Iraq doesn’t want a democratic form of government --- we must accept that. It’s not right, or in our best interests, to force a country to accept a system its people don’t want.

The fact that a country has a system of government much different than our own doesn’t mean that that country will necessarily be unfriendly towards us. A country may not like our ways, nor we theirs, but if a country can respect us, then we ought to likewise respect it.

The exception, of course, would be a country that has human rights, environmental, or other issues that make it so deplorable or unethical that we could not possibly respect it. If that were to be the case, then what we do, or don’t do, should depend on the extent of the atrocity.

For example, if there are human rights abuses in a country or internal conflict of some type, U.N. sanctions might be appropriate coupled with sanctions of our own.

Direct threats to us, should they occur, obliges us to respond directly and with whatever amount of force needed.

I find it deeply troubling that in addition to losing lots of soldiers’ lives, we could end up spending $250 billion in Iraq. We could do this and one day pull out of Iraq without having the desired outcome -- a stable, democratic Iraq.

How could we avoid it? George W doesn’t want to do it, but we ought to ask the U.N. to get involved. Some U.N. officials have indicated that all we have to do is “ask.”

U.N. involvement in Iraq could ease tensions there, allow us to bring soldiers home, and dramatically reduce the burden of our taxpayers. We need to explore this route as opposed to “staying the course.”

On the home front, the Democratic party is in serious trouble. I can’t remember the party being as weak as it is today. We rolled over and allowed George Bush to be elected by the U.S. Supreme Court. We watched with our hands folded while the Republicans schemed and are in position to steal yet another prize, the governorship of California.

What does it take for us to realize how bad things are? Arnold winning? Will that do it?

Gray Davis is weak and uninspiring, but he won the election fair and square. If the Republicans had any class at all, they would simply take him on when his term ends, and in the meantime stop whining about how bad things are and just do their damn jobs. For the sake of the people of California, if the Republicans truly cared, they would attempt to collaborate with Democrats and try to solve problems vs. having this “divide and conquer” attitude. I suppose it’s ok with them that Jay Leno and Jon Stewart ridicule California every night on their comedy programs.

Democrats should have paid attention and stopped the recall effort a long time ago. Party leader heads were obviously buried in the sand.

My position now is the same as with Diane Feinstein. I applaud her principle and I will vote “no” on the recall, and that’s it.

Principle must mean something again, if this country is ever going to be in a position where people trust and respect their leaders. Obviously, right now people are frustrated and discouraged. Many don’t even vote because too often people feel there’s nothing worth voting for.

Democrats, Republicans --- what’s the difference? To many of us, there is none.

Both parties spend a lot of time fundraising, mingling with the wealthy and special interest groups. When they take time to talk to the rest of us -- we know there has to be an election date right around the corner.

Issues, of course, are important, but I believe one of our country’s biggest problems is that our leaders follow the wealth. They take in the big fundraising bucks, and then proceed to deliver a return on investment for the campaign donor. Does anyone honestly think a person or group plunks down a nice chunk of cash without attaching a string?

This is why I think a person like me has a chance to win. I will be busily getting out into the community discussing education, health care, and foreign policy issues with the people. You’ll have to excuse me, though, for not discussing money. I won’t be asking anyone to dip into a purse or a billfold, or to whip out a checkbook.

For some, the very idea of not accepting any campaign contributions is scary and ludicrous. That’s because we’re used to what we’ve been getting over the years. How can an individual, who’s got some bucks, but isn’t rich, have the audacity to believe he can win an election on the basis of good ideas and common sense positions on issues?

Easy. I think people are ready for it. If I win, I will be truly working for the people’s best interests on the issues. My time will not be wasted on fundraisers, unless it’s for a good cause that has zero to do with politics.

Let me share something with you, if I was to win and behave like most politicians, then I would risk losing the respect my two young adult children have for me now. There’s nothing on the earth more valuable to me than that. It’s taken a lifetime to earn their love and respect by being as good as a father as I could to them.

Therefore, that’s my personal risk. I care about making progress on issues that concern us, and if I am put in a position of responsibility to do something, then I must go to work on behalf of those who elected me. If I get the chance, and give a poor effort or put special interest groups or wealthy individuals ahead of the people, the family consequences would not be worth the political success.

On September 26th, I will be going to the Registrar’s office to begin the official process of filing papers so that I can run for the 28th District U.S. House of Representatives seat. I will have until November 5th to collect 3,000 registered Democratic voters’ signatures to get placed on the ballot. Right now, I have a number of friends who have indicated to me that they would be glad to help with getting the signatures. Of course, I would welcome other volunteers. If you would like to help, please email me at:

I am most interested in hearing any thoughts you might have on the issues that I have discussed, or that you feel I should discuss.

Just 20,000 votes in my favor would make this March/04 primary race very competitive based on the results of the last primary. Last I checked, there are over 200,000 registered Democrats in our district. The challenge is to get people to vote, especially in light of the fact that the governor’s election will have just passed. Some people will undoubtedly be complaining that there’s “too many elections.“ The winner of this race will most likely win in the Nov/04 race.

6-27-03 UPDATE

Plenty has happened since I wrote this introduction. Our troops were brilliant in the war effort. However, now we’re into the messy part of nation-building. Soldiers are dying nearly every day and it appears that they will be in Iraq for a long time.

Remember when George H.W. Bush said something about “no new taxes?” Well, I just hope people will remember what his son promised in his debate against Vice President Gore. George W. assured us then that America wouldn’t be in the business of “nation-building.”

I’m glad President Bush has finally put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on his agenda. Will his Roadmap to Peace plan ultimately work? I think it’s much too soon to tell. Obviously, it’s off to a rocky start.

Our economy is still very shaky. Too many people are out of work, and a big tax cut for the rich while deficits are running high is not the remedy needed. Remember trickle-down? Not much trickled down in the 1980s and I wouldn’t expect the rich to behave differently now.





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