Biological Arms Races, Biocontainment Labs, Hazards and Assessments

No one wants peace more than a soldier who’s been to war. Military men were my first heroes, my first saints. My darling Dad earned a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, and a chest-full of campaign ribbons and medals. My childhood “hometowns” were Army posts scattered around the U.S., and Japan and Germany.  I went to twelve different schools before college. A civilian now, I’ve listened nostalgically for twenty years to the bugled sounds of Taps floating in my bedroom window near Ft. Detrick.


My husband and good friends working at Ft. Detrick convinced me long ago that the technicians and scientists there have the best intentions, the highest skills, admirable goals, and very conscientious safety precautions.


Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to convince me that the planned Level 3 and 4 labs will be safe in Frederick. The record shows that research lab workers, even those with the highest security clearances and the best available training, are still fallible human beings who can and do become victims of blackmail, fall in love unwisely, get into desperate financial situations, hide growing prescription and other drug problems, and develop volatile feelings about co-workers. Lab workers sometimes become blind to their own religious and political biases and bigotry, and are thus susceptible to involvement in illicit covert operations, conspiracies and cover-ups.


Sometimes they get in a hurry and make professionally embarrassing mistakes and bad decisions. Sometimes they hide evidence, fudge records and fake procedures in order to save their jobs and livelihoods, and then rationalize the risks they’re taking—escalating and exponentially complicating situations already perilous.


Also sadly, no one yet has been able to explain to me why it wouldn’t be easy, temptingly easy, to kamikaze an airplane flown from the Frederick Airport into a targeted Ft. Detrick building, or lob a well-placed rocket over the Ft. Detrick fence. Either of these unpreventable actions would very legitimately throw chaos and panic into the post, city and metropolitan area, creating unforeseen, complicated, dangerous situations.


Scientists in these labs will be genetically-engineering (from diseases with no cures), completely new, highly lethal and contagious life forms, life, life so new that no one yet understands how it works. What if a newly-mutated strain somehow finds a way to attach itself to a lab worker in some unpredictable way, some way that defeats the protections put on it, so that the lab workers carry it outside unknowingly? I plead for humility in the face of nature’s chaotic, awesome genetic power.


Furthermore, if we build the facility, we’ll scare other countries into creating their own labs, creating something like an arms race with ourselves, and increasing the threat. I can’t think why Detrick’s scientists, or the Post Commander, would welcome such dangerous projects, which only complicate, compromise and jeopardize all the other crucially important and valuable research currently being done at USAMRIID and elsewhere on post.


I know we can’t avoid all risks in today’s angry and violent world, but we can avoid adding recklessly to their sum. We can choose not to consolidate, in a metropolitan area, an unpredictable mix of risky components with an infinite potential for dangerous permutations.


I was almost raped as a young mother. A very caring policeman later sternly warned me, “Don’t be so stupid as to leave your window-shade up! You’re attracting every pervert in the county. Eventually, they’ll all make a beeline to your window!”


These labs leave the window-shades in Frederick up. Their very existence in Frederick asks, perhaps begs, for trouble, and that trouble will make its dangerous beeline straight to our area.


Before we expose huge populations to catastrophic risks with BSL 3 & 4 labs, we need to ask why. If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it is needed? Wouldn’t we have to vaccinate people before the threat reaches them? Perhaps an antidote, not a vaccine, will be needed. And how much vaccine, and when, would be considered a good solution? And who would be vaccinated? Only the government? The military? The medical community?  Who might our solution actually save?


And finally, has anyone examined the probability that these risky efforts can even be successful? We’re considering exposing huge populations to catastrophic risks. For what? If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it’s needed?


None of my concerns are even mentioned in the current USAMRIID hazard assessment, much less addressed.


What is needed is a mature, high-quality thought process developing an informed equation comparing the risks and costs of the potential biowarfare threat itself with the risks and costs of attempting to address the threat. At what point are they equal?


Merely by building such facilities, aren’t we unreasonably augmenting the threat? Aren’t we creating/driving a biological arms race with ourselves, since other threatened countries will feel it necessary to build their own labs, requiring us to expand ours again in an expensive, pointless, dangerous, ineffective, wasteful and infinite cycle?


Here is what a credible, predictive and useful BSL 3 & 4 hazard assessment might look like:


1. Estimate the cost of the planned response to perceived Biological Warfare (BW) threats

   –  List the possible negative events which inspired the proposed solution.

   –  Estimate the probability of each negative event occurring.

   –  Estimate the impact of each negative event, if it occurred.

   –  Estimate the risk (the probability of occurrence times impact) of each negative event.

   –  Estimate the expected cost associated with these possible negative events (some sort of group probability—a statistician would be required.)

   –  Estimate the actual costs of responding to perceived BW threats (labs, people, security, maintenance, upgrades, social, political, other costs…)

   –  Add actual and expected costs.


2. Estimate the benefits of the suggested solution (which is essentially a list of the costs of the negative events that would happen to the U.S. as a result of the perceived BW activities of other countries, assuming that the U.S. does nothing to ward off such possibilities.)


3. List the additional possible negative events that could happen to the U.S. as a result of other countries’ feeling threatened by our new labs and then building similar BW efforts, including the costs of expanding the U.S. response to these rising threats.


4. Using the list produced in step #3, proceed with the steps described in #1 above to determine the benefits of the planned solution.


5. After completing steps #3 and #4 above, we would have an informed decision-makers’ estimate of the costs and benefits of the planned response to the perceived BW threats.


6.  Evaluate the assumption that the planned solution to the perceived BW threats would actually be effective, (i.e., what is the likelihood of the US having an appropriate and effective vaccine or antidote ready when it was actually needed during a BW event? Etc.)


7. As a final step, do a sensitivity analysis.  Determine how much the result of the cost/benefit analysis above would change as a result of changes in the assumptions used to create it.


8. At what point does the risk of the threat itself equal the risk of trying to address the threat?


Essentially, we need to develop an equation, a model, which will allow decision-makers to make a practical and informed comparison weighing and comparing the risks and costs of the BW threat itself to the risks and costs of addressing the threat. A mature, high-quality thought process comparing the risks with the solution would allow for decision-makers’ discussions, and even some disagreement about the assumptions and decisions, but at least all involved would be assured that all issues were addressed in a systematic way.


Sometimes the “costs” in the above equation would be expressed in terms of dollars, sometimes in terms of human life, sometimes in terms of political costs, i.e., international opinion, good faith, trust, health, environmental costs, social costs, risks of increased anger, terrorism, war, etc. A complete list of costs and risks would of course also include the cost of the additional threats which will inevitably emerge as a result of the U.S. building such a facility to address the perceived threats. The list of expected monetary costs should thus include the costs of building the facilities, securing them, running them, maintaining them, and upgrading them again and again as response-threats spiral. Do we really want to start this death-spiral?





A Very Good Save-the-World Software Development Idea. Please Help Yourself! :-)

Will some brilliant programmer please step up and design a google-type software program that can linguistically analyze and determine a speaker/writer’s cooperative tone and intent?


Your new program could identify and distinguish among those writers/speakers whose communications promote a sense of division, partisanship, negativity, polarization, blame, attack, incivility, rudeness, destructiveness, unfriendly competition, bickering and hate—and those promoting a sense of positivity, creativity, life-affirmation, support, harmony, acceptance, forgiveness, productivity, civility, courtesy, equality of opportunity, caring, cooperation and unity.


Your software could have endless useful and profitable applications. For immediate profitability, please consider using your product for security purposes, to helpfully ward off unfriendly attacks and attackers (of whatever kind) upon individuals and enterprises (of whatever kind.)


Imagine leaders young and old in every field vying for their communications to be screened and certified via your software. Why not simultaneously award a “Truth-bearer” (or some other such logo) “gold seal of approval” identifying individuals and organizations as positive communicators, healers, light-bearers?


Your prestigious and desirable software “accreditation” could motivate many people to investigate and understand the important distinctions between peaceful and contentious communication purposes, and to recognize and encourage humanity-unifying goals as non-threatening and potentially beneficial to all earthlings, while discouraging communications with adversarial, hostile ends. Your software would also surely stoke national dialogue, while heightening awareness about the many distinct (although often confusingly-disguised) differences between helpful and harmful human communications. Your software would take care not to exclude any gentle, friendly, cooperative practitioner of any ideology, religion, political party, nation, organization, affiliation, etc.


One important goal of your software would be to educate. Hopefully, everyone would eventually become enlightened enough to merit universal inclusivity (by acting as good, positive communicators) according to your accrediting software, which might also be developed Wikipedically, or perhaps Amazon-style—i.e., open-sourced, by inviting motivated reviewers and voters opportunities not only to build your site, but also to offer feedback opportunities and provide needed talent to shape and debug upgrades and develop next-generation software.


Recipients of your approving nods (such as Nobel prize winners and mild-mannered third-graders) could proudly display and announce their cherished new affiliation and certification on their websites, on Facebook, business cards, in TV commercials and advertising, on coffee cups, tee-shirts, shopping bags….


Additionally, your software could assist web surfers to more-judiciously select helpfully-screened websites, products and opinions as the very ones they will most benefit from investigating. Perhaps your software could also eventually include a function which would recognize and refute inappropriate co-opters of your symbol of acceptance and stamp of approval—an iterative process that would call out abusers while encouraging more awareness and discussion.


Your software will stimulate lively dialogue; increase the impact and number of creative, thought-provoking, and controversial-but-civil exchanges; reduce (by virtue of indifference and neglect) the quantity and influence of divisive communications arising anywhere in the world; universally improve facility in verbal and mental processing of complexities, innuendo and nuances; and inspire us all to pull together cooperatively to resolve our common personal, local and global problems.


While you're programming, please give extra points for humor?


And if you're not a programmer, but merely a earthlinged, godlinged promosapient like me, please pass this idea on to any similarly-inclined programming/software folk or foundations, or to whomever might be interested!


Thank you…. 🙂


Nancy Pace




















































































With Friends Like These…Let's Love Our Enemies (Ourselves)

President Obama is such a loyal friend. But with friends like his, who needs enemies?


I would like to particularly encourage all powerful old black (and white, etc.) men (and women) Friends Of Barack’s to please park your egos and pride, and try to stay humble and yes, forgiving. And meanwhile, I trust that the Cambridge Gatesgate fracas will remind the rest of us to do the same.


First Jesse Jackson stabbed poor Barack in the back (and then rightfully cried at his inauguration); then Jeremiah Wright stabbed him (and no doubt regrets it); and now here comes Henry Louis Gates, behaving in ways Barack couldn’t have imagined. Yes, power does indeed corrupt, and all who achieve greatly, greatly fall at times; we’re all human, even Barack.


Barack’s failures were partly a matter of his own very legitimate, very personal indignation at the terrifying and tragic history of his own race’s interactions with corrupt, brutal and powerful law enforcement individuals and organizations.


Barack’s other failure was a lapse in judgment. He spoke out too quickly, assuming that his experienced, wise and thoughtful friend Skip Gates was incapable of acting like such a fool. Well, now you know, Barack. Everybody plays the fool sometimes…. There’s no exceptions to the rule…. J


I do hope the current media frenzy results in a national dialogue which teaches America how scary, emotional and risky it is to be a minority member in America, unpredictably facing powerful, fallible, human, and sometimes consciously or unconsciously prejudiced law enforcement individuals and organizations which always circle the wagons to protect themselves; and also, how scary, emotional and risky it is to be a conscientious police officer trying daily to do a thankless job, by selflessly and repeatedly putting him or herself into deadly, confusing, volatile—and often, degrading, no-win—situations.


I hope the promised new documentary stars President Obama, Officer Crowley, the good professor and his other new friends at the Cambridge police department, all ignominy, anger and hubris reconciled. Their joint efforts to clarify and address this complex American problem would add much to their heroic legacies of service.


Why don’t police officers all wear video recording devices at all times? This requirement would protect both the police and all citizens by encouraging all participants to always be on their best behavior. This approach would serve justice, and would save a lot of money in court costs and legal fees.


I recently humbly “donated” money to my community after having been caught red-handed on a camera which showed me running a red light I would have sworn before a judge I never ran. That camera saved both me and the court system a lot of money. Memories are faulty, but cameras and recorders are less so….


President Obama, thank you for always doing your best, and for taking on so much so generously, and for putting yourself out there daily, so vulnerably and riskily. Please go easy on yourself. And you too, all you courageous and well-intentioned police folk, we’re so grateful for your courageous service. And you too, Jesse and Jeremiah and Skip—please don’t forget about all your many brave and invaluable contributions. And as for the rest of us little folk, may we too seek humility and forgiveness as we go about our very human daily business of fallibly flinging ourselves about our own small universes trying to do some good, and making our own big mistakes in much smaller, less-public, less-dangerous venues.


Please send comments and email to . Thank you! 🙂  Nancy Pace


Justice and Peace Are One Path

Peace and justice nourish one another, sharing their hope for non-violence and their concern for the interests of others. Wherever exploitation and oppression are ignored, peace and justice are illusive; wherever respect and support for human life become priorities, peace and justice are reborn.


Rule-of-law and justice are not always the same. Hopeless citizens who despair of working out their life-and-death issues within unjust legal, economic and political frameworks sometimes turn to crime, terrorism, and war. What goes around comes around. Those who work for equal opportunity and peace lift up their own lives with the lives of others, growing in understanding and acceptance of human difference, and increasing the sum of peace and justice.


The Golden Rule, the historical foundation for all moral and legal systems, and the basis for the “liberty and justice for all” to which we pledge allegiance, works so well because treating others as you wish to be treated becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Peace and justice are among the highest ideals and values enshrined in our proud founding documents, which extend equal protection for the peaceful, equitable goals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” even to “the least of these”—children, the elderly, sick, needy and handicapped, and all who struggle to rise from historical discrimination.


Angry media xenophobes and demagogues try to scare us into believing that the world is divided into a tiny deserving few of “us” vs. a vast faceless, threatening, undeserving “them,” urging us to abandon the goal of peace and justice for all, and to put power and wealth in the hands of a few self-interested fear-mongers who guilefully “guarantee” safety through militarism. Offering the opposite message are the great leaders of our past and present, urging us to love and help one another, to give and forgive, to risk peace instead of war, and to work together for respectful, supportive conditions valuing the sanctity of human life everywhere. Truly, we cannot avoid all injustice, but we can avoid adding to its sum.


Justice implies neutrality and fairness, but no judges are completely unbiased. We all see the world uniquely, based on our different backgrounds. In the face of the same legal arguments, natural, unavoidable bias is evident in the many disagreements among even our rigorously-selected highest justices.


Our current justices’ life experiences are for the most part grounded in privilege and wealth. A more balanced Supreme Court would include justices whose lives reflect struggles against prejudice, poverty or disadvantage, since, in common law legal systems like our own, justices at times “make the law” by overturning precedents, regulations and legislation, with immense implications for future generations.


Clearly we need to appoint judges with sterling records of excellence and impartiality. President Obama hopes also to nominate Supreme Court justices with a sense of what real-world folks go through, who know what it is to be a teenage mom or to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old, to have the system not work for you, to be vulnerable in the political process—an outsider, a minority, someone without a lot of clout.


In the five percent of hard cases where the legal language is not perfectly clear, and where legal procedures alone can’t lead to a rule of decision, President Obama believes that the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in a judge’s heart. May we find the peace and justice we seek there, and together with our good president, continue to nurture peace and justice in our own hearts, in our families, communities, businesses, schools, courts, churches and government, and in all our relationships with others throughout the world.



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Covering Obama: A Cautionary Note to Journalists and Historians

Journalists who recently told the election tale in terms of a superior candidate emerging victorious over an inferior one risked a barrage of criticism from rightist pundits. And indeed, the salutations of the world’s moral and political leaders, and the tears of admirers everywhere, have crowned Barack Obama a peerless light-bearer, while John McCain, partly for the sake of a contrasting story line, has been cast in the evil emperor role.


Truly, it would be as misguided for liberal-leaning journalists to indelibly identify Obama as a permanent force for good, as for right-leaning journalists to gnash their teeth to nubs over their White Knight’s defeat by the evil Antichrist, because what keeps journalists working is their sure-handed avoidance of any final pronouncements on the rapidly-changing nature of the people and human institutions in the scene before them, in favor of reporting in medias res exactly what just happened.


In this particular case, what just happened was that a famously-esteemed public servant, John McCain, too often gave in to cynicism; attacked his until-recently unknown opponent; promoted fear; and acted the part of convenient tool of greedy and foolish party opportunists narrowly serving the interests of America’s wealthiest citizens.


What just happened was that voters rightly associated John McCain’s candidacy with the failed policies of today’s Republican Party, the party of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, Rove, and Hadley, who, together with Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk, duped two highly-electable, ideologically “authentic” rock stars, Bush II and McCain, into fatuously selling, with fatal consequences to large swaths of Americans and Iraqis, a vacuous, greed-based ideology.


What just happened was that a Republican presidential campaign aligned itself with policies promoting U.S. hegemony; a dominion of haves over have-nots; a belief in the inevitability of a divided world; militarized solutions to political conflicts; and a continuation of institutionalized bigotry, hatred, ignorance and poverty as the optimal path to safety and prosperity.


Journalists legitimately pointed out that there were clear differences between the two candidates and their campaigns—two very different approaches to governing, two distinct philosophies, two methodologies, two visions.


Journalists rightly explained how and why most world citizens came together to embrace and applaud the more hopeful candidate and reject the more cynical one.


To be sure, John McCain is neither the devil nor the evil emperor. He is, however, a believer in the aggressive, violent, chauvinistic ideology of the Bush regime which preceded him. George W. Bush isn’t the devil either, but he did quite naively become falsely persuaded that his only choice was to unleash hell in the Middle East, thereby adding greatly to the sum of human suffering and injustices in the false hope of thus preventing some.


Many high-minded journalists very professionally told a story of how, in this one glorious instance, Americans courageously elected a man advocating diplomacy, global problem-solving, an end to class warfare, relief for the planet, a search for common interests and solutions, the education of all children everywhere in the necessary skills, ideals and values of citizenship and productivity, and a belief in working together to lift mankind up instead of tearing it down.


Barack’s victory was a victory of hope, love, and faith over cynicism, despair, and vengeance. Journalists telling his election story just exactly as it unfolded were right to tell the truth that for a brief shining moment, America once again welcomed the possibility of a promising new king ready and eager to reign wisely and well from a diverse, compassionate and representative roundtable.


At the risk of grievously mixing regal metaphors:  Make it so.




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Throwing Good Taxpayer $$$ After Bad

It’s too late to stabilize markets using taxpayer money. The world has legitimately rejected as unreliable our current corrupt economic system and currency (read Paul Craig Roberts, among others.) No amount of taxpayer money spent by crooked politicians picking ultimate winners and losers in this crash can restore international confidence. 

Prices won’t fall indefinitely; in today’s small world, international buyers quickly snap up values. Self-serving government bailouts complicate and postpone the day markets correct and we begin our arduous climb back to national recovery.


We’ll need all the FDIC and charitable money government must print to pay its bills, insure citizen trust in local banks, and prevent daily suffering—unemployment, starvation, freezing, homelessness—when the inevitably ensuing inflation has shrunk to pennies the hard-won dollars of  middle and lower-class wage-earners and savers.


When this crash finally hits its natural bottom, we will begin again, sadder and wiser, to build a better, more stable, caring market system. Hopefully, Barack Obama, with his characteristic thoughtfulness, pragmatism and vision, will lead us capably through this terrible time, and back to greatness.



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The 2008 Democratic Party Platform I'd Like To See

Here are my suggested goals for the 2008 Democratic Party platform:



  1. War: Stop using war as an imagined solution to non-military problems.
  2. Democracy: Reform democratic processes in the United States. 
  3. Violence: Reduce violence in American culture. 
  4. Culture: Use public airwaves to teach positve values and behaviors.
  5. Education: Give each child a computer and the necessary local mentoring and support to learn with it.
  6. Openness: Open the workings of government to the public.
  7. Values: Teach acceptance.
  8. Environment, Population (and Energy): Reduce the world’s population.
  9. Foreign and Trade Policies: Offer equal respect and support for human life everywhere. 
  10. Ethics and Compassion: Assist the poor everywhere to live healthy, productive lives.
  11. Energy: Initiate a Manhattan-type-race-to-the-moon national effort to harness nuclear fission energy.


By the way, these were my suggestions (posted on this blog in May 05) for the last election….

I’ve Finally Decided That Barack Obama Will Pick Bob Casey for His Vice Presidential Running Mate. Or Maybe Mark Warner.… Or Maybe Kathleen Sebelius… Or Bill Richardson? Jim Webb? Or maybe Gore. Or Biden. Or…#@%*!!??

I’m enjoying watching the Obama veepstakes unfold….


If Hillary doesn't want the job, which she isn't right for (although I love her) maybe Barack will pick either Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey or Jim Webb.


Obama and Casey like, respect and enjoy each other. How well they work together really is an important selection criteria in choosing a VP to help Barack move forward on America’s mandate for change.


Obama took Casey for a long test-drive as they campaigned together across Pennsylvania. Casey seems a bit low-key to me, but his mild demeanor seems to have grown on his loyal down-home constituents. Casey is experienced–if not day-one-experienced–in foreign policy. His interests, expertise and politics are very similar to Barack’s. Casey's solid, well-vetted personal background will contain few surprises, if any. He seems to have unshakeable integrity, quiet confidence, little ego, considerable calm and coolness, deep faith, wonky attention to detail, poise on his feet, and a lifetime commitment to challenges and service.


Casey was Jesuit-trained, which says to me he and Barack share values and perspectives. Both Obama and Casey served on the senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees together, so they know each other fairly well.


Bob’s father was a beloved Pennsylvania Governor, so he is not new to political life and its unpleasant realities. Bob’s four beautiful daughters and wife are very much an asset; they twisted his arm to get him to go ahead and support Barack. Barack said Casey’s endorsement meant more to him…as much to him… as any endorsement he’d received in his whole campaign. A telling comment indeed. 


Casey is a devout Catholic and thoughtfully pro-life, which will bring in many new voters, including previous non-political voters, Hispanics, Evangelicals, religious voters in general, and Catholics. Pro-lifers will just have to settle for having a very liberal, pro-life president.


I think Barack is looking for a relatively youthful partner, a natural leader who will share leadership loyally beside him to achieve his agenda of change, and who might, having learned and earned the job over eight years, step into Barack’s shoes as he eases himself over to the Supreme Court when ready for a nice long useful, interesting rest.


Pennsylvania is a state Barack would like to win and Casey could get for him, although regional considerations are less important than all the above factors, since Barack cannot legitimately be said to “belong” to any single region of the U.S.


Casey is a populist who would appeal to Hillary’s current voters—particularly the blue-collar folk slow to see in Barack one of their own, who take a little longer to recognize his integrity, vision and trustworthiness, and might need some significant convincing to understand Barack's unique ability and credible plan to bring about the changes they want to see. Casey seems to be a good manager and a good debater. He's hard-working, productive, ambitious, and attentive to quality and detail.
Casey is a quietly authentic, genuine, natural leader who will help Barack get elected and won't hurt him. If he turns out to be the strong, complementary partner Barack needs to successfully move his agenda forward, if he learns and earns the job of president during the next eight years, then Barack will have exercised his own good judgment to make a selection in the best interests of the all the people, which is what Barack does best.
Both Casey and Obama have a few endearingly sweet but flitty mannerisms which demagogues will use to smear such a team (see Casey's endorsement announcement) so they'd have to be warned to avoid giggling enthusiasm and girlish delight when campaigning together. 
I have adored Jim Webb since I read Fields of Fire when it first came out, and the man just keeps on getting more and more wonderful. Everything he touches turns to gold. He's such a uniquely powerful and thoughtful leader, and a great populist. But perhaps Obama wants someone younger, more religious, a little more like himself in his politics, and a little less-burdened with a strong personality, personal distractions, historical skeletons and wives. If these issues don't bother Barack, they won't bother me. I'm a bit concerned about Webb's health; despite his evident fitness, he just looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. I hope I'm wrong.

Each of the other impressive leaders currently exuding gravitas and national/international military/foreign policy experience (Al Gore, General James L. Jones, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson….) is either too old for the sixteen-year tough-hoeing job, or somewhat reluctant to take it on, although I suspect they would all agree to do whatever might be necessary for the good of their country and/or party. I still think Al Gore must be Barack's intended answer should the party try to foist Hillary on him. The name, Al Gore, is unfortunately still very polarizing to non-Democrat voters because of his past Clinton associations, but his internationally acclaimed environmental activism has made him less-so. Young people love him, and he's learned to be a more natural, relaxed campaigner and leader.

I like Mark Warner for many of the same reasons that I like Casey, but I really don't know anything about him that I haven't learned on the internet. He may not be sufficiently “with” the Obama program, I just don’t know. If Barack is confident of Warner's loyalty and integrity and their shared vision, then he is also a good choice for some–but not all–of the above reasons.


I just love Bill Richardson, who is morally courageous and upright, committed to Barack’s agenda, will bring in Hispanics, runs a tight ship, and gets it done. He's not a lightweight, but he's perceived by some to be one, congenial as he is, so that would have to be worked on. I can't imagine anyone saying Richardson wouldn't be ready on Day One, or not liking him, or finding skeletons in his closet, which is all good.


Another good choice for Barack right now, based, again, only on internet research and reading, is Kathleen Sebelius, also for many of the above reasons. If I knew more about her, or even more about Casey and Warner, perhaps she would be my first choice. She's had a lifetime in politics, and seems accessible, bright, admirable, hard-working, politically correct and savvy, low-key and appealing. She's powerful in distinctly feminine ways–a real plus–and future presidential material to be sure.


In recent history, both Presidents Bush, Clinton and Gore demonstrated how important and difficult it is to make a good VP choice. Choosing a running mate can be a thankless, nearly impossible task, one best made on one’s own terms and not, ultimately, by committee. Every VP choice inevitably comes with a certain amount of baggage and drawbacks. No single choice can compete with all the best arguments for all the other candidates, of course.


I’m enjoying playing this little veepstakes game along with the thousands of other people who are interested in playing it, too, so I thought I might as well share my conclusions and my reasons for having them (total value: about two-cents) with my loyal readers…..


…About whom I know little, although I’m now happily averaging 2,000+ hits a day, and recently reached 8,957 hits on one very nice day earlier this month. Who are you guys? Why do you read my blog? Where do you live? What would you like to hear more about? Any questions you’d like me to blog about? I would love to hear from any of you…. Please send me a note at And thank you for reading my blog…. JJ









Obama Walks With Those Who Hate?

Michael Gerson says, “Barack Obama is not a man who hates — but he chose to walk with a man who does.”

(Not that Obama is Jesus) but Jesus also walked with sinners. So do we all. So are we all, sinners, each in our own ways…. Let him among us who is without sin cast the first stone.

Obama is guilty merely of seeking out and finding the most compassionate, passionate, intellectual, committed, loving, and yes, angry, leader of the Black church community in his Chicago neighborhood, and not only learning from him, but contributing greatly to his mission to fight injustice, poverty, and the ravages of AIDs in Chicago.


Obama has clearly stated their areas of disagreement. He has rejected Wright's words of fear, divisiveness, and weakness. Obama has greater faith that America has come a long way, and wants to go further, wants to live up to our ideals.


Obama, like Wright, like all candidates, like all leaders, is not a perfect vessel, as he has said many times. However, he is a uniquely able and good human being, willing to learn and serve.


If we once again let ourselves be distracted or frightened by opportunistic campaigning that stirs up old fears, divisions, and hatreds, causing us to unwisely vote once more, out of panic, against our own best interests and those of our country, we will never solve our problems, which will require the whole country coming together to make that happen.  What is in our best interest is: working in unity to resolve the common problems which all Americans, white and black, must resolve—our huge challenges in education, poverty, jobs, fair wages, health care, unwise wars, terrorism, debt…..


Barack Obama has the potential to be the truly great, unifying, inspiring leadership our country desperately needs. We can get back on track. Barack promises to help us get the job done. Let’s take him up on his offer.

In Power, Hillary Didn’t Get It Done. Barack Will.

Both Barack and Hillary say they can lead America through sweeping legislative changes, yet only Barack has a convincing plan for getting it done.


Hillary's plan is to do what she always has, that is, to work as hard as she can, and care a lot—a strategy which has resulted in creditable incremental changes, but which promises only more-of-the-same.


Barack’s plan for getting it done is daring, plausible, and perfectly aligned with his uniquely charismatic and inclusive leadership style.


He will begin by bringing in so many enthusiastic new voters during the general election that he will sweep a solid majority of Democrats, like-minded Independents, and Republicans amenable to his agenda into office along with him.


After he’s elected President, he’ll use his remarkable consensus-building abilities to transparently bridge divisions and identify workable solutions to pressing common problems.


Then he’ll eloquently sell his legislative package to a devoted American public, who by that time will know and trust him far more than they’ll trust opposing politicians or special interest lobbies, no matter how much money is spent on media campaigns to the contrary.


Finally, Barack will ask his devoted followers to hound their Members of Congress, and if necessary, turn out in the streets to protest, to get his legislation passed. And they will. And he will.


Hillary is wonderful, but her leadership style just doesn't get it done. During fifteen years of unlimited opportunities, connections, and insider information at the center of power—eight years as First Lady and seven years as a U.S. Senator—Hillary diligently chipped away at the edges of big problems, making praiseworthy differences in many lives, all good stuff, but hardly the leadership America needs now.


We need a widely popular President who can articulate, orchestrate, and legislate the urgent changes mandated by a solid majority of newly-mobilized followers—a President who gets it done.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a similarly-populist President who led the country through sweeping legislative changes cherished by the American working class, told the activists who sought his support, “You've convinced me.  Now go out and make me do it.” They turned out to protest, and his legislation passed. 


All through FDR’s Presidential campaign, detractors had complained loudly that he would prove a flash in the pan, “only” a great communicator, a man of “mere” words.  All such complaints ended abruptly, however, on Day One, a day which, after all, turned out to be far less significant than the many other truly transformative days that followed.


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