Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What No One Says in the Debates

For the last couple weeks, I've been wondering what actual straight talk would look like. Here's a handful of items that no one will say in a national debate.

If you add up the cost of the bank bail out, 700 billion dollars (it's really closer to a trillion. It's more than that if you throw in things like AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc. that everyone seems to forget we already did), the cost of the war, this whole notion that we're going to add forces in Afghanistan and maybe Pakistan...On top of that we're going to spend the funds to stop Russia from taking Georgia, the Ukraine, etc. I'm sorry, I just don't see how any sane person can suggest that all these things are possible and still promise to reduce everyone's taxes.

If nine people are coming at you and your gun has six bullets in it, you're not going to stop them all. So gosh, you betcha, would somebody please do the math? Anyone who's ever been moose hunting would know that. If we're running a deficit this big and we supposedly can't afford to provide health insurance for every child in America (not all that expensive actually), then we can't pay for the bailout, stay in Iraq, and reduce taxes and government revenues at the same time. Smile at camera, wink, How's that for talking about the future.

Okay, somebody needs to mention that Israel has nuclear weapons of its own. You want disarmament in the Middle East, it might start with having the Israelis give up theirs and maybe some of their neighbors won't want them so badly. Why do they always make Israel sound so helpless? I’ve never really gotten that impression. I’m all for preventing a second holocaust as well, but I’d like to hear someone say in a national debate, “In this particular instance, Israel is wrong and holding back the peace process.”

This year’s addition to the things you can’t say is this bit about Russia attacking Georgia. Actually, the whole thing is complicated but every source I’ve seen says that the most recent war started when Georgia attacked South Ossetya. In fact, that’s part of what makes the whole thing complicated. This seems to be the 2008 version of Saddam was involved in 9/11.

Would someone please let Sarah Palin know that the only war that John McCain participated in, we actually lost. In fact, Senator McCain spent most of his duty time as a prisoner of war in that conflict. I admire the fact that he survived his captivity, but it’s not proof that the guy knows how to win a war.

It’s also more than okay with me for someone to mention that the surge in Iraq isn’t working. Yes, the level of violence in Iraq dropped, but here are some facts. Several months after the surge was supposed to have done its job, the US still has more troops in Iraq than it did prior to the surge. In fact, the Pentagon’s most recent recommendation for a draw down of troops after the election is so modest that if you looked at pre-surge promises and that relatively modest draw down, you’d have to come to the conclusion that it didn’t work.

There’s also the matter of cause and effect. According to Bob Woodward, it wasn’t the surge that reduced the violence it was a black ops style tactic of assassinating insurgent leaders. If that sounds vaguely like terrorism, it is. Since World War 2, the US has a rather long history of trying to assassinate foreign leaders and other individuals considered roadblocks to democracy. It’s actually surprisingly well documented. Look up Lumumba, Diem, or Castro (those attempts didn’t work). Second, a fair amount of ethnic cleansing had already taken place so there were fewer folk living in mixed neighborhoods who could kill one another. Third, someone needs to mention that we started paying the insurgents. I know we’re not supposed to pay off terrorists, just like you never trade arms for hostages, but that’s part of the picture.

Here’s the big one. If you go back to the policy discussion prior to the surge, it wasn’t conceived as a purely military exercise. The idea was to use the extra troops to create enough stability for the various factions in Iraq to work out the agreements necessary to make an effective coalition government possible. You may note that every time they talk about those key agreements that should already have happened, they’re still just about to happen. We were supposed to say, “Get this done or we pull out by date X.”

In the meantime, you’ll see references to all this political progress on the horizon but one reason they don’t want to draw down to pre-surge levels yet….The surge can’t be said to have worked unless the political end of the proposition happens. The level of violence could have dropped to zero (it hasn’t) and the surge will be a failure if the Iraqis don’t make the necessary political accommodations.

I know that non one’s ever going to say this, but Bill Ayers is not a bad guy. I can’t say that I knew him, other than to maybe shake hands once, but I had some involvement with the Annenberg Education Initiative (went to at least 2 meetings) and there was no discussion of politics at the meetings. The one meeting I remember well was post –Obama’s involvement. No, I don’t agree with the weather underground’s tactics either, but it was also almost forty years ago. For at least the last twenty years, Bill Ayers was constructively engaged in public school reform in and around Chicago. I think it’s admirable and I’d certainly shake hands with the guy and thank him for his efforts in that area.

For some odd reason, no one’s going to mention “conservation” in the form of Americans changing their lifestyles and the way we plan our cities as a significant route to energy independence. Just do the math for a working couple who both live 15 miles from work or try to talk about making downtowns an automobile free zone or keeping houses at 76 degrees or higher in summer or 67 degrees or lower in winter. At the same time, little is said about how far off some alternative energy solutions are right now. Methanol, fuel cells, solar, wind, electric cars are all terrific ideas, but ask someone some time how many charge cycles you can get out of a nickel metal hybride battery or how batteries perform in a very cold winter or a very hot summer or talk about transmission losses for a solar collector in a desert a hundred miles from a major city. There’s a bunch of work to be done and the US is behind the rest of the industrialized world. While you’re at it, ask how many people in Korea have broadband and how fast their internet connections are compared to the US?

Here’s another one for you…All this talk about dwindling resources in the world and the possible effect of human activity on global warming….Why can’t anyone say birth control and family planning?

I should probably end with a bit of good news that no one’s talking about. You remember all those worries about illegal immigration? Apparently, illegal immigration has dropped off dramatically in the last two years. It turns out that the ultimate way to control the border is a technique called foreclosure and bankruptcy. We often forget that illegal immigration is a good problem to have in its way. It means more people want to be here than there are people looking to leave.

There’s a part of me that certainly understand the politics of some of these debate taboos, but how can we seriously face some of this stuff if we don’t talk about them with some semblance of honesty?

Nice NY Times article on the origin of Maverick



At 10/07/2008 01:04:00 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

The bailout was the wrong thing to pass. It's time to do something right.

Please support this proposal and get your Congressional representative to sponsor this solution to our current monetary crisis.

A complete list from the Detailed Executive Summaries of the National Economic Stabilization and Recovery Act:

The Federal Reserve System

# The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 is amended
# The Federal Reserve System is abolished and replaced by a new Treasury Reserve System
# Control of the currency is moved from private control of the Fed to public control of Congress and the new Treasury Reserve System

# Congress sets the standards for the new monetary system but the people create as much or as little currency as they need
# Functions of the Federal Open Market Committee are transferred to the Board of Governors of the new Treasury Reserve System
# A new mechanism, the Treasury Reserve Account, is created to provide the Treasury Reserve System Board of Governors a better method to fine-tune the money supply, effectively eliminating inflation

# The Treasury Reserve System Board of Governors will continue using the previous three mechanisms for controlling the money supply: 1. Setting reserve requirements. 2. Setting the national discount rate. 3. Purchasing U.S. Treasury securities on the open market.
# All U.S. Treasury securities purchased by the Treasury Reserve System Board of Governors will be immediately turned over to the U.S. Treasury and cancelled out of existence.

Monetary Policy

# People are provided with several alternatives for currency
# Constitutional currency is restored
# Currency becomes debt free as the people stop paying interest payments for their use of a public utility

# Unlike previous policy, the new Treasury Reserve Board is provided one very specific mandate: maintain a stable currency
# Expansion of the economy is returned to the free market
# Private coinage is encouraged

# Exchange ratios for the various currencies are published at least weekly
# Printing of redeemable gold and silver certificates is allowed
# Postal money orders are made available in denominations of gold and silver coin


# Returns the banking industry to serving public interests
# For secured loans, compound interest is outlawed and replaced with a monetization fee
# Provides stricter banking controls by imposing excise taxes to discourage high or runaway monetization fees

# On secured loans obtained from a fractional reserve bank, principal must be paid in full before the bank begins collecting its monetization fee
# Eliminates the facade for banking insurance (FDIC)
# Except for fraud and criminal activities, virtually eliminates bank failures

# Banks are prohibited from using as reserves any commercial paper
# Only Treasury credit-notes can be used as bank reserves
# Banks are prohibited from purchasing government issued debt, effectively removing banks from influencing monetary policy

# Checking accounts against gold and silver deposits are prohibited
# Commingling of funds among the various money accounts without owner’s permission is prohibited
# All currency deposits with banks are general warrant deposits and custody accounts.

The Income Tax

# The Income Tax Act of 1939 is amended
# People need no longer fear the IRS
# Billions of hours of nonproductive labor are eliminated

# Mounds of paper work are eliminated
# The cost of the income tax is no longer hidden and embedded in the cost of doing business and passed down the chain with the consumer paying the final tab
# Most likely eliminates state income tax plans because state income taxation piggybacks on federal income taxation

# The IRS is reformed into the National Tax Service
# Volumes of complicated tax code are history
# Eliminates personal income taxes

# Eliminates corporate income taxes
# Eliminates gift taxes and estate taxes
# Eliminates capital gains taxes

Sales and Use Tax

# Tax rate of 14%
# Government entities are exempt
# Government mandated expenses such as licenses, permits, passports, are exempt

# Sales of bullion, coin and currency are exempt
# Sales made by or to nonprofit schools are exempt
# Sales of prescription drugs, medical supplies and services are exempt

# Real estate rents and leases are exempt
# Sales of groceries are exempt
# Sales of plants, livestock and fish used in the production of food for human consumption are exempt

# Insurance sales are exempt
# Segregated portions of labor in retail service contracts are exempt
# Incidental or occasional sales such as garage or rummage sales are exempt

# Sales for the purposes of recycling are exempt
# Meals provided by companies at company expense are exempt
# Sales that are nonprofit in nature are exempt

Immediate Relief and Results

# Eliminates more than $1 trillion of the nation’s public debt
# Reduces future private debt by more than $1 trillion
# Immediately eliminates some private debt, especially for many homeowners

# Workers maintain better control of their earnings
# Production is no longer taxed, just consumption
# Most of the necessities of life are not taxed

# Encourages production thus revitalizing industry in America
# Encourages rebuilding of inner cities
# Discourages wasteful uses of natural resources

# Exposes the true cost of government
# Greatly eliminates the struggle between tax “protesters” and bureaucracy
# Allows the “underground” to resurface and become a viable contribution to production of goods and services
# Greatly restricts the influence of special interests and lobbyists

Please do not confuse this with a hoax with a similar name. Tell your congressional representative to sponsor this proposal and submit it as legislation. It's time we as the people took back our monetary rights. Tell your representatives and senators, and the candidates they are running against, that you will not vote for them if they do not opening support and sponsor this bill themselves. It's the only short and long term solution for our current crisis.

At 10/07/2008 02:40:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Could you tell me who's behind NESARA? I can't make sense of that from the website.

At 10/08/2008 05:25:00 PM, Blogger benny06 said...

I agree about Israel, but we are about to support India in nukes too on Friday.

John Edwards once said that we all needed to agree more on nuclear weapon proliferation slow down (or a freeze on it), but unfortunately, that idea (along with many ideas) got lost in August.

Meantime, AIG got $37B today from the Feds.

At 10/09/2008 10:16:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...


But we did get fresh mangoes in exchange from India.

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Obama mention "conservation" in the debate....Just as surprisingly, McCain didn't start attacking conservation as either silly or unrealistic.
If I understand it, you can have nuclear weapons if you're a "responsible" country...So given how we got into Iraq, are we one of them?

At 10/20/2008 02:55:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

The ratings for Letterman and SNL are the only real issues!


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