Archive for the ‘Fred Thompson’ category

State Sponsored Terrorism

January 22, 2008

There are news reports that the anti-abortionists are readying a new wave of assaults on American women.  This, at a time when there are so many other important issues facing Americans, is perplexing.  As you look behind these activities you find the loose confederation of evangelicals and fundamentalists organized by “for profit” churches.  Their goal is to reverse “Roe v Wade” at the minimum and at best, to make it illegal under any conditions for a woman to end her pregnancy.

Georgia is considering an initiative that will define life to begin with fertilization.  Logically then anything that would end the pregnancy would, in effect, be an act of murder.  I wonder if they have thought about:

1. How many “PP” (pregnancy police) they will need to spy in each bedroom to see if copulation has taken place and then run spot checks (like athelete  who take urine tests) to see if the woman is pregnant?

2. What means of electronic earsdroping will be used to determine if a woman leaves the state and returns, whether she had had an abortion?

3. Could the State pursue a woman into another State on the suspicion that the woman was pregnant and might consider having an abortion?

These ridiculous situations may seem unreal but given the pending laws, they are the logical extension of thinking that chooses to subjugate a woman’s right to her reproductive health.  But what is behind this?

1. In running any religion or ideological group, it is always easier to gain consensus when you present the people with an enemy.  With religions, where you are dealing with faith and belief (not logic or facts), to imply that an abortion is analogous to killing, you get a quick response…”thou shalt not kill”.  Just like Jim Jones, it is them against us and we have to win or they will destroy us.

2. I would certainly not categorize most of the modern evangelical and fundamentalist leaders as Jim Jones types.  I would simply call them what they are… they are shrewd business men and women.  They are feeding their flocks something that makes the unthinking feel they are better than others.  For this people turn over buckets of dollars to these religious leaders.

3. American was founded upon the inalienable rights of individuals to personal liberties.  Through out our history we have seen an enlightenment that these rights apply to everyone regardless of race, creed, or gender.  (We are working on sexual preference now).  How then can we protect the woman’s right to choose?

4. I suggest we fight fire with fire.  Let’s begin a drive to tax all religious institutions that choose to try and influence the public agenda.  I have no beef with churches that teach people how to pray or see nature as beautiful, or even how they think they should live.  I react when these churches try and tell me how I should live.  So, let’s tax them like any other corporation.

Taking Control…

January 21, 2008

Our brave President is back from his 8 day trip to the Middle East.  Why eight days?  I guess 7 were not enough and 9 were too  many.  The President was indeed brave making speech and speech without apparent fear that anyone would consider his record versus what he was saying or doing.  Why did Dick Cheney send the President to the Middle East in January?

1.  It is warmer in the Middle East in January than it is in Washington, DC.  The White House was able to lower the thermostat in the Oval Office and save the tax payers big bucks, and at the same time show an example to Americans of energy efficiency.

2. The Bush biographer insisted that Bush try his hand at negotiation with the Palestinians and the Israelis (at least once in his 8 years).  Every other modern President has and without that chapter, George’s biography would stand out.

3. George (actually it was Cheney) has had a second thought on this thing called “Democracy”.  That is a good concept for a speech and the neoconservatives really like it, but for some reason there is none of it in the Middle East (save Israel maybe).  This trip gave George a chance to shine the light on America’s friends and tell them “to hell with democracy”.

4. George is not known for liking bad news and with the US economy is heading down the toilet, George thought it was best for him to get out of town and avoid the questions.  (As a seasoned businessman, George should have some great advice for all of us… maybe.

5. The price of oil has been skyrocketing and George saw it as the mission of the President to go to the horse’s mouth itself and tell King Abdullah, “lower your prices”.  George did in fact give a lesson on the ill effects of high oil prices and there was silence.  I wonder why the King did not bend down and kiss George’s back side?

Well, we will probably never know why the President went to the Middle East and if we did, we might find the real reason had less meaning that these silly reasons I have listed.  I wonder whether the next President will provide the same opportunities for schadenfreude that little Georgie has given us.

Recession Cures

January 20, 2008

It looks like the President and Congress are in agreement that something must be done to stimulate the economy.  The experts fear that if nothing is done, the overall Country will slip into recession.  And there is a reasonable chance that a US recession will have ripple effects around the world.  All parties seem to think that $ 100 to 150 billion package would do the trick.

So that’s the good news.  The bump in the road is how to distribute the money.  The President says there should be tax credits and they should go to those who pay taxes (many of his friends included).  News reports indicate that there is about 40% of tax payers actually pay no income tax (they do pay social security and medicare) because they do not earn enough, and these people deserve a break too, argue the Democrats. 

The Country’s high powered economists will argue this point over the next few weeks.  It does seem  somewhat unfair if only the rich get the breaks.  Maybe a combination of business incentives (tied to hiring people for example) and outright “cash back” sceames (such as tax credits of $ 500 which would either lower ones tax bill or turn into a refund) might be a fair way of passing out this stimulus.

It is down to Hillary, Barack, McCain, Romney, Huchabee, and maybe Rudy who must speak to this issue (even though it will be Congress and the President who actually do something).  We can judge how these candidates judge the American people and whether they feel fair is fair.

From “Change” to the “Economy”

January 18, 2008

Over the years I have observed that when there is an economic slow down or even a recession, two factors are always present.  First, there is an over abundance of something such as credit card debt, automobiles in inventory, or as now, too many houses for sale.  Second, there is a general lack of confidence in the future and the “stand in” measure of that is confidence in the President.  If we are not ready for a recession now, we never will be.  The question is what have the Presidential candidates learned from the current mess and what would they do differently if they were President?  Let’s look at some underlying factors:

1. The current slow down in house sales would not be such a big deal if it did not also affect the construction on new houses.  New construction stimulates the entire economy broadly.  People are paid to build house, others supply raw materials, and still others supply furniture, appliances and garden items.  All this slows down when new houses are not selling.

But why has it slowed down?  You could say that like all fads it has run out of energy and we should not be concerned.  There is undoubtedly some truth to that but if we look at the last ones in, that is those who were buying just before the slow down occurred, we will see that they are largely people who probably should not have been there.  Largely this group were speculators (buy now and flip it) and others who may deserve housing but were being encouraged by subprime lenders who were literally throwing money at these people (who could not afford the house especially if their costs increased).  We are now seeing companies such as Merrill Lynch and Citigroup posting write offs in the billions!  This is stagering and to compound matters, when they dismissed their CEOs (who watched over this misjudgement on risk), they paid them about $ 60 million each to leave.  What’s wrong with this picture?

2. Consumer confidence is drooping and this is always more difficult to answer.  It is easy to cite President Bush’s approval rating (low 30’s%) and you can go to the bank that not many people believe anything he says.  But what are people thinking about the 2008 Presidential candidates?  The Republican race is a shamble with no clear preference and signs of strong dissatisfaction by some of each candidate.  The Democrats look to be coming down to two (Barack and Hillary) but it is not clear whether both are ok for all Democrats or whether the selection process will alienate some.

3. The rising cost of energy can not be overlooked.  Everything will cost more and there will be less discretionary money for those fun things.  With no serious energy policy (other than Bush’s “buy from my friends” policy, the next President will start from behind the starting line.

4. A hidden factor that most people do not think about is the growing weakness of the US dollar.  This will cause all imported items to rise in price since it will take more dollars to buy the same amount.  But more important is why is the dollar sinking in value?  Look no further than the 1 trillion dollar Iraq war that has been used to cover the War debt, and absence of sound fiscal management in the Bush Administration.  The Bush Administration conveniently spared the Country any hardship from his war by putting its cost on the cuff.  But chickens come home to roost in strange ways.

I do not know what we will hear as economic fixes but I am sure that

  • attacking gays and lesbians
  • putting a gun in every hand
  • driving out Mexican workers
  • pushing for intelligent design
  • denying due process
  • goading pro-lifers into action
  • crying out about terrorists

will not do anything to help the economy.  It will take sound thinking and a spirit of inclusiveness and confidence in our abilities.  Our economy has been getting sick for most all of Bush’s term and the day of reckoning is here.  So let’s here from the candidates on what would be fundamental change!

Republican Myth

January 17, 2008

Reporters are now picking up on the observation that the 2008 Republican Presidential candidates are making almost no reference to President George W Bush or to his Administration’s record.  Tell me something that I did not know!

When a group of Republican voters were asked why they thought no mention of little George was being made, they responded with:

1. “I don’t know.”  This is probably the most truthful and accurate answer since most Republicans (like Democrats) are that because they always were.  There is no thinking (or very little) about why the actual or assumed party prinicples appeal to an individual.  There is a huge difference, in my opinion, between someone saying “I am a life long Republican because I feel more comfortable with their sense of prudent government spending”, and “I think George Bush is a great Republican”.  George Bush has made a mockery of everything that has stood for Republicanism and people need to recognize that.  Pandering to evangelicals, waging pre-emptive war on false pretenses, attacking gays and lesbians as lesser citizens, and ignoring our Constitutional civil and human rights is a short list. 

2. “The 2008 Presidential race is about looking to the future and not the past”.  This is a great answer although it begs why not brag about the past like every other campaign has done.  When historians begin to write about the Bush era, they will not need much ink.

3. “I am not sure why the candidates are on talking about the President because President Bush has been successful.  We are winning the war now.”  Those who answer the question this way need to see a professional medical person or stop taking their mind altering drugs.  When anyone refers to the Iraq War and claims we are winning (or losing) they are making an irrelevant statement.  Just like if the US invaded Costa Rica and the Government boasted of victory, military action in Iraq must over time always end with US winning the battles.  We simply have too many resources. 

When you hear the Republican candidates boasting about “winning the war in Iraq”, you need to remember:

1. This was a war of choice and never needed to take place. 

2. The Iraq War was justified to the American public on false premises and has been shown over time to have no justification.

3. Once the US had invaded and had caused a regime change, the US was obligated to “fix what it had broken”.  This has taken 5 years (and counting), almost 4000 lives (and counting) and more than 1/2 trillion dollars (and counting), just to fix what we broke.  No matter how you look at it, the Iraq War was an expensive mistake.

4. The question that should stop anyone who says “we are winning” should be, “oh that’s great, when will all the troops be home?”

Three Questions

January 16, 2008

With the last few day’s campaigning in the Republican 2008 Presidential nomination race, three large questions have arisen.  With the field so evenly split, I wonder if more question will arise than are answered.  The questions are:

1.  What is Mike Huckabee thinking when he persists in inserting God into the campaign.  Speaking to the converted he said that it would be easier to change the Constitution than to “change the word of God”.  Has he not read the constitution and the first amendment?  Has he already decided which God (of the many possible to assume) is the God that the rest of us must bow to?  Does he not realize that what he says to the evangelicals is reported to the entire country? 

2. Now that Mitt Romney has won the gold in Michigan, he has a new life (we are told by the press).  But the question is why?  For sure he picked up a few votes for the nomination but why did the voters turn away from John McCain?  Why did so many main line and well to do Republicans vote for Mitt and not John?  Did those voters simply not like or trust John, or did they like the executive capabilities of Romney?  Did they realize he was a Mormon (as Huckabee has pointed out) and simply did not care?

3. Ron Paul received almost 7% of the vote coming in higher than “sleeping” Fred and “waiting for Florida” Rudy.  For someone few people had heard about before he announced his candidacy, Ron has polled well in Iowa, New Hampshire, and now Michigan.  You might be quick to say that he did not finish higher than fourth in these three races but the 6-10% range speaks to a significant segment that is attracted to Ron’s message.  With Paul’s internet fund raising success, could he be a third party candidate when the Republican Party turns to a more traditional pick?

Of course there are more than three questions, and probably with the South Carolina primary, there will be even more.  I just wonder whether we will get answers to these before we have more questions.

Michigan – Go Blue?

January 15, 2008

The Michigan primary is today and the Democratic National Committee has punished the Michigan State Democratic Party for scheduling their primary in a black out period.  It may have been necessary to punish Michigan in order to keep the rest of the states in line but what a price the whole Democratic Party is paying. 

Michigan is currently the poster child for the down turn in the economy and no Democratic candidate will be able to speak to this dawning national problem.  To be sure Michigan’s situation is a bit unique owing much to the history of a dysfunctional UAW-Big 3 Management relationship and the resulting uncompetitiveness of the auto manufacturers.  The auto companies compounded their problems with some strategic blunders and have made too many cars with no heart that nobody wants.  Regardless there is a way to see all of American in Michigan.

Over the years Michigan has thrived based upon technology and high paying industrial jobs.  From these fruits have sprung great institutions of higher education, magnificent State Parks and recreation facilities, a strong healthcare system, and overall a darn good life.  Now those jobs are mostly gone and the future does not look bright unless a lot changes.

Michigan’s State budget is shot too.  The size of it has ballooned over the years sucking more and more taxes from the auto industry employment.  Now with jobs evaporating, Michigan is left with a budget deficit and it is growing.  This is a mini picture of the entire US.  You create value by growing, mining, or making (manufacturing) and not by banking, massage centers, or even healthcare.  This latter group are “services” and they flow to those who have created value and without real value creation, this whole game stops running.

We need to hear all the Presidential candidates speak to this issue, what they would propose to do and how they would pay for it.  Things are not going to simply return to the good old days if we wish it.  China, India, and many other developing countries now have socialized the overall automotive technology and will be able (due to cheap labor and parts) produce cars and trucks less expensively than the US.  If we open our eyes we will see that it is just not cars and trucks, it is all manufactured goods. 

The answers lie someplace in activities that would sharply increase our national productivity, probably through greater use of mathematics and science.  Education will be key to any US resurgence and investments in the necessary infrastructures will be needed too.  This critical issue demands a cessation to the one trillion dollar Iraq War and the refocusing of our national priorities.  Those candidates who deny the seriousness of this problem or propose spending programs without revenues to support them are doing all of us a disservice.

For or Against the War?

January 14, 2008

We are being treated to some useless political theater with the Clinton and Obama campaigns.  “I was against the War and you voted for it”.  “That’s the biggest fairy tale I have every heard (Bill Clinton claiming Obama did in fact vote for the war)”.  In both cases, what’s the point?  I hope they do not mean that since the war has cost a trillion dollars and taken 4000 American lives and lasted 5 years with no end in sight, that the war is a bad idea.  I hope they are not arguing about the cost-benefits of the war either (which only a failed businessman would have taken us into… and George W Bush fits that description).

A lot of people got it wrong in 2002. 

1. The media as a whole reacted with glee over the prospect of endless pages and/or minutes of reporting (not to mention the advertising dollars that would follow) a war. 

2. Congress got it particularly wrong because they were more worried about getting reelected than performing their jobs and following the Constitution. 

3. But most everyone got it wrong when the President and Vice President decided they were the sole authority for whether there would be an invasion or not.  This was behavior that was new and a bold expansion of the Presidency. 

4. Cheney and Bush got it wrong when they acted without International approval, and entered the US into an illegal war.

So, other than Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, I have not heard anyone else call the Iraq War what it is.  It is an illegal war and it will be a black smudge on the American reputation for years to come.  Politically, there is a reluctance to point out the illegal nature of the war. 

First, there will be outcries and demagoguery over the slander of American service men and women.  “You mean they sacrificed for nothing?”  Unfortunately if you put it that way, the answer is yes.  As in all wars or military conflicts, the soldiers pay the price of political decisions.  Our soldiers have performed professionally and can take pride in their professional performance.

Second, these claims will open the US to suits in the World Court where Iraqi citizens seek to address their personal losses.

Third, the World Court actions won’t stop at just financial.  Bush and Cheney (and Rumsfeld) would be subject to crimes against humanity and lengthy jail sentences (if they are spared the death penalty).

So here is a statement the Obama and Clinton camps could adopt and then move on to other important issues.

“The Iraq War was initiated without Constitutional approval and before sufficient information had been assembled on whether Iraq possessed WMD.  The White House judgement was unfortunate and betrayed the confidence of the Congress and American people.  We pledge that in ensuring the security of America, we will follow the Constitution and use military action as truly the last resort.”

The Mouse Roars

January 13, 2008

Our man from Washington, DC, George W Bush is still traveling in the Middle East and once more (under strict instruction from War Admiral Dick Cheney) made a speech in which the US sabers were rattled against Iran.  If Bush’s words on the surface were not laughable, his message could be very serious.  Bush labeled Iran the worst of the worst in terms of supporting terrorists.  His words, alledgedly addressed to Middle East leaders, were received as hollow and from a completely repudiated leader.  On the other hand, those of us here in the US have much to worry about.

Bush of course could have been bluffing and sending this message to motivate the Iranians to come clean on their nuclear programs and to stop any military applications.  And his words could be well crafted to precondition the American public for another Gulf of Tonkin event.  Remember an Iranian War is thought to be just what the doctor ordered in terms of helping a Republican get elected President in 2008.  Oh, this world is so complicated.

There is a movie out named “Charlie Wilson’s War” which chronicles the way in which the US, through complete deniability, supported the Afghan insurgents against the Russians and ultimately lead to the Russian defeat.  Was the US effort then a terrorist movement? 

The neoconservatives would say Charlie Wilson’s efforts were in the defense of freedom and against the forces of evil (or something like that).  Plain and simple, our actions in the Russian Afghan War were in our national best interest, nothing more, nothing less.  There are and have been several States assisting the insurgents in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian terratories in the same anonymous manner because they view it in their national interest.  But that is no reason to raise the spector of war.  There are other more cost effective ways to combat these countries.

The fact that Bush and Cheney continually miss is that war is the most costly solution to any problem and almost always produces unintended consequences.  It could be that they do not care since they get to exercise their power and feed plenty of Government spending to their friends and supporters.  Who knows.

It is time to speak up and make it clear there can be no war with Iran while Bush and Cheney remain in office.  All Presidential candidates should be asked to endorse this statement unconditionally as should current members of Congress.  Bush and Cheney have misused the trust of the Country and can not be trusted again. 

Middle East Junket

January 12, 2008

God’s man in Washington has been traveling this week in the Middle East.  George “let me make peace now that I have screwed everything else up” W. Bush will be heading home shortly so that he can return to the dirt bike trails.  Exhausted, I am sure, from performing the duties of his job, George will get some needed rest before receiving an update on the US Iran War plans.

Bush’s Middle East trip was actually needed and it was a proper role for the President.  It was also needed back in 2000 and 2001, but the Israeli and Palestinian situation was not on the radar screen.  George compounded that oversight with the invasion of Iraq and the “look the other way” Lebanese War.  In essense Bush and Cheney took AIPAC support (friendly press and money) and in return gave Israel a free hand to decide how things should be in the Middle East.  (It is important to say that the Middle East is a real mess and Israel can not be blamed for most of the mess.  The Arab States with their own thirst for money have created a land of haves and have nots lead by clerics who want to return to the 1500’s to ensure they maintain power).  But giving Israel a free hand is like asking Mr. Fox to step into the hen house to help keep order.

This trip although far too late in happening was very necessary.  We will see if there is any follow up.  What is very worrisome is the continued saber rattling towards Iran.  Iran is another mess that does not require our fixing.  You can begin to see the story coming together…

1. We can not get Palestinian peace with Hamas and Hezbollah.  Hamas and Hezbollah are financed and influenced by Iran.  Something must be done with Iran (like regime change).

2. We need free flow of ship traffic in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.  Iran is posing a menacing threat.  We need to act pre-emptively to ensure a free flow of oil.

3. There is a clear difference between the Democrats and the Republicans going into the 2008 election.  Historically Americans have not wanted to change horses in the middle of the stream, i.e. switch the party in power, when the country was at war.  There could not be a better time to provoke military action with Iran (as seen from hard core Republican, AIPAC, and Neoconservative eyes).