Friday, April 25, 2008

conflict of interest

Can any Hillary supporter comment on the conflict of interest she will have as president? Her husband is making millions of dollars in speaking and consulting engagements (not to mention donations to his charity) by people/governments/industries with political agendas. Imagine if she becomes president and the CAFTA issue resurfaces. Bill was paid $800,000 by Columbian businesses to push CAFTA. If Hillary then agrees to it, saying the situation has changed and now CAFTA is a good idea, how will that look? Whether or not the situation has changed, many will wonder if Bill's fees had something to do with her position.

I’ll assume Hillary supporters will believe Hillary’s ethics are great enough that the TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS Bill will be taking in won’t influence her on issue after issue. My question is about how will it affect all of the other Democrats in congress, as mayors, etc. when the right starts questioning her motivations. I believe a lot of independents will be swayed by the conflict of interest argument and democrats will lose elected officials at many levels of power to offset Hillary’s gain.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sad Truth

The truth is Obama has lost some of his shine for me too. I did do some due diligence before I became excited about him and knew his far left positions were much farther left than any of mine. I wasn’t surprised to find out that his minister was a racist. Obama’s claim that he would have switched churches of Rev. Wright wasn’t going to retire is basically saying 20 years of association with a whacko is OK but 21 years is just wrong. This response is a little weak. A better response would have been, “I was a politician from a largely black district and this church, although racist and wrong, represented my constituents in most other ways. Basically, my membership was a political move.” That sort of candor in a race against any Clinton would have been a breath of fresh air.

I’m not overly concerned with Obama’s association with Ayers. Yes, the weather underground was a terrorist organization. Ayers and the lot should have been tried, convicted and hung for treason, but they weren’t. The government, for no reason I can understand, has allowed Ayers to be a freeman. Ayers has become an important political fixture of the far left in Chicago. Obama is far left politician from Chicago. Of course they are going to associate. If the relationship was more regular and personal than both of them being on the board of some do-gooder organization, I’ll drop Obama like a hot potato made out of C4. Just think of all the losers and idiots you have to associate with just being a regular person. If you didn’t associate with any of them, you wouldn’t have a life. Multiply that by a couple thousand and you have a politician.

Bitter? Most of the media hasn’t listened to the whole exchange not to mention the rest of us. Put in context, it was still bad but not as bad as Clinton’s sound bite team would like you to believe. The truth is, and this is what Obama was referencing, the government has done a crappy job in a lot of segments of our society. There are people who have almost been left behind as manufacturing jobs left our country. Some of them are bitter. Some of them hope that by getting rid of the immigrants, the manufacturing jobs will come back. Some of them turn to religion for solace. Some of them fight to keep their right to bare arms because they feel everything else has been taken away. What Obama did not say is that anyone who is religious, who protects their second amendment rights or who wants immigration reform is bitter. It is like saying some women like to bake cookies so if you like to bake cookies you are a woman. I like to bake cookies. Both my brother and sister make great cookies. There is not generalized connection.

My issue with Obama is based on how he has used his ability to inspire. He is a wonderful motivational speaker and, even during the campaign, could have motivated common people to accomplish great things. Unfortunately, he has failed to try. This week is earth week. It is a perfect example. He could have called a press conference (or even paid for it with is war chest), and told us he is speaking not as a candidate but as a concerned citizen. Then motivate us to go plant a tree or some darn thing. His far left policies will never pass moderate congress, so his presidential legacy would not have been success through political means. It would have been based on his ability to make a new generation care again.

Since Obama is no longer the shiny new penny in my pocket, what do I do? Support Hillary? I can not. I have three issues with her. First, she is a warmonger (much more so than McCain). She supported attacking Iraq. She supported giving Bush latitude in Iraq. She said she would militarily punish third world nations who have terrorists in their countries. Many of these countries would collapse if they took on the terrorists. She said she would obliterate Iran if Iraq attacked Israel. While I support the action, saying so is politically irresponsible.

Should I support McCain? I don’t think I can. His history suggests smaller government and responsible fiscal policies, both of which I support. Unfortunately, McCain has been kissing up to the so-far-right-they-are-wrong crowd. His proposed tax cuts are not offset by significant spending cuts. He wants to continue to be a nation at war. In 2000, he said he supports building and tearing down other nations through training and supplying militants. That hasn’t worked for us. Ever. I just don’t think I can do it.

I haven’t seen a third party candidate really step-up yet. If Obama and Hillary destroy the democrats, I might find a third party to support on principal. Otherwise I’m left with Lefty Obama and a prayer that congress would prevent him from taking us too far into socialism.
Not a very bright picture.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Vetting of Hillary

Hillary claims that she “comes with a lot of baggage and people have been rummaging through it for years.” She says this as if the Republicans won’t have any ammunition to use against her in the fall. I think her claim is as optimistic as sniper fire. The Right has built databases about her and hubby’s allergic reactions to being honest or to putting the good of the nation before the good of the Clintons. Here’s a quick and incomplete list items Hillary participated in that were either dishonest, illegal, had a self-serving conflict of interest or were down right lies:

Norman Hsu
Vince Foster suicide
Bosnia sniper fire
Uninsured pregnant woman
Her work on Watergate investigation
Northern Ireland peace talks
Religious affiliations with the Foundry

The list really goes on and on and on. The unfortunate problem is that mainstream media is too focused on Obama’s fashion choices. I agree he should wear an American flag pin. Not wearing one isn’t a show of his lack of patriotism. It is a show of poor judgment because it gives the six-pack crowd something to focus on other than his message. I think he should wear an Uncle Sam red, white and blue stove top hat. The hat may be too cumbersome on such a tall man. Instead he should wear no less than fifteen buttons and pins like a waitress at Friendly’s. Each button could echo some different pro-American sentiment like “I wish you were here, but only if you are documented,” “There’s no bitter in our beer,” or “Yes we can spend spend spend!”

When the mainstream media rightfully shares some of their collective wisdom on why vote against Hillary, it usually focuses on her milk curdling cackle or plethora of pantsuits. It is disturbing to never she her in the same pantsuit twice. It is kind of like M.C. Hammer and his parachute pants. There is a theory claiming Hillary to be Satan and g-d has limited Satan’s power on earth. G-d decreed that Satan can only be seen in public in the same pantsuit once. Each time Satan goes out in public, she must wear a different pantsuit. Once Satan runs out of pantsuits, she must either reveal her true form or go back to hell. I don’t believe in this theory but I wonder why on shop has ever come forward claiming, “Hillary shops here for all of her pantsuit needs.” Perhaps all of her pantsuits are donated from below.
Bill and Hillary complain about unfair media treatment all the time. “You should report that I lied just because I lied,” they whine. “That’s not fair. You should report the other guy lied whether or not he lied. That would make things even.” I believe all of their complaining has served its purpose. No one in the main stream media question the litany of ethical errors the Clintons have made, in addition to the exposure American has to future scandals with them in charge. Bill has made millions from his speaking arrangements and has collected millions more through his foundation. If he wasn’t heading back to the White House, I would be completely ok with his earnings. My issue is WHAT DOES BILL OWE TO REPAY THESE MILLIONS AND HOW WILL THAT AFFECT HILLARY’S JUDGEMENT?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Vetting Hillary

I disagree with the idea that Hillary Clinton has been completely vetted by the so called Republican attack machine. Ok . . . I disagree with the idea that there is such a thing as a Republican attack machine. Sure there are a bunch of loons on the right that would rather whine about the left than to get anything done like passing bi-partisan comprehensive legislation on any of the issues a majority of Americans agree. What? You don’t think the right and left could agree on anything? We’re so different and they are so wrong, you whimper. Don’t get your hackles up. Both sides whimper, and frequently yell, that the idiots on the other side are . . . well . . . idiots. How about securing our borders? Or ensuring veterans receive quality healthcare? Or removing lobbyists as our fourth branch of government? Balancing the budget? Something?

I listen to Sean Hannity on the ride home. Don’t think any less of me, please. Caller after caller called in after frustrating conversations with their friends who had leftist attitudes. They didn’t actually admit that they were talking to friends, I think, because the people they were talking to were on the left and who would admit to being friends with them. After listening to a few of these calls, I firmly believe that they must have been talking to true friends because no one else would have put up with these idiot callers. The calls all went something like, “Hi Sean. You’re a great American.” “No caller,” Sean would suck up, “you are a great American.” “Get a room!” I yelled at the radio. “You just can’t have an intelligent conversation with liberals. They are all stupid and ignorant and they don’t have you, the great Sean great American great, to think for them.” “Well,” Sean would say, “just keep trying and when they get frustrated with you take that as a sign that they don’t know what they are talking about. The more frustrated they are the dumber your friends (my word) are. Someday they will thank you for showing them the way, the only way, to be great Americans. Have them listen to my show and by my books. If they send me money, they to can be great Americans too.” Ok, I went a little far with the quote. For the record, I think Sean is a great American who honestly believes much of the silliness he espouses. I agree with him about half of the time. Even when I don’t agree with him, I feel better about my position for having heard his challenge.

Anyway, back to the phone calls. Per Sean, a great way his heavily frustrated callers can tell if their liberal friends (again, my word. Really who would want to claim a liberal as a friend) don’t know what they are talking about is by how frustrated the liberal is. (Insert dramatic pause here). Sean’s callers are the ones who are frustrated. By Sean’s own measurement, that must mean his callers are the ones who don’t know what they are talking about. By the way, if you find you are totally and completely unable to have an intelligent conversations perhaps you are the one who isn’t bringing any intelligence to the conversation.

Back to the Republican attack machine. I just don’t believe that these people who are too incompetent to run our country are competent enough to put together a cohesive attack machine. Despite their inability to run the country, they are the one’s running the country (I’ll talk more about the on another day). Despite their inability to put together a cohesive attack machine, they still do attack. I just don’t think that it is as affective and thorough as it could be. Their attack machine isn’t the orderly marching rank and file of Napoleon. They are more like a bunch of monkeys with hand grenades and itchy fingers.
I didn’t really mean to get into Sean and I’ve wasted all my time. Sorry about that. I’ll get to Hillary’s vetting on another day. I’ll give you a foreshadowing of it though. Hillary has been attacked for a lot of scandals over the years. There are also a number of years that she hasn’t been quite under the gun, since the senate for example. I believe the Clinton’s have been yelling about unfair treatment by the press to make sure the press doesn’t press on and revive a lot of these scandals. Anyway. All of that for another da

Friday, April 4, 2008

Almost Brilliant

I was listening to one of the right wing talk show hosts recently. I believe it was Glenn Beck but they all tend to run together in my mind. Whoever it was, was making an almost brilliant comparison between the United States and the Soviet Union just before the Soviet’s collapsed.

He pointed to three factors that led to the Soviet collapse and drew comparisons to the U.S. today. First, the Soviets were in a drawn out, expensive and unpopular war in Afghanistan. Second, the Soviets were in a arms race with the U.S. The Soviets were paying for both the war and the arms race by exporting oil. The third factor was a dramatic decline in the price of oil. At the much lower price, the Soviet economy could not afford to maintain either the war or the arms race and it went bankrupt before it could find an exit strategy for either of them.

Obviously, the U.S. is in a war in Iraq with no reasonable exit strategy. Final estimates for the war’s cost are between one and seven trillion dollars, assuming we engineer an exit strategy soon.

Although Glenn didn’t mention an arms race, we face several prospective races. The Russians are again exporting oil at high prices and are using the income to rebuild their military. They have had their bombers approach uncomfortably close to U.S. Navy ships. Russia is also using some of its neighbors’ dependence on Russian natural gas to extend influence across Asia and into Europe. China is using American dollars their earn by selling the American consumer cheap toxic crap to expand its military. Additionally, it is expanding its interest base across the Middle East and into Africa. China has an additional weapon of mass destruction aimed at the U.S. Their central bank has been hoarding dollars to influence the exchange rate. If they dumped all of the dollars they own at once, it will give the dollar a blow that will weaken it well beyond this little fainting spell we are currently experiencing. China may well decide to use their new military strength to take Taiwan, a U.S. ally. The European Union may finally effectively become one nation. It may take decades for their many armies to become an effective fighting force but even a disjointed force of so many countries will need to be taken into consideration. Than add the weight of many other smaller anti-American countries, many of which are using oil profits to build military and regional political strengths, such as Venezuela, Iran and North Korea. The Japanese are also slowly evolving their defensive military, as defined by the American written constitution at the end of World War II, into a more offensive force. The United States will have no option but to build and maintain a stronger and more flexible military than ever before.

Finally, the U.S. is an oil importer and the price of oil has taken off like a rocket. Since we are a fossil fuel powered nation, the cost of oil is forcing all other costs to rise. We may quickly find ourselves in a position of inflation and economic stagnation.

It we continue to follow this path, we may well follow the Soviet Union into bankruptcy and eventual collapse. Glenn used these arguments to suggest that the U.S. put aside our principals and torture suspected terrorists. While fun, torture isn’t going to do anything to help save us from ourselves. That’s why I’m only going to give Glenn an “almost brilliant” ranking.

We need to consider what we can do to chance the course of these factors. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is much we can or would want to do to reduce military spending in the face of the dangerous world we are in. Sure, we need to make sure we are spending smartly and efficiently. Wasteful spending and misappropriation of military funds should be considered treason. That’ll help but no so much.

The first thing we can do is to draw the quickest and most efficient line to victory in Iraq and then get out of Iraq. We shouldn’t have fought this war in the first place but we did. We’ve made a mess and now have to clean it up, but let’s do so quickly and go home.
The most important strategy we can take is to destroy the price of oil. This will help reduce American imports and it will reduce the amount of money oil rice American hating countries have to build weapons. Destroying the price of oil will actually be easier than it sounds, once the politicians get out of the oil companies’ pockets. There are three steps. First, increase domestic production of oil. Second, create incentives for Americans (and the world) to conserve oil. Third, greatly expand domestic production of oil alternatives.