Wednesday, November 19, 2008

START - Finished

What does START mean to you? For many of the new generations it means the little button you click in Microsoft Windows that gives you access to a bunch of programs not sitting on the desktop...

For older generations and the slim minority of newer generations that care about history, START is the STrategic Arms Reduction Talks that began on June 29, 1982 and culminated in an agreement with the USSR about Nuclear missile and material reduction in 1991. START II began in June 1992 and ended with President H.W. Bush and President Boris Yelstin's agreement in January 1993. START III was dead on arrival in 1997 and dealt a death blow by the George W Bush Administration's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Before I mention why I'm bringing up START let's talk about a strange trend that you can notice in that last paragraph.. did anything about the culmination of the START talks strike you as odd or telling? START I: Pres. Reagan brings it up, pushes it until it passes. START II: Pres. George HW Bush brings it up with the Russians, Pres. Clinton pushes it until it passes. START III: Offered by Russian diplomats, agreed to in principle by sane State Dept. diplomats, killed by Pres. GW Bush. Sad.. It is like we this Bush Administration has taken pride in wasting and throwing away all the good will and soft diplomatic power the US possessed and worked hard to gain. Hard work by Presidents and proud American men and women who toiled to step America up just one more step so that the next global generation would see America on a pedestal not in the dirt. Thanks, Dubya - you have spoiled and deserted their ideals then threw them out all in the name of a new American "power" - force and terror.

Well... Where was I before my diatribe? START! That's right, START is going to expire! START expires in December 2009. The United States and Russia are trying to come together to come to an agreement. There are a few, uh how to put this.... problems.

First, US diplomats have zero credibility or power because they represent a lame-duck President with less than 90 days to serve.

Second, this Bush Administration is more interested developing ABMS (Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems) and antagonizing the Russian Bear than it is willing to actually doing something truly courageous - working towards a more peaceful world.

Third, the Russians are looking to regain the Soviet glory of military power with no international restrictions (obviously they have rose-colored glasses on their hindsight along with a severe case of selective amnesia).

Fourth, there is a general disagreement as to exactly what a new START would cover - US diplomats want to limit the number of missiles period, the Russians would like to see a limit on warheads (there can be many of these per missile) and they want a limit on ABMS.

I hope that in the 11 months following the Presidential Inauguration that (then) President Obama will have the ability to multitask effectively and deal with the START talks seriously and with great care. As an aside - I do not believe that total disarmament should neither be a possibility nor a goal. The reduction of nuclear weapons will lend a hand to a more effective security between nations and will reduce the ability of rogue states or terrorists of getting their hands on Nuclear materials.

Have ideas? Share them here! Comment!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Auto Bailout: Corporate We(a)l(th)fare

Seriously democrats? Seriously?! Democrats got a huge mandate to do what they will with the nation by capturing the Presidency and enlarged their margin in the House of Reps and Senate. What do they do? What will their first lame duck move be? Trying to get the Big Three Auto companies (Ford, GM, Chrysler) to either be allowed to received money from the 700 Billion dollar bailout already passed or to pass another bailout just for American Auto companies.

Here's a better idea: Let them suffer. The crisis these companies face can be divided into two main problem areas: Management and Unions.


It would be hard to imagine a company losing Billions of dollars for many quarters in a row and two or three years after having consecutive negative quarters beginning to respond with changes to structure and product design. The Big Three have done just that.

What did Ford and GM focus on while gas prices where skyrocketing? They were producing and actually expanding SUV production. Now they claim that somehow it is the economic climate that is causing their losses and they claim it is foreign competition that is adding to their woes. That's like wondering why the sidewalk lemonade stand doesn't do so well in winter and then blaming the lack of lemonade sales on the fact that there is a Starbucks 10 feet away.

Of course gas prices affect Auto sales, even Toyota had some losses last quarter (in the US) and it is also obvious that competition makes it more difficult for a company to sell the same product and have the consumer buy it without thinking. The management at the Big Three always seem to have their eyes on Washington for a handout ever since they decided that American consumers wouldn't trust new Japanese cars that came flooding into the US in the 70's when gas prices were sky high and they couldn't stop making gas guzzling boat-cars. It is true that American consumers like buying products that are made in America and have brand-name allegiance but there is a limit. The companies had fair warning that quotas on foreign cars were going out the window and should have gotten the message when "foreign" vehicle plants started popping up in the South and now have 100% American labor. These big company executives just refuse to believe that their reality from 1965 has changed.

These management executives have to realize a few things. 1) American consumers are smart, they will buy the best vehicle for their needs no matter how many million dollars is spent on researching a trendy model name. 2) Making a bad product should not make you eligible for a handout. 3) Unlike banks, if you fail there are plenty of other companies that can pick up the slack, there is no Auto Tsunami in the making. 4) React to the economy, don't sit around and wait until it beats you to death. 5) Deal with the Unions (UAW), they are sucking your carcass dry.


Bargaining organizations are an important part of the advocacy of blue-collar workers. Unions also played an important part in the fight against oppressive businesses and the politicians that were in Big Business's pockets. There.. proof I do not hate unions.

Now, moving on to the UAW (United Auto Workers), the union dealing with the the Auto companies in question. The UAW is largely corrupt and has turned from an advocacy group to a group that seeks to feed itself by extortion. This union isn't working for the true interests of workers it is making moves and spreading misinformation amongst those who may not know as much as them in order to cause walkouts and strikes. The effect of this being the UAW is extremely powerful and of course.. that means they want more. The UAW keeps finding the weakest points of the Big Three and then making sure they pay dearly before their workers return to the line.

The sad part of this setup is that it is the workers that are being hurt. First they lose wages when they are not working then they go back to work feeling better but without receiving any substantial increase in meaningful work benefits or work conditions. Meanwhile the unions gain more clout and more memberships.. They ought to change their title to UAE - United for Auto Extortion.


Democrats, no doubt, have a debt of gratitude to pay to Unions who endorsed them and made sure their members turned out in large numbers for their candidates but it is time to stand up to corrupt unions and failing big businesses and say "Help doesn't mean handouts!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Honoring Veteran's Day
Honoring Veteran's Day

If you read this blog from time to time you will know that the Armed Forces and their Veterans are something I care very much about. No matter what the policy of their mission they ought to be respected and protected when they do their jobs right. [There are a few that do not and it is those who sully the name of our military forces.]

The members of the Armed Forces and their Veterans deserve our thanks and gratitude.

Show your gratitude by donating to the USO or by supporting veterans who have returned injured, physically or mentally. Remember the Government might let a soldier through the cracks, it is our job as a society to rescue them before they fall further.

Click here to donate to the USO (United Service Organization)

Click here to send a donation to DAV (Disabled American Veterans)

Obama's Cabinet

Well... not 24 hours after Senator Barack Obama became President-Elect all eyes have shifted from victory celebrations to the possibilities for the positions of the Obama Administration's Cabinet positions. Word on the street (aka in the Beltway) is that Obama will be making his decisions very quickly and will push to hit the ground running with his political mandate. Unlike President Clinton in 1992 there is an urgency to today's economic problems and if something isn't done quickly Democrats will be heavily punished in 2010 and 2012. But who could possibly serve in an Obama Administration? Who will it be?!

Let's focus on the three "big ones", listing a few names for each and in bold will be the one I believe that would be truly best suited for it and in italics the one that is most likely of those listed to actually get it.

Secretary of State:
Strobe Talbott - Brookings Institution president, former deputy sec. of state; honest, focused and very intelligent man with a real grip of the issues and problems America faces abroad
James Baker - Sec. of State under H.W. Bush, one of the best at the job in the past 20 years and a great deal maker and *bonus* is an actual international realist and a Republican
Richard "Dick" Lugar - Knows his stuff and there's no drama around this expert Senator who is the ranking minority member on the Foreign Relations Senate Committee, *bonus* is a Republican from a state Obama carried
Chuck Hagel - Senator widely admired for his straight-talk and positive vision *bonus* Republican, a realist
John Kerry - Long-time democratic Senator, former Presidential candidate, No. 2 Democrat on the Foreign Relations Cmte.

Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates - Current Secretary. I have written previously about his courage and true patriotism in helping our troops and keeping America safe in every way he can, *bonus* is well respected on both sides of the aisle, won't seem like changing horses midstream
Robert Zoellick - Former president of the World Bank, knows the ins and outs of foreign- policy as well as being a Washington insider

Secretary of the Treasury
David Lipton - Former under secretary of the Treasury
Hillary Clinton - Remember her? Yup, Her name has come up for this position because she's from New York (sorta) and knows how to play hardball with Wall Street, *bonus* A conciliation gift from the victor, get her out of the Senate - an enemy is best kept close
Warren Buffet - Maybe the Sage of Omaha will know how to invest America's money in such a way that businesses don't disappear and the taxpayer is protected from Big Business's foibles, *bonus* Everybody knows and respects this guy.. he is the American dream - Midwestern No one into Richest Man on Earth
Unknown - a Wall Street Veteran with some Government experience, probably from the Big Bank sector

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-Elect Obama

Barack Obama passes 270 electoral votes, defeats John McCain, and will become 44th President of the United States.

Wow. Just let it sink in for a moment.

Monday, November 3, 2008

2008 Election Campaign almost over.. finally!

It almost over. You won't have to sit through political ads or get annoying volunteer phone calls or even more annoying robo-calls. No more half hour political infomercials. No more intense negative advertisements. No more mailboxes full of glossy postcards telling you that if you vote for Candidate B the terrorists win.. or your taxes will go up. No more yard signs popping up faster than weeds. No more 3rd Party supporters shouting at you near the intersection that "they both stink!" Aaah, none of that.

Just a 3 month wait until the pomp and circumstance of a Presidential Inauguration. The interest of waiting for a Cabinet to be formed and a super-lame ducked President handing out pardons and signing Executive Statements like its Republican Christmas. Then we start anew..

But think... if you don't vote you don't have the right to complain or applaud. The privilege of voting bestowed upon you by the Constitution be lost by your own laziness or apathy. Even if your Vote doesn't count for much.. it does count to YOU. Vote your conscious. Vote your values. Vote your wallet. Whatever it is, Just VOTE.

It isn't difficult. It doesn't cost much (just gas or a fare to get you to the polling station). Ask right now where your polling place is if you aren't sure. Then go out and vote tomorrow. Vote for the sick man who can't cast his ballot. Vote for the young girl who is just a few days too young to vote this time around. Vote for the mentally disabled. Vote for the soldier far away who hasn't had the chance to cast his or her ballot because they fight for their survival with no time to spare. Vote... For goodness sakes, Vote.

Vote for the good candidate. Vote for the honest candidate. Vote for the open candidate. Vote for your candidate. Make a decision about their values, their policy, and their ability. Vote.

I think that will suffice but I wish to reiterate one last time:


Conservatives for Obama?

Conservatives for Obama... that doesn't make much sense, does it? Let's remind ourselves of some of the key positions that Senator Obama has taken: Government provided health care for all, support for Big Labor, support for abortion rights, opposition to the limitations of "marriage" benefits to homosexual couples, and the expansion of nearly every government entity he can get his hands on. Sounds grim. Then why are so many Republicans and Conservatives voting for him?

The answer is simple, he is running for the Office of President of the United States. The President occupies a very unique space in the American body politic, he (for this election) not only represents America to the world but he also is the chief executive of all things Political and Military. The President has the power to appoint and remove every high official in the Executive Branch and appoints all of the Judges in the Federal Judicial Branch (including the Supreme Court).

It is because of this that you find more cross-party voting in the Presidential race then you do any other type of partisan race in this country. Conservatives aren't voting for policies when they vote for Obama on Nov 4th, they are voting for a type of President that they'd like to see after eight years of "Us vs. Them" Republican rule. "Republicons" are hoping that an Obama Administration will not be vengeful one especially seeing as how (in a very modest estimate) Democrats will probably gain 6-8 seats in the Senate.

Another "positive" that conservatives are hoping for is a collapse of the Republican Party as it has existed in the past eight years. Why? Are they all self-hating Republicans? Nope. They want to reshape the GOP into a winning coalition once again. Depending on rich white folks, big business, evangelicals, and rural whites just isn't enough. The politics of fear that the Bush Administration worked up into a victory in 2004 are good for a one-time win but not good enough for continual electoral success. The Republican Party is hoping for a Reagan Revolution (or at the very least a Gingrich one) with new energetic leaders, preferably young ones so they don't have to reinvent themselves every 15 years. These leaders should be able to attract new young voters, the "base" - whatever it looks like, and capture Independents as well. What pro-Obama Republicans are looking for is a political calm where they can safely attack liberal policy while repairing and re-inventing themselves into a "cool" moderate conservative party with clear party planks that will endure. Now is the time for Republicans to start thinking about how to hold ground in 2010 and gain Congressional seats in 2012.

It is for the above reasons and so much more that I support the candidacy of Barack Obama. I do hope he gets elected, but don't think for one moment I have wavered from my values or beliefs because I will attack him any day if he is elected 44th President of the United States tomorrow. Good Luck Sen. Obama!