Or, it May Be Okay to Not Know the Difference Between Potato and Potatoe, but It's Not Okay to Miss Differences Between Hamza and Hezbollah

We fired Bush Senior for not knowing the price of a loaf of bread at the supermarket. Now we’ve got someone in the same job who apparently does not realize that the capitol of China might be as far away from the capitol of Russia as the capitol of the United States. (Never bothered to look at a globe in 60 years? How do you contemplate invasions without knowing such things?)

We have someone in charge who does not seem to know the difference between Hezbollah and Hamaz. (You would think he might wonder since pundits at his sole media news source, Fox News, have been making rabid claims that “World War III” has started because of actions by those groups.)

We have someone controlling our entire military apparatus who’s gaffs three years after his invasion of their country suggests he still does not understand the differences between Sunni and Shiite. (No room for such nuances on a daily one page summary of world events?)

We have someone who does not understand or refuses to admit the distinction between scientific analysis and religious dogma. (Will he be vetoing the law of gravity next or just attach a “signing statement”?)

We have someone who acts like he has never read the Constitution although he swore twice to uphold it. (How many ways can someone misinterpret the words in the 19th Amendment - “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”?)

As the female Chancellor of German will attest, we are sending someone to Summit Conferences who has apparently never read the US or the UN definitions of sexual harassment. (Did he learn nothing from the impeachment trial of Clinton when it comes to fondling females?)

This is someone who starts to make even his father’s astonishingly ignorant VP, Dan Quayle, appear a genius in comparison. No wonder we’re in trouble. It’s time for a pink slip for everyone running for office who told us we would be best off with a potato head in power.



Or, What Explains the Arrested Development of Texas Frat Boys?

Do all Texas frat boys act like Bush and Delay? Ill mannered, bullying, churlish, childish, arrogant, self absorbed, smirking, smart aleck, know nothing know-it-alls? At the recent G8 Summit Conference, Bush was caught on camera talking to the British Prime Minister with his mouth full (small social faux pas), cursing lie a dockworker after spending his Presidency pretending to be pious (medium faux pas) and grabbing the female German Chancellor for an unsolicited fondling of her neck (big social faux pas).

Don't Texas frat boys ever grow up? Bush is over 60 for goodness sakes.

Has something happened in the last five decades years in Texas I haven’t heard about? Bush's father didn’t seem that dissolute. Incompetent as President perhaps, but not dissolute. Did the Texas churches and education system suffer total moral and mental breakdown in the interval or abdicate their responsibilities in teaching Texas young men that being a frat boy is only permitted as a transitory thing, a brief goof off time before shouldering adult responsibilities, not a permanent lifestyle to be inflicted on the rest of the world for the rest of their lives? Actually, it is not all that welcomed by the rest of the world even during college days unless it is John Belushi and it is left solely on the movie screen.

Is it something in the air or water or local beer? Should we be sending FDA inspectors to the Lone Star Brewery? Did it come from all the head bashing during the Friday Night Lights on the football field? No, no, that couldn’t be it. Bush was just a wimpy “cheerleader” in school, wasn’t he? Someone who told others to go out to get hurt on the field while he protected his own skin from harm. I wonder what made him think the Texas National Guard needed another cheerleader during wartime?

Then, does wearing cowboy hats perhaps shrink the brain or the heat build up fry it? I’d sure hate for that to be discovered because I like the way they look. Many of my heros were cowboys. Men who were honest, worked hard and took responsibility for their actions. You know, the type of people Bush has never met except in a photo op. Maybe the Texas frat boys didn’t think it was sexy to act like real cowboys. Maybe they didn’t watch the same movies the rest of us did. Or, maybe they identified more with the guys in those films out to steal the grazing land, foreclose the mortgage or start another Indian uprising.

Maybe it’s just that the Texas frat boys when in costume are wearing their “cowboy” hats too tight to fit their big heads. Should we start treating being from Texas as a disease? Should we quarantine the state so it won’t infect the rest of us?

Perhaps it is a gender thing? I don’t know a lot of Texas women, but you at least certainly seem to be level headed worthy of respect. They don’t come any better than Molly Ivins who refers to Bush as “shrub.” My only problem with Texas women is that they apparently let arrested development Texas frat boys get away with stuff that would not be acceptable in normal human society.

On the other hand, maybe it is just a symptom of inherited wealth and power, indulgent parents, unrestricted privilege, failure to read any of the New Testament and atrophy of empathy, something that might strike anywhere. Maybe it is the senior Bush who owes us an apology. Somebody does.



Or, How to Get it All Wrong from the Beginning to the Never Ending

Washington and the Media keep fixating on the original justifications for the War in Iraq that turned out to be provably wrong. Perhaps some attention should also be paid to the thousand or so other mistakes made since then, any of which might have prevented, reversed or ended the course of this train wreck.

For instance, Bush clearly could have, but deliberately chose not to:

1. Wait until the evidence was stronger that the US was in imminent danger from Saddam. Shouldn’t we have insisted that the standard for evidence in taking the country to a war that some estimated might cost in the trillions with countless lives in jeopardy be at least as strong as we would use to convict in, say, an ordinary speeding ticket case or jay walking?

2. Wait until we were actually attacked by Iraq. Have we forgotten that the official NORAD policy on atomic attack from the Soviet Union during the entire Cold War was to wait until more than one nuclear missile splashed down? The stated reason for allowing some cities to vanish in mushroom clouds was to insure that it was not a mistake or some rouge individuals not acting for the nation itself? As horrific as that possibility sounded, given the history of computer mistakes, equipment failures, and human weaknesses, it was still better than risking elimination of life on earth due to an accident or terrorist. Wouldn’t we want that same standard applied to us by other nations? Isn’t it still a sound idea to carefully weigh the potential costs against the hoped for benefits?

3. Act like an adult at all times. Don’t mouth off with cheap frat boy shots like “bring it on” or demonizing the other side Why purposefully antagonize them. What possible good does it accomplish?

4. Give diplomacy or at least sanctions a chance before throwing away the opportunity. In retrospect, it turns out that they were working.

5. Wait until the UN investigators finished their search for WMDs. Wouldn’t it have be worthwhile to see if the WMDs actually existed?

6. Wait until the UN sanctioned Iraq and joined the attack. Wasn’t the hundred or so year American national tradition and principle of not being an aggressor nation worth at least some small genuine present and future value to us? Morally, if nothing else?

7. Wait until the other Arab nations join the coalition as they did in the first Gulf War. Wouldn’t it have appeared less like another “Christian Crusade” against Islam if other Muslim countries were actively and openly supporting us?

8. Let the UN, NATO or the Arabs do the actual fighting and occupation. Isn’t it always better to let other troops be the ones ducking bullets and bombs?

9. Find Osama first. Before diverting elsewhere all the resources that were trying to track down real person behind 9/11 down the one guy who freely admitted was behind 9-11, wouldn’t it have been a wise thing to capture or kill him first? Letting him get away due to the distracted of Iraq not only allows him freedom to continue, it makes us look like Keystone Kop laughingstocks.

10. Go after “Axis of Evil” countries with known WMDs first. If Bush was right that Iraq, Iran and N. Korea were all deserving of being destroyed by us unilaterally and without a declaration of war, then shouldn’t we have concentrated on the more obviously dangerous ones first? Of the three, Iraq sure looked like it was the least capable of being able to do us major immediate harm. If you attack the weak first, doesn’t that not only dissipate your strength, it allows the others to believe that you might be afraid of them. Aren’t you risking actually emboldening them rather than having them quake in fear? Didn’t that deserve a better debate and explanation?

11. Stop to consider that removing Saddam might strengthen a more devoted enemy, Iran. Iran is a Shiite country. Saddam, a Sunni, was the major counterbalance for Iran for decades. Regardless of bad Saddam was, if the result is strengthening someone even worse, is it worth the cost? Why wasn’t that possibility weighed more carefully?

12. Stop to consider that “democracy” might not be best for every county on earth, or worse, destabilize our sometimes allies, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Imposing one man, one vote on the country of Iraq automatically puts Shiites in charge. Is that what was wanted, especially given the well known Shiite record on treatment of women, other minorities, etc? Even if that was the desired goal of the Administration as it spouted the continued calls for “democracy, freedom and liberty,” was it ever considered that an unintended consequence might be to help those who want to overthrow the nearby friendly monarchies and dictatorships we have relied on so heavily in the past? Even if that was the goal, why wasn’t it presented to the American public as such?

13. Obtain an actual Declaration of War. Since that is required by the Constitution, wouldn’t it have made the War more legal if it had to go forward?

14. Share the full evidence with Congress including the caveats and doubts. Wouldn’t that have made it less likely to be perceived later as lying or at a minimum committing misrepresentations to get us in war? Didn’t those in charge trust the public? Did those in charge assume that would never get out?

15. Allow debate and actually listen to it occasionally. It is always possible that someone outside the White House inner circle may have an occasional good idea. If you don’t want to listen, you can’t learn anything.

16. Stop playing domestic politics when it is an international war. What we may need most in a war is a loyal opposition that can point out errors before they become too costly.

17. Stay neutral. Hypocrisy has a price, at the moment it is about 6 billion dollars a month. We invaded Iraq claiming that it was because Iraq was violating UN resolutions. Has everyone forgotten that Israel was also in violation of a significant number of UN resolutions at that same time? By the standards of many, Israel was illegally occupying land belonging to someone else and taking more of it. Whether everyone concurs or not, that is how outsiders might perceive it. Consequently, either we should not have used that (UN resolution violations) as a reason for invading or at least insisted Israel obey the UN resolutions too. Has it occurred to anyone that we might have even avoided 9-11 itself if we had simply refused to publically take sides in that particular Middle East dispute? Recall that there are no Basque Separatists or Irish Republican Army squads bombing us. Could that have been because we did not take sides even though these latter conflicts also clearly involved terrorists? Does anyone remember what the phrase “tar baby” means?

18. Find alternatives to oil as an energy source. Perhaps if we did not depend on oil, we would not constantly be embroiled in the Middle East where much of it is located. We also would not be perceived as being solely after the oil when we do choose to get embroiled.

19. Depart quickly once the Iraq army had finally been destroyed and all possible WMD sites had been searched. We could always have said we would be back if he starts up again as a threat.

20. Leave the Iraqi administrative infrastructure intact and merely remove Saddam. Sure there were risks associated with that, but given the observable result and loss of American lives from not doing that, could it have been worse?

21. Divide Iraq into three new countries. Perhaps simply abandoning the artificial grouping of tribes created by the British back after the first world war should have been considered. That way, our current excuse for staying to prevent civil war might have been avoided. Maybe this alternative too might have been worse, but it seems not to have even been considered. If you are undertaking such a big venture, aren’t all alternatives deserving of serious consideration and research.

22. Accept the most recent joint demands of leaders from all three factions for us to finally leave. It is becoming apparent that none of the factions want us there. Even the Kurds, our staunchest supporters, don’t want our troops in their own sector. Doesn’t staying after the elected leaders tell us to get out seem like illegal occupation?

23. Leave them to fight it out among themselves. If our original goal was really to eliminate WMDs and our substituted goal was really to remove the sadistic Saddam, who cares if they are later immersed in civil war?

24. Declare a victory and pull out. It is not too late. Nixon simply declared victory in Vietnam and pulled out. It was not a victory, but some facing saving available.

25. If we have to continue there as occupiers, use normal contract bidding to determine suppliers. In any event, isn’t avoiding the appearance of impropriety usually a good idea, not to mention vastly less expensive? Can Haliburton ever be anything but an obvious conflict of interest? Have we forgotten how many millions or billions were overpaid or outright missing?

26. Prosecute and convict war profiteers. If there is no punishment for such thievery, it will only get worse.

27. Avoid using private mercenaries as security. Doesn’t it adversely affect troop morale as well as troop retention when civilians are being paid five times what our own troops were paid for the same job? Then too there is the little matter about mercenaries acting in our name with our money, but not being subject to our military discipline, training or rules.

28. Avoid so-called “stop loss” policies. Unilaterally changing the promises to our troops by forcing them to remain beyond what they had agreed is not a way to encourage re-enlistments.

29. Re-institute the draft. Doesn’t the military needs to be larger if we are going to fight a war and still have forces left to deal with other crisis elsewhere? Shouldn’t we be putting in the military our best and brightest instead of those with few choices? Do we want a military with loyalties potentially only to their comrades?

30. Use the amount of troops that the trained and experienced commanders at the time said would be necessary. There are relatively few cases in combat where too many troops defeats your goal. Why shouldn’t we have erred on the side of caution and conservatism unless we didn’t care about the troops?

31. Protect the assets in the occupied country. If you must fight in Iraq, at least protect the things that need protection, particularly the weapons depots. How about restoring and safeguarding the infrastructure, so the people there have less interest in attacking us.

32. Protect the assets in our country. The enemy can cross the ocean too. We may be searching shoes at airports, but why aren’t we searching all cargo containers and better guarding chemical plants?

33. Avoid deaths of women and children even when our troops might be endangered as a result. It’s not only wrong, it just gives the other side pr ammunition.

34. Avoid killing male leaders if they can be captured. Why make them a martyr unnecessarily when they can be used.

35. Forgive commanders who merely stated their opinions that happened to disagree with White House assumptions and certainly avoid replacing such commanders who happened to be correct with cronies, yes men and sycophants who weren’t. Don’t we have enough “Brownies” in charge of things like FEMA already? Brown could only destroy a city. Someone like him in charge of the military could destroy everything.

36. Reward those who guessed right instead of those who guessed wrong. The only thing more devaluing of the Medal of Freedom would have been for Bush to have given it to himself along with those responsible like the CIA director Trent who caused some of the worst screw ups.

37. Avoid installing convicted felons and corrupt warlords in as our local puppets. That is not the way to win the hearts and minds. Didn’t we learn anything from history?

38. Depend less on National Guard and Reserve troops who by necessity and budget tend to be less well trained and less well equipped. Why not use them only in the very beginning when necessary as a stop gap until a sufficient number of drafted or other troops can be raised and trained? The Guard is needed for other purposes back at home.

39. Give the troops adequate supplies, personal armor, appropriately armored vehicles or waited until they were available. If you have too few troops to begin with, why waste them ?

40. Obey the Geneva Convention, international treaties and our own Bill of Rights. It seriously endangers our troops by not only abandoning such rules, but then getting stupidly caught in photos actually conducting torturing. Merely because our opponents act like Nazis does not give us the right to do so too. It merely encourages more of the same or worse. As for our claiming we do not torture after the prison camp photos were circulated is like calling a duck a chicken. Either way, it does not magically turn it into a chicken. Have we forgotten Clinton and his re-defining what is” sex?” We have many years to go before we can live down our activities to date and we can only begin the process when we finally stop claiming that rules do not apply to us.

41. Keep the moral high ground. We become nothing but greedy self serving hypocrites otherwise.

42. Convict and severely punish the leaders of the troops who were caught torturing. It means nothing to jail the foot soldiers who did as they were told and it destroys our credibility when we try to say we are for liberty and justice or freedom, especially when we don’t even get anything but low level malefactors. The same is true for jailing people in perpetuity without allowing them lawyers or courts to see if they actually are the terrorist we claim. Has anyone at least applied some cost/benefit analysis to such policies before doing them?

43. Act like there is a War going on. Feel free to cut the budget, but stop giving away taxes to the rich at the same time. If the rest of the country is feeling the pinch, we might feel we have some investment in the result in Iraq. A cut in salary for Congressmen might be in order. A few children of Congressmen in the fighting might be in order.

44. Determine if the policies being pursued are not an overreaction to events. It might have been nice if someone in the White House had looked up the definitions of hubris or arrogance before acting. Perhaps reading a few Greek or Shakespearean tragedies might have been useful for the perspective. Better yet, reviewing a couple of world history texts might have been even better.

45. Avoid making predictions that don’t come true. Dress ups in uniform by a President to pretend “mission accomplished” merely looks as silly and juvenile as Paris Hilton dressing up her Chihuahua. Moreover, telling the truth from the beginning makes it less likely that we will want to pull out when the going gets tough.

46. Admit mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone knows that. To refuse to admit ever making a mistake merely means you are a liar and not to be trusted. Admitting mistakes and correcting them before more damage is done is what adults do.

47. Accept responsibility for the results. In olden days, the leader actually lead. When he was wrong both he and his troops got killed. That was rough on the troops, but at least he wasn’t able to keep getting more troops killed.

48. When you have clearly failed, let someone else try. Be a man for once and relinquish the ball. Johnson did it. Better yet, let other countries have a shot.

49. Keep God out of it. If God had wanted some country destroyed, he can do it himself. He did not need to tell Bush.

50. If worse comes to worse, cut losses and pull out. You cannot sanctify the waste of thousands of soldiers by continuing to waste more.



Or, Too Bad Neither Arabs Nor Israelis Nor Bush Have Bothered to Read the New Testament

Hezbolla militia spokesmen apparently admitted capturing two Israeli soldiers. In response, although armed Hezbolla combatants are but a relatively small fraction of the population and not in control of the government, Israel nevertheless essentially declared war on the entire state of Lebanon, including all its women and children who might get in the way. The word used in justification for prolonged dropping of high explosives on civilian areas was “retaliation.”

It is not clear how the Christian residential neighborhoods who had allied with Israel during the long Lebanon civil war not long ago deserved such “retaliation.” Nevertheless, that is supposedly behind the Israeli artillery, missile and other bombardments on them. In any event, a lot of not very smart bombs were dropped, among other things, on Lebanese water treatment plants, electrical facilities, the international airport, bridges, ambulances, and in at least one instance within 30 yards of a hospital, all sure to contain mostly civilians or at least “punish” them by cutting off critical water, power and food supplies.

Some of those sites are arguably “military” targets, although there is definitely a question of proportionate appropriateness. Were there not better targets, the difference between a sniper rifle accuracy and a shotgun spraying a crowd?

It is also acknowledged for the sake of argument that once Israel upped the anti on the initial kidnaping with massive bombing, Hezbolla upped the anti further with rockets of its own raining down on Israeli designations sure to have lots of civilians in or around. Reprehensible yes and it no doubt infuriated the Israelis even more than the kidnaping did. But, a lot of bodies, hundreds that have never carried weapons of any sort, many under the age of ten, ended up buried in the ensuing rubble on both sides.

Newscasts in this country, as could be predicted from past coverage, almost uniformly excused Israel. Bush certainly condoned the massive escalation. Here’s the problem with any “knee jerk” or automatic approval of this particular Israeli policy. Regardless of our well deserved antipathy toward dangerous religious zealots within Hezbolla who openly express a desire to destroy Israel, regardless of who “started” it or more accurately “when” which could be legitimately debated at some length by each side, regardless of any legitimate empathy on our part for Israel’s desire to defend itself against belligerent neighbors, regardless of outright admiration for Israel’s general spunkiness and possible “underdog” status, regardless of our own wanting a counterfoil in the region to Iran and Syria, regardless of Israel’s intense frustration in not being able to find the two missing soldiers or those who actually did the capturing, BOILED DOWN, Israeli policy seems to be merely that if they can’t find the specific individuals who caused the crime, it’s perfectly okay as “retaliation” to attack everyone else in sight no matter how remotely related and no matter how utterly innocent they may be of the crime. While Israel will claim otherwise and not all the facts are in yet, in essence, it can be noted the civilians in Lebanon have been declared “guilty” by Israel and condemned to death for their merely choosing to exist near space where Hezbolla might be. Actual innocence of any overt acts or aggression by many of the dead deserved no consideration at all apparently.

Gosh, isn’t that the same unrestrained policy General Custer pursued against our Native American tribes? And, wasn’t that policy (epitomized by the slogan “the only good Indian is a dead one”) repudiated in shame nearly a century ago, especially when we learned the high percentage of non-combatant women and children dying as a direct result? Why then is President Bush coming out so loudly in favor of Israel’s equivalent of our Sand Creek Massacre in the 1800s?

Israel already receives more than Three Billion Dollars out of our Treasury per year. We have a treaty that says we will help defend them if they are invaded (although Bush has shown written treaty obligations mean even less to him that Constitutional restraints). We have already tilted in favor of Israel on the issue of UN Resolution violations; i.e. we justify invading Iraq and threaten to nuke Iran expressly because they violated UN Resolutions while simultaneously giving Israel a free pass to violate all the past UN Resolutions it wants. And, Bush promises to block any new ones proposed against Israel. Those actions by Bush already have overtly said to Muslims that the US is no longer neutral or even trying to be “fair and balanced” in the region (except as Fox News alone defines the term).

The hypocritical lack of uniformity by Bush on enforcing UN Resolutions was bad enough if we were hoping to be mediator for the area. It had the adverse side effect of ultimately caused the overwhelming majority of nations on earth to dislike us including many of our former allies. While ordinarily we might not care that others chose to dislike us, the fact Bush cavalierly alienated the particular nations upon which we depend for at least a third of our petroleum imports approached bone headed stupidity, assuming of course, our Presidents are theoretically supposed to give some thought toward protecting our economy. Those who don’t like gas prices now can thank Bush as Middle Eastern and other oil exporters gleefully raise prices even more.

Even assuming that we are willing to sacrifice our economy and our moral high ground to support Israel and it alone, Bush now has gone a step beyond. He has severely and unnecessarily endangered our homeland security itself. Bush, as usual, has proved he is incapable of thinking ahead or realizing the unintended consequences of his approval of indiscriminate bombing by Israel. Bush has failed to remember what a sharp two edge sword that policy can be and , as a result, has put our country at risk of retaliation too.

Remember, if it is acceptable policy for us to use against others, doesn’t that correspondingly mean it must be perfectly acceptable for others to adopt the identical policy against us? Good for the goose, good for the gander so to speak? If, for instance, Iraqis get angry because a handful of American soldiers happened to rape, torture or commit crimes against Iraqis, does that give the Iraqi friends and relatives a corresponding right to hurt us back? Think about it. How is it any different fundamentally in the two situations?

Why has Bush chosen to give such a “killer” public relations argument to our enemies thereby allowing them to justify future retaliation against us all for the acts of the few who happen to wear our uniforms? Frankly, the Iraqis in the scenario mentioned above would have an even better argument than Israel for such indiscriminate retaliation against civilians since, unlike the Hezbolla in Lebanon, Bush sadly actually does speak for our whole country. Bush is safe in his bunker, but he has sure put our own women and children at risk when he supports the policy theory holding that all civilians must pay for the acts of the lunatic few.

Worse, when has it ever proved effective short of extermination of an entire people? After all, the retaliation policy has been diligently pursued by both sides in the Israeli/Arab conflict for generations with little change in the killing. You do not have to be a pacifist to wonder if Bush is endangering us more than safeguarding us by sanctioning such “justifications” for continued killing of civilians.

I suspect the overwhelming majority of Lebanese people do not care for the Hezbolla tactics. I suspect most Lebanese are thoroughly frustrated having to share a county with a few armed madmen who make them all targets. I suspect they would like to do something about it if they realistically believed they could, but as we have learned in this country from our own street gangs like the Crips and Bloods, there is seldom much that private individuals can be do about thugs with guns. I suspect the Lebanese, as a whole, do not want their families destroyed at random just because of some cowardly, militant, unthinking, religious fanatic who happens to reside in the same geography advocates a policy of indiscriminate escalating retaliation. I fully agree with any Lebanese who thinks that. Unfortunately, in our county, the cowardly, militant, unthinking, religious fanatic we have to try and control happens to be our President.



"Or, Bush's G8 Group Grope"

Watching or listening to Bush during non-scripted episodes seems to almost always turn out to be one cring generating moment after another. In the latest example, the recent G8 Summit Conference, we got to hear once again his apparently routine off-mike potty mouth, his surprisingly dim witted efforts at small talk with fellow world leaders, his smirking and arrogant belittling, his childish impatience and what could only be called petulant whining, his slack jawed boredom with the part of his job having to do with adult difficult questions, and his evident lack of history, geography, math and other basic knowledge, all put in full view by comments he mistakenly believed were unrecorded.

This time though something new was caught on camera, something disturbingly worse. It was his obviously unsolicited molestation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s body. Good Lord, what was the man thinking? What in his upbringing made him think that grabbing would be welcomed by any woman, let alone a European head of state? Did he think that was a way to make friends?

What an embarrassment, particularly since he didn't seem to notice or care whether it irritated the recipient. Hopefully, the new Chancellor of German does not think all of us are like that.



Or, If I were King

Washington seems to have a king in charge these days. What would I do with that power? Hmm? How about:

1. Declare some mountain canyon parks as "free fire" zones to allow gangs, racists, jehadists, politicians, etc., to shoot each other at will away from rest of the population. Charge them for the privilege of reducing their own numbers and perhaps reducing the national debt in the process by selling tv rights.

2. To prevent suicide bombers on public transportation, how about requiring everyone travel nude or wear see through clothing so that any bombs can be easily seen? That might solve terrorist attack, lack of ridership and obesity problems all at the same time.

3. Force legislators to wait in line in the Airport with the rest of us. Betcha the line gets moving faster the first time that happens.

4. Come to think of it, forbid legislators from giving themselves health or pension plans or maybe even salaries greater than their average constituent. And, maybe the same rules ought to apply to CEOs.

5. Make it a law that legislators cannot pass a new law without abolishing an old one of equal or greater length. If nothing else, it would force them to learn to write succinctly.

6. Better yet, select legislators by lottery like the ancient Athenans. After all, how can the average citizen selected at random do much worse when making laws than our modern day professional politician has?

7. Perhaps only permit those who have served their country to vote or hold office. Make citizenship an earned right. Perhaps in addition to a choice of military service, also allow peace corp, conservation corp or the like as a choice for those who prefer not to be cannon fodder. Nevertheless, make some type of service, perhaps two years minimum, mandatory in order to be entitled to the privileges of ruling others and spending their money. The simple accident of birth within US boundaries should not be automatic grounds for citizenship for anyone. Come to think of it, neither should simple accident of birth be grounds to be rich.

8. Encourage people not to vote if they don't know the candidates or the issues. Maybe there ought to be a test like a driver's test akin to what new citizens must take. A vote is a dangerous weapon too. It elects people who send others to war. Yeah, we know what racial bigots did with such tests, but maybe it should only be a simple test, but if you can't name the current President, at least two Congressmen and one Justice, why should you be permitted to decide on who rules us?

9. If there is a test for voters, maybe there ought to be a test for politicians. Can they write without a paid speech writer? Can they add a column of figures without a calculator? Can they describe the force/pounds impact from a steel jacketed 7.62 mm slug striking a largely liquid bag of protein? Have they ever visited a ghetto on foot at night? Have they opened their spare bedroom to an indigent for the night?

10. If police must do criminal profiling, let’s do some that actually works. Target white male, Harvard MBA CEOs making presidential political contributions. Bet ya prosecutors catch a higher percentage of crooks in that net than targeting Muslims.

11. Spread the nation’s art treasures out. Move the Smithsonian to Kansas. There will be a nuclear detonation sometime in Washington, maybe more than one. The less centralized our museums are, the better to protect our irreplaceable treasures. It's okay though to assemble all politicians in one spot. Better yet, leave the Smithsonian in Washington and move Congress and the Prez to Kansas preferably without air conditioning.

12. Encourage business, family, and international disputes to be settled by flip of the coin. Maybe the Superbowl should be settled the same way and just show the good commercials. They’re usually better than the game anyway.

13. Allow the public to pay taxes by computer and allow the taxpayer what, in essence, would be "line item vetos" on their payments. In other words, they wouldn’t be allowed to control how much they would have to pay, but they could control what it is used for including amount of Congressional salaries. As a side benefit, it would require politicians to actually persuade the public to approve what Congress is doing with our collective treasury.

14. Eliminate income taxes on corporations, but tax as income to the individuals working for them all the corporate "perks" ranging from the company cars to big offices to free lunches. On second thought, don’t eliminate income taxes on oil companies. Allow them to charge whatever they want for gas, but tax them income taxes at the same percentage by which their 50 highest paid employees exceed the wages of their lowest 50 employees. Even if that doesn’t lower gas prices, it would sure generate a lot of money for the national treasury.

15. Eliminate all income tax deductions and tax credits. Force politicians to use the "front door" when legislating social legislation instead of hiding it in the convoluted syntax of the tax code.

16. On county property taxes, have the unit price per square foot proportional to the size of the property. In other words, the more the square footage paved or built on, the higher the tax bill per square foot on an exponential growth curve. Use the same sort of rule for high gas consuming vehicles like Hummers. That’d probably work for utilities use too. Have charges for utilities increase in proportion to use. The more units consumed, in other words, the more per unit that is charged.

17. We include in the price of cars and refrigerators the iron, coal and other raw materials used. Why don't we add a charge for the air and water that has to be cleaned up as a consequence? Pay for things what they actually cost.

18. Make it a precondition of a bureaucrat's hiring, especially heads of planning and zoning, that they have held a "real job" first. Make it a precondition to politicians holding office too.

19. When someone in charge of a bureaucracy like Homeland Security Chief Chertoff fails to act intelligently such as when he diverts to Nebraska and Wyoming the funds to prevent further terrorist targeting in Washington and NYC, let’s paint targets on their suit coats and divert his personal security guard funds. Hopefully, that’ll get us more competent performance or a vacancy.

20. Have the licensing of professionals be deemed a privilege, not a right. Have a 10% "pro bono tithe" on their time to be spent servicing the poor.

21. Either disarm everyone, or arm everyone over 21, grandmothers included. It is amazing how everyone gets polite or gets removed from the gene pool when everyone is openly armed.

22. Tie teacher's salaries to the median of whatever basketball/baseball players are paid. At least pay inner city teachers combat pay. By the way, maybe there ought to be a "fun and fame" tax on glamorous jobs like ball players or rock stars.

23. Institute a hypocrisy penalty. If, for example, an evangelist is caught molesting children, add an extra 10 years to the sentence for hypocrisy.

24. Require that no politician can pass any law unless it adversely affects themselves. For example, non-smokers cannot vote against smoking. Men could not vote on whether or not women can be forced to give birth.

25. If any war does not turn out like the politicians promised, make only those who voted for it, pay for it. Better yet, forbid deficit financing for wars. We would have to save up for them before we could invade the next small country.

26. Imagine how fast the amour supply problem would be solved if Rumsfield and the other chicken hawks had to pull a tour of combat duty. Figure out some way so that leaders lead from the front like they did in the old days ("Follow me men") and suffer the same consequences their followers must. Unfortunately, right now the ones least likely to be harmed by their decisions are the leaders.

27. The next time any pundit or politician claims things are fine in a war zone, require that his next vacation be spent there as a normal tourist; i.e. without body guards and armor.

28. How about secret votes on the floor of legislatures so that special interests could not determine for sure whether the politicians stayed bought with the bribes. On second thought, they are already too secretive. Require that all legislators be on internet accessed by video webcams 24/7 similar to porn sites so we can see what booty they shake loose with lobbyists.

29. Maybe instead of trying to ban "soft money" contributions, tax them. A 50% tax would insure for every dollar politicians spent electing themselves, there'd at least still be a dollar put in the treasury for schools, medicare, etc.

30. How about a Constitutional provision that the titles given to bills must have some relationship to what they actually do? For instance if it is the “Healthy Forest Initiative” or “Safe Drinking Water Act,” that must be the goal rather than the exact opposite to allow clear cutting to enrich lumber company CEOs.

31. The House and Senate each have a chaplain costing taxpayers over $100,000 a year per chaplain. If legislators cannot take time away from their duties to go to church and if they cannot find a chaplain willing to do it for free for the prestige, then let the legislature pay for it out of their own pockets.

32. We need a revocation of license for any preacher who calls for assignation or torture of anyone. Perhaps there should also be a test for them to at least insure they have read the book they propose to interpret. By the way, no one should be allowed to propose putting a copy of the 10 Commandments up unless they can recite them all accurately and can prove beyond a reasonable doubt they personally follow them all.

33. Force those running for office to sign a contract as part of their filing for office never to become a lobbyist or work for any defense or other government contractor. Better yet, simply have a 100% tax on all their income and property if they choose to do so.

34. Reporters should not be allowed to quote a liberal and conservative or similarly quote a developer and environmentalist in the same article and try to pass it off as investigative reporting or even a balanced view.

35. How about tests and a license to become reporters? Perhaps requiring real ethical rules and a license which can be revoked for either breaches or general incompetence.

36. Pundits, especially talk radio hosts, ought to have their columns and shows posted with warning labels like on food packages as to how many times they have been proven to be dead wrong.

37. We definitely should require anyone who listens to talk radio hosts to be regularly tested for sanity.

38. Let's become able to sue legislators for malpractice or perhaps breach of promise.

39. Definitely don't pay legislators unless they end their sessions on time or early.

40. If we are not going to make condoms, birth control and abortion available, how about we license and tax children? Instead of being a tax deduction, anything beyond one, or possibly two, offspring would be treated as taxable on a rising scale. For example, the third child costs yearly $500 in taxes, the fourth costs $800 for a total of $1,300.

41. Perhaps make children "seizable." Once you have bagged your license limit, if you can't pay the tax, the "excess" children are put up for adoption.

42. Allow deductions from bills for time spent in professionals’ waiting rooms. Like pizza delivery, require that if there is a 30 minute wait beyond the scheduled time, then the doctor visit is either free or you at least get to take home a current copy of the magazine of your choice.

43. How about we all wear name tags? That helps us who are forgetful. The military had the right idea. Just about everything you need to know about a military person, his name, education, experience, job, "home" and relative status in the pecking order are on their clothes. If we pay to put advertising logos on our bodies, why not put some actually useful information at the same time?

44. Stop rescuing idiots who get lost, stuck on cliffs, etc. At least force them to pay a stupidity tax.

45. We should not put a cap on recoveries for victims of medical malpractice unless we also put a cap on insurance company executive salaries and a cap on the number of mistakes a doctor can make before he must practice in a field where lives are not at stake.

46. Given what the current government is doing to the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Convention, and the filibuster, perhaps it is time to return the Statute of Liberty to France with apologies.

47. For those who think the leadership of both national parties stink, there should be a "double zero" option permitted similar to the roulette wheel where, if it got the most votes, ALL those currently in office would be automatically removed from power and forbidden to run until after the next election.

48. Here’s a radical thought. Restrict awards of the Medal of Freedom to those who actually had something to do with defending freedom. At least restrict it to those competent enough to walk and chew gum at the same time.

49. I think it’s time to impose a new rule requiring that all Presidents must be castrated immediately upon taking the oath of office. That would totally eliminate their fooling around with interns. And, they would no longer feel compelled to start wars just to prove how long their male appendages are. Granted, it probably wouldn’t do anything to lessen the corruption and graft they usually indulge in, but at least when they are forced to sing confessions after having been caught, it’ll be in a lovely tenor voice.

50. Maybe what we should do is ban kings. No. Wait a minute. We already did that once.



Or, Changing Compromise, Cooperation, Consensus and Conciliation from Curse Words into Challenges

Short of armed combat, could Politics today at any level of government in our country from neighborhood associations right up to Washington possibly be any worse? How did we get here?

I suspect a major part of the problem is that compromise, cooperation, consensus and conciliation have become almost literally curse words. Each has become associated with surrender at best, traitorous conduct at worst. That leads to fierce polarization. It essentially means nothing can ever be settled. Every election is now merely either a starting point for undoing all that the predecessors accomplished or an excuse for a recall.

Why can’t we come together to settle at least those things we can all agree upon? For instance, on the issue of gun control, those in favor of the broadest possible interpretation of the 2nd Amendment insist that no law can be allowed to pass that has the slightest restriction on the ability to obtain things that go bang, no matter how frightening or dangerous they might be by accident or in the wrong hands. Conversely, those who fear guns want no one to have any at all despite the almost undeniable certainty that was never intended by our Founding Fathers no matter how inartfully they may have drafted the 2nd Amendment section about militias bearing arms. The current level of discussion on the subject, such as it is, tends to be vitriolic. Isn’t there an opportunity however for the broad middle group of our society, a likely two-thirds majority who can see merit on both sides, to step in and insist at least some points could and should be settled once and for all? Can’t we at least all agree as a general rule that people should be allowed to have guns, but there are logical limits?

To illustrate my point, almost every argument that can be made for people having guns can also be made for people having cars. If autos had been around in the 1700s, quite likely there would have been a Constitutional Amendment regarding the “right” to them too. Yet, we insist today that before vehicles can be used, the owners must pass a test showing minimal competency, demonstrate that they can see clearly so others are less likely to be harmed, obtain a license so that it is known who operates them and provide insurance against possible mishaps. Some individuals convicted of certain crimes or adjudicated insane are forbidden to operate cars. And, even though certain types of vehicles such as assault tanks can drive on roads just like other vehicles, use of them is limited for the most part to the military or the police. None of those particular restrictions on vehicles seem unreasonable to anybody no matter what their ideology. Why then can’t the same sort of rules apply to gun ownership? It is a starting point.

Maybe if it was conceded and permanently settled that the concept of guns, as a permissible part of the American way of life, are unassailable by the legislature and the courts, the NRA would be less insistent on being absurd about the minutia such as demanding a right to put 50 caliber long range sniper rifles with armor piercing incendiary bullets even into the hands of children. Conceding the general point would deprive the NRA of its “slippery slope” and “dominos” arguments. The rest of us get to breathe somewhat easier when a passenger on a jet taking off knowing that it is less likely a nut aiming at us does not having the ability to actually shoot us down. It does not eliminate the possibility, but it does reduce the odds and brings elements of rationality back. That should be the test on such legislation.

In other words, compromise, cooperation, consensus and conciliation should not be curse words. They might help us out of the present animosity driven state of affairs.

Even as to matters as intractable as abortion may have a few elements of potential compromise, cooperation, consensus and conciliation. If that were proposed as a way to analyze the situation, there might be room to argue that, say, no abortion is permitted in the last trimester, but it is pretty much permitted in the first trimester. That translates as anyone who elects to wait too long is stuck with the risk.

As to the middle trimester, that probably has to be left to the ordinary political process to resolve, but it might limit the debate and might reintroduce calm. Think how much better off we would be as a society if the broad majority representing the middle-of-the-road electorate were able to say that we simply don’t want to hear anything brought up in the future on at least the portions settled. It would be nice to be able to insist that at least that specific aspect is hereafter off limits to further tinkering no matter who is in office.

The abortion early right/latter ban - depending on timing proposal will never obtain the nearly universal approval as the above discussed limited gun compromises might. There is simply no likelihood of the extremists on either side of the abortion debate totally agreeing to that compromise. Even reasonable people can strongly disagree on abortion itself. There is however a potential for “horse trading” between the two sides on some collaterally related issues which do not have the same moral fervor as that central saving “lives” polemic involving abortion. Perhaps those side issues at least could finally be taken off the table and allow us to come together. Issues such a sex education and birth control, which do not illicit the same vehemency, might be traded for assurances of, say, government support in raising the children who were born unwanted. Let’s explore more the areas allowing such trades.

Similar approaches are available on almost every “hot” topic tearing us apart whether jobs, economy, environment, etc. Surely some things on each are amenable if the respective parties actively look for potential areas of agreement, rather than disagreement. Let’s get some things at least out of the way.

Obviously nothing can be cast in concrete forever. Things change and there must be a mechanism for adapting in the event of dramatic new technology or similar “sea changes” in thinking due to unforeseen events. But, perhaps that can be accomplished by modifying the necessary vote for passage of any new law from the present bare majority to a “supermajority” of, say, two-thirds or three-fourths. That would be very much in line with the original intent of the Founding Fathers. If you look at it, it is clear their entire system of government was set up primarily to preserve the status quo except in unusual circumstances. That would put consensus back into the equation while still protecting the minorities in the meantime through the Bill of Rights.

I fully understand the anger felt by Progressives and Liberals. I fully understand the distrust of those currently in power. I fully understand the desire to reverse the current unrelenting attacks on everything held dear. Nevertheless, I fear for the country if the cycle of automatic revenge continues unabated.

I also firmly believe that the first political party to step forward and offer this new way of thinking, or more precisely a return to the original way of problem solving, will be much appreciated by the overwhelming majority of voters. Given human nature, such an approach probably will only be offered by a party out of power. But, there is always hope even our current rulers will come to their senses and realize that the present mess is a recipe for disaster, potentially even civil war, given the fever pitch it is now reaching. Either way, let's try it.

After all, the essence of the proposal is another “C” word, common sense.


Or, If the Republicans Are Going to Take Away All Our Liberties to Supposedly Catch Terrorists, the Least They Could Do Is Actually Catch Some Real Ones.

It’s not surprising that Republicans are spying on fellow Americans. They seem to do it every chance they get, starting with Nixon.

What’s surprising is how incompetent they are in doing it. Take Bush and his version of Mad Magazine’s “Spy versus Spy.” Five years and probably billions spent, yet all he has managed to catch so far with his Constitution forbidden warrantless searches and his daily mega privacy invasions of our personal financial and communications networks is, maybe, that one small gang from Florida who supposedly wanted to attack Sears Tower. And, even that requires a might big benefit of doubt for the assumption the truly dufus gang members involved could actually have found the Tower in question, let alone blow it up.

Granted, there have been other alleged terrorists picked up by US police forces around the country, albeit an embarrassingly tiny handful by any standard. Heck, in terms of suspects found per capita, the Canadian Mounties seem to be a thousand times more successful than we are with far less manpower and almost no bucks or high tech toys.

Moreover, why do our own alleged terrorist discoveries always seem somewhat laughable like the guy who said he wanted to blow up an airplane with his shoes. Okay, let’s give the Bush crew that one, but a careful observation demonstrates him and all of those other terrorist wannabes apparently were uncovered by other, more traditional, law enforcement means, not by monitoring all our business and personal transactions.

Even then, on the rare occasions the Administration supers snoopers somehow stumble across a terrorist candidate who conceivably could have done real harm, the Justice Department usually either blows it or almost does so. Take for instance, the Max Sennett-like comedy of the Oregon attorney arrested as terrorist, but then it turns out the high tech boyos at FBI couldn’t even read a fingerprint correctly. J. Edgar is probably rolling over in his grave.

Or, take Zacarias Moussaoui, who fell into our hands by other means than destroying the Bill of Rights. That particular lunatic fully confessed to participating in the 9/11 plans and amazingly courted the death penalty for himself. Despite that, Bush’s hand picked prosecution crew not only couldn’t get the jury to agree grant his wish, the government Perry Masons in that case bungled so badly, they came close to forcing the judge to dismiss the case altogether. They must have been hired out of the same grab bag of Republican hacks as the former FEMA chief, “Brownie.” They must have gotten their law degrees by mail order. Maybe the Democrats could do no better, but they could hardly do a “heckofa” worse job than the Republicans have been doing “safeguarding” us.

New rules and regs to insure chemical and nuclear plants are safeguarded? Forget it. Not when all the lobbyists and plant owners are Republican. Require examination of all cargo containers entering the country large enough to hide bombs or terrorist? Finally implement the findings of the 9/11 Commission on how to prevent reoccurrences? Why that might cost the Republican CEOs and shareholders of the port and transportation companies money. At least pass on the security costs to the US Treasury? Definitely not since that might reduce further massive tax cuts to the already super rich or slightly reduce the massive inheritance going to their offspring by accident of birth.

Republicans even disbanded the CIA unit tasked to hunt for Osama in 2005. The guy who admits prime responsibility for 9/11 involvement and who gave Bush the excuse to ignore the entire Constitution continues to freely threaten us, but Bush chooses to not even have a unit exclusively after his head. The excuse given is that so many new terrorists have been recruited and created as a direct result of Iraq and Afghanistan that we can no longer afford to have assets dedicated to just him.

Bush is bitter about the newly revealed financial spying he is conducting. That is understandable since the most interesting statistic about it is that ten times as much of the manpower and effort used went into searching for Cuban money movement as it did searching for terrorist funding sources. For someone who pretends to be primarily after terrorists, the misallocation of scarce assets to bird dogging the geriatric Castro has got to be embarrassing to say the least. The facts make Bush look like an idiot even if he justifies the illegalities on security grounds.

Or take the one new possible terrorist plot uncovered. It turns out that the Holland and other tunnels in New York City, the same city that had its Homeland Security funds drastically cut to divert the money to Nebraska and Wyoming, is where the threat is. By the way, once again, it is not clear if Bush’s UnKonstitutional Koppers had much to do with the discovery.

Yessiree. The lesson to be learned is that if you are giving up your freedoms, liberties, democracy and Constitutional rights to Bush and his Republicans in the hopes of securing security, you’d be far better off hiring Inspector Clouseau or Canadian Mountie Dudley Doright.