The Great American Debate-Out: Terrorism

To solve this problem, we have to make a choice. We have to treat terrorists as either Border-less Nation-States, or as Common Criminals.

If we treat them as Border-less Nation-States, then we can make war on them by conventional means. Of course it may not be very effective, but we can do it. Of course then, we should also make war on their allies. So if we make war on Bin Laden, then it’s war on the Taliban, then on Afghanistan, then on to Pakistan and eventually China. At least we’ll have India on our side. :-/

That’s not such a good situation. And, if we treat them as such, we also give them credibility as sovereigns, which seems unwise.

The better choice is probably to treat them as Common Criminals.

We have the best criminal justice system in the world. We are doing a great job of prosecuting criminals, and a great job of protecting citizens from abuses. We can always get better, but by it’s nature, it’s never perfect.

So if we are going to treat them as criminals, we should use the best system in the world for that, which is our own!

However painful to the soul it may be, we must accept that part of our system means affording them some fair legal justice. It may not need to be exactly our own civil rights. But probably it should be some modicum of what we do, governed by some national or global civilian body.

The other big part is law enforcement. We know how to do that already! We have our state, local and federal bodies, and they are doing a great job. When they don’t do such a good job, it’s usually because we haven’t given them enough tools. I don’t mean legal tools, like waiving Miranda rights. I mean real tools, like guns, training, electronics, coordination efforts, vehicles, better wages, better medical insurance, or just plain more manpower or a pat on the back.

We need to extend and expand our law enforcement capacity at home, and appropriately overseas. Doing that ought to be something everyone Left, Right and Center can get behind, since it takes the best of everyone’s agenda. We’re spending money to create jobs for American workers and to protect ourselves from real threats to our national security, and we’re doing it in a way that is both active and rational at the same time.

If a Hippie tells you we don’t need more law enforcement, give them a hug and gently remind them that they are, after all, Hippies.

If a Corporatist tells you we don’t need more law enforcement, tell him you’re not giving him a tax cut so he can fund his own Private Army of Brown Shirts.

The Great American Debate-Out: Wars

Wars are far less of a problem than they have been at any time in human history. Let us be grateful for that.

Much of what war is left for America to fight has to do with Energy and Terrorism.

We are making war against the Taliban so we can control Afghanistan. We want to control it so we can get Bin Laden. He’s a Religious Extremist. He’s also a Saudi. And guess what, they are Religious Extremists, too. They like to donate to “martyrs in the cause,” like… Bin Laden. The money they donate comes from oil. So… cut the supply lines, cripple the enemy.

We will always need to defend ourselves. But we can change our current situation by fixing Energy and Terrorism.

Any politician who tells you we need to fight a full-scale war is probably just incompetent, one who fear mongers as the only way to hide his uselessness. Either that or he’s an Oil Dealer, a Fuel Kingpin who wants you to join his Gang of Thugs.

Some times, I just hate politics!

I more or less took a baseball bat to the bee’s nest when I posted the following to my Facebook page:

Someone asked me yesterday why people hate Obama so much. I think maybe 40 planes carrying 3000 people to the tune of $2B has a lot to do with it.

Living in New Hampshire and working in Massachusetts, to say I have a lot of liberal friends and acquaintances would be an understatement. I assume that most of them are disappointed about the election outcome last night — I know I would be if things had gone the other way. That aside, a lively discussion ensued on my wall and it became clear that FB isn’t the right forum to host a fair fight. So the conversation continues here.

I’m a conservative. I didn’t vote for Obama. I don’t agree with his policies. I don’t like him, but I can honestly say that no one has ever heard me say “I hate Obama”… and I’m pretty sure the person who asked me that question did so because they know I don’t like him, not because I said I hated him.

So point by point… the comments to my little Facebook post in all their glory and a bit more of my humble opinion…

“In all sincerity, I have no idea what you are talking about.”

That’s fair. It was covered by quite a few news outlets, but would have been easy to miss since the price tag was only covered by the more conservative media.  Oh wait, you later told me to turn off FOX and flip to the BBC news and you will get a much less extreme political view.  You mean tune in to a media outlet that only reports half the story so I’m not motivated to do more research on my own?  No thanks. First, I didn’t catch that little snippet on Fox — it was reported by God knows how many online newspapers. Second, Obama’s trip has been all over BBC albeit without the controversial details — wouldn’t want that, would we?  And third, I searched high and low for conflicting stories and all I found was one Yahoo post from some unknown that said the amount is rupees rather than dollars. While silence is by no means an admission of guilt, I would find it rather odd for no one to refute the story if the details were inaccurate.

“Nothing compared to 8 yrs bush cost us.”

That doesn’t even make sense. Why would I compare what Bush spent over 8 years to what Obama’s spending during the course of 10 days?

“I don’t think that you probably had much to say about how much Bush screwed up this country during his time in office.”

Well… yeah. Not only am I a conservative, I’m human. Manufacturing complaints about a President who’s more aligned with my views than one who isn’t would not only be difficult, but would sort of put me in the same category as many of the politicians I dislike. Trying to be diplomatic is one thing, but deliberately misrepresenting myself is just hypocritical. If it matters, I didn’t complain all that much about Clinton, either.

“What I love is that Obama is considered extreme.”

Yup, look it up… extreme. As in not in the middle. In the same way I think other politicians are extreme. I think Sarah Palin is extreme and there are probably more people from both sides who don’t want to see her in the White House for exactly that reason. I don’t understand how you can call someone who campaigned on socialist values anything but extreme.

“I always considered him to be closer to a moderate myself.”

I can’t even respond to this one. I suppose I need to further contemplate the meaning of extreme, partisan and radical.

“pro-business but with oversight”

That by itself is fair… but I’m a conservative. I believe that jobs are created not by government, but by small businesses. The whole idea of a government trying to provide oversight for the private sector when it can’t succeed at oversight for itself is just scary. The whole idea of a bunch of lawyers-turned-politicians deciding what’s best for the private sector is even scarier. The first clue I’ve heard that Obama is even listening to small business owners came today when he admitted that the 1099 requirements in the new health care bill would come at a high cost for small businesses and they needed to change that. Hopefully the next clue will be evidence that he’s willing to treat all businesses equal — independent of whether they have unions who contributed heavily to his campaign.

“plan to withdraw our forces but while giving them a chance to win”

I’m not sure there was as much of a plan as there was a campaign promise he was hellbent on committing to, but I’m not going to credit him with all of the blame. What I have a problem with is that the way we advertise our plans is sort of like me posting my address on the front page of the Globe and announcing that my house is going to be empty for three weeks while I’m on vacation. He campaigned on draw-down and tied a date to it. He was a candidate with no military experience who has never served on the Armed Services Committee nor the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and made an uninformed campaign promise without one iota of expert opinion before deciding on the date — his date. It’s one thing to have a plan, but something quite different to make a campaign statement and stick to it come hell or high water, right or wrong just to be able to say “hey, look at me — I kept my promise”. See definition of extreme above.

“health care reform sure but without large federal infrastructure and budget neutral”

Well… I asked the question before but you must have missed it. How much of the bill did you read? While we’re at it, how many of the analyses and OMB reports did you read? How closely have you been following the side effects? Yes, side effects — there will be many and we’re just starting to see some of them… like employers who are no longer hiring because they don’t know what it’s going to cost them. Don’t get me wrong — I’m as much an advocate for health care as the next person — but there’s something very flawed with a bill that will require citizens to prove they have insurance in a country where you don’t have to prove you’re a citizen. If the bill is so great, why did they have to give the State of Nevada a special deal on Medicare before Harry Reid would commit. If it’s so great, why are members of Congress exempt? Why did Obama and his Democrats give Stupak a worthless promise that abortions won’t be funded?  Yes, worthless because he did the one thing that’s easily undone with a flick of the pen. In fact, why were they so worried about the Stupak Amendment when they repeatedly told Americans your current insurance coverage will not change. You are aware that’s why the liberals didn’t want the amendment in there, right?

“I don’t think people know what a Liberal is anymore.”

Maybe not, but I pretty much subscribe to the definitions in the dictionary. I particular like the one that says tolerant of his opponent’s opinions. Please see the definition of extreme above… a man who refers to people who disagree with him as enemies can hardly be considered tolerant.

“Blaire was an absolute idiot. And the difference between the UK and the US is that I bet more than 1/2 of the US wouldn’t know who Blaire is, while every UK citizen knows Bush is a jackass.”

Totally irrelevant.  What I said was

What I’m really hoping for is that the combined effects of of the last 10 years will be more like what happened in the UK between Thatcher and Blaire.

What I was referring to is that long periods of far left and far right generally result in a move toward the center because otherwise nothing gets done. If you poll 100 people about two politicians — one far left and the other far right — all 100 are going to tag one of them as the idiot. I’d be afraid of someone who does otherwise because they’re probably suffering from a severe personality disorder.  So Blaire is your idiot. It doesn’t matter to me who the idiot is — only that people realize that extended periods of extremes get in the way of progress and the remedy is for everyone to migrate to the center.

I don’t think that Obama can make a trip without high security costs. Are you saying that the President shouldn’t make trips outside of the country? Oh, and I love the “take advantage” like it’s some sort of expensive vacation.

I think Obama’s security costs should be significantly higher because I believe he’s a high risk President.  But 3000 people? 40 planes?  See the definition of extreme above.  Should he make trips outside the country? Sure. Take advantage? I didn’t even see that until you called attention to it — it’s completely irrelevant to the story and nothing more than some reporter’s opinion. Opinions should be reserved for blogs and commentaries — in a news context, they do nothing but stir up emotions.

Bush took 77 flights to his ranch in Texas of course.

I can’t confirm or deny the 77, but if that’s the number it sounds like you’re taking issue with the fact that the man went home not quite once a month (he was in office for 96). Bush also traveled outside the country, but he didn’t take an entourage of 3000 people on 40 planes.  I know for a fact that if he had, he would have never heard the end of it.  Truth be told, I have a bigger issue with Pelosi who goes home every weekend and doesn’t like it when she has to fly on the little plane.

As I wrote this, I had a lot of time to think about all the reasons I didn’t vote for Obama and what a disappointment he’s been. I could probably overlook the arrogance and I’ve repeatedly speculated that 4 years of Obama will make a lot of people think long and hard about what they want for their government and I think that’s a good thing. But what I will never comprehend is why someone wanted to be President of a country he’s was so obviously ashamed of. Maybe the reason people hate him so much is because he hated them first.

Shame on you, Harry Reid!

I was listening to snippets of the Angle/Reid debate and was extremely interested in Harry’s answer to Angle’s question about how he managed to accumulate his wealth:

I think most everyone knows I was a very successful lawyer. I did a very good job in investing. I’ve been on a fixed income since I went to Washington. I’ve lived off of what I made in the private sector. I put my five kids through 100 semesters of school, and I paid for every penny of it. So her suggestion that I made money being a Senator is simply false, and I’m really disappointed that she would suggest that.

He didn’t deny being wealthy, so we have to assume that Angle was telling the truth there. That said, it just doesn’t add up.

  • Harry’s father was a miner — a very noble profession and I only mention it to highlight the fact that Harry was not born into “family money”.
  • He was born December 2, 1939 and I assume he spent at least 8 years obtaining that law degree… considering that he first received an A.A., then a B.A and finally his J.D. — the latter while working for the capital police.
  • His political career began in 1964 as the Henderson City Attorney. Assuming he went to college when he was 18 and spent 7-8 years in college, this was probably his first job after completing his J.D.
  • From 1964 until now, he has served in political positions except for a few years for which I can find no information: ’66-’69 and ’75-’77.

    So Harry would have us believe he became wealthy by smart investing and whatever income he received during those five years he wasn’t in public service?

    This is just another one of those cases where a politician wants to believe that the rest of us are idiots.

    Transcript of the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle debate, Oct. 14, 2010
    Harry Reid

Bush Tax Cuts

If you think the Bush tax cuts benefit the rich, you either can’t add or you don’t understand the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act.

Let’s say Joe is married with 2 kids and an income of $50,000:

  • Joe’s standard deduction increased from $7,950 to $9,500.
  • Joe’s taxable income decreased from $29,850 to $28,300.
  • Joe’s child credit increased from $1,200 to $2,000.
  • Joe’s post-credit tax decreased from $2,678 to $1,545.

Now, let’s say Bob is married with 2 kids and an income of $300,000. Heck, let’s say Bob is also a highly successful investor with $10,000 in dividend income… and since Bob wants to milk the government for all it’s worth, he has managed to find $50,000 of deductions:

  • Bob’s itemized deductions remain the same — $45,185.
  • Bob’s personal exemptions remain the same — $3,172.
  • Bob’s taxable income remains the same — $251,643.
  • Bob’s child credit remains the same — a big fat goose egg.
  • Bob’s post-credit tax decreased from $69,607 to $62,687.

So Joe gets a tax cut of $1,133 (42.3%) and Bob gets a tax cut of $6,920 (9.94%). And after Bob gets his 10% windfall, he’s still contributing 40 times more in taxes than Joe is — even though Bob only make 6 times more. Plus, that’s what would have happened in 2003. Some of Bob’s tax cuts have already expired… like lower capital gains and dividends rates.

If that’s not enough, exactly what do you think Bob is going to do with that extra $6,920? I think he’s going to take his family out to dine in Joe’s restaurant… or hire Joe to do some project he’s been putting off. Bob might just spend that money in a way that keeps Joe employed.

If Joe thinks Bob should only get $1,133 because that’s all he got, Bob thinks it’s pretty obvious why Joe isn’t the one making $300,000.


What the Bush Tax Cut Means for You


I just read Bob Herbert’s column from July 23 where he says:

But the people suffering most in this long economic tailspin are the poor and the black, and you don’t hear much about that.

I would have been okay if he’d just said “the poor”. It would also have been okay if he said “the poor, the black, the Hispanic and the Native American”. But no… he said “the poor and the black”.

So let’s see now… the poor includes poor whites, poor blacks, poor Hispanics, poor Native Americans and poor people of any other color. So the black must have been called out to include the non-poor black.

From WordNet:

(n) racism: the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races

Isn’t it also racist to attribute any quality or condition — negative or positive — to a single race?

Try again, Bob. I have another word for you:

(n) hypocrisy: insincerity by virtue of pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not really have


Thrown to the Wolves

LionHill’s Larkin 06/07/1999 – 05/26/2010

Just My Dog

He’s just my dog.

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds, my other ears that hear above the winds.

He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being – by the way he rests against my leg, the way he thumps his tail at the smallest smile, and how he shows his hurt when I leave. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.)

When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.

When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.

When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.

When I am a fool, he ignores it.

When I succeed, he brags.

Without him, I am only another person.

With him, I am all powerful.

He has taught me the meaning of devotion is loyalty itself.

With him, I know secret comfort and a private peace.

He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.

His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.

His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.

He has promised to wait for me … whenever … in case I need him, and I expect I will, as I always have.

Who is he? He’s just … my dog.

— Gene Hill

The Social Filter

So Tom, Ted and I went out to dinner the other night and had this really interesting conversation about the filter. It all started when we were talking about two of our favorite TV shows, Bones and The Mentalist. We get a kick out of the main characters because they’re not quite normal in entertaining ways.

It all started to make sense when Ted described Bones as having no filter. She says exactly what’s on her mind and she has no trouble talking about things most people consider private and she’s confused when anyone is taken aback by her honesty because it all seems perfectly normal to her. Patrick Jane’s filter is in polarity mode — he’s constantly trying to crack someone else’s filter.

We decided that Ted’s filter is stuck in auto-off mode. He’ll go for days (or weeks) spending time alone or with close family… and the filter gradually shuts down because it’s unnecessary. When he ventures back into the social scene, he needs to re-enable the filter or he’s likely to step outside the bounds.

Tom’s filter is always on and always set to high. Never make waves, never say or do anything to call attention to himself, always fade into the background.

I think my filter is pretty much like everyone else’s. Just plain normal — how utterly boring.