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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Operation Squirm

After watching the American public sit in stunned or ignorant silence through a six year assault on American's worldwide reputation, our budget and our Constitution, it is frightfully apparent we cannot tolerate another major election driven by the traditional political parties and media outlets. The Legislative branch is abandoning its obligation to oversee the Executive branch's enforcement of the law in exchange for not being subjected to proper law enforcement of its own activities. The Executive branch has repeatedly provided false information about proposed legislation involving issues ranging from half-trillion dollar ten-year prescription drug coverage plans to domestic spying programs which violated existing laws. The Judicial branch has contributed to an undermining of basic property rights with rulings on eminent domain abuses aiding big business at the expense of individual Americans.

Americans have been notoriously short sighted for decades when faced with issues involving complicated multi-year tax or spending plans or issues combining domestic policy and international politics. The behavior of the major media outlets on both broadcast and cable TV all but disqualifies them from being trusted to educate the American public about the choices we face or to ask the right questions on our behalf of our elected officials and follow up on their answers.

It is up to We The People to use the tools at our disposal to reorient the political process to suit our purposes.

Maybe one way of doing that is to collectively assemble a list of questions sharpened to a razor's edge that accurately, concisely and inescapably frame the failure of our leaders to do the right thing and serve their own interests rather than those of We the People. Armed with that list of questions, every voter of every affiliation needs to hammer candidates mercilessly at every baby-kissing shopping mall appearance, Rotary Club meeting, Chamber of Commerce convention and every national or local debate with these questions.

The goal is to frame these questions to be so "non-partisan" and so well-crafted so that A) the American public can instantly "get it" and understand the absurdity of the situation our government has created on the issue and B) the politician answering the question has no where to hide when a simple, coherent answer cannot be provided.

Think of it as "Operation Squirm".

The real goal is to metaphorically blow the blow-dried, talking points tested candidates off the national stage and identify the REAL candidates of either party that have a grasp of basic finance and basic government and can articulate a coherent plan for the country that has more than one degree of synergy with other polices.

I'll toss out some questions to get the process started.

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WHO IS OUR ENEMY? -- Can you explain why the American government:

1) spent $400 billion on the war in Iraq to topple a dictator dependent on a Sunni minority?
2) provided billions to a new interim government led by Shia Muslims allied with our enemy Iran?
3) is now soliciting help from Iraqi Sunnis who have supported our enemy Al Qaeda while we aided Shia groups?
4) is now selling $20 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which provides 55 percent of the foreign fighters in Iraq shooting at our troops?

Shia and Sunni sects haven't "changed sides" in roughly 1400 years. Why are we formulating policies based upon them switching sides every year?

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TAX OR BORROW? --- Explain to the American public your criteria for deciding between current taxes and borrowing to pay for a program. Do you roll your monthly electric bill into your home's 30 year mortgage? (Then why would you saddle a taxpayer who hasn't been born yet with the cost of a program providing short term benefits to a current citizen by borrowing money to pay for it?) Do you solicit your neighbors to pay part of your mortgage even through you're the only one living in your house? (Then why are federal dollars being used for local-interest projects such as tractor museums, etc.?)

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CORPORATE VERSUS INDIVIDUAL BANKRUPTCY -- If you believe the changes to personal bankruptcy laws enacted in October 2005 were too onerous in some areas, describe how you would alter those rules without allowing out-of-control credit card users to saddle other Americans with their bad debt. If you believe the changes were appropriate, explain why a clampdown on personal bankruptcy is justified while laws governing corporate bankruptcy encourage a similar cavalier approach to pension obligations and union contracts that stick American taxpayers with the costs of underfunded pension plans via the PBGC while executives of those firms receive outsized pay for helping stick those costs to taxpayers.

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Any other suggestions?