Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Party of the First Part.... Or.... A Platform and it's Planks - A Debate of One

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.
Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004)

Well, after my latest (and lengthiest) hiatus (we'll pretend you noticed), I've decided to respond to the first sets of debates the Democrats and Republicans set up (semi-affectionately referred to as The Clueless and the Evil Empire, respectively).

For years and across many subjects, my criticisms and complaints have been met with choruses of "Well, do YOU have a better idea?" And now, at long last, I do, thankyouverymuch. So I've decided to make my own platform, complete with planks. The issues as I see them for 2008 and beyond:


The problem:
We have 1,952 miles of border separating America from Mexico, and another 5,525 miles of American/Canadian border to patrol, not counting the thousands upon thousands of coastline bordering the U.S. against the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico. And tens of thousands (the actual number varies greatly by the political color of the teller's state) of illegal immigrants are taking American jobs and social services, especially in the migrant worker-related industries.

Let's look at the SOURCE of this massive influx of humanity: They want, and get work. How do they GET this work you ask? Most of the time, it's because they'll work for pennies on the dollar compared to the legal minimum wage. How is that possible, you ask? Because there are only two groups of people in this country who worry about the welfare of the illegal immigrants in this country: The civil libertarians (The A.C.L.U. and like-minded groups), and the owners of the businesses the migrant workers work for. From small, family-operated farms to huge conglomerates, every season they all are strapped for field workers to harvest time-sensitive crops. Even the groups that CAN afford to pay a living wage say that it literally becomes impossible to get and keep workers. So, will they turn their collective backs on a group not only willing to work in their fields, but willing to work there for a small fraction of the money they'd have to legally pay? Sorry, no matter what your motives, that's an almost impossible temptation to pass up. The rationalizationists get to say they're helping their fellow man (or woman), as well as keeping the rest of us from having to pay $15 a pound for seedless green grapes. This of course leads to red faces galore when the Immigration and Naturalization Services people get around to checking green cards periodically.

The solution: The solution is in two steps, one which might piss off the left, and one the right might find equally wrong: First, make the borders truly secure. Not close them, mind you, but make every square mile of American border a true checkpoint. Impossible you say? We haven't the manpower, nor the funding to even begin such an endeavor? That's the beauty of this plank of the platform. I HAVE the solution to that, but, curiously enough, it's in the solution section of the next plank. For now, just trust me, we could make this work, at least a lot better than it does now. AND cheaper.

The second step involves one of those things the right hates: Actual government enforcement of its own laws. Once the procedures are in place for regulating the immigrations into America, every single incident of paying a worker, legal or not, an ILLEGAL salary, would be met with fines AND jail time.

The War in the Middle East:

The problem: Fairly self-explanatory. A civil war that we're intervening in (interestingly enough, there seems to be almost as many Shiites as Sunnis protesting American occupation of Iraq lately) that is being touted by the Bush administration as protecting us (and the world) from terrorism is being waged, at the cost of tens of billions of dollars a year, not to mention the priceless cost of young lives. Here are some horrifying statistics for you: On May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared the end of "major combat operations", according to CNN, the U.S. government reported that 139 Americans had been killed. More than 3,000 more Americans have been killed AFTER the end of "major combat operations". According to some estimates, over $392.5 BILLION has been allocated to the Gulf War. And how effective has it been in curbing world terrorism? As of April, 2005, as reported in both the Washington Post and the SF Gate, the U.S. State Department, in it's annual report to congress, decided not to include the little factoid that worldwide, terrorism had gone from the previous record high of 175 reported incidents, to 655 in 2004 . That included incidents in Iraq (which Bush had previously said was 'stabilized') that had gone from 22 to 198 in the one year. Can't imagine why the State Dept. didn't want to include that to the public.

The solution: This is the centerpiece of both this plank and the one above on immigration. Unlike some bleeding heart liberals, I DO believe in a strong defense. I believe in defense of our way of life. I believe that every one of the U.S. soldiers in the middle east should be brought back to America, and be given the job that they were promised in the recruiting offices: Protect our country. They can be stationed on every border, and can see their families on a regular basis. The border patrols would be more than a bit improved, going from a squad of I.N.S. border rangers in jeeps and SUVs, to patrols of trained Rangers, Strykers, and Marines in humvees and tanks. Train the soldiers, use the borders to perform war games and exercises, and use the Navy to patrol U.S. waters around them. The Canadian coalition forces can still participate and do their thing on their side of the border to help out too.

And as a bonus, these border forces would be a lot better trained and equipped to deal with the drug runners in Florida, along the Gulf coast, and across the Mexican border. Would there still be illegal aliens? Of course. But I can pretty much guarantee the reduction of casualties by probably 99%, along with a huge reduction in imported drugs.

Gasoline/Oil Prices and Supplies:

The Problem: Yes, I know that globally we pay less than half what
most of the rest of the world pays, and I've heard the arguments from the left that unless it becomes too expensive, the U.S. won't conserve what fossil fuels we have left, nor have any incentive to find alternatives. But what bothers me about the current state of affairs in this niche is, it's simply illegal. The anti-trust laws as I understand them, state categorically that competitors cannot conspire or collude with one another to set a price, high OR low, for their product. Every time the price of crude oil goes up, the pump price is raised, within a day or two. OK, that makes some sense. But when it goes DOWN, the pump price doesn't follow. Here's another interesting tidbit of info: Here in the Seattle metro area, the local radio just announced a one cent per gallon decrease in the average gas price all the way down to $3.40 per gallon. The price of crude oil just dropped over $2.00 a barrel this week, down to $62 and change. What's interesting about this is that that same local radio station just mentioned that this time last year, gas prices locally were $2.40 per gallon. And according to NYMEX numbers, the price of standard light sweet crude oil was up over $65.00 a barrel in May of 2006, or $3.00/barrel MORE expensive. I think I know where all the former Enron accountants are working now.

The Solution: The reality is, the oil lobby has been bulletproof for a whole lotta years where collusion investigations are concerned. Whenever anyone looks into anti-trust, collusion, or price-gouging in the oil industries, men in black suits, red ties, and big cowboy hats scream about government control and 1970s gas shortages. Yes, the oil companies are allowed to make a profit, but just like any other industry, they should also be allowed to be investigated for collusion strategies. And if regulation becomes the only way, since apparently they can't or won't regulate themselves, then it needs to be done. And investigated by an INDEPENDENT prosecutor, not a Justice Department that is filled with political appointments (see Alberto Gonzales do his version of "Who's on First" following the partisan firings of all those States Attorneys).

And for the less important planks (less important to me that is):

I can't figure out why a 'National Language' designation for English pisses so many people off. No one is proposing the language police restrict what language you speak, nor who you speak it to. I'm unfamiliar with a lobby for American turkeys who were turned down for the Nation's symbolic bird (Although it is true that no less a personage than Ben Franklin lobbied FOR the turkey to be that symbol on the U.S. seal). Personally, beyond the occasional American tourist boorishly feeling that English should be understood WHEREVER Americans may visit, I'm not aware of, for instance, a movement in Mexico to make people speak English. I go to Mexico, I presume I will have to make myself understood in Spanish. Especially if I decide to move there. But, it's not that big a deal for me, so we don't have to do anything about it.

Flag burning/desecration amendment. Hmmm... Another one I just don't get the logic to. Yes, I understand the symbolic nature of the flag, and that people believe that people have died for it. The problem is, people have NOT died for the flag. They HAVE died for the IDEALS that it represents. One of the biggest of those ideals is, ironically enough, freedom of speech. Not 'good speech', but speech. The freedom to express anything you want to express, simply because we are not fascists. In my youth, there was a big to-do about hippies wearing a flag patch on their jeans... many WWII and Korean vets were outraged that 'those dirty commie hippies' would 'sit' on the flag. In the 80s, 90s, and beyond, people literally wrap themselves in the flag now as a gesture of patriotism, including wearing a flag emblem in a many more dubious places than the seats of jeans. The right rails furiously against the left trying to take away their 2nd Amendment rights 'to bear arms', but might shoot you with those arms for availing yourself of the 1st Amendment. I'm not sure any amendment was more important to the founding fathers than another, but IF there was, I'd think the first one would have been the one they thought of first.

Okay, that's all I can think of for now, and I have only one thing to add, with apologies to the enigmatic Lyndon Baines Johnson: "I will not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination of any party for a term as your President." Although, I don't look bad in a black suit and red tie.