Thinking Outside the Box
Any one who's read my blog for long knows my take on things tend toward the eclectic, (or as George W. Bush pronounces it – “ec-a-lective.”) Which can mean one of two things; I am wrong, or I am just able to see truth, even if it comes out the mouths of folks I don't like.
While I would prefer to belief it's the latter, the laws of probability dictate that it's likely 50/50.
Which brings me this.
As the old sayng goes, even a broken clock is 100% correct twice a day. Which is why I think we need to admit that the character currently running Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hit the nail right on the head the other day with his criticism of the United Nations:
“The Iranian president criticized the decision-making process of the U.N. Security Council and challenged the power of the five permanent Security Council members -- among them the U.S. and Britain. "The U.S. and Britain are using such a privilege as if they were the owners of the world. How many years should they enjoy this privilege?" he asked. " (More)
I'm not one of those “blame America firsters,” that the Bushites like to blame whenever anyone criticizes their actions. But don't you agree the little Iranian guy was right?
Isn't it time for the UN haters on the right and the UN-lovers on the left to agree that the UN, as it is currently constituted, is nothing more than a freeze-frame of the post WW-II geopolitical pecking order? And that the UN Security Council – which really rules the roost – is the world's power structure, circa 1945, preserved in amber?
If we had set out to create an ineffective institution we could not have done better than UN.
First you put the Kings of the Hill DeJur' in charge assuring that nothing gets approved unless all of them agree.
Then you invite every other nation on earth to become members of a mash-pit called the General Assembly, where they can pontificate until the cows come home, but have no power whatsoever.
Then you set up shop in the richest city on earth, where ambassadors from around the world can spend their country's money living big in return for pretending they are making a difference.
Too harsh? You think? Well, let's see:
* Genocide in Sudan... how long's that been going on? And it still is going on.
* Hey, and how about those UN “peacekeepers” in southern Lebanon ... they were a big help, huh?
* And, can we ever forget the Iraq Oil for Food scam!!? Momma mia, that was beaut.
Right wingers fear the UN because they see it as a step towards one-world government. Ha! Fat chance.
Left wingers are critical of the UN because it is powerless when the US is in the wrong – you know, like sending Colin Powell up there with a pack of lies then attacking Iraq without so much as a howdy do to ya. Well, whatya expect. When the US, France, Great Britain, Russia and China created the UN back in 1945 they divvied up the earth to suit them and made damn sure no one could re-divvy it up anytime soon.
To make sure the Peanut Gallery (AKA: the rest of the world) didn't feel left out, they created the “Gestalt Assembly,” a place where the other nations on earth could engage in all the diplomatic puffery that goes along with being “ambassadors,”and letting them strut around with the real movers and shakers – but denying them the right or power to do any shaking themselves.
Needless to say, relegated to seats in the powerless General Assembly, nations have seen the main use for the UN as a place to send sycophants to reward them for their loyal services, a place of chauffeured limos and catered diners, free booze and even freer women, where they never have to say they're sorry (to a judge) or pay a parking ticket.
The UN is worse than an anachronism – it's a fraud. And it's been a fraud since the day it was created. Hell, it wasn't the UN that coordinated, financed and rebuilt western Europe after WW-II, it was the US Marshall Plan.
The only time the UN did anything bold was by accident, when Russia was asleep at the switch and let the Security Council approve the “police action” that became the Korean War.
On June 27th 1950, America called on the United Nations to use force to get the North Koreans out as they had ignored the Security Council’s resolution of June 25th. This was also voted for and once again the Russians could not use their veto as they were still boycotting the United Nations. (More)
That was it. Since then no member of the Security Council has dared miss a vote and, consequently, nothing of consequence has happened since.
Who was it that finally stopped the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia? The UN? Nope. The US and NATO finally had to step in and stop it. Who stopped the genocide in Rawanda? The UN? No. Nope.
So, as Iran and the UN lock horns over nukes it's a good time to ask what good can come of it. The UN will not impose real sanctions against Iran. The US will try to impose it's own sanctions, but with oil scarce and in high demand, George will find few takers for his “shun Iran” plan.
That leaves the nations of the world with precisely the same choices they faced before the UN was created; to either capitulate to the misbehavior of other nations, or go to war against them. Some choice!
But despair not, I have a plan. As Bill Clinton would put it, “Don't end it, mend it.” The UN needs some industrial strength mending, and though they won't like my plan, here it is:
1)Relocate the UN to Ely, Nevada.
2)Every member will be required to wear a Century 21 Realtor's style sports coat, with UN logo and his/her name tag during all official duties.
3)Each ambassador will receive a coupon book each year containing 52, 50% off coupons redeemable at the “All you can eat buffet” at the Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall.
4)The Security Council would be eliminated and replaced with the Council for Making Sure Citizens of Earth Don't End Up Choking to Death on Their Own Waste. (better known as the CMSCEDEUCDTOW.)
5)New UN house rules would include:
1.Ambassadors would be banned from eating at any restaurant or diner during unresolved famines. (This ban includes Chinese and pizza delivery)
2.Ambassadors would be confined to their offices, rooms and meeting halls during unresolved genocides.
3.Ambassadors of nations that violate UN resolutions will be required to turn in any unused Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall coupons and relinquish their pass keys to the hotel pool and exercise room, neither of which they get back until they can prove their nation is in full compliance.
4.The UN limo service would be replaced by a fleet of mini-vans driven by chatty volunteers from the Ely Chapter of the Daughters of Rebecca.
5.Ambassadorial staff for each nation will be limited to one secretary and one sycophant/gofer/assistant.
That should about do it. I understand it's not a prefect plan but, be honest, could it really make things worse? I don't think so.
Okay, so I jest.. well about everything except moving the UN to some place with fewer distractions and creature comforts than the Big Apple. At least in Ely ambassadors would have to choose between work and another scrumptious trip down the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Hotel Nevada.
August 28, 2006
Memo: To Democrats
From: The Rest of Us
Hi. Just us again. Look, we just got done reading a story in this morning's New York Times, and have a few questions.
First here's the gist of the story, in case you missed it.
Real Wages Fail to Match Rise in Productivity
With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers.
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.
As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.” (Full Story)
Our question is simple. We – the rest of us – have been screwed blue and tattooed too, not once, but twice by the GOP's crackpot “trickle down economics,” scam.
The first time we were reamed by this scam was by the Reaganites during the 1980s. You Democrats might remember because a lot of you were there then You guys stood around hemming and hawing as that bunch of Trickle Down Taliban slashed taxes, pumped contracts to defense contractors and deregulated the savings and loan industry. And you stood there with your thumbs up your butts during eight years of looting and shooting that left the rest of us a $160 billion S&L bailout tab to pay, left us with enormous budget deficits and created a hostile and emboldened Iran. (Sound familiar?)
Been there, done that before, right guys? It was a real mess, for sure. So we kinda figured Democrats would never let it happen again. Boy, were we wrong! The first thing the Bushites did when they got into office was dust off that old, blood and red ink-stained copy of Reagan's supply side scam, lube it and shove straight up our collective posterior orifices -- again.
And there you Democrats were, milling around, hemming and hawing and doing nothing helpful as the Trickle Down Taliban had their way with us -- again.
Frankly I don't know who we should be madder at, them or you guys. I mean, hell, at the end of the day this is really just your generic “do bears shit in the woods,” tale, isn't it? You knew what they were up to. You'd seen the Trickle Down Scam before and should have known it when you saw its second coming. How could not? It wasn't as though you weren't warned by those of us who did see it coming. (My 2002 SF Chronicle piece)
So, just how did you Democrats let this happen to the rest of us -- again?
Here's another way to put look at the problem: First figure out how much all those bomb-throwing Islamic terrorists have actually cost the average American over the past five years. Now figure out how many hundreds of billions of dollars the Trickle Down GOP scam has sucked out our wallets during the same period -- in lower wages, off-shored jobs, stolen pensions, skyrocketing fuel and heating costs and environmental degradation? More I bet. More by a long, long, long, long, long, long shot, I bet.
Which begs the question: who do average Americans really need protection from most? I'm all for securing the US mainland from folks who want to shoot or bomb us, but that's a law enforcement problem which can and should be dealt with accordingly – as the British recently showed.
But what about the enemies within? - within our wallets - within our health care system - within our pharmaceutical industry - within our energy industry? The rest of us are under siege from them, and so far no one is returning fire. I guess my question boils down to this;
Can Democrats defend the rest of us from our domestic enemies?
So far you haven't In fact, in too many cases you've chosen to be collaborators. Democrats in Congress played the Vichy French government during WWII to the Bushites occupation. The term “quislings” has rolled from my lips too often of late as I listen to Democrats trying to explain why they voted for the Bush tax cuts for the already rich.
But hey, what can the rest of us do? After nearly seven years of this GOP Trickle-down reign of economic terror, we are left with little choice but give you Democrats yet another chance. But don't misinterpret our votes as anything but an act of desperation. We know America can't possibly survived another eight years of GOP ("Grand Old Pillagers.")
So we'll bite our lips and put you Democrats back in charge of at least one house of Congress this November – maybe both. But please understand, we don't like you, we certainly don't respect you, we know we can't trust you, and we will be watching what you do like hawks.
Even if give you Democrats control we worry you won't know what to do, or have the guts to do it. For starters we've heard no coherent economic policy out of you guys. Why is that? Because we can only assume you've had your asses handed to you so many times by a well-fund GOP that you decided that since you can't beat-em you might as well join-em.
When the cops asked Willie Sutton why he kept robbing banks Sutton stated the obvious, “Because that's where the money is.” In today's electoral machine the money - the real money -- is not found to be found in the wallets of the rest of us – especially these days. No, the real money is up there – at the top of the economic pyramid – where instead of “trickling down,” as promised, it gets doled out to collaborators.
Sorry this memo has gone so long, but that NYTimes story really pushed my buttons. I'll wrap it up.
Since you Democrats can't seem to articulate any coherent defense to GOP's wildly lucrative Trickle Down scam, let me offer you one.
I call it Trickle UP Economics. It goes like this:
1)Don't cut the taxes of people who already have more money than they know what to do with. Instead cut the taxes of wage earners, because they will spend every extra dollar you leave in their pay checks.
2)As workers spend that money it creates demand for goods and services
3)As demand for goods and services grows, employment expands,
4)As employment expands still more workers get paychecks with more money in them, which they spend in near-real time, creating still more demand.
5)An so it goes and goes and goes in a self-sustaining cycle as the money eventually trickles UP to the top in the form of corporate profits generated consumer demand for their products and services.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter
The Rest of Us
PS: Oh, and by the way – this WILL BE your last chance before we look elsewhere for new progressive leaders – and maybe even a new party.
Video Of the Day
Why Your Next President
Will Be a Republican
Democrats are making a serious mistake – again. They are making two assumptions. First, that enough people now hate George W. Bush & Co. that the GOP will lose big this November and. Second, that the GOP will lose even bigger in November 2008's presidential race.
They are probably right on their first assumption, but way wrong on their second. Here's why.
For all kinds of reasons voting for members of congress is a party thing, and right now the public has had it right up to here with the Republican party. So Dems are likely to coast to significant gains in both the House and Senate. Not because voters like what Dems stand for because, who knows what the hell they stand for, but by default.
Voters also want to break the one-party hold the GOP has on Congress, which turned the dogs of commerce loose on average Americans while leaving them to root through the leavings for scraps.
But a presidential contest is a one-on-one affair in which party affiliation is secondary to personal qualities. Americans don't want just any Democrat or any Republican. They want a leader, someone they like and someone they trust. And after the Bush reign, trustworthiness will rank up there at the top of voter's wish list.
Keeping that in mind, who will Democrats put up in '08?
It increasingly appears that the Hillary Clinton Moonies have triangulated their gal right into the corner pocket. Never underestimate the Cult of Hillary. They are too smart by half and too cute by another half. They are political termites, invisibly but relentlessly undermining their party's power structure and pecking order. By the time you realize what they've been up to, it's too late.
And it may now be too late. Hillary looks like she'll be the Dem's choice for the top slot in '08. Call it the Democrat Party's version of Fatal Attraction – because that's precisely what it is.
And who will Hillary tap as her running mate? Retired Army General, Wesley Clark.
Which is why the Republican's will field as their ticket John McCain and Rudolf Guiliani.
Handicapping such a race is pretty easy.
McCain v. Hillary – forget about it. The more you see and hear Hillary Clinton the less you like her. She wears on people. Not because she's a woman, but because she's so transparently a conniver. Even as she answers a question, you can see the wheels turning behind those expressionless eyes. As the words roll off her lips, she weighs every possible political gain and loss of each individual nuance. It's an impressive mental feat. IBM's chess playing computer, Big Blue, wouldn't have a prayer against Hillary.
McCain, on the other hand, while just as big a conniver, pulls it off better. It's hard not to like McCain, even when you suspect he's jerking you around. Besides, Hillary was never a prisoner of war.... a prisoner of marriage, maybe... but not a prisoner of war. And the worst torture Hillary ever endured was the haunting image of hubby Bill's cigar humidor, Monica.
So, in a head to head race, McCain wins – hands down.
Ditto goes for the VP choices.
Wesley Clark is a nice enough guy, and Hillary would pick him for her running mate to give the Democrat ticket it's own tough-on-terrorism image. But, frankly, Clark never inspired me as a tough guy. He comes across more like a Mr. Rogers kinda guy or the principal of a small town junior high.
Guliani, on the other hand,won his tough-guy bones on 9/11 – rightly or wrongly. And the only reason he would not be on the top of the GOP ticket is because he's too liberal on issues like a woman's right to choose and gay marriage. GOP social conservatives would not likely vote for a presidential candidate with such “moral lapses” but would bite their lips and vote for him as No. 2 – especially if it meant throwing cold water on the “Wicket Witch.”
So there you have it, two years before it happens... the 2008 presidential finalists. McCain/Guliani v. Clinton/Wesley.
Which is why I predict our next president will be another Republican.
Hey, don't blame me. But do give Howard Dean a call. Because, while time is running short, he still has time to pull the emergency-stop cord on the Hillary Express.
How to Fix Everyone's Wagon
You know what I'd do if I had my own air force? I'd bomb the living crap out of Iran's oil fields.
Wait... hold on.. before you delete me from your address book let me explain how doing so would fix almost everything.
1)A nuclear-armed anybody is a bad thing. But a nuclear-armed Iran would change the status quo from one in which the likelihood nukes will be used in our lifetimes would move from an unlikely possibility to a near certain probability.
2)Virtually all Islamic terrorism is funded with oil revenues from the western oil addicts.
3)Hezbollah and Hamas are almost entirely funded by Iran's excess oil revenue
4)The skyrocketing price for crude oil has provided Iran with a checkbook that cannot be denied. They can buy virtually any nuclear technology they need, along with the best diplomatic blockers money can buy at the UN.
5)Global warming is on a tear, largely because of all the oil and oil byproducts we burn.
Okay, so you wake up tomorrow morning, turn on the TV and discover the Pizzo Air Force leveled Iran's oil terminals and refineries overnight. What happens?
1)The price of oil goes through the roof.
2)Iran retaliates by closing shipping traffic through the Straits of Hormuz by sinkin a couple of tankers and threatening to sink any that try to pass that way. Lloyds of London refuses to insure any shipping in that region.
3)The price of oil climbs again, as do prices at the pump.
4)The US taps the strategic oil reserve. The cost of gasoline and diesel are capped. Gas ration coupons are required and each registered auto limited to 25 gallons a week – about two tank fulls for the average auto. (A lively secondary market for unneeded gas coupons will blossom on eBay.)
Instead of an all out shooting war, Iran and the West would then be locked in a war of attrition. And Iran would blink first. Why? Because, while oil shortages would cause major disruptions in western economies, it would cripple Iran. Iran's entire economy is oil. The West, by comparison, has a diversified economic base that, while slowed to a crawl by lack of oil, will at least crawl along. Cut off Iran's oil revenue and Iran whithers like plant denied water.
At the very time Iran is whithering the West's entrepreneurial nature would flower once cheap oil no longer defeats alternative energy innovations. Even the political rhetoric would shift away from the post-911 nonsense of declaring war against nebulous “terrorism,” to declaring our independence from the oil that funds terrorism. (If you really want to kill someone you don't kick them in the shins, you cut their throat. Our action in Iraq, for example, is an exercise in shin-kicking. Cutting off the flood of oil revenue to the region is going for the the throat.)
Bush was right (for once) when he admitted that we are addicted to oil. But, like any addict, we will only take the cure after we hit rock bottom. Bombing the crap out of Iran's oil fields and terminals would be the quickest way there.
And just look a the benefits:
1)Iran's financial horn of plenty would dry up in weeks. The high-pressure flow of dollars would stop ,and shortly thereafter so too would the millions of dollars Iran sends to Hezbollah and Hamas to make trouble with.
2)Bombing Iran's oil fields would be less costly in human lives than trying to find and bomb Iran's widely dispersed nuclear facilities – and create less environmental damage as well. (It's a lot easier to clean up oil spills than radiation.)
3)Nuclear weapons programs are a horrifically expensive hobby for any country – and far too expensive for a nation that just lost it's sole source of revenue.
4)The West, as well as China and India, would have to immediately stop burning oil like there's no tomorrow, conserving and cutting CO2 emissions so much, so fast that it would the Kyoto Treaty's emission restrictions look like they were written by Exxon.
5)As the West weaned itself off oil the backward nations of the Arab world would face two choices: modernize and liberalize or go back to herding sheep and goats. Either choice would be just fine with us because we no longer have a reason to give a fig about how they choose to live.
6)Finally, it would force the mankind to find cleaner, sustainable energy sources that will never again leave us hostage to hostile, socially and religiously backward folks, whose only claim to fame is they happen to squat over large pools of oil.
This idea is really nothing new coming from me. I outlined the basic premise months ago in my “Don't Do That” national defense policy. ( Oh and bring the troops home from Iraq too, because there'd be nothing there we will need any longer either. Let Iran have Iraq, if they have the taxi fare to get there once they can't sell oil.)
Of course the only way my plan will work is if the West is ready to go cold turkey on it's oil addiction. We will have to some day anyhow. Either we do it now, or we do it later. If we do it now we get to choose the timing. We get to go through our oil withdrawals before Iran has nukes with which they could deliver the ovens of extermination directly to the Jews in Israel – which they would in a heartbeat.
Or we can diddle around some more. We can quit shooting oil anytime we want – right? We'll just wait a bit longer, shoot up a few hundred billion barrels more Middle Eastern oil, foul a few thousand miles more coastline around the world, and who need glaciers anyway? We can kick the habit another day.
But what about a nuclear-armed Iran? An Iran with long range missiles, developed and paid for with money from America's gas pumpers? Is that really as scary as a couple of years of oil withdrawal pain?
I don't know. But I am sure about this much -- one way or the other, we're about to find out.
Stephen P. Pizzo
Email me at: stephen(at)pizzo.com