Part III: Obama Versus McCain on Natural Resources & Fossil Fuels: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!!

This is a continuing series on the Primary Issues of the Presidential Election 2008. | Read Round One: McCain Versus Obama on the issue of Health care. | Round Two: Their take on the Iraq War. | Round Three: Obama Versus McCain on Free Trade. | Part One of Round Four on Natural Resources and Fossil Fuels, here. | In Part Two, we think the Democrats, Republicans And We All Are Misguided. | Part Three: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!! | Part Four: Obama Will Save The World, But the US will Go Broke in the Process | Round five: Is the US the Melting Pot or the Stagnation Pot? The candidate’s position on Immigration | Round Six: On the Issue of Abortion | Round Seven: McCain Versus Obama on Social Security: Obama Needs a Fundraiser, McCain Missing in Action | Part one of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, Obama’s Position | Part two of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, McCain’s Position

This is McCain’s opinion.  We believe it panders a bit too much in an attempt to get votes.  While we agree with Obama on Trade, this is an important facet of trade, and John is much more realistic in his approach than Obama.  However, he spends most of his time sounding overly NIMBY.  We have cut out many of his positions from his site.

Many, like those of Obama, are nonsense pandering to the conservationists and not making a stand to show us how narrow minded we can be.  Climate change happened over centuries, we cannot fix it in 4 years guys.  Don’t patronize us, get real!

From John  McCain:

Open Space

Economic development is essential to a strong American economy but urban sprawl shouldn’t be allowed to expand unabated at the expense of our remarkable wild and scenic public lands. Instead we should promote responsible growth and encourage state and local officials to implement open space initiatives and establish green corridors within our communities. This will require strengthening federal tools like Land and Water Conservation Fund that emphasizes recreation and the protection of wildlife areas.

Climate Change and Energy Independence

Climate change is the single greatest environmental challenge of our time. The facts of global warming demand our urgent attention, especially in Washington. Not only does our dependence on foreign oil bring about sizable national security risks but the preponderance of scientific evidence points to the warming of our climate from the burning of fossil fuels. We can no longer deny our responsibility to lead the world in reducing our carbon emissions.

John McCain has announced The Lexington Project, a comprehensive energy and climate strategy to provide America with secure sources of energy, ensure our continued prosperity, and address global climate change. This plan includes the elements necessary to achieve these objectives by: producing more power, pushing technology to help free our transportation sector from its use of foreign oil, cleaning up our air, addressing climate change, and ensuring that Americans have dependable energy sources.

This strategy recognizes that we must reexamine our national energy policy and enact reforms that allow the market to do more to open new paths of invention and ingenuity. And we must do this in a way that gives American businesses new incentives to develop clean and renewable energy technologies. The most direct way to achieve this is through a cap-and-trade system that sets clear limits on all greenhouse gases, while also allowing the sale of rights to excess emissions.

We have an opportunity for American agriculture to be a major player in the pursuit of energy independence through the development of bio diesel and cellulosic energy. In moving forward, we must integrate environmental policies that maintain quality wildlife habitat near and downstream of farmland. The past quarter century shown that environmental stewardship programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetland Reserve Program have helped reduce wetland loss, improve water quality and minimize soil erosion. As we build our new energy economy, these programs should be recognized as good agriculture practices central to sustaining healthy ecosystems.

Our Response:

All that is fine John, but it is a solution for fifty years from now, we need a solution now.  But John expanded on this view.

John Continues:

“The next president must be willing to break with the energy policies, not just of the current administration, but the administrations that preceded it, and lead a great national campaign to achieve energy security for America,” McCain said Tuesday.

Our Response:

Finally someone with some guts, although we would call it energy independence which, in turn, leads to energy security.  If we were independent of foreign oil, we would not be at war in Iraq today, and it is highly likely we would not have experienced 9/11.

John is now supporting offshore drilling to tap our resources, and we are glad to see someone finally has the guts to support offshore drilling in the face of naive self-centered NIMBY conservationists?  Are we finally breaking away from the “prima donna” attitude and accepting some responsibility for ourselves?  Maybe not…

“When America set aside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, we called it a ‘refuge’ for a reason,” he said.

We are getting mixed messages, but at least we are hearing some approach to providing access to US natural resources that sooner than later will reduce our dependencies on international oil and our trade deficit.

It is absolutely foolish to assume that anyone will stop drilling, destroying their habitats and killing other human beings to provide for our needs if we will not provide for our own.

One liberal diatribe makes this quote: “According to your best estimate, when will “drilling here and drilling now” reduce the price of gasoline in the United States?”  You don’t have to ask the candidates this question, you know the answer.  Sooner than if we take no action at all.  A central argument against taking action has been that results are not immediate.  By this argument, you should never attempt any long term objective.  If you can’t deliver results today, it is too late.  And year after year, while you maintain that “can’t do” attitude, other nations will eat you alive and your trade deficit will soar as you continue to import natural resources you already have for blood money.  Had we strongly pursued energy independence ten years ago, we would likely be independent today.  We didn’t do it.  Why?  It wasn’t because we believed in our environment and it wasn’t because we cared about pollution, etc.  It wasn’t cost effective.  Ten years ago, imported oil was cheap.  But as it turned out, the deluded idea we could import our resources has resulted in the loss of huge numbers of human lives and cost us more economically than we ever imagined.  That is hindsight, but we don’t need hindsight now to know we need to fix the problem and to see we have the resources to do it within our grasp.

The answers we are reading from the candidates also skip over a major problem we face in the US with respect to gasoline prices.  We do not have enough refineries.  Build them, with new technologies and governed by our laws.  To hell with the special interests.  If we don’t do it, someone else will and we can guarantee you it won’t be in their citizens’ interests or ours.  It will be in the name of money.

The liberal side completely escapes us as does John’s desire to pander to them.  We believe we should drill anywhere feasible, Alaska, Offshore, wherever we can.  Build refineries.  Accelerate the use of coal for petroleum, tap oil shale, and build alternative energy sources in the face of NIMBY self-interest groups.

Through it all, we guarantee you, the US will do it much cleaner and with much more consideration to the environment and human rights than any other nation on earth.  Get used to it.  We consume.  Why destroy our economy in our wake?  Take responsibility for ourselves!  It will yield results.  And if anyone asks you for a date for when it will deliver results like the liberal diatribe above?  Ask them for a date when we will be independent of foreign oil if we don’t take action.  Hypocrites need not apply!

Read Obama’s Position: Obama Will Save The World, But the US will Go Broke in the Process

PART II: Obama Versus McCain on Natural Resources & Fossil Fuels. Dems, Reps And We All Are Misguided

This is a continuing series on the Primary Issues of the Presidential Election 2008. | Read Round One: McCain Versus Obama on the issue of Health care. | Round Two: Their take on the Iraq War. | Round Three: Obama Versus McCain on Free Trade. | Part One of Round Four on Natural Resources and Fossil Fuels, here. | In Part Two, we think the Democrats, Republicans And We All Are Misguided. | Part Three: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!! | Part Four: Obama Will Save The World, But the US will Go Broke in the Process | Round five: Is the US the Melting Pot or the Stagnation Pot? The candidate’s position on Immigration | Round Six: On the Issue of Abortion | Round Seven: McCain Versus Obama on Social Security: Obama Needs a Fundraiser, McCain Missing in Action | Part one of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, Obama’s Position | Part two of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, McCain’s Position

We have an incredible dichotomy. We want clean air, to reduce green-house gases, to preserve our natural wildlife, and yet we use 24 percent of the world’s oil!! How can we, as a nation that believes in such ideals, still use 24 percent of the world’s oil? Fact is, we prove in practice, we don’t truly have these ideals, but we do have a NIMBY attitude.

We pass off the responsibility of tapping the resources to others and import it when we ourselves possess massive energy resources. And we don’t just hand off our responsibilities to Arab nations. In our first article of this series, we asked our readers which nation we import most of our oil from. Here is the answer, are you ready?

The nation exporting the most oil to the United States is Canada. We have vast reserves of natural resources in the United States while the nation immediately to our North is exporting oil to us as fast as they can tap it. We are honestly standing up and saying we will not drill on our land and use our resources, while our next door neighbor to our North provides most of our needs? Could we be any more hypocritical?

And take a look at number 3 folks. Do you honestly think that the two nations closest to us geographically are so vast in natural resources relative to us that we should import their resources at incredible expense while our trade deficit explodes?

We borrow the following chart from the US Energy Information Administration.

Crude Oil Imports (Top 15 Countries)
(Thousand Barrels per Day)

Country

Jun-08

May-08

YTD 2008

Jun-07

YTD 2007


CANADA

1,883

1,840

1,888

1,905

1,881

SAUDI ARABIA

1,479

1,579

1,523

1,501

1,407

MEXICO

1,124

1,116

1,193

1,392

1,454

VENEZUELA

1,085

1,030

1,012

1,135

1,109

NIGERIA

946

851

1,036

893

1,022

IRAQ

693

583

674

573

476

ANGOLA

636

464

496

502

568

BRAZIL

280

318

221

121

158

ALGERIA

269

440

319

504

494

RUSSIA

228

119

109

29

135

KUWAIT

179

263

219

263

193

ECUADOR

178

162

192

166

195

COLOMBIA

177

245

182

143

108

CHAD

107

57

101

80

69

LIBYA

89

96

76

144

66

Total Imports of Petroleum (Top 15 Countries)
(Thousand Barrels per Day)

Country

Jun-08

May-08

YTD 2008

Jun-07

YTD 2007


CANADA

2,359

2,346

2,472

2,410

2,470

SAUDI ARABIA

1,493

1,604

1,538

1,534

1,434

MEXICO

1,254

1,218

1,304

1,529

1,590

VENEZUELA

1,215

1,171

1,172

1,364

1,356

NIGERIA

1,020

918

1,092

968

1,080

RUSSIA

764

441

474

285

400

IRAQ

693

583

674

573

476

ANGOLA

649

476

506

514

580

ALGERIA

492

620

535

709

718

VIRGIN ISLANDS

314

340

336

218

319

BRAZIL

314

335

246

161

205

UNITED KINGDOM

286

237

223

345

310

NETHERLANDS

264

192

167

171

126

ECUADOR

184

162

200

168

199

KUWAIT

183

263

222

263

200

This map of the world which clearly demonstrates the highest use of oil per capita is educational. However, we believe it is a bit misleading. Warmer climates use less oil and more developed nations also use more. Still, it is very clear who the largest consumers are. We constantly hear about the increase in demand among developing nations, but we still dwarf their usage and we still import most of it. Interestingly, some of the major exporters, like Saudi Arabia, have very little use for the oil they export. Think about that for a minute. What else do they have to offer, and yet we are at war in Iraq, in part to protect our interests in the Persian Gulf?

Recently, our demand for fuel dropped off. When it did, our dollar strengthened, demonstrating a strong correlation between our trade deficit and the value of our currency. (see our article on Trade). It seems that most articles we have read on the matter have the cause and effect totally backwards. They are claiming oil prices dropped in response to a stronger dollar. Wrong!!! The weakened economy collapsed our demand for oil. That, in turn, reduced our trade deficit, which strengthens the dollar.

When you were in Junior High School, you likely read this book. It started with the famous quote “Call me Ishmael”. Does it ring a bell? The name of the book was “Moby Dick”. It was written about the hunt for an evil white whale by Captain Ahab and originated out the biggest whaling port in the world, New Bedford, Massachusetts. New Bedford, at the time,  was known throughout the world.

New Bedford still has a lone whaler on the hunt, holding a harpoon in his whaling boat, as a landmark in front of their public library, but worldwide the city is now an unknown spec. They do have the largest whaling museum in the country, and we think you should visit this museum to gain a better understanding of our history with respect to energy use. Why? Because the hunt for whales was based on our dependency on energy, specifically whale oil for lighting. We knew nothing about fossil fuels. We depended on whales for our energy. “Uncle Jed” would be rich had he owned a whaling ship. We murdered whales at will, a beautiful and intelligent animal, to provide for our nation’s energy needs.

We nearly caused the extinction of whales in the process, but thankfully, we discovered an alternative… fossil fuels. Our basic energy needs now are met almost entirely, directly or indirectly, by fossil fuels.

Initially, the US was able to meet its own demands for fossil fuels. Eventually, we could no longer satiate our own appetite, and in the mid 1900s, we started to import our resources in excess of what we consumed. A famous personality, M. King Hubbert, defined the concept of “peak oil” saying we would eventually run out of oil, and by a specific date, the cost would start to escalate. This theory has been brought to the forefront again and again, and is used at every spike in oil trading prices, because those on the long side want to make money. It has little to do with reality. There are enough fossil fuels in one form or another to last us hundreds more years and many are cost effective, but domestically, we are a NAMBY PAMBY NIMBY population.

The Environment and Us

We (US citizens) seem to care about our environment. We care about the warming climate, pollution, the decline of the rain forests and the transition away from the use of fossil fuels. Other nations think about money or survival. They are willing to sacrifice the world’s rain forests for their own benefit. They are willing to provide us oil and other fossil fuels at any cost to make a profit or eat. They do not care about their natural resources or the world’s. These other nations have major problems that lead to disaster with respect to natural resources world wide, and, in the same way we nearly killed off all whales in pursuit of our energy needs, they will kill off and destroy all their natural resources and even each other to provide our market, regardless of what it does to the world’s environment.

Every gallon of oil, every farm product, and in fact, every natural resource, we choose to import, when we already have access to those resources in large quantities within our own borders, is a cop out. It is not saying we are protecting our environment or our desire to preserve our jobs. It says we are not willing to accept responsibility for our own actions. We want to blame others while we drive our cars to work, heat our homes and consume natural resources at a higher rate per capita than any other nation in the world. We are not willing to accept the damage it causes within the US, but we are willing to encourage it outside our borders, no matter what the consequences, so we can blame others.  This becomes even more evident when you realize we import such a vast amount of petroleum from Canada, but we want to protect Alaska.  Does the US population have any concept of geography?

People throughout the US try to understand why we are hated throughout the world in the way we are. We have a theory. It is because we value ourselves above them. It is because we think our lives, our way of living and our children are worth more than theirs. We think that if we purchase oil from another nation, we preserve our environment within US borders. By tapping others resources, we pollute their environment, but we keep ours clean. Somehow, we believe, in an isolationist fashion, that if we do not tap our resources within our borders, it is OK, because someone else will suffer the consequences.  We will not have to experience the results, “out of sight, out of mind”.

The deluded idea is we are acceptable in our minds, because those nations will make the hard decisions, and without any percentage of the consideration we have for our environment, tap and export their resources. Is it worth it to us to preserve a blind fish in a cave, while other nations destroy thousands or millions of species to feed us the same amount of oil? They don’t care, we do. And because we care too much, we are misguided.

Read Part III: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!!

Part I: Obama Versus McCain on Natural Resources & Fossil Fuels. Are McCain and Obama NIMBY Advocates?

This is a continuing series on the Primary Issues of the Presidential Election 2008. | Read Round One: McCain Versus Obama on the issue of Health care. | Round Two: Their take on the Iraq War. | Round Three: Obama Versus McCain on Free Trade. | Part One of Round Four on Natural Resources and Fossil Fuels, here. | In Part Two, we think the Democrats, Republicans And We All Are Misguided. | Part Three: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!! | Part Four: Obama Will Save The World, But the US will Go Broke in the Process | Round five: Is the US the Melting Pot or the Stagnation Pot? The candidate’s position on Immigration | Round Six: On the Issue of Abortion | Round Seven: McCain Versus Obama on Social Security: Obama Needs a Fundraiser, McCain Missing in Action | Part one of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, Obama’s Position | Part two of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, McCain’s Position

This article is divided into parts. This first part includes our opinions regarding our use of fossil fuels and the direction we are taking to provide for our needs as well as to reduce our dependencies on those fossil fuels. It also makes suggestions that may seem somewhat radical for resolving these problems. In subsequent parts, we will look to expand on what we can do as a nation and look at the candidates, lining up their positions to see which best aligns with our opinion of how to approach the problem.

We are a “prima donna” nation. We (not the writers of this publication, but all of us) believe that it is all about us. We seem to believe that the world revolves around the United States, and if we protect our part of the world, it is just dandy if the rest of it falls into oblivion.

In some nations, it is all about a power grab to see who can get the most out of those resources, not how to preserve their environment or even preserve lives as they murder or enslave their countrymen for financial gain. Those that have gotten rich off of the US, like the Arab Nations, are more concerned with how to spend all the money than they are with how they destroy our environment. Despite all the billions that Saudi Arabia has made from oil, when have you ever heard they were investing in a plan to help reduce the world’s dependency on fossil fuels or offered a plan to reduce so-called greenhouse gases?

We have had many disasters throughout the world with respect to natural resources. We in America care about those disasters. A five billion dollar punitive damages award was the largest set of punitive fines ever handed out to a company for their irresponsibility, and it was leveled against Exxon for the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

Unfortunately, money talks. Recently, Exxon lawyers and the company’s financial influence led to the ratcheting back of that award to a paltry 500 Million dollars by our Supreme Court. This was a pathetic slap on the wrist and a very small portion of Exxon profits as they have taken advantage of our resources and consumption to make billions.

Irrespective of this irresponsible action by our Supreme Court, we as a nation, do care about our environment, but our reaction to such disasters has been to become overly cautious at home. We have new technologies to tap oil shale, but we are so worried about damaging the environment we have tied up the progress for years. We have massive oil reserves in Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico, but we are reluctant as a nation to tap them because we are concerned about the damage to our environment. Despite the fact that we have never had a nuclear plant disaster in the United States (although we came close years ago at Three Mile Island), and despite huge advances in our technology, we have essentially halted the advancement of the use of Nuclear Energy within the US.

What does that show? We care. We think our fight will help the world to survive. We all seem to want the environment to be clean, to preserve every species, to maintain our national wilderness. We, as a nation, above all others throughout the world, will fight to defend and propagate our world. Problem is, we are too self-centered and approaching it all wrong.

We continue, like Al Gore, to preach to the choir. We are a very small part of the problem, although, because of our consumption of fossil fuels, we may be a huge part of the source. We have to address our consumption while removing the guilt imposed by people like Al Gore that use huge amounts of energy while telling the rest of us we are at fault. And we do not believe addressing our consumption necessarily, in the short run, means reducing it.

NIMBY Mentality

In our supposedly noble fight to maintain our environment, we have clearly favored the US environment over that of the rest of the world, despite the fact we consume such huge quantities of the world’s resources. We consistently demonstrate a not in my back yard (NIMBY) “prima donna” mentality. It is fine for us to build new refineries, just not where we need to build them, in America. It is great that we are drilling less and using fewer of our natural resources, so long as we can import them from elsewhere. Let other nations destroy their environments and we will gladly use their resources while we babble on about alternative energy to make ourselves feel better. As long as we don’t see it, that is fine with us.

Our NIMBY attitude is so extreme, we preach about alternative energy, but actually block projects that would reduce our dependency on oil and help clean our environment. This was exemplified when a battle arose over a plan for a wind farm for Cape Cod, Massachusetts that would generate nearly half the electrical supply for Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It was hoped that this wind farm would be in place by 2005. It didn’t happen. Why? NIMBY!! Wayne Kurker, president of Hyannis Marina, formed the “Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound”, specifically to fight the wind farm proposal.

This quote from Wayne demonstrates how everyone in America seems to feel. ”A good portion of us who migrated to Cape Cod came to enjoy Nantucket Sound, and if Nantucket Sound becomes an industrial, electrical generation area, then it’s no longer the national treasure that people currently feel it is. We look at this as our wilderness, our national park.”

Great point Wayne, made despite research demonstrating how good the project would be for the Cape and how we could have set an example for the rest of the nation to turn to alternative energy sources. It is fine to pollute the rest of the world, burn coal and oil to generate our electricity, just don’t ask us to do anything about it in our back yard.

We, as a nation, must discard this NIMBY attitude. We have to tap our own natural resources now and also execute new revolutionary plans for alternate energy. We have to reduce our dependency on foreign oil to reduce our trade deficit and strengthen our dollar and to put us in control of our own destiny. Or should we instead bomb Iran?

Then, after we have solidified our financial position and become essentially independent of foreign oil in any way we can, we can better focus on alternate energy sources to reduce our use of fossil fuels. We are saying to pursue all solutions, now, whether they are ideal or not so we control our own destiny.

We are suggesting immediate action to drill in Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico as well as tap other resources in the United States. We have the largest reserve of coal of any nation in the world. We can build refineries that convert this coal into petroleum that is cleaner burning than the petroleum we use now. The refineries may pollute more, but we have technologies to assist us. And we have enough coal to make enough petroleum to last the United States 200 years! We should tap our Oil Shale reserves and build new safer Nuclear Power Plants and we should do it now!

And when we are done, and as the world realizes we are willing to supply our own needs, our dollar will strengthen, our trade deficit will drop sharply!  We may even start exporting natural resources to the rest of the world as we steadily reduce our need to import them.  We can further develop alternate energy technologies with the money we didn’t give to other nations to meet our needs.

Let’s leave Part 1 with a question we will answer when we return. What nation does the United States import the most oil and petroleum from? The answer will surprise you.

FIND THE ANSWER to the above question on the next article: Democrats, Republicans and We All are Misguided

CNN’s One Sided Diatribe…”McCain Campaign ‘sleaziest’ in modern history” Obama a Cry Baby!

We have watched the web become a slingshot for the liberal press to fling articles at us bashing the Republicans and anything non-liberal.  Honestly, we expect the web, with outlets like the HuffingtonPuffingtonPost to be completely biased against McCain and anything non-liberal, but CNN has gone overboard with their liberal tactics. They have totally reversed the facts in this article

If McCain or his camp stood up and said these same things after being bashed repeatedly by the Obama camp and the liberal press, CNN would have used a title like, “McCain Can’t Take It”, or “Palin’s Crying Smears Her Lipstick”.  The writers at CNN act like a bunch of children.

They are using a quote from an Obama advisor to state that McCain is dirty in his attacks on Obama?  Fact is,from what we are reading, it is just the opposite.  Throughout our newspapers and all over the web all we see are attacks on McCain and Palin.  We haven’t even decided on who to vote for for president yet, but when we post any article on our website that favors McCain in any way over Obama, even if Obama’s position is a joke, we receive a string of hate mail and insults.  When we criticize McCain, we hear nothing at all.  They (the McCain camp), apparently, can take the criticism and move on while the liberals are apparently a slew of cry babies.

From what we can gather, the liberals believe a criticism of Obama is an attack, but a criticism of McCain is informational.  The comments in the CNN article are bitter and childish and they aren’t being made by McCain or his camp!  They are quotes from Obama and his.  In fact, we can’t find one quote in the article that is a specific McCain attack against Obama, but we see quote after quote of insulting attacks from Obama.

Obama needs to be less of a cry baby and more of a man if he wants to get elected President.   CNN and the other liberal outlets should try it.  A bit of non-biased writing might help their image.

Let us know if McCain calls Obama on being a Muslim and we will believe Obama is more than a cry baby campaigner.  In the meantime, Obama said he was a Muslim all by his lonesome.  He didn’t need McCain’s help.

McCain Versus Obama on Free Trade: McCain = McCan’t and Obama = OhMama

This is a continuing series on the Primary Issues of the Presidential Election 2008. | Read Round One: McCain Versus Obama on the issue of Health care. | Round Two: Their take on the Iraq War. | Round Three: Obama Versus McCain on Free Trade. | Part One of Round Four on Natural Resources and Fossil Fuels, here. | In Part Two, we think the Democrats, Republicans And We All Are Misguided. | Part Three: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!! | Part Four: Obama Will Save The World, But the US will Go Broke in the Process | Round five: Is the US the Melting Pot or the Stagnation Pot? The candidate’s position on Immigration | Round Six: On the Issue of Abortion | Round Seven: McCain Versus Obama on Social Security: Obama Needs a Fundraiser, McCain Missing in Action | Part one of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, Obama’s Position | Part two of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, McCain’s Position

You have heard this famous cliché many times, we are sure. “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. There is even an acronym for it! TANSTAAFL. Go figure. For an explanation of how the cliché was derived, read the reference link. It is quite fascinating, well, at least interesting, well worth a click anyway.

Our politicians banter about the term “free trade”, but what it means is not exactly clear. Similar to the “free lunch”, it is practically a cliché. Our personal definition would be trade of merchandise between nations without taxes, duties or fees. So, if an item costs $5.00 to purchase from a company in Mexico, you don’t pay $30 because the US government wants $25 in tariffs, you actually pay $5.00!!  This combined with free and equal access, so it is as easy to find and buy our goods there as it is to find and purchase theirs here.

This really does not exist for the individual. We have relatives and friends all over the globe and most nations examine every package sent, even those declared as gifts, and charge fees and duties to the recipients. This is even with our so-called allies. Recently we sent a video collection to a friend in Canada. Its value was $100. They taxed our friend $30 even though it was marked clearly as a gift. 30% is hardly free.

Similarly, when we arrive home from travel to a foreign destination, our bags are searched to see if we have anything to “declare”. If we do, we pay taxes and duties on it. “Free trade” is a pipe dream for the individual.

On a larger scale, free trade provides merchandise from foreign countries at a significantly cheaper price than if tariffs and fees were charged. The questions become, why is it cheaper and what does it really cost us to deliver those cheap goods to our shores?

So called “free trade” has proven to be a double edged sword (what another cliché?). It clearly cuts both ways. It is not always tit for tat.  or even Steven. But we digress.

Fact is, nothing is “free” in “free trade” except the word free, and the lie behind that word has cost America plenty. What America has gained with respect to “free trade” is primarily a lower inflation rate. Just ask Uncle Alan Greenspan. We are able to import vastly cheaper products than we could manufacture in the US, so products are indeed cheaper. Check that $10 shirt in the closet and your $39.99 shoes and see where they are made. We are willing to bet it isn’t in the US.

Most of our cars are manufactured in Mexico, Canada, Korea, Germany and Japan. Most bicycles, clothing, shoes, etc. (and we stress the etc.) are manufactured in China and throughout Asia. The other edge of the sword is that it is no longer profitable to make anything in America, so jobs are lost, but more importantly, the national trade deficit rises as we purchase vastly more than we sell. Perhaps, as our wonderful politicians state, you actually could train people for new jobs, but that would only make them buy more foreign products increasing the deficit even more. Great idea.

The biggest consideration of a huge trade deficit is a weak dollar. The dollar has collapsed versus other currencies since we instituted supposed “free trade” with many other nations. Now, think for a minute. If this were fair, why are their currencies soaring with respect to ours? Because the only thing we have to trade is our dollar!! We don’t make anything else, so all we can do is print money to buy it all!

It is apparent that the gain in lowering the rate of inflation does not compensate those that lost their jobs as a result, and it certainly does not justify our huge trade deficit. If “free trade” were equal trade, the huge trade deficit would not be there! But we do at least have EBAY for those that lost their jobs as a result.

NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was drafted for free trade among North American Nations. We cannot possibly cover all the facets and criticisms of this agreement, but it is also covered here. It has caused much of a stir over the years, and whether it was beneficial or not depends on your perspective, but we believe it the least of our problems.

We do not believe in “free trade”. We believe in fair trade. And we do not believe in fairness only for special interests, but for America as a whole. Certainly some businesses benefit strongly from marketing cheap goods in the US Market or exporting their labor to foreign nations, but who pays for that, and just as importantly, who gets paid for endorsing it (lobbyists, government officials)?

Here is an article that clearly defines how badly we are doing on the trade front. We agree completely with the Democratic position here. “In July, the politically sensitive deficit with China increased 16.1 percent to $24.9 billion, the second highest gap on record.

Critics contend the administration has not done enough to combat unfair Chinese trade practices. U.S. manufacturers say the Chinese keep the yuan undervalued by as much as 40 percent against the American dollar. That makes Chinese goods cheaper for American consumers while making U.S. products more expensive in China.”

On an international basis, we must be more restrictive with nations that cheat the United States. China, for example, while they provide cheap products, steals daily from Americans. They destroy American companies with illegally exported products and they cheat wherever it favors them. They market fake companies on our stock markets and steal from our investors by falsifying reporting information with the assistance of the NASDAQ and NYSE. And when one of these companies goes under, and the Chinese criminals make off with the money, no one prosecutes them; the Chinese government lines their pockets and Americans surrender another portion of their retirement portfolios.

Nations that cheat and steal from the United States should not be offered free trade even if it means cheaper products. Those cheaper products ruin US companies, destroy jobs and line the pockets of criminals. It is not that we think fair trade is not an objective we should seek with all nations, but we think our government has severely failed us in protecting us from economic theft by nations such as China that even cheat with 12 year old girls in Olympic Gymnastics. China does not deserve free access to our markets, and US citizens do not deserve to be abused by a government drooling over the evident opportunities for their special interests.

All that said, and now that we have made our opinions on “free trade” and trade in general as clear as we can without a complete dissertation on every possible trade agreement, let’s allow the candidates to have a say. After all, it isn’t we that are running for President.

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9/11 America’s Got Talent Results. Poor Format Yields Poor Results. An Incredible Finale Blown.

One of our readers pointed out something we did not get from the explanation of how they were doing the votes tonight on the ten finalists.  There were 20 total acts, and we thought and felt that a total vote competition was appropriate.  To not allow the acts from each night to compete against each other introduces a completely random selection into the mix.  An unfair flip of the coin, not chosen by the audience or the judges.

But our reader was right.  Five were selected from the first night and five from the second.  And the second night’s talent was vastly better, so it ruined a chance at a spectacular finale integrating mediocre talent from the first night.

There were two truly sad events on the show . Sharon voted for Daniel Jens to go into the top 10.  Sharon then followed up by not even remembering the name of Jonathan Burkin, referring to him as “Baton Boy”!!  This convinces us even more that the judges are useless and those that plan the show are pathetic.

Out of our top 4, 3 were selected.  But this was primarily because of the ill-conceived format not allowing the second night’s talent to compete with the first.  Jonathan Burkin was fantastic and better than anyone that performed the first night.  But he got eliminated because of the flip of a coin.

Sarah Lenore was fantastic.  She could compete on Idol.  Eli is better, but the selections from the first night that displaced Sarah were a joke.  Fat Lady (Emily) doesn’t hold a candle to Sarah.  Paul Salos?  Please.  Donald Braswell?  We are sleeping already.  Sarah blows them away, and we hope she shows up on Idol and makes fools out of the people that run this show.  The fact that Jessica Price is in the final 10 and Daniel Jens got within one vote of the top 10 while Sarah was sent packing demonstrates even more, this show is just way too random.

All three of our dark horses were picked.  Paul Salos, who we thought was better this week than last, but he wouldn’t have made it if he performed the second night.  Donald Braswell made it and that is sad as well.  He is a niche performer.  We would not pay to see him other than as part of a much broader show.   He is a snoozer, sorry to say.  And the child sympathy act got through.  Kaitlyn is super cute, but to even compare her to some of the talents eliminated in her favor is an insult to intelligence.

We were Wright on the Wright Kids.  And we thought the vote against Extreme Dance FX sad.

We agreed with Joseph Hall for the top 10 as well.

So where does that leave us?  We have three entries in the top ten that just plain to not belong there and do not have a prayer.  But at least they got rid of Jens.  Finally!!

The three mistakes:

1. Kaitlyn Maher – We said we would not be disappointed with Kaitlyn being in the top ten, but when we actually saw the talent discarded in her favor, we realized we were wrong.  She could not sustain an act in Vegas and the judges and audience know it.  This was all about child sympathy.
2. Paul Salos – Paul actually could carry a long act doing his show imitating Sinatra in Vegas, but no one would pay good money for it.  He could do an act in front of the slot machines, but talent-wise he doesn’t even qualify as a puppet for Terry Fator.  This was the elderly sympathy vote combined with random luck he got to go on the first night when the talent was weakest.
3. Queen Emily – The fat lady can sing.  She can’t win.  We wouldn’t pay to see her sing one song, let alone a show on Vegas.  She was a poor choice.

America didn’t really blow this.  America’s Got Talent is primarily to blame with this lame format and incredibly poor choices for each night, clearly placing the weaker talent on the first night.

In fact, though, this pointed out something random about the entire show.  The choice of talents for each week can result in incredibly unfair comparisons and eliminations.  We have a couple of suggestions.

1. Get rid of Jerry
2. Get rid of the judges
3. Have an overall elimination competition more like Idol that allows everyone to compete for America’s votes.

We think that the random choice of talent from night to night deprives America of the best competition.

We think Eli wins anyway barring elderly and child sympathy votes, but those have been particularly strong this year so you never know.  America is gullible when it comes to these acts and the show panders to them.

So let’s order the TOP 10 talents so far (bearing in mind this is before their final performances).

1. Eli Mattson
2. Nuttin But Stringz
3. Neil E. Boyd
4. The Wright Kids
5. Joseph Hall
6. Jessica Price
7. Paul Salos
8. Donald Braswell
9. Kaitlyn Maher
10. Queen Emily

However, we are a bit confused.  The judges often infer that the reason for choosing a talent to move on is whether they can “sustain” an act on Vegas that lasts over an hour.

But it seems like really, we are voting for talent, not Vegas.  Eli, for example, is hugely talented, but that doesn’t make him a long term Vegas act.  There just aren’t too many of those, and those that do Vegas regularly are older names like Frankie Vallie or Sinatra before he passed away.  Pearl Jam or Marc Cohn may show up on occasion, but they aren’t there every night.  It just doesn’t seem practical to consider a singer for such an act.

That said, that rules out Emily, Jessica, Donald and Neil, none of which are as talented as Eli and none of which, we feel would   And Kaitlyn is cute, but she could never sustain a Vegas Act long term.  She could be part of one, but not THE act.

Nuttin but Strings we think could, but would need a huge amount of choreography work and vastly more diversity than they currently have.  They are hugely talented and great to watch, but for over an hour every day on Vegas?

The Wright Kids could pull it off for a while.  But we think that America would tire of it quickly.  Again, they are more of a touring show than a fixture in Vegas.  We would like to see them at a local show perhaps, but we are not interested when in Vegas in paying to see them.

One thing there are a bunch of in Vegas in lasting acts are niche performers.  Female imitators, comedians, magicians, etc.  Paul Salos and Joseph Hall come to mind.  We don’t think people would pay to see Paul, but he could sustain a more minor act after the initial hooplah was over.  SImilarly, Joseph, with good choreography and some more practice could be a huge draw of young girls, at least for a while.  And Elvis impersonators are not uncommon at all in Vegas.

So now we have a conundrum.  Do we vote for the best talent or the act we think could survive in Vegas the longest?  If the former, the list above makes up our choices.  But if the latter, we would have to consider two of the less talented stars as the winner.    Is it “America’s Got Talent” or “Choose the Vegas Star”?

The polls below first appeared on this article and is still open for voting.

[poll id=”38″][poll id=”39″]

9/10 Review & Prediction: America’s Got Talent!! Be Your Own Judge!

The show started with the greatest new act we have seen period. Terry Fator!! He brought on our favorite turtle to sing for Sharon. Winston did a great Marvin Gaye tune. No one knows how Terry does this. He sings better than some we have seen on American Idol, without moving his lips and through a puppet.

Terry then brought out Maynard Thomkins, an Elvis impersonator which was specifically related to the later talent, Joseph Hall, that actually does his own Elvis impersonation. You know, Terry can do anybody. He can impersonate Frank, Elvis, even the great Roy Orbison and have you feeling his puppet is an awesome singer. We may be able to eliminate all other acts on this show and just make them into Terry Fator puppets. Great performance Terry. 100 million bucks? It wasn’t enough.

No we would like to explain our title. You should be your own judge on this show because the judges are all useless. Piers is a pompous Simon Cowell wannabe that should just be discarded as the buffoon he truly is. Sharon has an edge, but brings little to the show. And Hasselhoff should go back to talking to cars. Jerry, most of all, is a waste of air time. So, you can save huge amounts of time watching the acts without listening to the judges at all. And the show is infinitely better!! Be your own judge.

Act 1: Sick Step (8/10)

When we were in Boston this past week-end we saw some break dancers at Quincy Market. They were all pretty good, and it was fun, but you can see the difference with Sick Step. They are pros, well choreographed and fun. The synchronization was great and each dancer seems to bring a strength. None are just filler. They are as good as some of the So You Think you can Dance Breakers, and we genuinely love them.

Act 2: Donald Braswell (7/10)

OK, this guy can sing huge. His voice is spectacular, but what comes to mind as he performs is his name should be Donald Boresustohell. The music is totally yesterday. But he has a niche. He could perform on Broadway or in a Broadway show and kill it. He did a Phantom of the Opera song and it was spectacular. We just find him boring and think America will as well, fake tan or no.

Act 3: Joseph Hall (8/10)

Joseph is an Elvis impersonator. In this show, he had some classic Elvis style and moves. He also had the song down fairly well, Suspicious Minds. But he doesn’t have the voice on the power notes. But he has every girl in the audience standing or on their knees screaming for him.

His tan actually looks real and his chest shaved. He gets a point just for his looks. Women will love this guy and he is a draw. But in comparison to Maynard Thomkins, we don’t think he is that much better talent wise. Tough call.

Act 4: Taubl Family (6/10)

New Title, the In Trouble Family. The women came on and sang. The lead was good, but the harmonies were awful early. As the boys came in, they were strong again, and the boys were the stars last week that pulled it off for them, but you know what? They lost. Next.

Act 5: Sarah Lenore (8/10)

This gal belongs on Idol. She has the talent and look to pull it off. She may not win, but she could give most Idol’s a run for their money. She chose a ridiculously popular song to sing. She chose “Bleeding Love”, by Leona Lewis. And as we mentioned last night, that gets you compared to the original, and that makes it real tough to judge. But we loved it. She made it her own, put on a “live” performance of the song and was fantastic. Sara is beautiful and a hot performer. She can definitely be a star.

Act 6: Nuttin But Stringz (9/10)

OK, you just have to see these guys. They are great. It seems simple. A couple of violins and some dance moves and overall, it just seems like a losing act. Then you watch it, and you take them to the top. They draw you in and up. We have no idea what it is. We have heard better violin. We have seen better dancing. We have seen better choreography. We haven’t seen a better act (except Terry).

Act 7: Kaitlyn Maher (7/10)

This act is difficult for us, and we are sure it is difficult for America. The girl is incredibly cute, but that isn’t a reason to vote for her; well it is, but it would have to be purely for child sympathy. But Kaitlyn has something else. She is 4 and remembers every word of difficult songs. She walks and waves in this way that is so cute you know it is practiced, and she pulls it off wonderfully. Even more stunning is she hits every verse with perfect timing. This is something many professionals fail at. Her only failure is also in her youth. We cannot compare her talent to that of adults. If this was America’s Got Talent for Children, she would win. But how can we give her the same ranking as someone like Sarah Lenore? We just can’t. We are not sure if America will, but we wouldn’t feel too bad if she made the finals.

Act 8: Tapping Dads (8/10)

Wow, these guys really brought it tonight. Great choreography, fantastic showmanship. We could see them on Vegas. They know who the star is, and they know how to play off him. Their synchronization, perfect. We raised them a point watching them again. We had them going home this week, but now we are not so sure. They hit it and they deserve a berth in the finals, but so do so many others!!

Act 9: Eli Mattson (9/10)

Eli had a couple of mild intonation problems at the beginning, but the piano was great and he killed the verse. He picked a very difficult song by Alicia Keys. “If I Ain’t Got You”.

We liked his version better. He loses one point because he belongs on Idol. But then again, his piano is killer so maybe his diversity says he belongs here. Eli will have a CD out soon, we can feel it.

Some people want it all Eli. Some people just have it all. Congrats guy.

Act 10: Jonathan Burkin (9/10)

Baton Twirler Wizard. (Performed to “Pinball Wizard”). Jonathan brings together a world of talent. At first you see a guy twirling batons, and you think it is kind of corny, but really, as you watch it closely, you get it. The guy is a massively talented juggler; he just uses batons. He is a gymnast, executing flips and complicated dance moves with aplomb while juggling. And the guy is a major showman, but he does it in jeans and a T-Shirt! Jonathan is a finalist. Period. If he drops the baton once, he is doomed, but he hasn’t yet.

Our picks:

1. Jonathan Burkin
2. Eli Mattson
3. Nuttin But Strings
4. Sarah Lenore
5. Tapping Dads
6. Joseph Hall
7. Sick Stuff

Not again. Another tie breaker. OK, 1-3 are golden. No removing them from the top 10. So who goes from the remaining 4? The acts from last night and tonight will be voted upon together, which confuses things even more. Going back to our review from last night, our only 9/10 act was Neil E Boyd. So, that picks 4/10 from the two nights for us.

1. Jonathan Burkin
2. Eli Mattson
3. Nuttin But Strings
4. Neil Boyd

Leaving 6 more, and we have so many that were so very close. Here are our remaining picks for the top 10.

5. Sarah Lenore
6. Joseph Hall
7. The Wright Kids
8. Extreme Dance FX
9. Tapping Dads
10. Sick Step

Possible Alternates

1. Paul Salos
2. Kaitlyn Maher
3. Donald Braswell

Obama Versus McCain: The Iraq War. Obama Told You So

This is a continuing series on the Primary Issues of the Presidential Election 2008. | Read Round One: McCain Versus Obama on the issue of Health care. | Round Two: Their take on the Iraq War. | Round Three: Obama Versus McCain on Free Trade. | Part One of Round Four on Natural Resources and Fossil Fuels, here. | In Part Two, we think the Democrats, Republicans And We All Are Misguided. | Part Three: McCain’s Position. Hypocrites Need Not Apply!! | Part Four: Obama Will Save The World, But the US will Go Broke in the Process | Round five: Is the US the Melting Pot or the Stagnation Pot? The candidate’s position on Immigration | Round Six: On the Issue of Abortion | Round Seven: McCain Versus Obama on Social Security: Obama Needs a Fundraiser, McCain Missing in Action | Part one of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, Obama’s Position | Part two of Round Eight: McCain Versus Obama on National Security, McCain’s Position

So many people in our lives say, after the fact, “I told you so”.  Does it ever help your current situation or make you feel better?  Or does it just make you feel bad about yourself and wish what had gone before never happened?  More importantly, did it ever make what had gone before any different?  We will leave you to deal with these rhetorical questions.

Obama’s approach on this issue is to use exactly that tactic, “I told you so”.  To tell not only McCain, but all citizens, Republicans and Democrats (including Biden) that believed in the war at the time that he (Obama) voted against it.

But the fact is, it doesn’t matter what our decisions were 7 years ago.  9/11 happened, we reacted, it’s over, we are there.  We believe the candidate that should be favored with respect to this issue is the one most prepared to deal with it in the “now” not yesterday.

Vietnam and Korea were American disasters because we did not have the conviction to attack and destroy an enemy that was vastly inferior.  Iraq was not the case.  The US wiped out the Iraqi Army in weeks with almost no casualties.  And we proved something in the process.  That wiping out a nation’s leadership leaves us, by the nature of our government, responsible for that nation.  As Colin Powell put it, “if you break it, you own it“.  And after billions and billions of US dollars spent, indeed we do.

But what do our politicians really want to do now, in 2008?  It seems Obama wants to bail and leave it up to Iraq to solve its own problems.  It seems as though John is saying stay the course, but there is little indication there is a plan as to when it will be over.  With McCain it seems like we could just police Iraq forever.  With Obama, we see some light at the end of the tunnel, but that light might be a bus headed right for us as we emerge.

This is a lose-lose for both sides.  The Iraq war was entered into not as the Democrats would currently have you think.  It was not based on a lie.  It was based on 9/11, an attack on us by radical Muslims and the belief that Iraq was the most rogue of the Muslim nations and had to be held accountable for harboring weapons of mass destruction and for supporting terrorism.  No one now seems to recall, but Saddam was doing his best to avoid UN Inspections and did indeed appear to be hiding military secrets.  Fact is, he just turned out to be a deluded lunatic that lived in a hollowed out tunnel after the war babbling to himself.

Now, what we realize is that even if Saddam Hussein was as dire and evil as he was depicted, the result of deposing him was an unstable Iraq.  Imagine an America where US troops had to circle the streets daily to maintain order.  Imagine what would happen if a nation stepped into our world and destroyed our government, regardless of whether it was led by Republicans or Democrats, introducing total anarchy.  Would you want that government to stay and help restore order or would you want them to get out so you could?  Sounds like the latter is the answer, but the only thing protecting you from the criminal elements is the very occupation force you despise.  So, as Colin Powell presciently pronounced, once you depose the government, you become the government.

One interesting cause of war is what it does to a President’s approval rating.  People think this is unique to Bush, and he is the worst President ever, but facts prove otherwise.

Bush’s approval rating is an abysmal 31%, but from CNN polling director Keating Holland we find… “Bush’s approval rating five years ago, at the start of the Iraq war, was 71 percent, and that 40-point drop is almost identical to the drop President Lyndon Johnson faced during the Vietnam War,”.

“Johnson’s approval rating was 74 percent just before Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964, which effectively authorized the Vietnam War. Four years later, his approval was down to 35 percent, a 39-point drop that is statistically identical to what Bush has faced so far over the length of the Iraq war,”.

America wants a fast victory, and war just doesn’t work that way, especially not occupations.  The estimates at the time of the start of the war were that it would take 5 years or more to resolve things, but it is like a car payment.  The first year, you love the car.  The second year, you start disliking the payment and by the fourth year, you want to get rid of it.

The fact is, however, Iraq has gotten much better.  A tactic called “The Surge” endorsed primarily by George Bush, against the advice of his generals and advisors, has worked.  Bush sent 5 brigades of additional man power to Iraq and the violence has been reduced dramatically.  Rumsfeld and General Casey were sent packing and Bob Gates and David Petraeus replaced them.  And regardless of what the Democrats claim and what the public believes, in this instance, Bush was right.  “The Surge” has been a huge success and that will make it very difficult for any dramatic change by a new President whether it is Obama or McCain.