Thursday, October 16, 2003

Discussion on the veracity of a $0.60 cent/gallon increase in taxes (Oct. 16, 2003)

Dear Michael Medved,

I support this 1000%. It’s the most honest, direct and elegant solution. It will and can result in one fell swoop (or in graduations over time) in the following:

a. Reducing the unnecessarily large gap between our gas prices and those of Europe and the Far East.

b. Unnecessary and frivolous driving will reduce thereby reducing gridlock on our highways and reducing traffic, enormous time and gas waste, as well as car maintenance costs; thereby saving Americans billions at the same time, perhaps, the only and efficient way of combating the incessant Los Angeles parking lots.

c. The fairest of all taxes, as one pays only for use. Less pollution and more sales of gas efficient cars. Everyone pays, whether legal or not, rich or poor. Gas and cars pollute- why not charge for use of highways directly?

d. Monies can be used to reduce pollution directly caused by gas and car use-thus we get to be responsible for our own actions. Money can similarly help improve education.

e. I would also further recommend a two-tiered priority system for our prisons:

1. Minimum services/food/entertainment/lodging for inmates refusing to work

2. Maximum of the above for inmates who are productive and work, thus spending a portion of profits earned in partnership with factories/the world of commerce, and the prison system thus uses balance of profits or salaries to finance the prisons- thus moving toward self-sufficiency.

I would be tougher on hard drugs; legalize marijuana, but tax it to the hilt to ensure minimum use, maximum taxes for rehab and to finance the policing of hard drugs.

Best wishes and good luck!

Saturday, March 1, 2003

Against the War? An Irrelevant Poll (March 1, 2003)

We are asked- Are we against the war? The majority, being against war, any war, as a general principal agrees. And why not? War is horrific and most civilized people are against it.

So am I. But are we asked whether we support forcing Saddam Hussein to relinquish his weapons of mass destruction and desist from producing nuclear bombs and sharing such weapons with the terrorist organizations he covertly supports?

If we were asked such a question I'm sure the majority would, again, say yes, especially if the result of such intervention could include an end to sanctions and the attainment of freedom, democracy and women's rights for the Iraqi people, an increase in the oil supply (and resultant price drop) greater Middle East stability and a dampener on the ambitions of the
world's dictators avidly watching the outcome.

The consequences of no war can and will be more horrific; more costly in the long term than actionless appeasement. And negotiating, without the very real threat of overpowering force, has proven to be meaningless.

No one is for war "per se". The left does not have exclusivity on pity and morality. Responsibility often involves tough decisions, like parenting, like policing. Who will explain to our children that we gave up the high ground to zealots clamoring like barbarians at the gates of our unique civilization awaiting our destruction?

Silver Lining in the Cloud (March 1, 2003

There is always a silver lining not always evident in the opaque world of international politics.

Perhaps, France’s current power hungry assertiveness and Germany’s self indulgent pacifism have made it easy, nay even pushed, the rest of Europe into the broad transatlantic alliance against Saddam Hussein and terrorist groups, Europeans that for decades have been both bullied and patronized by the so called self appointed super-powers of Europe: France and Germany.

Perhaps, within NATO and Europe this is the beginning of the final realignment into a new world democratic order of clarity, reality and international responsibility: The final dilution of the influence and power of those two primary participants of World War I and II.

Perhaps, the increasingly strident and autonomous voice of the millions of Islamic fundamentalists in France, seemingly determined to convert France into an outpost of an ascendant Arab world, will result in not only increasing Jewish emigration to Israel (France has the largest Jewish population in Europe), which the latter sorely needs, but it will result also in France finally, against the back drop of all its decades of appeasement politics, having to confront the extreme Muslim elements within its own society that seek the devolution of France into a primitive separation from the modern world. France will then be forced to reconnect with America and its allies confronting anti-Semitism, fascism, fundamentalism and terrorism. This will realign France from the web of both Arab dictators and terrorist groups to the moderate and democratic Arabs everywhere, removing crucial support for the former. Germany, too, has an irreconcilable Muslim volcano brewing in its midst.

Perhaps, Saddam Hussein and the Bin Ladens of the world would be far more dangerous if they did not show their hand, if they were more reasonable and realistic and less implacable and consumed by hatred. Hitler and Japan may have held on to more modest conquests had they not, fortunately for the world, pushed America into the war, thereby “biting off far more than they could chew”. The World Trade Tower mini-genocide (which it was as a work in progress) on September 11th brought the world’s only superpower into conclusive realignment with the most embattled, scapegoated nation in the world, that of the young, small and eminently democratic Israel that was becoming increasingly isolated by a hypocritical Europe riddled with anti-Semitism and by a United Nations world willing to let Israel sink beneath the wave of Pan Arabic politics of jealousy, hate and manipulation, a world that out of ignorance or an antipathy devoid if integrity chooses Libya, Syria and Iraq to head up their crucial committees of human rights, racism, etcetera, etcetera.

Perhaps, it is the megalomaniacle Saddam Hussein who has pushed America, that sleeping giant before 9/11, into a confrontation it cannot win; a confrontation whose resolution will remake the realities of the Middle East in a way Israel on its own could not hope to achieve. Hussein’s departure will, in one fell swoop, reduce logistical, financial, military and spiritual support for Islamic fundamentalists and terror groups world wide, whether directly or indirectly. The message will be sent to all dictators and supporters of terrorist groups: “Your days are numbered- those who sleep with dogs will get up with fleas.”

A democratic Iraq- and historical Iraq was once the leading light in the Middle East- even if imperfect, evolving, learning, will show the way to the surrounding countries as never before. Iran, the powerhouse of the area will be catalyzed into an internal revolution by a people yearning for an end to despotism and a chance at a Western style democracy. The Iranians are more pro American than any other Middle Eastern nation. Like the old European Eastern Block, they appreciate all too well the dehumanizing deficiencies of a totalitarian system.

Jordan, it is clear, cannot wait for Iraq’s boot to be dislodged from off its back. Jordan knows that as a major trading partner with Iraq and with the vast economic benefits of a modest peace with Israel, it would finally achieve its rightful place amongst the democratic and successful nations of the world.

Lebanon, with reduced numbers of Syrian soldiers and Iran and Iraq no longer supporting Hezbollah and their ten thousand rockets aimed at Israel from Southern Lebanon, may also, with Israel’s help, sanitize the terrorist warrens on its southern border and reacquaint itself with its liberal tradition—it used to be the “Riviera” of the Middle East.

Turkey up north, the only reasonably secular and democratic Arab nation, with strong ties to America and its Eastern European allies and intimate involvement with the economic revival of Iraq, will join the democratic crescent sweeping the Middle East from Iran in the east to Lebanon and Israel in the west.

Only Baathist Syria, rooted in its isolation, a vicious and oppressive dictatorship, will be the last to changes. Perhaps the inexorable evolution of all its neighbors will ensure its transition or its self-destruction. Like a phoenix, the new Middle East will arise, and it will be more because of Hussein and Bin Laden than in spite of them.

Egypt, and Saudi Arabia will follow or not, as the case may be. The petty Princes of Arabia, having usurped the power of the people and bankrolled the aggressive expansion of Wahabi fundamentalism world wide, will find that they cannot straddle the fence much longer. They will either be taken over by the anarchic fundamentalism they feed, with explosive consequence, or they will choose to modernize, Westernize and democratize becoming a full partner in the new Middle East.

The Palestinians for their part and without their extreme elements being kept in power by every despot in the region will sue for peace- the moderates thus, will be emboldened, supported and empowered. As the most educated group in Arab Middle East, the Palestinians too, wedged between Israel and Jordan, will become the new entrepreneurs in the area achieving economically, far quicker and easier, what they could not achieve through their suicide bombers.

Perhaps, we should thank the French and Iraqis, the Germans and the Fundamentalists for being so driven and implacable, so unable to compromise and be part of the solution. As part of the problem they are all ensuring a New World Order, one based in Western democracy with, a capitalistic base and politics of integrity. Perhaps.