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Throw this in Cheney’s face next time he or anyone associated with the word neocons opens their mouth….

Beside Biden’s this is one of the best predictions ever made of the Mid East……

August 6th… Classified Document: ” Bin Laden Determined To Attack US!”

We did nothing….

So you tell me, is reacting  to the identical same type of threat, good judgment? 

What an odd title but that is exactly what is going on in Egypt right now. A similar juxtaposition also occurred inside the minds of some Americans back on July 4th 1863 (exactly 150 years ago)  as they begin to bury the dead from both sides in Gettysburg.   Since human beings are 99.5% the same, what Egypt is now bearing must create some  intro-inspection upon how things are going here in the US as well.

I was shown an email passed among Tea Partiers that whooped:  “Egypt got rid of  their dictator; Why can’t we get rid of ours?”   Ironically the popular vote percents are strikingly similar… Morsi won with  51.7%;  Obama with 51.1%…   Yet Egypt is in the middle of a coup; and Obama is being hailed as the first since Dwight to have solidly won over 51% for both terms…

Just looking at a chart over our nation’s history one sees just how tight our popular vote margin is.  (one also sees the margin of victory is a bad indicator of just how good a president will be)…

It’s a good thing we have an electoral college to decide matters for us, and create a more determinable method of preventing what Egyptians and many of out tea partiers think should happen now….

I know many decry Bush’s win (-0.51$)  over Gore and use that to promote an amendment to abolish the Electoral College.  However America survived far better than Egypt (+1.7%) is doing  now,  with even worse violations against the the  popular vote total…  Through the House of Representatives, these people became President:  Benjamin Harrison (-0.83%), Rutherford B. Hayes (-3.00), and John Quincy Adams (-10.44%) all with more of a percentage loss than had George W. Bush over Gore.  In two of the three, the loser returned to whomp the stealer out of his second term.  One  of these “losers” even had a 51% popular vote majority!

But the electoral college  provided decisiveness. Just like in football or basketball, the final score may not portray the better team, but it provides a finality from which we can all move on.

The demise of Morsi is a great chance to bring up this issue, simply to force us to understand why our founding fathers who were unburdened at that point by political parties,  could by using what today are called “thought models”, come up with this peculiar institution that has well served it’s test over time.  Couple that to the fact that even today, we have something almost akin to a political party vying for the forced overthrow our our elected top official,  one can imagine the rancor and violence that might have tainted our nation’s  development if we did not have a clear uncontestable “score” that determined our winners from losers.

One must be cautious when comparing today’s Egypt with today’s American democracy.  Egypt is in its founding stages.  As Morsi proclaimed, removing him removes all legitimacy of any future democratically elected government.  As did Julius Caesar to all future democracy in Rome.

It makes us realize how lucky we are today that all of America was unified behind George Washington as it’s first head of state.  That unanimity of opinion, allowed the slow formation of  traditions we now have today to take root.   For one, Washington did not impose himself (as did Morsi) by aligning with either the Democrats or Federalists on policy at the expense of the other.

Morsi made that mistake with the Muslim Brotherhood.   Instead, unlike the current head of Egypt,   George Washington held court over a myriad of opinions, and picked and chose in the fashion of King Solomon, almost the same as he did at the Constitutional Convention,  of which was the most judicious approach on the basis of each proposal’s merits.  It is worth noting,  that towards the end of his second term as the political parties were being formed for the upcoming  1798 race,  he himself became quite disgusted with the smears, dirt, graft, and corruption required to enable any country to run effectively upon its own power…

Perhaps because Egypt did not endure a long war of Independence, it does not respect the cost of freedom.  Perhaps because democracy came to Egypt in its first time  like a pack of chewing gum in a cashiers line, they easily think they can replace it again with a better flavor?

But this foreboding irony of Egypt remains.   Instead of comparing it with American Democracy, suppose we go Godwin and compare it to the German election of 1932.  What if the Germans had risen up a year later against Hitler and thrown him out?  That would be  good thing right?  Or had  Mao been pushed out and the Chinese business reforms begun 40 years earlier?   Or had North Korea said “unh unh” to its dictator in the first year?  Or had Centrists in Iran risen and prevailed over the Ayatollah?

The Turkish Army as well as the Pakistani Army has on occasion stepped in and then later bowed out whenever control has become precarious.  Perhaps this is the only model that works well for overly excitable Arab populations?  it is a longterm democracy with military safeguards built into its Constitution.

But one thing is very clear from this current outcome is this:  religion can play NO part in government, even if given a political mandate. Living vicariously through Egypt it is clear there must be an impenetrable wall between that which belongs to Caesar, and that which belongs to God. All political entities who have dared mix religion into their political framework, have populations who are deeply suffering now (relative to those in strictly secular governments), even when that religious entity is the Chairman of the ruling political party himself, as is the case in North Korea, the old Soviet Union, or as was of Japan and Germany during the second world war…

It’s a lesson the US should take to heart.  They next time anyone decries we need more religious people in our democracy, cut them off with this:  “Remember Iran; Remember Egypt.”

As Americans we are not immune to Civil War.  From it we learned it is a horrible alternative to walk away from one’s existing structure simply because one does not get one’s own way…  We also learned that one can’t impose one’s will on vast majorities of ourselves who think differently.

Third.  We learned that freedom is great, but the need to eat is greater.  Government first has to function to meet the basic needs of its citizens; only then, once its citizens are economically stable to be not worried whether they will be alive the day after tomorrow,  can their thoughts begin to turn to topics such as does democracy even matter?

As US policy,  our actions need to first get Egypt to feed themselves; Spare no expense; make it our generation’s Marshall Plan. Then once well fed and able to provide for themselves, can we begin to  proselytize our points of view.  Whether they choose democracy or totalitarianism, will depend solely on who they see helping them now in their time of need…  One can talk of democracy’s long-term future implications, but that rings on deaf ears when all one really wonders, is if one will be alive the day after tomorrow.

Tit for Tat:

Anyone who reads this blog knows that comments are where the action is.. The best writing is usually below the canal, where smart minds give and take and dissect the others points of view… Having spent an inordinate amount of time on one such comment, I thought today’s epistle would be, something that in the olden days would have been titled: “Comment Rescue… ”

(Since I didn’t garnish another’s permission, I’m not naming him or her, but if they want to come forward on their own, they most certainly are welcome… They probably will, because their comment is not that hard to find.. But I thought the overall give and take was done well enough to showcase to others how all argument should take place on blogs, and use this as a measure upon which all other future commentary can be judged…)

“Bush is the person who fought a war in which Americans died for oil.” Where was Congress? I seem to remember they voted to send troops but that can’t possibly be so, can it?

There are two ways an administration can approach Congress… One is to say look at all the evidence and come to your own conclusion… The other is to say, take our word, we have the intelligence that says this will happen, we need your support as a fellow American… The latter was the path that was taken… Today, trying to pin Congress in on the instigation of the Iraq War, is nothing but a cowardly attempt to shift blame… Those of us who know human nature, chuckle at each such attempt, because we know that is done only by people who KNOW they are guilty… The act of blaming Congress actually drives home our point that Republicans were guilty and got caught! The proof is there. Cheney constructed the threat of Iraq and sold it… We found out too late it was nothing but a contrivance…

“Bush is the person who bankrupted our nation by spending every dollar of the surplus and then ran our nation on deficit spending for 8 years…Let our children pay for it!” So you’re a deficit hawk then. Great. Please direct me to the post where you go bananas when Obama takes a mere 143 days to surpass Bush’s 8 years of spending which included not one but two wars.

There are two kinds of deficits. one is flagrant spending of favors to bolster the Republican party’s power; the other is to borrow to save a nation… Deficit spending saved us during WWII… The deficit spending that was spent recently, is an investment that saved the entire financial global network. The government of the United States of America, absorbed the stupid Republican-caused collapse. We now own shares of the banks. When the economy grows, we can cash those shares in at a profit. Your deficit argument is like castigating a well-meaning American homeowner for going into debt for a house… After all, someone signing a $250,000 note while making $30,000 is scary. But it is a good thing for the rest of us, that a lot of homeowners have balls, isn’t it..

Republicans obviously don’t have balls or brains. … Their wimpy whinings are no more relevant than the naive advisor who says “don’t buy a house, rent… You don’t want to go in debt.” Bottom line, the deficit of saving a nation, worked.. or has so far. The previous administration’s deficit, of making the wealthier even wealthier, didn’t work. Instead it fucked up this nation….

“Bush is the person who pushed the Medicare Reform that first tripled the cost of pharmaceuticals and then reimbursed drug companies three times over what the drugs originally were worth.” Cite please. I agree that the program was ill conceived and even poorly executed but I’ve not seen anything approaching these numbers.

If you bought drugs over the counter and paid $40 dollars for your supply before the Medicare pharmaceutical supplements came to be passed by the Republicans, today those same drugs cost $120 dollars, and the government covers $80 of those dollars and you pay….. $40 dollars… What has changed for you? The pharma companies are now getting $120 dollars for the same drugs they once got $40 for…. you pay the same $40, and your children and grandchildren pay the $80, which assuming interest will accrue, could amount to about $240 dollars depending on how long we allow the debt to continue unchecked…… The sacrilege comes from the fact that the $80 dollars part, was added to the deficit, so the wealthiest 1% could receive a tax cut… We doubled the cost, while cutting the revenue stream in half…

Smart Republican policy… WE are all paying for our nations stupidity now, aren’t we? As for citation… go to you own bills or ask you parents… That is far better citation than I could ever give… Go look.

“Bush is the person who deregulated our finance industry, so it collapsed on his watch.”
Nope. Bush warned three times that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were headed for trouble and he was rebuffed three times. Misregulation was the cause not deregulation. The largely unregulated hedge fund industry (Cerebrus Capital notwithstanding)skated through while the very tightly regulated insurance and banking were devastated.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not the problem although Bush was right to warn us of their unwieldiness… No, they were secondary symptoms caused by the main problem which was in Phil Gramm’s Commodities Act, a clause he inserted which allowed all derivatives to be unregulated. Insurance on these derivatives, was also unregulated… When the time came for AIG to cough up? There was no money! It had all been spent on bonuses… and when the Feds coughed money to save AIG, they tried again to spend it on their bonuses… such malfeasance among our corporate brethren, can only happen on a Republican’s watch… “do what you want… we Republicans won’t interfere.” The Democrats would have been all over that before a crises had occurred…

“Bush is the person who sent your manufacturing jobs overseas.” Really? Did he put them in boxes or…? Labor and regulatory costs sent them overseas. Blame our high standard of living.

No, our jobs went overseas because it was cheaper under the tax codes made up by Republicans to make something in another country and bring it back over… Under a better tax package this would not have occurred, we would not have had as deep of a deficit, and we would have had a much healthier economy. As pointed out in the Kavipsian theory of economics, the difference of only 5% in our top rate, is all we needed to keep our economy steaming forward as it did during the Clinton years.. Pure and Simple. It is the Republican financial philosophy that caused us to experience what earlier this week became official: 0 % real job growth over the entire Republican presidency… That is just plain sick.

“Bush is the person who tried to remove your social security.” If remove = privatize then yeah he made a half-assed attempt and then quit.

Facts are in: Had Social Security been privatized.. as of around somewhere in November 08… It would not have existed. I call that getting rid of Social Security.

“Bush is the person who tried to get rid of Medicare.” By increasing funding?

Medicare has always been on the Republican chopping block. Bush was nothing new at putting lip service into eradicating it… The increased funding you mention, was passed on to future generations… That shows real responsibility… “Here, spend as much as you can on your health… Don’t worry! Your children and grandchildren will foot the bill…”

“Bush is the person who came close to nuking Iran.” Define close.

As for defining usage of nuclear weapons upon Iraq, that is what all were saying… In fact, one ranking officer said he would refuse the order if given to bomb Iran… Everyone who wasn’t a neocon, received a sigh of relief…

“Bush is the person whose policy made the US hated around the world.” Really? How’s Barry’s Charm Offensive going? Poland hates us, he snubbed the King of Norway and the UK, our closest ally isn’t returning our calls. Bang up job there Barry. Oh, and Muslim terrorists are still trying to blow up our airplanes.

As for Barack, I haven’t seen the evidence you mention… I do know, however, that the entire globe breathed a sigh of relief to see the former president step down…

“Bush is the person who destroyed the economy…” Please keep it straight. Is he a dunce or an evil genius. He can’t be both. (I’ll give you a hint. Liberals typically make Bush the dunce and Cheney the Evil Genius.) YMMV.

So say what you will about Barack… He is no Bush and for that, every American can be thankful…..

Since taking office, he has saved this nation several times… Bush in eight years… with help from all Republicans, mind you… destroyed it… At the rate were are currently on, (knock on wood) we should be in good shape to remove the rest of Republicans from office by this November…

With lies about Barack circulating about, yes, we do have some work to do, but then again, everything wonderful that ever happened to this nation, has always had some work behind it….

….. and now Steve Newton of Delaware Libertarian is bowing out….

Forgive me for getting some out of order, but his name now goes up on the wall next to those of Dana Garrett, Mike Matthews, Jason Scott, Shirley Vandever, Dave Burris.

All gone, leaving only these few greats are still left: Nancy, Tommywonk, Kilroy, LiberalGeek, Pandora, David Anderson, & Hube.

The era over which these giants roamed was between the elections of 06 and 08. Some started earlier, but these few individuals were the only source of information during that time stamp.

Today, the News Journal has lost its paternalistic viewpoint touting the union of construction labor and developers formerly known as the Delaware Way, and is actually reporting news ahead of bloggers for a change. Likewise today, WDEL has both on its morning show with Al Mascitti and afternoon show with Rick Jensen, steered discussion away from the likes of (who?) Sean Hannity… and Al Loudell has kept us abreast of local politics in ways unheard of before bloggers began typing in their briefs…

So in a way, since these bloggers were successful back then, today they are not as vital as they once were… Many saw their blogs as the only way to get the truth past the News Journal censors, those higher ups who would not publish any truth that showed an elected official in bad light….

Those studying this phenomena will see that there was much agreement between bloggers on both sides of the aisle… It was very rare for this group to be divisive over the prime issues of this state’s business.. All of them were for Atkins removal. All of them were for beginning offshore wind in Delaware, … All of them were for the slowdown of work force housing… all of them were for the betterment of Delaware’s educational opportunities…

Of course we quibbled on who would become the next president, but that is to be expected… No family lives without arguing at least once…

There were rises and falls among each giant’s influence… But at the core of each individual was the feeling that each had a unique insight into the current problem staring us down, and wrote about it with an urgency that turned out usually to be correct… And usually, if agreement was not forthcoming by the first comment, by the end of the comment thread, some form of agreement among the blogger’s roundtable, was visible…

As politicians came to realize the News Journal wasn’t changing, they began contributing to these giant’s pages, giving substance in ways unheard of among those writing for the Community Board of the News Journal… Reading the blogs gave us a real time insight into the workings of our state government in Dover……

But it was the wind controversy that elevated the giants to their current stature… Only the blogs could get the message out that Delmarva was incredibly concerned about losing control of their monopoly, and that wind power for Delaware would by offering competition, lower our energy prices. And they did, so well, that the entire legislature at the end of their 2007 session, voted unanimously to approve of the landmark agreement between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power….

Some of us think that they, shaking in their boots, didn’t dare vote otherwise… For bloggers have long memories as well as does the public….

But these giants among men, did more than just push wind. They publicized the eminent domain controversy. They scoured local politics. They broke the work force housing pact apart. They clamored against Atkins, forcing him to resign. They dogged the SEU. They picked apart candidates so much that those who had flaws, couldn’t win. Dana Garrett could be heard almost weekly on WVUD.. Tommy Noyes, for a while was a weekly guest on Al Loudell’s award winning newscast. They OOGAcised the fight for open government, forcing one flustered legislator to call out for a prayer dedicated to just for the bloggers, asking for their salvation of their souls… Apparently those prayers were answered; for by their souls we have open government today….

But amongst the best, the very concept of government was debated back and forth, no doubt as it once was during the beginning of this nation during its infancy… Torture, domestic spying, gun ownership, thieving Vice Presidents, all had their day in court upon these pages….

And today, there are new names who in the years ahead might be considered to be the giants of this contemporary time zone..

Deldem, RSmitty, El “S”, Donviti, Cassandra, all came into prominence after the defining moment of passing the wind act…. As well as Sussex Green, Red Water Lily, Mourning Constitution,… all of which became big as the 2008 election season came upon us….

And from the ranks of commentators came a Sussex County Councilwomen, a candidate for a House seat, as well as a last minute candidate who took on Mr. Pam Scott, and began nailing his shoes to the floor…. Miro had a contender for once; that commentator speaks up often…

Steve Newton will be missed.

With his passing is the last of the great thinkers… Today, we have bullets fed to us… But Steve took on all other blogs, all other commentators and wrote posts about them… Steve looked at everything with fresh eyes…. Giants can do that, since they see things from way up…….

I won’t go in to praising Steve… for I’m here to call attention to the passing of a era. Perhaps those times when benevolent giants roamed our state, will be considered by us dying men and women, to be the glory times we hark back to, the second we close our eyes for their last time…..

For when you look back as what we’ve done, the word “giants” is not really a bad moniker….

If we could owe this debt to ourselves instead of others, we’d be rich from all the compounded interest we’d be paying back… — kavips

There is nothing that a strong dose of morphine can’t cure…. at least to the person receiving the injection ….. Damn… No legs…. Ahhh… no problem…..

Obviously the long term plan is the one we need to tackle first, so short term fixes like the one above, are seen as steps in the right direction, and not random neural contractions found during a soon-to-be-eaten chicken’s last minute.

Long term:

1) We need to spend within our means, both personally and as a nation.

2) We need to pay down the deficit, reducing our national interest payment.

3) We need to control our spending on entitlements: Social Security and Medicare.

4) We need a better trade balance with our trading partners.

5) We will need more cash in order to do all of the above.

We have been lulled into believing that we can spend money that we do not have… Hell we’ve been doing it for 8 years now… We did it for twelve years before that, starting with Ronald Reagan. And it was working fine up until late September…. Why can’t we keep on the same path?

As we have now found out, there is a small problem with taking out loans…. It’s called paying them back. To pay back a loan, some of the money that you are currently making needs to go back to those who invested in you at the beginning. Wait you say… why can’t we get more people to invest in us, and use that money to pay off those who invested in us earlier?

It’s been tried. And someone Madoff (made off) with a lot of other people’s money by doing just that. But eventually somewhere along the line, one cannot find enough new people to pay off the old, and crash, the system collapses.. Sort of like our Social Security system today ….

So if we have a loan, we have to pay it back?

Yes, that seems to work best. Although often loans can be forgiven after it becomes clear that they will never be repaid, and that further attempts to repay will collapse the entire pyramid where everyone loses everything… In those cases, sharing the risk by writing off some of the debts, allows one to begin making money again at some point in the future…..

But choosing to default, or not paying off the loans, also makes it impossible to get loan money later when you really need it.

So how much do we owe?

That depends on how you want to count it.. When you get a loan, there is a price tag attached that is called interest. One pays back the loan plus the interest to the party that fronted the money. After all, that is why people lend money in the first place… to make more of it… So if you bought a loan for $100,000 dollars, you could pay $100,000 the next day and be done.. That is one way of counting how much you owe. But, over time, that house you are buying is going to cost you 2.15 times its amount, because of compounded interest. So saying that you owe $215,000 is also correct….

The current U.S. obligations as of September 30th..( before any of the bailouts were passed by Congress) stood at 56 Trillion dollars. Every man, women, and child now owes $184,000 dollars. If we pay that back over 10 years, that is $18,400 per year of our income going just to the Federal government. Which means that if your family is struggling on $60,000 a year right now, that you had better start planning on how you can survive on $41,600 over the next ten years.

It may not be as bad as it seems. If free health-care becomes a reality, a yearly out of pocket savings of $7800 is a step in the right direction. Now we have just $10,600 to make up…. And if we cancel further investments into our 401 K for ten years, depending on how much you put in yearly, that accounts for somewhere between another $2000 to $10,000 dollars of which you will soon be out of pocket.. One had better hope that Social Security is still there for you when you retire…..

This is not something we have options on. This is a reality that must happen. Of course we can choose to pay it out over a longer time frame and survive with less money leaving our household per year, but over the span of a long time, we will ultimately pay a lot more… It seems better to knock out the debt, learn to live within our means, and once that debt is paid, prosper again after hopefully having learned our lesson over not paying as you go…..

That means that any new money pouring in from the “tax to the max”, must all be designated toward paying down the debt, and not be split off to other much needed projects. That is a hard choice to say no to… but once all debt is gone, less money will be required to be collected to fund those projects on a pay as you go basis. Our tax burden will be much less, giving us more money to spend, yet we will have ample money to fund the projects being built. The economy will grow in that scenario.

Of course this $184,000 is a shock figure designed to wake America up with a dose of reality. A bulk of the repayment will be paid back in the form of corporate taxes… starting as high as 50% and climbing perhaps to 90%. But the American consumer eventually also pays for those in the higher cost of each item he buys, since that payment will be embedded in the price he pays at the cash register.

The corporate rates mentioned above, were the same levels applied to corporate incomes after WWII, which continued and were not relaxed until under John F Kennedy’s administration. Over this time frame, corporations will have to settle for just being in business. After all,… that is what most small businesses do; they are grateful each day they open their doors. There is going to be a new reality that permeates the American corporate business world.

The essence of our nation’s problem is that we have lived off a credit card; one that will be paid by our children and grandchildren. And it has not just been our government that has done so.. Private debt, corporate debt, as well as government debt have all elevated our spending beyond where it should naturally be. This has been going on for so long that most investors thought that this debt/GDP ratio could continue rising indefinitely without ever overwhelming the economy and corporate earnings. In fact, the way it kept growing, we also started wondering if this could also go on forever. The total debt in round numbers is almost $52 trillion. This was not much changed this year due to the credit freeze, but rose $4.3 trillion in 2007, which was over 5 times the rise in GDP. The composition of the debt is $25 trillion in Corporate debt-both financial and non financial, $14 trillion in Household debt, and $13 trillion of Government debt-Federal and State & Local) and the GDP is $14.4 trillion. These debt composition numbers are rough estimates but all would agree that we currently owe 3.6 times our entire GDP….

This debt cycle really started in the early 1980’s when the U.S. savings rate peaked at over 10% and continued downward until this year when it troughed at a negative savings rate. People once again spent everything they made and then some last year, pushing the U.S. personal savings rate to the lowest level since the Great Depression more than seven decades ago.

As anyone who has been on the wrong side of debt can tell you, once the savings rate goes negative, it becomes a lot harder on the next round to change it. For then we have to pay charges on that amount which we spent beyond our means… So not only do we have to cut back to live within our means, but we need to further cut back in order to live within our means AND pay back those pesky charges…..

Under compounded interest any wait to pay back the cost is expensive; sooner is better than later. If we borrow a dollar and are charged with 3% interest, we pay back that dollar and the three cents of interest we owe… If we wait one year and are charged 3% on the dollar-and-three-cents we owed but did not pay back, we now owe a dollar and six cents. That may not sound like much, but when it comes to big numbers, that 3% on our national debt of 10.6 Trillion, becomes $318 billion dollars. One chuckles when Republicans find themselves up in arms over bailouts costing these amounts, but yet when the same figure is just interest, it is just considered the price we pay for living “la-de-da” beyond our means… At 3%, want to know how much interest we will pay on just that 3% interest itself, if we skip a year? $9.8 billion just to pay the interest, on the interest, that we are too broke to pay… “Deficits don’t matter” said Dick Cheney. When no one has money… where do we find that additional $9.8 billion to cough up?

But debt can be eradicated. Here is proof from a fellow posting his strategy.. It is a personal story to be sure, but it shows the proper mental attitude that must be created if one is about to embark on changing his lifestyle for the better….

Just the numbers of consumer debt are startling…. U.S. Household debt soared from 4.2 Trillion in 1990 (the first Bush president) to $13 trillion in 2008. During this period, the average American household dramatically increased its home mortgage debt, from almost $2.5 trillion in 1990 to nearly $10.5 trillion today. Similarly, consumer “revolving” or credit card debt quadrupled from $239 billion (B) to about $950B today. Moreover, the growth of U.S. credit card debt is substantially under-reported by the official U.S. Federal Reserve statistics, due to the tremendous volume of mortgage refinancings that were transacted between 2001 and 2005. At least $350B in consumer credit card debt was paid off through mortgage refinancings, home equity loans, and cash proceeds from the sale of real estate over this five- year period. This is consistent with the findings of Alan Greenspan and James Kennedy, who report that equity extraction was used to repay an average of about $50 billion of mortgage consumer debt between 1991 to 2005, about 3% of the outstanding balance of that debt at the beginning of the year.” Significantly, it averaged only $25.2B per year prior to 2001 (link to Manning’s work)

So how do we responsibly pay down our national consumer debt? Judging from the data provided above, it cannot be done. But a reasonable approach would be to isolate consumer debt into three categories: a) Chapter 7 Bankruptcy; b) substantial debt relief in the range of 60 to 80 percent; and c) repayment of the full balance over a 5 year credit management plan. The first category (a) is for those right on the edge; we know bankruptcy is inevitable, so we get it done and over so that they can start their ten years of rebuilding their credit as soon as possible. The second category (b), is a win win for both lenders and debtors. Just enough of their debt is forgiven allowing them to be debt free in 3 years.. The third category (c) is solvent enough to pay all their debts over a 5 year period on a managed plan. As is done with any bankruptcy, applicants for these programs are mean tested to determine into which category they fall … We can dream that all debts may someday be repaid. That is unrealistic. A practical approach moves forward, determining which debts are solvent and which are not, expeditiously processing those that are not, and in just a short time, all debt is secured and we know what our economy has to work with. No more surprises.

You can determine how your family finances can be resolved by using this calculator provided by the same Manning mentioned above.. I recommend that if you have unsecured debt, you play around with the credit card repayment section, seeing the differences that occur if you contributed your coffee fund, you movie allowance, your HBO bill towards paying down your credit card debt. Those little totals often taken for granted, can make years of a difference in pulling yourself out of debt.

We often hear pontificating towards our governments, local, state, and federal, end with the admonishment that since American consumers live within their means…. why can’t the federal government do so as well…

That is not exactly true. We do a lousy job compared to our parents.

They and their parents bought savings bonds… Which brings us back full circle to our best idea of paying down our national debt… What if a percentage of everyone’s pay check went toward buying themselves savings bonds. Unlike a tax, at the end of maturation, they get the entire bond returned to them with nominal interest tacked on.

Kind of like our parents and grandparents implemented for us growing up. A forced savings plan… “Oh but I want to spend it….” “No, we’re putting it in savings”… With this plan, like a tax, the government has access to increased funds, but unlike a tax, it pays us back. This has three things going for it.

One it helps us save. The American saving’s rate was negative last year. That means individuals spent more than they had… Obviously when the time comes to pay it back, it will not be good for the economy.

Two it provides a intermediate source of funding for our government. Instead of cutting taxes, this plan augments taxes… Since the money must be paid back upon maturation, the government needs to get a rate of return higher than what it is paying back..

Three. Using this money to decrease the Federal deficit, is a win win for all. Essentially we are using this program to buy up our own stock. It will be us who have control over our nation’s destiny, and not…. it’s foreign creditors…. Applying the entire amount bought in this fashion, to paying down our National Debt, will give us lower taxes in the future. The legislation initiating this program could earmark all revenue from these mandatory bought savings bonds, go towards decreasing our National Debt.

It will take great leadership to change our behavior. The bully pulpit is needed now more than ever. Since the 1980’s, we have funded our economy by borrowing. Anyone can be given an unlimited credit card and then tell us he is living well. For a long time this nation has placed the acquisition of corporate profits as the prime gauge rating the welfare of our nation. Now, with acknowledgment that it will take 4 years of GDP to pay off all debt, private, corporate, and governmental, we understand our predicament.

Simply put: to survive, we need to acquire more money than we spend and use that extra amount to buy down debt. Once our debt is down, we can use that extra amount to spend again, exploding our economy through the roof of expectations.

The official results do not come out until later. But preliminary evidence has now proved beyond all doubt that no recession this grave has been experienced during the lifetime of anyone younger than 69 ( a good number by the way).

There are signs that those in the know like to watch, which tell the future years down the road and those signs now point to a Great Depression. It would be wise to note, that these “shades of what may be to come” as mentioned in Charles Dickens Christmas story can still be altered by changes in future events…

The fate was solidified with this which occurred on today’s last broadcast of CNN’s Late Edition. Vice President Dick Cheney, known among betting men, as “the man who is always wrong”, today declared “that its premature to call it the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

Being the one to know, Mister “He-who-is-never-right”; with a record of wrong choices a mile long, some of which include statements such as: “I am the best person to serve as the Vice President of the United States”; “Deficits Don’t Matter”; “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid”; “There are stockpiles of WMD’s in Iraq and we will find them”; “We have to make America the best place in the world to do business”; “We will in fact be greeted as liberators”; …… always seems to make sense at time, but after ample time has passed, seems to have strung us along, fully knowing what he was saying was not backed up by facts, and each time seems to have bettered himself financially by having us believe in what he says, and take him for his word.

So if we look at his record, we see that he was wrong on Iraq, wrong on Afghanistan, wrong on Iran, wrong on Israel, wrong on Syria, wrong on Georgia, wrong on tax breaks, wrong on the deficit, wrong on securities deregulation, wrong on the economy, wrong on global warming, wrong on renewable energy, wrong on Enron, wrong on education, wrong on environmentalism, wrong on ethics, wrong on Executive privilege, wrong on gasoline prices, wrong on immigration, wrong on privatization,wrong on racism, wrong on what’s best for America; we can only assume by his track record that he is also wrong when he says it is too premature to call this episode equal to the Great Depression. Of course you can go against conventional wisdom and bet against him, ……… but the odds of winning are long…… way too long……

As his track record shows, he is fully aware of the facts, and each time he makes such a brash statement, it is ultimately proven to be wrong and designed to throw us off. Therefore the best option to take away from his last interview as Vice President on CNN is to accept the premise that we ARE in a Great Depression, and pull out all stops now to stop its slide, ….. before it is too late… That means pulling out ALL stops, so that the opposite of this foreboding last statement by Cheney is not given its chance to come due:

“The days of looking the other way while a despotic regime tramples human rights, robs it’s nations’ wealth, and then excuses it’s failings by feeding it’s people a steady diet of hatred … are over.”

As of this writing we have 8 days and twenty hours before it really does comes true………. Let’s not jinx ourselves by listening to any arguments being made by Cheney’s compatriots now arguing against the passage of Obama’s “Economic Jump Start”. Remember all along, they were just as wrong too……..

(I was reading up on the Great Depression here, and came across this vignette which was new to me. Of course the Delawarean references JUMPED out at me right away…. but I’m reading along and saw ….”Alarmed by Roosevelt’s plan to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, a group of millionaire businessmen, led by the Du Pont and J.P. Morgan empires, plans to overthrow Roosevelt with a military coup and install a fascist government. The businessmen try to recruit General Smedley Butler, promising him an army of 500,000, unlimited financial backing and generous media spin control. The plot is foiled when Butler reports it to Congress. (More) So I clicked the “more“…..

In the summer of 1933, shortly after Roosevelt’s “First 100 Days,” America’s richest businessmen were in a panic. It was clear that Roosevelt intended to conduct a massive redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Roosevelt had to be stopped at all costs.

The answer was a military coup. It was to be secretly financed and organized by leading officers of the Morgan and Du Pont empires. This included some of America’s richest and most famous names of the time:

* Irenee Du Pont - Right-wing chemical industrialist and founder of the American Liberty League, the organization assigned to execute the plot.
* Grayson Murphy – Director of Goodyear, Bethlehem Steel and a group of J.P. Morgan banks.
* William Doyle – Former state commander of the American Legion and a central plotter of the coup.
* John Davis – Former Democratic presidential candidate and a senior attorney for J.P. Morgan.
* Al Smith – Roosevelt’s bitter political foe from New York. Smith was a former governor of New York and a codirector of the American Liberty League.
* John J. Raskob – A high-ranking Du Pont officer and a former chairman of the Democratic Party. In later decades, Raskob would become a “Knight of Malta,” a Roman Catholic Religious Order with a high percentage of CIA spies, including CIA Directors William Casey, William Colby and John McCone.
* Robert Clark – One of Wall Street’s richest bankers and stockbrokers.
* Gerald MacGuire - Bond salesman for Clark, and a former commander of the Connecticut American Legion. MacGuire was the key recruiter to General Butler.

The plotters attempted to recruit General Smedley Butler to lead the coup. They selected him because he was a war hero who was popular with the troops. The plotters felt his good reputation was important to make the troops feel confident that they were doing the right thing by overthrowing a democratically elected president. However, this was a mistake: Butler was popular with the troops because he identified with them. That is, he was a man of the people, not the elite. When the plotters approached General Butler with their proposal to lead the coup, he pretended to go along with the plan at first, secretly deciding to betray it to Congress at the right moment.

What the businessmen proposed was dramatic: they wanted General Butler to deliver an ultimatum to Roosevelt. Roosevelt would pretend to become sick and incapacitated from his polio, and allow a newly created cabinet officer, a “Secretary of General Affairs,” to run things in his stead. The secretary, of course, would be carrying out the orders of Wall Street. If Roosevelt refused, then General Butler would force him out with an army of 500,000 war veterans from the American Legion. But MacGuire assured Butler the cover story would work:

“You know the American people will swallow that. We have got the newspapers. We will start a campaign that the President’s health is failing. Everyone can tell that by looking at him, and the dumb American people will fall for it in a second…”

The businessmen also promised that money was no object: Clark told Butler that he would spend half his $60 million fortune to save the other half.

And what type of government would replace Roosevelt’s New Deal? MacGuire was perfectly candid to Paul French, a reporter friend of General Butler’s:

“We need a fascist government in this country… to save the nation from the communists who want to tear it down and wreck all that we have built in America. The only men who have the patriotism to do it are the soldiers, and Smedley Butler is the ideal leader. He could organize a million men overnight.”

Indeed, it turns out that MacGuire travelled to Italy to study Mussolini’s fascist state, and came away mightily impressed. He wrote glowing reports back to his boss, Robert Clark, suggesting that they implement the same thing.

If this sounds too fantastic to believe, we should remember that by 1933, the crimes of fascism were still mostly in the future, and its dangers were largely unknown, even to its supporters. But in the early days, many businessmen openly admired Mussolini because he had used a strong hand to deal with labor unions, put out social unrest, and get the economy working again, if only at the point of a gun. Americans today would be appalled to learn of the many famous millionaires back then who initially admired Hitler and Mussolini: Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, John and Allen Dulles (who, besides being millionaires, would later become Eisenhower’s Secretary of State and CIA Director, respectively), and, of course, everyone on the above list. They disavowed Hitler and Mussolini only after their atrocities grew to indefensible levels.

The plot fell apart when Butler went public. The general revealed the details of the coup before the McCormack-Dickstein Committee, which would later become the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee. (In the 50s, this committee would destroy the lives of hundreds of innocent Americans with its communist witch hunts.) The Committee heard the testimony of Butler and French, but failed to call in any of the coup plotters for questioning, other than MacGuire. In fact, the Committee whitewashed the public version of its final report, deleting the names of powerful businessmen whose reputations they sought to protect. The most likely reason for this response is that Wall Street had undue influence in Congress also. Even more alarming, the elite-controlled media failed to pick up on the story, and even today the incident remains little known. The elite managed to spin the story as nothing more than the rumors and hearsay of Butler and French, even though Butler was a Quaker of unimpeachable honesty and integrity. Butler, appalled by the cover-up, went on national radio to denounce it, but with little success.

Butler was not vindicated until 1967, when a journalist uncovered the Committee’s internal, secret report. It clearly confirmed Butler’s story:

In the last few weeks of the committee’s life it received evidence showing that certain persons had attempted to establish a fascist organization in this country…

There is no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned and might have been placed in execution if the financial backers deemed it expedient…

MacGuire denied [Butler's] allegations under oath, but your committee was able to verify all the pertinent statements made to General Butler, with the exception of the direct statement suggesting the creation of the organization. This, however, was corroborated in the correspondence of MacGuire with his principle, Robert Sterling Clark, of New York City, while MacGuire was abroad studying the various form of veterans’ organizations of Fascist character.

Needless to say, the survival of America’s democracy is not an automatic or sure thing. Americans need to remain vigilant against all enemies… both foreign and domestic.

As we race toward tomorrow, and blue maps of the US are on every blog, and if you want to find the Republican party these days, you must search the bars….. it would be wise to remember that we faced the same jubilation in 2004, when even as late as 17:00 hours on Election Day, we were ecstatic over what we assumed would be the outcome….

We face the same confidence in 2000, that a cocky Republican stalwart would be slapped down by the greatest human being to ever walk the planet…(lol, I kill me)….

And to be honest we are there today…. again… waiting in trepidation… hopefully anticipating our nation’s move past the doldrums of Reaganomics and Phil Gramm’s destruction of the global economy…

We have one reason to be optimistic… Eight years of failed Republican policy which took a nation, poised to do great things, and bankrupted it… Eight years of failed Republican foreign policy, which took a nation esteemed and emulated…. from Communist China to Pitcairn Island…. and turned its reputation into that of a crazy old Uncle Sam…. Eight years of failed Republican moral leadership, who scrambled to play footsie under bathroom stalls….or romp with underage Congressional pages… or prostitute their agencies at the bidding of corporate giants….have given us a distaste for all incumbents who we once esteemed… We can change it this year for good….

Bottom line: everything Republicans have promised they got to implement… their tax philosophy, their foreign policy, their moral superiority…..

And we are much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much worse off.

So perhaps Americans will be a little wiser this time around…. Republicans they will say?..”Forget about it!”

But there is hope for Republicans this time around as well.. Actually Republicans have a very good chance of winning every seat they want… For you see, while we were campaigning and chanting “yes, we can”; while we were scrambling to find new voters, while we were canvassing neighborhoods, while we were combating the misstruths told on Republican blogs with cold hearted truth, our nation, under its fringe Republican Leadership, was using the powers enabled by the Patriot Act, to splice into fiber optic lines under San Francisco, where Yahoo, AOL, Google, all intercept, store and monitor every single phone call and or electronic data transmission, and be able to change whatever comes in………..into what they wish to go out……… We have that potential. They can do it………. I’ve seen it done……

It’s simply a question of “Will they?”

I think we saw with Dick Cheney’s endorsement of John McCain just lately….. that all the processes are in place and that at least that Dick Cheney believes, he has the capacity to change the totals irregardless of what every voter thinks…

Whoever wins the White House will need bipartisanship to move Congress off its ass.  Like it or not, someone playing the center against the two parties benefits America better than a very strong political profile, where everyone is in lockstep, and a single agenda is pursued.

How do I know this?

Because the latter is what we have had the last 8 years, whereas the former, is what we had during the last six years of the previous administration.  America has tumbled downhill during the last eight years, and has done so from from its peak which was achieved during the previous six…

So how does one find bipartisanship?  One looks for one who works with the other side, (sort of the opposite of what McCain says he would do with Syria and Iran if elected)…  In this capacity Biden brings tremendous resources to the table….

In a report by David Broder, mentioned on a lot of blogs recently,  we see how Biden and Senator Lugar (a Republican), have kept a Senatorial committee running smoothly, irregardless of who is in charge, based on the composition of the Senate at a certain point in time.

These two professionals work together and their inter meshing has created a haven from the rife partisanship that often interrupts committee proceedings and makes a fool of our legislative branch. Consequently the entire committee has taken on the professional decorum exhibited by its two leaders, each of different parties.

Wise choices, but possible long shots for positions within the inner sanctum, both may not be in their spots next year.. Luger could be Secretary of State, for McCain or Obama, a man Luger recruited for foreign relations and a vocal admirer. Biden could be VP, based on rumblings still going on in Iowa’s aftermath…….. Both have run for the highest office, both work well together….

It is in this spirit of bipartisanship that Obama surprised progressives when he made his controversial decision to weigh in on the compromise hammered within the House which destroys our freedom of unreasonable search and seizure. Hat’s off to Delaware Dem for taking the issue dead on. Although initially disappointed, after reflection, I think this decision proves that Obama truly is the real thing. It has been several years since we have actually had a thinker in the White House. Obama sent a signal that he will approach every idea with an open mind.

His decision surprised me. Honestly, I didn’t think he would chose that route.. But with both the FISA bill and his recent choice to refuse public funding, Obama has made two correct decisions required for achieving his vision of long term benefits to this nation, and he has calmed the center and right at the same time. Even though it must have rankled every grain of his fiber, when his “Lawrence of Arabia” moment arrived and he was forced to make a decision between his personal attachment, and what was best to keep the country together, he chose the latter and pulled the trugger.

I know from experience ….that is very hard to do… But Obama did it, and my estimation of him just jumped off the scale… even though as a progressive I am opposed to what he did…vehemently. This guy’s got guts in the right places..

Totally unlike the current administration, who measures guts by holding on to an untenable position against 70, then 80, then 90, then 99 percent of the voting population, this guy measures guts by meeting with the other side, moving both sides to the center, finally hammering out an agreement, and then moving forward. Instead of repeated stalemates with which we have grown so accustomed, we get movement. And just by knowing that our country is headed by a rational and pragmatic individual, I feel safer that my basic rights will be protected in the future, despite the FISA decision, than I did when all security positions were hired, vetted, and staffed by kooks and partisan yokels….

It is in no way a perfect arrangement. I preferred that the telecoms squeal on the deal Cheney forced upon them and illuminate the criminal activities when and where they occurred, That won’t happen, and Obama is the reason it won’t.

A presidential candidate this shrewd will require a second in command solid and able enough to garnish considerable respect from the Senate floor. Biden and Dodd are two Democrats that meet that criteria. Lugar, Hagel are two from the other side who do as well. Instead of a party hack, (as one could certainly consider Cheney), Obama, by picking someone who embodies Democratic values, but respects the opinions of the other side, will be invaluable when the time comes to make the change forward that all America so desperately wants.

A year ago the idea of a Obama/Biden ticket would be preposterous. For those still embittered by conflict politics, it may still seem so.

But, Obama has shown us that even Progressives are just another scion of the political spectrum…..Tangible results are what matter. This country could use a few good men like these In fact the entire world would benefit from the spirit of bipartisanship exemplified by these few men. For each time America is unhealthy, so goes the world……

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