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"Chronicle Groupie"
Hyperion November 3, 2000

#9 54-40, and I'm just getting started

When I decided last week that I was sick of my choices in this election, and thus put forth my own candidacy for the Presidency of the United States, I expected to get a flood of responses. What I did get was unexpected, yet interesting.

From my family; cautious encouragement. Happy I am dong something and hoping it keeps me out of prison. From my mother, another plea not to swear. I wonder if George W. Bush got the same plea from his mom after he discovered how live microphones worked. Hey George, at least when I swear to people, I know when and why. Which, is to usually to make a rhetorical point, and occasionally upset my mother (just kidding, mom, I would never purposely upset you unless you leave fresh raspberries out).

I also got a couple of well intentioned but frankly bizarre suggestions that if I was so upset at the two major party candidates, I should consider voting for Ralph Nader. My response: Huh? I will repeat myself for those who didn't hear me in the back: Huh? I will even say it backwards-for those of you educated in the Georgia public school system: Huh? My take on Nader, is that he is a generally sincere guy who lies much less then most politicians. He seems to really believe what he is saying-and that is the problem. Not the he believes it-but what he believes. Nader's seemingly consumer-friendly ideas seem a lot more neato-mosquito in front of a rabid but polite crowd of Sierra Club Trust Fund Babies. In real life, most of Nader's plans would bankrupt the country. Business may not be pretty but it is why we are where we are, and before we go messing with that, we should seriously consider the ramifications. I have nothing against him. I just do not agree with his reasoning on his core issues, and I have never heard Nader say anything close to what I believe.

This brings me to the final feedback I would like to share today. Someone wrote to ask me: "Is this presidential bid of yours an attempt at dark, backhanded satire or are you just crazy?" Well, to quote Grandpa Simpson, "A little of column A and a little of column B." I am serious, however, when I say that my plan for this country is better than anything else I have yet seen, which is why I am offering it. In that spirit, let us continue.

Middle East-Will everyone who failed history please stand up?

History lesson. Who remembers Neville Chamberlain? Not very many, and those who do could wish they did not. Neville Chamberlain (personal motto: Wilt may have had 20,000 chicks but I got screwed by Hitler!) was the British Prime Minister in the 1930s leading up to the beginning of WWII. Neville's particular brilliant contribution to the world is what has come to be known as the "Policy of Appeasement". The way it worked was that every so often, Britain would agree to let Germany have some more land, and Germany would agree to be "good". I can just imagine the negotiation sessions.

Neville Chamberlain: Adolf, we have already agreed to let you Arm yourselves, take back the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, all four Railroads, and the lucrative Boardwalk/Parkplace Monopoly. If we add the moon and the first-born sons of all future Popes, will you please behave?

Adolf Hitler (Smirking, doing best Little Bunny FuFu impression): Put three hotels on Boardwalk, rename the Falkland islands Hitlerville, and get on your knees and bark like a dog and we have a deal.

NC: Done! I mean, bark, bark!

Chamberlain's policy of giving Hitler more land in return for good behavior proved to be a disaster. This kind of policy always has. Give someone territory in return for not bothering you anymore-then they bother you again-what do you have? You are still being bothered-and now you do not have the land!

This brings us to Israel. First, let us clear up a couple of misconceptions. Before Israel's most recent creation after WWII, there was, contrary to recent myth, no Palestine-a happy, self-sufficient, not bothering anybody little country full of peaceful Arabs. In fact, prior to WWII, when people spoke of the Palestinian question, they were usually speaking of a homeland for Israel. This movement had been going on for some time, and after WWII, the resolution hardened. This was partly due to the worldwide shame at the Holocaust, which killed upwards of 6 million Jews, while the world turned away and pretended not to know. This was also partly because no one wanted Jews in their country. Germany certainly was not the first to discriminate against and kill Jews if not on such a wide scale. But if it was no longer P.C. to say this, the fact is most countries were more than happy to redesignate Israel as a homeland, if for no other reason than they would not have to take the Jews themselves.

The day Israel opened up for business, they were attacked. They have endured several wars and almost unending fighting since. The land Israel took in these wars, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights, were defensive measures taken only after being attacked-making a buffer zone between Israel's people and their enemies.

Now, let us talk about Yasser Arafat. Who is he? Right now, he is the head of the PLO. Who he really is, though, is a terrorist. Since the early 70s, Arafat has been a Terrorist, bent on destroying Israel. Some will say Arafat has abandoned his terroristic ways, to be a statesman. Well, according to a Discovery Channel program I saw the other day, a leopard may

change its spots from a baby to an adult, but violent men do not change. Ask a woman stuck in an abusive relationship. No matter how many times the guy sobs that he is sorry and swears he will not do it again, he will. The question is why these women stay in these situations, but that is a question for another time.

Alternatively, maybe it is a question for now. Why do we believe a terrorist ever changes? "Killers never quit, they just better at hiding." And Arafat is not even pretending to change. Folks, the charter of the PLO, their constitution, still calls for the complete destruction and annihilation of Israel. And we deal with them. As Peacemakers. A few days ago, when violence had escalated to its highest level since the early '80s, when tensions were extremely high and everyone was on eggshells; susceptible to the slightest shifting of the winds, Arafat says: "My response is that our people are continuing the road to Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state. To accept to not accept it, let him [Barak] go to hell."

The capital of Jerusalem and whom it belongs to and Palestinian statehood are the two most contentious issues in the Middle East. To me, this shows that Arafat's motives have never changed, never gone away. A few weeks ago, the United Nations passed a resolution condemning Israel for "war crimes". We did not sign it, but we did not stop it either. The rationale given was that we did not want to anger Arab nations further. People, I have news for you. No matter WHAT we do, the Arab nations will hate us and assume we are interfering. If we are going to be seen that way anyway, we will deal from strength, which our nation has certainly earned in today's world.

When I am president, the world will know what we believe: that we are behind Israel, our allies, and we will not allow anyone to threaten us unanswered. This does not mean we condone everything Israel has done. Mistakes, some egregious, have been made, on both sides. That is no reason to take the fence-straddling position we have now. Somewhere I once read: "Let your yes be yes and your no be no." That is how it will be. Israel will trust us, and the Arab world will respect us. They will trust us too, if for different reasons. They will know that we will respond if threatened. This coddling of Arafat and other Terrorists is over. In the '80s, when terrorists sprung up all over the world, for the most part they left us alone. That is because they knew what would happen if they did. Look at Beirut. Reagan did not mess around there. I believe that the fearful respect granted to America in the '80s does not exist today. No body fears us. I do not want to go around being a big bully, but that is the way the world works. When your enemy knows you can knock the tar out of them, they are much less likely to hit you. That, my friends, is the image the United States will project in the Middle East, and anywhere else needed. One key issue I am omitting here is Oil, but that is big enough that I will cover it in a separate section tomorrow.

Electoral College: Democracy, Schemocracy!

The founding fathers had many things going for them, and, judged in historical context, they come out as men who achieved something that held potential greatness; our country backed by our Constitution. However, if they lived today, they would be ridden out of every town on a rail, if not simply hung. The myth of the "Virtuous Founding Fathers" is a topic for another column. One thing to mention here, though, is their distrust of the voting public. You already had to be white, male, and own a bit of property to vote, but the O.D.'s (Original Dads) went a bit further. Not trusting the "common" people to vote intelligently, they set up the Electoral College. This nifty Democracy Pirate made it so that the voters did not actually vote for a candidate, but rather for an Elector, who would then, in theory, vote for the candidate. However, sometimes this would not happen: the Electors were under no obligation to vote the way their state voters had.

"But isn't this just a moot issue?" You may ask. Most of the time, yes. Only three times in our history has one candidate received more popular votes while another received more electoral votes. But one of these times, 1876, was the most important election in our history (and yet the odds are you learned next to nothing of this in history class, but it will have to be a story for another day). In addition, several times individual electors have changed their minds and voted for someone other than who they were slated to, for reasons ranging from not wanting George Washington to ever have company as a unanimously elected president (1820) to a protest that the electors WEREN'T required to vote for who they were pledged.

I do not mind the "winner takes all" set up of most states, where no matter how many votes a candidate wins by, one vote, or one million, he/she wins ALL the state's electoral votes. This system keeps the states in play nationally giving them relevance, and preserves the states' rights envisioned by the O.D.s. When I am in charge, however, electors from a particular state will be required to vote how their state went. If they want to piecemeal it or part-and-parcel, their choice, but they WILL follow the WILL of the people. This is done already in many states: I will standardize it

Big Milk; the conspiracy of silence is broken

For far too long the evil conglomeration that I call Big Milk has wielded their reign of terror over the American people, scaring the populace into thinking that if they did not drink the required amount of milk per day, their bones would shrivel up and the whole country would walk around like Dr. Ruth. Well, no longer. I, like Agent Mulder, want the truth to get out there.

Look folks, biologically, we are Omnivores. That means that we eat plants and animals. Other omnivores eat plants. Other omnivores eat animals. But NO omnivores, save us, drink the milk of another animal. This should tell us something. Humans have achieved miraculous things through their imagination, compared to the rest of the animal species. Sometimes, however, we are too smart for our own good. Whoever came up with the idea of squeezing an animal's udder and drinking whatever came out (one wonders how many attempts that experience took to get the right nozzle), did us no great favor.

What the Milk people do is tell us we need lots and lots of calcium. I agree. Calcium, though, can be found in an abundance of foods naturally, in fruits and vegetables, for example. There is no inherent need to drink processed milk. For years the AMA and other respected medical bodies have published reports linking milk consumption with increased risk of cancers. The Milk Illuminati has swept all of it under the rug, by having models, professional athletes, and other celebrities posing with a "milk mustache". The only segment of the population that one could arguably make the case need milk is newborns. Guess what-they have breast milk. The problem is already self-contained, if you will (sorry, bad joke).

I am not about curtailing personal freedom without cause. When I am in charge, though, the public will hear the truth. Drink milk all you want, but do not feel beholden, that you might die otherwise.

Prescription Drugs; Let's get some perspective.

This is an interesting problem, in that is has been brought about by prosperity. There have been several times when I have had to purchase prescription drugs, and have goggled at the cost. I thought that surely the prescription drug companies were trying to take me for all the market would bear. My opinions of insurance companies in general are not that hot, but that is a topic for the next column. The issue here with prescription drugs is whether they are charging too much. If you have to pay the price and you cannot easily afford the medicine, this question is easy: yes, the drug companies are charging too much. But the problem is not that simple. A hundred years ago, these drugs did not exist. You know what happened? People died, and they lived miserably. Viagra was never an issue because very few people lived that long. Blood pressure medicine? Doctors were not that sophisticated. A patient was lucky if his leech-treatment did not kill him before the disease ever did.

Then, this century, and our amazing medical breakthroughs, came. People no longer went into hospitals and did not come out. People started eating better, and getting preventative care, and they then were living longer, which gave rise to a whole new set of complaints that didn't exist a century earlier.

Drug companies, with aggressive Research and Development divisions, went after cures for diseases, that up to this century we didn't have the ability to treat, and for ailments, that up till now would have been a waste of time. The result has been a flood of wonder drugs, each doing what only a few years ago conventional wisdom would never have thought possible. The price of this progress is the sometimes-prohibitive cost of these drugs. People, it would be nice if we lived in a world where we were driven by our sole desire to help mankind. That is not the way the world works, though. People are motivated, by and large, by profit. Call it evil, but it has produced the vast majority of our inventions and discoveries over the millennia. The same is true of these prescription drugs. Far-seeing scientists saw the untapped field that that was the medical horizon. For years, quacks and charlatans had gotten rich off cures that held no more value than private deeds to the Brooklyn Bridge; what might cures that actually work bring? Plenty, as it turns out.

Now we encounter the dilemma. People are more than happy to use the medicine to keep them alive and more comfortable than any other generation in history, but they do not want to pay the piper. It is a catch 22. Without the hope of large profits, many of the drug companies would not have spent the billions they did to research and create these drugs. Now they are here, and while everyone is happy to use them, no one wants to acknowledge the reason they got here: unadulterated capitalism.

Both major party candidates are kow-towing to the nation's older citizens, knowing they are an increasingly growing group, and they tend to vote in large numbers (something with which the nation's youth have not ever seemed to figure out will help them get what they want). Part of me says fine; seniors are willing to participate in democracy, let them get all they can. There is, however, a more central issue. There is a willingness, even a rush, to portray the Drug companies as "evil" (as a bitter aside: when the government takes your money without giving you a dime of it, it is ok. But when the Drug companies provide life-saving drugs and drugs to make our way of life easier, they are greedy pigs). If this attempt to paint the Drug companies as evil is successful, we will inevitably see a pullback on the very expensive research and development that goes into finding these drugs in the first place. Which means that while Drug A and Drug B might be cheaper today, there will be no Drug C through Drug Z tomorrow.

I am not unsympathetic to the plight of people who cannot afford prescription drugs. It is hard to take a long view of the health of our world when a drug that could keep you alive is available, except for cost. What I do not want to do, however, is act so short-sightedly as to prevent future breakthroughs. Then, we all lose.

Warm Fuzzies

Some matters that are not at a "crisis" stage to require executive orders still deserve some thought. Here now, are some ideas I have thought of, which could work.

Early Voting: Straight up, this idea is a winner. Several states now allow on-site voting up to three weeks before the actual election. A few states also extend this courtesy to absentee voting, although the majority still requires a note from your doctor, your Congressman, and your mother first. This idea just makes sense. I think as Americans, we may have a tendency to get overly excited about certain days, and minimalize what is actually happening on those days. When the latest Star-Wars movie came out, it seemed more than a few people were more excited about the day the film opened, and the hype surrounding it, than what the film actually contained. National elections are already pressure-packed enough. Anything we can do to calm them down a bit, without corrupting the voting process, seems to be a step in the right direction.

Birthdays as Holidays: In sort of the opposite vein: I think, based on anecdotal evidence, that more and more people are working on their birthday. No one wants to do that, and if some people are at the stage where they do, that is all the more reason they should get the day off. I am not calling for a national mandate, but I will call on the businesses to find it in their hearts to have policies that allow employees to have their birthdays off, if business will allow it. More than just a feel-good initiative, I think it will breed good will between workers and management, and raise productivity 423%, or something close to that.

Daylight Savings Time: It is amazing to me how many different "official" reasons I have read lately, from reputable publications, as to why Daylight Savings Time was instituted and why it still exists today. I have come across everything from saving energy during WWI, to saving daylight for farmers to increase productivity, to not wanting school children to wait for the bus in the morning in the dark. There are so many reasons floating around, that Daylight Savings Time has rather taken on a mythical status, and even though the reason, whatever it is, has been outdated, we still change our clocks twice a year. Some like the extra daylight in the spring and summer, although adherents of M. Scott Peck and Delay of Gratification would not approve. I will tell you what I like: the extra hour of sleep at the end of October (it is the small victories that often seem the most worthwhile). It got me to thinking, why cannot we do that more often? So, here is my idea: My data shows that by the time Monday rolls around, especially in the fall and winter, most Americans are at least three hours behind in their sleep. Therefore, I propose, that for 8 weeks a year, every Monday, we "lose" three hours, so that we can get some sleep. This will temporarily mess up daylight patterns, but I have thought this through. Hear me out. First, we have electricity now; that makes the daylight concern somewhat moot. Second, if we want to understand our neighbors to the north (with the hopes of one day taking them over), we should walk a mile in their shoes, or spend a few weeks with their daylight. Third, since this would only be for a few weeks of the year, and would be unique in world history, the time would take on a holiday-like atmosphere, and make it easier to deal with; fun even. Think of it as a version of Lent, where we give up hours for awhile, to reflect on all we have to be thankful for (I know. Sometimes I even impress myself). Lastly, many people in this country get depressed in the late fall and winter, with what Psychiatrists like to call Seasonal Affective Disorder, which basically means they are not getting as much sunlight, which screws everything up. This system (I still need a name, because right now the best I can do is "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Sunlight!" but I am open to suggestions) would throw the sunlight issue into upheaval, which would hopefully jar these depressed people out of their funk and increase productivity, by my count, 356.8%. The problem is that in these 8 weeks it would take to get back to "normal", we would lose a day. So what? Several hundred years ago, when the western world was switching calendars (to the "Saints in Swimsuits" edition) the Pope eliminated almost two weeks. Well, this is the United States of America, baby. We can put a man on the moon (or, at least, a sound stage in Universal Studios); surely we can get rid of a day. And my vote is a Monday. Along with Garfield, I feel that any Monday lost cannot be all that bad. I did get an offer from Bessie Clay, from Lilburn, Idaho, to eliminate her birthday, on the logic that if she did not celebrate her birthday, she could not get any older. Now there is a woman who needs my Birthday-Off program. And before I get a flood of requests, no, we cannot eliminate April 15. Sorry.

Well, I have many more issues, but I am running long, so I will have to send them out in the next few days before the election. Stay tuned because next time we will be discussing, among other topics, Crime and Punishment and Education in America (and they will be treated as SEPARATE issues, so no jokes from the peanut gallery). Till then, remember, it's all good. Gee Double Oh Dee good.

Keeping the faith,

November 3, 2000


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