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Hyperion October 18, 2004

The Hyperion Chronicles

“Favorite column of every Ninja Turtle except Raphael”

#319 To Do List

The plan—and I did have one—was to spend most of October writing about why you should elect me as president over either of my opponents. However, events—those most insidious of foes—conspired to injure and otherwise waylay me for several weeks. Now, I won’t say that George W. Bush and John F. Kerry (and their joint masters the MPR) were behind this, but I will write it. Obviously they were afraid I’d show up at the debates and expose them for the frauds they are.

Therefore, instead of my October barnstorming tour, necessity dictates we condense everything into one week. (I could do more next week, but that is reserved for scary Halloween stories; MWUAH HA HA!) I will have to omit some issues near to my heart and Reader's-Digest-Version others, but I promise to bring them up from time to time over the next four years, as this campaign is in it for the long haul.

Today I want to discuss some of the things I would do immediately once inaugurated. Bush, Kerry; if you’re reading (and I know you are), feel free to Bogart1 any of these ideas, as they are uniformly excellent.

First of all, the United States of America needs an actual Energy Plan. We don’t currently have one. (Unless you count “Consume!” and “Suck up to the Saudis!” as plans. I don’t.) Kerry talks about Conservation, but his heart’s not in it. Both candidates talk about clean fuels, but this is mostly lip service. Besides which; Conservation and cleaner fuels are not plans but rather moral ethics.

A plan requires an understanding of the problem, and the problem is not consumption so much as the fact that the United States does not produce the amount of energy it consumes.

Surprisingly, it produces a lot, as does Canada, the U.S.’s main source after its own supply. However, this leaves a huge chunk left that comes from foreign oil, primarily the Middle East. And while this may come as a shock, the Middle East is not that great a place to shop.

So, America’s Energy Plan will be thus: 1) to immediately drastically reduce (and within 2 years eliminate) consumption of oil from the Middle East. 2) America will work feverishly towards replacing oil as an energy source permanently.

First the pull out. America’s “War” on Terrorism has to a large extent been compromised by the need for oil. While Iraq was a threat and Iran is definitely a threat, the biggest threat to America in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia. They are the ones funding, recruiting and training the terrorists. But the US Government won’t take the gloves off...won’t even look in the Saudis’ direction.

Why? The oil. Ceasing to buy oil from the Middle East will irrevocably hurt their power base. It will hurt the financial flow. It will take away political pressure and effectively remove conflicts of interest. All of this will have the long-term effect of reducing the power, reach and ability of Terrorists.

More generally, though, oil is a losing game2. As the world’s supply slowly dwindles, costs will continue to rise. The United States has to develop alternate means of energy on a mass scale. Hydroelectric, Ethanol and Solar power are not feasible for the amount needed, and while nuclear fission might do it, the baggage is heavy.

No, the two most promising sources of inexpensive energy on a mass scale are room-temperature nuclear fusion and Hydrogen.

Environmentally, both are cleaner than anything else available. You could run New York City for a year on Hydrogen or Nuclear Fusion and only produce enough waste to fill a Dixie Cup.

The problem is: right now Hydrogen takes more energy to create than it produces, and nuclear fusion-- at room temperature, where it would be viable—is science fiction. Thus, I would announce a 10 Billion dollar reward (and the eternal thanks of the nation) to whoever could produce a workable system for either of these energy sources. (Or any other plan that might work for the whole country.)

This figure is flexible, but at 5 times that price, it would still be the cheapest money ever spent. The point is that the greatest benefits to humankind have come from people hoping to make a profit, and I have no problem dangling the biggest of carrots.

While this is going on, I would get every Energy company in the nation together, and explain the way things are going. Many businesses in this great nation have adapted over the years, and I have faith Big Energy can too. Plans will have to be made to build new Power Plants or refit the ones we have. The same goes for the local gas stations. This will be the biggest investment in infrastructure since the freeways—maybe bigger. The very process will create jobs, and the end result will be better for everyone.

In the meantime, we might have to actually use more oil. This may mean tapping into the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Before you get all mad: this is just short-term. The goal is to not use any oil at all. This plan will take anywhere from 10 to 30 years; but the sooner we get started, the better.

Along the lines of pushing for fuel systems that don’t yet exist, the United States should be encouraging No-Holds-Barred research and development. The benefits of technology to humankind have been immeasurable, and will continue if research is continued in a productive way. Towards that end, I’m starting a Cabinet-level position to oversee a new Department. I don’t have a great name yet, but I’m thinking of calling it Science Technology Uber Development (S.T.U.D.), or possibly THE FRONTIER. If you have something better, let me know.

The goal of this Department will be to foment and spearhead the technologies that will drive and rule the 21st Century. The technology that exists today will be obsolete in 20 years, if that long. Fields like nanotechnology, AI, robotics, biogenetics, and many others will be the dominant forces in the new global economy. The United States, long a leader in such matters, has lost much ground to Asia, and especially Europe. If America wants to compete in the decades to come, it must aggressively invest in pursuing fields that don’t yet exist or are in their infancy.

One other thing: while this is an altruistic long-term plan to help the country, I would ask for one small project of my own. I want the Light Saber invented so I can wear one to official functions. (Luckily, we don’t Knight people, so there shouldn’t be a problem there.) I do not think this is too much to ask.

The next item should really be done BEFORE this election. America more-or-less invented the modern Democratic Republic. The whole world looks to the US as a model here. The election results should be above reproach.

I do not write here of the ’00 debacle in Florida, which—as screwed up and circus-like as it went—produced the correct result. No, there are far bigger problems plaguing the elections.

There are accusations that millions (mostly poor or minorities) are being actively kept from voting. I find these accusations troubling, both that they could be true and that many of the accusations are knowingly false. I would make it a crime-punishable by many years in prison—to knowingly keep legitimate people from voting, or for falsely accusing others of doing the same.

A potentially bigger problem is the registering of people who cannot legally vote, and people voting several times. America has had this problem its entire run. Who can forget Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall4? In 1960, voter fraud may well have tipped the election. Even in 2000, there were gigantic irregularities in several close states, like Wisconsin, New Mexico and Pennsylvania that didn’t get wide reporting because of the Florida drama. (Did you know that over 99% of people registered to vote in Philadelphia voted? Does not that seem odd?)

The truth is: virtually every state is beset with fraud, but we rarely hear about it unless the vote is super-close. I would make it a crime PUNISHABLE BY LIFE IN PRISON to knowingly vote twice or or vote when ineligible; or aid and abet those who do. My punishments may sound draconian, but here is NOTHING more important to the integrity of a government than the confidence of the public that it was legitimately elected3.

Finally on this subject, I would mandate a super-secure voting system be put in place. If they are using computers, the operating system must be impenetrable. If paper, that must be solid too. I consider this issue a risk of national security on par with terrorism. I’d even be willing to consider a law that if you are a citizen (as I defined it in #295 If I Led: Round 2), you MUST VOTE. You don’t have to pick one of the candidates, but you must vote. That way we know how many people are voting, which would help with fraud.

The point is: there are many ways to make this system more secure, we just have to have the will to do them.

Oh, and the polls will have a national closing time. One year it would be 6-6 Eastern, the next 9-9. It is not too much to ask that for one day every four years we adjust our busy schedules, and with a national closing time, the vultures in the Media can’t try to affect matters.

I’m running out of room so let me just mention two more things. If I were president (and seriously: Bush or Kerry; you really ought to consider this), I would visit the Middle East. I would go on tour to every country there, and spread this message:

We don’t hate you. Your Media says we do, but we don’t. There are many great Muslims in our country who contribute to society. And the Arab world has given humanity so many scientific advances, it’s impossible to count them all. (But if we did count them, it would be with Arabic numbers!) However, there are some people here who hate America and what it stands for. Some hate the freedom. Period. Some hate some of freedom’s effects that allows for undesirable things to crop up in society. Some just hate that America is not an Islamic State. So, they plot against us. And we can not, we will not, let them go. We will hunt them down wherever they are. But that’s not everyone. We don’t want to destroy the Arab world, or Islamic culture. We want to learn from you all we can. We yearn for every man and woman to breathe free, and I think deep down in your heart of hearts, many of you do too.”

Okay: what would this solve? Maybe nothing. But, if couldn’t hurt. You have to understand; the Media in much of the Arab world makes CNN and Fox News look like responsible journalists. They print the foulest lies in their papers and repeat them on TV, and nobody blinks, because there is no freedom there, in the sense we’re used to. Say what you want about our Media (and I often do), but at least the other side can lie right back.

So, much of the Arab world has a false image of the U.S. They really do think America is out to get them. Sure, the press over there would spin, distort, and downright lie about whatever the president said on his tour, but at least there would be a chance some of the message would get through.

Look at it this way: the coverage can’t get any worse. Europe write about us like we’re Nazis and Communists combined (otherwise known as Commazis5). And they’re our allies. The Middle East is even worse. In other words: there is nowhere for the coverage to go but up. Any president with the balls to visit that area with all the hostility, and take the shots and keep on message, would win a lot of points in the world.

Beyond that, he would get respect for having the guts just to go in there. And lest you think I have a death wish, I thought of this. I think even enemy countries would go out of their way to make sure I—or any president—was safe as houses. Because, do you know what the United States would do to a country if it attacked the president while he visited? Those countries know too. Anyway, I would visit. I’m not saying my trip would cure all ills, but at least it would be a start.

Finally, I have a plan so bold that it makes all the others listed here seem tame. I’m not even sure I should share this with you, but if I do become president, I’m counting on you all keeping this quiet. (I know a Sea Hag and a Troll who owe me favors, so you better take me seriously.)

If I were president, I would secretly—and I mean SECRETLY—approach Russia, Japan, and especially China. I would tell them that North Korea has to be stopped before they are fully capable of launching nuclear weapons. I have absolutely no doubt that Kim Il Jong will start a war—using the threat of nukes—if he can. He’s that crazy. You just can’t wait around until he’s ready. I would get these countries to see the need to act, and act now.

Then—and this part would really depend on secrecy—I would bring several members of the Media on board. I would ask them to go along with what’s about to happen, to report it as if it’s real, along with the 24 hour news cycle, fear, stock fluctuations; what have you. It would all be worth it.

Then, I would fake a nuclear bomb going off, probably somewhere in the Middle East. Between the Press, our Army, and George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic, we ought to be able to pull this off.

Immediately troops would be moving; all over the world. That would only be understandable, as the US mobilized for war, and the rest of the world braced for whatever that might entail. I would let if be known that the bomb came from Iran or Iraq somewhere, and all hell was about to break loose.

And, with everyone’s attention diverted to the catastrophe playing out in the Middle East, the United States, Japan, Russia, and China jointly would launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. The goals would be simple: kill Kim Il Jong and as many of his top generals as needed, and disable any nuclear facilities.

Trust me, if the fake nuclear bomb is done right, this invasion could be completed in 48 hours. All of the troops the US were mobilizing would be explained by the bomb, and all the troops Russia, Japan, and China had could be explained by their response to the situation. North Korea would never see it coming.

North Korea is not Al Qaeda, divided up into cells. It is definitely a top-down organization. Once that maniac and key generals were dead, and the nukes disarmed, the world would rush to help these poor people. They have been starved and brainwashed for a half century. I know South Korea would help. China, Russia and Japan would have a vested interest too. North Korea would be saved, the region would be stabilized, and the world would be safer.

And I, as your president, would just be getting started.

Join me Wednesday as I unveil more of my plan for America. Still to come: Economics, Medicine, Education and a little something I like to call The National Pudding Initiative. You won’t want to miss it.

Until then, stay cool and try to be a Hero in a Half-Shell6.

October 18, 2004

1 Bogart is slang for “steal.” Ask your kids if you’re confused.
2 I understand that petroleum products are also used for valuable things like plastics. However, when we switch, we will create more than enough energy to make these products, and we need to move more into ceramics anyway for some building materials. More on that another time.
3 Do not send me letters about 2000 and Florida. Only a thorough misunderstanding of what happened there could lead you to believe Al Gore won that state. Do some more research before you write me, or I’ll use your letter in a future column and mock your ignorance.
4 Boss Tweed is a famous New York political figure from the late 1800s (brilliantly depicted, by the way, in Gangs of New York.) Back then—as it still is sometimes today—democracy meant getting your people motivated to vote as many times as necessary to secure a win, and if that wasn’t enough, you kept counting until you had your margin of victory.
5 I just made that up. If you use it, give me credit.
6 This is what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are called. One more thing to ask your kids about.

Motto Explanation
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a popular comic book and later TV and movie franchise, featuring Turtles by the names of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo. In the original TV series theme song, the Turtles were described thusly: “Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines…Raphael is cool but rude…Michelangelo is a party dude…” That’s why Raphael doesn’t like the column: he’s rude

Thanks to Koz for Editing
Thanks to all the members of the Hyperion Institute Council for ideas
Thanks to the 6 graduate students at UCLA School of Economics who crunched numbers for us


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