Where, oh where, are the issues?

As the two political party conventions approach and the never ending 2008 Presidential campaign drones on and on, both candidates for the top job in the land continue to avoid dealing with any of the real issues that face America.

Perhaps there are some issues buried in the barrage of ads that feature pop celebrities and endless accusations but I’ll be damned if I can find them.

Republican John McCain’s vicious attack ads avoid any real discussion of serious issues while Democratic nominee Barack Obama is too busy defending himself to offer anything more than vague promises on the economy, the war and the increasingly defeatist mood in a place called America.

Can Campaign 2008 ever get to substantive issues? Perhaps, but the odds are long. With all the hyperbole, the odds favor voters entering the voting booth in November and casting their ballots without knowing what, if anything, either candidate will do as President.

Where, for example, does either of the candidates for President stand on?

THE USA PATRIOT ACT: McCain voted for the original act and for reauthorization. Obama voted for reauthorization (he wasn’t in the Senate when the original act passed). But neither candidate says where they stand on continuing the act that civil libertarians call the greatest threat to the Constitution ever passed by Congress;

IRAQ WAR: McCain, as we all know, supports the war but he is vague about what he will do to end America’s invasion of another nation. Obama used to oppose the war but is still "redefining" his position. His recent visit to the war-torn country offered little, if any clarification on his position.

GAS PRICES: Both candidates offer plans that are long on hyperbole and short on realistic fixes. Offshore drilling, advocated by McCain, offers no short-term relief and questionable long-time benefits. Obama’s plan to raise taxes on electricity and offer energy rebates is a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" solution.  Meanwhile, gas prices are falling and some think they will continue to drop until after the election. Can anyone say "convenient?"

ECONOMY: Neither candidate offers a clear, concise plan for dealing with increasing foreclosures, declining jobs or rising prices.

THE AMERICAN MOOD: If anything defines the state of America today, it is the sour national mood. Polls show increasing pessimism about the future of the country and a nation in the doldrums. Americans worry about their personal futures as well. For a while, Obama’s upbeat message of change seemed to resonate with despondent Americans but his campaign of late has turned into standard political pap and the early optimism is fading fast.

This is not a campaign about issues. It is one of hyperbole, hype and hoopla. Neither candidate offers substance, neither deals with issues and neither has proven they can lead a nation out of the many crises that this nation faces.

More than anything, the choices we face is November highlight a failure in the system. The political system that controls the electoral process in America does more damage than good. It has failed the American people, the nation and the common good.

The problem cannot be solved with an election. It cannot be solved through a system that supports the status quo. It must be solved by a determined populace that says "enough" and takes the tough steps to take this country back from those who have seized it for their own greedy purposes.


  1. ekaton

    The point is, precisely, that time will tell the extent of the Dneiper-Donets reserves, US Geological Survery and other “experts” opinions aside.

    — Kent Shaw

  2. ekaton

    “First, the US Geological Survey does not agree that the Dneiper-Donets reserves are that large (it cites 2.7 billion barrels for total oil endowment).”

    Did the US Geological Survey conduct their evaluation onsite or is it a SWAG?

    Time will tell the extent of the Dneiper-Donets reserves.

    — Kent Shaw

  3. almandine

    Sorry Timr- Your logic just doesn’t do it for me… coal, gas hydrates, natural gas – even shale… aren’t oil and don’t address “Peak Oil” as a phenomenon… much less make it a myth. They all may have merit regarding alternative sources of energy… but Peak Oil is a specific condition that demands specific data to substantiate or refute. The question is simple: What proportion of total liquid oil supply inside the planet has already been sucked out? Show me the numbers.

  4. Timr

    al, peak oil is a myth. Brazil discovered a huge pool off their coast. Coal can be turned into fuel-the Germans did it in WWII, when the price is high enough, we will do it again. Then we have the new Gas Hydrates discovery both off the coast of SoKorea, and in the great white north-Canada. After 15 years of research, this fuel source is about to come on line. Also a very big gas field has been discovered at Langley, which is near Inubek in Canada. Gas was not in a shortage situation this summer, every station had plenty. It was just expensive. I lived thru the embargo in the 70’s in California, and the shortage in the Huntsville Al. area in 78-79. Believe me, this summer has been nothing like those.

  5. almandine

    Back to the question at hand…

    Are our politicians too self-serving, too ignorant, too incompetent, too scared, or just too carefree to take on the problems we have elected them to solve?

  6. almandine

    The Abiotic Oil Theory is truly an interesting topic. I egged on many of my geologist buddies for quite awhile about the Russian “find” and they pounded me with “learned rebuttal”. A real thorough article on it can be found at:

    There, it describes most of the current argumentation, including this:

    “The Russians (I must remind the reader that I am actually talking about a minority even within the community of Russian geologists) claim successes in drilling in basement rock in the Dneiper-Donets Basin in the Ukraine. Professor Vladilen A. Krayushkin, Chairman of the Department of Petroleum Exploration, Institute of Geological Sciences, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kiev, and leader of the exploration project, wrote:

    The eleven major and one giant oil and gas fields here described have been discovered in a region which had, forty years ago, been condemned as possessing no potential for petroleum production. The exploration for these fields was conducted entirely according to the perspective of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins. The drilling which resulted in these discoveries was extended purposely deep into the crystalline basement rock, and it is in that basement where the greatest part of the reserves exist. These reserves amount to at least 8,200 M metric tons [65 billion barrels] of recoverable oil and 100 B cubic meters of recoverable gas, and are thereby comparable to those of the North Slope of Alaska. (5)

    However, independent assessments of the situation do not support these claims. First, the US Geological Survey does not agree that the Dneiper-Donets reserves are that large (it cites 2.7 billion barrels for total oil endowment). Second, the appearance of oil in basement rocks is unusual but not unheard of, and there are various ways in which oil can appear in basement rock. In the process of drilling through overlying sedimentary rock, oil can be expelled downward so that it appears to come from below. Then there are situations where igneous or metamorphic rocks have migrated upward, or sedimentary rocks have migrated downward, so that basement rock covers sedimentary rock (in some cases, the overthrust may be hundreds of square kilometers in extent). In his paper “Oil Production from Basement ReservoirsóExamples from USA and Venezuela,” Tako Koning of Texaco Angola, Inc., cites source rocks such as marine shales in nearly all instances. (6) More to the point, numerous studies cite the existence of sedimentary source rocks in the Dneiper-Donets region. (7)”

    There is also a discussion of the technological “impossibilities” attendant to recovering such oil – if it does exist – which make much of the theory moot.

    Too bad for us all.

  7. almandine

    True… oil is a commodity sold worldwide – by the haves to the have-nots. It’s international trade. We have corporations do it for us. They buy oil from the folks who own the ground and pump it out to wherever. Also, we’ve got corn… we need oil… trade ya – for use by ourselves and other people of the world. Pillaging??? Your socialist politics are showing.

    Be glad we can get oil from other places, as we don’t have enough of “our” own to support the kind of economy we need to maintain ourselves. As for the hole we’re in… sucking-it-up doesn’t begin to describe its depth.

  8. Uncle Ludwig

    More ranting without point…

    Issues are covered in the generic websites of both candidates. Campaign “appearances” are media events that have nothing to do with issues. They have everything to do with “appearances.”

    Regardless, none of it matters now anyway. The conventions are looming, and THEN we can apparently start thinking about actual platform planks. Now, it’s all cosmetics.

    Refinery capacity and availability is also NOT the issue. Neither is getting more leases to drill (someday). The issue is where the oil goes that comes out of American soil. Even if the oil companies could pump out every speck of oil from every square meter of American soil, there is NO requirement on them that the products of that oil remain in America. The oil cos can take “our” oil and sell it on the world market (to China and India) – because it’s THEIR oil, not ours.

    So get off the subject of quantities and capacities – that’s what THEY want you to worry about. Get on the subject of the oil trade itself and how each country’s resources are pillaged the world over. Talk about the fairness of THAT. Our country’s energy companies, mining companies, and other commodity gatherers have made it a habit to enter into one-sided deals with nations rich in certain resources and take the commodities out of the native countries and sell/consume them elsewhere. We’re not the first to do so, but it is practically the ONLY reasons this country involves itself so thoroughly in the politics of the Middle East, Africa, and South and Central America. It’s also why we seem to promote more dictatorships than democracies in these countries – easier to make unfair deals with, I imagine.

    Anyway, bottom line on the lack of issue discussion in the campaigns: it’s very likely that NOBODY can see a viable way out of the mess we’re all in…Nobody wants to say that we’re going to have to suck it up for awhile, even though deep down we all know that’s precisely what’s going to have to happen to get us out of the hole(s) we’re in. Both candidates are hoping the electorate doesn’t want to hear about it during their campaigns, but they’ll be sure to let us know AFTER they’re in office.

  9. almandine

    I’ll say it again…

    A consensus has developed among many oil experts that “Peak Oil” is a reality whose time has come. Facing that, the question becomes, “Why build greater refining capacity in the face of diminished crude supplies?” Significant increases in crude supply(read discovery of another Saudi Arabia) could alter that mentality and spur the building of new refineries. Of course, that does nothing for the current so-called crisis. I can recall that in 1970 the price of gas in England was more than we pay now and the price there is about double what we pay here today. Even more in the rest of Europe. The REAL problem for us is the combination of global demand and monetary inflation… there have been too many worthless dollars chasing anything and everything. Too much credit, too… but neither of our major parties see that as a campaign issue. As for the people: Issues??? We don’t need no stinking issues !!! We got HDTV !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Flapsaddle

    Refineries are very expensive and the environmental logistics are daunting. One of our major petroleum refiners here has announced a $250 million expansion – a fairly modest investment – and it is already drawing heat from various environmental groups.

    As long as refineries can be expanded and either be upgraded or retro-fitted in some manner, then that is more or less acceptable; however, we haven’t had a new refinery come on-line in about 30 years. We are now more or less maxed-out in terms of expansion – I believe that the API says we are at 98% capacity and cannot get any larger because of the maintenance requirements – so we are at or past the point of diminishing returns.

    A part of the reason for increased fuel prices is the lack of additional refining capacity. A part is speculation – oil is coming off of the hyperinflation that took it into the $140/bbl stratosphere. A part is due to increased competition as China and India, the two fastest-growing economies, push to become modern industrial states. And a part is due to the implosion of the dollar due to our spending and borrowing policies.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  11. Timr

    Doug & Sandra. To true. BUT, there is no oil company in the US who has even tried to build a new refinery. I have to wonder why that might be. Keep the price of oil up higher maybe? Have any new refineries been built anywhere in the world in say the last 20 years?
    Doug, YEP. We are going to have the exact same type of campaign that was run in 2K and 04. Why you ask. Because the repigs think that they can go to the well of ignorance once more and have the country vote its fear. They could very well be right. Never never talk about the issues, instead make the entire election about something that has nothing at all to do with what the people really want. Remember what the McCain campaign said about 2 weeks ago. “The candidate does not speak for the campaign” That is BTW, a direct quote. So, we learn that just as bush was a front man for the corporate interests who have been running the country for the last 8 years, McCain is also. The oligarchs are running the country, they are setting things up so that even if Obama overcomes their campaign to win the sheeple vote-those 50% of voters who are “uninterested” in what is happening-he will not be able to change the direction of the govt that the repigs have set in motion. Neutering the ESA, the EPA, DoJ and infiltrating the Civil Service are the ways that they will insure that what the oligarchs want, they will get. We the People lost when gwb was elected. From now on every political race will be all about the trivial and nothing at all about substance. Because that is the way the repig/oligarchs want it. Add in the hubris from the Obama camp who have allowed McCain to define him, and We The People have become well and truely fucked.

  12. Carl Nemo

    A great short list Doug Thompson concerning the lack of serious dialogue concerning the grave issues that suffer this once great nation on the part of these two jive-turkey candidates…!

    We are now living in Orwellian times; ie., an era of “gray zone” thought processes. The corporations have taken over planet earth with their both owned or controlled supporters in the MSM, the halls of Congress and the Executive branch cheering them on.

    “WE the people”… have become ciphers when it comes to any meaningful thought distillate that just might shake them up. They laugh their asses off 24/7/365 as to how they have masterfully gentled us all down to this level of insipid, ongoing, docile, stupidity…!

    They own all our asses lock, stock and barrel!

    We have McCain the “bad cop” and Obama the seemingly “good cop”, but they both dutifully report to the same NWO, corporatist controllers. Four years of either of these crimpol-clowns will just dig us deeper into debt and insure even more grave circumstances for this once great nation.

    The only way things could possibly change at this point is through open, violent, national and worldwide revolution, but that isn’t going to happen, courtesy of “Big Pharm” and their endless stream of anti-depressant/anxiety nostrums being prescribed to almost 80 million Americans and is an unknown on a worldwide basis.

    Yak…yak…geck…geck…we all go 24/7/365, but no one of substance is in the process of both leading and engaging “we the people” in “massive” protests; ie., trucker strikes, not sending in the house or retail credit payment on time or any overt actions that just might shake up these smug sob’s regardless of party affiliation along with their shadowy NWO, corporatist controllers.

    It’s as if Americans have become mentally and spiritually castrated and have no gumption to stand up enmasse’ against this ongoing assault to our sensibilities and the eminent threat to the few freedoms we have left at this point in our national history.

    Even the French have more balls then Americans in that they know how to wage massive strikes and burn the country down when they get pissed off, if necessary…! 😐

    Carl Nemo **==

  13. scytherius

    Are you serious????? This is America. America doesn’t care about issues. That is why we have next to no influence in the world and put dangerous frat boys in power. Pick a side, conservative or liberal, and honestly ask who was elected on issues and who talks about issues. hardly any.

    America is a has been power and it’s gonna take 1-2 generations dying off to change it.

  14. jlmccreery

    Not a great rant, Doug.

    The Patriot Act: Definitely cause for serious concern, but the vote was 68 to 28 and the 68 included folks like Jim Webb, who both knows a fair amount about national security issues and hasn’t been exactly shy about speaking truth to power.

    The Iraq War: Obama not only opposed the war before it began, he has offered concrete proposals that have, at the end of the day, been embraced by his opponents (“time horizon” as a substitute for “time line” is just shuck and jive) and, more importantly the Iraqis, too.

    Gas prices: Obama has not embraced offshore drilling. He has said, sensibly enough, that he is willing to see it on the table if that will break the gridlock that prevents Congress doing anything at all. If that also happens to take the wind out of his opponent’s appeal to the ignorance of folks who think that offshore drilling is a magic wand that will instantly reduce gas prices, that is just smart politics. His ads promote the much smarter policy of moving more rapidly toward greater energy independence via use of renewable resources.

    Economy: You didn’t notice, I see, that the energy policy is also a job-creation program, creating jobs for the working stiffs who will build and install all that new stuff. Tax policy that robs Peter, who moves his business overseas to avoid paying any tax at all with no concern whatever for the people whose jobs he’s destroying, to pay Paul, who invests in new technology to be built and installed in the U.S.A or his brother Tom, who blows it all at the shopping mall and boosts domestic consumer demand, isn’t a zero-sum game. It’s using taxes productive investment in more productive and less “It’s all about me” directions.

    The American Mood: That hope and that change that we can believe in. For the nearly two million folks who have already chipped in to Barack’s campaign, that’s a welcome respite from the endless arrogant stupidity that has become the hallmark of today’s Republican Party, driving folks like Paul O’Neil and Susan Eisenhower into the Obama camp.

    Try looking a little deeper and relying less on cliches that smell like old gym socks. We know that you can write better than this. Give it a try.

    John McCreery

    If you are a U.S. citizen and live outside the USA, register to vote and request an absentee ballot.


  15. pollchecker

    The LOVE OF MONEY is the ROOT of ALL EVIL!

    That applies to a lot more than just politics. It applies to our entire society who put money FIRST before family, friends, patriotism, etc.

    We are what we are because we have allowed it! We have allowed it because for the most part we have a self-absorbed, lazy, entitled, narcissistic society.

  16. JudyB

    Great rant Doug..thanks! This is what the VOTING PUBLIC needs to know..not the other crap that we have been inundated with for months on end.

  17. ChescoRes

    Thanks Doug!

    As someone who was admonishing you last week over the lack of issues in your writing, I’d like to thank you for an issues based piece.

    You want people to talk more about this? Keep writing about it!

    I do agree that Obama’s energy plan is bit more detailed than you give him credit for, but that is EXACTLY the kind of debate we need.

    Keep ’em coming Doug!

  18. woody188

    That is my point, that the lesser of 2 evils is no choice at all.

    That’s what this country was built on….freedom to choose. When they take that away from us…..then we are truly lost.

    When all you have is the lesser of 2 evils, then that choice has already been taken from you leaving you with just evil.

    My only wish is more could see it for what it is. EVIL

    To put it to your ogre comment, if Obama is an ogre, and McCain is a troll, we should be voting for the elves, hobbits, and dwarves. But Sauron’s all seeing eye does not let word of the elves, hobbits and dwarves fighting against him to reach the humans, and so the humans despair and give in to the horde of Obama and/or McCain which both work for Sauron. Hence evil prevails and humans are enslaved to their would be masters.

  19. pollchecker

    The American People, for the most part, have ended up with just the sort of campaign and candidates they wanted!

    Ain’t that the truth!

  20. pollchecker

    Yes, I know, it is called MONEY! And let’s be real….one of those OTHER candidates is NOT going to Win.

    The point I was making is there are choices. We may not like them…but there are choices.

    Hell, I haven’t had a candidate to vote FOR…in my entire life. It has always been the LESSER of 2 evils….at least in my lifetime! Doesn’t keep me from voting. It just means that I vote against someone instead of FOR SOMEONE.

    Do I wish it were different? Sure! But I still have the choice. That’s what this country was built on….freedom to choose. When they take that away from us…..then we are truly lost. And the lie, cheat and steal REpublican party has done everything in their power for the last 7 years to take away those choices all the while they are spouting their hypocritical venom that only inspires fear and hate.

    Personally, Obama could be an ogre. I would still vote for him over any stinking Republican that ran this year!

  21. woody188

    You know I was referring to the mainstream candidates as defined by the corporate media. And weren’t you one insisting we would be throwing our vote away should we vote 3rd party?

    How many joe six packs have heard of Nader, Barr, Jay, Baldwin, McKinney, McEnulty, Riva, Amondson, Weill, Moore, Calero, Grimes, Keyes, or Wilson.

    What happened to equal time?

    Shouldn’t we hear about all the above candidates equally as much as Obama/McCain?

    Shouldn’t any televised Presidential debate include those candidates and not just the two approved by the corporate media and the established 2 party system?

    Yet not a peep from the corporate media over ANY of the other candidates available out there. It’s all Obama/McCain coverage or nothing at all.

  22. pollchecker

    No choice at all for working Americans.

    Sorry, but I think that is a crock. You may not like the choices…but there are still plenty of choices from who you vote for (there are at least 5 candidates that I KNOW of) or whether you vote or NOT!

    I’m so tired of people who don’t like the way the game is turning out so they want to change the rules. Where the hell have they been for the last 7 years.

    This was predictable. Doug even attempted to start something up but quit because he could not get the support he needed. Why?

    Because it’s easier for people to gripe and complain than it is to do something to change it.

    Never fear…change is a coming….regardless of who wins the election.

    However, I fear that if McSame wins, there will be a lot more lives lost than even GW killed off.

    So Remember to Re-elect John McSame 08! Working towards World War III!

  23. Tinker

    Well now, you can just blame the American People! When Joe Biden was campaigning in Iowa he offered detailed information about solutions to problems, both at home and abroad. But instead people wanted to hear pretty speeches from the Obamanable Showman, and feel good about making history. They labeled Joe Biden as boring and long-winded for talking about solutions.

    The American People, for the most part, have ended up with just the sort of campaign and candidates they wanted!

  24. woody188

    The problem cannot be solved with an election. It cannot be solved through a system that supports the status quo. It must be solved by a determined populace that says “enough” and takes the tough steps to take this country back from those who have seized it for their own greedy purposes.

    Sounds like Mr. Thompson is warming up to my point of view. Globalization is only inevitable when we allow 2 parties that both sold out to global business to define the issues. Which rich globalist fat cat do you prefer, the black one or the white one?

    That’s the choice the 2 party system has provided for 2008. No choice at all for working Americans.

  25. griff

    Issues? We don’t need no stinkin’ issues! Tabloid journalism and buzzword bingo rule the day. Where the media lead, the sheep will follow.

    Not only has the system failed the American People, but the People have failed the System. We have cast aside all that made this country great.

    We have allowed the fox into the henhouse, and now we wonder where all the eggs have gone. Lay open its belly and retrieve your eggs before all has been digested.

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” – Thomas Jefferson