Google+ Followers

Blog Catalog

Monday, April 28, 2008

new news

So now we learn that we have more houses abandoned in the United States than we've ever had, since they started tracking such statistics--in 1956. 18.6 MILLION homes abandoned. Empty. No one home. Zilch. 2.9% of all homes in the United States. Abandoned. There's some cheery little news on a Monday, huh?


Thanks for not regulating that banking industry much, George!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

An open question of the people of America

You aren't reading one thing about the situation in Iraq and about what's going on there, are you?

I lied or I was wrong or something...

I can't quit with the important stuff. I'm not going to rant and rave but I can try to disseminate good, solid, important information. So here goes.

Did you see this?

The Three Trillion Dollar War

by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes

When the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, Americans were told Iraqi oil would cover the costs of the war and rebuilding. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld scoffed at estimates of $100 billion.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University and Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes raised a stir in 2006 by estimating the real cost of the war to be $1 trillion. That estimate has been tripled and the title of their new book is "The Three Trillion Dollar War."

See the author's answers to questions at:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/qna/forum/three_trillion_dollar_war/index.html

Also, on a related topic, if you aren't familiar with Joe Galloway, he's a columnist/reporter for McClatchy Newspapers and seems to write some good, thought-provoking stuff. You can find him here:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/galloway/

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Change is comin'

You know what? I got to thinking today that I'd write about the lack of sustainability of the way we-mankind-live today. I had written down several salient, pertinent points about the whole thing. How we're basically killing ourselves and wiping out all our resources. It had nothing to do with this being Earth Day, too. It just all came to me and I knew it was true and right.

But then, by the end of the day, I also realized that I'm not educating anyone; I'm not saving anyone--least of all mankind.

Millions of knuckleheads went out and voted for George W. Bush for President, not once but twice, unbelievable and anathema to me as that is. And no one is going to stop doing incredibly stupid stuff like that because of anything I write. Corporations and rich people are going to go on being incredibly selfish, self-centered, greedy and downright ugly and, yes, stupid. Nothing is going to change.

So you know what?

To hell with it.

Yeah. No kidding.

I don't want to be some bitter, old, well-informed fool who tries to go around letting people know what's "right".

I have my opinions and I'll just keep them.

I sent my brother an email with the information from Harper's, below--my earlier entry--on how the President is no doubt the worst one ever.

His response? He wrote back that he didn't want to hear negative things.

Yeah, well, good for him, right?

And that's the way it is with America. They don't want to face that their own brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and soldiers are being killed for them and in their name. They don't wanna hear about Iraq. (It's the 4th highest priority right now, according to polls, in terms of importance, to the American voting public). They don't want to hear about how they need to sell their 8 cylinder automobile and conserve fuel.

They don't want to hear anything that's corrective. Nothing could possibly be wrong with the United States, could there?

Ralph Nader is right about America and corporations but hardly anyone cares.

Understand, this is not a response to my brother's email response. His stance is just typical of America. He's going along.

My response is more a desire on my part to try to just be pleasant and positive and not think or feel that I have to be aware of every problem in the United States--or the world--so I can write about either the wrong, what we should do to correct the wrong, or both.

Screw it.

I'm changing this blog to be one about photography, humor and beauty, if and when I can find it.

No one's looking anyway.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Worst. Ever. (Now official)

TITLE Worst. President. Ever. (from Harper's Magazine: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/04/hbc-90002804)

DEPARTMENT No Comment
BY Scott Horton

PUBLISHED April 5, 2008

“It would be difficult to identify a President who, facing major international and domestic crises, has failed in both as clearly as President Bush,” concluded one respondent. “His domestic policies,” another noted, “have had the cumulative effect of shoring up a semi-permanent aristocracy of capital that dwarfs the aristocracy of land against which the founding fathers rebelled; of encouraging a mindless retreat from science and rationalism; and of crippling the nation’s economic base.”

America’s historians, it seems, don’t think much of George W. Bush.

Now in all fairness, historians should wait a while before passing judgment on a president’s who served recently, much less one still in office. But the current incumbent is a special case. After all, 81 percent of Americans, according to a recent New York Times poll, believe he’s taken the country on the wrong track. That’s the highest number ever registered. The same poll also says 28 percent have a favorable view of his performance in office, which is also in Nixon-in-the-darkest-days-of-Watergate territory.

But, as George Mason University’s History News Network reports, the historians have a different measure. They want to stack him up against his forty-two predecessors as the nation’s chief executive. Among historians, there is no doubt into which echelon he falls–his competitors are Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce, the worst of the presidential worst. But does Bush actually come in dead last?

Yes. History News Network’s poll of 109 historians found that 61 percent of them rank Bush as “worst ever” among U.S. presidents. Bush’s key competition comes from Buchanan, apparently, and a further 2 percent of the sample puts Bush right behind Buchanan as runner-up for “worst ever.” 96 percent of the respondents place the Bush presidency in the bottom tier of American presidencies. And was his presidency (it’s a bit wishful to speak of his presidency in the past tense–after all there are several more months left to go) a success or failure? On that score the numbers are still more resounding: 98 percent label it a “failure.”


Historians Rate George W. Bush a “Failure”
This marks a dramatic deterioration for Bush. Previously he wasn’t viewed in the most positive terms, but there was a consensus that he wasn’t the “worst of the worst” either. That was in the spring of 2004. In the meantime, Bush has established himself as the torture president, the basis for his invasion of Iraq has been exposed as a fraud, the Iraq War itself has gone disastrously, the nation’s network of alliances has faded, and the economy has gone into a tailspin–not to mention the bungled handling of relief for victims of hurricane Katrina. In 2004, only 12 percent of historians were ready to place Bush dead last.

Here are some of the comments that the historians furnished:

“No individual president can compare to the second Bush,” wrote one. “Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.”

“With his unprovoked and disastrous war of aggression in Iraq and his monstrous deficits, Bush has set this country on a course that will take decades to correct,” said another historian. “When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of areas: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.”

Looking backward, going forward

It's an old concept and it's hard to shake but too many of us--individuals, sure, but whole societies and our governments, federal, state and local--seem to be trying to go forward but are doing it by looking back. That is, we're using rules from the last 100 years or even more, thinking old rules and laws apply to current problems and situations.

Nowhere is this more true than in our wars. The saying is that the beginning of the war today, paraphrased, is always fought in the last war's terms. It is especially true now, with what must always be referred to as "Bush's War". The thought was, however much it's denied, that we need to go in and take over their oil, since we need it so badly into the future.

If you operate in the past, this is certainly true. We have used cars and combustion engines, etc., to propel our society forward, to increase our productivity and even for something as simple as recreation. Sure.

But we've known we need to ween ourselves off the "oil fix" since the 70's? Remember? Our President at the time warned us about it. You know, Jimmy Carter? And he was right, of course. We should have been turning down our thermostats in the winter and driving less and driving more fuel-efficient cars and giving tax breaks for truly beneficial, alternative energy sources.

We did it for a little while, it went away, so we voted in Ronald Reagan and walked away from it all, fools that we are.

So instead of looking and moving forward, we looked and moved backward. We made and drove ridiculously large automobiles (the kind we used to make fun of) and kept importing oil. And that's where we are today.

In the meantime, our government, acting on our behalf, looked in the rear view mirror and attacked another sovereign nation, quite against international law, as I've written here before--and refuse to forget.

So that's why we're in this huge mess we're in. We're in a war we shouldn't be in, losing soldiers we shouldn't be losing, sending money and materiel to another country--and in the Middle East, no less, where so much of the world's money is going, for great irony--and so on.

What we should do, for the world's and our own benefit, if we were to start looking forward--hey, I can be hopeful, can't I--is sponsoring a huge scientific effort to harness solar power, specifically with photovoltaic cells. The benefits are so great and plentiful it should be obvious to us all--even the "little guy" on the street.

First, we take all the pressure off the Middle East. That would take at least several minutes off the "doomsday clock". (Remember that? If not, Google same). It would ratchet us down from nuclear annihilation significantly. It would take ugliness out of relationships between the United States and the former Soviet Union--another big benefit--and so much more.

Additionally, it would take carbon dioxide production out of our existence, in a very real way. With efficient electrical power, created from photovoltaic cells, entire countries could and would power their homes and businesses this way. There would be no reason we couldn't have and use this as a source of energy for our automobiles. Those two switches alone would put us on phenomenally improved paths to energy independence and far cleaner air and atmosphere.

This would, of course, have the effect of reducing Global Climate Change in a very real way. This would help put off the radical change of the world's living spaces. The benefits are great and almost immediately tangible.

If we were looking forward, the "war" we should and would wage would be on ourselves, to do this very thing--perfect solar energy, specifically with photovoltaic cells. Keeping in mind the truism that "the greatest battle is the battle within", it seems like this is the new, forward-thinking war we should be in, if we should be in one at all. Battle ourselves to be more conservation-minded, more creative, more "new-thinking", if that's a word. Not to sound like a politician, God forbid, but we need to truly challenge ourselves to be and to do everything we can to bring about this specific change on this planet as soon as possible, for all our many benefits.

Sure, the current electrical power companies would have to lose out, as would the oil companies since we would need neither any longer but we've got to go forward, for all our survival.

The country that does this, that perfect solar power, will actually, truly win "the war". They will be the country that is far ahead technologically and so, reap the financial benefits. They'll be the big winners in this world--and not a shot will have been fired.

It's the same way with newspapers, technology, the paper industry and news, all wrapped in one. If we keep looking backward, we'll keep asking the question, "what's going to become of the newspaper?" But if we look forward, we'll realize we have to do away with newspapers for obvious reasons. First, we can no longer afford to keep cutting down trees to create them. Face it, the forests are the lungs of the planet (not my original thought) and we can't keep cutting them down so we can keep up on one- and two-day old news. The computer and the internet are far faster. Newspapers are failing anyway. We have to go on to this next medium. (Of course, we'll also have to force ourselves, as citizens of our countries and the world, to open our eyes and minds to news--some of which we won't want to hear or believe and this will be difficult, at least--but it's got to happen.

The same is true for the enitre paper industry. We really need, worldwide, to start going paperless. It was predicted years ago and we aren't even remotely close to it but we have to. We need to go paperless for the our own existence and the existence of the planet. Again, we're cutting down trees but can't afford to continue to do so. We've had paper for thousands of years but we really do, frankly, need to give them up. Face it. It's too obvious and too obviously true if we don't just continue to look back.

I'm convinced that the solutions to man's biggest problems--electrical energy, oil and the use of it, the automobile and the internal combustion engine, Global Climate Change, war and wars, war over energy, the seemingly intractable problems in the Middle East and so much more--are just beyond our grasp. The answers aren't that far away. We can reach and grab them, with effort. And we should--but we have to look forward--we have to stop looking back. We have to look at our situation now and into the future.

And we need to start very soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pentagon Institute calls Iraq War "a major debacle"...

Normally I like and want to write my own stuff out here. After all, it's my blog, right? Besides, I want to both be original and I also want to bring new ideas and thoughts out but I can't say this any more authoritatively--or better--than this.



Pentagon institute calls Iraq war 'a major debacle' with outcome 'in doubt'
By Jonathan S. Landay and John Walcott, McClatchy Newspapers

Thu Apr 17, 8:38 PM ET

WASHINGTON — The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.

The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush 's projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.

The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins , a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.

It was published by the university's National Institute for Strategic Studies , a Defense Department research center.

"Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle," says the report's opening line.

At the time the report was written last fall, more than 4,000 U.S. and foreign troops, more than 7,500 Iraqi security forces and as many as 82,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed and tens of thousands of others wounded, while the cost of the war since March 2003 was estimated at $450 billion .

"No one as yet has calculated the costs of long-term veterans' benefits or the total impact on service personnel and materiel," wrote Collins, who was involved in planning post-invasion humanitarian operations.

The report said that the United States has suffered serious political costs, with its standing in the world seriously diminished. Moreover, operations in Iraq have diverted "manpower, materiel and the attention of decision-makers" from "all other efforts in the war on terror" and severely strained the U.S. armed forces.

"Compounding all of these problems, our efforts there (in Iraq ) were designed to enhance U.S. national security, but they have become, at least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East ," the report continued.

The addition of 30,000 U.S. troops to Iraq last year to halt the country's descent into all-out civil war has improved security, but not enough to ensure that the country emerges as a stable democracy at peace with its neighbors, the report said.

"Despite impressive progress in security, the outcome of the war is in doubt," said the report. "Strong majorities of both Iraqis and Americans favor some sort of U.S. withdrawal. Intelligence analysts, however, remind us that the only thing worse than an Iraq with an American army may be an Iraq after a rapid withdrawal of that army."

"For many analysts (including this one), Iraq remains a 'must win,' but for many others, despite obvious progress under General David Petraeus and the surge, it now looks like a 'can't win.'"

The report lays much of the blame for what went wrong in Iraq after the initial U.S. victory at the feet of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld . It says that in November 2001 , before the war in Afghanistan was over, President Bush asked Rumsfeld "to begin planning in secret for potential military operations against Iraq ."

Rumsfeld, who was closely allied with Vice President Dick Cheney , bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the report says, and became "the direct supervisor of the combatant commanders."

" . . . the aggressive, hands-on Rumsfeld," it continues, "cajoled and pushed his way toward a small force and a lightning fast operation." Later, he shut down the military's computerized deployment system, "questioning, delaying or deleting units on the numerous deployment orders that came across his desk."

In part because "long, costly, manpower-intensive post-combat operations were anathema to Rumsfeld," the report says, the U.S. was unprepared to fight what Collins calls "War B," the battle against insurgents and sectarian violence that began in mid-2003, shortly after "War A," the fight against Saddam Hussein's forces, ended.

Compounding the problem was a series of faulty assumptions made by Bush's top aides, among them an expectation fed by Iraqi exiles that Iraqis would be grateful to America for liberating them from Saddam's dictatorship. The administration also expected that " Iraq without Saddam could manage and fund its own reconstruction."

The report also singles out the Bush administration's national security apparatus and implicitly President Bush and both of his national security advisers, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley , saying that "senior national security officials exhibited in many instances an imperious attitude, exerting power and pressure where diplomacy and bargaining might have had a better effect."

Collins ends his report by quoting Winston Churchill , who said: "Let us learn our lessons. Never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. . . . Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think that he also had a chance."

To read the report:

www.ndu.edu/inss/Occasional_Papers/OP5.pdf

Copyright © 2007 Yahoo


As an aside, I will say that I quoted this Churchill quote a year or more ago, out here, on the 'net, way before it was here. ke

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dollar vs. Euro

You should watch this YouTube video on the US Dollar vs. the Euro. It has some pretty incredible statistics and information in it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RhnHo3RDfg&feature=related


Keep in mind, it's in his best interest to give the information the way he is because he's selling the idea to the people in the room of buying gold and silver but he still has some pretty incredible statistics.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New developments

Well, big new developments this morning, concerning the economy and neither is good.

First, wholesale prices are up a whopping 1.1 percent in March, nearly triple the expected increase. Added to it is that this is "the largest increase since a 2.6 percent rise last November, which had been the biggest one-month jump in 33 years."

Yeah, that's 33 years. Zounds.

In itself, it's just not good news, of course. With everything else that's going on--all the bad news like the deficit spending we're doing, the war in the Middle East, the ridiculously, embarassingly low dollar on the world market, etc.--this is what the Federal Reserve and most economists absolutely didn't want and wanted desperately to avoid. With the falling dollar and a slowing economy, virtually all conversations about that same economy virtually always ended with "Well, at least we don't have any inflation."

And here's why:

With a slow economy or recession and inflation, you get the dreaded "stagflation" of a stagnant economy and inflation.

Now, economists know very well what to do for one or the other, but when you put the two together, it makes for a heck of a mess, a very difficult situation because they just don't know what to do. For inflation, you increase interest rates, to slow the economy. For a recession, you cut interest rates. Either is simple. Together, it's a stinker. You really have to walk a tight rope.

And frankly, if you were a student of history, you would know that this is almost inevitable, given that this President and his administration took us into their arbitrary war, with all it's spending. In the 60's, it was President Johnson's war in Vietnam, with all it's spending--and no tax increases--that brought us to the inflation, later, in the 70's. Different presidents and administrations paid dearly for that--right Mr. Carter?

But that's what is so great about this President. He was never a student of history. Don't know anything about how economies work? Don't know how those same economies work with high spending, low interest rates, low tax rates and more tax cuts for big business and the wealthy? Don't know anything about creating power vacuums in a despotic country, especially in the Middle East? No problem. Don't worry your pretty little head. Your friends will take care of you and your friends, for sure.

Okay, so here we are with a "bad moon rising." We need some good news and here it is: The good news, if there is any, is that the Fed will now be much less likely to cut interest rates further. MUCH less likely. You can bet on that. The one thing that REALLY concerns that group is inflation. So now, the dollar will be much less likely to drop a whole lot farther, even though today it did, what with the psychology of the markets and all. It's not great news, but it's something.

The second big development today---yeah, just second--is that oil hit $114.00 a barrel today. Yup. Read it again: $114.00 a barrel for oil. It did back off but hey, it hit it. And the lower the dollar goes, the higher oil will go, certainly.

The thing is, I'm sure the Current Occupant of the White House--as Garrison Keillor and I like to call him (he created it, of course)--has no idea what to do about the economy. Heck, the Fed will hardly know what to do so how would he?

So, folks, all I'm sayin' is, it ain't good, it's not getting better and they won't know quite what to do. Terrific, huh?

Kevin Phillips says we're sliding into our "post-abundance" period. My description of his theory, not his.

My point is that we should all start paying attention now.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Say it once and repeat frequently

Let's say this now and make this clear, 9 months before the knucklehead leaves office:

George W. Bush created and, more importantly, LOST this war, that's the long and short of it. The next President, whoever that is, did not lose this war.

Say it again. Say it frequently. Make--and keep--this clear.

George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and anyone and everyone else who created or helped create this stupid, misrepresented, illegal war and incursion into Iraq are the ones who lost this war. The next person to pick up the mantel of President for the United States has to clean up the mess, yes, BUT THEY DID NOT LOSE THIS WAR.

It would be a gross, unjust miscarriage of justice to say or think that anyone else lost this war but "W" and his cabal. They went in against international law. They chose, arbitrarily and unjustly, wrongly, to go in. They chose to go in with too few soldiers and support. They chose to go in without a plan. They chose to go in without a plan for after the "liberation" and/or fall of Saddamm Hussein. They did all these things, themselves, all alone. Senators Clinton, McCain or Obama (or former Senator Gore), if they are the next President did none of this. It won't be theirs to lose, in any way and it's extremely important to call this out now--and again and again, through next January's inauguration and beyond. History needs to call out these important details and facts.

It would be a gross injustice to the next administration, to the American people and to history to have it labeled any other way than that it was a war--let me repeat again--that George W. Bush and his administration lost.

Meanwhile, this from Yahoo! and the Associated Press just now: "US GI's in Iraq Suffer Worst Week of '0". See it at this link:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080412/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why this war isn't truly even sustainable

Consider these major factors:

1) News today: "Soldiers deaths announced: The US military announced the deaths of 5 more soldiers, raising the number of US troop deaths to 17 since Sunday. The announcement came amid new fighting in a Shiite militia group stronghold under siege by US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad." From the Kansas City Star, today, April 10, 2008.

2) The "Green Zone", which is supposed to be our military's "safe haven", is by no means safe. Some of the above 17 fatalities came from attacks in this very Green Zone. Zbigniew Brzezinski once said, at the start of the war, that the Green Zone was the only thing in Iraq that we controlled. We really don't even control that, if we ever did.

3) More news today: "Soldier Suicide record: 'US soldiers committing suicide at record levels, young officers abandoning their military careers, and the heavy use of forces in Iraq has made it harder for the military to fight conflicts elsewhere', Army Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody said.'" If all this is true, and it most assuredly is, how can we continue this fight in Iraq indefinitely, let alone maintain our military worldwide? (Source: Kansas City Star, April 10, 2008).

4) Okay, quick, can you tell me how much this war has been figured to be costing us per month? From the very official and "nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which provides research and analysis to lawmakers", it has been estimated to be $12 billion per month. That's twelve. Billion. A month. Our national debt, alone, can't support an endless funding of this very expensive, seemingly endless war. (Source: Go to: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11847236)

5) As of today, "the federal deficit through the first half of this budget year hit a record high of $311.4 billion, up 20.5% from a year ago. The Treasury's monthly budget report showed that revenue for the budget year that began Oct. 1 totaled $1.146 trillion, up 2.2% from last year. Government spending was up" (thanks, "conservative" President Bush!) by a much faster 5.7%, rising to $1.457 trillion." (Souce: Kansas City Star, April 11, 2008).

With this limited information alone--just these five points--what about this war seems supportable? We can't afford the military personnel. Too many of the military men and women don't want to be there. We can't afford the materiel to support our personnel--and this is not a recent development. We can't control much of anything in Iraq. No one wants us there from the outside. The American people don't any longer want us there/support the war, if we ever did. We can't afford it financially. And we've never held a high, moral ground with this war, in spite of what a few in the government said and what too many people believed.

How could it possibly be considered supportable, sustainable and/or defensible any longer?

Mr. President? Mr. McCain? Anybody?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Great quote from Friday night

Bill Maher, from his show this last weekend:

"and that is what's so great about the internet: it let's pompous blowhards get together with other pompous blowhards in a vast circle-jerk of pomposity."



Ow.


you gotta laugh.

"Hang on to your seats..."

"...it's going to be a bumpy ride."

Tomorrow's testimony by General David Petraeus before the Senate should be fascinating, for several reasons.

For starters, it's going to be interesting to see how he describes the situation in Iraq. Things don't sound too good over there but Senator McCain is saying how "golly-gosh terrific" it is and that, gee, it's just not that bad. Meanwhile, as I entered in the blog 2 days ago, Generals in the military are saying how frayed the soldiers are, since some of them are on their 2nd, 3rd or fourth tour of duty. Also, the "Green Zone" had casualties over the weekend, too.

Then there's the fact that all 3 candidates to be our next President are going to be there, asking questions--leading, in their own way, of course, no doubt. I can hear them now: "General, don't you think...?". Beauty.

Third, there's the fact that the testimony has to happen but that the Republicans really don't want to be there or go through with it, most likely, this being an election year and the whole war being such a huge mistake, in so many ways.

And that's just 3 of the factors.

Yeah, it's going to be pretty fascinating.

It's a good thing we're not cynical, eh?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Three big problems--and reasons why we must get out of Iraq

Problem/fact No. 1

Right this second, if someone asked you, could you give a rough estimate of the total national debt of the United States? I just gave it some thought and I sure couldn't.

Turns out, right now, it's just short of 9-1/2 Trillion dollars. The estimated population of the United States is 303,760,712 so each citizen's share of this debt is $31,084.98. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$1.69 billion per day since September 29, 2006. (These statistics from the "US National Debt Clock" website: http://brillig.com/debt_clock/).

Problem/fact No. 2

Then there's the more serious loss of over 4,000 soldiers dying and thousands that have been injured, one way or another, it seems clear we can't go on the way we are in Iraq and the world.

Reading just now, I find that 3 more American soldiers died in Iraq today when the ultra-safe "Green Zone" we established for our troops was just hit with missiles. Thanks again, "W".

P/F No. 3

This weekend the The New York Times gave us the following--actually, more from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, read: the Pentagon. It seems that the Generals from the highest levels of our military are warning us all that our troops simply can't continue to be in Iraq and Afghanistan, tour of duty after tour of duty. It's just taking far too high a toll on our soldiers over there, mentally and physically.

Don't believe it? Here's a quote from General Richard Cody, the Army Vice Chief of Staff in comments to Congress last week: "Our readiness is being consumed as fast as we build it." He goes on, "Lengthy and repeated deployments with insufficient recovery time have placed incredible stress on our soldiers and our families, testing the resolve of our all-volunteer force like never before."

Not enough for you? How's this: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and General George Casey, Jr., the Army Chief of staff and their deputies have "warned that the war in Iraq should not be permitted to inflict an unacceptable toll on the military as a whole", according to The Times.

So folks, if you think this can keep going on ad infinitum, think again. It can't. It doesn't matter if you and I go over and fight, it just can't go forward as is. We don't have the resources. This is what comes from not thinking before you act. (Wanna' bet this President NEVER played chess before, in his life, and actually THOUGHT AHEAD A FEW MOVES, before he made his play?)

"W" broke Iraq but "all the king's horses," you know?

So Senator McCain can say we need to keep this war going and Senators running for the Presidency can say we won't bail but for at least these 3 big problems and reasons, as I originally said, this can't keep going on. It just can't.

So let's take the politics and emotion out of the equation. Logic and facts tell anyone who examines the situation, we simply can't stay in Iraq. "W" blew it. He didn't plan. He didn't take all the details into account (like his Father did--see earlier entry, below) and so now, if you have to look at it this way, we have to "lose".

We simply have no other choice.

To all Americans

Be sure to see Doonesbury today:

http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html


(another, new post later today, too).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

George H. W. Bush: In sharp contrast to Junior

The first President Bush was no intellectual--and said as much--but give him credit for some smart things, like these two quotes, at minimum:

"Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different — and perhaps barren — outcome."

"I can tell you this: If I'm ever in a position to call the shots, I'm not going to rush to send somebody else's kids into a war."


But that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened, years later, with his knucklehead son and that is why we are still there now, why the first President Bush was right and why we are still expending soldiers and materiel to and in Iraq, half a world away.

The insanity.

If only Junior had consulted Senior.

McCain: sayin' the right thing

Okay, first things first.

Let me make it very clear that I am not a "McCain man". I am absolutely not, in any way for John McCain or for him for the Presidency of the United States in the year 2008. I never voted for him and never will. I did wish it were him instead of the current knucklehead we ended up with, precisely because I didn't think he'd be as bad for us as I thought W would be--and, apparently, I was more than just a little correct in that. I don't think he would have attacked another, foreign sovereign nation, which is so clearly, unalterably against international law. Also, he probably wouldn't have screwed us all up the way this, again, knucklehead has.

All that said, I will say that John McCain said the absolute right thing this week when he said he would not bail out any banks, construction firms or home buyers with government money. He said they made their mistakes and they'd have to live with them.

And you know? He's right.

The banks made lousy--possibly illegal--loans to home buyers and a whole bunch of greedy nincompoops signed off on what were just incredibly stupid home loans because they either believed they could afford them or they were told they could afford them, or both.

We shouldn't now bail them out and we shouldn't have to.

Senator McCain probably only said this to pander to the Conservatives in the party, I'm thinking, and he's only trying to simply prove how Conservative he REALLY is but, hey, he said it and, let me say it again, he was right.

Now, two things have or will have come out of this. First, because everyone's jumping all over him--mostly Democrats--he'll never say it again, which is too bad because--let me repeat--HE WAS RIGHT. Second, the Democrats have jumped all over this saying he's "Mr. Do-nothing" when it comes to the economy, which is nonsense and very close to a lie.

It's wrong and wrong-headed.

Look around. We have a pile of debt as a nation, and it's just getting bigger. Millions, billions and trillions larger. We can't afford to keep bailing out people who do the wrong thing anyway, in business. We just can't. We don't have the money anymore. We don't have that capability. And if we did, we still shouldn't. If your brother always got drunk and blew his paycheck and didn't take care of his family but gambled his money away, instead, would you forever throw money at his problems? No, you wouldn't. And you shouldn't, even if you could and the same applies here.

Now, connected to this bigger picture is the likelihood of a coming recession. Yes, I said the word: recession. (At the beginning of these things--which always come around, folks, I have news for you--people always freak out and only refer to it as "the 'R' word", like a) we've never done this before and b) it's the end of the world.)

I have news for you--we've lived through recessions before and we will again. And again. And again.

And we have to. It's called the business cycle, ladies and gentlemen, and they are a fact of life. They are a fact of the business world. If you don't have busts, you can't have booms. If you get very descriptive of them, you start sounding like Peter Sellers playing Chauncey in the movie "Being There", where you say things about there being a Winter, and then Spring comes along, with new growth.

BUT THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS. And it's what needs to happen.

So when everyone starts talking about pumping money into the economy because, God forbid, we can't have a recession, I want to scream.

Let me say it again: WE NEED RECESSIONS. We need downturns so we clear out the crap. We need downturns so we later have upturns.

And for Hillary and Barack and any politician to say we have to pump money into the economy, I say bunk. More crap. We do not. We decidedly do not.

WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY. We don't have the funds to keep pumping in. IT ISN'T THERE.

And secondly, WE NEED DOWNTURNS. Throwing money at this recession is a mistake.

I'm not saying "tough" when someone loses their job, no. Actually, what I'm saying is that people inevitably lose their jobs. They'll need to go out with their skills and get a new job, yes, either with what skill set they have or they'll have to get some more training. (News flash: we need LOTS more computer people! And nurses! and teachers! Maybe train there).

So, when I hear politicians pandering that there needs to be more money sent out or given to some group, I just want to say "No! Enough!". And someone needs to. Senator McCain did and he's being vilified for it and it's wrong. He's right.

I hope he has the conservative guts to stick with what he said.

I bet he doesn't.