Posts Tagged ‘Neo-Cons’

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OBAMA AND SYRIA

September 11, 2013

I woke up this morning thinking…why am I still conflicted on Syria; why can’t I seem to be as strongly  “YES”  or “NO”  as everyone around me?  I made my coffee, unfolded the paper, and read the headline ”Obama Backs Diplomacy; Keeps Strikes as Option”  and decided….I need to sort this out in my own mind – everyone else I know has.

Who is the man named Barak Obama?

Obama is anti-war in general; as a senator, he voted NO to the Iraq War…one of the few at the time that, like me, was not drawn into the neo-con nonsense.  I had watched 7.5 months of the Bush campaign and preparations to go to war against Iraq that started the day he was inaugurated; and I was leery.  I believed then, and I still believe, that the Neo-Cons manipulated Little George into a position of war to show up his father and finish a job that George Sr. did not finish.  And then 9-11 happened; masterminded by a man NOT from Afghanistan; but by a man that  took refuge there; so despite the fact history had just shown us the difficulty of winning a war in Afghanistan-based on the Russians then recent long attempt- we went to war without Congressional approval…..a war that is 12 years old and still continues.    So yes, Obama voting no to war was a good signal to me.

Obama was concerned about the Syrian civil war but clearly drew the line on entering a war and putting Americans at risk.  The US offered aid when it could be assured that aid would not end up in Al Qaida hands.

 Of course, that put Republicans against him; united in the belief that he is weak in foreign policy…because it does not follow the bluster of the second half of the 20th century; but then, SO FAR, it has not yielded wars that drag on and on and on…think Viet Nam; Afghanistan; and Iraq.

Most Americans were relieved we were not jumping in; many of us were still troubled that through the longest war since Viet Nam, the Bush Administration had given NO THOUGHT to what war in the 21st century would be like….NO THOUGHT to the kinds of injuries that would be incurred; NO THOUGHT to increasing veteran services to accommodate returning wounded soldiers – both physically and mentally.

All that was left to Obama; along with the slow process of ending the Iraqi War, working through a plan to extract us SOMETIME soon from Afghanistan; and trying to play “catch-up” with getting help for all the GIs that followed the Bush command to go to war. And let’s not forget to add to the list that in 2006, the Bush Administration started stockpiling cause and money to extend our wars in the Middle East to include Syria as well…Had McCain won the Presidential election in 2008, I have no doubt we’d be in the thick of that war as well – with similar disastrous results.  Fortunately Obama won.

Seriously, folks, do you really think what he inherited made him a war-monger?  Come on; get real!

Take a deep breath and think of the timeline.  The most recent chemical bombings happened on August 21 and were well-documented.

For some amount of time the battle of what to do raged inside the White House.  How many times did we hear Obama say “I’m still undecided”; and how many times did you hear the Press criticize him for that?  How many times did you hear your favorite commentator say:

“He’s ready to bomb; can’t he just wait for the UN inspectors to get out?”

or

“What is he waiting for?  The battle ships are in place.  If he doesn’t do it this weekend, we will lose the advantage of surprise?

Really folks, do you REALLY think anyone interested in the world wasn’t listening in on your constant evaluations?  Even in pre-WWII days, the world knew a debate was happening in the US so you can be sure, the world was tuned in to the blathering Press this time around.  But maybe the blathering  gave good coverage for the President to work through the possible action steps.

Nevertheless, through all that, I was hesitant and confused.

  •        I voted for Obama twice because he thought differently than our 20th century leaders.
  •         He was a man that believed leadership was reaching consensus through discussion-not unilateral decisions based on “power”.
  •          He filled his Cabinet and advisory positions with a mixture of folks- both Republican and Democrats that were experts on the task     at hand.
  •          I voted for him as the best representative of an emerging USA of the future.  For me that meant:

 

    1.    No ingrained philosophies of the good old boys; he was an independent thinker
    2.    A strong belief in consensus building through collaboration-something I know from experience on a smaller scale yields GREAT results, but is very “messy along the way
    3.    A first step in US leadership that reflects the USA of 2040 – multiculturalism
    4.    He was not an “angry old bird” from my generation trying to protect a myth that those of us who came into adulthood by 1970 “KNOW BEST”

So in spite of doubts, I reminded myself to watch the signals- he was doing exactly what I should expect.  He was preparing for retaliation, but he was struggling- as war goes against everything he believes in, and he was sharing that with the American people.  Over and over, he said he was undecided.

This brings us to the weekend before the G20.  The Press had already decided war was beginning that weekend as he had to do it before he left for Europe.  What?  Would any responsible President start a war on Sunday and leave for Europe the following week?   Well, obviously had the Press been in charge, we would have been foolish enough to do so.

Remember Andrea Mitchell bitching about the cost of repositioning the warships if they were not going to be used, and What was he doing playing golf on Friday with a war starting the next day or so?!!!

So that weekend, I went back to the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and the discussion of “Just Wars”.  I read again the yeahs and nays and was reminded once again why I voted for Obama twice.

He is not a man of the world in which I was born, grew up, and formed my beliefs.  He’s a man suited to leading us in small steps to a better world of the 21st century.

I will not always agree; I do not have the same perspective.

But I believe his hesitancy was real; his actions were based on assessment of divided views within his advisory groups; and that it was well worth the delay that weekend to give diplomacy one more chance to work as he put a hold on action and tried one last time to work out an equitable plan with Putin at the G20, while Kerry continued discussions with his own Russian counterpart.

Personally, I think they fooled the Press…one more time…and now we have a reprieve-short as that may be.

Of course the naysayers and the Press will continue to shout WRONG – the wires were burning with Andrea Mitchell’s attempt just this noon.  She even did a whole segment on Nancy Reagan running the government as she questioned why Obama mentioned Michelle.

 No Andrea, I think most of country heard him say:  This is really hard and I know most people do not want war – I do not want war; Michelle does not want war.  THAT is totally different than the spin you are putting on things because of your own personal opinion…and forever more, I will think less of you for your presumption that as a reporter you know more than the President of the United States.

But as I look at what’s unfolded and how…I’d say one more time, his country underestimated a man of the 21st century.   As we continue to judge him against old standards that obviously did not quite make our world a better place for all.  Today’s 12th anniversary of 9-11 is certainly a testament to that as are the resulting wars that still continue with or without us in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the incredible debt piled up for starting  and paying for those wars on a credit card.

Obama is the first to try to blaze this new trail into a whole new world where no precedents have been set and for which there is no tested playbook.  Will he be right all the time?  Probably not, but will he have done a better job than all the Angry Old Birds including McCain and Andrea Mitchell?

I think so; so I’m sticking with him.

 

 

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DEVIL OR SUPERMAN?

August 22, 2013

The headline this morning read “2011 ruling:  NSA violated Constitution”; the subtitle read “The e-mail collection program was later fixed to the court’s satisfaction.”

The opening two paragraphs summarized that the NSA program violated the Constitution for several years according to a top-secret court ruling from October 2011 which was made public yesterday.

And then the third paragraph “below the fold” if you will:

“The release of the ruling, under pressure by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was the latest effort by the Obama Administration to contain revelations about NSA surveillance prompted by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.   A side bar in bold in that paragraph proclaimed : ”Volume and nature of the Information [the program} had been collecting is fundamentally different than what the court had been led to believe.”    This quote was attributed to the 2011 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion.

Eight inches of print into the article, we learned that the problems were relatively small compared to surveillance on non-citizens abroad.  And we learned that NSA quickly fixed the problem to the court’s satisfaction.   Nevertheless, the remaining 5 inches of print indicated the court was still troubled, and that what was being collected was far different than what  FISA had been led to believe.  It reported this was the third time in less than three years in which the government disclosed a substantial misrepresentation of the volume and nature of information.

As I finished the article, despite knowing a small amount about the NSA/FISA Court history rooted in the Bush Administration, I admit I had to take a deep breath and say…wow-this is not only disconcerting;  it is enough to make me think I better think through my support of Obama.

For some of you reading this, I imagine it was enough to send you off to the organizing groups with your donations to support impeachment of the President.   And hopefully, there are some of you out there that know much more than I and recognized this immediately as Press manipulation.

I however, fortunately had a nagging voice in my brain telling me to think through that timeline.  And I listened to it.

 If Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, how could there possibly have been time to move into the White House, learn all there was to know just about  how the White House itself operated, get all the appointments announced and people in place in all the government agencies and arms that represent the nation, have them get acclimated in their new roles, dig deep, learn the nitty gritty details, review, and report back to the President recommendations and actions; get those actions implemented and enforced  and still have been able to  pull off some MAJOR disturbing practices….all the while butting heads with an opposing party who announced  their mission over the  four years from January 2008, to January, 2013, was to ensure  that Obama would have no second term.    How could one man, who also crafted a major change in US healthcare and GOT IT APPROVED despite that same opposition by the Republicans, and got us out of Iraq, and on track to get out of Afghanistan, and finally found Osama bin Laden and killed him, and weathered a Republican plan – at least in the short term – to bring down the country financially – be able to launch this plot successfully?  How could one man already fighting GREAT ODDS accomplish all this?   He was not a” White Man” with all the privilege that implies; he did not bring decades and decades of experience about how Congress worked, nor decades and decades of relationships within the Legislative bodies, nor did he have the family connections and money of a Kennedy, nor the benefit of being a Governor like a Clinton.

Amidst all that, how could he campaign and be selected to a second term of office – thereby showing the weakness of the opposing party NOT ONCE, but twice?

 And even more perplexing, Obama believes in building a better world through collaboration, listening and learning from one another; in a world where individual people helping others do make a difference.    He set out to change the Best World ever built – that one built by the Boomers  – a world that brought power and fame and money to those that knew how to play by Boomer rules.  Those rules that say  if we just surround ourselves with others like us and boycott, we will be ok….and the rest of the world will go away.   How in the world did he overcome those barriers we put in his way?

The timeline made no sense to me in view of all of that.  And then there was the fact that I knew nothing about the organization that brought the suit.  Who is Electronic Frontier Freedom anyway? 

And so I detoured off to do a little research – fully expecting to find that this group was another Republican propaganda arm – masking as a do-good non-profit.   And I was proven wrong, at least in the short amount of time (about two hours) I have spent on it this morning.

But what I learned as FACT was the timeline.

This organization came to be in 1990 – just a few years into the DIGITAL AGE – as a result of some very forward thinkers imagining a future in which individual rights would be fighting a tough battle in terms of privacy rights issues.  It seemed to be legitimate; it scores well on consumer/public ratings of whether to invest/believe or not.  And it sounds good on its web and in Wikipedia, and its actions to defend personal and individual rights speak well of its intent.

1990 – yes,  in the midst of Reagan/Bush Senior era – but as I read about it, its focus did not show political philosophies, it clearly was focused on what will this digital world we are entering do to our personal freedoms.  I know, you can’t believe everything you read, but my gut feel led me forward.

The initial interest and filings in this specific case went back to 2005-2006. This lawsuit itself was filed in SEPTEMBER 2008.  Hmmm.  That’s a red flag, is it not? 

The Republicans had just nominated John McCain as their presidential candidate; the Democrats had just nominated Obama.  We were in the midst of debates…and the American public was immersed in the issues and teetering on the brink of the worst collapse of our economic world since the Great Depression – an amazing turn of events in eight Bush years.   And there as a candidate was an unthinkable possibility that just maybe we could have a President that would be a mixture of both white and multi-cultural race that could lead us through this transition to that time in 2040 and beyond when whites would become the minority.  And even better, this candidate thought differently.  He did not emulate power and out-trumping an opponent, he professed listening, dialog and collaboration – just what all the futurists were saying was needed around the world in this new 21st century.

 

But I digress.  Back to the timeline.

  1. Issues surfaced 2005-2006.
  2. Lawsuit was filed September, 2008, while Bush was still Presidet of the United States.  Translation:  This was a lawsuit against Republican actions during the Bush Administration.
  3. The ruling made in October, 20ll, with extensive review and necessary adjustments made by the Obama Administration to comply with that ruling.
  4. No data uncovered to date to when plan for those implemented adjustments began, but I presume that it had to be a priority fro mthe beginning in order to have a plan and be able to implement it successfully immediately in case the ruling demanded it.  I would call that foresight.
  5. Although the changes were quietly implemented, there was no publicity at the time and Obama defended the right to keep them secret. (Ed:  Think:  Suporting the right of the Office ofthe President; and hence the person who initiated the action – George W. Bush)
  6. Obama refused to give out details to the Press, but at the same time told the nation in his address this summer that he welcomed the review of this (21st century) issue.

Today, that has all been played out in the Press with a definite slant of sensationalism aimed at Obama.

This feeds right into the damage and trouble that I believe is being caused by the PRESS in this country whom we have allowed to move from reporting facts to telling us what we should believe about those facts- which today are interspersed with non-facts and simply personal opinion of what is rapidly becoming irresponsible commentators looking for ratings to keep their jobs.  

That, and the difficult issues emerging in this century for which we have no precedent, puts us right where we were at the beginning of the 20th century…fumbling our way through a whole new world of individual rights that were expanding past white men to women to native and other non-white men and women at a disturbing pace because of new means of communication.  I’d like to think we learned something over a hundred years, but perhaps we have not.

That aside, the time I have spent on this morning’s STRIB article leads me to one conclusion only: 

Perhaps the sin of Obama is only that his strong morals and thoughts about how to better prepare the United States for the 21st century  led him NOT TO BLAME THE CAUSE  – the Neo-Cons under the weak leadership of nice man – George W.

Many have questioned why he as a ”Constitutional Scholar “could even think that what was being done would not be unconstitutional.  Perhaps what they scoff at is exactly why he did not take a personal stand – his knowledge and confidence in that document may have led him to the knowledge that change would come without his intervention. He did not dishonor a former President;  and did not yield to political pressure to do so as he has no further political aspirations. 

 I listened to that nagging doubt and invested the time to think it through and it brought me right back to where I was in 2008.  I voted for a man I admired for his principles and new thinking.  I stand on that. I believe he has been motivated by those same things as well as commitment to the Office he holds as the leader of the country he loves…even though standing against releasing the details of a system established by his predecessor has made him the bad guy.   

He is neither the DEVIL nor SUPERMAN.  He is not even acting as a politician, although he has done that well  along the way.  He is a product of his time with deep beliefs and motivation to help his country where he can.  And I personally cannot wait until he is released from this sentence we have given him so that he can return to the real world and we learn of how he next intends to influence the world and help guide us through the turmoil ahead for which we refuse to prepare!

That is why I spent today – my first time off in almost 40 days – to think this through.  It was worth every minute.

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THE FORGOTTEN YEARS

August 30, 2012

As Bill Clinton is resurrected by the Democrats, George W. Bush is being erased by the GOP-as if an entire eight years of American history hadn’t happened.

                              Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor      

 

This caught my eye this morning, and I thought to myself…how sad is that-I did not even notice the absence. 

But sure enough, as I read through the article, I learned that for the first time in history, a national party will not be giving the stage at its convention to its most recent occupant of the Oval Office who successfully ran for reelection.   

And of course, as the author stated, the GOP is intent on allowing America’s short–term memory to block out what happened when the Republicans were last in office.    I am sorry to confess, they are making a wise gamble, as I have simply forgotten some of the pain of those years.  And, I admit, I had never made the connection between the two Bushes and the two Romneys as being similar father-son  issues.  Whether that is actually the case, I will leave to the reader, but if you missed the article, I have included key paragraphs below to start you thinking!

Republicans want to obliterate any trace of the administration that told America there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and led us into a devastating war; ignored New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; turned a $5 trillion projected budget surplus into a $6 trillion deficit; [Ed. Comment: Note that is an $11 trillion negative swing that today has morphed into something OBAMA is being blamed for] gave the largest tax cut in a generation to the richest Americans in history, handed out a mountain of corporate welfare to oil and gas industry, pharmaceutical companies and military contractors like Halliburton (uniquely benefitting the then-vice president); whose officials turned a blind eye to Wall Street shenanigans that led to the worst financial calamity since the Great Crash of 1929 and then persuaded Congress to bail out Wall Street with the largest taxpayer-funded giveaway of all time.    

As I read the article, I was reminded that humans surviving a great tragedy tend to block out the pain and the details, and surely, I have done just that.  I know all this; my mind just would not let me put it all together as it is much too painful.   So I am glad that Reich reminded me so that I have a quick retort to Romney’s claim that Obama’s policies were bad for the economy and exploded the government.

And then the author continues with a twist that I had not considered:

Besides, the resemblances between Bush and Romney are too close for comfort.  Both were born into wealth, sons of prominent politicians who themselves ran for president; both are closely tied to the nation’s corporate and financial elites, and eager to do their bidding; both are socially awkward and, as candidates, tightly scripted for fear of saying something they shouldn’t; and both presented themselves to the nation devoid of any consistent policies or principles that might give some clue as to what they actually believe.

They are both men who ran or are running for the presidency for no clear reason other than to surpass their fathers or achieve the aims and ambitions of their wealthy patrons.

That made me sit up and take notice.  I will have to give that some processing and fact-checking time, but it is a very interesting proposition!

Missing from the article was the one additional concern I have…the neo-cons that took possession of Bush and were those giving the advice that created every single misstep of George W. are the very same people – not just philosophy- that are counseling Mr. Romney.   This is their third chance to destroy us…they could not do it on their own; they could not do it through the puppet of George W. Bush; and now they are attempting to do it again.  Three strikes and we can only hope the OUT is on them and not on the United States!

As I sit here trying to digest this and what it means, I am clinging to the good news that in general, “last heard is last remembered” and for those still undecided in this election decision, I can only hope that the statement holds true and the Democrats carefully and relentlessly tackle the Bush mistakes for what they were as they share the message of what has been accomplished so far in 3.5 years of moving towards recovery…and then quietly end with a thoughtful and factual comparison that shows one nice man controlled by the neo-cons and another nice man  now lined up their sights who also will be used, abused and thrown aside by the neo-cons if he elected as President of the United States.

 And from my perspective, it would not hurt to throw in a few twists that communicate that  a 1980s business leader no longer has the appropriate skills to lead a country into a winning position in this new very different century.  We tried it for 8 years and suffered; we may not recover if we are forced backwards for another 4 years. It is time to turn this country over to the next generation as we are trying to do with Obama!

This has been a painful (and in some instances humorous) week; I am so glad the Democrats will have the last word on the national stage before the debates begin.  Now if only we could find some press that were innovative enough to ask some questions that will not be anticipated by either candidate or their “trainers”….as I have no doubt, of the two, Obama can think on his feet.  Romney?  Not so much.

 

 

 

 

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TEN YEARS: Creating the Fiscal Cliff from My Perspective

August 5, 2012

 “More than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts will kick in at year’s end unless Congress reaches a budget deal.  If they can’t, the economy will plunge into recession, contracting at an annual rate of 1.3 per cent in the first six months of 2013, the Congressional Budget Office said.”

Headlines focusing on the Fiscal Cliff tell the story.  Economic growth has slowed to 1.5 percent in the second quarter…because businesses are holding off hiring and investments as they wait for Washington to decide what will happen next year. Of course, in the meantime, they are amassing great pools of working capital and profit without taking any responsibility for our situation.

Over my morning coffee, I could not help but ponder what of all this is the result of good PR and SPIN on the part of the Republicans, and what of this situation tells the story of the Obama Administration.  Am I totally off base to give the benefit of the doubt to Obama because I view him as the first of a NEW generation of Presidents, in a NEW century , with NEW rules – most of which we as a world have not yet discovered?

Surely, I know the Republicans and MOST of the press are still using 20th century benchmarks and dreams to define this political campaign.  Daily, I shake my head and say to myself:  all this emotion, gloom and doom, and yearning for the comfortable world of the 20th century … when are we as people going to grab the ring, welcome the new frontiers, pull ourselves up and direct our strengths and resources to take advantage of opportunities lying before us?

And every day I am dragged, kicking and fighting, back into these old battles as we all balance on the precipice.  But, I know I am not the only one in the US who is not clinging to the past-every day I see proof of a more positive future in whatever I do.

And so, this morning, I determined I needed to create my own timeline of the 21st century, so I can understand how we got to where we are today.

2000:    Most can agree; we were on the right track in debt reduction in the Clinton Administration. But yes, many wanted a change; a closely  divided country wanted the Democrats out and the Republicans in….and it came to pass.

2001:     Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress; but to get a majority to pass the Bush $1.7 trillion tax cut, they called it a temporary cut, and limited it to ten years.

2001:     After 9-11, Republicans supported by most Democrats called for WAR on Afghanistan for sole purpose:  to get Osama bin Laden.  What we missed in the emotion was the plan to pay for this war on a credit card.  AND we wrongly assumed we could use our power, friends and technical superiority to quickly FIND HIM and take him out..  AND we got the country wrong.   But we all joined together, waved the flag and shouted “Support the Troops”.

 I do dimly remember a few cautionary “discussions” about the Russian Experience in Afghanistan,  as some of us  thought that this would not be as easy as emotion and promotion promised.  I am sorry I called it right on this one.

Eleven years later, we are still there and trying to figure out how to avoid being killed by the very guns we provided to Afghani rebels fighting the Russian, and how to get out…now finally recognizing this was no easy task and the Neo-Cons were wrong.  How many lives lost (PLEASE do not just count US lives) but the good news is a decade later, Osama bin Laden was found – hiding in plain sight in Pakistan and is now dead.  So finally, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, despite a decade-long war fought in the wrong country!  But, it’s a score for OBAMA not the NEO-CON Republicans.

2002:     Republican plans for IRAQI military action, disrupted by 9-11 and the beginning of the 11 year hunt for Osama bin Laden, were again on the table.  We started a second war based on “imminent nuclear threat”.  This war, as well, was neither budgeted nor paid for during the Bush administration….we were still swiping the credit card.   

Editorial Comment:  Nothing I have learned in the decade since has shown my personal theory to be incorrect.  How much of this disaster was due to familial one-upmanship manipulated by neo-cons, disappointed in George Hubert Bush refusing to extend the original Gulf War?

2003:     Two wars were not going well and George W needed a popularity boost I guess, so back to the drawing board for a second “temporary” tax cut…this time for only seven years, so it coincided with the expiration date of the cuts passed in 2001.

The general consensus was that this Republican initiated move was supposed to “increase pressure” on Congress to extend them or make them permanent.

2004-8: So life was good; spending up; two wars on a credit card; government funds down with tax cuts for all…but instead of “job creation” we stalled out.  We “tripped” on the fun that resulted in unsustainable housing booms and incredible questionable antics in the financial world. And the wall came tumbling down.

By 2008, we are still fighting two wars on a credit card and we are lowering the US coffers.  The tax reductions did NOT lead to job creation, but to more job losses than any time in the last eighty years. The housing and financial bubbles burst and finally, like the little Dutch Boy, George W stuck his thumb in the dike-on his way out the door.  As he retreated to Texas, he abdicated all responsibility for the hole he made in the dike; and passed on to Obama, the responsibility to clean up the mess.

2009:     I am sure Republicans celebrated secretly as they thought“Whew, we are outta there before the bill came due from the wars, and no one recognizes yet that those tax cuts we implemented  did not create jobs…we can retreat and regroup and if we hurry, we can blame this whole mess caused by our incompetence on the Democrats”.   

Hard to believe it worked, but it did, and a new generation well-versed in 21st century thinking did not sense it coming.  A really hard way to lose one’s innocence.

2011:     FAST FORWARD to Summer, 2011.  Time is running out and we were stalemated on the budget.

Congressional Democrats offered automatic cuts to domestic programs and suggested the BUSH temporary tax cuts be evaluated.  Republicans countered with NO WAY and offered instead, Military cuts.

The LAST player to sign on to this plan?  Not the Demos, not the Repos… with a united congress, Obama agreed.

And except for the bickering and the spin, we got a short-term reprieve from the fiscal cliff.

2012:     Here we go again, but the spin has changed the story.  And either the Republicans have hung their candidate out to dry, or Romney just cannot follow what happened.   Either way, he does not seem to understand how foolish he sounds quoting neo-con strategies and platitudes.

  • Republicans cut taxes; and we lost jobs.
  • Republicans went to war and failed in two missions:  Get bin Laden and uncover the nuclear threat of Iraq.
  • Republicans went to war on a credit card and amassed incredible debt.
  • Republicans passed temporary tax cuts; wrote the law for reversal in 2011. I will pass on what options come next.   
  • Republicans cut the military budget so it doesn’t sound good for Romney to rage on about it.

I could keep going, but I am tired of this now, and have sorted out enough of the facts to see that I am remembering correctly what has transpired since the New Age dawned…and more talks of “let’s try again” in Syria and Iran just are not selling points for me.

Then I add the Congressional work not accomplished (the Strib outlines a few including Farm and Food, Postal Service, Russia Trade, Cyber-security, and Violence Against Women) and I can’t help but recognize-based on my own successful 40 year track record in business- that we have some Employee Performance issues within Congress  that may only be fairly solved by termination of work and all benefits without severance. 

I can’t wait to hear the details of–in his words- the” businessman’s plan” between now and election day.

 

 

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RAMBLINGS ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON – PART 2

July 29, 2012

THANK YOU AMBASSADOR RYAN CROCKER

Sorry to see this man retire!

I first heard the name a decade ago when Bush and the neo-cons were hatching their Iraq War Plans/  Crocker was co-author of “The Perfect Storm” – a memorandum defining risk of a U.S. Invasion of Iraq.  Yes, the ignored analysis that predicted accurately the disintegration of Iraqi society that did, indeed, take place!

Five years later, the Bushies with no other option, had to call on him for help to “fix the deadly situation.”

As ambassador, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan, he worked to build trust with local leaders, understood intimidation would not work, and showed compassion towards the ordinary citizens caught in the life-threatening and political power struggles.  That was a rarity for Bush and Neo-cons –which  I repeatedly point out is reflected when we recite the cost of war and only mention deaths of AMERICAN soldiers, and not who we killed, or were killed by others because of our presence.

He suggests we need to learn the lessons of our recent past as we weigh military options for the future- including plans for Syria and Iran.

We’re a superpower, we don’t fight on our territory, but that means you are in somebody else’s stadium, playing by somebody else’s ground rules, and you have to understand the environment, the history, the politics of the country you wish to intervene in.

Good advice.  I THINK Obama gets this; I KNOW the neo-cons advising Romney do not.  And where those that support Romney stand, I have no idea.

In any case, I think it worthwhile to repeat three thoughts from Crocker as found in the Strib:

  1.        Remember the law of unintended consequences
  2.        Recognize the limits of the United States actual capabilities
  3.        Understand getting out of a conflict once you are in can often be dangerous and as destructive for the country as the original conflict.

And to those I would add: If you don’t have money to pay for it, you can’t just charge ten plus years of war, residual damage, and long-term impacts on the US soldiers and families involved to your successor. 

You fooled us once…I hope we learned not to trust you again.

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LOOKING BACK: 2010 – the downside

December 30, 2010

This is the traditional week of the year filled with lists of the “best of” and “worst of” 2010, and like everyone else, I have viewed or read my share.

One such commentary saddened me as I listened to the pundits 2010 view on the Iraq war.  In 2001, as plans for it surfaced (BEFORE 9-11) in the Bush Administration, war was declared on “Terror” and we invaded Afghanistan looking for Osama bin Laden…all the while building up for the already planned invasion of Iraq, I felt like I stood alone in the world, as a naysayer cautioning that we would not succeed.  I was the unpatriotic one as I pooh-poohed the weapons of mass destruction theory and suggested it was limited to the biological weapons provided to Iraq and sanctioned by the neo-cons during the Reagan administration – so of course, they knew Saddam had them-they had come to be when the US was using Iraq as a weapon against Iran in the 80s.  I was chastised by friends for suggesting that Iraq’s Sunni culture stretched back over a 1000 years and that mixed with a heritage of warring tribes left little hope that in a quick invasion we could “save” them from their ways and create a democracy that would prosper, grow and become the model for bringing democracy to the middle east.  What in the world were those people smoking in the White House to be so deluded and dismissive of facts? And how in the world did they get a nation of reasonably intelligent citizens to go along with it? Oh yes, I was told I wrong in that thinking…after all, the one thing the US government does pretty well was WAR, I was told by a friend.  Not to worry, it would turn out all right.

And so it began…and did not go well as it not only contributed to a 10 trillion dollar shift in the deficit projections for 2010, created a tremendous tragedy of loss of American and Iraqi lives, and has not succeeded yet in establishing a solid democracy.

Projected positive balance in the early 2000s was $5 trillion by 2010 and thus provided the reasoning for the Bush tax CUTS in time of war.  Unfortunately, since the Bush Administration chose NOT to include war expenses in the budget for either the Afghan or Iraqi war, it took a while to realize that war was eating into that projected surplus – then the collapse of the teetering economy began in the early second half of the decade, and today we stand frightened to death of a $ 5 trillion deficit.  Congrats to the US; we managed between war and greed to achieve a $10 trillion swing that today still threatens the international economy.  We sure showed the world how powerful we are, didn’t we? Or did we just make way for the rise of BRIC?

Today, as we look forward to 2011, what are the projections?  Now the pundits mostly concur, the Iraqi war will not accomplish the mission – a victory we already celebrated years ago!  Sadly, we are seeing my projections come to be.  I fear this will be long remembered as a horrendous misstep by our government – making 19th century policies of Slavery, Manifest Destiny, and Extermination of the Indigenous Peoples look like child’s play.  And that does not even factor in the lost lives – not just of American soldiers who died, and those that were physically AND mentally injured, but the horrendous cost in lives and injuries to the Iraqis themselves-a loss much greater than our own.  No wonder I feel saddened. 

Add to that, Afghanistan, the Housing Crisis, the Economy, Lack of Jobs/job skills shifts, the worsening split between the political parties, and one could quickly experience a major sinking spell !

 Thank goodness, we can balance some ofthis with the oh so many positives in the world, our country and our personal lives that also surround us and keep us optimistic and moving forward!