Friday, September 26, 2008

Blank Check

President Bush has announced a national emergency because of the financial mess caused by the big banks and has asked Congress to give him a blank check to deal with the problem. Sound familiar? It is the same strategy he used after September 11 to get us involved in the Iraq war fiasco. And Congress gave him what he asked for in that instance. Even though the Democrats were again ready to cave in to his demands so they would not be blamed for the problem, a few wise conservative Republicans said "No Thank You." Having been burned once they were smart enough not to get burned again, for which all Americans should be thankful.

Why should ordinary taxpayers pay for the sins of the elite New York bankers? Certainly the smart guys who run America’s business can find a solution to this problem that doesn’t turn our country into a welfare state for the greedy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Smart Guys

It is interesting to watch the collapse of American corporations as they fall prostrate begging for government intervention. What I don’t understand is what happened to the corporate leaders who get such high pay. Their multimillion dollar compensation packages are justified on the basis of their great business skills yet they seem to be expert only at leading America’s businesses towards bankruptcy. These guys are supposed to be so smart but they appear to be actually quite inept. Maybe if they were paid less they would pay more attention to their work. What is so infuriating is that these high paid executives are so well favored by our federal government when it comes to the tax code. Maybe if they were treated like the rest of us they would do better work

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Understanding Iraq

I just finished reading the book Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq by Irish journalist Patrick Cockburn. I understand much better now why things in Iraq are in such a mess. American leaders, and especially President Bush, continue to be totally ignorant of the culture in that distant land, which explains why we have made the mistakes we have. Our mainstream media seem to be just as clueless as our politicians. From Cockburn’s description of the situation, I don’t see any way America can extract itself from Iraq with any degree of grace without leaving a mess. So we might as well get out as quickly as possible and save the lives of our brave troops.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Don't Understand

I don’t understand the conservatives' sudden love affair with Sarah Palin, recently nominated as candidate for vice president. She passes their two major litmus tests, anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. However, she had the audacity to parade her unmarried pregnant teenage daughter on the national stage at the Republican convention. Social conservatives are opposed to premarital sex. I don’t understand how they can come to accept an obvious violation of their moral stance on this issue. I don’t blame Governor Palin for the misdeeds of her children, but I do not understand why the young lady was placed in the national spotlight. We have enough pregnant teenagers in this country without having a high profile poster child added to the mix.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Return of the Russians

Written 9-03-08

The Russian Empire collapsed in 1917 only to be replaced shortly thereafter by the Soviet Union which was a Communist empire. This union was dominated by its largest entity, Russia. At the end of the Second World War the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the two great powers in the world. This was a throwback to the 19th century with its contests among several great powers, especially within Europe. Both Russia and the United States jockeyed for influence throughout the world each carving out its own sphere of particular interest. They did not want to confront each other militarily because each had the power to destroy the other. It was referred to as MAD or Mutually Assured Destruction.

The war that raged between the two superpowers was referred to as a Cold War. Eventually in the last decade of the 20th century the United States won and once again the Russian Empire collapsed with many of its components declaring independence. The Russia that emerged was weak militarily, economically, and in matters of governance. The United States, the proud winner, boasted more than a little that it was now the one great power in the world and it seemed that no other nation had the resources to challenge its status. Russia struggled to develop an effective governance structure. Its lack of experience with democratic institutions made that effort very difficult.

Meanwhile, America got fat and lazy. The easy life was good indeed. We were busy assisting the remnants of the Soviet Union in developing democratic processes and an affinity for the American way of life. Several of them wanted to join with other European countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). We were glad to have them, while Russia, in its weakness, chafed at the thought that their former enemy was encircling them. The United States went on a spending spree piling up debt at an unprecedented rate with little to show for the expenditures.
Russia, dabbled with democracy but mainly found economic institutions to build its own wealth and strength. Recent events in the tiny republic of Georgia have been a wake-up call to the Americans. Georgia has been our strongest ally in the Iraq war, and we were ready to let them into NATO. When the Georgian military began to bombard the Russian population of one of its own breakaway enclaves, the Russians said "no thank you." They moved their military, not only to defend their own people, but invaded Georgia itself. The Georgian leadership looked to their great friends, the Americans, for help.

President George Bush huffed and puffed. He snorted and pawed the ground and kicked up dust everywhere demanding that the Russians leave Georgia. The Russians smiled and continued their occupation of our beleaguered friend. In response, President Bush dispatched his Secretary of State, the stern faced Dr. Rice, to take care of the situation. She did more huffing and puffing with the same result. The Russians giggled at the suggestion that they should relinquish their quick conquest. Their response to the American efforts sends a clear message, the Russians are back.

From my perspective, America has dithered away its strength while the Russians have quietly built theirs. Now there is a new superpower on the planet and unless the United States quickly reverses course and rebuilds its financial institutions, its weakened economy, and it’s exhausted military they will leave us in the dust of history. I made a similar statement in my last commentary and one of my friends challenged me: " Where will America get the money to do all this? No politician will suggest that we raise taxes and eventually we have to quit borrowing money from the Chinese, so how are we going to rebuild American strength?"

My friend is correct. Neither one of the candidates for president would dare suggest that we raise taxes to pay for rebuilding America. That would be a political kiss of death. However, unless the American people are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to reconstruct the infrastructure of America , revitalize our weakened financial structure, and rebuild our military, they will have to get used to the United States being a secondary power in the new world order. The Russians are back and we better learn to live with that fact.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Still More on the Conventions

Finally the Republicans have generated some spirit at their convention. The speeches last night roused the crowd and got them on their feet. It was typical conservative rhetoric with an attack on government, the media and elitist thinkers who might be influenced by European ideas. They clearly differentiated themselves from Obama and the Democrats. It appears that McCain's selection of Sarah Palin has healed the rift with the ultra conservative right wing of the party. Now, all that remains is for the Senator to put the finisheing touches on a relatively successful convention.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Even More on the Convention

What a disappointment that the Republican convention is preempted by a hurricane. Here was an opportunity for the Republicans to show the nation what they stand for and showcase John McCain and his vice presidential choice. From my perspective, McCain and the Republicans did the right thing by downsizing their party plans. Hopefully the media will give them sufficient coverage so that the nation can see what their vision for America is. That way the electorate can make a more informed choice.