Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I knew there was some reason that I liked the general, Petraeus's replacement, given the fact that I'm not usually in the camp of most generals: too political to suit me. And, it sure ain't the new head general in Iraq's good looks. However, now that the Iraqi premier has threatened the good General Odierno with losing his job, I'm liking him better. The General told the Washington Post that intelligence showed Iran attemptimg to bribe Iraqi lawmakers to sabotage the Status of Forces Agreement (basically this is the document that lets us stay in the country--the rub is that the Iraqis want to have charge of our soldiers in case of an American mistake that might involve a civilian or interpretation of the "rules of engagement"--allowing the Iraqis to decide is unthinkable).

Iran and Iraq aligned--makes sense to me. From my prism, anything to get us out of Iraq. We're in a weird position and have been from the "get go." With our latest counter insurgency movement, if you think about it, we've armed and recruited the Sunnis (Awakening Councils), formerly the insurgents, who are now on our side. And, this has brought a relative degree of calm.

However, here is where it gets dicey, think about this: basically we have an official Shiite Army that we are training as our replacements but now beside them, we also have a Sunni Army, armed by us. They hate each other and have for hundreds of years. The Iranians are Shiite, like the government of Iraq and the majority of the country. Hello! And, why would Iran not want us out Dodge and if a few bribes gets us on the next train, so be it.

I'm not the only one who thinks this way, of course, but the author of Unintended Consequences has made this the thesis for an entire book.

Getting out of Iraq has to be a priority. We basically can declare victory: we got rid of Saddam, God bless you, we are gone. According to the author of Unintended Consequences, we have lost the war. I think he's probably right. If our goal is to keep the warring factions apart, staying in Iraq for years might accomplish this. I doubt it but still it could. How long? Well, John McCain says a hundred years.

We are about in as much a mess in the Middle East as we've every been so why not as the GIs use to say about Vietnam when we were there, let's "diddy mal" (get the hay out of here)!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Recently, my grand daughter and I were at a park in San Francisco and the serenity of a bright and sunny day was disturbed by the screaming overhead of these gloriously precisioned jets, the Blue Angels. They are the Navy's premier flying team, in San Fran for their yearly show called Fleet Week. Watching them practice was thrilling. Wow and more wow is what I thought!

But, later on in the day as I watched the stock market plunge to levels not seen in years, I began to think about the money spent on the "WOW" show of the Blue Angels and how many foreclosed homes that the Blue Angel money could save. And what about things like the trillions spent in Iraq. What about it? What does it all mean? For one thing, it is unbelievably complicated. How could saving on the Blue Angels possibly help the economy. It is the same view of eating one less expensive meal could hardly help the starving in Africa.

Well, it surely is complicated but there has to be some connection to our expenditures on the Blue Angels' air shows, the war in Iraq, all sorts of other things--to say it is too complex is to do or say nothing. Kind of like our present financial crisis, not figuring out how we got where we are is inexcusable: not coming to grips with the spending of millions of dollars on an air show and how it relates, is equally unacceptable.

It all has to be related. Having served at fairly high levels of the military, I use to marvel at the budget process. We operate within a budget. They must spend that money whether they need it or not or guess what? They will not get as much for next year. Spending more is even better (whether you need to or not) and that way you can asked for more.

So, how is it related? The Blue Angels have a budget, it is training and the thinking is that it relates to recruitment, kids will see the WOW of the Blue Angels and run right down and enlist.

We are too smart to simply let things like this continue. The Blue Angels are just symptomatic. I just bet if we were to dedicate ourselves to reining in purposeless spending that doesn't make sense, we could figure it out. These are tough times for the country and everything has to be on the table. Here's a good one, the Iraqis have an 80 billion dollar surplus, we have the worst deficit in history and are in crisis. Yet, we are spending billions a month in Iraq. Hello!!!!!!!!!!! Any North Carolina farmer can tell you how to handle this.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Most of us who frequent the Internet with some regularity are constantly bombarded with forwards, political opinion, adinfinitum. I get really tired of it and have been discussing it with a religious email group in which I participate. One of the members recently chided us for our lack of response. What follows is some of our discussion.

Comment. Thanks for calling this to our attention. We've been remiss. I think for me, it has been a general feeling that our group is so locked in on rigid positions and are spending most of their time watching Fox News, plus forwarding ideas of what a great choice Sarah Palin was that my psyche didn't want to deal with it. I am pulling our chains somewhat. The weird thing about where we are in our country is that if you look at the Republican President, he has gotten every single thing he has asked for, i. e., a gigantic defense bill, not a single word in it about bringing home the troops

Comment. What concerns me, however, are the somewhat useless emails that fly continuously, mostly forwards, many time we don't even know if they are true. And, why anybody would think they are going to sway opinion with some ranting is beyond me.

Comment, replying to a forward. I don't doubt any of this is true; but this is precisely what I'm talking about; forwards like this are not helpful. All politicians are inherently corrupt and or if not quite as bad, are self serving--of both parties: it is simply the way it is. A biased forward has about as much chance of reaching me as flying to the moon. Plus, with the web, it is so easy to find something to reinforce your point. Why not search for areas where we can discuss, i.e., the bailout/rescue of Wall Street. You and I discussing abortion (His comments on terminating a pregnancy--the reasons I can’t support a Democratic candidate for President is because of abortion. It troubles me that the most dangerous place in America for a child is in its mother’s womb). It is like agreeing on the idea of Eternal Security (A Christian Religious term which means that once a person has committed him/herself to Christianity, it is forever sealed), a waste of our time to discuss as well as abortion.

Comment. I believe in soul assignment. This is not original with me but makes sense. When a fetus can live outside the womb, then God assigns a soul and the fetus becomes a person. I could never believe a teenager and his girlfriend in the back seat of a 49 Ford can make an instant baby. Makes no sense to me.

Comment. Here is what I think is helpful: a discussion of the financial mess and what brought us to this point.

Comment. OK, here's a stab at something for us to discuss: In a word, greed! And, for us Calvinists, we should get this with certainty. Man is sorry, good for nothing. Worthless, only through the Lord Jesus is he brought to any sense of redemption. And, even in that, redemption still possesses the rudiment of a sinful nature.

Comment: On a practical basis, through deregulation of the stock market, greedy traders and other worthless pieces of humanity lined their own pockets by lying, creating worthless assets, which they were able to put a value on, uninhibited without anybody minding the store. Then, of course, greedy bankers, many pillars of the church (although they probably didn't tithe) and, of course, the father of derivatives (which is anything that a Wall Street shyster thinks it is) is none other than former Congressman, Phil Gramm, who authored the bill creating derivatives (helped along by Dems and Repubs who lined their pockets): during this heyday, many preachers were preaching the "prosperity gospel. "

Comment. Demos and Repubs alike turned a blind eye while greedy Mortgage bankers let those who follow the late night TV shows on house
flipping think they could make a fortune like the bankers, etc. And, of course there were those poor folks who wanted a piece of the American dream and were greedy too. But, for these poor folks, we can be forgiving as for them they merely want what many of us have.

Comment. Now, this is useful and let's have another side, not some Internet posting, bashing some candidate or putting forth a Rush Limbaugh ranting.

Comment. The flip side of the coin is that I would like to hear some logical views sans the party line why we should put the Republicans back in again based on where the country is.

Comment. My take on the financial mess after reading and trying to understand is off the wall: we need the 700 billion rescue even though we are rewarding those who have caused the mess. If we don't, who is going to be hurt are the poor people. They are surviving on credit cards, etc; it is their safety net; our country is built on credit, at least our economy. We have to continue it although philosophically it may not be the best: it is what we have. For many of us, we can say "let's go to cash, tighten the belt" but the poor folks will fall through the cracks. I feel somewhat the same way about immigration; Lou Dobbs, aside, we can't solve it, let's continue what we are doing which is the best we can. Maybe a new Prez might funnel some bucks to help corruption and drug trafficking and maybe the Mexicans wouldn't want to come here. OK, I am out of hull defoliate.