Saturday, February 03, 2007

U. S. Should Leave Iraq!

Am I the only voice, crying in the wilderness?

I have been against the Iraq War since President Bush and his Neoconservative buddies first mentioned the possibility of invading the country. Whether Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or not wasn’t the issue in my mind. Instead, I worried about the morality of the United States making a preemptive invasion of any country. Yes, the 9/11/2001 attack on the World Trade Center was abhorrent and evil. It did not, however, make moral an invasion of a foreign country based on the assertion that it had ties to Al Qaeda. Such an invasion was and is immoral. To my mind, it smacks of “an eye for an eye” anachronistic Pentateuch world view, and I thought that the United States would achieve nothing but the reputation of the fat schoolyard bullyboy by pursuing a preemptive invasion of Iraq.

Time has proven me right. And, I am saying, "I told you so!"

I also assert that the only correct course today, nearly 4 years after the invasion is to leave Iraq. Yes, leave, immediately if not sooner. By staying we compound the original error. Even if President Bush had invaded with 200,000 troops and managed to secure a permanent victory and peace in Iraq, the only correct course would have been to leave immediately. Having botched the entire operation, there is no alternative but to leave because the longer we stay the more dangerous the civil war between the Shiah and Sunni becomes.

To those who say that we would leave a power vacuum in the Middle East, I say, what power vacuum? We seem to have created a power vacuum. If we leave, the players there might just be able to correct the situation. I might add that by staying, we are spending our hard earned capital on a mistaken enterprise, and that it threatens to break the treasury. Instead, we need to focus on actual/real problems around the world. Problems like North Korea, Iran, and global warming.

“A-hah,” you say. “But, Iran is part of the problem with Iraq!”

To which, I reply. “No, a destabilized Iraq is part of the problem for Iran, and we might be able to help, if we were willing to talk to Iran, rather than ignore her and/or threaten her.”

I also wonder what might be wrong with going to the United Nations? Is it so terrible to say, “We made a mistake?” Would it be wrong to ask the nations of the world for help to correct the problems we have created? I guess that would be up to another president since this one is unable to understand that he has created a huge mess in the first place.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

News Overload

Let’s list just a few possible headlines one might have read during the past several days.

1. Jimmy Carter Accused of Anti Semitism!
2. Worst Day in Iraq War!
3. Nineteen United States Troops Killed!
4. Hillary’s Hat Is In the Circle!
5. Maniacal Man Kidnaps Mother and Four Children!
6. Nasty American Idol!
7. Hate Crime Claims Hmong Hunter!
8. 200 Iraqi insurgents killed
9. Three Israelis killed by suicide bomber
10. Brookings Institute says Iraq Civil War will expand into a regional war.
11. Soldiers rape Iraqi girl and kill family
12. U.S. influence world-wide will slide because of Iraq war.
13. 29 States have anti-gay marriage laws on the books
14. Between 50,000 to 60,000 Iraqis dead in war
15. 3090 US Troop deaths in Iraq
16. Housing Market Crash!
17. Man Sentenced to 4 Years for War Protests
18. Rejected American Idol Crashes and Burns

It’s just me, I suppose, but I’d like to read something really nice in the news. I’d like some relief from all the prejudices and hate we Americans exhibit toward one another. I’d like some relief from the war that claims us though I personally did not want it. I’d so much like to be relieved of American Idol. Speaking of relief, I’d like to have some from the Bush presidency as well. Fat chance!

I’m weary of it all! I want a break!

I suppose God will arrange a permanent one for me soon enough, so I best stop with the complaints.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The State of the Union

Why, it’s pathetic, Mr. President -

I understand you are going to speak to the following domestic issues, and I’ve got a fairly clear picture of what you might say, so here is my response.

1. Health: We have done nothing to prevent vast increases in the cost of healthcare since refusing to listen to Hillary Clinton’s proposals back in the early 1990’s. The big boys continue to reap vast profits, and great numbers of our children are not able to obtain basic medical services. Your plan does nothing to address these fundamental inequities.

2. Energy: By all means, lets encourage the use of ethanol. However, we should also be encouraging utility companies to switch to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power (Not Nuclear energy!). For instance, Florida Power and light does have a renewable energy program in which it asks the customer to foot the bill! In a state in which county property taxes, insurance costs, and utility costs have skyrocketed, only 23,000 customers have elected to add the renewable energy charge to their bill. My conclusion is the logical one - a federal mandate is necessary to require utilities to invest heavily in alternative energy sources before they ask customers to take on the burden.

3. Education: No Child Left Behind is a paper nightmare that tests a child’s ability to memorize and learn by rote. First, It does not allow the child to learn through gestalt and/or creative leaps of insight much less provide the opportunity to learn the use of deductive and or inductive problem solving skills. Second, all children do not learn alike Mr. President. One will be a mathematical wiz with low verbal skills, while another will be brilliant verbally, and another may have neither predisposition, but be a mechanical wiz-kid. Third, all children are not capable of reaching the level tested as you require them to do without a great deal of extra help by additional personnel that poor school districts cannot afford to hire. Thus, inner city school districts are bound to loose funding, instead of gain the funding needed to help children from poorer families gain expertise and access to “The American Dream.”

Your proposals will not deal with these basic domestic issues in the creative/innovative way necessary to create actual change and improvement for the people of our nation.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Six Years of Republican Government Grows U.S. Corporations and Upper class

Big surprise! Wages for the middle class and the poor have actually gone down in value on Mr. Bush’s watch. Let’s look at some statistics. Corporate profits increased from 17.7% in 2000 to 20.9% in 2005. At the same time the share of the economy going to wages has sunk to an extreme low. Despite Republican claims, overall job growth for the period is a lethargic 1.3%. Additionally, salary growth exists only in the top 20% of the work force, with the greatest (should I say brobdingnagian? *) growth going to the top one tenth of one percent. * It is no wonder those of us in the middle class feel an economic pinch, though this president has given a tax break to married heterosexuals with children (LGBT people with children are not allowed to be married and thus are not considered to be “families.”). H-m-m-m-m-m, could it be that the greatest part of the tax break goes to corporations and the rich as well?

I haven’t been able to figure out why any poor, middleclass, blue or white collar, people of any nationality, race, or ethnic background vote republican. Do they think upper class Republicans plan on making them rich? That is absolute oxymoronic idiocy!

*brobdingnagian – from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels- the land of the giants.

*Statistics in this article are taken from the BBC News (, an article titled “The end of the American dream? (1/12/07, 10:02 AM GMT).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Worldwide consensus – Bush Plan is More of the Same, and not enough too late.

I won’t belabor it. The title says it all. I like the editorial in Netherlands” Handelsblad, and I paraphrase. Bush’s plan to send in 5 brigades has nothing to do with the actual security and stability of Iraq. Rather it will combat the symptoms instead of ending the civil war in progress. It is more of the same failed policy.

It doesn’t matter that the electorate has finally recognized the error of its ways and elected a democratic Senate and Congress. Politics are politics, and the president is still commander in chief. If Congress pulls the purse strings, it punishes the young men and women in the armed services who have already taken the brunt of this foolish man’s mistaken war against terror.

The lesson learned is that there must be much more open discussion concerning our internal and external policies in the future, and much less fear of being punished for going against the current political trends on the part of all, government officials, political parties, the press, and the ordinary people.

Unfortunately, in a democracy, once you’ve put the village idiot in charge, and you finally recognize the mistake, you’re stuck with him until the next election.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Palm Beach County taxes are aimed at destroying the middle class

My property taxes went up 40% the first year of my residency here in South Florida. My condo fees went up 45%, and my insurance costs went up by40%. The three items total sixteen thousand dollars a year. Ridiculous!

I owned my apartment at Pine Needle Retirement Community in Lancaster, PA, and paid a quarterly fee there that was used for the same kinds of things that my condo fee is here. I’ve checked with some of my former neighbors at Pine Needle, and while their quarterly fee has gone up, it is still only half as much as my condo fee is here.

Everyone I talk to in South Florida describes a similar situation, and so many residents are retirees living on fixed incomes. Retired people here have to go back to work, if they can, or move away from Florida. There is little or no industry here, so younger people are employed in support/service industry, things like cleaning, lawn, and pool services. There are companies that manage condominiums, like mine. Of course there are literally hundreds of restaurants, hotels, and inns. There are also hundreds of thousands of resort type rental properties up and down this ninety-mile stretch of coast, so there are real estate people that do nothing but manage rental properties. There are high-end department stores and boutiques, and liquor stores by the thousands. However, while the service industry pays owners, CEO’s and upper management extremely well, the middle and lower echelons are paid extremely poorly. Middle class families have to rethink their budgets and downscale, or move out of the state. Poor families get poorer, and their rich landlords, those folks that live inside the Intracoastal Waterway just squeeze harder and expect more from service personnel. I guess it’s harder for the poor to move, though increases in Latino population throughout the United States suggest otherwise.

The new governor, Charlie Crist talks the talk about stopping profligate county spending in Florida, and pressuring insurance companies to do something about their rates. Newscasters like Lou Dobbs run special community forums with members of the Florida state house and senate about the problem, but it remains to be seen if anything can be done to stop the runaway costs. Certainly, taxes and high insurance rates that already exist are not ever going down.

Why is this political? First, because at the county level in Florida, politicians work on the good old boy system, and profligate spending is the name of the game. County taxes statewide have gone up by 80% since 2002. Pet projects designed to line pockets are rampant. Second, I’ve already written about one program here in Palm Beach County that wastes millions of dollars a year. It is designed to profile and trap gay men, and has done so to over twelve hundred, though some of these are heterosexual and bisexual men caught in a police juggernaut that is straight - pun intended - out of the 1950’s (See Isaac Stolzfuts' Journal, December 14 and 17, 2006.). Third, politicians at the state level have long stood by and watched and allowed the escalation take place. Despite the rhetoric, I see little chance that the spending spree will stop.

I have begun looking at single dwellings in South Florida since that would do away with the exorbitant condo fee. I’m also looking at communities outside of Florida. Since there is an exodus of middle class retirees from Florida, I want to know where they are all going. Unfortunately, most areas that meet my criteria – it must have museums, orchestra, opera, theater, good libraries, preferably ocean or lakes, and a warm climate - are expensive as (BLEEP!). However, I’m still looking.

It really is too bad. South Florida has so much to offer - beautiful clear warm ocean, great weather, culture, magnificent native and imported flora and fauna. Never the less, if one form of spending pushes the economy, all other forms of spending heat up, and this state has literally hit the upper end of a hyperbolic curve. Infinity here we come!

(SH-BLEEP!) I may just have to move to the desert.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Over 3000 American Service Deaths, and 40,000 plus Iraqi Deaths so far!

In 2003, I wrote that the war in Iraq was “the wrong war against Terrorism.” At the time I wondered why there were no journalists, no Democrats, nobody anywhere shouting from the rooftops that we really didn’t know if there were WMD in Iraq - that Saddam Hussain was not aiding international terrorists, al qaeda or otherwise – much less that it was morally wrong to invade a foreign nation without provocation. Why was there not at least one voice in the wilderness stating that we needed to work with the nations of the world (instead of against them) to eradicate international terrorism.

I Still say its the wrong war against international terrorism!

Last week, while visiting my daughter and her husband in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, I read an article in The December 26, 2006/ January 7, 2007 issue of Time Magazine, “The Real War,” an article in which five authors of the best books about the effects of nine-eleven discuss where this presidential administration’s “War on Terror,” went wrong. The startling result is a conversation indicating that almost nothing has been right about the invasion of Iraq from day one. Bob Woodward states the following about the period leading up to the war.

I talked to people who said, The evidence is much skimpier than they are saying. And we played around with writing a storey about this and did not, and it is one of my regrets. We should’ve all been much more aggressive. It’s an intelligence failure. It’s a policy failure. It’s a journalistic failure.

In a part of the conversation concerning process and decision-making in this administration the authors disparage the fact that the President isn’t present when decisions are made. Finally, Thomas Ricks says…

That’s one of the things in the books – I was struck by the absence of the President.

Ron Suskind follows Ricks’ comments with the following.

How can a president not be involved in a decision upon which so many lives depend? That’s an enormous question here. At day’s end history will point to the character of the President. That’s the way it boils down.

I’m pleased that so many authors have written books that detail the mistakes made in this fiasco. I’m excited that Time Magazine pulls the authors together for a dialogue with their own staff and transcribes the round table discussion of a failed foreign policy. I’m happy that finally it seems to be the consensus among most Democrats, and a few Republicans that the Invasion of Iraq was wrong headed. I’m not happy that we the citizens of the United States allowed ourselves to be taken to war by this Pied Piper and his Neoconservative cronies. Worse, I know that a sizeable portion of our population still believes this war to be a necessary evil. Instead, it is an EVIL that must sadden all actual humanitarian Christians.

I believe that it will be necessary ultimately for this nation and a future president to apologize to the entire world through the United Nations for this travesty of a war. It must be done if we expect to be allowed to resume a position of leadership in the community of nations. I will wait not so patiently for that time, for it must come.