Brother of slain soldier is right, we do need to remember we are a nation at war (but we need to question policy too)

April 6, 2012

One can certainly understand the anguish of a man whose brother has just been killed in a war. One such man was quoted in a story over the past day as saying that Americans need to remember that we are a nation at war. I agree, but I also think that as we remember that or take note of it, we also need to decide what we are accomplishing in the decade-long effort in the Middle East, and Afghanistan in particular.

And maybe the reason people don’t act like they realize we are at war is that no outward sacrifice is being called for on the part of the general public. And although one would think our goal would be to have some kind of victory, we have already telegraphed that we eventually plan to quit. If we can quit later with no clear sign of victory, why not quit now? This is not as much a war in the conventional sense as it is a geopolitical police action. With our all-volunteer force when one signs up these days, he or she is essentially signing onto a world police force. Police are on duty forever. The American public is given little choice in the matter. If either Barack Obama wins re-election to the presidency or Mitt Romney is elected (and that seems now to be the choice) there is no clear end in sight to the war. Obama does like to talk about time tables (they are movable), Romney does not like the idea of telegraphing when you plan to quit, and that much I agree with him on. But, Romney also wants to press on, something I am not necessarily in agreement with. Somehow it seems immoral to me to ask people to put their lives on the line for something you go at half-heartedly, always ready to quit. That does not mean I think we should not quit. I think it takes as much guts to fight all-out as to admit the war cannot be won outright or is not worth it. I would not suggest admitting defeat or anything like that, rather, I would think we should re-assess.

There may be other more practical ways to keep our enemies at bay or at least off our shores. We are already in the Vietnam syndrome in that we seem to have miscalculated and would like to get out but we can’t because we must save face and not dishonor those who have died. We also have used the discredited strategy of limited war. War continues to be war and the only practical thing is to fight to win or not to fight at all. It could be that an even more drawn out war of attrition could work in our favor (although doubtful), but it does not seem to be the way we should conduct things, lest we put ourselves in a true state of endless armed conflict, a state of being and an image I don’t think is right for the United States of America.

But yes, we should remember we are a nation at war and demand our president and congress do something to resolve the issue.

(The story I referred to is at: http://news.yahoo.com/brother-ohio-soldier-nation-war-104658229.html )

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What follows is my previous post on pretty much the same subject:

I’m not sure what women not shaving under their arm pits, people drawing welfare, Occupy Wall Street, soldiers denied proper medical care once they get home (who’s to blame there?) while welfare recipients are tended to, and making it a point to thank the people in uniform all have in common but that seemed to be the elements of the conversation on my local radio station which was playing the Glenn Beck Show, being hosted by a guest host possibly. I only listened to a few words before I had to turn it off.

The message seemed to be that women who did not shave their arm pits were just part of the crowd who lives off of welfare, protests, and who shows it is against America by objecting to war and failing to thank the troops.

While listening to the ignorance and hate one should realize that those who run the local radio stations simply play the blather because it is cheap fare and it apparently brings in the revenue — never mind being part of a more civil and intelligent public discourse. But people want their own point of view to be validated or they want someone to do their thinking for them, so the talk show trash on radio is just what it is. Critical thinking and discussion does not do well in the marketplace.

And I am not saying they should be playing Amy Goodwin and Democracy Now; I’ve caught a little of that at times and it may be somewhat more civil but it is propaganda too, just from the far left of the political spectrum.

But before I turned my radio off I heard the tired old diatribe about how people don’t support our soldiers and the wars they fight. It is irritating that the idea of supporting troops (and that can mean different things in different contexts; a government –to include Republicans — who fails to treat returning reservists or National Guardsmen is not supporting the troops) has to be forever linked in the minds of those of the far-right, one-track mindset to national policy. As far as I know most people who may object to wars or military adventures/actions are not specifically or not at all criticizing individual soldiers, but the policy that puts them in harm’s way. Now in instances where there is abuse perpetrated by soldiers (such as the murder of innocents) then, yes, there might be indeed criticism. And there was a school of thought during the Vietnam War that since it turned out to be so obviously wrong and immoral, not to mention impractical, that any one who agreed to fight it (even if conscripted) was committing an immoral act (I do not necessarily agree with that). And some might argue that today (again I do not necessarily agree with that, even though it is all volunteer).

But people who dress differently than what has become the norm among what is considered the general public, or women who do not shave their arm pits, which has been the custom in Europe and even here decades and decades ago (into the past century), and people who get government assistance, and people who would dare question public policy (unless it is the far right questioning legitimate policy promoted by the middle and left) are all linked together in the minds of those incapable of critical thinking or those simply stirring up the masses for political and financial gain.

(I hate to bring Tom Sullivan into all of this. But he is a case study of someone who began as a conservative talk show host who was capable of and willing to engage in somewhat critical thinking in that he would give both sides of an issue, even though always coming down on the right. But he apparently found such was not acceptable in the world of right-wing talk, so he cut it out for the most part. I wrote that previously and he actually emailed me about my comments on that and other things to do with him and did not deny it — and he still occasionally lets his guard down, I think. He’s usually clever enough that it goes over the heads of many of his listeners, but sometimes they object. The rule on the right is to never but never present the other side of the case. That may be true on the far left too.)

I have to make sure to remember to switch the radio off or to music or something when the commercially driven-right wing propaganda is on, which is all the time.

And it is troubling that Mitt Romney, a highly intelligent man (hell he speaks fluent French) has felt he needs to pander to the ignorant masses to get his party’s nod to be GOP candidate for president.

P.s.

This endless war thing: Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are equally guilty and spend more time blaming each other for it than trying to figure out how to reform our policies so we are not constantly mired in conflicts that are so costly in human lives and to our economy.

A third party is needed and we need to indeed vote all the current slate on both sides out. Extreme yes. But we are facing extreme circumstances. But beyond that people have to pay more attention to public affairs and critical thinking is in order here.

P.s. P.s.

And part of the story or back story in all of this is that those with nothing else to do often get involved in protest movements and supposedly the poor, but working people just do what they are told and don’t question. And those who stand to gain from various policies, such as defense contractors, oil interests, and so on, would like to keep it that way.  Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are at opposite ends of the spectrum and yet in many respects have the same interests, but the Tea Partiers may consider themselves more legitimate in that they consider themselves to be part of the mainstream of working people (whether they are or not and notwithstanding that there is evidence that the original concept of the Tea Party may have been the brain child of monied and vested interests). And the Tea Party no doubt thinks the Occupy movement is nothing but anarchists and maybe socialists/communists. It’s too bad there cannot be an effective movement from the middle, or maybe that is what general elections are all about.

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Don’t want restrictions, don’t take the money…

February 4, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

I don’t mean this to be the refute Tom Sullivan blog site, but I see he’s at it again defending the money hogs who ruined their companies or investment banks by poor investments and outrageous salaries and then hoodwinked lawmakers and the public into granting them bailout welfare.

Mr. Sullivan, a right wing radio voice on the Fox network, is dead set against any rules on compensation tied to bailout money. He is also claiming that the Obama administration is attempting to go beyond attaching strings to bailout money by attempting to limit compensation in businesses not even taking part in the bailouts. I don’t know about that latter part – I have not yet read about such a move, but I would be against it.

But the way I see it is that any business entity accepting bailout money has to accept the rules that might go along with it. While I have heard the charge that bailouts were forced upon banks, I am not aware of the validity of that. I would say if you don’t want to be hamstrung by the government, don’t take the bailout money.

Mr. Sullivan also claims the new name for the USA under the Obama administration is the United Socialists of America.

All I know is that when push came to shove a few months ago, capitalism, in the name of both the Bush administration and nervous investors, blinked and our government did move toward socialism.

I have often heard the charge lately that over the years leading up to our current economic meltdown the liberals in government pressured banks and other lending institutions to offer sub prime loans, those shaky instruments that seem to be the primary cause of our economic disaster. But from what I am aware of there is guilt all around. Liberals liked the idea of easy loans to get more folks into homes and some who called themselves conservatives loved the idea of making tons of money on ever escalating mortgage values, and folks who in times past could not have even dreamed of home ownership (a misnomer since the banks and all the derivative investors really own the homes in the sub prime category) were not complaining.

Lobbyists for the mortgage industry got government to change the rules to allow the sub prime loans and liberals thought it was great too (I know, I’m repeating myself).

Real or traditional conservatives may have been a little more circumspect or downright distrustful of new rules that allowed people to supposedly buy homes with nothing down and then sometimes immediately sell them at ever inflating prices. But during those days when so many people were making so much money, one almost seemed foolish to complain.

But it all came down on us and now the recriminations.

In general I do agree with Mr. Sullivan that the government should not be telling private business entities how to run their affairs and it should not be setting the payroll, and along those lines, it should follow, perhaps, that government should not be handing out money to private entities. But if it must, it can hardly be expected to do so without strings attached.

I have not yet heard an explanation of why CEO’s and others are constantly rewarded for poor performance, except sometimes the apologists claim or imply that the poor performance was somehow the government’s fault. Modern conservatives hate the government, except when they want handouts or they decide people (usually other people) should spill their blood for the cause of capitalism.

It does seem our government is moving into some form of socialism, which is called a “left wing” ideology, but ironically it began a few months ago when a right wing administration started the move toward the left.

Right now the electorate is panicky enough not to concentrate on esoteric right wing, left wing ideology discussions, it just wants something that works.

Personally, I am not sure how effective government intervention in economics ever is. A young, just out of school, instructor taught the only economics class I ever took. He said that the business cycle always goes up and down and government has little effect (except possibly to make things marginally better or worse – I actually added this last part, but I think it went along with his attitude).

I know Richard Nixon (supposedly a conservative), a Republican, did impose limited and temporary wage and price controls back in 1971, with, I think, no major effect one way or the other.

That’s why I think government’s role should be more one of emergency relief rather than administrator of the economy. But I would tend to agree with those who argue government should not do things that discourage investment and the opportunity for individuals to increase their own personal wealth, but then again, who would argue with that?


Obama stumbles, but at least he admits it…

February 4, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

Only last week I was blogging that President Obama was just getting better all the time – he was even reaching out to Republicans when he didn’t have to, and now since then things have slid a little. He can’t seem to find key cabinet picks who fill out their income tax forms correctly (and wouldn’t you know it? the mistakes they made were to their own advantage, that is until they got caught).

And of course right wing talk radio is having a field day as the new administration stumbles.

Tom Sullivan, used to be of Sacramento Radio station KFBK, nowadays of the Fox network, was glibly noting over the airwaves that the “Obamaniacs” must be beside themselves what with Obama not being for change after all in that several of his cabinet picks have tax problems (as well as nanny problems and various ethics issues, I add myself). I was going across town and only heard a minute or two of Mr. Sullivan, but apparently he feels that to have been an Obama supporter one has to have been a maniac and implies that he thinks anyone who supported Obama felt that their man could do no wrong. Maybe that is because during the last administration the Republican line was that the president can do no wrong – if the president does it, it has to be right. There was some dissension perhaps in the far right wing over some things George W. did (especially at the last when he went socialist), but our boy George never could see any of his mistakes until maybe the bitter end when he allowed as he might have erred in his handling of Katrina and he also said he felt bad about the economy. His invasion decisions? Well he kind of admitted to acting on the wrong reasoning, but said well it worked out the way he wanted it to anyway and in some type of weird logic he said that even though he acted on erroneous information, he likely would have done it anyway (??).

In the final analysis, I felt Barack Obama was the man for the job, and yet I don’t consider myself an Obamaniac.

And these past few days I have not been beside myself, but I have been disappointed, and I had come to the conclusion that Tom Daschle should not be appointed to a cabinet position (I missed the New York Times editorial against him, but I think that was the coup de grace). Daschle withdrew Tuesday under the mounting pressure. (I think Geithner should have too.)

I was pleased, though, to see President Obama on ABC TV news appearing a little contrite and vowing to do better. People who own up to their mistakes or who explain questionable actions seem more honorable to me than ones who ignore criticism because either they didn’t see it in the first place because they ignore the news and/or from some inner belief that they alone know the way and that they are on a mission from God (we may all be on a mission from God, but in this nation we have chosen to operate our governmental affairs by human rules while maintaining our own personal spiritual rights).

In another somewhat related matter, Wells Fargo Bank after receiving beaucoup government bailout money was planning to send some of its people to Vegas to party hearty but under public scrutiny has reportedly said “never mind”.

Maybe it may finally sink in with the bankers and Washington politicians that they are all under more scrutiny and the rules really have changed. Or maybe not. But if not, the public may do some rule changing on its own since it’s our money and lives they are fooling around with. And it might not be pretty.

And maybe we should have let the chips fall where they may in this current financial crisis and let things work themselves out according to the conventional rules of business – which do include bankruptcy – letting losers lose and winners win.

One reason nothing seems to be working is that no one really knows what the new rules are and no one wants to be the first one to take a chance while not knowing what the new rules are.

If the new president can just find folks with squeaky clean records (too late for Geithner), who choose to err on the side of caution in things such as paying taxes, and get them on the job, perhaps the new rules can be set forth.

Until then, it would seem any kind of confidence in the financial system cannot be achieved.

P.s. When I wrote about right wing radio talk show host Tom Sullivan last week I did not realize that he had gone on to the big time with a gig for the Fox network (he can still be heard on Sacramento Radio station KFBK weekdays, noon to 3 p.m.). I did get a comment from him, though, posted on my Jan. 27 blog. I was happy to see that he felt I had analyzed him well (“mostly correct”). I always strive to be mostly correct.