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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list


MONDAY through THURSDAY, June 27 through 30, 2011

WOW!.  I have previously offered my view of Barack Obama's MO:

DON'T JUST DO SOMETHING.  STAND THERE!

Now even liberal columnist Maureen Dowd has his number.  See her article in the NY Times Sunday June 26 edition, pSR5, entitled: "Why Is He Bi (Sigh)"? 

"Our president likes to be on both sides at once....A leader is not a mediator or an umpire or a convener or a facilitator....Sometimes, as Chris Christie put it, 'the president has got to show up'....On some of the most important issues facing this nation, it is time for the president to come out of the closet."

'Nuf said.

GS


SUNDAY, June 26, 2011

OUR "WELTANSCHAUNG":  "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

The world's first political structure may have been "The Twelve Tribes of Israel".  But tribal loyalties, beginning with the immediate family, are still paramount throughout the world - and especially in the Middle and Far East.  That is why we in the U.S., having shed many of our traditional tribal loyalties in order to create these United States of America,  are out of our element in dealing with "countries" like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc.  No matter how a western country like England can "create" Afghanistan in the late 1800's, or Churchill can "create" Iraq after WW l, or the U.N. can "create" Israel in 1947, what they also created are festering wounds that if mis-handled can spread as a sepsis far beyond their boundaries.  Here, the following maxim takes on real meaning: "A nation does not have friends...only interests".  And that's why the U.S. must only take on tasks that are in our own national interests - not nation-building, not spread of democracy, not protection of indigenous peoples, unless such goals are also in our national interest.   That includes our relationships with our "Allies".   For you can be sure that's how the rest of the world operates.  But is that how we have been operating in the last several decades?  I think not.  And it has cost us dearly. 

But there is one vital task that we must take on, by all effective means: motivate the vast majority of Moderate Muslims to overthrow the toxic and terrorist and dictatorial fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that a small minority of Muslims find quite useful to their personal goals of power.  Only they can do it.  And, if it is not done, we are on our way to World War lll between the West and Islam. 
This is avoidable.  The Faith of Islam does not dictate or require this.  But without action - and even revolution from within - this is what will happen.  For self-defense and survival are definitely in our national interest.


GS


SATURDAY, June 25, 2011

TREACHERY IN NEW LONDON...

GS

Olsen's candidacy damages Republican Party in New London

By BILL VOGEL

Publication: The Day

Published 06/24/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 06/24/2011 01:59 AM

It pains me to have this public discussion about a sad circumstance in the New London Republican Party. As chairman I have worked to elect Republicans in a mostly Democrat city. Unfortunately, we have a situation where one of our Republican city councilors has bolted the party. He, along with a few of his supporters, has blamed me, the chairman, for obstructing his ability to run as a Republican for the elected mayor position. I considered Mayor Marty Olsen a friend and loyal Republican, so it is with a deep pain in my heart that I try to set the record straight.

In early fall 2010, Olsen told me that he, rather than deputy mayor and fellow Councilor Adam Sprecace, deserved to be the next, and last, ceremonial mayor. When reminded that Sprecace received the second highest number of votes in the 2009 election (to Olsen's second lowest) and that Sprecace had served on the City Council the prior two years (when Olsen had not), Olsen said he would if necessary seek the support of the New London Democrats on the City Council to become ceremonial mayor. At the same time, Olsen stated if charter revision passed creating a strong mayor office, he would support fellow Republican Rob Pero in the 2011 mayoral election.

Olsen snubs colleagues

In December 2010, after charter revision passed, Olsen accepted the New London Democrats' support and became ceremonial mayor, a big snub to his fellow Republicans. He also stated that he would not run for the elected mayor position in 2011.

In January 2011, Pero announced his intent to run for the elected mayor position. No other Republicans expressed any such desire, including Olsen. Given that no other Republican expressed any desire to run, I threw my full support to Pero, and encouraged him to run hard and start early because that is what it takes for a Republican to win in New London.

As of March 2011, Olsen had made no comment to me about his desire to run for elected mayor, despite our speaking on a regular basis and having co-hosted a weekly public access television show for almost two years.

Between April and May 2011, Olsen stopped returning telephone messages left by me and stopped attending monthly Republican Town Committee meetings.

This month Olsen announced his candidacy for elected mayor as a petitioning candidate, thereby bypassing the party endorsement. At any time, Olsen could have sought the nomination for elected mayor from the Republican Town Committee. The chairman has no power to block nominations.

Diversionary tactic

Olsen is simply choosing to cast blame in my direction in order, I suspect, to deflect attention from his lack of support in the Republican Party, which has fallen to new lows as a result of his disloyalty for using the Democrats' support to become the ceremonial mayor.

So, what exactly is Olsen's motivation for running as a petitioning candidate? I believe he knew he did not have the support of the town committee and that he could not win in a Republican primary.

Although I do not believe that a petitioning candidate can win, Olsen's candidacy and its potential to split the vote could make it that much harder for a Republican to win. I suspect the Democrats are smiling.

Bill Vogel is chairman of the New London Republican Town Committee.





MONDAY through FRIDAY, June 13 through 24, 2011

This film was made by a 15 year old girl. It is the hottest thing on the internet and on Fox News today.Lizzie Palmer who put this YouTube program together, is 15 years old. There have been over 3,000,000 hits as of this morning. In case you missed it, here it is.Watch all of it.......and, pass it on!!

http://www.youtube.com/v/ervaMPt4Ha0&autoplay=1


SUNDAY, June 12, 2011

AMEN.

GS

This city can't accept fabulous
By Ann Baldelli

Publication: The Day

Published 06/12/2011 12:00 AMUpdated 06/10/2011 06:16 PM

It was just after 8 on a Friday morning, a spectacular June day, when Deputy Chief Marshall Segar drove past New London's just refurbished Parade plaza to make sure everything was in order for festivities there later that day.

"It was such a beautiful day and I saw the flowers and the whale tail and it all looked like a million bucks," says Segar. "It just looked fabulous."

But as the deputy police chief looked closer he spotted a shoeless, shirtless man showering himself beneath the stream of water flowing over the whale tail sculpture there.

That incident, on June 3, has sparked much conversation about the city's Parade plaza and whether undesirables are spending too much time there.

Deputy Chief Segar ordered the man, who was cited for disorderly conduct and taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital for evaluation, out of the water. Because the man had soiled himself, public works crews were called to hose off the plaza and put additional chlorine in the pool of recycling water that runs off the whale tail.

Yes, it was a sordid affair, but the story has grown to mythical proportions since that time, resulting in last week's closure of the fountain.

When two citizens raised questions about the incident at last week's City Council meeting, mayoral candidate and Councilor Michael Buscetto III matter-of-factly stated that people have been using the fountain to urinate, defecate, bathe, and wash blood from themselves.

So much for fabulous. Apparently fabulous is an impossibility in New London.

By the Monday after the disgusting Friday incident, stories were swirling about how the fountain's water could be a source of hepatitis. Seriously? And otherwise reasonable people were passing tales of men lathering beneath the whale tail stream with bars of soap and other fables of riffraff regularly vomiting there.

So much for accentuating the positive. The plaza project is now known around-the-world as the "$11 million bathroom."

Nonsense like this is why New London can never get ahead of its unfair reputation. Some of the people who proclaim to care about the city knock it every chance they get. Whatever is good in New London is never good enough.

I'm with Deputy Chief Segar, I think the Parade plaza looks spectacular. And I am profoundly disappointed that New London has once again made itself the butt of a joke.

There is a legitimate issue with a handful of homeless people misbehaving downtown and near the Parade plaza, and that shouldn't be tolerated.

Officials are working to address the problem, and perhaps they need to work faster and harder. The redesign and rebuild of the plaza was intended to make the area the city's town green - its public meeting place - and as such it should be treated respectfully by everyone who uses it.

Whether people have a permanent roof over their heads or not, they have a right to visit the Parade as long as they obey the laws and act responsibly. Homeless people have been a part of New London's fabric - every city's fabric - for as long as people have populated cities.

But making a spectacle out of a problem involving a clearly disturbed homeless person who did something despicable is counter-productive to all the other good that's happened in New London. And that is just pitiful.


SATURDAY, June 11, 2011

In the 1950's Arthur Schlesinger, noted historian, wrote an article whose thesis was the following: that very often in Presidential elections, the loser has a greater impact on the future direction of the nation than does the winner...simply because he said those true but unpopular things that had to be said - and lost the election for his efforts.  Of course, that sequence of events is true only when the winner has the good sense to adopt the loser's wisdom and courage. 
Unfortunately that is not entirely true with the current President.  Although he shows occasional signs of "getting it",  he seems to be too doctrinaire a theorist to wake up and smell the flowers - or napalm. 
President Obama and the rest of us would do well to re-read the Foreign Policy speech provided by John McCain during the last Presidential campaign.  Maybe we can bring back Arthur Schlesinger's tradition.

GS

John McCain’s Foreign Policy Speech
Published: March 26, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/26/us/politics/26text-mccain.html?emc=eta1


FRIDAY, June 10, 2011

THERE YOU GO!

GS

Yes, turn the fountain back on
By David Collins

Publication: The Day
Published 06/10/2011 12:00 AMUpdated 06/10/2011 12:01 AM

Just when it looked like selling Riverside Park might be the big issue of the New London mayoral race, along came the faux whale fountain crisis.

Chief cheerleader of this mess, which, alas, put New London on the news map this week around the world, was mayoral candidate Michael Buscetto, an early critic of the Parade renovations downtown and a longtime foe of the homeless.

City Councilor Buscetto has taken every opportunity to exaggerate one homeless man's inappropriate use of the fountain last week - the perpetrator was arrested and jailed - and paint New London in a bad light.

"A gentleman defecated and continued to rinse off underneath the whale tale. That got into the system ..." Buscetto inappropriately and practically gleefully reported on camera to a news team from the statewide television station WTNH Channel 8.

The report then cut back to the news station's anchors, who sat in front of a huge picture of a roll of toilet paper and the big headline: Fouled Fountain.

Then, to a reporter from The New York Times, Buscetto went on to wring his hands some more and further embarrass the city.

"If the water is dirty, I have to look out for the people," Buscetto told the Times.

I'd say Buscetto clearly flunked the mayoral test on this one.

When one of the country's biggest newspapers calls, don't talk about how worried you are that the water in your downtown fountain is dirty. I'm pretty sure that's taught in Mayoring 101.

City Councilor Michael Passero, who would also like to be mayor, had a much better answer for the newspaper, describing the controversy as "much ado about nothing."

The contamination has been cleaned up, and he's heard of no further incidents, Passero was quoted as calmly telling the newspaper.

That's a passing grade, I'd say, on this mayoral test.

Even the Times acknowledged the fountain issues might have hinged as much on politics as dirty water.

"It did not take long for the fountain . . . to become mired in the fear of contaminated water and the political tumult of an approaching mayor's race," the story reported.

This is clearly one of those times when New London does indeed need a strong and influential mayor, someone who can keep the city on track, use common sense, eliminate the distractions and focus on the positive.

A mayor practicing good leadership should point out that fountains and the homeless coexist just fine in cities around the world.

No, a mayor might say, to those meddlesome bureaucrats who would suggest the whale tale is some kind of bathing or swimming facility that needs to be regulated by health authorities. It's just a fountain.

It's not that different, really, than the fountain that has operated quietly for decades in New London, near the intersection of Bank and Shaw streets.

Sure, go ahead and post signs that say you shouldn't drink the water and you shouldn't bathe in it. And ask police to make a point on patrols to be sure that people don't do that.

But no one is going to get sick or die if they do somehow get hit by some spray from the fountain.

On Thursday afternoon, the city said it plans to enclose the fountain area with a low retaining wall and turn it back on. That seems like a reasonable solution for signaling that it is for viewing, not bathing.

The new whale tale is really quite beautiful, and in its short time in service has livened the downtown and brought pleasure to many.

That's what fountains are for.

Yes, turn it back on.

This is the opinion of David Collins


TUESDAY through THURSDAY, June 7 through 9, 2011

Folks, check out our Custom House Maritime Museum web site, particularly the link to "Whale Tail Fountain" (www.nlmaritimesociety.org)...and follow it all the way down to the NY Times report of today, June 9, 2011.

Some New Londoners continue to have a penchant for "soiling their own nest", figuratively and literally.  But the vast majority of us, particularly the transplants from other places, greatly appreciate New London for the "garden spot of the world" that it is.


GS


MONDAY, June 6, 2011

SEE ALSO June 4 Posting Below...

Afghanistan: Obama’s Moment of Decision
by Andrew J. Bacevich

A new Senate report says billions of dollars in aid go to waste in Afghanistan, where the president is about to make a decision about troop levels. But as Andrew J. Bacevich argues, the question is a distraction from a far more fundamental choice.

Once the capital of a nation defined by inalienable rights; government of, by, and for the people; Fourteen Points; Four Freedoms; and “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!,” Washington is today preoccupied with Anthony Weiner’s crotch and parsing Sarah Palin’s interpretation of Paul Revere’s ride as a defense of the Second Amendment. What used to be known as the people’s business is today becoming indistinguishable from farce. Whether our ruling class possesses the ability even to identify the matters deserving the attention of senior policymakers has become an open question.

Take Afghanistan, for example. A promised presidential decision on withdrawing some indeterminate number of troops—presumably initiating a process, again of indeterminate length, aimed at ending the war altogether—is forthcoming. A big deal? Not really. In fact, the question of troops levels in the war zone is barely worthy of presidential attention. Barack Obama should have more important things to attend to.

If the Afghanistan War is essential to the safety and well-being of the American people, then the president should allow the commanders entrusted with its prosecution considerable discretion in deciding both what they need to accomplish their assigned mission and how long it will take. Let Gen. David Petraeus make the call on the rate of withdrawal—on whether to withdraw any troops at all. If the president lacks confidence in Petraeus’s ability to manage the war, then he should find himself a new general.

If, on the other hand, the Afghanistan War is not essential to the safety and well-being of the American people—a position to which I subscribe—then the imperative is to end that war forthwith. We’ve already wasted too much money and too many lives in the “graveyard of empires.” Should General Petraeus entertain a different view, then the president should find himself a four-star willing to do the commander in chief’s bidding. As for the specific schedule of withdrawal, establish basic parameters and let the military figure out the details. Having Obama decide how many troops should come home this summer makes about as much sense as having LBJ and Robert McNamara pick bombing targets in North Vietnam.

More to the point, rather than expending energy and attention on a secondary question like the rate of Afghan troop withdrawals, Obama would be far better advised (and the country far better served) were he to attend to matters that do deserve presidential attention.

Here are three examples—national-security questions that the administration and Washington more broadly appear to be neglecting. I’ll bet you can come up with at least as many more.

First: What exactly should we learn from nearly a decade of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan? Given all the frustrations and failures of that decade, one would hope that we’d learn a lot. The nation’s eagerness to forget Iraq even before it’s over suggests that we will learn nothing. We need a 9/11-Commission-style panel to conduct a broad, nonpartisan inquiry into every facet of what we used to call the Global War on Terror. The object: to figure out what went wrong and why. Constituting and empowering that panel is presidential business.

We’ve already wasted too much money and too many lives in the 'graveyard of empires.'

Second: Here’s Adm. Mike Mullen, lame-duck chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Time magazine: "Long term, if the military drifts away from its people in this country, that is a catastrophic outcome we as a country can't tolerate, can't afford, in no way.” The fact is that we are staring that catastrophe in the face: the “gap” between American society and the United States military is real and growing. No one knows this better than those who serve in uniform. All of the emoting about “supporting the troops” cannot disguise this reality. Acknowledging and taking action to close that gap qualifies as presidential business. Thus far, Obama has been silent on the issue.

Third: Admiral Mullen has also publicly stated that the national debt constitutes “our biggest security threat.” Hyperbole? Maybe a little. But it’s not hyperbole to say that getting the nation’s fiscal house in order is a matter of considerable urgency. Of course, Obama is not in a position to cure Washington’s penchant for profligacy on his own. But if ever there were an issue that called for banging on the bully pulpit, this is it. The president has shown far too little leadership here.

In strategy, what separates the men from the boys is being able to distinguish between what’s central and what’s peripheral. In Washington today, that capacity appears all but nonexistent.

Remember the great Norma Desmond line? “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” The narcissists inhabiting Washington like to think they’re big. But the place itself has become oddly small: ingrown, imprisoned by habit, oblivious to its own growing irrelevance.
Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University.


MONDAY, June 6, 2011

The "REVOLTING DEVELOPMENT" keeps getting worse.  See the Editorial in the WSJ Sat.-Sun., June 4,5, 2011 entitled "NAACP VS BLACK PARENTS". 
"Here's something you don't see everyday. Thousands of American blacks held a rally in Harlem last week to protest...the NAACP.  The New York state chapter of the civil rights organization and the United Federation of Teachers, the local teachers union, have filed a lawsuit to stop the city from  closing 22 of Gotham's worst schools.  The lawsuit also aims to block the city from giving charter schools space to operate in buildings occupied by traditional schools". 
It gets worse.  This is a must-read. And the only way the revolting failure of urban public schools will be reversed is through a revolt by the parents and families of those Black children who have for decades been the most victimized  - the same parents and families who have been throughout this period the most dependable supporters of the perpetrators of this tragedy and of their Democratic toadies.

GS


SUNDAY, June 5, 2011

Once again Charles Krauthammer has cleared the air regarding "America's Debt-Ceiling Scare".  See his article of the same name in the Day (www.theday.com), Saturday, June 4, 2011, pA7.

GS



SATURDAY, June 4, 2011

I'm split on his points.  I disagree with his assumption that American armed forces are a "professional army" rather than carrying the all-volunteer status that we know to be true.  They are professionals who volunteer the same way (as I mentioned last time) that police and fire fighters are professionals who volunteer.  Ask anyone in the military if they're doing it for the money or job security. 

I definitely take issue with his use of 'imperial' (which permeates his interview) in describing our foreign policy.  It is ignorant, stupid, and/or simply disingenuous (depending on his motives) to use that word in this case.  The fact that he is a West Point graduate and a professor of history and international affairs does not make him right.  America is NOT an empire.  It never has been, and most likely NEVER will be.  The circular logic displayed by every person who labels this country imperial is baffling and annoying to me.  An empire expands its borders most often by force as a PRIMARY action, and if not, only because it has determined a specific expansion to be more costly than it is worth.  Yet, it still demands tribute from a specified region under threat of force.  History is full of examples of this.

Even if 'imperial' is used to describe the pre-eminance of the former U.K., it does not satisfy the same definition as it does when referring to those like ancient Rome, China, and Russia.  These were true empires; unbroken geographical expanse achieved primarily to satisfy a primal instinct in humans to have as deep a defense as possible against an enemy.  Of course, the larger the expanse, the more spoils, but also the higher the cost to maintain those ever-increasing borders.

This is not the case even with Britain.  Look a world map from 1880 and you will notice a pattern of British influence.  It is not an unbroken expanse, but a collection of choke points for global economic exchange.  True, by this time these areas also became strategic strongpoints, but only as a result of the world trade that had begun 400 years earlier with Portugal and Spain.

This is NOT the case with America.  Does an empire institute Marshall Plans after it destroys a foreign enemy?  Could we have not made a lot more money trading with Saddam Hussein by foregoing a No-Fly Zone for ten years over Iraq?  ARE WE GETTING FREE OIL FROM IRAQ NOW, along with turning it into the 51st state?  Where do Vietnam and Afghanistan lie on the list of biggest oil-producing countries?  If anything, we are the antithesis of imperial because we throw money at countries (most of whom hate us with every fiber of their being) in order not to be stabbed in the back by them.  This is called 'paying protection' in the criminal world; hardly "imperial".

I totally disagree with him that consensus dictates WWII was worth fighting for moral reasons, but our current wars are simply economic in nature, with average Americans oblivious to their consequences.  They are certainly more removed from them, but we have decades of liberal media and mindsets completely disdainful (and often outright hostile) to anything involving the military to blame for that.  And, I could easily argue that the war in the Pacific could have been avoided had Japan not perceived us to be a threat to their economic lifeline in the Western Pacific.  The same is true for our war with Germany.  Except for Hitler declaring war on us (and his equally idiotic move against the Soviets) I'm sure Germany would have been content to hold as much of Europe as possible and get on with business. 

Also, If you read some of the comments posted after the article, you will see the inevitable drone of foil-helmet, black-helicopter conspiracy theorists who are convinced that every single military engagement in our history has been on the direct orders of the combined boards of Directors of the Fortune 500.  He doesn't go this far, but he implies that most every military action is precipitated by economics.  I totally agree with Bacevich that America is addicted to immediate gratification in nearly every aspect of our economy.  Our shameful relationship with China is all the proof I need on that point.  But, it's a big leap to connect the two as the primary motivator.

Overall, I disagree with Bacevich's premise that Americans are incapable or unwilling to see the true cost of war.  This was certainly the case when we gathered our picnic baskets and sat on the hill overlooking the First Battle of Bull Run, only to be horrified by four years of carnage.  But, if nothing else, technological advancement in media precludes that notion today.  I think that had current technology and pathetic media bias existed in 1943, America would have pulled out of the war with Japan at the sight of thousands of bloated Marines floating on the shores of a tiny spit of land only a few hundred yards wide.  One could argue that the pathetic media bias was from the right at that time, but in spite of sounding Machiavellian, look at what we fought for, and look at what they fought for.

As with today's true-believing, suicide-venerating enemy, we would have wondered what we did to raise their ire.  We would have wondered what we were doing halfway around the world, as if we have no reason to do anything but stay in our corner of it.  We would have clamored that our "enemy's" belief system is just as valid as ours and that we are engaging in hateful racism and persecution.  In fact, we would have claimed that ours was the more belligerant, for everything would be fine if America would just stop sticking its fingers into everyone else's pies. 

The difference is that our government knew the severity of the cultural, moral, and yes, economic threat, and it didn't act based on how the rest of the world perceived us.  The political narcissism that infects the highest levels of our government far outweighs the notion that Americans are simply accepting of permanent war as long as they can "go shopping".

Regarding his points on foreign oil as a reason for continued unnecessary military expenditures, he is totally preaching to any choir with their eyes open.  " . . . the Persian Gulf region would have zero strategic significance were it not for the fact that that’s where the oil is."

He claims that Jimmy Carter "was the one president of our time who recognized, I think, the challenges awaiting us if we refused to get our house in order."  He also claims that, "Back in 1980, . . . he said the Persian Gulf had enormous strategic significance to the United States. We were not going to permit any other country to control that region of the world. That set in motion a set of actions that militarized U.S. policy and led to ever deeper U.S. military involvement in the region. The result has been to postpone the day of reckoning. Americans are dodging the imperative of having a serious energy policy".  Well, which is it?

His description of Reagan as a "modern prophet of profligacy, the politician who gave moral sanction to the empire of consumption" is also disingenuous.  He cherry picks statistics on government spending and leaves out the context that is necessary to this type of discussion.

I think he makes the most sense by saying, "if you want to preserve the American way of life, then you need to ask yourself, what exactly is it you value most? I believe that if we want to preserve that which we value most in the American way of life, then we will need to change the American way of life. We need to modify or discard things that are peripheral in order to preserve those things that possess real importance."  I agree with his thoughts on the Preamble to the Constitution in theory, but we also know that communism works perfectly, in theory.  The framers of the Constitution never dreamed of intercontinental air travel, so it is a bit sketchy to say that since they only cared to concern themselves with our little part of it, we should as well.

I agree that future generations will have far less opportunity if we don't change course, but he loses me again when he repeatedly ties this to "imperial" actions.  Give up the ghost, for God's sake!

Having served a career in the military and having lost his son in Iraq, Prof. Bacevich is well aware of the 'blood and treasure' that this country has spent throughout its history.  I do not have his credentials, yet I know that the biggest danger to America is not greed and complacency on the part of average Americans, nor an "imperial" presidential office, as he believes.  It is an obsession on the part of what I choose to call a "perma-government" (rather than an imperial one) to behave in a bi-polar fashion, either caring not at all for how our actions effect others, OR acting solely based on how we will be perceived.

-Perrin

Alright: now I've read this; and I have further acquainted myself with the life to date of Prof. Andrew Bacevich, Colonel US Army Ret., graduate of West Point.

I have also re-read his posting on The Daily Beast, my first encounter with his writings and, I believe, a poor choice for airing his views. I found it to be a cynical and bitter piece, despite some well-founded opinions...and I wondered: Why?

After having read the substance of his interview with Bill Moyers (who fortunately keeps his own editorializing to a minimum), I believe that I know why.  If you ignore the occasional polemic, Prof. Bacevich makes a lot of sense out of the facts and the life in America that those of us oldsters have observed since before WW ll.  For example, he nails our current political scene as an "Incumbents' Party" rather than a Democratic or Republican Party, and an "Imperial Presidency" in which a great number of people and elements of government and society are invested.  He expands President Eisenhower's famous term to include a current "civil - military - industrial complex".embraced tightly by a highly narcissistic American society in order to protect its "American way of life" at all cost...someone else's cost.  But he seems to give short shrift to the real problems of radical Islam and its obvious impact on America since the late 1980's, on the reality of our continuing dependence on Middle East oil and our commitment to defend Israel, the only democracy in that region, on our vulnerability to the increasing nuclear capabilities of unstable regimes in the area, and on the ever-present fishing-in-troubled-waters by Russia.
I have not read his books, which I believe he began publishing in 2005; and I hope he addresses these issues there.  Otherwise, he offers a diagnosis with no treatment.

Professor Bacevich and his family have endured a great loss, that of his son, an Army Lieutenant who was killed in 2007 in Iraq, two months after his father had called the Iraq war "immoral, illicit, imprudent". Is Professor Bacevich's often charged rhetoric a reflection of his feeling that his efforts were "too little, too late"?  I hope not, for his sake.  As I know from very personal experience, the loss of a loved one is barely tolerable without having to deal with "shoulda - coulda - wouldas".

And what about the "treatment" for America's impending / ultimate decline?  1) Give moderate Muslims a clear choice: clean your own house of your crazies who are threatening us...or we will do the job ourselves, with a great deal of "collateral damage"; 2) establish a national Draft, for the Military and for meaningful public service, in order to share the sacrifice, for a change; 3) demand the convening of a national Constitutional Convention to change our method of electing our leaders back to "one man, one vote" and from "victory to the highest bidder", complete with a Right of Recall  at all levels of government; 4) develop a national energy policy devoid of dependence on Middle East oil, NOW. 

And so, Professor Bacevich, I tender to you my apology...for having pre-judged you.  We have a lot in common, personally and philosophically. I will henceforth follow your efforts on behalf of your country.  And perhaps you might find it interesting to follow mine, as articulated on my web site for over a decade.

George A. Sprecace, M.D., J.D.
June 4, 2011


Bill Moyers Interviews Andrew Bacevich
Thursday 2 June 2011
by: Bill Moyers, The New Press

"Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues" is the Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week.


Our finest warriors are often our most reluctant warmongers. They have seen firsthand the toll war exacts. They know better than anyone that force can be like a lobster trap that closes with each stage of descent, making escape impossible. So it was when the liberal consensus lured America into Vietnam during the ’60s, and again after 9/11, when neoconservatives clamored for the invasion of Iraq. With the notorious ferocity of the noncombatant, the neocons banged their tin drums and brayed for blood, as long as it was not their own that would be spilled.

One old warrior looked on sadly, his understanding of combat’s reality tempered by twenty-three years in uniform, including service in Vietnam. A graduate of West Point, Andrew Bacevich retired from the military to become a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, a public thinker who has been able to find an audience across the political spectrum, from The Nation to The American Conservative magazines. In several acclaimed books, including The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, and his bestselling The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who’s in power, which may be why he reaches both the left and the right.

We spoke in the middle of the 2008 presidential campaign, just as The Limits of Power was published. Bacevich supported Barack Obama’s candidacy but believes that Obama’s commitment of more troops to Afghanistan was a deadly mistake. —Bill Moyers

You began The Limits of Power with a quote from the Bible, the book of Second Kings, chapter 20, verse 1: “Set thine house in order.” Why that admonition?

I’ve been troubled by the course of U.S. foreign policy for a long, long time. I wrote the book in order to sort out my own thinking about where our basic problems lay. And I reached the conclusion that our biggest problems are within.

I think there’s a tendency on the part of policy makers and probably a tendency on the part of many Americans to think that the problems we face are problems that are out there somewhere, beyond our borders. And that if we can fix those problems, then we’ll be able to continue the American way of life as it has long existed. I think that’s fundamentally wrong. Our major problems are at home. You begin healing yourself by looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing yourself as you really are.

You write: “The pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence—on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit. The chief desire of the American people,” you write, “ is that nothing should disrupt their access to these goods, that oil, and that credit. The chief aim of the U.S. government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part through the distribution of largesse here at home (with Congress taking a leading role) and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad.”

In other words, you’re saying that our foreign policy is the result of a dependence on consumer goods and credit.

Our foreign policy is not something simply concocted by people in Washington, D.C., and then imposed on us. Our foreign policy may be concocted in Washington, D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we the people want. And what we want, by and large, is to sustain the flow of very cheap consumer goods. We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they happen to be, in order to be able to drive wherever we want to be able to drive. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the books balance at the end of the month or the end of the fiscal year. And therefore, we want an unending line of credit.

You write that what will not go away is “a yawning disparity between what Americans expect and what they are willing or able to pay.”

One of the ways we avoid confronting our refusal to balance the books is to rely increasingly on the projection of American military power around the world to maintain this dysfunctional system, or set of arrangements, that have evolved over the last thirty or forty years.

But it’s not the American people who are deploying around the world. It is a very specific subset of our people, this professional army. We like to call it an all-volunteer force, but the truth is, it’s a professional army, and when we think about the tasks we assign that army, it’s really an imperial army. We need to step back a little bit and ask ourselves, how did it come to be that places like Iraq and Afghanistan should have come to seem critical to the well-being of the United States of America?

There was a time, seventy, eighty, a hundred years ago, when we Americans sat here in the Western Hemisphere and puzzled over why British imperialists sent their troops to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. We viewed that sort of adventurism with disdain. Today this has become part of what we do.

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How is Iraq a clear manifestation, as you say, of this “yawning disparity between what Americans expect and what they are willing or able to pay”?

Let’s think about World War II, a war that President Roosevelt told us was essential to U.S. national security, and was. President Roosevelt said, because this is an important enterprise, the American people would be called upon to make sacrifices. And indeed, the people of the United States went off to fight that war in large numbers. On the home front, people learned to get by with less. It was a national effort.

None of that’s been true with regard to Iraq. I mean, one of the most striking things about the way the Bush administration has managed the global war on terror, which President Bush has compared to World War II, is that there was no effort made to mobilize the country, there was actually no effort even made to expand the size of the armed forces. Just two weeks or so after 9/11 the president said, “Go to Disney World. Go shopping.” There’s something out of whack here. The global war on terror, and Iraq as a subset of the global war on terror, is said to be critically important, on the one hand. Yet on the other hand, the country basically goes about its business, as if, really, there were no war on terror, and no war in Iraq ongoing at all.

So it is, you write, “seven years into its confrontation with radical Islam, the United States finds itself with too much war for too few warriors—and with no prospect of producing the additional soldiers needed to close the gap.”

We’re having a very difficult time managing two wars that, in a twentieth-century context, are actually relatively small.

You also say: “U.S. troops in battle dress and body armor, whom Americans profess to admire and support, pay the price for the nation’s collective refusal to confront our domestic dysfunction.” What are we not confronting?

The most obvious, blindingly obvious, question is energy. It’s oil. I think historians a hundred years from now will puzzle over how it could be that the United States of America, the most powerful nation in the world, as far back as the early 1970s, came to recognize that dependence on foreign oil was a problem, posed a threat, compromised our freedom of action, and then did next to nothing about it. Every president from Richard Nixon down to the present has declared, “We’re going to fix this problem.” And none of them did. The reason we are in Iraq today is because the Persian Gulf is at the center of the world’s oil reserves. I don’t mean that we invaded Iraq on behalf of big oil, but the Persian Gulf region would have zero strategic significance were it not for the fact that that’s where the oil is.

Back in 1980, President Carter promulgated the Carter Doctrine. He said the Persian Gulf had enormous strategic significance to the United States. We were not going to permit any other country to control that region of the world. That set in motion a set of actions that militarized U.S. policy and led to ever deeper U.S. military involvement in the region. The result has been to postpone the day of reckoning. Americans are dodging the imperative of having a serious energy policy.

And this is connected to what you call “the crisis of profligacy.”

Well, we don’t live within our means. The individual savings rate in this country is below zero. As a nation, we assume the availability of an endless line of credit. But as individuals, the line of credit is not endless; that’s one of the reasons why we’re having this current problem with the housing crisis, and so on. And my view would be that the nation’s assumption that its line of credit is endless is also going to be shown to be false. And when that day occurs it’s going to be a black day indeed.

You call us an empire of consumption.

I didn’t create that phrase. It’s a phrase drawn from a book by a wonderful historian at Harvard University, Charles Maier. The point he makes in his very important book is that when American power was at its apex after World War II, through the Eisenhower years, into the Kennedy years, we made what the world wanted. They wanted our cars. We exported our television sets, our refrigerators—we were the world’s manufacturing base. He called it an “empire of production.”

Sometime around the 1960s there was a tipping point when the “empire of production” began to become the “empire of consumption.” When the cars started to be produced elsewhere, and the television sets, and the socks, and everything else. And what we ended up with was the American people functioning primarily as consumers rather than producers.

And you say this has produced a condition of profound dependency, to the extent that, and I’m quoting you, “Americans are no longer masters of their own fate.”

Well, they’re not. I mean, the current debt to the Chinese government grows day by day. Why? Because of the negative trade balance. Our negative trade balance with the world is something on the order of $800 billion per year. That’s $800 billion of stuff that we buy, so that we can consume, that is $800 billion more than the stuff that we sell to them. That’s a big number, even relative to the size of our economy.

You use a metaphor that is intriguing. American policy makers “ have been engaged in a de facto Ponzi scheme intended to extend indefinitely the American line of credit.” What’s going on that resembles a Ponzi scheme?

This continuing tendency to borrow and to assume that the bills are never going to come due. I testified before a House committee on the future of U.S. grand strategy. I was struck by the questions coming from members that showed an awareness, a sensitivity, and a deep concern about some of the issues that I tried to raise in the book.

How are we going to pay the bills? How are we going to pay for the entitlements that are going to increase year by year for the next couple of decades, especially as baby boomers retire? Nobody has answers to those questions. So I was pleased that these members of Congress understood the problem. I was absolutely taken aback when they said, “Professor, what can we do about this?” I took this as a candid admission that they didn’t have any answers, that they were perplexed, that this problem of learning to live within our means seemed to have no politically plausible solution.

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You say that the tipping point between wanting more than we were willing to pay for began in the Johnson administration. “We can fix the tipping point with precision,” you write. “It occurred between 1965, when President Lyndon Baines Johnson ordered U.S. combat troops to South Vietnam, and 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon finally ended direct U.S. involvement in that war.” Why do you see that period as so crucial?

When President Johnson became president, our trade balance was in the black. By the time we get to the Nixon era, it’s in the red. And it stays in the red down to the present. As a matter of fact, the trade imbalance essentially becomes larger year by year.

So I think that it is the ’60s generally—the Vietnam period—that was the moment when we began to lose control of our economic fate. And most disturbingly, we’re still really in denial.

You describe another fateful period between July 1979 and March 1983. You describe it, in fact, as a pivot of contemporary American history. That includes Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, right?

Well, I would be one of the first to confess that I think that we have misunderstood and underestimated President Carter. He was the one president of our time who recognized, I think, the challenges awaiting us if we refused to get our house in order.

Talk about his speech on July 15, 1979. Why does that speech resonate so strongly?

This is the so-called Malaise Speech, even though he never used the word malaise in the text. It’s a very powerful speech, because President Carter acknowledges that our dependence on oil poses a looming threat to the country. If we act now, he says, we may be able to fix this problem. If we don’t act now, we’re headed down a path along which not only will we become increasingly dependent upon foreign oil, but we will have opted for a false model of freedom. A freedom of materialism, a freedom of self-indulgence, a freedom of collective recklessness. The president was urging us to think about what we mean by freedom. We need to choose a definition of freedom that is anchored in truth, he argued, and the way to manifest that choice was by addressing our energy problem. Carter had a profound understanding of the dilemma facing the country in the post-Vietnam period. And, of course, he was completely derided and disregarded.

And he lost the election.

Exactly.

This speech killed any chance he had of winning reelection. Why? Because the American people didn’t want to settle for less?

They absolutely did not. And indeed, the election of 1980 was the great expression of that, because in 1980, we have a candidate, perhaps the most skillful politician of our time, Ronald Reagan, who says, “Doomsayers, gloomsayers, don’t listen to them. The country’s best days are ahead of us.”

“Morning in America.”

It’s “Morning in America.” You don’t have to sacrifice; you can have more of everything. All we need to do is get government out of the way and drill more holes for oil. The president led us to believe the supply of oil right here in North America was infinite.

You describe Ronald Reagan as the “modern prophet of profligacy, the politician who gave moral sanction to the empire of consumption.”

To understand the truth about President Reagan is to appreciate the extent to which our politics are misleading and false. Remember, he was the guy who came in and said we need to shrink the size of government. But government didn’t shrink during the Reagan era, it grew. He came in and he said we need to reduce the level of federal spending. He didn’t reduce it. It went through the roof. The budget deficits for his time were the greatest we’d experienced since World War II.

And wasn’t it his successor, his vice president, the first President Bush, who said in 1992 that the American way of life is not negotiable?

This is not a Republican thing, or a Democratic thing. All presidents, all administrations are committed to that proposition. Now, I would say that probably 90 percent of the American people today likewise concur. They insist that the American way of life should not be not up for negotiation.

What I would invite them to consider is this: if you want to preserve the American way of life, then you need to ask yourself, what exactly is it you value most? I believe that if we want to preserve that which we value most in the American way of life, then we will need to change the American way of life. We need to modify or discard things that are peripheral in order to preserve those things that possess real importance.

What do you value most?

I say we should look to the Preamble to the Constitution. There is nothing in the Preamble to the Constitution that defines the purpose of the United States of America as remaking the world in our image, which I view as a fool’s errand. There is nothing in the Preamble to the Constitution that provides a basis for embarking upon an effort, as President Bush has defined it, to transform the greater Middle East, a region of the world that incorporates something on the order of a billion people.

I believe that the framers of the Constitution were primarily concerned with the way we live here, the way we order our affairs. They wanted Americans as individuals to have an opportunity to pursue freedom, however defined. They wanted Americans collectively to create a national community so that we could live together in some kind of harmony. And they wanted future generations to be able to share in those same opportunities.

The big problem, it seems to me, with the current crisis in American foreign policy is that unless we change our ways, the likelihood that our children and our grandchildren are going to enjoy the opportunities that we’ve had is very slight. Why? Because we’re squandering our power. We are squandering our wealth. To the extent that we persist in our imperial delusions, we’re also going to squander freedom itself, because imperial policies end up enhancing the authority of the imperial president, thereby providing imperial presidents with an opportunity to compromise freedom even here at home. We’ve seen that since 9/11.

The disturbing thing that you say again and again is that every president since Reagan has relied on military power to conceal or manage these problems that stem from the nation’s habits of profligacy, right?

That’s exactly right. And again, this is another issue where one needs to be unsparing in fixing responsibility as much on liberal Democratic presidents as conservative Republican ones. I think that the Bush administration’s response to 9/11 in constructing this paradigm of a global war on terror, in promulgating the so-called Bush Doctrine of preventive war, in plunging into Iraq—an utterly unnecessary war—will go down in our history as a record of recklessness unmatched by any other administration.

But that doesn’t really mean that Bill Clinton before him, or George Herbert Walker Bush before him, or Ronald Reagan before him were all that much better. They all have seen military power as our strong suit. They all have assumed that by projecting power, by threatening to employ power, we can fix the world. Fix the world in order to sustain this dysfunctional way of life that we cling to at home.

This brings us to what you call the political crisis of America, and you say, “The actual system of governance conceived by the framers . . . no longer pertains.”

I am expressing in the book what many of us sense, even if few of us are ready to confront the implications. Congress, especially with regard to matters related to national security policy, has thrust power and authority to the executive branch. We have created an imperial presidency. Congress no longer is able to articulate a vision of what is the common good. Congress exists primarily to ensure the reelection of its members.

Supporting the imperial presidency are the various institutions that comprise the national security state. I refer here to the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the other intelligence agencies. These have grown since the end of World War II into a mammoth enterprise. But the national security state doesn’t work. Despite all the money it spends and the people it employs, the national security state was not able to identify the 9/11 conspiracy. It was not able to deflect the attackers on 9/11. The national security state was not able to plan intelligently for the Iraq War.

The national security state has not been able to effectively prosecute this so-called global war on terror. So as the Congress has moved to the margins, as the president has moved to the center of our politics, the presidency itself has come to be, I think, less effective. The system is broken.

You write that no one in Washington knows what they’re doing, including the president.

What I mean specifically is this: The end of the Cold War coincided almost precisely with the first Persian Gulf War. Americans saw Operation Desert Storm as a great, historic, never-before-seen victory. It really wasn’t.

Politically and strategically, the outcome of that war was far more ambiguous than people appreciated at the time. Nonetheless, the war itself was advertised as this great success, demonstrating that the Pentagon had developed a dazzling new American way of war. This new American way of war ostensibly promised to enable the United States to exercise military dominion on a global basis in ways that the world had never seen.

The people in the Pentagon developed a phrase to describe this. They called it “full-spectrum dominance,” meaning that the United States was going to demonstrate outright supremacy, not just capability, across the full spectrum of warfare. This became the center of the way that the military advertised its capabilities in the 1990s.

The whole thing was fraudulent. To claim that the United States military could enjoy such dominance flew in the face of all of history. Yet in many respects, this sort of thinking set us up for how the Bush administration was going to respond to 9/11. If you believe that the United States military is utterly unstoppable, then a global war to transform the greater Middle East might seem plausible. Had the generals been more cognizant of the history of war, and of the nature of war, then they might have been in a better position to argue to Mr. Rumsfeld, then the secretary of defense, or to the president himself, “Be wary. Don’t plunge in too deeply.” Recognize that force has utility, but that utility is actually quite limited. Recognize that when we go to war, almost inevitably unanticipated consequences will follow, and they’re not going to be happy ones.

Above all, recognize that when you go to war, it’s unlikely there will be a neat, tidy solution. It’s far more likely that the bill that the nation is going to pay in lives and in dollars is going to be a monumental one. My problem with the generals is that, with certain exceptions—one could name General Shinseki . . .

Who said we are going to need more than half a million men if we go into Iraq. He was shown the door for telling the truth.

By and large, the generals did not speak truth to power.

One of the things that comes through in your book is that great truths are contained in small absurdities. And you use the lowly IED, the improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb, that’s taken such a toll on American forces in Iraq, to get at a very powerful truth.

Wars are competitions. Your enemy develops capabilities. And you try to develop your own capabilities to check him and gain an advantage. One of the striking things about the Iraq War, in which we had been fighting against a relatively backward or primitive adversary, is that the insurgents have innovated far more adeptly and quickly than we have.

The IED provides an example. It began as a very low-tech kind of primitive mine, and over time became ever more sophisticated, ever more lethal, ever more difficult to detect. Those enhancements in insurgent IED capability continually kept ahead of our ability to adapt and catch up.

And I think you say in your book that it costs the price of a pizza to make a roadside bomb. This is what our men and women are up against in Afghanistan.

The point is that war is always a heck of a lot more complicated than you might imagine the day before the war begins. And rather than imagining that technology will define the future of warfare, we really ought to look at military history.

And what do we learn when we look to the past?

Preventive war doesn’t work. The Iraq War didn’t work. Therefore, we should abandon the Bush Doctrine of preventive war. We should return to the just-war tradition, which permits force only as a last resort, which sees war as something that is justifiable only when waged in self-defense.

How, then, do we fight what you acknowledge to be the real threat posed by violent Islamic extremism?

I think we need to see the threat for what it is. Sure, the threat is real. But it’s not an existential threat. The nineteen hijackers that killed three thousand Americans on 9/11 didn’t succeed because they had fancy weapons, because they were particularly smart, or because they were ten feet tall. They succeeded because we let our guard down.

We need to recognize that the threat posed by violent Islamic radicalism, by terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, really is akin to a criminal conspiracy. It’s violent and dangerous, but it’s a criminal enterprise. Rooting out and destroying the conspiracy is primarily the responsibility of organizations like the FBI, and of our intelligence community, backed up at times by Special Operations Forces. That doesn’t require invading and occupying countries. One of the big mistakes the Bush administration made, and it’s a mistake we’re still paying for, is that the president persuaded us that the best way to prevent another 9/11 is to embark upon a global war. Wrong. The best way to prevent another 9/11 is to organize an intensive international effort to dismantle that criminal conspiracy.

In fact, you say that instead of a bigger army we need a smaller, more modest foreign policy, one that assigns soldiers missions that are consistent with their capability. “Modesty”—I’m quoting you—“ implies giving up on the illusions of grandeur to which the end of the Cold War and then 9/11 gave rise. It also means reining in the imperial presidents who expect the army to make good on those illusions.”

People run for the presidency in order to become imperial presidents. The people who are advising these candidates, those who aspire to be the next national security advisor, the next secretary of defense, yearn to share in exercising this great authority. They’re not running to see if they can make the Pentagon smaller.

I was in the White House back in the early ’60s, and I’ve been a White House watcher ever since. I have never come across a more distilled essence of the evolution of the presidency than in just one paragraph in your book.

You write, “Beginning with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, the occupant of the White House has become a combination of demigod, father figure, and, inevitably, the betrayer of inflated hopes. Pope, pop star, scold, scapegoat, crisis manager, commander in chief, agenda setter, moral philosopher, interpreter of the nation’s charisma, object of veneration, and the butt of jokes . . . all these rolled into one.” I would say you nailed the modern presidency.

I think the troubling part is that the president has become what we have instead of genuine politics, instead of genuine democracy. The cult of the presidency has hollowed out our politics and, in many respects, has made our democracy a false one. We’re going through the motions of a democratic political system, but the fabric of democracy really has worn very thin.

Would the imperial presidency exist were it not for the Congress?

No, because the Congress, since World War II, has thrust power and authority onto the presidency.

Here is what I take to be the core of your analysis of our political crisis. You write, “The United States has become a de facto one-party state, with the legislative branch permanently controlled by an Incumbents’ Party.” And you write that every president “ has exploited his role as commander in chief to expand on the imperial prerogatives of his office.”

One of the great lies about American politics is that Democrats genuinely subscribe to a set of core convictions that make Democrats different from Republicans. And the same thing, of course, applies to the other party. It’s not true.

I happen to define myself as a conservative. But when you look back over the past thirty or so years, said to have been a conservative era in American politics, did we get small government? Do we get balanced budgets? Do we give serious, as opposed to simply rhetorical, attention to traditional social values? The answer’s no. The truth is that conservative principles have been eyewash, part of a package of tactics that Republicans employ to get elected and to then stay in office.

And yet you say that the prime example of political dysfunction today is the Democratic Party in relation to Iraq.

Well, I may be a conservative, but I can assure you that in November of 2006 I voted for every Democrat I could find on the ballot. And I did so because the Democratic Party, speaking with one voice at that time, said, “Elect us. Give us power in the Congress, and we will end the Iraq War.”

The American people, at that point adamantly tired of this war, did empower the Democrats. And Democrats absolutely, totally, completely failed to follow through on their promise.

You argue that the promises of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi proved to be empty. Reid and Pelosi’s commitment to forcing a change in policy took a backseat to their concern to protect the Democratic majority.

Could anybody disagree with that?

This is another one of my highlighted sentences: “To anyone with a conscience, sending soldiers back to Iraq or Afghanistan for multiple combat tours while the rest of the country chills out can hardly seem an acceptable arrangement. It is unfair, unjust, and morally corrosive.” And yet that’s what we’re doing.

Absolutely. And I think—I don’t want to talk about my son here.

You dedicate the book to your son.

My son was killed in Iraq. That’s a personal matter. But it has long stuck in my craw, this posturing of supporting the troops. There are many people who say they support the troops, and they really mean it. But what exactly does it mean to support the troops? It ought to mean more than putting a bumper sticker on the back of your car. I don’t think we actually do support the troops. What we the people do is we contract out the business of national security to approximately 0.5 percent of the population, about a million and a half people who are on active duty. And then we really turn away. We don’t want to look when our soldiers go back for two or three or four or five combat tours. That’s not supporting the troops. That’s an abdication of civic responsibility. And I do think there’s something fundamentally immoral about that.

Again, I think the global war on terror, as a framework of thinking about policy, is deeply defective. But if the global war on terror is a national priority, then why isn’t the country actually supporting it in a meaningful, substantive sense?

Are you calling for a reinstatement of the draft?

I’m not, because I understand that, politically, the draft is an impossibility. And to tell you the truth, we don’t need to have an army of six or eight or ten million people. What we need is to have the country engaged in what its soldiers are doing. That simply doesn’t exist today.

Despite your and your wife’s loss, you say in this powerful book what to me is a paradox. You say that “ ironically Iraq may yet prove to be the source of our salvation.” Help me to understand that.

We Americans are going to have a long argument about the Iraq War, not unlike the way we had a very long argument about the Vietnam War. And that argument is going to cause us, I hope, to ask serious questions about where this war came from and what it has meant. How did we come to be a nation that fancied our army capable of transforming the greater Middle East?

What have been the costs that have been imposed on this country? Hundreds of billions of dollars. Some project $2 to $3 trillion. Where is that money coming from? How else could it have been spent? For what? Who bears the burden? Who died? Who suffered loss? Who’s in hospitals? Who’s suffering from PTSD? And was it worth it? There will be plenty of people who are going to say, “Absolutely, it was worth it. We overthrew a dictator.” But I hope and pray that there will be many others who will make the argument that it wasn’t worth it.

My hope is that Americans will come to see the Iraq War as a fundamental mistake. That it never should have been undertaken. And that we’re never going to do this kind of thing again. That might be the moment when we will look at ourselves in the mirror. And we will see what we have become. And perhaps undertake an effort to make those changes that will enable us to preserve for future generations that which we value most about the American way of life.

This excerpt originally appeared in Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, ©  2011, Bill Moyers. Published by The New Press, Inc.. Reprinted here with permission.


THURSDAY and FRIDAY, June 2 and 3, 2011

Dear Reader,
The following running exchange began when I forwarded to my son David in Denver, Colorado for verification the posting regarding "20 Million Aliens....".  He contacted the alleged author, Tina Griego, at the Rocky Mountain News.  Ms. Griego disclaimed authorship of the piece.  That's when I commented on the UNBELIEVABLE cyberspace.  My sons, possessed of the same bulldog tenacity of their parents, continued to pursue the matter.  The result is posted below, to date.
 
One more observation from me.  What exists on the Internet and on its various metastases at this time is of a piece with the dis-information that is classically injected into public discourse by propagandists, as in Nazi Germany and in all other despotic regimes, to inhibit and confuse the public's ability to know the facts.  This blinds the people to what is really going on, to their inevitable detriment.  The antidote: tenacious quest for the truth, something which can still be pursued in this country without fear of receiving a hole in the head or a tongue cut out.  So, to my sons: I'M PROUD OF YOU.  Let's all keep up the good work.  Meanwhile, for the rest of you out there: "We report.  You decide".     GS
 
What if 20 Million Illegal Aliens Vacated America??
 
I, Tina Griego, journalist for the Denver Rocky Mountain News ["...now at the Denver Post] wrote a column titled, "Mexican Visitor's Lament"- 10/25/07.
I interviewed Mexican journalist Evangelina Hernandez while visiting Denver last week. Hernandez said, "illegal aliens pay rent, buy groceries, buy clothes. What Happens to your country's economy if 20 million people go away?" Hmmm, I thought, what would happen?
 
So I did my due diligence, buried my nose as a reporter into theFACTS I found below.
 
It's a good question it deserves an honest answer. Over 80% of Americans demand secured borders and illegal migration stopped. But what would happen if all 20 million or more vacated America ? The answers I found may surprise you!
 
In California , if 3.5 million illegal aliens moved back to Mexico,it would leave an extra $10.2 billion to spend on overloaded school systems, bankrupt hospitals and overrun prisons. It would leave highways cleaner, safer and less congested. Everyone could understand one another as English became the dominant language again.
 
In Colorado , 500,000 illegal migrants, plus their 300,000 kids and grandchilds would move back 'home', mostly to Mexico . That would save Colorado an estimated $2 billion (other experts say $7 billion) annually in taxes that pay for schooling, medical, social-services and incarceration costs. It means 12,000 gang members would vanish out of Denver alone.
 
Colorado would save more than $20 million in prison costs, and the terror that those 7,300 alien criminals set upon local citizens. Denver Officer Don Young and hundreds of Colorado victims would not have suffered death, accidents, rapes and other crimes by illegals.
 
Denver Public Schools would not suffer a 67% dropout/flunk rate because of thousands of illegal alien students speaking 41 different languages. At least 200,000 vehicles would vanish from our grid locked cities in Colorado . Denver 's 4% unemployment rate would vanish as our working poor would gain jobs at a living wage.
 
In Florida , 1.5 million illegals would return the Sunshine State back to America , the rule of law, and English.
 
In Chicago, Illinois , 2.1 million illegals would free up hospitals, schools, prisons and highways for a safer, cleaner and more crime-free experience.
 
If 20 million illegal aliens returned 'home', the U.S. Economy would return to the rule of law. Employers would hire legal American citizens at a living wage. Everyone would pay their fair share of taxes because they wouldn't be working off the books. That would result in an additional $401 Billion in IRS income taxes collected annually, and an equal amount for local, state and city coffers.
 
No more push '1' for Spanish or '2' for English. No more confusion in American schools that now must contend with over 100 languages that degrade the educational system for American kids. Our overcrowded schools would lose more than two million illegal alien kids at a cost of billions in ESL and free breakfasts and lunches.
 
We would lose 500,000 illegal criminal alien inmates at a cost of more than $1.6 billion annually. That includes 15,000 MS-13 gang members who distribute $130 billion in drugs annually would vacate our country.
 
In cities like L.A. , 20,000 members of the ' 18th Street Gang' would vanish from our nation. No more Mexican forgery gangs for ID theft from Americans! No more foreign rapists and child molesters!
 
Losing more than 20 million people would clear up our crowded highways and gridlock. Cleaner air and less drinking and driving American deaths by illegal aliens!
 
America 's economy is drained. Taxpayers are harmed. Employers get rich. Over $80 billion annually wouldn't return to the aliens' home countries by cash transfers. Illegal migrants earned half that money untaxed, which further drains America 's economy which currently suffers an $8.7 trillion debt. $8.7 trillion debt.
 
At least 400,000 anchor babies would not be born in our country, costing us $109 billion per year per cycle. At least 86 hospitals in California , Georgia and Florida would still be operating instead of being bankrupt out of existence because illegals pay nothing via the EMTOLA Act.
 
Americans wouldn't suffer thousands of TB and hepatitis cases rampant in our country-brought in by illegals unscreened at our borders.
 
Our cities would see 20 million less people driving, polluting and grid locking our cities. It would also put the 'progressives' on the horns of a dilemma; illegal aliens and their families cause 11% of our greenhouse gases.
 
Over one million of Mexico's poorest citizens now live inside and along our border from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California in what the New York Times called, 'colonias' or new neighborhoods. Trouble is, those living areas resemble Bombay and Calcutta where grinding poverty, filth, diseases, drugs, crimes, no sanitation and worse. They live without sewage, clean water, streets, roads, electricity, or any kind of sanitation.
 
The New York Times reported them to be America's new ' Third World ' inside our own country. Within 20 years, at their current growth rate, they expect 20 million residents of those colonias. (I've seen them personally in Texas and Arizona ; it's sickening beyond anything you can imagine.)
 
By enforcing our laws, we could repatriate them back to Mexico . We should invite 20 million aliens to go home, fix their own countries and/or make a better life in Mexico . We already invite a million people into our country legally more than all other countries combined annually. We cannot and must not allow anarchy at our borders, more anarchy within our borders and growing lawlessness at every level in our nation. 
 
It's time to stand up for our country, our culture, our civilization and our way of life.
Interesting Statistics!
 
Here are 14 reasons illegal aliens should vacate America, and I hope they are forwarded over and over again until they are read so many times that the reader gets sick of reading them:
1. $14 billion to $22 billion dollars are spent each year on welfare to illegal aliens.
(that's Billion with a 'B')  http://tinyurl.com/zob77.html 
3. $7.5 billion dollars are spent each year on Medicaid for illegal aliens. http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.html
4. $12 billion dollars are spent each year on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they still cannot speak a word of English! http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
5. $27 billion dollars are spent each year for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
6. $3 MillionDollars 'PER DAY' is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens. That's$1.2 Billion a year. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
7. 28% percent of all federal prison inmates are illegal aliens.
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
8. $190 billion dollars are spent each year on illegal aliens for welfare & social services by the American taxpayers. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0610/29/ldt.01.html
9. $200 billion dollars per year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
10. The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two and a half times that of white non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the US . http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0606/12/ldt.01.html
11. During the year 2005, there were 8 to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our southern border with as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from other terrorist countries. Over 10,000 of those were middle-eastern terrorists. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroine, crack, Guns, and marijuana crossed into the U.S..from the southern border. http://tinyurl.com/t9sht
12. The National Policy Institute, estimates that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion, or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period and nbsp; http://www.nationalpolicyinstitute.org/publications.php?b=deportation
13. In 2006, illegal aliens sent home $65 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin, to their families and friends. http://www.rense.com/general75/niht.htm
14. The dark side of illegal immigration: Nearly one million sex crimes are committed by illegal immigrants in the United States ! http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml
 
Total cost a whopping $538.3 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR!


WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2011

This is entitled: PUBLIC EDUCATION: THE DISASTER. 
I have been writing about this for decades.  See my web site, under the category listed "Public Education Politics"...and weep. 

Now comes an article by Joel Klein, former Chancellor of New York City schools from 2002 to 2010: "Scenes From The New York Education Wars" (WSJ Tuesday, May 10, Opinion, pA15).  Here it is, folks: the full and unvarnished truth about one of our foundational institutions.  In Medicine, there is a First Principle: Primum Non Nocere - First Do No Harm".  In the "profession" of Education, the First Principle appears closer to the comment by Albert Shanker, long time head of the UFT, quoted in the above article: "When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of schoolchildren". 

What a shame.  What a disaster.

GS



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