Archive for October, 2006

Gettysburg and Iraq (October 30, 2006)

Posted in Iraq on October 30, 2006 by

Imagine if the French had marched onto the battlefield at Gettysburg to impose order.  “Mon dieu, mon ami, how dare you fight.”  The Blue and the Gray would have united and turned on the invaders in a New York minute.  The leaders of both sides went to the same school (West Point) and were versed in the tactics and strategy of Jomini (and perhaps Clausewitz).  The boys would have coordinated a campaign to drive the French all the way back to a strip mall south of Marseille.  Then the brothers would have gotten back to the business of engaging in an unnecessary but somehow inevitable civil war.  [See the e-ssay dated April 17, 2006 entitled “The Virtues of an Iraqi Civil War.”].

The United States cannot stop the sectarian violence/civil war in Iraq even with a million troops.  The United States is training troops and police who will disperse and join their respective sects in the great Iraqi civil war.  All of them are attending “East Point” in Baghdad and later will be fighting against each other.  They will be reading from the same page, our page.   

Bush told us that we needed to take the war to them; they took it to us and are taking it to us.  Sports metaphors are a Republican favorite.  Fighting in a distant country sounds plausible, but why fight an away game?  The game in Iraq has slowly sapped America’s resources and will to fight.  The military card has been played and played out.  Now a million man march is underway bringing a million broken men and women back to the home front.  The retreat will have tremendous negative consequences for the military and thus the country for another generation.

The argument against immediate withdrawal is that the Terrorists are a united group of individuals conducting weekly board meetings according to Robert’s Rules of Order.  If “we” tell “them” when “we” are going to leave, “they” will pass a resolution to wait until “we” leave to start causing trouble.  The Terrorists are not at all concerned about American timetables.  They continue to attack the Crusader without delay or discouragement.  Someone in the region observed that the West has all the clocks and they (Terrorists/Insurgents/Separatists/Jihadists/Provincial War Lords/Freedom Fighters) have all the time.  That reality is unacceptable to Americans, so they don’t accept it.

Bush cannot figure out if “they” hate freedom or if “they” love freedom.  They seek order.  They endured a form of totalitarian order for decades.  The consequences of the American Crusade were predicted and remain predictable.  America created disorder and can do nothing to create order.  A continued American presence will only perpetuate and inflame the disorder. 

Some say that Europe never recovered completely after World War I.  America will never recover completely after Bush’s World War III, regardless of its outcome.  The only road to partial recovery is to redeploy American troops from Iraq. 

Bumper sticker of the week:

If you’re not appalled, you’re not paying attention  

[See the Essay entitled “The Way Out Of War” by George S. McGovern and William R. Polk in the October, 2006 issue of Harper’s Magazine.] 

Efficient Health Care: Making American Business More Competitive (October 23, 2006)

Posted in Health Care, Market Solutions on October 23, 2006 by

Charles Wilson, the General Motors executive who became a Secretary of Defense in the Eisenhower Administration, was asked if as Secretary he could make a decision adverse to the interests of his then-current employer.  He answered affirmatively but added that he could not believe that he would confront such a situation “because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”  The response has been translated into the popular observation: “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

What’s bad for GM is bad for the country.  The cost of health care is crippling American business.  The lack of health care is crippling individual Americans and undermining the family.  Resorting to bankruptcy in the face of overwhelming medical bills imposes a tremendous cost on society.  To make American companies competitive with companies in other countries, American companies should be relieved of providing and paying for health care.  This proposal represents a major departure from the settled practice since the end of World War II.  However, the market has failed.  The six or seven hundred private insurance companies deliver inadequate health care coverage to an insufficient percentage of the population.  The inefficient government is the most efficient provider.

In debates over free trade, some commentators note that foreign nations are assisting their domestic corporations by providing health care.  This competitive advantage rarely is calculated into discussions about tariffs and trade policy.  The Democrats should unite with GM to provide a rational and efficient national health care program.  Imagine the reaction if the United States Chamber of Commerce proposed an efficient national health care program?  Imagine.

Bankruptcy Deform Is A Year Old (October 16, 2006)

Posted in Bankruptcy, Health Care on October 16, 2006 by

Bankruptcy reform is now celebrating the one-year anniversary of the effective date of its major provisions on October 17.  The legislation is implicitly premised on the assumption that the debtors’ attorneys were engaged in systematic fraud.  The legislation is also implicitly premised on the assumption that the Bankruptcy Judges were aiding and abetting the systematic fraud.  The assumptions are often not unfounded.  No matter how often Congress changes the Bankruptcy Code, however, it cannot change the Bankruptcy Courts.  The “Forum for Fraud” responds by developing new practices and folkways to circumvent the new rules and provisions.  Bankruptcy judges soon may bestow the “Judge Lifland Award” on the bankruptcy judge who is able to delivery the largest percentage of estate assets to the debtors bankruptcy counsel in a calendar year.  Congress responded by disregarding the input of bankruptcy judges and bankruptcy law professors.  This is not all good.  Everyone should be heard.

Congress capitulated to the wishes of the credit industry which substantially created the problem by mainlining credit to individuals who were and are not credit-worthy.  Easy credit is the crack cocaine of the middle class.  In addition, the credit crack dealers bury many  provisions in the fine print that are like improvised explosive devises designed to explode in the face of a consumer who makes one financial misstep.

The Founding Padres included an express provision to create some undefined bankruptcy protection because of concerns about debtors prisons then in existence in England.  The Republic needs a Code to address the debts of the honest but unfortunate debtor.  Uninsured medical expenses, loss of a job, or a divorce overwhelm even two pay check households that are often one missed pay check away from financial abyss.  America has an extremely inefficient national health insurance program codified in Title 11 of the United States Code, namely the Bankruptcy Code.  National health insurance with a single payer should be codified in Title 42 addressing health and welfare issues.  As a country, America is getting out of the business of producing anything which results unsurprisingly in the loss of American jobs.  Getting married is a money-saving undertaking; getting divorced is an expensive ordeal.  As they say, marriage is grand; divorce is one hundred grand.  The troika of troubles can swamp anyone.

The New Code passed by the Republicans is intended simply to make the process more bureaucratic and expensive; why more bureaucratic?  The New Code makes it more expensive for those individuals with no money to file bankruptcy.  The New Code is tied to some Internal Revenue Code provisions.  No new legislation should be tied to the IRS Code in any way because it requires major overhaul.  The last major revision of the Bankruptcy Code was undertaken in 1978.  With all the other growing problems, Congress is not likely even to pass some technical corrections to the New Code in the next ten years.  The safety net is shredded.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Happiness is a positive cash flow.

North Korea: Still Imploding (October 9, 2006)

Posted in China, North Korea on October 9, 2006 by

North Korea is explosive.  The smoke has not cleared on the recent event in North Korea.  The fallout is uncertain.  In 2002, Bush decided to threaten and provoke three countries which were doing little good but did not require taunts Iraq, Iran and North Korea.  Bush’s “Axis of Evil” tirade in the State of the Union speech in January, 2002 polarized countries that needed to be engaged.  Bush of all people should understand North Korea’s Kim Jong Il because they are similar personalities, although each lacks the ability to understand other world views.  In 2003, Bush proceeded to implement long-simmering plans to invade the wrong country and destabilize the world.  Both Iran and North Korea responded rationally to a direct threat and pursued the only promising course of action under the circumstances.  They accelerated their development of the Bomb.  [See the e-ssay dated March 27 entitled “The ‘Bush Doctrine’ In Foreign Policy.”]  The Bomb compels respect.

A country should pursue one unwavering policy toward its friends and towards its enemies talk, talk, talk.  Bush willfully alienates America’s friends and steadfastly refuses to speak to its enemies.  Bush has played the military card and undermined a military response other than one delivered incompletely by air.  Diplomatic responses may not be effective because now they can be disregarded.  North Korea does not rely on United States dollars because it simply prints them and provides counterfeit currency to the world.  If North Korea cannot obtain foreign aid and support, it will simply sell nuclear technology for cash.

China may put pressure on North Korea by withholding oil.  However, China is increasingly obtaining its oil from Iran.  Bush’s likely effete response to North Korea will embolden Iran.  Iran may put pressure on China.  And all the pundits are asserting that Iraq is not like Vietnam because it only has only two vowels in its name rather than three.

The most prudent policy may be to engage in nation building without toppling the ruling regime.  If there were some way to by pass the ruling elite and get food to the North Korean masses, the United States could buy popular support.  Any viable approach, however, requires direct dialogue and respect.  Respect for others, however, requires self-respect.

Spiraling Into The Dirt (October 2, 2006)

Posted in Bush, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Torture on October 2, 2006 by

Congress approved Bush’s efforts to encourage terrorists to torture Americans.  [See the e-ssay dated January 31, 2005 “Bush:  Torture our kids, s’il vous plait”].  America has now effectively repudiated key provisions of the Geneva Conventions and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaties, treaties that served America well in the past.

Bob Woodward chronicles the tortuous haranguing in the House of Hubris in his book, State of Denial:  Bush at War, Part III.  Parts I and II missed the material finally coalesced and analyzed in Part III.  Bush always intended to invade Iraq.  His invasion on March 19, 2003 triggered World War III.  That war continues to expand in ways that are not fully comprehended.  There are two overriding concerns in the White House:  1) do not draw any comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, and 2) do not use the phrase “civil war” under any circumstances.  [See the e-ssay dated March 6, 2006 entitled “Support Our Troops . . . Return” and the e-ssay dated March 20, 2006 entitled “The (Unreal) March Madness.”]

Forbes Magazine’s 400 richest Americans is constituted only of those worth a billion ($1,000,000,000.00).  No one is worth a billion dollars.  A single family home can now be had for $100,000,000.00 ($100 million).  Even if one can obtain a no-interest loan to purchase one of these abodes, the monthly payment exceeds the recommended 30 percent limit of monthly income that a prudent person should commit to housing.  Almost everyone is already spending too much for housing every month.  And yet median household earnings are flat.

The stock market is going through the roof.  There are not as many new roofs going up nationwide.  The declining housing market will reduce the “wealth effect” that individuals feel when the value of their home rises which will reduce consumer spending which will depress the stock market in the near future.

Nobel Prize recipients are announced this week.  They are worth a million.  There are still individuals out there contributing to the public good.

Is the GOP now the Gay Old Party or the Grand Old Pedophiles?  Too many contemporary Republicans seek to get into one’s bedroom.  Too many Republicans cannot be left alone with children of either gender.  We do not need to take a page from the Republicans; we need to take all the pages from the Republicans.  Congressman Foley (R) is not an exception.  Slow the terrorism against kids.

Bumper sticker of the week:

January 21, 2009

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