Archive for June, 2010

“The Third Depression” by Paul Krugman (TIMES, 6/28/10)

June 28, 2010

          Though I respect Paul Krugman’s acumen on economic matters, I think he is wrong about the number of depressions that have afflicted the United States since the early 19th century.

          These serious economic downturns (usually referred to as “panics”) threatened the USA from the earliest decades of its existence. They might not have been “described as depressions” at the time but they seemed to have been just as bad as what Krugman would label as such.

          Certainly that was the case with the panic of 1893-1897, which was  identified as the worst economic downturn in U.S. history up to that time. Much of the suffering that the usually perceptive Krugman notes today was reported in those four years. It was definitely  a depression. 

          What made the Great Depression unique was not only its severity but its length. None of the economic disasters of the 19th century lasted more than four years. The Great Depression of the 20th century gripped this country for more than a decade. 

          Krugman should not be afraid to use the proper word to describe the present economic debacle. It might not be great but it is a depression, and the people of the United States need to know that.

“Louisiana Wants U.S. Help, and Its Own Way” (TIMES, 6/26/10)

June 28, 2010

          Anybody who believes that Republican Governor Bobby Jindal can clean up the mess in the Gulf of Mexico believes fish can fly. The incompetence and corruption of Louisiana officials is notorious.

          Both political parties of Louisiana have always been too obliging to the corporate world, favoring the opinions of “practical” business leaders over the “red tape” of the federal government, which translated into no oversight.

          Such phonies call their misrule the “free enterprise system,” and have been well paid by their corporate overlords. 

          The Coast Guard will be more reliable than dumb (Democrats) and dumber (Republicans). Send Bobby Jindal back to his desk in Baton Rouge where he can relax in his swivel chair as he slowly chews gum.

“The Culture of Exposure” by David Brooks (TIMES, 6/25/10)

June 28, 2010

          McChrystal missed a lot more than “the last 50 years of cultural history”; he ignored (or secretly condoned?) the arrogant defiance of civilian authority by McClellan and MacArthur, two generals with the Napoleon complex.

          Making a martyr of this latest military prima donna constitutes more sand in the eyes from chief dissimulator Brooks.

          That McChrystal “was excellent at his job,” an assertion that can be questioned given the undercover nature of his experience (i.e., how would Brooks know?), does not justify disrupting the command structure. 

          The commander-in-chief of the armed forces is the president of the United States, not some hotshot martinet who looks good in starched fatigues.

“Obama Fires Afghan Commander…” (TIMES, 6/24/10)

June 28, 2010

          YES!

          Let Stanley A. McChrystal go the way of George McClellan and Douglas MacArthur and a good riddance to him from all people of conscience.

          Though Blackwater (aka: Xe Services) seems to be folding, maybe McChrystal can get a job with some other mercenary army. 

          The USA doesn’t need this egotistical martinet strutting his stuff before the neocon supporters of an UNNECESSARY war.

          Now that the president has demonstrated, like Lincoln and Truman before him, that he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he should re-evaluate ASAP his decision to stay the course in the Af-Pak region.

Afghanistan

June 28, 2010

           The only strategy left for the war in Afghanistan is a safe withdrawal ASAP.

          Despite the fact that the president referred to this war as “necessary” soon after his inauguration , it is a time to implement an exit strategy, and Obama’s image be damned.

          The quagmire Donald Rumsfeld created there has only gotten deeper. Replacing one arrogant general with another will not solve the problem.

          Afghanistan CANNOT be “saved” by a foreign army, even if its leaders were actually motivated by the highest principles. 

          The only alternative for the poor people of Afghanistan would be a genuine humanitarian effort made by the United Nations, and even that is a long shot. Though, wouldn’t it be wonderful if a U.N peace effort succeeded? Securing a settlement in Afghanistan could be the first step in reviving the effectiveness of that international organization.

“Faustus Makes a Deal” by David Brooks (TIMES, 6/22/10)

June 28, 2010

          Heaven help us! David Brooks is now writing fiction and it is just as bad as his usual fare.

          What liberals is Brooks referring to who “have failed to create a governing center-left majority”? How can Obama form a “center-left” government with so many conservative, pro-business Democrats surrounding him?

          Hasn’t Brooks heard the news? Everybody in the Democratic Party is a moderate centrist or a conservative moderate. Its liberal members  were swept away by the republican “revolution” which culminated in the shadow presidency of 2001-2009.

          This slick mouthpiece of a deeply pessimistic point of view should stop hiding behind the “moderate-conservative” label. He is a reactionary who would welcome the restoration of feudalism without battling an eye.

          Of course, Brooks would reside in a free city or a market town as a “moderate feudalist.”

“Trim the ‘Experts,’ Trust the Locals” by David Brooks (TIMES, 6/18/10)

June 21, 2010

          Trust the locals in New Orleans, where it’s easier to build a gambling casino than a health clinic? Is David Brooks serious? After Hurricane Katrina, the people should trust the motley crew of conservative politicians (Democratic and Republican) who hold sway there? What a hare-brained idea!

          The state and local politicians of Louisiana neglected the warnings about the possibility of New Orleans being flooded and they looked the other way while BP cut corners on safety measures in their drilling operations.

          The mess in the Gulf of Mexico is the result of big corporations bribing dishonest government officials, local, state and federal, so they could maximize their profits. The guilty parties, both the bribers and the bribed, were guided by a conservative philosophy that persistently complained about any kind of supervision of the so-called “free enterprise system.” 

          Concerns for the safety of workers or the impact on the environment are consistently disregarded by these conservatives as burdensome “red tape.”

          As long as “profit” is the bottom line,” a mantra corporate representatives never tire of chanting, our society will continue to be in danger. OVERSIGHT by a federal government answerable to ALL the people is the only alternative.

“Military and Pentagon Leaders Urge Patience for Afghan Mission” (TIMES, 6/17/10)

June 21, 2010

          Was the “collapse” of General David Petraeus before the Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, 6/15/10 caused by dehydration or was it from a subconscious act of resistance or feeling of guilt?

          On Wednesday, 6/16/10 he was able to offer “a full-throated endorsement of President Obama’s order to pull out of Afghanistan starting (emphasis mine) next summer.”

          By summer 2011, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates expect success of the “surge” commanded by General Stanley McCrystal, so that a start can be made then to withdraw from this quagmire inherited from the shadow presidency.

          However, the rosy expectations voiced by all three of these “leaders” are not supported by the news coming from Afghanistan, where the U.S. death toll reached 1100. That means the “conditions on the ground” in 2011 might prevent a withdrawal.

          Maybe, if the Democrats win the November election with a large majority, the party leaders will have the courage to implement an exit strategy and extricate the USA from a venture put in operation by the worst presidential administration in our history.

“A War Without End?” (TIMES, 6/16/10)

June 21, 2010

          That nagging phrase “service members who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations,” which is regularly printed in the TIMES and has now reached 1095, continues to haunt the news of Rumsfeld’s quagmire.

           The deadline for the U.S. withdrawal in July 2011 is lately being qualified by the chilling phrase “will be totally determined by conditions on the ground.” In other words, there is no fixed deadline for exiting Afghanistan.

          We have already been informed that the “withdrawal” from Iraq, where 4396 U.S. service members have died, will leave 30,000-50,000 troops there after the late summer 2010 deadline.

          Since the United States is NOT actually withdrawing from either war zone and in view of the recent reports about fighting in Pakistan, the question is: how soon will U.S. service members be sent into that country?

“The Larger Struggle” by David Brooks (TIMES, 6/15/10)

June 21, 2010

          Leave it to David Brooks, so-called “moderate” conservative, to misinform  TIMES readers about the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

          Dear old BP, a multinational corporation operating inside a “democratic capitalist” system, was only trying to satisfy its shareholders! The real villains are the state capitalists who earn money to finance the rulingclass.”

          What claptrap!

          “Democratic capitalism” (an oxymoron?) answers to a rulingclass at the top five or ten percent of the population, not to its shareholders.

          The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was the result of a lack of oversight made operative by the bribing of corrupt government officials by a corporation greedy for ever more profits.

          Let us not allow Goldilocks to throw sand in our eyes.