Archive for May, 2011

“Baghdad Is Rocked by Blasts That Kill 20, Including 2 American Soldiers” (TIMES, 5/23/11)

May 23, 2011

How many more bombings will we see in Iaq bewfore the remaining U.S. troops are finally withdrawn from that quagmire created by Donald Rumsfeld?

Apparently, there is the possibility that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki “would support troops remaining if a majority of Iraqis backed him.”

President Obama shold nip that possibility in the bud. If anything, he should start withdrawing some of the troops imme

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“Finally, a Fighting Force” by Michael E. O’Hanlon (TIMES, 5/21/11)

May 23, 2011

“Helmand Province,” according to this Brookings senior fellow, “has in the past year or so seen remarkable progress,” yet the “region is not completely safe.”

Following that positive prognosis, we get vague statistics to support his assertion of remarkable progress but not completely safe.

O’Hanlon is talking nonsense when he concludes that NATO forces should remain in an area 24 to 30 months after the Taliban have been cleared out.

Meanwhile, the “Department of Defense has identified 1567 American service members who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations.” (See box a page A7) What will that figure be after 30 months?

Now is as good a time to begin withdrawing from Rumsfeld’s quagmire as is 30 months hence. Most of the casualties in both Afhanistan and Iraq have been young people who could not find decent jobs or could not afford a college education. High unemployment guarantees easy recruitment for the armed forces.

“A Victory for Veterans,” (TIMES, 5/19/11)

May 23, 2011

Can it actually be true that veterans “are killing themselves by the thousands each year” due to the “‘unchecked incompetence’ of the Department of Veterans Affairs”? Delays in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cause about 18 veterans to “commit suicide on an average day” is a shocking revelation.

 Eighteen suicides a day comes to 6570 a year, yet these fatalities are not reflected in the “Names of the Dead” box that regularly appears somewhere in the A Section of the TIMES (today’s figure for “the Afghan war and related operations” being 1562). The same figure for the Iraq war is over 4400 dead.

Shouldn’t the PTSD deaths for both wars be included in the count? Why can’t a newspaper which claims to publish “All the News That’s Fit to Print” give a complete count of the casualties of these two wars?

And while you are at it, you might give a clearer picture of the victims, those people Donald Rumsfeld cynically claimed were “doing what they wanted”; i.e., they did not have to be drafted.

I have enclosed a short story of mine suggesting who these “volunteers” are, which was recently published in the NEW STONE CIRCLE, Volume 1 Issue 2 (Fall 2010,) of Chicago, Illinois. Could you find room for it in your Sunday Magazine? Your readers might welcome it.

Profile of a Caviar Socialist (TIMES, 5/18/11)

May 23, 2011

          Married to a woman “who inherited a fortune from her grandfather,” currently resides in a Georgetown house “bought in 2007 for $4 million,” jointly owns “two apartments in France,” one “that costs 4 million euros ($5.7 million)” and the other bought for “$2.5 million euros ($3.5 million),” as well as a “private house in Marrakesh, Morocco, bought for 500,000 euros ($706,000).” Earns a “salary of about $442,000,” tax-free and has “an expense allowance of $79,120.” Has a reputation as a “tough-minded manager who did not shy from making tough decisions. He cut his IMF’s staff by 400 to reduce costs.” The scene of his assault on that hotel maid was a suite in the Sofitel New York that rented for $3000 a night.

          It is difficult to believe that a priviledged putz like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who obviously enjoyed all the comforts in his (and his wife’s) money could buy while denying others their liivelihood in the name of economic efficiency (“austerity measures” is usualy the phrase in IMF pronouncements), could actually claim to be a socialist. Worse yet,

“Secret Desert Force Set Up By Blackwater’s Founder” (TIMES, 5/15/11)

May 16, 2011

Congratulations to the NEW YORK TIMES for another exposé of the world famous mercenary, Erik Prince, who now heads a terrorist organization called Reflex Responses (aka R2). The main purpose of these new stormtroopers is the same as its earlier incarnations (Blackwater and Xe Services) is to guard the property of rapacious corporations and reactionary governments trying to stay in power. 

However, the article did not make clear the relationship between Erik Prince and the U.S. State Department. There was a time when he provided security for its personnel.

Is that still the case? Are the U.S. taxpayers continuing to make this reactionary terrorist rich?

“The politics of Solipsism” by David Brooks (TIMES, 5/6/11)

May 16, 2011

          “The first citizens of this country erected institutions to protect themselves from their own shortcomings,” claims David Brooks.

          Were these the same “citizens” who condoned the institution of slavery and denied full citizenship to women?

          How does David Brooks view the Koch brothers? Do they have “modest faith” in themselves? Is that the reason they fund faux populists like the  tea partiers?

          Ordinary Americans, variously identified as the middle or working class, have needs (not “desires”) that motivate what they think and do. They need gainful employment and access to health care.

          Conservative Americans generally do all they can to prevent that from happening. “Moderate” (his word) conservative Brooks seems to do all he can to obfuscate what his fellow conservatives are usually up to. He does so with a lot of philosophical preaching. At bottom, his “public spiritedness” sounds like a soft fascism; he seems to be arguing for a controlling elite to check the “desires” of the masses.

“What Government Does” by David Brooks (TIMES, 4/29/11)

May 2, 2011

David Brooks “spent some time this week” observing “what government is and ins’t good at.” He did that at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “headquartered in a dispiriting 1960’s building that is brutalist on the outside and dreary within.” 

It sounds like Brooks engaged in some media slumming in order to say something nice (objective?) about government workers. Claiming to be a “moderate conservative,” it is necessary that he acts like a nice guy sometimes.

What struck me was his description of HUD as “10 stories of basement.” Was it an accident that government buildings were constructed to be brutalists and dreary or was that the results of conservative budget cutting?

Couldn’t Brooks have written this column without presenting the physical environment in which HUD employee

“Director Petraeus to Face Different Culture at CIA” (TIMES, 4/28/11)

May 2, 2011

It seems like a futile endeavor to speculate on what kind of CIA director General David H. Petraeus will make when he assumes that position. His stay there will probably be a short one meant to flesh out his credentials as the next presidential hopeful of the Republican Party.

Whether he enters the race in 2012 or 2016 might not be settled yet, but he is certainly on the GOP’s list on candidates.

How the party wiseguys convince the faux populists in their ranks that Petraeus is the second Eisenhower remains to be seen, which may cause them to delay his candidacy until 2016.

Surely, Petraeus would not like that. Having the spotlight now means he has to get the nominaton for the 2012 election, a spossibility made more lieky by the repid respoense to the declred candidates.

“Irked at Democrats, Firefighters Suspend Contributions” (TIMES, 4/27/11)

May 2, 2011

It is good to read that the International Association of Fire Fighters has indefinitely suspended “all contributions to federal candidates out of frustration with Congressional Democrats” who have not been fighting harder “against budget cuts and antiunion legislation.”

In 2010, this union “donated $1.9 million to Democratic candidates in national elections” (and $408,500 to Republicans!).

Question to Harold Schaitberger, the president of this union, why did you give any money to the Republican Party, an organization which consistently votes against unions and legislation that assists working people?