Friday, January 12, 2007

The deficit-financed war

Contrary to popular opinion, President Bush is not committed to success in Iraq. He never has been.

This article from Bloomberg makes it quite clear. This is the first time in our nation’s history (with the exception of the 1846-48 Mexican-American War) in which American citizens have not been asked by their government to make a special financial sacrifice to support the war.
This is the nation’s first deficit-financed war. Before everything is said and done, the price tag for Bush’s war may well be in excess of $600 billion - or $2 trillion if you add the cost of caring for our disabled veterans and paying to replace all the worn out military equipment. And that’s assuming the war doesn’t drag on for another 5 to 10 years. If John McCain is elected president in 2008, it is easy to see this conflict dragging on for another six years at a minimum.
But so far we haven’t paid a penny for this war. Not one red cent! Taxes have not gone up. Domestic spending has not gone down. It is all being financed off-budget on borrowed money.

The war ``is being fought on our children's shoulders,'' said Judd Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. ``You're probably talking about around $750 billion that is going to be spent on this war that will end up not being funded.''

That’s incredible! Bush has tried to fight this war on the cheap since the very beginning. They have not supplied the number of troops that military commanders initially said were needed (those commanders were subsequently forced into retirment and replaced with commanders who backed the administration’s position). They skimped on armor and protective gear for our troops. And they have dramatically underfunded the estimated reconstruction costs.
In 2003, the World Bank estimated it would take $60 billion to rebuild Iraq after our “shock and awe” campaign. So far we have parceled out less than $20 billion to that end and a large chunk of that money has turned up missing.
Last year, the Bush administration announced that it was not going to spend any more money on reconstruction in Iraq and I said at the time that it demonstrated Bush’s lack of resolve toward actually achieving the kind of outcome in Iraq that he talks about in his speeches.

The result of this war-on-the-cheap combined with the gross fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement has been a disaster of striking proportions. While we have been bogged down in Iraq, the real terrorists have been making unprecendented gains in other parts of the world.

Iraq is at a violent and "precarious juncture," while al-Qaeda is significantly expanding its global reach, effectively immune to the loss of leaders in battle, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte told Congress yesterday. He also warned that the Taliban is mounting a vigorous insurgency in Afghanistan, that Pakistan has become a safe haven for top terrorists and that Iran's growing regional power is threatening Middle East stability.
The Wall Street Journal recently had an article about the “Nightmare Scenario” that our allies in the Middle East now fear may result from Bush’s debacle in Iraq.

As President Bush prepares to unveil his latest Iraq strategy, Arab allies are worried about what might happen if the plan fails: that worsening strife could engulf the entire region, sparking a wider war in the middle of the world's largest oil patch.
The potential of a much larger regional conflict that pits Sunnis against Shiites is increasingly on the minds of both Arab leaders and U.S. military planners, according to regional diplomats and U.S. officials. Some are calling such a possible outcome the "nightmare scenario." A wider conflict appears more plausible now because, even as Iraq is separating along sectarian lines, regional dynamics are shoving neighboring nations into two rival camps.
On one side is a Shiite-led arc running from Iran into central Iraq, through Syria and into Lebanon. On the other side lie American allies Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, along with Persian Gulf states such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. These Sunni regimes are horrified at the emerging, increasingly radicalized Shiite bloc, largely financed and inspired by Iran, Arab diplomats say.

Bush is clearly the worst president in the history of the United States. The only question now is how much worse things can get before he finally leaves office.

Lamar Smith a moderate?

Congrats to U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, the lone Republican member of the San Antonio congressional delegation, for surprising me and casting one of his first votes of the new year for a minimum wage increase.
The House bill passed 315 to 116 with Smith one of 82 Republicans to fall in line behind the popular legislation.
Smith also supported the bill implementing the 911 commission recommendations.
So is this a sign of things to come? In the recent past, Smith had been a reliable vote for the Tom DeLay wing of the GOP. Has he now suddenly decided to moderate his positions after facing a tough challenge from Democrat John Courage this past election and then watching his fellow Republican Henry Bonilla go down in flames?
Only time will tell.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hall of Fame balloting

They will announce the 2007 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees later today. It looks like Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. are locks while the big controversy is how big a snubbing Mark McGwire will get for his alleged steroid abuse.
Here is how I would cast my ballot if I had one to cast:

Pete Rose
Tony Gwynn
Cal Ripken Jr.
Bert Blyleven
Goose Gossage
Dave Concepcion
Andre Dawson
Jim Rice
Mark McGwire
Steve Garvey

First off, Pete Rose is by far the most deserving player of anyone not currently in the Hall of Fame. Even though he is not on the ballot, he would still get my first vote.
I would support McGwire despite the steroids controversy because a) it has never been shown that he broke any laws or rules - baseball did not get around to banning most steroids until after the McGwire controversy surfaced; b) even without steroids McGwire would have been a great ballplayer; c) I hate this game that they play where they bash a player because they haven’t confessed or sufficiently apologized for some offense.
Unless you are going to ban every player who may have ever taken a health supplement in the 1990s, which is unrealistic, then you have to acknowledge the great players of the that time. McGwire, Sosa and Bonds are all in that class and all are worthy of HoF induction despite the steroids controversy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bush undermines own stratergy

Just so you know, Bush was against the surge before he was for it.

This is Bush from June 28, 2005...

Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever...

Here is a rational, sane and intelligent take on what we should be “surging” in Iraq from a man who knows a lot more about military stratergy than George aWol Bush.