B After The Fact

Friday, December 28, 2007

The End of the Previous Rant (but read this first)

But then I realized a deeper implication to some of the things I always say about the War in Iraq -- on how it is a war for oil-- and we cannot leave Iraq until we solve the energy crisis.

I realized Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were fighting a war for 3 1/2 years --- from March 2003 through November 2006 -- solely as a vehicle to direct American government money into the hands of private Republican contractors. George Bush went along with that plan, and the Republican Congress went along with that plan.

The Senate, especially John McCain -- was in a position to stop this -- was at least in the position to call a hearing. They refused. John McCain, whose entire career was based on his bravery in the face of torture, folded his tent rather than protect other people from going through what he went through. John McCain enabled the Military Commissions Act. He had a chance to be a great political leader.

Contrary to what you sometimes hear listening to Republicans, we live in a democracy, not a monarchy. You can be a great political leader, and not be the Preisdent of the United States. John McCain failed. I wouldn't vote for John McCain to do or be anything anymore.

Only after the Democrats won the Election in 2006 did President Bush finally decide to get more serious about his own war. Strangely enough, if the Republicans won the election there would have been no surge. We would have just hobbled along for another year -- more soldiers being ground up simply to make money for the Bernie Keriks of this world. And the Republicans -- the Deadbeat Daddy party -- would have just looked away.

It's really the pressure that the Democrats brought to bear to end the War that forced Bush to behave like an adult towards his own, now redefined, War.

So if Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are looking for an accomplishment for their 2007 of failure, they can point to the temporary success in the War in Iraq.

I don't expect the Democrats to thank me for my insight any time soon.

(As a footnote, the Democrats should have spent more time in 2007 on the business of clean government -- on military procurement scandals, on how Scooter Libby came to spend less time in jail than Lindsey Lohan, on the U.S. Attorney situation, on the Veterans Hospitals, on why the bridges are falling, on why the Administration is getting away with using the Scooter Libby playbook, again, on the most recent decision to destroy the CIA tapes. None of these things have the sex appeal of lets say, whether Roger Clemens took steroids in his never-ending attempt to provide harmless diversion for his fans. All these Senators and Congressmen wail as if they are powerless in the face of the George Bush/ Rush Limbaugh power shield. Maybe if Congress just keeps grinding, kept grinding at the old boring job that they begged the voters to give them. Maybe then some truth will come out.)

In my war in the Middle East (one of the 200,000,000 or so Wars being fought in the minds of American people who are trying to figure out what the real War is about), each passing month makes me happier that we went to the Middle East, and more despondent that we will ever reach a peaceful solution.

We cannot leave until we solve the energy crisis. An accord between the Shia and the Sunnis and the Kurds will not allow us to leave. The death of Osama bin Laden and the demise of Al Qaeda will not allow us to leave. Eternal Peace in Israel will not allow us to leave. The destruction of the Syrian, Iranian and Pakistani nuclear arms program by General Petraeus his own self will not allow us to leave. Each country in the Middle East enacting the United States Constitution word-for-word and then living under these Constitutions peacefully will not allow us to leave. A world devoid of terrorism will not allow us to leave.

Only a solution to the energy crisis will allow us to leave. If we leave before the energy crisis is solved, some other country will come into the Middle East to protect its own vital interests. If the United States was not in the Middle East before 2007, we would have had to have gone into the Middle East this year if only to make sure that the oil flow continued.

The energy crisis will be solved, it will be solved soon. The country that solves the crisis -- with a cheap, green source of energy -- will likely be the world's great power for a good part of the 21st century. That country could be the United States. It should be the United States. However, there is little on the current political/business spectrum to indicate that we are willing to solve the energy crisis.

Only a solution to the energy crisis will allow the United States to leave the Middle East. However, if some other country solves the energy crisis, our victory in the Middle East will be like England's victory in World War II -- the beginning of the end -- the passing of the baton to some other nation -- to some other less free, less tolerant nation.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sometimes A Rant Just Won't Do

My friend over at A Red Mind In A Blue State complained that Hillary Clinton's Christmas ad was a sure sign of the socialist apocalypse. A sign that Republicans believe in God and Democrats believe in Santa Clause.

I responded, with a most unmeasured rant, howling at the moon really, since virtually all of A Red Mind's readers (at least those who post responses) are even more conservative than A Red Mind.

I pointed out that no one has been more Santa Clause to more people who did not deserve it than Bush pere and Bush fils. Examples --

The Savings & Loan Bailout

The War In Iraq - with so much money going to Republican Contractors

The Medicaid Prescription Drug Plan -- with so much money going to the Insurance Industry

The Wall Street Bailout -- underreported -- but in August the Fed basically let the hedge funds who invested in Nationwide directly, and the ones who stuffed their portfolios with bad subprime mortgage paper off the hook (sort of) by basically pumping an infusion of cash into the stock market -- socializing the most capitalist of institutions.

Only after I posted the rant did I realize that Red Mind was just quoting Jonah Goldberg (son of Lucianne, the Benedict Arnold to Monica Lewinsky) who was in turn quoting P.J. O'Rourke. So Red Mind was basically quoting two humorists making a joke.

I, of course, took it seriously. Sorry.

I guess I'm overly protective of Hillary. But it was something more than that.

I would like to see Hillary get the nomination. I have a lot of reasons, but these two will have to suffice

(a) I agree with virtually all of the things she has said, and has voted for, as a Senator (although she has, admittedly, said some contradictory things as a Presidential candidate).

(b) The Clintons are the only Democrats venal enough to stand up to the Republicans in their attempts to swift boat. More importantly, the Clintons are the only Democrats who understand the election process well enough to be able to steal the election back from the Republicans after the Republicans try to steal it from them.

But what really yanked my chain is this notion that although the Republicans spent six years controlling all three branches of government -- and in those six years threw more money away, with less accountability, to more people who didn't need the money -- these Republicans would have you believe that the "real" Republican party is somewhat more responsible and more frugal.

The "real" Republican party likes to spend money just like every other political party does. And there is no Republican currently running (well, maybe Ron Paul) who is talking about shrinking government, or making the people less at the mercy of big government.

The only difference between Democrats and Republicans is who should get the government money.

Not surprisingly, the Democrats prefer to give money to poorer people. They tend to vote Democratic. Not surprisingly, the Republicans prefer to give money to richer people. They tend to vote Republican. And if either Huckabee or Romney get in, there would be more money given to people who believe in the establishment of an American religion that doesn't exist yet.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Congestion Pricing

Today, The New York Post ran an editorial on congestion pricing and the proposed fare hike in New York. (As soon as I figure out the linking function on this computer, I will link it in!)

B- responded:

Your editorial takes two separate issues and claims that they are both the same.

Congestion pricing is part of the Mayor's 2030 Plan to make for a more livable city. The residents here in Queens believe that congestion pricing is designed to make Manhattan more livable at the expense of the other boroughs. This is true both as a financial matter and a quality of life matter. We are right to fear that congestion pricing in Manhattan will simply mean more cars and more pollution in Queens, especially around areas with express subway stops.

New bridge tolls are perceived as another way to achieve the same result. It penalizes residents for living in the "wrong" borough, and since there is no place to put toll plazas in Queens, it will mean traffic tie-ups, and traffic pollution, through the main arteries of Queens.

These issues of fairness among the boroughs in terms of who pays and who gets what they pay for are relatively new issues. Since you don't live in the outer boroughs, you may not have recognized them.

The fare hike is just the same-old same-old. How does the MTA manage to collect $2 dollars a day, 2 times a day, from millions and millions of people, and still have no money to do what it is supposed to do? Now, the mayor proposes to give them more money and more responsibility?

To the extent that the MTA unjustly suffers from bad PR, supporters like the New York Post need to get the word out. To the extent that the MTA needs to change their ways before they get more money from us, the MTA should get to work and properly use, and account for, the money it has.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Dan Fogelberg (1951-2007)

I can't think of a singer in that 1970s era who has died of natural causes before now.

Rest In Peace, Dan


Part Of The Plan (by Dan Fogelberg -- 1974)

I have these moments all steady and strong
I'm feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know I'm all worried and weak
And I feel myself starting to crumble
The meanings get lost and the teachings get tossed
And you don't know what you're going to do next
You wait for the sun but it never quite comes
Some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message comes through
And it says to you...

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
That's a part of the plan
Await your arrival with simple survival
And one day we'll all understand
One day we'll all understand
One day we'll all understand

I had a woman who gave me her soul
But I wasn't ready to take it
Her heart was so fragile and heavy to hold
And I was afraid I might break it
Your conscience awakes and you see your mistakes
And you wish someone would buy your confessions
The days miss their mark and the night gets so dark
And some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message shoots through --
And it says to you...

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
That's a part of the plan
Await your arrival with simple survival
And one day we'll all understand
One day we'll all understand
One day we'll all understand

There is no Eden or Heavenly gates
That you're gonna make it to one day
But all of the answers you seek can be found
In the dreams that you dream on the way


Friday, December 14, 2007

The Mitchell Report

I am thrilled that Roger Clemens got busted. I have a lot of conflicting opinions about whether or not players should use steroids in professional baseball. Some of them are below, and you can word search all my other conflicting opinions on this site.

However, it offends my sense of reality that Roger Clemens keeps on denying that he uses steroids. Just like it offends my sense of reality that Barry Bonds claims to pay trainers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to buy him special flax seed oil ($7.98 at The Vitamin Shoppe) to rub on his body.

It is nice that I am not totally crazy, and that 40-somethings cannot truly do what Bonds and Clemens have been doing.


As a matter of labor economics, the owners don't care if the players juice. The more players juice, the more likely that a less rich, less smart team is going to get a good player.

If the players didn't juice, there would be a much smaller number of players worth having at any given time. The Red Sox or Yankees would sign half of them. The Mets-Cardinals-Dodgers-Tigers-Angels-Cubs would have half of the remaining half, and the rest of the league (22 teams) whould split the bottom 25% among themselves. And those good players would cost much dinero. Better to have more players to choose from.

The only reason the owners care about steroids is that they were embarrassed by Congress and a few shrill sportswriters into caring.

It is hard to believe that the fans care too much. They just want their teams to win.

The only people who should truly care are the players, since they are the ones taking the health risk.

It is unclear that there are enough clean players who care. If there are, this would be a good time for one or two of them to say something.

In a rational world, with a true union shop, the Players Association would run its own drug program, and suspend players itself, based on its own sense of what is appropriate, subject to collective bargaining, and Major League Baseball verification.

The owners and the television networks would scream bloody murder when the union winds up suspending superstars along with scrubeenees. And the Republicans would complain that junkie ballplayers should be free to contract wherever they want under right-to-work rules.