Saturday, September 03, 2011

Friday Evening Sailing News

This weekend is Harbor Days in Olympia. Among the attractions are the Tall Ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain. Last night Maggie, a visiting friend from Phoenix and I went for a three hour cruise on the Chieftain. Pretty cool.

Setting out

At the helm.

Unfurling the jib.

Almost full sail.

In the rigging.

Lady Washington approaching.


Wisdom of a Pinhead

Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators! Job Creators!

See Lesson No. 3


The Unthinking Decade

Anne Appelbaum explains the opportunity costs of 9-11:

In our single-minded focus on Islamic fanaticism, we missed China’s transformation from a commercial power into an ambitious political power. We failed to appreciate the significance of economic growth in China’s neighborhood. ...We also missed, at least initially, the transformation of Russia from a weak and struggling partner into a sometimes hostile opponent.


Thanks to the war on terror, we missed what might have been a historic deal on immigration with Mexico. Because Latin America was irrelevant to the war on terror, we lost interest in, and influence on, that region. The same goes for Africa, except for those countries that have al-Qaeda cells.


Finally, we stopped investing in our infrastructure...and we missed the chance to rethink our national energy policy.

September 11, 2001. The day America stopped thinking.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Slate has a couple of stories that are pretty much the Yin and Yang of America in the second decade of the 21st century.

Fred Kaplan describes how the military has changed over the past 10 years of war. He sees a military that has creatively adapted to the changing and challenging missions this nation has asked of it. That's good, even if I question the mission. The US military has a long tradition as a national institution. I want to know that an important national institution is capable, that it remain able to contribute to the More Perfect Union to which all military personnel swear an oath to defend. Kaplan, who writes knowledgeably about national security, believes our military has shown itself up to the task. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the mission at which they excel has wrecked the economy. Joseph Stiglitz writes about the The True Cost of 9/11 which is high indeed. Along with Linda Bilimes, Stiglitz first estimated the costs of Iraq and Afghnanistan would be $3 to $5 trillion. Now their estimate increases with the addition of another $600 to $900 billion for veterans care and disability. Stiglitz makes a good case that hiding the true cost of the past decade's wars has undermined America's economy.

About the only uncertain note in either piece is Stiglitz's statement that Osama Bin Laden probably never imagined that CheneyBush's response to the 9-11 attacks would compromise America's basic principles, undermine its economy, and weaken its security. That was his stated goal. Maybe Stiglitz means that Osama could have never imagined how utterly and completely successful he would be.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Master Stroke

We need much more of this.

Veteran and Military Spouse Dragged from Rumsfeld Book Signing

You can see the military spouse/widow's story here.

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Propaganda 101

David Sirota questions the relationship between the military and the entertainment industry in today's Washington Post. Nick Turse has been writing about this incestuous relationship for years but today is the first for the mainstream media I read. I hope it will not be the last.

History does not exactly repeat itself but human emotions and fears are pretty constant. That's why I can hope that if, as Sirota states, America was tired of and questioning war after years of war Vietnam and southeast Asia, then maybe something similar will happen as America enters a second decade of war in southwest Asia. Maybe Americans will re-think and question a national security policy that demands constant deployment and rotation of military personnel to combat zones for no good reason.

And just maybe if that happens, we will also dismantle the political-military-industrial economy that underpins endless war. We thought we'd slayed that Monster in 1975.

We just slowed it down.

All the more reason to keep fighting now.

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Parsing Libya

Regime change in Libya may simply mean that another set of killers will be in charge. Or maybe all we are seeing is the pent-up frustration of an oppressed people. Hard to say from where I sit.

Pepe Escobar is pretty skeptical about the outcome. He's questioned the motives behind the whole affair since Day One. I'd say about the only safe bet is that the corporations and international banks will do well.

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