Wednesday, December 29, 2004

If Iraq were like Vietnam, we’d know what to do

Kevin Drum while making a ref to a Slate mag story by Jack Shafer about the comparsion of casualties in Iraq to those in Vietnam concludes with the thought on whether Iraq is like Vietnam. It’s not and it is.

How is Vietnam different from Iraq? Obviously, Vietnam was jungle and rice patties while Iraq is desert, thus battle tactics are different. (As noted in the Slate article, urban fighting is the same, the struggle for Hue and Fallujah were very similar.) The American army in Vietnam was conscripted while the one in Iraq is all volunteer. During the Vietnamese War, the military reserves and National Guard was a way to honorably dodge the draft. In this war the Army Reserves and National Guard is doing what it had historically done: augment the standing army and the first to fight. (“First” meaning others will follow.)

Eerie Similarities

The Vietnam War was a struggle against falling dominos in the greater war against Communism. The Domino Theory said we could not let any country go communist or others would fall. Thus, we had to take the stand in Vietnam just as we did in Korea, Greece, and Berlin. We could not be soft on Communism just as we can not be soft on terrorism. We don’t have a name for those soft on terrorism, yet, but if you were soft on Communism, you were referred to as being “pink” or a “fellow-traveler”.

Just as the Red Scare was used to justify restrictive and unconstitutional actions, so to the fear of another terrorist attack is used to justify the loss of freedom and privacy. And this is not just governmental reaction, we currently have a society in which political correctness has taken on new meaning. Liberalism is viewed with greater disdain they ever before and that ugly vindictiveness of the right with its easily triggered paranoia is growing.

But Vietnam is history and we always know what we should have done looking back. Iraq will offer problems that have no relation to those in Vietnam. You will not know you have made a mistake until it is too late to take it back. One day the Neocons my find themselves with the Iraq War as Lyndon Johnson did with Vietnam War: “I feel like a hitchhiker on the Texas plains during a hailstorm, no place to run, no place to hide.”

By the way, Red Word / Blue Word have been updated with new entries.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

You vote in the best election you can get not the election you want

Iraqi should try to vote if at all possible. This may be the freest election they have ever had or will have. If you’ve read my stuff you know that I believe that once the Americans leave, a strong man like Saddam or the mullahs like in Iran will eventually rule Iraq. I agree with Kevin Drum and his ref to Juan Cole, that Bin Laden’s sound byte may do more for the up coming election in Iraq than all the persuasion or PR with which the Americans could come up.

I’m surprise the Bushies have not come out with a…”see we told you there was a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam,” or “see we told you there were terrorist in Iraq.” Gmafb

As much of a mistake as I think the war in Iraq is, if Bush could pull off this election there is a chance we could get out with a decent interval before the inevitable occurs.

By the way, Red Word / Blue Word has been updated.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Let's do to Social Security what we did to Iraq

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall and now Kevin Drum have broached the idea that the Bushies are gearing up for the overhaul of Social Security the same way they built up to the Iraqi war.

What does that mean?

1. This is God’s work and dissention is forbidden – to question Bush is to question God.

2. The main part of the plan is to change Social Security, and no thought has been made about what will happen after the change is accomplished.

3. There will not be enough resources allocated for the aftermath of the change.

4. They'll come up with a catch-phrase such as Investments of Mass Benefit (IMB) and talk about how we will find them once the change is made.

5. Bureaucrats involved in the administration of the new Social Security program will not be allowed to retire, and those recently retired will be forced back to work.

6. If Judith Miller is not in jail, she will receive information about a governmental research report from an unnamed source. The secret report will detail a list of terrible things that will happen to Social Security if it is not change. These leaks will appear in The New York Times the Friday before top administration officials appear on the Sunday morning talk shows so that these officials can foretell of horrors if we do not change Social Security and reference the Times’ story.

7. The real problems with Social Security will not be addressed.

8. Retirees will be suffering more than they would have under the current system, and the administration will be claiming how much better off they are under the new system.

8. Anyone who is in any way effective at attacking the plan to change Social Security will be subject to the Rove treatment.

Other similarities?

Friday, December 24, 2004

Zuzu's Petals

Merry Christmas Blogdom. Like the ol' Bailey Savings and Loan you make it possible for the common man to throw off the old world condemnation of Pottersville and live the equal of any other man or woman.

Merry Christmas to the people serving over seas. You do right even when a policy is wrong. While we may argue the whys and whatfors of a political decision, there is no argument about your service and sacrifice. It has always been that way. "Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground."

Merry Christmas to the families of service men. Unlike a military based on the draft, in which most of those drafted are single young men. In today's all volunteer military including a large number of Reservist and National Guardsmen, many a wife and child is serving at home.

Merry Christmas to President George Bush. You are basically a good man. However, I pray to God to protect us from what you do in His name.

Merry Christmas to the Necons. Bush's re-election allowed you to keep foreign policy for four more years. Remember Murphy's Law. Had you done that when planning the attack on Iraq, we would not be in the mess you have gotten us into.

Merry Christmas to the Democrats. You have much for which to be thankful. See Democrats: Mission Accomplished, You Loose to know what I mean.

Merry Christmas to the Iraqis. As bad as it is, one day you will remember this time as the freest you have ever been -- the time the Americans were there.

Merry Christmas to militant Islam. We are not your worst enemy, you are. May the God that created us all in his own image, have mercy on you souls.

And last but not least, Merry Christmas to my family. You've made the last 20+ years better than the first 30.

Finally in the final words of Tiny Tim: "God bless everybody."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

"Time's" Man of the Year

I agree with Time magazine that George Bush is the man of the year, but propably not for the right reasons. I sadly was not surprised with his re-election; I voted against him, but I feared he would win anyway. I was afraid the my fellow countrymen were making a big mistake. I didn’t get a hard-on thinking about voting for John Kerry. I’m a Vietnam veteran, but I was enlisted and I still don’t care too much for officers. I know, I know, I went to college, got degrees, and now, I am more officer material than not. I did serve under a few good officers, and hope I would be more like them than John Kerry. I remember his type. I consider him like Bill Clinton. Always want to do what is right. All ways thinking of how what ever they are doing will appear at some future date. If I considered how what I did would have appeared later, I would not of have had half the fun I did.

As for George Bush, I probably partied with that dude in Montgomery, Alabama, back in the early ‘70’s, but I don’t remember much about who was there and who wasn’t. However, the one thing that sticks in my craw about Bush is when I heard he supported the U.S. involvement in Vietnam but he would not put his ass on the line and actually fight for it. I was against the war long before I got drafted, and never wanted to serve. I though the war was wrong, then, and now, and I think the Iraq war is wrong for the same reasons the war in Vietnam was wrong. Five years from now Iraq will be just as much a friend of the U.S. as Vietnam is today.

I can see why he got "Man of the Year" because I am still in wonder that Bush got re-elected. While the Democrats did not offer the best choice from Bush, I still would take my chances with any government that would get the Necons out of foreign policy. I don’t think the President has to be the smartest man in government, but he does have to be able to judge other people. Bush does not seem to have chosen well among his advisors. I certainly don’t believe in faith-base government. If he thinks God is leading him in his Presidency, we are in for some biblical woes. God protect us from those who would make decisions in His name.

The Man of the Year and his friend scare the hell out of me.

You go to market with the best economy you have.

During this time of Christmas, something nice to say about capitalism and conspicuous gratification

Saw a recent complaint against companies getting into blogging as a form of marketing or advertising. It would be the great undoing of the blogoshere seemed to be the thrust of the complaint. However, let us remember the lesson of the winning of the Cold War.

Free markets perform better than planned economies by what ever means you wish to measure. Free markets get goods to the market more efficiently than planned economies. More goods, greater varieties, at lower prices, free markets exploit opportunities in ways planned economies can not even imagine.

I can not claim ownership of this paraphrase; countries that strive for freedom achieve equality better than countries that strive for equality. (I heard it once on a show called “Firing Line” which was hosted by William F. Buckley. If you know the source, how about posting a comment, what say?) With this in mine, the claim that a planned economy does not exploit its workers and everyone is taken care of, fails in comparison to the average standard of living in countries with free markets, The poorest fair better than their counter parts in planned economies. And beside, the hope of any individual, no matter what his or her means, of obtaining a better life is one of the greatest drivers in free markets.

The consolidation of power that a centralized planned economy requires runs into that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely formulation. While I Googled that to find its originator cited as the British historian Load Aston, there is no need to Gulag what it means. And there are only hints and horror stories of the environmental degradation that occurred in countries with planned economies. It seems free markets accounts for the externalities of pollution much better than planned economies when you would think it would be the other way around. Go figure.

I guess that's the thing about free economies. To turn loose of all controls and let the free market decide the best use of resources. Seems it would to lead to the exploitation of the non-protected, but history would seem to indicate otherwise. So the next time you hear someone bemoaning capitalism or conspicuous consumption, tell them “Wait one dude! It like way won the Cold War.”

Friday, December 17, 2004

Hurt Until It Gives

While crusing the Daou Report, I ended up paying a visit to Trying to Grok and left a comment on a post about giving to a fund that would help Iraqis. However, when I returned later in the day, it was not there. I did not give my correct email address, maybe that is why it was removed. Worse stuff was written than what I wrote so it couldn't have been what I said. At any rate, I thought I would try the trackback and see it I can get that to work.

If I remember correctly my message was as follows:

You lied to me about the reason for the war in Iraq. You lied to me about the what would happen after we invaded. You lied to the troops about the armor and equipment they would need. You are lying about the cost and what is actually happening in Iraq. You are lying to yourself if you think Iraq will every be a democacy or the U.S. will be considered anything other than another occuping force. Your lying to yourself if you don't think we will all be paying for this for decades to come. And now you want me to give to a fund to help Iraqis.

What kind of fool to you think I am?

Yea, OK, I'll give something -- but not to some right wing charity which probably has a hidden agenda. Actually, I had already given for relief in Iraq, and for a friend who just when over for God knows how long.

By the Bye, I never thought a stranger in a strange land would be a right winger -- it just doesn't grok.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Cool in 500 Words or Less

The term “cool” has stood the test of time. While terms like “hipped”, “groovy”, or “heavy” have fallen into disuse because they are considered passé, “cool” has kept its cool.

But how does one obtain this timeless cool. I’ve thought long on the subject, and while I would never claim to be authority, I have noticed certain consistencies.

Cool can not be obtained – contrary to marketing’s claim or your personal desires – it is something with which you are born. We are all born with a certain degree of coolness. However, it must be cultivated. You can develop your own self cool. In fact, the coolest people I know have done just that. What ever they are, what ever life style they may live, they are cool because they display it so naturally. Some may not be as stylish as current standards dictate, but are judged cool nonetheless.

That is the essence of being cool. Determine who or what you are and then live it to the fullest you can. Develop your own innate coolness. That sounds easy, but it is harder than you might think. First, the hardest part is determining exactly what you are – that’s an own going task. And then, make choices based on what you really want, not what your group believes anyone should want. Oh! And you can’t choose what you think you might like or how it would appear to others. Appearances are not your major concern. There may be some alienation involved in this, some realignment of friends. Peer pressure is not something to be taken lightly.

If you are a jock but like science fiction and other nerd stuff and don’t really care to watch sports, then strive for those goals only a nerd would appreciate and avoid the sports crowd. If you are gay, then you must be honest about it, or you will never really be cool. There are no cool phonies. Cool people don’t just think out side the box, they live outside the box.

As a personal aside, I grew up in an area where you were either a listener of rock or country, but never both. And, you couldn’t crossover, because one group always looked with disdain down on the other. I was on the rock side of the divide but secretly like country music also. After a little cool school, I said I like both and took what came. What came? I developed an appreciation of all forms of music, jazz, big band, even rap, once I allowed myself to judge music for what it was worth to me and not by someone else’s standard. It was cool.

So my friend, to be really cool you must be yourself. Maybe your not as cool as you would like, but over time, that cool that is within you will develop. It's amazing. Be cool.

At any rate, being as cool as you can get means being yourself. You ought to try it. It may mean letting go of what you have, but you’d be surprise at the response you’ll get. Be cool.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

They Called It Rock'n'Roll

DJ's were talking the other day about how Rock'n'Roll got its name. I've heard and read much on the subject but none covered what I thought was the orgin of the name. I looked it up at Wikipedia and decided what I remembered might be true.

"Rock Around the Clock" was released by Bill Haley and His Comets in the Spring of 1954 and the band re-released "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" later that year. That means I would have to have been six years old, and although it is doubtful, a person who was six years old in 1954 does not believe in coincidences today. I thought the name Rock and Roll was a short-hand reference for the two songs. Both were popular at the end of the year, and DJ's would refer to playing the two songs as Rock and Roll.

As in: "We'll be right back after a word from our sponser,and when we come back, we're going to play Rock and Roll," and thus, the reference became the name for a genre. So it goes.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Turning the Faithful

The invasion of Iraq proved how way bad our intelligence truly is. The intel really missed what was there and what wasn’t there. Why is that? We seemed to have such good intel when we were fighting the USSR during the Cold War.

The best intel is to have agents on the inside – locals that we’ve turned. As great as high tech may be, it still cannot beat a hand and eyes in the room. However, our side in the Cold War was aided by the fact that the other side was not the best of opponents. A military opponent, yes, an idealistic opponent, no. The ideals of Communism were have never been realized by any nation. The government in the USSR was corrupted. Not in the monetary sense – although it was – but in idealistic sense. By the 1960’s, any intelligent person could see that Communism as practiced in the USSR was not a viable option for any future government.

When I realized this, I knew two things: one, that Communism as it existed in the world benefited from war or the fear war. Peace was the enemy of Communism. Its leaders could not justify their extreme measures in a peaceful political environment – its shortcomings where so self-evident during a time of peace. And two, I had more to fear from anti-Communist than I did the Communist – but that’s a blog for another day.

As intelligent citizens of the USSR in important positions realized that change could come only if their government was brought down or weakened, they proved willing subjects for the CIA to turn. Unlike our turncoats that only did it for money, they did it for much more than just the money. They had given up on their current form of government; they thought what they were doing was patriotic and for a greater cause. What would we do if we knew our government was totally wrong – but could not change it after four years? How they suffered when our turncoats fingered them.

The Muslim terrorism we now face does not provide the same opportunity as our recent struggle against Communism. While the extremist may be seen with utter discuss by more moderates in the faith, they still honor them for their extreme devotion. If by some chance we kill Osama Bin Laden, don’t be surprise if all the Middle East shuts down in honor of his death. Even those Muslims who do not agree with his policies will view him as a great teacher and leader. How are we to find agents in a country such as this?

Like all religions, including my own, Islam is inspired by God, but made by man, with the same imperfections that men always make. I know, I know, men inspired by God do not make something imperfect. Hey, I live in a part of the world where many people believe very forcibly that everyone should speak English because they believe that it is the language of the Bible.

If Muslims could be convinced that they are working for a greater Middle East or pulling Islam into the modern era, perhaps the CIA would have a chance to turn someone deep in the extreme radical organizations. Islam must move into the modern era if it is going to survive. How strange, a thousand years ago, Islam was the dominant religion in the most modern country in the world, while Europe was in the mist of the “Dark Ages” where Christianity prevailed and tried to keep it dark and in ignorance.

At any rate, I doubt the CIA will find many to turn with our operations in Iraq, so the quality of our intelligence will continue as it has.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I’m not a Liberal, I’m a Reporter

Blogdom has claimed another victory. They claim that its incessant blogging has caused Dan Rather to quit. Of course, he hasn’t quit; he’s just gone to do that about which bloggers blogged so much. He quit the evening news, the hard news, and went to the newsmagazine equivalent on TV where his story on the National Guard memo started all this anyway.

I never really cared too much for Dan. I remember a time when he was referred to as “Ratta-tat-tat,” – from the old comic books – and I’ve always thought of him that way every since. (When was that?) I watch NBC, ABC or CNN or just about anything else. I believe a really good news reporter should be invisible: “I don’t remember who reported it, but it was a good story,” is about the best compliment any newscaster could receive in my book. I don’t really have a book – just a blog. So it goes.

However, I thought Dan got a bad rap. He may be liberal minded – I don’t know. He is from Texas so that’s a mark for conservative, but so was LBJ from Texas, so they could be liberals in Texas. But what ever he is or was, liberalism or for that matter, conservatism is not his or any reporters driving force. There is something much more mundane to which reporter adhere. I have complete faith that if Dan had found something just as bad for Kerry, he would have rush to report it just as he did the story behind Memogate.

All reporters, any reporter, every reporter lives to get the all important, completely exclusive “scoop.” It is the holy grail of news reporting. Nothing is more important than the scoop. A scoop has two parts, 1) a newsworthy story, at least one good news byte, and 2) no one has published or broadcasted it. The second item is what separates it from other news stories and makes it a scoop – and they are rare. That is why they are so prized. Even a good reporter can go for years – maybe even a lifetime – and never get a scoop.

“The old hog likes to out root the young pigs,” as Dan might say. This is the driving force behind Memogate. It wasn’t some liberal agenda or plot to bring down Bush by Dan. Someone else’s hidden agenda took in Dan. It was the idea of that a scoop was within grasp. The goal of getting a scoop drove Dan and his producer to forego good journalistic background checking and broadcast a story that turned around a bit them on the ass. What we got her is scoop bias not liberal bias. Of course, this will not fly for those who have a tendency to believe there are aliens in Nevada. So it goes.