Below are the first two articles I ever wrote in 2008. Back then Nolan Chart was my other main outlet. Here is a link to all my old articles from the early years.
WHY WE NEED RON PAUL
I love America. That is why I am so disillusioned by what our “leaders” have done to our great Country. I use the term “leaders” loosely. Dr. Howard Gardner defines a leader as, “an individual (or, rarely, a set of individuals) who significantly affects the thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors of a significant number of individuals”. The reason we are in our current predicament is because, “We the people” have elected politicians rather than leaders. Merriam-Websters dictionary defines a politician as “a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons”. The people we have elected to Congress and the Presidency are politicians who are more concerned with their own re-election, maintaining power, and enrichment of their financial backers than they are about our great country. Our great leaders included: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. A true leader tells the American people what we need to hear and is able to convince us to change our behavior. Our current cast of politicians, tell us what we want to hear based on polls that tell them how to best get re-elected. They spend our children’s future by dishing out election year rebate bribes and foreclosure bailout schemes for votes. The only two people that I have seen on the political scene today who show the characteristics of true leadership are Ron Paul and David Walker.
Ron Paul has been a Congressman from Texas for 20 years. He has been running for President as a Republican. The Republican establishment despises him because he has been against the Iraq invasion from the beginning. The Conservative media have tried to trivialize and demean his positions. It is these conservatives who have sold out. Ron Paul is a true social and fiscal conservative. His consistent principles and moral backbone should be an example to all conservatives. I am a registered Republican and consider myself a fiscal conservative and social conservative. After 8 years of Republican control of the Presidency and 6 years controlling Congress, I’ll provide a scorecard of the results most important to the average American as of today:
EVERY DAY COSTS (per BLS.gov)
2008 2000 % Change
Gasoline (per gallon) $4.00 $1.36 194%
Natural gas (per ccf) $1.30 $0.71 83%
Electricity (per kwh) $.116 $.084 38%
Milk (per gallon) $3.87 $2.78 39%
Bread (per lb) $1.28 $0.91 41%
Eggs (per dozen) $2.18 $0.98 122%
Orange Juice (per gal.) $2.54 $1.82 40%
Ground Beef (per lb.) $2.33 $1.48 57%
2008 2000 Change
National Debt $9.4 trillion $5.5 trillion 71%
Annual Budget surplus/(deficit) ($400) bil $150 bil ($550) bil
Median S&P 500 CEO pay $8 million $6 million 33%
Median household income $49,000 $42,000 17%
Consumer Price Index (per BLS) 211.1 168.8 25%
Consumer credit $2.52 trillion $1.54 trillion 64%
Median Home value $168,000 $120,000 40%
Euro vs. Dollar $1.57 $0.85 -87%
2008 to date 2000
American soldiers killed in Iraq 4,094 0
American soldiers wounded in Iraq 29,978 0
American soldiers killed in Afghanistan 517 0
American soldiers wounded in Afghanistan 1,868 0
Iraqi deaths (est. since 2005) 49,000 0
Cost of Iraq & Afghan wars (per CBO) $600 billion $0
You have to admit, this is quite a success story. I doubt that President Bush will be considered in the list of our greatest leaders. He is more likely to be lumped with such distinguished Presidents as Herbert Hoover and James Buchanan. He has single-handedly destroyed our fiscal situation by spending like a drunken sailor. The difference is that drunken sailors spent their own money. George Bush spent our money and borrowed the rest from the Chinese to pay for his wars. His spending and Alan Greenspan’s mismanagement of interest rates have led to our current situation. With the current bunch of imbecile politicians running this country, a Depression is a distinct possibility. If they start putting up barriers to free trade, we could relive the 1930’s.
In the data above, you may have noticed that the CPI has only increased by 25% in eight years. How could this be when energy costs are up over 100% and food is up over 50%? It is because the government manipulates the CPI in order to make it lower. Again, we have Alan Greenspan to thank. He is a very smart manipulative man. He realized that Social Security obligations will bankrupt the country. Social Security payments are increased by CPI every year. By artificially reducing the CPI, he has reduced the government debt by billions.
If the CPI was calculated the same way it was when Paul Volker was the Federal Reserve Chairman, then we currently have 12% inflation, versus the 4% reported by our government. Which rate seems right to you? While the average American is struggling to educate their children, save for retirement, take care of their aging parents, and generally get ahead, the Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve Chairman have been busy propping up bankrupt financial institutions who made billions in the last 8 years while paying their “Masters of the Universe” leaders hundreds of millions in salary and bonuses. Guess what they are using to prop up these bankrupt institutions? That’s right, our money. My money, your money, your children’s money, and your grandchildren’s money.
Of course, this is small potatoes compared to the current and future costs of Bush’s wars and the unfunded liabilities created by our politicians over the years in order to win re-election. According to Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, the cost of the Iraq war has been north of $500 billion and does not include the replacement cost of the destroyed equipment, the future costs of care for veterans, and the cost of interest paid to the Chinese to finance the war. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winning Princeton economist, estimates that the war will cost $5 trillion by 2017, including $800 billion of interest paid on the money borrowed to finance the war. If I recall correctly, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld told the country that the war would cost $50 billion and that the future Iraq oil revenues would be used to pay us back. Were they being dishonest or could they have miscalculated by such an enormous margin. Larry Lindsey, a Bush economic advisor who suggested that the total cost of the war could be $100 billion in 2002, was fired shortly thereafter.
The human cost of the Iraq war is the most tragic, in my opinion. President Bush chose to put our troops in harm’s way and more than 4,000 souls have sacrificed their lives, while almost 30,000 have been wounded. The tragedy is that no one needed to die or be wounded. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no links to 9/11, no relationship with Al Qaeda. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld decided in September 2001 that we would go to war with Iraq. The neo-cons were looking for any excuse to attack Iraq. Therefore, they trumped up the intelligence reports to support their case. How many lives have been ruined (mothers losing their sons, wives losing their husbands, children losing their fathers) for the sake of a political agenda. I hope Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld sleep well at night with all of that blood on their hands.
Representative from Texas, Dr. Ron Paul, was the only Republican to vote against the Iraq War. He was ridiculed for this during the Republican Presidential debates. But, who is ridiculous. John McCain says we will stay in Iraq for 100 years. Ron Paul has pointed out the absurdity of what has happened in Iraq. First, we blew up all of the Iraqi bridges with cruise missiles. Then we borrowed billions from the Chinese to rebuild the Iraqi bridges. Meanwhile, bridges in the United States are collapsing and thousands of our bridges are rated structurally deficient. David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States, has warned that the current unfunded liability for future Social Security and Medicare payments is $53 trillion, or $455,000 per household. This unfunded liability increases by $7 billion per day. To quote Mr. Walker, “We are mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren at record rates, and that is not only an issue of fiscal irresponsibility, it’s an issue of immorality.”
The Federal debt has risen from $542 billion to more than $9 trillion since 1975. Debt as a percentage of GDP, once at 35%, is now above 60%. This is not a situation that will resolve itself gradually. A dramatic change is needed within the next 10 years to save this country from permanent economic decline.
We have a limited number of choices. We can either accept huge tax increases which would depress our economy or cut spending somewhere. The interest on the debt will continue to grow as long as we run deficits. We spend $12 billion per month on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only reasonable financial solution to this crisis is what has been advocated by Ron Paul. Stop our empire building and bring our troops home from across the globe. President Eisenhower warned the country in 1960 about the rise of the military industrial complex. The Government Accountability Office just reported that 95 US major weapons systems have exceeded their original budgets by $295 billion, bringing their total costs to $1.6 trillion, and are two years late on average. We would save $1 trillion per year, by bringing our troops home from throughout the world, that could be used to fund our Social Security and Medicare liabilities for our elderly, fix our infrastructure, fund our energy independence initiatives, and pay down our national debt. The great empires of Rome and Britain were not defeated militarily, they went broke. We have a choice. Continue on our current unsustainable track or take dramatic action now.
David Walker has recently resigned from his position as Comptroller of the U.S. to become CEO of the Peterson Foundation. Pete Peterson was Secretary of Commerce under Richard Nixon. The Foundation’s mission is to enhance public understanding of the nature and urgency of selected key sustainability challenges that threaten America’s future, to propose sensible and workable solutions to address these challenges and to build public will to do something about them. These issues include: unsustainable entitlement benefits, unsustainable deficits and unsustainable healthcare costs. Pete Peterson is a Republican. His view on the Bush tax cuts in his own words is, “When we sit around here and talk about all these tax cuts and we say it’s our money, your money and mine, I think we ought to be honest with the American people. In the first place, it’s also our debt and it’s our children’s debt. But secondly, a tax cut isn’t really a tax cut long-term unless you reduce spending. Because then it becomes a tax increase on your children. So we’re inflicting this awful bill not simply on ourselves but most importantly on our kids. And it is that phenomenon that is very troublesome.”
In conclusion, I wanted to provide a quote from Ron Paul that sums up our situation. In November 2007 Congressman Paul said the following to Ben Bernanke during Congressional hearings, “We’re indeed stuck between a rock and a hard place, and we don’t talk about how we got here; we talk about how we are going to patch it up. The solutions proposed so far —stimulus packages, bailouts and interest rate cuts —just amount to printing more money, which will lead to greater currency devaluation, contribute to the rising cost of living, and further squeeze the middle class and our senior citizens.” Ron Paul and David Walker are honest, straightforward, brave men who have the best interest of our country at heart, versus the selfish agendas of our political leaders.
THE APPEASEMENT FALLACY
On May 1, 2003 President Bush triumphantly landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in a fighter jet. It must have brought back glorious memories from his days defending the skies over Texas during the Vietnam War. With a huge Mission Accomplished banner hung from the deck behind him by the Karl Rove propaganda machine, President Bush spoke these words. “My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended in the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” How stirring, inspiring and 100% completely wrong. Since these words were spoken, over 4,000 American soldiers have been killed and over 25,000 have been wounded. This is a prime example of the Bush administration’s arrogance and twisting of facts to suit their own purposes. The twisting of facts began in earnest after the worst terrorist incident in world history on September 11, 2001. On that day, 19 terrorists (15 Saudis, no Iraqis) under the direction of Osama Bin Laden hijacked planes and murdered 3,000 Americans. The entire world was supportive of the United States. We had almost complete worldwide support for eliminating the Taliban and killing Osama Bin Laden. Since this time George Bush has frittered away all of this goodwill, managed to alienate most of the world, started a war based upon faulty skewed intelligence, driven oil prices from $31 a barrel to $130 a barrel, increased the national debt by $4 trillion, driven inflation up by the most since the 1980’s and currently has the lowest approval rating of any President in history.
President Bush has been blustering about appeasement in the last few weeks. As usual, his neo-con speech writers have no sense of history. Either that, or young Georgie wasn’t paying attention in 6th grade history class. As defined by Merriam-Websters dictionary, appeasement is to buy off an aggressor by concessions usually at the sacrifice of principles. The classic case was Neville Chamberlin, Prime Minister of Great Britain, giving Hitler half of Czechoslovakia in the Munich agreement to avoid war. Now, anyone who says that they will employ diplomacy or even speak with our “enemies” is considered an appeaser according to Bush, Cheney, and the other neo-cons. Not supporting the war is unpatriotic and traitorous in Bush world. Speaking with other leaders, whether we agree with their views, is not buying them off or conceding anything. More diplomacy and less cowboy style shoot first, ask questions later may have saved thousands of American lives in the last five years.
The Bush administration also used the appeasement card leading up to the Iraq invasion. Dr. John Hussman wrote in February 2003, “The willingness to choose long and frustrating diplomacy instead of war does not constitute “appeasement” – a word that has been recklessly contorted in recent months. Appeasement involves the grant of concessions – generally dishonorable ones – to an enemy, in return for assurances of nonaggression (as when Hitler was offered part of Czechoslovakia in the Munich Agreement, over the objections of Czechoslovakia, which was barred from attending). Appeasement is not inherent in the pursuit of diplomacy, nor in the demand for grave justifications as a precondition for war. The argument against war is also not an argument against U.S. security or the defense of its interests, but rather a recognition of the elements that are necessary to achieve those aims. It is exactly in pursuit of American security and interests that the Administration should emphasize containment, deterrence and diplomacy – even years of it if necessary – instead of a war on a government that, while tyrannical, is of questionable threat. A war would predictably increase international resentments, further destabilize very tangible risks in North Korea, and ultimately radicalize countless potential terrorists, with no central authority from which surrender could be obtained.” Dr. Hussman showed that his investing prowess is matched by his wisdom in world affairs. We destabilized the Muslim world and have not made the world a safer place.
Since 9/11 2001, anyone who has questioned the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war has been branded a traitor, left winger, or a fool. I fully admit that I was 100% behind President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. I believed Colin Powell when he showed pictures of mobile biological warfare labs. I believed Muhammed Atta met with Iraqi agents. I believed there were weapons of mass destruction, because my government was sure they existed and I trusted my government. I still remember having a spirited argument in an Irish Pub with a work colleague from Sweden about the need for an invasion. We know now that the administration started planning the Iraq invasion shortly after 9/11, with no shred of evidence linking Iraq to 9/11. When it was proven that all of these “facts” were false, I admitted that I was wrong and changed my mind. This is a logical thing to do. What I find illogical are people who justify the war based on a whole new set of criteria such as: Sadaam was an evil dictator, it’s better to fight them over there than over here, and we are promoting democracy in the Middle East. The fact is that there was no imminent threat from Iraq, so we should not have invaded. Case closed.
I have the utmost respect for those who opposed the Iraq invasion when it wasn’t popular to do so. Ron Paul stood in front of Congress on October 8, 2002 and said, “Despite all of the information to which I have access, I remain very skeptical that the nation of Iraq poses a serious and immanent terrorist threat to the United States. If I were convinced of such a threat I would support going to war, as I did when I supported President Bush by voting to give him both the authority and the necessary funding to fight the war on terror. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this resolution, which regardless of what many have tried to claim will lead us into war with Iraq.” As the only member of Congress with knowledge of our Constitution and what our Founding Fathers meant, Ron Paul pointed out that James Madison wrote in 1798, “The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has, accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.” Instead of exercising their Constitutional responsibility, Congress was bullied into relinquishing this obligation by Bush and his Karl Rove propaganda machine. We could use a few more James Madison’s and few less George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s leading our country today.
Now we need to assess whether we are winning. Since this is not a traditional war, like World War II, success cannot be measured in casualties and ground taken from the enemy. Osama bin Laden was financially supported by the U.S. government when he fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He offered his services to the Saudi government after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. His services were turned down by the Saudi rulers, as the U.S. came to the rescue and saved Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. His hate for America was triggered by the U.S. maintaining a military base in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims are considered infidels in bin Laden’s world. He doesn’t hate America because we are free and democratic. He wants us out of the Muslim world, just like he wanted the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda was formed in 1988 by Bin Laden recruiting veterans of the Afghan war with the Soviet Union. According to an Arab security service, al-Qaeda had a loose configuration of approximately 3,000 members in 2001. Today, the number may be 10,000 scattered throughout the world. Bin Laden uses his personal fortune of approximately $300 million and money funded by supporters to undertake his terrorist missions. The attack on the Twin Towers was designed to show the Muslim world that the most powerful country on earth could be hurt badly. The symbolism of destroying our largest buildings and successfully hitting the center of our military power, the Pentagon, was supposed to inspire the Muslim world against Western style governments. I don’t think bin Laden anticipated how the next 7 years would develop.
It is unlikely that he foresaw the reaction of the Bush administration to this horrific attack on the American people. With the world behind America, the Taliban were quickly defeated in Afghanistan. We were able to kill or capture many al Qaeda fighters. But, we have still not found bin Laden. Three years later, he clearly stated his goal. In a videotape released in October 2004, bin Laden said, “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.” His plan is to “use guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers”. He is confident in this strategy because it has worked before. “We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.” He realizes the economic impact on the United States is significant. “Every dollar of al Qaeda defeated a million dollars, by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs. As for the economic deficit, it has reached astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars.” His view on Bush’s Iraq policy is that, “the darkness of black gold blurred his vision and insight, and he gave priority to private interests over the public interests of America. So, the war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threaten his future.
“According to Michael Scheuer, a CIA analyst who spent three years as the Counterterrorist Center’s Bin Laden station chief, in his book Imperial Hubris, has pointed out that the fundamental flaw in our thinking about Bin Laden is that “Muslims hate and attack us for what we are and think, rather than what we do. Muslims are bothered by our modernity, democracy, and sexuality, but they are rarely spurred to action unless American forces encroach on their lands. It’s America’s foreign policy that enrages Osama and al-Qaeda, not American culture and society.” Now we are occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Saudi Arabia. This has further inflamed the Muslim world against us. Muslims total 1.25 billion out of a worldwide population of 6.5 billon, or 19% of the people on earth. Only a miniscule number of these Muslims are terrorists. Aysha Chowdhry and Andrew Masloski, Middle East experts at the Brookings Institution, point out that Muslims share the same vision held by humanity everywhere a secure future for their children and a life defined by dignity and liberty. Estimates are that 30% of all Muslims live below the poverty line. Policy makers would likely reduce terrorism by partnering with Muslims in bettering the livelihoods in Muslim societies.
As I have grown older I found myself to be less sure of things than I was in my youth. I see more sides to issues now that I have life experience and more knowledge. I no longer trust people who are so positive their view is correct, that they are unwilling to listen to an alternative view. Humbleness is a virtue that seems to be missing from American society and American diplomacy. More cooperation and listening to opponents would be a step forward in repairing the damage that has been done by the Bush administration. Dr. Hussman spoke more words of wisdom in March 2007. “The outlook for fiscal stability and international peace will continue to be undermined so long as our leaders imagine that violence can remove violence especially when there is no central authority from which to extract surrender, and when each act of escalation creates far more enemies than can ever be destroyed. The effort to open a dialogue as a step toward peace (rather than requiring peace as a step toward dialogue); to understand those we call enemies; would not be an act of weakness but an act of strength and self-defense. Particularly with numerous, scattered factions, the attempt to find common ground and negotiate disputes is also most probably the only way to achieve peace.”
“It is the beginning of wisdom to listen and understand the motivations of each side – their fears, hatreds, misconceptions, ignorance, suffering, feelings of injustice, and aspirations, without each side branding the other as inhuman, and somehow unworthy of human rights, or lacking any human commonalities. Diplomacy doesn’t require us to appease an enemy by granting dishonorable concessions, but only to ask “To what is each side entitled?” For a nation with a history of respect for diplomacy, international cooperation, human rights, and beyond all else, the sacrifice of our troops, the present course is no path to peace, and is no way to lead.” The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war is not consistent with our Constitution or our history of moral world leadership. The end of the Bush reign will hopefully lead to a renewed use of diplomacy and consensus building. Time will tell.
Have the goals of Bush’s War on Terror ever been clearly defined? I haven’t been able to find any concrete goals which would allow someone to measure success or failure. This is very beneficial for the Bush administration. If no one knows the goals, they have a harder time proving that you are failing. Below is my assessment of the likely goals and our success thus far.
|1. Capture or kill Osama bin Laden||Seven years after 9/11, bin Laden is still alive probably living in the mountains of Pakistan. If we had not invaded Iraq and poured those resources into catching bin Laden, would we be better off today?|
|2. Remove the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan||Successfully removed the Taliban from power, but failed to eliminate them at Tora Bora. After the US shifted their attention to Iraq, the Taliban have made a resurgence. Afghanistan is a more dangerous and less stable place today than it was 5 years ago.|
|3. Protect the American public from further terrorist attacks||There have been no terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11. Attacks have occurred in England & Spain. Bin Laden is nothing if not patient. After the 1st bombing of the World Trade Center, he waited 8 years until the next attack.|
|4. Remove Saddam Hussein from power so that he wouldn’t use his weapons of mass destruction||The US invaded Iraq and removed Hussein from power, but failed to find any weapons of mass destruction. All the claims of WMD and links to 9/11 have proven to be false. We are now stuck in a never ending morass, based on a blizzard of lies.|
|5. Turn Iraq into a Democracy||After spending $600 billion and sacrificing over 4,000 American lives, democracy is just a pipedream at this point. A civil war lasting decades is the most likely scenario.|
The Bush administration has chosen to take the offensive regarding all aspects of their foreign policy. When proven wrong, they do not admit they are wrong. They either insist that they are right or change the reasons for following the same policy. This hubris and arrogance has alienated the U.S. in the world community. We are left to shoulder the full financial and manpower burden of the wars we started. It is time to realize that as the only superpower left on earth, we do not need to use force as our first response. Diplomacy, with the unspoken threat of force, will be more effective in the world we occupy today.