Border children

Between 50,000 and 80,000 undocumented (illegal) children are expected to cross our southern border during 2014. Their numbers are causing a crisis because they exceed our capacity to properly house and process them in a timely manner. Let us put the problem into perspective. 50,000 to 80,000 represents only 0.3% to 0.5% of the estimated 15,000,000 undocumented already living in the US. That is 1/3 to 1/2 of 1%, a tiny fraction. These children are unwelcome because they are too young to work for the minimum wage or less. They are too young to work as domestics, in fast food restaurants, in the construction industry or as gardeners. They are old enough to work in agriculture, but we already have enough agricultural workers. And of course, they are unwelcome because they probably will grow up to become Democratic voters. The GOP are using their influx as just another way to criticize President Obama.

Marsha Blackburn’s wonderful idea

Marsha Blackburn is a GOP House member from Tennessee and a Michele Bachmann clone who aspires to higher office. Her wonderful idea is to use foreign aid money taken from Central American countries to speed the deportation of the children now arriving in the US from Central America. That will only make the situation worse. We should be increasing aid to Central America to slow the flow of children to our southern border.

Iraq, then and now

A simple analogy: the US did to Iraq in 2003 what hurricane Katrina did to the US in 2005. In both cases, the Bush administration was slow and ineffective trying to repair the damage  The difference between the two situations was that there were state and local governments in the US that took up the slack left by the Bush administration. There was no effective local or national government in Iraq to take up the slack there.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, but he maintained order in Iraq. He also supplied the Iraqi people with adequate food, fuel, water, electricity, education, healthcare and waste management (all sadly lacking now) before the US invaded, even in the face of a US-led embargo. Saddam was respected and admired by many Iraqis and others throughout the Middle East for standing up to the US. That is why we were not welcomed in Iraq as liberators. That fact was easy to ascertain, and we should have been told the truth about Saddam’s popularity at home and his lack of WMDs before the invasion. His ties to al-Qaeda were false from the get-go since al-Qaeda is Sunni and clerical while Saddam’s government was secular.

Once we invaded Iraq, we broke it and owned the results according to the Pottery Barn doctrine enunciated by Colin Powell. We tried to put Iraq (Humpty Dumpty) back together again and failed. It is possible that no one could have put  Iraq back together again. Maybe Saddam could have, but he was not given the chance. Iraq was not and is not ready for democracy and free market capitalism; Iraq may never be ready for either.

To understand Iraq as it exists now, I recommend two books*. For the 30,000 foot view and the big picture of what went wrong, I recommend My Year in Iraq by Paul Bremer. For a ground level view full of the dirty details, I recommend We Meant Well by Peter Van Buren. The US effort to restore Iraq was breathtakingly incompetent. We may or may not have succeeded militarily in Iraq, but we failed in the rebuilding of a functioning society in Iraq. Many US-funded projects were irrelevant to the needs of Iraq. Projects were left unfinished, and Iraq refused to accept most of those projects that were completed. Iraq lacked the funds and the trained manpower to operate power plants, waste treatment facilities, water supplies and other facilities that the US built. The US had no master plan for Iraq and just threw money left and right and hoped that somehow all would turn out for the best. It did not work and the US wasted many billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

*Available in most libraries and used from Amazon at under $9.00 total including shipping.

Please see We Meant Well

Deep in the heart of ISIS

The stars at night are big and bright
Deep in the heart of the Islamic State of Iraq
The desert sky is wide and high
Deep in the heart of the Islamic State of Iraq

The sage in bloom is like perfume
Deep in the heart of the Islamic state of Iraq
Reminds me of the one that I love
Deep in the heart of the Islamic State of Iraq

The hyenas wail along the trail
Deep in the heart of the Islamic State of Iraq
The rabbits rush around the brush
Deep in the heart of the Islamic State of Iraq
And Syria or the Levant

ISIS is a crisis

ISIS is a crisis
According to the media
Alarmists on the right
Emerging from the woodwork
(Actually from right-wing think tanks)
Predict doom if we don’t bomb Iraq
To save the al-Maliki government
From its own blunders
Their mistakes and Bush’s mistakes
Two wrongs don’t make it right
Let the Iraqis settle it
We tried and failed
It’s their turn now.