Zinni on Syria

General Anthony Zinni, USMC

General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anthony Zinni is a retired US Marine General who was our Commander-in-Chief of CENTCOM in the Middle East from 1997 to 2000. Today he is Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. He is also the author of a book entitled, The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America’s Power and Purpose which I recommend highly. If anyone knows the Middle East and can speak with authority about Syria, it is Tony Zinni. Many have commented on Syria recently and many more will comment in the coming days. Of all the comments I have heard, his make the most sense. He believes that now is a good time for a discussion of America’s future role in the world. Do we want to be the world’s policeman and are we able to fulfill that function?

Some of the reasons for intervening in Syria that I have heard include that it will shorten the civil war in Syria and save lives. I doubt that very much. Others believe that we must intervene so that our enemies will continue to fear us. I don’t buy that argument either. The US must intervene because we said that we would. The US has reneged on proposed and actual treaties in the past and probably will do so again in the future. Our national priorities do change over time.

As I see it, the principal danger of intervening in Syria is that it risks a wider war since both Iran and Russia support the Assad regime. Recently there was a change in leadership in Iran. I think that now may be a good time to improve relations with Iran. Attacking Syria now would destroy that chance for many years to come. Therefore, I oppose military intervention in Syria at this time unless it is a multi-national effort sanctioned by the UN.

Sea-questers

Jason bringing Pelias the Golden Fleece; a win...

Jason bringing Pelias the Golden Fleece; a winged victory prepares to crown him with a wreath. Side A from an Apulian red-figure calyx crater, 340 BC–330 BC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Greek mythology, the original sea-questers were Jason and his band of Argonauts who sought the Golden Fleece on the southern shore of the Black Sea. It is thought that the Golden Fleece was an ordinary fleece that was used to separate gold from the surrounding ore much like modern gold miners use a pan while panning for gold.

In Washington, DC, on the banks of the Potomac, Grover Norquist and his band of Republican‘ts seek to mine taxpayer gold from the US Treasury for the 1%. Rather than panning for gold or seeking a modern-day Golden Fleece, they use lobbyists and campaign cash and back-room deals to mine for gold, hidden from public scrutiny by 501(c)(4) charitable? organizations.

Climate change part 2

Cover of "Forty Signs of Rain"

Cover of Forty Signs of Rain

Kim Stanley Robinson, a favorite writer of science fiction, wrote a trilogy on climate changeForty Signs of RainFifty Degrees Below, and Sixty Days and Counting. A portion of the series is set in northern San Diego county while the majority is set in the Washington, D. C., metropolitan area. With higher temperatures in the summer, colder winters and fiercer storms, his vision of the future closely resembles the results of hurricane Sandy and the recent nor’easter. Storm follows storm and the intervals between are not long to allow for complete repairs. High winds, not necessarily of hurricane strength, wreak havoc in people’s lives by knocking down trees and thereby cutting power for prolonged periods. If you are interested in reading what one author has to say about our near future, I suggest you consider reading Robinson’s trilogy.

Please see Kim Stanley Robinson

Sanctity of life

Republican vs. Democrat 2012

Republican vs. Democrat 2012 (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Yesterday the House of Representatives again voted on restricting a woman’s right to an abortion, this time in the District of Columbia. Once established there, the GOP leadership probably intends to extend the restriction to the 50 states. Whatever happened to the GOP vow that this session would be devoted to jobs, jobs, jobs. It seems to me that this session of Congress has largely been devoted to the GOP war on women.

If the GOP is so devoted to protecting the sanctity of life for the unborn, I wish that they would devote some portion of that energy to protecting the sanctity of life after birth. That would include extending Obamacare to cover ALL the uninsured, regulating guns and ammo to reduce gun deaths, and emphasizing diplomacy over belligerence to reduce deaths from unnecessary wars.

Follow the money part 1

The western front of the United States Capitol...

The western front of the United States Capitol. The Capitol serves as the seat of government for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings. It is an exemplar of the Neoclassical architecture style. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In order to understand the conversation in Washington, DC, it is necessary to follow the money. Taxes, who pays and how much will be the subject of the conversation at least until the election and probably afterward. Unless you understand a few facts, you will not be able to separate fact from fiction, and the GOP will be airing a lot of fiction.

One large talking point for the GOP is that half of Americans don’t pay Federal income taxes. That may be true, but it is not true for the reasons implied by the GOP that we are a nation of freeloaders who live off the government dole and should work harder. Everyone who works pays Social Security and Medicare taxes which hit the poor more than anyone else. These are called regressive taxes and are the opposite of progressive income taxes which in my opinion are the fairest taxes of them all.

At some point in the past, a bargain was struck in Congress not to raise the minimum wage which the poor depend on. That allowed business to pay everyone lower wages, from the poor on up the wage scale. To offset the shrinking value of the minimum wage, the Federal government started crediting low wage earners with an earned income tax credit which reduced or eliminated their Federal income tax due. The earned income tax credit is only given to those who are working. The unemployed are not eligible. Now the GOP wants to continue with an inadequate minimum wage and take away the earned income tax credit. That is a double whammy to the working poor.

To my mind, the solution would be to pay a living wage so that the poor earn enough to live a decent life and earn enough to pay income taxes as the conservatives say they favor. Then we can phase out the earned income tax credit.

Please see Follow the money part 2