Monday, February 21, 2011

JMO - It's Time to Go

It's time to leave Afghanistan, immediately and completely. It's clear after over 9 years of this war it's unwinnable. We know that, even President Obama knows but doesn't want to admit it, at least publically because he'll be verbally pummelled by the Republicans. And he's willing to go with the military to think it's a winnable war.

But it's not. We didn't win in Iraq, we just partially left and will, hopefully, near-completely leave, and the sooner the better. Afghanistan is no different and even worse. We're spending hundreds of billions of dollars, much it for rebuilding the infrastructure in the country which was long brokend before we invaded and occupied.

We don't need to rebuild a nation for damage we didn't cause. The money is better spent at home with our deteriorating infracstructure. And we know much of the money doesn't go for the actual work but for bribes and corruption. And many projects have been abandoned by the builders because they didn't have the money (see previous note) or the Taliban or Al Qaeda has threatened to destroy it or attack the workers.

We don't need to continually support the corruption. We can't account for a significant amount of the aid money after it's given to President Karzai and his government. We know much of it is in banks in Dhubai and other middle east countries. The money isn't going to the people, the army or police, or the projects, but to the wealthy and powerful.

We don't need the Karzai government inviting the Taliban into negotiations and involvement in the government. We're fighting the Taliban and he undermining those efforts. Karzai has even asked for the return of some terrorists in Guatanamo because they're important to the Taliban.

We don't need President Karzai and his government taking money from the drug cartels with one hand and taking our money with the other. And we don't know where all the Taliban money is coming from, some of it from us via the Afghan government or contractors, or going to pay for people to fight us, often the same people we're also paying not to fight us.

We don't need to build an Afghan army and national police force. That's not what the war is about. We know it will take many more years, resouces (equipment, weapons, ammunition) and money, to make them soliders and police officers, good enough to secure the country and fight the Taliban. They have the people to do it themselves.

We don't need to build the Afghan economy. That's not what the war is about. We have made strides in many areas of the country. Al Qaeda is nearly destroyed, less than 100 in Afghistan and another 200 or so in Pakistan. The Taliban is alive and well in many areas of Pakistan, with support of their government with our money too.

While we have rebuilt the many of the rural economies away from poppy, we know, while it helps them become independent and have better lives, the pressure to produce drugs will return and it's far more profitable for the people. Are we prepared to stay decades to preven this?

And importantly we don't need the country from imposing Sharia law against women. We went there toi free the people, and we have failed to change the world for women very much and even have lost ground in advances for women and women's rights. And President Karzai is not only not making efforts to change it, he's making it worse.

We know the vast majority of the country is or nearly illerate and their traditions are based in Sharia law. And this is a fundamental problem we can't overcome. It's unwinnable. Their hearts and minds have already been fixed for generations. It's their history, their religion and their tradition. It's not going to change overnight or because we want it.

And women don't have standing beyond something just better than they had under the Taliban. Women have had better times and more rights, but not in the last 20 years under the Taliban and US-NATO forces. And we're seeing the situation is getting worse and the Afghan government assumes more power and control, and they're not keeping any changes for women we want. They talk about it but it's not changing reality on the ground for women, in their lives.

In the end, despite the slightest possibility of a short term victory, but it's coming at too high of a prices in lives lost or damaged and in money, taxpayer money. It's time to cut our losses and leave, and save our money for America and Americans.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

JMO - The Voters Said NO

This last election the voters rejected two initiatives to privatize the sale of hard liquor instead of the current law allowing the sale of beer, wine and low alcohol drinks anywhere and restricting the sale of "hard" liquor to state run or state contracted stores. The public feels this is fair and reasonable.

The two initiiatives, one sponsored by Costco would discontinue the state run stores and allow the sale of any liquor at store currently selling beer and wine and also allow retailers to buy liquor direct from the producers eliminating the wholesaler, and one sponsored by distributers is similar to the first for the sale of all liquor but requires all liquor to be distrubed by wholesalers.

Both were defeated, the first narrowly and the second resoundingly. But that hasn't stopped either but more so Costco from working with the state legislature to circumvent the voters and pass a law to do what the voters rejected. A corporation wants to decide what the voters have and should continue to decide, for ourselves.

What Costco wants to do is control all liquor in our state. They are the largest retailer of wine, beer and other alcohol drinks and they want to be the same for hard liquor. That's not what we, the voters, want and decided. Both initiatives and now any bill in the legislature would do more than what Costco is telling folks.

The initiatives would allow the unrestricted sale of liquor anywhere in the state and any time. If your store can stock it, you can sell it, all the time, including late, especially after bars close, and Sundays. And we know sellers aren't as dilligent for checking the id of customers. And you can bet they'll bitch when the state begins checking them, calling it government intrusion.

Right now the state has that responsibility and records show, comparing retailers sellling beer and wine with state liquor stores, the state stores are far better preventing the underage from buying liquor. And we know there is another issue at stake, and that's jobs.

We know if the state gets out of the liquor business, they will have to layoff hundreds of state and contract workers. We know the store won't hire more people for the liquor sales, but put the work on existing staff. We know if the Costco law gets passed, it will hurt distributers as retailers can buy their liquor from the producers.

I voted against both initiatives and the state legislature should reject any lobbying by retailers or distributers. The word no is no. If Costco wants the change, put it to the voters.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

JMO - Ask the Voters

Before we start making drastic cuts in government spending as President Obama is proposing and some on Congress are demanding, such as a five year freeze on domestic spending, maybe we should put it to the voters in realistic terms and not political rhetoric, in the truth and not dogma, and in the programs we not just use but need. Before we start making drastic cuts let ask the voters if they'd rather share, meaning add taxes to pay for what we need and want government to do for the people.

It's time to stop trying to just cut spending and cutting taxes more which creates a never-ending spiral of overspending. As has been noted, even if you got rid of everything but the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, entitlement programs and interest on the debt, meaning what people call "discretionary" spending for all the other agencies, you will not balance the budget.

As has been noted, repealing the Bush-era tax cuts, which Obama pledged not to extend but did so in a backroom agreement with the Republicans to get his bills passed in the lame duck session, would not balance the budget. All those tax cuts wouldn't dent the debt and only added to it and the deficit. We're at a point all the choices are gone save one, and it isn't cutting selected parts of the budget, and even if we did as Obama proposes, one thing is inescapable.

There were still be a debt. That's the reality. There isn't enough there to cut unless and until you take serious and significant cuts out of DOD and HSA and take serious looks at Medicare and Medicaid. We can't be spending more in Iraq and Afghanistan than we spend for comparable programs here. Why are we rebuilding those countries, their infrastructure, their police and army, and their economy?

Why are we sending more money overseas in various programs to aid and support other countries and not investing in people, programs and services here? Aren't we more needy? Don't we pay the taxes? Don't we deserve to have our government be there for us? And just maybe we would raise our own taxes to do that?

If the money would be guarranteed to help Americans, create American jobs, get companies opening factories in America, help the poor, the sick, the many who are in bad mortages from no fault of their own, and so on down the list of programs we all use and need, then I think voters may realize it's about sharing.

Sharing has been the history of this country. And not sharing has also been the history (see 1929 market crash which precipitated the near two decade depression). But sharing has always won the day. President Johnson proved it, and has other presidents who proposed and won new programs to help America and Americans.

And we're there again. So, put it to the voters. Or the voters will and can decide in 2012 what they think of the budgets cuts and their new found reality. The President and Congress has the power now, but we have the power in November 2012. And that you can cut, but we can cut you from our lives.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Been Busy Elsewhere

I haven't posted here is a short while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy, I have, just elsewhere. If you check my profile you'll find I have six more blogs where I've been busy (I'm a splitter who puts things into loosely connected boxes of control choas to keep my focus on the specific topic). I will eventually get back here for essays as I have just over half a dozen outlined or drafted, just waiting time and work.

And since I moved some of the boxes of some topics, such as news & opinion, life stories, Dysthymia and Taoism, to their own blog, it's lessened the number of posts there. For those you can access my profile or some in the list in the right column below my profile. And much of my time these recent years is the Mt. Rainier NP photography guide along with its blog (in list on right), that's the bulk of my time sitting in front of the computer.

Anyway, that's it for now. I will be back now and then and you can read everything else on the other blogs, like it's interesting, or not. They're just ramblings, mental wanderings and rants or vents at or about the world and life.