If you wish really, really hard for something, you just might get it. For those who wish my posts were shorter, your wish is granted. Packing to travel and running last minute errands, I left myself not so much time to write this (note for future aphorism - Tomorrow I'll be older and smarter, so I'll do the important stuff then). However, knowing how so many of you can't make up your minds about anything political without my expert guidance, I couldn't go away without writing something.
Why is the appreciation for congress at an all time low (evidenced by Gallup polls)? There are a few reasons but I think the reasons the two important ones are that:
- We are in an era where there the general American distrust of government in general is growing. Arguably, America has always been like that, but, especially with the advent of the internet and 24/7 coverage, more people are more aware of the "shenanigans" of our congressman than ever before. Even fifteen years ago, when things like the backroom trading that went on with regard to the health care legislation occurred, it stayed in the backroom. Now, we can all know about it almost as it happens. As the fact that printing and borrowing money without a way to pay it back is insane dawns on more people, this feeling will increase too.
- The last two administrations were just bad. Not just because the presidents weren't up to the job, but also because for the first six years of Bush's terms, he had congressional power behind him, and for the first two years of Obama's, he's had the same thing. Now, I know I don't like that, but I think a lot of other people aren't too happy either when they see how far the partisans on the left or right want to push it, even after they voted for them. Single issues stay in people's minds more than general impressions. With Bush it was Iraq, the excesses of the Patriot Act and the wireless tapping of Americans. With Obama it is the health care reform and the endless spending. Both will be remembered for bailing out the chosen people. We are much quicker to blame congress, in general, than the president, because half of us didn't vote for these congresspersons like they did the president. We might only have voted for our Senator or congressperson. In fact, polls always show that people are much happier with their representatives, than they are with congress in general.
Attacking Iran - Here we go again. Nah, just kidding.
Lots of articles are coming out recently concerning the likelihood of Israel bombing Iran's nuclear plants. There seems to be a consensus that this is going to happen and sooner rather than later. I'm going to step out on a limb here and tell you why it's not going to happen (absent WWIII or Armageddon, anyway).
First - in order to do so with any potential of success, Israel would probably have to do this by overflying a number of states who either have relations with Iran or would rather not be in a state of war with it by participating. Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Jordan is not going to stick its little neck out for Israel. Syria works with Iran. Iraq is its close neighbor and doesn't need a Shi'a uprising. Saudi Arabia can barely defend itself against its own citizens, never mind a powerful country like Iran, and Turkey, Israel's best buddy in the arena, isn't really very happy with her these days, if you haven't noticed it. Cooperation is not going to happen.
Of course, a few years ago, Israel bombed a Syrian facility Israel claims was nuclear (and I agree - Syria didn't say or do anything about it) so they really don't seem to care what they think. But, then they would have to still go through Iraq, and we'd have something to say about that. Hard to see President Obama giving the go ahead to Netanyahu on that one.
What's Israel's option? Fly down the Suez, through the Red Sea around the Arabian Sea and head North through Iran's entite length? I suppose that's a possibility, but it would make it very hard to keep it a secret until they sent their bombs off.
Second, what are they going to hit? Certainly we know some of the facilities, but not all of them. Even if they are highly accurate and destroy a facility, there are several and some undoubtedly secret. It's not like Iran's leaders can't read the foreign press online like we can.
Third, Israel is still reeling from the debacle when it intercepted the Turkish ship bearing goods for the Palestinians. It waffled, at least some, under the international pressure and even changed its embargo rules as a result. She doesn't have the will to do it.
Fourth, if Israel bombs Iran, Iran will bomb Israel back, and it has the missle capacity to do it. Moreover, it has two proxies, Hizbollah and Hamas, on Israel's north and west who are itching for another fight. While Israel can defeat those Hamas and Hizbollah together, it will be difficult and another international nightmare for them, not to mention the internal rancor it causes. They can't really defeat Iran without using nukes and Israel isn't going that route except if it believes it is a matter of complete destruction.
Fifth, Israel might act without the United States okay sometimes, but it doesn't like to do so. Obama is not going to look the other way if Israel bombs Iran. In fact, I believe he would condemn her. Obama wants to win hearts and minds. Israel wants to defend itself and doesn't believe you can win hearts and minds. Whether you agree with Obama's strategy of reaching out to Islam or not, he's here for at least another two and a half years. If Israel bombs without telling us first, it would cause a frozen gulf between her and this administration that will last as long as Obama is President.
Sixth, despite obstacles, Israel is serious about resolving its problems with the Palestinians, at least in the West Bank. Attacking Iran now would jeopardize the negotiations (not that I have any faith anything is going to come out of them anyway).
Even were Iran going to announce that it had produced nuclear weapons, Israel is not going to do anything about it save in a belief it is a matter of survival.
Well, she's going to Iowa. Why does anyone go to Iowa? 73% of all Iowa tourists are presidential wannabees. Okay, obviously, I made that up, but it's almost believable. She's running, right, at least testing the waters.
No, actually, she isn't. This is probably just a tempest in a teapot. She is going to address a Republican caucus and would have went if it was in Massachusetts too. I can't see why she would run. If she thought being governor was too tough, she should try president. She's rich now, a celebrity, and can do what she wants with her life.
I've said before, I don't think she is up to the job (nor Bush or Obama, but both more so than her). We know that conservatives do not care about Ivy League credentials when choosing a president, but she is not Ronald Reagan (I didn't think the real RR was the legendary RR we have now). She isn't interested in policy and would be a bit of a puppet the way I and many others believe George Bush was for the first three quarters of his term. I'm not saying he didn't make the decisions. He did. But, Cheney had more influence over him than any VP has had over a President in history (other than when a president has been incapacitated).
A Palin candidacy would inspire the left like nothing else. For valid reasons, or not, she is their chosen enemy the way conservatives used to focus on Hillary Clinton. And, though conservatives may love her, and she would have a good chance to win the Iowa caucus and probably do very well in the south, there are many Republicans who think she'd be ruinous for their parties otherwise good chances. I agree with them because independents, who either side must have a majority of to win, do not think much of her. Count me among them (even though I believe she was unfairly demonized by the media worse than any candidate in my memory). In any event, I don't see her going for it. But, if she did, though, you might see some other candidates get out of her way.
I'm just going to touch on this because my whole post two weeks ago was about it. But, the issue has not gone away. If anything, it has gotten worse. Some incidental violence against Muslims has occurred and we can't know if it is related or not. I read an opinion piece today about Floridians going to burn a Koran on 9/11 (the author was against it). I read the comments below it (it was a conservative site) and the readers were fuming about it.
I argued with them for a few hours, coming away feeling even stronger than before of the similarities to 1930s Jew baiting in Germany. One reader wrote back to me that I can't tell the difference between bigotry and cogent arguments. I wrote back that he should read the Nazi speeches from the 1930s. They thought they had cogent arguments too. The same could be said of those who were pro-segregation and anti-civil rights in the 1960s and earlier. They had lots of arguments. Slave holders too.
I'm not saying that people who oppose the mosque are Nazis or slave owners. I have a lot of good friends who are against the mosque - some adamantly because they feel Islam is a dangerous religion in general, and some others who say they can't articulate a rational basis for it, but just feel it. But, I do deeply believe that it is bigotry to demonize a whole group of people, and that celebrities like Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich are fanning the flames of it with misleading statements in order to help with the coming elections (and it looks like it might help a little) and Harry Reid and others are cringingly going along with it for of the same reasons.
There are a few things I've learned since I posted on this subject - such as that George Bush sent the same Imam to speak with Muslims in other countries just as Obama is doing now, and that in this same supposedly sacred area are two strip clubs, which somehow no one seemed to think was profane before. No facts seem to matter though. People have picked sides and I suppose will stick with them. If actual terrorists can find a way to get an attack in before the elections, this will get a lot worse, and gratify bin Laden's group and aid those who oppose the mosque at the same time.
Meanwhile, those opposed are doing all they can to find dirt on investors. If they can't find dirt, they will go for some incidental connection to dirt. But, unless it is a connection to the building being a staging ground for a terrorist attack, I really don't care. This is about a mosque at Ground Zero (not really, but just to avoid yet another argument), not a fort. I congratulate both the Mayor and the President for speaking out when it wasn't popular, because it is clear how most Americans feel.
The fed to the rescue
Again, not really. But, I had to laugh last week when Ben Bernanke, chairman of the fed, rallied Wall Street by announcing that if there is a crisis, the fed would be able to more. I guess that is code for more bailouts.
What would the fed, arguably responsible for much of the crisis, do? Print more money out of thin air? If that made sense, why not just print a few million for everyone?
Here's my problem with these money people. They don't know anything that is going to help us. They don't understand how the economy works better than a farmer. But, because they believe they can, and because they have the support of the government, they are the most potentially dangerous people to us in the world, short of a terrorist getting hold of a nuclear device.
The only politicians I have heard suggest anything that might work on either side of the aisle, have been congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and to some degree, Ron Paul (although I think he may go too far, he is one of the few who is seriously trying to sound the alarm that we have gone way too far the other way).
Maybe you need to have the name Paul to understand.
As I promised, I'd be brief this post. I'm off on vacation for two weeks and won't post for close to three. I was going to ask David Brooks to sub for me but, you know, he has a job.
- I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .