Posts Tagged ‘Paul Krugman’

Our Self-Inflicted Wounds

July 15, 2011

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke got it right yesterday when he spoke to the Senate banking Committee on raising the debt ceiling:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke on Thursday rejected various alternatives to raising the country’s borrowing limit and urged Congress to come up with a “strong, credible plan” for doing so while cutting spending — or risk a making “self-inflicted wound” to the fragile economic recovery.

A “self-inflicted wound ” indeed.  Now read Paul Krugman’s comments —- carefully —-  on the unrelenting ignorance of the GOP.  The article is entitled “Getting to Crazy.”  News flash: we are already there.  The GOP is not getting to crazy, but rather arrived there a while ago:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/opinion/15krugman.html?hp

Bernanke and Krugman are not your typical partisan politicos.  They are independent of any allegiance to either political party.  Also, they are top experts in their respective fields.  For Heaven’s sake, it’s not like they are Joe the Plumber.  Their observations are accurate, and apply not only to these deficit negotiations but to our government as a whole.

I have numerous Republican friends.  In our political discussions, I cannot help myself by expressing my utter amazement that they voted, in the 2008 presidential election, for $arah Palin for VP.  Not only would McCain have been the oldest President to serve had he been elected, but also he had a very serious medical history.  Who in their right mind would have voted for a ticket who plucked an ignoramus out of the blue to stand a heartbeat away from the Presidency?  To this day, my GOP friends cannot justify their ballot for Palin.  Yet they continue to defend their vote.  Aren’t they embarrassed by their vote?  I would crawl into the deepest, darkest hole and never emerge if I had voted for Palin.  To add insult to injury, they would vote again for Palin if she ran against Obama.  Talk about a “self-inflicted wound!”

Regarding these budget talks, this weekend will be a real cliff-hanger.  May President Obama remain firm in his objectives to raise the debt ceiling, institute substantial cuts, raise taxes and not settle for any short-term band-aid approach.  And may the GOP see the light.

To get us through the tension, here are some funnies:


TWENTY-NINE LINES TO MAKE YOU SMILE1. My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn’t.
2. I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
3. Some people are alive only because it’s illegal to kill them.
4. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.
5. Don’t take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.
6. You’re just jealous because the voices only talk to me
7. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
8. Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.
9. I’m not a complete idiot — Some parts are just missing.
10. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
11. NyQuil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.
12. God must love stupid people; He made so many.
13. The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
14. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
15. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
16. Being ‘over the hill’ is much better than being under it!
17. Wrinkled Was Not One of the Things I Wanted to Be when I Grew up.
18. Procrastinate Now!
19. I Have a Degree in Liberal Arts; Do You Want Fries With That?
20. A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
21. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.
22. Stupidity is not a handicap. Park elsewhere!
23. They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken.
24. He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless DEAD.
25. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the memory.
26. Ham and eggs…A day’s work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.
27. The trouble with life is there’s no background music.
28. The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson.
29. I smile because I don’t know what the heck is going on.

As Groucho Marx once said, “Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light.”  Hopefully the insane nature of the GOP will enlighten us in the end.  It is quite obvious to anyone that, where the Republicans stand in our pressing policy issues, is quite removed from reason.  A final plea:


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Get Smart

April 24, 2009

It is Friday again, and you know what that means: assigned reading and listening for the weekend ahead.  If I don’t take responsibility for your enlightenment, who will?

This issue of torture is riveting because how we treat our enemies is, in a nutshell, the measure of who we are:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-atran/the-moral-measure-of-a-ci_b_188579.html

This torture dilemma is wrapped up in the dual questions of transparency/accountability and the possibility of prosecution, is in the forefront of the news and we all need to educate ourselves on the merits of taking steps to expose and possibly punish those responsible.   One thing is for certain:  Americans do not like any circumstance that is long, drawn-out and emotionally taxing and draining.  We are an impatient people, whether the specific issue at hand is a war, a recession or a scandal.  Furthermore, Americans, when faced with an obstacle, want to take immediate steps to remedy the situation.  Whether or not immediate action is wise, practical and useful is of less importance than just making the problem go away right now.

This is exactly what we are faced with on the torture issue and the question of whether or not the Justice Department should take the inquiry and possible prosecution up to the highest levels of government.  On one hand, we have those that say it is in the best interest of national security to avoid such public transparency.   Even President Obama himself would prefer to put this issue to bed now and focus more on the future rather than the past.  On the other hand, we have those who, knowing that these policies were immoral and illegal, insist that the very groundwork  on which this country was founded is on the line.  The Iraq war and its accompanying POW practices were illegal and for the United States NOT to prosecute the top people who condoned these practices is an illegal act in and of itself.  Our national security and international reputation actually suffered substantially from all this blatant nose-thumbing at national and international law.  Therefore, to go after these criminals would not hurt us further; quite the contrary.  We MUST prosecute the guilty to in fact redeem ourselves and return to those founding principles of our Constitution.

Here then, is an Op-Ed piece supporting the side that wants to put this torture issue behind us, without further investigation and possible prosecution of officials, i.e. Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/opinion/23iht-edcohen.html

I do understand Roger Cohen’s viewpoint.  Yes, our government, media and Justice Department all failed in their oversight of the tactics used during the last seven years with regard to the war in Iraq.  Cohen believes that these checks and balances are now back in working order.  He feels that Obama’s decision to “out” the offending memos is enough for us to assume the correct path.  Sorry: unless this process is taken to its natural conclusion, that being accountability and prosecution, enough is NOT enough.  I am a big believer in consequences.  Atrocious acts WILL happen over and over again unless the resultant consequences are appropriate, steep and effective in dissuading future copy-cat behavior.  To refuse to fully investigate and if necessary, suffer consequences, would be a repudiation of everything that is the United States of America.

On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of individuals who want this investigation to go as high up as necessary.  Paul Krugman today had an article in the New York Times focusing on the “soul” of America:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/opinion/24krugman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

Read his words carefully.  You would have to be a horse’s ass to deny Krugman’s last thought that to prevent further invesitigation is to deny our future:

“We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn’t about looking backward, it’s about looking forward — because it’s about reclaiming America’s soul.”

A few other events of relevance  must be cited.  On the MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show earlier this week, she had a true coup of an interview with Philip Zelikow.  He was on board at the Office of Legal Counsel at the same time as Jay Bybee and John Yoo.  However, Zelikow took the opposite position on torture: he deemed such practices as water-boarding to be illegal.  Gutsy.  Of course, his memos have since disappeared.  Please watch the following video from Maddow’s interview with Zelikow:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#30335366

Then today, Zelikow had his own say in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/opinion/24zelikow.html?ref=opinion

Finally, President Obama, on April 15th, had a sit-down debate on the torture issue, listening to both sides.  Keep in mind that we are dealing with not only transparency of this issue, but also the content, and if this content demands prosecution.  Unlike John Boehner, who accused Obama of being unpatriotic because he released these memos to the American public, this panel assembled by Obama dealt with the whys and wherefores of future prosecution.  What kind of idiot is this Boehner?  No matter how illegal these acts were, Boehner believes that the public should have remained in the dark.  Does he not care at all about the content and substance of what went on, or is it all about covering up?  Has Boehner ever commented on the sheer illegality of these torture tactics?  No.  The content of the memos is not a worthy issue for Boehner;  it is the publication of the memos, informing the public, that is the total issue for him.  All looks, no substance.  But hey, he has a real nice tan.

Anyway, on one side of this debate were Leon Panetta, current CIA chief, and the immediate four previous  CIA heads.  These men were in favor of not prosecuting.  On the other side of the debate were Defense head Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and White House counsel Gregory Craig.  I must tell you, I have been most impressed with the thoughts and actions of Robert Gates during these first few months of our new administration.  His comments at this particular meeting were wise because they were so simple and true.  Gates said that the publication of these memos that rationalized the legality of these torturous acts were “inevitable.”  How true; how prescient.  Remember: it is usually the cover-up, not the initial deed, that slams shuts the door on the acceptance of consideration and sympathy in any scandal.

At any rate, the forces on the side for public awareness and follow-up investigation won the day.  The phenomenal aspect that I am in awe of though, had to do with the way President Obama handled this meeting.  First, he gathered members of opposing camps so that he could have a fair and honest overview.  Then, once he made up his mind, he dictated a memo right in front of all the participants.  I guess we know where exactly the buck stops.  We actually have an actively engaged, interested and responsible leader.  Glory be!  The link below is a much more detailed account of this meeting.  It was the lead article of the Washington Post today:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/23/AR2009042304718.html?nav=hcmodule

Finally, we must remember that the final decision to go forth in this investigation and possibly bring those guilty parties to justice is solely within the power of the Department of Justice, not President Obama.  So far, all our President has done in this matter is to fact find and release that information to the American public.  Imagine!  The outrage and accusations of “traitor” that have befallen our President are, above all, the ultimate violation of our Constitution.

So please forgive me for all this assigned reading.  If you value your freedoms and your right to speak and act on them, you owe it to yourself and your country to “get smart”.

Capable Ability, a Paucity of Praise

April 14, 2009

President Obama successfully took care of the piracy off the coast of Somalia.  He was in close touch with the naval troops on the scene, and gave the command to take action when the time warranted it.  He trusted in the Navy SEALS’ abilities.  The American captain was safe.  This was not a huge event in the world of international affairs.  However, I wonder about the dearth of GOP praise in view of this happy ending versus what their outcry would have been if the captain had been killed.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/14/borger.republicans/index.html

http://jamiemottram.tumblr.com/post/96079947/obama-the-pirate-killer-in-graph-form

Similarly in their mantra of “No”, the Republicans, namely Newt Gingrich, had harsh words in response to the Obamas getting their dog, and the resultant media frenzy over Bo:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/04/12/gingrich-focus-on-obama-puppy-fairly-stupid/

If Gingrich thought the media attention was “stupid”, pray tell, what would you call HIS response?  Does the GOP need help, or what?  Paul Krugman of the New York Times seems to think that the Republicans are in dire straits:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/opinion/13krugman.html?_r=1

The GOP, despite being in a corner already, are backing themselves through that corner.  One would think that if one has nothing to add to a situation, one should just be quiet.  Apparently, the Republicans have not yet learned that lesson and have inserted their feet into their mouths as an antidote to their party of nothingness.  Tsk, tsk.

Sometimes, it is better to admit that things are not as they first seemed, admit your mistakes, and move on.  In this episode of “Britain’s Got Talent”, the British version of American Idol, the three judges as well as the audience all got to eat crow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

So you better believe that when President Obama does something that any sane person would consider good, Yo Mama will sing his praises LOUD AND CLEAR.

Homeland Lunacy

April 4, 2009

Wait.  Wait.  Hold on.  I have the answer to all of the world’s problems, and it was right in front of my ….. arms …..  all the time.

Heard about the senseless massacres in Oakland, Binghamton and Pittsburgh?  Seven policemen and a score of civilians were shot dead by raging gunmen.  So seven public servants were murdered this week.  Hold a fancy funeral with bagpipes a-playing, give the wife a fancy schmancy folded American flag, and then go out and recruit numerous replacements so that this scenario can repeat itself over and over again.  But by all means, do not deal with the root of the problem.  Could that be our breezy wheezy easy access to guns?  Perish the thought.  Better to live in denial and keep sacrificing our citizens’ lives.  So how about this: instead of begging our “allies”, i.e. Europe, China, Japan, to collaborate with us in securing the world’s financial wobblies and security concerns against global terrorism, how about we just take some of our homegrown, red-blooded American lunatics, who have the absolute Constitutional right to bear arms, and throw them in to the fray to fight the terrorists?  That would be a great use of our resources.  After all, we do not have much money left, so why not use our unending supply of unbalanced but armed citizens as pawns for trade?

If you take a look back about 50 years in our history, you will see that the shooters of JFK, Martin Luther King, RFK, President Ford, President Reagan and John Lennon were not political madmen; they were just regular madmen who were able to put their hands on very available guns.  Hell:  John Hinckley, Jr., Reagan’s shooter, claimed his rapture for Jodie Foster made him do it.

So massacre upon massacre upon massacre has overtaken us.  Anything less than two a week would be cause for worry, but not, God forbid, any prophylactic action.  The conservative talking heads, such as Glen Beck, have called for Americans to go out and buy guns before President Obama outlaws them.  Whether or not it is a result of this fear-mongering, the purchases of guns have increased significantly over the last few months.  And do not dare to tell me that “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” because I will kick you in the crotch for repeating that ancient adage.  Other countries have nutcases also.  What they do not have are liberal gun laws that give their citizens the right to bear arms.  Go figure.

So here’s the plan.  With Europe, Russia, China and others refusing  to not only add some cold cash to the global stimulus, but also giving the cold shoulder to contributing troops to fight terrorism in Afghanistan, we should gather up our lunatics, along with their cache of legal arms,  and ship them to all the hot spots in the world.  Fight insanity with insanity.  Case closed.

I have some relevant weekend reading for you.  Paul Krugman of the New York Times, wrote a very clear article on why China, in all of its cowardice, is appealing for a world currency to replace the dollar that has formerly fulfilled that role.  Just plain old sour grapes.  China was flying high when the dollar was also soaring.  Now that calamity has replaced calmness in the world financial markets, China is crying, “No fair”  because they are inundated with low interest Treasury bills from a nation in severe financial distress.  Tough titties, China.  No one told you to put all of your eggs in one basket.  It astounds me to see seasoned investors, old-as-the-hills corporations and some nations’ entire net worth placed in one non-diversified basket.  No matter that such an investment has been historically safe and that, to quote many financial shamans, “If that goes down the tubes, everything will also”.  How many “safe” investments have we seen over the last year crumble and disintegrate?  Stupid is as stupid does.  Anyway, here is Krugman’s column.  It is a very good one in terms of its explanation of China’s selfish rationale for a global currency:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/opinion/03krugman.html?_r=1

Furthermore, as for the lack of participation of other nations in the economic stimulus, they have said that their citizens are not getting as hurt as Americans are because the Europeans have a social net in place that deflects the effects of the recession/depression.  That is true.  But wait.  Hold on.  All that needs to happen is for the scales to tip a bit in an even worse direction.  The Europeans will be screaming for our help faster than you can say “Told you so.”

David Brooks, also of the New york Times, had a good piece on the basic causes of this depression, a concise, easy-to-understand explanation of what has befallen us:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/opinion/03brooks.html

Then, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post came out with a story on the former AIG chairman and company rapist, Hank Greenberg.  I have always placed a lot of blame at Greenberg’s feet for what transpired at AIG.  If you agree with Brooks’ overall thesis, then do read Milbank’s specific blame-pointing:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/02/AR2009040203600.html

As for our international allies chickening out also of contributing to the global fight against terrorism, I can guarantee you this one thing: if any radical militant group even attempted, much less succeeded with,  an attack within the borders of any of these stingy allies’ countries, specifically France and Germany, these same chickensh**, spineless and backward looking nations would be the first ones to call on the U. S. to bail them out, once again.  “Come save us!”

Never mind.  We don’t need you.  We will just pack up our gun toting mental maniacs and deploy them to fight the terrorists, whenever and wherever. Go team!

Enough of the depressing world situation.  If you were kind enough to slog through all of this post, here are some weekend funnies for you.

Let me start with one of my fave topics:  Sarah Palin.  It appears that the GOP really does eat its own:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/04/03/ted-stevens-should-run-against-palin-alaska-republican-says/

Also, I have to admit that regardless of how gorgeous Lady O. looked in Europe, attention is needed in the shoe department.  Unlike Sarah and me, Lady O. is not a shoe whore.  However, she should spruce up her feet a little more.

President Obama was given the Galaxy British Book Award in the category of best biography for his book, “Dreams From My Father.”  Can you believe that we finally have a literate President?

Have any of you seen the latest Charmin toilet paper commercial, the one with those cute (but disgusting) bears?  This particular one talks of how wonderful Charmin is because “it doesn’t leave any pieces behind.”  In the clip below, you can see small pieces of paper remaining on the bear.  However, in the actual commercial there are no paper pieces visible and I do believe they are talking about pieces of “other” material:

A golden oldie comes to mind:

Dave Ross, in his commentary on CBS radio, has a great addition yesterday, regarding President Obama bowing to the Saudi King.  Just go to this link and then click on “Obama Bows To Saudi King — What’s The Big Deal?”:

http://www.wtop.com/?sid=1510558&nid=524

Finally, after getting a wee bit disgusted with national affairs such as the likes of gun-toting lunatics, Larry Summers taking huge paychecks from those exact people who brought our economy to its knees, Obama and Geithner trying to circumvent Congress’ stiff penalties on those unearned bonuses, I do believe a little R and R is necessary.  Oh yeah.  I almost forgot:  I heard on the local news today that the Department of Homeland Security is relocating to the grounds of Saint Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital.  How appropriate.  What happened to all of the inmates, including the infamous John Hinckley, when the hospital closed down?  Perhaps they are on their way to Afghanistan, to fight an anti-terror regime that most of the world would rather just watch.

Homeland security.  Now that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.  How the hell can our homeland be safe if we are swimming in guns?  Sure sounds like homeland lunacy to me.

Anyway, I fear our nation and our world are going to the dogs.  Personally and literally speaking, that is not so bad:

A Liberal Patriot

March 30, 2009

Oh no!  Write this day down in history: I beg to differ with Paul Krugman.

Today in the New York Times, Krugman speaks of how “tarnished” the United States has become in the eyes of the world, especially Europe.  I will give that one to Krugman.  We deserve some dirt on our faces.  However, no one forced other countries and their corporate entities to follow suit.  Credit Lyonnaise, Societe Generale and RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) all had their own pigs at the helm.  Certainly, from their governments to their board of directors to each and every employee, they did not have  their hands tied above their heads and placed on a water-board to follow the same greedy, speculative path that the good ole’ USA had chosen.  There were ALWAYS options, such as assuming regulatory, corporate and individual responsibility.  So no, Mr. Krugman, this time you have gone overboard.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/opinion/30krugman.html

In my opinion, Europe has always shown a lack of guts and backbone, instead sitting by and watching whatever outrage (the Nazis marching in to Czechoslovakia in 1938, Poland in 1939, the monstrous murder of six million Jews right in their own backyard, the German occupation of France during WW II, the blitzing of London during that same time period, the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 —– should I go on or is that enough?) visited their lands.  Furthermore, I have observed that once Europe chose to be just a bystander to events happening on their continent, they then bitched and moaned, turned tail, and whined and cried that the U.S. needs to come save them.  And we did.

Well  Mr. Krugman, I take exception to that tack.  It is time for each and every country, corporation and individual to save themselves through intelligence, responsible policies and dedication to the fight for what is right.  By stupidity and greed, the U.S. almost brought down its own house.  Looks like our European counterparts blindly followed suit, and now want to blame our country for their sheep-like actions.  This time Europe needs to stand on its own two feet, not exemplify its typical cowardice, take the necessary punches and blame for allowing the same garbage that the U. S. allowed to get by them, all for the sake of personal enrichment.  Mr. Krugman, Europe, as well as our own nation, needs to pay the piper.

On another point, I believe that Krugman will be proven wrong.  Everyone and their mother are predicting an angry backlash towards President Obama and our nation once he hits the European shores for the G20 economic summit this week.  I foresee the people of Europe rallying around Obama, not trashing him.  They will turn on their own leaders who, like the null and void GOP and such companies like GM and Chrysler, have not done their homework and instead rely on their stunning good looks   (Ha!) to get them a huge infusion of government money to avoid any real work to change the financial particulars of their companies and the necessary innovative responsiveness that the future requires.  Taking public money to maintain the same old status quo does not a turnaround make.  In government as well as finance, we have seen a total abrogation of anything that resembles responsibility, both here and across the pond.

Good on ya’, Mr. President, for firing Rick Wagoner’s ass at GM.  He has had months to come up with a viable plan to save his company and place it in the running for future industry innovation and leadership.  Leadership begets leadership, and Wagoner has not delivered.

President Obama has delivered and will continue to do so on many fronts.  He has taken the mantra of responsibility from his and Michelle’s personal realm, by refusing the allotted $100,000 to renovate the White House’s living quarters and instead will spend their own money, to the corporate world by giving GM and Chrysler 30 to 60 days to get their act in gear or  undergo restructuring, to showing the world that yes, we have a leader, and a damn good one, in the United States of America.  He has guts and conviction, something historically missing from “the continent”.  Watch what happens when he makes his sojourn to Europe.  Obama will set the stage for global cooperation, economically and ideologically, by his example of sacrifice and vision.  Europe is going to have to take the same difficult steps we must to assure a fruitful recovery.   Krugman is wrong: there will be tremendous support for this man who will turn out to be not only our great hope, but also that of the world.

I am annoyed at Krugman for slamming our country so quickly and completely.  Who says a flaming liberal can not be a patriot?**

**The term “liberal patriot” is not an oxymoron.  Here is an example of what is an oxymoron.  Having lived in the D.C. metropolitan area for over two decades, I often drive by the CIA headquarters.  Years ago, that facility was renamed The George Bush Center For Intelligence, referring to the first President Bush.  That, my friends, is an oxymoron, equating George Bush with any degree of smarts.  However, little did I realize until his son, George W. assumed the presidency, that the CIA’s new name wasn’t so bad.  Everything is relative, and George the Second made his father seem like a genius.

Wage Sanity

March 27, 2009

The United States needs to set the example of waging peace through its yet-to-be rediscovered use of sanity and prudent simplicity.

Nationally, the issue that caught my eye today was the banking fiasco.  Specifically, from Madoff down to the most general problem of the financial industry, a certain sweeping aside of ethics coupled with a dearth of oversight and regulation, has permitted we humans to corrode our financial bulwark.  How did this happen?  Is human nature to blame?  Dan Ariely is a Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke and also heads up the MIT Media Lab program called eRationality.  Listen to his talk on the “human fudge factor” and his interpretation of how individual, personal recklessness became institutional, largely anonymous negligence:

I have no taste for leveraging myself.  However, I do understand that on a much broader basis, i.e. that of huge corporations, governments, the free flow of credit and liquidity are essential for commerce and productivity to be beneficial.  However, I daresay that I have often wondered, even before this crisis set in, why our banks, indeed almost all of America’s businesses, feel they must be in a mode of constant growth and expansion.  What ever happened to our friendly corner bank where a local could walk in, open a savings account (Remember Christmas accounts?), arrange a fair mortgage and/or a business loan with the bank officials and develop an actual relationship with that bank that, in the long run, would benefit the local consumer as well as the bank itself?  I recall the times way back then when your local bank knew their geographical area of service better than anyone else.  They made their loan decisions based on that knowledge, actually did their due diligence, cared about the outcome in terms of the entire community and had a tangible interest in that community prospering.  It is difficult to recapture the past, but Paul Krugman in today’s N.Y. Times makes similar murmurings about the banking industry:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/opinion/27krugman.html?_r=1

The hell with Krugman’s Nobel Prize: it is his common sense and basic value system that impresses me.

Internationally, there is much talk on Afghanistan.  As I  have written about many times, world peace will happen when economic and political stability take hold.  Guns, bombs and militaristic nation building will never have any long lasting, transformative effects.  It is only when aid, starting on the level of each individual, offers hope and change for that one life and then works its way up through society, will afford us a peaceful world.

There is an annual meeting called the Camden Conference that takes place in Maine.  The Camden Conference was “founded in 1987 (Coincidentally the same year that AIG christened its financial products unit.).  The Camden Conference is a nonprofit, non-partisan educational organization whose mission is to FOSTER INFORMED DISCOURSE ON WORLD ISSUES.”  This year’s meeting just took place and its title was “Global Leadership and the U.S. Role in World Affairs”.  All the participants’ speeches  are linked below:

http://www.camdenconference.org/camcasts/428/keynote-address-foreign-policy-challenges-facing-the-new-administration

I tuned in to NPR to hear a large portion of former national security adviser Brent Skowcroft’s lecture.  An audience member asked the question as to why we called the fight against terrorism the “war” on terror.  He claimed that by assigning such incendiary descriptions we actually add fuel to the fire and this process prevents us from coming up with viable solutions.  Skowcroft agreed that we need to sit down and talk with our enemies in order to understand the underlying rationale for their behavior.  Language goes a long way in setting the stage for cooperation.  He said that suicide bombers are not born with the intention of blowing up themselves and innocent others.  This final tactic goes against all that is human nature, and if we could offer understanding, support and help to these needy people, we might be able to alter future death and destruction.  Simple, right?  We need to give it a go.

Today, President Obama gave his Afghanistan review.  Certainly our business-as-usual efforts of military seek-and-destroy methods in Iraq were not very successful.  To tear down a government and society is not the way for a better path to democracy and freedom.  Thus, this administration, I think, knows the importance of trying other, less antagonistic, ways to foster peace and prosperity.  If individuals and entire nations are taught how to prosper economically, usually a sane political atmosphere will result.  To those ends, Obama went with VP Biden’s emphasis on building up Afghanistan’s (and, of course, Pakistan’s) infrastructure from within, to stabilize that country with the aid from abroad but the efforts of their own citizens.  This policy was in contrast to that of Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Gates and General Petraeus, who all favored a militaristic nation building assault.  In the end, the result will be the same: a stabilized Afghanistan that can rule responsibly its own show.  The necessity of sending an additional 4,000 American troops to Afghanistan is understandable, as Obama made clear today.  He wants these troops there to shore up the Afghan security forces.  How ingenious:  Obama is using the military to BUILD UP, not to TEAR DOWN.  Of course, it would be so much more impressive if we could set the standard by choosing sane and reasonable tactics, as opposed to bombardment and terror, to foster that process.

At any rate, Obama is looking at this situation somewhat differently than anyone else has before.  He  is certainly entertaining innovative courses of actions.  I think he gets it that in order to stem hate, terrorism and destruction, to quell the forces that fuel al-Qaida and the Taliban, first we must sit down and talk to these people and find out their motivation.  I can guarantee that it will almost always go back to economic hardship, which translates into radical political activism.  I hope Obama will stick to his guns and NOT use guns.  Instead, I hope he uses his head.  The number three person at the Pentagon, Michele Flournoy, Undersecretary for Policy, is a superb example of the type of person, with a whole new mindset, we need to set the course in our peace seeking international policy.  With people like Flournoy offering advice, Obama may be able to make peace rather than war.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102416426

Overall, by rediscovering old policies that worked and revamping new policies that have not yet been tried, the United States has the chance to be a leader again both nationally and globally.  We can show everyone else, BY EXAMPLE, the purposefulness and longevity of the principles upon which our country was founded over 200 years ago.  We need to wage sanity.

POSTSCRIPT

Life and the world around us are malleable; they are what we make it.  Does this movie trailer for “Where the Wild Things Are” remind you of anyone special?