Friday, August 01, 2008

I don't get it, just don't get it

The Iraq war was about oil. No, it was about "democratizing the Middle East." No, it was to "make America secure," or "to get even with Saddam Hussein's attempt on Papa Bush's life," or to "create a legacy for Shrub."

Well, what I don't get is this: Why is it so hard for pundits to realize that even the Bushies are capable of rational thoughts. And the rational thoughts that formed the bases for our invasion and occupation of Iraq are all of the above, plus another compelling one: The NeoCons' desire to make Israel secure from its neighbors' hostile intent.

How hard is it to imagine a bunch of folks--Rummie, Wolfie, Condi, Cheney, Bush, Libby, Addington, and three or four more--seated comfortably in the Oval Office tossing about justifications for the Iraq invasion? Some of them--Wolfie, certainly, and Libby--may have harbored the NeoCons' basic reason most dearly; others--Cheney, Condi--the oil rationale; others--Bush, for sure--the legacy and the get-even justification. And all of them would have wrapped their reasoning in the "democratization" rubric and the US-security b.s. as cover for their underlying wants.

I'm certain Alexander wanted both land and trade routes, the Brits both goods and spoils, the Spaniards both gold and territory. I mean, we humans are complex enough to think more than one thought at a time, right?

So, why did the Bush administration attack Iraq? For all of the above reasons, and perhaps for others that I'm not diabolical enough to imagine.

"It's quarter to three..."

One problem with battling a bit of a flu bug is that I find myself going to bed early (around eight pm), only to awaken about now--two-thirty am--and needing some distraction before I can return to sleep. On the first Friday of each month such a distraction is, of course, the release of the previous month's job-creation figures by the US Department of Labor, which is scheduled for 8:30 am, EDT, or about two hours from now.

As you doubtless know, Bush's "strong economy" has produced net job losses for the last several months, an economic factor which, along with many more, indicate that the US economy is in the ditch. Some of the other indicators: record prices for gasoline, crude oil and oil-based products--everything from plastics to perfumes; increasing food prices; loss of high-skilled jobs in manufacturing, aviation and the like, producing a declining wage base; tightening of credit due to loss of confidence (as well as cash) by lenders, complicated by the slumping housing market which has cost homeowners trillions of dollars of wealth and dried up their source of borrowing. And on and on.

And so, it is with some trepidation that I await (although I may not be able to stay awake until then) the upcoming release of US job-creation numbers. It's predicted that there will be a net job loss in the range of 50,000. If it's substantially more than that, it's time to learn Spanish, bigtime.

Update: 51,000 lost jobs. The seventh consecutive monthly loss. Unemployment rate jumps to 5.7%, which is going to frighten investors, I predict, when the market opens in an hour.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've got a bad, bad cold, and so...

I'm abed and websurfing and have re-encountered this site, which is a gem. I recommend it for all curious folks, whether or not their noses are running constantly.

Obama at Chicago Law

This NYT piece about Barack Obama's law-teaching experience is quite interesting. I get the impression that the author was seeking "an answer" about Obama--his leanings, his legal sentiments--and was frustrated by not being able to pin down a precise definition. Recall, the University of Chicago--one of the fine law schools in the nation--has historically been known as a "conservative" institution, unlike Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown and most others in the top tier; and so I don't doubt that Obama's fellow professors and his students might not be able, or willing, to stake out a defined position about the man's teachings.

Indeed, because I was so immersed in my own law-school experience, as a student and editor, a graduate student, then later as a teacher of legal writing, I found this presentation of Obama's experience intriguing. I would love to have had him as a student, would love to have taken a course from him, would love to talk law with him, anytime, anywhere. In fact, if anything, this article makes me want Obama to lead our nation more than ever.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The future of Iraq

Here's an article about the US Air Force role in Iraq, a role that will evolve (increase) when the number of our combat troops is drawn down. (Don't think for a minute that whoever the President is, he will allow Iraq to fall into anti-American chaos.)

And if it struck you (as it did me) that our Air Force's involvement was problematic, check out the last two paragraphs of the article, which demonstrate that we'll be occupying a "sovereign" Iraq forever, but largely, hereafter, from the sky.

That was then, this is now

What a great time to be a renter, when home prices--and hence values--are dropping at a record rate. I get a kick out of reflecting on Bush's constant speechifying a few years ago about how home ownership was increasing in America, a phenomenon, we now realize (and some of us did then) was the direct result of financing scams that have since collapsed.

And then there's this story. Says it all, doesn't it?

Monday, July 28, 2008

A daily read

I receive by early-morning email this daily newsletter. I find it's an effective filter of the leading news stories, each with a link to the original publication, and unlike other sources it's not overbearingly extensive.

Today's news is so bad, it's frightening. Increases in numbers of cars in India; China's new insistence on driving bigger autos ("size matters in China"); a pullback of exports of oil by Mexico to US refineries--all driving up the price of gasoline here to levels that won't recede substantially, ever again. A failure of our "anti-terror" efforts in Pakistan, the ongoing frauds committed by private contractors in Iraq, the absurd show trials in Guantanamo. And these stories, mind you, are all from mainstream media sources, and I haven't included a mass killing in the US and a bombing spree in India.

"I read the news today...Oh, boy."