News Cruise

This whole business of naming anything and everything after corporations is really kind of odd. Now, we have a town in Texas that is changing its name in exchange for free satellite TV service for a decade. On the face of it, that seems innocuous enough. I mean, who cares what the name of the town is at the end of the day. In World War II the town you were from was the second thing you told almost anyone you met. Listen to the old soldiers tell their stories. Every time they mention some buddy of theirs, they tell you his name and the town he was from.

Yielding to the slippery slope, we seem headed for a society in which everything goes to the highest bidder. Our sports stadiums, fields and ballparks are no longer named after war heros, benefactors and local celebrities. They are named after which ever company bids the highest. I have to wonder what it will cost this society to learn that there’s more to life than material things?

$315 million! Wow! And the winners showed up at work the next day. You know, if I won one sixth of $315 million I wouldn’t even show up to quit. I think it would be fun figuring out what to do with so much money. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have that much money. $315,000,000 divided by 6 is $52,500,000. Tax laws are the harshest on game winnings so let’s assume that the government takes 60% right off the top. That leaves $21,000,000. If the winner were 45 years old at the time of winning, lived to be 85 and did not invest the money in anyway, that would be $52,500 a year for the rest of their life. If they invested $21,000,000 at a very modest 5% interest the money would yield $1,050,000 and that’s simple interest, not compounding interest. I could live on $50,000 a year so I’m pretty sure I could manage to live on $1,000,000 a year. More significantly, I could, by myself, make a difference in some of the ills that plague my community. I could demonstrate that private charity is a better way to address community issues than government based solutions. Living on $100,000 a year that would leave some $700,000 (after taxes) to address community issues. Reverse tithing. Now that would be cool.

Military leadership calls setting a timetable for withdrawal “a recipe for disaster.” Some interesting points in this article. The General knows exactly how many troops under his command have died. I’d venture a bet he can recite the name and circumstances of each troop. The General says, “that I’ve lost.” I would bet large that any discussion on the matter would see this battle hardened General become emotional. The losses his command has suffered are personal.

Scheduling the withdrawal of Coalition forces by the calendar instead of by the readiness of Iraq to assume the duties currently being handled by Coalition Forces only tells the insurgency how long they need to wait. There seems to be the notion that if US forces pull out, the insurgency will go away. The insurgency has demonstrated that their preferred instrument of change is the use of indiscriminate force and violence. For as long as the government is not of their liking they will continue to use terrorism in their attempt to implement change. The insurgents do not adhere to the Geneva Convention. Civilians, especially women and children, are their favorite targets since they generate the most media coverage. If US and Coalition forces are withdrawn before Iraq is ready to account for its own defence it will only be a matter of time before the country collapses into civil war which will increase the pain, suffering and death suffered by those who should be non-combatants.
But US politicians are only interested in making this unpopular war go away. Rest assured that if the war were popular, both sides of the aisle would be trying to claim the war as their cause.

Foreign fighters in Iraq. Are they the main event? Are they the primary instigator of the insurgency? Probably not. Saddam trained several different groups specifically to be the insurgency during his final years as Iraq’s leader. He created closed cells that had no connections to each other or to any other government organization. These cells were trained in the design, fabrication and deployment of explosives. They were trained in the theory of explosives and taught to refine and improve their devices. And this is a reasonable course of action for a man who was paranoid and very skilled in the politics of violence.

It also comes as little surprise that the insurgency in Iraq is being supported, to one extent or another, by foreign elements. We should assume that al Qaida will show up anywhere that Coalition forces are fighting. al Qaida is an international terrorist organization who has declared themselves the enemy of the United States. The creation of a democratic government that guarantees freedom of religion is going to be an unpopular threat to existing religious organizations and governments in the region.

It will be interesting to see what the real involvement of foreigners in the Iraqi insurgency was. I do not think I will get the opportunity to know since the real history of what is happening here will not be written until all the participants are dead. Such is the nature of history.

Ancient war crime? Interesting headline. In order for it to be a war crime, would a war need to be in progress? More importantly, was it a war crime or simply a fairly common occurrence in a world that did not subscribe to our modern day sensibilities? Or maybe it was just an attempt to cash in on current events.
The world’s most influencial man passes judgement on the standing administration and the war in Iraq. Even Clinton admits that good things are being done in Iraq which is, at long last, welcome. It is good to see that some things never change. A speech by Bill Clinton still contains statements to please everyone.

And last but not least, we gain another attempt to draw parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. Yes, they are both wars. Yes, politicians in both eras acted like politicians. Wow. What a surprise.


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