The Creature volunteered for the dawn patrol to East Beach today. She took this picture of me with one of four specs, just keeper-size, along with a little black tip about 24” caught and released this morning. Wind was light, five to twelve, but out of the SW, which muddied the water on the beach. Fruitlessly flogged plugs and jigs a couple of hours before netting up some mullet which drew strikes every cast until quitting time. Good company; nice trip.
Been reading Andrew J. Bacevich’s “The Limits of Power.” He first came to my attention when he was a guest on Bill Moyers Journal. Bacevich is a retired army colonel, a West Pointer with a PhD from Princeton who now teaches history and international relations at Boston University.
Bacevich has been a critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, and of post WWII foreign policy in general. This book gives an overview of the National Security State we’ve developed over the past sixty years, shows us its pitfalls and encourages us to find a better path, away from our imperial presidency, dysfunctional congress, and over-reliance on military power.
As Bacevich recounts the history of American post-war military actions, the results are generally ambiguous or even negative. Think about it. The red scare-inspired Korean War left a ticking time bomb. 58,000 dead Americans in Viet Nam made no positive contribution to peace or quality of life. Central America or the Caribbean? At one point Bacevich quotes Marine General Smedley Butler, who fought in Nicaragua and called himself a “gangster for capitalism.” And Southwest Asia? He says “Bush would hardly be the first U.S. president for whom the axiom ‘America fights for freedom’ served simultaneously as core conviction and convenient rationale.”
“The real point is that whether the United States has been attempting to liberate or to dominate, events in Iraq and Afghanistan suggest that the effort is not working. Armed force wielded by the United States will neither free the peoples of the Greater Middle East nor put this country in a position to control the region. We are playing a losing hand.”
In this book he speaks of a “crisis of profligacy.” In his conclusion, he says “For the United States the pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence –on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit. The chief desire of the American people, whether they admit it or not, is that nothing should disrupt their access to those goods, that oil, or that credit. The chief aim of the U.S. government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part through the distribution of largesse at home (with the Congress taking a leading role) and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad (largely the business of the executive branch).”
Let me wrap this up with a line from his introduction to this book:
“History will not judge kindly a people who find nothing amiss in the prospect of endless armed conflict so long as they themselves are spared the effects. Nor will it view with favor an electorate that delivers political power into the hands of leaders unable to envision any alternative to perpetual war.”
While Senate Democrats wait to swear in a new Senator from West Virginia, so that they can break a Republican filibuster holding up an extension of unemployment benefits for a million out of work Americans, Republicans continue to play to their troglodyte base, saying that unemployment is a disincentive to work.
These folks are still fighting the New Deal. If they could, they would end Social Security and the Minimum Wage too, if not the Thirteenth Amendment.
I was talking about this around the shop the other day, and somebody commented that “if you can’t find a job in Houston there’s something wrong with you.”
Maybe so, but what do you say to people in Nevada, or Michigan, or any of the sixteen states with double-digit jobless rates?
When I was downsized by the Cosmodemonic Computer Company and was out of work for three months with Cobra payments, a mortgage and a baby on the way, I learned that looking for work is like a full time job. I remember getting an offer from a company that ran a high-rise condo tower for millionaires. The salary would have meant a heinous pay cut that would have kept me underwater as long as I stayed there. We had a family meeting and decided to stick it out until something more suitable came along. We could do that because of unemployment compensation.
Digby today quotes Mitch McConnell ranting about the President asking taxpayers for $34 billion more in deficit spending to continue paying unemployment benefits. At the same time, he wants to extend the Bush tax cuts that have already given a $2 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.
Rush Limbaugh is calling unemployment “welfare.” Somebody ought to ask him how many months he collected “welfare” after the Kansas City Royals front office let him go. See if he lies about that too.
The GOP thinks that they’re going to take over the Congress this fall. I hope the voters are wise to how the party that put this country in the ditch is now standing in the way of the folks that are trying to do something about it.
-Tom Paukin, former Texas GOP Chairman appointed Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission by Governor Rick Perry, was in Houston last week giving a seminar to employers on how to avoid paying unemployment compensation when they lay off or fire workers. Paukin advised 800 area employers on how to dispute claims, and suggested that if instead of firing employees, they can convince them to resign, the employees will be less likely to file an unemployment claim.
Meanwhile Senate Republicans have blocked extension of unemployment benefits to millions of out-of-work Americans.
With over a million people out of work in Texas, the Republican response is to drag their feet in matters of providing earned benefits to people in need. Available federal funds for food assistance, Medicaid and Headstart go untapped here while Republican pols offer up the same tired clichés in response to a severe recession brought on by their laissez-faire economic policies.
-Last week on the Jeopardy Kids Tournament, a category on Radio Disney drew no takers from the 11 and 12 year-old contestants. It appears that the kids don’t listen to Radio Disney. Expect The Mouse to prepare a golden parachute for the division head. Maybe Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital Group will buy it, like they did Clear Channel a couple years ago just before its stock tanked.
I’ve read a couple of good new Texas histories recently, H.W. Brand’s “Lone Star Nation” and William C. Davis’s “Lone Star Rising.” Now I’m reading Gary Clayton Anderson’s “The Conquest of Texas” and it’s a real page-turner for someone nuts about 19th century Texas politics.
Anderson points out the distance between the traditional historical narrative, “hagiography” he calls it, and later “revisionist” histories, and stakes out new ground. His book is subtitled “Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land.” He describes the political situation among the Mexican, Tejano, Texian, and Indian peoples, and the machinations between the groups. I was struck by the level of Indian immigration into Texas, not just the Cherokees, but many displaced tribes found their way into the mix.
He makes the case that the Texas revolution was fought over slavery, not the usual glurge about “freedom,” which should be news to the State Board of Education members who deny that the Civil War was fought over “the peculiar institution.”
One character shows the intractable nature of the immigration situation on the US/Mexico border. General Manuel de Mier y Teran was appointed head of the Mexican border commission in 1828. Four years later he “walked to the front of the old church of San Antonio de Padilla outside of Tampico, unscabbarded his sword, and fell on it. It was an honorable death for a tired but honorable man.”