Friday, May 29, 2015

Words to Live By

From an email:

Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not. -- Henry James

Compassion is language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. -- Mark Twain

Carry a heart that never hates , a smile that never fades and a touch that never hurts.

Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. -- Robert Brault

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you, not because they are nice but because you are.

Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up.

A good character is the best tombstone.

Those who loved you will remember. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.

It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice.

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles, it might be the only sunshine he sees all day.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. -- Rudyard Kipling

Don't be yourself — be someone nicer.

Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it.

Love your enemies - it will confuse them greatly.

There is one word which may serve as a rule for all one's life — reciprocity. -- Confucius

Grownups know that little things matter and that relationships are based on respect.

Don't wait for people to be friendly, show them how. -- Henry James

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway. -- Henry Boyle

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. -- Abraham Heschel

If we should deal out justice only in this world, who would escape? No, it is better to be generous for it gains us gratitude. -- Mark Twain

Be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, tolerant of the weak, because someday in your life you will be all of these. -- George Washington Carver

You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. -- John Wooden

If those who owe us nothing gave us nothing, how poor we would be. -- Antonio Porchia

You cannot do a kindness too soon for you never know how soon it will be too late. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach. -- Winston Churchill

Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out. -- Frank A. Clark

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. -- Epictetus

Don’t let those who take advantage of your generosity stop you from being generous. -- Author Unknown

Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. -- Maya Angelou

In a world full of people who couldn't care less, be someone who care s more. -- Author Unknown

Love thy neighbor and if requires that you bend the truth, the truth will understand. -- Robert Brault

Was It Worth It?

UPDATE XI:  "Washington can provide aid, training, arms, air power — even troops. But it cannot hold together a nation that is falling apart."

Read the Washington Post, Iraq exists only as an idea, not a nation.

UPDATE X:  "The [Iraq] WMD claims were the result of the need to find a case for the war, rather than the other way around. Paul Krugman is exactly right when he says:

'The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that.'

Read The Atlantic, The Right and Wrong Questions About the Iraq War.

Read also Bloomberg, The Iraq Invasion: What We Knew Then, which notes that 2004 and 2008 Senate Intelligence Committee reports outline the numerous lies, not mistakes but lies, of Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice and others to promote the war.

UPDATE IX:  Some people never learn, or admit error.

Read Vox, Jeb Bush learned the wrong lessons from the Iraq War and the Washington Post, Jeb Bush’s Iraq quagmire is just getting started.

Remember what I said, many times before and during the war: what is the objective, what will be the cost, and are Americans willing to pay the cost to achieve the objective.

Pretty prophetic I must say.

UPDATE VIII:  "Iraq’s army looked good on paper when the Americans left [in 2011], after one of the biggest training missions carried out under wartime conditions. But after that, senior Iraqi officers began buying their own commissions, paying for them out of the supply, food and payroll money of their troops. Corruption ran up and down the ranks; desertion was rife.

The army did little more than staff checkpoints. Then, last year, four divisions collapsed overnight in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq under the determined assault of Islamic State fighters numbering in the hundreds or at most the low thousands, and the extremists’ advance came as far as this base [Camp Taji, only a few miles from Baghdad, the Iraqi capitol]."

Read The New York Times, U.S. Soldiers, Back in Iraq, Find Security Forces in Disrepair.  

UPDATE VII:  "'There is no state left. It is a state of militias.'

The state of Iraq has indeed failed. It no longer has the legitimacy or the power to extend control over its whole territory, and the power vacuum is being filled by a multitude of non-state actors, increasingly extreme and sectarian, who will likely continue to fight each other for years to come, supported by regional powers. Whether a new kind of order will finally emerge, with more local legitimacy, remains to be seen."

Read The Atlantic, 'Iraq Is Finished'.

UPDATE VI:  "The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011.  The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. (They) alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment." [Of course he can't agree it was inevitable, that would be admitting the war was a mistake to begin with.]

Read the Washington Post, Petraeus: The Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem in Iraq

The article notes how in 2008 Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander, taunted Petraeus that Iran controlled Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. 

UPDATE V:  "Last year saw the highest number of terrorist incidents since 2000, according to the latest Global Terrorism Index released by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Worldwide, the number of terrorist incidents increased from less than 1,500 in 2000 to nearly 10,000 in 2013. Sixty percent of attacks last year occurred in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

The report suggests that U.S. foreign policy has played a big role in making the problem worse: 'The rise in terrorist activity coincided with the US invasion of Iraq,' it concludes. 'This created large power vacuums in the country allowing different factions to surface and become violent.' Indeed, among the five countries accounting for the bulk of attacks, the U.S. has prosecuted lengthy ground wars in two (Iraq and Afghanistan), a drone campaign in one (Pakistan), and airstrikes in a fourth (Syria)."

Read the Washington Post, After 13 years, 2 wars and trillions in military spending, terrorist attacks are rising sharply.

UPDATE IV:  "During the reconstruction of Iraq, the United States spent about $20.2 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces, about a third of the total funds spent on reconstruction.Today, those same security forces lost control of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. . .

Iraqi security forces still haven’t ousted ISIS from Fallujah, which it captured at the beginning of this year, but Mosul is a much larger and more strategically important city."

Read Slate, The Fall of Mosul and Is the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” a Real Country Now?

UPDATE III:  "It’s been nearly eleven years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which, almost since it began, proved to be the historically fatal element in the war on terror launched by George W. Bush’s White House. His Administration, and its sundry neoconservative wingmen, went so far as to tout the war in Iraq as a means to promote democracy across the Muslim lands. At the same time, there was a growing unease that things might not turn out well. In a 2005 conversation I had with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq at the time, Zalmay Khalilzad, he spoke of his fears: 'I shudder to think what we could face if we don’t fix Iraq.' He foresaw the possibility that an Iraqi civil war between Sunnis and Shiites could infect the entire Middle East.

Where are we today? It seems a good time to take stock."

Read The New Yorker, What the War in Iraq Wrought

UPDATE II:  "The proof of how pointless the entire [Iraq war] was—if you even needed more—came Friday morning, with a report . . . in the Washington Post.

'At the moment, there is no presence of the Iraqi state in Fallujah,' a local journalist who asked not to be named because he fears for his safety told Sly. 'The police and the army have abandoned the city, al-Qaeda has taken down all the Iraqi flags and burned them, and it has raised its own flag on all the buildings.'

Fallujah has fallen, and the same scenario is about to happen in the even-larger city of Ramadi."

Read Slate, Tell Me Again, Why Did My Friends Die in Iraq?

UPDATE: "President Obama’s announcement Friday of the withdrawal of nearly all troops from Iraq by Dec. 31 and an end to the U.S. war in Iraq marks a bittersweet moment for many of the families of the more than 4,400 American service members who lost their lives in the conflict.

The organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors . . . estimates that 2,465 people lost their spouses and that 3,137 children lost a parent. Some 8,964 parents lost a child, while 13,446 lost a grandchild and 3,675 lost a brother or sister." Read the Washington Post, For families of fallen, a bittersweet day.

As first asked below three years ago, and again in 2010, was it worth the price in blood and treasure?

Robert Kaplan, an early supporter of the war in Iraq, asks "Was the invasion worth it?"

His conclusion, no.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Clever Signs

From an email:

Sign on a gynecologist's office:  "Dr. Jones, at your cervix."

In a podiatrist's office:  "Time wounds all heels."

On a septic tank truck:  Yesterday's Meals on Wheels

At an optometrist's office:  "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."

On a plumber's truck:  "We repair what your husband fixed."

On another plumber's truck:  "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."

At a tire shop in Milwaukee:  "Invite us to your next blowout."

At a towing company:  "We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."

On an electrician's truck:  "Let us remove your shorts."

In a non-smoking area:  "If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."

On a maternity room door:  "Push. Push. Push."

At a car dealership:  "The best way to get back on your feet, miss a car payment."

Outside a muffler shop:  "No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."

In a veterinarian's waiting room:  "Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"

At the electric company:  "We would be delighted if you send in your payment. However, if you don't, you will be."

In a restaurant window:  "Don't stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up."

In the front yard of a funeral home:  "Drive carefully. We'll wait."

At a propane filling station:  "Thank heaven for little grills."

At a Chicago radiator shop:  "Best place in town to take a leak."

On a septic tank truck:  "Caution - This truck is full of political promises."

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Big Republi-CON Lie

"For the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans have taken an awkward, cynical, schizophrenic view of entitlements. They have voted with near unanimity for a budget that would radically overhaul Medicare, but have promised (unworkably) to isolate the old and nearly old from any disruptions. They have largely sidelined their preferred Social Security reforms, but salivated over the prospect of voting for a cut to Social Security benefits when they thought Obama might sign it. They have railed against the Affordable Care Act for reducing spending on Medicare while voting for budgets that preserve those very cuts.

The only way to make sense of this mishmash is to remember that the GOP owes its political livelihood to the elderly. To pursue conservative goals, without obliterating their coalition, Republicans must twist themselves into pretzels. They must detest spending, but only on those other people. Their rhetorical commitments are impossible to square with their ideological and substantive ones, though, and the agenda they’ve promised to pursue when they control the government again would not exempt retirees and near retirees in any meaningful way. At the end of the day they can only keep their promises to one interest group, and it’s not going to be the elderly."

Read The New Republic, Mike Huckabee Is Prepared to Blow Up Republicans' Big Ruse.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Republi-CON Obamacare Hypocrite(s)

UPDATE:  "Senate Republican leaders are seriously considering legislation that would extend health insurance tax credits through the 2016 election even if the Supreme Court invalidates them later this year."

Read Bloomberg, GOP Leaders Consider Preserving Obamacare Subsidies Until After the 2016 Election.

Remember, it was their idea to begin with, as I first noted in 2011Just ask Romney

"Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who announced his run for president on Monday . . . the right’s champion of 'no compromise' assault on Obamacare and much of the rest of the federal government admitted that, yes, he would be going on Obamacare. . . 

The law does not require Cruz to get health insurance on the exchanges. Instead of going through the exchanges, he could have paid the tax penalty for not having insurance, 'likely cheaper than buying an insurance plan,' but at the cost of being uninsured. Or his wife could have applied to COBRA and extended her benefits from Goldman Sachs for up to 18 months, though she would have to pay all of the premium. Or he could bypass the exchanges and buy insurance directly from a private insurer. Sure, he’d have to spend time navigating the market himself, but I’m sure the Princeton graduate can figure it out. . .

Cruz is not just anyone. He wants us to vote for him for president. He has consistently demanded that his Republican colleagues never compromise. He not only thinks that Obamacare, which he says puts the government 'between you and your doctor,' is a bad policy; he thinks that it is such an existential threat to the United States and its health-care system that it was worth shutting down the government in an attempt to undermine the law. But suddenly the law and the health system it created is not scary enough for his family? If Cruz really wants to run as the candidate of righteous convictions, he’ll have to do a better job of following his own."

Read the Washington Post, Yes, Ted Cruz is a hypocrite for going on Obamacare