Saturday, June 9, 2007

Why 94 senators did not read the National Intelligence Estimate

Why 94 senators did not read the National Intelligence Estimate

By Jerome Grossman.

On October 11, 2002, the United States Senate voted 77 to 23, to give President George W. Bush open ended authority to wage war against Iraq with unrestricted power to use any means, including military force and nuclear weapons, when he alone deemed appropriate. The House of Representatives approved 296 to 35. There was virtually no debate.

The primary justification for the legislation was the possession of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. To prove this claim, the Bush administration delivered to Congress on October 1, a secret classified report, The National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's WMD. This document was considered so sensitive that it was placed in two securely guarded locations in the Capitol for only senators to examine, not even their staffs.

Of the 100 senators, only six took the trouble to read the report. One who did was Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, who then voted against the war resolution. Graham was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. On the Senate floor, he told his colleagues that he had access to all available intelligence, that he did not believe that Iraq possessed WMD. Of course he was correct that there was not sufficient threat to U.S. national security

How could the 94 senators, Democrats and Republicans, fail to examine the evidence before voting to send the sons and daughters of the nation off to war? The primary answer is in the historical context of the invasion of Iraq. The balance of power changed dramatically with the collapse and breakup of the Soviet Union. The world system of two superpowers, armed to the teeth, checking each other on every continent, was finished. Now there was only one superpower, the United States, still armed to the teeth, but with no opposing military force to check it.

Without that countervailing force to impose restraint, the U.S, has engaged in nine wars in the last 17 years. No other nation even comes close to the American record, under Democratic as well as Republicans presidents. Most of the wars were justified as “humanitarian interventions “: Panama 1989, Somalia 1992, Haiti 1994, Bosnia 1995-96, Kosovo 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 1991, Iraq 1998, Iraq 2003-2007 and beyond.

The wars were easy, “slam dunks” or “”pieces of cake”, light in casualties, short in duration. And if the American troops remained in the occupied nations, they were merely following the pattern established in Germany , Japan, South Korea and the 35 other nations where the U. S. has 737 military bases.

To the senators, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was merely another military step in the subjugation of another country that our leaders believed needed “humanitarian intervention” or the installation of “democracy.” September 11, 2001 increased the public’s sense of danger, but the pattern of intervention had already been set and accepted.

The Bush administration is criticized for not having an exit strategy from Iraq. Of course they didn’t - because they had no intention to exit any more than they had strategies to exit Germany, Japan, South Korea or the other 35 nations. The problem for the U.S. is that the unexpected resistance in Iraq may trigger similar insurgencies around the world in countries where the U.S. has military bases.

To maintain world hegemony, the U.S. cannot afford to lose, to withdraw from Iraq. The legislation offered by the Democratic leadership in Congress recognizes this, calling for withdrawal, but with three significant exceptions: U.S. troops to remain in Iraq to protect US embassies and bases, to train the Iraqi army to fight Al Qaeda and the terrorists. This is a recipe for a long occupation.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Immigration Bill is likely to fail in Congress

The Immigration Bill is likely to fail in Congress

By Jerome Grossman.

Don't be surprised if the immigration bill is not adopted by Congress. Doing nothing about this issue is an option, favored by some sectors of the business community as well as individuals who hire illegals. Here are some of the less obvious reasons beyond the usual that illegals perform the dirtier jobs.

1. Illegal aliens are much more willing to work for less than the minimum wage.

2. Ilegal aliens often accept cash wages that save employers from paying taxes and filing paperwork. The employer's share of the payroll tax is considerable.

3. Illegal aliens are not very likely to complain to the Labor Department about working conditions for fear of deportation.

4. Illegal aliens are less likely to join a union for the same reason.

Immigration policy is tearing apart the Republican and Democratic parties. Both have given up the idea of rounding up the millions of illegals and sending them home. Prosecution of employers who hire illegals is done only sporadically. The issues of security, control of borders, and protection of the wages of American citizens are not likely to be solved at this time.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


by Jerome Grossman

The leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States have proposed reforms of the nation's health-care system. The plans of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are similar in outline, but not necessarily in detail. Especially noteworthy is their retention of the basic system relying on business and insurance companies to finance health care.

However, each candidate articulated themes contrary to the current basic system. They praise government - run Medicare for low administrative costs, high efficiency, and for not cherry picking patients. They praise the government - run Veterans Administration for the same features as well as consumer satisfaction. They praise government -run systems in other industrialized nations pointing out that the U.S. lags behind all most all of these nations in adult longevity and infant mortality. Yet the candidates insist on retaining our current system with minor modifications. Universal Medicare would eliminate the cost of health insurance to businesses and lower insurance costs by about 25% percent by eliminating advertising, big execuitive salaries salaries and insurance company bureaucracy aimed at increasing market share and profitability.

The primary constituency of business is the stockholder and the primary activity is to cut costs and maximize profits. In health care this usually means insure as few workers as possible for the fewest ailments. Insurance companies are also focused on the bottom line, charging as much as the market will bear while avoiding the large expenses of the very sick The maneuvers toward these objectives inflate the cost of healthcare

Expanding Medicare to the entire population would realize the goal of universality, improve the national health, lower administrative costs, shift control of care to doctors and hospitals. Why should seniors and veterans be the only groups receiving government subsidies for health care? What about that 10 year old girl I see through my window? How about the worker who repairs my necessities?

Only a universal health system run by the government is defensible morally and politically. Equality and democracy require it. How long will the voters allow this unfairness and waste of money on a basic right to life to continue? Will one of the presidential candidates, from either party, endorse the Medicare approach and arouse the voters to demand it?

The answer to that question is " NO." American political leaders are understandably intimidated by the economic and political power of the health and insurance industries. They remember how Hillary Clinton's mild health reform proposals of 1993 were defeated, and even worse, ridiculed to such extent that it affects her campaign for president 15 years later.

Any proposed change must not be perceived as attacking the profit motive, the most dynamic element in the American economic juggernaut. However, certain communal activities do not lend themselves to the profit model. Health care, education and the military rely on the values of equality, cooperation and even sacrifice. The model for each is common benefit before individual advancement and profit.

However, there may be a way to resolve the dilemma, by following the example of big business. Our government cannot drive the health and insurance industries out of business to install a universal Medicare, but it could buy them out and make health a government monopoly. Give them their profit, give stockholders, executives, workers a big payout, something on the order of100% profit or a years salary. Even if costs one trillion dollars, the lower costs could return the capital outlay in ten years or less. The new efficiencies, the new satisfactions, the increased longevity, the saving of children's lives could transform our lives as they have already benefited our senior population since 1965. And think of the value of increased happiness, of diminished worry about the precious gift of life. Do we have the courage to break the pattern of the past, for ourselves and future generations?


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