Month: October 2010

Go Vote Yourself

Election Day is coming up, and I still haven’t decided which costume to wear.

I decided to think about the issues in very selfish terms.  What’s good for me, right here, right now?  And who can help me get what’s good for me?  We have House, Senate and Governor races this cycle, so I can look at the state and federal sides.

Economy: The economy affects me. Sometimes a little recession is good for me, but this one? Whew, no way.  So, I would be satisfied with a little more improvement in the economy but not so much that it will cost me anything.   What would be the point? Why should I have to pay for anyone else’s welfare?  Who’s gonna help me out on this? Anybody?  Strike the governor. In New York, he can’t do anything.  Congress can’t do anything either.  In fact, the economy is not really a political issue, is it?
Taxes: They affect me. We pay a lot in New York, and lately all I see are rats. Rats everywhere. Really. It’s gross. I vote for the Pied Piper.  I’m against paying more taxes unless it means that I get more benefits. Will I get more? Probably not.  So, I will vote for the Republican whoever that is, unless the Pied Piper is running in opposition.

Immigration. Now, there’s something that hits home.  We have a lot of immigrants in this country. Like all of us, including the indigenous people, who sneaked in a lot earlier than the rest of us.  The way I see it, we’re all immigrants or we’re all Native Americans. Wait!  That doesn’t help me. So, is it better for me to have illegals come in and work cheap and off the books and soak up benefits or keep them out, keep the labor pool smaller and keep them off the public rolls?  All the same to me, if they stay in Arizona. So I’ll vote for anyone who will keep all the illegals in Arizona and maybe New Mexico. Actually, as long as we can limit the number in New York.  The governor? He can’t do shit.  The Congress? No Democrat will vote to keep illegal aliens out, so I guess I will have to vote for Kirsten Gillibrand’s opponent. Anybody know who that is?

Abortion: Not interested, as long as I don’t have to pay for them.  

War:  We have to get out of wherever we are because the enemy already left.  I think they moved to Yemen. Let’s go there.  But I’m against it. I can’t figure out who’s going to help me on this one.  I say bring all of our troops home and let them fix the Williamsburgh Bridge. That will hold them while I think of another project.  I guess that’s a Democrat vote.  No Republican, not even in New York, is going to fix my bridge.  Except Al D’Amato. He might have done it.

Change:  I want change. No, not really. I want things not to change  until I can let go of my burdens. Then, you can change all you want. Have a party. The future? Not my problem, amigo.

House Poor

If the midterm elections go as predicted, John “Coppertone” Boehner will be the next Speaker of the House. Boehner’s said that the Democrats have destroyed the small town (and the country) in which he grew up.   Boehner’s 60, so he and I grew up in the same country.  Since 1950, Democrats have controlled the White House for 24 years out of 60.  The Supreme Court has been led by a Republican appointee since 1969, and even Warren Burger voted with majority on Roe v. Wade.  The House has been in Democrat hands most of the time, as has the Senate, but rarely has there been a supermajority to overcome a Presidential veto.  The destruction of Bohner’s hometown might be one of the few genuinely bipartisan efforts in recent memory. See what we can accomplish when we all work together?

The War-Torn American Mind: Afganistan Revisited

Two interesting stories appear in today’s papers. The British, French and Germans have contemporaneously reported indications of a planned large-scale attack by Al Qaeda. Several jihadists killed by drones were identified as holding German citizenship.  There has been chatter on monitored channels similar in quantity to that preceding 9/11.  The attack is being likened to the one in Mumbai last year. The public relations arm of Al Qaeda (yeah, that’s right – it’s got its own press flaks) states that a new OBL video is being prepared. 

The other story, which was the New York Times lead, discusses the possibility that talks among some senior Taliban leaders, the Karzai government and the United States representatives will take place. The situation is highly speculative, and meetings, if they occur, will not include all Taliban leadership.  Mullah Omar, its most prominent chieftain, is not yet in the mix.   Pres. Obama said about a year ago that a political solution would be acceptable if the Taliban eschewed violence and agreed to abide by the Afghan Constitution. Now, it seems that the U.S. would accept an agreement even though only some Taliban factions will participate.    The reason offered: when our troops begin to withdraw in mid-2011, the Karzai government will fail without such an agreement in effect.  Obviously, this also gives political cover to the withdrawal  if the 2009 troop increase fails to meet its counterinsurgent goals. So far, it has.

In 2001, the US went into Afghanistan with the mission of destoying Al Qaeda and preventing a repetition of attacks on the scale of 9/11. But there were Madrid and Mumbai, and there have been many smaller terroist acts.  The settlement talks omit Al Qaeda, and there is no mention of an impact on the reduction of attacks on foreign soil.   The mission has changed, and it can be fairly said, based on publicly available information, that the war has not succeeded in accomplishing its stated purpose.  We can write off Afghanistan as a complete waste of life and resources. If you believe, as I do, that the Bush government would not have had the political capital to invade Iraq without the pretext of an Al Qaeda connection, then you can write off Iraq as well.  The country has been engaged in pre-emptive war for almost ten years without any political, military, economic or diplomatic gains.


New Jersey: The Tunnel to Nowhere

       New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, announced yesterday that New Jersey was withdrawing from participation in opening a second rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River. The decision came after New Jersey officials determined that the state would have to bear $2.5 billion in cost overruns.  Mr. Christie said he could not put New Jersey taxpayers on a “never-ending hook.” 
Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, condemned Christie’s decision. “Killing the ARC (Access to Region’s Core) Tunnel will go down as one of the biggest public policy blunders in New Jersey’s history…Without increased transportation options into Manhattan, New Jersey’s economy will be crippled.”
      Dr. Paul Krugman, a Professor of Economics at Princeton University (formerly the College of New Jersey) and a columnist for the New York Times, excoriated Christie for his decision, calling it “destructive and incredibly foolish on many levels.”  As Dr. Krugman pointed out , New Jersey is “the most densely populated state in America, more densely populated than any major European nation.”     Many of those people work in Manhattan. Thus, the single rail tunnel, more than 100 years old, is insufficient.  “The need for another tunnel couldn’t be more obvious,” Dr. Krugman concluded.
    However, the scrapping of the tunnel may have an unarticulated consequence.  The massive New Jersey population may decide not to commute. Those who live in New Jersey may if possible move their work there. They may try to telecommute.  Businesses with incentives to leave Manhattan due to the high cost of doing business may view New Jersey even more desirably if the commutation becomes more difficult and  expensive.  Cancellation of the tunnel project may have the effect of capturing more business for New Jersey, resulting in more in-state spending and an increased tax base.  New Jersey would be made more desirable if the state funds earmarked for the tunnel are redirected to intrastate improvements.
Governor Christie did not give these as reasons for his decision. Perhaps this gives him too much credit in view of the fact that he is promoting this decision as a cost-saving measure only. 

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