What’s Behind the Suleimani Assassination?

It seems that Pres. Trump could very well have made the largest foreign policy miscalculation in the Mid-East region since Pres. Bush II invaded Iraq in 2003. The assassination of Quds Force Comdr. Suleimani last night in Baghdad via a missile fired from a drone upon his motorcade could be just it.

Here’s a clip from the NYT today showing how the Trump administration is going to try and justify this destabilizing attack in the world’s most volatile (and resource rich) area :

“Suleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him,” [Trump] said, speaking to reporters from his resort in West Palm Beach, Fla. “We took action last night to stop a war, we did not take action to start a war.”

At this point the people have not been told by the administration what “imminent attack” Suleimani was “plotting.” Did they “cherry pick” the intelligence to justify the attack, just like the Bush II administration did so to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003? Are they using this assassination as a ploy to rally American popular support beneath Trump’s approval numbers and divert attention from the Dem’s primary race for President in 2020?

I can’t wait to see what kind of justification Secy State Pompeo and Trump reveal to the American people for this foolish, foolish act. We remember Iraq’s WMD’s. We won’t be fooled again…

Why Americans Should Pay Attention to the People of Mexico

2012 is not only a presidential election year for the U.S. but also for Mexico.  The first televised debated occurred in Mexico between the presidential hopefuls and it was covered by television stations in a way that may surprise most Americans: it wasn’t aired.  As reported by the BBC:

It is unclear how many voters were watching, with the main TV channels opting to show a dance show and a football match instead.

Ouch.  For a political junkie such as myself, that one hurts.  This must be what a Kardashian feels like when they walk into a room of ten people and only nine know who they are.

The lack of interest in the government, its policies, and who is running it in Mexico is no surprise considering its most recent scandal:  a bribery scandal involving Wal-Mart (Mexico’s largest employer a.k.a. an entity with a lot of friends in the Mexican government) that is now almost hard to remember considering how fast it disappeared from the news cycle in just two weeks.  But hey, those news organizations have bills to pay too and no reason to go after a big corporate advertiser too hard.  That could hurt profits and that’s just bad business/journalism.

But the real point Americans should be paying attention to about this scandal was the reaction of the Mexican people in the aftermath.  Americans should pay attention to the reaction because well…there really wasn’t one.  A line from the Huffington Post sums this up:

While Wal-Mart says it is probing the allegations and U.S. Congress members are demanding answers, Mexican authorities say they have nothing to investigate.

Not everyone likes politics and that is understandable.  It’s just not as interesting as watching people sift through other people’s garbage, observing overly dramatic rich people cry about nothing, or seeing some of the dumbest and most self-centered people on the planet go club hopping.  Boring people in Congress stand no chance up against that.  In fact, it might be the only conspiracy theory I really believe: politicians strive to make themselves so boring no one will actually pay attention to them when they are doing something horrible.  It may be why Obama has attracted so much criticism.  Like him or not, he is simply more engaging than others in politics when he speaks.

I’m kidding, of course, but the bigger issue here is when the people of a country, even in a democracy like Mexico or the U.S., lose interest in their leaders and their government, the government can be as corrupt as it wants with no repercussions.  The Mexican people should be vehemently angry and demanding justice.  But they aren’t going to get it and, because of their apparent lack of interest, they may not even know they should be angry.  Americans take note.  Your lack of interest can lead to these types of results.

The more explosive side note to this story is the Mexican people should be just as angry with the U.S. government as they should be with their own.  It seems, recently, when something goes bad in Mexico, it is originating from the U.S.  The biggest problem in Mexico is the drug war that has claimed the lives of around 50,000 people in just six years, including a gruesome slaughter of 23 people last week.  (Mexico’s population is about a third of the United States so, by comparison, this would be the equivalent of 150k violent deaths in the U.S. in that time.) Heavily at fault for this drug war is the U.S. government for not tackling the problem of drug use in a rational way within its borders as well as not properly regulating the sell of the most dangerous weapons which are now being smuggled and used by these drug cartels.  They are now armed well enough where sending in the Mexican military is the response by the government instead of an expansion of the now under-armed police forces.

The people of Mexico should be outraged but are not and their lack of attention is at least partly to blame.  Americans should learn this valuable lesson.

Romney’s Startling Proposed Spending Cuts

After getting a look at the proposed spending cuts by a potential Romney administration, I asked myself the following: why would any rational person vote for this?  No doubt some of this is simply rhetoric to win over some voters in the hard-right base but how is this appealing to the alleged swing or independent vote?  I don’t understand it and the details are rather shocking.

The first two sentences of the article say a lot:

Reducing government deficits Mitt Romney’s way would mean less money for health care for the poor and disabled and big cuts to nuts-and-bolts functions such as food inspection, border security and education.  Romney also promises budget increases for the Pentagon, above those sought by some GOP defense hawks, meaning that the rest of the government would have to shrink even more.

Romney is obviously wanting to look tough on defense but the important element to note here is that will always come at the cost of other programs.  But this increase in defense spending begs a question regarding recent reality.  Didn’t we just finish one war in Iraq and aren’t we winding down another in Afghanistan?  How and why are we needing to increase defense spending as we finish two wars?  Shouldn’t the only conversations about defense spending at the moment be regarding what cuts will be made now that the wars are over or coming to an end?  Shouldn’t we be discussing how to divert some of that defense spending to shore up some of the domestic programs that need it for the long term like Medicare?

My fault.  I forgot Romney wants to end Medicare.  As stated in the article he supports the Ryan plan “to gradually transform Medicare from a program that directly pays hospital and doctor bills into vouchers for subsidizing future beneficiaries in buying health insurance.”  Make no mistake about this being a plan to end Medicare and actually make things worse for everyone in the long run.  One of the reasons Medicare is expensive is because the elderly are typically needing to use medical care more than the young for obvious reasons.  If Medicare is ended and those folks are put into the private insurance pool through vouchers, premiums will go up for everyone as insurance companies will have to cover the higher expenses of the elderly.  Not to mention, if the Supreme Court throws out all of the Affordable Care Act in June, insurance companies will have no obligation to carry the elderly with preexisting conditions and will be able to drop them when they get sick.  The potential disaster should be clear.

Then there is Medicaid.  Romney wants to turn it over to the states in the same way welfare was turned over in the mid-’90s and became a disaster once the economy hit a downturn.  (I’ve addressed this failure here so I won’t be redundant.)  The ability to divert that money into other programs by the states in the same way welfare money is diverted will just lead to more poor people not getting health care.  “An Urban Institute study last year estimated that Ryan’s cuts would force between 14 million and 27 million people off of Medicaid by 2021. Romney’s budget would make deeper cuts.”  Note the word “force” in that quote.  Not help people find a way off.  Force.  Just as Jesus taught us, right conservatives?

One last piece of the article to address:

At issue are these programs, just to name a few: health research; NASA; transportation; homeland security; education; food inspection; housing and heating subsidies for the poor; food aid for pregnant women; the FBI; grants to local governments; national parks; and veterans’ health care.  Romney promises to immediately cut them by 5 percent. But they would have to be cut more than 20 percent to meet his overall budget goals, assuming veterans’ health care is exempted.

Some of these speak for themselves and speak volumes about conservative priorities.  A lot of attacks on the poor since they don’t contribute their $peech to campaign coffers and do not vote in high numbers so these attacks always go on without much of a fight from the people they affect.  And just to drive that point home, Romney (and Ryan) would also cut “food stamps, school lunches, crop subsidies, Supplemental Security Income for very poor seniors and disabled people, unemployment insurance, veterans’ pensions and refundable tax credits to the working poor.”  Who says Romney is out of touch with the working class and the poor?  Clearly he notices them when it comes to his budget proposals.  And remember, this isn’t cutting spending alongside defense cuts.  It’s cutting this spending because of defense increases.

But hey, let’s look at the bright side of all these cuts.  We will have plenty more bombs to blow stuff up with if Romney gets his way.  And those will help tremendously in improving our schools, health care, and economy for the future by comparison to the rest of the world.  Think about it.  Any country that hasn’t already passed us in health care and education and that starts to come close to us and make us look bad, we can blow up their hospitals and schools and maintain our mediocrity in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world.  Yay, bombs!