The Journey

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

11-17-2015; ISIS Part Two.a

11-17-2015;  ISIS Part Two.a
Near the end of June, while riding my bicycle for Peace and Environmental Justice across the United States, a six to ten hours a day endeavor, I wrote a piece entitled “What About ISIS, Dan?” In it I tried to separate the two identities of the organization, one a proto-state and the other a loosely organized criminal terror network.  Two manifestations require two solutions. I label the terrorist facet criminal because it will take policing and justice tools to  stop it. Bombing Syria will not end the criminal actions no more than the bombing and invading Afghanistan and Iraq ended al Qaeda. In fact invading those countries increased al Qaeda’s number and forcefulness.

The only means of ending the state facet of ISIS goes something like Senator and Presidential candidate Sanders suggest, engaging the neighboring Sunni countries. Clearly ISIS is getting help from some of the neighboring states and thanks to WikiLeaks in 2010 we know that Saudi Arabia, Qatra, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are the culprits funding ISIS operations. But ending the development of new Sunni state might not be a possibility nor even a desired outcome. 


The need for a new Sunni state in the Middle East is a real possibility. At one time early after we invaded Iraq it was thought that it needed to be split into three autonomous regions, Kurdish, Shia, and Sunni. Considering that the Gulf Alliance, really a Sunni Alliance, has a willingness to fund such a state and that the Shia of Iraq have no intention of really including the Sunni in a government, maybe the three state idea needs to be revived. 
For ISIS to maintain its 20,000 soldier army, and that is a very low estimate some have their strength anywhere from 40 to 100 thousand, they would need an annual budget of close to $5 Billion. 

From 2006, “The United States must focus now, not on preserving or forging a unified Iraq, but on avoiding a spreading and increasingly dangerous and deadly civil war. It must accept the reality of Iraq's breakup and work with Iraq's Shiites, Kurds, and Sunni Arabs to strengthen the already semi-independent regions. If they are properly constituted, these regions can provide security, though not all will be democratic.” From a review of Peter Galbraith, The End Of Iraq, 2006. (https://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/index.cfm/book_number/1935/the-end-of-iraq)

And again in 2015 on the disintegration of the Iraqi army when attacked in Mosul, Galbraith writes, “In fact, the problems of the Iraqi Army reflect the problems of Iraq where Shiites and Sunnis don’t agree on what it means to be Iraqi and where the Kurds unanimously don’t want to be Iraqi at all. The deficiencies of the army cannot be corrected because they reflect the realities of the society.” Daily Beast, March 2015, 


But Iran, Turkey and what is left of Iraq and Syria will resist this alternative, while the Gulf Alliance states might well want it to break up the Sunni Crescent. Turkey will oppose it in that it will create a Kurdish state and engender independence aspirations in her own territory. This is the area where our ‘diplomatic mission’ needs to place its energy. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

11-16-2015; ISIS Part Two

11-16-2015;  ISIS Part Two
Near the end of June, while riding my bicycle for Peace and Environmental Justice across the United States, a six to ten hours a day endeavor, I wrote a piece entitled “What About ISIS, Dan?” In it I tried to separate the two identities of the organization, one a proto-state and the other a loosely organized criminal terror network.  Two manifestations require two solutions. I label the terrorist facet criminal because it will take policing and justice tools to  stop it. Bombing Syria will not end the criminal actions no more than the bombing and invading Afghanistan and Iraq ended al Qaeda. In fact invading those countries increased al Qaeda’s number and forcefulness.

Today I read an article written the Saturday morning of the Democratic Presidential Debate, as the news of the Paris attacks were still being updated. “There Is Only One Way to Defeat ISIS,” by Charles Pierce of Esquire. With a flourish Pierce laid out the only means of ending the state facet of ISIS and what is at stake for what we call civilized society. But ending the state of ISIS might not be a possibility. 

It costs the US taxpayers a million dollars per soldier to wage a war and occupation. If ISIS with stealing its weapons from the Iraqi army and its food from the people it controls can do the job for one quarter the cost, at 20,000 soldiers -a low estimate- then it would need a $5 Billion dollar annual budget. And ISIS controls thousands of miles of Iraq and Syria, 20,000 is a very low estimate for soldiers that at times has been reported to be closer to 40,000 and even 100,000. 


Clearly ISIS is getting help from some of the neighboring states. And Pierce fills in that part of the puzzle with information gathered by WikiLeaks in 2010. Saudi Arabia, Qatra, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are the culprits. My objection to Pierce’s writing is that it does not consider the possibility that there is a real need for a new Sunni state in the Middle East. At one time early after we invaded Iraq  it was thought that it needed to be split into three autonomous regions, Kurdish, Shia, and Sunni. Considering that the Gulf Alliance, really a Sunni Alliance, has a willingness to fund such a state and the Shia of Iraq have no intention of really including the Sunni in a government maybe that idea needs to be revived. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

11-14-2015: Is This The Last Tango for Neocons?



Is This The Last Tango for Neocons?
When in college my concerns were focused on the Viet Nam war and the Civil Rights movement. Earth Day was not yet invented. There was the draft and Black America was burning over the assignation of MLK. I reach back in my memory to the feelings of alienation from the society my parents’ generation had created. They were born just before the first great world war and survived the global flu pandemic, the great depression, and the second world war. They helped create the New Deal. They believed in good government. Over the following thirty years they slowly became Nixon-Reagan Democrats. But not before giving us easy access to inexpensive college. 

I am not much different now than I was then, an outsider looking in. I choose a private school because of its promise of a traditional liberal arts education. My college debt stayed with me for ten years. Manageable, it was not a inhibitive sum. I find it interesting that a few presidential candidates have talked about paying off their student debt as preparation of their campaign. 

The debt students are now taking on is a substantial drag on our economy. Ellen Brown of the Public Banking Institute has been suggesting for years now that the Federal Reserve provide a stimulus to our economy by purchasing all student debt. A social equity quantitative easing for the rest of us, not just the big banks. The $1.2 Trillion would be less than what was used to recapitalize the financial sector since 2008. This money would mostly go directly into Main Street’s economy. The Fed’s QE1 through QE3 have exacerbated inequality while providing only a modest stimulus effect. 

I don’t regret my riotous youth, except for not being able to counteract the Nixon-Reagan backlash. Today students are facing years of indentured servitude to a system that is dynamically pursuing the destruction of civilization through the destruction of the climate. Our parents were able to reject the social movements of the Baby Boomers. They were part of an ever increasingly economically inclusive society. They had their experience of successful governmental programs.  

I hope that Baby Boomers, unlike our parents before us, will embrace these new youthful movements at next years’ polls. The Student Debt, Black Lives Matter, Immigrant Rights, and environmental and anti-war movements are coalescing in an economy that is becoming more exclusive. The ‘masters of the universe’ will again try to divide our generations as they did 40 years ago. But Baby Boomers, who accepted a doubling of the payroll tax for most of our working lives to support our parents retirement, would be wise find common cause with today’s youth. 


Saturday, November 7, 2015

I Listened to last night’s ‘First in the South Democratic Forum’

I am all in for Sanders 2016, just so you know.
Sanders and his racial record, and can he relate to Black America. Can he update his personal reference in addition to something that happen in the 60’s? Everyone learns Martin Luther King’s name in school now but he died nearly 50 years ago and most people do not know what he stood for except very generally for racial equality. Try naming the march, March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom.

On ISIS, and asking Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern Suni States to participate. The Suni Gulf Coalition is doing terrible things in Yemen, and there is evidence that factions inside these countries are funding ISIS.  Emphasize  defensive international anti-terror coalitions more and speak to the need of identifying possible threats long before they occur. If you want the US to stop being the policeman of the world then it needs to stop acting only in response to the crime scene like cops do. 

On jobs and foreign investment talk about the positive effects to local small businesses of these policies and not just of workers’ benefits.
Sustainable economy means lots of work for local building contractors.
Sustainable economy could mean lots of work for new homegrown technology.
Living wage can be and will be a boost for the local main street businesses, as everyone participates everyone benefits.
Medicare for everyone means a boost for the local main street businesses, as everyone participates everyone benefits from a healthy workforce.
Same for free college as a highly educated work force is a benefit to all businesses, including employees with great new ideas for small businesses.

On guns, do not talk about mental health and gun control in the same breath. I find it extremely offensive. Speak of people with criminal records of violence, domestic abuse as alternatives. A demonstrated knowledge of how to safely own, store, and use gun pre condition, yes.


When asked about the mass movement needed you referenced the Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy. It organized multiple large turnout election cycles that had great victories in 2006 and 2008. That can be done again to save the planet and our democracies. And emphasis that you would want to keep it engaged to win more victories in following years and on down stream elections. I love the idea of children being registered to vote at birth, with a18 year delay, for federal elections. You can add benefits for states that demonstrate full participation in their local elections too.

PS:The DNC, Democratic National Committee, should lead the challenge of the Kentucky governor race. The anomalies are too great and the implications for the 2016 election are dire. If this result is allowed to stand then there most definitely will not be a fair election next year. Low turnout was a contributing factor but turnout was 8 percentage points higher than in the election four years ago. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

November 6: Apocalypse Now, A Baby Boomer’s View Of Climate In-Action



What’s at stake in Yglesias’ article on the failures of the Democratic Party is that the world’s leading economy and dominant military power will not be addressing our most serious predicament, the global climate crisis, for many years to come. 

Matthew Yglesias (in his VOX article “Democrats are in Denial. Their party is actually in deep trouble.” 10-19-2015) suggests that the Democratic Party is taking up more left leaning positions recently, positions to help those of us struggling to survive in this very unequal economy. The implication is that this is coming at a time when these positions, with no hope of implementation, will further isolate the Democrats from power.

The destruction of labor unions and the degradation of our educational systems has lead to the rise in popularity of conservative causes. (VOX, “America may be in a reinforcing feedback loop of growing inequality and Republican rule”, Lee Drutman, November 4, 2015). 

Howard Dean suggested on MSNBC last night (11-5) that the reason the Democrats have done so poorly lately is that the party had turned into a re-elect the President committee. He was bemoaning the Party’s abandonment of the 50 state strategy he implemented when leading the DNC that resulted in the victories of 2006 and 2008. The 50 State Strategy was an attempt to create a party organized mass movement. 

I believe that the problem resides in the fact that Democrats, who engage in strong debates over principles and issues, abandon their principles when there is a chance of implementing them and consequently attack politicians who will fight for those principles. I am discouraged by the Party’s organized duplicity. It is not hard for me to hold my beliefs in what science is trying to tell us, that civilization is at risk of disappearing under the weight of our own doings. The news presents daily the disintegrating conditions of our climate crisis.

It takes a lot of people to create this extraordinary culture that we benefit from, our modern global culture. Our civilization’s advances in education, medicine, communication, energy production, transportation and much more are at risk by the economic dynamics that created them. We are dependent on the stable climate of the last 10 millennium. Our ability to both feed ourselves and have the leisure to create this culture is what is a stake. 


Bernie Sanders is correct that we need a political revolution, a mass movement, to take our democracy back from the ‘millionaire and billionaire class’ that controls both parties, our democracy, at the highest levels. Mass movements can support electoral parties and parties can support mass movements. There is a lot of overlap. But they are not the same type of institutions. They have different goals. Parties are about gaining state power and governing and movements are about influencing that governance. Mass movements plead, demand, and at best force governments to address their concerns. Howard Dean’s mass movement, his 50 State Strategy, was compromised because it facilitated the very people that wanted to destroy it.

“Liberals accustomed to chuckling over the ideological rigor of the House GOP caucus won't want to hear this, but one of the foundations of the GOP's broad national success is a reasonable degree of ideological flexibility.” [Yglesias sic] This is a polite way of saying that the Republican Party was forced to embrace and rode the TEA Party’s far right agenda to their electoral success. 

The Democratic Party by contrast is doing everything in its power to suppress its stated, and left leaning agenda, that has broad mass appeal. The importance of this is that in so doing the Democratic leadership is preventing the implementation of policies needed to address the global climate crisis, policies that of necessity embrace and promote peace, environmental sustainability, and economic equality.