Tuesday, December 28, 2010


In a long article in Washington Monthly by Charles Peters titled "Tilting At Windmills" there is a lengthy discussion of just about everything. It was written just before the mid-term elections and in today's reckoning of time relevant information it may seem passe, but there is so much to consider here, in hindsight, that I feel that many would be interested in reading it. So many facts that were unknown to me are revealed. The actual reason for the deficit that is not because of Democratic spending, but of the policies and values of preceding administrations. These discrepancies must be undone if we are to recover from the damage done previous to 2008,
In discussing the cost of the Pentagon and the percentage of the budget spent on the military Peters makes a telling comparison to World War II:

"A veteran Pentagon critic, Winslow Wheeler, notes that during World War II, we had one general for every 6,382 enlisted men. Now we have one for every 1,519 soldiers. Even more dramatic is the contrast between today’s American forces and the most effective armies of history—the Israeli force that won the spectacular victory in the 1967 war, which had a ratio of one general to 6,916 enlisted men, and the Roman army of 52 AD, which had a ratio of one to 8,711."

And then there is this. While the Pentagon and the military grew the number of people in the regulatory agencies whose function is to keep us safe has shrunk.

"On the other hand, at one regulatory agency after another, we see the need for more, not less enforcement personnel. The SEC, the FDA, and the Consumer Products Safety Commission are examples. More recently, the pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, exposed a need throughout the country either for more inspection or for more rigorous requirements that defective pipes discovered by inspection are repaired or replaced."

We have been exposed to e coli and salmonella, basically old fashioned food poisoning not only because of the lack of inspectors but because of the failure of inspectors to report and share obvious violations of food safety standards. There has been a "hands off" approach of anything that will disrupt business in the FDA, for the past thirty years. This is the big govrnment that we need. Children died from eating raw spinach grown in a California field that was below a feed-lot operation whose run-off ran into the field during a heavy rain. Should the farmer (corporate farmer) be allowed to grow a crop that can be eaten uncooked in such fields? Obviously not. Did not the Department of Agriculture have jurisdiction over this? If we are going to be a third-world country this is one of the first indications. Those of us who live in Arizona know not to eat melons, strawberries or green onions grown in Mexico and imported into our state. Why? Because they irrigate with polluted water. Hmmm.

"Of course, sometimes when there is an adequate number of inspectors, they are conditioned not to make trouble for the inspected. When the Department of Agriculture inspected Wright County Egg in Iowa, later found to be a major source of salmonella, they discovered, according to the Wall Street Journal, “[d]rain clogged, full of shells,” “bugs everywhere,” “cooler floor was dirty, lots of trash,” and “the dry storage area had lots of trash, cartons on the floor everywhere.” These reports came from inspections that occurred from April 1 through August 17 of this year. But the DOA failed to tell the FDA, which is responsible for egg safety, about these problems. The salmonella outbreak occurred a few weeks later. Why didn’t the DOA say anything? “The conditions at the egg plant packing facility were routine.
In other words, the plant has always been a mess, so why speak up now?"

This is only some of the content in the Charles Peters editorial. There is much more about the current war inherited by Obama, who promised in his capaign to make decisions after talking to the "military leaders". That is perhaps the worst kind of error. It cost LBJ a second term. The Military Leadership is intent on ongoing war. In conclusion, let's see what General Petraeus has to tell us about the Afghan War.

“You have to recognize also that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It’s a little like Iraq, actually … Yes, there’s been enormous progress in Iraq. But there are still horrific attacks in Iraq, and you have to stay vigilant. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives.”

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