Thursday, August 30, 2012

NeoCons are Expensive (Thursday LINKS)

I want to start off by noting that Con. Paul Ryan put on a clinic in political speech-making last night.  If you are a Democrat, or a left-leaning independent, and those big blue saucers didn't put a quiver in your knees, you probably were watching something else.  Good speeches are equal parts humor and power.  Ryan balanced it perfectly and probably will account for a 3-5 point post-convention bounce regardless of what Mitt Romney does tonight.

And that's important, because anyone who watched Senator John McCain and Condoleezza Rice speak is most likely terrified.

First, some background.  Depending on the source, it has been estimated that the Afghanistan War cost the United States $119.4 billion in FY2011, with total war expenditures reaching approximately $455.4 billion.  The Iraq war, despite the withdraw, cost the United States $51.1 billion in FY2011, with a total cost of approximately $802 billion.  For comparison purposes, the entire education budget for the United States $129.8 billion in FY2011, and I have not even tried to incorporate the human cost of fighting foreign wars.

I don't think I'm projecting too much by saying that John McCain invited the next President to intervene in Syria.  In fact, in a subsequent interview, he said that President Obama's failure to do so is "shameful."  Condoleezza Rice said in no uncertain terms that the United States is compelled to be the "watchdog" for freedom and justice throughout the entire world and that although this is an uncomfortable burden, if we don't do it we are faced with an alternative of "no one" or another superpower that "does not share our values."  Both speakers made significant allusions to Iran and the need for military intervention to "protect our friends" (i.e., Israel). 

In its most plain terms: There was a full endorsement of neoconservative foreign policy last night.

This too could have been dismissed as red meat for the faithful (although leaving a number of questions for the candidates), had it not been for Paul Ryan's continuation of that thread in his speech:

And in our dealings with other nations, a Romney-Ryan administration will speak with confidence and clarity. Wherever men and women rise up for their own freedom, they will know that the American president is on their side. Instead of managing American decline, leaving allies to doubt us and adversaries to test us, we will act in the conviction that the United States is still the greatest force for peace and liberty that this world has ever known.

You don't have to have any foreign policy experience or know-how to conclude that overthrowing governments is a bad business to be in.  Heck, if the State of Maryland absorbed the entirety of our County government tomorrow through peaceful legal maneuvering, this would be a very bad place to live for the next 2-3 years.  Imagine if that was instead through military violence.

I want to believe that the Romney-Ryan ticket is serious about getting our financial house in order, but please recall the extent to which President Bush and his supporters dismissed the ramping debt of the 21st Century as the "cost of defending freedom."  We as a Country are very forgiving when it comes to spending on the military.  It is viewed as unforeseen, necessary, and unavoidable.  What happens when those interventions appear everywhere our President looks?  Picking winners and losers in business is bad.  Picking winners and losers in geopolitics is dangerous.

Congrats to the GOP on a very good night last night.  I have no doubt that my concerns are seldom shared by the public at large.  But if you believe that Bush did it all wrong, and wasn't a "real conservative", you're going to have a hard time defining his mistakes without mentioning the $1 trillion he spent fighting foreign wars.


Social Media has taken up the cause of Maisie, a pom/chihuahua mix that has been lost in Columbia since August 11.  Please "like" the page and help in the search.  These stories do have happy endings when enough people pitch in.

Maryland Reporter notes that Party Conventions are conducted partially on the taxpayer dime to the tune of approximately $136 million.  Meanwhile, the Libertarian and Green Party candidates are left out of our debates and have a hard time even getting on the ballot. 

Gov. Ehrlich's former chief-of-staff Chip DiPaula has thrown his support behind Question 6 and same-sex marriage, further bolstering the coalition in favor of marriage equality.  The base set of voters against this petition question is getting smaller and smaller by the day.

Streets in Downtown Baltimore will begin closing in earnest today, with the Labor Day race just a few days away.  As a previous critic, I have to say that the management of race construction this year has been night and day from last year.  I would estimate that my commute was extended by a matter of 5-10 minutes this year whereas last year it was extended 30 minutes to an hour.  Thank you, Baltimore City.  Race on.

Joe Saunders is not very good at baseball.

The "Speed Camera Shooter" pled guilty and was given probation before judgment with community service, anger management, and a $157.50 fine.  Vivia la Revolution!  (That's a joke.  Don't fire marbles at speed camera trucks, mmm-kay?)

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Frank Hecker looks at "Participatory Budgeting in Howard County" and how citizens could be involved in allocating Howard County's $100 million annual expenditures.

That's all for today.  Have a great Thursday doing what you love!