September, Inverness

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This is a poem by Robert Hass. I post it with a recommendation that you buy his new book, and look forward to a summer whose spring hasn’t yet arrived.

Tomales Bay is flat blue in the

    Indian summer heat.

This is the time when hikers on

    Inverness Ridge

Stand on tiptoe to pick ripe

    huckleberries

That the deer can’t reach. This is

    the season of lulls –

Egrets hunting in the tidal

    shallows, a ribbon

Of sandpipers fluttering over

    mudflats, white,

Then not. A drift of mist wisping

    off the bay.

This is the moment when bliss is

    what you glimpse

From the corner of your eye, as

    you drive past

Running errands, and the wind

    comes up,

And the surface of the water

    glitters hard against it.

This post represents the first of a new regular Friday (I know, it’s Thursday) series in which I will be recommending a book. Enjoy.

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Israel Appeasing the Syrians?!?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yesterday’s news that Israel is extending a hand to Syria to discuss the Golan Heights must be infuriating to the anti-appeasement crowd. But, wait, they’re doing it through Turkish intermediaries, so that makes it okay. Plus, it’s Israel doing it. And Israel never does anything wrong.

Especially now that, according to the New York Sun, Hezbollah has just reached an agreement for a 2/3 majority in the Lebanese parliament, this move seems to fly in the face of the sophomoric foreign policy argument that you only talk to your allies. But, maybe, unlike American conservatives, Israelis are simply not afraid. Maybe the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

At any rate, there is another bone-headed editorial by a couple named Thrall and Wilkins (if this is the caliber of thinker Columbia is producing we’re in trouble) about appeasement in the New York Times today. The piece lays the Cuban Missile Crisis at the feet of the Kennedy-Khruschev meeting in June 1961.

Ugh.

Yeah, that was it, the cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis was Kennedy’s weak-kneed appeasement, not the missiles we had in Turkey and Italy or the Bay of Pigs fiasco. It happened because Kennedy appeased!

Will some responsible adult (Kissenger? Scowcroft?) please stand and tell these half-wits to give up on the failed policies of the Bush administration?

Speaking of which, the fearmeister himself, Karl Rove (who else?), joined the party today too.


Webb vs. McCain on the New GI Bill

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Today’s New York Times features a good overview story by Steven Lee Myers about Webb’s new GI Bill versus a proposed McCain alternative. McCain’s bill offers less money and longer qualifying times (an effort to aid retention). His key objection to the Webb bill, despite the issue of retention, is that it is too expensive ($52 billion over 10 years) and that the Dems will pay for it by taxing the rich. McCain proposes to pay for his bill through a reduction in discretionary spending.

I am all for reductions is discretionary spending, but not at the expense of the best possible bill for GIs. Not only will this bill honor their service, but it will be a boon to the United States in the long term as hundreds of thousands of soldier receive a college education.

Bottom line, McCain (and Bush) are wrong about this one. Give the soldiers the money they deserve, when they deserve it, and let those who have benefited most from their work, pay for it.

Oh, and one other thing.

From the article: “The effect benefits might have on retention is disputed. The Congressional Budget Office, in its cost analysis, estimated that the benefits would result in a 16 percent drop in re-enlistments, a number opponents have repeatedly cited. But the office also predicted a 16 percent increase in recruitment because of the new benefits.”

However, if retaining NCOs really might become a problem, I would encourage Webb and Hagel to amend the bill to ensure longer service. Perhaps tying benefits to joining the Reserves?