On January 14, 2010, Zarberg posted an article that used two examples to show how politicians “put other’s lives on the line so they can get more money.” I could have posted comments, but I would have needed too many. Instead I have opted for a rebuttal, not a refutation.

I also was profoundly affected by the events of 9/11. I was not in New York City at the time, although my sister in law was. She is a doctor and immediately attempted to render aid. She was sent to Columbia Medical Center, so she was never in any direct danger, though none of us knew that at the time. I was at work and watched the second aircraft impact live on TV. I watched what I thought was my employment opportunity exploding as I am an aerospace engineer working in the aircraft field.

Unlike many of the extremists on air and on line, I never wanted to make a glass parking lot anywhere. I quickly realized that the people who had perpetrated this crime were a tumor that had to be surgically removed to save the people around them. So my first contention with Zarberg is that we went into Afghanistan to perform that surgery (still on-going), the Iraq war was almost a year later.

Admittedly, the arguments for going to war with Iraq were suspect, mostly because no one would listen to anyone else. If we look at Colin Powell’s UN speech, there is no talk of Nuclear Weapons being on hand (the only weapon of mass destruction NOT found in Iraq), only the effort to obtain them. The idea that the BUSH administration was deceitful is interesting as most of the evidence came directly from Saddam Hussein through his speeches, declarations and USE. His best defense would have been “yeah I had them but I used them all on the Kurds and Marsh Arabs.” Instead he claimed to have them, was going to use them on any invader and dared the rest of the world to stop him. That is exactly what the US, UK, Poland and 15 other countries did after getting permission from the UN.

With all of that, I still think that the US was wrong in the argument to go to war. We were already at war. The Iraqis had violated every element of the cease fire they had begged for. They had fired upon allied units, killed civilians, blocked UN inspectors from doing their job, violated the no fly zones and been caught diverting money for food to arms.

I wish I could rebut the one trillion dollar price tag, but the costs are all lumped together. These costs include every penny spent in both Iraq and Afghanistan but are routinely associated only with Iraq. Part of that cost would have been incurred regardless as we have ships at sea and troops deployed even when we are not at war. A lot of money has been spent rebuilding both countries not just from war damage but from the ravages of 30 years of dictatorship. The New Jersey and Missouri National Guards have paved more miles of road and built more bridges than exist in New England. The US has built water and power plants (two commodities that Sadam used to control his people) and repaired the other civil structures that were left to languish so that one man could build himself numerous palaces. All of this is included in that price tag.

One of the things that Zarberg did not comment on, is that the US hired “Contractors” to arrest and detain people. Under what laws? These people are exactly what the Hague and Geneva Conventions dating back to 1866 were meant to stop. They are mercenaries, who are a law unto themselves, providing a buffer of responsibility for the hiring nation.

As far as the trend in US politics to be nasty just because the other guy proposed something, I agree with Zarberg completely on his observation but not his conclusion. I do not believe that politicians are out to hurt anyone, even for their own gain. All of the politicians I personally know (from both sides) truly believe that what they are proposing will be good for people. Each of them is, of course, blinded by their own convictions. The problem that most politicians run into is that they fail to recognize unintended consequences. The reason for this is that if they truly studied every possible affect before acting, nothing would ever get done. My biggest complaint about recent political action is that everything has to be a crisis, and every crisis has to be solved by spending a lot of money.

It seems that the most authoritative spokes persons are those people who have plenty of time to be on the 24 hour news stations. This is not news, nor is it authoritative, it is just opinion usually included in yelling matches where neither side listens or hears.

The discussion of Joe Lieberman being for and against expansion of medicare and the implied verdict of him being paid off is hard for me to discuss. I personally like Joe Lieberman. To be aghast that he received campaign donations from insurance companies is like being aghast that a senator from Nebraska received donations for the grain industry or that one from California received donations from internet companies. The biggest industry in Connecticut is insurance. His apparent change of support for the medicare expansion has to be viewed in light of the latest version of the health care reform bills. Most of these bills go way beyond what he supported (expansion down to age 50) to include every person in the US, citizen or not. Joe is a fiscal conservative (which is why I like him) so he does not like the huge price tag for this all encompassing effort. He is a social moderate (another reason I like him), which is why he is supportive of helping those people who are close to medicare age, and are in need of healthcare coverage.

Zarberg’s conclusion that all is bought and paid for by greedy corporations that don’t care about individuals is interesting. It is also self defeating if true. When a corporation truly doesn’t care, their product will have nothing to do with what people want. That product will not be purchased and the company will either have to change its product or go broke. The only benefit corporations get from paying politicians is the promise not to be punished by regulation or taxation. The only product anyone has ever proposed that each of us would have to buy on pain of fine or imprisonment whether you want it or not is up for a vote right now – health care.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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