Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lost in Shangri-La- a book report

By; Mitchell Zuckoff

This is an interesting, fully documented, account of a plane crash in the mountains of New Guinea towards the end of the Pacific war of WWII.
It was a gripping personal interest account of 24 service men and women who were being rewarded for their service by taking a sight seeing plane ride to see a hidden valley that had recently been discovered. Only three survived the crash. They were all injured and had been burned. Without food or other basic items, after a few days rest, they were able to reach a clearing where they were spotted by a search plane. The rest of the story revolves around the natives they encounter, the rescuers who risked their lives and their final rescue.
The author states that this was a major news story which gripped the nation. No doubt it did but I have no recollection of the event. I found it to be very interesting and well written. I haven’t spoiled it for you as what I have mentioned will be found by reading the jacket cover.

Jack B. Walters
July 21, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

History of Libya

Out of my concern about the current military action by members of NATO on Libya, I decided to check out and learn about its history. I went to Wikipedia for my source. I didn’t go back to the beginning of the world. I started in 1921 when Italy declared war on Libya and the Ottoman Empire (Turks) which at that time was in control of the coastal areas. The Treaty of Ouchey of 1923 included the withdrawal of all the Ottomans from Libya.
During WWI the Italians had to bring back their forces. During this period they lost control of all but the coast. In the 1920’s under General Pietro Badoglio a bloody war was waged to pacify the natives. This continued until 1931 when the Arab leader was captured and hanged. The resistance then just petered out. Italy controlled Libya until 1943 when the North African Campaign conquered the country. Italy formally rescinded control in the Peace Treaty after WWII.
Beginning in 1945, anti Jewish violence commenced. Many Jews were murdered; synagogues, homes and businesses were burned. When the State of Israel was recognized 30,972 Jews left for Israel between 1948 and 1951. By 1970 there were no Jews remaining.
In 1952 the United Nations granted independence. Oil was discovered in 1959. Exports began in 1963. Twenty eight year old Muammar al-Gaddafi staged a coup in 1969. He created a new Libya Arab Republic. The US vacated their last military base in 1970. In 1971 he nationalized the petroleum industry of British Petroleum. By 1972 he took control of all other petroleum companies up to 70%. He had to leave the rest as he needed their expertise to operate. He strongly supported the creation of OPEC in 1973.
His philosophy was neither communism nor capitalism. He created his own concept. He took ownership away from businesses and landowners who had more than they needed, in his opinion. On the positive side he did start two five year programs using oil revenue. The first was from 1976-80. The primary goal was to be food independent. The second from 1981-85 was to create industry. These were largely successful. He did increase the welfare of the people. By the 1980’s they enjoyed improved housing, education, social services and general standards of health, the highest in North Africa.
He openly supported terrorism around the globe until 1986 when President Reagan bombed Libya bases and palaces. He stopped and as a result improved relations with the West by the early 2000’s. In 2006 the US rescinded the designation of terrorist State. By 2007 Libya was elected to a non permanent seat in the UN.
All of this brings us to this year. In Feb. 2011 anti-government rallies sprang up in Benghazi. On March 10, France recognized the National Council as the sole representative of Libya. Shortly thereafter a no fly zone was declared by NATO and air strikes began to punish Gaddafi’s forces still loyal to him. Since then the air war has been expanded to striking military targets, Gaddafi’s palaces or places he might be. It is obvious that his death is the goal. The coalition is breaking up. Italy has pulled out. Norway will end their participation August I, 2011. Gaddafi is still in power. The Army and much of the population still gives him their support, probably out of gratitude for what he has accomplished improving their lifestyles. In the review of recent history there was mention that he had cracked down hard on the hard core Muslims who require Sharia law as the only lawful government. Perhaps these are the ones who have broken away. In all the reporting to date their identity and objectives have not been revealed, at least not to my knowledge. What if the end result is plunging this country into chaos like the Taliban did in Afghanistan? The thought that these might be the people we are supporting is scary to me.
Rather than bomb Libya back to the Stone Age, if killing Gaddafi is the goal, then why not have another Seal operation. Kill him and then keep close watch on what happens next. Libya has suffered for 90 years starting in 1921 if you do not consider the ages prior to that date. Enough already.

Jack B. Walters
July 15, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another nail driven in the casket for American workers

For seventeen years Mexican trucks have not been allowed to enter America except to warehouses at the borders. The North American “Free” Trade Agreement had a provision to allow them access under specific guidelines. I want to state right at the beginning that in my opinion all of the so called free trade agreements were approved to the benefit of corporations not citizens of any of the three countries.
I have a question. Why was it our responsibility to spend $2.5 million to equip their trucks with monitoring devices? It would appear to me that Mexico should bear whatever costs are needed.
Mexico imposed tariffs on a dozen US made products in 2009. If we had leaders who cared about American workers we would have reciprocated at that time, tit for tat. But no, the so called super power once again allows the third world country to stomp on us; all the while we give Mexico billion dollar grants every year for assistance in their drug war.
The net effect will be to put pressure on American truck drivers to work for fewer dollars as the Mexicans will undoubtedly be paid far less. Each Mexican truck entering America will replace an American truck. This alone will have a devastating effect on American workers. Go ahead and say “they are only unskilled and don’t deserve high pay”. To you I say “walk in the other guy’s shoes and see how you like it”. One more sector of American workers being pressured to lower their life styles for the sake of consumers.
My last question is what ever happened to the members of Congress who had supported our truck drivers? Are they so busy trying to keep us from defaulting on the national debt that they dropped the ball?

Jack B. Walters
July 9, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

President Obama and the Democratic Party's responsibility for the "debt" crisis

This is a follow-up of my last article entitled “Republican Hypocrisy”. I promised I would have thoughts to share about the other group in this process.
President Obama was elected (in my opinion) out of frustration with President George Bush. There was never a President in my lifetime I felt who caused as much damage as he. The two unnecessary wars, no child left behind, senior drug program and general lack of leadership when it was so badly needed after 9/11. He pushed the country deep in debt in a haphazard fashion, totally without regard to the long term effect it would have on America. Jobs continued to leave America, going predominantly to China. With Americans losing good paying manufacturing jobs our tax base continued a downward spiral. He would not stand up to China, a country that uses every trick in their play book to suck jobs out of America. I won’t take the time to enumerate as I have already done so many times in the past. He insisted on tax breaks for the wealthy and did nothing to lower the burden on manufacturing in America while enhancing large corporations to reap huge profits at the expense of American workers.
President Obama was given an overwhelming mandate including majority power both in the House and Senate. He could have provided a health care system similar to what most advanced nations enjoy. A program similar to Medicare extended for all our citizens. Instead he squandered many months trying to garner Republican votes, when any knowledgeable observer knew that wasn’t going to happen. He started by accepting a huge handout from the drug companies as long as he didn’t disturb their ability to charge Americans much higher costs than other nations by simply denying officials to use the huge market to lower costs. At the same time he allowed them to continue to advertise on television, the obnoxious ads we listen to night after night. Only one other country on earth allows this. Then he gave a gift to the insurance industry by mandating that all must purchase insurance. What I had hoped for was the elimination of the health insurance business. With them in control, nothing will keep from costs from escalating. Over 15,000 people are to be added to the government payroll to monitor citizens to assure they do sign up or pay fines or worse.
The Trillion dollar stimulus plan had virtually no effect on creating private jobs or for that matter public. It seems there weren’t many projects ready to go. A huge part went to bail out State and local governments which while of benefit did not increase employment. Perhaps there were fewer layoffs but nothing positive. Unemployment benefits were extended and later on extended again. All of these people in their prime paid to stay home. As of 7/5/2011 the maximum period remains at 99 weeks. There were several hundred thousand persons who had run out of benefits. They were granted an additional 13 weeks but not over the 99 week maximum. There was nothing in the bill to enhance the private sector; no easing of regulations, no lowering of business taxes, no forcing China to allow their currency to float, no insistence on a level playing field. China provides many benefits to manufacturers who re-locate there, which makes it nearly impossible to compete.
President Obama expanded our forces in Afghanistan. While there are hopes that a steady withdrawal will occur, I am not holding my breath. At the same time it appears we are pleading with Iraqi officials to allow us to continue with 10,000 troops after the end of this year when all troops were slated to return. Then he authorized the bombing campaign against Khadafi in Libya in support of rebels who I believe will eventually be proven to be supporters of radical Islam. The fact is that even if justified we can no longer afford to play war games in this region. At some point we will pay the price here at home as those who hate us bring chaos to our shores.
All of my previous comments about Bush in relation to creating private sector jobs apply equally to President Obama. I need not repeat.
In an editorial today by Paul Krugman it seems corporations are once again lobbying for tax amnesty so they can bring their overseas profits back home without paying taxes. They received this break in 2004. They got it then. I have no doubt they will again which only further encourages moving jobs offshore.
My biggest concern with President Obama is what I perceive to be a lack of concern about the rising deficits. In fiscal year 2008/09 it was $1.885 Trillion. In fiscal year 2009/10 it was $1.652 Trillion. The projection this fiscal year is even higher and yet all he has proposed to date are matters that will have absolutely no effect on reducing the debt never mind curtailing deficits. He is, after all, the President, duly elected and charged with protecting Americans from enemies foreign and domestic. It is time for him to show strong leadership. This bickering between Parties must give way to tangible results. I could list a myriad of thoughts but what would be the use. Those elected officials should know and should get serious about doing the job they were sent to Washington to do.

Jack B. Walters
July 6, 2011

Republican Hypocrisy

If it wasn’t so tragic it would be ridiculously humorous as we watch the antics of our newly elected members of the Republican Party as they battle President Obama over the necessity of raising the debt ceiling. All of a sudden the idea of raising it is abhorrent to them. Could it all just be an opportunity to embarrass the President and improve their chances with the voters in next year’s elections?
Let’s review the recent past;
Year Debt Limit in Billions
1996-------- 5,500
1997-2001--- 5,950
2002-------- 6,400
2003-------- 7,384
2004-------- 7,384
2005-------- 8,184
2007-------- 9,815
2008-------- 10,615
2008-------- 11,315
2009-------- 12,104
2009-------- 12,394
2010-------- 14,294
The reason the debt ceiling held steady during those earlier years was the result of the policies when President Clinton and the Democratic Congress were in power. Surpluses were being produced which were starting to lower the National Debt.
President Reagan and the first George Bush tripled the debt during their years in office. Under President George W. Bush together with his Republican Congress the debt ceiling was raised six times. Can anyone not remember Vice President Cheney’s council to the President that President Reagan proved that deficits didn’t matter? With that sage advice they went on their merry way. It was business as usual.
Immediately upon assuming office President Obama promoted his Trillion dollar stimulus plan. That together with the ongoing costs of the three “wars” we are engaged in has brought us to the brink. Now, all of a sudden the Republican House has said no more. I certainly agree the hemorrhage cannot continue. Where I disagree is that they are not seriously considering all options. In my opinion they have resolved to put the President in a box. In a separate article I will be spelling out areas that could be considered. All I hoped to accomplish with this one is to point out to those with short memories that the Republicans are like those living in glass houses. They should refrain from starting a rock throwing contest.

Jack B. Walters
July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Senator John McCain

What ever happened to the man I once supported to be President. He was a maverick then. During his last campaign to be re-elected as Senator of Arizona he proclaimed that he was never a maverick. I supported him when he ran against George W. Bush. When it looked like he was gaining support the Bush campaign put out scurrilous information that the black child in his family was sired by him.
During his later campaign for President against Obama he lost all credibility. He couldn’t remember how many homes he owned. He cancelled a TV program with David Letterman to hurry back to Washington to save the Union, only to take the time to stop off for a more important interview with Katie Couric. The pictures of having his face powdered added to the hilarity of it. Then when he finally arrived, there he was sitting at the end of the table, not appearing to be making any important contribution. Who can forget his pronouncement that America’s economy was in top shape just before the collapse leading to the TARP bailout of $700 Billion to rescue the largest financial institutions. I became really upset with him as he abandoned all pretence of representing Arizona in his position of Senator by campaigning continuously and with only a few exceptions did not cast any votes. I didn’t think his little ditty ‘Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”, was very funny. Then he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. A virtual unknown with little grasp of the national responsibility involved. This was the last straw for me.
All of the above issues are not why I decided to write this article. It is his continuing war mongering attitude toward any and all countries. He visited Libya and criticized Obama for not doing more. Then in today’s headline picture, there he is in Afghanistan criticizing Obama for proposing bringing troops home at a faster pace than the Generals think prudent. If McCain was President he would pushing the military into more adventures than we are committed to at the present time. The Generals are probably right. To totally subdue the country we need more not less boots on the ground but if our goal (as I believe it should be) is to leave, then we should leave at a faster rate. No nation in history has been successful in dominating Afghanistan. I do not believe we can do it either. Here he is overseas while Congress has cancelled their July 4th break to stay in Washington to prevent our nation’s defaulting on our debts; a far more serious dilemma than in 2008 when he “rushed” back. I can only conclude he has lost all semblance of what is important. If he can’t bomb it, he just isn’t interested.
Jack B. Walters July 4, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

UNBROKEN - A book report


This is an incredible true life account of an American born in 1917 and still alive as the book went to print. As a novel it would have been a thriller to read. What this man accomplished and how he survived under incredible circumstances is mind boggling. The author did voluminous research in uncovering and verifying the events.
The man’s name is Louis Zamperini. He was uncontrollable as a boy, constantly in trouble. He discovered that he could be exceptional as a runner and he devoted his energy to improve. He nearly broke the four minute mile running in the same era as Glenn Cunningham who was the first to accomplish this feat. He competed in the Olympic Games in Germany in 1936. It was the 5000 meters race. His time was 14:46.8, the fastest time of any American that year. That was only good enough for eighth place but in final lap he ran the fastest time ever recorded. Adolf Hitler was so impressed he wanted to meet Louie. Hitler said “Ah, you’re the boy with the fast finish”.
Once WWII began Louie enlisted and was placed in the Army Air Corp. He trained as a Bombardier in B-24’s. He was sent to the Pacific Theatre. His odyssey began when his plane crashed into the ocean. Only the Pilot and one other crewman survived. They drifted for 47 days, finally being captured by the Japanese and imprisoned. Only the Pilot and Louie were alive. The story of survival on the raft would be enough but the worst was yet to come. He was sent to Japan as a war trophy after they discovered who he was. He sustained unrelenting punishment by sadistic guards. One in particular had an obsession about him and struck him regularly.
As the war was drawing to the end, the prisoners discovered that on August 22, 1945 all prisoners were to be executed. The Emperor told his people that the war was lost on August 15 and that all hostilities were to cease. That was all that saved them.
The physical and mental torment the prisoners had faced followed them as they were released. In Louis’s case he became an alcoholic as his way of escaping reality. A chance meeting with a young Billy Graham in Los Angeles saved him. He remembered the vow he had made on the raft to give his life to the Lord and went on to be productive as a citizen and father.
I give this book my highest recommendation to read.

Jack B. Walters - July 2, 2011