Prague Twin

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Iran and Al Qaeda: Friends or Foes?

Perhaps some of you remember the run-up to the Iraq invasion when virtually every speech that Bush gave mentioned "911" and "Saddam Hussein" in the same breath. Now, he never said that Saddam Hussein was in anyway responsible for 911, but he skillfully, masterfully muddled the two together in speech after speech. After a while, polls showed that a full 60% of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks of 9/11.

I don't think there has been a recent poll on this question, but the last time I heard, it was still at about 50%.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because of this. Yep, that is right, "al Qaeda and Iran are among the greatest threats to America." Doesn't that sound like they are in a group together somehow? How about this quote from the article...

(It) can live in peace with its neighbor, enjoy strong economic and cultural and religious ties, or it can continue to arm and train and fund illegal militant groups which are terrorizing the Iraqi people and turning them against Iran.

Arm and train militant groups which are terrorizing the Iraqi people? Not al Qaeda, of course, but if you didn't know that, it would be easy to make the leap. Here is another quote to help you make the leap...

Bush said Iraq was "the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century: Al Qaeda and Iran."

Converging? Not squaring off, but converging. The two greatest threats: al Qaeda and Iran. As if they are on the same I-hate-America team. Two wheels on the "axis of evil" teaming up to kill you and your family.

I have to hand it to his speech writers: this is brilliant. They have tied al Qaeda and Iran together in the minds of millions with this one. Of course, the years of repeating that "Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism" followed by "al Qaeda is the worlds most dangerous terrorist organization" is a requisite part of this well-planned scheme to dupe America into making this connection. The seeds have been sown so well, and now it is time to reap the harvest.

So here is the question: Does this new round of rhetoric indicate that we are getting very close to bombing Iran?

As a follow up: Will the media once again be culpable for helping to dupe the American public for failing to point out that there is no connection between the two?

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to a balanced budget

Those of you who know this blog also know that I track the public debt as a proxy for the budget deficit. You see, the budget deficit doesn't include the wars in Afghanistan and and Iraq, and it doesn't include the interest that is paid to finance the public debt. There are a lot of other things the deficit figure doesn't include, but those are the big ones. Wouldn't it be great if we, as individuals or in our businesses, didn't have to count things like interest on our debts or "emergency" expenditures even eight years after their inception? That is exactly what the government does. But I digress.

The point is, I track the total amount the government owes each fiscal year and compare it to the previous year. Then I do the math. The difference is, in my mind, the true budget deficit. That figure has been roughly half a trillion dollars a year since Bush II took office. In 2006 it was $574 billion. Then, in 2007 it dropped to "only" $501 billion which left the total public debt at just over $9 trillion at the end of the 2006/2007 fiscal year which ended at the end of September.

Considering all of the back-patting the administration has been doing regarding "record tax revenues" and "halving the deficit" one would expect that six months into the 2007/2008 fiscal year we would be seeing some improvement. Hardly.

In fact, the public debt has increased by $430 billion in just the first six months.

The debt is out of control, and nothing can stop it now.... or can it?