September Headlines Monday, Oct 3 2011 

Under the headline “Why We Need a Third Party,” Washington Post columnist Matt Miller condemns both the Democratic  and Republican parties for being “prisoner  to interest groups” whose chief aim is “to win elections, not solve problems.”

Some deep thinking there. Miller goes on to list unemployment, the budget, health care and education as problems “we need to truly fix,” then  quotes the late Senator Pat Moynihan saying “If issues can’t be discussed, they can never be advanced.”

What’s needed to bring about “a new politics of problem-solving,” writes Miller, is a third party that would offer “candidates with the vision and nerve to fill today’s void.”

Now why didn’t I think of that? Possibly because my thought waves were hung up on a New York Times headline earlier in the month:



My, what a surprise that was — along with a Post headline the same day that expressed the Pentagon’s view that we’re involved in an “endless war.”

In his 2010 book “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War,” retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich predicted it all, down to the matter of American lawmakers, Democrat and Republican alike, approving billions-per-month to build roads, hospitals and schools overseas, while ignoring the need to build roads, hospitals and schools  here at home.

And more: “With current Pentagon outlays running at something like $700 billion annually,” wrote Bacevich, “the United States spends as much or more money on its military than the entire rest of the world combined,” with “approximately 300,000 troops stationed abroad occupying 761 ‘sites’ in 39 foreign countries.”

There lies a “problem,” one would think, that third-party advocates like Miller would add to their list of things “we need to truly fix.”

But no – the Post columnist, while purporting to speak with “vision and nerve,” is no better than the issue-dodgers he criticizes when it comes to confronting what our last soldier-president, Dwight Eisenhower, called “the military-industrial complex.”

Why is it that the only politicians willing to do that, e.g., Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, are widely derided as kooks? A ventured guess: Because, Mr. Miller, when the “problem” involved is the Bush-Obama Doctrine of “endless war,” what America needs isn’t a third party — it’s a second party.

When Is An Issue Not An Issue? Monday, Nov 8 2010 

Let  me  show my age by revealing that I grew up in a time when there was no penalty for face-masking in football  because there  were no face masks;  when people rode in vehicles called streetcars to baseball games that were played in daylight;   when characters in movies could smoke but not curse;  and when the  ­Number One issue in any election held while Americans were fighting and dying overseas was that Americans were fighting and dying overseas.

That said, please tell this relic of the 20th century how the most heated, divisive mid-term election in a generation could take place with candidates venting their feelings over health care, bailouts, taxes, deficits, immigration, but with no question raised over a decade-old war in which young Americans are fighting and dying.

What’s more, fighting and dying with no clear objective and, as the man in charge of the war, General David Petraeus, tells us, no end in sight. This, says Petraeus, is a war our children will inherit, the same view held by that great sage of the Vietnam era, Henry Kissinger, who warns that Americans “must be prepared for a long struggle.”

Read now, as quoted by Andrew J. Bacevich in “The New American Militarism:  How Americans are Seduced by War,” what another sage observer once said about long struggles: (more…)