Sean's Blog

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Opinion And Current Events

Friday, May 09, 2003


"With so much good news going against them, the sight of Bush on the Abraham Lincoln was destined to drive the Democrats up walls. A politician connecting himself to a success he created? How unheard of! How lowdown! How crass! So the party wheeled out its most charming and plausible spokesmen.

Robert Byrd took to the floor of the Senate to call it the most disgraceful thing he had seen since he gave up his KKK membership."

Now that's funny.

Iraq will be divided into three zones: An American zone, A British zone, and a Polish zone. A Polish zone? What the hell?

The Weekly Standard has an article about Poland's contribution to the war effort:

"Radek Sikorski observes that "It was wise for the United States to show countries who backed it in this war that they are appreciated. This will probably pave the way for more 'coalitions of the willing.' Poland took a lot of risks supporting America. It also took a beating from some of its European friends."

President Bush continues to impress me with his diplomatic skills:

"I propose the establishment of a U.S.-Middle East free trade area within a decade to bring the Middle East into an expanding circle of opportunity, to provide hope for the people who live in that region," Bush said.

The president said Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick have already embarked on opening up trade relations with regional leaders. They are meeting in Jordan next month to discuss improving the economies of the region.

The administration envisions bringing the countries of the region into a pact one by one. So far, countries like Bahrain and Egypt, which have been allies of the United States, have expressed interest in such an arrangement. Countries like Libya and Syria, both listed as state sponsors of terrorism, would need to make concrete changes before they could join an agreement."

There are more indications that France helped Iraq and Iraqi leaders right up to the last minute and even after the war began:

"France has historically had a very close relationship with Iraq. My understanding is that it continued right up until the outbreak of the war. What took place there after we'll find out," he said.

While France adamantly denies dealing with Iraq after the start of the war, multiple intelligence reports indicate the French may have helped some Iraqi leaders escape. The Washington Times was the first to report Wednesday that France offered visas to Iraqi officials who had fled to Syria. France denied those charges as well."

No one is fooled. France is no longer a U.S. ally. We know, they know, and the whole world knows. I said it before: Let the games begin. Don't bet on the French.

The story that everyone linked to is expired, but the headline said it all: "Madonna Thanks France For Opposing U.S. War." To which I can only say: Fuck Madonna.

Finally, this is the text of President Bush's speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. I am so thankful that George W. Bush is our president. He has done a superb job and I shudder to think what we would have done without him.

While I am catching up, I read this in The Weekly Standard several days ago. It's a piece about the Australian contributions in the war:

"The Howard government backed up his tough talk with action. "Operation Falconer," as the Aussies code-named their coalition efforts, included:

--250 personnel on 14 F/A-18 RAAF Hornet aircraft

--600 personnel on two Royal Australian Navy frigates, HMAS Anzac and Darwin

--150 personnel deployed with three RAAF C130 Hercules transport aircraft

--A Navy clearance diving team capable of locating and disposing of mines

--500 personnel in a "Special Forces Task Group" (including a Special Air Service squadron)

--350 sailors and soldiers embarked on the sea transport ship HMAS Kanimbla"

This is rather old news also, but I think it's important enough to mention again. It's a story in The New York Times about the looting of the National Museum of Iraq.

Remember that story? It was looted and everything was gone? Remember that? Remember the tisk tisking from the media about how the U.S. had so miserably failed to protect the museum while protecting the oil ministry? Remember that? Well, as it turns out 29 items are missing. 29:

"Col Matthew F Bogdanos, who is investigating looting and is stationed at museum, says museum officials gave him list of 29 artifacts that were definitely missing, but that 4 items on list have been traced; notes that 25 missing pieces is far cry from 170,000, which was originally reported;"

I meant to link to this several days ago. It's a story in the Washington Post about May Day festivities in Cuba. One piece of trivia from the article jumped out at me:

"More than 900 union leaders from around the world - including 160 from the United States - reportedly were participating in the Havana rally."

That shocks me. I wonder what unions were represented.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

I haven't updated my blog in several days and it's about time that I do.

I was reinvigorated yesterday. I had a discussion of sorts with a co-worker about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and I realized how much I really do enjoy those kind of discussions.

I know NAFTA is ancient history, or at least the debate is ancient history, but it's still a rather hot topic in my part of the world. We used to have a lot of textile manufacturing jobs in this region of the U.S. until the passage of NAFTA. Now those jobs are gone and many people here are suffering. I'm not callous to that suffering, but the fact of the matter is that we really are better off without those jobs.

Textile manufacturing was becoming a low wage job because of Asian and other imports. It was inevitable that those jobs would leave the U.S., but I think it was the speed of those losses that has most people upset at our government for what they perceive as a betrayal. I disagree.

Many people here hate Bill Clinton and as far as I can tell this is one of the reasons why, but the fact of the matter is that Bill Clinton AND the Republicans in the House and Senate were the ones who pushed NAFTA through. For the most part the Democrats were opposed to the bill, but they only opposed it because the unions opposed it. The Democrats were doing what was best for Democrats while, and I firmly believe this, the Republicans were doing what was in the long term interests of the United States of America.

Here's why I say that. Our ultimate goal, as far as trade is concerned, is free trade worldwide. If we can get the world to agree to drop tariffs and basically open up all the world's market to free trade then that openess, or competition, will mean lower prices for me and my neighbors on virtually everything we buy. Yes, we lost some jobs, but most of those jobs were quickly becoming minimum wage jobs that we were going to lose anyway. We did lose other jobs besides textile manufacturing, but by and large the jobs we lost to NAFTA were jobs that we weren't going to want in the 21st century anyway. I say, let the other nations of the world have those jobs. Let them fight over those jobs. In fact, one of the side benefits of jobs going south is that maybe it will slow the rate of illegal immigration to this country by people looking for just those sort of jobs.

Our economy is evolving from an industrial base to a service base and the key to our success will be an increasingly educated workforce. 20 years ago a person could make a good life with just a high school education. 20 years from now that education will not be nearly enough. We must stress education and people with children must ensure that their kids have at least an associate degree or equivalent to maintain the standard of living that a high school education promises now. A high school education later in the 21st century will be like being a high school drop out now. The jobs a person with a high school education can get will be extremely limited.

The U.S. has a chance to corner a niche of the world economy. We will always have some manufacturing just as we have retained some farming in our move from an agricultural based economy to an industrial based economy, but if we can educate our people to a higher level then we can deliver services to the rest of the world that other countries are not prepared for.

The short term pain we are feeling is acute, but the long term gain from NAFTA-like agreements will be more than worth it. Future generations will benefit from our sacrifices, but only if that future generation is educated and prepared to take what we have given them. Old truths no longer apply. Years ago, people believed that the failure of the U.S. steel industry would mean the collapse of the U.S. That proved to be untrue. Now people are bemoaning the loss of manufacturing jobs and they suggest that the U.S. will collapse if we keep losing manufacturing jobs. Of course we can't lose them all, but it's time that we diversify our economy to take advantage of our capabilities and new realities.

The creation of the computer related industry is an example of the change that is taking place in this country. Not many people, me included, could have envisioned 25 years ago an entirely new industry being created by the computer. That example alone should encourage people and give hope. Who knows what jobs our advanced technologies will create in the future. DNA research will likely create a whole new segment to the medical field that we can't even imagine. That's another example of where we are positioning our nation. There are many more. Who knows what the future holds. Who knows what industries will materialize. The key to our success is a highly educated workforce. That's critical, but I believe our greatest days are ahead and I have faith that our nation will continue to lead the world well into the 21st century.