Evelyn Pringle March 5, 2008
This election cannot be based on personal likeability. It matters not whether Barack Obama is a better speaker than Hillary Clinton or visa versa. Now is not the time or place for a popularity contest - the stakes are too high.
This country is in the midst of the biggest downhill plunge of the past 50 years and we need a President with a team of advisors ready to move into the White House with the most experience in every area of policy making the minute Bush leaves.
As personable as he is, and despite his good intentions, the fact remains; Barack Obama does not have the qualifications or experience for the job he is seeking.
Most importantly, his foreign policy experience is totally lacking, and for obvious reasons, this factor alone disqualifies him for the presidency at this time.
John McCain is in lockstep with Bush on Iraq, even if it means staying there for 100 years. The fact that Barack is doing as well as he is has recently led to a nagging suspicion that the Republicans are somehow aiding his campaign behind the scenes, totally unbeknownst to Mr Obama, because they believe John McCain would have a better shot at beating him than Hillary.
The country is in a do or die position in both Iraq and Afghanistan and we’re running out of money and second chances. Our soldiers have stuck in the senseless war in Iraq for five years, longer than either of the world wars.
A new book entitled, “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” by Nobel laureate and former chief World Bank economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and co-author Linda Bilmes, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, reveals the outrageous cost of the Iraq war.
Of course, in response to the book, the White House sent out a spokesman with the usual worn out mantra about 9/11 stating:
“People like Joe Stiglitz lack the courage to consider the cost of doing nothing and the cost of failure. One can’t even begin to put a price tag on the cost to this nation of the attacks of 9/11.”
In a broadcast interview with Democracy Now on February 28, 2008, the authors said the Bush administration has repeatedly low-balled the cost of the war in Iraq and a second set of records were kept hidden from the American public.
According to Ms Bilmes, “right now we spend $12 billion a month in Iraq alone, $16 billion if you include Afghanistan.”
“Which doesn’t include the cost down the line,” she said, “if you include just the cost that we’ve already incurred for veterans and replenishing equipment and so forth, it’s double that.”
“It’s $25 billion a month,” she explained.
During the interview, Ms Bilmes described what she called “really outrageous situations” when trying to get information about the war. Even today, she said, “if you go to the official DOD website, what you will find is a number around 30,000 wounded, but that is only the wounded in combat.”
She explained that if the non-combat wounded in Iraq are counted, for example, soldiers who are injured when they’re driving vehicles at night, because it’s unsafe to drive during the day; or soldiers wounded when they are being transported from one place and another, who never would have been there otherwise, the number of wounded is more than double the number listed on the DOD website.
“We had to use the Freedom of Information Act to get access to that number,” she said.
Mr Stiglitz discussed how the government ripped off kids who were lured into joining the military with the signing bonuses and had to pay the money back if they were injured soon after going to Iraq. “They signed a contract to serve for three years,” he explained. “The fact that they get blown up after one month means they haven’t fulfilled their contract.”
He noted that in the election campaign, people are looking at two issues: the economy and the war. “I think there’s one big issue,” Mr Stiglitz said, “and that’s the war, because the war has been directly and indirectly having a very negative effect on the economy.”
He noted that there is not only an economic opportunity cost, but also a security opportunity cost and points out that while we were focusing on Iraq, “the problems in Afghanistan got worse, and the problem of security in Afghanistan is much worse than it was five years ago.”
During the interview, Amy Goodman asked Mr Stiglitz, “Who is profiting from this war?”
“Well, actually,” he replied, “there are two big gainers in this war and only two: the oil companies and the defense contractors.”
“One of the big pools of wealth are in the Middle East,” he noted, “the countries that are the oil exporters.”
“We are transferring hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said, “from American consumers, businesses, to the oil exporters.”
Specifically the most money is going to Saudia Arabia, Iran and Venezuela.
In an article in the February 23, 2008 Times Online, Mr Stiglitz and Ms Bilmes describe how government officials frequently talk about the lives of our soldiers as priceless. “But from a cost perspective,” they write, “these “priceless” lives show up on the Pentagon ledger simply as $500,000 - the amount paid out to survivors in death benefits and life insurance.”
“In areas such as health and safety regulation,” they point out, “the US Government values a life of a young man at the peak of his future earnings capacity in excess of $7 million - far greater than the amount that the military pays in death benefits.”
“Using this figure, the cost of the nearly 4,000 American troops killed in Iraq adds up to some $28 billion,” the stated.
In conclusion, the authors note that their book represents the cost only to the US and does not reflect the “enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.”
As of today, 18 former admirals, generals, and senior defense officials are supporting Hillary. In a conference call with reporters on March 2, 2008, Brigadier General John Watkins, Jr, stated:
“As I think about the challenges facing the nation and having been in uniform for almost thirty years, worked with a number of presidents to include the last four, I can’t think of a single person – those generals included – who is better qualified to walk into the Oval Office than Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t make that statement very lightly. She is more qualified, in my view, than her husband Bill was when he entered the office.”
General Wesley Clark said, “She has done her homework on national security and I know from my personal discussions with her and with many other friends that go in and brief her in her role in the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
“She knows the facts, she knows the details, plus she has the big picture,” he stated. “She is a strategic thinker but she has the building blocks of the strategy in her personal knowledge.”
“In this world that we face today,” says Admiral William Owens, “experience will be really at a premium, especially at the level of the Commander-in-Chief.” He explained that:
“There’s not time to learn. The phone rings and you have to be ready. You have to ready with intuition, with experience and with skills.”
He pointed out that, “this world will have the complexities that perhaps we’ve never before seen,” and “we need people with great judgment.”
Admiral Owens says he thinks Hillary “brings the best of talent, intuition and experience to handle these unknown threats in the future.”
According to Lieutenant General Frederick Vollrath, “we absolutely have to have a leader with the proven experience.”
“America, in the area of national defense, must be successful and Senator Clinton has that experience to create change, to understand the risk, and to get the job done,” he said.
On a personal note, Major General Paul Eaton said, “I have a Special Forces Captain son and a Sergeant Paratrooper both in Afghanistan and I find Senator Clinton the perfect choice to be their Commander-in-Chief and to display the loyalty to command our armed forces and to rebuild them after the conflicts in which we are engaged right now.”
Lieutenant General Claudia Kennnedy stated: “I think she’ll rebuild relationships with other countries that have been suffering for the last seven or eight years; those relationships have really been strained beyond anything I would have anticipated.”
The above testimonials provide enough evidence of her qualifications on military matters for this untrained military mind. Hillary, along with her top foreign policy advisor, former President Bill Clinton, offer the best hope for getting our soldiers out of the killing fields in Iraq in the shortest amount of time possible.
The former President is admired all over the world. He is a natural-born diplomat and we also need him to help repair the damage done to our relationships with world leaders.
As far as the economy, the country was in dire straights when the first President Clinton took office after the first Bush left and the economy was in great shape when the second Bush stepped in
Hillary’s experience gained during the first Clinton Administration is verifiable. The country went from a deficit of $290 billion in 1992, to an expected surplus of more than $250 billion for 2001. Eight years earlier, the Congressional Budget Office had projected a $513 billion deficit in 2001. In 2000, the surplus was the largest in US history at over $200 billion.
Economic growth averaged 4% per year, compared to an average 2.8% during the Reagan-Bush presidencies. Inflation was the lowest since the 1960s, averaging 2.5%.
More than 20 million jobs were created and American workers saw double-digit earning growth, and the bottom 20% had the largest increase at more than 16%. Unemployment dropped to the lowest level in 30 years, from close to 7% in 1993, to 4% in November 2000. The country’s poverty rates were the lowest in 30 years.
The homeownership rate topped 67% in the third quarter of 2000, the highest rate on record.
With all that said, on February 4, 2008, USA Today warned that the “next president will inherit a deficit of about $400 billion, and maybe more,” which means the second Clinton Administration will take office faced the same financial disaster as the first time around.
In fact, the country is now worse off then when the first Bush left. According to Department of Labor Statistics released on January 16, 2008, real weekly earnings increased only 0.9 percent nationally in 2007, but food purchased at the grocery store was 4.2% higher than in 2006. This increase was the highest percentage year-over-year increase since 1990. The price of bread rose 7.4%, eggs 29.2%, and milk increased 13.1%.
The data shows college tuition and expenses increased by 6.2% in 2007, the cost of attending a technical or trade school was up 4%, and the fees for child care and nursery school increased 4.3%.
Health insurance costs rose 10.1% in 2007, medical care increased 5.8%, and the price of medical-care services rose 5.3%. In August 2007, the US Census Bureau reported that the number of Americans without health insurance rose to 15.8% of the population in 2006, or 47 million people.
On December 30, 2007, a report by Sam Zuckerman in the San Francisco Chronicle called 2007, “the year that the greatest housing boom of the post-war era turned into the greatest housing bust,” and explained:
“It started with a rising tide of foreclosures among subprime borrowers - those who took out loans with loose documentation requirements or little money down. By the summer, losses among subprime lenders spread to big banks around the world that had invested in securities based on subprime mortgages.”
“The result was one of the most severe lending lockdowns of recent decades,” according to the report in the Chronicle. “Banks stopped making loans, and when they resumed, they tightened requirements and jacked up rates for all kinds of customers, including other banks.”
“As credit dried up,” Mr Zuckerman notes, “home price stopped rising and then lurched downward, while the number of sales plummeted.”
When introducing former President Clinton for a campaign speech supporting his wife, at a Kirtland, Ohio high school, on March 1, 2008, Ohio’s Lt Governor Lee Fisher, summed up the best reason for sending Hillary to the White House in the following concise statement quoted in the Toledo Blade:
"Bill and Hillary Clinton for eight years set this nation on a new course and we have now the best chance we have since then, not only to take that course and set it right again, but to take it to new heights."
Hillary can beat McCain and no offense to Mr Obama, but with her knowledge and experience in the White House she is the most qualified person for the job in 2008.