January 17, 2008


It's hard to believe, but we're approaching the fifth anniversary of the Bush administration's unnecessary war in Iraq. That's longer than the US Civil War and our involvement in World War II.

For the latest reckoning of US casualties, click here. As mentioned here earlier this week, the World Health Organization estimates over 150,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion.

Financially, the war has been estimated to cost over $1 trillion in the first four years. Now it's costing around $720 million per day or $500,000 per minute.

Over the last several days this blog has been exploring how people interested in a less violent and more just world can learn from studying conflict and strategy, with a special focus on Sun Tzu, who believed the highest level of accomplishment is to accomplish one's objectives without a struggle.

It's only fitting at this time to quote his warnings on the dangers of a long war, from Chapter 2 of The Art of War:

If battle is protracted, your weapons will be blunted and your troops demoralized. If you lay siege to a walled city, you exhaust your strength. If your armies are kept in the field for a long time, your national reserves will not suffice. Where you have blunted your weapons, demoralized your troops, exhausted your strength and depleted all available resources, the neighboring rulers will take advantage of your adversity to strike. And even with the wisest counsel, you will not be able to turn the ensuing consequences to the good.

Thus in war, I have heard tell of a foolish haste, but I have yet to see a case of cleverly dragging on the hostilities. There has never been a state that has benefited from an extended war. Hence, if one is not fully cognizant of the evils of waging war, he cannot be fully cognizant either of how to turn it to best account.

BLOOM AND BUST. Yale literary professor Harold Bloom doesn't care much for the Iraq war, Harry Potter, or Stephen King. I'm with him on the first, have no opinion on the second, but must admit a certain occasional flirtation with the works of the third. Especially the older stuff.

LIKE A SPRINGSTEEN SONG. This item from yesterday's NY Times about the loss of blue collar jobs points to a sad trend.


Black homeowners have been hit particularly hard, largely because predatory lenders have been steering them toward subprime loans for years at more than twice the rate of white homeowners, even when they could afford prime rates. According to the Urban League, home equity accounts for almost 90 percent of black homeowners' net worth. So as the housing market collapses, much of the new wealth that has accumulated in black communities in recent decades will go with it.

The Urban League and Rainbow/PUSH are planning a Jan. 22 march on the Department of Housing and Urban Development in DC to bring attention to this crisis.

FEAR AND TREMBLING. As the 2008 elections approach, some management types are scared about the prospects of a new Congress passing the Employee Free Choice Act which just might help rebuild the middle class. El Cabrero is temporarily overcome with sympathy for their plight. OK, I'm over it.

MORE ON MASSEYGATE. Here's the latest AP coverage about the ties between Massey CEO Don Blankenship and WV Supreme Court chief Justice Spike Maynard. Selection:

Since his election as justice in 1996, Maynard has helped decide at least eight cases at the Supreme Court involving Massey or one of its subsidiaries, an AP review shows. Maynard voted in Massey’s favor in all eight, dissenting from the court’s ruling in four of those cases.

PHYS ED. Here's something on a more rational approach to physical education and lifetime activity.

TWO BURNING ISSUES. This article suggest that blaming erratic behavior on a midlife crisis is a lame excuse. Damn. I was just getting ready to try that one. And, if you've ever spent sleepless nights wondering where, exactly, the fortune cookie came from, you can now rest in peace.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT, how 'bout a rodent big as a bull?


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