Five hundred sixteen years ago yesterday, Christopho Columbo discovered Japan (or thought he did; actually it was the Bahamas), claimed it for Spain, and the rest is history.

Which brings us to . . .

THE DEBT

President Bush continues to exceed all expectations. Our 232 years of accumulated National Debt, I have been writing in this space for some years, ‘will have reached $10 trillion or so by the time President Bush leaves office – up from under one trillion when Ronald Reagan took office.’*

Well, he hasn’t left office yet, and he’s already there – and with a quarter trillion to spare!

You go, Mr. President.

*Consider: 75% of all the debt our 43 presidents have racked up since 1776 was racked up by just three of them: Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

THE TRAGEDY

It didn’t have to be this way.

It wasn’t necessary to slash taxes on the rich – even a previous version of John McCain opposed doing that.

Nor was it necessary to oppose the kinds of regulation that could have kept unqualified buyers from getting loans (the less pumped the bubble, the less painful the bust).

And it surely wasn’t necessary to invade Iraq. (Even though it’s rarely said, or listened to, I’ll say it again: Most of the Democratic Senators who ‘voted for the war,’ and perhaps many of the Republicans, were not in fact voting for war; they were voting to give the President the authority, to give his negotiations teeth, foolishly taking him at his word that he would use the authority only as a last resort. Only later did we learn Iraq was the agenda long before 9/11.)

Here’s what a 41-year-old Barack Obama told a crowd of Chicago protestors in October, 2002, five months before we attacked:

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

Clear thinking. A steady temperament. Don’t forget to vote.

 

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