Thursday, June 07, 2012


Money talks.  The cigarette industry and allies spent $47 million to defeat a California ballot proposition that would have added an additional tax of $1 a pack on cigarettes.  They were successful.  No new taxes.  A couple of months ago polls showed that nearly 2/3 of the voters favored the tax.  What happened?  Money talks!

Counterinsurgency.  Not long ago that was THE winning strategy for coping with unwinnable military situations – like Iraq and Afghanistan.  It was the mantra promoted by David Petraeus, genius du jour back then.  Throw in enough troops, set them up to win the hearts and minds of the local people, and all will be well.  Some say it worked in Iraq.  I don’t think so.  It was a convenient cover that allowed us to leave, and that’s a good thing.  But a panacea?  I don’t think so.

Building on that misguided strategy, it was now time to put it to work in Afghanistan.  Obama embraced it in 2009.  Did it work?  Not even close.  So we don’t hear much talk about counterinsurgency any more.  It’s back to counterterrorism.  Take out the bad guys with drones, Seals and the rest.  Accept the inevitable killing of civilians and babies.  Forget about winning hearts and minds.  Just blow them to pieces instead.  Well, the good news is that we’ve got a new cover for getting out.  And that’s a good thing.

Euro 2012 begins tomorrow in Poland and Ukraine.  There is concern that the ugliness of racism will take center stage.  Unlikely.  The publicity and a united front against racism in football will suppress the problem.  It won’t get rid of it, but will put a damper on it, at least until Euro 2012 is over in July.  I wish the same could be said of match fixing.  There are allegations in dozens of minor football countries and now again in Italy, where many players, teams and officials are under investigation.  Is it a cultural thing?  Not really.  Greed and cheating don’t respect national borders.

Who will win Euro 2012.  Spain is still the best team in Europe.  Just behind them are Germany, Holland and France.  As for my friends in England?  Sorry, lads, it ain’t gonna happen for you – again.


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