Notes on my Desk

The Bush Administration has said that it would take an additional $87 Billion to “finish the job in Iraq”.

My advice? Give it to them. The amount quoted strikes me as rather low, frankly, but it’s money that the United States is going to have to spend, whether it likes it or not. And it may be money that we should be thinking about spending as well.

Yes, we can complain all we want about how botched the post-war reconstruction was, or the Bush Administration’s cynical treatment of our NATO allies and the American public, but that wouldn’t be productive. The world, as a whole, will lose if Iraq is left to crumble into complete anarchy (as opposed to the partial anarchy that exists now). Now is not the time to feed the other side crow. You’d think we’d have learned that back in April when the tables were turned.

The Democratic contenders for the president were quick to jump on the Bush Administration for lobbing such a high figure at Americans. A constructive comment on the process? Not really. Comments about how the money could be spent at home are spurious, at best; the United States has now major obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan and scrimping now is going to cost far more than the $87 Billion bill that Bush has submitted to congress. Howard Dean himself as much as said so.

Is it surprising that these Democratic contenders said these things in the face of earlier criticism that the Bush Administration wasn’t doing enough to ensure stability in Iraq and Afghanistan? No. And their attacks on this issue are probably not worth of our criticism, or even our attention. We are entering an election year, and Bush has a $130 million war chest. The Democratic contenders are simply doing their jobs, and there’s no doubt that the Republicans would do the same thing if the tables were turned.

There is plenty to criticize the Bush Administration for in the handling of the lead-up and the aftermath of the war. Unfortunately, these criticisms are not easily condensed into clear political rhetoric, so if you’re looking for consistency in political speeches, keep looking. Just make the check on your scorecard, and move on.

Some things which crossed my desk at Alternatives Journal

Boise Cascade, a pulp and paper company, has caught the attention of environmentalists for reasons you might not expect: its eco-friendly nature. Environmental organizations took out a full page ad in the New York Times praising the company’s transformation into something truly green, phasing out old-growth harvests by 2004, tracking the source of wood it purchases from other companies and strongly favouring the purchase of wood from “certified forests”. The Idaho Statesman says that the new policies “have transformed Boise Cascade from a despised industry dinosaur to a model of environmentally friendly forestry.”

Interesting. And if these folks can do it, why can’t other companies? (Link courtesy Grist Magazine)

Todd Turnbull of Waterloo Wide Web points me to a plan to continue the restoration of Cleveland’s downtown with a massive new streetcar museum

The Green Party of Ontario has achieved a significant milestone during this election campaign: every one of Ontario’s 103 ridings will have a Green Party candidate, the first time in decades that a new political party has been able to field a full slate of candidates.

(The Green Party press secretary may want to check his or her facts; “almost a century” since a new party has emerged onto the scene and run a full slate of candidates? The next most recent party would have to be the NDP (or the CCF before them). They only formed in the thirties, and probably only had a full slate of candidates in one of the 1940s elections. You can round sixty years up to a full century, but it is a bit of a stretch…)

In any event, it is a milestone, and the Green Party should be proud. They are fighting this election hard, and they seem to have more resources than usual. They may be a political force to watch; in previous byelections, they got the same percentage of the vote as the NDP. Walkerton gave the Greens a considerable boost, and the high number of smog days provides fertile ground on which this movement can grow. They are connecting with a portion of the voting public that hasn’t been reached by the other parties. I think that if the NDP is looking for ways to reconnect with the Left of this country, they could do well to talk merger with the Greens.

Finally, read the fearsome tale of the Plush Cthulu… if you dare!

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