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Jim Getzen
Loving life in Sarasota, Florida.
Loving life in Sarasota, Florida.

Jim's posts

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Reflecting on Iraq

I was a supporter of the Iraq War. Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, murdering more than a million of them, was actively developing more WMDs, launched unprovoked wars against his neighbors, supported terrorism, and was defiant of the U.N. and the international community (see link).

In short, the world is far, far better off with the deaths of Saddam Hussein, and his torture-loving, bride-raping sons, Uday and Qusay. This is simply indisputable. The Iraq War, led by the U.S. and joined by numerous nations, certainly accomplished the objective of removing Hussein from power, much to the satisfying joy of the Iraqi people (remember the cheering crowds, tearing down Hussein's statue?). It also gave much needed credibility to the U.N.

Of course, we don’t know what would have happened had Hussein remained in power. Certainly, we wouldn’t have lost thousands of American lives to the war effort and spent so much money, and Hussein would have been free to continue his brutal reign, the threats to his neighbors, his WMD development, and his support of terror. But beyond those givens, it hard to say how history would have unfolded. Who knows what terribly events were averted by his ouster?

After the toppling of Hussein, the war turned into a brutally tough, nation-building project. This is where the bulk of American lives were lost. I had hoped that the result, a free and democratic Iraq, would be embraced by its citizens, and for several years it was, or at least appeared to be. Remember all those beaming voters, proudly showing off purple-stained thumbs? It seemed that Iraq was on the path, a bumpy one to be sure, to becoming a beacon of freedom in the Middle East, a region of the world that desperately needs one. It was gratifying and made the war seem worthwhile.

Having freed Iraq, the logical, final step would have been to negotiate a Status of Forces agreement, allowing American troops to be based in Iraq for an extended term, much like we have in South Korea. Our presence in South Korea has allowed that country to become a free and powerful ally. A small, semi-permanent U.S. base would have provided security and intelligence, and allowed time for Iraqi freedom to grow strong roots. Unfortunately, President Obama had no interest in keeping any troops in Iraq and made no effort to negotiate an agreement.

Obama’s intransigence left Iraq vulnerable, and when combined with the truly unfortunate and short-sighted “leadership” of Prime Minister al-Maliki, who seems hell-bent on alienating the Sunnis, it has yielded the chaotic, depressing mess we see today. It’s incredibly dispiriting to learn that the Iraqi Army, that we trained and supplied, have in large numbers given up and surrendered to the radical insurgents. After all the lives lost and money spent, this is the result? Where is the burning desire for freedom and democracy? It simply did not have enough time to become ingrained in the Iraqi culture. 

Knowing what we know now, and so therefore looking back in perfect hindsight, I have to reevaluate my support for the nation-building of Iraq. I still strongly believe Hussein had to be removed from power, yet I think that could have been accomplished with either a targeted bombing campaign perhaps in combination with special forces or a limited invasion whose sole purpose was to remove the Hussein regime.

An honest reflection leads me to believe the nation-building project, which took far longer than the invasion, was a mistake, at least based on the conditions we see today. Would it have worked if Obama had negotiated for a long-term U.S. base in Iraq, working in partnership with the Iraqi government? Possibly, and having spent the lives and money to free Iraq from dictatorship, it would have been wise to try, rather than throwing it all away, but it would but it would have taken a long time, and Americans are rightfully war-weary. And it would have taken a far more competent president than Obama to make it work (seriously, has there ever been a worse president?) and a far more accommodating leader than al-Maliki.

The hard truth is that long-term democracy in Iraq is impossible unless the Iraqi people want it badly enough. They have to be willing to get over their cultural and tribal differences, join together for a common cause, and fight like hell for it. Frankly, from what I am seeing, they aren’t up to the challenge, and might not be no matter how much time we give them.

Getting rid of the brutal Hussein was necessary, just, and was accomplished effectively, if not efficiently. The subsequent nation-building project was noble, but appears to have been a tragic waste.

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Tim Cook, Apple CEO, at a conference reportedly said, "Dear climate-change deniers, please don’t buy shares in Apple."

I am outraged by his remark.

First, can we all please acknowledge the term "climate change denier" is nothing but a clever marketing shift by those who believe in anthropogenic global warming (AGW)? Nobody says the climate doesn't change. "Climate change denier" is simply a way of attempting to mock and silence opposition, which is anathema to the scientific process.

In fact, it's the fervent supporters of AGW who seem to believe the climate shouldn't change. They seem to believe our climate should always stay the same and shouldn't have periods of warming or cooling, like the medieval warming period or the ice age.

If we would just stop using fossil fuels, they say,  the climate would stop changing and all would be well. They make dire, false predictions, like Al Gore saying the ice caps would be gone by now, or put forth computer models that prove to be inaccurate, then shrug, move the goal posts, and issue new warnings or make new predictions.

We climate realists accept that the climate is always changing. Our global weather may well be the most complex, interconnected system known to man. It is driven by everything from sunspots to cloud formations to volcanic activity to water vapor, to name but a few variables. And yes, CO2 may play a role, too, whether man-made or not. One thing is absolutely certain: the climate will never stop changing.

But this isn't about the veracity of global warming, it's about Tim Cook. For him to use the loaded term "climate change deniers" and say those people shouldn't buy shares in Apple is shocking.

I thought Apple was in the business of making computer, software, and entertainment products, not politics. Every single one of those products, by the way, uses electricity, the vast majority of which is provided by either coal, nuclear, or natural gas plants.

Hey, AGW promoters, if the problem is so real and dire, why not stop using your computers and electronic devices to save the planet? Mr. Cook, why are you selling energy-consuming machines, many of which are used purely or largely for entertainment?

Mr. Cook then went on to state, "We want to leave the world better than we found it," and said that Apple considers more than Return on Investment in its business operations. I think that's fine, and as a shareholder I can decide to either invest or not.

But let's not act like Apple is saintly. It makes most of its products in China, for one big reason: to save money, which helps ROI. It charges a lot of money for its products. Why? Because pure, unadulterated capitalism says it can. And those fat profit margins help ROI.

As an investor, I love that Apple is seeking to have products made inexpensively. I love that its products are highly desirable and command high prices.

It has worked. Apple has become a very large company, and it is sitting on, if you can believe it, about $160,000,000,000 in cash.

Hmmm, it seems to me that Apple has been pretty darned concerned with ROI after all.

Mr. Cook, stay out of politics. Run Apple, make the shareholders money, do some good in the process if you can, but don't insult me and millions of others climate realists by acting like we are subhuman outcasts. We shareholders can weigh the evidence and the arguments and make up our own minds, thank you very much.

Mr. Cook, I have owned Apple computers since the Apple ][+. I bought one of the original 128K Macintoshes. I am typing this on a MacBook Pro. I bought one of the original iPhones and have an iPhone 5 today. My family has a myriad of Apple products. I own APPL shares. I am a member of the Apple Developer program.

In short, I am a big supporter of Apple and a small shareholder. Mr. Cook, all I ask in return is not to be insulted.

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Just had to share this, via Ha!

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I'm not a fan of Christie, but the contrast between him and Obama is striking. Has Obama actually taken real responsibility for anything?
Looks like Clint Eastwood was right in talking to an empty chair...

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A new favorite quote.

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Comparisons like this one can't be distributed widely enough. We can argue about the solution, but can we all at least admit we have a serious problem?

Add my family to the list of those whose health insurance policy is being canceled due to #ObamaCare. Our insurer is Florida Blue.

The "recommended" replacement policy has a 36% higher premium, a 317% higher deductible, and a 108% higher out-of-pocket maximum.

This is sheer madness.

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We need to stop hiding behind political correctness and have a frank discussion about the awful, destructive culture that engulfs so many of our black young men. Its principle characteristic is a shockingly callous disregard for life and law.

Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts of America have decided to allow openly gay boys as scouts, but not gay adults as adult leaders. There was no easy decision here, but I think they made the right call. I am an active Assistant Scoutmaster and have two sons in Scouts.

I could write at length about this and explore the many different angles, but I've work to do, so I'll cover just one angle.

The vast majority of boys who join Scouts do so as Cubs in elementary school or at the end of fifth grade, when they are eligible to join Boy Scouts. These are children, not even old enough to be called pre-teens.

I can easily see a situation where a young boy joins Cubs in the first grade. He is well-liked by everyone and he can't wait to go to each meeting.

After several years as a Cub, he is finally old enough to become a Boy Scout. He is a model Scout and a popular kid. He learns valuable life and nature skills, works on rank advancement, and becomes a Patrol Leader and First Class Scout at 13 years of age. He has spent seven years in Scouts and is on the path to reach Eagle rank.

Having just reached puberty, he comes to realize that he is gay (although surely doubts remain at such a young age). Since a Scout is honest, he tells his parents and his Scoutmaster.

Can you imagine how heartless the Scoutmaster (and the Troop Committee) would have to be to kick this young man out of Scouting? Would you kick him out? I surely would not. It would be unconscionable!

Can you imagine telling him, "I'm sorry, but even though you have spent more than half your life in Scouting, even though you are well-liked, well-behaved, and a model Scout, even though you have done everything right, you are now kicked out of Boy Scouts because of a personal trait that has nothing to do with Scouting."?

I strongly believe homosexuality is very largely genetically determined and not a choice. Could you, as a heterosexual, choose to be a homosexual? Think about it for a second. It's not possible, is it? Why punish a kid and deny him the many incredible benefits of Scouting because of genetics?

There is much more to this topic, but I have to leave it there for now.
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