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The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

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Petraeus Report: A Military and Political Equation

Posted by iusbvision on September 25, 2007

The report that the country has been waiting for has arrived. General Petraeus has made his report and item number on his list- the surge is working, the military objectives have been met. General Petraeus reported that attacks and civilian deaths are down, and it is because of the surge. His report also stated that the military would be able to reduce the troop force levels to pre-surge levels by late summer next year. Two thousand troops will begin to come home from Iraq by the end of this month.  The main decrease will start in January. What are the areas of improvement in Iraq? Not military objectives, but political objectives and political stability.

The government is in a paralytic state, unable to govern itself effectively due in large part to the relations, or lack thereof between Sunni and Shiite’s. This is something we have been hearing about for some time, it seems that strong leadership and compromise between these two groups is the only answer. A summary of the most important part of the report, the military is doing great, they are achieving their objectives, but General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker need more time to assess the political side of the equation.

Reactions to this report have been mixed. I would like to think that the majority of Americans would feel good about hearing that the surge is working, and that the military has been very successful, it’s just the political side of the equation that needs more work. Still this positive news did not stop the group Moveon.org and the New York Times from attempting to turn this into a failure for America. As General Petraeus was presenting his report last week Moveon.org printed an ad in the New York Times portraying Petraeus as General “Betray Us”.  This was a gross and disgusting act by this group.

Here is how it should be, this is America- disagree with whoever you want. Intellectual debate is what it is all about. We all have opinions, and we all see the world differently. My point is that disagreeing with the General’s assessment is one thing, but slandering him and questioning his integrity is another. I am humbled by the service of all the men and women in our armed forces past and present.  Those who serve have my respect, gratitude, and should be given the benefit of the doubt. Those who attack anyone who served in our armed forces (like moveon.org) deserve nothing and should be regarded as the scum of society.

In an attempt to ad injury to insult, the New York Times assisted Moveon.org post the ad by cutting the price of the ad by more than half.  The New York Post reported, “A spokesman for MoveOn.org confirmed to The Post that the liberal activist group had paid only $65,000 for the ad – a reduction of more than $116,000 from the stated rate.” This was no surprise, the New York Times has a political agenda and they are very blunt about it. They are so far left that the majority of their editorials cannot be trusted. I truly believe in our armed forces, I have friends and family currently serving and I will not waste my time reading garbage that mocks them. I hope you all do the same.

As should be expected the Senate voted to condemn the ad with a 72-25 vote. It is interesting to note that Senator Clinton and Dodd voted against this measure, while Obama and Biden did not vote.  Republican Presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Sam Brownback joined every other Republican senator in condemning the advertisement. I read this as Clinton and Obama showing their true colors. Clinton supports the left wing of the Democratic Party more than the military and Obama trying to use the same strategy that helped him with the original vote to support the Iraq war, not having made a vote at all.

In the end it is uplifting to see that America’s military has once again succeeded. Let’s all just pray and hope that the political environment can catch up. It is also good to see some of America’s finest be able to come home and enjoy some much deserved rest. Expect to hear more in March 2008 as General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker return for an update from Iraq. 

Marcus Vigil

Posted in Marcus Vigil, Volume 4, Issue 3 | Leave a Comment »

My Attorney Insists I Offer My Most Sincere Apology

Posted by iusbvision on September 12, 2007

I am sorry, I was wrong. Does it really seem so hard? Remember when mom used to make you apologize to your sibling. It may have been a hard thing to do but that was supposed to teach us the lesson of how to be accountable for your actions. This is a lesson that seems to have been convoluted and lost in the lives of many high profile figures to the idea of damage control or self interest. The ironic part is that if these high profile people would just be honest in the first place, the damage would be far less severe.

I am talking about Larry Craig, Trent Lott and even Bill Clinton. All of them start with denial of the wrongs they have committed, and stop at nothing to avoid the blow to their careers. The truth is the truth, but we do not even see a shred of it from many of our public officials until they have no other choice. Even when many of our officials finally apologize, many still try to deny the truth, or the idea that they did anything wrong.

Let’s start with a recent case: Larry Craig. The Senator from Idaho was caught in a Minnesota airport bathroom using foot taping and other codes to solicit sex from an undercover police officer. The police officer was there to work an undercover sex sting set up.  Oops!

My point is not to focus on whether what he did was right or wrong (it was wrong) but on how he handled it afterwards. Craig first came out trying to say the police misconstrued his actions. We also found out that he had pled guilty to a lesser charge. His response was that he acted rashly and should have sought council before pleading guilty.

It was not until almost a week later that he had no other choice but to resign. Here is the part that bothers me the most:  “To Idahoans I represent, to my staff, my Senate colleagues, but most importantly, to my wife and my family, I apologize for what I have caused. I am deeply sorry. I have little control over what people choose to believe.” (emphasis mine) WOW, this guy has the audacity that even in his apology he puts it on what “people choose to believe.” This is by far one of the worst no-apology apologies ever!

In December of 2002 Senator Lott, the incoming majority leader, was celebrating the birthday of Senator Thurmond, who ran for president as a segregationist in 1948. While speaking at this event Lott made a remark about Thurmond’s run “We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years either.” 

The same guy went from saying this to just one week later saying “I apologize for opening old wounds and hurting many Americans who feel so deeply in this area…” Obviously not talking about himself. He started to end with “I’m not about to resign for an accusation that I’m something I’m not.”

Again, this is a horrible apology. He did not apologize for anything he did, just for the effect that what he did caused.  This is very similar to what Craig did. Are we seeing a pattern here?

Finally we end with the big one…former President Bill Clinton. I am sure everyone knows this story. Let me go straight to the main point. In January 1998 President Clinton strongly denied having sexual relations with Miss Lewinski.

He then spent the majority of the next year trying to play damage control. In the end, he had to discuss the ordeal eight times publicly. On December 11th, 1998 he said the following “What I want the American people to know, what I want the Congress to know, is that I am profoundly sorry for all I have done wrong in words and deeds.”

All definitions of the word “is” aside, (or any other disputed definition by the Clinton legal team) he directly lied to everyone at one point. It was bold, and he was caught.

My point is that our public officials know they have committed wrongs, and yet their first reaction is to lie about it, or articulate their words in a way that it was not their fault. The truth is the truth. I understand damage control, but it should never be at the cost of your integrity. The only time you even get the hint of an apology is when there is no way they can get away with their wrongful deeds.

In the end I wonder if these situations would have turned out better if each person had instead come out and publicly admitted the truth. I have no doubt that they would have. If they had told the truth then at least that aspect of their personal and public integrity would still be intact. Hey…if a five year old can tell the truth and be accountable for their actions, all of us should be able to.
   
Marcus Vigil

Posted in Marcus Vigil, Volume 4, Issue 2 | Leave a Comment »

I Have Seen the Light

Posted by iusbvision on August 27, 2007

I have the answer. This summer was an educational one for me. I feel so good about it that I decided to share the wealth, literally! I was introduced to a real financial guru through The Dave Ramsey Show. It is a show solely dedicated to giving people financial advice. People from all over the country call in to ask for advice on handling anything from home foreclosures to this country’s biggest problem… credit card debt.

Money issues are a problem in this country that is often ignored, as are the benefits of financial freedom. By the way, when I write financial freedom, I mean NO DEBT. A massive lack of financial management engulfs Americans, which never fails to leave their personal finances and assets in a depreciating spot.

It was in listening to this show that I heard about a new documentary that recently came out called Maxed Out. It is a surreal documentary. It focuses on the dangers and ruthlessness of credit card companies. After watching this, I realized that good financial management is a problem for more than just those who were in their career, have a family and/or a mortgage. It can be and is a problem for college students across the country, and this is demonstrated well. It has been just in the last 20 years that credit card companies started targeting students. 

According to Cardratings.com: “In the late 1980’s student credit card limits were around $300-$500 and parents were required to co-sign.  However when credit card companies began making a lot of money during the 1991 economic recession, they started looking for new markets and found it in the student population.” The documentary spends a lot of time focusing on the tactics that these companies use to get students into the trap, tactics that I have even seen on our campus.  They will give you a pizza, a frisbee, a t-shirt or some other “freebee; all you have to do is just sign up! 

I remember a day last semester when a local business was handing out flyers that said “free sub meal” at the Blimpie on the corner. This sent quite a few  hungry college students to their store, just to find out that they had to sign up for a credit card to redeem the deal. Why do they do this? (I mean there is a lot of money invested into some of these freebees)

The first reason is easy, because you pay interest when you use your credit card. The next bigger reason is more elusive, but they bet on the fact that you will spend more money when you buy something with credit. This is absolutely true! Swiping that credit card is far less emotional than laying down a few Benjamin’s on the table. When you lay down cash, you feel what that item costs you right then and there, but with credit, it becomes tomorrow’s worry, so you spend more with a sense of temporary peace. 

Now some of you may wonder why it’s bad if you can make the payments. The problem is that even before you graduate from college and get a job, you can very easily find your self thousands of dollars in credit card debt, only able to make minimum payments, and paying a 25+% interest rate. 

Even if you manage to pay it off each month, the dirty fact is that you spend more. Also, it reinforces bad habits of not only paying crazy interest rates, but of being comfortable with having your most powerful wealth building tool, your income, crippled by payments. 

Here is a stat to create this picture in your head: According to consolidatedcredit.org “It would take roughly 12 years for a student to pay off a $1,000 credit card debt with an 18% interest rate if they are making only the minimum payments.” That’s crazy, right?! 

Here are some stats to keep in mind that can be found at consolidatedcredit.org:

  • 78% of college students have at least one credit card. Nearly 40% of Freshman student sign-up for credit cards …
  • Of the 78% who have credit cards:
  • Average number of cards = 3
  • Average total credit card debt = $2,748
  • 32% have 4 or more cards
  • 13% have debt between $3,000 – $7,000
  • 35 out of the nations top 50 credit card issuers now compete in the college market.

So if you are tired of making payments, or if you want to know the facts about those plastic cards in your wallet, I highly suggest watching Maxed Out. I know that after you watch it, you will be so shocked that you may decide to invest a bit in learning about how to manage your personal finances. I also suggest reading “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey.  

If you are already in a financial mess of a situation there is hope, check out “Financial Peace”, also by Ramsey. If you think that this financial mumbo jumbo is not for you, think again because the average college graduate makes a couple million dollars over their lifetime. With the kind of earning potential that we all hope to have with our college degrees, what would it hurt having some financial knowledge and learning some easy ways to be smart with your money and truly live the American dream.

Marcus Vigil

Posted in Marcus Vigil, Volume 4, Issue 1 | Leave a Comment »