Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (book review)

Those who say “it is the economy” and “not the war” forget that the war has had a negative impact on the economy. When the US went to war in Iraq in March of 2003, the American people were told it was going to cost $50 billion. Just recently, the Bush administration has asked for a defense budget of 515.4 billion, a 7.5 increase, while calling for major cuts (200 billion) from Medicare and Medicaid programs. This is in addition to a request for an additional supplemental 70 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The next American President will inherit a deficit of 400 billion dollars.While President Bush says the war has not hurt the US economy, and he has never lied to us before, a new book puts a “conservative estimate” of the war’s cost at $3 trillion. It could easily be as high as five trillion.

Nobel laureate and former chief World Bank economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and co-author Linda Bilmes of Harvard University, argue in The Three Trillion Dollar War that the Bush administration has mislead the American people by repeatedly underestimating the long term costs of the war. Currently, it’s costing $25 billion a month. Two more years of staying in Iraq will cost another $600 billion. Three more years and it’s close to a trillion dollars more.

Stiglitz and Bilmes argue that the Iraq War has become the second-most expensive war in US history, after World War II. They argue that costs of the war outlined in the budget are not the full cost because there are other costs hidden elsewhere in the defense budget.

The White House has responded negatively to the book. White House spokesperson Tony Fratto stated, “People like Joe Stiglitz lack the courage to consider the cost of doing nothing and the cost of failure. One can’t even begin to put a price tag on the cost to this nation of the attacks of 9/11.” This is a strange comment when you realize that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11!

According to the authors, the most important budgetary costs are the long-term costs of taking care of veterans-their disability and veterans’ healthcare benefits. This cost will total hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few decades. This war has had a huge number of injuries. Of the 1.6 million who have fought, an estimated 39 percent will wind up with some form of disability. The longer the war lasts the greater the number of injuries and greater costs of disability benefits into the future. The official DOD website, gives a number around 30,000 wounded, but that is only the wounded in combat. There are also non-combat injuries that double the DOD figure which are also costly. The number of American fatalities reached 4,000 by Easter Sunday 2008. Their families must also be compensated. It is impossible to imagine what Mc Cain’s “hundred year war” would cost!

The war has also been associated with an increasing price of oil. We’re spending money on oil exports from Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting countries. Since the beginning of the war, the price of oil has skyrocketed from about $25 a barrel to $100 a barrel since the war began. This has had a ramifying effect on the economy.

The authors note that the Iraq war has been the most expensive war since World War II. In this war, the US spent three times per Iraqi than what was spent per European in the Marshall Plan. The very high casualty rate in Iraq has exponentially boosted the costs. In World War II, Vietnam, and Korea, the number of wounded troops per fatality was about two-to-one or three-to-one. Today the number of wounded troops per fatality is seven-to-one in combat. If you include all of those wounded in non-combat and those sick with disease that had to be medevaced home, it’s fifteen-to-one. Higher casualties mean that the United States has a long-term cost of taking care of thousands of disabled veterans for the rest of their lives.

The authors also note that the cost of the private contractors such as those that work for Blackwater are expensive compared to what the government pays per year for American soldiers. Security contractors cost as much as $400,000 a year, compared to soldiers costing the government $40,000. The privatization of so much of the actual war and occupation also contributes to the explosive inflation of costs.

The authors claim that this the first time the US went into war by cutting rather than raising taxes. The war has been financed by deficit spending. The Bush administration has fooled people into thinking that they could wage a war for free. Since 40% percent of the financing has come from abroad, it means that Americans will be paying interest on the borrowed money for years to come.

The Bush administration has successfully transferred hundreds of billions of dollars from American consumers and businesses to the oil exporters. The two big winners in this war are the oil companies and the defense contractors. The losers are the American and Iraqi people. The money spent on the war is money that’s not being spent here at home on the American infrastructure and for the benefit of the American people.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sacramento : Protests and Candlelight Vigils Mark Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

On March 19, the eve of the first day of Spring, I demonstrated with hundreds of other Sacramento citizens bearing witness to the 5th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. In spite of a crippled economy, the horrible war of aggression goes on and on with no end in sight. People in every major city of America were having similar demonstrations.The turnout everywhere was not as high as we in the peace movement would have liked, but the spirit of resistance was clearly present. In the last few days, both Democratic candidates for the Presidency have condemned the war as a “mistake,” and have publicly vowed to begin the process of removing American troops. We need to pressure them to remove the troops pronto, and then support an international effort to provide war reparations to restore the devastated country to a condition of civility and independence.

First, at 4:30 PM through 6:30 PM, I went to a street demonstration at one of Sacramento’s busiest intersections at Howe and Fair Oaks Blvd. Hundreds of enthusiastic young and old protesters held up all kinds of anti-war sign and a few signs reading “HONK IF YOU WANT PEACE.” The horns never stopped honking during the time I was there. It is clear from the response that many Americans do not like this war, even if they wouldn’t get out of their cars and join us.

At 7 PM I attended a Candlelight Vigil at the beautiful Sacramento Unitarian facility off of Sierra Blvd. Three hundred (300) peaceniks gathered there to sing songs, speak out against the war, and light candles in the name of peace. A giant peace sign made up of glowing candles was placed on the lawn of the Unitarian church grounds.

The guitar strumming Unitarian pastor with a piano player accompanying him sang peace songs such as the always popular “we shall overcome,” and John Lennon’s IMAGINE. The singing pastor also made a peace speech offering many insightful comments about how the war expenditures could be used better to solve problems at home.

Two mothers, the wife of a soldier with two children and the mother of a soldier, gave emotional testimony regarding their suffering and worries, bringing tears to these old eyes. An Iraqi women also spoke about how the war affected her. There was a sharing of compassion between the audience and the speakers that restored my hope.

I myself made an anti-war statement about how destructive American policy has been to Iraq during the last 17 years, noting how the two massive military attacks and the bombings of the urban infrastructure of Bagdad, was itself a form of “terrorism” that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and left the society in chaos and ruin. I also raised the forbidden issue of Iraq’s oils reserves and how an imperial US policy of control and domination is the root cause of the war and why it has to change.

I was exhausted at the end of the day, but was happy to be out there protesting with other conscientious Americans who have not stopped questioning the official story about this illegal war of aggression against a society that had nothing to do with 9/11. I still await new Nuremberg Trials for accused war criminals Bush and Cheney, who continue to this day lying about the dishonorable war.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obama’s Blood and The Forbidden Truths

After hearing Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech stating he wanted to see Barack Obama “bloodied up politically,” I was not surprised to see a tidal wave of damaging anti-Obama news stories and allegations in the mainstream media. It was bad enough that he was being hit hard by noxious Clinton claims that he was “inexperienced,” or that he was not ready to be “Commander in chief.” I scoffed at the Clinton scare ads about who you want answering the phones in the middle of the night in case of an emergency. Yet, in 2002 it was Barack Obama who courageously stood up against the war fever and spoke out against the invasion of Iraq when everyone else, including Hillary Clinton, was screaming for innocent Iraqi blood. Now that country lies in chaos and ruins.

Next, Geraldine Ferraro , a zealous Clinton supporter, engaged in what social psychologists call the “ultimate attribution error” by arguing that Barack Obama was where he was because he was black, implying that he had no real Presidential qualities that could explain his success as a candidate. This made me wonder. Maybe Obama is under attack precisely because he really does represent change, even if only incremental change, and there are many to his political right in both parties who fear that his cry for change is not just empty rhetoric.

The latest media furor was over videotaped remarks from Obama’s former minister, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. The bloodhounds were soon barking and snipping at Obama’s heels demanding a renunciation of the pastor’s words. The preacher stated emotionally that US policies and violence around the world were “damned” by God, and had brought on 9-11. He also said that the US was the number one “killer” in the world, that in a day it had wasted over 70 thousand civilian lives by dropping an atom bomb on Hiroshima and days later took another 70 thousand lives dropping one on Nagasaki.

In interviews on CNN and MSNBC, Obama disavowed and condemned the Reverend’s angry statements. He said he was not present when the controversial comments were made, but that he should not be made “guilty by association.” They were not, after all, his words. To his credit he refused to renounce his relationship with his pastor who performed his wedding ceremony and was the inspiration for his book, THE AUDACITY OF HOPE. Furthermore, Obama said he would remain a church member, although did remove the pastor from his African American Religious Leadership Committee

In a calm voice, Obama explained that his pastor had been politicized in the 1960’s during the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam War, a time when there was much more racial tension and anger in the air. He added that the pastor’s confrontational words and style ran counter to his own approach of avoiding polarization and trying to create bridges between people. Finally, he stated that the pastor brought him to Jesus: “What I have been hearing and had been hearing in church was talk about Jesus and talk about faith and values, and serving the poor.”

Reverend Wright’s fiery sermon several years ago implying that the U.S. brought the horrifying Sept. 11 attacks on itself is a thesis that has been defended by scholars like Chalmers Johnson in his books BLOWBACK, THE SORROWS OF EMPIRE, and NEMESIS. Prior to 9/11, the book BLOWBACK predicted that US policies and use of force around the world were generating anger and resentment that could lead to violence being used against the US. Chalmers Johnson got the radical concept of “blowback” from that infamous agent of revolutionary change, the CIA. There is overwhelming evidence that the US supported Islamic militants in Afghanistan during the 1980s who were given training, weapons, and money to fight off the Soviet Union, and that many of these same militants (like Osama Bin Laden) are now declared enemies of the United States. Blowback!

Furthermore, it is just a historical fact the US killed well over a 100 thousand civilians in two atomic flashes in densely populated Japanese cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The American general and future Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, said “dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary,” noting that Japan was already in ruins and wanted to surrender. Historical scholar, Gar Alperovitz, in his thick book THE DECISION TO USE THE ATOMIC BOMB (1995), questioned the use of the atomic bombs as a “military necessity” needed to save American lives and end the war. He argued that the notion that it was necessary in order to save American lives was itself an “American myth.”

What is going on here? Why are arguably true statements about history universally treated with contempt and disbelief by all media commentators and politicians? Are these forbidden truths? Is it also wrong to go back even further and say that the US massacred Native Americans when it colonized the American continent, that it exploited slave labor to run the plantation economy of the South? Are these controversial statements? Is it now “politically incorrect” to tell the truth about the Holy American Empire and its violence in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is it true that you “hate America” if you believe any of the above?

It is important that we understand that this is a cheap ideological trick, a product of a false and cheap patriotism, the kind you hear daily on FOX NEWS. It is based upon denial and a denial of the denial. The assumption that if you want to change the unilateral imperial policies of the Bush administration you must consequently hate America is false. What if you believe that these very imperial policies - the occupation, the practice of torture, the CIA “Rendition” program, and the unilateral use of American military violence are harmful to the long term well being of America? Are we to keep quiet, so that our love of country is not questioned? Are we to remain silent?

Can it be that those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it?

There are still many wonderful aspects about living in America, and there are certain concrete gains created by our Democratic capitalist culture that have benefited humanity. But does this mean that we have to park our brains forever, wrap it in the flag, and stop thinking critically of our government’s use of violence against others in the world?

Was Admiral William Fallon’s resignation as U.S. commander in the Middle East lacking in patriotism for disagreeing with Bush regarding the wisdom of a proposed US military attack on Iran? Could it be that saying “no” to the aggressive, unnecessary, and an unjust war and occupation in Iraq is in fact patriotic? When aggressive war is made sacrosanct, patriotism is indeed “the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Isn’t that the lesson of the Nuremburg Trials?

Finally, I remember being very upset the morning of 9/11/2001, when a friend in San Diego called me and told me in an excited voice to turn on my television set. I was visibly angry when I saw the twin towers crumble straight to the ground. I said to myself that whoever did this was going to push this country politically to the far right. I feared that the Bush administration would manipulate the fear in a regressive way. I feared an irrational a war of revenge. I feared the so called “war on terror” would only set the country back politically, and would seriously endanger open discussion and our valued traditions of American constitutional civil liberties and free speech. Everything I feared has since come true, if not worse. It is, as Obama has said over and over in his stomp campaign speeches, a time when Americans want a change.

Finally, I am a native born American that wants change, and wanting “change” is not anti-American. We must as Americans repudiate Bush and his policies of fear, torture, and war.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Historic Importance of the 2008 Presidential Elections

There are some who say that American Presidential elections are not that important, that we progressives should not spend too much of our precious time on them. Nevertheless, Presidential elections are important because they are a part of the civic process of political legitimation and validation in America’s mass-mediated democratic society. American voters get to decide which political party controls the State, and which party forms an administration that defines domestic and foreign policy.

In the United States, Presidential elections are particularly important because they involve mobilized bureaucratic political machines, the large corporations, and tens of millions of millions of Americans who vote and get involved in doing the daily work of the political parties. Because so many people perceive and act as though elections are important, they become important and real in their consequences.

In the US, the two large bureaucratic political party machines, the Democratic and Republican Parties, administer, organize, and take responsibility for the lengthy and costly voting and election process. Here the ultimate prize is political power for the next US President, its administration, and the Party that got them into power. Political organizers and strategists in both parties are paid big bucks to get results.

The powerful corporations certainly consider elections very important and spend millions to make sure that their economic interests and power are represented by both parties. The Pentagonians and the Generals also get their say on the television, making sure that whoever wins understands the need for an ever expanding defense budget to fight the “war on terror” indefinitely into the future. It will be difficult for either candidate to change very much of this. The empire must be defended.

The recent rhetorical war of words between the Obama and Clinton campaigns and their supporters are now constantly flooding the airways and streaming through our radios, newspapers, internet servers, and the mainstream media.

Like John Kerry in 2004, Hillary Clinton has pushed national security issues to the foreground suggesting that Obama is not ready to be commander in chief like she and McCain are. She says she will be “ready to act on day one,” like she was when she supported Bush and voted for the use of force in Iraq.

Obama, at least, has stated he would want more emphasis on diplomacy and a more cautious and multilateral use of American military power. He continues to criticize the “disastrous” decision to launch the Iraq war, and has begun to raise an issue of concern to progressives “the possible alternative domestic problems that could be addressed with the trillions of dollars going to Iraq. While Obama’s campaign has received support from many progressive Democrats like Tom Haden and media critic Robert Solomon who want an end to the war, he also has also received substantial support and money from elements in the ruling class and the corporate establishment who may believe that the current disastrous trajectory of the country threatens even their interests.

Why the 2008 Elections Are Historic

The 2008 American Presidential elections are already historic, and scholars and journalists will be writing dissertations and books on it for years. A Democratic Party victory of either Presidential candidate, Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton, would be a significant historic event. Furthermore, a landslide repudiation of Bush’s war policies (and the consequent economic downturn partially generated by the dramatic increase in the price of oil), and a good electoral trouncing of John Mc Cain, would also be historically significant. It would restore hope in a war weary and divided world that wants signs of a visible change and greater rationality in American policies.

An Obama victory could undoubtedly heal some of the sensitive racial wounds that have been an undeniable ugly part of American history, although some skeptics still warn that an Obama Presidency could re-inflame them. Hillary Clintons victory would also be historic because we would have our first female President, proof that we have come a long way from the times when women could not even vote.

Both candidates have received a tremendous amount of support from the American people. Yet, the “identity politics” of race and gender that have so far played a role will likely be trumped by the bigger issues such as the economy and the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A joint ticket is near an impossibility given the mudslinging and personal attacks of the past week, most of it initiated by Clinton who is now demanding a costly revote in Michigan and Florida. Now many media commentators and political pundits are questioning whether there can even be a peaceful reconciliation within the Democratic Party. A bitter struggle to the end decided by the super delegates at the convention could be a disaster. and might just be enough to accomplish the impossible - another Republican victory in November by a pro war John McCain.

Let’s face it. Within the two party system, politics involves a cynical and often times ruthless struggle for power. The power to choose the next Supreme Court justices, the power to decide when and where to deploy American forces, and ultimately the power to decide when military force will be used against others is at stake. It also means the power to frame public perceptions, to alter the tax structure, to define the scope of civil liberties and human rights, and to develop specific policies regarding domestic environmental and social problems.

Third Party Candidates

Based on the historical and documentary record, we can conclude that the two political party machines do everything in their power to maintain a monopoly of legitimacy and prevent Third Party candidates from getting a serious hearing. Gaining control of the state apparatus is essential to both political machines. To do this they must monopolize political discourse and silence outsiders. This is why there has never been a successful third party candidacy for President in American history. The established social structure, the power of corporations and the mainstream media, as well as the cultural political traditions in America, are aggressively mobilized against it.

Instead, third party candidacies are invariably made into a scapegoat by the losing party. The strong historical pattern is for defeated parties to project their faults and failures onto the back of the “goat” as it is sent off into the wilderness. This is essentially what has happened to Ralph Nader since the controversial 2000 elections where the Supreme Court intervened to stop a Florida recount.

The organizational prospects of a powerful social movement for change propelling a successful third party candidate are currently weak, if not non-existent, in spite of the polls which show a majority of Americans opposed to the war. While many have raised a big stink about another Nader candidacy, it is unlikely that Nader will have any impact on the final results of the 2008 elections. All a third party candidate like Nader can hope to do at this point is gain enough legitimacy and recognition to raise public issues that are considered two controversial by the two political machines. Nader’s celebrity status will allow some of this to happen, but it is unlikely to have any substantial effect on the final election results in spite of the scary scenarios drummed up by revived Nader critics.

The American Legitimacy Crisis

Trotsky once said that “every state is founded on force.” The sociologist Max Weber agreed. However, Weber added another complicating factor, the issue of “legitimacy.” He defined the state as an institution that “monopolizes the legitimate use of violence within a given territory.” By extension, an imperial state like the United States tries to monopolize the legitimate use of violence internationally, blessing all of its military actions with the impeccable label of defense.

Voting is a powerful means of providing legitimacy for the state on the domestic front. This explains why a small number of progressives and idealists, despairing of the prospect for change within the electoral political game defined by the ruling class and its two political parties, opt out and refuse to vote or insist on voting outside of the two party duopoly.

The next American President will face an unprecedented international “legitimacy crisis” around the world regarding the “war on terror,” a possible serious economic recession and financial crisis, and the growing military burden and economic costs of the two endless counter insurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Additionally, the next President will face the continued political instability and violence caused by the iron fisted Israeli military occupation of Palestinian lands and the possible collapse of peace talks. Furthermore, they will continue to face more resistance, rebellion, and change in their backyard in Central and South America. Finally, they will be faced with an environmental crisis of runaway global warming that could dwarf anything we have seen in the past.

It is a hopeful sign that most Americans say they want to see change away from the current Bush policies of torture, occupation, and war. Some of this hope is providing a higher turnout in the Democratic primaries around the country. The next election will reveal just how deep that desire for change really is. One thing is certain. We are entering a period of troubled times for the overstretched American Empire and its exhausted military. It is time to bring the troops home and seek genuine multilateral and international solutions to numerous difficult political conflicts.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Obama and Clinton Go Down to The Wire

Obama and Clinton are going down to the wire. Next Tuesday’s contests in Ohio and Texas could decide who is the Democratic nominee. If Clinton wins in Texas and Ohio, or even one of the two important states, it is likely she will stay in the race longer. The longer she stays, the more shrill she becomes, the greater the chance of a damaging split in the Democratic Party. Already, the Clinton campaign is providing arguments against Obama that will be used gainfully by the Republicans. The notion that we will all be safer if it is Hillary that picks up the phone in the White House would be humorous if it weren’t so ludicrous.

Apparently, the Republicans have already decided that it is Obama that is a greater threat to their ideologically defined pet project in Iraq. So in the last few days we have heard President Bush and McCain and the right wing hysterics at Fox News take on Obama as if he were named “Hussein Al-Qaeda.” And to his credit Obama fired back arguing that there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until the US launched its ill fated and devastating invasion, an invasion and occupation that has killed hundreds of thousands and created 2 million refugees and 2 million displaced people inside Iraq.

Obama correctly pointed out that the destruction of Iraq has generated more terrorism and more fear and anger towards the US around the world, and that we squandered the good will of the international community that was present at the time of 9/11. Furthermore, Obama has made it clear that he would talk to people like Chavez and Castro and push diplomatic efforts with other perceived enemies of the United States, whereas Clinton has replicated the irrational Bush policy of demanding results first before talking to people. It was once assumed that you talk with people hoping to alter their behavior, whereas now it is assumed that you threaten people with military violence to alter their behavior. So in this regard, Clinton and the Republicans are not much different than the so called “terrorists.”

My guess is that Obama will end up the Democratic nominee. It won’t be a difficult choice for me if it is Obama vs. Mc Cain. Mc Cain is a candidate who has never seen a war he didn’t want to expand. There is no doubt that a McCain Presidency will be more hawkish and more militaristic, although Obama leaves a lot to be desired with his stand on Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he argues that the US should build up its military forces in Afghanistan and possibly launch attacks into Pakistan at suspected Al Qaeda areas without prior approval of the Pakistani government. Here Obama and Clinton are not much different than Bush. The notion that additional bombing (this is what happens when we launch “air strikes”) campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan will increase American security is simply ludicrous.

Neither the Democrats or the Republicans display any critical or historical intelligence whatsoever on the Israeli -Palestinian conflict. Both Obama and Clinton were disappointing when they stumbled over themselves in the recent Michigan debate claiming the sacrosanct nature of the “special relationship” with Israel. This special relationship has endlessly rewarded Israel’s ethnic cleansing and expanding settlement of Palestinian lands backed by American weapons and financial support. This uncritical support is what has allowed Israel to act with impunity for years in the Middle East launching numerous invasions of Lebanon and aggressive assaults on the Palestinians. Just look at the kill ratios in this conflict and you can see what is actually going on..Obama and Clinton essentially sanctioned the anticipated Israel military invasion of the Gaza prison they have created. Democrats and the American people better wake up regarding their unquestioning support for Israel’s militaristic expansionist policies, a support that has guaranteed 30 billion dollars of American taxpayer money over the next ten years.

Ralph Nader has entered the Presidential contest at the last minute creating a lot of blustery anger from Democrats who incorrectly blame him on what was clearly a stolen election in 2000. Once again pop psychologists everywhere are claiming Nader is just an “egomaniac,” that he just wants to be in the spotlight. This notion that it is just ego ignores Nader’s history as a public intellectual and gadfly, and is a convenient way of discrediting him and unfortunately the legitimate issues he has raised. Yes, Nader has a strong ego, but I don’t believe that explains why he is running. Also, are we to believe that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are less egotistical, that they have weak egos?

In an interview on CNN, Nader made it clear that he wanted to broaden the debate and press the substantive issues of corporate control of America, the failure of US Middle East policy, particularly with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and address serious environmental problems plaguing America. He added that nothing should stop the Democrats from winning by a landslide, suggesting that if they fail they should hang it up. Nader just picked 42 year old Matt Gonzalez of San Francisco as his running mate. The San Francisco Chronicle red-baited Gonzales in an editorial claiming that Nader “picked a brooding far left running mate who couldn’t get elected mayor of San Francisco.” Yet, Matt Gonzales scared the Democratic Party establishment in the Bay Area by winning 47% of the vote in the 2003 mayor’s race against Gavin Newsome.

In reality, Nader should not be seen as a threat to the Democratic Party since he has little organization behind him and has entered the race at a very late stage. So I will accept him at face value that he is hoping to widen the debate via media coverage. I am not very hopeful that he will succeed since he will most likely be stifled and silenced by the Democrats and the mainstream media. In fact, I would question whether we are a true democracy if third party candidates are to be forever labeled “spoilers” of the two party monopoly of political power in America. We have already see where that has gotten us - a highly militarized and corporatized fortress America bent on world domination at the expense of the long run interests and safety of the American people.

In spite of my above criticisms of the Democrats, I am sticking with my recommendation that progressives go with Obama as the best real hope for reformist change in America. He has stimulated hope for change in Americans with grass roots organizational connections to the labor movement, environmental organizations, and what is left of the Civil Rights movement. And hope is something we have been sorely lacking in America for years. We can only speculate on whether his constituencies will hold him to his promises.

Let’s hope that they are not false hopes.