Sunday, May 24, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

We Are So Screwed (II)

The news media and Congress toss around phrases about "a trillion-dollar budget deficit" as if that is comprehensible, let alone acceptable.

But I don’t think any of us can really grasp the concept of what a trillion dollars is.

Not you.

Not I.

Not anyone.

Just think about this:

Question: If you were to spend $1 per second, how long would it take you to spend $1,000?

Answer: Just under 17 minutes. $1,000 divided by 60 seconds/minute = 16.667 minutes.

So now ask:

Question: How long would it take you to spend $1,000,000 (i.e., 1,000 x $1,000) at $1 per second?

Answer: Less than 12 days. I.e., 16.667 minutes x 1,000 = 16,667 minutes divided by 60 minutes per hour divided by 24 hours per day = 11.57 days.

So now ask:

Question: How long would it take you to spend $1 Trillion at $1 per second?

Answer: Just under 317...centuries!!!

($1/second x 60 seconds/minute x 60 minutes/hour x 24 hours/day x 365.24* days/year x 100 years/century x 316.8895542 centuries = $1,000,000,000,304.71)

* There is no leap year in years that end in 00, so instead of 25 extra days every 100 years, there are only 24, or something like that.

And they say (with a straight face and a calm tone of voice) that we're looking at a budget deficit of $1.8 Trillion.

570 centuries!!

We ... Are ... So ... Screwed.

What comes to mind is Pete Seeger's anti-war song, Waist Deep In The Big Muddy.

Anyone want to rewrite the lyrics so as to apply them to our financial situation? I'll let you choose who "the big fool" is. Between the Legislative and the Executive Branches, I suspect you have a lot of choices!

Waist Deep In The Big Muddy
by Pete Seeger 1963, planned for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967 but CBS objected to the blacklisted Seeger making obvious references to the"big fool" in the White House, finally sung by Seeger on the Comedy Hour in 1968 as the finale in a medley of anti-war songs.

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Loozianna,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That's how it all begun.
We were -- knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure,
This is the best way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, go on! I forded this river
'Bout a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nellie,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination;
Men, follow me, I'll lead on."
We were -- neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around men!
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Than the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
'Bout a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!

Words and music by Pete Seeger (1967)
TRO (c) 1967 Melody Trails, Inc. New York, NY

The Bob Dylan Show (2009)

The Bob Dylan Show

Along with fellow troubadour Willie Nelson, this summer The Bob Dylan Show will also feature John Mellencamp, marking just the second time in the past 24 years that these three performers have shared the concert stage. is happy to offer pre-sale tickets for all ballpark shows to its visitors. At each venue, the gates will open 30 minutes early for holders of tickets purchased during the pre-sale.

Visit this page for pre-sale passwords, which will be posted in the table below before each pre-sale begins. You do not need to be registered or logged-in to see the passwords.

All concert tickets are priced at $67.50 and most shows are general admission, allowing fans to grab a seat in the stands or find a place to watch from the field. Children 14 and under get in free with each adult ticket holder at ballpark shows.

Showtime is 5:30pm and gates open at 5:00. Gates will open at 4:30 for holders of pre-sale tickets for ballpark shows.

Please check your local listings for on-sale dates and information. More shows will be announced.
Please visit this page regularly for updates.

- - -

After making our reservations for our trip to Seattle August 6-10, I realized that I was going to be gone when Bob Dylan was playing in Grand Prairie, TX on Friday, August 7.


But...since he'll be in Round Rock, TX, on Tuesday, August 4, which is less than 3 hours south of where I work, I can leave work at noon and drive to the concert!

So I got my ticket today! Hurray! (As long as it doesn't rain!)

(identifying/authenticating information blocked out in photo of ticket)

- - -

From John Mellencamp's site:

The Bob Dylan Show Summer 2009 Tour Frequently Asked Questions

The base ticket price is expected to be $67.50 for most shows, plus any required venue and ticket fees. Tickets for shows at venues other than ballparks may vary in price.

There will be a presale for most shows during the week tickets go on sale to the public. Watch the TOUR page for details. Some of these presale tickets may allow early access to the venue. This will allow those ticket holders first choice of their location to enjoy the concert. Because the shows are general admission, Club Cherry Bomb will NOT be doing our own private presale. There are no VIP ticket packages on this tour. Presale tickets for non-ballpark venues will most likely NOT include early access to the general admission areas.

We have been advised that the presale will begin the Monday of the week tickets will go on sale to the public. However, at this time, we have not been provided exact times for the presale to start. Please refer to and Ticketmaster starting Sunday evening to see when the presale(s) will start.

No. Because John is not the headliner on the Bob Dylan Show tour we are unable to offer a Mellencamp Fan Club exclusive presale. Please use the general presale password and links we will post on the TOUR page of for early ticket access.

Gates will open around 5 PM. Music should start around 5:30 PM. Holders of tickets from the presale will gain access at many venues at 4:30 PM.

There there will be more dates announced for the tour. The initial announcement will be augmented by more show announcements in the coming weeks. The tour will total about 30 dates once all are announced, and will run from early July through mid-August 2009.

No, not every show on the tour will be at a ballpark. Select shows will be at other venue types.

The expected performance order will be any opening/additional acts playing first, then Willie Nelson & Family, followed by John Mellencamp and his band with Bob Dylan and his band closing the show.

Most shows will be general admission seating throughout the entire venue/ballpark. The stage will be located on the field and will point towards the seats, allowing fans their choice of sitting on the field or in the seats of the venue to enjoy the concert. Shows in Dayton, Syracuse, and Sevierville will have reserved seating. Other shows/venues may have assigned seating, check with the venue. Also check with local venue for what items are allowed to be carried in (blankets etc.).

John is not performing on Bob Dylan's other Summer dates at Milwaukee Summerfest or the Rothbury Festival.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We Are So Screwed

Without Preparation, Explanation or Response

Does anyone take serious words seriously anymore here in Washington?

News item No. 1 concerns the testimony of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 22. She said deteriorating security in nuclear-armed Pakistan "poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world."

News item No. 2 is this headline on the front page of the May 4 edition of The Washington Post: "U.S. Options in Pakistan Limited."

News item No. 3 is a quote in Jackson Diehl's May 4 column in The Washington Post from a senior Obama administration official: "It's not good when your national security interests are dependent on a country over which you have almost no influence."

In a matter of two weeks, we have gone from witnessing the U.S. secretary of state testify to Congress that a nuclear Pakistan run by Islamist radicals would be a "mortal threat" to America to hearing the administration admit that we have limited options to avoid such a threat.

What are we to make of such a development? I and many others had previously warned of the dangers of a nuclear "Talibanistan" (which have been obvious and talked about for years). Experts I have talked to in the past week do not believe Clinton is overstating the case. Nor do I. She is very careful with her words — and they fit the danger.

If Pakistan's nuclear weapons were to get into the hands of Taliban or al-Qaida, even unlaunched, they would provide the weapons-grade fissile materiel necessary to create a nuclear holocaust, here in the United States or elsewhere.

How did it come to be that the government of the most powerful nation in the history of humanity (with a population of 300 million-plus and a gross domestic product of about $14 trillion, which is larger than the second-, third- and fourth-largest economies — Japan, Germany and China — combined) has confessed that its options are limited regarding a "mortal threat" to it?

And what are we going to do about it? I don't blame the Obama administration — not yet. It inherited our current national military strength. But it has been obvious for years that we are not prepared to deal with a world that refuses to behave as we either predict or prefer. And we need to start catching up with the growing contingent threats.

It was in understanding the inevitability of contingent or unexpected events to emerge that led Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, the great 19th-century Prussian field marshal and army chief of staff, famously to observe, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." Thus, he believed that "war is a matter of expedients." As has been observed, "He was suspicious of rigid, inflexible, and totalizing grand strategies and theories," arguing instead for a strategy and preparations that provided for a series of plug-in points that could be shaped to meet the military challenges of the moment — as a war unfolded.

So, too, should we be prepared for world political events — or be prepared to pay the consequences.

That is why when, a year ago, I was writing my most recent book, "American Grit: What It Will Take To Survive and Win in the 21st Century," I argued that we must face the reality that, given the growing threats in a rapidly morphing world, we will need a bigger military than our current all-volunteer force: "The questions that any statesman or strategist has to confront are obvious: What if our armed forces are suddenly needed to take out Iran's nuclear program? What if Pakistan falls to the jihadists, and we need troops to secure that country's nuclear weapons? What if China invades Taiwan? What if North Korea, in a desperate gambit, launches an attack on South Korea? What if the vast resources of the North Pole spark a military rivalry between Russian, Canada, the United States, and other countries? What if the Saudi oil fields require protection? What if we have to secure our southern border from increasingly ambitious drug cartels or civil disturbances in Mexico?"

Well, in the mere year since I wrote those words, three of those seven contingencies (Iran, Pakistan and Mexico) have gone from speculation to the daily headlines. The blood is not yet on the ground regarding them, but prudent investors would start buying coffins. And yet we plan not at all.

Our troop strength is so limited that President Obama has to move troops out of Iraq — risking turning inherited near success into possible strategic failure — in order to slightly beef up Afghanistan. Now, while perhaps we may have some time, we should be putting on a crash program to increase troop and materiel strength. With the recession, we probably could induct more volunteers than seemed possible during prosperity. But that is only a half-measure. We eventually will need more Army and Marine combat troops than will volunteer (and increased Navy and Air Force sea and airlift and fighting capacity, which we could start building now).

It should be inadmissible for the U.S. government to identify a "mortal threat" without at least offering up a plan to defeat it. Where is the plan? Where is the public clamor for a plan?

Tony Blankley is executive vice president of Edelman public relations in Washington. E-mail him at To find out more about Tony Blankley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at