-- Almost nine years after an American invasion, the war in Iraq officially ended today. 4,500 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis were killed. The number of maimed, within and without, is both huge and uncertain. What began with warnings about the sectarian strife that would result if the Americans laid out no comprehensive plan, has devolved into sectarian strife. The amount of money spent on the adventure ($800 billion), like the number of maimed, is huge and uncertain. The conflict marked an uptick in America's willingness to send troops to places that posed no imminent, concrete threat to the U.S. During the war's ups and downs, the word "terrorism" -- never adequately defined or dissected -- gained global currency ... and provided reason and excuse for righteous and thinly-veiled repression and expansion. We killed our children for oil and strategically-placed bases. Was it worth it? Was it honorable? Was there a victory? Or did it lack the shame requisite to anything that might resemble justice?
-- All that money spent in Iraq came into relief with the statistical announcement that nearly one in two Americans are now living in poverty or just scraping by.
-- The era of bad news is probably not worse than it was at other times in history, but the number of people willing to try to spin things for the better has grown like kudzu thanks to television and the internet. Putting a good face on bad news ... it's the name of the game and one of the things that really pisses off the electorate, which, using Occupy Wall Street as but one example, is begging its ersatz leaders to "stop lying to me!" Where there is more style than substance, more saddle than horse, things just get more depressing. What's wrong with the truth? And in the 'stop lying' department, the award of the Medal of Honor (the U.S. military's highest honor) to a Marine has been called into serious question. The evidence supporting descriptions of Dakota Meyer's actions is confused and thin at best. No one denies he did a hell of a job, but the facts don't square up with the rhetoric. I feel sorry for Meyer as I would feel sorry for anyone who won the Medal of Honor: Is there a warrior in the field who ever feels he deserves to be singled out when so many others suffered and died doing similar things?"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."