Some Good Graphics – from The Economist & National Geographic

**Note: National Geographic depiction of the overlapping claims in the South China Sea ~ as each country claims 200 nautical miles from shore, and China claims the entirety ~ the ingredients for conflict are apparent.

**Note: The Economist chart above, depicts graphically the relative size of the economy of U.S. states compared with countries around the world.



The Greatest Threat to National Security: Long Term, Systemic Fiscal Challenges

1. The Yearly Deficit Problem

About a year ago, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (a think tank in Washington) produced a report which included the chart to the left. It should be noted that this is a rough approximation.

For example, the 2011 Federal Budget is actually a deeper deficit than depicted at left: the US intends on spending roughly $3.8 trillion, and expects to take in about $2.2 trillion ~ a deficit of $1.6 trillion. What’s shown at left is a little less than that.

What matters is really the parts or segments or events that have driven the yearly deficit. One can see at left that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are contributing, the 4% economic downturn/recession, the recovery stimulus, Bush administration tax cuts, and TARP/Freddie/Fannie May bailouts.

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23-30 MAY Training Week; Memorial Day

I’ll start with the lighter, good news: I ran 17.5 miles yesterday, part of which was in an organized trail run with the Wellington Scottish. The legs are feeling strong and healthy, and although not 100%, I’m gaining confidence. It put me at about 60 miles for the week, which is another milestone. Again, I’ve been slowly adding miles to prepare for the 50 miler in late August. The improvements continue.

My second subject is Memorial Day. It is hard to put into words, sometimes, what it means to a person, because the range of emotions are great. Generally, the closer the loss, the more the person identifies with that soldier, sailor, airman or marine that passed away. There are three names that I carry with me all the time, that I see in my mind’s eye; the feeling is significantly enhanced for Memorial Day. In fact, the very first time I came home after my first deployment to Iraq, I sat in a Memorial Day church service in which the minister chose to include a short slide show of Minnesotans that had been killed in action. It only took until, I think, the third one in the slideshow, for a face similar to one of the three that I keep with me – and I had to very quickly exit and find my way to a bathroom. It was amazing to me how violently an emotional response can surface…

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9 – 22 MAY Training Week; Sacrifice and the American Public

The past two weeks have gone well – 52 miles last week and just shy of 50 this week. Last Saturday I did a 15 mile run through some really tough headwinds at a 7 minute/mile pace. I’m hopeful that I can do a 20 miler this coming Sunday with the local run club, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen with our baby (Grace Victoria) being due in exactly one week (29 May!). We’re excited and ready for her to breathe oxygen with the rest of humanity…Rachel (my wife) is feeling pretty ready to go. That said, I’ll be sure to post a picture when it all happens. And with a 50 miler coming in 3 months you can be sure that training won’t stop, no matter what the decrease in sleep brings!
The Washington Post ran a story back in early March about Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly (the older marine pictured at left). Tom Cocchiarella tagged it at one point, and I sort of left it, but then read it about a week ago and it was so stirring that I almost cried in the library. It was very, very difficult to read, because I know the sentiment all too well. Lt. Gen. Kelly and his two sons have served 11 combat tours in the last 8 years. Even considering that marine tours are generally shorter (7 months on, 7 months off) – this is an amazing thought. 11 goodbyes.

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The Costs of War: Osama, Afghanistan, and Iraq

National Journal has run an excellent story on the financial aspect of Osama bin Laden’s death. Frankly, it’s pretty sobering to think about. The article begins:
“By conservative estimates, bin Laden cost the United States at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years, counting the disruptions he wrought on the domestic economy, the wars and heightened security triggered by the terrorist attacks he engineered, and the direct efforts to hunt him down.”

It continues to discuss the implications of those economic costs, as well as the lack of direct economic benefits the U.S. has gained since incurring them. For example, WWII brought the U.S. out of the Great Depression and created an enormous middle class via the GI Bill. The only tangible advancement of this past decade is a great expansion in unmanned military technology (primarily aviation).

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Legitimacy, Legality, Ethics and Justice – Osama bin Laden’s Death

It’s amazing to think that Time magazine named Adolf Hitler “Person of the Year” in 1938 – I was reminded of that the other day – hence my decision to go with the Osama bin Laden (OBL) cover at right.

In reading opinion pieces the past week and a half since OBL’s death, I’ve come across a striking number of responses with two general lines of criticism: 1. that the raid was illegal, and 2. that the killing was unethical or immoral (i.e. unarmed execution or assassination). On first glance, I generally shrug off those sorts of comments, but, over time, I’ve decided that I need to educate myself further on the subject and develop a fact-based opinion. So here goes:

1. Was this legitimate as a military attack?

The appropriate lens for analysis of the operation in Pakistan is that which applies to military operations. The mission was famously undertaken by 79 Navy SEALS and supported by helicopters from the U.S. Army. Even if some of the information that enabled the raid was developed by CIA and other intelligence community assets, this was clearly a military operation, run by Joint Special Operations Command (and Vice Admiral McRaven).

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2 MAY – 8 MAY Training Week; Caregiver’s VA Benefits

51 miles this week, with a complete rest today (Sunday). So that’s 51 miles in 6 days of training. And, yesterday, I did 13.1 miles, a half marathon, in 1 hour, 31 minutes, or roughly a 7 minute/mile pace. I did two strength workouts, one on Tuesday and one on Friday, again focusing on the core, hips, and quadriceps. I’m up to three sets of 4 minutes with wall sitting, a good sign that I’m getting more strength into the knee joint.

Speaking of which, I missed my acupuncture appointment this week – just too busy. With Kevin (my brother) leaving, two papers to write, and seeing the midwife with Rachel on Friday, it just wasn’t in the cards. I still have pain in the joint, but not enough to keep me from running. I stretch it out post-run as much as I can, and have fairly good range of motion. I’m beginning to believe that this is a condition that will not go away, one that I’ll have to manage as opposed to solve. As long as I get my daily run, I guess I’ll take it.

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