Convention Center expansion absurd

Soak the taxpayer

Centers are slashing prices by 50 percent, and some are paying groups to hold a convention there.
  • Centers are slashing prices by 50 percent, and some are paying groups to hold a convention there.
  • Image by Chris Woo

The push for an expansion of the Convention Center is said to be a “citizens’ initiative.” It is actually a government initiative drawn up to feed money to downtown plutocrats — the hotel industry. The word “citizens” is used to suggest that this public push was initiated by the citizenry. Thus, it would need to garner only half the vote to win. But since this is an initiative launched by government on behalf of the plutocracy, it actually needs two-thirds to win.

Scott Peters wants to leave Washington, D.C., and become mayor. He is expected to favor the expansion.

Scott Peters wants to leave Washington, D.C., and become mayor. He is expected to favor the expansion.

The only segment of San Diego society that will benefit from this ill-conceived proposal is the hotel industry. It puts few bucks in and pulls many taxpayers’ bucks out — classic corporate welfare.

The campaign is called “Yes! for a better San Diego.” Oh? A large number of the beneficiary hotels are based out of town. Too much money would flow elsewhere.

Barbara Bry may run for mayor. She may favor the expansion but has a mind of her own.

Barbara Bry may run for mayor. She may favor the expansion but has a mind of her own.

Expansion pushers had trouble getting enough signatures to put a bond issue to pay for the expansion on the ballot. A vote is now planned for 2018 or 2019, depending on the local economy, competition from other bond issues, possible legal snarls, and other factors.

Councilmember David Alvarez will probably oppose the expansion.

Councilmember David Alvarez will probably oppose the expansion.

As usual, the city’s leaders are expected to line up behind the push. According to the buzz, Congressman Scott Peters wants to leave Washington, D.C., and become mayor in 2020. He is expected to favor the expansion. Councilwoman Barbara Bry may run for mayor, says the buzz. She may favor the expansion but has a mind of her own. If Councilmember David Alvarez takes a crack at the job, he will probably oppose the expansion, as he has in the past.

Kevin Faulconer desperately needs a win to bolster his chances in a run for Congress.

Kevin Faulconer desperately needs a win to bolster his chances in a run for Congress.

The current mayor, termed-out Kevin Faulconer, has long championed an expansion, among a number of issues that he has fought for and lost. He desperately needs a win to bolster his chances in a run for Congress in Peters’s 52nd district.

Heywood Sanders: San Diego’s claim that it can overcome the glut “is seriously open to question.”

Heywood Sanders: San Diego’s claim that it can overcome the glut “is seriously open to question.”

The unions (construction, hospitality, etc.) will favor an expansion along with the downtown oligarchs. That juggernaut of unions side by side with business — both lining politicians’ pockets — is the main reason that publicly subsidized buildings continue to sprout downtown while the infrastructure rots throughout the city and county.

Andrea Tevlin: “It may be… difficult for [the Convention Center] to meet all of its fiscal needs.”

Andrea Tevlin: “It may be… difficult for [the Convention Center] to meet all of its fiscal needs.”

After years of legal wrangling, the city and port in June bought out Fifth Avenue Landing, a group that controlled the property contiguous to the center and wanted to build a hotel there. Fifth Avenue, led by local businessmen Ray Carpenter and Art Engel, will get $33.2 million for the five-acre parcel on the waterfront, with certain rights if an initiative fails. That’s up from $14 million in 2015, and skeptics suggest Carpenter and Engel snookered San Diego.

Steve Erie says the city wasn’t taken to the cleaners by Fifth Avenue Landing.

Steve Erie says the city wasn’t taken to the cleaners by Fifth Avenue Landing.

However, retired University of California San Diego political science professor Steve Erie, now doing full-time consulting, says the city wasn’t taken to the cleaners. Carpenter and Engel, who had gone to court over the matter, “hired people to do the [economic impact report], architecture. They got all the approvals, got independent third-party evaluations. They were close to getting the environmental impact certification on the hotel,” says Erie. Fifth Avenue expected a solid future revenue stream from the hotel, says Erie, who was a consultant for Fifth Avenue. Erie’s defense of Fifth Avenue may not convince the skeptics, who have seen the city fleeced before when trying to push a project desired by the overlords.

The campaign’s backers want the transit occupancy (hotel) tax, now at 12.5 percent, boosted by anywhere from 1.25 to 3.25 percent, depending on hotel location. Of the $6.4 billion estimated to be collected over the 42-year lifetime of the tax increase, $2 billion would go for the homeless and $600 million for road repair. The irony is that San Diego needs to spend heavily for the homeless and infrastructure, not center expansion. And the business community would gain from such improvements.

“People don’t want to vote for bond issues except for school bonds,” says Erie. One political insider says it would take only $70,000 to knock down any bond issue requiring a two-thirds vote.

That’s particularly true if that issue is to raise money for a convention center expansion, which would produce barrels of red ink. According to the center’s latest annual report, 2017 was a banner year. Occupancy was 76 percent, compared with the national average of 50 percent. But that same report shows that long-term debt soared 201,819 percent as the result of a loan from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank to make needed repairs, such as at the Sails Pavilion. The interest rate on that loan is 3.6 percent.

“It is unclear whether there will be sufficient funding in the [fiscal year] 2019 budget to undertake the $7.9 million of capital and [operations and maintenance] projects called for in [fiscal year] 2019,” wrote Andrea Tevlin, independent budget analyst, in her report of May 3. “It may be… difficult for [the Convention Center] to meet all of its fiscal needs,” she said, because of such factors as possible declining revenues and rising expenditures, lower payments from the city, and service on that debt. “Going forward, it is unlikely that the Convention Center will be able to grow events/attendance and revenues enough to meet its reserve goal and also cover all of its capital, [operations and maintenance], and debt service expenses,” although an expanded center could help with meeting capital needs.

But is there any certainty that an expanded center would attract that much new business? No. In the year 2000, the total number of attendees at United States convention centers was 31.8 million. By 2017, that number had only grown to 34.1 million. But in that period, convention center space rose 37 percent, as Heywood Sanders, the national expert on convention centers, points out. There is such a supply/demand imbalance that centers are slashing prices by 50 percent, and some are actually paying groups to hold a convention there. Centers cut prices with a gimmick called “rent credits,” or, more euphemistically, “negotiating incentives.” San Diego is expected to chalk up $6.8 million of such credits in 2019. Rental income excluding those credits should be only $9.5 million. Revenues minus expenses are expected to be a negative $6.7 million for the San Diego center in 2020, according to the center’s forecast. Major cities up and down the West Coast, along with Las Vegas, are planning to expand, or have expanded, their centers. San Diego’s claim that it can overcome the glut “is seriously open to question,” says Sanders.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


Seems like the people vote 'no' on these hybrid plans every time, only for the bigwigs to come back later with similar arguments and a "what about now?" In November 2016, it was Prop C and its mirror-image, Prop D. In June 2016, it was Prop H. In November 2010, it was another Prop D.

Bottom line is, we can't borrow our way out of debt with bond measures. So either taxes have to be raised or, as too often been the case, services cut. Neither of these is desirable. But for damn sure, neither is defensible to pay for billionaire boondoggles dressed up as social services or infrastructure repair.

And slightly off topic, but every time I see Kev-boy's official photo, he looks totally sloshed and smug that he's able to stay vertical.

Cassander; As I wrote, a bond issue to do something for the homeless and for roads, would be a good idea, and would benefit business. But with these issues tied to the convention center expansion, they may well, sadly, go down to defeat. The San Diego business community must realize that the homeless crisis hurts business, too. And so does the disgraceful infrastructure, including roads. Best, Don Bauder

It looks like he fell asleep in a beach chair, and got a bad sunburn.

The Convention Center is so under utilized now it is ridiculous. The subsidies offered to groups to entice them to come to San Diego should be considered embezzlement of the taxpayers. Mismanagement is rampant.

So expanding a Center that drains the general fund to subsidize hotel millionaires makes perfect sense in San Diego. Sadly, there is only one event annually, Comic Con, that comes close to meeting the promises made when the Convention Center Complex was sold to San Diegans so many years ago. And now, in a desperate move to keep Comic Con here, it too is highly subsidized.

JustWondering: You are absolutely right. The convention center expansion is all about Comic-Con. It's stupid to spend that kind of money for one event. Best, Don Bauder

It perfectly clear. The calculus here is to confuse the electorate with talk of helping the homeless, and repairing our network of dilapidated streets. When more than $100 million will be backstopped by the taxpayers and wasted on a building with a 20% occupancy rate. And that 20% is being subsidized by the taxpayers as well.

If this is such a great deal, why don’t the Hoteliers use their 2% room surcharge to fund the expansion? Why don’t they sell bonds to finance the deal?

We all know the truth - The Convention Center is a money losing machine that must be subsidized with millions furnished by the politicians who obfuscate the truth from the taxpayers.

JustWondering: There is no doubt about it: including money for the homeless and for fixing roads is a marketing gimmick to appeal to voters. The convention center expansion would get the bulk of the money under the bond offering. Best, Don Bauder

One word. COMDEX. Las Vegas bent over for them before that phenomenon of a convention imploded into niche gatherings.

Ponzi: COMDEX was the big computer show held annually in Vegas environs. Initially it was only for those in the industry. Then the public was invited. In 2000, several big computer manufacturers backed out, and a few years later COMDEX was dead. The dot-com crash had something to do with the demise, too. Best, Don Bauder

Sheldon Adelson, owner of The Venetian, made out like a bandit when he sold COMDEX to Japan's SoftBank (now the owner of Sprint). I used to attend COMDEX, and I always thought it was a bit of a racket.

dwbat: Anything Sheldon Adelson is involved in is likely to be suspect. Our older son, a long-time (26-year) programmer for Apple, used to go and he, too, wondered if it was really serving the industry. Best, Don Bauder

Murphyjunk: I have never been to Comic-Con but I suspect you are right. Best, Don Bauder

I have been offered free passes, but it does not interest me. does look like what we call "good, clean fun" for those that go.

Murphyjunk: You might get a free pass but how about the expense of the costume? Best, Don Bauder

my usual daily ware would be considered a costume

Murphyjunk: You mean you wear a Superman costume every day? Or do you have such bulging muscles that you look like Clark Kent in your business suit? Best, Don Bauder

hiking shoes, shorts, t-shirt is my uniform

How about we use it to house the homeless? But only select homeless sub-culture communities like homeless hipsters or ones with pets!

Sport shows will become extinct, like beauty pageants and poorly paid cheerleaders, then what will your excuse to get drunk be?

shirleyberan: Devoted drinkers don't need an excuse to get drunk. Best, Don Bauder

Zach Wenmacher: Many people have called me a moron. Almost all have been cheerleaders -- some paid -- for corporate welfare. What are you? Best, Don Bauder

Hi Don, Zach is likely a direct beneficiary of the convention center expansion that is being railroaded down into our future, and forced upon us by politicos that strangely love corporate welfare. Thank God we did not give the Spanos cartel what they demanded decades back. Kudos to Bruce Henderson over the decades, and his work to expose the truth (and thanks to you too!).

Darren: I suspected that Zach was a corporate welfare beneficiary. I agree: kudos to Bruce Henderson for fighting these corporate welfare rapes of the public. Best, Don Bauder

Brian Brady: Selling the convention center to the hoteliers would not work because the convention center is losing money by the bushel. It is a losing asset. That's true of probably every convention center in the nation. There is a huge glut of space. It leads to the centers slashing prices and losing oodles of money. Best, Don Bauder

Don, It seems if these wastes on fund on these convention center expansion can be documented, why hasn’t someone filed a complaint with the County Grand Jury?

Ponzi: That is a good idea. San Diego could lead the way. Grand juries in other metro areas might follow along. Of course, the San Diego grand jury saw that the ballpark subsidy was essentially a scam. But the downtown plutocrats and the Union-Tribune made sure that the study was chopped up and buried before the election.

Incidentally, John Moores promised that he would produce a good team if voters would approve the corporate welfare. Then Moores dumped the team and blew town. Last I looked, the Padres weren't doing too well. Best, Don Bauder

dwbat: Go to it, Ponzi. Best, Don Bauder

I wish Comic Con would depart (or be deported) to Las Vegas, just like they have threatened. San Diego will survive without the strange circus of Comic Con, and the streets you might even be able to travel on around that area of the SD Convention Center. Heck, let El Centro host Comic Con, that will be a good source of revenue.

Does anyone go to El Centro for anything, besides the Herbert Hughes Correctional Center?

dwbat: Well, you can go to El Centro for lots of sunshine. Best, Don Bauder

Darren: What I would like to know is the ACTUAL amount Comic-Con contributes to the local economy. Remember: so many of those attending Comic-Con are brown-baggers who live in the local area. They neither dine nor stay overnight in the county. Best, Don Bauder

Hi Don, we have in the neighborhood a fair amount of Section-8 folks who love Comic Con and attend in their various costumes. They take the bus there, take the bus back, take their brown bag lunch (if you can get a baloney sandwich through security), and I suspect they get some free handouts. Doing all the offsets between what it costs for the enormous amount of people on Section-8, and the cost for purchasing a Comic Con ticket, I suspect either way we Excel it, there is more red than black ink. Some may call me a skeptic or say I am thinking negatively about such a strange annual circus at our convention center.

Darren: But the media make money off of Comic-Con. So politicians will continue the handouts, and so-called "analysts" (paid consultants) will figure out each year how high the local economy soars because of Comic-Con. Best, Don Bauder

I have doubt whatsoever the “numbers” are grossly overinflated just like the NFL greatly exaggerates the economic benefits of Super Bowl. If people understood the amount of tax dollars wasted on hosting a Super Bowl they’d never want one in their town.

Comic Con for all the hoopla surrounding it is a four-day freak show that has evolved into a circus sideshow rather than a gathering of the comic book industry. I never seen as many obese persons in skimpy costumes disguises designed to conceal people’s identities. Something tells me many of these folks hide out in their parent’s basements the other 361 days of the year.

JustWondering: Yours is an excellent followup to questions posed by Darren: How many Section-8 San Diegans attend Comic-Con, dine at expensive Gaslamp Quarter restaurants, and then stay overnight at $180 a pop at one of the posh hotels in the area? Best, Don Bauder

Hi Don, had a neighbor go to Comic Con this year, said he likely will never go back. It's been an annual ritual for him. He said the crowds get worse each year, and prices go up. I am not sure about recorded attendance levels, and growth. Sadly, the local news media almost stops reporting on any relevant news items, and obsesses with Comic Con, as if all our lives revolve around Comic Con events, celebrities I have no clue who they are, and grown adults in expensive costumes. I often wonder if we're back in Rome (new & improved!)...bread and circuses.

Darren: That's what others are telling me, too: the crowds are unbearable. Media pictures suggest the same. So should the convention center be expanded to make the Comic-Con crowds a little more bearable? In a word, Hell, no! Wait. That's two words. Expanding the convention center for one event is ridiculous, especially there are no reliable data to show Comic-Con is that big a boost to the economy. Best, Don Bauder


http://www.fox8live.com/story/38678935/zurik-convention-center-out-of-town-totals-essentially-useless. Best, Don Bauder

Well hello Don, at least those attending Comic Con can say they truly saw green people!


by Darren

Darren: I have never seen a green face before (except metaphorically) but i have seen hair dyed bright red. Best, Don Bauder

Hi Don, I never have liked women with green faces, ever since Wizard of Oz scared the heck out of me as a young kid.


by Darren

Darren: But I doubt you run into many women with green faces these days, unless you go to Comic-Con. However, men and women with guilty faces -- that is another matter. Best, Don Bauder

When I look at pictures like this I am reminded how Millennial’s complain about not being able to afford a home. When I grew up, my phone was $8 a month. I did not die my hair rainbow colors, get my skin pierced, vape, get tattoos, download music, watch TV and movies all day, pay for the temporary use of bikes, scooters and Uber. I could not afford to go to something as expensive as Comic Con, back then Disneyland was a treat. We didn’t “lease” cars or have high-limit credit cards.

When I see this generation complain about what they can’t afford, I ask myself why they spend all their money on useless crap and temporary personal attire and appearances. Oh, and dogs have replaced having children.

Ponzi: Your reference to credit card debt is telling. It is far too high, and not just among younger generations. Student debt is out of control. It may be years before today's college grads get out of debt. And those graduating from a for-profit college are not getting a respectable education, either, in the main. Best, Don Bauder

Darren: That Forbes piece has to be a paid ad. Best, Don Bauder

Ellen Paris wrote about local real estate for PALM SPRINGS LIFE when I was an editor there.

dwbat: That is no surprise. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Interesting that the story Darren linked mentions how the city says the downtown redevelopment really got started with Horton Plaza mall. But the story (I didn't go through the entire story) doesn't say that Horton Plaza mall is basically dead. Does that mean downtown San Diego will "re-invent" itself again in another 30 years?

aardvark: Horton Plaza has been a failure almost from the beginning. And the city paid to have part of it demolished. The U-T was calling Horton Plaza a great example of successful publicly subsidized enterprise until just recently. Best, Donn Bauder

Hi Don, either that or Uncle Jerry (Jerry Sanders) ghost wrote that for Forbes, used a real reporters name, in exchange for 20 free tickets to next year's Comic Con. I mean you gotta keep the wheels-of-commerce moving with whatever lubricants best work.

Darren: Sanders couldn't write his name. The part of the Forbes article I read (I got sick to my stomach and didn't finish it) was a good example of flowery real estate prose. Dwbat reveals it was written by a former real estate writer. Best, Don Bauder

From visual inspection there are a lot of millennial and Gen-X folks in downtown. This may be a fluff piece, however, having worked and played in downtown since 06, I can say with 90 percent certainty (90 percent of nothing is zero....) that typically I have found they either A) have high paying corporate job with no kids; thus the ability to afford downtown or B) are East Coast carpetbaggers who live on mom and dad whilst they pay down their liberal arts degree from a private school in Vermont with a class size smaller than most high schools... my 2 cents (worth 10 cents by-the-way).

Hi Don, the way Little Italy is in some kind of hyper gentrification (Mach 3) that many of us could never afford the rent there, let alone to buy a 122 square foot loft above the water fountain that features a food bar, microbrewery and 3 folks in a band singing in Italian (or maybe that was Farsi and they were Persians), why the only thing we can do is wish that Logan Heights remains affordable (since Yuma is too hot today). However, the Little Italy DEM (micro-demographic), is finding all those homeless and transient types peeing on their front door steps very offensive (which is is, but the dogs peeing on the homeless sleeping on the sidewalk is also offensive and disrespectful). My guess: the community associations and councils in high places will order Little Italy to become the largest gated community outside the Vatican, only facial recognition on positive-ID will allow one to enter Little Italy (or a $300 bottle of wine to offer a resident). Private security armed sharp shooters will keep everyone safe, and the eateries will have even more happy and smiling people.

Darren: I love your writing style. The San Diego business community has to realize that the homeless problem is its problem. It hurts business. So does the run-down infrastructure. A bond issue to address both homelessness and the infrastructure is needed. But the current bond issue being proposed half-heartedly addresses those legitimate problems, and gives the most money to a ridiculous convention center expansion. That's almost criminal. Best, Don Bauder

Hi Don, thanks for the compliments and good information. I guess I will avoid trying to get any writing job at the New York Post, I hear they let 50% of their news writers/staffers go today. With exception of a few cities, it seems the local politicians only use Band-Aid approaches to the homeless. They love to spin it that they are addressing and will solve the problems in one meeting, while their next meeting is to give sweetheart deals (corporate welfare as you call it) to developers and merchants so they can tear down old affordable housing and rebuild expensive mixed use towers. I recall when Roger Hedgecock used his platform (KSDO + KOGO) to cheer lead the building of Petco Park, and get a new stadium for the Chargers, he eventually opened his steakhouse on 5th Avenue (Roger's on 5th). Don't know how much an owner he was (%/$) in that adventure, it did end up failing. I always expected Roger, Dean Spanos, John Moores & Jerry Sanders to exit some private back room full of cigar smoke, spent $500/bottles of wine, a few Cheetahs strippers, laughing about how they'd get a stadium built downtown even if a 2012 tsunami destroyed the site. All of them repeat the quote "build it and they will come" (Field of Dreams movie). Of course Roger closely guarded the front door of that place (he really did, he was a common greeter) so he could keep Bruce Henderson out (so Bruce could not document the Spanos Cartel's players coming and going from Roger's conference facility).

Darren: The New York Daily News slashed half ifs already-depleted payroll today. Check Matt Potter's excellent article today. New editor is former U-T person. He had been on editorial side and then wound up in the advertising department at U-T. Former and current NY Daily News employees are screaming. Best, Don Bauder

Darren: That is a very good story about still another daily newspaper disaster. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks Don, sad when we see any independent journalists under threat. Journalists are largely our guardians of democracy, and I fear what could come next (1984).

Luckily Jeff Bezos is keeping The Washington Post well-funded, and with an increase in reporters and editors. No layoffs there.

True 'dwbat' though Donald Trump is stepping up his attacks on WaPo and also Amazon. Amazing we see our POTUS operating this way. And just when I was afraid of Putin. What have we become? I fear the trend-line.

Darren: Did you see the British press conference at which Trump refused to take a question from a CNN reporter, denounced CNN, and took one from a Fox reporter? Best, Don Bauder

dwbat: And the Post is doing an excellent job in these parlous times. Best, Don Bauder

Darren: I agree that journalism is a guardian of democracy. And I am worried -- very worried -- about democracy, not only in the U.S. but particularly in Europe. The New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN are doing superb jobs reporting on these dangers today, particularly manifest in Washington D.C. Best, Don Bauder

If the con leaves San Diego it would be just one less venue of the many held nation wide. It would make more sense to extend it to 7 days so the hordes would have more time to spend at their precious panels .

Murphyjunk: Good point, although I have made it before. There are many gatherings around the U.S. like Comic-Con, which at one point sued a competitor. Best, Don Bauder

If politicians, numerous GOV agencies, corporations, churches, non-profits, news media, and all of us in the public, do not start addressing the homeless and housing crisis: the only use left for the Convention Center will be a big homeless shelter for more and more folks. The current model and myopia is unsustainable. The Trump military parade won't stop it, the cheerleaders for Trump (and handlers plus minions) conning Americans into thinking our economy is the best ever, won't be able to stop a Depression style disaster in our cities when the economy takes its next turn, much worse than 2007/8. I hope I am wrong--that Trump will prove me wrong, but I am a skeptic by nature (flew airplanes and one must be like a paranoid cat as careful aviators), and lots of smoke, dope & mirrors being used these days against the masses. The Middle-Class is being squeezed more and more, wealth/income inequity is growing, and from what I have read, the Middle-Class have not had a real wage increase (paired to cost-of-living/inflation) since the 1970's. It is not just Trump, many past presidents and their administrations have been driving us to where we REALLY are.

Darren: These are excellent points. Trump's excessive (and wrongly directed) tax cut, while seemingly goosing the economy now, will eventually push it into a calamity. That's particularly true since the financial reforms instituted after 2007-2009 have greatly been removed. Derivatives are even crazier now. Best, Don Bauder

Murphyjunk: It often involves a jump or a scream. Best, Don Bauder

Murphyjunk: Absolutely. Good analogy. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks Don: And Bush-II (43) got us into trillion-dollar plus wars, and we still need to repay that debt, Obama, while his ambitions may have been good, got us into a broken healthcare system, that many of my friends have opted out of, saying they cannot afford it. The Great Mess is being pushed to the end of the ledger where one day someone needs to pay the piper. And it will be the working stiffs.

Darren: Actually, you are being kind to Bush II. The societal breakdowns, hopeless financial woes, and the immigrant crises tied to Middle East were caused greatly by insane Iraq war. Bush II, listening to Cheney, destabilized the Middle East. That's the legacy he can look back upon. Best, Don Bauder

I agree that the Iraq war set off a chain reaction of settlement problems in the Middle-East. However, I also believe the planet is at “peak population.” We have more people than we can create work for. Globalization and automation have also eliminated jobs in the poorest countries in every corner of the earth. The only jobs uneducated people can find are in joining rebels force such as Taliban or ISIS or trying to migrate to a country and get on their benefit train.

Take a high concentration of unplanned or ill-planned births, no education, no job opportunities and you will have crime, gangs, war and terrorism. The people have nothing else to do and their governments are corrupt and America can’t police the entire solar system.

Ponzi: I think it is fair to say that the consensus of demographers and others is that global population is at or near a peak. The woes you cite are real, but not new. Yes, unplanned and ill-plannned birth are at the heart of these problems. Best, Don Bauder

Hello Don, I agree, the Iraq War (version 2.0) was a disaster. I was against it starting in 2001, when post 9/11, I could read in-between the lines of what was being crafted as a narrative to attack Saddam and Iraq, which subsequently occurred in March 2003. In May of 2003, Bush-Boy stood on an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego, with a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner over his head, as he was wearing a pilot flight suit. Most Americans (not all, but too many) accepted all the props and lies, thinking we had done so well in 2-months and perhaps even had re-built Iraq successfully. Look at the loss of lives (some say it is over 1-million). Terrible death and carnage on innocent Iraqis that were not foes, never attacked us. Many of our own black ops off-the-books contractors killed, we will never get an accounting for. Look at all the "wounded warriors" who came home missing limbs, cannot find work, PTSD, etc.. Look what happened to Iraq, though Saddam (who had been our buddy) was corrupt (like most politicians) and ruled with an iron fist, Iraq was a rather industrious nation with well educated citizens. Did we really think we would rebuild Iraq into our image? Nation building, I never knew that is what America stood for. Today, where is Iraq, the latest news out of there shows another breakdown in order, Islamic State is gaining new ground, unemployment is skyrocketed. Where were the WMD's. Why on 9/11 were none of the alleged hijackers-terrorists from Iraq? I do not have to tell you this Don, you are well read and discerning, I am only stating it here for the SD Reader folks, many who also seem educated, intelligent and discerning. If I tried to tell this to Sean Hannity on Fox News or his talk show, why I would get 2 seconds of air time then he would call me a traitor or terrorist sympathizer. Bush-II furthered the goals/actions of the Neocons, similar to what Trump is doing too, but perhaps Team Trump in a much bigger way if we go to war with Iran (not to mention the war-by-proxy in Syria that is also now heating up, yes with Russia well involved just like America, Iran, Israel, and many other players). Yes, Bush-II's actions destabilized the Middle East and set-in-motion the Syrian migrant crisis for Europe, and a host of so many other problems now, and in our future. We still have not come close to paying for the wars on Afghanistan (October 2001) and Iraq. But heck, in this time of perpetual and expanding war, it's a great business model until economic forces root it out. Would Fox News would want to talk about the classic WAR IS A RACKET by General Smedley Butler, or the farewell speech by President Eisenhower warning us about the military industrial complex, I doubt it. As much as Trump warned of the swamp, he drank the Kool-Aid and is taking us down the rabbit hole. The biggest dog and pony shows keep happening in American politics. Take care Don!

Darren: You have great wisdom. The Iraq war (II) was a complete disaster and much of the blame for Middle East destabilization lies with the United States. (I retired in March 2003 from the U-T. The late Gloria Penner asked me to do a final one-on-one interview on KPBS. She asked me about then-barely underway Iraq II. I denounced it as being all about oil and a bad war. I still have a tape of that show. A U-T columnist had written a series of brilliant articles on that war. He was besieged with screams of hatred from redneck readers. He soon left -- a big loss for the paper.)

You mentioned Afghanistan. We're still there, having learned nothing from the Russian disasters there. Can anyone tell me what the hell that war was, and is, about?

We are by far the most armed nation in the world, at a time that conflicts are now being waged through cyberspace, not military equipment. Yet the administration raises military spending while proposing to slash desperately-needed spending on healthcare and the environment.

Heat waves are wreaking havoc around the world and we have leaders who don't believe in global warming -- hence do nothing about it. Best, Don Bauder

Hi Don, thank you kindly for your kind comments!

You nailed it in your Q&A with SDUT, that series on the war, and interview with Gloria Penner (I miss her). Back in the post 9/11 climate, anyone not agreeing for mindlessly attacking Iraq, was grilled as traitors or terrorist sympathizers. It does seem on Iraq, oil was the goal, but I believe like you, regime changes and destabilizing countries in that region, set in motion a domino effect, and incredible carnage.

My speculative mind (at times) has focused on the poppy fields of Afghanistan and international distribution of the product for the purposes of both controlled narcotics and illegal street drugs, thus we have in America (and other nations) a terrible opiate crisis. Both BIG-PHARM and criminal cartels would be beneficiaries of increased poppy crops and distribution.

My understanding is the Taliban was destroying poppy fields and prosecuting poppy farmers. The Taliban while many say are from the Stone Age, actually follow more strict Abrahamic religion (though they are Muslim). I am not defending the Taliban by any means, I doubt any of us would want the Taliban in our government or patrolling the streets.

There is much conflict in data reportage as to poppy production prior to 2001 and post 2001. I've seen stats that purport America and our allies reduced poppy distribution, other reports stating increased trafficking 2x, 3x, plus.

Remember Vietnam and the illegal drug flows (outbound) when we were there too. It is an interesting aspect when considering Afghanistan.

I don't claim to be right, I want to question what we are told, understand who benefits, and like you ask why we did not learn lessons from past wars, or those like the invasion of Afghanistan by the then Soviet Union (1979). A matrix for sure. Ever ready the late Zbigniew Brzezinski's book The Grand Chessboard? A rather unique book with insights to today, published in 1997: This is a .PDF format download for the book, it is 10mb-- link text

Sean Hannity and his kind, likely pull out the old scripts of 2001/2002/2003 for his show for the run-up war on Iraq, and can just change 1 letter and use same script for Iran. I often wonder if Hannity is also on the Pentagon's payroll (he's friends with Ollie North).

Russia and other countries (including even Germany) have been selling U.S. Treasuries. They are unloading, due to risks they realize. I often think once these wars and follies must be paid for, it is going to be an unraveling here in America. Take care Don!!!

Darrren: Another excellent and informative essay. Did you hear today that Trump refused to answer a question from a CNN reporter, and then went to once again denounce CNN and the so-called fake media. This man is very ill. Something must be done. Best, Don Bauder

Hello Don, thank you for the kinds words again. Yes, saw the news tonight about Trump refusing to answer questions from the CNN reporter and then the same reporter banned from a subsequent event where she was to attend. As much as Nixon did wrong, sometimes I think he actually had a moral and ethical compass, eventually resigned, and went his own way. Trump, I am afraid will not, and may try to consolidate power and start some big war, use his executive power, to stay in office. It is really interesting to me that during Obama's campaigning to become POTUS, and then during his tenure and run-up for reelection, so many on the right claimed Cult of Personality saying Obama supporters were in a worship craze of their leader Obama. I was not an Obama supporter, but having witnessed what I see with Trump, the Cult of Personality syndrome is amped-up far greater than it ever was with Obama. And these very people on the right, do not think at all they are falling for the Kool-Aid. Truly amazing, more than showmanship, I call it PsyOps.

Darren: Nixon was deeply paranoid, manipulative and a liar, but he was not a psychotic narcissist. Nixon was also intelligent.

If our current mess leads us into war (Iran, North Korea, who knows-where?), we will always ask ourselves if the war was cynically launched to bolster a weakened president, or was simply a result of a bunch of hyper-macho men being totally, pathetically incompetent. Best, Don Baudeer

Hi Don, no doubt on Nixon. But I believe Nixon still had some moral compass and conscience. Yes, hopefully we are not soon in a Wag the Dog sequence of events. It this all Trump or is he just being handled well? Link below is report of perhaps bombing Iran next month. This will be different than Iraq. How long will Russia stand-by? And with John "Strangelove" Bolton in there, he has wanted to start the NeoCON nation-state take downs for a very long time. He will just say it's "regime change." Take care.

link text

Darren: I am a little wary of author Tyler Durden, but I do think an "October surprise" Iran bombing is at least slightly possible, particularly if it is seen as an offset to any Mueller October surprise. Best, Don Bauder

Hi Don, reference your earlier post today, this should be an eye-opener for most Americans, but it likely won't be. I have the book. Here is a review. Take care, Darren link text

Darren: I think that much of Trump's bizarre behavior can be explained by his narcissistic mental disorder. That New Yorker article was written last year; the diagnosis is much easier to make this year.

In many respects, I think it is a shame that more psychiatrists and psychologists are not being interviewed on this topic. The reason: in 1964, psychiatrists widely claimed Goldwater had psychological problems. After the election, they realized as a group that shrinks should not get into politics. Incidentally, I did not think at the time that Goldwater was psychologically disturbed. His subsequent behavior showed me he definitely was not. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks Don, very interesting history/information on Barry Goldwater. I was not aware of that. Goldwater seemed to be a true-to-core conservative. From my studies I think he had our country's best interests in mind, I cannot say that about Trump. Take care!

Darren: Whatever one thinks of his politics, one cannot say Goldwater was mentally disturbed. He took some bizarre positions that today wouldn't even be considered outre. He mixed with some crooks and gangsters in Arizona -- true. Best, Don Bauder

Log in to comment

Skip Ad

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader