"THE CRIMEAN CRISIS!!!" From CNN to Fox News, the blasting blaring headline trumpets the evil Russian bear's stunning, immoral, illegal, and illegitimate invasion of Crimea. Oh. My. God. Woe is me!!??!! The Russkies are on the prowl once again. Looks like it's time to re-convert the man-cave to a bomb shelter. Duck under your desks, kids! So ... where exactly is Crimea? Here's the problem, ladies and gents. I think it is horrible that the Russians have invaded Crimea - with an eye on the Ukraine. Horrible. Disturbing. Frightening. By that same token ... I think it was wrong that the U.S. invaded Iraq. Two things happened when the U.S. invaded Iraq for no legitimate reason. First, hundreds of thousands of people, including thousands of America's finest young people, lost their lives. Second, the U.S. lost any even tenuous stand it may have had on the moral high ground. We lost any gravitas whatsoever in lecturing the Russians - or anyone else for that matter - on invading another country and subjugating another nation for no reason. Because, ladies and gentlemen, just as there is no legitimate reason for the Russians to be invading Crimea, there was also zero reason for the Americans to invade Iraq. Despite the claims of Richard Pearl, Dick Cheney, and others, we know today there was categorically no evidence to prove that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, nor did Saddam have any means to deliver an attack to American soil if he did have such weapons. In other words, there was no imminent danger to the United States by Saddam Hussein. Second, many realized then, and more realize today that there would never be resolution to a proposed war in Iraq - certainly not the one the Bush administration and the neocons promised. There will never be an American-style democracy in Iraq ... ever. A disappointing few observers suggested an invasion of Iraq would not be the short, in-and-out war as promised by the Bush administration. Some warned of the cost. As a result they were castigated - called everything from a traitors to cowards, (and much, much more.) And so we invaded, on false information, and for false reasons. It was all lies. At what toll? Almost 4,500 American soldiers were killed in Iraq since the U.S. invaded in 2003, (not counting Afghanistan.) More than 32,200 service personnel were been wounded. The Iraq Family Health Survey estimates there have been 151,000 violent deaths among Iraqi civilians. (That's a low estimate. Even the Associated Press estimates some 10,000 more than the number mentioned.) A lot of people died so that Saddam could be eliminated - which was the only substantial achievement of the war. To kill one despot, thousands of this nation's finest young people were sacrificed, and hundreds of thousands of civilians died doing their duty. And there is another cost. There can be no doubt the financial stability of our country has been shaken to the core because of the almost frivolous decision by a small group of neo-conservatives who had been barking at Iraq's back door for years. How much has this war cost? Wellllllll ... As the "fiscal conservatives" wail and gnash their teeth over the national debt, (apparently incurred wholly and single-handedly by Barack Obama), it might interesting to take a look at one teeny-tiny portion of that debt. The Iraq war. In 2003, the government of these United States promised the American people that the then proposed war in Iraq would cost between $50-60 billion. Both the White House Office of Management and Budget director Mitch Daniels and Vice President Dick Cheney said the "price tag" for an invasion of Iraq and a resolution to that conflict would cost $50-60 billion. But five years into that war, even a $200 billion estimate had been blasted out of the water. By 2008, the cost of U.S. involvement in Iraq had skyrocketed to $3 trillion. Then, in 2010, the Washington Post noted: "But today, as the United States ends combat in Iraq, it appears the $3 trillion estimate was, if anything, too low." And for the first time, an analysis of the expense of "diagnosing, treating, and compensating disabled veterans' was figured into the mix. Now, truth be known, figuring the true cost of the Iraq war is difficult. But however difficult, most economists contend the nation simply must figure in future expenses as well as immediate costs. Once upon a time, it was estimated that some 45 percent of the troops returning from Iraq would require disability compensation. The latest estimates are that there will be closer to 56 percent of the Iraq war veterans who will need continuing and continuous care. A war's cost is not just measured in the cost of bombs and bullets. There are societal expenses as well. But even talking, and certainly writing critically about the war in Iraq is unpatriotic. And then then ... There are those Pinko Russkies. Now THAT'S a problem. Dang. What are THEY doing over there in Crimea? Where do THEY get off? THEY are sooooooooooooo immoral. THEY don't even have a good reason. So ... where exactly is Crimea?