Saturday, March 31, 2007

Politicians egos do screw up the world

If war is too important to be left to the generals, then peace is too important to be left to the politicians. The world will be better off if left to the majority of citizens in each and every country. After all, they have Families to run.

America certainly has changed since the late 1930s. Congressmen and congresswomen and Senators have always had inflated egos, but none would have chosen to travel to speak with Hitler. Now we have the Speaker of the House going to Syria … what an ego that supercedes our National Interest. And Syria is such a minor player. I only hope here in America that the goal is media soothing of inflated ego vice something more sinister like self-appointed usurping of Constitutional powers for egos sake. Either is despicable, but they have different long term consequences. Both will probably get people killed who would otherwise live. San Francisco politicians playing at the big table in the middle east may not be properly prepared, but don’t expect their ego to admit or even know this.

The middle east certainly has changed during the same period. Massive oil incomes have financed the most repressive and hatred filled Islamic madrasahs that otherwise would be out in left field withering in the hot desert air. Now the egos of these people who would return us to the 7th century have been amplified by para-military and ecomonic actions (don’t forget the oil embargo in the 1970’s). Don’t leave out the massive egos of the Persian theorcratic rulers and puppet presidents who should have been slapped down decades ago, but are now fueled by Western reinforcement of their most heinous public actions that seem to go without public response. Covert action does not make a public relations campaign, and these Persian egos apparently become more inflated, and reckless. Where will this all end … with a nuclear attack somewhere?

The double standard of racism is appalling. Mugabe can assert his terrible ego (now into very old age, like 83) because of his race, and apparently get away with it in the West, and among his fellow African leaders. So while his people go down to ruin, not just economic ruin, but more as in starving, the world apparently turns a blind eye because his ego dominates all in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). Once he kicks the bucket, or more likely is assasinated, I suppose the world’s do gooders will expect their leadership will step in to unscrew things. Good luck. The opportunity is now … seize it!

Everything China is wearing thin to many. More and more the rampant corruption and neopotism fueled by the rapid economic development, along with the rapid environmental degredations, will bring about a civil war … a revolution, in China. This is one way to check uncontrolled egos, or egos super inflated by their own personal experience. People can “kill the goose that lays the golden egg”.

There is a course of action that may give world peace a chance. Of course it must ignore politician’s egos. It is called western influence. One part of this course is already on auto-pilot. It is called business, and is relentless. The second part is not on auto-pilot. It is called politicians promoting western human values, full well knowing the final product will be some combination of western and eastern. This course is not on auto-pilot because of politicians egos. Depending on where one sits the solutions are voting or revolutions of various kinds to supercede the politicians egos. Don’t expect much compromise with ego driven politicians, especially when their power and money is under duress. Isn’t it funny that the old ideals of storming the Bastille were one of the underclass against the ruling class, and now it is much the same, except those filling the roles have changed.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Do the federal public servants think of national policy vice domestic and foreign policy?

While a subject such as this could rate many books, the concepts are so simple and so profound that a post such as this can attempt to address the subject. Said another way, it is obvious that domestic and foreign policies are connected. Immigration is a good example. The question still remains, do our public servants think in terms of national policy? Or are they more poll and focus group limited to political actions that gain them perceived votes and power (on more limited domestic and foreign policies)?

Avoidance of any substantive policy action on social security is a domestic example. Passing House and Senate bills about Iraq that cross the line about war powers is a foreign example. How one answers these two questions probably says much about one’s opinion as to how well we citizens are being served by our federal public servants in D.C. It also says legions as to whether these public servants think about our Nation as a whole, and the defense of our Constitution and way of government established in law.

Let’s be more specific about how domestic and foreign are related as part of National policy. Can both Houses of Congress passing bills that set get out-of-Iraq dates (albeit very weakly written to look more like the President’s policy) cause further grief and perhaps greater mayhem in the future to our Country? While the answer is not for sure, the general consensus is yes. Can the foreign policies that promote globalization and free trade bring great stress and ruin to many communities in our Country? Again, while the answer is not for sure, the general consensus is yes. The point of these questions is this. If any policy is conceived and executed in its domestic or foreign policy aspect, then when the law of unintended consequences kicks in there will be adverse domestic or foreign consequences. In this case, it is time for voters to consider newer more enlightened federal servants.

National policies that drive domestic and foreign policies must come first. Defense of our peoples and Country is a national policy. Promotion of public policies that enhance our security, wellbeing, health, good jobs, and education are national policies. Any national policy, frankly speaking, must represent our most selfish interests to preserve and expand our way of life. While the term “selfish” has bad connotations, the application does not. As long as environmentalism is about people, then being selfish is just fine, as an example.

Let this post end with a current events practical application … what should our National response be to the abduction of 15 Brits by the Iranians? Using the lens of National policy, especially applied in a selfish sort of way, then possible courses of actions and perspectives on how to act (or react) become more limited and obvious to many citizens. One course of action is “don’t get mad, get even”. Let our National policy guide us in covert sorts of ways that, while we citizens might not know, the Iranians will know. Hitting them in the pocket book, with some more “detentions” of Iranians will represent our National interests. Whatever course of action our federal public servants do choose, if any, is up to them. One expects that the course of action will be in our National interest, and not some more limited foreign or domestic policy interest.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The east west dance continues…

The frustration and moral outrage over the Iranian abduction of the 15 Brits touches the most sensitive of western nerves. But the world also has other terrible things going on to include genocide in Dafur, blatant thuggery in Zimbabwe, small wars in the southern Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Horn of Africa, and the narco-state areas in southwest Asia and South America. And this is the short list. How about gang warfare in L.A. and the 20,000 person riots in China to begin to expand the list?

Having been on the pointy end of the spear (though back on the blade) one might consider balancing emotional outrage and frustration with a cold hard look at our National Interests, and deciding what courses of action should be applied. And of course where you are on the spear also depends on where one is during a career. And the period of a career often includes increasing exposures to how others think, to include many in the more eastern third world part of the world. Knowing how others think is important, and some westerners don’t get it. The most classic example of this in the last 50 years is the failed Limited War Doctrine: one premise was that others would think and respond like we would.

Most outraged western people look to a military response for all the right reasons. It might succeed, it certainly sends a political message, and if anybody can do it, the military can. Unfortunately, this is all too often too hopeful since the bad guys don’t cooperate, the locations and distances are extreme, and the supporter suggestions often sound like off or on, with no in-between.

Of course the bad guys are not 10 feet tall, though one might question this if reading all the western media reports. The most obvious example of this in the last 15 years is nuclear weapons. There are more than two open source reports of the Iranians buying 3 or 4 Russian nukes in 1991 from Kazakhstan. I’ll leave the details out because it is worth noting they have not used them since. Why? Perhaps it has to do with shelf-life problems, maintenance skills, PAL (unlocking codes), or Russian political control? Something similar probably applies to the recent North Korean nuclear fizzle. And don’t leave out the Iranian very senior physicist who died mid-January at the Natanz atomic facility due to gas-poisoning (he may have been assassinated). Bottom line, these fellows are not 10 feet tall, and the western press may not report it all. And we Americans or Europeans are not the only ones knocking down these people to less than 10 feet tall. Give the Turks credit last summer during 2006 when they turned back an Iranian flight into Syria. Why the Iranians turned around on this, their third flight over Turkish airspace, nobody knows at the citizen level.

Let’s advance to today’s world, the real world. That which is going on in so many places is just outrageous, morally repugnant, and deserving of a response. The normal hand wringing feel good response is to do something like our former Secretary of State writes about: talking, protesting, and other do-gooder things. She even has included Bishop Desmond Tutu, who I hope lives in the west since the Xhosa are running South Africa into the ground. And, in an opinion, this is the best course of action because it is not in almost all nations’ National Interests to do otherwise. Bitch but let them hang out in the wind.

And so it comes to this … National Interest. What is worth fighting for, and worth sending our children to fight for. The world is both ugly, and not so simple. There are alternatives to on-or-off to our public servants. I hope they choose them. This especially applies to the east west dance.

Do we have political and military leaders who know how to listen and respect those we try to dominate in pursuit of National Interest? I think the militaries have the word, do the politicians? This applies to politicians from America and Europe and Japan. As the environmentalists say: “we have concerns”.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is ruling America a political sport, or something more serious?

Just who is in charge? The politicians and pundits, or citizens who vote and read and listen and watch? Another way to ask is: are we citizens or politicians?

Then there is the fear of many that silliness from many fellow citizens will allow themselves to be led astray. The corollary is that many self appointed elites will assume the mantle of overseer, and govern us as best they see fit. Somehow, I think the whole situation is much better than that, though some may not have the word, be they silly citizens or elites assuming the mantles.

It is distressing that virtually all pundit and media reports have an underlying theme of political sport or even political war in covering the many frictions in our country. It is as if that is the way things are and always have been, and upon this assumption, one can comment much as an expert ESPN sports commentator. One analogy that works for many is comfort with the way we grew up: keep the weather and environment the same since it was good enough for me. How naïve since the world went on before us, and there were some pretty good things going on then that benefit us today, and should in the future. This applies to animals and humans, by the way.

America is a big deal in the world, and the world’s history. The immigration stats alone say so. Those social scientists and politicians with the best intentions and theories can try to have their way, but so can we citizens as a whole in doing more fundamental things like advancing our families and jobs and communities. Ruling America is not a political sport, it is much more important than that … to us as citizens, and to the world as a whole.

For those who think this is noble political diatribe, they may be correct. For those that think there are fundamental shifts about that changes how things are thought about and voted on, they may be correct, too. While I go with the latter, our country’s future is more important than the political sport of today.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The best of all worlds … and the future of humanity

This is both a serious article and a bit tongue-in-cheek. After all it is about the female right to vote. The discussion can go both ways. Since I am a male writing this article, expect both my prejudice, and subjugation to female beating about the head and shoulders, at least felicitously. Life may not by fair, but it does have serious purposes. All males and females know this. Let me go forward to the obvious.

Women run the world. Depending on the society and culture, how they do it varies. This is so historically based, I challenged my political opponents to disagree using facts (I hope), or even fiction (I do not hope). If this premise is correct, then maybe this is how somehow we humans have both survived on the earth, and maybe even socially changed.

That history has kept women in “political chains”, denied the vote, put them on a pedestal, restricted their and their men’s behavior, all in the pursuit of advancing Families that are the tribe, is, well, normal for most of the world. If you buy this line, or premise, than you are thinking more eastern like. Just don’t ignore the obvious that somehow women run the world, even in this age old system.

OK, let’s go western. The historical pretenses have been superceded by western thoughts, and in the first 50 years of this change, it appears the women’s vote can “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” in the west. In America, it is especially disturbing to read polls about women voting as to how they feel, or how cute the candidate is. Barf. How about the old days of facts and National interest?

Jump to the next 100 years in the West, and I think somehow in the East. One half of humanity, women, will have more political power. And they will probably screw up humanity about the same. Maybe the old cultures of women running the world, indirectly of course, worked as well, or maybe better?
The best of all worlds … and the future of humanity

This is both a serious article and a bit tongue-in-cheek. After all it is about the female right to vote. The discussion can go both ways. Since I am a male writing this article, expect both my prejudice, and subjugation to female beating about the head and shoulders, at least felicitously. Life may not by fair, but it does have serious purposes. All males and females know this. Let me go forward to the obvious.

Women run the world. Depending on the society and culture, how they do it varies. This is so historically biased, I challenged my political opponents to disagree using facts (I hope), or even fiction (I do not hope). If this premise is correct, then maybe this is how somehow we humans have both survived on the earth, and maybe even socially changed.

That history has kept women in “political chains”, denied the vote, put them on a pedestal, restricted their and their men’s behavior, all in the pursuit of advancing Families that are the tribe, is, well, normal for most of the world. If you buy this line, or premise, than you are thinking more eastern like. Just don’t ignore the obvious that somehow women run the world, even in this age old system.

OK, let’s go western. The historical pretenses have been superceded by western thoughts, and in the first 50 years of this change, it appears the women’s vote can “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” in the west. In America, it is especially disturbing to read polls about women voting as to how they feel, or how cute the candidate is. Barf. How about the old days of facts and National interest?

Jump to the next 100 years in the West, and I think somehow in the East. One half of humanity, women, will have more political power. And they will probably screw up humanity about the same. Maybe the old cultures of women running the world, indirectly of course, worked as well, or maybe better?
Facts and fictions in USA politics

I never thought it could get to the silliness going on in D.C. and the media reporting thereof. I had always thought facts, and objective reporting, would trump all, including slippery politicians. Now it is most obvious that fictions can become “facts” in D.C., and many, including fellow Americans and many in the rest of the world just shake their head in disbelief. How can so many people allow themselves to be duped, or even more minimally, want to be duped? In fairness, many may resent the tag of being duped, and prefer the cover of accepting, and often reinforcing the fictions as a way to advance their politics. Given the many serious problems our Nation does have, this is a heck of a way to try run a country. One might even say people like this are playing with fire. Even if the present Republican President is a poor manager, etc, (which he is not), there is no excuse for using fictions over facts. Even if many Americans have a visceral dislike of Bush (much like I had of Clinton), there is no excuse for using fictions over facts.

I always enjoyed my version of joking about facts and fiction when making fun of my group, the military, though it could apply to any group. It was: Never ever let the truth interfere with a good story. (And the corollary was: Nothing screws up a good story like an eyewitness). Now my version of joking seems to have a basis in fact, at least in D.C. and the media. Said another way, many were introduced to the idea of propaganda by studying Nazi techniques, and later Stalin’s techniques. The basic idea was: if you say white is black often enough and in enough ways, eventually it will be accepted as fact.

Most of the world accepts that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) sometime before our attack in 2003. Depending on the WMD, they had buried (at land and sea) or evacuated to Syria, some of them during our lead up to our attack. The locations then in Syria are known. And during earlier times they had used WMDs against citizens, so we know they had them earlier. And as part of the attack into Kuwait in 1991, we expected (in my unit) 30% casualties from chemical weapons. And we knew the Iraqi’s were not 10 feet tall, so said another way, the threat and probability was not over exaggerated. Yet now the accepted facts in D.C. is not only that WMDs never existed, but Bush led some kind of charade to fool his fellow public servants in their votes. All this after the CIA Director announced a “slam dunk” on the subject; and then after all, Bush had kept Tenet as the CIA Director even if Clinton had nominated him based on his professional qualification as a Democratic Intelligence Committee staffer.

The other propaganda type silliness is the whole affair over Plame and Libby, etc. Now fiction has been extended to politics in supporting the most outlandish claims by this most disreputable politically oriented couple; and even now she can testify as to the facts without objective media challenge, even if her words have changed 180 degrees. This is so outlandish, it is silly. While it succeeds in D.C. and the media, I don’t think the rest of the world is buying it. Somebody has to say “the king has no clothes”.

Most adults are willing to let the chips fall where they may. And most will not tolerate fictions over facts. Most demand elected public servants address our many National problems. If this is not a message from outside of D.C., then stand by for heavy rolls.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Kurds are people too

Most know this often quoted line: be careful because you may get what you asked for

Let’s start with the Kurds. They should have their own country, but they don’t thanks to British and Russian diplomats last century. This can apply also to ideas such as Baluchistan and even what is called in today’s press Waziristan. More to come on these later in this post.

Let’s deal with what has resulted. In American terms, let’s deal with reality. The Kurds are a very decent tribe and people more like the best part that we Americans got from our European ancestors. They also ended up in their part of the world, which includes parts of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. But they are a tribe with objectives, often anti-arab. OK, so far. But if you are a US Marine as part of the western occupation of northern Iraq after Desert Storm, you know the Kurds will try to trick you into shooting artillery into the Iraqi’s. One of the leaders then was a Marine named Jones, who later the SecDef selected to be the first Marine to lead NATO. But I digress. There is another point of view vis-à-vis the Kurds, if you are a Turk. Turkey has a military draft, and Kurds who are also Turkish citizens, are routinely drafted. The notable point is that this group is routinely assigned away from the Kurdish areas, including the border area with Iraq.

Let me continue. The frustration over blaming the failure to capture Bin Laden is well deserved, up to a point, especially those who bad mouth the leader of Pakistan. Allegedly, Bin Laden is hiding in the border area know by many names. In the western press I think it is called Waziristan. But do your history, and one may find that a Brit fellow by the name of Durand using a paper map did a “line” about 1921 that divided the Pashtuns in just the area that Bin Laden is hiding in. Of course, the locals did not get the word, and even if they did, they didn’t and don’t care what some Brit diplomat did in 1921.

For the most bellicose of my fellow citizens who say send in the special forces or Marines, I say, you go. The other side is not so stupid when they see I look “different”. It is not an easy world. But given the political priorities, they will go. Unfortunately, the bad guys are not cooperating. And maybe the President of Pakistan is not as dumb as the western press reports.
Why a Jerusalem?

The world is filled with great cities. Most great cities seem to arise from geography that includes ports and trade. A smaller number of great cities seem to arise from geography that seems to be religiously blessed, often by erection of temples associated with heavenly implications. And is a city great because of its physical size and population, or is the power of why humans founded it a factor? Political centers are a good example. Of course most of us do not live in great cities.

And time marches on. Some great cities are now dust in the sand, covered over by the march of time, or forgotten by history, especially western history. Xian, China with its great pyramids is a good example, but others are out there, also. The apparent great climatic changes precipitated by the end of the last great ice age, great volcanic activity, and some human activity have erased many great cities. Even some great cities may now be under coastal waters or in rain forests these days. Much on this subject is still being discovered. Just what places were cradles of civilization is a good example of this discovery going on.

Even the subject of the world’s great religions is cantankerous. Is a great religion great because of the numbers of worshipers, the power of its ideas, the association with the heavens, or some combination of these ideas and other ideas? One list of great religions based on ideas and history includes: Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Shinto, Confucianism, Jainism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Bahá'í, and Paganism and Animism.

All the preceding leads to the question of “why a Jerusalem?” Jerusalem is a very holy city to three of the world’s great religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Why did it become this way? The question is quite powerful because of all the wars and frictions that come out of this one great city. And while many humans prefer to act, rather than react, why are many humans preordained to perpetuate the past about Jerusalem? And for the other great religions, one might surmise that many don’t care much about Jerusalem, one way or the other.

Books upon books have been written about this subject, and associated themes. Yet the basic question applied to we masses seems to be too often neglected to the level it ought to be at. Again, “why a Jerusalem?” Why is it a very holy city for three of the world’s great religions? And why have so many wars been fought over and about it, with full expectation this will continue in the future?

Certain things about Jerusalem do stick out. Its geography places it by water transportation. It sits on top of a crossroads of history that includes trade and invasions, and the many great ideas brought by these traders and invaders. Many other religious ideas have been introduced by those such as: the Romans, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians. Yet somehow, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have made it a very holy city; holy enough to fight over and about. Why?

Following the preceding logic tree, perhaps it has something to do with the three religions. This begs the questions about the peculiarity of the location, or the other reasons to fight over it, or some combination thereof. An ancillary question might be: are there any other “Jerusalems” elsewhere in the world? The usual answer is no.

There are things worth fighting and dieing for. And going to war is still an option, especially as an extension of politics by other means. The world is still an ugly place. But why Jerusalem in the historical sense of three major religions? Maybe one can be too focused on today’s times, and the frictions between the State of Israel and the Arab world, and some of the rest of the Islamic world. Perhaps if the UN had placed the State of Israel elsewhere it would render the question about Jerusalem moot. Most don’t think so given the recent rise of Islamic fascism fueled by the vast oil incomes. It all comes back to Jerusalem, many think. And as one of many who prefer to act, rather than react, why continue the historical frictions between three of the world’s great religions over Jerusalem? What is it about Jerusalem that continues to dictate so many foreign policies? What is it about Jerusalem?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

US National interests applied to hostages

1. Bottom line: exchanging hostages taken expressly for that purpose is a proven successful tactic by tribes and some nation-states. In modern history (relatively) this goes back to the Barbary Pirates.
2. Second bottom line: it is an ugly world out there.
3. Third bottom line: What do we do when our National interests are not threatened, but we are outraged and morally appalled. This circumstance applies to hostages, and genocide.
4. Fourth bottom line: How dirty are we (in the west) willing to get in playing the game?

The preceding questions are prompted by the present British hostage abduction by the Iranians. This is a repeat performance between tribes and nations (in the traditional guise of ideologies mixed with some hardball retribution) it seems. Recently a BBC fellow was taken in Gaza, and also recently 5 Italians were taken in Afghanistan. It has gone on before, and may well continue, since it has worked in the past in achieving the results of the abductors. Now 15 Brits are abducted by the Iranians.

Much as men and women court, something similar has been going on in the middle east for decades. Most of it is business, oil and military weapons come to mind; but it has also been cold war competition for benefits to the region (as in the big Nile River dam); and also it has been supporting the many arab dictatorships in support of our national objectives when it coincides with their objectives. Many call this “realism”. Whatever it was, there were the “courters”, and the “courtees”, and both did the dance. When one thinks they are “pursued”, they often imbue themselves with extra advantages. It seems like those practicing abduction as a tactic still think this way. Maybe it is older than that.

The hard nut to crack is one of National interest, and our moral outrage at hostage abduction and genocide. The courses of action are all over the place, but this one citizen has made his peace. It is one being selfish, and unless my idea of our National interest is threatened, I expect my federal public servants to do the best they can with what they’ve got. That’s it! President Jefferson reached this point with the Barbary Pirates when our payments to them in tribute became intolerable, and he and the Congress did the best they could with what they got. I expect our present President and Congress to do something similar in the present circumstances. I have no idea what they may come up with, and I think they share the same frustration. And the poor anti-war types may have other “problems”. Even Jimmy Carter is weighing in, I hear.

Just how “dirty” are we willing to get. Let me not mince words. Are we willing to let hostages die for a greater cause? Are we willing to use covert operations to kill or kidnap enemies? Are we willing to use bribes to influence our enemies? Are we willing to deal with the most disreputable and despicable individuals if it benefits our National interest? Again, this citizen has made his peace. The answer is yes. I am willing to get “dirty”, as long as some public servants have oversight review limited to our American values not being abused. If this sounds political, it is. The old days of Senator Church’s and Admiral Turner’s wave of wand, and law’s that limited our getting “dirty” may have been well intentioned, but the bottom line result has been to force our present public servants into decisions that look more like: “go to war” or “back off”. This citizen thinks our public servants need more “tricks” in their “bag of tricks” if we, as a Nation, are to avoid war, and pursue our National interests by other means.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Iran, Iranians, and the threats to us

First of all give them credits. They love their country, their society, their families, and their way of life. It is all they have. They even have a long Persian history that would make all proud. And even the Persian prehistory, and for that matter the whole transcaucus prehistory, is a whole rich history of tribes migrating into this area from and to Europe. Yes it is tribal dependent, and yes, there are many blonde blue eyed tribes in remote valleys in Afghanistan. We are all relatives, somehow.

More credits, first. Go to school with Iranians (not the politicians) and they are the same as us; many are good academics, as in hard working. This is normal. Go relatives, albeit, very distant.

And Iran is a country about twice the size of Idaho, with a population of about 70 million. Again, on the credit side, we are talking about relatives, albeit distant.

In the end, if attacked, the Iranians will defend themselves as a civilization, a nation, and as relatives of ours. We have much in common since we will do the same.

On the bad credit downside is the present political leadership that does, in fact, run the country. Their running the country includes killing and oppressing their opposition. They are imbued with enough Eastern thought processes to denigrate the value of human life, and women. Most of the leadership is the theocratic and unelected ruling class. They do have a present puppet acting as the technically and legally (rigged election) President. He’s the one we read about in the press. He was one of student leaders during the U.S. Embassy takeover in 1979 (according to many reputable sources).

He, and they, the theocratic dictators, have many political and financial problems that will bring them down (most predict). It is a matter of when, not if. The when is very frustrating to the impatient, myself included. They have had to create their own extra military loyal to them and not the nation, and then finance it. Their Army of God (with its naval element) competes with the normal Iranian military for funds, etc. It is a repeat of Hitler and the Nazi Party having its SS, which was a competitor of their military. And Hitler and the Germans lost the war…bad plan for a war.

And then they have their other problems. Their version of Islam is a minority in the regional world where they live. How their future leaders sort out all the frictions between their religious and family values, regional religious competitors, and outsider western type values, is their problem. Does one wish these egomaniacs luck? I don’t. Neither do their regional enemies, and opponents, especially given the Iranian nuclear pursuits.

With the recent Brit problem, one might use the military approach of focusing on capabilities vice intents. Judging intents is always difficult and usually a waste of time. In the capabilities area, the Iranians have recently lost (to defections or kidnapping) more than a few senior military leaders (Army of God and regular military). They have promised to kidnap others in retaliation. Now they have. Their President has just canceled his visit to the U.N. and U.S. soil. We still can take more Iranians into “custody”, as well as continue whatever we are doing covertly. We are a bigger dog than they are. Their leadership (religious, political, and military) knows this, and we know this. We have been war gaming Iran for decades. They know that. Some Iranians used to participate in these war games since sometimes it was to defend Iran from the Russians during the Cold War (as well as other scenarios). The Russians are pulling out of Busheur, much like the French did at Osirak before the Israeli attack in 1981. The new CENTCOM is a Navy fellow with proconsul-like experience with China and other regional powers, and users of Persian Gulf oil energy and their economics for doing so. A second carrier battle group is forming up in the regional area. The President is changing other people in his team affecting the area, and is reported to be changing his strategy, and maybe even his tactics.

Diplomacy is most effective in the Eastern world with a big stick included in the process.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Public service and charity and thank you

We all serve in our own way. Most service is local, as in church or other type charitable service that is inspirational in its golden rule orientation and limited expectations for a thank you from those that benefit. Most of this service is from a wellspring of good intentions, often with a religious base, and from those who have the time. In most cases all monies go towards the intended people (and sometimes animals and other causes) without any payment to the volunteers. It is enough to make any observer proud. In Aussie talk, they “done good”. This system is as old as history, but is alive and well in today’s times.

Then there are the more business like charities that take a cut of the collections to pay themselves and the overhead. Again, most deserve our support, but the buyer must beware when contributing since some are more money income machines or politically oriented in their distributions. Even our government gets involved in these types of charities if you accept that the old Combined Federal Campaign exhibits such characteristics, or something similar for the old United Fund. That the Boy Scouts have been cut out of the old United Fund unless I take special actions to counteract it, and we have to trust them to do so, is an example of others using my money for their purposes. Suddenly local looks better and better, even if it takes more work on the citizen’s part. By the way, in the case of the Boy Scouts, I have nothing against homosexuality since I know it goes on. I just want to promote citizenship and scout values that I feel benefit our American society, locally, and as a Nation. And those Boy Scout public service leaders need all the financial help we can give them, I think.

Another very admirable group of public servants is those that seek public office. It might be local as in the school board, or county, or state, or regional, or even federal. I admire them all, albeit some more than others. Yes, there are bad apples in the barrel, but the vast majority serve out of public interests, even if it is their version of public interests, but then that is why they ran for the vote, and in turn, why we can vote for the public servants we choose. While I am throwing roses, we should respect those who serve in the more administrative positions to administer what the public servants dictate and vote on. This includes teachers, public, and private. I don’t believe in shooting the messenger. No body wakes up in the morning wanting to do a bad job. So what we voters should do is vote for our public servants. And this is where this article is leading.

Our public servants in Washington D.C. are in a mess. One should not expect any leadership or moral example out of anyone in D.C, other than maybe President Bush. Even his style has been overwhelmed. Some of us more naive types expected the 2006 elections to offer some semblance of our national interests coming back into the game they play there. Alas, it is not happening. In fact, to me, what is happening is third world in quality.

We cannot ignore the whole world going on around us, and we still do have a nation and culture to run, and defend. In this vein, the politics of criminalizing political differences must come to an end if we are to have public service citizens to come forward. This is in our National interest. The tactic of criminalizing politics is a loser, nationally speaking. While it may work in the short run (or so it seemed in the recent past), we are a long run Nation, and “where do we get back our reputation” still applies. We are full of the best and the brightest (and also some the worst and dumbest), and must nurture this wonderful group of public service Americans. Tough love will apply.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ice Cream Socials

The days of loose girls, free love, and let it all hang out is on the way out. The free ride for guys enjoying sex from “liberated” girls is on the way out. Political and societal liberation never translated to sexual liberation. It never would. Sex drives it all…boys and girls want to get together, on their own rules which are driven by biological imperatives. The societal change will take decades to occur, as did the present state of affairs. But the times they are a changing, and the pendulum is swinging as always. The days of group dating and special friends “with privileges” are on the wane. Boys and girls have different objectives, and that has never changed. How they got there, and how they tolerated the process during their times, has changed. They are and have been part of how American society survives, and goes forward.

One idea that succeeds is that the demographics decide in the end. Birth rates of sub-elements of society is the usual basis of this idea, which is numerically correct for these days. Somehow I believe that the future American experience will lower sex out of wedlock, and birth rates out of wedlock, that will naturally change the course of our culture for all elements. To follow on, few expect boys and girls to change their behavior; it will be how we change our adult behavior and impose ourselves on their opportunities to have sex. Call it two faced, call it censorship, call it unfair; most parents call it supervision for our kids benefit, and society’s benefits along the way. Even sexually transmitted diseases and their consequences should drop in a way that allows more married couples to have kids.

Society, in our case American society, has an interest in itself. In the case of sex, imposing our standards usually applies to girls being in charge. It does work both ways, but generally we are most rigid with girls. Since mothers and fathers are not stupid, this often means both training, and rigid supervision and rules since this will benefit their daughters, and sons, in the end.

Imposing our standards is both cheap talk, and hard to do given today’s times. But then we are talking about the future, also. In both cases the idea of “shame” needs refurbishment, as well as ideas of limiting the government paying for abortions or child support. If mom and dad have to pay in the latter two cases, the social justice and retribution will far exceed anything well intentioned social scientists can legislate. We do have the means to begin to change course, if we choose to do so. Lest this seems another well intentioned idea, I can report I am a father of both girls and boys, and at least one has bred, albeit married first.

And then there are the alternatives that demand work on the part of parents imposing both standards and non-sex alternatives on boys and girls. Here moms and dads are smarter than any one writing an article such as this. Just don’t forget Ice Cream Socials.
Is environmentalism a symptom, or a societal disease?

When Barry Commoner made the cover of Time Magazine back in the 60’s many poo-pooed him some, and mostly his cause. Even if some of his ideas were credible, which they were, the ideas of law and owned property were also credible. Just who were those who would take over or dictate to an upstream polluter without buying them out. There were other ways to deal with an upstream polluter, to include shaming them in the cases of overzealous development. The response to, say for example, a paper mill on the North Fork of the Potomac River that polluted locally and regionally, was a combination of local, regional, and state action, as well as public shaming. In this whole process people and their jobs were a big factor, since we all lived and worked together, and sent our kids to school together. Bottom line, there were recourses to dealing with polluters, and they were practiced as part of the then American way.

Politically, this whole idea of environmentalism was probably advanced in time by above ground testing of nuclear weapons. The regional, national, and international effects of radiation pollution from the 50’s became well published. Even kids read about the possible effects of Strontium 90 ingested through cow’s milk (it acts like calcium to our little bodies). Back then reading was the usual way of getting news and information; facts, propaganda, or even comic book versions of it all.

The evolution of environmentalism continued to a new status that had more political bite. Local land owners and citizens jobs began to lose control to environmental and OSHA federal and later state laws that evolved from obvious polluters to “I have concerns” about species and job safety. In the latter case, most of the jobs people knew more about their job safety than those becoming their unelected representatives. And during this period, it seems the standards of scientific research began to decline to producing output based on funding and political objectives. Not just the scientists changed, so did our society. Kids who might have pursued educational lines that tended towards education, engineering, mathematics, or business, found another popular line of environmental “this and that” to pursue. Theory and good intentions were everything; even computer modeling (often unchallenged do to ignorance by the user) went unchallenged. Along the way there were exceptions. The recovery of the RCW (red cockaded woodpecker) in the eastern coastal plain, led by Ralph Costa and the FWS, was brilliant. Common sense, working together, and patience, made for a brilliant campaign, and a win-win. The opposite, unfortunately, has also happened, vis-a-vis the spotted owl debacle.

The evolution continued. Nothing's wrong with that except for the fear that this unchecked evolution may have even more economic impact, as in put now millions of peoples out of their jobs. The trip wire for this author was hearing “some environment types” proposing to take over the entire Rocky Mountain chain to form a movement corridor for wolves. The alarming part was the proposal to use “law” and not money to take over this huge area to use their idea, or theory. And later, and more locally, we have the NRDC (which spreads itself very thin) proposing to take over the Cumberland Plateau in the east to promote the most naïve and wildlife destructive ideas to the more informed, all without paying a penny. Now the antennas are up.

One should never take their pack off. Now those who wrap themselves in the environmental cause have gone global. The most recent issue is one of global warming. The science debate has much published about it, thank goodness. The reader can make up their own mind. One does not need to be a computer engineer, or any of the others who offer “expert” opinion, to know the ideas of “garbage in, garbage out”, or the influence of billions of public dollars of funding on decisions about what to research, and expected outcomes. Add in the popular culture ideas on the subject, even movie reviewers are weighing in, and what has the world come to.

And this is the point of this article. This is the most difficult point. Is environmentalism today an out of control societal disease that manifests itself as a religion, or even worse, an unchecked theocracy? Or is it more simple, a symptom of American and western do-gooderism? In either question, and answer, the author suggests considering the following. Is environmentalism about humans, or not?
It’s time for the Democrats to change their congressional leadership

It may already be too late. Even though they have had power only 10 weeks, they may have already changed enough voters to ensure they are voted out in 2008. The raw arithmetic seems obvious to many. They got control in Congress in 2006, albeit barely, by the voters who voted “in” more “blue-dog” type congressmen and congresswomen. People wanted change in D.C. As low as the hyped approval ratings of the President are, those of Congress are even lower. And it appears the present Congressional leaders still believe their multiple campaign plans of obstruction and manufactured corruptions of the week worked as evidenced by the continued practices today. But what is happening is that voters are switching opinions quickly, and even beginning to laugh at the haphazardness of the Congressional Democrats’ conduct given the serious problems our Nation does have. What’s next on their part … pitchforks and torches in the streets? Actually, vandalism and office invasions are already beginning as a political tactic. Pardon me, but this looks Nazi-like to many.

In a most simple arithmetic, the anti-war (any war not just Iraq) types in the House add up to 70, or 16% of the House. Not only should any minority not dominate a party or either house of Congress, they certainly should not have the literally billions of dollars of public monies offered as bribes to gain their vote on the Iraq war funding. Where are the Congressional leaders who look out for the majority’s interests, the National interests, the interests for the common good, the articulation of policy alternatives. These types of national leaders are certainly not the ones filling the leadership positions at this time. The voters sent enough of these types of people to Congress. The Democrats just have not elected them to positions of leadership.

The present Democratic leaders seem especially good at producing rhetoric, obstruction, crises of the week, and other such ineffectual masquerades for governing. Nothing substantial has been accomplished, not does it seem likely in the future leading up to 2008. Yet Congress is a co-equal branch of government that has serious responsibilities in governing our Nation. Yet the present leaders seem stuck in the past, as if for not knowing what to do, they do what they know, which is not substantially much. And even if a third of our voters are silly enough to allow all this, the other two-thirds won’t keep allowing this most transparent type of behavior and governance to continue.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Getting back our Nation

In the greater scheme of things, getting older has its advantages. I can remember ideas like national interest, common interests, public policy, civility in political debate, and the seriousness of it all felt by citizens. Since we all remember the good more than the bad, all was not perfect in our past, it was just…different. And time only goes forward so there is no return to whatever existed in our past. But ideas can be timeless, it is only the societies that change.

For the slightly younger challenged, the present political society has not always existed. The raw adversarial relations between the press and the Republicans, the two national parties acrimonious fights, the politics of personal destruction, the atmosphere of political blood sport, the schemes to gain political advantage, and so on, are more products of recent times than our American way of government. Even President Bush has done his best to lead by example in the idea of civility in discourse. And even in my time I can remember when Time Magazine seemed like an arm of conservative political thought rather than the opposite it seems to be today. So things do change, at least in my experience.

Some things do not change. We still have a constitution, and oaths are sworn to the constitution, not any individual or vision. Those who use more democratic principals of political leader visions of a perfect future, with polling data to support it, and a willingness to subvert basic principals of our country to advance their cause are in the wrong place. Either move elsewhere to countries that use this method of government, try change the constitution by legal means, or enter the constitutional process. Legalisms to try subvert the electoral process, or even the basic legal process by arguing over what the meaning of “is” is are alive and well today. But many less age challenged remember other more fundamental and constitutional processes that are in need of restoring, or at least refurbishing.

Sometimes one wonders if a majority of the USA citizens today know when they have been attacked by foreigners, as in destroy them and their way of life? And one wonders if a majority of USA citizens are so confident about their way or life that they think we are always going to be here as we are today. I even wonder if a majority are willing to fight for their way of life, even if the issue is in doubt? And I wonder if the majority of the politicians we elect today care more about themselves and their parties and mining our national wealth than they do about our Nation? All these doubts and worries are about we, the USA, today.

Again, getting older has its advantages. What political society exists today is not as it always has been, even in my lifetime. And again, ideas are timeless, though societies are not. The question I have is: how do we get back our Nation? The historical solutions are obvious, at least to me. They are: 1) we go down the tubes of history; 2) we have a civil war or another revolution; or 3) we citizens take back our Nation using our Constitution, and hard work. We do have something that is special in world history. The immigration patterns confirm that others know this.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The practical side of life…as compared to the emotional side of life

The only surprise at all since the November 2006 congressional elections has been the eruption of vitriolic written and public behavior of a small portion of our population. I just had not known or imagined how suppressed this group must have felt. Politicians lying and misrepresenting I understood. Even during the times when I despised Clinton and what he was to doing to our Country I always used decorum and fair debate as guideposts. That was the American way, at least to me. Now, as a member of the “chattering class”, I take the time to say to my fellow chatterers that the practical side of life still does predominate in our Country.

Most citizens are just too busy in life; business, family, and such things to care, or know, about day-to-day politics and its affect on them. Most are middle of the road types that just want to get on with things. In the case of Iraq, most understand war as way to preserve our way of life, but also have no patience for the old prosecution of this war if it keeps us in Iraq forever. At home populist issues that affect jobs and families predominate what I hear in Tennessee and North Carolina and Georgia. Most care less about what foreigners think, in general. This includes immigration. In sum, what I hear and read and sense is that most Americans are middle of the road types in life, and at times of voting. Our government seems to represent all this. So maybe the voters are in charge.

Like I suspect about many other chatterers, I both have the time to read, and do so. But I try to keep in mind that, like my small vitriolic group aforementioned, I may also be part of another small portion of our population. The difference between we chatterers and them is one of being practical vs. emotional, and in using decorum and fair debate to advance ideas of our Country’s future.

Does anyone even listen? I mean beside fellow chatterers? The answer is yes. The professional pundits and media writers out of D.C. and other such centers of influence have to mine most of their ideas from somewhere, besides each other, which is the old way of things. And almost all care about our Country, one way or the other. They are practical as compared to emotional. And so are most of Americans, if they can be reached in their busy schedules.

The craziness that seems to be erupting politically is just that, crazy. It reflects both a small portion of our population, and the mainstream media that seems to report it without the most basic investigative work. Even the journalistic ideas of emotional reporting vs. facts reporting will sink naturally as people turn away and journalists lose jobs. After all, it is about our Country, not them and their politics and jobs. As part of terminating journalists jobs by poor ratings on their part, I have voted with my feet. I encourage others to do the same. Vote with your feet for those journalists who do facts and real investigative reporting. By the way, I think this is on auto-pilot as young people grow and reject the baby boomer generation idealistic nonsense for more practical values that will allow them to have a way of life that they support.

As a tolerant American who seeks to both listen and try convert the vitriolic side of my fellow citizens, I have made my peace. They don’t deserve the time of day. Some are just anarchists, some are spoiled anti-Americans and anti-Western value types, most probably don’t have families with kids, and whatever, I have bigger fish to fry. This sub-element of society is a normal and pervasive part of humanity. I choose to be American practical, not emotional. And I only have one political vote, which I appreciate as a citizen.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Politics is nasty business, but our Nation is not

The only analogy that comes from my experience is one of watching the swirls and eddy’s of a whitewater rapids. It is both navigable to the savvy boater, and very scary to the neophyte, which I am. And the volume of river flow is often influenced by humans, but in the end mother nature and rain and other such things have much to do with this flow.

So how does one common citizen try to grab all the swirling issues… local, national, and world? Maybe things are more predictable than it seems, although not predictable enough to become a religious leader, or someone similar. For sure our Country is recognized by its citizens as special in human history. That it can be improved is also believed in, I think. In both of the preceding is the beauty of we Americans. We are optimistic about our future, cynical about our past, and intolerant about manipulators of what drives our votes. In the latter is a cosmic shift. Today much of what goes on in D.C. and the mainstream media reflects the present dominant group…the baby boomers. But their time is coming to an end from aging, death, and voting by other citizens.

Maybe the baby boomers don’t have the best solutions as to interpreting and running the whitewater rapids. Maybe they don’t even have the experience (though many will say having gone through the history, that is good enough)…and I am sure they will try to go downriver through the rapids. Lack of practical experience will kill some of them. Should I, an old baby boomer neophyte, follow them towards possible doom? No!

In this river of politics and our County’s future there are many other river runners. These days, many are “younger” than baby boomers, and they bring their own experience to the going down the river. For those that think this is just an analogy only, just look at the whitewater boats used today compared to the past boats, and one will see there is more than one way to “go down the river”.

So why are politicians being “nasty”? What is the advantage for our Country? In the end I do not know, and there are a bunch of books on this subject, but in the end we should be selfish…our future is about us, and not the politicians and those who report. The most recently reported national politician (Democrat-Waxman) holding hearings that set up the whole charade of giving we citizens “facts” sound like he is the dinosaur that he is. Pardon me, but where is our “national interest” in his egotistical pursuit. Thank goodness he is old enough to pass on soon enough.

For those Republicans who read this article as a “hit piece”, don’t. Politics may be a nasty business, but our Country is not.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

100,000 activist politicians cannot control 300 million Americans if these Americans won’t cooperate

This idea is borrowed from Gandhi, but seems appropriate in the USA today. Two key points emerge.

First is questioning myself as to whether “I should get in a lather” over all the Democratic Party initiatives that just keep popping up in the mainstream media. After all, the Democratic Party is a pretty big political party, and much of the noise I hear is from more activist types within their “big tent”. Or maybe the idea of “not being in an organized party since I am a democrat” is more appropriate. Either way, it is disconcerting to think some of America’s opponents, foreign and domestic, may misinterpret all this debate and activity in ways detrimental to our American national interests. It is also disconcerting hearing issues pop up that were not discussed much, if at all, during the recent elections in 2006. Congressional micromanagement of any war, in this case the Iraq war, comes to mind. Major federal tax increases at all income levels also comes to mind. It is also disconcerting knowing that the Democrats gained control of Congress, albeit barely, because of the success of the moderate “blue-dog” politicians that represent many populist concerns, but are now being either ignored, bull dozed, or bribed for votes with our federal monies to benefit themselves, and our fellow Americans they represent.

Second is questioning ourselves as to whether “ we should cooperate” with a minority of one national political party dominating, and even trying to dictate, the policies of our Country, our American culture. To keep the arithmetic simple, there are 435 members of the House, and about 70 of them are dyed-in-the-wool anti-war pacifist types. In the best vein of political correctness, I am not questioning their patriotism nor their motives. I just note they are 70 out of 435 members of the House. How about the other 365 members of the House, and what they think about our Country’s national interests? Looking at things this way, I don’t think we will cooperate with this minority, though we will be respectful. Some may even feel sorry for those politicians trying to lash their whole thing together. I for one don’t feel sorry for them. Our Country and future is more important than soothing these political dinosaurs going through their final political death throes. The torch has already been passed to those whom “we will cooperate with”.

With age, comes wisdom, usually. Also, old age and cunning overcomes youth and inexperience, most of the time. We Americans are cooperative, but it is best with those who look out for our National Interests first. Now just what are our National Interests is something we can have civil debate about. We will cooperate with this idea.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

We have bigger fish to fry here at home

Our children are our future. It sounds like a political sound bite, but it is also pretty much basic to America’s survival, and success.

In national discourse, the friction between our American idea of public education (which is an American idea) and private education (which is a world idea) keeps coming up for good reason. The ideas are all over the place, and almost all are well intentioned, or so it seems. The friction about the subject confuses many of us, and often is a tactic used by those with their objective. The usual dribble from mainstream media about this subject applies to inner city schools, which I take as a code word for Negroes; and it is that the public school systems in the inner city schools are to be defended. Along this line isn’t it amazing that somehow the Democrats seem to be the reactionaries, and the Republicans seem to be the liberals… on this political and educational subject.

America’s institutions include “free” public education up to the 12th grade, in today’s terms. Of course nothing is free. Our taxes pay for public education, and local school boards have much to say about how this money is raised and spent. In big cities and their suburbs, this is not minor stuff. Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta has an over $1.4 billion dollar budget and 150,000 students. Online school calendars are in English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Our public schools are spread throughout this wonderful country, both rural and city, big and small. They are almost always funded by mostly local taxes, managed by local boards, and supervised by parents seeking the best for their kids. This is good! Along the way these public schools are often jobs programs for the favored in places of limited jobs. This is also normal, and considered good. The system can’t lose since more than enough well qualified teachers apply, and why shouldn’t local born teachers get the nod? And if the “standardized scores” show that the whole system to be benefiting the kids, then a good job is being done. But then, there are smaller pockets of public education systems that are failing our kids. The public school system is not perfect throughout our country.

My personal observation about public education is tainted by my time in the Marines. As a recruiter in Kentucky at the time I was there (mid 70’s), there were counties where only 5% of those who entered first grade graduated from high school, and there were more kids entering first grade than recorded births five years before (a reflection of unrecorded births in the hollows I used to say). Then came my time teaching (and recruiting) at Atlanta University for three years (81-84), a private college consortium, almost all Negro. I am also tainted by having kids and grandkids go to both private (secular and religious) and public schools (K-12) during my lifetime experience. I am also tainted as a Georgia Tech grad. I know statistics and other such math, and how to both construct “polls” and “interpret” them. Bottom line, I don’t believe much of what I hear from polls and studies unless I can read the fine print, and have the time to do so. Last, I am tainted by a really depressing American statistic…at best only one out of three young Americans today are qualified to be a private in the Marine Corps or the rest of the military. Two out of three are mentally, morally, or physically, just not qualified. So when I read today about how hard it is to recruit, which is true, keep in mind the available “pool” is restricted, and we Americans have been making less babies, so it is a tough time to grow the “military gunfighter” population. Just run the numbers in your mind.

Of course “private” schools come up in any fair discussion of educating our children. Mostly they are portrayed in the mainstream media as part of “white flight” from integrating Negroes into the formerly all white public schools, both urban and rural, depending on where one lives. Of course this idea is time (period) dependent. But fast forward to today. Nothing has changed about we adults wanting the best for our kids, to include education and the gained upward mobility for our kids. No race or culture has the upper ground on this issue. What is amazing is the outcome. Some private and public schools are better than others, and it is usually local in the judgment of where to send your kids and where to live based on school districts. There is no lock that suggests private schools in rural S.C. are better, for example, though I think they usually are. But compared to much of the rest of the Nation's public and private schools, they may be lacking in my humble opinion. Bottom line, schools for our kids have as much to do with parents and leadership, compared to whether they are privately funded, or publicly funded.

Let me pile on about public education and local control in a rural S.C. county as a way of saying some public schools are shabby. The State actually had to come in to one school system and take over the incompetence displayed by the locals, mostly Negroes. Since when does a public school system hire a teacher to teach French that doesn’t know a word of French? That is pretty bad. And the kids suffer, of course.

Let’s revert to inner city public schools in Kansas City, Missouri. Is it any different from rural South Carolina in the American goal of public education? Is the friction one of ideals, one of standards, or one of political correctness. I know, or at least think I hear, the normal Negro politician’s objection against kid’s education standards if it makes them look bad. But how about the kids? Education is the American way of upward mobility, and any politician denigrating education and standards for his political goals is “in the way”.

There are the normal, and correct, objections to the mostly city urban public (Negro) schools not being a place to send ones kids. This especially applies when there are private alternatives, even up to $16,000+ a year for a first grader. This article is not about convincing parents to send their kids to public school. This article is about educating the other kids in public schools in order to provide them upward mobility, and advancing our nation in the world.

There is so much written and broadcast about school vouchers that I could almost choke on it. The politics and arguments on both sides are all out there for any citizen to digest. I don’t care what the politicians, and teachers unions are saying. How about the mission of educating kids, and our national interest in making sure this happens?

School vouchers are not something new. The idea is old. The State of Maine has been using school vouchers since 1873 in getting very many of their kids educated. So for this citizen, why would a politician restrict local parents using their “bag of tricks” in advancing their kids upward mobility, and our national interest? It seems like it is about them, and not our kids, and our national interest.

The politics of public education vs. private education is interesting, at best. Add in the teachers having a national union about them, and not the kids, and things are even more complicated, especially given the amount of money this union gives to the Democratic Party. And again, it seems like the two National Parties have diverged. The now Republican Party seems like liberals, and the Democratic Party seems like reactionaries, at least on this political issue. To this citizen it seems like they and the teachers union are just fighting about power, and themselves, although the Democrats are worse. Just where do the kids, and our national interests come in. Whether it is private or public education, I don’t really care. Just make it happen. Mission first.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Just what is the purpose of a national political party?

When I started wondering about this question, it occurred to me that: I both don’t know the answer because I haven’t thought that much about it; and there is little published on this subject. Why there is so little discussion on the purpose of national political parties in the USA is telling. These days it seems like the Democrats and Republicans have always been here, and that is the way it is. Why, I don’t know, though I have my own ideas. They seem to have much in common with each other in their ruling class approach than they do in representing our national interests. The lobbyist’s billions (yes as in billions of dollars) that go towards gaining votes towards spending our national wealth seems to transcend the national parties, and all the royal-like benefits they consume.

Let’s get past the obvious first. Our Constitution created the House of Representatives to be, well, the House of Representatives. Their job includes constituent services, and also arguing to “bring the bacon home”. This is American through and through. Federal and National things like the common defense, port control, and immigration services can be done equally well by those contractors from Ohio, or even South Carolina, just let the Congressmen decide. In the last 100 years, redistribution of wealth for social reasons or education can be added to the competition for federal jobs. All this seems like a job for national parties. This makes sense, to me. Organizing, as in unions and national political parties, adds weight to advancing ones cause in the real world.

Fast forward to today. What are we citizens getting for our support (including votes and money) of national parties today? I am not sure, but here is a guess. A small percentage (about 20% of Americans) are passionate enough about their cause, and somehow have enough money, to demand their national party do what they say. Fair enough, but along the way where is the national discussion, the balance, the acknowledgement that civility is important to all Americans. Where is there recognition that we all do not think alike? If the reader thinks this is all code words for the Democrats, they are correct. But you know, somehow, I think, the Republican national party may suffer from the same affliction of over confidence of how we citizens think and act.

Fast forward to tomorrow. The national interest, both foreign and domestic, takes the lead in how most citizens think and vote. There is no consensus, just us. Our country is not too shabby. National parties, and especially the hired-for-pay media masters (payed by fund raisers, in the end), in their quest for political power and benefits, and following the past practices, are anachronisms. The question I ask is: do the present political parties somehow reform inside to better represent us; or will another national party arise to represent us?

This idea and question is not a threat, nor it is a promise. We do demand responsible political leaders.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nothing is inevitable

Given all the turmoil at the national and world level, and present terror war at the world level, one might think all these events are preordained. One might guess that the rising nations like China are full of vim and vigor and entrepreneurs because our history was more like that 100 years ago; but now we are more settled, more Old World like, more historically and environmentally conscious, and that makes all the difference. It is as if it is preordained, that we are going down some normal path of human and cultural evolution that will probably make us subservient to some other future more hungry nation of human beings. The futurists might even suggest nation states are a thing of the past, and some other amalgamation of peoples will control we in the USA. They may be right.

And then they may be wrong. The New World is just that. The old meaning was: those in the Western Hemisphere. The new meaning is: those who have values more Judeo-Christian, more Western for women and the rule of law, more evolutionary in balancing human impacts with human responses: some government, but most are natural human responses.

The idea of the New World is exciting. Many young people are responding in their own ways; some I like, some I don’t. But the main thing is “the New World”. While change is normal, and generations and history do change over time, there is something going on in the New World that is not inevitable. We are not being dragged down by our Old World past, and our ancestor's problems and policies that they used in their lifetime. Of course not being dragged down is no guarantee of wisdom in the future, but it does throw off the shackles of our Old World past.

One can apply this academic pie-in-the-sky talk in practical ways here in the USA, today. First is recognize that we have moral, cultural, and constitutional values that are New World, and worth both fighting for, and defending. Second is to descend into day-to-day politics in applying all this for the national good. This is where most of us debate, argue, get frustrated, and even curse those with other points of view, often silly and naïve and sometimes vicious it seems. When one compares all the friction and frustration to the Chinese government deporting 20,000 “others” from their capital (guess what might happen to them?) then our New World ideas seem pretty tame. Another practical application comes to mind. I think our President has done a poor job in Iraq until recently. But his judgment, and poor performance in winning the peace in Iraq, does not change the basic equation about our National Interests, and the ideas of New World vs. Old World. I call it “not throwing out the baby with the dirty bathwater”.

All the preceding discussion has three purposes for voters to think about.

The New World is a special idea in human history, and should be amplified.

The Old World is going by the wayside of history, but it will take a long time.

Crass opportunistic power seeker humans will muddy the waters. Some may not see the tide passing them by. Some more astute will both see the tide, and attempt to manipulate it. But for sure, what is happening is not inevitable.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The friction of right and wrong

Most of us have been taught the Golden Rule. You know, treat people like you would like to be treated. This is a voting quality issue for many. Being fair and balanced is the selfish way I know to try figure out what the politicians are saying, and what I believe they are saying, and then deciding what to do. This idea even applies to supporters and advocates of politicians.

In the last year or so, my idealism and fairness has been violated by the most crass human instincts from advocates trying to control information, and the news. I thought hundreds of years ago that Galileo’s suggesting the earth rotated around the sun that resulted in his incarceration, was the result of ignorance at the time. Now, to fast forward, it seems like the human instinct to impose dogma, and protect one’s dogma, is still alive and well.

Why do I believe this? First there is a media (the Church as in during Galileo’s time?) that appears to have an agenda about what is information we citizens need to use in our judgments. Then there are reports from this media about things like having a Nuremburg like trials for those of us who disagree. Then there is the latest Global Warming hysteria run by politicians and media that try to define our public policy, and behavior. And for me, there is the most appalling History Channel show that promoted all the latest politics about energy, and ignored or poo poo’d all the things that will destroy us as a society (as in raising kids and having a family). I am beginning to think my engineering and thermodynamics education and thinking may get me arrested by some new thought control bureaucracy or political party in control of our federal government. I thought we were different from Galileo’s time; I guess not.

Then there is another version of what is wrong today. It seems to inspire emotions, politics, and just plain thought control. There are three elements I read and sense.

First is the anti- Bush element of some people. I understand the visceral disgust with Bush, since I felt the same for Clinton. Yet I never let my “feelings” interfere with what I thought was best for our Nation, given the obvious compromises.

Second is the anti-American element, which at best seeks to improve our society in their vision. At worst, well, it is surrender of our culture, society, and way of life.

Third, and last, is the most appalling convergence of emotions, good intentions, and ignorance in trying to convince the country about how to proceed to our greater good. The rest of the world be damned, as if we are immune. We decide, and there will not be consequences in this idea. How horribly naïve is this idea.

We have our own American version of right and wrong, thank goodness. And we are the New World.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

When did Limited War Doctrine become dogma?

Way back during the Vietnam era, a newly developed Limited War Doctrine was used by our political leaders to guide their actions, and prosecutions, of their war. In hindsight, they were wrong, but I don’t fault their Ivy League judgment at the time, given the bigger problems they were trying to prevent. Like I said, hindsight is wonderful. And while we “lost” in Vietnam, a greater world war with the Chinese or Soviet Union was prevented, according to the bigger doctrine of the Cold War and “containment”. Since we did not enter a nuclear war or even a bigger conventional ground war in Asia, our leaders may have done well. All this is history now, though I really enjoy the hindsight debate about this subject.

What I do not enjoy, or understand, is why our politicians still follow Limited War Doctrine. For the neophytes, the Doctrine practices two things: 1) Gradual escalation of military power will both send a message and kill people; and 2) they will think like us and respond like us. The pressure we apply will be overwhelming, and dictate political decisions on the “other” side’s part.

For the more suspect and conspiracy oriented of us, it appears our present President has hired lightweights, or even well intentioned “educated fools” to do their bit. Others totally opposed to Bush have even amplified their emotions to being against him, as opposed to being for America. What a sad state of affairs, if either one, or both, are correct. Thank goodness people can vote, so excess of emotions and bad judgment can be balanced by calm reason and boredom.

So does the Limited War Doctrine from the 50’s and later work for the USA today? No!
So why, if I am correct, are our politicians still using, and even honoring, this worn out doctrine? There is hope. It appears our President, and his hired minions, are moving towards another Doctrine, one more 2000 oriented. In this there is hope. All most of us want to do is protect our Families, and come home.

When national politics play in, I understand the game of trying to gain votes. When the Democrats point out the obvious problems, I understand. What I want to hear is what are our politicians, local and national, are doing for me and my Family. In this idea, the Limited War Doctrine, fades by the wayside. This is not politics. This is the Nation.
The New World

Through the dim oil lamps of cold history we humans used survival,
Often controlled and led by Kings and Queens and Popes,
Accepting of much, demanding of little,
We often went tribal.

Be it Asia, Africa, Europe, or the in-between,
We often went ethnic, religious, and cultural,
Defending our own, demeaning those others,
We became a world that was not always what it seemed.

The massive migrations of tribes across lands,
The mixing of cultures, religions, and appearances,
Sparked the wars and cleansings of others different,
That became the human standard of clans.

The human instinct of Family is beautiful,
Families are the basis of how we humans survive,
The instinct is universal across the lands,
It was an instinct… almost cultural.

Then a New World was discovered, some said it was found,
An unplanned opportunity arose for us humans,
We could shed the Old World cultures while still being Family,
We could honor an idea, a constitution, and not a Crown.

What a novel idea, the common good,
We define the common good, and not the Crown,
The massive shift is in how those in the New World think,
As all changes lead to, we challenge the old and advance those that should…be different.

The path of the New World is full of uncertainty,
Perhaps a new path or slowdown is wise,
But we do have choice, not the old world leaders, but we people,
If ever there is a chance for mankind’s future, it is we...of the New World.

Will the New World change to become like the Old World?
Will the New be dragged to the Old?
Or is the difference enough to change the World to New?
Is there enough courage, selfishness, and confidence to declare the difference…in the World?

I am telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-----
I took the New World path,
And that will make all the difference.*

*Inspired by the Robert Frost poem The Road Less Traveled

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What are we fighting for?

In a perverse sort of way two things clicked together. One was a mainstream media report about some Afghan warlord changing his stripes, and the other was the words of a Country Joe & the Fish song from the 60’s. Here’s stanza one of the song that came to mind.

1-2-3 What are we fighting for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn. The next stop is Vietnam . 5-6-7 Open up the pearly gates.It ain’t no time to wonder why. Yippee! We’re all going to die.

The Afghan warlord is named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and he basically changed his stripes to save his hide. His “resources” were down. Knowing the Eastern way of duplicity, he was just backing off (in Western terms) until he could resume his stripes at a later time.

So what are we fighting for? Why do we have our young people fighting in this hell-hole of the world when after they are gone Afghans will still be fighting as one warlord to another? And we Americans will be gone, not as worn out, or vanquished, but finishing what we set out to fight for. If this sounds colonial it is not. Political maybe. It is best akin to setting back the crucible, the cauldron, the cookery of those Muslim jihadists who needed a base from which to kill 3,000 innocent civilians on September 11, 2001…and millions more of us if given a chance to invade cracks in our defenses.

Is there a connection to the war in Iraq? Yes, for sure. It was such a cauldron. Different, yes, but a cauldron, crucible, or cookery that threatened us, it was. We Americans will be gone from Iraq sometime, again not as worn out or vanquished, but finishing what we set out to do. And making Iraq in our own image, Iraqi style, will do much to protect ourselves in the future, and our Families and way of life. If this sounds idealistic and too pie-in-the-sky, it is not. Will it be permanent, probably not? There were, and are, “bad” people in the world who will do harm to our Families; and defeating them, maybe even just setting them back, is what we are fighting for. Iraq is such a cauldron.

For those who see a rising tide of humanity forcing Americans and western values off the stage of history, I say “let’s vote”, if you can. All who assume the mantra of peace and love and diplomacy are well intentioned and spoiled, I think. Many are politically very aggressive to the point of offending many American citizens. Some are even cynical, for good reasons in their mind and media literacy. But unbelievably, sometimes we Americans who also “vote” are forced to fight for our Family’s safety. That’s what we are fighting for.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Steadfastness as a virtue

This is the word that represents all that is right with America, and much of the rest of the world.

In the Marines, some joked that one did not need to be good looking or a rocket scientist to aim in and pull the trigger. One just needed to be steadfast.

In American politics today, one often should be a good looking media TV person or a good writing media master to aim in and pull the political trigger. One does not need to be steadfast. One might try the advocacy role as a better idea than steadfastness when advancing one’s career hopes.

America is different from most of the world. We are the New World. Most of us were just born here and culturally educated here and think things are always this way. The best line I have heard is that we give as much thought to breathing air as we do to our freedom. Thanks to the Marines, I have lived overseas, and recognize that we are different, and better off than much of the rest of the world. The difference is one of experience and exposure. Ideas that many fellow citizens think are “self evident” are in fact earned and defended rights and ways of life. The barbarians are not everywhere, but those fellow humans who do not have what we have are. And they will do everything possible to get it for themselves.

Let’s be practical. After all, academic pie-in-the-sky idealistic talk is one thing; how does it affect me is another. Enemies to the American way of life are both foreign and domestic. Domestic first. Between the native born anarchists and even the well-intentioned secular progressives, they seek control of we the people. They are on the losing side of history because we are steadfast, and vote. Until we are tricked into making them king or pontiff, they can compete like all others for our votes. Our foreign enemies are in the eye of the beholder. I define them as those that threaten our family’s existence. Old world ideals, problems, and even caliphates dim compared to the New World. Practical application seems easy to this citizen. “Don’t tread on me”.

The New World here is a Western Culture, with all the benefits resulting. Between our legal system, our women’s rights, our public health benefits; in general we are all living like the old royalty of europe and asia, but more healthy and warm in the winter. And we have an expectation of a job, if we are willing to work hard.

To keep this going, one must be steadfast. America is steadfast.

Monday, March 05, 2007

How much of our culture is formula?

How much of us is formula?

The idea of formula is that if you do A, B, C and so on, you should expect to get such and such a result. This seems to apply especially to music, advertisements for about anything, and political candidates.

Does it seem like there is a greater rash of ads that must include Negros way beyond the percentage of the population, includes original music from the 60’s, and includes well orchestrated and controlled political events, to include mailed DVD’s, that are formulated to get us to act in a predictable way. Personally, I resent it, and don’t appreciate the idea that I can be controlled in my behavior by a “formula” conceived and directed by an expert; often too inexperienced to know the difference between sales success and common sense and decency. And the herd mentality seems to apply to those who do “formula” since there is too much commonality in what they do as A, B, C, etc. Hence the apparent commonality of what is on cable TV these days.

To start with, I resent the idea that the “formula” promoters may be right, that is they can get us to act in predictable ways. Then the condescending ideas of using race and old time 60's music are, well, condescending in their blatant transparency to apply whatever this industry uses as a “formula” today. Maybe I am a dinosaur, maybe I (age 58) have been superceded, at least culturally, and maybe politically. After all, the “formula” promoters are making a living, at least for now. But they are not on the right side of history, I believe.

There is “formula”, and there are values. What is important to Families and their children are values. Temporary sways from media delivered “formulas” are always overcome in the long run by values. This idea is historical. Nothing supercedes our interest in our Families and their long term interests.

So why are the “formula” people wasting their time? Obviously, they think not since somebody is paying them to apply “formula” to us. Maybe they believe they are right, at least in the short term. My hope for the Nation is that we citizens think longer term. Of course we will think about our Families. And I expect the idea of our united states of our national interests will come through. And this is just the political side. Imagine the buying side impacts?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The war on drugs revisited

One has to draw the line. Is drug abuse an American problem or a world problem?

Depending on your answer, is it a nation state threatening problem, or a more treatable American problem; that is in 2007 do rehab medical centers make more sense than jail? Maybe it is some combination of the two? The aforementioned point is so naïve. Of course smart leaders through out the world use all tricks in our bag of tricks to preserve the basics like Family security, propagation of our young, and support of basic nation state ideas like life, liberty , and the pursuit of happiness. Even those who vote for the medical treatment approach have a point. Those of us who have done a drug shakedown of our kids also have a point.

Here in America the idea of abandoning Baghdad is suddenly more apropos to New Orleans, and drugs have much to do with this. So maybe this problem is bigger than America?

Afghanistan is reverting to being a narco-state. It is hard to repress humanity. Those growing poppy need to support their families, and dependents of the resulting drugs need the drug. If it were not a narco-state, then it would still not be a nation-state. The old days of supply and demand expressed through the low-lifes and tribal enterprises still survive. So what is the world coming too? Actually it is being normal, which is bad.

We, the greater humanity, have an interest in controlling drug abuse if we want to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. That’s it, pure and simple. The problem is a world problem, not an American problem.

How the war on drugs is pursued will be local, and hopefully balanced depending on local conditions. But most importantly, we of the world have to decide, as local governments, if we want to go forward as nation-states, or do we have another way more tribal? Just who is in charge? The maybe corrupt politicians, or the local drug lords?

This drug problem is so much bigger than America. How we do our part is always up for debate.

Right now let us do our American part, what ever that is. My vote is to be ruthless about making drug abuse; user, distributor, and further up the food chain, financier, illegal. Leave my child alone. The burden should not be on parents.
Baking bread

I’ve done it scores of time. It has always baked just fine. I even went from the store bought pre-mix where someone else thought of everything, to making it from scratch here at home. It has been a rewarding experience, smells great when cooking, tastes good since it I make it to my flavor preferences, and it makes me feel good teaching it to a child. For the child, it is mostly teaching self-confidence about trying to cook that makes me feel fine.

Then suddenly the last batch failed. For bread making I follow the formula (recipe) to the tee, though in most other cooking I free play it. By to the tee, I mean temperatures and proportions. Yet the bread did not rise, and yes I used yeast; it was unleavened in the result. I could have used it as a brick to hit somebody. Having been in the Marines, I recognized the food value was the same, and ate it as small brick-like nuggets. Thank goodness for soft margarine to lessen the impact.

To reflect my age, I did not think about the starving children in China. I was hungry enough in Tennessee.

And I did not tell any of my relatives.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The rising tide of civil discourse

This tide is not being led by the politicians. It is being forced on them by we citizens. In all the innumerable conflicts about what is best for our Country, the past methods of politics in D.C. have been superceded. There are just many that don’t know it yet; they haven’t gotten the word, yet.

Like a revolution or a civil war at its beginning, it usually takes some small spark to set things off. To me it is the convergence of the resignation of the Secretary of the Army over the veterans’ treatment issue, and the stupid comments from Anne Coulter about Edwards being a faggot. How so you may say? Let me go forward.

The Secretary of the Army is obviously from a tradition of taking responsibility for those under him during his watch. And the Secretary of Defense is from the same tradition of holding people accountable, as in “having trust and faith and confidence” in those who work for him. The lightweights of today may see this resignation as some kind of political sport victory, but those of this persuasion have just had the world pass them by in understanding the idea of civil discourse, and civil responsibility.

Let me continue on to Ms. Coulter. I like her, her political wit, and her politics. But to refer to Edwards as a faggot does not contribute to civil discourse. There is such a thing as leadership standards, and one must uphold themselves to this standard to lead our nation. Yes, I know the other 20 % side overwhelmingly uses bad words (George Carlin style) routinely in blogs and speech, but in doing so they denigrate themselves and lose the votes of middle American citizens.

As long as I am naming names, let us continue. The Clintons brought Arkansas State politics to the Nation’s capital in 1992. Nothing against Arkansas, but these individuals have done much harm to our Country in the politics of our National Interests. Books have and will be written about all this, but those practicing politics in their lifetimes since 1992 have used tactics, mean spirited tactics, to go about our Nation's business. Finally we are coming back to the old fashioned idea of civil discourse. We don’t have to agree, but we also don’t have to use the politics of personal destruction as a method of achieving our political goal. In other words, let’s talk, debate, and accept the results of the vote. Since a whole generation of people have been brought up another political way, it will take a long time for “the aircraft carrier to change course”. But then it took a long time for “the aircraft carrier to get on the present course”. The delay factor in “the aircraft carrier” analogy is still appropriate since Bill Clinton has been out of power 6 years, and still has influence as evidenced by his “cold hearted wife” periodically pulling him back in to advance her ego driven political agenda to be the President of the United States.

The most important point to the readers is that we voters are in charge. There are plenty of examples of honorable behavior, and poor behavior. But along the way we can demand, and expect to get, civil discourse. This is not pie in the sky talk. Those who choose the past, the lack of civil discourse, the politics of destruction, the lack of being accountable for results, even the advancement of ideas from the past, will go down the path of failed ideas. Those who choose being demanding as voters about civil discourse can vote politically; and even earlier vote other ways, with whom they tune in, whom they listen to, and whom they respect. We do have a Country and way of life to run, and often defend. The political process is dead serious. This is not a game. Those thinking otherwise are playing with fire. And civil discourse is an idea as old as history.