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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Video foreign policy has run its course

The old days of media video transmitted by TV of the most terrible circumstances of mans' inhumanity to man still continue. What doesn’t continue is the savvy of the politicians and the voters who have been burned by letting emotionalism drive rationalism.

How else did the US get dragged into committing its military to the Balkans and Somalia. And these commitments of our military can go on for decades. Look at the Sinai and the Balkans. Forget the post WWII and Korea forces still there … they make more sense. And do remember when reporting media types and politicians talk about committing the military, as if it were some automaton robot they can wield as some geopolitical sword to accomplish their objective, they are really talking about fellow humans and Americans with families.

What is the final nail in the coffin of video foreign policy is this: If one doesn’t like what one commander-in-chief does, and if one thinks that 535 congressional mini-commanders-in-chief and secretaries of state are worse, imagine thousands of reporting media types, to include producers and editors trying to lead politicians to do their various moral quests. Suddenly, the established political system of politicians deciding about vital National Interests, and voters periodically influencing all this, makes more sense.

The atrocities and moral outrages going on around the world are just terrible. They include the Horn of Africa, Darfur in the Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Middle East, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, southern Thailand, Moro land in the Philippines, and the narco-states in South America. This is a business rich environment for the profit level reporting of business managers of the reporting media, and their hired minions. But are we going to let these business managers who devote assets to where they can generate the most terrible video scenes, that do generate income, also decide our foreign policy. Are we going to let them and their hired minions’ moral compasses which guide their reporting get our boys and girls killed in Darfur, for example. And how about the places where the bad guys kill and kidnap their assets? Does that mean it is not important because it can’t be reported in the Western video press?

How about some others pulling their weight, if it is “really” important. The International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War come to mind. Or do the western types who video report and suggest sending others in to “where ever” have more in common with those who send in suicide bombers than is at first apparent?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Group votes have a history of shifting

Up until the Great Mississippi River flood of 1927, Negroes voted as a block for Republicans. Since then the history up until now is that they vote 90% of so for Democrats. And the Jewish vote has in the past 50 years tended to be Democrat. And the so called Southern strategy by the Republicans has been given credit for turning the politicians in the South from Democrats to Republicans. All the aforementioned suggests campaign planners hired by politicians have confidence that they have some groups in the bag. All they have to do is say the right things to get the group’s votes. Then they can focus on more volatile voters. Boy have the times changed, though some still do not know it yet.

Being born and brought up one way is powerful when it comes to politics and family. I have too many relatives and friends whom I respect a lot who say they were brought up Democratic, and they will always vote that way. This is an attention gainer, especially when I hear some older relatives and friends express frustration at the leftist tilt of the Democratic party today. The frustration I hear is that they have not changed, but their party has changed. This principle is pretty simple. Sometimes the Party leaves the people vice the alternative. And then the group shifts its votes.

In the Negro vote shift after the 1927 massive floods, the principle is also simple. The Democrats had a better way for the government to help people wiped out by mother nature. The alternative by the Republicans used the status quo, which planned to use private enterprise to recover and at all means avoid creating a dependency on the government. While one can argue the merits of both ideas, the voters voted, and the Democrats had a Negro block vote they counted on for decades, and long after the effects of the flood were taken care of. Now today we have a Democratic candidate using southern drawl and black talk to speak to one of her perceived block audiences in the country, who speak American with an American accent as if she believes that all people of this block speak her other way. Pardon me, but I am offended at this blatantly racist display of condescension. Our Country needs a national leader, not a block vote panderer. And Negroes, finally as equal citizens, have issues like education of children and protection from crime from low lifes that is up for competitive electioneering by the two main parties.

The reasons for the Jewish vote consistently being Democratic is still beyond me. After all, look at the positions of the two parties. On domestic issues, one might concede a Democratic tilt. On foreign issues and Israel being an ally, it is all Republican, it seems. Just listen to what the Democratic candidates are saying in the so called debates to make up your own mind. Of course the issue still is how does the Jewish vote goes, and is it a block vote?

And now on to the so called Southern strategy allegedly used by Republicans to change representatives from Democrats to Republicans. This strategy suggests Southern white threatened and poorly educated voters will vote as a block. First, there is no such group, and second, people vote local. And local issues are not block issues. There is no anti-negro vote, for example. One might even suggest that the well intentioned gerrymandering efforts of the Democrats and the Courts that created mostly Negro districts have had more to do with reducing the effect of the Negro vote than any racist scheme. Some call this the law of unintended consequences. One of the unintended consequences is that Negroes in the now majority white districts also demand representation, and this idea alone is breaking up the old block vote. Suddenly the issues are less race than those of urban vs. country, rich vs. poor, and of course control of public education. In the latter, the friction becomes more local, as in high standards for teachers and kids vs. the status quo. If one lives in the South, for example, one knows that all private and public schools are not created equal, and the difference is in leadership at the local level. If this sounds like the rest of the country, it is because it is the same.

Many communities are also impacted by immigration, often illegal and from south of the border. What seems amazing to me is the apparent competition for the votes of this new potential class of citizens, and the assumption this new class will vote as a block. I suggest the law of unintended consequences will assert itself, once again.

So is the political business of the last 50 years still as usual today? Are the hired political managers suggesting their candidate say the right things to get a block vote correct? Many don’t think so.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bullying 101

The increasing crescendo of poor, and often outlandish behavior, by people on the left side of the aisle in the US is surprising to me. Be they politicians, the hired and appointed of the same politicians, reporting media, pundits, fellow citizens, or even relatives, they are people who I think were raised with our common American values. These values include civility, mutual respect, love of country, and pursuit of the facts for facts sake.

Sadly it has not turned out this way. Examples include Democrats not attending General Petraeus's briefings set up for the Congress, snubbing of the President of Columbia all the while seeking audiences with the Presidents of Syria and Venezuela, pursuing Congressional tactics and inquisitions destructive to our National Interests to promote their Party interests, and seemingly inventing and repeating the most outlandish stories often enough to use them as facts.

This behavior has been characterized as many things to include Bush Derangement Syndrome, just plain hatred of Bush and his entire administration, retribution for the alleged 2000 election results which brought us Bush, and a strategy of incivility and opposition to anything Bush. This is a sad state of affairs that a minority of our citizens have led us to, but it still is not American. And the entire group on the left of the aisle should not characterized as some monolithic whole. Only a small portion of this group got us to where we are today.

And so to the point of this post. I now live in the country, having abandoned Atlanta, and have a pack of yard dogs that over the last 5 years has varied from 6 to 8 in numbers. And I see bullying every day by dogs. There seem to be many analogies between what I have seen in my yard, and what I observe humans doing to each other in the US today. It has to do with bullying.
· Bullies only bully those willing to be bullied. Bullies know to be selective in who they can bully.
· Bullies can be males and females.
· Size is not a factor. A bullying ego is a factor.
· Even the most mild mannered bullied dog periodically becomes fed up, and fights back. This usually means medical action by the vet or myself, and a bill to match.

One can apply this bullying behavior to our Country today. Bullying is intolerable, and with dogs one tries things like shock collars and paint ball guns, but in the end a bully is a bully it seems, unless I want to put that dog down. Then another bully dog will probably arise. I have not gone there yet, in either case. With human bullies, things are more difficult, but there are still options. They are called the power of persuasion, and the power of the vote. This is the American way of dealing with this terrible problem, and the sad state it has brought upon us.

PS For the dog lovers among the readers, count me in. My yard dog numbers have varied do to death by old age, and very hungry coyotes closing in during the winters.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Progress can’t be stopped I heard repeated today by a generation Y person

But progress can also be reversed when in the wrong direction! And just what is this progress that is unstoppable? What is so magic about progress? Sometimes the status quo may have advantages!

Progress has three elements to keep things basic: infrastructure, technology, and humans. Infrastructure means things like public health, transportation, clean water to drink, waste water protection, public education, electricity, and good police protection. Technology means things like computers, communications links, and movies on demand. The human side of progress is where things get more confusing as to what it is. To many it is the advancement of their ideas, their version of the “truth”, especially enhanced by their experience and education. One good example is the emancipation of women. In the west, emancipation is progress; in the east it is the repression of women to serve in their traditional roles. One more good example in the US is the “progress” of expanded individual rights at the expense of group rights. This example is one where some “progress” in the reverse direction is appropriate.

We in the US have a tendency to be spoiled, because we are, when the benefits of progress are so apparent. Most of us think forced air heat and clean running water is a right, not a privilege. Good police and fire protection, financial security, and the electricity coming on when using the switch seem like rights, not privileges. This confusion is even more so on the human side. Are we “progressing” to some more perfect union as defined by those leading the human progress area. For example, is “multiculturalism” vice the “melting pot” progress? Is the present financing of social security progress? And who is this “group” leading we people on the human side of progress in the US? Are they elites using theories and education and their experience, or are they elected representatives more responsive to the citizens?

Because progress in the US is inevitable does not mean one needs to go along with the agenda and dogmas of others who think differently about what progress is. And sometimes progress can be in the wrong direction, and progress in a different direction is called for. This idea mostly applies to the human element of progress. And the elites are not in charge about defining what human progress in the US is. We voters are. Practically applied, fellow citizens seeking public office must discuss what they think about progress and how it affects the voters, mostly in the human area. The US has a good union, and future representatives that lead progress in this union will become the future winners. Right now there are a lot of weak, over-educated, and inexperienced people in too many positions of influence that affect our “progress”. Again, we voters are in charge.

For those who obfuscate “progress” in the US with what the Old Countries are doing, I say it’s of small concern. We are the New World, and the immigration trends reinforce we voters in the US voting for our own version of “progress”.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

National Party interests must be about the US first

It is more than a little bit frustrating when one observes and hears politicians’ comments that suggest Party interests are above our National Interests. Wherever this malady began, it must be excised by the voters. No one else can do it. And our Nation and we citizens are so much more important than National parties and their practicing politicians. Those who lead by focus groups and polls are especially detrimental to our National Interests.

Right now, the foreign issue of Iraq seems to get the play these days. And the Democrats seem to be much worse in using their Party objectives of a minority as their real intent. They already evicted Joe Lieberman, and now it seems as is if they are evicting Harry Truman and FDR. For this citizen, it is time for the Speaker and Senate Majority Leader to go before they drag down their Party on this foreign issue, alone.

The Iraq foreign issue is a real distraction to many citizens. How about domestic issues like future social security solvency, or balancing the academic idea of global trade with fair trade practices that represent our local values in the treaties. In the old days, this friction played to Democratic strengths. Now I am not so sure.

And it is interesting to this citizen that the old days of being a Republican are being balanced with being an Independent these days. Both Parties have had their chance, and have come up lacking when using the lenses of Party vs. National.

Since many are also selfish citizens, they expect choices in their vote. Many have decided to stick with the two National parties, and do their fighting and writing about ideas within this method. The alternative is the Third party for which we Americans have a rich history. What usually has happened with this greatly intentioned idea is that one party suffers from the bleed-off of competitive votes. Most recently many think this how we elected Clinton in 1992, with Perot bleeding off votes from Bush, for example. There are many other examples, also.

There is much to suggest we citizens of our Country are talking past each other. Said another way, there is little either side can say or write that will change how they think. Usually, it takes time (age) and experience to change one’s thoughts. In this idea there is hope for our Country, and the National parties having some members excised by their voters. And in the case of Congress, it takes the locals to make it happen. Former Speaker Tom Foley from Washington State is familiar with this routine back in 1995.

So the choice between the Democrats, the Republicans, and the USA seems too obvious to most citizens. It’s about us and our Country, stupid. Sometimes we know who to vote for. Sometimes we know who to vote against.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Leading America for America’s sake

There is the constant concern by many citizens that too many “uninformed” citizens may vote, and often in uninformed ways. There are enough surveys and “polls” that lend credence to this fear. In turn, the fear is amplified by the thought that media manipulators, hired by politicians seeking power, and donated money paying TV and radio ads, may get to these same “uninformed” citizens. The often quoted phrase attributed to Abraham Lincoln still seems very American today: You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

This most astute phrase is still important today for two good reasons. One is that our Constitution set up a republic, not a democracy. A republic assumes our national politicians will act in our National Interests first and foremost. Second in importance is an idea seldom mentioned: just what are our national politicians doing to take care of the “informed” citizens. They vote too, and usually in higher percentages. Most “informed” citizens are watching to see just who is important to the politicians. The leadership principle is too obvious. The “informed” watch what the politicians are doing, and if they like what they see they tell others and bring them in. If they see the politicians and leaders focus on the “uninformed”, then most of the “informed” quietly vote with their feet and leave, and tell others. Later they even politically vote. Entire military recruiting and manning campaigns, and the future of political parties strengths, ride on this most fundamental leadership principle.

When the Democratic political party appears to skew to an activist minority of their base, they threaten their existence as many “informed” citizens watch. Assuming the conventional Democratic wisdom of going left in the primaries, and then center in the main election, then those practicing this scheme are playing with fire betting the Democratic party’s future. Too many “informed” citizens are now watching to see if their interests are being represented, or even matter. One cannot fool all the people in spite of the best professional media efforts. And if this fails, then that is why we have a republic to elect politicians to act in our National Interests. This logic suggests the American political world has changed, or at least is changing. Somebody better pay attention to the “informed”. The winners will.

Monday, April 23, 2007

How could we do this to our unfortunates?

The answer is that it is on purpose.

We had leaders that led us to today’s terrible circumstances about crazy people. Some small part of our population are born or developed crazy, and in the old days we locked them away in order to protect us mostly. Now many are on the streets, and living in the most pitiful circumstances given the vagaries of weather, mostly cold and wet. Most of these present circumstances began about 50 years ago, and seems to be forgotten by too many people today, if even taught. I am old enough to have observed the whole evolution at the time. The bottom line then was society vs. the inmates rights, and the inmates won. There were mitigating things like community mental centers, but they were eventually defunded because of poor results and pressure to save money. Bottom line is that everytime I see a homeless person on a grate in D.C., or another unfortunate in Monterey Tennessee I know it is on purpose. Where is the old idea of providing for our unfortunates with a warm bed and three square meals a day. Where is the golden rule? And where is our protection from our crazy humans?
A manifesto to our western future

We as a group of western people are proud of our societies, and take offense at those who think otherwise. Much as happened in the past, and we have overcome and built up to the most fabulous societies in the world, today. We average citizens are living like the kings and queens in the past, only better. A little history makes this obvious, but some may not fathom all this, for whatever reason.

Do we have to fight for this, or use other means? In either way, the idea is to advance our children and way of life so they can go forward. Will they think like today’s concerned parents, probably? Will they be more static like the old people, probably some will. In this there is hope for our western future, and the world’s future, though the latter is second priority to most in the west.

In this vision, we of the west drive the train. Most of the world are of the “other persuasion”, which is historical. And people live this way, and our western realists say go along. Harmony is the goal. All is fine, until the unmitigated expansion of people and their quality of life comes into play. Are the realists (and maybe environmentalists) going to try impose their vision on us, and maybe kill our progeny along the way; or are we citizens going to be more practical in who we elect to sort it all out without embarrassing politics and politicians.

There is a win-win course of action for voters. Promote and elect politicians who display the most common modicum of understanding of things that affect us citizens, and our future. This is most important in this area, and other areas.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

How will the USA handle civil war in China?

The recent Shanghai stock market drop and numerous open source reports* have brought up the question again. The overwhelming amount of Communist Party and military corruption and nepotism, the rampant industrial pace of development, the resulting environmental disasters way beyond our worse robber barons (let me be specific about one – child birth defects), and the growing disparities between the majority rural people and the minority urban class and Party and military people exploiting the economic boom, are going to pop sometime. The frictions are both modern, and historical.

That the Shanghai Stock Market was a gambler’s game that mostly enhanced the “haves” finally came to an end, or at least a major correction. I’ll defer to those who write about all this to say it better in economic and insider graft terms. I note most other Asian Stock Markets acted differently from that of Shanghai’s.

All the conditions for a civil war are just right these days. The Western “realists” who support the status quo for all its expected outcomes that they can deal with are to be replaced by those who just have to deal with coming civil war in China. Someone will “have to deal with the mess” left by others. Most civil wars start with a spark somewhere. Somehow Shanghai will be included in all this.

There are three probable outcomes when civil war comes to China.
#It will last at least one decade, and probably go nuclear. The downwind radiation patterns will depend on where the nukes go off and the weather at the time, but it is scary in all possibilities.
#Another probable outcome is one of immigration to the USA, Canada, Australia, and the rest of the world. Today Chinese immigration to the USA is number two behind Mexico, and just ahead of India. But just as the Hungarian revolt of 1956 and the fall of Vietnam in 1975 prompted big spikes in immigration to the USA, so will any civil war in China.
#Business will continue, but contracts and arrangements will be between local Chinese entities such as warlords or provinces, and their intended customers. American and international businesses already have much experience around the rest of the world in this problem area.

The political consequences in the USA should follow typical Party line divides as both National Parties seek some advantage out of this terrible set of events. And as in many other cases, the older status quo types in the US will do what they know, for they know not what to really do. Those that end up having to deal with this “mess” will be more practical. Some will want us directly involved, some will prefer a more “benign neglect” approach in guiding a USA policy or set of policies. For example, how involved should we be in the massive pollution problems, or the water rights disputes that often go with them. In all cases, people are uncomfortable with change, so it will be a trying time, especially at the beginning.

Chinese history predicts a civil war sometime. It is a matter of when, not if. One hopes our government has “gamed out” how to at least begin dealing with civil war in China. Immigration surges come to mind immediately. Recovering or shifting manufacturing bases is right behind. If it happens before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, how do we handle it? We do have our own National Interests, after all, and we hope our elected and appointed public representatives will do their part for us.

* Most open source reports are eastern based reports. There is little in western media reports on this subject.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Short term gain, long term gain

It’s not the country, it’s the idea. Just look at the immigration rates!

The political battles in D.C., and the idea battles throughout the world, especially in colonial stained Europe, go against what the people are doing: voting with their feet. It’s the demographics, stupid. There is something going on in the West that attracts millions of families to vote with their feet and abandon the harbor of their known home to go to the unknown of the West. Yet they are going, in very big numbers. Many predict the Islamification of Europe due to immigration numbers, and national policies. And in the U.S. much the same is going on as many families from south of the border, and Asia, come to our shores. Clearly, something is better here than in their home country.

The friction over the effects of foreign cultures from immigration on assimilating countries, more specifically the desire of immigrants to assimilate and learn the native language and customs is real. It even seems to be worse today than in the past, the past that gave us what we have today. But most readings of history suggest our ancestors had the same concerns and fears, so it is harder to sort out for many. Most vote to speak English as a national language, but I just wish I could force this on all the intended people without having to kill them. Surrender is not being suggested, but numbers may overwhelm our society if it does not resort to things like killing. Rather, I think time will take over at the local levels, as in schools and boys and girls living here, and the American culture will predominate, albeit changed some by our latest citizens and kids.

The result should be a new world country, one which attracts families from all over the world. Sounds like today, nes pa. And our current and future enemies will suffer, even if they don’t know it yet.
Money talks

Apply this to the U.N., the World Bank, and the budget of the United States, and the obvious way to do battle, even turn things around, is in the fiscal arena. No money, no talk is an expression as old as the hills. Those that have money have power and influence, as in maybe the emerging European Union and Japan and maybe even China. In other words, the US has competition.

There is a shift underway about Western loans to the third world. The shift is in the idea of results as a measurement. This is profound compared to the earlier standard of how much was loaned without results’ measurements, and how much the loaners were being paid. In the third world’s case, the leaders took much of the money at the expense of the citizens for which the loans were intended. And this situation flourished to the most embarrassing things going on today. No wonder there are cesspools still going on today in places many care about. And how about the inflated incomes of the loaners and consultants, and their conflicts of interest?

This fiscal corruption may be applied to we in the US today. Our elected public servants have control over vast public monies collected as income taxes primarily. Much is distributed in the best intended social science plans, to include uninsured medical payments of poor people and children of same, retirement vice support for retirement, senior type things like drugs, welfare for people who made bad choices, and a myriad of payments to we citizens, to include guaranteed and insured retirement plans. This is all fine if the votes are there, and the books balance. This is not fine, as in we will ruin our country, if the books don’t balance, and the vote still enables people to redistribute wealth until the whole thing collapses. There is no free lunch.

This idea carries over to the United Nations organization. We and others literally contribute billions of dollars to this organization. Yet it appears it has become a money machine to the many pitifully poor nations who benefit by the rules and customs as they exist today. This especially applies in New York City living standards for these U.N. people. The simple question for the U.N. today is: is it about the money or the mission? The predecessor League of Nations failed, and so can the United Nation organization.

Money talks. So do voters.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Environmentalism must be about people

Only science and astute leadership can produce the win-wins that are the way forward. Only success reinforces success.

The imperative is the human population and the rising quality of life, worldwide. The common denominator is the expanding human habitat, and the resulting shrinking wildlife habitat. There are many more local issues, also.

Those who label themselves as environmentalists have some members who have become very dangerous to humans. This smaller select group is dangerous politically, a threat to the financial security of too many families, and in an incongruous way, a threat to human and many animals existence. This last statement and situation is so ludicrous that only humans could have gotten us to this point. If ever the law of unintended consequences needed a poster example, the extreme environmentalists have provided it.

Examples are many and all around the world.
· Smokey the Bear campaigns for decades have taken prescribed fire out of most habitat management with catastrophic results to humans and wildlife today.
· Poor science and too early implementation of political rules about the Spotted Owl have damaged a region, many towns, and the livelihood of thousands of humans: workers, families, towns, and businesses.
· A rich European buying and setting aside thousands of acres of Brazilian rain forest has put 1,000 loggers out of business, all while mature trees will rot and fall down in the future. Trees don’t live forever. They get old and die just like people do.
· Kenya’s ban on hunting while promoting picture taking tourists has ended up reducing animal populations over decades. And those who support the continued ban on hunting and income generated by hunting use local problems as the reason to maintain this failing idea. Meantime the animal populations and habitat continue to decline in Kenya.
· Pacifist and anti-military politicians and people in Okinawa and elsewhere are opposing a new airfield that moves the noise away from the populated areas. They are using a sacred salt water manatee as the good reason. Thousands of construction and maintenance jobs hang in the balance, when smart science and leadership could make this a win-win and avoid the acrimony that is building unnecessarily. Worst case, the entire new airfield and associated military units and human jobs will move to other lands. That some of this battle is in US courts is astounding, given that the Japanese are paying for this new airfield in the remote Nago area.
· Some of these more extreme environmentalists have gone global, and in our name, though few have been elected by the people of the world. It is disturbing to read and hear that the science for the case of global warming is a slam dunk after hearing the head of the CIA use the same words to the President about WMD’s in Iraq. And their support of the Kyoto treaty will devastate economies and people’s livelihoods with little expected to show for it since China and India and others are exempted. Now I hear that Kyoto is just a first step. And there are those who choose to stop ocean sonar use and testing because of possible adverse effects on marine mammals. Sonar is part of our people’s defense, and to stop sonar use based on incomplete science is threatening we people and our way of life. Where are there proposals that include the ideas of mitigation and the effects on humans, especially their livelihoods to include their defense.

Those who choose to point out all the environmental abuses that adversely affect humans are welcome to do so. This author thinks he can match such abuse lists, and then some. These must be addressed, also. But in all cases, the effects on humans must be included. Environmentalism is about humans coexisting in the environment, and having jobs.

And there are so many win-win examples that reflect good science and leadership. The recovery in the US of the red-cockaded woodpecker in the eastern coastal plain, the creation and expanded use of conservation easements and legal Safe Harbors, and programs by governments to financially reward good management practices by private land owners are three good examples. Including sports hunters around the world in funding and managing for the future of man and animals in coexistence is another proven idea with a good success record. The point is that environmentalism is about humans, and good science and leadership will provide the win-wins the world needs to succeed in this area.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thank goodness for youth leading the way to a better future

This idea is world wide. They are not being dragged down by their parent’s politics.

The response of the Virginia Tech Hokies in general is to go forward, as in life must go on in spite of the wacko killing 32 students and professors. This is so admirable given the terrible massacre the wacko did. And it is more admirable because it ignores or just tolerates the media’s exploitation and over coverage of the tragedy for their purposes, mostly financial income in the end. The media types are fellow Americans, but the most base and crass career driven instincts of them have rendered their coverage inconsequential, embarrassing to themselves, and another notch in the decline of American media in general, and 24/7 types specifically. They chose their job and career choice, now let them live with it. And where do they find these pundits and “experts” who fill their 24/7 time, repeated of course. None speak as well as the Hokies themselves.

Today 178 people (that latest count) died in Iraq in 4 suicide bombings just for going out in public, and shopping to boot. By virtue of numbers alone, this is so terrible. By any means the killings were ordered and done by old people pursuing their political goals, to include foreign goals in Iraq, and probably sectarian goals in Iraq. Does anyone think the old people did the deeds? No, they took advantage of the young people being willing to kill themselves in pursuit of their and their seniors political goals. This is wacko in another way, but it is wacko. The only obvious American question is why the seniors are not willing to die for the cause they send their young people to die for? The obvious answer is that they are not as stupid as those who listen to them. This infers the young people who do the suicide attacks are stupid. It appears the world is full of these type young people.

Back to go Hokies. They come across as representing the best combination of tolerance and common sense as they go through their lives. In the new days, we Americans will see this be applied to their future when the media finally gets out of the campus. Life is pretty much about campus life, surviving, and graduating in the end. None will be silly enough to become suicidal bombers to advance their seniors causes. Most will have families and children and lead us into the future, their future, and our US and world future.
Are we at a tipping point in American history?

There are so many forces converging in American society and politics that there is good reason to think great changes will come to all of us sooner than we may imagine.

To summarize a list of these forces is astounding when considering them as a collective whole.
· The Western and American baby boom population bubble with all its good and sad influences is coming to an end due to age.
· The rise of Media’s influence on citizens is peaking due to the declining effect on them. Both have changed.
· American historical isolationism and pacifisms are reasserting themselves. We are the New World, and will not let the Old World problems and ideas drag us down.
· Social engineering has new lenses to be evaluated by … results. The times of good intentions and spending money are not the only lenses.
· Group rights compared to individual rights are reasserting themselves to their traditional place. Crime is one example, as people demand security for themselves and their families, with the individual rights of the criminal coming in a poor second. Looking at things in terms of National Interests is the best example.
· Female emancipation, already accomplished in the legal sense, is changing everything American.
· The world seems smaller to US citizens. War, fair trade, plague, and the rise of the third world are big concerns for impacts at home.
· The worldwide and national communications links are at an all-time high, and increasing.
· Islamic fascists and imperialists have declared war on us, and conducted attacks in our homeland, and have killed a lot of people.
· The poor attention to the rule of law and our Constitution is ending its decline.
· The idealistic trends and dogma in mainstream religions, academia, and the judicial branches are slowly coming back to more traditional purposes and responsibilities.

Suggesting change is coming is not very profound, since change is constant. Suggesting a coming high rate of change due to converging forces is much more profound in its implications for our Country, especially if it happens in the timeframes we saw in the 1960’s. Not all changes are prompted by failure or letdown. In fact most changes are to improve things, a belief we all share.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The response at Virginia Tech makes me proud to be an American so far

After the all the terrible news about the massacre at Virginia Tech, the details are starting to come out to the public. The details will still be coming out for days, and most of us know how unreliable first reports are. Most of us frustrated for the real details know to wait and think. And most know not to be distracted by all the other murders which occurred in America during the same day. All calls for firings of university leaders, for example, are based on incomplete data. So is this post.

Rather than focus on all that was wrong, this post chooses to focus on the response. Given the situation presented over the morning in Blacksburg, there are many things that Americans should note with some satisfaction, maybe even some pride. Hard to say given the massacre I know, but lives were also saved by the response … a Hokie and I think American response.

Many people sacrificed themselves in defense of others. Most were professors as reported today, to include a Rumanian holocaust survivor who had to come to Blacksburg to be murdered, as it turned out. He and others are real heroes when they made snap judgment decisions that it seems saved many lives. In doing so he probably suffered pain and stared death in the face, but persevered.

Basic first aid, taught by the Boy Scouts, and self applied in one student's case when he used expedient materials to apply a tourniquet to stop his arterial bleeding and probably dieing, is deserving of credit to an American way. Being Scout trained he probably knew he might be sacrificing his lower extremity, but he made his choice. The details will come out later, of course.

If one lives in a rural area, as Blacksburg is, one might expect lower medical care standards, which is historically correct. But the times have changed here in America. The medical response from the EMT level, the concept of triage to focus medical efforts, the communications to work together, the organization of the local hospitals and quality of the personnel there and on call, the whole system of making medical judgment calls and evacuating to higher levels if need be, and having the means, is truly an American infrastructure ability unique in the world. If some wacko is going to shoot and try kill me, I hope it is in America.

Last is Hokie pride. For those not sure, the nickname of all Virginia Tech is the “Hokies”. In today’s memorial events on campus, the word was out to dress in Hokie colors, not the black of mourning. No wacko will dominate the 26,000 students and faculty and staff there. This is so American.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Academic inexperience gone too far?

Just what do our best and brightest learn in school that will help them in warfighting for our side? Just what can be taught about Eastern thought? Most things Eastern thought can only be learned by experience, that is, by exposure to those who state their objectives and logic to achieve it. How many have tribal experience?

This is an armchair general type of review. Here’s why. We are losing winning the peace in Iraq, both at the D.C. level and the Iraq level. Incredibly, the normal reason I hear is D.C. based. There is still no one person in charge of the campaign at either the D.C. or Iraq level of effort. This idea is so fundamental to waging war, and winning the peace, that it is embarrassing to speak about, until today from this citizens point of view. And this is since 2003, to boot. Why is there not one person in charge of the effort? Have buzz words like inter-agency cooperation, action officers, cover your ass point papers, and frustration reports of those in the National Security Council (NSC) become more important than the objective set by our President?

The normal answer is that turf and friction in interagency battles in D.C. trumps all. The bureaucracy in D.C. trumps all, to include the elected Presidents objectives. If this is the case, and even if the public elects a Democratic president and Congress, then the bureaucracy has taken charge, to include losing the winning of the peace in Iraq. Now it is time for citizens to step in, since politicians and bureaucrats can’t. I can almost disbelieve what I just said, the President or Congress is not in charge.

I am disturbed by the minions he has hired at the NSC. They are a bunch of educated fools with little experience in real life and warfighting. Nobody challenges their education or intents and love of their county, but at times like this we as a nation need smart and experienced people running the show, since that is the operational method I believe our President has gone with in Iraq. So unless he will hire and fire (gracefully would be appropriate) people in the NSC, or get more involved in the war he led us into, then winning the peace is still in doubt. Like I said up front, I am being am arm chair general, but also care, a lot.

Politically the win the peace objective method is obvious, mostly in the region. Step in, knock a few heads, fire a few people, and finally set up and ensure unity of effort. Along the way treat the locals as locals, which will take some killings. Otherwise, come home. Time is not on the Presidents side if other courses of action are followed. Winning the peace is obvious as a course of action. Only our President can choose how he goes about it.
The baby boomers did it

Everything good and sad about our American society today can be linked to this bubble of people in our land.

How the baby boom generation started is pretty simple. It was the birth numbers after World War Two that were way above the average. It resulted in a group of our national population way out of proportion to other groups before and after. This group was so large that it got the name “baby boomers”.

Back in the 1960’s many forces converged on the baby boomers. The rebellious stage of life was entered. Civil rights and the Vietnam war dominated politics, but this time it was not just talked about but applied as in living by example, a very noble course of action it seemed if anti-establishment in perception. Culture was dominated by youth, television and music, prosperity, and security. Individual rights over group rights were celebrated. The birth control pill was invented and used. A soft revolution was underway, and the heady could do their own thing in how they stormed their Bastille, knowing no one would shoot back. The times they were a changing! “If it feels good, do it”; “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” were repeated or sung over and over, often with a wink and a nod.

There was a resistance to all this. “My country right or wrong” and “love it or leave it” gained immense popularity as expressions. “Okie from Muscogee” became a cultural response song. Defamation of the American flag prompted many harsh responses, especially when worn as clothing. Long haired, dope smokin’, and hippy because derisive words at a national level.

Sadly assassinations, and many shootings only added to the turmoil of the times. During this turmoil the ideas of anti-establishment somehow became anti-government.

How the baby boomers sorted all this out took decades. Going to work as in a career, marrying, and having children changed most. And our Country is incredibly large. The academic and religious leaders went off on their own liberal courses inspired by the past soft revolution. Individual rights flourished as the idea of group rights faded in the culture. Intrinsic distrust of government also flourished as if the government was manned by non-Americans. The on-going Cold War seemed to tamper things down on the foreign front, and the draft went away. The rises in crime, out-of-wedlock births, expanded drug use, and sexually transmitted diseases nastier than those in the past were becoming more than hints on the horizon. The declines of educational scores began to appear across the country. The one constant was high school sports which remained as popular and supported as ever.

And now as in the Frank Sinatra song “It Was a Very Good Year” the baby boomers are in the autumn and winter of their lives. The descendents of the baby boomers are beginning to take over.

The idea of group rights, often expressed in National Interests, is coming back. Patriotism is no longer a derisive term. Living and doing by example has an expanded meaning over that introduced by the baby boomers counter culture. Volunteerism and faith-based initiatives are popular for the descendents of the baby boomers. Balancing idealism with practicality in deciding how to vote about solving our problems today is becoming prevalent. The present and future dominate the past. Social engineering must be purposeful, with desired results. The foreign front seems more threatening to most than in the past. The main stream religions are fading as the more independent protestant denominations are rising. The overall trend is that people are going to church in greater numbers than decades ago. The population is more acceptable to change for both foreign and domestic reasons, as long as the government is just, responsible, and listens.

There is an ageless assertion of group think and political correctness that is becoming quasi-religious dogma. Anti-government anything is still alive and well. Political discourse and mutual respect seem like old fashioned terms not useful today. Double standards are justifiable if for the right cause of the deciders. A large portion of the baby boomers still avoid war as in being anti-war. Diplomacy without the threat of war is doable, and the only course of action. The political and financial security of the past is part of their rights as a human. Social engineering is still a noble idea and intent, even if the result is a failure. The rights of humans are much expanded. Even the idea of an airline passenger bill of rights now makes sense. If we can’t change things constitutionally, then we can use the power of the people to make the changes deemed fit by the baby boomers.

So here we are today. What started out so well intended has turned out so terribly wrong in too many ways. When a noble intent applied over decades consumes itself in the end then it is a failed idea. Another course would have been wiser, in hindsight.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

When will comity come back to our federal government?

Where all the lack of comity began, or lack of mutual respect, is not as important as noting things are pitiful in D.C. these days. Lack of comity is not the American way.

Many think President Clinton and his wife introduced the hard core Arkansas State politics and methods to our government and bureaucracy in D.C. Others think he just expanded the potential that already existed. Either way, or other ways, things in D.C. are intolerable these days, spoken as a citizen.

Now we have six years of a President who stated up front that one of his objectives was to change the tone in D.C., and he still is following his stated objective. I still believe it because he seems to do it by example, as in the golden rule, as in show mutual respect to the Democrats, and a few others of his detractors, that he has delivered. That six years of this has not worked nationally is disappointing at worst given all the friction displayed by the Democratic Party, and potentially harmful to our Nation if Party objectives supercede National objectives, and lack of comity is now a political objective. Of course the normal Democratic Party argument is that he, the President personally, is disingenuous and not worth trusting. If this in a correct assessment, then the vote in 2008 should sort all this debate out.

The past can be a burden to most who look forward to our National future. Most citizens demand comity, or mutual respect, in looking forward to our future and the debate about all this. Those that do not get it or get dragged down by the past can go the way of dinosaurs.

Today there is little evidence that national politicians have “got it” about civility, mutual respect, and comity. This is the time to step in with the vote, even trolling for their votes to check their sincerity about comity.

The Grim Reaper comes to the Media

How many people expect Katie Couric to have her CBS job in the next ten years? In the next ten years will the New York Times in any written or online mode be here? Will the Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, and other such publications be here in ten years? Will all the printed and television pundits still be getting paid for their opinions in ten years? For those who can retire first, just how secure is their retirement from the Washington Post when it goes under, for example?

Will such media chains as the Associated Press or Reuters, or even publicly supported organizations like BBC and NPR exist in their present form and editorial control in ten years?

In the last ten years, how many people have abandoned the aforementioned publications and chains because they are now editorials for their causes vice the “just the news” types they used to be, or pretended to be? Have the people changed, or has the Media changed? If it is some of both, who has changed more?

The professionalizing of past political campaigns included using media masters, or spin masters. How one said things, and when they said things, could influence the votes of citizens. How many people think this will still work in ten years? How many people think ideas may count more than spinning ideas in the next ten years? Will media spinning be part of governing in ten years? Will winning a war exist only if won in the media?

How many people think the present 24/7 news cycles brought about by the cable news television industry will still be here in ten years? Will 30 and 60 second sound bites and video clips and producer drop dead times still be the news standard compiled by industry networks? For that matter, what happens in ten years when all of the world’s population has access to the media and news than the maybe 1/3 of the population has today?

Things can change quicker than we might imagine. In 1900 one big topic was what to do with all the manure in big cities left by the animals used for transportation. In the next ten years a massive die off of the baby boom generation left by World War II will also bring about surprising changes.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wars and diplomacy are about ways of life, not life

There are some things worth fighting and dieing for, and just to preserve life is not one of them.

Wars and diplomacy are practiced by adults who do so from afar. Actual war fighting is done by those who see it more personally, as in love for their buddies.

Wars and diplomacy today are not about apelike chest beating, or egos, or insults, or even payback (at least in the short term). Wars and diplomacy are about protecting, and often advancing one’s way of life, one’s culture, one’s means to protect our families and children. This sounds like defensive war and diplomacy. There is offensive war and diplomacy, but it is seldom even considered in the West these days. Unfortunately, many in the East still do consider it since the idea is primeval in nature. And given the poor understanding of Eastern cultures and values, many in the West are at a disadvantage in defensive war and diplomacy. Forget the offensive part.

When Western political leaders are 100 % committed to trading our cultures and values and preservation of our way of life just to save one kidnapped person by Eastern people, in order to preserve his or her way of life, then there is a problem. All understand that life is full of compromises, so most understand that sometimes a politician may see advantages in compromising, as in paying money or releasing our own prisoners. It is the 100% factor that most object to. This is not theoretical, some have friends who have been kidnapped and put through mock executions by Eastern valued people.

So in the future is kidnapping by bandits and bad guys in the Middle East going to get a 100% response rate from our Western political leaders and their appointed minions? I hope and expect not. There are billions of us concerned about our progeny, our way of life, and even the wonderful things Western culture and science has brought to the world.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Justice in the world, tip points, and coincidences

Sometimes it all converges for local politicians like myself. My 60’s instincts come to face with truth and justice. What is the balance between good intentions and outrage, and the rule of law.

It as been fun getting older. What I thought 30 years ago about advancing my ideas over the rule of law has been tempered by time. Maybe there is another point of view, inspite of my certainty that I was morally on the right track to the future. And I may have been. Now who cares … I don’t.

What I do care about is my Family, and their kids. Being a father has baggage that I understood during the impregnation process (the sex was fun and good), but I knew what was going on. After the birth, the fatherhood part even got better. This was not a burden, this was privilege. There were disappointments along the way, by the way.

Now all the hoop la ha over the Imus racial comments about the Rutgers team has come up. He got fired by the New York crowd and their advertisers I hear. The details are still not interesting to me as a father. I am interested in how all this applies to my family. In this regard, the double standard of racism statements pops to the top of my antenna list. How does this affect me, and maybe even the types like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Maybe even we have reached a tipping point where pontifications by Sharpton and Jackson don’t gain the traction they used to. Just because you say something does not make it so.

What does count is family, culture, and way of life.

Welcome to the new world, Al and Jesse. That you are passé, you may not know it yet. Many of us do know it.
The best and the brightest

What a novel idea! Just what does it mean in the USA when well educated young people get positions of influence inside the Executive part of the D.C. government. If fact, let’s drag in the Congress, and the Judicial.

Let’s take this idea one level further. Education and brains overcome practical experience and operating experience, or are at least more valued. It might even be called the rubber meeting the road, finally. Which is more valuable to our country, smart educated young people, or probably just as smart older people with some road time inside the D.C. cauldron of internecine and bureaucratic warfare. Of course this begs the question, has federal bureaucracy become a force unto itself beyond the control of the best hard working smart “interagency” initiatives by the best and the brightest young Generation X types hired into the interior parts of the government. To continue to a worst case outcome, we may lose in Iraq just because of what happens inside of D.C. If we are to that point, then no initiative will solve the problem. It is time for revolt and revolution just to clean house.

Of course, in the case of Iraq, there is a viable case the President is doing a crummy job at being Commander in Chief, Iraq style. If this is correct, then no amount of best and brightest and good and bad personal assignments will unscrew the President’s performance. If this is wrong, and his Iraq style demands another savvy that may not have been taught in one of academia schools, then other things may be concluded.

So back to the best and the brightest. If one delves down into the bowels of government, more than a few Generation X types, as in their 20’s and 30’s, have been brought into government at all levels, and among the three divisions of government. That is fine until we start losing a simple war against a small country, or try legislate complicated things like health care and social security and medicare reform. Suddenly school education and good ideas fall by the wayside of practical experience included in the mix.

So when is the honeymoon over hiring educated well intentioned and hard working inexperienced people going to end? How many generations of McNamara wiz kids are our elected leaders in the executive and congress going to go with, or even put up with, even if it leads them to foreign defeats. For that matter, when are we going to elect a President and Congress that cleans house in the federal bureaucracy. Most will say, never …this is too hard a nut to crack. If this is the case, revolution may be closer than many can even imagine.
Iraq, navigating between black and white in a sea of grey

Making sense out of the Iraq situation is difficult at both the political and military level. That the political and military are intermixed is part of the dilemma of deciding which way to think, and go. There is the effort in D.C. that is still muddled at the Executive level even after four years, and all this is further muddled by Democratic Party’s disingenuous double talk under the guise of an election mandate, which did not occur. The Country appears to still be evenly divided on its support for the war in Iraq. And then there is the effort in Iraq which has also been just as muddled as in D.C. due to lack of unity of command, i.e., one person in charge; and then there’s the time (years) that we have allowed our enemies to exploit their strengths and attenuate ours.

Most of us focus on the future out of common sense. Taking the time to focus on the past may have value in lessons learned, but that effort is for the historians and not we citizens concerned for our future here in America. The two black and white questions are: why make the effort today, and is our Country organized and actively prosecuting the war in order to win? The answers to both questions are grey, but they are still the basis for rational decision-making. Confusing the answers is the fact that there is more than one war going on at the same time. There is the war in Iraq, and the Global War on Terror. These are two distinct wars, each with its own strategic goals and forces, and one must try to distinguish between the two during decision-making. That many see these two wars as intertwined only adds to the confusion in many people’s minds.

Why make the effort in Iraq today? There is a threat even today. That threat is one of providing a future base for terrorists to attack the USA (and Western interests throughout the world), and also providing a future Shiite base for Iranian imperial plans in the region. Islamofascist elements cannot exist in a vacuum, they must have a base to operate from. Almost 30 years of Iranian foreign policy has included masking their land as a quasi operating and finance base, and Iraq is just such a good future choice due to Shiite religious identities, geographic collocation, and the opportunity to lessen US influence in the region and the world. If Iran should succeed in its regional imperial ambitions, expect its Sunni neighbors to aggressively fight back, as in regional wars.

There is a stated strategic objective today of democracy in the Middle East and Iraq in particular as a way to guide us in our actions. When there is future discussion and debate about Iraq, it should be about the threat, and the strategic goal. Anything less misses the mark about our National Interests. Even discussions that focus on the President’s mistakes being the reason to leave smack of throwing out the baby with the dirty bath water. These issues are more fundamental to our National Interests and our future. One discussion I still wait to listen to is one of middle eastern style democracy in an Iraq that has broken up into a federation or otherwise of three states.

The really grey area that has provided the greatest distraction from the fundamental questions of threat and national strategy is the second question. Is our Country organized and actively prosecuting the war in order to win? Please note I suggest the term “our Country” and not “our government”. Clearly no effort has been made to organize our Country in a WWII type of national effort. And it is apparent to many that the President and his hired minions have done a poor job up to the 2006 elections in organizing the government to prosecute the war both in D.C., and in Iraq. Hindsight is both wonderful and intellectually cheap, and one famous line in D.C. is “if only they had listened to me”.

But we have what we have, and the President has announced his newer courses of action and people assignments, and left some unannounced when covert in nature. This tells me there are lessons being learned, and something is being done, although most of us armchair Generals, and Secretaries of State and Treasury, and Librarians of Congress would probably do it differently. All this comes across to many as lessons are being learned and applied to the future in pursuit of the strategic objective and recognizing a threat still exists. To suggest otherwise, that good money is being thrown after bad, ignores the second question of whether we are actively organizing and prosecuting a war in Iraq. Any discussion of how well we are doing should always start with acknowledging that the government is actively organizing and prosecuting a war in Iraq. Criticism of how well the Executive has been doing is wasteful of time and effort if it focuses on the past, and not the future, the strategic objective, and the threat. If it does focus on the future, the strategic objective, and the threat, then it is well focused. If it also takes on the second question of how actively and well we are prosecuting the war and trying to win, then it is a well focused debate and discussion. Anything less misses the mark, and truly does threaten our National Interests and future.

Being a retired Marine, let me put this is my terms. A simple litmus type test will work just fine. If any discussion and debate about Iraq includes judgments about the threat and our strategic objective, that’s fair game. Any discussion and debate about the future performance in achieving the strategic objectives, that’s fair game. If any discussion and debate is about the past in all aspects, then it is political doodly squat and threatens our National Interests and future.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

There it is … a subject we can vote on

Right or wrong, the Congressman from Illinois is credited with being a guiding light and voter winner in his missives and directives for his party, the Democrats, to both succeed in the votes, and gain power nationally. While Rahm Emanuel may not be the one who guides his party’s policy, many think he is.

Of course the basic question has been missed so far. Does he have influence about Democratic positions? And the follow on question is: is it about the Democrats, or our Country?

By all apparent standards, he is driving the train in the House, and maybe the national party. And by association, he is about his party, not our Nation.

If all this has any credence at all, then our Country is in peril.

Should Rahm Emanuel and his brother in Hollywood, have their way with the Democratic Party, or for that matter, should any brothers have their way with any party trying to govern us citizens? We are better than brothers or other such smart manipulators. Our country is more important any of these types of people. The times have changed. Many politicians just don’t know it yet.
Cooking is not a girl thing

Having babies is.

The thoughts about cooking are all over the place. I recently had a granddaughter tell me men don’t cook, as I made her a meal. About the same time a pre teen daughter went about making a meal for her teenage brother, whom she hates. And as one who watches the cooking channels, most chefs are men. Good grief, what is one to think?

This is what many think, men and women. Men can cook, and often both choose to do so and are very good at it. Maybe it reverts back to the primeval cooking of the game hunted. Maybe it is just because girls have not been taught how to cook. Nobody is born knowing how to cook, we have to be trained and taught.

Of course this is mostly a western argument. Most eastern women are taught to cook by their mothers, and other matriarchs.

So is cooking a presentation type of meal to impress the other sex a means to get laid. Yes. Is cooking the most bland type of meal for kids a way just to grow them without complaint. Yes.

Is anything different?
The law of unintended consequences is alive and well a.k.a. the Imus’ events

Days after the actual event many things are coming out that my more liberal friends may not have intended.
· The terrible impact in our Country of the hip hop music industry is getting increased public exposure.
· The rank hypocrisy of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is out in public again.
· MSNBC is losing additional income as part of their downward income spiral.
· Advertisers going along with this hypocrisy can expect repercussions in their pocket book.
· Rational black leaders and pundits are getting public exposure that had previously escaped them.
· Imus’s conduct and response is exposing the double standards of most of the media and entertainment industry.
· The Rutgers' news conference was embarrassing to watch.
· The coincidence of timing with the Duke rape scandal story has really exposed the double standard of what is ethically important in media reporting, media management, and university priorities.

And I don’t even watch MSNBC or listen to Don Imus.

No wonder many of the professed offended are going down the tubes, financially speaking. Many of us have been voting with our pocketbooks and viewing habits for years. Others may join.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The difference between revolutionaries and thug bandits

When we ever learn.

There is culturally an appeal in my western lifetime to glamorize bandits. Why I do not know. In movies they look glamorous after the scripts are written and directed and acted. It is well beyond the Robin Hood type of stuff … this is glamorizing bandits of the worst kind, as in low lifes with big egos who murder and maim and rape. Yet the movies happen, presumably because the investors expect to make money, and apparently they do based on the repetition of these kinds of movies. So maybe the problem is us, those who pay to see such movies. Is it the action and violence and sex, or is it a cultural association with revolution against the reigning government? I still don’t know.

What I do know is the difference. Thieves and bandits through history and cultures are often smart enough to wrap their practices in social causes, there by disguising their basic behavior.

We, the victims, should be smarter than this. It appears we are becoming smarter throughout the world. Banditry that subjugates our families will lose. Nobody is smarter and more political than a mother or father.
Just who’s driving the train in the Middle East?

Actually the correct question is even worse. Who’s building the train track? After five years in Afghanistan and Iraq, why is no one person yet assigned to be in charge of building the track and driving the train? In practical words, who is in charge to provide unity of effort, also called directing and coordinating the efforts of Defense, State, and other agencies like the CIA, USAID, and even Treasury, to name a few. It is as if even if we know which way we want to go, but we still don’t have a coherent way to get there.

This post is not about the strategic goal of democracy in the Middle East, middle east style of course. This post is about setting up a process to accomplish the strategic goal. It includes hindsight as to our failures so far, and foresight as to one possible favorable future.

Most agree that “hating George Bush” is not a policy, though many (mostly Democrats) seem to ignore this maxim. Most will probably agree that “we cannot afford to lose” is also not a policy. Operators know there has to be a plan, and unity of effort, to even have a chance of democracy in the middle east. Absent this, many have stepped up to the plate, and we seem to have ended up with many train tracks going in many directions driven by engineers with various speeds and start and stop points. And here we are five years into the Middle East with little end in sight and domestic fears that this has become a slow bleed process.

Of course we do have a Commander in Chief who has apparently not filled this most basic function of being the one person in charge who provides unity of effort and knocks heads as need be. It seems that the need has been earlier recognized, but the delegations of responsibility done to date have not even approached that necessary to gain the unity of effort between the various competing factions within the Executive necessary to build one train track to the strategic goal.

And this post is not about the many other lower level errors that have been committed. The friction between Defense and State over who is in charge off winning the peace, the CYA point papers, the de-Baathification policy adopted, the use of D.C. funding rules by the CPA, the overall poor performance by State, and the emphasis of national army over local gendarme rebuilding have all become lessons learned, at least to some. The past hands-off policy towards Iran is above the minor level, but also has had an impact. I use history to summarize all this by referring to all the pundits back in 2004 who kept saying the “window of opportunity” was closing if we don’t change our ways. And the window did close.

The loyal opposition (the Democrats) seem less loyal and more opportunistic to seek political advantage out of this mess we are in. This at a time when the Country does need real leadership and courses of action to solve our problems. To this citizen, the Democratic performance to date in regards the middle east has become just one more obstacle to overcome because they have not stepped up to the plate. The voters have provided them the opportunity.

There is one group who has stepped up to the plate. It is the people who live in the Middle East. They have implemented their own policies that are best called national policies, though tribal and religious policies are often also appropriate. If we can’t knock heads, and deal with Iran, they can, or think they can. In this mostly uncoordinated effort the strategic goal of democracy in the Middle East, middle east style again, may be advanced. One good example is the apparent Arab Sunni efforts to financially undermine the Persian Shiite regime in Iran, the result of which will be some kind of quasi democracy. Or the financial power of the various oil oligarchies will do much to quell the Syrian and Hamas and Hezbollah mischief constantly at play. If we the USA are up to old fashioned diplomacy, maybe even we can participate.

There are also reports of good things going on from the USA point of view . We have a “new” strategy and military leader in Iraq who has let the Iraqi leadership know this is their final bit of help from us; we have a new Iraqi ambassador who is a practical leader with much experience in the Middle East; we have a new number two in State who also knows how to knock heads; we have a President trying to find one person to be in charge, finally; and we have an increasingly frustrated public who wants to see the strategic goal becoming accomplished, and our American military coming home. And the so called loyal opposition party seems to be marginalizing itself on this issue. What people expect, and many people demand, is that there must be one main railroad to the strategic goal, and one main engineer driving the train. And while the engineer may stop in Iraq, it is not the final stop.

If we can accomplish this, then we will have built a template to achieving another strategic goal, winning the global war on terror. This strategic goal is different, and harder to achieve, than democracy in the Middle East. Operators, and citizens, can better think in chunks of what is doable. One chunk at a time, we say.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Education is a public policy

Most parents want and work towards their children having a better life than they. And education is usually thought of as one way to achieve this for their children. Here in the USA we have a long history of making education of our children a public policy. The common objective has been to make good citizens.

Just who controls education these days? Is it the federal politicians, the local politicians, someone else, or the parents? Just who should control education these days? Perhaps it is divided in terms of money and influence, and certainly it varies geographically. The division in public policy objectives makes sense … most parents want all their kids to go to college while a national politician might set objectives that recognizes our society needs all levels of education … from high school graduate to community college technician to college graduate doing something else.

And degrees do represent more than a level of education and knowledge. Degrees may be looked at as a willingness to do work and persevere. Hence the military requires a high school degree or GED to be a private, and a college degree to be an officer. And degrees often correlate to income levels, and most people think increased income levels bring more happiness, though that is debatable to most.

In the last 50 years another friction has been added to the public policy of education. That has been social engineering by social scientists using our children (us not too long ago) to do what they do. Just where they got their vote and influence I am not sure, but the earlier question still remains … just who is in charge, and who should be in charge?

Another debate in the public policy about education has to do with private vs. public education, and the argument in earlier times (like 40 years ago) that private and Catholic school educations were superior. I personally believe this, but these days the issue is in doubt, depending where one may live. Today’s private K-12 schools are not all what they used to be. And gifted and talented in the public schools is not what it used to be. Both the aforementioned tend to lead impressionable young children to believe that they may be better than they are. This smacks of the old English school system which we must avoid at all political costs. The idea of the American schools is that one learns an education along with the rough and tumble of life. This is not to imply sending one’s kids to ghetto schools since no one wants this for their kids, but the English vs. American system of education is different, and our American system is better suited for us who will work and lead lives in the USA.

Another debate in the public policy about education is where do the workers come from? If everyone has a college degree, just who will do the work? Thank goodness not everyone has a college degree, and the USA does grow good and smart workers. What appears to be happening in the income disparity between college graduates and non-college graduates is shifting towards equality, and more favorably towards the skilled workers and technicians. The old days of comparing education level with intelligence are fast falling by the wayside. People have to pay for skills and services that require intelligence and competency, not a college degree. And never discount those with a college degree doing well in the service sector.

The USA military recognizes this idea in that it has established professional education for all levels of leadership from NCO through officer.

It also sure looks like those south of the border, as well as others like the Chinese and Indians are exploiting the gaps our present public policy about education has led to. The USA lives on educated hard working family oriented people, and some are immigrants.

Last any discussion of public policy and education must discuss the 3 out of 10 who enter the ninth grade who never graduate from high school. My discussion is simple, I think we should focus on the 7 out of 10 who do graduate. The principle is as old as life … take care of the winners and hard workers first … do not be distracted by the 3 out of 10 until we can promote the 7 out of 10. Said another way, focus on the winners, not the losers, in setting priorities and public policy. People are watching and voting, and will respond to public policies that take care of winners and hard workers, first. This especially applies to education policies.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It’s a little frustrating

How does a citizen compare all the frustration over the war in Iraq? More specifically, why are we still there after four years, with no end in sight, maybe. Even the Democrats are claiming the 2006 elections represent an American instinct to “fish or cut bait”. And it looks like “cut bait” time. I personally agree.

Back to frustration. After Vietnam, I assumed only Democratics could be poor war managers. Now I know the Republicans can be just as big a bunch of losers. One on the outside of D.C, might assume a cabal of hired minions really run D.C. And they lose equally. Ask Harriet Myers as a non-cabal type.

So the convergence of D.C. types and anti-war types and just frustrated citizens have come to a head. What way to go?

It’s a little frustrating. And in the American way, it will take time.

Throw out the bums. They should grovel at our citizens’ altar, not the other way around.

We should not confuse our President’s mismanagement of the Iraq war with the purposes, which I still believe promote our American families, in the long run. We do have something worth fighting for.

And so how does a citizen compare the mismanagement in the prosecution of the war, as compared to the bad guys wanting to harm us, and our families? My solutions are obvious, hire the right people to kill the bad guys. Along the way, replace the leaders who are losers. This course of action is both military and political.
Public policy and social engineering are different

Public policy, the idea, implies practical solutions to advance humans. Social engineering , the idea, implies theories and good intentions to advance humans. While the two purposes may be close to many, the histories and pedigrees are vastly different.

Public policy is associated with poorer countries in that they have to do more with less. More with less includes time, as in saving lives from malaria with the means and knowledge at hand. Or electrifying a country, to include rural electrification, is public policy, to include making the electricity. Clean water, and cleaning waste water, is public policy because it benefits us all. And last, heating without all the coal pollution in the cities that blighted all our buildings and lungs was considered public policy. The theme is clear; public policy practices and decisions were intended to benefit us all, collectively.

Social engineering is a more recent occurrence in history, as in the last 100 years. Social engineering can be associated with social “scientists” and the many theories and intents to improve human kind, and the social scientists’ country in particular. We in the west seem to have more than our fair share of social scientists. Social engineering has brought us in the USA ideas like affirmative action, income taxes and redistribution of income for social engineering intents, equality of outcome in education, and environmentalism for the sake of all creatures with humans latter in the order of good intents.

If one believes that the pendulum swings in history, then the pendulum has swung too far towards the social engineering side. While the pendulum will enviably swing back the other way towards the public policy idea, a little pushing from us western types is in order. The eastern types in humanity may be too busy right now trying to do the basics like protecting their family. In fact, they are probably trying to advance their families' life style to something like we enjoy in the west, albeit their version.

Many may prefer to let the third world go down the tubes, which may be as simple as preserve the status quo. This idea is called benign neglect, and it is a course of action. Those in the State Department and other similar types may call this a “realist policy”. Call this a contradiction of terms, but realism is accepting that change is enviable, and cannot be legislated or managed. Postponed, maybe.

If one does not buy this argument, then thank you for reading. If one does buy this argument, then leadership by citizens and their politicians is the obvious solution. If only life were so easy. Promoting ideas is key, but so is voting. Numbers count.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Pax Americana … is there a better way of life

The argument one hears mostly is that the American way in the world has become immoral … it is immoral in their idea. Those who buy this argument, and some even force their opinions, are sincere I think, and certainly hope they have a better way. So do I. Those who I most identify with are on the environmental bent. But there are many others who would rule the world another way. They come across to me as in our time people willing to pursue their goals by all means, to include usurping the votes of their fellow citizens. If this is the case, then they must be stomped down, politically, and in the realm of ideas. My vote counts, also.

Back to the idea of Pax Americana and a way of life. We are so far ahead of the world that it is something to be proud of. Just compare the environmental impacts of the rapid capitalism in China (with terrible water pollution and birth defects) compared to all the frictions here at home, and maybe our way of government and life has advantages. Go farther. All the aforementioned may be too idealistic. How about local men and women raising a family in an area they are proud of? This is America, and our politicians better protect and promote all this.

Those inside the D.C. circuit think, properly, the world is about them. After all, fabulous amounts of public money are being thrown about and traded off, and their decisions do affect us. In retrospect, this reminds me of all the stories about Rome. But we are different from Rome. I hope we in America are better than the roman citizens. I think we are.
The democratic position, the republican position, and the American position

It is frustrating to observe the political discussions these days as they mostly seem to be about power, winning in 2008, political sport, and other such machinations that have little to do with life in the USA. An outside observer could conclude all that is going on is controlled and reported on by everybody but those most affected, the people, the voters. It even seems that most citizens are assumed to be stupid, or at least able to manipulated as to our vote. Maybe the observation is right on, but then, maybe it is not. Maybe the old ways have changed because the citizens have changed in how they listen and vote? Maybe even "the citizens" may take more time to listen and think about how to vote. Maybe core values, American values, have been threatened by what the political system has evolved to these days? Maybe, maybe, maybe?

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. What a wonderful expression as it is a practical way of restating the Golden Rule. While I believe President Bush does his best to apply this idea as part of his long stated idea of changing the tone in D. C., it appears too many still consider this idea a weakness, and perpetuate the status quo, which is at best disdainful public conduct which has gone on far too long. This old conduct is not the American way, though it may still be a republican or democratic way.

Change is good. Most are uncomfortable with change because of its volativity. But change is an American way, and thank goodness it it through the vote and the rule of law, and not revolution and assumption of powers by those who assign themselves such powers. We are still "new enough" to be part of the New World, and should never let ourselves be drawn back to the Old World and all its failed ideas that sent our ancestors to this New World. The best example today is our New World way of dealing with the horrible institution of slavery when we dragged many Africans and some Asians to our (that is all of us) shores. The other New World idea is that those who take oaths do so to a Constitution, not an individual.

So why is there still this division going on in this New World country called the USA? Well believe it or not, many of us do think differently about our USA and how things should go. Fair enough. This division is normal, What is not normal is how we Americans sort it all out, foreign and domestic. Our system of government is not normal in the context of human history. We and our government are special, unique if you will. We have a government style embodied in a Constitution that is worth defending.

That we have enemies is obvious. The foreign enemies are very obvious. The domestic enemies are in the eye of the citizen. I would define enemy as anyone who wants to rule the USA another way. In simpler terms, an enemy is anyone who will mess with my family and my expectations for my progenies' future.

Some of us will fight for our future. The method will be to use our established system of government, and the vote. Any others who do things, like assume a mandate from the 2006 elections to usurp the present method of government, will find they have stirred up a hornet's nest. Maybe they will even find themselves out of elected office. This idea is one of an American position. And we have so many American problems that need solving at the government level.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Our future looks better than our past

We are way better off than the Reagan line about a room full of manure meaning there is a pony in there somewhere. And his line was optimistic, and our USA future applies to the world, also. We are way past “the end of the world as we know it”. This all is because of humans and families and business … the politicians have little to do with all this, thank goodness. If the politicians were really in charge, it might be time to roll over and let the barbarians rule we people.

A short version of the 50 year past means the cold war, communist gulags, third world repressions, expanding western cultural values, naivety and idealism born of personal security, expansion of personal wealth to more of we masses, and of course hot wars prosecuted by the have nots against the haves. A short version of the next 50 year history suggests a rise of the mercantile class in Asia and Europe, the slow decline of the oil funded Islamic fascism, the power and influence of the information age making English the universal language, and the news and real events driving politicians from all cultures in a shared manner. Nation-states will wilt towards tribes as a way for families to promote and protect their progeny. The bottom line is our Families. Compared to the past (which we did survive), today’s parents have more hope for their progeny than I suggest our parents had for us.

Astute leadership is required to avoid devolving into barbarism, which we are more than capable of doing. The obvious leadership principle is one of knowing the difference between idealism (only if the world were perfect) and practicality that we all live in, be it the USA or Sri Lanka, as examples. It is the simple aforementioned comparison that provides hope for the future of our progeny. The hard and cold human politician instincts for power and influence have always been balanced out by simple human greed at the local levels … we all want to take care of our families, and provide them an opportunity!

So who should worry us most about our Family’s future? A Nancy Pelosi from a District in California or a warlord in Moro land in the southern Philippines. In the greater scheme of things they (both egos) have as much to do with our own families as anyone other politician.

So in the great miasma of today’s events, we citizens still have choices that will affect our families. In this our future looks better than our past. Much work and fighting will still need to be done to make it be our outcome. In all this peoples and families will lead, like always; and politicians will catch up, like always.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What is Speaker Pelosi’s objective these days?

As one who tends to focus on capabilities vice intents, here’s the facts, first.

Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House on January 3, 2007 by a vote of 233 to 202, and after the 2006 congressional elections.

During the same election period, 129,000 people from the 8th District in California elected her to be their congressional representative. The 8th District is mainly San Francisco city.

She was the House Minority Leader from 2002 to 2007. This was a position elected by the then Democratic minority in the House.

Here’s some fact based reports.
· None of the promised first 100 hours House programs have become law, or even made it through the Senate.
· The House bill raising the national minimum wage had only one exception, and that was for a constituent in her District. The press called this episode Tunagate.
· Her assumption of the Speaker duties was orchestrated like a multi-day coronation.
· Her choices (nominations) for various Committee heads raised many alarms within her party and the nation as a whole.
· The recent House vote to set a timetable in Iraq along with funding for the troops is loaded with pork, or bribes using taxpayer money to many.
· During the spring recess in the House, she is on a middle east trip that appears to be less fact finding (a congressional prerogative) than assuming foreign policies of the United States and her alternatives to the President’s (not a congressional prerogative).
· During her time as the House Minority Leader she showed herself to be a very hard worker and a within-the-House vote getter.
· Her main strategy in the past (when she was in the minority) seems to be one of obstructionism. It is interesting to see how she tries to lead (when she is in the majority). This will be most difficult, I believe, and assuming leading our Nation is an objective of hers.

Here’s some report based opinions that seem like capabilities.
· She possesses a powerful ego that she does not restrain.
· She is asserting her personal politics through the Speakership, a national position.
· She is not as powerful within the Democratic Party as many are led to believe.
· She may be leading the Party to national ruin. There is a viable analogy to what Clinton did when his ego and politics superceded national politics, and the Democratic 40 years of control of the House ended in 1994. That the Democrats got control back in 2006 may have more to do with Blue-Dog Democrats than Pelosi’s brand of 8th District politics.
· She has assigned herself national responsibilities not inherent in the Speakership.
o Foreign policy
o Alternative commander in chief of the military
o Alternative presidency

So just what is her objective or objectives these days? Just because she assigns herself extra national responsibilities does not make it so. Or is she running for President at taxpayer expense?

Most people focus on the intents of others. This is most difficult. Focusing on capabilities is simpler. Speaker Pelosi’s actions and capabilities suggest she is running for President. Whether it is the USA, or the World, is still up for grabs. And all this speculation is from a base of 129,000 San Francisco fellow citizens, amplified by the Democratic Party in our House of Representatives.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

An outline of history

Just who runs the world today, who should run the world today, and who should run the world in the future?

Going to work today is as always, a family experience. We all advance our progeny, as best we can. Most in all places in the world just let the world’s politics and heavy weights go by as the real world of families and getting by bubble to the top of priorities. Health and survival issues are top issues to most of the people of our world. USA media headlines that focus on female and male bimbos, dead and alive; or more substantial issues like the most outrageous kidnappings of 15 Brits to advance Iranian foreign policy, predominate today. It seems most of today’s media types in the west have joined the wrong corps based on business principles mostly. Others in this world have other business plans, and courses of action. All this varies quite a bit, but nothing changes the interests of mothers and fathers and their families, their kids.

I think most of the western businessmen run the world today (be they Chinese, European, or American). They deserve to based on hard work. Politicians are a cost of doing business. Some politicians just expect to be bribed for their vote, others follow their egos and personal experience.

Who should run the world today is a really hard question, especially for an American. Of course the obvious question is should somebody or group run the world? The obvious answer is no one … but there will be humans always trying to dominate our world. Back to the question about today. It is obvious to this citizen of the world that western values are the path to the future of humans on this earth.

As to the future, I say to the revolutionary egomaniacs and warlords in the third world in Sri Lanka, southern Thailand, Columbia, etc, there is another way based on families. To the western politicians and media types, Bob Dylan may be right: the times they are a’changin. To American politicians, the same applies to our families’ futures. Set us up for the future … don’t guide us into your past.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Playing hardball with low lifes

The amount of frustration and outrage over the Iranian abduction of 15 Brits is pretty bad. The apparent diplomatic responses by the Brits almost makes them look emasculated. Is there only one alternative to defer to those who have forced the British hand?

Complicating the whole friction is one of American and British cooperation, today, historically in the past, and maybe in the future. That the Iranian dictators have been using the technique of abduction as one of their foreign policy ploys is now founded in history. That we western types have been using our own Geneva convention standards have also been founded in history. The smarter types have even called the friction between the two standards, or methods, asymmetric warfare. I prefer the old fashioned term of low lifes vs. our standards. If you buy this latter argument, then let us go forward.

We must advance our Western culture and values by all means to the rest of the world. I am chauvinistic enough to believe what even the President says, let freedom ring. Thank goodness I will kick the bucket before this argument, if it wins, will assert itself. Then it is the problem of our progeny. Most of us don’t complain as much as offer solutions. Give peace a chance. Let our progeny sort out what we leave them. Again, if you buy this argument, then the Iranian leadership is on the losing end. This idea is not San Francisco politics, it is American.