Friday, June 29, 2007

Something stinks in politics

We all want to get along, kinda like Rodney King in L.A.

But for the umteenth time a rash of bad economic news, especially news leads and titles when the actual economic news is much better, starts to smell like an attempt to hoodwink us Americans. I could even buy this, until it coincides with the election cycle. Something is rotten in Denmark, as the old saying goes.

There is much about how bad the mainstream media is in being an adjunct of the democratic party. That's fine too since most of us just tune them out, and they lose jobs slowly but surely.

My question is are these American people deliberately propogandists in the worse Nazi sort of way, or even mean spirited enough to try trick us into voting their way. Do they love or even respect their country? Is some other utopian or potitical agenda at play? And the barbarians are at the gates.
The American personality drives us today

The American personality might be characterized as an easygoing, sentimental, fair-minded ruthlessness. We tie yellow ribbons 'round the old oak tree at the same moment we dispatch a wing of B-52s to carpet-bomb the enemy. No murderer in the world gets as many appeals from his conviction as an American murderer. But when we have finished being fair (about the same length of time that a French murderer has to spend in prison before being released), we fry him. (Tony Blankley)

Americans are New World. We are not Old World. Traditionally in the past, the vast oceans around us insulated us from all the Old World's travails. And we are still New World enough to be anti-war and isolationist since the oceans protected us against all things: smart, dumb, idealistic, Old World, or otherwise. Along the way we Americans changed, too. The urban/rural shift is the obvious one. So also is the naming of new children as the most popular names change to more family type names with Old World origins. This trend cannot be dictated, it is American.

So how can a Country as large as the USA be so seemingly evenly divided over major issues such as immigration, our place in the World, and foreign wars. Perhaps it is our American personality, and perhaps it is just talking past each other. The follow on suggests considering trying to convince the others, or just listening to them. Perhaps I and many others are working not against political opponents who think another way, but just working against an American personality adopted by about one half of my fellow citizens.

So do I fight in the arena of debate and ideas, or surrender to not wasting my time fighting an American personality? Do I write and blog, or go silent?

One can make their peace in many ways. I have made my peace. The events of 9/11 made the oceans inconseqeuntial, and now my children and grandchildren are under threat of life and western standards of life. The threat is obvious by the attack of 9/11. It is the Islamic fascist barbarian group of madarassa indoctrinated thugs who will tell us how to live their way.

Even the American personality will say no, and after much diplomacy, will also come to fight for our way of life. All this suggests less a debate than just providing information to the other half of the American personality and let them, and us, assert ourselves.
Too many basic functions of the federal government are failing us

What are we going to do about it?

The government is supposed to provide for the common defense and general well being. Yet the Iranians are literally attacking us and our allies throughout the middle east, and yet there is no public response by the Executive or Congress, not one hearing. One hopes some covert things are going on. But after decades of giving an inch to the Iranians and they take a mile, the future of our common defense looks worse than today. If the Executive and Congress cannot provide for a common defense, and keep the citizens even barely informed, then who will?

It took a citizen uprising to stop the Senate’s recent “comprehensive immigration” reform, this being the third time since the mid-60’s. In the interim, literally millions of illegal immigrants have invaded our Country with little apparent problem or challenge. The government is supposed to guard our borders and control our immigration, but has failed us in this so basic government function. If the Executive and Congress can’t do this, who will?

The spate of poisoned and unsafe foods and toothpastes and pet products and tires from China begs the question, who is checking our imports? Our China imports have increased dramatically (40% by one account) but the Food and Drug Administration inspector work has not increased at all. The way I read it, we citizens are the guinea pigs, and when we or our pets start getting sick or dying, then the FDA learns about it and takes corrective action. If the Executive and Congress can’t do this, or even fund these preventive inspections, who will? Who will make the Chinese and others go by our auto safety standards, our food safety standards, and even our radiation standards? Who will tell them this is not negotiable, and hold them to it?

Recently federal responsibilities and funding have extended to the infamous bridge to nowhere in Alaska, rehabilitating a public park in Chicago, and making a bicycle trail in Tennessee. This suggests our Executive and Congress have misplaced priorities.

None of this discussion is about rocket science. Some leadership is called for in recognizing the most basic requirements of any federal government, and acting accordingly. And some management skill is called for in implementing these most basic federal government responsibilities. If the Executive and Congress can’t do this, then it is time for the voters to change our Executive and Congress.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Going to the well once too often

… Or the law of diminishing returns never goes away.

Many tried and true political methods of the past to fund benefits that got people elected or hired, or got agendas promoted, are inherently coming to an end. Here are obvious examples:

The tobacco industry agreement provided very large de facto windfall taxes that are already spent.
Cigarette taxes are raised to where the resulting tax income is at its limit.
Government slashes in Medicare and Medicaid are forcing doctors and others in the industry to leave this part of the business. Present beneficiaries are going back on their own.
Pay as you go for social security has been a successful ruse, but coming to an end as the baby boomers arrive in the queue and the ratio of workers to beneficiaries becomes much smaller.
Borrowing money to pay federal bills vice raising taxes to pay the same bills is ever more a political hot potato. It is today’s version of taxation without representation as we pass the principal and interest on to future generations who cannot vote today. Economic arguments about the affordability ignore the political fairness problem which grows more and more.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul is a dicey political problem when used to fund new benefits. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is to be avoided. Even when the Peace Dividend appeared as a windfall de facto tax income in the early 1990’s, it disappeared quickly as a funding source. In the rural part of Tennessee where I now live, the apparent shifting of benefits from long time tax payers and voters to the poor and illegal immigrants is a very volatile voting issue to those on the losing end. The incremental health care discussion is especially volatile.
The general public is becoming much more aware of the costs of environmentalism as these costs begin hitting them in the pocket book, and lifestyles. The general public can understand the idea of 10% of the biofuel for airline travel taking a field the size of Florida to grow, all the while their cost of food also goes up.
Alternate sources of income, such as paying to use public parks, or paying more to watch our beloved TV’s (you will be learning more about Cable Cards soon), will also reach a point of diminishing returns.

There are some obvious consequences:
Every dollar we borrow from a foreign source to pay today’s federal bills threatens our future National Sovereignty and National Interests.
Using smoke and mirrors to try obfuscate robbing Peter to pay Paul will have terrible political consequences when exposed to the light of day.
Uncontrolled spending vis-à-vis earmarks will come to a real end, not a smoke and mirrors end.
A National energy policy will include all elements, to include future domestic drilling for oil (with time limits).
Generational political conflicts over benefits and funding of these benefits will become political reality. Likely, birth rates will go up, as the old form of Social Security called large families comes back.
A Congressional Term Limits Amendment will be become the law of the land. We already have a Presidential Term Limits Amendment.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sometimes one must state the obvious

Sometimes the king has no clothes, even if it takes a child to say the obvious. This parable applies to today.

It is obvious the Iraq war was has been mismanaged in D.C. Our present leaders in the Executive and Congress have few even interagency ideas of what to do (or cannot overcome it) in any third world conquest, and after attack on our country. The high school version and Congressional version of fad now is to bail out, and to pontificate about it, apparently with the most silly media coverage.

We have elected the wrong leaders, though leader may be the incorrect term. The present people there seem more like professional politicians and at best local politicians who can not think in a National sense beyond pontificating, which is being kind. And the present talk about how to pull out of this mess never mentions the consequences of doing so. If only the world were friction free and without consequences. That the charade that is amplified in the media of somehow being hood winked is appalling. We all have memories, to include the debate and the vote. Many politicians may seek to pretend and report otherwise, and the media may cover up, but many citizens have to live in the real world. They are worth listening to ... before the next vote.

And it is our National Defense and Interest at stake, as if that seems to matter in the confident thoughts of the present political leaders.

The terrible consequences of the mismanagement of the Iraq war is that so many citizens are fed up enough to quit, plain and simple. Talk about a Catch 22. We're damned if we do and damned if we are not. Unfortunately life and the military is not a Catch 22 movie and the irony of the movie is not a foreign policy.
There are alternatives to just politically quitting in some sort of mollifying way to American voters.

First is the leaders we need. They are not presently elected and in charge today, but we most certainly must elect them in the future. These Americans are everywhere, and they are not the people in D.C. today. They are Americans like Ike who got us out of Korea, or Reagan who attacked Gaddafi after the killings by them in Germany, or those today just waiting to be called. The obvious principle is that they thought National Defense, and knew when talk ended and power talked in dealing with these mostly small level despots today. Perhaps that is the most king has no clothes element today that is astounding. This is not multiculturalism; this is our National Defense and our way of life. And after all, we are dealing with despots, not the likes of Gandhi or King.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What happens when our adversaries don't think like us

They become emboldened to the point of overt aggression. The very USA people who have encouraged and demanded diplomacy and reason and listening have in the end made things worse. The Iranians, like other regional powers in history, have learned appeasement out of decades of western reactions and some actions dominated by those who have led the policies that the Iranians take as appeasement. It is coming that our national defense and national interests are being threatened enough to where even the pacifists will be concerned about their way of life.

Two obvious points jump out.

First is that we simply don't have the leaders in the Executive or the Congress we need to survive as a nation, and I dare suggest, promote our nation as a way of life. Now that we are being attacked and the discussion in D.C. and the main stream media is still on lesser issues, the old articles about comparisons to the late 1930's come back again. Actually they were better then. What might have been nipped in the bud by small military action, or covert action, now will take tanker trucks of blood and lives, and again those most sincere about avoiding war at all costs have now brought it down on us. God damn them all.

Second is an even bigger concern about things spiraling out of control, or unleashing the genies, or just plain losing control of the situation. Those that think Iranian misjudgments by Iranian dictators are the only problem are naive, hopeful, or disingenuous. Regional nation-state and tribal leaders and even narco promoters throughout the world will take advantage of the distractions of the USA and its allies, real or perceived, and just be themselves. As a USA nation mostly focused on itself, we want to avoid all this. But once the genies are unleashed, things become scary for the control freaks and those who actually have to bleed.

One conclusion comes to mind. Our present Executive and Congressional leaders may want to surrender. Some present leaders may think it is surrender to the Iranians in the region, and some may think it is surrender to the action of the ages in people asserting themselves. I could almost listen to the last idea, until I see the terrible fascist and hatred nature of these despots, these criminals, these kill all barbarians. Since 5 out of 6 USA people think more like the alternatives in the Nations defense are better choices, change in the coming elections will promote this most basic defense of the Nation. Since our government is not parliamentarian, but republican, a Chamberlain cannot be replaced by a Churchill as quickly, but surely most certainly.

The most fundamental mistake is that of those in the west who think all people think like them and have the same values and aspirations. One wishes it was so. But it is not. So it is down to fight for our values and way of life, or surrender. Thank goodness there is a vote everywhere in the west. As an American, we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not any individual. The oath includes defending against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The now oft written and publicized line, mostly in the third world, is that the way to win the local or regional war in not militarily or otherwise locally, but rather in Washington, D.C., is being applied against us again and today. There are historical reasons to buy this line. But perhaps the Iranians have gone too far, as well as the genies soon to be unleashed. But also perhaps our present political leaders will surrender.

If a war continues, we did not start it. The Iranians already have. And all attempts to control it are a good idea, but will probably fail. That there is no action in D.C reflects so poorly on our present elected leaders that many changes are coming, foreign and domestic. God damn them all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fatherhood situation report

Daughters are not as smart as I thought. She might actually be a 12 year old kid. I do hope the showers are cold at the girls camp (they are at the boys camp), and think so. Both are on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. My intent is for her to be appreciative of all the wonders we do have at our homes, today.

This father may be a bigger pansy than I thought.

I was, and am, very proud of her in her preparation. She used the internet to repeatedly download the camp checklist of what to bring, and went through the checklist repeatedly during packing. Her brother, to be kind, was not so fast. The camp's philosophy and mine as a Marine are the same. If you don't bring it, live without it or make do. At least the camps have a list. The old Marines seldom did, though there were always work arounds. The obvious example is rain gear where a sheet of plastic or a plastic trash bag can be modified to work.

So I was shocked, shocked as in Casablanca the movie terms, when I got a letter begging for cowboy boots so she could ride horses. Of course, I blew her off in the best father and Marine way. She had her chance and blew it. Then I got a second letter also begging for the cowboy boots (size 3, though she would take sizes 2, 3, and 4). Then I went back and read the internet checklist, and sure enough it called for cowboy boots. The letter added she and another girl shared her friend's boots since they were on alternate days, except for the rodeo. Hence the begging for boots along with all the I miss you stuff.

So pansy me went to the local discount store and got her made in India cowboy boots and took them out to girls camp.

But I can be tough. I skipped the rodeo, anticipating blaming it on the local prevailing thunderstorms.
Recent Newsweek reports are becoming funny

Reports by at least two Newsweek reporters who have visited Tehran, Iran recently make many want to laugh at the reporters. How naïve, or prejudiced, or egotistical they come across as reporters. The universal principle of going to any microcosm of a country, and saying the whole country is like this, is silly. It’s laughable. Especially saying the capital is representative of the country is just out of touch. Most know better.

And educated and apparently not so smart people are the usual culprits. Hearing engineers in D.C. who apparently visited Atlanta’s Stone Mountain sometime, seriously tell people that people in the south dress and go around like the beginnings of the movie “Gone With the Wind” was too funny, if the gross application of this ignorance wasn’t so serious.

And ignorance and expectations are a two-way street. As a bachelor Marine going to Denmark for a first exercise, I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, Danish style. I could just imagine nubile topless females sunning themselves in the Tivoli, Copenhagen and my devil’s approach to all. Well, I ended up in the middle of Jutland, and it was more like Mayberry RFD. The old Georgia Tech expression of corn fed farm girls came to mind (an old football insult cheer). So which is a way to write about the how the Danish people are … there is none. It is “site” specific. Denmark is a big country, and Iran is even bigger.

I for one have been to military schools with Iranian military types, not the Army of God types, and have the utmost respect for them from a professional point of view. And I have some other time in various countries and capitals and cultural centers, and know now what most Americans have figured out and also know, there is no generic American. Any citizen from Corona, S.D. that goes to the big city of Minneapolis St. Paul for a visit knows this. I just wish Newsweek types on Tehran paid visits knew this, or would even hint the “site” specific influence of their article. Otherwise they seem funny.
A foreign policy for the American people

Thinking out of the box … Yes!
Thinking by all regions of America … Yes. Beyond the D.C. beltway … certainly.
A realistic appreciation of how the world has changed, and is always changing … absolutely.
Dominated by the New World in the Western Hemisphere … of course. Lowering the Old World’s domination of all things foreign, including policy … by default.

Some of the principals that come naturally are:
Takes advantage of the miracle the Old World created in the New World.
Incorporates the American personality which avoids wars, but also is willing to fight wars when need be (don’t tread on me).
Simple in concept … do the New World right thing and credibility will follow.
Inherent focus on the common people objectives and much less domination by the Old World ruling classes.
Never dogmatically applied.
Assumes the best future pattern for the whole World is that of the New World.

This last point is titanic in its implications. It is titanic in its belief that the miracles created in the New World are superior to the Old World’s ways. And it is titanic in the large guidepost it establishes. And we all know the New World is always evolving, too, but the guidepost always remains a New World guidepost.

In a perfect world, we Americans will never be dragged down by the Old World, rather, we will drag the Old World our way. And we also know the World is not perfect, so the road will be bumpy and curved, rather than smooth and straight in some utopian idea of a perfect world.

One can say this foreign policy has already started just by using immigration patterns of people coming to the New World. But immigration is an indicator or a tool of an applied foreign policy. The bigger picture is one of western culture and values being best used in the New World. An American foreign policy that expresses this as best for the whole World is so American. It is not natural, and there are other possible outcomes and World situations, some much worse.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

“An unfinished life” … the movie

This one’s a sleeper, maybe soon to the a cult type rural movie. My 12 year old daughter watches it up here in Tennessee when from Atlanta, like every day. The movie location is like Wyoming or Montana.

Robert Redford finally plays his age, and he is great. Morgan Freeman is also good, as well as Jennifer Lopez. The movie is directed by the Swede Lasse Halstrom, who specializes in my mind with rural movies. He directed “The Cider House Rules”.

Thumbs up. Go check it out since it is past theater distribution. I had to look like five times to find it at WalMart in Cookeville, Tn.
American future foreign policy

When one reads a WaPo piece by David Ignatius I am attracted, even if he did pronounce in one earlier article that the global warming debate is over (at least in his mind). So maybe his judgment can be different. But when I read an article today that attempts to summarize what three old time men of the diplomatic past say about the future, I have my attention gained again. The three old time people are Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft on a TV show that is part of a round table series of shows that some or all of them do. I actually took the time to listen to the almost one hour show, and what they said and what David Ignatius said they said is not quite the same. In fairness to David Ignatius, and I believe he is well intentioned and a good writer, his judgment about what to say they said is different from mine. And I am just a common citizen. Actually, so is he. And the interviewer was Charlie Rose, who did a very fair job I believe.

At this point I diverge from the article and the Charlie Rose interview, though the theme in all is American future foreign policy. Clearly the old time assumptions and standards about the world as it was are changing. It is in fact important to listen to our adversaries, if often just to show them we can listen. Just who do we Americans want listening was really never asked? Is it the old time diplomats in their ways of astute diplomacy and dancing around the issue, or is it some new types more attuned to the present ugly reality. Is the goal still to use astute diplomacy to have our way, or to adjust to the new world way, what ever that is. And who dominates the future world? Is it the old world’s most complicated problems, the old world’s newest global balkanization problems, or good grief, can we address new world problems. These old time diplomats came across as old time diplomats. Though well experienced and well intentioned and certainly politically powerful, for lack of knowing what to do, they recommend doing what they know. The logic makes sense for many citizens.

Can we have a “new world” foreign policy? I think I heard such a diplomatic line during the show as “do the right thing and credibility will follow”. Never in the one hour show or the David Ignatius summary of same, did I hear discussion of terms like thuggery, bullying, the role crime plays in most third world societies, or even piracy. What I heard was more east coast diatribe based on lifestyle and experience based on the west. The general point of view was to treat many of them as moral equals. Another point of view and course of action says when those Barbary type people arise, one does not treat them as anything else than criminals who hurt us. We kill them to protect our way of life.

So one thing in a future foreign policy that is a seismic shift does, if it emphasizes the “new world”, is unleash the genies. In this is the path to the human future. And in any foreign policy, old world or new world, squashing the thugs and bullies is constant. I for one wished it had been mentioned in the show. We must always talk to all, but never be dragged down by the old world diplomatic solutions and thugs.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What’s your brand of news?

This post is from the user point of view. We all know or think the media is prejudiced in its reporting. Most think the prejudice is in political skewing. Some others, of which I am one, think too many young “journalists” have been led astray by academia in its influence on later job reporting with an emphasis on emotional influence or just driving up business profits. The trends are that these students are slowly losing their jobs after school while their academic professors go on to well paid retirements. What a classical generational screw job.

So what is your brand of the news these days. Is it still mainstream media, albeit with your filters on, blogs, some of which seem to have good intel type sources, or TV, as in the three main USA networks, or even the cable 24/7 networks. Add in the government funded news through BBC and NPR and PBS, or even the local TV jobs which have come along in the last 20 years or so. That’s about it, and compared to the rest of the world, we are probably the best informed news junkies in the world.

But do we know the news to our satisfaction? The real question is: do we know the constructed news or the real news? Most certainly we know the reporter’s opinion of the news. In this is the change from the past. In the past we could seek opinions in an opinion section, and we could seek the news in the news section. When apparently a whole industry changed to opinion writing and opinion TV appearances, and again I blame academia, much of the American public turned off. No amount of most of the media living in New York and D.C. with all the terrible peer pressure, can change what I think academia and the industry has done. Add in Democratic Party thought control and censorship about debate (and I though Galileo had it bad) and the times are difficult and dangerous to the thoughtful citizen in these times of the politics of personal destruction.
It’s the beginning of the world, and I feel fine

It is not good for the eastern mind to fathom the western way
Double talk, impatience, short term and now
Seldom patience and values about big things
Why is life such a big thing…numbers count too
Girls marry at 30 so why the hurry since families choose
East meets west and we’ll never be the same
It’s the beginning of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

Too many people, too little earth, or so they say
Is it numbers, is it demands on the earth
Who decides, are there new rulers or religions
Is it inherent or do we need a new pope of ecology to tell us
Can he make us
Can we make us
Will it be collapse as some say or will it be balance as some say
It’s the beginning of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

Equality is fine, but all men are not equal
Those here, equal and unequal, want the same for themselves
And their families too
Some fight to go up, some fight to try stay up, all fight to be up
Up becomes more common and common
It’s the beginning of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

Evil men will never go away, why are they here, life is so hard anyway, why, why, why
Dark ages are real, so sorry, so sorry, why, why, why
How do they do it to us, why are they here, why, why
We keep crushing them like bugs, they don’t go away
We don’t go away either, never ever go away
After a Dark Age comes the light, a bright shining light
And the dark age will be short, short, short before the bright shining light
It’s the beginning of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

We are a world, yes, yes … nations and tribes all mixed around, everywhere
We are two sexes as made to reproduce the race until the future, yes, yes
We are many generations together, humans are getting older, yes, yes
The humans are gentrifying the earth, yes, yes
It’s the beginning of the world as we know it,
And I feel fine
And I feel fine
2008 will be the vote heard round the world

The most basic instincts in humans of security, opportunity for descendents, and basic quality of life come into discussion more than used to be. The world seems about as full of friction and wars as normal, but the USA has forces converging that together are pivotal. The converging forces are political, generational, and cultural. The results are pivotal in where ever the outcome leads us as a nation, and they are pivotal in that we used the vote vice revolution or a civil war.

Much as it is said as California goes, so goes the USA later, a saying much less said now days, so as the USA goes, so will much of the New World, and eventually the Old World.

The cultural conflicts at play are religion, cultural censorship, drugs, and immigration.

The generational conflicts at play are who pays for all the promised benefits, and expectations and standards.

The political conflicts at play are the growing ineffectiveness of the national government, an America first homeland defense, and the traditional national traits of isolationism and anti-war instincts.

The effect will be heard loud and clear around the world. That a vote was used vice the alternatives is most profound for much of the world. The detailed results will have some effects, too. In old Disney talk, it will definitely be an “E Ticket ride”.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Public health and costs

Up front I have nothing to do with the industry, to include medical, trial lawyers, and the health insurance industry. In old time talk, I am a Joe Blow. I do have doctor friends, and friends in the Medicare industry. I don’t know any medical trial lawyers.

As the son of a Marine, and then myself a Marine, I think of myself as having grown up through a kind of health care system including the APC pill which is now discredited. The general line was if you were really ill, then the system would admit you, and it would be difficult to get out of it. One of my elementary school male friends, Jim Poindexter, died of leukemia at the El Toro hospital. In the interim, being sick as from the flu was treatable by corpsman and even a medical Chief. Of course as a battalion commander, I had my own doc, and got some special attention, none it deserved, even when he dug out a NC tick I could not dig out at home. It was a nasty tick, and since I have had over 40 ticks through training and exercise, this one got my attention.

The idea of a national health care system is wonderful. So are many other things. As a Marine who lived through the Naval Services health care system, both as a kid and a Marine, I would counsel caution. First I believe that most medical problems presented by the patient or parents are usually treatable by someone else than a doctor. The flu or some lung congestion or some birth control don’t require a doctor. Add in things that basic first aid will do, as in using butterfly bandages vice going to the emergency ward, and things can change.

Even societal change, as in the old days of mothers kicking kids out for day and they come home when night or hunger comes first, should come back.

Any national health care system means “rationing” treatment, assuming doctors and trial lawyers will work at the government rates. So if you need a hip replacement, wait in line, as in 18 to 36 months, and then some politician or senior officer or enlisted man may bump you. That’s what happens today in the Naval Service way, and I am being complementary since the service will be professional, once you make it through the queue, again, if you do.

The wild card I hear is this. Will Americans step up to the plate to become doctors to go through this system. Numbers count. Most won’t. And there are so many trial lawyers who line up to in detail to extortionate doctor’s decisions. They are even on TV advertisements these days. And all we citizens want is medical support.

I’ve made my peace. Limit the trial lawyers medical payments by law so they quit naturally. Bust up the doctors unions with competition. One radiologist having a county wide contract must be subject to competition. And here’s one I know I object to, but do not know how to solve. All the many American administrators who make careers off of Medicaid and Medicare must find other employment, or let’s declare it for what it has seemingly become, a jobs program.

And all most want is affordable health care. And most are willing to wait in the queue, as long as they think they are in the queue. Some may not to want to wait. Then they can pay the extra expense. The friction between the two ways is so American.
Are we stupid or something?

Like this variation of a line from Jenny in the movie “Forrest Gump” I wonder if something happens to nations when they become mature, as in super powers, or more realistically, the last super power nation standing in recent history. Is it overconfidence, the comfort of the older status quo, stupidity, or something? And of course there is no such thing as a nation in this discourse, but rather the people who lead and represent the nation. Most of us think of the leaders in the political sense, and rightly so. But there are also the industry leaders, the religious leaders, the tribal leaders, and even these days self-appointed media and environmental leaders. Do they all have something in common in their thinking? Many common citizens think many are stupid or something.

Our western culture and rule of law has brought westerners many benefits vis-à-vis public electricity, public health, public tap water, public elections, public pursuit of religion, public education, public transportation, and public security. The human pursuit of better opportunities for our children has been achieved in the west. This is monumental in human history. These public things were worked and fought for. They are not normal in human history, but rather achievements to be savored and advanced and defended. And again, this is the public’s benefits, not the ruling class, or who ever else appoints themselves as the ruling class. And much of the world is still not there in terms of public achievements. Much of this world is in the east. It is especially distressing to see the Arab civilization dominated by zealots who are devoted to tearing down their civilization as part of appointing themselves the ruling class, albeit by the gun and bomb.

Much more distressing is to see western leaders from various groups, some political, some religious, and some business who have other judgments that call upon practices like appeasement, and more idealistically turning the other cheek. That these leaders most often had nothing to do with our earlier western public policies that benefit us and our children seems the simple assumed security of the past and status quo types. If what we read about Sweden’s reinforcement of Sharia law, or British boycotts, or Christian Church interventions into the most historical conflicts, is even on theme, then many people are going down the tubes as the world’s publics begin to go another way. Are these leaders stupid or something?
They had a chance since we told them

Over generalizing is normally not a fair description method for any one group, but the Congress may be one of the exceptions that come along now and then. The Congressional members and their staffs seem utterly aloof to the point of arrogance, responsive to those that enhance their political power and financial future, and assuming of some ruling class mentality. And we have been telling them about this for some time. Even the election of 2006 and the Democratic promises for change seemed like someone was finally listening. Alas, it was business as usual. Say one thing to get elected, and then do what you want to do after the election. After all, the voters will forget. But sometimes we don’t forget. There are pivotal times in history where words mean things and are not forgotten. We are there, today.

Some of our members of Congress are so important they have three or four committees to worry about. There is their own taxpayer funded personal staff, then perhaps a taxpayer funded congressional committee staff, and then a candidate funded election campaign staff. How many think the candidate actually finances their campaigns with their money. I even accepted the need to raise money till I read about $8,000/hour private jets and $400 haircuts. Now the line is blurred. And a few select members even have party staff to worry about. Many of these staffs have missed their chances too when they counsel business as usual. Maybe they are right, but probably not.

The most recent good example of us telling them is that of another bipartisan immigration law. In a great case of we told them, there was a national uprising that demanded control of the borders first, as in restore trust and faith in one of the federal government’s most basic responsibilities. Well, that apparently was not good enough, and most read how smoke and mirrors and obscure parliamentary rules will be used in the near future to try sneak in a Senate bill. Some of us are slow learners, maybe even a bit naïve and idealistic, but most also know when told to shut up and stuff it. The Congressional elections of 2008 can’t come fast enough, now.

That many citizens are doing State workarounds to get around Congress is most admirable. Transparency in spending laws and other initiatives are outstanding. The will of the people will be felt, one way or the other. Electing members of Congress who want a chance and will listen is the voters’ job. There is much work to do.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

American foreign policy should be about America

Somewhere along the way, we got distracted from looking out for America first, and delved into trying to fix or improve many of the world’s most tenuous problems, some thousands of years old. Many of these problems are intractable, and many of these problems drain our treasury of valuable monies that could be used elsewhere, as in reducing the borrowing necessary to pay the bills. America is not all-powerful and all rich.

During the Cold War of many decades, our Foreign Policy could be construed as being part of our National Interest campaign to protect our interests and allies. That’s fine, but real leaders look forward, not backward. The Cold War is long gone, and it looks like foreign policy changed to more do-gooder policies like uninvited nation building and intervening in the world’s most media promoted civil wars full of atrocities, at least atrocities by western standards. Seldom, if ever, did I hear discussion of American National Interests. Using American blood and money to constrain these more terrible situations is usually not in the American National Interests.

And in this discussion, the ideas of free trade and globalization must be debated in our Congress, to include a report card on our American negotiator’s agreements to date. This is foreign policy, also. Especially in its impact on millions of citizens, and their communities.

I did hear some astute use of the National Interest term by the Clinton administration, but it was easy to read between the lines that it was playing with words. There we ventured into video foreign policy, which for a President who lead by focus groups and polling numbers, makes sense for his style. Except the National Interest was not truly served. The Bush administration seems more idealistic in its promotion of democracy and religious freedom in general, but I never hear the term National Interests at all mentioned in the same breath. Now I hear do-gooders wanting Americans to intercede in Darfur even as they oppose the war in Iraq. And you decide, what is more important to we in America: the Hamas-Fatah conflict in Palestine or the wars in the South American narco-states?

It’s time to take care of ourselves, again, as the number one priority. The Cold War is long over, the world is still full of rotten places, and our Foreign Policy must look out for American National Interests first. This change in Foreign Policy will not blossom up like some wellspring of peace, love, and harmony. It will most likely emerge from the hard fought use of the vote to elect a President and a Congress that refocuses Foreign Policy on National Interests. These most terrible conflicts and killings around the world do rip our hearts out, but our children and way of life is still more important.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Duke case is why we as a nation can lead the world

Many things can come from the results, so far. Other than they are innocent, a big deal, everything else was rotten, to include the 88 faculty vote. I suspect all contributions to Duke will suffer accordingly. After all, Albion college on Ohio just went down business wise, and why not Duke next.

Why did Duke get its reputation for academic excellence, as in send your kid and he or she will have an advantage in life. I still wonder given the liberal lynching that went on over the athletes in question. The obvious answer is that they were the Harvard of the South (reputation wise) , but that has all changed. Not too long ago, Notre Dame was the role model for American education.

Those who seek advantages for their kids might seek other alternatives. The debates of parents include ideas like engineering compared to liberal arts. These days most parents choose liberal arts. They may have done their kids a disservice. They don’t have to live it necessarily, but the discipline will do wonders.
Are you willing to be manipulated?

Right or wrong, others are trying to do this, that is manipulate us. In the old days it was called propaganda, and now it is called news releases, or internet video releases from servers (computers) we cannot find on the internet.

Many think some part of any conflict includes the media. We might kill them all, but lose in the media war is the idea. This point of view has reason.

The affront is our way or life, and our inherent instinct to protect our families. Media can dress up any point of view, including those of the suicidal thousands, but it cannot also change the point of view of the millions of family members who just seek an opportunity for their kids.

It will be interesting to sort out. My vote is the old European view will be out voted by the people who live there. The new Europeans will never this happen. Stand by for much increased legal immigration requests from Europe.

In the meantime, go American.
Being in love and just getting old together

The advertisements today about the Glycemic Index, trophy wives, hot bodies at age 40, and my wife no longer thinks of me as disgusting have exceeded my tolerance level.

These TV advertisements promote a lifestyle most of Americans don’t even think about or live by. Spontaneous sex when young is so wonderful, but marriage and families have a way to tone down the sex, and promote the wonderful things about having a nurtured family.

We all know women want to be young forever in their minds. This is terrible in its implications in America today when even girls want to look like teenage boys. What is distressing is when adult mothers perpetrate this stupid idea. Most mother’s are smarter, but then we have the TV advertisements to stress things out for them, mostly.

So let’s fathers encourage mothers to be themselves. Married mothers can be in love and get older just fine. Nobody invented this idea, especially an advertiser.
A future President and a future Congress

In the present crop of presidential candidates from all parties does anyone see an individual so far who even sees the need for knocking heads to gain unity of effort? Do any candidates even see the need to hire and fire those not measuring up to the bosses requirements? And sooner rather than later. All seem more like the half-measure individuals who mix up their hired people’s feelings and their bureaucracy’s existence with the country’s needs. The present half-measures in the Iraq war have got us to where we are, and now is seems like the choices are all variations of more of same. Maybe the politics of personal destruction are driving enough of our best and brightest away from volunteering, and maybe just old fashioned head knocking is called for. After all, powerful egos are always involved; and cooperation between agencies and bureaucracies such as demonstrated in World War Two and now between General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are the exception rather than the rule.

Some attribute the apparent decline of America to its people. This is an excuse for poor leadership of the worst kind. This excuse has been heard before, most recently in the decline of the quality of American automobiles and associated sales beginning in the 1970’s. The blame first was on the slovenly workers, but as foreign car makers came in and using the same workers made the most high quality automobiles that sold says much. Anyone on the inside then could see it coming, and could do little to halt the effects of the leaders in charge at the time. Now, we have an entire industry down in the dumps. Let’s be more specific, the leadership is in the dumps. The workers are still making automobiles using American rules and customs, to include health care. And the old leaders did the decline, not the citizens/workers. With this example, we citizens must take back the nation before the equivalent professional politicians have the same effect on a national level. As one who has gotten around the world, we Americans are good, and the rest of the world knows it.

I read an article by a Newsweek fellow today about his recent visit to the grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran. At the end of the visit and article, the Iranian fellows asked for help with visas to the USA. I laughed as this has been going on for decades, and he just figured it out. Much as in this example, America needs savvy experienced leaders, as in a President, who leads us towards our strengths, and leads us away from our weaknesses. This type of leader does not use focus groups to say what people want to hear. This type of leader is not a Newsweek reporter on a visit to Tehran.

Many citizens in general are frustrated and disgusted with too many who serve in Congress. The history and reasons are many many, but the simple theme is we are from two worlds. Since the people are in charge, not the Congress, it is time to use the vote to make the Congress respond to the people. While revolution and civil war are options, the vote is still the best course of action for citizens. Think voting for Representatives and Senators who think National Interests first, and local interests second, and things ought to turn around by the elections of November, 2012. This will bring to an end the powerful effects of such minority groups as If national interest ideas trump money and professional organization, then our nation has a good future that depends on ideas of a majority of the citizens.

Our future is determined by our votes for our political leaders. Let’s be tough on demanding savvy experienced leaders. Given this context, the 2008 election for the President and the Congressional positions is still wide open. This could be a vote “against”, but our Country deserves a vote “for”. And we do have real savvy experienced leaders who have not stepped up the plate, yet. Some may be military, many more will be from business and the rest of the real world. None appear to be professional politicians.
Homeland defense is eternal vigilance

I remember my first sight of homeland defense in action. I was on a Navy ship pulling into Kao-hsiung, Taiwan and gunners were on anti-aircraft mounts at the harbor entrance defending against a possible air attack from mainland China. My second occasion was similar, except it was at one end of the main runway at Balikesir, Turkey and they were waiting for a Greek air attack. Lest we think we Americans are different, I also remember being a tourist on a guided tour of a Nike anti-aircraft site near Woodbridge, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. It turns out there were well over 100 Nike sites, to include St. Louis and Kansas City.

To go back, I have visited 20th century coastal artillery defense sites on the hills over Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as one in Hong Kong, China, and one in Alexandria, Virginia.

Having lived in Oahu, Hawaii when it was a Territory, monthly air raid drills were part of my life. Getting under school tables, or hearing all the dogs howl was normal at the time.

To come to the present, find in Google Earth the Iranian nuclear facility vicinity Esfahan, Iran and then go find the anti-aircraft sites around the area. They are there on today’s Google overheads.

Throughout the world, people have worried about their defense. Some have used appeasement, most have used defense, and some have used deterrence.

We Americans have organized our home defenses around a Department of Homeland Security and elements of the Department of Defense. Probably many of the efforts of the Americans who man these organizations will end up as seemingly wasted efforts like coastal artillery sites. But that is hindsight, not fair, and disingenuous for some. Whether they work or not will never be known, nor can it be. That’s one of the costs of eternal vigilance.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

One perspective - The Islamic fascists have more problems than you can shake a stick at

Make no bones about it, they are a real threat and cannot be ignored. But they are not ten feet tall everywhere at the same time. Here’s some reminders.

Iranian and Arab oil money powers it all, and the Iranians are running out of money. Eventually, the Arabs will, too. The Hamas types in Gaza know all about this as they have just conquered this pitiful piece of turf called Gaza, and the Iranian promise of $250 million has problems.

Iranian mullah dictators and their slightly mad puppet president have many domestic problems that both distract them, and may get them replaced, permanently perhaps.

Al-Qaeda types, and other missionary people are just as much outsiders to many of the Moslem countries they attempt to subvert as we may seem. Al-Qaeda gets its money ripped off by the Islamic rebel warlords in the southern Philippines just as badly as we might. Most locals don’t like outsiders coming in and interfering. And most Moslems are not Arab.

There are many Moslem areas that are more secular than the newly arrived Arab conservative sharia law types. Most of these people will fight or if possible, ignore the imposition of the Taliban type rules we have all read about in Afghanistan. Kosovo and Gaza are good examples we read about. Not all locals are as pious as the new conquerors in Gaza, and the conquerors will have many problems just in this area.

If Hamas is dumb enough to attack Israel out of Gaza, they will have also concentrated many targets (like 12,000 zealots) in a small area. The Israelis should say thank you if they actually go in to win, vice what they did in Lebanon.

There has been a decades long and quietly pursued Arab oil financed building of hundreds of mosques and schools which are then manned by those from the Wahabbist sect (really Salafist and Qutbist Moslem Brotherhood types). Like all campaigns, some things stick and some things don’t. The sponsors have wasted a lot of money and energy in this whole campaign which is extended over the entire Moslem world. In western terms, this effort has bled a lot of blood that is not devoted to bleeding the west.

The Arab civilization is a failing civilization.

The Arabs are not a united group. Syria is actively trying to eradicate the Moslem Brotherhood, and vice versa, for example. Don’t forget the Persian-Arab historical frictions.

The almost hopeless bureaucracies and governments of the west seem to be slowly responding to the threats to the native peoples in the Americas and Europe, to include Russia. It is getting tougher to be an Islamic suicide bomber anywhere in the world. Western spies are doing better. And local spies for hire and tribal leaders show that not all agree with these most terrible Islamic terrorists who kill wantonly for their foreign political objectives.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Here we go again … the old world cauldron

We voters have choices as an American nation. We can lead the new world, or be drawn back into the old world conflicts, some of which go back thousands of years.

It is tempting to be the do-gooder super power nation with the best of intentions to fix all the old world problems. And maybe we can do it without military impositions, and more sarcastically using peace and love and example to erase millenniums of racial, religious, and cultural discriminations and atrocities and egotistical expansions. Maybe billions of taxpayer dollars expended by politicians will do the trick. To say this old world brew is a cauldron is being kind. And is much of trying to solve it even in our National Interest? The correct answer is only when it threatens our National Interest, which may include being dragged in to some latest version of the “cauldron”. When our kid’s blood gets involved, then the National Interests go up.

Being a new world nation provides many advantages to the future. This includes ignoring much of the old world cauldrons. The new world future is some combination of “don’t tread on me”, benign neglect, and “lady liberty” being a bright shining light to those seeking the same with a fresh start. This is a choice that politicians and those that vote for them can make.

Americans are inherently isolationists and somewhat anti-war. But the preceding is not this, or even a head-in-the-sand policy. It is a new world realistic policy that transitions all the old world problems. And the new world is bigger than the USA, counting North, Central, and South America. It is the combination that can make us collectively strong, if uncoordinated, in being the beacon for the whole world.

Some ruthlessness in is order to be the beacon. This is not a love-in. In the USA, control of the borders is the best and most current example for the new world asserting itself. We are in charge, not any of the old world or other do-gooder ideas that will drag us down. So as always, balance is required in being a new world leader.

The best example of this today is the Arab-Israeli conflict (recent in historical terms), which is clearly part of the old world cauldron. To try fix it gets us back thousands of years and even brings in the Gypsies. Do we want to go there? Or should we more carefully and conservatively promote our new world values, and defend against any old world types who come after us. Iran is a good example of coming after us, today.

Being in the new world, and promoting this throw-off of the old world, puts us on the winning side of history. Many think we can talk-the-talk. Now can we walk-the-walk? And to give credit to fellow Americans who have done their best on dealing with “bad people from the old world”, thank you. Now will USA politicians and bureaucrats consider a “new world” policy? Again the idea of a new world future is some combination of “don’t tread on me”, benign neglect, and “lady liberty” being a bright shining light to those seeking the same with a fresh new world start.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Have apologies and rehab had their day?

Making mistakes is human.

Being sorry for mistakes and taking corrective action is human.

Formula apologies and rehab check in’s is not human.

Responsibility for deliberative actions designed to make money or be selfish is separately accountable. This especially applies to cultural affronts. The stretching of the rules has finally gone too far. This idea is not political correctness. It is common sense and family sense.
Normal is a relative term

What is normal in the USA is not always normal in some parts of the world. Most Americans expect the lights to come on when they turn the switch, or the toilet to flush when using the handle, or the heat or A/C to work when they set the thermostat, 24/7. But all this is uniquely American, and it is not normal. It is special. And we should thank our ancestors who made it all happen.

Most stories about where Osama Bin Laden and other bad guys are hiding usually mention the area between Pakistan and Afghanistan called by various names, depending on the time period primarily. Today if you are Paki, it is the North West Frontier Province, but it has many other names more recently going back to the Brits when this area was part of India. The present local boundary between the two States has one local name “Durand Line” for the Brit diplomat who used geography to try divide the Pashtun tribes in the area. Unfortunately then, they did not listen or care, and they still don’t. There simply is no Afghan or Paki federal authority in the area. This is not so amazing if one only goes back just over 100 years ago to the American frontier areas. Even going to old Oklahoma cemeteries one will find many tombstones with the “address” as I.T., or Indian Territories.

Those who, with the best intentions, say something must be done about this need only volunteer to go into the area. Just like where we all live in our local communities, outsiders and new arrivals stick out to those most suspicious. Murder of interlopers can be considered a local form of democracy. And if the area was rich enough in natural resources or some other reason to conquer it, it would have already been done so. Just do a Google Earth visit and see how “uninviting” this land is.

Let ‘em have it seems to be the consensus, unless you are an outsider telling the President of Pakistan how to do his business. Nobody is volunteering for his job. And all outsiders suffer from being outsiders. Another alternative is to give the local person credit for knowing his scene and turf better than anyone else, and back him up. Expect him to sort it out from his point of view. And work like the devil to make sure his point of view coincides with the USA point of view, local compromises accepted. While this course of action may fail, what other courses of action do we have as outsiders? Certainly the turf is not worth an American occupation. And the cultural customs work against us. While any of us Americans might give up Osama Bin Laden for $25 million, the prospects that all my Pashtun family and their families will be later killed is a show stopper. This is locally normal.
The human need to dominate

More specifically, why do tribes seek to dominate other tribes? What is it that drives the Persians, or northern Chinese, or selective Arab tribes these days. Is it the same as what drove the colonialists, or the Ottomans and others earlier. Tribes equate to kingdoms, and world history is constant in the ebb and flow of expanding and retracting kingdoms and tribes. The Arab-Israeli conflict seems constant to many young people because that is all they have known, but the present conflict is no older than around 1900. Go back much earlier in the same area, and the conflict might involve the Romans, or Ottomans, or a myriad of other ancient kingdoms covered by National Geographic.

Presently the northern Chinese seem on an historical bent to dominate the area we call China, and for the most basic economic and chauvinistic reasons. Some Arab tribes seem willing to support the most fervent religious zealots, while others defensively preserve the status quo of the last 100 years (as Egypt or Jordan, but it is more complicated). Religion and security seem to be common threads. And the Persian dictators seem bent on restoring a regional hegemony they learned in religious schools. Here fanaticism and oil money to finance the egos seem to be the big influencers. The astute reader will probably not see a common thread across all these examples, other than the human need to dominate. And it seems those dominators go after perceived weaknesses first because it is expeditious. They are astute enough to fill perceived vacuums first. But in the end, the need to dominate is constant. And they will fight in the end. Key thinking is how they fight. Like a boxer, they will weave and jab and use all tools available to a tribe. These tools are politics, deviousness, financial, security, propaganda, and at last resort, military action of various kinds. Against a classical western military, they will always lose. Hence much of the tactics and methods we read about today.

One more common thread for dominators is the time factor. In the end, locals win. It is not that they can outlast the dominator, but more simply out breed the dominator in numbers and culture. Many missionaries know this. Both Moslem and Christian missionaries can “convert”, but come back in 100 years and the local animist or pagan religions are intertwined with the new faith. Another example is a hero of WWI, General John J. Pershing. Earlier around 1900 he fought the Moro Islamic rebels in the southern Philippines, declared victory and left. And we still are fighting them today.

This academic type article has practical applications. America is not the dominator. Others are trying to dominate us for all the historical reasons mentioned. Do many of these people perceive weaknesses they can exploit as expeditious? Most of us think they are using gross misjudgments, but even if we are right, it is what they think that matters. In this there is great cause for worry. Worry for ourselves, and our children, and our grandchildren. They look up to adults to do the right thing.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Honesty was the old way we handled homosexuality

Why not now?

In the last few decades the out of the closet ideas have been elevated to political stupidity. Trying to alarm has been equaled to being politically equal. Fine and dandy about homosexuality, except the DC drill is thousands of years too late. Society, and homosexuals, have been existing politically and other wise for thousands of years. So what is really new, other than the media alarmism.

The answer is common sense. We all know homosexuality is a small percentage of our population, and all the parents of homosexuals have accepted this. God made some us of different. Why take it further. In the old way, we did not.
English as a first language

I always knew I had a deficit in my English language rules from middle school. While I did get A’s and B’s, I was lacking, in my mind. Nobody kissed my tail. Then I went to Georgia Tech, and while I was drilled there, I knew adding and subtracting was more important. Then I joined the Marines. That changed a lot of my thoughts.

At Command and Staff College, which is like getting a Masters in War, all of us took an English language screening test. Well 95% of us failed, or were assigned to “stupid English” as we said. My sponsored student from Kenya, black as the ace of spades, knew the Queen’s English and tested out. He was one of the smart guys who did something else, whatever they did.

Being assigned to stupid English reminded me of the 8th grade. I had to read, memorize, and understand the various rules. I think I was really good as a Marine and also an 8th grader. And this went on for months.

Being an aggressive Marine (ditto for normal) my graduation article was submitted for an award. Ego was the big deal, though some money was involved, also. All the results were to be announced at the graduation, and I had backhandedly planned what I might say if I won.

Bottom line, I got a flush letter vice an award. But my English was much better.
East meets West and Sharia law meets Gaza?

This question should be “interesting” to sort out. Mostly it is interesting as a western outsider. While it could be an Afghanistan type military takeover such as the Taliban did, it could sort out quite differently. Every situation is unique. Gaza is Arab in character.

Both the Hamas types and the Gaza types are different from those in Afghanistan. Let’s start with the Gaza types. They generally may be more like cowboys at a bar on Saturday night than the pious Sunday types. And Hamas may not be the religious zealots the Taliban dictators turned out to be. In other words, the military winners may have a political tiger by the tale. Hopefully, for them, they can learn the Hezbollah schemes of ruling by balancing public service, military dictatorship, and avoidance of religious impositions. Oh yes, money from Iran helps. But in the end, don’t mess with the Palestinians in Gaza if you are an outsider, which most of the present combatants are.

In the money from Iran scheme, there is hope for both sides. All nations can be bled financially, and this is happening to Iran as we speak. Timing is everything, and it is on the western side of bleed ‘em dry. From the Iranian side, which is reckless in its consequences, maybe the US and west will give up, quit, or otherwise leave before they (the Iranians) run out of money. If it (Iran) doesn’t, and somehow perseveres, then political shock will still set in for the dictators. The west has always responded in the normal way, why should it change after decades of the other way. In this misjudgment is why local wars begin. And if I were a mullah dictator in Iran, decades of political experience suggests why I believe what I believe. To the western mind, one just has to change the assumptions, and the house of cards will fall. Maybe we will make an earthquate of politcial impacts. Most of these mullah dictators have cowardly instincts, as well as a long term approach. This is often called the mind battle part of war. Bottom line, they are losers, and the west and local Arab allies are winners, if we will persist.

Hamas and Gaza may sort out about the same. Iranian money will run out. And people have lives to live. And Sharia law is not for all Arabs. The consequences for Jordan and Egypt may be just the opposite of the pundit’s guesses. Most political movements, including Hamas, are a small cabal of people. They may just expend themselves in Gaza.
The Middle East version of left holding the baby

The time seems to have come, more suddenly than we thought, where we now have to deal with a difficult problem or responsibility, because someone else had decided they did not want to deal with it. We now have overt, and continuing covert, acts of war being done against us. Americans are dying, and our Country is being drawn down mentally, militarily, and financially. The Executive is debating what to do, but the Congress has not even scheduled a hearing on any of this! Many Americans can’t recognize we’re being attacked to our detriment, many Americans don’t care, and many Americans want some future group of Americans to be left holding the baby. Some Americans judge that postponing, pretending, delaying, and hoping are better policies than a defensive type of war. They either don’t believe delay will make the blood payoff worse in the future, or that there will not be any consequences at all. Many see the case and reason for a defensive war in the Middle East, but worry we don’t have a competent enough group to wage such a war. To them I say, while the fear is always there, there have never been schools for Presidents and Secretaries and senior Congressman on how to wage war. So, it is a gamble in the end. The real question should be the case for war vice some lesser course of action. To this author it is whether or not we will deal with it, or leave some future group holding the baby.

Most disconcerting is the inaction in our Congress. Wars must be declared by Congress. The effect of a Congressional Declaration is awesome. And who else but Congress can sort out the media reports and public intelligence leaks as to accuracy and reliability. If we go to war, it should not be based on media reports. Cold hard facts will do, and they seem bleak right now. By bleak I mean consequences for inaction, as our descendents will bleed in barrels when we could fight a war and bleed in buckets in the near future. But thanks to those who have postponed things to where we today are left holding the baby, blood must now be shed in our National Defense if we are to survive as a Nation. And it is being shed today.

Inaction by Congress as a political scheme is possible. In this case, the effect of the voters on Congressional elections is also awesome.

And never forget we do have allies who also have nations to defend. If we postpone, again, they may not. This case alone may get us dragged in. In the late 1930’s the Congress and President passed three Neutrality Acts, and yet we ended up at war. Sometimes we can’t legislate our way out of foreign threats.

Bottom line, the Iranian dictators are now emboldened enough to overtly attack us. And the Chinese are doing direct military arms flights into Afghanistan. Lesser enemies are picking up the signals. And Americans and its allies are dying. And we did not start this. It began decades ago, and our political forbearers have left us holding the baby. Will our Executive and Congress even consider acting? What will our generation do?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mothers and fathers are different, too

You can tell kids till you are blue in the face, but sometimes they just have to learn. How moms and dads do this is often different.

We all know boys and girls are different. Getting ready for summer camp is a good example. The 12 year old girl was totally organized, used the camp checklist, and was packed and ready to go days early. The 15 year old boy was a little slower (I’m being kind), and a 14 hour final process came to his announcing he was packed and ready. Both camps are boys and girls only, but also start at the same time. There are good reasons for this.

Now it comes to pass both girl and boy don’t have rain coats and extra laundry bags, and I am supposed to carry it all out to camps, according to the mother, now on vacation in Germany. Well, I am a proud dad, and like I said early on, you can tell ‘em till you are blue in the face, but sometimes they just have to learn. So screw ‘em. If they forgot their raincoats, then they can get wet, or beg, or more likely make a field expedient rain coat from a plastic trash bag or sheet.

That’ll teach ‘em. Thank goodness mother is in Germany.
Political correctness impositions hurt a lot of people

When leaders of all persuasions can’t say what they think because of political correctness, because it may offend someone or group, then many people have a great disservice done to them (I would have said been screwed, but that is politically incorrect or at least politically insensitive). Since there is no “code” or “law” about what is and is not politically correct, what has come about is a form of censorship in this land of the free. Unbelievable. And since there are no “codes”, anyone can appoint themselves the arbiter or judge of these unwritten “codes”. In this age of good mass communications, it could be Al Sharpton, the president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, or you and me. That the media seems to have appointed them selves the jury or part of the court of public opinion led by the media, then the whole thing is too often a kangaroo court conducted through the media.

That all this exists is part of our American culture, but it is also part of do gooder efforts led by proponents of multiculturalism. Political correctness did not grow up naturally, otherwise we Americans would have already invented it. It is a new form of censorship sold as sensitivity, and so far bought hook, line, and sinker, mostly. And like the sinker, it will sink because it is un-American. What we have to do is get through it, and sink it.

Yesterday, the “Governator” of California was called on political incorrectness when he gave his opinion on learning English, the language of America. That he had to learn English as an immigrant gives him certain experience credibility, and he voiced his opinion. And then the political correctness criticisms came on. Basically he said all immigrants must learn English, and turning off Spanish language TV makes one speak and practice and learn English faster. That’s it. And most agree, and he did all immigrants, and more importantly, the Spanish-speaking immigrants in his State, a favor as an earlier immigrant’s lesson learned.

No one has to follow his advice, and most have their own common sense on how to proceed as an immigrant in the newly adopted country. But for outsiders to attempt to censor such discussion does a terrible disservice to the intended audience. Are they supposed to gain their wisdom from the self-appointed arbiters of what they can and cannot hear. Now that is a terrible state of affairs that is totally un-American. Amplify this across society, and we American citizens have much work to do to eradicate this so un-American cancer.
Are the Democrats another Whig Party?

A national party no more? Zell Miller wrote a book with this title in 2003. And it appears many of their actions and political positions are driving the party down. Sometimes people leave the party, sometimes the party leaves them. Many people feel like they are being forced from the party they grew up in.

The Democratic Party has adopted the visceral pacifist and anti-war types. It has also adopted the trial lawyers, and the eco-extremists. It appears to be moving from aggressive promotion of its policies to a leftist censorship founded in dogmatic thought control. The Democratic Party also seems to be the catalyst for the politics of personal destruction and other such means to run over its opponents. All this is very un-American to the point where the Country will have to change to accommodate it; or the Country will vote with its feet and go to other Parties much as happened to the Whigs. Parties are supposed to be about the Nation first, and not themselves.

Trying to analyze the Democrats is pseudo psycho babble at best. But seeing what they are doing is a look and see method. Many follow the money. Just where the eco-extremists raised $3 million for elections in 2006 is still amazing to me if done legally. But if true, this money seems to allow the tail to wag the dog of the Democratic Party today. If in doubt, just read the draft of Mr. Rahill’s (D) eco bill written this week. Just where does the National interest come in to this equation? Why is the Democratic leadership allowing this to happen?

The problem also seems based in the weak leadership as displayed by Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid. Pelosi seems more interested in her local San Francisco 129,000 voter base than she is in her Party and her Nation. Reid seems to have abandoned his own beliefs in favor of the minor elements that seem to be driving the party today. And most pitifully, both have had to resort to getting too many votes by using our public monies for congressional pork barrel priorities.

The other leading indicator of how far the Party has fallen is its failure to lead and legislate after taking over the Congress in January 2007. Voters may have been disgusted and frustrated with the Republicans, but the strategy and tactics for the Democrats to get elected are simply not those required to lead and legislate. This inability to shift from an election strategy to a national legislative strategy is profound for a Party claiming to be national in character. Obstruction and hate are not a plan for a national party. Already the Democrats should be holding committee meetings on the Iranian threat, and the existing overt actions of the Iranian dictators. This is most basic to national defense, yet nothing is happening.

That the largest group of voters call themselves “independents” should be a wake up call to the Democrats, as well as the Republicans. Unless the Democrats can “take care of their problems”, they are leading themselves down the path of the Whig Party, which came to a national end in the 1850’s.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Forward thinking applied to Syria

Now that the Secretary of Defense has stated General Pace was not nominated for a second term as Chairman, JCS, because the hearing would drag us backward in history when we only need to go “forward”, many will take him at his word. Most also think DC Senate politics had much to do with it.

Let us go to “forward” to Syria, as it has been at minimum a thorn in our Iraq war, and more realistically, a major combatant as a staging base, sanctuary, and complicit ally of Iran. It also accepted Iraqi WMD’s in 2003 if you believe the stories and the maps. As it appears Iran is becoming more overt in the regional war it has been waging for decades, any overt US response will have to include Syria because of its Iraq involvement, hence we plan ahead as “forward” thinking voters using only open sources.

As Nation-states go in this Arab part of the world, Syria has less going for it than most other regional nations. It’s natural resources are more limited, and its business and financial power is more limited than most of its neighbors. Its political power is enhanced by its strategic location, both in ancient and modern history. This same location has made it a refugee location for Iraqis that exceeds the immigration problems we know about in the US. Last, while Syria is a thorn in the US side, it appears its strategic interest is still in dominating Lebanon, its historic focus area. Recently, Syria has been killing anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians with car bombs, it seems. Even the UN is investigating with good cause.

“Forward” thinking requires knowing who runs Syria today. Things are not always as they appear or seem, especially applied to the present leader who assumed the Presidential job in 2000 from his father, who died in office. Many think there is an “old guard” left over from the former President who maintain their privileged positions within the 1963 Bathist base. Remember that Saddam Hussein was from the same Bathist Party. Some even think the country is still run by a coterie of old loyalists, with the present President acting as a figurehead. Also thought is that the present President has slowly been doing a slow dance to assert himself and take control using time and caution so as not to provoke many of the old elites sponsored by his father. This also makes some sense given the problems of transferring power between father and son in dictatorships. Add in that the present President is a medical doctor by training with a good British background and wife, who though Syrian by culture, was born and raised in Britain, and the opportunity for change is different from when his father ran Syria.

In all cases of who runs Syria, all “forward” thinking suggests Iran today has much to say about Syria’s involvement in Iraq. Mostly it is a case of money talks with the slow dance dragged in. But with Iran overextended financially, and Syria does have its own national interests, the regional war started by Iran and coming into an overt phase will provide an opportunity for the present President of Syria to realign his nation and his political control. This realignment will be different from the status quo. “Forward” thinking suggests Arab Sunni, vice Persian Shiite, monies will come into play, under the table. And in this is one possible regional solution, with Syria moving away from Iranian support of all its Iranian objectives. The US is not the only player in this region, so full of oil money as a political and diplomatic tool. The other players, like the Saudi’s will have much to say and do.

Well, if Secretary Gates and the implied Senate politically considers “forward” thinking as important, then he and the Senate can live with it, too. And we voters can use the same “forward” logic, and come up with our own conclusions. After all, the voters are in charge, not the Executive appointees or the elected Senators.

Last is the idea of trust. Most voters are too busy too keep up with all this. We have to trust those we elect, or change those we elect. Keep this is mind, even when “forward” thinking about Syria.
Tips of the icebergs

Things and changes are not always what they seem. Here are some reported "tips of the icebergs" that suggests there is also much below the water line.

Antioch College closing after 155 years

Colorado professor to be fired

The collapse of Arab civilization

Second thoughts on funding wahabbism

Mainstream churches split

Rise of standalone Christian churches

Elections in France and Germany

Decline of mainstream media

Historically low approval ratings of Executive and Congress

Reversals of historical environmental leaders

Rise of the independents as a major voting group

Failures of the U.N.

DDT coming back

Individual vs. Group rights balancing

Final spasms of N. Korea and Cuba

The demise of China as it exists today

Consequences of too many people and rising standards of living

Globalization effects declining to regionalism

Continued rise of women’s suffrage

Good intentions vice accountability balancing out

Revolutions and civil wars still have a place

Nation states as a western historical idea is changing

Civility rising as an expectation and requirement

Demographic trends as good as the status quo

Enhanced communications available to more of the world at home and abroad

Pursuit of children’s educations has never waned

The world is evolving western vice eastern

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Talking about political freedom too often means talking past each other

One usually learns the hard way when military communications is “down” between two points; half the time the problem is on my end. So be careful when asserting it is always the other end that is screwed up. Sometimes it is on my end.

The lesson in life from this story seems an appropriate reminder when one reads things like “worst in history”, “shut down GITMO his afternoon”, or so and so “has made everyone in Britain a prisoner”. Having lived in the third world, my definition of political freedoms is pretty basic. So I am astonished at the naivety and intemperance of those who make these seemingly absurd claims. Let them move overseas and experience some of what they claim goes on here at home I say. That’ll show ‘em.

And then I remind myself of the communications story preceding, and check to make sure the problem is not on my end. This is a stretch for going the extra mile, or even turning the other cheek, but problem solving is part of how I am made. That is just how my stick floats. And yes I know there is a certain percentage of the population that just is set in their spoiled ways. I also know there are a larger number of American citizens who will listen and debate if I can set up the communications. This approach, of course, assumes this large group can’t recognize the communication problem might be on their end. I will have to live with this.

Just going to Wikipedia on the subject of “political freedom” will bring up a nice academic discussion of the subject. Reading this says a lot, that is, there are many ways to talk past each other on this subject. There are freedoms of assembly, association, bearing arms, education, movement, press, religion, speech, thought, intellectual, and sex. The entire article can be found through this link:

Thinking this way has a purpose. In the upcoming 2008 elections, the great middle of the voting population is also the largest group of voters, the “independents”. Now this is a group who will listen to ideas, especially those in the National interests. And there is a technique in presentations that will help many in the discussion of American political freedoms, or any discussion for that matter. It is called “repeating the question or statement” to the person who made it, and then “asking them if I understood correctly?” This technique will do wonders in closing the communications gap on both ends. And hopefully, it will return voted political power to those better suited to wield it in the National interests.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Be really really scared

It’s times like this that are genesis for the most terrible manmade events, usually wars. It could be something else as bad, as a weapon of mass destruction terrorist attack within the USA. With the Executive seeming beaten down politically by the Iraq War mismanagement and the domestic enemies piling on, perhaps that perception is correct. One can take this idea a step further, with the Executive being paralyzed from taking most future actions in our Nation’s defense, and the Congress being intimidated by the coming summer Iranian military offensive in the region. The aforementioned is not the scary stuff; the scary stuff is our Nation’s foreign enemies (many are not in the Persian Gulf region) believing all this and acting on their confidence and beliefs. Our Nation is not all powerful, though some may think so. Hurricane Katrina, for example, has take up vast amounts of National wealth, as did the 9/11 attacks. Any future attack that hurts us significantly both economically and politically would be such a scary attack. We can be “drawn down”. And then our allies have their own interests to act on.

For the relatively small percentage of our voting electorate who are also sincerely and vehemently anti-war, this is going to be a tough period, much like happened to their peers who faded away after the final Nazi aggressions in Europe and the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. That it all may take place in this impossibly extended and too long presidential campaign will be a boon to the voters still shopping around, which is most. And of course the voters will also vote in Senate and House elections.

So what do you think? Can the Executive and Congress still act in the Nation’s defense during the period leading up to the Presidential election in 2008, and the swearing in during January 2009? Most certainly our foreign enemies are going to use misjudgment during the intervening period in their decisions to bring ruin on the USA. Some may even be emboldened, one may say.
Give populism a chance

The image is broad. Even Teddy Roosevelt (early 1900’s) advanced the idea. His political sales pitch idea then was called the “square deal”. The principles still apply today. And the term populism and all its variants are all over the American political landscape. This author chooses to present it as a we vs. them. Is America about its citizens, or the businesses that drive the economy? The question is debatable. The future course of our Country is less debatable. We citizens can either kill the goose that lays the golden egg, or nourish the American way. And amazingly in this display of world coverage, we can be populists, as in do a “square deal”. Talk about having our cake and eating it to, we may be there. And being there means being unique in world history. At the same time, we can be Americans defending our home communities that are so sacred to family life and respect. In this is a great political change going on, not recognized just yet in D.C. but so profound the less astute politically will suffer. So what.

All the soothsayers and political (paid) operatives will intervene as normal. They are out of touch, though trying to catch up. Defending local communities is a sad state of consequence to come to. Most American workers just want “free” trade as advertised, with all the normal “American” rules to make it even. Then, and only then, will America’s voters begin to respect the politicians advancing the academic theories, with a little respect.

Give populism a chance. This idea is both the American way, and the way to many other futures. There is much for the voters to sort out.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The health of our Nation’s future calls for congressional term limits

The term limiting of Presidents by the congressionally passed 22d amendment in 1951 is a good example of why, and how. Now we citizens need to go one step farther. Here’s why. The whole D.C. atmosphere has become a career pattern, old world aloof-like, and income producing patterns of successful election, service, followed by vast income producing lobbyist payrolls. That might even be fine if most citizens thought what was going on was in the nation's interests, vice citizens milking the nation's vast public monies. Even a few rich families like the Kennedy’s, or Bush’s, or Clinton’s get in through the haze. The simple question is still: how about our national interests? One can extrapolate this to such things as: there is not a cent in the public treasury for social security or medicare and medicade. And our elected servants have done this to us!

There was a fad about term limits about a decade or so ago. And it was admirable, to include the elected politicians who actually did it, as in lead by example. That has not worked for the benefit of the nation, as a whole. The status quo still seems well ensconced. Since we citizens who vote are still in charge, it is time to take charge and lead term limits for our voted representatives.

Here’s a quick primer. The Constitution can be amended either by a Congressional process, or a State process. This author will defer to the politicians and wonderful leader citizens who agree with this idea of congressional term limits. And whether it is Senators, or Representative, or both, and how much, is up to the process. But along the way of our Nation’s history, the idea of congressional term limits and an amendment to enforce it seems to be in our National Interests, and probably the World’s interests.

We are not too shabby. In fact America and its constitution are the light of the world.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Leading a country as big as the USA means bipartisanship which is a win win if it happens

For the first time in a half century there are signs that all the liberal do gooder best intentioned ideas are finally reaching the most harsh court of public opinion. And the court is tactfully avoiding judgments as it moves to more results-oriented solutions. Most Americans seem to agree on many of the many foreign and domestic problems we face for us and our children and grandchildren, as the solutions are evolving towards results and accountability. This is a major shift in politics, of course, but also a major shift in opportunities. The traditional and old time way of pounding the enemy when they are down is not politically appropriate in the path to our Nation’s future.

The best way to lead is to run for office. In lieu of that, the next best way to lead is to vote. And then there is the way of writing. And one should consider National Interests, and local interests, in forming one’s opinions. Vindictive payback to those on the losing side of history is a waste of time, intellectually, and politically. The best course of action is to lead, which brings a heavy responsibility. Advancing the power of ideas is key, but along the way some forcefulness and confidence is not too shabby.

Key is the opportunity that seems to be coming. It is one thing to complain, often bitterly, and be frustrated beyond belief. It is another to lead a country. In this is the “opportunity” for the future of our Country. And the opportunity is not republican or democratic, though it is uniquely American. And it is bipartisan. Bipartisanship is not the same as the lowest common denominator. Leaders recognize this. This post suggests we readers and writers also do so.

The times they are changing … and faster than the old time politicians know or think they know. The change can be revolutionary for those that can exploit it for the good, or it can devolve into some kind of mess. My vote is for the good, but in the end, only we American voters will decide, with a little bit of leadership added in.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The military and the politicians use divide and conquer, and so can the citizen political movements

The principle is as old as history. Hillary Health Care is a good example from the early 1990’s application of the principle. After failing abysmally, the fall back strategy was to do it in small pieces, i.e., divide and conquer. Much of that went on after and for a short time, though the “campaign” was so poorly run it is obvious the Clinton leaders just backed off during their remaining term. And of course, the Bush leaders have other goals. With Hillary Clinton now running for President, the Hillary Health Care ideas are rising again like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes of the past. Only time will tell how all this sorts out.

The point of this post is parallel to the divide and conquer story preceding. The recent failing of the bipartisan effort in the Senate to come up with an improved immigration law, in many minds, is both a failure, and an opportunity. Many of us think the wonderful work of hundreds of thousands of citizens telling their senators by phone, fax, and email not to do it seems to have won out. This seems to be a case of the elected people and their hired minions listening to the people instead of doing some inside the beltway deal. And as the sermon often ends, “this is good”.

But the story and campaign is not over. We citizens in the USA do have an immigration problem thanks to all the past laws and apparently lax enforcement and funding of border control. Having 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants is bad enough, but the trend without action may be towards 50 million illegal immigrants in the not too far future. So why not use the divide and conquer principle to make things happen in the citizens interests, which also seems like bipartisan interests. In this is the opportunity to demonstrate bipartisanship for the benefit of our Country. In the divide and conquer principle, divide it up into do-able chunks that will gain Senate and House and Presidential cohesion that will become the law of the land.

The basic scheme is to do immigration reform in two “chunks”.

First, and foremost, is control of the borders, and as many hear it, control of the businesses that deliberately hire illegal immigrants. In this first chunk, I will defer to the politicians and citizens as to whether it is just enforcing present laws, or writing news laws that amplify the idea of controlling our borders. What ever gets sorted out, the massive mistrust of most citizens (5 out of 6, 3 out of 4, or take your own poll) in the willingness of the federal government to control the border has to be satisfied with, well, border control. The stories of only 2 miles or so of the 700 miles authorized last year say legions as to the distrust so prevalent today. Add to this discussion another story from the American Thinker:
Vasko Kohlmayer demonstrated two days ago that even the most absurdly inflated estimates for the cost of building a border fence are well within our means, in this American Thinker article. Loyal reader Tom Caneris suggested that an intriguing comparison can be made with the scale of the federal project to construct tall noise barrier walls along our freeways.

Take a look at these freeway noise barriers and see that there is more than a passing resemblance to various wall designs for the border barrier. Of course a border fence would have to be more robust, and it would not have the advantage of a nice highway to bring workers and material to the worksite. But it is not be that many orders of magnitude bigger a project than the highway noise barrier system.

Has the building of freeway noise barriers involved any national sacrifice? Have you ever fretted about how much money it has cost? Through the end of 2004, forty-five State DOTs and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have constructed over 2,205 linear miles of barriers at a cost of over $2.7 billion ($3.4 billion in 2004 dollars), more than the length of the US-Mexico Border (1,951 miles).

Second, and in the divide and conquer principle, then the other serious problems of illegal immigration can be addressed, as in what to do and how to treat the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants already here today. That is a big deal to so many American citizens.

Of course the application of the divide and conquer scheme requires “trust”. That the present comprehensive bipartisan proposal has failed in the Senate, at least for now, is a reflection of this lack of trust, deservedly so. As we go forward, can the other side of this bipartisan issue show “trust” in those who just want to have border control, and then expect these same people to go forward together in the near future? Most think so. In other words, the second “chunk” will fall into place if the first “chunk” begins to happen, finally. And all the second “chunk” issues can be debated fairly as in the first “chunk”. One suspects in this second discussion and debate that disingenuous party types trying to gain voting block advantages in voting will fall to those advancing the National Interests. Bipartisan types will squash them in the “trust” idea. But also allow for well intentioned do gooders who give equal priority to illegal immigrants and their children to our own children. This is also a good debate, and only citizens can vote.

In this is the great national debate about immigration. And maybe even it is the example of how we Americans can go forward to rule ourselves differently from the last few decades examples. Bipartisanship is not the same as the lowest common denominator, and here is an opportunity for citizens and politicians to show the American way. As always, use your vote and voice (voice mail, fax, or email) to make this happen, if you buy all this.