Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is today's Turkey tomorrow's America?

George Friedman has been writing a fascinating series of articles recently sharing his view and travels that he entitles, a "Geopolitical Journey."  Each article stands on its own but does cause you to want to read each of the others, as it places the current political climate of a number of of the eastern European and border states in context with each other, the world and, of course, individually.  I highly recommend taking the time to slowly read and assimilate the thoughts in each article...they are fascinating.  And the thoughtfulness put into the presentation by Friedman is to be both appreciated and savored.

Anyway, I digress...to my point...

Friedman's description of the current state of civil, political and religious life in Turkey is enough for a semester course in any University of note.  He cuts through so much pre-existing world views of what and who Turkey really is that you continually find yourself having, as I call them, "Ah-hah!" moments.  Enough light bulbs go off in the course of reading that you almost keep looking up for the camera's with the old-style flash-bulbs.

Turkey today is being challenged by a population that is an Islamic majority, with a government that is hugely populated by secularists that have the support of a strong military that also favors secular rule.  The current political party in power speaks earnestly of the value of and it's interest in preserving a secular government, while acknowledging the Islamic demand for more input in governance.  The Islamic drive for political power is a given in Turkey...the background of the Ottoman Empire is still a genetic part of the population that is in various phases of conflict with a secular government designed by Atatürk following the First World War to pull Turkey into the modern era.  It is this history of secular governing that causes most of us in the West with only cursory knowledge of the country to have until recently seen Turkey as a western Allie on our side against the other-aligned Arab states.

But here is the most interesting element...with a secular Government that excludes any active involvement of religion, Islamic or otherwise, Turkey is now suffering from unease as Muslims are now demanding that accommodation be made for their faith by the government. These are not extremists, these are your regular, normal practicing Muslims that follow the Qur'an and the Prophet's teaching which include striving for political power.

There is unease particularly among young secular Turks, who do not want to be governed by religious tenets with which they do not agree.  And the current government, while elected with Islamic votes, has continually striven to re-assure the population that the government will not become Islamic and that Turkey will always remain a secularist modern society with all the individual freedoms that that promises.

Those in America who refer glowingly toe Islam as "the Religion of Peace," would do themselves a service by reading Mr. Friedman's article on today's Turkey with an eye to recognizing that the tensions in Turkey right now are likely to reappear in America in the future, as the Muslim population grows more and more rapidly and with it the demand for more and more accommodation for Islam in this country.

At some point there must be extensive, quiet discussion among reasonable people recognizing that there is conflict between Islam and secular government.  We in America will have to decide just what we can, should and will do about it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Should the Tea Parties just "go away?"

The more open the government is, the more difficult it becomes to govern;  the more involved the populace wishes to be in governmental affairs, the greater the obstacles to those "great minds" and "great thinkers" who "know how the country should be run."  I can understand fully the desire of many for the Tea Party to just go away, for the people to quiet back down and allow those who "know better" to get back to work establishing  live the way it should be.  I truly understand.

There are many examples in history of associations and individuals of such great minds dealing with such difficulties:  King George on England, of course, comes to mind first; then there are Robespierre, the Czars of Russia, King Louis XVI of France and others who have "tisk, tisked" their distaste at the audacity of the common people to question "their betters."

And today, the Progressive-Liberal-Socialist-Democrat-Elite mimic their forebears' reaction to popular unhappiness with disdain, both personal and ideological, as well as personal insults, with "they just don't understand" visages, and "we just haven't learned how to communicate effectively with them" comments to their Press Relations people (you know, those professional reporters from ABC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, and NBC) who nod sagely, admiring their sagacity.

When history repeats itself, as it surely will, their surprise will be absolute.  We, the poor, the uneducated, the unwashed, the "stupid" PEOPLE will not go away. I apologize for that...well, maybe not so much.  After all you will have earned everything that will be coming to you.

Friday, November 26, 2010

North Korean questions...and others

No one seems to know what to do in response to recent North Korean acts of war toward South Korea.Of course, that raises the question of why American troops are STILL in Korea so long after a truce was declared...especially in light of the built up state of South Korean military capability.  


does anyone question for even one moment that should America pull out of South Korea and it's treaty obligations, South Korea would be over-run by the North within a year at most?  So, ... the question comes down to, "Why should we care?"

And since Japan, if I remember correctly, is limited to defensive armament that cannot threaten the mainland of either Korea or China, I suspect that it would not be many years before the Chinese and a unified Korea would cast greedy eyes and ultimately successfully take control of Japan.  Again, the question is, "Why should we care?"

And that leads to our European involvement.  While it is unclear what effect a withdrawal of American troops from Europe would have on their security, it is entirely possible that if they perceive a threat from the east an offer would materialize that would cover America's costs of keeping the troops in place.  But the question still must be answered..."why should we care?"  Indeed.

The world expresses resentment to the presence of our troops anywhere in the world.  There is no appreciation, no gratitude, no benefit to America for our soldiers' presence or for the danger to their lives.

The world expresses resentment for our foreign aid, and we apparently cannot prevent it's use for anything the receiving nations wishes.  Foreign Aid is just a way of taking the tax money from poor and middle-class Americans and giving it Rich People in foreign countries.

Membership in the U.N. gives us the privilege paying great sums of our tax dollars so that we can be insulted by the rest of the world, and allow their "Diplomats" into our country to flout our laws with impunity.

What, indeed, is the benefit to the United States of America?  Are we genetically dependent on appearing to "be the Boss?"


If we discontinued all this unwelcome involvement, I suspect that we would have the military capability to actually secure our borders, the funds to insure that any attack on the territory of the United States would result in the destruction of the attacker, the money to pay down and eliminate our debt and, with just a little bit of luck, enough left over so that scientists could develop a genome that would result increating a moral, honest politician, the cloning of which would insure that our federal government, like the States and the rest of us, had to live within it's means and not infringe on our personal freedoms....just maybe.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Illegals, Law and Morals

We have many laws. Some have been around for a long time. Some change over time and still others still exist but are ignored, unenforced or have been forgotten. Perhaps our laws on immigration need examination.But a review of the concept of laws might first be in order.

There are two kinds of laws: those for convenience and those that represent the very essence of what is considered "right" (moral) behavior. Traffic laws are perfect examples of laws of convenience: driving on the left is not morally wrong, but by choosing a side and establishing a law, there is a sense of expectation of behavior that allows all of us to predict others' behavior and render us all a bit safer.

Then we have laws founded on our view of right and wrong. There is a moral foundation. Murder, rape, child molestation, robbery, burglary, trespass...these are all transgressions that have been considered "wrong" morally and our laws make them illegal.  Can the morals change...of course, at least on the basis of majority rule. Homosexuality used to be morally wrong.  While many religions still hold this, the majority of the population has apparently ruled that is no longer the case, so those laws are disappearing...or at least not being enforced.

What about illegal immigration?  Well, what is your opinion on the expectation of privacy, ... or trespass?  If you, as a citizen, believe no one has the right to enter your property uninvited )and, if they do, they must be arrested and punished), how can you interpret illegal immigration as other than a trespass?  Could we choose to make it OK(moral)? Of course, but then be prepared to give up your right to privacy.  Your call.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Palin hatred revisited...with a bit of perspective

The Progressive-Liberal-Socialist-Democrat-Elite exist with the belief that those who do NOT believe as they do are stupid, un-educated, and suffer from an inability to appreciate the "nuances" of life that they themselves hold so dear to their (sometimes) bleeding hearts.  They see Palin as a threat because she succeeded while demonstrating the antithesis of what they believe deserves success.

  1. she did not have a power base from which to start;
  2. she began in politics to get something done, instead of just grousing about it;
  3. she didn't try to pander to a power-elite, but ran against it utilizing (horrors) a grass-roots movement;
  4  she did not see her job as an entitlement, but as an obligation...and followed through;
  5. and when Progressive-Liberal-Socialist-Elite groups threatened to cost her state millions and a proper response would have interfered with doing her job as Governor, she resigned to take care of business rather than make her state and it's citizens pay for defending her against the Progressive-Liberal-Socialist groups.

She did not achieve her goals by being a "token" or an affirmative action hire...she did it the old fashioned way...by earning it.  No payoffs, no promises, except to do her job.

That kind of success is impossible according to Progressive-Liberal-Socialist-Democrat-Elite lore...just cannot happen.  That it did happen needs to be hidden by them in a blizzard of lies and attacks...and that is just what they have done.  And it is why they continue even after apparently accomplishing their goal...because if the corpse ever rises, the see their own Armageddon.  To prevent that, there is no such thing as overkill.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We CAN balance the budget and pay of the Deficit

It actually is easy to pay of the existing deficit and to balance our Federal budget.  What is hard is to find politicians who have the political will to do what is necessary.  If Congress wanted, they could do the whole thing in one bill with a page or less...so that everyone could both read and understand it..and it could read something like this:
     WHEREAS you are not allowed to spend money that you do not have; and
     WHEREAS you must pay back money that you have borrowed; and
     WHEREAS  you must pay the agreed upon interest on all borrowed funds;
                                              it is

Prior to allocating any money in any fiscal year for any purpose, the interest due on money borrowed previous to the enactment of this law shall be put aside and credited to said interest;

Prior to allocating any money in any fiscal year for any purpose, Five Hundred Billion Dollars shall be put aside to pay down the balance of principal and said funds shall in fact be applied to said principal;

The balance remaining of anticipated Tax funds for the current year, after debt and interest payments as aforesaid shall be compared to the discretionary funds available in the year immediately prior to the current fiscal year and, should Congress not be able to agree on a balanced budget for the current year, the resulting % shall be utilized to reduce equally each and every department's budget and each and every expenditure by the government and its agencies, without exception, equally by said percentage.

It would be nice for government to live by the rules that govern our states, our families and ourselves.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fewer Americans WANT to work...at all

Speaking at a little-noted event at the University of  Southern California's Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, Mr. Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the non-partisan C.B.O. (Congressional Budget Office), a federal agency within the legislative branch of our government that produces some of the most objective, "fair", and non-politicized date that we receive from our government, stated that, in some cases, Americans will choose not to work, because their needs for healthcare will be provided by the enhanced Medicaid Funding that is provided for in the Obamacare Law.  This  assessment of Obamacare by Mr. Elmendorf coincides with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's remarks last May, when she insisted that Obamacare would allow "artists" to "quit their day job" and pursue their art, free from the constraints of having to  provide for one's self, because the government would now take care of artists' healthcare benefits.

Is this a problem?  Long-term, it will be disastrous.  Humanity takes the path of least resistance and makes decisions based on the pain-pleasure principle: on the pain side, we make the decision that reduces pain; on the pleasure side, we make the decision that increases our pleasure.  Of course this is complicated a bit by the fact that different people define those terms differently and that any one person on different days will define the terms a bit differently also, but...details...

It has been suggested that 15-30% of people will always do the "right" thing:  they will obey the laws as they exist, they will strive to work hard and be fair to others just because they have been raised to believe that "it is the right thing to do."  Likewise, it has been argued that there are 10-15% of the population that will do what they want to do without regard to laws, training or "rightness."  These are what we refer to as the criminal elements of our society that cannot be "rehabilitated" because punishment and reward outside their definition has no effect.

That leaves the vast majority (between 55% and 76%) of our population who's behavior IS responsive to our laws, our moral attitudes and our perception and response to the pain and pleasure in our lives.

What does this have to do with Obamacare?

This is one more unearned reward for people.  It is another entitlement.  It is one less reason for contributing to society.  And, for those who work hard to get ahead and achieve peace of mind, it is one more thing that unfairly is given to others who haven't worked for it.

No matter what your point of view may be with regard to the economics of Obamacare, the only way the costs can be made even remotely reasonable to each of us is if the greatest number work to contribute toward the costs.  If that number falls, the burden on those of us working becomes greater and greater, decreasing the benefit to us while giving a free benefit to others.

Human nature operating on that vast middle of our population is going to decrease the contributors to the costs.  At first the decrease will be quite small.  But, as the realization sets in that there is increased pain from having to pay for others and no decrease in coverage (pleasure) from NOT contributing, there will develop a tsunami of those no longer bothering to work and pay for this benefit, leading to a total collapse of the system.

This has always been the weakness of Socialist programs:  the inherent self-interest to work and earn is destroyed by providing benefits as entitlements.  This is a disincentive to produce, which means less worth is produced and removes the fund from which Progressive-Liberal-Socialists expect to redistribute in accordance with their elite points-of-view.

This legislation expects to avoid this disaster by passing a law mandating contribution to Healthcare costs.  But there are two problems, one legal and the other human nature.  Legally, the Supreme Court of the United States could well find that mandating that a citizen buy something for no other reason that being alive is unconstitutional.  On the human nature side,  the government cannot make you pay something if you earn nothing...if more and more people figure that welfare is sufficient when it also includes coverage for illness and accidents and decide not to work but to live off the government dole, it will ultimately bring down the government.  Either it will collapse monetarily, or be removed through another revolution.  Either way...it will fail.

What is amazing is that the smartest people in the world (Congress and the President) cannot see and/or understand this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

News has morphed into Entertainment

News has become today's entertainment.  It has the same snail's pace as the soap operas and, as long as on political party isn't in complete control or an attack using WMDs hasn't occurred, the same limited impact.  when EVERYTHING can be and is covered, it is like having too much of your favorite food or candy...you stop appreciating the finer points.

The big loser is, of course, the American People.  Journalism used to be about the story.  With no television, you read a paper or heard a radio report.  It was about what used to be revered by every professionally proud reporter: What, Where, When Why, Who, and How.  It wasn't about adjectives.  It wasn't about taking a position (which, if done in a news story, used to get your fired).  It was about telling your readers the facts and trusting...no, KNOWING...that they would interpret those facts for themselves; they would define what the appropriate reaction or judgment should be.

Reporters used to pride themselves on not having friends outside the business.  They has sources.  They had readers.  They were cynical, but they had a CALLING.  They were better than the Politicians that they covered.  They were of more service to the Republic than were all the laws, courts and politicians combined...because they and they alone trusted the American People with the facts...and they did not have a stake in the game except to tell everyone the facts.  Interpretation was beneath them.  They were dedicated to the Freedom of the Press and what it stood for...not power over others, not name recognition, not directing others...but telling the American People everything they could find out.  And even better to reveal what someone (anyone) wanted hidden.They BELIEVED that if all the people knew everything, the nation would survive.

Right or wrong, it was this attitude about the sanctity of their work and its purpose that preserved the ideal of Freedom of the Press for so many years.

Yes, the American People have largely lost their way.  There are many reasons: a growing narcissism, a sense of entitlement. victimization by unscrupulous politicians...  But lost in the many self-inflicted causes is the death of The Professional Journalist.

The last professional journalist died long, long ago.  Now the press is just a publicity agent.  Sometimes the client is clear.  Often it is not.  And so many times it changes in the middle of a "story."  But one thing is certain...the client is no longer ever the American People.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I woke up in a sweat last night...

not because of a cold, or a malfunction in the heating system.  No, it was what started out as a ghostly appearance of understanding that, as I moved toward consciousness, grew larger and more disturbing with each moment.

As an individual who started life as a Rockefeller Republican and has slid to the right ever since...to the point where John Birchers look liberal and chaos theory makes sense as a political policy guide...what I suddenly was considering seemed like a threat to my very core beliefs.  And I believe, as I describe it to you, it threatens the very core beliefs of those on ALL sides of the Political Spectrum.

First, consider the reason for the Democrats recent loss of a majority in the House of Representatives.  They listened to those in opposition, then trivialized and marginalized those opposing points of view and finally treated them with a mocking, denigrating disdain.  And when they lost the election, claim confusion about why they lost.

They had applied Alinsky's Rules with dedication and precision.  What they did not realize is that if your defined enemy suddenly becomes more numerous than you, you have a problem...a very big problem.

The Republicans, in turn, have done the very same thing.  Granted, they treat those ideas with which they disagree with dismissal, rather than outright action.  They ignore, rather that voicing their disregard, but that is a matter of style, not substance.

Both sides practice this approach.  Many in the world also have done it.  The problem lies in choosing an opposition that ultimately can outnumber you.  When that happens, the best propaganda machine in the world loses to the numbers.

Only once in my lifetime has this approach ever worked.  And it worked because the practitioner realized that  an enemy had to be selected that could NEVER become the majority.  The National Socialists in Germany under Hitler selected the Jews as the enemy.  This ensured that application of the forerunners to Alinsky's Rules could never be trumped by numbers.  And the application had singular success.

This political application was shear genius.  Hitler's, and Germany's, demise was a result of bad war strategy, not political failures.

But my shock upon awakening was not caused by the fact of this application...it was that its continued practice here in America and in the world prevents us from taking care of our public existence properly.  The political spectrum is not really about political ideology as much as it is about acquiring power over others.  Most are subconsciously aware of this, but ignore it because of the very public discussions and arguments about the "ways" of acquiring it, as if the particular political point of view validates seizing the power to tell others what to do.

Disagree?  Consider:  I may have any number of political views which I think would make the country (any country) a better place to live for me, my children and my community...but I don't go out and demand that others live under that particular set of rules.  Who does?  Dictators.  Conquerors. Despots.

Anybody else?  Well, those who secretly would love to be a Dictator but sense the personal danger in acquiring and keeping the position as well as a desire to be seen as a more benevolent but superior person form a group acquire power.  In some cases this is an army.  In many others, it is a political party.  But I cannot see how anyone can argue that at its center is the desire for power over others that starts the trouble.

In the South Pacific Islands they had a practice (I do not know if it continues) of selecting as King that person who least wanted to be King.  And, if he grew to like the position, they would kill him, eat him, and select again.  Not many failed to appreciate that it was NOT good to want to be King.

I like that practice.  It serves to put power over others in perspective and surely helps minimize it.  Wish we could do it here.