Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Terrorism" is a tactic, not an enemy

It is maddening to hear the universal cacophony of voices talking about "Terrorism" as our enemy.  Such misdirection and/or sloppiness is embarrassing.

Terrorism (causing terror) is exactly like "carpet bombing", "gorilla warfare", or "flanking."  It is a tactic used by nations, groups and individuals in an attempt to accomplish something; the "something" does not have to be cogent or even sane.

The mass murderer who kills children in a school is using "terror" as a tactic; we don't understand it if he is insane, but it is his chosen tactic instead of standing in the middle of the road and waving a sign.  A homeless women engages in an act of Terror when she drives down a sidewalk, killing folks she doesn't even know.  A person who snipes at people driving cars by on an Interstate road is combining two tactics: gorilla warfare and terror.  I could go on and on, but the point is made:  Terror is a tactic...it is a means to do any one or more of many goals.  The goal is not particularly important.

Terror, when used by an individual, may have a goal.  It may not.  A mentally ill person may engage in a terrorist act and have no goal.  Mental illness was and remains the enemy.

A bank robber may shoot up, wound and kill many in the robbing of the bank.  The terror of multiple wounds and killings is for the purpose of causing fear and confusion and to make escape easier and more certain.  The Criminal Act was and remains the enemy.

When an extended group adopts the tactics of Terror for a purpose, it helps to identify the enemy, and the source that created that group as an enemy.  It does NOT help to focus on tactics; I remember the focus on the gorilla warfare of the North Vietnamese instead of on the source of their vision of the United States as their enemy.  What a waste of effort...and we failed to achieve our goals in that conflict.

Currently we have ISIS (ISIL or whatever other derogatory name is currently in vogue) as our enemy.  Their tactics include infiltration, conventional military warfare, psychological warfare, as well as Public Relations efforts in recruitment, terrorist acts,  and many others.  All of these are tactics.

Why does ISIS see the West in general and the United States in particular as the enemy?  They say (and it behooves us to listen to our enemy when the consistently declare why the hate us and avoid trying to re-define it in terms that we find comforting (and, most harmful, misleading), that we are destroying their their way of life, bringing immoral and unacceptable behavior to their countries, interfering with their way of life and trying to erode their lifestyle, indoctrinating their youth with the immoral and wasteful ways of the west and showing them and their brand of civilization no respect.  They also will quote the commands of their religion, Islam, as contained in the Qur'an, that they conquer the world and convert all to Islam.  Dying in this cause is seen as a guarantee of entry to Paradise, hence the willingness to engage in the terrorist tactic of body bombs and mass killings when death to the perpetrators is all but guaranteed.

Any reasonable person bothering to ask questions, read, and analyse all of this cannot escape the finding that the self-declared enemy attempting to fight, kill, and terrorize the west and the United States is Islamic in nature and most specifically involves devout extremist Muslims who have decided that they need to act now to save their perception of what civilization should be: Islamic.

There are Muslims in name only, just as there are Christians in name only; these folks claim the title and show up on special occasions and actually value the heredity of Islam...but neither group actually is dedicated to live the life that either the Bible or the Qur'an dictates.  They are not enemies of anything other than having their lives interfered with by the folks who comprise ISIS.  Still others have fully embraced the qualities and practices of the western world for various reasons:  women because of the freedom to make their own decisions and dress as they wish, the LGBT community because it avoids being put to death...and others.

The West in general and the United States in particular doesn't want to acknowledge the truth of what is presented here for a variety of reasons.  A main one is that the west has become afraid of confrontation and developed a distaste for stress of any sort; I call it the "pc movement."  How dare anyone make us feel "uncomfortable."  ...or "wrong." ...or put in an unwanted position of having to actually "do" something!  Like Neville Chamberlain, they just want to believe that everyone really just wants "to get along."  Wanting and acknowledging the truth are often not co-existent.

I wonder if we will ever see our President or any world leader acknowledge, and identify the enemy instead of repeating over and over references to the "behind the lines tactics?"  I am starting to doubt it.  Even if they called the tactics of terror a form of gorilla warfare it would be an improvement, because it would make everyone consciously aware that we have avoided actually putting a name on, and thus identifying, the real enemy.

That would be the start of what perhaps could become victory.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Is Change possible without admitting Error?

What a question..."Is change possible without admitting error!"  Is it an important question?

To define the discussion, let us assume that change made as a result of our own evaluation process is a change made by choice.  That is not strictly true, but space requires a condensing of the discussion. And let us also stipulate that change imposed by other people or outside events  are not "choice" driven.  With those boundaries in place, let us consider the question again.

There are two different kinds of changes we make in our lives;  First, we change to choose a better path or result; Second, we change to avoid a bad result that is contrary to our intention.  The first is an improvement and the second is an avoidance.  That is all well and good...but do we have to acknowledge that fact?  I would suggest that the change to improve the result often is not consciously acknowledged...unless it is in the business world.  If it is in the business world, that evaluation is often trumpeted as proof of ability to evaluate and succeed, so not only is it acknowledged, it is headlined to the public as well as in our own consciousness, and is not seen as labeling the initial direction as "wrong" but merely as an "interim" step in "doing the job right."

But...what if the change is imposed upon you by your superior at work?  Now the change is not your discovery or choice at all.  Yes, of course you will (it is your bosses command, after all) make the change and you will attempt to do your best to make it happen...but will your effort be the same 110% that you would have put in if it had been your discovery?  I would argue that it depends on whether you are able to admit that the first direction was in error, even if only by degree, acknowledge that fact, and commit to the new process or goal.  Otherwise, your effort will be something less than it could be.

So...when a change is imposed upon you it is logical that it will be less than optimally successful unless you can see that the original direction was in error.  Applied to the current discussion, "No, change is not possible without admitting error!"

What about our private life decisions and paths?  Those changes which we determine are appropriate...all by ourselves (or, at least not imposed by others) are likely to be successful.  But...do we acknowledge that the original path or choice was "wrong?"  No...I suggest that does not often happen.  But our subconscious mind does play games with us, doesn't it?  The "new" choice is better and the "old" one abandoned...at least in part...as "no longer being optimum!"  Isn't that just a polite way of saying that the "old" choice is now seen as "wrong?"  I think the answer is, "Yes, we do acknowledge error in the original choice and once again optimize the change because we do see the improvement and accept responsibility for ourselves to make the change happen.

However, now the trick question: "Does this apply to politics and voting?"

I argue that not only does it apply, but that history proves that it applies.  Just looking at the current administration (one could make the same observations about each and every other one, with the same result) we can see that a choice of who to vote for had been made twice.  The first was by and large an acceptance of a promise for "Hope and Change" in which specifics were never provided; each of us imagined that the definitions of "Hope" and of "Change" by the candidate were the same as ours.  For many, that was clearly not so.  Yet at the next election, the result was the same.  And dialogues after the second election showed that most people were unable to admit that their expectations were in error.  The majority of voters were not able to come to terms with their own error in evaluating campaign promises and character, much less commit to any change.  Only now, after almost 7 years of facing the facts on a daily basis does it appear from polls that the majority of voters are beginning to admit "error" to any degree, no matter how small.

Many in our country prefer that our subconscious deal with admitting error and putting it in an acceptable format before bringing it to consciousness.  Perhaps all of us do!  Either way, I suggest that no change is ever possible or successful without admitting error in the preceding choice, and denial only slows the correction.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Does Socialist Governing make for a resigned populace?

During my life I have had opportunities to visit many different countries.  Many of them were, at the time of my visit, ruled by governments that were Socialist in nature...some even coming close to Dictatorships.  And, over time, I have noticed a peculiar constancy of national attitude:  the level of "contentedness" is the inverse of the level of personal freedoms.  The higher the level of government control of personal and business life, the lower the level of happiness and the higher an attitude of "resignation."

There have been volumes written about the financial toll as well as the results of Socialist, Marxist and even Communist governing.  And one finds it hard to disagree with the fact that those types of governments have always ultimately failed...usually after having exhausted the earnings and savings of the "rich" to finance government benefits.  It is undeniable that during this period of governance there is a sense of "happiness" and contentment with this approach.

One difficulty with all of this is that during this period of euphoria over low cost or "free" benefits, the majority become accustomed to doing less work, lowering production as well as efforts to succeed; after all, the government is guaranteeing an acceptable existence without any consequences from failed performance...one need not "earn" anything.  It is, indeed, the good life...apparently.  And people adjust to that attitude.

But ultimately life demands the discovery and acknowledgement that there is no such thing as "free" anything...lunch, government benefits, guarantees, etc.  This is not a "happy" discovery, even to those who know in their depths of soul what the truth is...no one enjoys playing life's equivalent of Musical Chairs when the loser finds his family going hungry, without housing, and having lost the knowledge and conditioning to be independent.

Many of those nation states then turn to anarchy and slowly develop new government entities that for a time do not forget the lessons of the previous experience.

This commentary is NOT about those.

There are nations that even after the early blush of easy benefits continue to support a Socialist style governing...it usually has some democratic element, such as elections and the appearance or fact of some popular representation, yet applying the leveling elements of a Socialist environment.  Much of Europe is governed in this manner.

One of these nations is Norway.  My father immigrated to the United States almost a century ago; he waited for years and had to have a sponsor that guaranteed that he had a job ready for him, and had a place to live, and generally could show that he would not be a burden to the government or to anyone if he were allowed to come to the United States.  In due course he became a citizen...and held the United States in high esteem for the rest of his life; we were told that while our heritage was important, we were first and finally Americans and this was our country and to which we owed our total allegiance.  We were here to be a part of the American existence, not to complain or try to change it.

Why did he come to America?  Because he was from a family that had fallen on hard times, with the early and unexpected death of his father.  Norway guaranteed an existence.  He would never have gone hungry.  He would never not have had a job.

But...he could never have improved his existence.  He couldn't save enough to buy property and build a house...the taxes were too high.  Sure, that meant that he never had to pay for Doctors or hospital or elderly care services.  But he could not improve his personal existence.  The governmental system protected his status, but did not allow him the financial freedom to improve it.

America guaranteed nothing...BUT the chance, the opportunity, to risk all but allow him the reward as well as the consequences of his own efforts.  THAT is what America used to offer; it is the essence of a Capitalistic and Democratic governing status.

That opportunity to succeed on the basis of your individual efforts...as well as the risk of failure...is what makes democracies different from Socialist nations.  And that governing approach encourages an optimistic point of view as well as the total effort to succeed on a self-reliant basis.  For my father and for many of his friends, a government guarantee would have been an insult...an indication that someone thought they weren't good enough to succeed on their own, that they were "less-than" others.  Even during the Great Depression, my father did whatever work he could find and never once doubted that he would survive and ultimately succeed.  Even during that period, my father remained optimistic, knowing...believing...that the hard times would pass and he would then succeed.

His attitude was the same that our Founding Fathers must have had; they wanted independence, not patriarchal or matriarchal care and governance.

Americans always have complained...but they also found much to support their internal happiness.  For every element in their lives that were a challenge, there was one or more that provided a source of happiness, of opportunity, of joy.  No one problem was insurmountable.

In socialist nations the government is the single, overwhelming element in your life;  if you have a problem and the government cannot "fix" it, it will never be fixed.  You are locked into a level of existence and, while that might be insured, you will rarely be able to change it or improve your place in that society.  And that promotes a certain sense of resignation and even sadness that colors your existence.  Oh sure, there are celebrations and moments of joy...but they are temporary and often seem transparently unable to hide the underlying sense of having to be satisfied with what and where you are.

Lately, I have found myself looking around and growing sad as so many Americans seem to be coming to the conclusion that their only choice is to take what the government can provide, feeling uneasy but finally accepting the not-always-so-slow incursion of government into their lives, regulating how they can live, what they can say, what they can read or hear, who or what they may worship in public.  Like wild pigs, they are becoming comfortable with being fed, instead of foraging on their own, and ignore the erection of a fence on one side of the food, to be followed by the erection of a second side...and so on, until they will find that they have allowed themselves to be imprisoned and no longer have any freedom of choice at all.  And then they, too, will feel what my father felt so long ago in Norway; an imprisoned existence.  And there will be no "United States of America" to hold the promise of a different way of life.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Why do we Disrespect Congress?

I will admit to disrespecting Congress...a lot.  If I want to be totally truthful, it usually rises to the level of hatred.  But lately, I am stung by the question, "why?"  Oh, I can complain about their actions (or perhaps I should say inaction).  I can marvel at their ability to squander money that we as taxpayers had to work hard to earn, only to watch our politicians treat it like so much dirty water...to be splashed about and not even clean anything up.

It occurred to me earlier this week that I was blaming the forest, instead of the individual trees...and by doing so, was insuring that nothing would ever change.  And it can be argued that most of us in America do the same thing.  Of course there are reasons for this:  we are busy earning a living; we believed and expected our Congressman (or woman) and Senator to do what they promised; others know more about the governmental challenges than do we.  These are all legitimate points and facts.

But...it is our government. At least on paper.  We are the ones doing the voting.

Perhaps we have our priorities wrong.  Maybe checking on whether or not our Congressman and/or Senator is doing his job is a bit more important that watching that third football game of the day.  Maybe writing or calling our Representative and asking why he voted for or against a particular bill...and asking directly (Yes,...or No) if he actually read it before voting is a mite more important than that tv movie.

Maybe our anger should not be at Congress, but at our own (the guy or gal that is supposed to be serving us, protecting us, listening to us, fulfilling their promises to us) particular member of the House of Representatives and/or our United States Senator.  Perhaps it is time to tell them that their allegiance should be to us, not their party and certainly not the leaders of their party.  We didn't elect a party...we elected a person.  That person made promises and took an oath.  We should be checking to see if they are keeping their promises, if they are fulfilling their duties to which they took that oath...instead of feathering their own or others' nests or making self-serving deals and not respecting our wishes and our needs.

Oh, they will scream bloody murder...much as our children do when we check on them and insure that they are doing their homework and keeping the right kind of company.  But if we are going to serve ourselves and meet our own obligations to both us and our country, we need to treat our elected officials just as we do our children: trust...but verify.  There are some that are doing their job for us.  There are others that will only do it if we monitor them and hold their feet to the fire...or whatever other euphemism you want to use.

We should get on with it.