January 2nd, 2016
|12:28 am - The question is...."What do they want?"|
There is an old rule in warfare, namely that you should identify what the enemy wants, and focus on denying them that. The principle goes clear back to Sun Tzu and The Art of War. The idea is simple: If you know what your enemy desires, thwarting that desire should be your central focus.
A couple of examples help make this clear
When Hitler attacked Russian in 1941 Stalin really didn't have the necessary might to successfully oppose him. Stalin was caught by surprise (although he shouldn't have been) and quickly concluded it was going to be a long, messy war. He did, however, know a couple of things that factored into his favor. First, he had lots of land. Second he knew from history that making war during the winter in Russia was a really bad idea. So, forced into the situation, he chose to trade space for time, slowly withdrawing, leaving behind scorched earth, and playing for time. When winter came, Hitler's troops were outside Moscow, but unable to protect themselves from the weather. Although the war continued, Moscow was never taken and Hitler could never resume the offensive with the same power.
In 1944, Hitler unleashed a winter offensive in the Ardennes, an assault that later became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Eisenhower quickly deduced that the goal was Antwerp...and that Hitler's chances relied on two things...access to the road network to move his Panzers (tanks) and the capture of allied fuel dumps. While the allies gave ground in many places, the 101st Airborne was able to hold Bastogne, the key road hub. He also placed stronger defenses around the supply dumps in the area. Ultimately those two things doomed the offensive.
So...what does this have to do with today?
In the battle against Daesh, the media continually supply endless stories about the brutality, the religious intolerance, and the Sharia law aspects. They decry the beheadings, the abuse of hostages, and the dictatorial power applied to those in the occupied territory. Make no mistake, that outrage is well deserved and appropriate. The response of the world has been slow, and not always effective. The hawks plead for the immediate deployment of troops, more bombing, and another Shock and Awe attack.
The point that is missed in all of this is the real motivation. The leaders of Daesh, which is clearly religiously oriented, are determined to create the end times as described in the Bible and other tracts. For that to happen, they need to draw "the west" into battle in the Middle East. They do not intend to create some brand new "country" or caliphate. They intend, or at least desire, to create the end times.
The words spoken by Donald Trump point out the fallacy of not understanding the basics. His rhetoric is playing directly into their plan, building anger and encouraging a massive military response, including lots of boots on the ground. Exactly what Daesh wants.
While there can be little doubt how such a battle would end, it becomes yet another example of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld concept...where winning the war is easy but no thought is given to how to win the peace thereafter. Are we really Stupid enough to go down that path again?
November 14th, 2015
|10:01 pm - Terrorism as a Failed Political Theory|
After the most recent attacks, in Beirut and Paris...as well as elsewhere, I find myself again trying to fathom the ideas behind these events. We call them Terrorism, which is as good a term as any, but that is, I believe, an over-simplification.
( Read more...Collapse )
October 25th, 2015
|09:58 am - It's not a solution...and the fuse continues to burn|
Paul Ryan has agreed to become the next Speaker of the House.
Don't confuse this with a solution to anything. At best, it might kick the can down the road, and at worst, it likely just kicks the can into the ditch.
There are three insolvable problems that this change in leadership cannot, and will not, solve.
1. The extremists in the GOP aren't going to do anything different. They will still demand that everyone march to their drummer, even though they know that anything they pass will either die in the Senate or face a veto that they can't override. Their take no prisoners approach isn't going to change at all.
2. Ryan will not work with the Democrats in the House, any more than Boehner did. He can't. They could conceivable forge a workable majority between the Democrats and the more moderate GOP members, but that idea, while actually doable, flies in the face of reality. See #1 above! If Ryan were to reach out, he'd be immediately crucified. So...he'll have to try to run the House just as Boehner did, bringing forward bills that can pass the Freedom Caucus test...and that means...nothing but more attempts to repeal the ACA. Budgets? Not a chance. Progress on things that matter to the American People? Never gunna happen!
3. Ryan has, to this point, been able to create his magic budgets using magic asterisks and unspecified future revenues and such. Those days are done. If he actually tries to propose another one of those, the whole House will be destroyed by the American People. Cuts to social programs, increased spending for the military, and additional tax cuts and loopholes for the rich aren't going to work, and with 2016 looming, he'll only ensure the GOP takes a horrendous hit a year from now. They likely can't lose the House, due purely to voter suppression and gerrymandering, but they can, and will, lose the Senate and the White House.
The Great GOP Implosion continues, and everywhere we look there is nothing but shrapnel flying. When this bomb finally explodes, the body count is going to be monumental.
October 8th, 2015
|08:20 pm - It appears...at least to me|
With the resignation of Speaker John Boehner, and the subsequent decision by Kevin McCarthy that he will not seek the vacant position, the implosion of the GOP has reached critical mass. It is clear that at this point there is no consensus about which occupant of the Clown Car is likely to emerge as the nominee for 2016. In short, the whole GOP is now the majority party in the House and Senate, yet cannot agree to present any proposals for the future of the country.
The real cause of this situation can be found not in Congress, but rather in the individual states. It is often said that all politics is local, and it is there we need to search for the answers. In the 2010 "off year" election, the GOP capitalized on their program of hatred for the President, gaining control of many state legislatures. That allowed them to create severely gerrymandered Congressional districts where the most extreme members of the party could thrive. The result is that while the Democratic Party had a huge majority of the votes for the House of Representatives, the GOP got people elected. That group, commonly known as the Freedom Caucus, is not just anti-government. They are, unfortunately, anti-governance.
They will do everything they can to topple the government, not by opposing proposals on ideological grounds, but simply because they actually don't want to have a government. They claim to want "smaller government" yet continue to pass laws moving government into the doctor's office, the bed room, and every other place. They trumpet the cause of less regulation, and ignore the disasters that then result. They vote against aid for people suffering from natural disasters, until it is their own state or region. Somehow their people deserve the aid they deny to others.
They are now demanding that the new Speaker of the House, whomever that might be, kowtow to their demands as a price of their support. In truth, the House has become the tyranny of the minority. Not the Democratic minority, but rather a small minority of the GOP...the majority party. It is unthinkable that the Speaker of the House should work with and seek the support of the Democratic minority in order to conduct the people's business, and now it's equally unthinkable that the Speaker should consider even the more moderate members of the GOP.
All this wouldn't much matter except this group has made the House utterly dysfunctional at a time when important, must-pass, legislation is due. Absent a budget, or at least a Continuing Resolution, the government will shut down. Absent approval, the government will hit the debt ceiling in the coming weeks. The idea of those things happening doesn't phase the Freedom Caucus, because they simply don't care.
They are, at best, a thinly veiled racist group who represent an aging white population that fears they are losing their due place of prominence in our society.
The only hope in this situation is that the Democrats, and specifically the House Democrats will finally stand up. They have been largely irrelevant for several years, but worse, they have generally chosen to be silent. It is time for them to stand tall, to make noise, and to propose the concrete solutions to the problems obvious to us all. The GOP has chosen to implode while we all watch, and we can not, and should not, allow them to bring the country down because they have no idea how to govern.
I have no doubt that given the map of congressional districts the Freedom Caucus will continue to exist. It is even possible that those districts will elect even more extreme individuals, who will thrive by pointing out that the previous office holder didn't get it done, while ignoring the fact that what didn't get done was opposed by a majority of American society. They will continue to vote time after time to repeal the ACA, ignoring the fact that it works, it has lowered costs, and provided vital medical services for thousands. They will continue to waste money investigating Benghazi, even though Kevin McCarty admitted it was nothing but a ploy to discredit Hillary Clinton. They will continue to wave the flag of the Second Amendment and ignore the carnage and deaths that plague our society and schools.
In short, they will attempt to do nothing, simply because they don't want the government to do anything...except deny Blacks and the poor any future and ensure that women cannot get proper health care.
It's time for all of us to simply say ENOUGH!
October 1st, 2015
|08:30 pm - An apology long overdue|
I need to set the record straight, and I may have a very limited timeframe to work with, so this needs to get done now.
Years ago I began a program which I jokingly entitled "Making Women Cry." It was based upon the idea that I would craft things and then give them to the women in my life, unrelated to any holiday or birthday. Within that overall idea were a number of assumptions, and I now realize that they were incorrect.
The first assumption was that I had at least some talent or skill necessary to craft these gifts. They were largely things made of, or with, wood, although not exclusively. They were intended to be "pieces of art" although I applied that term rather liberally, and as we all know, true art is in the eye of the beholder. As I consider the breadth of the items that were a part of this idea I realize, as I did then, that not all of them really qualified.
The second assumption, which was, I realize now, utterly flawed, was that I understood the world in which we live. Please allow me to explain.
While I will admit the whole idea was too altruistic, I failed to properly consider viewpoints other than my own. I saw these as gifts, while the recipients saw them more as unsolicited attention. I never sought their consent, nor did they ever grant that. I just assumed.
I now realize that their reactions, while often providing me with some level of ego gratification, could not possibly be genuine. They were in the uncomfortable position of being forced to respond in some socially-acceptable way, while at the same time feeling like the drunk at the bar wouldn't leave them alone. I never asked, nor gave them an opportunity to decline. I was, to put it in simple terms, a serial emotional rapist, creating havoc by forcing my attentions upon women who had no opportunity to make their own choices about the appropriateness of my actions.
In at least a couple instances, I even delivered those things in person, leaving the victim with no possible escape route.
I was wrong to do that. I failed to consider or recognize that there might be another valid point of view, and that my honorable intentions could be interpreted in other ways.
So, it's time to apologize, to each and every one of my victims. I'm not sure I remember all of them, which is truly sad, but I can identify many. In no particular order, I'm saying I'm so sorry to Holly, to Keiko (multiple times), to Jean, to Sandra, to Kay (multiple times), to Cynthia (too many times), to Tina (more than once), to Gretchen, to Julie, to Rose, to Andi (multiple times), to Sheena, and to Leeann. I'm sure there are more, and for those I can't remember I'm even more sorry.
I recognize that my apology in no way undoes the emotional damage I've done, but I am unaware of anything I could possibly do to reverse that. The best thing I can do is go away, and hope that might provide some degree of closure. I won't ask for forgiveness, because I don't deserve that. I should have known better, and I should have recognized the failure of my actions. I've been told I'm a good listener, but clearly in these situations I listened for things I wanted to hear and failed to properly comprehend the actual responses. I missed (or simply ignored) the signals that were loud and clear.
So, for those who believe that #notallmen is bogus, I guess you're likely correct. Certainly my protestations about being included ring hollow when I consider my actions in this light. There is a saying in Marriage Encounter that says "Feelings are neither right nor wrong." Clearly, if those are your feelings, then they are, if not right, certainly valid. I accept that. They are the product of my insensitivity, and that's my doing, not yours.
I could, I suppose, ask God for forgiveness, but I just can't believe in a deity that allows unlimited "sins" and then says "It's all good if you ask for forgiveness." Maybe that means I end up in that other place, but I'm well aware I've done more than enough damage to deserve that. And...I guess I'll find out pretty soon anyway, so it's not like I'm going to dwell on that for very long.
Current Mood: melancholy
Current Music: Barber - Adagio for Strings
September 24th, 2015
September 21st, 2015
|03:38 pm - So...the question is who|
Who? Who will be the last candidate standing when the Clown Car drives off the cliff? Who get's the one and only parachute?
So far, Perry has bailed. Now Walker has also. Trump is still in the driver's seat, but it's really hard to imagine he can stay there. Yes, he appeals to a portion of the GOP base, and the more outrageous things he says the more that small group loves him. As a candidate he can say that stuff, but it's hard to believe that people will accept the idea that he's qualified to actually do the job. And, of course, those who oppose the GOP haven't really even started to weigh in. Rmoney's negatives were a big problem last time, and he's small potatoes compared to Trump.
Ben Carson has had a few minutes of fame, but he's also made some truly magnificent blunders, and unlike Trump, he seems to be paying the price. His latest statements regarding the fitness of any Muslim to become President are truly worrying, even though no Muslim candidate is currently running.
Carly sounded good in taking on Trump, but her record of cutting jobs, exporting jobs, and raising her own pay will sink her. In addition, her apparent ability to simply make up stories such as the imagined content of the PP videos will certainly haunt her if she rises near the top anytime soon.
Bush claimed that his brother "kept the country safe" while apparently forgetting that those burning skyscrapers in New York happened because his brother disregarded the intelligence provided by Richard Clarke et al. Yeah, we were real safe under his watch.
So...who's left? Rubio? Perhaps, but he's certainly not a strong figure right now. Christie? Doubtful. His list of transgressions is long, and even the folks of his home state don't want him. Bobby? He's another walking disaster with nothing to offer. In short, I'm stumped to identify who's likely to shake out of this tree, and I'm similarly unable to find any one of them that would likely be a viable candidate in November.
On the other side, I suspect Hillary and Bernie are going to slug it out for a while. I'm not a Hillary fan, but she'd certainly be better than anyone in the Clown Car. More and more people seem to be discovering that Bernie has some pretty good ideas, and nobody has identified a major problem with him...other than the assumption that though they like him he can't win. If enough people who claim to like him actually vote for him he will win. In fact, right now he seems like the odds-on favorite if he can clear that hurdle. Another year of campaigning could well change that a lot.
The latest polls say that Hillary gained some ground, or rather re-took some ground. However, the proof will be when the actual voting starts. If Bernie can take Iowa and/or New Hampshire everything changes. Those who want him, but are scared he can't win will start singing a different tune.
In the meantime, I'm staying tuned to the Clown Car Channel. It's a great show. "Jarvis, could you please make some more popcorn?"
September 16th, 2015
|01:41 pm - Running away...perhaps to fight another day|
There is an old saying...so old I'm not even sure I know exactly how the real words actual words go. The gist, however, is that he who runs away lives to fight another day.
I think part of that was meant to somehow justify apparent cowardice, while perhaps tacitly acknowledging that sometimes it just makes more sense to pick a different battle than commit suicide in the current situation. I suppose some might call that cowardice, but staying around, knowing you're going to lose...and die in the process...likely doesn't really serve a useful purpose. Well, at least not unless you expect to find those 72 virgins waiting for you in paradise. For the record, that's not something I personally expect to find regardless of how I might actually die.
There is a movement around roughly known as Not All Men, hashtag #notallmen. The premise is pretty simple.
There's a lot of noise, certainly founded upon facts and history, that women are routinely abused by men. That includes everything from simple misogyny to rape and even murder. It is, without a doubt, under-reported crime, and equally troubling, under-investigated crime. It goes hand in hand with the "she deserved it" or "she was wearing provocative clothing" or any number of other excuses that somehow support the idea that men aren't the problem. It begins with the "boys will be boys" mentality and grows.
It also shows up elsewhere, in things like equal pay for equal work, the glass ceiling, and other long-held societal taboos. In some cases it's justified by religion, and often supported by simple tradition. Some even attempt to justify it using examples from the animal kingdom.
In any case, there are, in my opinion, three things wrong with this.
First, there is the reality that it exists. It DOES exist, and pretending it's okay, or acceptable, or even simply inevitable is NOT appropriate. The City of Portland (OR) acknowledged recently that there are something like 2000 rape/sexual assault kits had never been processed, and only 36% of the kits collected were ever sent for examination. The government cites the expense, but in truth, the answer is something else. In short, investigating these crimes is simply not a priority. Why? Well, because the complainants are women. Yup, it's that simple.
There are likely some officers who didn't pursue the cases because they didn't believe the woman involved. Maybe some who listened to the woman's story and either didn't believe it, or figured it was a consensual situation followed by next-morning remorse. That is not the job of the officer! If there is evidence, as witnessed by the woman submitting to the collection necessary for the kit, then it deserves to be processed. Leave the evaluation to the DA!
Second, there are clearly things our society needs to change. This is a battle no different than woman's suffrage or civil rights. People fight the change because they believe they will lose power by granting equality to others. And let's face it, government and the leadership of society is, for the most part, old white guys...the very people who benefit from the current arrangement.
That change will only happen, and it will undoubtedly be far too gradual, when all of society joins together to work against the problem. That means women and men, of all races, of all genders, and of all religions, need to join. If those within the power system don't join, the power system will prevail. Only once has it not worked that way, but I doubt the women in the United States can muster the forces to do what Iceland did. That may be sad, but I still believe it's true.
The third element is Not All Men. While it's easy to paint pictures in broad strokes, using big wide brushes, that methodology doesn't allow for details. While there are plenty of men who are the problem, and more that tacitly ignore it, not every man belongs to that group. Suggesting that every man is a rapist, or that every man is just one moment away from abusing or harassing a woman is not only untrue, it does great harm to the idea that things need to change. After all, it is those very men who form the front line necessary to force the change.
As an example, if women want to do away with the laws that the GOP has created to control their medical choices, it makes no sense to attack the men who have voted against those laws. They should be treated as allies, not lumped together with the crazoids who want the government inside the examining room.
Anytime a stereotype is allowed to exist, it means that some who are not remotely stereotypical will be thrown into the same pot. It's no different than saying that all Black men are criminals. It's simply not true.
What is true, however, is that good men have every right to be offended when someone says "All men do this." And they have even more right to be offended when #notallmen is attacked. The truth is that not every man is a rapist. The truth is that not every man spends his waking hours considering abusing a woman. The truth is that there are Good Men.
If the supporters of this fight want to enlist more soldiers, they need to start by at least acknowledging that there are Good Men, and that those men are willing to help. Blanket condemnation only makes the battle harder to win.
I should make it clear that many women have good reasons for their fears. They have confronted this reality personally. If the various numbers I've seen quoted are remotely accurate, the number is well over 50%. Not all of those are rapes, but they need not be. The damage is real, and lasting. My point is not that those women should not fear, or at least be wary. They have good reason, and every right to feel those concerns, and I do not for a moment suggest they shouldn't, or that they are being unfair by carrying those emotions and scars.
I do, however, believe that openly bludgeoning all men because of the actions of some, even extending those attacks to men who have done nothing wrong, is counter-productive. Personally I have some real historic issues with "women"...but I don't assume that every one I happen to meet is equally evil. Yes, I've been wrong about that a few times, but I honestly try not to let that color my judgement about someone else.
Personally, I've tried to be a Good Man. I'm not sure I've succeeded, and in any case that's probably a judgement better issued by others, specifically women. I have no doubt I have failed at times, but I can state that it was never my intent. I guess, in the eyes of some (maybe in the eyes of every woman) that's not good enough. In any case, I'm going to pick up my things and retire from this fight. I have little time left, and I'd rather devote my remaining moments to things that bring me happiness. I guess that's being selfish, but at least I won't be bringing sadness to the women I've had the privilege to have known.
September 15th, 2015
There is nothing to fear but
fear itself...the presence of a male. Any male. All males.
September 12th, 2015
|11:08 pm - Nothingness|
So, in a few minutes it will be my birthday, which is, of course, completely wrong. My birth day was 67 years ago. This is just another, and likely the very last, "celebration" of the anniversary of that day...or rather that event.
Statistically it is unlikely I'll have another one. That's fine. Everybody has a "last birthday" at some point. Mine is just coming a bit earlier than others. I'm going to spend the day working...or rather more likely, standing around. I don't really expect to sell a lot of ladders tomorrow, but we'll see.
In the meantime I'll receive a few greetings from some people, many of whom I've never met in person. I already got one from the person who pulled the trigger over a week ago. Somehow doing that and then "wishing me the best" seems strange. Maybe even...oh...maybe a bit hypocritical. It kind of reminds me why I told my daughter I didn't want any funeral or memorial service once I'm gone. I cannot accept the idea that people who honestly didn't give a damn about me while I was alive showing up to tell each other how terrible it is that I'm gone and how much they'll miss me. I'm calling Bullshit on the whole idea.
I spent all of today driving to sell ladders, standing around trying to sell ladders, driving back from selling ladders to volunteer, standing around volunteering, and then driving home. A pretty exciting day. Heck, even the cat hasn't come inside to see me since I got home. Right now I'm heading to bed (early) so I can get up in the morning and do it again. I'd consider buying a cake, but too much of it would simply be wasted because I couldn't eat it fast enough...and I don't need the useless calories anyway.
Maybe I'll sing to myself as I drive. Maybe not. I'll see how I feel about that in the morning.