Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today's mail was truly interesting

It’s not the political season in Oregon.  There is a special election in one Congressional District, to replace a man who resigned, but otherwise not much is happening locally.  However, for reasons I do not really know I received a mailing from Protect Marriage Oregon today.  It is, needless to say, a group that is dedicated to stopping any movement towards same-sex marriage.

From the looks of the envelope I think it was most likely a mass mailing to registered voters, so perhaps it was sent without any screening for likely supporters or whatever.  In any case, since they included a postage-paid return envelope (presumably for my donation to the cause) I thought I would respond.  Here’s what I sent them.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Re-examining the nature of Justice

In the United States one of the most basic principles of Justice in that of Innocent until proven guilty.  A second principle, also enshrined in the Constitution, is the Separation of Powers.  The Legislative Branch makes the laws, the Executive Branch enforces the laws, and the Judicial Branch judges the application of those laws.

Over the years, much has been made of the idea that the Executive Branch has tried to usurp powers of the Legislative Branch, and there are some pretty good arguments to be made about that.  In fact, there has always been a series of struggles between the branches with one side or the other claiming the territory in the middle where overlaps tend to occur.  Today, however, a Federal judge declared Enough!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Worshiping the False Prophets

In the wake of this week's debacle at Penn State, it's hard to find anything positive to write.  It's certainly not the only news, nor even the most important I think.  However, like the politics that I most often discuss, it reveals a fundamental flaw within the fabric of our society.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Trick Play

It's football season.  Even if you're not remotely interested in the games and don't follow a team at any level, you can't help but notice.  While this isn't remotely about football, I think there's a very valid comparison to be made between football and Congress, so I'm going to ask your indulgence for a moment.

A term that we hear in football sometimes is "Trick Play."  The usual meaning is that the team with the ball did something unexpected...they "tricked" the defense.  Most often that's an unexpected on-side kick, maybe a fake punt, or even something known as the Statue of Liberty play.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The truth in Regulations

One of the current political battles deals with the concept of Regulation.  At this point it's pretty much a shouting match, with most of the shouting coming from the GOP candidates, each convinced that the US would be a better place if there was less governmental regulation.  House Speaker John Boehner has even gone so far as to say that the Job Creators are on strike because of Regulations, and now the Tea Party is circulating a letter to small businesses, asking them to Not Hire until the current President is out of office.  In other words, make things worse so we can be elected.

However, the concept of regulation is largely a straw man, created from whole cloth and designed, much like the patter of a stage magician, to distract the audience from the sleight of hand going on else where.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The New Education Program we need

Recently President Obama announced that he would entertain requests for waivers for some of the regulations of the so-called No Child Left Behind law.  Almost immediately several states announced they would be submitting those requests.  Oddly, those who have railed against the Department of Education and too many regulations immediately jumped to disagree with him...even though they had claimed that's what they wanted just days ago.

The reason for this change is pretty straightforward.  The law, as it is currently written and implemented, isn't working.  That's not to say it wasn't a good idea, it just doesn't seem to achieve the desired results.  However, as we've seen over the last few months, this isn't the Education problem we truly need to address.  The problem that is plaguing Education is the the total lack of Education of our elected Representatives.

This class is called Elections and Governance 101, and class is now in session.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On Strike? Well....maybe

For the past few months House Speaker John Boehner has continually told us that we need to lower taxes and cut regulations for the Job Creators if we want the jobs picture to improve.  He's been pretty vague about exactly who these Job Creators actually are, although he did invite ten of them to sit in his box during President Obama's recent address to Congress.

It's worth noting that the Bush tax cuts for the rich, which are one of the largest elements in the current deficit, are now ten years old, but somehow they hasn't inspired the Job Creators, so apparently we need to do more.  Now, Speaker Boehner has clarified the situation by stating that the Job Creators are on Strike. we know.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wrong question...wrong answer!

At the so-called Tea Party debate on Tuesday night, moderator Wolf Blitzer posed the following question to candidate Ron Paul:

A healthy, 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides: You know what? I'm not going to spend 200 or 300 dollars a month for health insurance, because I'm healthy; I don't need it,” Blitzer said. “But you know, something terrible happens; all of a sudden, he needs it. Who's going to pay for it, if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?

Candidate Paul responded:

What he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself.  My advice to him would have a major medical policy...

Then he added:

That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks.

The moderator then pushed for a more specific answer:

But congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?

Before he could respond, someone (or more than one someone) in the audience responded yelling "Yeah!"

That's an interesting, and very revealing, response. However, it was the wrong question. Here's why.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Definition defined

First, let me follow up a little bit on the previous post.

Way back when, between 55 and 135 AD to be exact, there was a philosopher named Epictetus.  He was Roman, but got tossed out of Rome (along with all other philosophers) in 93 AD, and ended up in Greece.  He was born a slave, name unknown, but somehow managed to procure his freedom and took the name from the Greek word epiktetos (επικτητος)

Anyway, this guy was pretty bright, and he succinctly defined the whole issue the US is confronting this way.

What concerns me is not the way things are...but the way people think they are.

Meanwhile, back to the idea of Definition.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Its called a Con Game!

Way back when, the criminals of the world invented what became known as a Con Game.  The term is actually short for a Confidence Game.  In simple terms, the bad guy would get you to part with your money by presenting you with a "deal" and gaining your confidence.  It's pretty much like the great "You've got money waiting in Nigeria" email spam deal, but it was done face-to-face back then.

Well, that same game is going on again today, and it doesn't involve Nigerians.  It does, however, involve you!

With the economy in the dumpster, there are all kinds of opinions from all kinds of "economists" about what should be done.  However, if you ignore all the blather, they all agree on one thing: The economy will only improve when consumer confidence improves.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ignore the DOW!

Almost without exception, every newscast includes a report on the DOW, which is shorthand for the Dow-Jones Industrial Average.  It is, supposedly, a measure of the performance of the stock market.  It’s not.  It’s a number that far too many people use to guide their lives, and far worse, their attitudes.  We need to ignore it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maybe the "old days" were "good"

Back when I was growing the 50's and 60's, the world was different.  It wasn't just the lack of computers or smart phones or CD/DVD players.  Economically it was different too.  Better, I think.

I recall, I think it was in the seventh grade, when our math teacher introduced us to the general concepts of the stock market.  It was, admittedly, limited to a pretty big picture, but then lots of things were simpler back then.  In any case, there are a couple things I distinctly remember about what Mr. Larson taught us.

Monday, August 15, 2011

People with a severe Multiple Personality Disorder

Mitt Romney and I are probably miles apart politically.  That's okay.  In a democracy, that's allowed.  In fact, it's even encouraged.  We need ideas from all sides, and for me, an idea doesn't come with Right or Left attached.  It could be a great idea regardless of who suggested it, and, candidly, it might truly suck even if someone close to my heart came up with it.  Such is Democracy.

However, that said, sometimes I hear things that simply make no sense.  In this case, it was Mitt, suggesting that companies, or corporations, are just people.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's about Leadership.....

Leadership is one of those things.  Like the statement made famous by Associate Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, most of us would be hard pressed to define it, but agree I know it when I see it.  Lately, however, what we've seen is its absence.  Sadly, it's gone AWOL.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What I learned in the Boy Scouts

Many years ago, I was a Boy Scout.  In fact, not that it matters, I'm an Eagle Scout.  So is my son, which doesn't matter at all, but I'm very proud of his accomplishments too.  Anyway, the Boy Scouts taught me many things.  There's that motto:  Be Prepared!  That's still pretty good advice.

More specifically, I'm thinking right now about what I learned about getting (or being) lost.  The first, and most important lesson, was this...

As soon as you "discover" you're lost, stop moving.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The new Vietnam

If you're old enough to remember those times, or if you've read your history, you probably know that Vietnam was a mess.  Regardless of how it began, and unrelated to any greater Cold War issues, the fact remains that we sent our military off to war with a mission that couldn't help but fail.  As it was later defined, we were trying to win hearts and minds, and you can't do that with guns and bombs.

Today, we're seeing the same gameplan played out yet again, and yet again, those advocating that process haven't figured it out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The FAA and Republicans...a confusing contradiction

In the past weeks we've witnessed a complete breakdown of the politics of compromise.  One side would, but couldn't...because the other side wouldn't.  At all!  Never!

It might be easy to understand an uncompromising position based upon principles, even if it means stupid things result, but how can we understand a position that directly contradicts other positions taken by the same people.  The current situation with the FAA highlights how the Republican Party has utterly failed to maintain it's own standards, let alone what's best for the American people.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maybe Mel Brooks........

Like many others, dare I say most Americans, I've spent the last few weeks watching the discussion debate arguing posturing sound-biting stupidity regarding extending the debt ceiling.  Many times I've tried to identify some sort of analogy that might better explain the situation.

Several have come to mind, but they all seem to be either too lame or too convoluted.  None actually seem to include everything that's happening.  However, earlier today, as I was working on a piece of art in my shop, I think I might have stumbled across a comparison that people might understand.  What we've been witnessing is actually a Mel Brooks movie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An open letter to Speaker of the House John Bohner

To the honorable John Bohner:

I am writing to express my displeasure with the lack of progress on dealing with the debt limit.

I live in Oregon, and I recognize that you do not represent me.  However, despite your claim this evening that you are the Speaker of the whole House, as one of the American people I can also state that you don’t represent us.

I have listened carefully to the discussion, debate, and diatribe about this issue that has filled the air in recent weeks.  During that time I have heard only one thing from you and your Republican colleagues: We will not consider raising taxes!  While that’s a fine objective, it is completely out of touch with reality.

The single largest element contributing to the increase in the nation’s debt is the Bush era tax cuts.  Your defense has continually been the mantra that they must remain, especially those that benefit the wealthy, because they are the Job Creators.  That is a lie.  The cuts have been in place for ten years!  Where are the jobs? 

The only jobs created have been those in other countries as companies took advantage of tax benefits to ship American jobs overseas.  After ten years of extra benefits supposedly, according to you, for the Job Creators, we have the highest unemployment in years.  For the record, I’m one of those unemployed, and I welcome you to join me in November of 2012.

You spoke tonight of “the President wanting a blank check.”  Perhaps I should provide a quick review of the Constitution.

Every bill to be paid by the Federal Government was incurred because Congress passed legislation authorizing that expenditure.  The President cannot spend a dime that you haven't authorized, regardless of the original amounts included in his budget proposals.

Since you have served in Congress for many years, you, not the President, are responsible for those debts.  When President Clinton left office, he left a budget surplus that was making some progress towards reducing the accumulated debt.  In eight years of the Bush presidency, we had eight years of budget deficits!  This is hardly the time for you to complain.  If Congress overspent, and also passed tax cuts, you have no one to blame but yourself and your colleagues.  During several of those years, both houses of Congress and the Presidency were controlled by the Republicans.  This mess is your doing, and it's about time you stopped trying to shift the blame elsewhere.

Two thousand years ago, the Roman orator Cicero invoked the Latin phrase cui bono, literally, “to whose benefit?” or "as a benefit to whom?  When I hear the Republicans continually speaking of taxes, I ask myself that question. 

Sadly, I always come to the same conclusion, namely that the beneficiaries of this dogma are the rich and wealthy, who not only do not create jobs, but do fund the re-election campaigns of those who espouse the position.  Therefore, I guess it is time to remind you, and all the others, of a single fact:  You were elected to represent all of us, not just the rich.  It is time that you remembered that charge.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What exactly is Leadership?

There are most likely a million different descriptions or phrases that people use to describe leaders.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going.  Stuff like that.  We all seek out leaders that we deem worth following, and relentlessly complain when they fail us.

In some cases, leaders fail us because we put them in positions that they can't possibly fulfill.  We present them with problems that have no solution, and then complain when they choose the best option because it's not a perfect solution.  We somehow expect they'll find some unexpected way out of the conundrum that had everyone else baffled.

However, many times we simply expect them to lead.  For example, we know that the best military leaders can't ensure that no soldier is wounded or killed, even if we lament every battle casualty.  We accept that reality, and simply ask that they understand our pain.  Despite our anguish, we continue to follow them.  It's clear that the crucible of battle can identify and define Leaders.

However, amongst us are people who believe they are leaders, and they actively seek to fill those roles.  With very few exceptions, politicians hold their office because they sought it.  Despite the fact that we are openly skeptical of campaign promises, they stood in front of us and said they wanted the job, promising to do the job.  We may share philosophical perspectives, or simply believe they're better than the other candidates.  We may not even like them, but they seem to be the least worst.

In dealing with Congress, when we are realistic, we know that they are only one of many, and they have a limited ability to make changes: one vote amongst 435, or one vote amongst 100.  However, we still expect them to try.

There are only two things we cannot accept.

First, we expect and understand that governance requires compromise.  It's no different than any other relationship.  You cannot demand your way or the highway with your spouse, your best friend, or anyone else you interact with.  It doesn't work.  So, despite those campaign promises, or whatever pledged you signed for Grover Norquist, we understand that you'll have to move a bit to find something workable.  Leaders understand that, no less than the rest of us.

Second, we cannot abide a quitter.  You asked to be elected as a leader, and now you owe us leadership.  Leadership means you keep trying and working until you find a way.  Leaders are NOT quitters.

So, today we watched as John Boehner quit.  He walked out, saying, in essence, that he wasn't willing to lead.  He was unwilling to compromise, and decided he was also unwilling to lead.  Remember, this is a man who not only ran for election to the House, but also ran to become the Majority Leader of the house.  When the test of a leader came, he bailed.  Today, we watched a failure of Leadership.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Please! Stop me before I spend again!"

There's an old saying, and I have no idea where it started, that says something like "Stop me before I kill again."  Evidently it's the plea of a serial killer who is begging to be apprehended because he simply can't stop himself from repeating his heinous crimes.  I'm not a psychologist, so I can't really say whether this could be a real condition, even if the phrase is apocryphal.  However, when a member of the Senate says something similar, I think I can weigh in.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Smoke, Mirrors, and Faust

In the classic tale, told both by Christopher Marlow and later by Goethe, Faust sells his soul to the devil, thinking he's made a great deal only to find out later what he's lost and how he's compromised himself.  Today we're seeing that same storyline played out again and again, but this time by real people not fictional characters, they're finding themselves just as trapped.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Language Evolves

We all know that language evolves.  New words are added every year, and old words have new meanings attached to them by common usage.  Some words go out of favor, replaced by others for one reason or another.  In less than 250 years, British English and American English have become much different, even though they obviously share a common source.

However, despite this normal evolution, some words have been made obsolete simply because we chose to ignore their meaning.  Here are a few sad-but-true examples.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Have the New Communists Arrived?

Times have changed.  The most current rule, usually applied to blogs and comment threads found upon the internet, is that comparing a current situation/leader/party or whatever to Hitler and the Third Reich is less than appropriate, even if it's completely apt and accurate.

In older days, say sometime in the 1950's or so, the rule, at least as applied within the US government, was never accuse somebody of being a Communist.  They were, at least at that time, the ultimate bad guys, worse (apparently) then Hitler and his minions.  I'm not sure that was true, but I definitely agree that Stalin gave Adolf a run for his money.

Both of those regimes are now long gone, and probably a lot of people under the age of 40 or so have no memory or knowledge of any of that.  Sad, but true.  However, the Communist boggie man has returned, or at least his tactics have, and that's truly sad.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Was the Declaration of Independence premature?

In school we are taught that the colonists along the eastern seaboard of the North American continent issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, stating that they, for good reasons, no longer wished to be consider themselves ruled by the English crown.  It is a stirring document, filled with wonderful phrases that clearly enunciate rights that every "man" should have.

The words were visionary at the time, establishing ideas that were literally unknown in the existing governmental systems.  They became "fighting words" and ultimately led to the revolution that resulted in the creation of the United States of America.  However, they did not establish the independence of the country for all time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The myth of marriage and slow drying paint.........

There is a metaphor in common usage that describes a situation as being like painting yourself into a corner.  It refers, obviously, to someone who is painting a floor and discovers that their only route of escape is by walking across the floor just painted, presumably leaving tracks in the still-wet paint.  It is, more or less, the perfect description of a self-inflicted error.

In these days of continuous media attention and unlimited access to the internet, such a situation is the worst possible thing for a politician, for whatever error they make will quickly be shared with everyone, inviting bloggers and people far away to feast upon the miss-spoken words.  However, this orgy of the carrion-eaters is not always the result of a casual slip of the tongue.  Sometimes it is premeditation self destruction that can easily be anticipated.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Time to Change the World - pt 2

Before I proceed, I think I should add another example that I omitted from Part 1.  I said that the health care system in the United States is broken, and I can think of no better example than that of James Verone, who walked into a bank on June 9th and presented the teller with a holdup note, asking for $1.  He then sat in the lobby and waited for the police to arrive.  When asked, he said that he did it only because he had several health problems.  He worked 17 years for Coke, lost his job, found other work here and there, but nothing substantial, and he has no insurance and no money to pay for the doctor.

Now more about Part 2
This posting is long, and there are three sections: Solution, Benefits,and Costs.  I must ask that you read them all before forming any opinion or resorting to your pre-conceived notions.  I've played with the order of the sections for a long time, but no other options seem to work better, we go

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Time to change the world, pt 1

A while back I posed this question for my readers in the United States:

Is health care a Right or a Privilege?

In all honesty, I was very surprised by some of the responses.  As I tried to objectively read them, I found myself dismissing some responses, partly, I suspected, because they didn't agree with my own position.  Then, as I thought more about it, I decided that the answers might just be theoretical because the respondent hadn't been on both sides of the question.  That may or may not be some form of rationalization on my part, but I think it's relevant.

In any case, it's time to lay out my answer, explain why, and then explain how that decision could favorably impact the entire United States and solve a bunch of problems that we all face right now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Haves and Have Nots - the numbers (and candidates) speak volumes

The founders of the United States supported equality.  Well...not really.  They conveniently ignored the slaves and women's rights, but at least in the case of the latter, women didn't have the right to vote, or do much of anything else, almost anywhere in the world, so they weren't that far out of step with the times.  Slavery was a different issue.

In any case, with those notable exceptions, they said that people were created equal.  They wanted equal opportunities, but never suggested that they wanted to control for equal results.  You weren't guaranteed an income or whatever simply because you existed.  That was left up to you.  However, over time, things have changed, and in my opinion, it's not quite working out.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What's in a name?

I'm not a fan of political nicknames.  To me they don't mean much, and usually become just another slur, used to somehow depict that the person or persons being described are somehow inherently wrong, simply because they belong to particular party or ascribe to a particular position on an issue.

The term Liberal used to mean someone who wasn't a Conservative.  Now, of course, the normal use is to decry someone as being...well, almost less than human.  Certain parts of the political parties are now called the Base, and you don't cross them if you want to be elected.  There used to be Socialists and Communists, but they seem to have disappeared, lumped into some other negative descriptor.

In short, most of these terms are little different than that infamous N word, and they carry the same intent for those using them.  There is one term, however, that I find interesting, but only because it is so self-contradictory.  That term is the Tea Party.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I want to begin this post with an acknowledgement.  There are few minefields more lethal than where I'm heading.  For a person to even suggest criticism of Israel is tantamount to being charged with anti-Semitism.  It's about as automatic as Tuesday following Monday.  So, while I will disavow any such bias, I know no words will convince those who automatically believe otherwise.  That said, let's move on.
Since I've discussed some general issues with our Foreign Policy, let's look at the most difficult foreign policy problem facing us today: the Middle East, and more specifically Israel vs. Palestine.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Some facts that should get in our way

Without a doubt one of the hottest items for public discussion right now is the Federal Deficit.  I think we all agree it's too high.  I think we all know that, at least in the short term, Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling.  I think we all agree that steps need to be taken to reduce it.

Those things we most likely agree on.  Of course, agreement on the need to raise the debt ceiling is being held hostage to related actions, and that's sad.  When the water is rising, it's inappropriate to spend too much time worrying about how we'll pay for next year's supply of sandbags.

There is, however, a need for some serious discussion on the long term solution, and that's where the problem lies.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The problem starts with the name

Foreign Policy!

We debate it, we struggle with it, we find it confusing.  We accuse our leaders, no matter who they are, of  being inconsistent, of not having one, and, of course, of screwing it up.  We don't, as individuals or as collectives, agree on what it should be.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult things for people to grapple with.  In fact, the very problem is that we wrestle with it, rather than develop it.

But, that need not be so.  Here's why.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's time for a do-over

The term "coming out of the closet" is usually attached to the notion that someone is publicly acknowledging their alternative sexual orientation.  Typically they do that because they are tired of hiding behind a veil of lies and deceit and/or wish to appropriately acknowledge the person that they love.  Taking that action used to be right up there with suicide, and certainly in some parts of the world it remains so.

Fortunately, in much of the world, and a large portion of the US, it's now greeted more casually.  In some cases, friends are glad they no longer have to pretend they haven't figured it out.  Other responses may still be negative, but for the individual it's got to be a huge relief to have "that" out of the way.  They can move on with their lives.

However, the term doesn't apply exclusively to sexual orientation.  It can also be used to describe any number of personal attributes that people feel they must hide.  Some come from a silent presumption that their friends simply won't understand.  In the last couple of years I've seen people "come out" and reveal that they've been closet Liberals, closet Red Sox fans, and even (gasp) closet Slytherins.  In some eyes, these are far worse transgressions than being Gay or Lesbian.  In fact, for some, I'm sure they're right up there with the official list of mortal sins.

So, with that in mind, I think it's time I came out of the closet.  I'm going to confess.  Before you jump to conclusions, please take a minute and a bit read more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Journey, still day one. Sitting in a traffic jam, with time to think about stuff

Hopefully, we've all had time to consider the question in depth.  Assuming that to be true, I'm going to move on.

We've got a fork coming up, and we have a choice of two roads.  One leads us towards Privilege, and the other goes towards Right.  Although I know which road I'd take, let's spend a minute discussing the implications of the decision.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On the freeway - still Day One

Okay, as we ease into traffic and join the herd stampeding down the freeway, let's expand the conversation a little.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And the journey begins

The important part of this whole discussion is the process.  If you believe in the process, then you'll more likely believe in the result.  That's why we're taking the journey in the first place, because, if I just jumped in with the destination, you might, understandably, jump in and say you didn't want to go THERE!

So, as you hop into this vehicle, be it the Mini Cooper or the big bus, I'm going to ask you to consider a question.  I don't need an answer, do.  Don't try to consider where it might lead you, just consider the question all by itself.  I know that's hard to do, because it's instantly tempting to say..."yes, but...."

Don't consider the implications of your decision, just consider the question.  I'll warn you right now that it doesn't lead where you think it does.

So, here's your first question.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's a journey

Tonight I'm going to invite you to go on a journey with me.  I'm not telling you where we're going, at least not yet.  I think it's better that way.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Profound...and distressing

Years ago, Alexander Graham Bell completed the first telephone call.  According to legend, and apparently backed up by first-person accounts, after he spilled some liquid, possibly acid, he yelled into his primitive receiver something like Watson.  Come here.  I need you.

His exact words aren't important, at least not now.  Apparently whatever he spilled got cleaned up and no one was the worse for it.  The important part was that Watson heard him, and telecommunication was born.

In the years that followed, the telephone did many things, but by far the most important was that it gave people more time.  They didn't need to write a letter and then post it.  They didn't need to delay decisions for days waiting for a response.  They didn't need to hop on a horse and go to town to communicate, or ride in a train or carriage or automobile to ask a simple question.

It is sometimes observed that nothing comes without a price, and although phone service cost money, that wasn't the true price.  The true price was a bill that remained unpaid, and the interest kept accruing.  Today, for far too many people, that bill has come due, and the total rivals the Federal debt!

Today, that early telephone, which has morphed into something far different, is collecting the bill...and the interest.  It is sucking every moment of your time, claiming hours you could have spent with friends, family, and society.  It has stolen your time to read and study.  It robs you of personal interaction, and replaces those hours with stupidity on a tiny screen.

Instead of taking your wife to a movie, you watch it by yourself, somehow convinced that trading the Big Screen for that little, itty bitty picture is a great deal.  Heck, you don't even get popcorn...although, just maybe, you have an App for that!

The worst part is the balance due on that bill hasn't gone down, and the interest keeps mounting.

Now, after you've used your phone to forward this to 11 of your friends, sent three tweets about it, and stopped to check your messages and email for the 97th time in the last hour, shut off your phone and discover the world around you. least ten minutes.  You'll be surprised what you've been missing during all the time your phone has claimed!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The real problem is...........

Today, and for the whole of this past week, the news channels are filled with everything "Shutdown."  Given the importance of what's going on, that's probably appropriate.  However, what's being missed in all that noise is the real issue.

The discussion, at least as reported by the media until last night (Thursday) was all about the differences in dollars...i.e., what should be cut and how much.  I don't for a moment think that's unimportant.  The deficit is way too big, and on a collision course with disaster.  It is also inevitable that choosing to fund or not fund programs represents choices way beyond the dollars involved.  Funding the government means making political, or maybe more accurately, social, decisions.  If you don't fund Program X, it's likely because you see it as less important than Program Y.  Or maybe you just don't like the idea of Program X in the first place.

All of that is fine, I guess.  However, it has the effect that I described in the book, of making decisions a part of bills that have nothing to do with anything.

Here's an example, that actually blends two chapters of the book together.

The current House Bill to fund the government includes a provision (called a rider, because it's simply along for the ride) that forbids Washington DC from using their own dollars to fund abortions.

There's two problems with this.

Problem #1 is that it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with funding the Federal Government.  It's not part of the Federal Budget.  It doesn't increase or decrease the Federal deficit.  It is nothing more than an attempt to apply somebody's (read Conservatives) personal values upon an area that not a single one of them represent.  It's attached to this bill because everyone knows it couldn't possible pass if it was considered on its own merits!  Apparently it's a deal killer to remove it.  Tough!  The House needs to do its job, and fund the Federal Government.  The House Republicans, collectively, are doing the very thing they complain about: creating a nanny government that tells people what to do with their own money!   

Problem #2 is that Congress, specifically the House, is abusing the citizens of Washington DC by singling them out for Special Treatment.  They could not pass this law to affect any other state, or any other group of people, but because of the special provisions for the District of Columbia, they actually can do this.  Because the citizens of Washington DC have no voice in Congress, they don't even have anybody to plead their case, at least nobody with a vote in the matter.

In short, while I have many many disagreements about what is or is not going to be funded through this bill, assuming it is ever passed, the fact remains that Congress is about to lay off a good portion of the working population of Washington DC, because they want to exert unreasonable control over the lives of those folks.  To me, this is not an example of "less government."  It is an example of complete hypocrisy, and I think John Boehner knows it.  While the President is being accused of not standing up and leading, the Speaker of the House is the true wimp here!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And yet they wonder why

The BBC news reported today that Transocean, the company charged with running the operation of the Deepwater Horizon, the drilling platform that caught fire, exploded and sank, killing nine workers and creating the worst oil spill in history, awarded bonuses to the "top executives" for their outstanding safety record last year.

Now, if that statement doesn't seem somehow completely wrong, then...well, I have no idea what has happened to our value system.

According to the report

Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate.

As measured by these standards, we recorded the best year in safety performance in our company's history, which is a reflection on our commitment to achieving an incident free environment, all the time, everywhere.

This is more or less like saying, except for the fact that your whole family was wiped out in a terrible house fire, we had a really good year in preventing fatal house fires.  Somehow, that logic just doesn't work.

I have some serious problems with executive salaries, perks, and bonuses in many situations, but this is just beyond the pale.  How can anyone, with an ounce of moral fiber, accept a bonus for such a performance standard?

It is sometimes observed that statistics can be manipulated to show anything.  That's sometimes true, an apparently this is an excellent example of such spinning.  It is impossible to discuss the real numbers and what they might show as a trend.  However, given the disaster, and I don't use that term lightly, of last year, I don't think the "safety record" for last year was anything to reward.

It's a bit like saying "we didn't create as much damage as the situation in Japan."  That might be accurate, but irrelevant.

In this case, common sense...well, in this case, there clearly is no common sense.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's all in how you read it

We are probably all well aware of the continuing developments in Libya.  While the ultimate outcome remains murky at best, the situation is so confused that it's even taken Japan off the front page.

For the most part, ignoring the military specifics, the political debate seems to hinge on whether the "no-fly" zone has morphed into something more, or at least something else.  There are opinions all over the map about that, so let's look at the actual language of the UN resolution as a starting point.

UN resolution 1973 says this:

Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute “crimes against humanity”, the Security Council this evening imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace — a no-fly zone — and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.

Adopting resolution 1973 (2011) by a vote of 10 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation), the Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory — requesting them to immediately inform the Secretary-General of such measures.

The first paragraph speaks specifically of the "no-fly" zone.  That's pretty clear.  The second paragraph adds some additional ideas, specifically ...take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory

Now, that language suggests additional things.  Depending upon exactly how we read that, "all necessary measures to protect civilians" could mean almost anything where somebody perceives a threat.  Clearly a military unit, or even a squad of policemen, walking down the street shooting at people would likely qualify, especially if they are acting under orders.  To me, it seems to suggest that even if they weren't acting under orders.

Of course, like all things political, there are always nuances and hidden concepts.  In this case, since a "foreign occupation force of any form" is specifically precluded, that means outsiders can only change things through the use of air power.  That might include planes, conceivably helicopters, unmanned guided missiles, and perhaps drones.

Those things might not have been intended by some who supported the resolution, but to me the language, at least in the English version, opens the door.  I should caution that sometimes these things don't translate well, so the "intent" in some other languages might seem very different.  As an aside, the original Four Power Agreement to govern the city of Berlin at the end of WWII had this very problem, and it caused no end of problems over and above the issues between Russia and the western allies.

Ultimately, no matter how you parse those words, the situation becomes obvious.  The resolution places the UN, or at least its member states, in the position of taking sides in what is essentially a civil war.  The exact nature of the sides is unclear.  On one side you have the current government, which I believe can best be described as oppressive.  The threat to go "house to house" cleansing the nation of rebels was clearly a "threat" in any language.

On the other side, however, we have the "rebels."  They claim to seek freedom from oppression, which is undoubtedly true.  What is less clear is exactly what they have in mind when and if they succeed in doing that.  Trading one oppressive regime for another, with only the haves and have-nots trading places, isn't a good long-term solution.

Ultimately, we all need to acknowledge one eternal truth:  Democracy isn't easy!

In a nation with no democratic history, the people are faced with a myriad of new choices and responsibilities, often with no experience or expertise to guide them.  Old issues, such as tribalism, don't suddenly go away.  The disparity between the rich and poor remains.  In the case of Libya, how does the country share the revenue from their oil, which represents, according to some figures, nearly 90% of their export income?

At this point, the ultimate outcome...which side still in doubt.  Personally I have few doubts what Libya would look like if the current regime manages to stay in power.  It's not a pretty picture.

On the other hand, I have no idea what a new government might look like.  Neither does anyone else.  For those on the outside who desire "Democracy" there is a risk, for even if a pure democracy was established, the people of Libya, for whom we are supposedly doing all of this, might just select a government that "we don't like."  Democracy is like that.  Democracy is messy, noisy, and confused.  As we have seen in the US, even with years of experience, it's still hard to make function well, and elections often mean abrupt about-faces.

At this point, the world appears to have collectively chosen sides, and given the current regime's statements, that's not terribly surprising.  There is a suspicion that Oil plays a big part in all of this, and that's likely true to some degree.  No one can say how much.  In the end, all anyone can do is support the people as they search for "something better" and hope they succeed in finding it.  Hopefully, "something better" will be better for every Libyan.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Short and simple (not sweet)

Item:  There was another rocket attack in Israel.
Item:  Israel launched attacks in Gaza that killed several civilians, including some children.
Item:  A bomb exploded in Jerusalem, destroying a bus and injuring many.

Some things change, while other things remain constant.  As the violence ramps up yet again, the unchanging situation remains unchanged, for exactly the same reasons, on both sides of this struggle.

First, you have to want peace.

Sadly, no one does. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The 800 pound gorillas, and their much larger dad

Setting aside the situation in Japan, which we truly shouldn't, the world has now re-focused on the Middle East, and specifically Libya, and while that conflict is, for the moment, more dramatic, the outcome in Japan is just as important.

In any case, the UN acted, either way to slowly or precipitously, and declared that Gaddafi should stop his attacks on his own people.  With that declaration in hand, and the twin requests for a No-Fly zone from the rebel government and the Arab League, several nations have acted.  Gaddafi seems surprised by that, but I suppose he just never quite believed all the statements being made.  Oh well.

So, there are a couple things unsaid, or just mentioned in passing, and they're the 800 pound gorilla's stalking the Middle East at the moment.

The first, which has been tacitly acknowledged, is that unless the coalition forces actually chose to target Gaddafi himself, which they all agree isn't in their rules of engagement, then the whole situation could well end in some sort of stalemate, with Gaddafi content to sit in Tripoli and the rebels unable to expand their sphere of influence.

In one respect that's a reasonable outcome in the short range, since the whole idea was to save lives.  No fighting means no one is dying, although it's clearly a situation that can't last forever.  What happens next is anyone's guess, but surely politicians of every persuasion will be complaining one way or the other.  John McCain, who until a couple days ago was complaining about the lack of action on a No Fly zone is now complaining because they've got one.  Sorry, John, but you can't have it both ways.

Another aspect of Libya, which is always a danger in these situations, is that the next government might be more anti-American.  That's a risk with a democracy, and there's not a thing we can (or should) do about it.  If we truly believe in democracy as a governmental model, then we have to believe that whatever the people vote for themselves is appropriate.  In the US we've seen that firsthand, with a bunch of folks decrying the Bush years, and others saying the same thing about the current President.

The other 800 pound gorilla is Saudi Arabia.  They have been staunch supporters of the US, but when they look at how we tossed Mubarak and Egypt under the bus, they've got to wonder.  I don't disagree that Mubarak needed to go, but it does send troublesome signs to those who read that as some sort of policy change.  Bahrain is a similar situation, although the message to the leadership there has been straight-forward: stop beating the protesters and loosen the reigns of freedom a bit.  I don't think they're hearing that message, or else they're just ignoring it.  It's impossible to tell which right now.

However, with all of this said, let's turn our attention to the daddy of the 800 pound gorillas.  The reason the whole world cares as much as they do, and it's not remotely about the "humanitarian crisis," isn't being discussed, at least not directly.  In truth, it's one thing, and one thing only: Oil!

The simple answer here, which is so far from the radar screens that it doesn't even register as a blip, is that so long as the world, or more directly the US is dependent upon oil, we'll continue to be drawn into these things, for all the wrong reasons.  No, we don't need to be drilling more at home, or in the gulf, or anywhere else.  We need to put the effort into alternatives, and cut ourselves loose from foreign policy dictated by economic reality.

As I said in the book:  What we need is not evolution, but revolution.  The time is now!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Making decisions

For those who believe in absolutes, the answers are always easy.  If, for example, you don't believe in the death penalty, then it is easy to say that never, regardless of the question of guilt, regardless of the severity of the crime(s), the death penalty is never "right."

That specific choice is actually rather simple, but only because there are viable options to be utilized.  Saying "no death penalty" doesn't mean you have to say "no punishment."

Other situations are different, with less clear-cut results.  Although I don't wish to discuss the "right to life" directly, there are nuances in that stance.  It is easy to say "no" to an abortion, but not all abortions are equal.  Yes, they have the same result for the unborn, but their case can be radically different, at least from a societal perspective.  Do we force a woman who has been raped to give birth?  Clearly that's much different than a woman who simply made bad choices.  Do we force a woman to continue a pregnancy, knowing that it likely will end in her death, and quite likely the death of the unborn too?  Again, decisions based purely upon an absolute runs up against reality.

On Thursday we saw that very discussion played out at the United Nations.  The Security Council debated what to do with Libya.  There are a number of "facts" which we can probably agree upon, namely that the existing regime is employing the military (a catch-all term including police and whatever else there is) to crush a rebellion.  The existing regime has denied all sorts of actions which we have seen on the nightly news.  The leader and his proteges have openly lied so much that we probably doubt anything he says, even if we likely believe him when he said he'll send his troops house to house to kill the rebels.  THAT we likely believe.

So, the Security Council debated, and in the end decided to act.  The vote was 10 to 0,with five abstentions.  Two of those five, Russia and China have veto power, but chose not to invoke it.  They both believe that intervening in other countries is wrong, but largely because they fear that very action in their own lands.  The most interesting abstention is Germany.

If we were to look at humanitarian disasters in the last 100 years or so, one that stands out would be Hitler's Germany.  The world stood by, content to believe it was an internal matter for Germans, and in many ways it was.  However, before the shooting war began it was obviously much more than that.  The German people know all too well what can happen, and they've created laws for themselves to both remind them and to prevent any replay.  60 years later, those may be a bit of overkill, but I applaud their dedication to the cause.

They have also more or less forsworn having a military that is built to fight an external war.  They know what happens when, as Churchill put it, the world changes from "jaw-jaw to war-war."  Post war Germany lived with both the knowledge of history and the Cold War threatening to again destroy the country just as the 30 Years War did in 1618.  They would provide the battleground, but little more.

Did the UN act too fast?  Should the world stay out of such matters?  At what point does the "internal situation" in a country become "everybody's concern?"  No one truly knows, and therein lies the problem.  There is no single point on a measuring tool that says "here is the point where things change."

In the end it appears likely that Libya will undergo a change in leadership.  Exactly how that plays out is unclear.  Did too many people have to die to make that happen?  Absolutely, but in a nation where there are no elections and no system in place to alter the government, that's the way things happen.

As Churchill once observed, "Democracy is the worst form of government...except for all the others."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In simple terms, the question is really easy, and there are plenty of examples from earlier times that could be cited.  However, like most everything else in life, simple questions don't have simple answers, especially simple right answers.

Around the world we are watching humanitarian disasters in the making.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Caught in the middle....again

In 1941 the government of the United States grabbed the broad brush and in the ultimate example of a knee-jerk reaction, painted every person of Japanese ancestry as complicit in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  American citizens, some of whom were second and third generation citizens, were rounded up, their rights completely trampled, and given short notice to move to internment camps.  Property was confiscated, or forced to be sold at pennies on the dollar.  It was actually only slightly different than the actions taken in Germany against the Jews.

Eventually, two or three things happened.  Very slowly there was some recognition that some(most) of these people were actually Americans, who just happened to be ethnically Japanese.  Some were allowed to join the military, or in some cases, re-join!  Ultimately the 442 RCT, fighting primarily in Italy, became the most highly decorated unit in the Army.  Was that because they took extreme risks to prove "white America" had been wrong?  Possibly, but let's just acknowledge that they did their share.

Much later, decades later, the government finally got around to acknowledging that most actions taken had been wrong, and blatantly illegal.  It was too little, and far too late, should have been a learning experience.  For some it might have been, but, unfortunately not for all.

Today we are holding hearings in Congress that are far too reminscent of McCarthy and his ilk.  The target this time isn't the Communists.  This time the "group" that is being painted with the broadest of brushes isn't the Japanese.  This time, it's Muslims.  Other than that, history is repeating itself.

There is no question that the United States suffered a devestating attack, once again a surprise assault that caused much damage and loss of life.  This time those targeted were truly innocent civilians, which doesn't change anything, but it's worth acknowledging.  This time, once the truth was discovered, it was again easy to place the blame on on a single group.  However, it was not a racial segment, but rather a religion.

There are two great truths about 911.  The first is that it was carried out by a splinter group that represented no nation, nor even a specific religion.  They had their own agenda, and while others throughout the world might have welcomed the attack, they did not participate in it.  Hitler might or might not have welcomed the actions of Japan, but he didn't actively help them.  In fact, he would have been much happier if they had attacked Russia.

The second great truth about 911 is that it became far too easy to blame the religion rather than the perpetrators.  In our collective rush to demonize all Muslims, we've never paused to look at the truth.  We marched hell-bent into Iraq... because...well, because somebody in power wanted to, and then doctored the evidence to make it seem reasonable.  In hindsight, we were absolutely wrong in every justification was offered, but the damage is done.

There is, however, one place, happening today where we could do something right...and we're not.  The so-called King hearings only serve to make matters worse.  They again demonize a religion while purporting to find out about "radical Islam."  Terrorism isn't that narrow, and if we look at the most recent attacks in the United States, we'll see that.  The shootings in Arizona, the attempt to bomb and MLK parade in Spokane, and many other "terrorist acts" aren't related to any religion, and not remotely related to Islam.

Sadly, whatever lessons we could have learned from 1941 have been ignored or forgotten in our rush to find a new enemy.  That's something we should not idly ignore.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How we don't get to the middle.......

I found these two quotes in a news story today, and they reveal a whole lot about our current situation.

"I don't think compromise right now is the option," Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a GOP freshman from Tennessee, said last week.

Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois put it more bluntly to Time magazine: "I came here ready to go to war. ... The people didn't send me here to compromise."

These two men were speaking about reducing the deficit, and while I applaud the concept, their execution is sorely lacking.  Compromise, that evil word, is definitely the way to go, lest we simply continue to polarize further an already-divided society.  When we can't talk to each other about our differences, we will never find good solutions, and the more we demonize the other side, the worse it gets.

Failure becomes the inevitable result when Leadership is abandoned in favor of diatribe..

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Smack between Tunisia and the middle

Libya is obviously on our minds a lot lately, and likely will continue to be there.  Not surprisingly, opinions are all over the map about what's the proper course, and in the end, hindsight will be, as always, 20-20.

We've done too little, or we shouldn't jump in.  We should do this, or that, or we shouldn't.  What's the right answer?  I'm not sure I know, but here are some ideas to consider.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stuck in the middle?

Sometimes the middle can be elusive, even though you know it's got to be there.  Somewhere.

Right now, the state of Wisconsin is just plain stuck, largely because they're not in the middle.  Well, "they" might be, but the two extremes (which may not be all that extreme, but I'll get to that in a minute) are not in the middle.

To be fair, the discussion, or debate, or confrontation, or whatever you want to call it, isn't about money.  I'm not certain that it ever was, even though that's the "official story" from one side.  So, here's my take on all of this.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Freedom comes with a price

If you study the Constitution, you know that the first amendment includes what we generally call Freedom of Speech.  Although from time to time other "rights" move to the forefront, this one most likely affects our society more than any other on a regular basis.

Questions regarding Gun Control or Separation of Church and State also come up, but we might go months or even years without any truly significant public discourse about them.  Speech seems to come up fairly regularly.

Freedom of Speech can be the ultimate hot button, and for good reason.  With a few exceptions, we allow anyone to say anything.  While I firmly believe that's a wonderful thing, it does come with a cost.  We allow people to say hurtful things.  We allow people to exaggerate.  We allow people to lie.  We allow people to express opinions way outside mainstream thought.

This week the United States Supreme Court confirmed that Free Speech, even speech considered hateful and hurtful, remains legal speech.  Notwithstanding the hurt it creates, I think that's probably a good thing.  That said, it doesn't mean I agree with what's being said, nor with where it's being expressed.

Contrary to the literal words of the Constitution, Congress can make a law abridging Freedom of Speech.  Years ago, the Supreme Court acknowledged that.  In a ruling usually referred to as Schenck, justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said this:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

So, the question about what is or is not protected speech, according to Holmes, hinged upon two things...a clear and present danger, and something that Congress has a right to prevent.

In a later case, Brandenburg vs. Ohio, the standard was modified, and identified as: that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action.

If we apply that standard, there aren't a lot of situations where speech can be legally constrained.

Now, one thing the Supreme Court never said is that there is a second "freedom" associated with Speech.  Yes, you are free to say almost anything you wish, but, more importantly, you are also free to enjoy the implications and results of having said that.

You may call your boss whatever you like, but you may find yourself looking for a new line of work.  You may accuse your spouse of cheating, or call him/her terrible names, but you may find yourself single once again, you may publicly make any sort of pronouncement you wish about the state of things, but your friends may desert you.  Like most other things, freedom of speech comes with a price.

This week, the Supreme Court decision regarding the right to protest at funerals was, I think, a proper legal decision.  I believe it is up to our society to find ways to protect its members during their most vulnerable times, and some sort of private space restrictions, such as those enacted by many states, seem reasonable.  I wish that was not necessary, but, sadly, it is.  Freedom of Speech does not automatically include some sort of conscience clause, although it might be nice if it did.

When I see protesters around the world being shot, trampled, or attacked simply because they wish to peacefully express their disagreement with a government policy, I like to think this country has finally moved beyond that.  I can recall the Civil Rights marches, or the Vietnam protests, which, in truth, looked little different.

In the end, Freedom of Speech is worth having, even though that big, general principle can mean individual pain.  I wish it were not so.  I'm not naive, but I wish we had leaders who could heal rather than divide.  I think we all do.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Well outside of the middle

I'm all in favor of spirited political debate.  I don't even mind if it sometimes becomes a little heated, as long as it remains respectful.  However, I strongly believe that debate should be a discussion of different viewpoints, based upon a common set of facts.  If we can't agree what we're debating, there's little sense in the discussion.

If you've read the book, you know I have no use for "made up facts."  The famous "Death Panels" supposed contained in the massive health care bill remains a classic example of that, and, unfortunately, that discussion still sways some people's opinions about what the bill does or doesn't do.  Sadly not enough Americans bothered to find out the truth.

However, that "make something up that sounds incendiary" mentality remains, and it can still be found amongst those who wish to lead this country.  The shining example today is Mike Huckabee.

In a radio interview with station WOR, New York, he is quoted as saying the following about President Obama:

One thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, (is) very different than the average American.

There are two problems here.  First, it is demonstrably false that the Obama grew up in Kenya.  In fact, he first visited that country in 1987, when he was in his 20's.  The second problem is that Huckabee draws a comparison between the President's view of "Brits" as opposed to the average American's view of them.  I'm willing to bet that he has no documentation to back up either of those positions, let alone actually compare them.

However, that wasn't enough made up facts, so he continued on:

The bust of Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.

The reference to the "bust of Churchill" was also a bit of using selective facts.  Huckabee asserted that Obama removed the bust from the Oval Office and "returned it."  However, the actual facts are that in 2009 he removed the bust from its previous location, replaced it with a bust of Abraham Lincoln, and then located the Churchill bust in White House residence.

Now, if you wish to believe that moving the bust was a big thing, then that's fine with me.  However, taking only a portion of what happened, and then trying to spin it into something bigger, while including an outright lie in the process, isn't.  We deserve better, and we should demand better.  Of course, when the various reporters followed up, Huckabee's spokesperson simply said "he misspoke."

Now, that may be true, but the point remains.  He publicly created untrue "facts" to support his point of view, and anyone listening probably took that as gospel.  He didn't make any effort to tell the same audience he "misspoke."

In some ways I'd be inclined to just skip over this, except for another news story that I think ties in.

According to a Winthrop University poll, Huckabee came in first amongst 15 potential Republican candidates in a poll of "southern" voters.  Now, that's his home territory, having been the governor of Arkansas, but the fact remains that he made up facts to support whatever position he was taking, and then selectively blended the truth to make something seem very different than it was.

I have a real problem with that, and that's why I think we need some real changes in what we call Leadership.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Since this is the first entry, let me take a minute to explain what you'll find here in the future.

Somewhere in the middle is where most of our answers are found.  In politics, for example, the extremes seldom prevail, simply because in any reasonably democratic process, the majority will be against an extreme position on either side.  If we assume, which we can a good portion of the time, that the classic "bell curve" of distribution is valid, the bulk of opinions will be somewhere near the center.  Not always, but often enough to generalize.

So, when faced with two extremes, the ultimate answer, assuming compromise is allowed, will likely fall Somewhere in the middle.