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The Stonecypher



Literary Thoughts on Timely Issues



Last Build Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2014 04:12:01 +0000

 



Fixing the Public Schools

Sat, 12 Oct 2013 14:48:00 +0000

Here's the smartest thing I've ever heard anyone say about our public schools: "People say we need to fix the schools. They're wrong. We need to fix the public."

Two weeks ago, my wife and I attended her 50 year reunion of the class of 1963 in a tiny town on the eastern edge of Iowa. Half a century ago, many of the kids who came into town for high school had been schooled for their first eight years in rural one-room buildings with one teacher who taught all eight grades in a communal classroom. I listened while one man recalled the experience. "Starting in 1st grade, we could hear the lessons that the teacher was giving to her 8th grade students, and that same process was repeated every year until we, ourselves, were the 8th grade students. By that time, we had heard the curriculum seven times before. There was no way we could have failed to learn it."

Another reunion attendee... a woman... recalled that her rural school, which averaged 20 to 25 students total each year during the eight years she was there, contained a mix of English, Irish, Swedes, Germans, and one black boy. The King's English was the only language spoken or taught.

And one last thing... during the 12 years of school (1951 - 1963) preceding my wife's graduation, the United States of America was well on its way to achieving eventual manned flights to the moon because our nation had half of all the industry in the world, and half of the world's total GDP to finance research and production. And we had the best education system on earth.

Basically, we were, then, where China is now.



Sarah Palin In a Different Dress and Using a Different Name

Tue, 01 Oct 2013 16:02:00 +0000

Today, October 1, 2013, might actually prove to be highly significant when the future history of the U.S.A. is written. This was the day when a small band of radical extremists showed that destructive attacks didn't always need to come from foreign outside forces. Leading the charge was Sarah Palin, although now she was wearing a different dress and masquerading under the name of Ted Cruz... but there was no mistaking that old familiar right-wing narcissistic self-righteousness.

There isn't any law that says a nation is only allowed to have a civil war ONCE in its history. All it takes for a country to look like Egypt or Iraq or Syria is a lot of weaponry and a lot of divisive ideology, and the United States has more guns and political animosity than anywhere else on earth. Our downfall right now is our democracy itself. Democracy has always been a fragile form of government that was played out like a game under a strict set of rules, and...like a game... it depended on having all the players stay within the rules. And the main rule was always that the loser in an election had to accept the loss. But now we see that the rules are unenforceable, so they don't apply.

I honestly believe that what we saw today is the first step in the transition from a democracy to something else, and I'm certainly not smart enough to know what that "something else" might be. 



It's How We Honor God and Country

Sat, 16 Mar 2013 19:37:00 +0000

As the Supreme Court prepares to weigh in on the Defense of Marriage decision, we are reminded that gays are merely the latest group to come in for a healthy dose of American condemnation and discrimination. Many other groups have had their turn in the past.... Catholics in the 1920s, Jews in the 1930s, Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, Blacks and Reds (Negroes and Communists) in the 1950s, feminists in the 1960s, anti-war Hippies in the 1970s, pro-choice liberals in the 1980s, Mexican-Americans in the 1990s, Muslim-Americans in the 2000s, and gays on and off continuously for the last two hundred years. Some group or other is always on the American shit-list. Despising a minority segment of the American population is the main way to assert ones righteous patriotism. It's how we choose to honor God and country.
Only Evangelical Republican heterosexual white males of European descent are immune to discrimination.



Why is the Pope Resigning?

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 16:57:00 +0000

Yesterday, Pope Benedict was caught red-handed committing an act of "papus interruptus." As a result of this, he has no choice now but to resign, but those closest to him admit that his true reason for stepping down from his job was to spend more time with the kids.



Not Much Hope for Gun Control.

Fri, 18 Jan 2013 18:47:00 +0000

There's something that I find inconsistent about the NRA's position on the Second Amendment. It's the fact that, while they will defend the right to keep and bear almost any kind of firearm without any consideration of the gun's killing capacity or lethality, nevertheless they do seem to recognize that there are limits to the constitutional right granted by the Second Amendment. The NRA doesn't claim to defend a person's right to keep an functional howitzer in the garage or a bazooka in the bedroom closet.... at least not yet, so clearly the honchos at the head of the NRA recognize that there is some level of firepower that just plain goes too far. The guarantee protecting gun ownership, then, seems to be a matter of degree, and not essence.

My personal opinion is that the real flaw isn't in the NRA or in the Second Amendment. The real flaw is in the Constitution of The United States itself. Every other democracy with a working constitution has a mechanism built into it that makes it possible (but not necessarily easy) to change provisions that prove to be unworkable. Other constitutions recognize that nothing is perfect. But here in the U.S.A. we only seem capable of dealing with absolutes. Our religions are absolute in the certainty of their beliefs. Our political parties are absolute in their sense of self-righteousness. And our Constitution is invested with a sense of absolute perfection. In a sane country with a realistic constitution, the Second Amendment would have been eliminated many years ago because of its intrinsic irrationality and threat to human life. But for those of us in America, absolutism trumps sanity every time. Don't expect much from Obama on gun control.



Zero-Dark-Thirty is Right On the Mark

Sat, 12 Jan 2013 16:00:00 +0000

The little wife and I saw Zero-Dark-Thirty yesterday, and we both thought it was a truly remarkable film. We loved it. I know that the film has drawn a lot of criticism for its portrayal of the torture that America inflicted on captured Al Qaeda members in the early stages of "the war on terror".... and the scenes are hard to watch.... but I've gotta believe that the portrayal is accurate. To argue otherwise is simply to continue the string of propaganda lies pushed by our government. If the good ole U.S.A. really wants to make the world believe that our nation doesn't torture enemies, then we need to hear that from Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. If Cheney pronounces Zero-Dark-Thirty to be bogus, then I might believe it.



Why Eliminate Obamacare?

Sat, 05 Jan 2013 15:47:00 +0000

Most, if not all, of the developed nations (excluding the U.S.A.) have a healthcare system that provides their citizens with all the medical care they need, even if they can't afford it. Here in America, our system provides our citizens with all the medical care they can afford, even if they don't need it. And by eliminating Obamacare, the Republicans are seeking to keep things the way they are. They think this will keep America "special," and in a perverse way I guess they'd be right about that.



When is Enough Considered Enough?

Sat, 22 Dec 2012 16:08:00 +0000

Here's something the NRA won't tell you. Since Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 and counting up to last week's massacre in Connecticut, the 44-year running total of murder victims in America whose lives were taken by gun violence is actually greater than the number of American military service members who have given their lives in all the wars undertaken by our country since the beginning of our history in 1776. In this comparison, the American Civil War is counted as a war rather than as domestic gun violence. No enemy nation (or group of nations) on earth can kill American citizens with anything approaching the furosity and frequency of gun violence inflicted by the American population on itself in just the last 44 years. No other nation on earth (including modern Syria and North Korea) kills its citizens the way that we do.

Of all the guns on earth owned and used as personal firearms, more than half are owned by Americans and are kept in the homes of individuals. We have more guns than people in America. And all of this is made possible by the Second Amendment. The problem is this... the Founding Fathers who wrote the Second Amendment never told us how many guns were sufficient. When is enough considered enough?



Creating and Killing The American Dream

Sat, 15 Dec 2012 16:42:00 +0000

The general election which concluded (mercifully) a month ago reminded us once again about the power of propaganda, and the force of myths that get repeated again and again. And chief among the many myths that permeate the American belief system is the myth that the American Dream is the result of our freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the 1930s, The United States was well on its way to becoming a third world nation, plagued by poverty and desperation. The Federal Government stepped in with numerous programs like the WPA and the CCC and many more, and while these programs didn't totally transform the bleak economic situation into an American Dream, they kept the situation from becoming worse than it was. Then came World War II, and jobs were created in abundance.... all paid for with Federal dollars. It's always worth remembering that military spending is the biggest job creation mechanism of them all.

In the post war years, returning GIs were granted college education opportunities under the GI bill. A college education is one of the main keys to the American Dream. The FHA (the F in FHA stands for Federal) made it possible for a man to buy a house with no money down. Home ownership is another key to the American Dream. Both of these programs were completely funded with government money.

In the 1960s, federal spending absolutely mushroomed with dollars flowing to the Pentagon for the Vietnam War, and to NASA for the space program, and to the Highway Department for construction of the Interstate system. Jobs back then were so plentiful that there was a job for anyone who wanted or needed to work. That's the very definition of the American Dream. And that period in time was the high point of the American Dream.

Contrast those four decades with the last four decades of the 1970s up to the present time. Nobody doubts that the American Dream is dead now. The jobs created in the 1950s and 1960s were outsourced by the millions until the number of jobs left in this country became insufficient to meet the needs of those who wanted to work. That's NOT an American Dream. It's an American nightmare. And here's the irony. The outsourcing was made possible by freedom.... the freedom of corporations to operate without government regulation, and the total freedom to pursue profit above everything else. Freedom, at least at the corporate level, became a dark force rather than a shining light.

I think the case can be made that, back when times were good in this country and the American Dream was a reality, much of the financial and economic impetus was fueled by the Federal Government directing tax revenues right back into the population in the form of jobs. There's a word for that. It's called Socialism.



What Happened After Christmas?

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 16:37:00 +0000

As Christmas time fast approaches, we are reminded that the birth of Jesus 2000 years ago was seen as a big deal. A really big deal. The mythology tells of shepherds and visiting foreign dignitaries and heavenly hosts (I don't have a clue what these are) standing by as Jesus came into the world, and even if we dismiss this as fluff and fable, we still have to admit that the notion of a human being springing from the loin of a virgin represents a decidedly atypical obstetrical event. Yes, that first Christmas was a very big deal. One would think this might have prompted some interest in following the subsequent life of the young Jesus.

And every Spring time when we get close to Easter, we celebrate the crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus as something truly monumental. So clearly, people at the start and the end of the life of Jesus recognized his coming and going as a thing of importance. So here's my question: What the hell was Jesus doing in the 30 odd years in between?

Mozart could play the piano when he was two years old, and he wrote his first symphony when he was four. As a result of his demonstrated musical ability, an ability that was truly exceptional, his life was chronicled in great detail by a great number of contemporaries. We know almost everything about Mozart at almost every moment of his life. But Mozart wasn't divine, and never claimed to be anything but a brilliant musician and composer. Mozart never went around claiming to be God. Contrast this with Jesus, a man who was (in my opinion) the biggest narcissist of all time.

As Christmas comes upon us, we need to ask ourselves: If Jesus was so remarkable, then why didn't his contemporaries remark about him for most of his life? In fact, if not for the Apostle, Paul (who never actually met Jesus), it's quite possible that nothing would ever have been set down in writing about his life. How does the son of God go unnoticed and forgotten for 30 years in a world of mere humans?



Just Not Cool

Wed, 07 Mar 2012 23:45:00 +0000

I’ve written it on this blog in the past, and I firmly believe it’s true— that there’s a high school analogy for everybody and everything in life. This is why I don’t understand the difficulty that media pundits and everybody else seems to encounter when they try to describe Mitt Romney, and try to explain his struggle in the Republican primaries. We know exactly who Mitt is, and we know everything about him. We know because we went to high school with someone just like him.

He was the rich kid. Not only did he come from a wealthy family, but he was the best looking and best dressed boy in school. For this reason, he could get a date with any girl in school, but the really bright, high-quality girls never went out with him more than once. When asked about it by their girlfriends, they would only say, “He’s just not cool.” He drove a new convertible every year, but those same bright, high-quality girls would never ride in his car because they didn’t want to be seen with him. He went out for every sport, but never lettered. Nevertheless, he always wore a letter sweater (even without the letter) because he thought it looked cool.

He was the guy who would buy you a candy bar at lunch time if you would sit with him in the cafeteria (not cool), and he would buy your entire lunch plus a soda pop if you would vote for him in the election for class president. So he became the class president, simply because he had the money to buy lunches and sodas for everybody, but he never could buy enough goodies to ever become what you could truly call, “popular.” Classmates were willing to sell their votes, but not their friendships.

Without his money and fine clothes and good looks, he would have been called a “loser,” but we all know that in this life, nobody gets labeled “loser” if they have a lot of money. That’s what big money does for you. But all the money in the world can’t buy the image of “cool.” That’s Mitt Romney’s fundamental problem. He’s just not cool. There’s a word for guys like him, and you don’t hear the word used often enough. Mitt Romney is “smarmy.”



We’re Doomed, But Not by the Asteroid

Mon, 05 Mar 2012 21:14:00 +0000

NASA announced last week that they’ve found a good-sized asteroid on a trajectory that could impact earth in 2040, but by then it may not matter. Our planet is running out of everything but human beings. Fresh water, edible fish, petroleum, and land suitable for agriculture— these are only four items on a seemingly endless list of resources that are essential and finite, but rapidly diminishing. And make no mistake about it, competition for these scarcities has absolutely become a zero-sum game played out between the nations and cultures around the globe. For maybe the last century or two, this has always been the case (to a lesser degree), but until recently the winners in this game could keep their good fortune off the radar as their own dirty little secret— somewhat hidden and unknown to those who were losing out. But those days are gone. Now, with ubiquitous social media and telecommunication, everybody knows what everybody else has got.

For 30 years or more, Americans have been spoon fed on the mythological crapola that much of the world hates us because of our freedom. The real truth is that much of the world hates us because we have the disproportionate lion’s share of access to fresh water, petroleum, and good fertile cropland. Individual freedom in America isn’t a threat to anyone, but the prospect of losing out to a more powerful player in a zero-sum game is very much a threat.

This competition to see who gets the right to deplete the planet’s scarce resources is being played out against the backdrop of an even bigger problem— exponential population growth. In my lifetime (the last 70 years) the global population has more than tripled, going from 2 billion to 7 billion. Current educated estimates put the population at 9 billion within 15 to 20 years, and probably at 10 billion by 2040 when the asteroid may or may not stop the growth permanently. For those who are mathematically ignorant and who don’t understand exponential growth, here’s a little fact. There are more people alive today than the number of people who have died since the dawn of the human race 100,000 years ago. To put it another way, more than half of all the humans who have ever walked the earth are alive and walking the earth today.

Faced with the biggest problem to confront mankind in all of history, the last 10 days in America witnessed something truly remarkable. Two influential institutions came together. The political ideology that gave us Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, and Rush Limbaugh teamed-up with the Italian religion that gave us 1000 years of unchecked child sex abuse, and together they came out against what they consider to be the scourge of modern mankind. They pooled their mutual influence and collective animosity to oppose— drum roll, please— CONTRACEPTION!!!

It just makes you weep with frustration and disappointment. We’re doomed, and not because of the asteroid..



The Highlight of the Grammys

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 21:28:00 +0000

I actually considered terminating this blog. For six years I’ve ranted about the pathetic and dysfunctional state of pretty much all American institutions— public education, and organized religion, and public health / medicine, and giant financial corporations, and the “traditional” heterosexual American family, and labor unions, and the United States Government together with their chief client— the Pentagon. It’s not that I’ve run out of critical things to say. It’s just that so many bright thinkers now are all saying the same thing, and for me to continue would be merely to overstate the obvious. I might as well blog every day that rich and healthy is better than poor and sick.

So now I’ve been reduced to blogging about the Grammys. Okay, going into it I knew it would consist of non-stop renditions of “I Will Always Love You.” What I didn’t foresee was that they would never once mention Dolly Parton who actually wrote the song and sang it in a film a full ten years before The Bodyguard. There I go being critical again. But let’s face it— the Grammys wasn’t about musicology. It was about idolatry, and the idol wasn’t Dolly Parton.

That’s not to say that the Grammys were a waste of my time. I got to see the most amazing and creative commercial I’ve ever seen on television. I’m referring to the animated Chipotle commercial done with a voice-over song sung by Willie Nelson. Yes— that one with the pink pigs stylized to look like piggy banks. Nothing aired during the Super Bowl this year, or any other year, was this good in my opinion. Unfortunately, I’m willing to bet that the spot will prove to be a commercial failure. It was far too intelligent and subtle to sell very many burritos.



Okay, Now I Finally “Get it”

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 22:19:00 +0000

I had the U.S. military pegged all wrong. I thought the function of the military was to preserve our national security by maintaining sufficient firepower to repel any foreign invasion, and to keep a nuclear deterrent force that would assure the destruction of any foreign nuclear power that attacked us. But dumb me. Now I know that this picture is SO cold war. Threatened by defense budget cuts, Panetta and his Republican toadies have given us a true picture of our military strategy— which is indistinguishable from our foreign policy. We need 800 billion a year, not just to stay safe, but (in Panetta’s words) to “maintain our foreign commitments.” We have a military presence in 130 nations, which is 60% of all the nations on the planet. These are not Marines guarding an embassy. These are American troops and weapons meant to assure the security of foreign countries so they won’t need to waste their own money and resources to provide strong armies and weapons systems and military infrastructures of their own.

There’s a high school analogy for everything in life. I used to think that the United States was analogous to the high school bully who threatened others with force and intimidation to get his own way. That’s the wrong analogy. The United States is the smarmy but clueless rich kid who buys lunch for everyone else and bribes schoolmates with whatever it takes to make him popular. Now that I know my tax money goes to buy American popularity in the world community, I have a solution for the problems of Iran and North Korea. Why don’t we just ask them how much we need to pay them to be our friends?



Stupidity or Incompetence?

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 14:28:00 +0000

Each time Obama talks about reducing spending on the U.S. military, the Republicans carry the water for the Pentagon and declare that this puts American safety in jeopardy. Only two logical underpinnings can explain the enormity of the Pentagon budget. Maybe the U.S. really DOESN’T need to spend 10 times more than any other nation on earth on its military in order to be as safe as everyone else, in which case our level of military spending is just plain stupid. Or else, we DO need to spend 10 times more in order to be safe, in which case our military is just plain incompetent. It’s one or the other.



Touched By the Fickle Finger of the Lord

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 13:47:00 +0000

Timtim Tebow prayed yesterday, but the bloom seems to be off the rose in his relationship with Jesus— unless you consider a solitary field goal to be a gift from Heaven. True believers in Denver are saying that Tebow is so touched by righteousness that he can even make the playoffs by losing, but the truth is that The Big Tebowski might as well pack it in. Word leaking out from the odds makers in Las Vegas is that Jesus has discovered an NFL team composed of nothing but Saints.



Divided Loyalties

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 13:54:00 +0000

The Chiefs come to Denver tomorrow. No, not elderly redskins in feathered headdresses, or the uniformed General officers who head all the U.S. military service branches. I’m talking here about the Kansas City football team. And this presents a dilemma in Heaven. As we all know, Jesus and “Timtim” Tebow have established a boyhood friendship. Problem is that Christ’s father, The Big Guy, feels a certain loyalty to the Chiefs fans based on the fact that Kansas and Missouri are the only states that teach creation in the schools. Who will prevail? Tune in tomorrow to find out.



Why the Gaps in His Resume?

Tue, 27 Dec 2011 22:18:00 +0000

Poetic mythmaker, Clement C. Moore, borrowed a couple of ideas from Washington Irving and in 1822 he gave us a detailed picture of St. Nicholas— a picture complete with the red suit, the round belly, and the sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. In the 190 years since then, Madison Avenue mythmakers came to realize there was a big gap in the year starting with the day after Christmas and continuing until Thanksgiving when Santa Claus reappears, and over time they filled in the myth of Santa Claus with a home at the North Pole, a workshop manned by a toy-production labor force of elves, and a kindly wife named Mrs. Claus who looks remarkably like my own wife. The point is this— when you’re selling the idea of an iconic personality, you need to fill in all the details.

I offer the tale of Santa Claus to stand in contrast with the tale of Jesus Christ. If Advent and the time leading up to the nativity is meant to build anticipation for the coming of mankind’s Lord and Savior, then why is there this informational black hole starting the week after Christmas and continuing for three decades until Jesus shows up again as a full grown adult? By all accounts, the first Noel was witnessed by three wise men, as well as numerous shepherds and angels and heavenly hosts (whatever those are). And it’s obvious from the record that everybody at the nativity realized at the time that it was a big deal. So why didn’t anybody bother to track the growth of Jesus after His birth? Where are the hymns about the second Noel, or the third, or any others?

The Muslims in their Koran have a pretty detailed account of the life of Mohammed, and there aren’t the gaps in his story like there are with the life of Jesus. In Christianity, the four gospels do a fair job of doing the job they do, but they sure leave a lot unsaid. If the Son of God truly walked the earth in the midst of mankind two thousand years ago, then why was he so unremarkable for most of his life?



Blame It on the Birthday Party

Sat, 24 Dec 2011 22:58:00 +0000

Timtim (a.k.a. "The Big Tebowski") threw four interceptions today (two of them came just nine seconds apart) on Denver’s way to a 40-14 blowout loss to Buffalo. After the game, Timtim received a text message from Jesus in the locker room. By way of an apology, the Lord and Savior of all mankind explained that He was so focused on last minute preparations for His big birthday party tonight that He totally forgot that the Broncos were playing on Saturday this week. He actually missed the game, which is why He wasn't guiding the hand of Timtim. At least that's the excuse that both of them are using. BTW, if you’re planning to attend the birthday party tonight, and you need to get a last minute birthday gift, Jesus did mention in his text message that He could always use a little more myrrh.



What Happened to the Gold?

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 20:21:00 +0000

Once again confirming that Evangelical Christians have absolutely no sense of humor, the true believers have been in a snit since Saturday night when SNL did a skit with Jesus visiting Tim Tebow in the Broncos locker room. They feel that depicting Jesus in such a sports setting is inappropriate and offensive. Of course, these are the same people who think that incense, gold, and myrrh are totally rational baby gifts for a newborn infant. And by the way, just exactly what did Joseph and Mary do with that gold? Did they book themselves into a hotel or B&B to get their kid out of that pathetic manger? Did they use it to pay the tax levied by Herod? Did they put it into a trust fund until Jesus turned 18? Or did they just “blow it” like parents often do when they’re trusted with wealth that belongs to the next generation? This is one of many questions that I intend to ask a Heavenly host if I run into one during the Christmas season.



Alas— No Hoopla

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 00:38:00 +0000

My wife and I went downtown last Thursday to join the celebration. The Iraq War had ended, and I remembered the iconic photo in Life magazine taken on the day World War II ended— that classic image of the sailor kissing the nurse. I missed the end of WWII (actually I didn’t exactly miss it, but I was only three years old at the time) so I wanted to experience all the celebration-of-victory hoopla for myself this time. Alas— no hoopla. Maybe because there was no actual victory. Covered incessantly by the media with “imbedded” camera crews, Iraq just turned out to be a really, REALLY expensive, long-running and mindless reality show in which viewers eventually lost interest, so that the show finally got canceled because of low ratings. It will be interesting to see what they come up with to fill that time slot.



Maybe If We Wait Long Enough

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 15:59:00 +0000

The French and the Germans killed each other— big time— during the two World Wars, but now 65 years later they are working together to try to save the European Union from economic collapse. Yesterday, their two respective leaders appeared arm in arm, beaming in apparent harmony. So maybe if we wait 65 years, the Republicans and the Democrats will work together in harmony to try and save what’s left of The United States of America. Question is, by that time will anyone even care?



And Here's Why They Will Always Be The 99%

Sat, 26 Nov 2011 16:02:00 +0000

“We are the 99%” So goes the battle cry from the “Occupy” movement, but there’s an uncomfortable reality of life that seems to be misunderstood by these folks. The equality which they seek is impossible in the modern world. If you took the total personal wealth in the United States, and distributed it equally so that every family in the nation had exactly the same net worth— within five or six years there would be a group at the very top who had accumulated hundreds of times as much as the average. The personnel makeup of this new upper tier would contain some new members (although most of them would be the same people who are at the top now) but for the most part, the winners and losers would be distributed almost exactly as they are now. Some people are simply more lucky, or more capable than others. Not necessarily better, and certainly not better in terms of their character, but simply more fortunate or more proficient in their ability to navigate the complexities of the modern economic world. Qualities like blind luck, raw intellect, common sense, self-motivation, ambition, personal discipline (this personal self-discipline is probably the most fundamental of all), and pure human likeability (sometimes called charisma)— these traits are not evenly distributed throughout the population, but these are the traits that help certain people rise to the top. And as every elementary school teacher can tell you, these traits can predict as early as fourth or fifth grade which students will go on to be the high-achievers in life.




The “Occupy” movement will die out because it’s nothing like the uprisings in the Arab Spring. Overthrowing an Arab tyrant is very different from trying to even out the economic inequalities of life.




It's All About Certainty

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 16:59:00 +0000

According to the latest news accounts, the failure of the “Super Committee” came as a surprise to most Americans. Not me (see Dirty Little Truths About pentagon Funding 8-6-11) where I predicted the failure with absolute certainty. I really don’t have that many truly original ideas, but I do have a firm opinion which I’ve never seen echoed by any of the media pundits. I believe that ideology is not just about political viewpoints (and probably never was) but has, in fact, become the world’s newest religion. Wondering why Liberals and Conservatives can’t see eye to eye about the national budget is like wondering why Catholics and Buddhists don’t agree on the virginity of Mary or the divinity of her son. Religion has never been about compromise, and ideology isn’t moved to compromise either. Both are about the certainty of being correct in a single point of view, and to compromise would be to admit a possible flaw in that viewpoint which, in turn, would undermine the certainty. And here’s the key point. The certainty makes people feel good. Compromise doesn’t make people feel good. So I suppose that right about now, both factions of the Super Committee are feeling good about their toeing the line on behalf of their ideological comrades.Copyright 2008 The Stonecypher. Original source is http://thestonecypher.blogspot.com[...]



Some Thoughts About That "Big Footprint"

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 16:28:00 +0000

Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, warns that cutting the defense budget will reduce our navy to the smallest fleet since 1914, and will reduce our standing army to the smallest number of troops since 1940. Actually, that makes perfect sense. In 1914, we were ramping up our navy to face the looming threat of Germany, which had the most powerful navy on the high seas, including the world’s first operational fleet of submarines. Similarly, in 1940, we could see that we would soon face the German army as well as the Japanese. At that time, Germany had the world’s largest and most powerful military machine in the world, and Japan was number two in military might. Those situations required what West Point now refers to in buzzword-speak as a “big footprint.”


Fast forward to 2011. We are told that we still need a “big footprint” to fight the threat imposed by— drum roll, please— the Taliban. According to the Pentagon’s latest assessment, the number of Taliban currently in Afghanistan is about 10,000. Oh, and by the way, the Taliban has no navy. In fact, they have virtually no military infrastructure whatsoever. We’re not talking, here, about pre-war Germany or Japan. And we're most certainly not talking about the Cold War Soviet Union. The plain fact is that America maintains the world’s biggest military simply because it has become the main part of our national identity. It makes us feel good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make us feel safe.