Tag Archives: America

Khalaf Zebari


Recently the University of Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan renamed Kalaf Zebari hall to Peshmerga Hall. For those who do not know the Peshmerga are the military that has defended the Kurdish region from both external attacks and internal such as Saddam Hussein’s military and most recently ISIS. Khalafe Zebari on the other was a Kurdish intellectual, who also happened to be a former Peshmerga fighter. This change has caused considerable consternation in the region. While it is understood that it is right and proper to honor the Peshmerga who have sacrificed much for the Kurdish people, why remove the name of an honored intellectual and poet who himself sacrificed for the Kurdish people. Having uprooted himself and his family several times, first to escape the tyranny of the Saddam era then to secure a future for his family in the US. Lastly, he once again uprooted his entire family to move to Washington DC to begin Voice of America Kurdish broadcasts.

This last gave great comfort to the Kurdish people, not only in Iraq but Turkey, Syria and Iran. Bringing news, information and hope to the suppressed people of Kurdistan. Joining him was his wife, Chiman, who in addition to VoA worked with a number of US and international agencies supporting Kurdish and regional refugee programs as well as US government operations in the region.  I’ve known Chiman Zebari for a decade and have worked with her closely so I know her loyalty for her people.  My interest in this began as I read posts on Chiman’s FB page. While I do not read Kurdish and the google translations leave much to be desired, I understood the gist of the story.

While, as said. it is right to honor those Peshmerga who gave so much. There are a number of ways to do this, and they have been done throughout the Kurdish region. The University of Duhok, being an institute of higher education must not forget the contributions made by the poets and intellectuals. Return the name of this man who gave so much to support the intellectual freedom of the Kurds.  

Roe V Wade


To begin, I believe life begins at conception. I believe that there are circumstances where pregnancies can and should be aborted such as rape, incest or for medical reasons. I have never been sure of Roe v. Wade as the correct way to handle the abortion issue or should it reside in the states. I am sure however that the response we are seeing to a leaked preliminary report is a further indication of how far we as a nation have fallen

The most troubling response has come from our political leaders. Raising up and declaring SCOTUS is not properly responding to the wishes of the people and using the time worn attack that this is going to bring democracy down. Courts have never and should never be conduits of popular opinion. Yes laws change over time, responding to changing social conditions, but this is evolutionary. By saying that once the Supreme Court rules that is the end of all further discussions. The court has overturned past rulings and likely will continue to do so. Plessy v. Ferguson found that separate but equal education was constitutional upholding the concept of segregation and Jim Crow laws. This was then settled law from 1896 until 1954 when segregation was ruled unconstitutional in the Brown v. The Board of Education ruling.

Before Roe v. Wade abortion was not a “constitutional right” nor was it universally illegal. Until then it was up to individual states to determine, as well as individual choice in states where it was legal. Roe v. Wade determined the constitutionality based on the 9th amendment arguing that if it not a right denied in the constitution it is the peoples right. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg while supporting the spirit of Roe said it was founded on the wrong argument. When it is reargued, and it will be, it will be under the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause.

Why has this situation engendered such passion? To put abortion in perspective about .009% of woman between 15 and 49 get abortions on average per year. However both sides of the argument have taken it to extremes. On one side we say that any abortion is murder and have gone to the extreme of some now saying they wish to ban contraceptives and things like Plan B. On the other side we say, “My Body, My Choice.” This argument goes all the way up to the concept of partial birth abortions.

Both extremes are unworkable and will do nothing but continue to wreak havoc on America. Both side have to learn the art of compromise and understand that they will not get everything they want.   

When Does Freedom of Press Become Propaganda


I want to give you my thoughts on the current crisis gripping Washington. It is not the fact that a war in Europe is raging and could potentially expand into a nuclear conflict, but a purported seven-hour gap in phone logs of President Trump on Jan 6th. These logs have been turned over to the House JAN 6TH committee and were reported by none other than Bob Woodward. This revelation comes soon after President Biden called for the removal of Russian Putin, suggested the 82d Airborne would be in Ukraine soon and suggests a possible US chemical weapons attack in response to Russia using chemicals in Ukraine, all which Biden denies but is on tape saying.

We are also in the midst of learning that Hunter Biden’s lap top is in fact real and the information that has been reported is in fact correct. All of this despite the fact that a number of Intelligence Professionals had claimed to be Russian misinformation.

But the big news is that a federal judge said Trump “probably” committed a crime. Not to forget that a Supreme Court Justices wife exchanged tweets with the WH CoS. This last has been followed by calls for his impeachment or at the least his resignation.

We are also recipients of reports from the confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court Justise, that has not discussed her qualifications but centers on the “fact” that all the white republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are nothing more than racist for actually asking questions. As an aside I do not like the politics of this nominee but see no reason to deny confirmation.

In the end it would be remiss of me not to mention the biggest national news story, Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars. Which has people talking about violence and racial stereotypes. Oh, and in case you missed it the Federal Election Commission has fined both Hilary Clintons campaign and the DNC for its part in the Steele Dossier. You remember the t.hing that started the whole Trump-Russia collusion hoax.

The news industry keeps asking why they are losing readers/viewers? Perhaps if they went back to reporting the new instead of pushing a narrative people would begin to trust them again. My blog is PleaseThink1.com and all I ask of people id to please think. Look at the facts and see if it meets the criteria of news. News organizations are always going to take a side and have an opinion but leave that on the OpEd page. Opinions and personal agendas have no place in a front-page news story

Moral Obligations


Today the world faces a dilemma it had always hoped to avoid, morality going up against ideology. How do we handle the situation in Ukraine without understanding our moral obligation to the world? What is happening in Ukraine is a moral outrage with leadership acknowledging the fact. President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken as well as many of our NATO allies have called Putin a war criminal and say there is evidence that the Russians are committing war crimes in Ukraine. The crimes being committed are a daily occurrence. Economic sanctions will take time to become effective, if ever. The legal process that could be used is dysfunctional at best. The ICC in the Hauge has already opened an investigation, but it has no true power to charge Russia or Russians with any crime. The evidence to support the charges are inside a war zone.

The West has hidden behind the legalities of international treaties and law. I am not suggesting that we ignore laws or abrogate treaties, just that we need to remember who and what we are. Ukraine is not a NATO member so Russian actions do not trigger a NATO response. Russia is a nuclear power which means we must proceed carefully, but at what cost? President Biden likes to whisper into microphones that if we engage Russia its WWIII. This goes back to the claim President Obama made while negotiating the Iran deal, “Its this deal or war.” Is this the mentality we need to follow, let Ukraine be crushed or it’s WWIII? Does the West have a moral obligation that overrides the arguments of diplomacy?

We have been faced with these questions before. Our founding fathers needed the moral courage to stand up the greatest military force in fighting for independence. Then there came a time to fight to remove the stain of slavery from the country. The greatest generation then had to face off against the Axis powers. Let it be known there was much objection to this last in the US even through our leadership knew about the holocaust, but we found a way. Yes, Russia is a nuclear power but we faced off with them during the Cuban missile crisis. We found the moral courage to face down the bigots of the Jim Crow era. Can we find the courage now to understand our moral obligation before it is too late? If we cannot find the moral courage to do what is right now, what becomes of us in the future.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Freind


The United States today appears to be divided between left and right polls. If the news media is to be believed there is no middle ground. I personally believe there is a large middle ground, but they are being beaten into submission by the extremes. What is driving this may be understood using the old adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” We have seen this philosophy used countless times, not only in war but politics as well. Many are unaware that one of the reasons the founding fathers put freedom of speech in the constitution was to insure that people with opposing thoughts had the right to express them. This also kept opposing forces from joining together to oppose the government. As long as they could express their beliefs and opinions freely there was no need to join with their enemies. This could be a lesson for some social media groups who impose their “community standards” on their sites giving rise to competition. This was seen in the 2d World War with resistance movements such as the French maquis. The maquis included such groups as the French Communist party and the Young Catholic League. Two sworn enemy who joined together to fight the evil occupation. This did not end well, at the end of the war these groups turned on each other.

How does this reflect in today’s America? A recent example of how far we have fallen is a report from Yale University that around 100 Yale law students: “…disrupted a bipartisan panel on civil liberties by trying to shout down and intimidate the speakers — who had to be escorted out of the building by police, according to reports.

The panel “hosted by the Federalist Society featured Kristen Waggoner, a controversial anti-LGBTQ speaker with the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, and Monica Miller, an associate at the progressive American Humanist Association,” when reminded of Yales policy of free speech and free expression the students could only understand that they had a right to protest and that the panel did not have a right to express their views.

On the other side we have some right-wing extremist in Congress calling the president of Ukraine a thug and saying we should not support him. The congress approved a measure designed to help pressure Russia with eight republicans voting against it, Of the two, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, have repeatedly pushed propaganda that mirrors that of the Putin. Why, because if Biden or the Dems say it, it must be wrong.  

We have been subjected to the concept of “Cancel Culture” which both sides use. Also called call out culture, it can be an effective way to pull back the curtain on things that otherwise would be left in the dark. The MeToo movement was a start to correcting the process that had kept survivors of sexual assault from speaking out. It was instrumental in bringing down people like Harvey Weinstein, but then it became a political tool. One of the most famous political uses of this was during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Kavanaugh, a distinctly conservative jurist, was about to be confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court. Toward the end of the hearings a professor from Palo Alto CA, Christine Blasey Ford, claimed that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when the two were in High School. The cry rang out that victims must be believed. The problem with this is that there was no proof. Even after Ford named a friend at the party who could confirm the attack. This witness, Leland Ingham Keyser, stated she had no memory of the party and did not know who Kavanaugh was, regardless some of the public accepted Fords claim and would not be dissuaded by the facts. Similarly the public has been told that Trump is the personification of evil and regardless of facts continue to cancel him, with no direct or supportable evidence.

Today we see in the same type of cancel culture attacks on the current Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. To be honest she is much too liberal for my taste, but I cannot find a reason to deny her the nomination. Calls that she was too lenient on child pornographers are a subjective argument. She sentenced within the guidelines, which themselves may be too lenient, but the sentencing was legitimate. Worse are calls of how she defended clients when she was a public defender. While some of her clients may be the scum of the earth, it is a lawyer’s job to provide a defense.  

What does this all mean? Are we all becoming extremist or is the way we get our information failing? Information that the public gets has always been skewed by those reporting. A prime example was back when the US and Spain were almost at war. As the story goes William Randolph Hearst, a powerful news paper publisher, sent one of his illustrators, Frederick Remington, to cover the insurrection in Cuba. Remington cabled Hearst that there was no war to which the reply was “You furnish the pictures. I’ll furnish the war.” Today open any news paper or watch any news station and count the times the reporters attack a person or political party rather then just give us the news. Look at how many times you will see FOX News or CNN attacked by rivel networks. There was a time that those of us of a certain age remember watching a news show because of the popularity of the person giving the news, rarely did you have any idea of their political affiliation. Even worse is the proliferation of online sites that don’t even pretend to be news reporters but attempt to play into a certain segment of society while pretending the opinions or “news” they are giving are facts.

What to do? Remember there are no GOOD news sources, suspect story. If it is important to you do your own investigation. Accept that those with opposing views not only have the right to express them but that they may be right. In the end PLEASEThink for yourself.

GROUP THINK


Americans have been stuck in a terrible rut these past few years and it is beginning to hurt. The main tactic of the political elites is to convince people to stop thinking and to just accept groupthink. The problem with today’s politics, academics, and general discourse, is the invasion of groupthink into almost everything. Some of it intentional, such as the probe of Russian interference of elections and others that just take off and take over any attempt at facts to dispute it.

“Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis, occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.”  Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.”

America has been divided into camps that look for others to tell them what to think and then act on those instructions as if they came down from above. The problem is that what is presented to the unthinking as fact is usually just plan wrong. Vaccines do not cause autism. Trump did not collude with the Russians. Covid-19 was not invented to train the masses to obey government orders. This has come down to whatever one side says the other must take the opposite position.

This has come down today for people trying to understand the Ukraine crisis. If someone on the right sees the New York Times of CNN calling Putin evil, they reactively say Biden is the one who caused the war. On the other side if FOX news says it the left must react and call it a lie, whatever “it” is.

In the coming weeks I will examine this problem and try to bring some back to the point of intelligent discussion. All I have ever asked of anyone is to PLEASEThink before they react.

Revisiting Problems with US Foreign Policy


In August of last year, I wrote about the failure of US foreign policy in Afghanistan. In general, I wrote about the failure of US foreign policy. I think it time to revisit that article and expand. Lets start with the beginning of what I wrote;

“Now that lives have been lost and we have withdrawn, this ill-conceived operation once again highlights the lack of US Foreign policy capabilities or our understanding of what is needed to protect American interests. Since the end of the Korean War the US has slowly lost the will to build influence and continue to lead the world. The Cold War was the last hoorah for what was left of US influence mostly based on the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union. Much of the problem stems from the United States inability to adjust to a different world.…In 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia helped establish the countries we know today that make up Europe. There were tweaks along the way, but it established the customs of international relations as we know them. It was established within the bounds of European customs and cultures and of course held little sway as countries pushed out of Europe to colonize the world. At the end of the First World War the victorious nations sliced and diced the world up to their economic and political advantage. Ignoring the wants and desires of the indigenous population they put in motion decades of violence.  Many countries put together by colonial powers were countries in name only. Following the Second World War and then the Cold War many of these countries broke apart or fell under ruthless regimes that held them together at gun point.” Following the breakup of the Soviet Union the countries that were subjected to Soviet domination or were directly under Moscow as “Soviet Republics” began to return to their traditional status. This of course led to violence and a continuing restabling of borders.

What is happening today in Ukraine is a continuation of foreign policy failure that have been happening for decades. Our major adversary after the 2d World War was the Soviet Union. During that time a policy/belief was something called Mutual Assured Destruction or “MAD.” In the 1960s a book was published titled “Arms and Influence” by Thomas Schelling. Schelling was an American economist and professor of foreign policy. He won a Nobel Memorial Prize for “having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.”

The first chapter in this book is titled “The Diplomacy of Violence.” This is not a review of the book but get it and read it if you want to understand. The first lines of the book are “The usual distinction between diplomacy and force is not merely in the instruments, words or bullets, but in the relation between adversaries—in the interplay of motives and the role of communication, understandings, compromise, and restraint. Diplomacy is bargaining; it seeks outcomes that, though not ideal for either party, are better for both than some of the alternatives.” sometimes this entails threats as well as offers. This is the part the US has forgotten, threats. By this I do not mean economic sanctions, though they can be part of the package, I mean the threat of physical violence. The use of this type of threat is known as coercion.  Schelling continues “To be coercive, violence has to be anticipated. And it has to be avoidable by accommodation. The power to hurt is bargaining power. To exploit it is diplomacy—vicious diplomacy, but diplomacy.”

This last part is what Russia was using when it parked 150000 troops on the Ukrainian border. Once coercion does not work then the next act is to initiate violence. There is a difference in making someone give you what you want and forcing them to give it to you. On the one hand it must be believed you will initiate violence for coercion to succeed, on the other it must be believed you can take by force what you want.

The mistake Russia has made so far is the belief they could coerce Ukraine and if that failed they could take what they wanted. The mistake the West made is not believing Russia would attack or only move to take the Donbas region. To compound that mistake the west took the military out of the equation. It is not as if we have not faced expansionist moves and threats of nuclear attack before. Khrushchev did threaten nukes over Berlin but it was likely at the time he did not have any. And in 1962 we again faced the threat in Cuba. The response at the time came from President Kennedy “it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” During the Cuban crisis we also used unofficial back channels to communicate. This type of unofficial communications is now looked down upon by the public as not being transparent.

We have lost our way in the world and need to return to some of what kept us strong and helped us lead. I am sorry if this comes as a shock but to remove the threat of military action from diplomatic activity is to render the entire endeavor useless. I applaud President Biden for his efforts to cut off Russia economically, but these efforts became ineffective when he announced, and continues to announce, that no US forces will not be deployed against Russia since that will mean World War Three. Yesterday China announced severe consequences for any nation helping Taiwan militarily. I do not want to see US troops killed in Ukraine nor the start of WWIII. Perhaps the west can relearn the lesions on the past and present a credible threat to Russia. I fear this may be to late but could be effective if all of Europe joined in, NATO and non-aligned countries as well.

Learn from history.


History

When I was in 7th grade, I had a great history teacher, Mr. Koch. He had the ability to make history come alive and to understand its relevance to today’s world. One thing he did push hard was that you cannot study or understand history if you judge it by current culture/mores. We see this today as we are asked to confront the issues of race in our country and in the discussion on slavery and the Confederacy. Slavery is a blight on America and was the main reason for the Civil War. Regardless of many of the other reasons given for the Civil War, state rights, the lost cause etc. I go with the statement of Barbara J. Fields in Ken Burns Documentary “The Civil War,” “Without slavery there would not have been a Civil War.” Today 155 years after the end of the Civil war and slavery we continue to believe that the culture and mores of the United States have not changed if anything we have become more racist.
The problem with the discussion today is that we judge slavery by modern standards. Yes, slavery is cruel and inhuman. Subjecting humans to slavery, however, is a system that has existed for as long as history has been written and unfortunately still exists today in parts of the world. Removing slavery in the US did not eliminate racism or cure all the ills of its existence. Jim Crow laws, lynching, segregation, and all that followed is the aftershock of slavery. So how does Mr. Koch’s teaching play into this.
Since the “official” end of slavery the plight of black Americans has marched, however slowly, forward toward what is hoped to be a colorblind society. We are not there yet but it is getting better. The other thing history teaches, is that much social unrest. Up to and including revolutions, are driven by increasing yet unmet expectations. The civil rights movement was driven by the slow pace of social reform but was done in such a way that society continued to grow and function. Back at the beginning of the civil rights movement there was not a large black middle class and many blacks lived in poverty. Today the black middle class is the norm with a small portion of African Americans living in poverty.
Today we are subjected to the amorphous term systemic racism. This term is applied to describe any action between black and white America. This along with the terms white privilege and white supremacy are used with total disregard to facts as they exist today. We are shown videos designed to explain systemic racism that include such things as redlining, which has been illegal since the 1960s, unequal education and income tied to racism. The lack of black home ownership is also given as a sign. The facts do not support this in total. Yes, schools in the inner city and poor neighborhoods are not the equal of suburban schools or those in more affluent communities. Yet most blacks do not live in these areas. Yes, most of these areas are black but most blacks today are living in middle class neighborhoods. As to income let us look at a Brookings Institute study.
“Last week’s headlines around the release of new Census Bureau data spotlighted a continued rise in income inequality. The Gini index—a statistical measure of income inequality—rose to its highest recorded level in 50 years, signaling that the distribution of income in the United States is the most uneven it’s been since the Bureau began tracking it in 1967.
That disturbing trend, however, masks the economic progress Black households have made in recent years. In 2018, their median household income (the level at which half of households have higher incomes, and half lower) reached $41,511. While that level only slightly exceeded that (and was statistically unchanged) from 2017, it continued to top 2007’s pre-recession peak for Black median household income of $41,134”

On the other side we see black and minority homeownership has dropped. Homeownership is considered an indicator of wealth and wealth distribution. This drop however followed periods of higher black homeownership.

In another Brookings report on Black Progress we read:
Let’s start with a few contrasting numbers.
“In 1940, 60 percent of employed black women worked as domestic servants; today the number is down to 2.2 percent, while 60 percent hold white- collar jobs.
44 and 1. In 1958, 44 percent of whites said they would move if a black family became their next door neighbor; today the figure is 1 percent.
In 1964, the year the great Civil Rights Act was passed, only 18 percent of whites claimed to have a friend who was black; today 86 percent say they do, while 87 percent of blacks assert they have white friends.
Progress is the largely suppressed story of race and race relations over the past half-century. And thus it’s news that more than 40 percent of African Americans now consider themselves members of the middle class. Forty-two percent own their own homes, a figure that rises to 75 percent if we look just at black married couples. Black two-parent families earn only 13 percent less than those who are white. Almost a third of the black population lives in suburbia.
Because these are facts the media seldom report, the black underclass continues to define black America in the view of much of the public. Many assume blacks live in ghettos, often in high-rise public housing projects. Crime and the welfare checks are seen as their main source of income. The stereotype crosses racial lines. Blacks are even more prone than whites to exaggerate the extent to which African Americans are trapped in inner-city poverty. In a 1991 Gallup poll, about one-fifth of all whites, but almost half of black respondents, said that at least three out of four African Americans were impoverished urban residents. And yet, in reality, blacks who consider themselves to be middle class outnumber those with incomes below the poverty line by a wide margin.”

How does this all relate to race, slavery and the civil war. We can see that, while not perfect, the difference in black status of living has improved and continues to move forward. If, however we continue to look back at the past and continue to treat the problem as if it had never improved, we would fail. Most blacks in America are descendants of slaves, we cannot change that. Slavery is a stain on the soul of America and will not be erased. But understand that the practice of slavery was not considered wrong by the practitioners, so stop judging them by todays standards. Much of the country considered it a moral evil. None of the whites at the time considered the black race equal. There were “scientific” studies at the time to prove the point. This was a starting point. We fought a war, went through reconstruction and the Jim Crow era. It was not until a century after the civil war was there any serious consideration to equal rights. Back in the day systemic racism was the norm, considered a given. Today most whites do not concern themselves with the race of a friend or neighbor. A small minority do, a very small minority.
Another small minority of activists is also working to promote an agenda based on continuing to portray historical facts as current. Racist police exist and minorities have been killed because of them. But a review of the facts indicate that this is not the norm. Today we see lists of blacks who have been subjected to police brutality or assumed to be. Taking all at face value let us consider the number of interactions that the police have with the public daily. What percentage results in an incident that can be ruled racist? In a report in USA Today:
“Self defense may be understandable if the police were engaging in an epidemic of shooting unarmed Black men and women, as we now hear daily — but there is no such epidemic. For the last five years, the police have fatally shot about 1,000 civilians annually, the vast majority of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. Black people account for about 23% of those shot and killed by police; they are about 13% of the U.S. population.
As of the June 22 update, the Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings showed 14 unarmed Black victims and 25 unarmed white victims in 2019. The database does not include those killed by other means, like George Floyd.
The number of unarmed Black shooting victims is down 63% from 2015, when the database began. There are about 7,300 Black homicide victims a year. The 14 unarmed victims in fatal police shootings would comprise only 0.2% of that total.”
We need to stop breaking down the population by race. We need to move forward from our past but remember the past and understand it existed. Slavery was evil but those that practice it were not necessary so. It was a part of the norm and ended. Leave the past in the past and move forward to correcting the effects of it. If we continue to live in the past, we will never move forward.
While there is still a difference between Black and White regarding wealth, the gap is closing. We are facing a larger social problem with the second wave of what has been called postmodernism. As one academic put it:
“Postmodernism presents a threat not only to liberal democracy but to modernity itself. That may sound like a bold or even hyperbolic claim, but the reality is that the cluster of ideas and values at the root of postmodernism have broken the bounds of academia and gained great cultural power in western society. The irrational and identitarian “symptoms” of postmodernism are easily recognizable and much criticized, but the ethos underlying them is not well understood. This is partly because postmodernists rarely explain themselves clearly and partly because of the inherent contradictions and inconsistencies of a way of thought which denies a stable reality or reliable knowledge to exist. However, there are consistent ideas at the root of postmodernism and understanding them is essential if we intend to counter them. They underlie the problems we see today in Social Justice Activism, undermine the credibility of the Left and threaten to return us to an irrational and tribal “pre-modern” culture.”
What has generated from this postmodern thinking is the concept of group think, there is only one way of looking at any problem and that it must fit into the current narrative. It can be argued that group think is not new, we have always strived for “the American Way of Life.” The truth is that for 200+ years the American culture has grown and evolved toward one of individual equality. In other words, it was the individual who should be at the center of all discussions. It is the individual who is responsible for their actions. In order to eliminate racism you eliminate race from the interactions of individuals. As Dr. King said we should judge a person by the content of their heart and not the color of his skin.
Today there are many African-Americans who have benefited by this belief. But some have not and the illiberal left has mounted an attack on the country by ignoring history and the advances we have made as a society to engage in the tearing down of the very structure that has made the advancement possible. What needs to be done to help the rest to follow and prosper is to continue to move society forward not stop and try to move backward. The government must learn that it is not necessary to pass laws making lynching illegal, it already is. It must move forward with the traditional liberal beliefs in individualism and equality.
Today we are being inundated with the concepts of the Social Justice movement and Critical Race Theory which proposes that race is not biological but a social construct devised by white supremacist to maintain power and control. To prove this point, we are reminded about past abuses such as slavery and Jim Crow and other past sins, without regard to changes in society. If you are a white person in todays society it is a given you are a racist, either consciously or subconsciously. To make matters worse there is no defense, if you agree, you are a racist, if you disagree you are a racist but do not know it.
The good news is, I believe, that most do not buy into this philosophy, yet. The bad news is that the few who do have hijacked the narrative and that many in political and business leadership roles are willing to make a Faustian bargain with those that are pressing for the most radical/dangerous demands.
History is a guide that is seldom followed. It is more often used as a mallet to ensure reality is deflected. It is twisted and turned and beaten out of shape to ensure people that do not know history are set on the path toward their own destruction. There can be arguments made on both side on the current desire to remove statues of Confederate leaders, I for one have always considered them traitors. But a considered action by a governing body is one thing, the actions of a mob are another. When mob mentality takes hold reason and logic are lost. Take for example the attack on the statue of an abolitionist in Philadelphia or the defacement of the monument to the 56th Massachusetts.
It is time that history be returned to its rightful place, a window to the past and a roadmap to the future. The roadmap will likely look like a set of concentric circles while lopping back on themselves they do manage to move forward. The point is to learn from the past to create a better future. To continually live in the past with a hatred of the present is a weight too heavy to bear on any society. We have taken a giant U-turn in our study and understanding of history and somewhere decided this is where we want to be. I am not sure we have just stopped or taken a turn that is not going forward or back.

How We Access and Answer the Race Question today


Recently there have been several articles accusing Black Lives Matter of being a Marxist Organization, as well as a number totally rejecting the assumption. Much of this comes in the wake of a re-surfaced video of co-founder Patrisse Cullors declaring that she and fellow organizers are “trained Marxist.” Black Lives Matter is an organized movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality against African American people. An organization known simply as Black Lives Matter exists as a decentralized network with over 30 chapters in the United States and sister organizations worldwide while a larger Black Lives Matter movement exists consisting of various separate like-minded organizations such as Dream Defenders and Assata’s Daughters. The broader movement and its related organizations typically advocate against police violence towards black people, as well as for various other policy changes considered to be related to black liberation. Patrisse Cullors is one of the three co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the summer of 2013 fueled by the acquittal granted to George Zimmerman after his murder of Trayvon Martin, Alicia Garza posted on Facebook, Patrisse added a hashtag, and Opal Tometi had the vision of a platform for Black liberation. 

Is calling yourself a Marxist and declaring the organization to be Marxist in outlook a bad thing? For those who reject it out of hand, in an article for My Christian Daily, Buckingham writes. 

 As one writer said “BLM is not a Marxist movement. It is a movement that encompasses many people, no doubt some of them Marxist. A few years ago, my eldest daughter and I attended the March for Refugees in the city (Melbourne). At the March there were all sorts of people handing out leaflets/papers including Marxist propaganda. People’s opportunism doesn’t mean the March was Marxist. No doubt there will be all sorts of people hitching their wagons to BLM at this time, but that shouldn’t blind us to the facts.”

In his book ‘Disinformation’ a former Romanian Intelligence officer, LTG Ion Minai Pacepa, spoke of how the former Soviet Union established so called liberation movements to undermine western governments. Infiltrating and eventually controlling church organizations the Soviets begain the process in South America.  Elevating Cuban terrorist Che Guevara to icon status they begain to subvert the poor of the catholic countries to a view of liberation. Subverting the World Council of Churches the Soviets begain to plant false stories and incite racial hatred in the US as well. 

“A few years ago, a black version of liberation theology began growing in a few radical-leftist black churches in the United States. Black liberation theologians James Cone, Cornel West and Dwight Hopkins have explicitly state their preference for Marxism because Marxist thought is predicated on a system of oppressor class (white) versus victim class (black), and it sees just one solution; the destruction of the enemy.”

“Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love. “

The hand of the Kremlin reached the shores of the United States as well. In March 1996, a sensational story jolted the American conscience. The National Council of Churches and the Center for Democratic Renewal, which according to Pacepa are secretly Marxist organizations, held joint press conferences to announce a huge increase in  the burning of Black churches in the US. This was followed by a swift condemnation by President Clinton and the enactment of laws and setting up a federal task force. Clinton spoke passionately about his memories of black churches being burnt in Arkansas in his youth.  

According to Pacepa “Then the bubble burst. It was eventually established by a private group, the National Fire Protection Association, that in recent years there had been far fewer church fires than usual, and law enforcement officials in the South could not confirm any as having been racially motivated. No church burning had occurred in Arkansas during Clinton childhood.” 

All of this points to the ongoing interference the Russian government has had on the institutions of government in the US. This began under Soviet leadership, but reports continue to indicate the GRU, Russia’s intelligence service, continue to spread discord around the world. Does any of this indicate that BLM is a Marxist organization? No it does not. I would venture to say that most rank and file members are not in fact consciously Marxist, but in fact passionate people being led by people that do subscribe to the Marxist ideology.  

One problem with this is  that the main tenant of Marxism is class struggle, the oppressed rising up to overthrow the oppressor. Once the oppressor is vanquished all become equal and paradise reigns supreme. While this incites passions the second problem is not addressed, it does not work that way in reality. Watching the protest on both sides it is evident that passion has overtaken reason, and this is dangerous.  

B.H. Liddell Hart, a 20th century military historian and theorist wrote in “Why Don’t We Learn from History.”  

“The history of ancient Greece showed that, in democracy, emotion dominates reason to a greater extent than in any other political system… No political system more easily becomes out of control when passions are aroused. These defects have been multiplied in modern democracies, since their great extension of size and their vast electorate produces a much larger volume of emotional pressure.” 

We see both sides using terms such as Marxist and White Supremist to raise passions. What needs to be done is to try and raise the conversation to reason and facts. If we are to discuss race relations it is best to define terms that are reasonable. BLM is not an overt Marxist organization but follows many of the teachings of Marx. Defining systemic racism also requires an understanding of a point of view. Does racism exist in the United States, of course it does as it exists in every country in the world. Did systemic racism exist in the United States, it is hard to ignore our slavery past or the imposition of Jim Crow laws, so the answer is yes. The problem today is defining and deciding if it is still in existence.  

Looking up definitions of systemic racism I became very confused. If there is government mandated actions or corporate activity that is driven primarily by race, then that is systemic racism. If on the other hand, if in day to day actions, certain activities are perceived as racist by one side but not the other, then how do we agree. One example given of systemic racism was if a white person buys a house in a predominantly white neighborhood then that can be perceived as systemic racism. The position of the writer was that even unconscious actions are driven by systemic racism. On the other hand, if the decision were driven by the fact the house was the best one you could find in your price range then what is that.  

To conclude we must as a people search out the answers in a reasonable and logical manner. This will not lead to the end state that will satisfy everyone but so be it. I look forward to the day that all Americans and America in general can live long and prosper.  

We Need to Stop the Petty BS


This will not go over well with some of my friends or those who have called me a Trump apologist but here goes. Enough is enough its time for everyone to grow the F… up. When I was a young man and running as a democrat for town council someone asked me what the difference between Dems and Republicans was. My answer then is the same as it is now, both see the same problems but have different solutions.
Generally, the Democrats have looked to government solutions and the Republicans have look at more, for lack of a better term, capitalist solutions. A case in point is health care and pre-existing conditions. Under the current Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) you cannot be turned down for any pre-existing condition. This sounds great but based on the increases over the years in premiums it is making the care less affordable. Under the proposed American Health Care Act (Trumpcare) the definition and allowed premiums would be set by the insurance companies in compliance with state mandates and regulations. What this last means is if you have a condition that will require long term care your insurance company will be allowed to charge a higher premium. In 2017 this passed the House but not the Senate. Instead of trying to compromise both sides yelled and screamed and declared the sky was falling. This can be worked out but not under the current state of congress.
A similar program in healthcare is how to reduce drug costs. There is in congress currently a bill, HR3, which is designed to lower costs by applying foreign drug cost guidelines to Medicare part D purchases. The effect of this is to decrease revenue to drug companies that would be used for R&D to bring newer innovative drugs to market. Trumps plan is to force drug companies to reveal prices they give to hospitals and the discounts so that patients will see what they are paying for. This would force insurance companies to reevaluate what they charge us for these services. This plan would likely just cost the hospitals their discounts and provide little long-term relief. In all likely hood both would increase the cost of drugs to the public.
I could go on, but the point is that the main difference in how the two parties view different solutions is in the level of government involvement. Not that very long ago this was fully understood, and the result was a fight to see how much could be compromised before a middle ground solution is found. Today we see a dysfunctional government on both sides of the aisle refusing to talk compromise. Further they refuse to listen to each other.
The result was the debacle that was the State of the Union address. The truncated introduction, the refusal to shake hands, failure to applaud success or acknowledge a 100-year-old Tuskegee airman, and so on. The final was the tearing up of the speech calling it a manifesto on misinformation, and here we have it. The number one problem that polls tell us the people are interested in is healthcare. There are several good healthcare proposals out there. Obamacare has good points but needs to be modified and more control returned to the insured. This will not happen until we turn from ideology to pragmatism. Gun violence is another area of concern, truthfully violence should be the concern. While minimum federal laws may be good, minimum age, hours of training etc, States need to step up and work on local requirements, a 14 year old in NYC likely does not need to walk around with a rifle but a 14 year old in Wyoming on a cattle ranch might need it.
We must also get away from the feel good laws/regulations. Red flag laws sound good, being able to disarm the mentally ill, however they go against the 2d, 4th,5th and 14th Amendments may be used against it. This would hold true, different amendments, on any religious ban on immigration or entry. Open discussions between the branches of government or more importantly the government listening to the people would go a ling way to return integrity to the government.
What all this means is the children must leave the room and let the adults be adults. PLEASEThink before you vote next time. Take the time to understand the candidate and their positions and who they are. Do not rely on social media or news outlets to make up your mind for you. It does not take that long to check out a Representatives voting record to see if it truly aligns with your beliefs.