Saith Me… Debate or Tirade

Differing perspectives can elevate our comprehension of complex issues, but they can also drag us down into a pit of malevolence when discussion and debate are replaced by an unbending quest to convert or conquer.

Saith Me… King of the Hill

Does the enemy attack when we are weak? When we are distracted? Yes, historically there have been attacks when we have been weak and distracted. But we are also attacked when we are arrogantly standing on a hill declaring our greatness to the world.

So when did arrogance begin replacing weakness and distraction as the invitation for an attack? It happened after the First Gulf War, when the US people had shown they supported a fight. After that war, it became clear that the US public had changed since the Vietnam War. Kudos to President Reagan for reestablishing a fighting mentality in the people.

So why is arrogance and the willingness to fight an invitation for attack? In simple terms, the Cold War was a war of economic attrition with both sides betting that military spending would weaken the other side first. Enemies of the US took note, and knew that if the US was drawn into a protracted conflict, it would further weaken the US economy. If the US could be drawn into a preemptive or unilateral fight, then worldwide public opinion would also turn against and weaken the US.

This is the strategy of terrorism, peck at the king on the hill until he is overtaxed, spread too thin. Not so that victory can be achieved in a decisive battle, but so that the king will fall; fall from his own inability to stop reacting to the threat. Fall because rather than sharing the target on his back with allies, he will want to stand on the hill all alone. His arrogance will defeat his kingdom and not the enemy.

Lives versus Pocketbooks

In the debate tonight, Romney may have been more aggressive in his debating, however, I think Romney may have reminded us of some concerning issues. Two issues that really concern me are,
  1. Consolidating bureaucracies = firing people;
  2. A stronger military = government paid for developmental military contracts & arms build-up.

These are the two points that still really make me uncomfortable voting for Romney. You see, Romney wants me to vote for him over President Obama, but he won’t clarify these points.  Unlike the president, Romney has to sell me on the fact that he would be the better president. So while I will look past the pained expression he always wears, (I give him the benefit of the doubt that it is a pained and not condescending expression), I can’t look past these points.

So can someone explain to me how you cut the budget but not cut military spending, medicare, or educational funding, as Romney promised he would do if elected?

What does that leave? Foreign aid, arts, Post-It notes, what am I missing here? Because my understanding is that the real ‘pork’ is spent by Congress, and the President is limited in his influence in that regard. The President can only change the ‘discretionary’ funds, not the Congressional pet projects. He can veto, but that is tough when the pork is attached to the salaries of men and women serving their country, or other vital spending.

So, as far as I can tell, unless we rapidly and substantially downsize govt, which puts people out of work, Romney’s plan involves two things: a magic wand coupled with really scary, Reagan-like military build-up, which by the way will not make us safer, but will make some developers rich. Will they employ people? Of course, but 12 million people? Or even enough to offset bureaucratic downsizing? Even with a trickle-down effect, I can’t fathom how Romney’s plan will work without magic?

I am not looking at this from a partisan point of view, because I agree that the bureaucracy is too big, and because I don’t care whether the military spending on new war machine development is a Republican or Democrat idea. I’m looking at this from the point of view of someone who was really glad to see the Cold War end. I do not want to see another arms race started by our actions. If Romney really intends to ‘fix’ our economy and create jobs through military build-up, I am very concerned. Because historically, when the US fixes its economy with military build-up, it soon after, goes to war.

FYI – replacing old machines with new is not the issue, but dumping loads of money into experimental development beyond what we already spend, is the issue.

Think about it – we won’t pay to keep our people healthy, but we will pay to create machines that will kill, not only our enemies, but also our own people. How is this right?

I am a proud supporter of the military and the purpose of the military, but I really want leadership who will think of the lives of people before the pocketbooks of people. There has to be a way to achieve health, safety, and economic prosperity, but I did not hear solutions tonight.  And as far as I am concerned that does not make anyone a winner, but all of us losers.  We just have to decide how we want to lose, healthy but poor in the short term, or rich but facing the potential of another arms race and war in the future all because we, again, only see US national interests, and not the world’s.

A link on the deficit crisis supplied by Leigh Ann.

Meet the Mooch

I have just found out that I am a mooch on the American Dream.

Worse yet, I am a mooch many times over: a military wife living off of a government pay check and receiving government healthcare, a stay-at-home mom not paying taxes, and a recipient of government assisted education. (But at least I don’t mooch off of the public school system with my kids, right?)

And here, I thought that by supporting my husband, and raising my kids to be productive members of society, I was part of the American Dream. But maybe I was just a dreaming.

Maybe I was wrong all along in not realizing the only American Dream that matters is how large your bank account is when you die?

Or maybe the other guys have it all wrong…

Win or Lose: It really is how you play the game!

In a politically heated world, it is easy to forget that it is not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.

When we focus too much on a goal of winning, we may falter in our understanding of what we perceive we are up against.  It becomes too easy to for us to let emotion sway our reason, sway our perception of truth.  In the end whether we win or whether we lose, we still must be able to move forward.

When we become polarized in our ideas of right and wrong, ferocious in our belief that the other side is not only the opponent, but desires the destruction of all we hold dear; when this happens we run the risk of our own ruin. For no matter the outcome of the election, the world will no longer meet the standards we have set, no politician will ever make us happy, and no law will satisfy our thirst for a sense of perfection. Politicians will promise, platforms will declare, but in the end disappointment will be our companion if we do not learn that the political apparatus cannot supply a sense of wellbeing. Only we can supply that feeling, that sense of prosperity, that sense of safety.

When we vote in an election, especially when the election is close, we must focus on the value of the process and not simply on the outcome we desire. This will ensure that win or lose, we will feel good about ourselves, our efforts, and our opponents, once the game is over.

My Two Cents – Politically

My ability to affiliate with a political party has always been constrained.  My grandfather, who served two term as a county commissioner when I was young, was a Democrat in a predominately Republican area.  He was a farmer, and while he was staunchly Democrat at the local level, he never voted Democrat for president.  He said, “They always mess up the agriculture policy.”

Well I am not a farmer, and I have struggled, until recently with the idea of being politically affiliated.  I don’t struggle any longer because I have embraced being an Independent. Some may say that I can’t make up my mind, but that is not the case.  I am a moderate who like to choose each election who I think is the best candidate.

So 2012 – I have tried to keep an open mind and evaluate the candidates based on their wisdom, advisors and when possible, their policies.  I believe that if the “new guy” can’t improve upon the “old guy” in office, then leave the “old guy” in  to finish his job.  (Luckily we do have term limits on the office of the president).

So while, many things have bothered me about Mitt Romney over the election cycle, none have disqualified him until the convention this week.  The sum of his faults tipped the scales during his convention speech, specifically when his Cold War rhetoric resonated as he spoke of foreign policy, and when he projected the idea that only ‘for-profit’ business experience was of value.

So here is my two cents worth for the record.

I am beginning to really think all Romney knows is money and money friends. None of his political and certainly none of his Foreign Policy decisions seem to be coming from a well thought out position. He seems to be cutting and pasting pieces of past presidential ideas and creating a Frankenstein. Now if he is so good at making money, why doesn’t he A) tell us how he plans to create 12 million jobs, and B) higher some younger, more modern advisers. (Also, why didn’t he make more jobs with all his money, while in the private sector?)

He projects the idea that only expensive old guys are worth the investment and as advisors. This seems to be completely ill conceived when it is the ideas of the old that keep us in this economic state. The economics of the 50’s and even the 80’s can’t possibly work for the world today. Have they all forgotten that A) the baby boomers all had kids, exponentially increasing our population, B) the baby boomers are not retiring fast enough to open at least some of the jobs needed to decrease the unemployment, C) that the world has changed tremendously in the last 20 years, and D) the economies of the past were bolstered by military buildup. On that note, the military buildup created jobs, and during the Cold War we were a major exporter of military tech/machine. While the Cyber Technology growth helped offset the decrease in military sales, it could not replace all the jobs.

No one argues that the economy is in a less than happy state, but just as I don’t think Cold Warriors should be deciding Foreign Policy, I don’t think that “old” thinkers should be steering the nation’s economic or legal courses.

Oh, and I seriously question his judgment when he surrounds himself with press advisers who can’t keep their mouths clean and respectful, especially in public.  Especially since I am rather familiar with the standards of his faith.

Wisdom is for advising, but youth is for innovation. Romney seems stuck in the old – not wisdom, just old.

So this is my two cents, I appreciate the courage Romney has shown in his decision to run for office.  I value his desire to serve, but if he wins, I anticipate more war and less peace.  For while the economy is struggling, and innovation is required, he does not seem to understand that we cannot return to the 80’s where strong rhetoric was backed by huge military development, constant fear, and little sense of security.  The world is filled with conflict, but the policies of the Cold War do not work for the world we live in today.  He should ask President G.W. Bush about this, because right or wrong, his administration proved war had changed, and the ability to bolster our economy through war has changed as well. We cannot go back and Romney does not seem to know how to go forward.

Is the Cold War Really Over?

I remember how excited everyone was when the Cold War ended. Today, I researched about how hard it has been to leave the policies of the Cold War behind for a certain group of politicians. Bush was a big one to use Cold War rhetoric and policies. His advisers were entrenched in the Cold War. They saw phantoms at every turn, but missed the phantoms with a strategy.

Tonight I heard more of that same Cold War rhetoric, even directed at an old enemy, simply because I wasn’t smart enough to turn off the tv. The enemies have changed slightly but it seems we still need to have an enemy to feel good about ourselves. Still think we must define our power and our strength by the suppression of others.

Ironic how we don’t want to be the world’s police force, but at the same time we want to tell the world what they can and cannot do. All in the name of our national interests.

Today, I read an interesting article about how we have been at war since 1776. Do we know how to get along? Do we know how to be free without constant war? Must we play the international bully to feel good about who we are? Must we fear the world in order to feel protected? Does national defense always have to include international conflict? Is there no other way to lead, participate, or show strength?

What is wrong with being part of an international community? What is wrong with working together?  Yes, there will be war, will be bad people committing atrocious acts against humanity, but must we become so afraid that we justify Machiavellian preemptive strikes? Justify being the international bully?  How did we get this way, and how do we get off this path?

Will the Cold War ever be over if we continue to live in a perpetual state of fear and distrust?  Because the Cold War was not man against man, or even nation against nation – it was ideology against ideology, and we still can’t seem to understand that not everyone has to be like us in order to be a good neighbor. We can disagree and still work together dealing with real threats and not perceived ones.

The days of bolstering our economy through military buildup are over. New solutions must be found, and they won’t be found chasing phantoms. Whenever we chase phantoms, we lose. Phantoms will use our fears against us, and there is no weapon that will stop them.  Like the natural disaster, phantoms and their evil can reach us through even the best protections. Waging a Cold War of containment or annihilation will not stop the phantoms, but will cause us to run ourselves into the ground.

Frustration Boils Over

Living in a world where good news is hard to find can lead to a feeling of frustration. At some level, most rational humans recognize that tough times are part of life.  In our personal lives we overcome our frustration by looking for the positive amongst the negative, you know the rose in spite of the thorns.  We smile at puddle jumping kids, fuzzy kittens and babies. We take heart that our frustrations are temporary, knowing fully well that the negative will make the positive seem all the sweeter when it comes.

War, recession and disease can adversely affect the levels of individual frustration spurring the growth of collective frustration.  Collective frustration can then lead to action.  The American Revolution is a case of collective frustration turned to action.  Where collective frustration differs slightly from individual frustration is in the constant build up due to media coverage.

In a household, it does not benefit the members to harp on what cannot be changed or changed quickly.  A wise family soon learns to downplay the negative and highlight the positive.  Sadly this wisdom is not present in the collective populous, at least not today. While many would like to blame the media for the escalating the levels of public frustration, the truth is they are a creature that must be fed by others.  Corporations, lobbyists and yes, politicians feed the media beast.  In some cases the media is fat on the information being fed to them by those with an agenda, and in other cases they have become scavengers searching for tasty morsels dropped unintentionally by those in the limelight.  The public becomes the hungry chicks awaiting the food and keeping the demand high.  Regardless of how the media obtains their food, their information is the result of the attitudes and desires of those seeking fame, fortune or power.

With each negative story, the collective frustration grows.  Soon with pitchforks in hand, a mob forms looking to take action.  In 2008, frustration due to war and recession led many to vote for a change, but opposition to the voice of change was great.  Whether due to political affiliation, ideology, or chance of birth, rather than being a symbol of hope, the president became a symbol of division.  Even within his own party, unity was not achieved and hope diminished.  This led to a rally of frustration in 2010. Sadly, hope was not the objective of this rally, and more frustration was the result.

Now as we approach a new presidential election, frustration is boiling over as can be seen in the Chick-fil-a controversy.  Boycotting or supporting Chick-fil-a allows the frustrated populous a way to expend their frustration, and as long as the pitchforks are left at home, no lasting harm will be done.  Some will argue this point saying there will be an economic impact on the franchise, but it is just as likely to be a positive one as to be a negative one. When the rallies are over, maybe those mobilizing to protest or support Chick-fil-a will feel better, feel a sense of action and accomplishment when the day is done.  Hopefully this will allow them to feel they have been part of a positive movement. Maybe they will again be able to find the beautiful rose and not just the painful thorns. The pot of public frustration might then return to a simmer rather than a boil.

Who is the Boogieman?

While many may feel big government is the boogieman threatening to take away our freedoms, I worry that big business is the greater threat. Their money makes for a loud voice, and when they decide to buy speech, little seems to stop them.  Unlike a government which is bound by borders, they are international citizens purchasing and often dictating policies throughout the world.  They speak to an international crowd.  Their voices drown out reason.  Their products seduce us in to acceptance or denial.  They become our masters.

Okay, I really don’t think capitalistic doom awaits us around the corner, but it cannot be denied how corporate influence is at the heart of many of the economic ills plaguing us today.  It makes me wonder, how many of the attacks on the US government, or other national governments, are being paid for by corporations who love deflecting attention from their own role in our economic woes?

Accountability should be shared, but in a world where speech can be purchased by the highest bidder, it is far easier to buy out the market, to sell a pretty package, or promise a miraculous future rather than to acknowledge responsibility for risky mistakes and ventures.

While governments must try to care for their people, corporations are not bound by the same constraints.  It is easy to find examples of harmful or wasteful products being sold to the masses.  The boogieman is artful in his disguise and sells an enticing product, but beneath all the glamour, sparkle, and loud noise, the big business is focused only on one thing – profit.  People become expendable resources on a spreadsheet of greed.

These ponderings I share have been meandering through my brain for a while, but an article concerning Olympic marketing brought them to the forefront today. While much attention is directed at “draconian” governmental control, the underlying boogieman is the corporate sponsors who do not want even grandma to stitch the Olympic rings on a sweater, or junior to wear a competitor’s t-shirt.

Maybe this is why corporations are considered people by so many wealthy leaders.  If the corporations are not people, then governments no longer can say they serve the people.

So who is the boogieman, and who is stirring up the pitchfork wielding crowd? I will let you decide, for now I must return to playing with my techie toys, and eating my yummy junk food all while I get ready to watch the Olympics this weekend.