What will be remembered?

Being fully aware of political spin and propaganda, I am wondering if in the end this letter will be what history records for future generations to study.

Willingness to come together for war, but government shutdown in an attempt to stop a health care law. Where does this leave us and what does this mean for our future? Most importantly, what does this really say about us as a nation?

Reid to Boehner 2013

 

PDF of the letter can be found at the ‘letter’ link and at the following:  harry-reid-letter-to-john-boehner.pdf

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.

What if…

This week I have been reviewing the history of peacekeeping, all the while following the news reports of revolt, violence, an bloodshed. So it is not strange that today I find myself pondering a profound what if.

What if there had been a greater supply of and access to guns during the American Revolution? 

Certainly we just need to look to the American Civil War to see what happened when technology improved and the availability increased. 

Would the weaponry of today shortened or lengthened the American Revolution? Would there have been more or less bloodshed? Would the decolonization process of the North American colonies been just as turbulent as the process elsewhere in the world?

 

News of Declassifications through FOIA

The real news is not simply that stuff gets declassified. The real news is that every day scholars seek more declassification of information through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) without seeking fame. It is from their efforts that we have a chance to broaden our understanding and not simply our talking points.

Outsourcing Security: Does it really make us secure?

While many US citizens debate the issue of security versus privacy, they neglect to seek answers to the most important question? Is the US bureaucratic and military muscle doing the work of securing the nation or has it been outsourced to those whose loyalties lie in the $$$$ rather than the flag?

 

The following are some of the current discussions on the issue of outsourcing security and defense:

The outsourcing of U.S. intelligence raises risks among the benefits

How Spy Agency Contractors Have Already Abused Their Power

US Lawmakers Give Defense Contractors Reason to Sweat After PRISM Leak

U.S. Relies on Spies for Hire to Sift Deluge of Intelligence

What You Should Know About The Intelligence Community’s Contractors

Intelligence contractors on the rise since 9/11

News Articles from Clearancejobs.com 

Who Will Survive Unscathed?

I just love it when a journalist tells it like it is… (see the link)

My favorite section was on the IRS and the difficult job they have.  Like any other government branch, the IRS is made up of humans and humans often make bad decisions, especially when there are new or complicated policies to manage.

What I find most odd about this latest round of “scandal” is the comparisons being made between President Obama and President Nixon. Nixon was a tightfisted president when it came to decision making and oversight. He trusted few.  Obama seems to trust many and seeks to let the professionals in each bureau run the day-to-day.  This is what causes him so many problems – he trusts people to do their jobs.

Mistakes happen in every administration, that is a given. There has never been nor will there ever be a “perfect” president, not even ole George Washington himself was without flaws. Sometimes mistakes get reported, sometimes they don’t, and in some cases mistakes are covered up – hopefully in all cases mistakes are motivators for change and better training.

Mistakes will happen but if WE THE PEOPLE keep going on witch hunts and continue on a path of losing faith every time someone makes a mistake – including the people in the Oval Office and in Congress – then WE THE PEOPLE will be making the biggest mistake of all. Our lack of faith in our system is the greatest threat to our nation! When bad things happen, when mistakes are made, and when threats are not halted at our borders, instead of rallying we gnash our teeth and rend our clothes in anger over our governments failure. But our government is of the people and by the people. People make mistakes  – some from good intentions and other from arrogance, but this is nothing new.  The only thing new is the speed and volume of information availability. Mistakes now become public fodder even before they are fully investigated. Human mistakes!

Just as the laws are made to protect the common man, those same laws protect the common man who works for the government whether they be elected, appointed, or hired by a bureaucratic supervisor. During a witch hunt, would you voluntarily give up your right to remain silent? So why then would you expect any public servant or employee to give up that same right? Instant news and the public outcry that follows instant news do not negate the right to a fair hearing.

Seeking change, disagreeing with policy, disliking personalities – these things may direct your voting choice but they should not cause you to distrust those who are elected, nor should they cause you to lose faith in the system. During the election cycle there is much complaint about mudslinging and the lack of truth, but where is the outrage and disgust over such underhanded politically motivated tactics during the non-election cycle (if there is such a period anymore)? Hiding political agendas and mudslinging behind demands for transparency and demands for instant details is appalling. Even when mistakes are less mistake and more intended actions, the rights of individuals and the protection of innocents must be considered. Even a witch hunt targeted at one, may cause unintended casualties and unintended consequences. People make up our government and their lives and their freedoms COUNT!

In the days of old, the witch hunt often targeted innocents, and just as often ended up targeting the very people responsible for the witch hunt’s origin. When January 2017 rolls around, who will have survived this latest witch hunt unscathed? Will it be WE THE PEOPLE or will WE perish due to our own mistakes rather than from those we perceive made by others?

Questions… Taking Sides and Losing Unity

Is there a danger in supporting YOUR TEAM rather than supporting OUR Team? Have we lost the OUR NATION and become irrevocably divided in a contest of finding fault? Has history become only the Myths and Legends with which we batter and attack the opponent? Or can history still teach us something about the reality of human fallibility and the imperfect nature of trying to do our best and falling short of expectations? Can truth ever be found if we only see what we want to see, only hear what we want to hear, and only perceive what we already perceive?

Are we still trying to learn, grow, evaluate, and improve – or are we simply taking sides?

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“Note to Democrats and Republicans: This Is Not a Game” by Mathew Dowd

Critical Thinking and Pleasant Articulation

In the attached article, a recently retired high school teacher explains the troubling trend in education because of the high focus on standardized tests. While he attributes the problems to the federal policies of the last decade, the focus on standardized tests is not new and the side effects were present even 20 years ago, just not a prevalent. In the 1991-2 school year, I tutored a college freshman who was failing her International Relations class. The problem, as it turned out, was that she had never taken essay style tests and had never been responsible for taking notes in class in preparation for an essay style test. Yet she had graduated with honors from one of the best high schools in the nation.

The concerning issue highlighted in this article is the notion of “bad writing” as a scheme to excel on rubric graded writing. I am seeing the results of this type of thinking in my husband’s undergraduate classes and my graduate classes (online education affords us the opportunity to evaluate the other student’s ability to write). I have even had one graduate level professor criticize my work (with rubric attached) highlighting the dysfunction of the system.  While I do not claim to be a literary genius, it is very disconcerting when a young professor is more concerned with checking boxes than with evaluating form and function. While more experienced professors seek a well-supported thesis, the younger ones are concerned more with whether every point of a lecture is covered, almost in bullet regurgitation in order to stay within a prescribed word count.

But this is not a completely new problem, just one more common as all facets of education require ease of grading.

Not all disciplines follow the same writing style and the variations can be troublesome for students who have not learned flexibility in writing. Many years ago a great conversation with a fellow student highlighted this point. She had received a poor grade on her paper and had been told to see mine for a comparison. She was appalled to find out that I had not followed the same essay format she had learned in high school English class. I explained that the standard essay she had learned under the strict tutelage of her high school instructor was not what our International Relations professor wanted us to write. He wanted us to write a critical essay highlighting what we THINK!  What a notion – someone not only asking us to think but asking us to write it down. Students need to practice multiple styles of writing in order to gain the comfort of flexibility.

Thinking and standardized tests can sometimes cause problems for students, as I have witnessed with one of my two teens. My son, a person who sometimes thinks too much, receives decent scores on standardized tests, but not the stellar scores his younger sister receives. The instructor in the Washington Post article mentioned some of his students had taken Algebra in eighth grade. My son was taking physics when he began taking his ACTs and had a real struggle with the math section. It had been too long since he had seen simple math problems. Once he pulled out his old books and spent some time reviewing the simple, his math scores came up to snuff.

My daughter’s experience with the testing is slightly different because she likes to avoid analyzing but loves data. She is my ultra-creative child who has a near perfect memory.

My goal has been to teach my children to think, analyze, and then think some more. This had not been an easy task. My dedication to this task has left my children less prepared for the standardized tests they are required to take in order to get into the schools of their choice, but it was a risk worth taking. In the long run test scores will do little for them, but critical thinking and pleasant articulation will serve them for a life time.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/09/a-warning-to-college-profs-from-a-high-school-teacher/

On Strategy

“Strategy does not allow a nation to walk through the garden of war and politics unscathed. Strategic planning informs a nation of what it can do and can endure once it’s been pricked. Through planning, a nation can learn what it can endure and the depths of their adversary. It’s not about the plan. It’s about the planning.”

– Nicholas Torres, USAF, AMU Grad Student

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*Nicholas is one of my classmates and has given me permission to quote him.