Saturday, February 28, 2015

Independent is a four letter word

I blame the press. Hey, this is America we have to blame someone.

And this mostly applies to being an independent conservative. It seems that people treat the idea of being an independent conservative as an oxymoron. And actually there is some basis in this thought.

Most conservatives, especially middle and upper middle class, are joiners. Conservatives as a group look for comfort level, familiarity, acceptance, or basically they are not risk takers. Change is not a good word around conservative groups. And of course there are all types of people and not everyone fits neatly into a mold, however, you can build a bit of a framework of descriptive words that does apply to many conservatives. Now some people who call themselves liberal may be risk adverse in certain situations or do not like change in the workplace. These are just some examples of you cannot label people with words completely, yet conservatives in America do have many similar tendencies.

And there is more of a public or at least political public acceptance that liberals can be independent. And yet if you really dig deep most independent liberals still hold out to the majority of what the Democratic Party thinks. They just call themselves liberal, but their overall opinions do not vary much from the Democratic Party. Many may be more liberal than the party, yet they still associate in elections with the Party. They can call themselves independent liberals because society sees this as a norm and this is also accepted by the press. You will hear or read news stories and someone is mentioned as an independent liberal. How often do you hear that for independent conservative?

People who are conservative nowadays though are having a hard time finding a voice due to the takeover of the Republican Party by the right wing thinkers in this country. Unfortunately because of their tendencies they have a hard time disassociating themselves from a group. Many conservatives in the Republican Party are struggling with the way the party is going, but cannot break away because that would cause an internal conflict. There is a better word than conflict I just cannot think of it right now. And most independent voices that call themselves conservative independents are really very very right wing.

There is the libertarian party and people who follow their ideology, but they are a unique group. They are somewhat conservative in their thinking for political matters, yet also liberal in their social policy. In my opinion they wouldn’t truly be an independent conservative body. I am happy they exist because they do offer some alternative to the two main parties, but their dichotomy on the separation of issues keeps me from being a member or espousing support of their party.

So where does that leave people such as myself? I feel strongly there are many people with similar opinions as mine, but cannot break away with the accepted protocols of what conservatives are suppose to do and what organizations they need to belong. And in some ways this blind joining is one reason I have never joined the Republican Party. There is way too much tendency to accept what the group says is correct or right without examining the details. It helps if you feel comfortable with the group so you tend to follow the herd mentality. Unfortunately when it comes to the present political climate this is highly dangerous to democracy.

And here is where I blame the press. The press has its audience that it panders to because they are owned by large corporations that earn money from advertising. The press for all its talk about itself is still failing the United States. Yes even the non-main stream or “independent” publications such as or Huffington Post pander to their liberal audience. At least though they do not hide from their liberal bias. This does not benefit our country though. And we all know throughout our history that many news organizations had a slant left or right. The difference between then and now was they still addressed issues and stories with an attempt to attract a larger audience so they could make or sway a point. Now the press just makes their point to make their audience happy. A complete failure of the concept of calling themselves the fourth estate. And thank goodness the press doesn’t use that phrase anymore because they would be lying through their teeth.

And due to this pandering there is not a real mass media voice for independent conservatives that are not right wing. No one in the corporate world sees an audience here or there would be some attempt to galvanize this audience for a profit benefit. Yet many people in polls call themselves conservative and liberal independents. How does an organization pander to this either type of group can be a problem. There is some liberal organizations, but unfortunately they are only an extension of the MSNBC etc groups that pander to the perceived Democratic mainstream. It is harder to identify what works to attract an independent conservative audience than the audiences that associate with the two major parties. And this is the press not stepping out to be an active part of democracy, but a participant in the sham of the democracy our country is becoming.

Our forefathers gave the press freedom to protect them from a government dictating its own agenda. And with this freedom they also gave them a responsibility to help the people be informed of what the government is doing. If the press wants to make certain groups happy for its own benefit, read profits, then how can it fulfill its responsibility to inform the public of all that is good and bad?

And my personal beef amongst all this is I cannot find a company or organization that truly attempts to espouse a conservative agenda that is not right wing. Shoot I even listen to NPR every now and then just to dream there is still a chance for something to develop. And you do get a little bit of independence in some PBS broadcasts, but not a large scale mass media endeavor this country needs. If people saw that others believed the way they do it would open up more alternatives in our political world to get a true conservative, non-right wing agenda before the populace to help move this country back into a true working democracy. Until this happens the ever increasing decay of our country will continue.

And on a secondary note, am I the only person that sees the danger of undue foreign not just money influence because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Actually scares the you know what out of me. So much so that I see the potential for very serious treason against our country coming into play. If you do not know who is supporting a candidate, then how do you know the underlying agenda behind it all? You don’t and that isn’t free speech. Free speech is to be able to speak your mind without fear of reprisal especially from the government, not the ability to exert influence without public accountability. Any belief that this decision opened free speech is either ignorant, or willfully compliant to treasonous behavior. This goes against everything our forefathers gave us to protect the people from tyranny.

Again where is the independent conservative voice this country needs?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From a "that's sad" to "a frustration" to more

When you say over and over again you don’t support so and so, or you don’t support anyone in DC it can get tiring, but sometimes what is being done can be even more tiring.

Name calling or attacking personalities has peppered our political history, however, over the last few years it seems to be the only policy some people are employing to get elected. If the only way you can get elected is to use negative attacks on a person, not their policy, not their agenda, but just who they are just shows your weakness as a politician and more importantly someone capable of leading and actually producing public policy. As a conservative I do not want too much government and to me the policies of democrats are ineffective and will hurt us in the long run. At some point though you need to come up with an alternative to what they are doing instead of just saying we are right and they are wrong. Unfortunately in our society this seems to work. If you don’t think it does, then why are there so many Republicans in office.
We really need to offer a better alternative than just down playing a person especially if the criticism is based on just name calling. At this point I am agreeing with a comment from the Mclaughlin report this past Sunday that the 2016 Republican Primary is going to become a contest of who can portray our President as weak and themselves as a candidate as stronger. Whether or not they actually come up with a policy that is better than what the President is doing is going to be interesting. And like the commentator from the show I do not think so. We need more from our leaders. If you stick to only attacking the surface or the person it only proves you have nothing better to offer. And this is sad.

I know we need more. We need leadership in our country that can tackle some of the problems facing our country especially with DAESH, the Ukraine, and the debt levels we are growing. Just saying so and so is no good is not policy. This is just sad, real sad.

Again our history has proven to be acrimonious in political dialogue, but at some point throughout our history someone has stepped up and produced action that moves our country forward. The Republicans seem to be severely lacking in finding that person going into 2016. They may say we are strong and the democrats are weak, but until they espouse an agenda, real public policy they need to take a good look at themselves. I do not like the democrat agenda and see many flaws in it, but at least they put forward something.
One example of bad policy is the current welfare system, but the Republicans can only say to cut it, reduce spending. Unfortunately the people on welfare will still exist. We need to get them off welfare to reduce spending. The plan should be to change what we are doing. Do you hear Republicans come up with a way to do this? No, their verbiage is only negative to the people on welfare. And yet the Democrats will continue to add to the current policy telling people we need to continue down this failed path because that is the solution. The problem for the true conservatives is they say something, they do something, failed as it may be, it tells people they are attacking the problem. Name calling does not change the dynamic. I have given what I consider an alternative conservative solution in a previous post, whether or not it is the complete right answer I do not know, but at least there are true conservative principal alternatives and my ideas can show this, yet the Republicans only use tactics that are bound to fail in the judgment of history. And more importantly in the reality of our current public policy.

Throughout history the tactics of right wing politicians is to rely on ignorance and attacks on their opponents. They do not rely on creating an agenda because they do not want anyone to know their agenda because if they did people would rid themselves of the diseases of this type of politic. Right now the right is calling themselves conservative as a smoke screen to what the truly want. Our ignorance to their tactics show that democracy as a whole is in danger. And that also is sad. This country deserves better.

I was driving down the road and in a hurry so I decided to get behind the $50,000 sports car to get where I was going faster. Turns out the $50,000 sports car was one of the reasons traffic was going slow. A bit frustrating.

On the flip side I have been on the highway stuck in large amounts of traffic going 30 to 40 mph and then along comes the person trying to bully their way through at 60, 70 + mph, swerving through and causing everyone grief. Then all of a sudden traffic comes to the stop and go of only 5mph, truly frustrating. And then you come to the scene of the wreck and there is the car that was driving crazy that passed you a few minutes ago. Frustrating. And what is crazy this has happened more than a few times here on the highways of Dallas, Tx during rush hour.

This even happened one time where my daughter and I were in the car and one person was going absolutely bonkers. The car was stuck behind us for a few minutes due to the amount of traffic on the road. They were honking and tailgating etc, and there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t move over, couldn’t speed up, or anything so they could pass us. Eventually they were able to pass us and they continued on this behavior trying to get through traffic. Lo and behold my daughter and I watched the wreck happen. The person finally decided to weave in and out of traffic and the shoulder of the highway. Yep they lost control of the car on the shoulder, hit a light pole and since we were on an inclined headed down towards the direction of traffic we saw all this. The car hit the light pole and it fell across the road. Thankfully it did not hit another car, but everyone behind was now at a standstill since the pole blocked the road. The car was wrecked and off to the side of the highway. A group of drivers and yes myself included got out of our cars and moved the pole off the road and waited for the ambulance and police to come. Once the ambulance arrived we left.

My youngest daughter saw all this and still wonders why I won’t let her drive. It is this insanity that scares me for her. And needless to say very frustrating for her. What she doesn’t understand is why I don’t trust her, when in reality I don’t trust others. Frustrating. We deserve better from ourselves.

And now to brag. One of the aspects of the previously mentioned Mclaughlin Report show was the commentary on the discussion on how we can deal with DAESH and terrorism in general. The discussion is around the need to combat the soft war aspect of terrorism, the propaganda and recruiting they are doing. About a year and a half ago on a news story post, not this blog, I brought up we need a modern version of Radio Free Europe this country employed to send messages to the people under Soviet domination. We would use this same idea to create our own or at least an alternative message towards all the people being attracted to the terrorist message. This was exactly what this conference they were discussing was about. So here I am way ahead of the rest of our government and Western leadership. Am I bragging? Heck yes. Do we need to employ this type of thinking (not just the military campaigns needed): an even more heck yes.

Finally for tonight (I could go on) I leave you with this thought:

“Complacency in democracy is a sin”

A bit more of a general statement than Daniel Zovatto discussing Latin America, but not part of the David Brin’s blog commentary on The Tytler Calumny. I still think we can find leaders to espouse a true conservative agenda and avoid some of the problems mentioned in this discussion. There is much more to his blog post than my comment here, but I want to separate my belief in what we can do and I still like the statement in quotes. And overall all if you think we can go forward a definite read for more background of what we are facing. And if you want something else to read, try fight the bias dot com.

Have a great night

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

From mad to horrible

I was reading an article on Business Insider and well it just seemed to end. I don’t know if it was supposed to have a second page that I couldn’t click on, or was supposed to be a two part story or what. I was reading along and came to a paragraph where the author was saying we went to the place and asked these questions..etc, then the story never answered the questions. It never addressed what the last paragraph said they had done. It just ended.

I read Business Insider semi regularly and even read the CEO’s occasional stories that he posts on Linked in,( now I only check Linkedin about once every two months so this is real occasional) so yes I kind of like the publication, but this was just a terrible way to end a story or news story. This is a pretty good pisser and especially since I attempt to write through this blog. I would hope that someone who gets paid to write would do a much better job than me.

Also, and I have commented about this before, and that is why do we let corporations pigeon hole us into behaving the way they want us to behave as customers. This is really infuriating. The example that got me going this time is that someone called me and I had no idea who. So I searched the number through Google and I have to pay to find out who called. Yes this has happened before, but I just can’t believe as the owner of the phone number and paying for it, why do I have to pay to find out who is calling me? The phone number is mine, not theirs or anyone else’s. Sure I use a phone service, but I am paying them for this privilege. Where do my rights as a consumer stop and begin in these situations? In my view, they should begin with me. I should have access to this info. Now, if in general the corporations want me to pay to look up a number, well I don’t like it, but maybe I am stuck with that. When someone calls me though that should be treated differently. Do we have to treat this like credit scores? If I get denied for credit I get a free look at my credit. Can we at least set it up, if someone calls me, I get a free look at who? I think at the very least, the consumer should be able to get this much for free. And I think this is very important in today’s world of identity theft, crazy things happening to people, stalkers or whatever, that consumers should come first, not the caller.

And for my usual political blurb,,, this is just another example of Congress being controlled by special interests and corporations instead of representing and protecting the people. We need to make sure our rights come first, not the corporations’ greed.

And lately I have been horrible at making sports predictions. Specifically I blew the big game. I said it wouldn’t be good, well it had plenty of drama with lead changes, comebacks, and end of game drama. I also predicted the Dallas Cowboys would go 5-11 for the season, well I missed that one big. I do have one saving grace and that is in my prediction post I did say if the offensive line gels that might have a chance at having a better season. I also predicted start of the previous season the Cowboys needed to have an offensive line to have a good season. Well 2013 they were 8-8 without the line, this year with probably the biggest improvement in a line this year they were tremendously better. They even got to the second round of the playoffs with an honest chance of winning the game even though they were in Green Bay. Oh well, not a good track record of late, but even so here are a few Mavericks thoughts.

I think the Mavs are still going to struggle with the good teams in the West for the rest of the year. And I think this for a few reasons. First I think all teams will struggle with each other in the West (yes master of the obvious here), some will have better match ups than others, but all games are going to be very competitive. Second Rondo’s injury puts the Mavericks back a few weeks in working out the kinks in developing offense with him being a major player. Of course improved shooting by him would help, but that doesn’t happen overnight. And with the addition of Amar’e Stoudemire things could get better, but it will take some time for him/Carlisle to find the right blend and minutes for the team. This will make this last third of the season a bit of a challenge.

The good news can be that if all gels they Mavs are in good shape for playoff series. There will be many games in the regular season and even in the playoffs where the Mavs lose by a good margin. The difference maker is Carlisle has much versatility in what he can do over a 7 game series that some of the other teams that might beat up the Mavs for one game won’t be able to do over a stretch.

Obviously I hope the Mavs win so yes my opinion is biased, but take a look at a couple of examples starting with Houston.

James Harden can pretty much beat the Mavs by himself occasionally he is that good. The difference is Houston can’t make the amount of adjustments the Mavs can in game and in between games. Dwight Howard is good, but if Stoudemire pans out then Houston is stuck playing Howard many minutes game after game to first battle the boards with Chandler then play defense against a Mavs pick and roll with Stoudemire. When Howard comes off the floor Dallas has control of the paint. And Mr. Harden will have his moments, but night after night of Rolando and Aminu constantly defending him and really making him work will wear on him. So over time Harden and Howard will start to find it more difficult game to game, they get tired end of the last three games etc and Mavs can use their bench and a rested Dirk and Monte to score and Houston maybe in trouble.

San Antonio still is a great team even though they are struggling through the regular season a bit. Pop is too good a coach to discount San Antonio in the playoffs. The difference this year for the Mavs is Rolando can do a much better job of guarding Parker than anyone the Mavs had last year. If you saw game 7 of last year’s series you know having someone to slow down Parker could make a big difference. Duncan is a better defender than Dirk and can score as well as Dirk, but San Antonio gets stretched defensively covering the Mavs big men since both Chandler and Stoudemire can finish pick and rolls well. With Dirk on the floor the defense gets thinned out in the middle which will allow the center position to add 20+ points a game along with Dirk getting 20. And this can be done game after game even with Pop’s ability to adjust in game etc…

Golden State is a monster. This is especially true since Curry is virtually unstoppable. This will be a difficult series for anyone that plays them. The key here is what happens over multiple games with the same team. Can the Warriors beat the same team four times by sheer offensive will? Yes they do have some defensive ability, but is their coach ready to make all the adjustments necessary to play out a series. What happens if a coach figures out how to control the Slash brothers? Golden State will find themselves in unchartered territory and if they can’t figure it out for a couple of games they could be in trouble. The Mavs hope is to throw Rolando and Aminu at Curry for 48 minutes a game and find a way to keep him in check. If they find success at this, Golden State could have a hard time adjusting to Dallas versatility across the board offensively. As long as G.S. can control the three pointers it will be hard to beat them, they lose that and there are some holes in their game. And these thoughts are being whispered around the league, this paragraph is not completely unique in view.

LA Clippers, for the Mavs a similar situation to Houston, control Paul with Rolando etc and overwhelm Clipper defense with strong pick and rolls at the center position, Dirk scoring 15-20 points a game. Monte can wear out the Clipper guards on defense.

There are more potential series than these examples, probably Memphis and possibly OKC and each scenario Carlisle’s ability to use his players efficiently, bench versatility, and in game adjustments gives the Mavs an honest shot at winning any series they are matched up.

So no predictions, but I will say if the Mavs can find themselves coming together in April they have a great chance of doing well in the playoffs. Trade deadline is coming so we will see what happens that might affect these scenarios, but right now the Mavs have many developing advantages for a series they do not have for one game in the regular season.

And as I type I am watching the Lady Longhorns play. Glad to see they are having a good season. They are up by fifteen with less than four minutes to go. There was a time they were a national powerhouse in women’s collegiate basketball. It was a shame they couldn’t keep it going after Coach Conradt. They are looking good tonight. And it is fun watching women’s basketball especially at the college level. Women’s teams aren’t always so dominated by superstars. Sure there are some, but overall the women’s game is a team game. Yes it helps to have talent, but coaching and team play are very important. This makes the overall game very enjoyable to watch. So go Horns and Lady Horns. March Madness is going to be fun because a few of my favorite colleges are doing well now and of course just because it is March Madness.

And finally I got to stop eating so horribly. Too much junk, fried food, and sugar for someone my age. Sure I still love stuffing myself with crap, but it is about time to think about all this. Especially if I want to enjoy eating, March Madness, and life for many years to come. So take care everyone, keep yourself healthy, life can be too good to short change.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A grayer shade of confusion

There seems to be some confusion about what is being criticized about the book and movie previously mentioned. Some people feel the criticism is aimed at the idea of sexual fantasy. I am not sure about all criticisms, but not mine. I will say there is a distinct concern about any sexual deviancy, but fantasy is something else.

I think clarifying a bit is important. And maybe I should stress it may take a bit of reading in between the lines to understand my points. The book glamorizes a rich person developing control over another person. Do we want to accept this concept as something we want to romanticize? We have enough issues about control in our world. Why should we accept and popularize this kind of dominance of one human over another?

I do not know what the author’s intent was in writing the book. Was it to play a sexual fantasy and created this situation to use as the vehicle? Did the author understand this manipulation is dangerous and that some people already struggle with self-esteem and this glamorization can only reinforce how others manipulate them?

As a society we want to move forward, but how do we define what is moving forward? If we think that stretching the bars of public acceptance of sexual fantasy is moving forward, what does that say about us? What is more important? I think it is how we treat ourselves and others. Some to many liberals or critics of the criticisms seem to think social acceptance is important to these types of issues. I can agree to the point that an evolved society can define what is acceptable in private moments. And we should bring forward these discussions so as a society we can define or explain what is fantasy versus what maybe sexual deviancy.

The more important issue to me is how this is presented. In the context of the book, and I agree it is subtle and some reading in between the lines needs to be done, I see some concern as to how this plays out in their relationship, or better yet lack of relationship. This control then leads to more frightening aspects of what might fall under this umbrella of thinking.

We have enough problems with domestic violence, human sex trafficking, and even political manipulation that we need to look at the underlying message, whether intended by the author or not, that just because someone is rich or good looking or has other aspects of power that we should not lose our dignity and let them use these superficial aspects to manipulate our lives. It is more important to spend time teaching our children about self-respect, than as adults accepting this into our popular culture.

Or to put this thought into a trite phrase:

It is not cool to lose our cool to someone we think is cool.

Monday, February 9, 2015

One Shade of confusion

As you know the infamous novel Fifty Shades of Gray is now coming out as a movie. And this is all well and dandy if this is what entertains you, but I do have one thought.

I have not read the book, but from what I have heard this is about a woman who submits herself to the very particular interests of one man. Basically she agrees to be his sex toy or something. And this is where my confusion comes into play.

This movie is coming out on Valentine’s Day weekend. And I guess as a chick flick/date movie. So if I love and respect someone or am trying to impress a woman to date me why would I want to take this woman to a movie that basically shows it is okay for a woman to be disrespected as a person and degraded as a human being.
Some people may say I am out of touch or something, but seriously for a woman to actually consent to this type of relationship shows a person that has no self respect and is easily manipulated. Is this something in the 21st century we really want to hold up as something to go see. We hear so much about woman being abused etc... what message are we now sending if this movie is popular?

On the meter I am more sinner than saint, but there is a difference between acting crazy versus denigrating another human being.

The book was popular so the movie probably will be too. I just hope that most women realize that this is not something to aspire to in a way a man treats her. It seems weird to glamorize this type of relationship on the very day I am trying to show a woman how much I love her.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Follow up to Hotspots and more

When you make a general presumptive blanket statement many people will tend to discount it or ignore it. I made probably many in my last post, but I feel pretty comfortable overall with what I posted. Most of it is a quick discussion on a variety of scenarios around the world and some of the direction I think we should go.
One such statement I made was a comment that the Sunni /Shite or Shi’ite historical differences were more political power plays than a true religious war. Now this was made based on my cursory reading of Middle East history over the years. And if you read through history you might come to the same conclusion I did. Yes it was generalized and simplistic, but I do feel confident about it. And lo and behold that confidence grows when you run across a true scholarly article that goes into great detail the recent history in Syria and all the players involved. This paper discussed in length the events of the last few years in Syria and what some people are doing to ramp up the war pre and post Daesh. The paper is called “The Shite Jihad in Syria and its regional effect” by Phillip Smyth. There is a discussion of the article on the publication Business Insider titled “The Most important thing in the Middle East that no one is talking about”. I did download the whole article. It is 88 pages in my download, but some of that is table of contents and intro.

This paper did though slap me in my face with my glaring omission of Iran. There are many issues in the Middle East, my main concern was the lack of true focus by other Middle East powers against Daesh and their unstated desire for the West to handle the problem. There is a history of avoiding conflicts that someone else can take the blame for. And you might say, are you kidding me the Middle East seems to always be in some conflict. The only real conflict in the Middle East is whomever at the moment feels they can attack Israel. Historically there have been some huge wars, but those happened a long time ago. Outside of the Iran Iraq war of the 1980’s and Israel, there aren’t many wars within the Middle East. And shoot, a couple of the Israel wars were over before most of the rest of the world finished the headlines. Now there are some conflicts, but again these are based on someone trying to finalize a power play. Syria seems to prove this according to the paper mentioned. So this is why I didn’t spend much time on other countries in the Middle East except I missed Iran. It has its own unique circumstances even more so than Pakistan and Afghanistan. Al Queda still exists in various forms, but Daesh is the real hotspot now. Yet Iran and its desire to become a very major player in the Middle East and beyond is not something to forget.

We in the west can forget that Iran via Persia has a long history and a very important one in the history of world affairs. Do not let the current religious government lead you astray. This is more about Iranian power using religious dogma as a vehicle to try and regain prominence in the world. Dictators and tyrannical governments come in all sorts of forms, but they all have one thing in common. They want power via subjugating people to their will. They could care less what others think of them. Iranian leaders may state they are fighting for their version of Islam, but in reality this is about them. Anyway surprised myself I forgot to mention Iran.

And there is always an exception to any generalized comment. Thank Jordan and the King of Jordan for being a bit more responsive to the madness around them. Sorry it took such a horrible tragedy to bring them to the forefront.

Also for some of the other countries in the Middle East I wrote a post called the Paranoid Post many moons ago that discussed some of my concern around the Saudis. It was an extrapolation of some thoughts I had and I narrated out some of my worst fears. Still hold those in the back of my head. It also discussed a couple of other hotspot situations including a bit about Daesh at the time.

On a different note, I have never supported Obama, much less voted for him, but I am not a big Obama hater. Every now and then he can do or say something really stupid. Does he not have filters around him that let him know, there is a mainstream opinion in this country (not the haters) that still has certain believes especially around religion that he needs to take into consideration? Also his ideas of giving the amnesty for immigrants or whatever he said a few months ago is just impossible to implement. And just as impossible as the Republican idea to round up all the illegals. Both are logistical nightmares and do not solve the real immigration reform this country needs. We have got to decide what to do and how we are going to handle our overall immigration situation. Nothing by either party though makes sense. Maybe I will get my act together and actually offer an alternative. I do like to at least put something out instead of just complain.

And finally on what would be a more pleasant note and that is a Sports comment, except the Mavs are starting to tick me off. I really like the potential for this team, but they are making stupid mistakes against good teams. Seriously guys, pay attention to what you are doing. And the Rondo injury is going to hurt them more than Rondo just missing a few games. I said it would take about twenty games for them to start to gel with him on the team and it actually started to look like it was going to take more. I still feel it will work, but taking longer than I even thought. Now with the injury and the length of time he may be out, this may take us way too close to the playoffs for the potential to be reached in time.

Well the good news is we are about one month away to one of the two best months in any sport and that is March Madness. I cannot wait. The other month being the Soccer World Cup. Even though FIFA is a bit of a shad, the games themselves can be great and the intensity of the last few games to be the champion of the world in one sport is fantastic to watch. Thank goodness though March Madness comes around once a year. The players, the traditions, the underdogs, and just the intensity and emotion of the games make this a truly special event. And of course the extra craziness of trying to pick a winning bracket, even though not part of the tradition, just adds to the adrenaline in watching the games.

Have a great weekend everyone

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hotspots and commitments

Hotspots and commitments

First of all and not many people in the United States may want to hear this, but there is not really anything we can do right now that is going to have us come out smelling like roses on the world stage. I don’t like admitting it either, but truth be told we are one of the countries people like to complain. It would take years of concerted effort for our public image and more important substantive image to improve overall. Can we improve our image and even more important our substance? Yes, but right now it is not on the horizon
Second this is not an essay or commentary that could be used as a campaign device or a position paper on US foreign policy. It is just some observations on where I feel we stand in relation to some serious issues going on here on planet Earth.

And I will label the most important to the least important by number, but they are not in order as to the hottest spot being mentioned first.

2) I am going to start with Ukraine, not because it is the most important or most dangerous, but because it is one of the areas where we can show improvement in how we are perceived and have actual substantive gains in the immediate future. There are pitfalls though. We need to balance a commitment to helping the current Ukrainian government actually become a representative government without us becoming the major player in the current crisis and in the government itself. The best avenue for us is to take a backseat to Europe being the major player in the development of the country politically and economically. We need to be involved, but need to avoid any direct confrontation with Russia. We cannot take the chance of arming Ukraine to the hilt and then having them lose because their army is not as prepared as the Rebels or any support the Rebels may have behind them. A failure militarily with us being the major supporter would embolden Putin and others. Or if we are seen as propping up Ukraine that still leaves Russia the rational to increase their military spending and buildup under the guise of us being on their border and a danger to them. There is a benefit to decreasing the tensions between us and Russia even with Putin in charge. Under no circumstances though do I believe that acknowledging much of what Putin is doing in Russia is beneficial. Our best recourse is to support Germany and Ukraine’s neighbors in helping them become independently secure. We can supply support, but indirectly more than directly allows our European allies to further their goals and allows others to see us as a benefactor not self serving.

1B) There are two hotspots that currently we have no potential gain. The first is North Korea. There is much to be gained if Korea re unites, but we only benefit because others benefit. There is no way with the current climate that a war could be won with North Korea and if a war were to break out once North Korea started losing the possibility of a nuclear event would only escalate. This falls under the category desperate times call for desperate measures. And unfortunately there is no immediate hope of the reunification of Korea. Do we stay with the status quo? No, somehow we need to move the process forward. And we will not be able to be the hero in this situation. Our goal should be that South Korea slowly is able to start to bring the North to the table and slowly weaken the current regime in North Korea through a series of economic development that opens up the country and the rank and file of the North Korean army sees benefit in changing allegiances away from the North which helps to weaken the hold on the people by the government. And yes, this is not going to happen overnight. The benefits are obvious. A whole nation’s people can join the world community. South Korean can become even stronger economically and an example of a democratic or representative country being successful. The hazards are how China perceives this turn around. I see one potential gain in this scenario for China, but China perceiving three negatives. And the positive is not a large positive and that is they do not have a friend or ally that is really a thorn in their side. If you count up allies and friends it is always nice to have a large military on your side, but if that country/military is unstable then maybe the loss isn’t so bad.
The negatives though are a different story. First is China perceives Korea as being too strong. Competitively China now has four strong countries on or near its border in Korea, Japan, India, and Vietnam. And what was once a divided interest with competing militaries is now a united Country with a potentially very large and disciplined military. Quite frankly no one wants a strong military on their border. Hopefully Korea’s economy could absorb some of the impact of reducing the size of its military and the North’s, but there would be some immediate cost to reducing this much military in the short term. One potential positive scenario would be for Korea and China to find some common ground in economic development. Could China ramp up its infrastructure to allow for products to be imported from Korea? A good trade relationship would help to reduce tensions. As you know I am a strong proponent of energy diversity. If China developed ways to produce large amounts of electricity and Korea developed an electric car manufacturing capacity then a trade mechanism could be developed that benefits both countries. China continues its infrastructure growth and use of the electric cars helps them reduce pollution. Korea is able to absorb some of the rank and file military into a manufacturing role which also alleviates some of China’s fears or concerns. And by joint trade the other negatives are diminished. This includes the worry of the military buildup on their border and changes the dynamic of economic competition to economic cooperation. The United States benefits by reducing their military buildup on China’s border and hopefully reducing US China tensions which allows China to work more closely with the United States on other global hotspots. And China’s reliance on Russia’s natural resources is reduced which forces Russia back to being more cooperative in Europe.

1A DAESH. There is not one good answer for the United States here. The rest of the Middle East would like to goad us into fighting them, but we should stay away. Well we should, but the atrocities of this organization is too much too ignore. If we fight we continue to be the bad guys in the Middle East even if we succeed in completely obliterating them ourselves. The other countries in the Middle East don’t want to fight for two reasons (well recent events in Jordan may have cracked the armor a bit). First the governments don’t want to be judged as having Muslims killing Muslims no matter how bad they are or seen as giving gains to anyone from the West and well they just don’t want to fight anyone but Israel. You can make all the noise you want about Sunni vs Shite, this is just the powers at be using their peasants as pawns to keep themselves in power. This so called feud and all the anti-west diatribes keep the status quo in good standing. DAESH has done a good job of upsetting the apple cart, but you don’t see a large call to arms by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or any other major player over there in wanting to rid the world of this horror. Nope they want us to fall into this trap, lose our young men and women, buy their oil in this war, and then have an excuse to continue to denigrate us afterwards as having interfered in their affairs. I could write a hundred colloquialisms as to how bad this is for the United States to try and convince people we need to stay out, but truth be told we are stuck with a worldwide horror that needs addressing. There is no commitment either. We do not owe anybody anything in the Middle East except to continue to help Israel. If Daesh were to attack Israel in a last ditch attempt to recruit more fighters (which I fear eventually they may do) we would most definitely need to support Israel in any means they may ask of us, but for the rest of the Middle East we do not have an obligation no matter how much they say we do. And in a strange turn of events, if Iran were to step up to the plate and do something I would say we could give them some verbal support in the UN or the international stage, but nothing more. Iran would have to change many dynamics for us to support them beyond giving them our approval for dealing with this group. Yet I think it wouldn’t hurt us to recognize their actions if they really did something about DAESH. The problem of course is their long term commitment to Syria and what happens afterwards.
The United States cannot get involved. The situation really does need the Middle East to unite and tackle them, however, I do not think this will happen. The whole situation is a lose/lose for the United States. And again though something has to be done about these devil spawned fanatics.

3 China. This is a situation completely separate from my discussion on North Korean. If we could really improve relations with China, open trade equally, come to some working agreements so China recognizes it is a major player on the world stage, and create better relations with us then both countries benefit. I feel most foreign policy or Asia policy experts could recite a litany of benefits to us and China if the relationship improves. And especially economically if both countries can trade equally. China will always be suspicious of us, but we shouldn’t be afraid to continue to press them. We need to address concerns such as the South China Sea with strength, yet always move to give them an opportunity to grow. The more we recognize or even increase China’s role in the world the more receptive they will be to us. If we try to continue to use our leverage with other Asia countries the more China’s suspicions and concerns will grow. China wants the world to know who they are and recognize their importance in the world today. We need to take the lead in helping this develop. And simultaneously we can be strong in any areas that need addressing. China wants to win and grow, but it is a country that understands the concept of long term thinking. China can wait out setbacks better than we can so we need to address them with the same philosophy. And that is take a little at a time to get what you want in the long run, just don’t back down. Their history is long and has had setbacks, but they keep coming back and each time their esteem and power in the world has grown. The current situation is proof they will continue to be an important power on the world stage. We benefit if they know who we are and how to approach us. This takes strength and openness on our part. Two things that have not combined well in our history.

4 Russia. Russia has a proud history also that they want to increase in value with or without Putin. We need to work towards the long term goal, and in the background, of Russia developing stronger and fruitful ties with Europe. The US benefits if Russia is a strong power in the world if their development is tied to constructive growth within Europe. This allows the US to focus on Asia. If our allies in Europe benefit from Russia working constructively with them, then their strength in relation to ours grows which allows them to be on equal footing on with us.

6 India and South America. Basically these are not hot spots, but opportunities for us to change the world’s perception of us. If we work with India to enhance what has been started then we gain economically and bond with a country that has a world history that unfortunately along with most of our issues these others have that we don’t. India is one country recognized by the world as a legacy country that currently is not a danger to them. Okay Pakistan, but that is just about the hottest spot for India. This is a relationship we need to continue to foster. And for South America we can turn their opinion around by working within their needs instead of trying to force our wants upon them. We gain economically with better trade if we help them become more self sufficient. Brazil is a country leading the way in energy diversity. Showing them we think they are a leader and working with them to develop their exports with this only gains us a country that will support us in other endeavors.

5) Africa. There is too much going in this continent to try and write a paragraph or two to sum up everything. The terrorism that exists, the poverty, the disease etc are just too much for one region to tackle within itself, but the amount of work needed to begin to improve the situation will take the world coming together to build a plan that is acceptable to all. Africa with all its problems is the one region where the rest of the world can truly show we do want to be a better planet by developing and implementing ideas to improve the continent as a whole. The United States can benefit if they took the lead in positive development that allows the individual countries in Africa to overcome the many struggles they are encountering. Again it would take much more than one or two paragraphs to outline some possibilities for the US to gain positive approval.

We do not have to be number one in many economic statistics etc to be considered the number one country in the world. First not trying to be number one would be a step up in the world’s eyes. The goal of the United States should follow the old axiom of actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately what we have done that is good has been overshadowed of late by actions that benefit only a few in our country. We have given the world an example of what can be done if people are given the opportunity to grow, if people are allowed to think for themselves, that honest debate and downright disagreement can produce a working government that allows the people to drive the future of a country. We have given this away in the last half century, but if we work to reinstill the drive of the individual, the freedoms our forefathers gave us, and implement the design and goal of the constitution back into our government that would go far in showing the world that we truly want the best for ourselves and the whole of the planet. There is a preamble written that means much more to who we are than much written since. We need to continue to implement the idea of by the people for the people and never forget what this means.