Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This Is Better?

Words are fools
Who follow blindly, once they get a lead.
But thoughts are kingfishers that haunt the pools
of quiet; seldom-seen...
- Siegried Sassoon
I remember an era, like it was yesterday, when the world was on fire and discontent with our leadership in the making of this world was under continuous scrutiny.
No one liked us we were told, and we've turned our allies into enemies.
Indeed, John Kerry, at one time a candidate for President, identified the strained relationships of George W. Bush with Gerhard Schroeder, of Germany, and Jacques Chirac, of France, as proof positive that the world was against us.
Hillary Clinton aped this rhetoric when she ran for office in 2007.
John, Hillary, and their party were adamant that change in the White House had to occur to restore to our country the valued friendship of our allies, which could only increase our esteem and ability to get things accomplished. To be the global leader that we once were.
Am I the only one who remembers this?
At the risk of running long, I'll bring full scrutiny to bear on the whole notion of how we stood in the world, and why it matters now.
Gerhard Schroeder was Germany Chancellor from 1998-2005, and era over lapping the entire first term of George W. Bush. Mr. Schroeder was widely recognized as an abrasive and arrogant man who had difficulty getting along with many world leaders, not just the U.S. President at the time.
Despite all the liberal protestations, and their convenient disregard of the personal aspect of U.S. - German relations, Mr. Schroeder was drummed out of office by the decidedly pro-American Angela Merkel. Seems the Germans didn't have such a problem with America as some would have you believe at the time.
France was headed by Jacques Chirac from 1995-2007 and many have described his personality as the same as Gerhard Schroeder. In fact Chirac was defeated in 2007 by, again, a decidedly pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy.
Makes you wonder if this discontent the world had with us then was in actuality, or just something John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and their party would only have had you believe.
John Kerry is now the Secretary of State, having succeeded Hillary Clinton in that post, and his party has ruled the roost for over six years now. Which is to say that plenty of time has past so that a clean break from the prior administration's miscalculations should find us in a world of love and respect for the mighty red, white, and blue.
But that isn't the case.
Seemingly not a week goes by without another report of discontent from our erstwhile allies in regards to an action or policy emanating from Pennsylvania Avenue.
Israel is noteworthy for what is almost a mortal break from our past relationship.
Germany has serious issue with how we've spied on them, among other international concerns.
Throw France & Britain into that same lot.
Egypt was once an ally and although it was not an ideal relationship it worked. Now President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi makes routine comments questioning Obama's commitment to our commitments.
Of course Russia is a huge problem, but at least Bush tried to find peace and harmony with them. Today Putin mocks our President, something he never did when John & Hillary were just Senators.
I could go on, and I will.
There are no better relations with China, they continue to steal our technology and patents. As well as snub our diplomats and President.
North Korea is still a sixty, going on seventy year old problem.
John Kerry had the answers in his debates with Bush, not so much when he can apply those grand ideas himself as Secretary of State.
Iraq has proven Bush right as to what will happen if we withdrew from there.
Lastly Iran. If capitulation is the answer, as some identify an imminent agreement as, then we could of just capitulated thirty-five years ago and saved us all the interim costs and disagreements.
Another Presidential election cycle is just developing, and along with it some fresh, and some tired old accusations will be bantered about.
I can't help but keep in mind how disastrously wrong the judgement of some were and how disastrously those players have cost us our position in the world.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Random Links and Thoughts

Has anyone seen this link?
Evidently, from the story that provided me that link, he STILL hasn't asked any questions!
I suppose that is his right, and I'm admittedly not as smart as he is, but you would think basic intellectual curiosity would get the better of you during the course of nine years hearing cases that are non trivial.
I've said its statistically improbable for a President not to do something right in four or eight years, well its obviously not impossible for a Supreme Court Justice to not ask a question in at least that many years.
Dylan once said he'll be a mute, but not a perfect mute. Thomas is making a good run at it....
Nuance anyone? Read on.
I don't want to waste much time with Hillary. My over arching opinion is that she will not be the next president, and that much of this ballyhoo from her supporters were just the thing I was hearing about ten years ago from them. Anyone remember an unknown named Barrack Hussein Obama?
Besides that, anyone who does support Hillary is highly unlikely to ever, and I mean ever, dropped their support of her. That sentiment was verbalized on local radio today by the host of a talk program, a host that supports her by the way.
He could of just said, "Don't they all do it anyways?" Of course he might of, I wasn't listening very long. Comments like the above always strike me as somewhat unconvincing. Makes me wonder why we complain about the other side then, which WAS usually the case. Ya know, "I was really peeved when so and so Republican did it, but now that Hillary did it, I'm o.k. with that, and don't they all do it anyways?"
How about the letter that 47 GOP Senators signed that went to Iran!
Geez, like every two bit dictator in the world doesn't already know that the U.S. President is a lame duck the moment he, or she, is sworn in office. Destined to leave, and with all decisions to be revisited. House of Cards, on Netflix, even has the Russian President flatly stating this as reason not to take President Underwood serious.
Talk about nuance though, when the GOP pulls a stunt like this, to undermine the President, the Huffington Post calls it sabotage.
John Kerry calls it, "irresponsible."
What the Democrats did during the entire duration of the Iraq war? Well that was something else altogether, of course.
To me, it sounds a little like "they all do it." Which in this case is probably the most factual and applicable use of that phrase.
That's it, but remember, thank you and God bless America. But not the Christian God, because we are not a Christian nation.
Thanks G.M. I liked that article, I really did, thanks for sharing it.
Its just that I didn't buy into the premise that there is a threatening political current to officially make this country Christian. But if there were, yes, I'd have to agree that that isn't what the founding fathers intended.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Net Neutrality

The easiest thing to do is criticize.
In fact, criticizing has been scientifically shown to lend to the critic a perception of smarts. Studies have shown that people will say the critic is smarter than the non-critic, even if the opinions come from the same person!
In other words, if I criticize something I'm perceived smarter, but if I praise that same thing I criticized earlier, I'm perceived not as smart. Studies have been performed, this is a known quality of human behavior.
And don't think the politicians and talking heads of the Right and Left don't know this. That's why they criticize, and why people admire them so much.
Knowing this behavior has very powerful benefits, especially when applied to an unsuspecting audience.
Knowing this, as I do, I've ground myself by adopting a counter weight, that is I also come to understand that it is statistically improbable, if not impossible, for someone to be wrong all the time.
So, for example, if I find myself believing everyday someone is wrong in elected office, I make an effort to take another look at the issue(s). Because maybe I'm the one who is wrong, whose humanity is being exploited.
Believe it or not, but I don't mind being wrong. That's being human too, being wrong. Its the not learning that bothers me.
Dylan said, "He not busy being born is busy dying."
With that being said, sometime politicians are wrong, a lot. Joe DiMaggio defied probability and hit in 56 straight games, so really, anything is possible.
I'm also loathe to lend my esteem, as little as I have, to some politician whom I do not know, and especially when I already perceive him or her as somewhat less than honest.
Now as to the FCC ruling on Net Neutrality, et. al.
The first thing I'm going to do is extract the President from this discussion. Two reasons. One, anytime I think that I could defend him, I'm reminded that despite my counterweight of statistical probabilities, the very real actions of the IRS targeting conservative groups, the lying about ObamaCare, and the dragging out of the facts in so many instances warns me to keep my distance, and save my esteem for someone or something else.
The second reason I'm removing the President from this issue, for the benefit of my arguments, is that Net Neutrality precedes him. It really does, its been an argument made by learned individuals and consumers advocates for more than a decade.
So I really don't see the need for him to muddy the waters, although it is honestly acknowledged that without him the decision may not of been made. He appointed members and pushed for the decision. Sometimes history has a momentum that Presidents get wrapped up in.
I'm not a pro-government advocate, I'm not looking for government to fix every ill in society. Sometimes the free markets need to work things out.
Sometimes though, the actions of government get overblown by people like me. We get all worked up about how our freedoms are being taking away with a ruling or a law. How "its a power grab" to our detriment. I'm not making that assumption this time.
Of course I could be wrong, we could all be screwed. But there are very smart people who supported this ruling, people like Timothy Wu of Columbia University who has written books on communications, telecommunications, and the internet. Who fancies himself as somewhat an expert on these matters, and as a consumer advocate.
Again, this decision could be wrong. The FCC, and congress, and of course Presidents have been wrong in the past. But sometimes criticism just sounds smart, because as humans we think that way.
No one pays for long distance phone calls anymore, there was a decision that led to that market adjustment, and criticism was rampant then about it too.
Why don't we relax on this, if we are all consumers, we all just might benefit by it, and if it doesn't work out then changes could be made.
That's happened before too, changing a change that initially didn't work out for the best. Timothy Wu can tell you about those times. The FCC hasn't always been right, but presumably they are on the consumer's side.