Two Short Pieces to Share

These are two short pieces I wrote to share with my writing class this week. I wanted to bring something that would not be too long. We each have about ten minutes in class to share a piece of writing, short story or poetry with the other students. My first piece was just something fun. At least for me it was fun.

The Spy Who Talked by John Persico

Interrogator:  “Let’s get this over with quickly.  We know you are going to talk so why make it difficult for yourself.” 

Spy:  “Nothing you can do will ever make me talk, so do your best.”

Interrogator:  “We have ways of making anyone talk, it is only a matter of time before you do.”

Spy:  “Could you give me an example?  What are some of the things that you might do that you think would make me talk?”

Interrogator:  “We could do Chinese Water Torture on you.”

Spy:  “That’s been tried before without any luck.”

Interrogator:  “We have a new battery and could give you some electric shocks.”

Spy:  “I find electro shock treatments to be rather therapeutic.”

Interrogator:  We could smack your feet until you talk.”

Spy:  “I love having my feet massaged.  Could you do my back as well.”

Interrogator:  “Ok, I am getting tired of this repartee, you asked for it.”

Spy:  “Asked for what?”

Interrogator:  “You want us to play hard ball!”

Spy:  “Can you give me an example?”

Interrogator:  “Well for starters, we can cut off your dick and feed it to our pet piranha.”

Spy:  “By dick, do you mean my cock and balls or just my cock?”

Interrogator:  “We usually start with the cock and work down to the balls.”

Spy:  “What if I tell you that I don’t have a cock and balls?  I am actually a woman disguised as a man.”

Interrogator:  “This is why we hate women spies.”  You make things so difficult for us.”

Spy:  “Is that all you’ve got?”

Interrogator:  “Let me check with our torture consultant and see what we have for women spies.  It will only take a few minutes.”

A Few Minutes Later:

Interrogator:  “We don’t seem to have a lot of good torture ideas for women, but we have come up with one that we think will do the job.”

Spy:  “I’m ready.  Do your worst.”

Interrogator:  “We are going to force you to watch 100 hours of old ‘Father Knows Best’ reruns.”

Spy:  “Please no, anything but that.  I will talk!  I will tell you all I know.  The whole truth and nothing but the truth.  So, help me God.

370 words

Mission Accomplished by John Persico

You don’t know what you would do,

But I know what I did.

Like the good soldier I was,

I followed the orders that I was given.

245 Women, children, and old men,

All lined up in a row.

So peaceful now,

No more crying or screaming to hear.

Red people, yellow people, brown people, black people,

A rainbow of corpses all pressed to the ground.

“Sergeant, get the men back into formation,

time to move on to our next objective.”

“Yes sir, lieutenant,” I say,

As we march proudly away.

96 words

Why You Should Believe Nothing You Read or Hear in the News!

news-icons (1)I want to make an argument as to why most of what you hear or read is biased, prejudiced and based on narrow minded thinking.  Most of what you read will not lead you to the truth but will take you down a path away from the truth.  My argument will also apply to what you are about to read.  I am biased, narrow minded and prejudiced.  So why should you read or listen to what I am about to write?  Well, let’s start at the beginning.

Like many of you reading this, I consider myself somewhat of a truth seeker.  Although, I believe few if any “absolute” truths actually exist.  Nevertheless, I read a wide variety of books and magazines.  I listen to many different sources including TV, Radio, Podcasts, TED Talks, documentaries, and YouTube videos.  I attend training sessions, conferences, and talks by noted experts whenever possible.  I also scan many different news sources each day to find a variety of perspectives concerning political events and popular news.  My friends consider me well informed and very knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects.

maxresdefaultI have been seeking the truth or what might pass as “truth” for most of my 75 years on this earth.  I was considered the “smartest” guy in the room in many of my high school and college classes.  The authorities or those that are supposed to be good judges of truth and knowledge gave me two undergraduate degrees, one master’s degree and a Ph.D. Degree.  Once upon a time, I belonged to many different professional associations and was also a member of MENSA, the so-called high IQ society.  None of my qualifications or associations prepared me any better than anyone else upon this earth to find the TRUTH.  Like most of you, I am still looking and hoping that the “Truth will set me free.”  If only, I can find it.

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A few days ago, I noticed seven different editorials on Google News concerning the Ukrainian War.  Each of the editorials was written by a professional journalist and each espoused some very critical ideas.  Some of these ideas would carry weight with readers and no doubt influence public opinion for good or bad.  Six of the journalists’ names were listed and one was not.  Now most stories we get in the news whether on TV or print are written by journalists.  Less frequently it will be some “policy” expert or high-ranking government official who will be doing an opinion piece or some type of interview.

I started to ask myself a few questions:

  • What are their professional qualifications?
  • How much influence or weight do these journalists carry?
  • How much slant or bias do these journalists carry?
  • Are journalists and the media really qualified to tell us what we should or should not be doing?

I looked up each of the journalists to see what their qualifications were.  Basically, they were professionally trained journalists and most of them had extensive experience in foreign relations.  Neither of these attributes makes them an expert on the Ukraine but it is conceivable that they might have more knowledge in some areas of foreign policy than the general public.  Again, more knowledge does not mean less biases. Here are the news sources and brief bios for the six journalists I researched:

The Washington Post- Liz Sly and Dan Lamothe

Liz Sly (born in the United Kingdom) is a British journalist based in Beirut.  She is currently a correspondent with The Washington Post covering Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East.   She graduated from the University of Cambridge.

Dan Lamothe is an award-winning military journalist and war correspondent.  He has written for Marine Corps Times and the Military Times newspaper chain since 2008, traveling the world and writing extensively about the Afghanistan war both from Washington and the war zone.  He also has reported from Norway, Spain, Germany, the Republic of Georgia and while underway with the U.S. Navy.

NPR – Greg Myre

Greg Myre is an American journalist and an NPR national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community.  Before joining NPR, he was a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and The New York Times for 20 years.  He reported from more than 50 countries and covered a dozen wars and conflicts.

The Wall Street Journal – David Henninger

Mr. Henninger was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing in 1987 and 1996 and shared in the Journal’s Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of the attacks on September 11. In 2004, he won the Eric Breindel Journalism Award for his weekly column.  He has won the Gerald Loeb Award for commentary, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Walker Stone Award for editorial writing and the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for editorial writing.  He is a weekly panelist on the “Journal Editorial Report” on Fox News.

The Atlantic – Eliot Cohen

Eliot Asher Cohen (born April 3, 1956, in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American political scientist. He was a counselor in the United States Department of State under Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009.  In 2019, Cohen was named the 9th Dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, succeeding the former dean, Vali Nasr.  Before his time as dean, he directed the Strategic Studies Program at SAIS.

Cohen was one of the first neoconservatives to publicly advocate war against Iran and Iraq.  In a November 2001 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Cohen identified what he called World War IV and advocated the overthrow of Iran’s government as a possible next step for the Bush Administration. Cohen claimed “regime change” in Iran could be accomplished with a focus on “pro-Western and anticlerical forces” in the Middle East and suggested that such an action would be “wise, moral and unpopular (among some of our allies)”

The New York Times – Cora Engelbrecht

Cora Engelbrecht is a contributor to the RIGHTS blog.  She recently received her BA in nonfiction writing from Wesleyan University, and now works in New York as a freelance writer, researcher, and graphic artist.  Her interest for human rights and global conflict stems from her time spent researching and writing abroad in Tanzania and South Africa.

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I next turned to the question of how much influence do journalists carry?  The story of John Revelstoke Rathom (1868–1923) is very informative in this regard.  He was a journalist, editor, and author based in Rhode Island at the height of his career. In the years before World War I, he was a prominent advocate of American participation in the war against Germany.

c9713250-e5eb-46c7-8ea9-2810435084fa-9781643139364“Rathom campaigned for the U.S. to enter World War I in support of the British.  Under his management, the Providence Journal produced a series of exposés of German espionage and propaganda in the U.S.  In 2004, that same newspaper reported that much of Rathom’s coverage was a fraud: ‘In truth, the Providence Journal had acquired numerous inside scoops on German activities, mostly from British intelligence sources who used Rathom to plant anti-German stories in the American media.’” –  Wikipedia

It seems logical to assume that since we did enter the war and since the Brits did go out of their way to bias American policy that the efforts of Rathom and others had a major influence on our decision to enter the war on England’s side. America was persuaded by the media that we should enter the war when there was substantial public opinion to stay out of the mess that Europe was in.  My own reading of WW I shows a totally different scenario than from WW II.  I have little doubt that we should have entered the war against Hitler.  However, the picture from WW I is quite different.  I think that each side had equal claims to legitimacy for their war efforts.  But the media heavily influenced our eventual entry into the war.

Next I wanted to see if anyone had opinions about the bias or prejudices that the typical journalist might have.  I found the following comment in a recent article by Politico, “Why Journalists Love War”, by Jack Shafer  03/17/2022

“NBC News reporter Richard Engel, a veteran foreign war correspondent, dropped a tweet a few days after the war began that appeared to lament that U.S. forces hadn’t strafed the huge Russian convoy approaching Kyiv, seemingly unimpressed that such a strike might launch World War III.  Reporters didn’t call in bombers at White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s Monday briefing, but the tone of their repeated questions almost made it sound like they were advocating a no-fly zone and fresh jets for Ukraine.  And the New York Post left no ambiguity about where they stood with its super-partisan “Fight Like Zel” cover headline.”

“The overwhelming majority of U.S. journalists have taken a more subdued position on the war, identifying with Ukraine against the aggressor Russians, but stopping just short of cheerleading. Even so, journalists can’t hide the seductive draw of the bloodworks.  They can’t help themselves. They love war.”

Photojournalist,Documenting,War,And,Conflict

Of course, this is only one opinion.  However, it fit well with my observations.  I have noticed every day calls by journalists for increased efforts to support Ukraine that might well lead to a Nuclear War.  As I read these brash comments, I sit wondering where were the calls to intervene in Nigeria, Rhodesia, Yemen, and Cambodia?  Why are the news outlets pushing a narrative that implies world disaster if the Ukraine falls to Russia?

Listen please!  I would like to see the Ukrainians kick all the Russian asses back to Siberia or some other cold place.  However, I am not willing to start a Nuclear War over the Ukraine.  There have been too many missed opportunities by the West during the past five years that would have avoided the present war.  What is it that brings out the desire to have a nuclear confrontation with Russia?  Nothing I can see except a Democratic Party that needs to look tough and a cadre of journalists pushing a narrative for more and more support by our country for a nation that we do not even have a treaty with.

“The link between safety and ethics may not be immediately obvious, but the same ambitions and economic factors that pressure inexperienced and poorly prepared freelance journalists to enter battle zones also pressure journalists to present the news as they think that their paymasters most want to hear it.”  — https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/ethics-safety-solidarity-journalism — Originally published as a chapter of “Conflict reporting in the smartphone era – from budget constraints to information warfare”

A book that I am reading is “The Science of Fear” (2008) by Daniel Gardner.  The following  insight by Gardner is quite pertinent to this discussion.

9780226567198“The media are among those that profit by marketing fear – nothing gives a boost to circulation and ratings like a good panic – but the media also promote unreasonable fears for subtler and more compelling reasons.  The most profound is the simple love of stories and storytelling.  For the media, the most essential ingredient of a good story is the same as that of a good movie, play or tale told by a campfire.  It has to be about people and emotions, not numbers and reason.  Thus, the particularly tragic death of a single child will be reported around the world while a massive and continuing decline in child mortality rates is hardly noticed.” — Pg. 294

Ever since the decline of print news and the rise of the internet, the media has become a cesspool of click bait headlines, gross news reports about inane subjects, media celebrities touted as royalty and increasingly bizarre stories designed to spread fear.  There is no more morality or ethics in the news than there is in a cartel, mafia, or mega-corporation.  It is all about the money and there never seems to be enough these days.  Is the media biased is actually a very stupid question.  Right, left, central it does not matter.  They all have one agenda and that is to sell advertising for their corporate sponsors

My final question was, “Are journalists and the media really qualified to tell us what we should or should not be doing?”  My answer is that they are no more qualified than anyone else on the street or even one of your friends or relatives.  A study done several years ago and published in a book called “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?” (2005) by Philip E. Tetloc examined the link between experts’ opinions and how often they were right.

Im-an-expert-600x412

Tetloc in his heavily researched study found that experts are often no better at making predictions than most other people, and how when they are wrong, they are rarely held accountable.  Kahneman and Tversky in their book “Judgment Under Uncertainty” (1982) identify dozens of cognitive biases that impact the thinking ability of human beings.  They both later won a Nobel Prize for their work in behavioral economics.  It is often the most highly educated people who suffer from these biases the most.

Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962) dealt with the biases that the scientific community held regarding theories and principles.  Kuhn showed how difficult it was for the scientific community to let go of “old paradigms” and adopt new paradigms.  This was true even when all the evidence showed that the new paradigms did a better job of explaining the subject under study than the old paradigm.  Science history is full of many theories that took fifty or more years to be accepted simply due to the biases and resistance to change that is prevalent among scientists.  This is as true of scientists as it is of journalists, politicians, and the average person.

What is the answer:

A friend of mine said that the most important thing we have to do is to teach our children to question everything.  To question is the heart and soul of critical thinking.  However, we must be cautious lest we raise a nation or world of nihilists.  There is a difference between rejecting everything and questioning everything.

I am not a nihilist though I see a fine line between my thinking and nihilism.  I do not believe in absolute truth, but I think there are approximate truths.  As we learn more and more about anything, our truths get closer to the absolute, but we can never reach it.  I think the same way about meaning in life.  Meaning exists but only in our minds.  It will change many times during our lives.  The same is true for morality and values.  They exist but only in our minds.  Like the Velveteen Rabbit, they become real when we make them so.

Purchasing-Power-of-the-US-Dollar

I used to hold up a dollar bill and ask my students how much was it worth?   They typically replied one dollar.  I asked them why it was worth a dollar?  Answers varied, but the truth or close to it is that it is because people believe that it is worth a dollar.  In terms of labor, ink, and paper, it costs the Federal government 6.2 cents to print a dollar.  In terms of buying value, a dollar in 1926 is worth only 15.58 cents today.  However, this is not an absolute either since the current value of a dollar actually varies from state to state.  The value of a dollar varies about 30 cents from the lowest to the highest state across the USA.  In Mississippi, a dollar is worth $1.16, while in Hawaii, the dollar is only worth 84.39 cents.

So, seeing is believing or is believing seeing?  Is there a difference between perception and reality or are they the same?  Can we ever escape the Rashomon effect?  The biases in perception created by our own desires to protect our egos or the egos of others.

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There is little I have learned in my life that supports my willingness to accept anything as 100 percent factual, 100 percent truthful or 100 percent valid and reliable.  The solution is to question everything.  Do not accept anything as absolute.  When it comes to politicians, lawyers, salespeople, and journalists, we all need to be on guard.  Their built-in bias is not for the truth but for the dollar or at least 84 cents on the dollar.

quote-the-media-has-enormous-power-the-media-is-undergoing-huge-changes-now-it-seemed-like-thomas-hunt-morgan-67-60-81

 Update:  4/29/22

Just read the following on CNBC.  This “brilliant” analysis by a guy who writes regularly for a variety of news outlets and is listed as a “Tutor” notes the following:

“I think it’s outside the realm of possibility right now that there’s going to be a nuclear war or World War III that really spills over that far beyond Ukraine’s borders,” Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst and associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told CNBC.

Dr. Samuel Ramani’s credentials for this brilliant piece of optimistic analysis is that he is a tutor of politics and international relations at the University of Oxford, where he received his doctorate in March 2021. Somehow this makes him an expert in what Russia will do next in the Ukraine.  His “beyond optimism” comes at a time when Putin is starting to get more and more desperate in his bid to defeat the Ukraine.  Putin is becoming a cornered rat and NATO is pushing him into more and more of a corner.  Despite this, the genius who is less than two years since he finished his Ph.D. degree says “it is “OUTSIDE” the realm of possibility that Putin will launch a nuclear strike.  It would only be “OUTSIDE” if Nuclear weapons did not exist.  Questions I have are:

  • Why is CNBC relying on the credentials of someone with so little expertise to give us such an analysis?
  • How could anyone in their right mind say that something is impossible when that something already exists?
  • What is the “narrative” behind the focus by the Western news?
  • Why is NATO supporting a war when we have no treaty with the Ukraine.

 

The Truth About the Ukrainian Crisis

Below I have put some links to some contrarian views about why the US is so involved and what is really happening in the Ukraine. We are on the brink of another disastrous war. Please share these links.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/15/path-out-of-ukraine-crisis/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/18/stumbling-toward-war-over-ukraine-is-nuts/

Is the Confrontation Over Ukraine Joe Biden’s “Wag the Dog” Moment?

The people now gunning for a showdown with Putin were gunning for a showdown with Saddam Hussein two decades ago—with the same promises of a happy outcome.

By Andrew J. Bacevich, Feb 16, 2022

Seeing It From Russia’s Point of View

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“This week, with Washington rejecting two of Moscow’s three key security demands, Russian military equipment massing near the border with Ukraine and NATO “prepared for the worst,” the question dominating global affairs remains: Will Russia invade Ukraine?”

“The White House answer is a qualified yes, the Kremlin’s a qualified no. Two of Western Europe’s most powerful countries, Germany and France, seem to think Putin is bluffing; a third, the U.K., seems pretty sure he’s not. Kyiv, meanwhile, is downplaying the threat of an imminent invasion by Russia. Analysts are similarly split.” — Parsing the Evidence: Will Russia Invade Ukraine? January 27, 2022

There is an old saying that you should walk a mile in another’s shoes before you judge them.  Today, we are once more on the brink of a war with Russia.  For over 100 years, Russia has been the big bad boogie man for America.  Nothing Russia does or says can be trusted, at least according to our politicians.  It never seems to occur to people that Russians want the same thing as Americans and have the same dreams and hopes as we do.

Before I go any further, I am not a big fan of Russia or Putin.  Two years ago, Karen and I had a trip scheduled to go from Paris to Moscow.  We had tickets to attend the Bolshoi Ballet.  Everything was ready to go and then Covid hit the world.  We had to cancel our trip.  We were able to get most of our money either refunded or saved in a voucher for future travel.  The Bolshoi was the first to return our money for the tickets we had purchased.  However, the Russian embassy was not as liberal with returning the money that we had to pay for our visas.  Between the Russian and Belarus visas, we were out about 1,000 dollars.

We rescheduled a trip to Spain in 2021 with the moneys that had originally been allocated for our Russian trip.  Karen wanted to go to Russia as we had planned but I was angry about not being able to get a refund for our visas and I said “F—K Russia.  Putin has a reputation for being both a strong leader and a bully.  Many liberals in this country blame him for helping Trump get elected.  It certainly seemed to me that Putin and Trump were “kissing” cousins.  I detest Trump and anyone that helped get him elected.  Thus, you see my “credentials” for disliking Putin are greater than many.

With the above caveats about my Russian attitudes, I will now mention that as much as I dislike Putin, I also do not trust any motives given by Democrats or Republicans for beating the drums of war in this country.  With Vietnam, it was the lies about the domino effect.  Still a lie used by many to justify war.  With Iraq, it was the lies about the “weapons of mass destruction.”  There have been many coups in South America orchestrated by the CIA to destabilize regimes that we thought threatened American interests.  Seldom does the public get any truth about these clandestine efforts.  So let’s look at some facts before we decide that Russia is once more the “bad” guy in the recent Ukraine problem.

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Russia is ready to go to war!

The newspapers, Biden, and our Secretary of State Blinken are all shouting to the rooftops that Putin and the Russians are poised for war.  The former defense minister under President Zelenskyy from 2019 to 2020 for the Ukraine, Andrij Zagorodniuk, was interviewed by an NPR reporter the other morning and he said, “It just isn’t so!”  He gave the following reasons.

  1. Ukrainian estimates of Soviet troop strength are too small for them to attack without serious loses. The Ukraine has nearly 280,000 combat ready troops and Russia has only 125,000 troops on the border.  The Ukraine army is the third largest in Europe after the Russian and French Armed Forces.
  2. The Ukrainian intel shows no evidence of enough medical units necessary to support a sustained war.  He does not believe that Russia would attack without medevac units available.
  3. He doubts that Russia would attack just before the beginning of the Olympic Games.  China is a Russian ally, and they have a vested interest in the Olympics generating favorable publicity for China.  If Russia attacks the Ukraine, the publicity around the Olympics would be vastly overshadowed by the news following the Russian attack.

Why has Russia massed its troops on the border of the Ukraine?

Once upon a time, there was two big alliances of countries in Europe.  There was the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) and there was the Warsaw Pact.  These alliances consisted of countries with treaties to protect the other members of the alliance.  NATO had about 20 members and the Warsaw Pact had nine members.  With the end of the Russia hegemony over much of Eastern Europe, many countries left the Warsaw Pact.  Several of these former Soviet allies joined NATO.  The number of NATO countries now stands at 30 members.  The former Warsaw Pact has been reorganized and is now called “The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).”  It consists of six member countries, the largest of which is still Russia.  To say that the Warsaw Pact has been downsized would be a gross understatement.

“The CSTO is a much weaker organization in military terms than the Warsaw Pact was. According to NATO histories, in 1984 the Warsaw Pact ground forces had six million soldiers serving in 192 divisions, as compared to 4.5 million NATO soldiers serving in 115 divisions. Approximately one-third of Warsaw Pact forces were Soviet, while approximately twenty percent of NATO forces were from the United States. The Warsaw Pact also had a significant preponderance of battle tanks, artillery and attack helicopters. At present, NATO member states have a total of approximately 3.5 million soldiers, while CSTO member states’ militaries have just over one million soldiers. About 40 percent of current NATO troop strength comes from the United States, while approximately 85 percent of CSTO troop strength comes from Russia.”  Russia and Collective Security: Why CSTO Is No Match for Warsaw Pact — 5-27-2020, Dimitry Gorenburg,  Harvard Kennedy School for International Affairs.

So now we have the USA attempting to convince the Ukraine to join NATO.  Imagine if you will Russia attempting to get Canada or Mexico or Peru or Brazil to join CSTO.   What do you think we would do in the USA?  Do you remember what happened with the Cuban Missile Crisis?  In this event, Khrushchev went ballistic because the USA attempted to place missiles on Turkey’s borders facing Russia.  Russia decided to retaliate by sending missiles to Castro who was a Russian ally.  Cuba is only 90 miles from the USA border making it easy for any missiles to strike American targets.

Then President Kennedy faced off against Khrushchev.  Many people think the victory went to Kennedy since Russia withdrew their missiles.  What is less well known is that Kennedy withdrew our missiles in Turkey and agreed to Khrushchev’s demand that we promise not to invade Cuba.  The resulting publicity in America made it look like a wild-west gun fight with the clear winner being the USA.  The truth was hardly ever mentioned.

Consider the scenario we have now.  Putin has made several demands in respect to protecting Russia.  These demands hinge on the relationship between the Ukraine and the USA.  Putin understandably does not want to see a neighbor as close as the Ukraine is to Russia become any closer to either NATO or the USA.  Again, what would we do if Mexico wanted to become a Russian ally?  For the USA, negotiations hinge on three key points laid out by Secretary Blinken.

We make clear that there are core principles that we are committed to uphold and defend – including Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the right of states to choose their own security arrangements and alliances.”

  1. Ukrainian sovereignty
  2. Ukrainian territorial integrity
  3. The rights of states to choose their own alliances and security arrangements

Consider these three “non” negotiable principles that we are using that could bring us to the brink of a Third World war.

First of all, when did Ukrainian sovereignty become a core principle of American politics?  According to Micah Zenko who is a fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, the USA has repeatedly violated the sovereign rights of Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  We have a doctrine called the Monroe Doctrine that we have used to violate the sovereign rights of numerous countries in South America including Columbia, Peru, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, and many others.  All of a sudden, we are concerned enough to go to war with Russia over the sovereign rights of the Ukraine?

If you look at the key points of the Monroe Doctrine you can see how hypocritical Blinken’s principles are:

“Monroe made four basic points: (1) the United States would not interfere in European affairs; (2) the United States recognized and would not interfere with existing colonies in the Americas; (3) the Western Hemisphere was closed to future colonization; and (4) if a European power tried to interfere with any nation in the Americas, that would be viewed as a hostile act against the United States.” — Brittanica

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It seems that we reserve the right to meddle in the sovereign affairs of our neighbors in this hemisphere, and we also now claim the right to meddle in the sovereign affairs of neighbors in the Eastern Hemisphere.  Blinken’s third principle about the rights of states to choose their own alliances is just as hypocritical and even more ludicrous.  We may say that we support the rights of other nations to enact treaties and alliances, but in reality we often do everything we can to undermine these efforts.

“The United States enters into more than two-hundred treaties each year on a range of international issues, including peace, defense, human rights, and the environment. Despite this seemingly impressive figure, the United States constantly fails to sign or ratify treaties the rest of the world supports.” — On International Treaties, the United States Refuses to Play Ball, Council on Foreign Relations.  — by Anya Wahal, January 7, 2022

What is really going on here?

My friend Bruce wants to know why we are pushing a policy that could potentially result in a war that ends life as we know it on earth.  Is it ego, politics, economics, power, stupidity, or a combination of all of them?  I honestly do not know.  I do know that 2 + 2 equals 4 and that the facts of this situation are out of proportion to the potential consequences.

My friend Denny wants to know why the media is so hell bent on pushing a narrative that only looks at one side of the issues and that seems to applaud the most dangerous rhetoric possible.

All three of us want to know why there has not been more skepticism in the media towards the efforts of politicians to push this potential conflict forward.  This morning on NPR I listened to an uncritical interview with some politician from Pennsylvania who thinks sending 50,000 American troops over to the Ukraine would be a good idea.  According to this brainless idiot, we must “Nip it in the bud.”  The old domino effect is still used to push a narrative of impending disaster if we don’t do something right now.

Is it too much to ask, to see both sides of the story?  Is it too much to ask to expect to see facts and not just hyperbole being used by our elected officials?  Where are the journalists that are paid to present both sides of the story?  How long did it take for them to discover that there were no weapons of mass destruction?  Will we be in a war over the Ukraine before the media finds the real reasons behind this conflict.

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Finally and most importantly, why are there two standards at play here?  We have one standard for Russia and another standard for the USA.  Are the lives of our citizens so cheap that we are willing to put them on the firing line once more for a political or economic cause?  Are the lives of Russians and Ukrainians so cheap that we can use them as cannon fodder for our own national objectives?  What if our goals and strategies were to help both Russia and the Ukraine find ways to work together more effectively instead of becoming the middleman in a war?

If you think I am making any sense with this blog, I encourage you to share it with others and to send it to any politicians out there who may be willing to listen to reason. 

Sex, Politics and War

sex-and-power

978-0-8223-6367-5_prThere is a war on sex by politicians.  There has always been a war on sex by politicians.  It is the longest running war in the history of the world.  It is not a gender war but a political war.  The goal of political warfare is to alter an opponent’s opinions and actions in favor of the state’s interests without utilizing military power.  Such warfare has been waged by the state against sex since the dawn of humanity.

In the USA, we have had political wars on race, drugs, poverty, crime, and terror.  None of these wars were officially declared as military wars.  Each of these wars were unofficially declared by the US government.   Not one of these wars has ever officially ended.  The war on sex has never been acknowledged either officially or unofficially.  It has never ended either.

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This fourth and final part in my series of articles on sex will look at how politics influences sexual activities  in the USA.  In my opening blog on sex, Sex from a 75 year old perspective, I used a metaphor in which I described sex as a continent that had two regions.  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions.  There are three seasons for each region:  A Religious Season, a Cultural Season, and a Political Season.  In my second blog on Sex, The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions, I described the influence of religion on our sex lives in respect to what is permitted and what is prohibited.  In my third blog, The Influence of Culture on Sex, I discussed the Cultural Season of Sex and what impact it has on Permissions and Prohibitions relating to sexual activities.  In this fourth and final blog on sex in America, I will end this set of treatises by talking about the role that politics plays on permissions and prohibitions regarding the sex lives of Americans.

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The war on sex has been waged for two reasons.  The first is power.  The second is economics.  Each of these reasons has a distinct and differential impact on what Americans may or may not do sexually.  In some cases, the influence is directed towards women.  In other cases, it has been directed towards minorities; and in fewer yet still numerous cases it has been directed towards White men.

Power and Sex:

You have all heard the following comments:  a woman’s role is in the kitchen, keep them barefoot and pregnant, or a woman must be obedient to her husband.  Love, honor and obey is the traditional marriage vows for a woman.  Women have been servants to men since Eve brought the apple to Adam to eat.  Today we are witnessing renewed attacks on a woman’s right to control her own body.  Texas and the US Supreme Court have supported legislation that would effectively gut the right to abortion for a woman in Texas.

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The powers behind the “Anti-Abortion” movement hide behind the mantra that all lives are sacred.  That neither religion nor government actually abides by this mantra is easily shown by the hypocrisy of both.  Almost all organized religions in the USA have flocked to support every war that the US has started despite the numerous deaths that each of these wars has entailed.  In most wars since WW II, there is seldom any mention of the deaths of noncombatants on the opposing side.  For instance, recently 13 military personnel were killed by a suicide bomber during the evacuation of Afghanistan.  Few reports mentioned the 130 Afghanis also killed during this attack.  The deaths of our citizens and other citizens are accepted by most organized religions in the US who actively oppose abortion on the grounds that it takes the life of a human being.  The only lives they seem to care about are “unborn.”

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The Catholic Church has been one of the most outspoken critics of abortion.  Displaying a gross hypocrisy, they have for centuries ignored the rights of women for contraceptive devices.  Even more egregiously they have ignored the numerous babies murdered since they were born to bishops and cardinals of the Catholic Church.  These children are often born to nuns as well as female parishioners.

In February of 2019, Pope Francis acknowledged a longstanding dirty secret in the Roman Catholic Church — the sexual abuse of nuns by priests…. “These poor women are forced to leave their order and live alone raising their child with no help,” she says. “Sometimes they’re forced to have abortions — paid by the priest because nuns have no money.” — “After Years Of Abuse By Priests, #NunsToo Are Speaking Out.”

6094292e34af8d001859bd5aMen want to control the reproductive rights of women.  It has taken the #metoomovement to start some noticeable changes in attitudes towards the rape and sexual harassment of women.  Politicians are the most notable hypocrites when it comes to the rights of women to determine what is rape and what is not rape.  Ministers do not lag far behind in this hypocrisy.  I could list hundreds of cases of politicians and ministers being outed for sexual harassment of women.  I am sure that you have seen enough of these cases in the news recently.  Nevertheless, male politicians occupy a special zone when it come to their belief that they have an unrequited right to a woman’s body.  Control is power and power is politics.  Sex is war.  Women who want the right to determine how their bodies are used are combatants in this war of sex.

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However, woman are not the only combatants in the war of sex.  For decades if not centuries the White Male power structure in the US has waged a war of sex against minorities.  Asians, Blacks, LGBTQ people and Native Americans have all at one time or another faced laws that determined who they could have sex with, when they could have sex and where they could have sex or even if they could have sex.  Some theories equate sexism with racism while others argue that there were economic reasons to oppose unbridled sexuality.

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“As late as the 1950s, almost half of the states had miscegenation laws. While the original statutes were directed wholly against black-white unions, the legislation had extended to unions between whites and Mongolians, Malayans, Mulattos, and Native Americans.  McLaughlin v. Florida was instrumental in paving the way for the 1967 case of Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia. In that year, sixteen states still had laws that made interracial marriages illegal.” — Laws that Banned Mixed Marriages – May 2010

41V1UJoBQ1L._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_The battleground against mixed marriages and sex between opposing races and ethnic groups has now shifted to the issue of Gay sexuality.  I think the issues surrounding Gay rights clearly support the thesis that power is at the heart of many laws respecting sexuality rather than economics. (Economics does play a role and we will look at this role soon.) At the present time, there are no explicit statewide laws in 27 states to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. — https://freedomforallamericans.org/states/

The powers that wanted to control sex between race and ethnic groups have clearly lost this battle, but they have not given up the war to control sex in America.  The war has been rejoined in the battle for a woman’s reproductive rights and in the battle for Gay people to have the same rights as Straight people.

prolifeblogpic1 Sex and Economics:

Perhaps the most forceful proponent of the theory that economic reasons were behind the control of sex has been the psychologist Wilhelm Reich.  Europe and the USA have always included some of the most sexually repressed nations on the face of the earth.  Reich saw sexual oppression as being a tool of the ruling class to keep people coming to work on Monday and supporting the needs of the power structure for willing workers.  Reich and many of his supporters believed that true freedom could only come about with a sexual revolution that challenged all restrictive laws against sex.  This would include laws against polygamy, adultery, miscegenation, sodomy, sex before marriage and Gay sex.

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Reich came to the USA from Germany where he had been persecuted for some of his ideas and theories.  When he came to the USA, he found a number of famous and influential people who gravitated to his ideas about sexuality.  The US government was not so enamored with his inventions and ideas.  It began a second persecution which ended up in Reich being sentenced to jail where he died.  Many of his supporters thought he was harassed because of his beliefs in sexual liberation and sexual freedom.  “Ralph Nader in his book, ‘The Chemical Feast’ criticized the FDA for expending an inordinate portion of its limited resources on ‘great quack campaigns’, such as the ‘vicious’ pursuit, carried out with ‘frightening rigor’”, of Reich.”  — Wilhelm Reich: the man who invented free love

460992-sex-lies-politics-0-230-0-345-cropI read Reich’s book “The Function of the Orgasm” while in graduate school.  I was struck by his ideas and the realization of how suppressed sexuality is in our society.  We do not treat it as we would any other normal human need.  Instead, we pass many laws governing what is right and what is not right, and we allow Madison Avenue to shanghai sexuality for the use of manipulating the rest of the country into buying junk and stuff that we do not need.

I can’t say that I ever believed in the inventions that Reich promoted and quite honestly that some of his ideas did strike me as quackery.  However, it is not much of a stretch to believe that Capitalism, Fascism, Communism, and every other economic system needs people who are willing to get out of bed every Monday morning to go to work.  What if we were all truly liberated sexually?  What if it was okay to stay in bed and fornicate rather than go to work?

“You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life. Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when your thinking will be in harmony with your feelings; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians, when you will have more respect for the love between man and woman than for a marriage license.”   — Wilhelm Reich

When We Get Back to Normal!

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When we get back to normal.  When everything is like it used to be.  When things are like they were in the good old days.  The good old days when things were normal.  Happy days when father knew best, and bad kids were expelled from school for chewing gum.

But we are not normal now.  We are in a quandary for normal.  We pray for normal.  We look around each corner for normal.  But we cannot find normal.  We talk about the new normal but even that is a myth.  We are now post-normal.  We have never been normal, and we probably will never be normal.

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First smog in the sixties.  Then water pollution in the seventies.  Globalization in the eighties.  A new century with mega storms, wildfires, water shortages, power outages and unprecedented heat spells.  If normal was not elusive enough, in 2020 we get a virus that to date has killed almost 4 million people worldwide.  A little bug that is about 50 nm in size.  A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.  You could put 20 million corona virus side to side and still have room left over on a yardstick.  Has anybody ever asked a coronavirus when things will return to normal?

Just on the outside chance that we do get back to normal, what will it look like?  A vision please, for without a vision, it is said that people will perish.

women-taking-em-back-to-the-kitchen-vi-cine-center-51302934When we get back to normal, two parent families will again reign supreme.  Mom will stay home to cook, while dad goes to work.  There will be no trans-people.  Girls will stick to cheerleading and let the boys play the sports.  Contraceptives will be banned, and no one will dream of getting an abortion.  Priests and ministers will be male, and gay people will disappear.  Everyone in America will go back to being good Christians.

When we get back to normal, people will die of natural causes like alcoholism and tobacco smoking.  Viruses will become a thing of the past as huge walls setup around our borders will prevent any bugs from infecting Americans.  Health care will be readily available to rich people and make certain that the wealthier you are the longer you will live.  Poor people will do the shitty jobs in America and die earlier since they will not be able to afford quality health care.

When we get back to normal, Black people, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian/Pacific Island people will be put into their place so that White people can rule again without challenge.  Only White people will be able to hold office.  Police forces will be given more power to dispense arbitrary justice in minority communities thereby ensuring that minorities do not get too uppity.  White people will be allowed to immigrate to the USA but people from other countries will be given strict orders to stay home.

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When we get back to normal, we will double the size of the defense budget and start a war someplace so that we can test our new arsenals out.  We will try to select enemies who are too weak to really put up much fight.  Our military will be the pride of America, and no one will have the audacity to stand up to it.  Drones will eliminate American casualties and reporters will be prohibited from counting enemy dead.

When we get back to normal, schools will be places where children are taught patriotism and how to fit into the workplace.  Colleges will establish quotas limiting the number of minorities who can enter.  Businesses will be given more tax breaks so that the rich can become richer.  We will spread a great deal of propaganda emphasizing the theory of trickle down.  Poor people will be persuaded to be patient until unfathomable wealth eventually comes down to them.

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When we get back to normal, scientists, Intellectuals, democrats, anti-gun people, liberals, writers, reporters, and teachers espousing critical thinking will be shunned.  Anyone promoting facts and logic over emotions and intuition will be silenced by fines or stiff jail sentences.

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I forgot to add that the Ten Commandments, Confederate Flag, and statues of Confederate heroes will be taken out of storage and placed on the lawn of every state capital in the USA.  Laws will be passed to make sure that people stand for the Flag and kneel for the Cross.  Of course, that is if things get back to normal again.

Do you still want things to get back to normal again?

The Seven Greatest Appreciations of Life: Peace

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“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.” — John 14:27

Peace is perhaps the second most spoken word in the English language as well as the second most misunderstood. 

546ad58cbe260aa3bb2946b2a7c566acA Rabbi, Iman, Pastor and Buddhist Priest were all discussing the issue of peace in the world and in particular peace in the Mideast.  The Rabbi said there could only be peace in the Mideast if all the Muslims left.  The Iman said that there could only be peace if all the Jews left.  The Pastor jumped into the argument and said there would only be peace if all the non-Christians left.  The Buddhist cleared his throat to interrupt the argument and said, “There will never be peace anywhere as long as there are Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics and even Buddhists in the world.” 

Peace is the nexus that links politicians and religious leaders.  Peace drips from the lips of religious leaders and politicians so often that I would be a billionaire if I had a quarter for each time one of them uttered the word peace.  There is a symbiotic relationship between religious leaders and politicians.  We have hundreds of years of racism, greed, sexism, discrimination, and militarism pursued by political leaders and blessed by religious leaders all over the world.  Politicians need religious leaders to sanction their immoral behaviors.  Religious leaders need politicians to foster behaviors that are not endorsed in their official religious teachings.

We have a world that needs peace.  Peace is to the soul as food is to the body.  Peace sustains us spiritually and mentally.  When we think of peace, we think of such phrases as “Peace in the valley.”  “A life of inner peace.”  “Go in peace.”  “Let there be peace between our people.”  “It was a peaceful day.”  “Peace begins with a smile.”  Racism, sexism, greed, discrimination, and militarism all destroy peace.

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Happiness and joy are two of the sought-after states in the world, but neither state can exist without a foundation of peace.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,”: Matthew 5:9.  You would think that those who say they are called to be Priests, Ministers and Pastors in the Christian religion would understand that Jesus expected them to be peacemakers.  Sadly, that seldom seems to be the case.  It is even sadder that the idea of peace is blasphemed by these same people whose vocation is to foster peace.  The concepts of spirituality and peace go hand in hand.  One cannot be a spiritual person and sanction the wanton and needless destruction of life.  Peace is meaningless if it is just a word.  If we really want peace it must be a way of life for all of us.  You cannot preach peace in the pulpit on Sunday and then support racism, sexism, discrimination, greed, and militarism the rest of the week.     

Mens-Peace-guins-Long-Sleeve-Crusher-Tee_70962_1_lgThe peaceful person does not use violence against others.  The peaceful person is a diplomat who solves problems with his/her brain and not with tools of aggression.  The peaceful person is confident because they have integrity.  The peaceful person has serenity because they have no fear.  Fear is the enemy of peace.  When the world is on red-alert, people live in fear.   People become fearful of others and fearful of living.  Racism, sexism, discrimination, greed, and militarism create fear.  With fear, no one can be at peace. 

We can only appreciate peace if we are carriers and messengers of peace.  The person who endorses violence, abuse or discrimination against others can never be at peace because they have no peace in their heart.  Such people live on violence and thrive on aggression.  They reap what they sow.  By sowing death and destruction, they ensure that they will never know peace. 

51qBtOmrIgL._SS500_We should all be grateful for peace.  This means we need to appreciate peace and understand that it cannot be taken for granted.  Peace is up to us to create.  It is too important to leave to religious leaders and politicians.  If we want peace in our lives and peace in the world, we must create it.  There can never be peace for anyone if there is not peace for everyone. 

Think about peace today.  Do you live in a land of peace?  When you get up or go to bed today, do you feel peaceful?  Are you at ease with life or are you anxious, nervous, and fearful?  Do you appreciate what or how peace in your life would feel?  What would it take for your life to be more peaceful?  Do you think the world deserves peace?  If peace is everyone’s responsibility, what will you do to sow peace today? 

Peace starts with living peacefully. 

Mark Twain wrote a short story called the War Prayer.  It has been made into a ten minute video.  It is very moving and something everyone should see.  The link is below:

Killing for Machismo

It was a crime of passion

She took me by the heart when she took me by the hand

Crime of passion

A beautiful woman and a desperate man  —- Ricky Van Shelton

I find it ironic that there are Seven Deadly Sins or vices but they do not include the “Sin of Machismo.”  I would venture to argue that there are more people killed in the world every day because of Machismo than any other cause or problem that you could name.  To not include Machismo in any list of major crimes or sins or vices, is one of the most egregious oversights in history.  Is it because Machismo is a uniquely masculine concept that it has never acquired the degree of condemnation that it merits?  Or is it an example of the “Fish being the last one to see the water.”   Some would argue that it is more likely a blatant example of sexism.   

Men extol Machismo, reward Machismo, give medals for Machismo, High Five Machismo, glorify Machismo, drink toasts to Machismo, pat each other on the back for Machismo, die for Machismo and happily kill each other for Machismo.  A Macho man never cries, never shows pain, never is soft, never loses, never surrenders, never shows fear, never gives quarter, never is remorseful and never ever changes a diaper.  You are not a “Real” man if you don’t have Machismo.  Machismo is the foundation for masculinity in every culture in the world.

Ma·chis·mo

  [mah-cheez-moh, –chiz-, muh-]  

1.  a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes or concomitants of masculinity.

2. a strong or exaggerated sense of power or the right to dominate: The military campaign was an exercise in national machismo.

 There are two opposite concepts to Machismo.  You may ask how you can have two opposites.  Well here is a case in which two opposites of a concept exist.   The first opposite to Machismo is “femininity.”  Femininity is soft, warm, supportive, nurturing, accepting, forgiving and the first to change the diapers.  Femininity represents everything that Machismo is not.  No one ever killed another or beat another to death because their “Femininity” was questioned.  We don’t go to war because our “Femininity” was questioned nor do we invade another country to protect our “Femininity.” 

 “Machismo makes no provision for preparing lunch, doing the laundry, or minding the baby.”  — Mason Cooley

The second opposite of Machismo is Gayness.  Gay is not tough.  Gay is “queer.”   A “Real” man is not Gay.  Gay men must be feminine since they cannot be Machismo.  Gay men don’t play football or baseball or soccer or box or join the military since only “Real” Men do these things.  If you are Gay, you can be a hair dresser or actor or flight attendant but you cannot be a police officer, firemen or truck driver since these “Real” men professions require one to be Machismo.  Gays and Machismo are antithetical.

 “The tragedy of machismo is that a man is never quite man enough.” —  Germaine Greer

The number of women that are abused each year by men was the recent focus of a World Health Organization Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women (2013)Among the findings were the follows:

  • One in 3 women worldwide is a victim of physical or sexual violence, resulting in a global health epidemic, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.
  •  Most of these females are attacked or abused by their boyfriends or husbands. “This is an everyday reality for many, many women,” Charlotte Watts, author of the report and a health policy expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said to Reuters.
  • Nearly 38% of all women murder victims were killed by intimate partners, according to the report, which was co-authored by Watts and Claudia Garcia-Moreno of the WHO.
  •  Forty-two percent of females who have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner suffer injuries, the authors explained.

Common health issues they noted in the study include:

What are the reasons that men kill and abuse women?  Experts identify different reasons for domestic abuse than for murder but the bottom line for both comes down to control and power.

“Most experts say there is no one profile of men who batter or beat women.  Domestic violence crosses all social and economic boundaries.  According to Dr. Susan Hanks, Director of the Family and Violence Institute in Alameda, California, men batter because of internal psychological struggles. Usually, men who batter are seeking a sense of power and control over their partners or their own lives, or because they are tremendously dependent on the woman and are threatened by any moves on her part toward independence.” 

Some reasons given for the abuse by those who study domestic violence include:  jealousy, envy, inferiority, anger, revenge, alcoholism, and simple sadism.  Seldom do you see the issue of Machismo on any of these lists.  However, while there may be different factors precipitating the abuse and violence, without the underlying foundation of Machismo, you would not have the resulting abuse.  Machismo is the “entitlement to dominate.”  If you remove the “entitlement” you remove the abuse and violence.  For instance, if I find my wife going out with another man and I become jealous; it is my “Right to dominate” that gives me the privilege to attack her or the other man.  If I do not believe in a “Right to dominate,” I can divorce my spouse, request counseling, ignore her unfaithfulness, but I will not abuse her. 

Think of all the instances that you read in the paper of stalking, abuse and murder.  In every one of these cases, there is the assumption that is seldom mentioned by psychologists that Machismo gives men the “right to power.”  In fact, not to act on this right is to acquiesce ones maleness.  It is to give up the Machismo that is culturally at the heart of our masculinity.  The strength of this concept of masculinity varies across cultures but few cultures in the world lack the concept of Machismo though it may be called something else:

  • Code of Chivalry
  • Knights Honor
  • Warriors Code

 There is an underlying Machismo in all of these codes that is designed to instill a behavior in a culture which exhorts men to stand up for themselves and their beliefs.  By itself, this would not be bad.  Men must defend their families and countries when necessary.  However, when it comes to defending the more ambiguous elements of honor, reputation, face, dignity, respect and self-esteem, the resort to arms and violence becomes counterproductive.  Solomon Schimmel in “The Seven Deadly Sins” notes that the Sin of Pride led President George Bush to want to humiliate Saddam Hussein while Hussein claimed to be fighting for “Arab dignity.”  How many wars have been fought for national pride or national honor? 

One could make the argument that most if not all wars were not over territory, religion or economics but over national pride.  The Greeks went to war with the Trojans not over Helen but because their masculine pride had been insulted.  Hitler started WWII to avenge Germany’s defeat and loss of face in WWI.  The USA went to war in Vietnam to show the communists that capitalism was more powerful.  Pride is the greatest of all sins identified by religious leaders and philosophers.  However, it is not pride but Machismo which is the trigger to violence and war.  Pride may be the apparent foundation, but Pride by itself does not cause war or violence.  Indeed, a healthy pride mixed with a certain degree of humility is a goal to be pursued by both individuals and nations. 

The danger is that Pride mixed with Machismo creates a volatile concoction which is the source of most violence in the world.  Take any of the Seven Deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Anger, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, and Sloth, mix these with a sense of Machismo and you have the recipe for violence.  Machismo confers the right to act on our impulses and to compel others or dominate others that create our internal conflicts.  Without Machismo, we would have to find other means to dispel the psychological problems that arise in each of us.  Machismo allows us to circumvent any introspection by demanding that our honor be revenged or that our pride be restored.  Machismo demands the duel and the Code Duello specifies the rules for killing. 

“The two men stared at each other. Assumptions were made, judgments rendered, dicks measured.” — Jennifer Estep

Time for Questions:

Can women be Machismo?  What would you be like if you had less Machismo in your character?  Can someone have too little Machismo?  What evil do you see in the world that you would contribute to Machismo?  What positive effects of Machismo do you see?  How can we minimize the negative effects of Machismo? 

Life is just beginning.

Rally Round the Flag Boys and Girls. Time to Attack IRAN!

I am re-posting this information which is from Wikipedia.  I have not written one word of this blog, but I think it is important enough to post.  The President of the USA may now be using this tactic with IRAN.  It has been used before and Americans will fall prey to it again unless people are aware of the tactic and stand up to it.

Estoy re-publicando esta información que es de Wikipedia. No he escrito una palabra de este blog, pero creo que es lo suficientemente importante como para publicar. El presidente de los EE. UU. Ahora puede estar usando esta táctica con IRAN. Se ha usado antes y los estadounidenses volverán a ser presa de él a menos que la gente esté consciente de la táctica y la haga frente.

我正在重新發布來自維基百科的這些信息。 我沒有寫過這個博客的一個詞,但我認為發布這個詞非常重要。 美國總統現在可能正在與伊朗使用這種策略。 它已經被使用過了,除非人們意識到這種策略並且能夠堅持下去,否則美國人將再次成為它的犧牲品。

Ich poste diese Informationen, die aus Wikipedia stammen, erneut. Ich habe kein Wort dieses Blogs geschrieben, aber ich denke, es ist wichtig genug, um etwas zu posten. Der Präsident der USA könnte diese Taktik jetzt mit dem IRAN anwenden. Es wurde schon früher benutzt und die Amerikaner werden wieder Opfer davon werden, es sei denn, die Leute sind sich der Taktik bewusst und halten sich dagegen.

Rally ’round the flag effect

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President Bush approval rating from 2001 to 2006. Spikes in approval coincide with the September 11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq, and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

The rally ’round the flag effect (or syndrome) is a concept used in political science and international relations to explain increased short-run popular support of the President of the United States during periods of international crisis or war.[1]Because rally ’round The Flag effect can reduce criticism of governmental policies, it can be seen as a factor of diversionary foreign policy.[1]

Mueller’s definition[edit]

Political scientist John Mueller suggested the effect in 1970, in a landmark paper called “Presidential Popularity from Truman to Johnson”. He defined it as coming from an event with three qualities:[2]

  1. “Is international”
  2. “Involves the United States and particularly the President directly”
  3. “Specific, dramatic, and sharply focused”

Causes and durations[edit]

Since Mueller’s original theories, two schools of thought have emerged to explain the causes of the effect. The first, “The Patriotism School of Thought” holds that in times of crisis, the American public sees the President as the embodiment of national unity. The second, “The Opinion Leadership School” believes that the rally emerges from a lack of criticism from members of the opposition party, most often in the United States Congress. If opposition party members appear to support the president, the media has no conflict to report, thus it appears to the public that all is well with the performance of the president.[4]

The two theories have both been criticized, but it is generally accepted that the Patriotism School of thought is better to explain causes of rallies, while the Opinion Leadership School of thought is better to explain duration of rallies.[3] It is also believed that the lower the presidential approval rating before the crisis, the larger the increase will be in terms of percentage points because it leaves the president more room for improvement. For example, Franklin Roosevelt only had a 12% increase in approval from 72% to 84% following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, whereas George W. Bush had a 39% increase from 51% to 90% following the September 11 attacks.[5]

Another theory about the cause of the effect is believed to be embedded in the US Constitution. Unlike in other countries, the constitution makes the President both head of government and head of state. Because of this, the president receives a temporary boost in popularity because his Head of State role gives him symbolic importance to the American people. However, as time goes on his duties as Head of Government require partisan decisions that polarize opposition parties and diminish popularity. This theory falls in line more with the Opinion Leadership School.

Due to the highly statistical nature of presidential polls, University of Alabama political scientist John O’Neal has approached the study of rally ’round the flag using mathematics. O’Neal has postulated that the Opinion Leadership School is the more accurate of the two using mathematical equations. These equations are based on quantified factors such as the number of headlines from the New York Times about the crisis, the presence of bipartisan support or hostility, and prior popularity of the president.[6]

Political Scientist from The University of California Los Angeles, Matthew A. Baum found that the source of a rally ’round the flag effect is from independents and members of the opposition party shifting their support behind the President after the rallying effect. Baum also found that when the country is more divided or in a worse economic state then the rally effect is larger. This is because more people who are against the president before the rallying event switch to support him afterwards. When the country is divided before the rallying event there is a higher potential increase in support for the President after the rallying event.[7]

In a study by Political Scientist Terrence L. Chapman and Dan Reiter, rallies in Presidential approval ratings were found to be bigger when there was U.N. Security Council supported Militarized interstate disputes (MIDs). Having U.N. Security Council support was found to increase the rally effect in presidential approval by 8 to 9 points compared to when there wasn’t U.N. Security Council support.[5]

According to a 2019 study of ten countries in the period 1990-2014, there is evidence of a rally-around-the-flag effect early on in an intervention with casualties (in at least the first year) but voters begin to punish the governing parties after 4.5 years.[8]

Historical examples[edit]

The effect has been examined within the context of nearly every major foreign policy crisis since World War II. Some notable examples:

  • Cuban Missile Crisis: According to Gallup polls, President John F. Kennedy‘s approval rating in early October 1962 was at 61%. By November, after the crisis had passed, Kennedy’s approval rose to 74%. The spike in approval peaked in December 1962 at 76%. Kennedy’s approval rating slowly decreased again until it reached the pre-crisis level of 61% in June 1963.[3][9]
  • Iran hostage crisis: According to Gallup polls, President Jimmy Carter quickly gained 26 percentage points, jumping from 32 to 58% approval following the initial seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in November 1979. However, Carter’s handling of the crisis caused popular support to decrease, and by November 1980 Carter had returned to his pre-crisis approval rating.[10]
  • Operation Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War): According to Gallup polls, President George H. W. Bush was rated at 59% approval in January 1991, but following the success of Operation Desert Storm, Bush enjoyed a peak 89% approval rating in February 1991. From there, Bush’s approval rating slowly decreased, reaching the pre-crisis level of 61% in October 1991.[3][11]
  • Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush received an unprecedented increase in his approval rating. On September 10, Bush had a Gallup Poll rating of 51%. By September 15, his approval rate had increased by 34 percentage points to 85%. Just a week later, Bush was at 90%, the highest presidential approval rating ever. Over a year after the attacks occurred, Bush still received higher approval than he did before 9/11 (68% in November 2002). Both the size and duration of Bush’s popularity after 9/11 are believed to be the largest of any post-crisis boost. Many people believe that this popularity gave Bush a mandate and eventually the political leverage to begin the War in Iraq.[3][12]
  • Death of Osama bin Laden: According to Gallup polls, President Barack Obama received a 6% jump in his Presidential approving ratings, jumping from 46% in the three days before the mission (April 29 – May 1) to a 52% in the 3 days after the mission (May 2–4).[13] The rally effect didn’t last long, as Obama’s approval ratings were back down to 46% by June 30.

Controversy and Fears of Misuse[edit]

There are fears that the president will misuse the rally ’round the flag effect. These fears come from the “diversionary theory of war” in which the President creates an international crisis in order to distract from domestic affairs and to increase their approval ratings through a rally ’round the flag effect. The fear associated with this theory is that a President can create international crisis to avoid dealing with serious domestic issues or to increase their approval rating when it begins to drop.[14]

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”  — Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials 

 

Let’s Play “Whack a Mole” with the World

whack-a-mole-cartoon

The saying is often noted but just as often ignored that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”  — Santayana.   To this profound advice, I would argue that my following observation is equally true and that it has resulted in an equal number of policy disasters and misadventures.  To wit:  “Those who do not recognize the patterns around them are doomed to failure.”   I came by this observation in the middle of a night while pondering the intricacies of playing the “Whack a Mole” game

There is a game that children play and it is called “Whack a mole.”  Have you ever played this game?  If not, view the game at “Whack a Mole”.  Basically, it involves a series of plastic moles that keep randomly popping out of different holes.  You get points for each mole that you whack before it drops back into its hole.  No sooner do you “Whack” one mole then another one pops up again.  [If you would actually like to play the game, you can play a free fast paced version of the game at “Whack a Mole.”]  They call it Smack and Bash at this site.

As I thought about this game, I began to see how it applied to numerous efforts that we undertake to bring about change.  Understanding the game, I could see how futile many of these efforts are and clearly why they are doomed.  Let me give you four examples that will show you how pervasive the “Whack a Mole” game is in politics and US policy:

  1. Eliminate the Mafia
  2. Win the war on drugs
  3. Defeat terrorism in the Mideast
  4. Stop the arms race

 1.  Eliminate the Mafia:

The Mafia may have begun in the United States in the second half of the 19th Century.  The US law establishment has been waging a war to eliminate the Mafia for well over 100 years.  During that time they have killed or arrested the following Mafia leaders:

large_movie_mobsters

It should be noted that this list includes only the leadership in just one crime family.  There are at least a dozen or more Mafia crime families in the USA.  Each one has a history of crime bosses since the early 1900s.

treeCrime bosses get eliminated or changed in a number of ways. Some die.  Some are murdered.  Some are arrested.  Few if any ever simply retire.  This last fact is good for our law enforcement agencies, since it helps keep them occupied with finding and catching Mafia leaders.

So for over 100 years now, the FBI, the Justice Department and every police department in the USA have been playing the “Whack a Mole” game with the Mafia.  They no sooner whack one Mafia leader down and another pops up in his place.  What fun!  At the taxpayers’ expense of course.

  1. Win the war on drugs:

Drugs starting becoming a major problem in the USA with the competition between cigarettes, alcohol and other substances designed to give someone a feeling of either being up, down or out of it.  We know that in 1920 the US passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution making the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol illegal.  Few who have studied any history can forget the fiasco that Prohibition entailed.  Alcohol continued to flow while crime, murder and mayhem associated with alcohol increased dramatically.   Did we learn anything from this?  Following is a short list of the major drug laws and “banned” drugs in the USA.  (By the way, alcohol and nicotine and caffeine are all drugs and at one time or another have all been banned someplace in the world)

1906 The Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, forming the Food and Drug Administration and giving it power to regulate foods and drugs, and requiring labeling of contents on foods and drugs. The most important effect on the drug problem was the demise of the patent medicine industry. Drug addiction began a dramatic drop.
1914 The Harrison Tax Act was passed, effectively outlawing the opiates and cocaine.
1915 Utah passed the first state anti-marijuana law. Mormons who had gone to Mexico in 1910 returned smoking marijuana. It was outlawed at a result of the Utah legislature enacting all Mormon religion prohibitions as criminal laws.
1922  Narcotic Drug Import and Export Act – Intended to eliminate use of narcotics except for legitimate medicinal use.
1924  Heroin Act -Makes it illegal to manufacture heroin.
1937  Marijuana Tax Act

1938    Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act

1942    Opium Poppy Control Act

1951    Durham-Humphrey Amendment

Established more specific guidelines for prescription drugs: habit forming, safety, and evaluation of new drugs

1951    Boggs Amendment to the Harrison Narcotic Act

1956    Narcotics Control Act

Intends to impose even more severe penalties for narcotics violations

1965    Drug Abuse Control Amendments (DACA)

Strict controls over amphetamines, barbiturates, LSD, etc.

1966    Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act (NARA)

1968    DACA Amendments

Provides that sentence may be suspended and record expunged if no further violations within 1 year

1970    Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act

Replaces and updates all previous laws concerning narcotics and other dangerous drugs. Empasis on law enforcement.

1972    Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act

1973    Methadone Control Act

1973    Heroin Trafficking Act

1973    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Remodels Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs into DEA

1978    Alcohol and Drug Abuse Education Amendments

Sets up education programs within Department of Education

1984    Drug Offenders Act

Sets up special programs for offenders and organizes treatment

1986    Analogue (Designer Drug) Act

Makes use of substances with similar effects and structure to existing illicit drug illegal

1988    Anti-Drug Abuse Act

Establishes oversight office: National Drug Control Policy

So here we see the efforts of over 100 years of drug policy to stop people from using, enjoying and abusing drugs in the USA.  What has been the result?

“America is at war.  We have been fighting drug abuse for almost a century.  Four Presidents have personally waged war on drugs.  Unfortunately, it is a war that we are losing.  Drug abusers continue to fill our courts, hospitals, and prisons.  The drug trade causes violent crime that ravages our neighborhoods.  Children of drug abusers are neglected, abused, and even abandoned.  The only beneficiaries of this war are organized crime members and drug dealers.” — Stanford University

2fc723fa35b08b711797709df3d9235b

For an excellent article on the costs of the drug war in the US, please see:  (“The Hidden Costs of America’s War on Drugs” by Joseph D. McNamara, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

As it should be clear, the US Government, the FDA, the FBI and most mainstream churches in America have been playing the “Whack a Mole” game with drugs since the Puritans first landed at Plymouth Rock.   First they “Whack” one drug down.  Then another one pops up.  Then they eliminate one drug lord and then another one pops up.  They defeat one drug cartel and then another one takes its place.  Our drug enforcement agencies are so busy playing “Whack a Mole” that they don’t have any time to deal with the reasons behind the influence and attraction of drugs.  Instead they just keep on “Whacking Moles.”

  1. Defeat terrorism in the Mideast:

The beginning of terrorism in the Mideast can be traced back to the Assassins sect that began in the eleventh century.  Wikipedia notes the following:

“Assassins (Persian|حشاشين}} Hashashin) is a name used to refer to the medieval Nizari Ismailis.  Often described as a secret order led by a mysterious “Old Man of the Mountain”, the Nizari Ismailis were an Islamic sect that formed in the late 11th century from a split within Ismailism – itself a branch of Shia Islam.”

wac-a-terrorist

Modern terrorism is actually a form of asynchronous and asymmetric warfare.  One side being more powerful than the other side (asymmetric) forces the other side to avoid one to one confrontations or pitched battles in favor of random unpredictable strikes (asynchronous).   Terrorism is a means of striking back at a more powerful enemy and avoiding what might be an assured defeat by not confronting your opponent in a pitched battle.  History is full of episodes where fighters and even entire armies engaged in such warfare.  In the US, the Indian Wars often followed such methods of warfare.  The battle against Geronimo being a prime example.

Terrorism in the Mideast since George H.W. Bush and through the Obama administration seems to be following the pattern that I have called “Whack a Mole.”  Using drone attacks, surgical strikes, clean bombing, decapitation strikes, discriminant deterrence, hunter killer teams, kill boxes, and counterinsurgency attacks, the US military attempts to “neutralize” the power of the “terrorists” who have their own panoply of attack methods.

If you look at what has happened over the past twenty years in the Mideast in terms of the War on Terrorism, you can clearly see the “Whack a Mole” game at work.  We eliminate one of their leaders, they destroy some of our soldiers with bombs, IEDs or suicide attacks.  We then strike back at their leaders and then it is their turn again to kill us.  We “Whack” them and then they “Whack” back.

whack-a-moleEach time we kill one of their leaders, another one pops up to take their place.  Each enemy group we defeat seems to be immediately replaced by another enemy group.  Our Army, Navy Air Force, Marines, armament industries and politicians never seem to get tired of playing the “Whack a Mole” game.  Keep in mind, that while the game might be great fun for these groups, there is a cost to the game.   To date the financial and human costs are:

Financial Cost of the War on Terror : 

“A recent Brown University study, for example, pinned the cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria at about $3.6 trillion from 2001 to 2016, using the $1.6 trillion operations costs as a baseline but also accounting for counterterrorism costs.

Adding in money appropriated for war spending and on homeland security in 2017, the total reaches $4.79 trillion. This figure also includes future obligations for veterans medical and disability costs ($1 trillion through 2053) as well as interest on borrowing for wars.” — Politifact, Linda Qiu, October 27th, 2016.

Human Costs of the War on Terror:

Afghanistan and Pakistan:  173,000 dead and 183,000 seriously wounded.  (2001 to 2016)

Iraq:  1.9 million killed (1991 to 2003) and 1 million killed (2003 to 2015)

For the figures I used above as well as for other estimates and detailed breakdowns of casualty figures, see the following sources.  The above figures are low compared to some estimates.  None of these figures include the deaths in Libya, Syria, Israel, Turkey, USA or Palestine which should also be considered as deaths from the War on Terrorism.

  1. Stop the arms race:

The final example of a “Whack a Mole” game that we are caught in deals with our oft stated goal to stop creating more dangerous and more expensive weapons of war.  We call this the “arms race” and we have played it with Great Britain, France, Russia and now China.  I will briefly explain how the game works.  You will readily see that it is a version of the “Whack a Mole” game.

arms-race

Step 1, we conceive of a weapon that nobody else has or has even dreamt of having.  It must be dangerous, expensive, frightening and have the potential to kill millions or at least thousands.  Step 2, we spend billions of dollars on R&D to develop the weapon.  Step 3, we then spend billions of dollars to produce the weapon.  Step 4, we then sell the weapon to any military agency in our own country that will buy it.  Step 5, after a sufficient period of time has elapsed (but before the weapon is obsolete), we sell it to other friendly countries that will buy it.  We must start with the highest bidder.  Step 6, after we have sold it to all our allies or potential allies, we wait until they have sold it to any potential enemies.  This might take a year or so.  Finally, after our enemies have now acquired the same weapon potential (even if in a slightly modified form) we then loudly proclaim that:

“Our nation’s security and ability to defend itself is being undermined by the weapons that our enemies have.  We must build new and better weapon systems.  We must increase defense spending.  We risk falling behind in the ability to defend ourselves.”

Then we start the process all over again from Step 1.  

It is the “Whack the Mole” game, albeit a modified version of the game.  We build the weapons to whack our enemies and then they buy the weapons or build similar weapons to whack us back.  Then we build weapons to counter their weapons and then they build or buy weapons to counter our weapons.  We have been engaged in this game since 1776 with every single weapon system that has ever been devised.   Think of the Atom bomb.  How long did it take Russia to develop a similar bomb?  Think of the Hydrogen bomb.  How long did it take the Russians and others to develop a Hydrogen bomb?

Here is a list of rifles that have been used in the USA since the War of 1776.  The following list does not include carbines.  For a full list of weapon systems and their history see:  List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces – Wikipedia

  • M16A3 (5.56×45mm NATO) (USN SEALs and USN Seabees)
  • M16A2 (5.56×45mm NATO) (USAF, USCG, and US Army)
  • M27 IAR (Infantry Automatic Rifle) (5.56×45mm NATO) (USMC)
  • Mk 16 Mod 0 (5.56×45mm NATO) (USSOCOM)
  • Mk 17 Mod 0 (7.62×51mm NATO) (USSOCOM)
  • M14 SMUD (Stand-off Munition Disruption rifle) (7.62×51mm NATO) (USAF)
  • M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle (7.62 NATO) (USMC)
  • XM8 (Lightweight Assault Rifle system) (never issued) (5.56×45mm NATO)
  • XM29 (Kinetic Energy and Airburst Launcher System; 5.56×45mm NATO and 20 mm airburst munition (XM1018)(early)/25 mm airburst munition) (experiment canceled)
  • Advanced Combat Rifle entries (concluded 1991)
  • Future Rifle Program entries (canceled)
  • Special Purpose Individual Weapon (SPIW) entries (concluded/canceled)
  • FN FAL (battle rifle, trialled as T48 against the T44 and T47 to replace the M1: lost to the former)
  • Olin/Winchester Salvo Rifle (battle rifle, 5.56mm duplex)
  • M14E1 (Selective Fire Rifle, 7.62×51mm NATO) (never standardized)
  • M16A1 (5.56×45mm NATO)
  • AR-15/Colt Model 601/602 (5.56×45mm NATO rifle) (USAF and SOF use only)
  • XM22/E1 Rifle (Selective Fire Rifle, 5.56×45mm NATO)
  • Mk 4 Mod 0 (Suppressed Rifle, 5.56×45mm NATO)
  • M1 Garand Variants (E1-E6 and E9-E14) (Semi-Automatic Rifle, .30-’06)
  • Mk 2 Mod 0/1/2 (Semi-Automatic Rifle, 7.62×51mm NATO)
  • M1 Garand (Semi-automatic rifle, .30-06)
  • M1941 Johnson rifle (Semi-Automatic Rifle, .30-’06)
  • Model 45A
  • M1946 rifle (never used in active duty)
  • M1947 Johnson auto carbine (Semi-Automatic Rifle, .30-’06)
  • Gyrojet rifle (13 mm) (never issued)
  • Pedersen Rifle (.276) (competed unsuccessfully with M1 Garand to become primary service rifle)
  • Pedersen Device (attachment for Springfield M1903, .30 conversion)
  • M1918 BAR (.30-06)
  • M1903/A1/A3 (Bolt-action rifle; .30-03, .30-06)
  • M1917 Enfield (Bolt-action rifle)
  • Model 1907/15 Berthier rifle (Bolt-action rifle)[14]
  • M1916 Mosin–Nagant (Bolt-action rifle)[15]
  • M1895 Navy (Navy Lee, 6 mm Navy)
  • M1892/M1896/M1898 Rifle (a/k/a Krag Bolt Action Rifle; .30-40 Krag)
  • M1885 Remington-Lee (Bolt-action rifle; .45-70 Gov)
  • M1882 Short Rifle (.45-70 Gov.)
  • M1882 Remington-Lee (Bolt-action rifle; .45-70 Gov.)
  • M1879 Remington-Lee (Bolt-action rifle; .45-70 Gov.)
  • Remington-Keene rifle (Bolt-action rifle; .45-70 Gov.)[16]
  • M1875 Officers’ Rifle (.45-70 Gov.)
  • M1873/M1879/M1880/M1884/M1888/M1889 Springfield (a/k/a Trapdoor Springfield;.45-70 Gov..: .45-55-405 & .45-70-500)
  • M1872 Springfield (a/k/a Rolling Block Springfield; .50-70 Gov.)
  • M1865/M1866/M1868/M1869/M1870 Springfield (a/k/a Trapdoor Springfield; .50-70 Government)
  • Sharps carbine/rifle (Breech-loader; .42-60-410) (.52 caliber issued to Berdan’s 1st and 2nd US Sharpshooters in the US Civil War)
  • Henry rifle (Lever-action; .44-26-200)
  • Spencer rifle (Lever-action; 56-56 (.52-45-350))
  • M1863 Springfield
  • M1861 Springfield (.58)
  • Colt revolving rifle (Colt Model 1855; 6/5-shot revolver rifle;.44/.56)
  • Greene rifle (Bolt-action breech-loader)
  • P53 Enfield (.577 (.58))
  • P51 Enfield Musketoon (“Artillery Carbine”; 24″ barrel, .69)
  • Model 1854 Lorenz rifle (Rifle-musket, .54, .58)
  • M1859 Sharps (‘New model 1859’, breech loader; .52, .56)
  • M1855 Rifle-Musket
  • M1855 Rifle (Percussion muzzle-loader; 58-60-500)
  • M1847 Musketoon (Springfield, .69)
  • M1842 Musket (Percussion musket, .69)
  • M1841 Rifle “Mississippi Rifle” (percussion muzzle-loader;.54, .58)
  • M1840 Musket (flintlock musket;.69)(later percussion)
  • M1835 Springfield (flintlock musket; .67 cal)
  • M1819 Hall rifle (Harper’s Ferry;Breech-loader)
  • Model 1822 Musket (Flintlock Musket) .69 (later percussion)
  • Model 1816 Musket (Flintlock musket; .69) (Later Percussion)
  • Model 1817 Rifle (‘Common rifle’;Derringer, Johnson, North and Starr; Flintlock rifle, .54) (later percussion)
  • Model 1814 Common Rifle (Deringer, Johnson; Flintlock rifle; later percussion; .54)
  • Springfield Model 1812 Musket (Flintlock musket; .69)
  • Model 1808 Contract Musket (Flintlock musket; .69)
  • Harper’s Ferry Model 1803 Rifle (Flintlock rifle; .54)
  • Model 1795 Musket (Flintlock musket; .69)
  • 1792 contract rifle (Flintlock rifle; .49)
  • Charleville musket (Flintlock musket; .69)
  • Brown Bess (Musket; .75)
  • Kentucky Rifle (Flintlock rifle)
  • Ferguson rifle (Flintlock breech-loader; .69)

not-safe-yet

Do we call this progress?  Do you call this progress? 

Conclusions:

I started this blog off with the comment that if we fail to connect the dots and see the patterns in our lives, we are doomed to keep repeating them and failure will never be far away.  It is almost but not quite the same as forgetting the past.  There is indeed a similarity between my comment and Santayana’s famous quote.  However, I see it as a pattern that I have described as “Whack a Mole.”  How long will we go on whacking moles, killing people, spending money that could go to education, health care or eliminating poverty?

Time for Questions:

Do you think that we should be playing “Whack the Mole?”  How do we stop playing this game?  Do you think it is human nature to keep fighting and killing others?  Should we really be trying to ban every substance that people want to take?

Life is just beginning.

Falken:  Did you ever play tic-tac-toe?

Jennifer:  Yeah, of course.

Falken:  But you don’t anymore.

Jennifer:  No.

Falken:  Why?

Jennifer:  Because it’s a boring game. It’s always a tie.

Falken:  Exactly. There’s no way to win. The game itself is pointless! But back at the war room, they believe you can win a nuclear war. That there can be “acceptable losses.”

may_june_2014_cover_of_foreign_policy_magazine

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