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Archive for June, 2011

The popularity of today’s reality television shows demonstrates conclusively the satisfaction that results from seeing other people in difficult circumstances, not because people are inherently cruel but because when the show is over, the viewers are still fine.  All that is required from us is sympathy, and it’s easy to be sympathetic because it costs us nothing.  When it comes time to sacrifice, however, the price is no longer zero, and that is when the value of one’s character can be calculated.
   –     Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.)
Medal of Honor recipient
From his book:   “If Not Now, When?
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My intellectual taste ran to simple, comfortable constructs, and nothing was more comfortable than leading soldiers and doing soldierly things and living among people who were performing very difficult tasks at the lowest level in pursuit of an ideal.  Being on staff was life as a bureaucrat, and bureaucracies are organized to do routine things in a routine way.  They are committees, notoriously inefficient and obstructionist enemies of the people.  I wanted to be a platoon leader, I liked being a platoon leader, and I wanted to continue being a platoon leader.
  –    Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.)
Medal of Honor recipient
From his book:  “If Not Now, When?
[There is something refreshing (and admirable) about a person who wants to be at the focal point of contact – be it with a customer (salesman) or an enemy (soldier).  Or, come to think of it, a mother breastfeeding her baby.   —   KMAB]
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To a twenty-one-year-old, time is irrelevant.  It disappears over the horizon to infinity, and you don’t have an appreciation for time until you get to be old.  Because they are afraid they’ll never wake up, old people often don’t sleep well at night, and they know that you can cheat the Angel of Death by taking short naps in the daytime, when the Angel of Death is ostensibly occupied in China, where it’s nighttime.  But at the age of twenty-one, you’re going to live forever, and you can sleep all day if you want to.
  –    Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.)
Medal of Honor recipient
From the book:  “If Not Now, When?“  by Col. Jacobs and Douglas Century
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Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?
  —    Kurt Vonnegut
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It’s just that simple.  You go to work.  You always go to work.
  —    Samuel L. Jackson
From:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?”  by Charles Barkley
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To close out the weekend, here’s another handful of song lyrics to read, think about (go listen to) and enjoy:
If “The Boss” could see the economic problems (and irony) in America in the ’80’s, why are we still facing them thirty years later? — Born In The USA
Here’s a couple by Darius Rucker.  If you’ve ever been driving by yourself on a freeway at 5:00am and the fog is so thick you can barely see the traffic lines (let alone any signs), this one will touch a nerve.  —  I Hope They Get To Me In Time
This second D.R. song is for all of us Dads who missed too much just makin’ sure there was a roof and food…  —  It Won’t Be Like This For Long
The last two of this handful are from Rodney Atkins.  The first is just a great story about living in America.  —  These Are My People
The second is about persevering…  Some times you just gotta keep on keepin’ on…  —  If You’re Going Through Hell
All of these MUST be listened to!!  As much as the words will mean on reading, some song lyrics are meant to be heard sung – these five are definitely in the “hearing” group.
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I’m in love with words – any words – all words – and I want to share them around.
  —    Jo Bryant
Kiwi / Australian Writer, Poet, and Potential Amateur Photographer
[Visit Jo’s WordPress blog by clicking on her name above…   And Jo, I grok words too!!  —   KMAB]
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We spent a good amount of class time on military history, and that had positive value of some consequence, but it did dawn on me that many battles, campaigns, and wars contained the same lessons.  This resulted in two conclusions.  First, there seemed to be a relatively small and finite number of inexorable military truths, universal constants whose mastery should form the basis for success in nearly every combat situation.  And second, because all this stuff was a matter of public and historical record, there is no earthly reason to make the same mistake twice.  My early naïveté was clearly boundless.
  –    Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.)
Medal of Honor recipient
From the book: “If Not Now, When?“,  by Col. Jacobs and Douglas Century
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The Republican Party, which had presided over America’s rise to manufacturing preeminence, has acquiesced in the deindustrialization of the nation to gratify transnational corporations whose oligarchs are the party financiers.  U.S. corporations are shutting factories here, opening them in China, “outsourcing” back-office work to India, importing Asians to take white-collar jobs from Americans, and hiring illegal aliens for their service jobs.  The Republican Party has signed off on economic treason.
  —  Patrick J. Buchanan
From his book: “Where The Right Went Wrong
[While I agree with Pat that the Republican party has committed the equivalent of economic treason, I must disagree with the statement Republicans “presided over America’s rise to manufacturing preeminence“.
America rose to manufacturing preeminence during and because of World War II while FDR was President and the Democrats controlled both houses in Congress.  The economy stalled under Eisenhower and was revived by the Kennedy / Johnson period.  We started to falter at the end of Johnson and began our descent under Nixon, mostly because of the gas crisis (72-73) and the long term effects of government spending from Vietnam (Johnson and Nixon).  Both Reagan and Bush (the first) had recessions and it was Clinton’s Administration which brought growth.  Reagan, a “true” conservative, proposed there was no damage to the economy by going into debt (mostly to increase government spending on big ticket military purchases “star-wars” and new aircraft carriers) and then signed off on the largest tax increases in history (actually mostly closing business loopholes) to reduce the debt he had sponsored – although he was NEVER able to come up with a balanced budget let alone get Congress to pass one.  Bush II practically drove the whole planet into bankruptcy and global depression with a combination of deregulation and unpaid for wars.  Granted not all of the deregulation was actually passed into law during “W’s” administration.  His administration merely encouraged the abuses inherent in an unregulated market.
No, Pat.  Sorry.  The Republican Party has not presided over an America’s rise to manufacturing preeminence since the Civil War, and again, the manufacturing increase was because a war effort stimulated the economy and government spending – not because Republican political or economic theories are correct.
It just so happens I DO believe in small government which stays out of the way of the people and in capitalism.  But government must be big enough to defend us from modern day threats: foreign and domestic, terrorist and corporate.  At the moment, the U.S. has more to fear from multinational and “too big to fail” domestic corporations than it does from 200 to 500 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It used to be said the two biggest threats to democracy are an overly efficient tax system and an overly efficient military.  It seems we should now recognize the BIGGEST threat to democracy is an unregulated capitalist economy.  And on this, at least, we can agree – the Republican Party are economic traitors!   —  KMAB]
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Today, I’m adding five song lyrics from four songs I fell in love with and one I rediscovered back during my days in Saudi Arabia.  My family wasn’t with me for almost seven months so I ended up buying and listening to a lot of CD’s.  Here’s a couple from Savage Garden, one from country artist John Michael Montgomery, one from Ronan Keating (formerly of the boy-band Boyzone), and a signature song from Billy Joel.  All of these also have tremendous videos!  If you’ve not seen them recently, you really should check them out, too.
Truly, Madly, Deeply
I Knew I Loved You
I Can Love You Like That
When You Say Nothing At All
Piano Man
As usual, enjoy the poetry in the words, then go and find the songs on your favorite song site, buy it if you like it as much as I have – or better yet, go see the artist live the next time they are in your area…
And now, off to watch “Hamlet” with the wife.  I’ve never seen it, so I can hardly wait…  Who knows, maybe a movie review tomorrow…
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In 2003, the United States invaded a country that did not threaten us, did not attack us, and did not want war with us, to disarm it of weapons we have since discovered it did not have.  His war cabinet assured President Bush that weapons of mass destruction would be found, that U.S. forces would be welcomed with garlands of flowers, that democracy would flourish in Iraq and spread across the Middle East, that our triumph would convince Israelis and Palestinians to all sit down and make peace.
None of this happened.  Those of us who were called unpatriotic for opposing an invasion of Iraq and who warned we would inherit our own Lebanon of 25 million Iraqis were proven right.  Now our nation is tied down and our army is being daily bled in a war to create a democracy in a country where it has never before existed.
  —    Patrick J. Buchanan
From his book:  “Where The Right Went Wrong
[Two points:  First, what we “discovered” was not that the weapons did not exist; what was discovered was that the Bush administration never knew the weapons existed and cherry picked the intelligence we did have to support their claims the weapons did exist because the administration wanted to invade and needed a justification to sell the war to the American public.  Second, Buchanan uses his writing to continue to subtly defend President Bush by shifting responsibility.  It was his “war cabinet” that had to “assure” him of these things.  NOT!  Bush and Cheney did not need assurance because their minds were already made up.  They were not looking for assurance, they were pushing for any evidence of their false claims in order to support the decision they had already made – probably (in my humble opinion) before being elected – that they would overthrow Saddam Hussein the first chance they got.   —    KMAB]
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At some point we know we have to take responsibility.  Nobody is forcing parents to not look after their children.
Obviously, in some situations, there is a lot of poverty.  And it’s a lot more difficult.  But our grandparents were poorer than that and they looked after their children.  Poverty didn’t strip our ancestors of their sense of responsibility.
  —    Senator Barack Obama
Quoted by:   Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man
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To exercise leadership today, leaders must institutionalize their leadership.  The issues are too technical and the pace of change too swift to expect that a leader, no matter how gifted, will be able to solve personally the major problems facing the system over which he or she presides.  …Some leaders may be quite gifted in solving problems personally, but if they fail to institutionalize the process, their departure leaves the system crippled.  They must create or strengthen systems that will survive them.
  —    John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
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Leaders and leader/managers distinguish themselves from the general run of managers in at least six respects:
1) They think longer term —  beyond the day’s crises, beyond the quarterly report, beyond the horizon.
2) In thinking about the unit they are heading, they grasp its relationship to larger realities — the larger organization of which they are a part, conditions external to the organization, global trends.
3) They reach and influence constituents beyond their jurisdictions, beyond boundaries.
4) They put heavy emphasis on the intangibles of vision, values, and motivation and understand intuitively the nonrational and unconscious elements in leader-constituent interaction.
5) They have the political skill to cope with the conflicting requirements of multiple constituencies.
6) They think in terms of renewal.  The routine manager tends to accept organizational structure and process as it exists.  The leader or leader/manager seeks the revisions of process and structure required by ever-changing reality.
  —   John W. Gardner
From his book:  “On Leadership
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In the wake of Desert Storm, the Pentagon became convinced that that kind of warfare would soon be an anachronism: no one would be foolish enough to challenge the United States head-to-head in pure military combat.  Conflict in the future would be diffuse.  It would take place in cities as often as on battlefields, be fueled by ideas as much as by weapons, and engage cultures and economies as much as armies.  As one JFCOM analyst puts it: “The next war is not just going to be military on military.  The deciding factor is not going to be how many tanks you kill, how many ships you sink, and how many planes you shoot down.  The decisive factor is how you take apart your adversary’s system.  Instead of going after war-fighting capability, we have to go after war-making capability.  The military is connected to the economic system, which is connected to their cultural system, to their personal relationships.  We have to understand the links between all those systems.”
 [And later…]
Van Riper didn’t believe you could lift the fog of war.  His library on the second floor of his house in Virginia is lined with rows upon rows of works on complexity theory and military strategy.  From his own experience in Vietnam and his reading of the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, Van Riper became convinced that war was inherently unpredictable and messy and non-linear.
 —  Malcom Gladwell
From his book: “Blink“, describing modern warfare and Paul Van Riper
[You cannot predict the course of a war based on economics or superior firepower.  Rober McNamarra couldn’t do it for President Johnson and a much lesser man (Donald Rumsfeld) couldn’t do it for “W”.
Ultimately, this is why America’s policy pre-emptive attacks and over-throwing (“replacing”) governments in most parts of the world (particularly Muslim countries) and trying to do nation-building “in our own image” will NEVER work.
When (if) you fight an enemy who is willing to fight on your terms, you may defeat them if you are a superior force.  If you are not superior, it can go either way – even when you are fighting on your terms.  If you are unable to fight on your terms, you must be vastly superior to ensure even modest victory.
If you ultimately are intending to form a new government, the populace must be one which historically is willing to bend to the will of their own government / “superiors” (either through cultural tradition, divine right or extreme force, Germany and Japan after WWII, for example) and not tribal and culturally / economically independent (like Iraq and Afghanistan, for example).
Saddam was in power over twenty years and slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people and still many tribes resisted his rule.  Why would any but the most naïve amongst us believe ALL of his people would welcome us with flowers and kisses, instead of treat us as an invading power – which we were.  The same is true with Afghanistan.  They were not so much governed by the Taliban as loosely confederated under a set of religious beliefs.
Think about this: the United States is spending about $1 BILLION dollars EACH day to keep our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We have over 120,000 of the best trained and equipped soldiers in the world in Afghanistan to fight what is probably an Al Qaeda force of not more than 500 in an area the size of Texas.
That we have killed Bin Laden only means he will not live to see his ultimate economic and cultural victory over us.  Not a military victory, which was never possible, but a victory over us as a world economic super-power because he was able to kick our political system into hyper-militarism – individually spending more as a single country than all of the other countries in the world.  This is the warning President Eisenhower gave us in his famous “military-industrial complex” speech.
To defeat western-civilization (quasi-benign capitalism) at it’s core, Bin Laden only had to accelerate “corporate” capitalism.  With the help of a willing Republican “neo-conservative” government in the White House, controlling both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court, who were all willing to wage a war off budget (read that as “with no public debate over the actual costs or the real lost opportunity costs“) and without raising taxes to pay for the war, the Bush Administration virtually guaranteed an eventual collapse of the American economy.   The miracle is that we have not already had a complete collapse.  We narrowly avoided complete economic collapse in Nov ’08 to Mar ’09.
Bin Laden truly learned the primary lesson of Afghanistan in defeating the Russians:  you need not defeat a superior force in battle; you can bleed the home country to death by fighting their force with fewer (120,000 to 500) and less expensive (does anyone believe it costs a million dollars a year to keep a single Al Qaeda foot-soldier in battle?) ground forces.  (Before anyone starts thinking this was an incredibly brilliant discovery by Bin Laden, please recall this is EXACTLY the same tactic used by General George Washington against the British monarchy in the American Revolutionary War.)
To see if I have any idea what I’m talking about, please refer to my two earlier posts:  “Obama’s Wars” and “View From Under The Bus“.
Please Mr. President – Give Peace A Chance!!!  Get out of these pointless, hopeless and impossible to win wars now!!!  Not in 2012, 2014 or 20-whatever…  NOW!!!  (Yes, I know it will take six months to draw down if we begin withdrawing tomorrow…  So start tomorrow!!!)
It is still NOT too late to save America and Western Civilization…
Signed,
A Democrat (Still Under The Bus)
 —  KMAB]
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