100 Days

I saw a post from a former pastor of mine.  I consider him a friend and mentor – at least, I considered him one.  It’s a confusing thing.  I still love and respect him, admire much of his character and have nothing but the deepest appreciation for the things he has taught me over the years.  But, I feel conflicted, too.  Our ideologies are not the same, and though I have faith in God, I would no longer characterize myself as a fundamentalist Christian in any form.  Over the past few years my friend has become increasingly more vocal in political and religious matters, something I will certainly never criticize, however it has highlighted the rift that is between us when I compare what we think and believe.  He is unabashedly both conservative Right and conservative Christian,  even when those two viewpoints are in direct contention.  More recently, he has taken to bashing both the Left and the Islamic religion, often conflating the two in order to make a skewed point.  Given his background as both an IBM engineer and a teacher of Philosophy, I have no doubt he understands faulty logic- but he no longer pays heed to that in service of rhetoric.  This depresses me.  There was a time when he measured the character of a person by when they were willing to keep their mouth shut.  Have we moved so far past civil discourse that even good men step over the line to protect what they see as their way of life?  Is the perceived threat to Christianity, whether it is by political, social or religious agenda so great that we must forget our principles?

I hope not.

And your new Democratic candidate is… Not a Democrat

Dear God, help us!

Heh.  Still between that article, and another one I read but cannot find, the Montana Democrats are in need of a few good candidates.  Perhaps I should throw my hat into the ring as the kind of candidate they need.  You see, I’m not a Democrat.  I’m not a Republican any more, either.  The Democrats have a tough go of it here in Montana – their social platform actually benefits a lot of the state, but they have no concept on how to market it.  On the economic side, well, Democrats suck.  We might identify, economically, as a state/nation of have nots, but even though the idea of sticking it to the man is appealing to many, even more of us want to be well off.  Sure those guys oppressing us are rich, but we wanna be rich too.  Taxing the rich isn’t something a lot of Montanan’s get behind, I think because many people identify wealth with hard work.  And while that isn’t as accurate as it used to be, we’re not really ready to throw that association out, not around here.  And truthfully, we shouldn’t.  Whether Democrats like it or not, the wealthy already foot the bill for the majority of our expenses- taxing them more just because we feel they can afford it is not a policy we should ever agree to.

So that’s where I come in.  Let’s get back to the basics of streamlining our government.  Less at the Federal level, more at the State.  Let’s invest in our infrastructure – our people, and we’ll sell it as good for business, good for the environment and good for the profits of everyone.  Well, almost everyone.  🙂  Let’s move from the extremes of both parties and find some ground that actually lets us accomplish some work in our country.

It’s all fun and games.

I had to post this here, it just seemed too fun not to.  Monopoly has a reputation as a wrecker of friendships and families, a wasteland of destruction for relationships.  I cannot really recall having that experience, but I didn’t play it a great deal after about age 10.  In the scenario below, if you follow the link, you’ll find something where I would quite happily sit back and watch while munching on a bag of chips.  It certainly would beat the Oscars or Academy Awards for me.  You see terms like Socialism and Communism bandied about a lot right now. but honestly, they’re largely being used incorrectly with their implied associations.  Opponents to the ACA and similar programs yell, “Socialism!” while ignoring how our government and tax structure work, but what I think they’re really recalling to mind, if they are truly recalling anything, is a weird fusion of Stalin/Marx/Hitler’s Germany as well as probably a few others thrown into the mix with a slight hint of Mccarthyism to flavor the stew.  I’m not sure Marx or Engels would have recognized what passes for the idea of Socialism/Communism here in the US.  But I digress, enjoy the comic and the anarchy that follows.

http://existentialcomics.com/comic/159

The New Economy by Emma Lazarus

Yesterday I got to thinking about the influence of a bad mustache on modern foreign policy.  The effect is dramatic, I think.  Today, I want to offer up an alternative to a good mustache gone bad.  It’s time for a little competition and some good marketing.

Emma Lazarus wrote a poem containing this very famous line,

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Of course, many people know that this sits at the base of the Statue of Liberty as she greets all those who wish to enter our country via Ellis Island.  The United States has long been a country populated by those who, for various and storied reasons, left their former country of origin behind.  This land was, and still is, a nation of resources that these people tapped into to create a life, a country and a destination…

A destination you say?  Why yes, yes I did say.  Now stop interrupting me.  We call it the American Dream.  The idea that anyone can move to the United States and make of themselves what they will was, and is, a powerful aphrodisiac to all those people in other countries that were not satisfied with their lot.  More importantly, it was our single greatest marketing fete of the last three centuries.  Offer a person the hope of a better future, or, in some cases, a future at all, and they will suffer much to make that future come true.  More importantly, they’ll move…

A nation’s greatest resource is its people, for they are the ones that create new ways to utilize and exploit all other resources.  Take away a nation’s people and you have effectively crippled them, and made yourself stronger in the process.  Along the way, many nations, including ours, have forgotten this truth and the reasons for why we should be competing like no other for such a valuable resource.  This is where our marketing engine and our policies should combine to combat the likes of countries like Syria, China, Korea, etc.  Don’t like the oppressive policies of your homeland?  Tired of facing war, famine, torture, murder and worse at the hands of your government and fellow citizens?  Well, we have a deal for you.  We have schools, universities, health care and jobs that need people who want to work.  Commit to an education and a career and we can use somebody like you.  Need help leaving your country?  No problem, we can put you in touch with several organizations that can assist you in your travels to your new country.  And if you accidentally happen to pack some important information about your government in your sock, which is in your shoe, that is hidden in an uncomfortable and anatomically unlikely location?  No problem, we know just the people to had that off to.  Welcome to America!

 

*These ideas, and my expression of them, are a work in progress.  I have communicated, albeit poorly, the general idea of what I mean.  Now I need to work on fleshing it out.

 

Temujin Teaches 21st Century Diplomacy

A long time ago, on a continent some drive from here, there lived a guy with a bad mustache and a great mind for international relations.  He also had some fairly forward thinking ideas on resource management.  One of his better ones, to his mind, was the idea that since he needed more space to walk his horses, and the world had more land than it knew what to do with, so why not go out and make it part of his kingdom?  Now, the Americans wouldn’t go on to coin the term Manifest Destiny for hundreds of years, so you can see how ahead of his time this Temujin was. Downright brilliant, he’d say.

Now, as you can imagine, there were some other guys around, several of them with equally bad mustaches, who didn’t think too much of his genius and decided that resistance to annexation was a good idea.  After all, these guys had horses and dogs to walk, too.

You can see what a challenge this was to Temujin.  He was, after all, just a guy trying to live the dream, one small country at a time and all that.  The times being what they were, though, he decided for an enlightened approach.  So he sent out a messenger to tell the other men with bad mustaches that it would be best if they surrender.  For the good of the children, you see.  Naturally, they didn’t quite see it his way and politely refused.  The messenger, having delivered his message of peace, kindly returned to his lord, in pieces.  One could even say he was beside himself.  I guess he was no relation of Kissenger’s.

Naturally, Temujin viewed this act as a bit of downer.  Turns out the messenger was his 3rd wife’s nephew on her brother’s side, or so I’m told.  Very sad.  The challenge, as his Khanliness surmised, wasn’t the issue of how to respond to this action, but how to prevent this response in the future.  As I said, the world was full of land that it didn’t need and Temujin foresaw this becoming a regular issue as time, and his forces, marched on.  As I said before, a great mind.

So he leveled the city and killed everything related to it– Every man, woman, child and animal.  He then told all other men with mustaches that he would do the same to them and their cities should they refuse his generous offer of subjugation.  It seems the Khan did not believe in collective bargaining…and thus he became the first union buster, as well.  Very forward thinking.

Fast forward a little while and you can see how the Khan’s philosophy has shaped foreign relations today.  Every act demands a greater act of retaliation.  An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, but an eye for a whole man’s family and maybe he’ll think twice before going after the other eye.  It just makes sense, doesn’t it?  I’m sure you can see how this has worked out, especially given several examples from American history of the past 30 years or so.  Reagan and Libya, Bush and Iraq, Bush 2 w/ Afghanistan and Iraq, and now… Obama and Syria.

Tomorrow I want to expand on an alternative method.  I’m sure you’ll see that it isn’t an officially recognized method of diplomacy as taught by the Genghis Khan School for Diplomacy and So Can You!, but I think it might have a bit of merit.

 

Kids these days…

Flappers, Hipsters, Beatniks, Greasers, Hippies, Rebels, Slackers, Nerds, Geeks, etc.  These are all names for social outcasts at one point in time or another in our country.  They dressed different, may have talked different, certainly challenged our social norms in one form or another.  Many of the people of the time pointed to them as definite proof that society was going down hill, that the youth of the day “weren’t like the kids in my day”.  And yet, they all grew up.  Many raised families, worked jobs and paid taxes.  Some voted, some changed the world and all of them lived their lives as they saw fit.  The world didn’t end, society did not fall despite the many assurances that it is supposed to and time continues to march on.  Just a bit of perspective for those complaining about the youth of today…

Now, if you’ll excuse me while I go yell at those damn kids to get off my lawn…