MILITARY INTERVENTION BUT NOT OCCUPATION

February 18, 2015

MILITARY INTERVENTION BUT NOT OCCUPATION

In many ways it seems that America expects to win wars in the late 20th Century and early part of the 21st Century just as we did in WWII. Certainly unconditional surrender is winning a war, any war, anywhere, anytime in history.

Given the current technology available to wage war, our ability to kill enemies and destroy property of such enemies, globally, has gone far beyond our ability as a nation to use less military power and still achieve reasonable National Objectives. America still struggles, politically and militarily, to clearly state National Objectives that can be achieved without the full use of available military power. We have been doing exactly that since WWII, with one exception, the limited objective to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the late 20th Century.

In fact America continues to establish National Objectives that are popular but requires far more military power to achieve that America is willing to use, politically.

Let’s begin with a simple reason why any nation maintains a form of national defense, men and women usually in uniform and armed with deadly weapons to some degree. If nothing else the job of such organizations is to defend the nation creating such forces. Only a few nations today maintain sufficient armed forces to successfully invade and remain in lands previously ruled by others. America, Russia, China and perhaps a few Middle Eastern nations now have such capabilities.

The only reason that very large and relatively rich nations maintain huge forces at hand is to deter war against them by other large nations. Deterrence was the key to preventing real WAR during our geopolitical conflict with the communist controlled Soviet Union. Deterrence still remains the key to prevent military engagements between large nations today, nuclear nations if you like.

It is not the purpose of this blog to write again of reasons why nuclear deterrence remains critical in today’s unsettled geopolitical world. But it is my intent to apply the concepts of deterrence to our conflict with ISIS, Al-Qaeda, “terrorists”, huge criminal organizations controlling to a great degree entire national governments (like Russia if you will), and others of the sort.

Driven by technology and like it or not, the world of the 21st Century is very different than any time before in human history. Unless we as humans decide to literally destroy life as we currently understand it, never again will nations line up on opposing sides, unleash all the technology available (including nuclear weapons) and go for unconditional surrender, not matter what, today or in the future. Total war is unthinkable today (but not just 60 plus years ago for sure).

Yet we have enemies that still think in terms of Total War today. Enter the world of radical Islam, people today just as driven by religion and conversion of all humans to only one faith, as the “western world” was so driven during the Middle Ages in Europe. How is it possible to create a sense of deterrence to prevent the onslaught of ISIS wherever ISIS believes it can win, unconditionally?

I maintain it is possible to achieve such deterrence to prevent crazy and criminal actions around the world. But the use of force is required as well, like it or not.

Take a domestic example in America, a time after WWII when large and very violent criminal organizations tried to control swaths of America, large American cities if you like. I speak of the Mafia.

It remains impossible to eliminate crime from any society for sure. Police forces designed to protect society are and will always be needed. There will always be criminals that will challenge the authority of society to protect itself using police, but rarely do such criminal societies gain and sustain real control of societies in America in general. Deterrence keeps some potential criminals at bay and physical force limits the ability of criminals to actually “govern” much at all. Imagine if possible the reaction in America if the Mafia in fact gained control of Chicago or NYC. The Mafia would not have remained in such power to govern for long, I am sure and nuclear weapons would not have been employed as well.

Now think of ISIS as a transnational criminal organization. How best can “civilized” societies counter such a criminal threat? Is that not the real challenge to America and the rest of the civilized world today, to send ISIS, the people consisting of ISIS, back into their caves and having little effect on societies in general?

Our current National Objective, as stated by the President is to “degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS”. That’s it as far as I can tell and we sure are arguing about how to do just that, degrade and then defeat a bunch of criminals, world-wide.

Well permit me to ask if you believe we have now degraded and defeated the Mafia in America? I suggest that we have done just that to the extent that criminal actions by a “Mafia” today are not anywhere in the public mind now. Sure there are some criminals believing they are big shots and some making lots of money, but a War on Crime (domestically) is not in the American psychic today, at least in my view.

Now think of ISIS as a “global Mafia” today. Then consider how American society degraded and ultimately “defeated” just the Mafia. I submit innovative technology and the effective use of raw physical force by police, the FBI and others did the job, eventually, for the sake of society.

Could American society have defeated the Mafia without “boots on the ground”? Of course not and anyone thinking that we could have negotiated with the Mafia to make them stop criminal actions would be laughed out of any public discourse at the time. Economic pressure on the Mafia would have failed as well. What are you going to do after you shut down all the grocery stores in a Mafia controlled area of NYC, I wonder???

As well, while the full array of American society’s power, including law, technology and raw physical power was levied against the Mafia, there were many law abiding citizens that actually supported the Mafia in their towns and neighborhoods. But ultimately the legal forces of society overcame such sentiments. If nothing else that shows that popular opinion is not always right and government must do what is needed to keep society safe, popular opinion in a neighborhood notwithstanding.

Same with ISIS in my view, globally.

OK, what to do specifically in America’s conflict with ISIS today. I suggest we treat them as a global criminal organization that uses brutal, inhuman means to gain and keep control, sort of like a global Mafia is you will.

Take a given “neighborhood”, even a nation or significant portion thereof (like Iraq today). Use technology to define exactly where those criminals are located and what “laws” specifically, they are breaking in such neighborhoods. Then form a task force of cops, send them in to arrest and kill every criminal that can be found. Capture those criminals, en masse, haul them off to ………., then leave the neighborhood to let normal government sustain the safety of the remaining society therein.

You see when the FBI and even a mass of local cops acted as a task force to “degrade” the Mafia in a neighborhood, that task force did not remain for very long to occupy the neighborhood, for months or years until…….

I suggest America desperately needs the ability to intervene but not occupy in various areas of the world today, using military power. That is a “lily pad” concept of “defenses”, which actually is a set of mobile but still very powerful forces to intervene, act as a legal task force, to clean out a rat’s nest of criminals and then leave, soon thereafter.

As the debate of using a “lily pad” concept for defenses, American armed forces first became a topic of discussion in around 2005 or so, most Americans simplistically thought of a bunch of SEAL or Delta Force teams available to ……. Nope that is not the type of force structure I now call for.

I am thinking in terms of at least battalion or brigade size ground forces, in some cases even a division size force, ready and able to go into a given area and clean out a rat’s nest of criminals.

Such a concept applied to the Middle East containing ISIS today is rather simple and straight forward today. Doing the same in the Ukraine is a different matter as major powers would be head to head, Russia and America if you will. It would still be doable, but……… and I won’t go into all those “buts” in this blog.

But take a specific example of say Mosul in Iraq, today. Consider just this approach. Ask the current Iraq government if they want Mosul back under their control. Assume they say yes and are willing to do what is needed to achieve that goal. That makes American military intervention, but not occupation, of just Mosul possible, legal and probably approved Congressional action as well. Iraq asks for our action and we provide it to return Mosul to Iraqi government control. We announce that intention to the world, including all the citizens in Mosul. We encourage all those law abiding citizens to leave Mosul or hide deep within shelters at a minimum.

Then we retake Mosul, probably with a brigade size force, including armor, artillery and complete control of air space over Mosul. After that initial “remote” onslaught that will kill a lot of people remaining in Mosul before we send in a brigade of Chris Kyle-like trained men and women, we send in just those sorts of warriors, clean out the rats nest, turn it over to Iraqi forces immediately and move on to the next town on our list compiled with the Iraqi government.

Never forget that so far in the history of warfare, air power alone does not resolve geopolitical conflicts. Neither does Sea Power alone as well. It takes boots on the ground to win a geopolitical conflict with physical power is involved. And just as local cops did not have the power to defeat the Mafia alone (it took a lot of help from the FBI), most countries today cannot alone fight and win against the likes of ISIS today, at least in the Middle East and now even North Africa it seems.

What can America do better today? Intervene, with raw and effective military power but do not occupy in any way. Just turn over a cleaned out rat’s nest to the law abiding society in that region and let them try to better govern, again with diplomatic and economic support for the “normal” world a world where law and order prevails in a sustainable manner.

One big argument (and a bunch of little ones I am sure) against this approach is the potential inability of a given society to actually occupy itself, regain control using physical power to enforce the laws. Such places exist today for sure. Well if we still believe Iraq cannot “occupy itself” today, well we don’t intervene until they can do so. If or when that happens, we simply contain all of Iraq until they as a nation can effectively govern themselves. It would be a very unpopular decision, like just removing the FBI for NYC and containing the rat’s nest from NJ and CT for a while. But all of such thinking is a much different blog than this one.

Herein I only speak of my view of a better way to degrade ISIS to the point of their continued existence as a criminal force that nations can deal with locally and without geopolitical conflict on a global scale. France and other European nations, so far, do not need our help to degrade ISIS. But they will never defeat them, unconditionally, as well and neither will America. But certainly ISIS can be marginalized to the point of insignificance, geopolitically, world-wide if you will.

TAKING STOCK AND LOOKING FORWARD

February 16, 2015

TAKING STOCK AND LOOKING FORWARD

Four years ago Joplin was operating, in terms of city government, in a business as usual mode. As I recall our city budget was on the order of some $100 Million or so. We were incrementally improving the downtown area by encouraging private businesses to open and improve the overall quality of the downtown experience for all citizens. No major issues, politically, were before us.

Then in May 2011 the tornado hit and Joplin lost about 30% of our city. Immediate recovery efforts to save lives and then clean up massive debris became the goal of all concerned, using every available resource, financial, labor and equipment. Within a couple of months efforts to rebuild began to take place, slowly at first but accelerating later.

Recall the summer of 2011 and consider all the things done right. Shelters for homeless citizens were quickly established, particularly on the campus of MSSU and in private homes, Bulldozers galore and volunteers from all over America collected thousands of tons of debris to be loaded on trucks and then dumped in designated areas. FEMA trailers were installed for more temporary homes, and most important private insurance carriers wrote checks for a lot of money for both private homes and businesses lost in the storm.

Four years, almost, later the major businesses on Range Line are back in place. Many private homes have been rebuilt using private insurance only as the financial resource along with a large number of local contractors and labor from many different areas of the country. As well government began to respond, far more slowly, by promising grants of money to support long term rebuilding. Unfortunately actual checks to provide that money have yet to be issued however, four years later.

In terms of long term local government efforts a plan was established, a “Super” Tax Incentive Finance (TIF) was authorized by our City Council to support long term “public” financing in partnership with other contractors, private businesses. Recall if you can the idea or plan for $40 Million in public funds from TIF to build some $800 Million in new and innovative projects that did not exist in Joplin before the storm.

So where are we today in terms of rebuilding Joplin? How much money has been spent, both private and public funds, to achieve the rebuilding to date? Where will we go in the future and how much money is needed to get to our ultimate goal?

I can only guess at the answers to such questions. But my guess is that other than immediate emergency relief to save lives, remove debris and establish reasonable temporary shelters, the bulk of the funds, maybe $1 Billion so far, has come from private sources, primarily insurance funds and private loans.

So here is my first set of questions for city leaders to provide the answers and the Joplin Globe to report such answers.

1. How much money was spent for emergency responses during the summer of 2011 and who specifically provided that money? Included in such an estimate should be the cost for security forces, debris cleanup and removal, temporary shelters and housing and the restoration of normal power and other city services to the destruction zone? Break down the financial resources into federal aid (FEMA primarily I assume), State of Missouri aid and local government funding above the routine city budget.
2. Pick the arbitrary date of December 31, 2011 to account for such funding and list only the money actually paid by various sources, not just money promised but not yet (four years later) paid.

Assume that actual rebuilding began sometime in the fall of 2011. Things like the big box stores on Range Line seemed to have begun to rise from the ashes of destruction and generally were completed during the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. That time frame would also include the smaller business rebuilding efforts other than just larger, corporately owned businesses. Thus the second set of questions become:

1. How much private funding was spent during the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 to rebuild just businesses, businesses anywhere within the destruction zone only? One very large and privately funded project is Mercy Hospital, rebuilt outside of the destruction zone and I would include that facility in this particular summary of rebuilding spent, thus far.
2. As well how much private funding contributed to rebuilding homes in the area of destruction? Most of that funding I assume was from insurance proceeds and maybe additional private investment (private loans) when insurance money did not cover the total cost of rebuilding dwellings.
3. How much public money (tax payer dollars) has actually been spent from various government agencies to rebuild, actually break ground and rebuild facilities, in the destruction zone thru the end of calendar year 2014?
4. Finally, how much money has been provided by charities to actually rebuild facilities, business or private homes, in the destruction zone up until the end of calendar year 2014?

If such detailed questions seem hard to answer just consider the basic numbers. Specifically, through the end of calendar year 2014, how much government funding as actually been PAID to restore Joplin? As well how much private funding (insurance, private loans or other forms of investment money) has been spent, through calendar year 2014 to thus far rebuild Joplin?

My guess is the basic answers are about $1 Billion, maybe $1.5 Billion in private money and about $100 Million in government funds (actually paid, not promised). That government estimate may well be far too high as well but I am simply not sure at this point.

That brings us to the beginning of calendar year 2015. How much money has been actually spent thus far in terms of government money to continue to rebuild but facilities have yet to actually have broken ground. My guess is that number is around $13.5 Million in TIF bonds that have been spent thus far to purchase land to rebuild projects. I wonder what additional government funds have been spent as well and where exactly that money has come from; which government agency actually wrote a check and it was cashed to provide real, not just promised, money to Joplin?

I am sure private funds are still being collected to rebuild other privately funded facilities, homes and businesses for the future. I wonder what that amount, in total might be? A rough estimate could be made by assessing the building permits issued but facilities have not yet been completed.

Finally, I wonder just how much money is estimated to be needed to reach some final end state of recovery in Joplin and when our leaders believe that will happen. Certainly in 2012 that end state was pretty well defined in terms of government funding at least. At a minimum we expected some $40 Million, plus an additional promised $192 Million in government grants to be provided. As well at least some $800 Million in new private projects would be completed. All that would take about 10 – 15 years from the date of the tornado.

But we all now know that is a pipe dream and we must reset our expectations. Individuals have already done that kind of thinking I suppose. A family knew they had $X in destroyed property and other investments, they collected $Y from various sources to rebuild (or leave town with their proceeds) and have a rather clear end state in their minds for completion of their personal recovery.

Others are still hanging on and hoping for “someone” to help them rebuild destroyed lives and/or property. Efforts remain underway to continue to provide help for those people in Joplin.

But as a city, where are we now headed, how much more money is needed, where will the money come from now and when will the city reach such goals? That is the profound question now being asked by all in Joplin.

Who are now the leaders to provide the answers, I wonder?

“THE STORY OF THE JEWS”

February 5, 2015

“THE STORY OF THE JEWS”

This blog is a “book report” as such, but with a geopolitical twist if you will. If you have wondered “what is a Jew” I highly recommend the book. I never understood, fundamentally what that meant until reading the book.

The Story of the Jews, written by Simon Schama and published in 2009 is the book. There is also a PBS documentary on DVD which is available at the related web site. The period of time covered in that “history book”, not a history of theology per se is 500 BCE up to 1492 CE. It is based on archeological facts rather than Biblical myths yet revealed through “science”. But the book references some Biblical (or Torah) history with supposed dates for some events. It is “believed” but certainly not “proven” that Abraham lived in the 1700-1900 BCE era, the exodus maybe happened (if at all) around 1200 BCE. Early (mythical?) Kings like David and Solomon may have lived in the 900 -1100 BCE era as well. But “science” has yet to find factual evidence of such geopolitical events, other than in the earliest written documentation found so far written beginning, maybe, in the 800 BCE era.

As the early Torah was being constructed, it is “believed” that the Assyrians conquered the region now known as Israel in the very early 8th Century BCE, maybe around 790 BCE or so and destroyed the “First Temple” constructed by early adherents to the Torah and “Laws of Moses”. Sometime after Persians, “Babylonians” conquered “Israel” and a new temple was built, probably around 400 BCE, or so. That temple, the Second Temple, was destroyed by Rome in about 68 CE, a well-known and thoroughly documented historical “fact”.

Since then the Jews, people practicing the faith contained in the Torah, have been “dispersed” for about 2000 years, up until 1948 when at least the “Jewish Homeland” was re-established through mass migration and certainly the force of arms.

The book simply expands on that basic story, history if you will, of how people practicing the “Jewish Faith” acted socially, geopolitically, as a “tribe” if you will up to the Age of Enlightenment, the close of the European medieval period. It is filled with overwhelming historical detail, far more that I will ever remember. It listed all sorts of Jewish scholars, mostly men writing of how “history” or even then current social events reacted to geopolitical events in those ancient and later medieval times.

The book is a classical history, but not one over theology, of how Jews, Christians and Islam interacted over the period during the CE up to 1492 as well. No doubt that Jews initiated a theology of monotheism, God if you will, long before anyone had ideas of later monotheistic faiths, Christianity and Islam.

But what struck me in reading the book is how both Christianity and Islam thrived, geopolitically once the “faiths” became established, both in or near the Holy Land of the Jews. Yet Jews simply dispersed, with no geopolitical “clout” in such a society. Why did that happen that way was of interest to me and I gained a better understanding of that “why” in reading the book. I believe it remains fundamentally accurate today, in America, as well.

The Laws of Moses soon became the law of the land wherever Jews collected socially. There was absolutely no division between “church and state” in you will. What Moses first was deemed to have said (but never found as written directions from him, only oral history) was simply the “law”, no questions asked. Later others wrote additional “books” embellishing the Laws of Moses. None of those people were considered divine, only divinely guided. By and large, Jews still await God’s real presence on earth, and do their best to follow the law of the Torah to achieve that end. Strangely enough, to me at least, the Torah became “closed” (no more prophets) in the same general time frame that the Holy Bible and the Quran (plus or minus a few centuries) were finalized.

So one similarity is all three religions believe that God stopped speaking directly to people in the early CE era, but with no explanation why God (or Allah) decided to take that future lack of action, directing chosen people to act and teach directly in His Name.

In a way I suppose that is “good”. Can you imagine how far God would get if He found another Moses and that man tried to speak on the internet, today? OMG what a mess or laughing stock that would create!!

But back to the fundamental awareness or idea I gained from that book. At least in America and most other “western countries” today there is a purpose to keep separate church and state. Let each “reign” independently in the areas of government and theology. Jews have long paid lip service to government, just to “get along” but always relied on their faith to live their daily lives. Islam wants (is directed by Allah) to “rule” the world, theologically and in the secular world. In fact I suppose Islam does not recognize a secular world, only the world that exists as Allah directs. Some Christians feel that way as well, obviously, but they have great difficulty getting other “Christians” to act that way for sure.

Look at this another way if possible. Since around 500 BCE, Jews accommodated Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Romans and later Muslims and Europeans as well, geopolitically but never bowed to any religion promoted by those “nations”. Jews did OK, geopolitically as long as smaller “city states” existed. But once large nations began to govern, Jews have failed to establish and sustain anything like a Jewish Nation, up until 1948 it seems to me. If nothing else, it shows in the “real world” that a church cannot govern very well and sustain such a government.

Because of my own “history” and reading a lot about history in general, with an emphasis on geopolitical history, I find myself siding with the American Way, a formal and legal demand that church and state be kept separate. If nothing else that is the fundamental difference between “Islam” (in various nations) and America. Islam demands, at a fundamental level, that church itself rules the state, today.

I see Israel as the first “real” nation of Jews, at least since 800 BCE. Will Israel survive geopolitically? Who knows for sure and I am not about to make a prediction of such a nature. On the other hand, will Islam in fact gain authority world-wide as THE religion AND secular power? No way, I say, based on my reading of history. But it will be pure hell to prevent such from happening today as well. Many others, historically, have tried and failed in such an effort, geopolitically.

Chris Kyle, in his book, raised a very interesting question. What comes first in his, or anyone’s life. He decided early on that God, then country, then family was the correct priority. His wife felt that God then family, then country should be the priority.

At my age, I am of the mind that family, then country, then God such dictate the “next right things” for me to do. But that is just me, today. Where do you stand?

POLITICS AND SPORTS

February 3, 2015

POLITICS AND SPORTS

I was never a star athlete but was long an avid fan. My favorite teams were the University of Kentucky basketball team, a loyalty beginning in childhood, and the Dallas Cowboys, a loyalty to Roger Staubach from my college years. Anytime those teams played, particularly in big championship games I paid close attention to the outcome. In three or four hours after the games began I had instant gratification of a win or painful feelings of losses. But no doubt, a conclusion was achieved, I celebrated or moaned and life went on soon thereafter.

Most of my adult and professional life I did not pay all that much attention to politics, other than to vote in national elections. Generally I voted for GOP candidates but not always. Probably my biggest thrill was watching election returns in England (6 hours ahead of East Coast time in America) when Reagan beat Carter in 1980. But just like a Super bowl win for the Cowboys, my life went on soon thereafter.

When I finally left the professional racetrack I lost interest in sports, by and large. UK, Kentucky, remained my favorite team but I paid little attention unless they reached the Final Four. My loyalties to professional football teams were all over the map, each year as well. Basically I lost interest.

But I began to pay attention, rather close attention to national politics. 9/11 sparked intense interest to say the least. If UK had been beaten in a big game with a team of “dopers”, men running wild on the court from being “drugged up”, I would have been loud and close to violence, in words at least, against those “cheaters”, literally “killing” my favorite team in college basketball. Same with “crazy Muslims” killing Americans in a Pearl Harbor-like attack.

Well, after some 14 plus years of engaging intensely in national and international politics I find my interest declining. My life never really changed based on the outcomes of sports teams winning or losing. Now it seems that despite “pulling” for particular teams, politically, makes little difference as well. So why bother in any case becomes the question.

More important perhaps is my observation that both sports teams and political parties cannot be trusted with my loyalty as well. When I look at the details, pay close attention to the individual players on each team I become disenchanted, to say the least. I find the legal process to make sure everyone plays by the rules to be depressing to say the least as well, in both politics and sports.

Great Super Bowl for sure on Sunday night. Hard fought, the game in the balance on almost every play and a winner resulting at the end of the game. But how did each team get there was lurking in my mind.

Few if any worried that a former Patriot’s star, Hernandez, was on trial for a brutal murder and suspicions at least that he had committed others. No one yet knows how the air pressure in footballs went below the legal limit in another important game. The NFL as well insists that all players “talk to the media”, the Seahawks running back being of real interest to me. Well he “talked” for sure, but what he said was meaningless. Poor sportswriters I thought, unable to earn a living because a player doesn’t want to talk to them and have his words twisted around to make a fool out of him. Is that some constitutional “right” that a player must talk to the media, for the sake of the media??

In politics, both sides have been talking to the media far too much for some 14 plus years as well. They don’t talk to each other for sure. Instead they talk only to the media trying to win the next election. And look what the media does to them. As I noted in my intense frustration working in the Pentagon, and thus “with” the federal government, there was never a ninth inning in those games, a winner and loser chosen by a final outcome somehow. The game just went on and on with never a conclusion on even little issues, much less big ones affecting, maybe the “public safety or health”.

Here are two examples, ones you probably have never heard about. In the mid-1980’s, when the “Reagan buildup” in defense spending was topping out some “scientists” decided the size of the warhead in U.S. submarine torpedoes was not big enough to blow holes in a Soviet submarine hull, a “double hull” submarine if you will. My job was to counter that claim. Hai!!! The argument never ended and I doubt the warhead on today’s torpedoes is much bigger than it was in the 1980’s.

Second example is “how clean is clean” issues at Rocky Flats in terms of how low the levels of plutonium must become before anything is called “clean”. We never received a definitive answer as far as I knew, or know today. It seemed to become, “if you can detect plutonium, there is still too much left”. So go clean it again became the norm, no matter how expensive that effort might become. Today the former nuclear weapons manufacturing facility is considered a “green field”. Think I could go dig around there, or in your backyard and still find traces of plutonium, in the soil? You bet I could with the help of some technicians using “modern” detection devices. Opps???

Now fast forward to today. A former pro football player, a Hall of Famer who made $ Millions from 1995 to 2007 has once again been charged with crimes. In 2012 he filed for bankruptcy, owing some $6.7 Million in alimony and creditors bills. Who cares as he was a winner on the field?

See my blog above reacting to the book written by a true American hero, Chis Kyle, the most deadly sniper in American history it seems. I give him great credit based on his actions in combat. But what kind of man did he become became my question.

I have now seen the movie about Chris Kyle. It was like watching a political campaign clip. The movie showed all the good things about Kyle, but it left out huge segments contained in the book, all the trials and tribulations Kyle faced in his life and how he reacted to all of them, not just enemies on a battlefield, he called them “savages”.

Well, on the next to last play in the Super bowl, did anyone notice “savages” going after each other tooth and nail? Did that behavior in any way diminish the victory on that battle field of sports? It did in my mind at least.

Americans love winners and hate losers it seems. That is just in the American psychic it seems to me, at least for “red blooded Americans”. But when we look in the details of what it takes to win and still play by the “rules”, Americans become more and more divided, in politics. Basically each side in politics wants to keep changing the rules to gain advantage for their side. But what should anyone do in War and Peace, when the other side fails to follow the “rules”, I wonder.

At least domestically, most sane Americans say follow the law in America, at least until that law decides against one particular side. Internationally, the American debate is all about how best to fight against rule breakers, “savages” if you will. I wonder if pro football will now see “disinterested third parties”, refs, running around with air pressure gauges in hand next year? Maybe we need to put “disinterested third parties” in the field with cops to eliminate “unwarranted violence” by cops. Nope, not yet at least. We will just put cameras (audio and visual evidence) on each cop. Why not “camera up” every football player on the field as well comes to mind?? Next up, do the same with every soldier in battle or “on liberty” I suppose as well. Bar fights can be deadly I suppose so “how safe is safe” from violent behavior by heros?

Remember all the accusations of genocide during the Balkan Wars some 20 years ago. The International War Crimes tribunal now says that did not happen on either side. Are you kidding me, depending on how you define “war crimes”, I suppose.

Was Warren Sapp a hero on the football field, or Hernandez for that matter? Of course they were but is that enough? Same with Chris Kyle in my mind. But so what as well. You will have your opinion on each of those men and my view is just that, my view. So what, again?

Now we enter, already, the political campaign for the 2016 Presidential Election. OMG. There is no ninth inning, again, with probably Clinton and Bush going head to head, again. Can or will I make any difference in the outcome? No way for sure, just as I made zero difference in the outcome of the football game last Sunday.

Like Alfred E. Newman, I am at the point of “What, me worry” in both politics and sports today. I am now more inclined to just read good history books. My current recommendation is “The Story of the Jews”, a geopolitical history of the Jewish race, not their theology which can never be proven one way or the other, for sure. Here is a teaser in that book. Was the exodus of Jews from Egypt merely a myth passed down by oral traditions over half a millennia or a “fact” written in the Bible? Go check it out but I warn you no absolute truth is contained in that book. You will have to make up your own mind which most Americans say “That is not fair”!!!

AMERICAN SNIPER

January 26, 2015

AMERICAN SNIPER

I have now read the book under this title by Chris Kyle but have yet to see the Clint Eastwood movie. I offer my views of Kyle gleaned from reading his book however.

I have very little first-hand experience working with SEALS during my 23 year career in the Navy and certainly no experience working with them in real war. I had no combat experience whatsoever but was certainly trained for combat at sea at least. My only direct SEAL experience was in 1967 when I was serving as a junior officer on my first submarine. A SEAL team came through Charleston, SC, my homeport, and sought volunteers to take the physical test to enter SEAL training. I did so and passed the test but it was brutal to say the least. While I wanted to then volunteer, I could not do so as the Navy had already spent much time and money training me for a different path, nuclear submarines.

But I did take some SEALS to sea on submarines for training purposes as well and observed those men in such environments. That experience provides the limited background to make comments on Kyle’s book, along with much reading over the last few years of many other books about SEALS.

First, I offer my general opinion of SEALS, as a professional group. There are no braver men that I have ever read about or encountered, period in terms of the military profession. They also personify “mind over matter” to a greater degree that anyone, as a group, that I have ever observed or read about. Unbelievable courage personifies SEALs in my view and as a group I have the utmost respect for them, period. I know for sure I would NEVER have survived just BUDS training, much less been able to actually fight as SEALS have been doing for the last 14 or so years.

So clearly I began reading Kyle’s book with bias towards SEALS in general and thought I would read of another SEAL story, such as Lone Survivor, showing extraordinary, unbelievable courage and endurance under fire.

But that was not the case for Kyle as depicted in his book.

No doubt, all SEALS are in fact highly trained killers; the most highly trained men of that sort and should be just that, highly trained to kill the enemy in combat. Kyle certainly met that standard of excellence and I applaud him for doing so, maybe the best “trained killer” in that elite group. But that is not enough for me at least and I expect more from our men under arms even in war.

To me Kyle was also a thug. It seems to me that his only talent was killing and he resented any interference in carrying out that mission whatsoever. Unlike other SEALS that I have known, Kyle clearly resented officers in SEAL teams, in general. He called them “head sheds”.

I also have found that SEALS, as a group in public, are quiet and unassuming men, in bars, on base doing routine things, etc. If you want to find SEALS, look for relatively small men in great shape and keeping to themselves as a group, very quietly. SEALS are hard to pick out of a crowd on base or in bars, in my experience. For sure they never were in your face kind of men, men looking for a fight or reacting to drunken insults from others in a bar. They NEVER acted that way, in my experience.

But Kyle did all the time if you read his book. He disdained everyone except other SEALS and would fight to prove it to any and all men that challenged his “manhood” off the battlefield. He also strongly supported harassment of “new guys”, SEALS entering a team after surviving BUDS training. He enjoyed choking “news guys” until they were unconscious for example.

As another example, Kyle never wrote about any remorse from his actions in battle, none whatsoever. His first kill was an Iraqi woman that ultimately threw a stick of dynamite (or was it a grenade?) at nearby troops. He shot her which he should have done. But no remorse for having to do so? He continued to write throughout the book of no regret for what he did, ever, during four brutal wartime deployments. Killing was his goal and he went to extraordinary efforts to kill more and more, all the time. And as he said “I loved doing so”.

Stop and think for a moment. Is that the kind of men we want to fight American wars, men with no “humanity”, even in combat? Why do we have onerous Rules of Engagement (ROEs) for all men in combat today? It is a blunt tool, improperly used by “lawyers” to try to control men such as Kyle in my view.

It is also exactly why idiots such as Michael Moore, disdain anyone in the military. He thinks such men, all or most of them are just trained killers (or rapists) and nothing more. Boy do I disagree with that line of thinking and talking. Moore called snipers cowards because they killed while hidden as well. With that in mind I too was trained to killed “cowardly”, sinking a ship while I did all possible to remain undetected, before or after shooting, from a submarine!!!

Now consider this point, for you thinking readers. If you were the CO of a SEAL like Kyle, how would you have handled him, in combat or during training for combat, on duty and off duty as well? Part of military leadership is training your men so you can trust them to act properly when the shit hits the fan. Would you trust Kyle to be both a great soldier AND a human being on a battle field?

While they were not killers as such, I have served with men, seniors, peers and juniors alike, that were great in one area but failed as human beings in others. How any leader deals with such people is a challenge, for any leader. And that is ultimately where the responsibility lies, with leaders, not just lawyers writing more laws in air conditioned offices 5000 miles from a battle field.

Now apply that line of things to cops as well if you like!!

PUBLIC DEBATES RATHER THAN SPEECHES

January 17, 2015

POLITICAL DEBATES RATHER THAN SPEECHES

I watched the entirety of the press conference held yesterday with the British PM and President Obama and was deeply impressed. I would love to see more of such interactions between the press and government leaders. Actually, I would like to see better interactions between political leaders, publicly and one on one if you will and leave the press out of such exchanges, other than to report what was said.

First the event covered a very broad range of issues, very broad indeed. But later the words spoken by both leaders became more focused on “hot topics” like controlling extremists of the Islamic sort. Both men were on solid, intellectual grounds when they spoke. But for me at least the British PM was far better and much more concise in how he spoke about his ideas. I believe he achieved that ability to speak with real and convincing authority in public simply because of the differences in our political systems, parliamentary vs. the ability of any American President to remain aloof in public when ideas are developed, in public.

Once a week and for several centuries now, any British PM must stand before his opposition in parliament and defend himself against attacks and challenges from the opposition. Most of us have observed glimpses of such rough and tumble politics. Any PM is subjected to real, public heat to defend his policies on a routine basis. No American President is required by law and tradition to do so. The “bully pulpit” is where any and all Presidents speak only and not respond to serious debate, except maybe two or three times in a Presidential Campaign.

Speaking of pulpits; have you ever listened to a sermon and wanted to say out loud, “But…….”

Permit an example of what I would like to see in America, today. As required in the constitution, a President must deliver an annual address to Congress related to the State of the Union, the SOTU address. Just imagine instead if the President and the “Leader of the Opposition” went one on one in a rigorous debate in the public eye on just that topic, the “state of the nation”.

How many of us sometimes listen to one-sided political speeches and think, during the speech, of countless questions that you would like to ask. The closest we come to a really rigorous exchange was when a “back bencher” screamed, “You lie” during a SOTU address. That happens in parliament all the time it seems. Ideas are rigorously and intellectually tested in the public eye in Great Britain.

Just imagine a routine and public exchange between the Speaker of the House and the President, today, two leaders with very different ideas, going one on one, publicly to attempt to sway both members of Congress and the general public. I would much prefer such “speeches”, actually rigorous and instantaneous debate, on matters vital to the America interests.

If you are like me and tired of canned, teleprompter speeches, where no challenges are possible, then I believe we should institute a better way to exchange political ideas at the top levels of the political leadership, routinely, in American politics.

BUY LOW, SELL HIGH

December 18, 2014

BUY LOW, SELL HIGH

I enjoy reading Robert Reich’s columns in the Globe, They make me think, just a little bit, and try to rebut his views in my own mind at least. Today’s column, Thursday, December 18, 2014, was easy to do in his complaints about insider trading on Wall Street. He complained, a lot, but offered no solutions about how to really “regulate” it, enforce penalties for such trading.

Here is but one simple example, how insiders can make money, or at least save money. Say I am the manager of a clothing store, a big box clothing store such as our local Macys. We have Polo shirts priced at $100 per shirt and a large inventory of same. They are too expensive for most Joplin buyers and we bought too many to languish in our inventory. So I, alone, decide to put them on a “50% off” sale in a week.

For sure I will not place an ad saying in one week we will put the shirts on sale. I still want to make a big profit on each shirt, as long as I can. But I tell my wife not to buy those shirts for Xmas for grandkids. Just give them a gift certificate for $100 and in a week they can get two shirts instead. I suppose that is insider trading and thus illegal. Well who is going to enforce that regulation, against me, my wife or even my grandkids parents?

Another example if you will. I am a Vice President in a large public company. My job is to sell contracts to operate other facilities for prospective customers. Being a Vice President, I receive an annual bonus of stock options for that publicly traded company at a slightly discounted price, or maybe just current price on say December 31, 2014. Say I receive 1000 shares priced at say $45 per share that I can, if I choose to do so, buy. I pay some broker $45,000, plus commission maybe, to purchase all those shares in the expectation they will go up by 10% come early January, 2015. I pay $45K for 1000 shares and hope to sell them for $49,500 soon thereafter.

But you see I already know we have a bid in for a multi-million dollar contract and I have strong suspicions we will lose that bid. The market knows full well we are bidders in a position to make a large profit, IF we win the bid. Most investors will wait and see. But I have insider information and know we overpriced our bid and thus decline to exercise my options. I wait for a better day to do so. Now will you prosecute ME, for NOT exercising my stock option shares? Of course the reverse could happen as well. I had insider knowledge that caused me to exercise my stock option and thus could make a 10% profit by doing so.

Say I wrote a blog on such matters predicting various ups and downs of the stock market. Think I might do everything possible to get advanced information related to such ups and downs? What if “the janitor” told me something and I wrote about the information? Is that illegal?

What if the CEO and CFO made a very closely held decision to repurchase stocks for their company and told NO ONE of that decision. But the CFO’s secretary found out about it and told her husband, who told…., etc. Who do you prosecute?

Remember we live in an “information age” today. Recall as well how the Soviet Union did all they could to limit information to Russian citizens during the Cold War. They outlawed the transmission of such information and …….. They also lost the Cold War.

Stories of insider trading by fat cats outrages the “common man” in America. The worker in a factory has no idea how to get a quick gain on the stock market and thus stays out of the market, completely, as he believes they are all a bunch of crooks. Does he win or lose in the long run? I think he loses out, in the long run.

I was nothing more than a “worker” most of my professional life with no access to any insider knowledge any time, even when I was a Vice President of a large, public company trying to sell “contracts”. But over 35 years I made considerable money thru the stock market because I bought stocks for long term gains, not quick profits. From 1965 until about 1999 I was able to educate my kids in college, buy more expensive homes, etc. by “betting on the market” in the long term. Actually, my first wife “made” all that money as I was far too busy to be involved in the stock market. She bought “low”, held on to it through thick and thin and there was an education fund when the kids went to college and then some.

Was that “fair”?

So I suppose I would challenge Reich (again) to ask him how to absolutely prevent me from making money on the stock market. There are a couple of ways that immediately come to mind. Just ban trading stocks on a market of any sort for starters. Welcome to England around 1600 if you like. But then recall that America was first settled by Stock Companies, groups of investors funding the Mayflower, etc.

OK, here is another approach. Tax any and all “gains made in the market” at extraordinarily high levels, say 50%, 75%, even 90%. Goodby college fund for my kids as I would never have invested in the market because overall I would lose money in the long run due to high taxes.

How about limiting trades to certain levels, number of stocks bought or sold in a given period of time. No big trades allowed by anyone. Sure that will limit profits in the market and dry up the flow of capital as well. No more “Mayflowers” if you will.

What mechanism best “regulates the market” becomes the question? My view is market forces do so over the long term. If a fund manager sells “crap” and makes a quick kill, then people are outraged and no one will buy his stocks in the future. But what about the “little people” that bought “crap”.

Easy solution in my view and my first wife practiced it. Never bet on the market with funds you cannot afford to lose. Anyone that goes to Vegas and bets the house mortgage for a few months on the tables is crazy, in my view. Don’t gamble with needed funds is the key, in Vegas or the stock market. But if you do gamble with needed money, well don’t come crying to me, please.

Even in the Great Recession of 2008, a huge drop in the market, I did not lose the “farm”. I simply lost my RV, a nicety that I could no longer afford with a vanishing 401K plan. In about six short months my very modest 401K was cut in half. My only real regret is that I no longer had “excess funds” to buy a bunch of stocks when the DOW was down to about 600. Hell I could afford two RVs today had I done so.

But if bullfrogs had wings they would not bump their asses all the time, wishful thinking. I made my own “killing” to educate my kids by and large and if I have to “suffer” without an RV now, so be it. I don’t blame regulators or investors or hedge fund managers for that loss, either. And if I had been dumb enough to buy CDDs (or whatever they were called) and lost the “farm” well it would have been my own fault in doing so, buying something that I had no idea how it “worked”.

One more point, a complex one in my view. I don’t like “paper money” very much, accumulation of wealth based only on paper. I much prefer making profits through creating things of benefit to people. For a man to build a widget that becomes a world changing device, Steve Jobs and Apple computers for example, I give him credit for doing so and hope he makes a “ton” of wealth for doing so. Same with Gates, etc. I have a distant cousin that made a “ton” of money by simply working for MicroSoft as well. She became a Millionaire as a direct result of her job, a job that required intelligence, education and a “ton” of hard work, stress, pressure to perform, etc. Should “we” take her money away from her or a substantial portion of it? No way I say.

So why do we seem to have a vanishing middle class today? I put the blame on public education by and large. We no longer educate the vast majority of public school students to gain the knowledge, skills and work ethic to succeed in a modern, tooth and nail if you will, competitive world. Why not, I ask?

Fix that problem and just watch the market soar through the creation of more and more “widgets” to improve the quality of life for everyone, even the “no load” using a cell phone to sell drugs on the streets!!

Said another way, taking money away from Steve Jobs is not the solution. Creating more wealth for people that build the widgets for Jobs is the solution in my view. Without great public education we remain stuck in the mud, blaming Jobs for all our woes instead!!

OUR FUNDAMENTALS OF JUSTICE

December 8, 2014

OUR FUNDAMENTALS OF JUSTICE

Popular outrage over jury decisions in Ferguson and NYC are now rampant. Our system of justice stands accused of inequality by many now. However, other than putting cameras on all cops, I have yet to hear a reasoned response to how to make our system of justice more equal.

What exactly are the principles upon which our system of justice is based? The first that comes to mind is that every citizen is innocent of doing wrong until proven guilty of doing wrong, with wrong being violation of written laws. The law states ……… Here are the actions taken by people, the evidence if you will. Now make a judgment of whether or not someone did something wrong, illegal. Should we change that?

Next principle is WHO has the sole responsibility and thus the authority, imbedded in written law, to make that decision of right or wrong? In the vast majority of criminal cases that decision can ONLY be made by a JURY, a selected group of citizens. Popular opinion, media headlines or even reasoned articles, judges, lawyers, victims, etc., etc. cannot make such decisions, final decisions. Only juries are given that authority, period. Should we change that?

Next principle is what kind of people are allowed to be selected to sit as members of any jury. The simple answer is any honest law abiding citizen not only can but should be so selected. Lawyers, judges, cops, etc., etc. that are in any way associated with any case are not allowed to be members of a jury. Such people can advocate from one side or another before a jury, but they in no way can vote, as members of a jury, on the matter at hand. Just think about that again. ANY honest law abiding citizen can be nominated to sit on a jury. It is called the jury pool. Should we change that?

Well wait a minute. Does that mean literally ANY citizen CAN be nominated to be in a jury pool? What if they cannot read or write, have only an elementary school level of education, have never voted in their life, hold outrageous political, but not illegal, views, etc.? Can such people be nominated to be in a jury pool from which a final jury is selected? You bet they can. Should we change that selection process?

One final step in jury selection happens all the time however. Lawyers from both sides, prosecution and defense, can reject some members of the jury pool. There is a legal term for that selection process that I cannot spell, but I have experienced it, seen it up front and personally. Some obvious biases can be identified and such citizens excluded from becoming actual voting members of a jury.

I now pause at this point and make clear I have no idea how grand juries are selected. I assume only prosecutors select actual members of a grand jury from a jury pool of citizens. As opposed to a regular criminal trial where jury selection from a pool is a public event, grand jury selections are probably secret as well. Should that be changed?

Summarizing what I see as fundamental principles of our system of justice. JUDGMENT as to right or wrong in criminal matters can ONLY be made by a JURY, no one else, according to the law. HOW any jury reaches such a decision is NOT a matter of law however, other than the jury can only discuss and decide such matters in complete privacy with ZERO outside influence or argument before such a jury once the trial is concluded. The JURY and only the jury is allowed to debate and reach a conclusion, period. And how they achieve that goal, a final decision, is up to them, exclusively. If they want to simply draw straws they could do so, I suppose.

But in the end, the honesty and integrity of citizens is the basis for rendering judgments related to right or wrong on the part of other citizens. Should we change that?

Well, some may say, laws in some cases are very complex matters. How can such complex laws be reasonably applied by just normal (whatever that means) citizens? THAT becomes the responsibility of a judge, a learned (I hope) individual chosen to interpret the law for any jury. This is what the law says, Mr. and Ms. Members. Now YOU decide if a law was violated. But, we don’t understand Mr. Judge might be a response from a confused jury. Well let me explain it again to you, in laymen terms, says the judge. Back and forth they go, with only the judge such that all members claim an understanding of the law. If someone still is confused the only verdict is a hung jury in such cases, a jury that is unable to make a decision. And only jurors are allowed to make THAT decision, ultimately, for themselves, again with no help from outside the jury room from ANYONE. Should we change that?

Final principle of our system of justice in at least criminal matters. Someone, either “we the people” (the prosecutors) OR the defendant and his lawyers may not like, at all, a decision rendered by a jury. Well the prosecution is out of any recourse in most cases unless some egregious violation of laws associated with how evidence is presented, jury tampering or other illegal activity is shown. Defendants can always appeal such jury decisions based on their views of an illegal trial. But such matters are questions of how the law was applied, not judgments of right or wrong on the part of a defendant. It is the presentation of evidence, not the interpretation of the evidence presented that is “on trial” in any appeal.

Again JURIES are the ONLY people that can make those decisions of right or wrong based on THEIR interpretation of the evidence presented. No protest group or other advocates for either side can ever overturn such a jury decision related to interpretation of evidence presented. Should we change that?

And in a criminal matter NO SECOND juries get to weigh in with a different interpretation of evidence. No defendant can be tried twice for the same criminal offense if he is she is found Not Guilty in a criminal trial. Should we change that?

Having gone to some length to reflect my views on the fundamental principles of our system of justice in criminal jury trials, grand jury or otherwise, I now challenge anyone “upset” over the jury verdicts reached in the matters related to Ferguson or NYC of late. I am open to suggestions as to how to make our system of justice better in terms of equally applying the law to any and all citizens. There are things that we can do better in matters of allowing any citizen EQUAL protection under the law.

Two JURIES, not judges, lawyers, etc. made two separate decisions that the actions by two policemen did NOT rise to the level of an ILLEGAL act. Does any advocate for Brown or Garner want to challenge the judgment of either of those juries? I would love to hear the basis for such a challenge to honest and unbiased men and women, normal American citizens.

I am compelled to add a personal note to this blog. My wife is VERY upset because both grand juries decided to NOT judge the actions of two cops as illegal and thus requiring a trial by a criminal jury. I understand that concern and have no animus towards my wife’s views on the matter. She has every right to her opinion that “there are two dead men that should not be dead” and therefore “something” must be done to the cops or for the victims, the dead men.

I can only, and with no success for sure, point out to her that two juries decided otherwise. While she has every right to her opinion, she has NO authority to take legal action in a court of law to advocate for her opinion. Only juries have such authority to render such judgments, as stated repeatedly above. But all I get in return is “I don’t respect YOUR opinion because you are a biased white man and have no credibility in such matters”.

Well I don’t have any legal credibility for sure. And even if I might be biased in favor of the cops, so what as well? Again, ONLY A JURY can make those decisions, on my behalf. My only legal recourse is to accept the decisions made by citizens just like me, a normal American citizen under the eyes of the law.

MORE ABOUT RECOVERY FROM FERGUSON

November 28, 2014

MORE ABOUT RECOVERY FROM FERGUSON

My wife shares the same view about what happened in Ferguson as most liberals. Outrage over an unarmed teenager being killed by a cop is her focus. We must be careful discussing the issues together to avoid a real knock-down, drag out debate, call it a heated argument if you like. But such a stand-off has caused me to further consider my own views on all that has happened since August and how just my wife and I could find agreement on a path forward. I share such thoughts of my own, not her’s yet, herein.

The basic problem demonstrated in Ferguson is the deep distrust of our system of justice. Many feel it is far to biased. I can agree with such sentiments to a degree.

I have never had a tense confrontation with any police, military or civilian, foreign or domestic making no difference. My only interaction with police has been limited to traffic violations, speeding when younger, being probably the most egregious violations of the law on my part. I have never set foot in a jail, never been charged with anything and booked, never had to wait anxiously for some court date to see what would happen, etc.

Well of course you haven’t, Anson, most liberals would say, because you’re a privileged white man so no cop would ever target you. I agree with such a sentiment, unless I really screwed up and did something really wrong like theft, public assault, murder or suspicion of such, etc. So part of my lack of understanding of what happens with alleged criminals is that I actually have never crossed the line of criminal behavior. And yes, my education, the manner in which I was raised, etc. gave me incentive to not become a criminal. In that sense I am indeed privileged, unlike a black or brown man raised in a ghetto.

But I have recently considered how I would react if I was accosted by police about a serious matter, arrested, booked and placed in jail with serious criminal charges against me. What would I do next, considering that I knew the arrest was justified, deep in my soul? I knew I was guilty as charged but denied such charges as most people do.

I would be out of jail within 24 hours (murder being the exception perhaps). I would be able to post bond and would also be able to immediately hire a good lawyer to speak on my behalf. As I was led away in handcuffs to the police car (I have never been handcuffed, either) I would already be thinking about what next, which would NOT be sitting in a jail cell with no hope, no way to wiggle out of my predicament. A man that lacked my socio-economic wherewithal and even perhaps “standing” within the community would not come close to such opportunities or have much if any basis of hope for exonneration.

At the time of confrontation with the police I would already know the various protections afforded me in our system of justice but the poor, minority man may well have no confidence whatsoever in that system. He would be correct as well in that he may well be totally unknown within the community and perhaps already have a rap sheet. He also would lack money to post bond, get his own attorney, etc.

In other words, the first interaction with police would be one of deep fear over here we go again. I would be fearful as well, but not with the same sense of unfairness or previous experience on my part or almost anyone I had known before and seen mistreated by the system of justice, particularly cops.

My early training, education, adult experiences, etc. have always focused on law enforcement as “friends”, not enemies set to make my life miserable or the lives of my friends or family. In short I would almost instinctively trust the system.

Not so for my poor, minority counterpart. His instincts would immediately become visceral, fight or flight if you will, based on his own and very different experiences.

There is another point to be made as well. I have always feared police. Never have I not been concerned about being pulled over when driving down a highway, etc. knowing I was violating the speed limit. I used to carry a radar detector (I could afford one for starters) and paid attention to it to avoid being pulled over by cops. And when I passed one on the roadside I usually thought, well f……, when I saw him pull out to trail me and the lights came on!!

But when such happened I NEVER had an instinct to fight or flight. My early training and education told me to pull over, get my paperwork out and simply listen to what the cop said to me when he approached the car. I knew I had been caught and only hoped the cop would give me a break. But I never plead for a break either. I just did what I was directed to do. Call it my gut reaction if you will.

I would suggest any reader consider themselves in Brown’s position and ask yourselves what you would have done when the cop car pulled up beside you. You KNEW you had recently robbed (a petty robbery for sure) a store and mildly assaulted the store owner. What would you have done, instinctively?

Well go back a step or so. If I had recently robbed a store and pushed the owner around, I certainly would not be parading down the middle of a busy street. I would just quietly fade into the background, keep a low profile and smoke my cigars with my friend!! In other words I would do my best not to get caught. Brown failed to do that. Why?

Well, consider his background, his machoism if you will. Probably he had long been able to get his way because he was big and aggressive. He from long experience knew he could shout, threaten or fight his way out of social situations not to his liking. Machoism had paid off for him in his experience and that became his default response to being caught doing something wrong, in the “hood” so to speak.

As well he had been raised, perhaps to hate cops, distrust cops, protect himself against cops all the time, etc. Fight or flight was what he was taught early in his life. His association with other kids or even adults that had been mistreated by cops had told him fight or flight was the right thing to do around cops. And so he reacted in that manner, first fighting until shot, then attempting to flee and then, for reasons I don’t really understand, decided to return and fight again.

Would you the reader even consider acting that way around a cop? I cannot imagine a situation where my instincts would cause me to act that way. Maybe, just maybe, if I had really committed a major crime, rape or murder for example, I would decide, well f….. it, I would rather be dead than caught and arrested.

Summing it up, my instincts tell me to do as cops direct in any situation. I have never been in a situation where such would be wrong nor have I interacted with friends, co-workers, etc. that have been in such situations. Brown on the other hand had all sorts of different instruction and experiences and thus he decided, incorrectly for sure, to do what he did as evidenced by grand jury considerations, evidence if you will.

As the cop’s lawyers told Wilson, early on in the investigation, this was an easy case based on what happened. But politics would make it a very dangerous case for Wilson. And it certainly was, a dangerous case for a young cop doing what he was trained to do and acting within the law. Still is dangerous and uncertain for Wilson as well. How would you like to be in his shoes?

Had Brown simply stood still, dropped his box of cigars, said nothing until told to do something by the cop, and then did what he was directed to do, this whole tragedy would never have happened. But he didn’t and here we are today with a national tragedy on our hands and a dead teenager who acted like a hardened criminal thug, ready to flee or fight to avoid cops under any circumstances.

Ignore all the attempts to retry the evidence in this matter. Just for arguments sake, say the evidence is accurate and the grand jury did the correct thing to essentially exonerate the cops for any violation of laws. How do we establish a system in which people like Brown do not learn to hate cops, distrust cops and be willing, like me, to do what cops tell them to do.

All I have heard so far is to better train cops to not antagonize alleged criminals, big or small crimes. Cops are trained to take all the verbal abuse launched at them, never use force unless….., etc. Great restraint in any and all situations is very much a part of any cop’s training, as it should be. But one can only train so much, go so far to train cops to never ……..

The other side is NOT being educated, trained if you like, like I was so educated and trained. But that is a huge undertaking to better educate the underprivileged. What must be done, perhaps to create a better and fairer chance for the underprivileged once the cop shows up to begin an interaction.

Simply because of my socio-economic status and color of my skin, I KNOW the system offers me all sorts of protection, after being arrested. Underprivileged people have no such understanding. They simply KNOW (feel?) the system is rigged against them. And because of both socio-economic status and skin color it is so rigged, unintentionally in my view.

One way to relieve such unintentional bias in our system of justice is to ensure that defendants get the equal opportunity to be defended as I would experience. Every defendant should feel that he would be afforded an “OJ-like” defense or at least a defense equal to the resources provided to the prosecution.

We the people pay for prosecution. Why should we the people not pay for all defenses with an equal level of resources, training and experience of lawyers, a full defense investigation, etc.? If it costs the prosecution $5,000 to prosecute, why should the defendant not be afforded an equal amount of resources for his defense?

Don’t even think about asking me how to pay for such a system. Just consider if such a system would be fair and equal, after an arrest is made?

Said another way, high priced defense lawyers make our system very unfair for people that cannot afford high priced defense lawyers. We should debate how to fix that inherent unfairness in our system of justice, in my view.

THE JOB DESCRIPTION OF ANY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

November 25, 2014

THE JOB DESCRIPTION FOR ANY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

Such a job description for any Secretary of Defense in America is easy to write. Such a man or woman must serve strictly to serve the needs of the President of the United States in all matters related to achieving and defending the National Security interests of America, call them National Objectives if you prefer a different phrase.

Obviously any Secretary of Defense MUST serve only the President and that Secretary and President must be absolutely locked in step in understanding exactly what those National Security interests might be, day in and day out and for the long run as well, beyond the term of any single President or Secretary of Defense.

If I was asked to serve as such, become SECDEF, (Ha!!) I would first sit down for as long as it took for me to understand, deeply, exactly what the President wanted for his National Security needs or objectives. Depending on the views of the President I see at least two fundamentally difference views, on his part.

First…..

America cannot be or try to be the world’s policeman, regulating actions around the world by any and all groups of people, many with strongly opposing views. Instead it is our job to encourage the rule of law around the world and settle each and every dispute between groups of people, nations or transnational groups as the case may be, peacefully. The use of American force to achieve peace is not appropriate except in the most extreme circumstances. Such extreme circumstances, a call for the use of American military power must be debated completely in the Congress to allow all Americans to have a voice in such decisions, made by Congress, not the President alone.

As such Anson, I want a defense force to be almost entirely defensive in nature with only very moderate offensive capability. Yes we must still defend America, but not other regions of the world against opposing forces. In achieving such a goal, Anson, I would expect your to reform our force structure and limit that financial effort to about $XXX billion dollars per year for the next YYY years. I will give you support to get that amount of money and translate it into a strictly (almost) defensive force to protect and defend the American homeland.

On the other hand …..

The application of American power in all its elements, diplomatic, economic and with offensive combat power in the air and/or Space, on the land and seas is critical to preserving world order, the absence of armed conflict anywhere on earth. America MUST continue to engage around the world, not because we want to, but because only American ideals and the willingness to use any and all elements of power available to America alone and in alliance with other friends as well is critical to the world, world peace or some form of such ideals.

No single nation, no group of nations, no transnational entities however large must be able to challenge American military power IF I, the President, with the full support of Congress decide to use such military power. I as the President MUST HAVE such power available to me in matters ranging from nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction down to low intensity regional conflict regardless of the tactics used by our enemies. Deterrence of force against America anywhere in the world is my goal and I can only achieve deterrence if our power is unquestioned or my willingness to use such power as I and Congress see fit. I was elected for just that reason to become the President of the United States.

It is my job, Anson, to walk as softly as I see fit and use the full range of American options to do so. But you, Anson will be responsible to ME to ensure that I have the stick(s) I need to wield as I and Congress decide to wield them. Tell me how much money you need to do so, cut that request by 25% and I will do my best to give it to you, through actions in Congress. I fully recognize that the bureaucracy you will control will ALWAYS act like a bureaucracy and ask for extraordinary amounts of money to perform the task at hand. I will be the one to say NO to YOUR bureaucracy for overreaching!!

In one case, I would stand, say Aye, Aye Sir and accept the job. In the other case I would state my professional disagreement with the boss asking me to serve him and decline the offer, very privately and with no political fanfare or announcement of any sort. It would be just between the two of us, no horse holders allowed to comment.

Of course I believe President Obama would express the first “direction” above as his priorities. No wonder he has gone through now 3 different SecDefs in six years and may will have a very hard time finding someone other than a sycophant to serve for his last two years as SecDef. Now wonder as well that former good men serving as SecDef have left, feeling they did not a have a seat at the REAL table when military force was considered. However large or small such a table might be, SecDef MUST have a seat therein solely to support the President and offer advice how to achieve the broad goals set above by the President.

As well, if the President’s goals are as stated in the first case above, NO MAN OR WOMAN will be very successful facing the military bureaucracy, in uniform and in civilian dress as well unless or until the President himself convinces them of the correctness of HIS goals and his demand on SecDef to achieve them for the President himself.

A good SecDef will lead his own bureaucracy to support any President, with all his heart and soul and extraordinarily difficult decisions facing him all the time. But the President must lead the country, not the SecDef, and members of the military-industrial complex in all its various forms and facets are very much a part of America, needing Presidential leadership on big matters.


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