Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cars, Banks and Illinois Politics

It certainly hasn't taken long for the economy to tank. This house of cards we've created is tumbling down and it will bring many Americans to a new realization. The last time we did this to ourselves we created what Tom Brokaw has come to refer to as "the Greatest Generation." I wonder what kind of generation this fiscal crisis will create?

It strikes me as silly, the sound bites each news broadcast use, to try and explain why it is right or wrong to give the banking industry a $700 billion and the billions the auto industry is attempting to suck from the treasury. For the past 40 years the American car industry has continued down a path that is continually blazed by the Japanese. On top of the fact they have committed to building large trucks and SUV with miserable gas mileage they have legacy costs that cripple their ability to be cost efficient in their product development. They are also slow, terribly slow, in bringing new technology to the market. Perhaps that is as much our fault as theirs. As long as we buy those trucks and SUV what motivation do they have to change. It is only when oil tops $130.00 a barrel and $4.00 a gallon does the news and the consumer make a big noise about how terrible it is. So how do we address their failures, and the failures of their management? We offer a government bailout that will increase our national debt with uncertain benefit. This is not like the Chrysler bailout of the 80's, where management offered a clear path to improvement and paid back the loans in 1/2 the expected time.

Finally, as the latest of a continuing panorama of corruption unfolds in Illinois it is important to keep in mind this is the political training ground for our new President. I hope he is well insulated from this, but I won't be surprised to see his closest advisers go the way of Scooter Libby. The future offers a Cornucopia of scandal and government corruption with all the money we have doled out over the past couple of months. The only question is just exactly how long is its incubation?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

And Then There Was One

As we enter this new era I wonder how we will come together as a nation. With the Democrats now in contol of the House, the Senate and the Executive will they run to the extreme or will they learn to govern? As I look at the leadership I am not confident we will find a middle ground for the common good.

I think as we enter this period of transition it would be good to recall the farewell speech of Dwight D Eisenhower and consider its lasting relevance. The one thing... we as a nation, (that being a majority) still placed our faith in God when it was written so I am not sure how many of today's politicians would fit it within their views.

The key theme of this address is to remind our nation we live in a time different than that of our forefathers, there will be challenges we must face, but we must always remember they can only be resolved through mutual respect, open-minded discussion and moral strength, and there is no magic solution to solve our problems. Is that so vastly different than what we need today?

For those who may not have been around for the live presentation I quote it here.

"My fellow Americans:
Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.
This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation.
My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate postwar period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.
In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this preeminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches, and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology—global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle—with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all our current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research—these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: The need to maintain balance in and among national programs—balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped-for advantage—balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress: lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his ship, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system—ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we—you and I, and our government—must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war—as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years—I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So—in this my last good night to you as your President—I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I—my fellow citizens— need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the nation’s great goals.
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration:We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love"

I hope Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden remain true to themselves and remember they serve for the common good. I hope our nation supports their efforts toward that end, and lets them know when they go astray. Now, as in 1932, we are electing a President to save us from our excesses, hopefully they are up to the challenge.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama -- McCain Debate 2

My Friends...

I wonder if I am alone in believing this condescending term reflects the likely failure of the Republican candidate to connect with the average American. As I watched and listened I was struck by Senator McCain's inability to provide anything that approached legitimate options to move forward. While I am afraid of the big government approach Senator Obama will bring, he is able to articulate, and communicate with the average person. Clearly he is not, just as John Kennedy was not, an average person, but perhaps what this nation needs in this time is an inspirational leader, with the ability to share that vision. I don't think Senator McCain offers that option.

Unfortunately, with today's media and the talking head's nearly continuous move towards scandal in all reporting, I doubt any leader will be allowed to inspire the way FDR or Ronald Regan did. The opposing party will do all in its power to turn this approach into a negative.

Senator McCain's principle approach was he has worked across the aisle with the other party, but his attack on Senator Obama did not offer clear alternative options or how he would bring the Executive and Legislative branches closer together to work for solutions.

As the economy slides into recession or depression with failures of banking and investments I didn't see either speak to their failures in recognizing this and how proposals of the past now need to be reworked, rethougth, or withdrawn.

My Friends, I am torn...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Question of Experience

Over the past months I've listened to the candidates jab back and forth on the personal qualifications for themselves or lack thereof of the opposition. Of course they share one driving trait, a desire to become President and bask in the status that office bestows. What strikes me in these sales pitches is the absolute lack of intelligent/thoughtful dialogue with the American People.

Clearly the political machines of both the Democratic and Republican parties have come to the same conclusion. The "people" are sheep and need only to be feed the appropriate sound bites to herd them in the right direction. I would like to talk for a few moments about experience and the role it plays in our President.

I believe it has been only a recent device in the campaign rhetoric to focus on political or foreign policy experience. I think we've gone through over 200 years of electing Presidents where it was understood the value of the man (or to be liberally correct the person) is judged on everything else. George Washington, for example was revered by the population, and political leaders as almost a saint, and became the consensus 1st President. He had led the Continental Army through defeat after defeat yet managed to hold it together through his personal strength of character. This was the quality that lead to his selection, not political or foreign policy experience.

How about Abraham Lincoln? He failed in election campaign after election campaign, what about him spoke to experience of any kind? Yet today he is viewed as one of our great wartime Presidents, and the decisions he made regarding the preservation of the Nation and elimination of Slavery speak for themselves. I wonder what kind of nation we would be had he not been elected, or how better a nation we might have become if he had not been assassinated?

As far as I know there are but a handful of individuals who came into their first campaign for President with the ability to cite their "experience." They are, of course, those Vice Presidents who rose to office through the death of the incumbent and campaigned from the White House. As a whole how successful were they and how much did that on the job training provide? All in all I don't see them as vastly better or significantly worse than any of the others. Roosevelt and Truman stand out as shining examples of good people who did a good job. Johnson and Johnson would get mixed reviews in my book. Of course we all remember the great legacy of Arthur, Fillmore, Coolidge and Tyler don't we?

In a recent speech I heard Sarah Palin bolster John McCain with the line something like --Obama promises all the things he will do, John McCain can show all the things he has done. I have to admit voting for McCain comes with a mixed set of blessings for me, he is a Washington insider, and as such will be isolated and controlled by those Washington forces. Much like U.S. Grant during his terms. Obama, on the other hand makes grandiose promises, inspires the youth of our nation and perhaps can motivate change, but he is a product of the Chicago/Illinois political machine and I suspect at the end of the day will be as controllable as any long term Washington politician. The thing that sways me is I have a track record of McCain voting his conscience, and Obama voting the politically expedient choice.

We should not elect a President who will lead which ever way the polls indicate, we must elect a President who will make the hard choices and stand behind them. Judge the man based on the choices he has made, good, bad, and otherwise. Chose the one who will offer the best chance to unify and strengthen our country and no matter what else happens you can live with yourself.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Question of Self Importance

I haven't posted in a month, there are two reasons for this. First, I've been very busy, but more importantly I didn't have anything to say. This evening is a little different. As the 2008 Olympics begin in the background I need to get something off my chest.

I was in a meeting today, with a group of Air Force Colonels. We were discussing a way to overcome a problem the Air Force Special Operations Command is having. We all agreed to a course of action, with the usual caveats that as long as their personnel or their personnel positions were not taken they were all for the solution.

In the course of discussion one of the Colonels mentioned that a friend who would be retiring shortly was available to develop various options, as long as the work was "O-6, or Colonel level work." The clear statement was his friend did not see himself wasting time on a project he found at a level below his stature.

The more I consider this position the more I find to to be a sad testament to our commitment to improvement. The AF leadership seems to me more about status then rolling up their sleeves and doing the disciplined work it takes to affect change. It appears to be true from the lowest levels up to the Generals. I wonder if this was always the case?

Perhaps I take too personnally the future of Air Force Special Operations? It seems I've been associated most of my adult life and it was the failure of myself and my colleges that lead to the command we know today. I would hate to think when I do leave it won't be better than when it was created from the ashes of our failure.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Does Military Command Prepare You to be President?

Short answer, No!

In the military, the commanders must have great autonomy and lead a very, for the most part, homogeneous organization. Everyone knows the mission, everyone knows their role, and there is not a lot of dissenting opinions. It does teach you to make hard choices, but certainly is not in the same vain as that of a world leader.

Does being removed as the Commander in Chief of a Combatant Command prepare one to be a Babbling Head on the campaign trail. Apparently it does.

Monday, June 30, 2008

and justice for all?

As I watch the babbling heads offering their paid opinions of the NEWS channels I am struck by problem with justice today. No matter how hard a judge may try to remove his/her personal bias and render a fair and impartial judgement, one of these babbling heads with find issue with it to spend a few moments in front of the camera. We have always had rabble rousers, and shills pushing one agenda or another, now we do it on an instant basis 24/7/365. If you missed the call to arms the first time, wait 30 minutes or an hour and it will be back.

The judge must render the verdict and be subject to the review and scrutiny of not only the appellate courts but now of anyone with a camera and access to the media or Internet. While it must be true there are a large number of "liberal" judges pushing their proactive views of how the courts should be used in social engineering, I wonder if their numbers match the conservative estimates, or does it all really balance out in the end?

Wouldn't it be grand if we could somehow separate the judge from the politic, but since the two have been intertwined since the creation of the nation state I guess that would just be wishful thinking.

Monday, June 23, 2008

On the Role of Government, continued

"To promote the general welfare" What does this mean for today's society? How does a government promote the general welfare? These seem to me to be the core questions before us as a nation. The founding fathers were visionary individuals who clearly reflect the whole can be greater then the seperate parts. Each brought into the convention the experiences of the confederation of states, the desires of their state governments and their individual natures. Many feared a strong central government, but recognized the expansion of the nation to the west was inevitable and the government would need to to adapt to the changes they knew must be an outcome of that expansion.

I believe this paragraph would reflect the desire of the signers to indicate that a central government provide all the benefits possible. Strong interstate commerce, freedom for the states to function as they saw fit, a stable economy and a minimally invasive government regulating their lives.

"and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." This clearly links to the previous sentiment, in fact, the last two items summarize all that went before. The nation had just 10 years earlier secured the right to self government and was feeling its way to a form of union unknown before. This seems to be a prayer for this grand experiment to work.

So exactly what does this mean for all of us? It strikes me as a round about way to say the role of our government will be what we allow it to be. The central government must be a balance between the rights of the many and the rights of the one. Our represtatives must balance their personal desires against those of the constituancy. If we choose not to be a voice in the process, then the government will evolve into what those who wield power want and they will seek council with those of like views. We must participate, even when we are in a minority. We owe it to ourselves and our posterity to be true to ourselves, accept the views of those who disagree with us, and be respectful of the debate, for in debate comes compromise and with compromise comes effective government. As Thomas Paine noted "That government is best which governs least."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On the Role of Government

As the political season cranks up I've been thinking about the role of government. John Locke felt the role of government was based on the consent of the governed. I agree with him. Locke augured against the prevalent views of the establishment that proposed God created men to be governed by sovereigns chosen by God. This was taught in school in the simplified phase "Divine right of kings." The concept of Natural Law existed before Locke but serves as the basis for his beliefs in Natural Rights, or those rights due all peoples. It was within the frame work of this rational philosophy the founding fathers were educated and drew on for the context of our nation.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence clearly draws on John Locke's teaching to establish the separation of rights inherent to all, from those established for only the Monarchy.

If we agree with Locke, the government gains it legitimacy from our consent, then it seems reasonable to ask and understand what exactly the government will provide for that. This is the basis for all debate leading to our elections in on November 4th. As we become a nation of extremes, a nation of polarized individuals with little thought about anything other then their immediate needs, we put at risk the ability to provide a clear consent to be governed.

This brings me to the primary question, what is the role of Government? Our Constitution lays out five objectives for our government: "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty." The issue: can a larger, more centralized, more bureaucratic and distant government provide this?

In the course of our history I think we've been less then perfect in establishing justice. If we were Divine this might not be so, but we are not. As humans we will strive for and fall short, but we must always strive, move forward and work towards the ideal. The problem I am having is with this desire to rewrite our histories to reflect the political correctness so in vogue today. We have a system of laws, and a judiciary to enforce them. The question which keeps challenging me is how is justice determined? We like to think the tenant "all men are innocent until proven guilty" guides us as a constitutional requirement. It does not! It comes from our English forefathers, but it does form the basis for our legal system. Unfortunately the media, and most opinionated writers, in furtherance of their own agendas, seem to have forgotten this principle. We now subject all manner of individuals to public pillory without a thought of due process. Why is that? Gossip has always been a part of human nature, is the advent of global instant communication intended to magnify this trait, or is it the need to fill 24/7/365 worth of broadcast time the driver?

"Insure domestic tranquility," I think of this as the toughest challenge for a centralized government. Whose view dominates? Whose tranquility is most important? This goal is so closely tied to the perception of justice as to be almost inseparable. But what is domestic tranquility and how do we insure it? Each of us must come up with our own understanding, but how many of us spend a second considering? Is domestic tranquility found in a polygamist's compound, in a city free from protest, or in a town where the lively debate of its citizens are on-going and expected? I think as a nation, historically we've strive to allow this to be defined at the lowest level. If we grow our government to be a dominate all controlling central power, will this remain true? As we move into instantaneous global communication and judgement will this remain true? I can only wonder.

As a retired professional airman I believe only the central government can provide for the common defense of this nation. The military is one institution no one seems to question. Our Department of Defense does a commendable job of providing for that common defense. The biggest challenge we face is understanding what that next challenge to national survival is, and what is the legitimate cost of that common defense. The challenge facing us today is the same one President Dwight Eisenhower pointed out. "Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations." We have created an acquisition process where the tax payer can not be the winner. Our arms are bought at astronomical costs where as billions of dollars roll of the tongue and a band of corporate lawyers with a 43 cent stamp can delay combat capability for years.

I will continue this on the next post.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Instant Citizenship?

Today I read in Parade, a Sunday supplement, that Sens Russ Feingold, (D. Wis) and Amy Klobuchar, (D Minn), are working to allow voter registration on Election Day. Have we really become a nation where instant gratification is so important we are willing to sacrifice our nation to it?

Obviously I must be way old fashioned to believe we as citizens owe it to ourselves to come into an election with an expectation that those who vote will be informed and decide based on the issues. The unfortunate truth is the average American chooses not to be so, and gives up their rights by not voting. This has been reflected in the dwindling voter turn out. So now, the members of the majority party believe it is in the National interest to lower the expectation to a point where almost anyone willing to walk in off the street will be allowed to vote? Is this truly a move to empower the people, or just a move to keep the elected empowered?

If a citizen can't be bothered enough to spend 30 or so minutes a month or so before the election complying with today's registration requirements do we really want them making the emotional, random, uninformed, inappropriate, illiterate choice they are likely to make as they wander by a polling place and decide to drop in? Apparently the Democratic Representatives of Wisconsin and Minnesota believe they do.

As for me, I would rather the 24% of voters who care enough to be informed, and who can follow the published rules decide on the future of the United States, then having the 76% to can't be bothered until they see the news on the first Tuesday in November and realize it is election day controlling the election. Call me foolish, and perhaps it is because I am one of those 24%, but if you don't care enough about those who govern to give a damn 364 days a year, why should you get a say on those 8 hours the polls are open?

In a better world, we would return to the point where children understand they have a say in their future and look forward to voting, where adults take seriously their responsibility to leave a strong, relevant nation to their children and accept their responsibility in a republic, and our politicians don't make every decision based on what is best for them personality. Unfortunately we are not in a perfect world, but as an adult all I can hope for is to leave the nation in a stable condition. This proposed law is wrong, will not improve voter participation, and only serves to weaken us as a nation.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Full Circle

Have you ever thought that life is like a day? They both have a beginning and ending. They both start with the unfilled promise, move through the bright light of discovery and end with darkness.

Those of us who each day explore, look forward to the next one. If we don't we fear the night and what it brings. I think this is a good allegory of our lives. If we reach out to others, if we explore ourselves and our world, we don't fear the coming of night as it is only a transition to our next day. If we hide in ourselves, find blame in others, and fear failure we will cower from the night.

My best friends Mother-in-Law passed away this week, she lived a full and loving life, her passing was peaceful as she looked forward to the next day, wherever it may be. I hope we all can live in fulfillment of our destiny, looking forward to the next day.

"Many people know so little about what is beyond their short range of experience. They look within themselves - and find nothing! Therefore they conclude that there is nothing outside themselves either." Helen Keller

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I wonder how many of us take time to appreciate the natural world, and our place in it? This past week I was in New Mexico, spending the better part of each night on top of a mountain, evaluating some new technology. What struck me each night was the drive to and from the mountain top. One the way up we would come across Oryx, Elk, Antelope, and of course Jack Rabbits. At the top, I would watch a couple of Peregrine Falcons as they soared and dove on their pray. These all share one thing in common; adaptation to their environment. They thrive where humans choose not to live because of the harshness of the landscape.

Adaptation, what a strange concept for mankind. Our written histories talk of man's adaptation to the world around him. It talks to our attempt to understand the basis for that world. It seems ironic that as we gain a greater understanding we choose to change the environment, rather than adapt better. Alas, that seems to be the nature of man, to control and change the world around him.

Speaking of adaptation, this seems the perfect time for the evolutionists! Clearly as we contaminate the environment with our waste shouldn't we be evolving through natural selection to live in that environment? Shouldn't the citizens of LA be developing nasal filtration systems, or the citizens of sub-Saharan Africa be evolving to be able to store larger amounts of water for periods of draught?

It is all so confusing for me. Did Darwin ever identify how many generations it takes for a species to evolve?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

This is Memorial Weekend, so there are a lot of military movies on television, remembrances of past sacrifices, and salutes for today's service members. I am thankful for those friends I've served with, and those whose lives were cut short while serving. The thing I would like to remember was not one of my friends ever thought of themselves as a hero. Universally they were professionals, who were trained and skilled in their profession. Some were lost in action, some in training, but all died doing what they loved and worked to be good at. I miss them all, and it is only through God's grace that I was not among them.

I pray for their families, and know that God has taken them to a place of joy and celebration. Go in peace Hal Lewis, Rick Bakke, Lyn MacIntosh, Jim McMillan, Greg Peppers, Jack Felton, Jim Kirk, and Norm Martel.

"Bad things are not the worst things that can happen to us. Nothing is the worst thing that can happen to us!" From Richard Bach, author, pilot, philosopher

For todays Airman, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines I hope your lives are full, lived with love for your families, your friends and your Nation, and you stay safe while serving as an instrument of national foreign policy.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I know it has been said many times, golf is a game of integrity. Unlike other sports where referees, umpires, judges, or some other independent agent calls any infraction, in golf you are left to your honor to keep an honest account of your effort. I wonder if golf will survive, in the future world where celebrity and denial of personal responsibility emerge as predominate characteristics?

I hope it does.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Time in a bottle.

I was reading an entry the other day. It was from a teacher complaining about how teen pregnancy and hard drug use was on the rise. She went on to quote another writer to show how liberals are more compassionate and caring then are their conservative counter-parts.

What I found most intriguing about this was the complete lack of cause and effect correlation between the issues she was so distressed by and the liberal influence on those issues. There was an acceptance that our society is in crisis, but no thought the causes could be found in the liberal approach that encourages the entertainment industry to show dysfunctional family relationships, wanton violence, and anti-social behavior as an approved model for our youth.

As long as the entertainment industry can make a buck selling us products that push the limit of good taste we will continually be pushing the boundary on what is good taste. Unfortunately it isn't the media's fault. We buy into this and spend our $ on it. We each bear a part of the total responsibility. Each time a parent allows their kids into the violence, or spends their dollars on rentals, tickets or buying these movies we encourage another movie that goes just one step farther.

As a parent I approached my job with this simple understanding of my role and my child's role. It was my job to set boundaries that kept my kids safe. I had to allow them room to grow but keep them from growing too fast or taking too many risks. My son and daughter's job was to grow into a responsible adult. They could only do this if they continuously pushed against my boundaries and exerted their individuality as they fit within the societies expectations. My challenge was to know when the boundaries could or should be expanded, and to know when their challenge to my boundaries exceeded what society would accept and therefore should result in discipline. I am always amazed by parents who never grasp this dynamic.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Nation Divided?

As this apparently never ending election season drags on is it only me who wonders what we come out with at the back side? In the years I've been around I've come to a couple of hard conclusions. The first, since the narrow election of John F. Kennedy, the Presidential election has been more about style then substance. Neither party offers any real or fundamental changes. The Democrats are now the Liberal Democrats and offer the nation a chance for bigger government and more excuses for a lack of personal responsibility. The Republicans are now the Religious Right Republicans and offer promises of no change, and smaller government. Regardless of the promises both seem only to deliver larger government and government interference.

The second, and most important, observation is that if we want the government to seriously change it can only happen if we are willing to shake up the Congress. The Congress is the source of the good and bad. When Congressmen stay in office too long they move from our Representatives to our leaders. Unfortunately, at that time they begin to think they know better then us what we need.

The last serious change to the Congress came in the mid-90's when the Republicans under Gingrich took the House. Since then it has been a gradual erosion back to the Democratic party. Mostly because of the Republican arrogance when they had both the Congress and Executive Branch.

Until we shake up the establishment, and send the old time long established congressmen and women home and replace them with fresh new ideas we are going to be stuck. The problem is the deck is stacked against ground swell ever happening since reelection of a Representative or senator is almost an automatic, unless they do something really wrong like molest young pages, or pick up men in restrooms. Even picking up men in restrooms isn't sure to lead to their departure.
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