Sunday, July 31, 2016

Myths and Legends, (Part 1)

At the turn of the 19th century an ambitious New York politician was nominated as the Vice President for the Republican Party.  His party won the election and he assumed his role as Vice President on the fourth of March, 1901.  He was just 42 years old.  The following September, when the President died from an assassin’s bullet, he became the 26th, and youngest, President of the United States.  What is lost on most Republicans today is the progressive and populist spirit he brought to the office.
His “square deal” focused on providing the common man with new benefits, increased government regulation of the food and drug industries, and destroying the monopolies that had grown during the industrial revolution and the expansion of the interstate transportation system of the day.
Recognizing the need to protect the land from the greed of the developers he established a system of National Parks where the pristine beauty of the land could be preserved.
A longtime proponent of the US involvement in foreign affairs he sent the US Navy on a trip around the world, without the funding to make it.  The “great white fleet,” as it came to be known, did not have congressionally approved funding for the trip, but the President knew that once they were on the way the Congress would have little choice but provide the funding.
He earned the Nobel Peace prize for his work in bringing the Russo-Japanese war to an end.
So let’s review the facts:  The president set out his vision on what would make life better for the individual, he created the “bully pulpit” to fight the corporations, he took unilateral action when the Congress was slow to act, and advanced our role in international affairs over the objections of an isolationist majority.
By most accounts Theodore Roosevelt is recognized as a “Great” President, with his face permanently displayed on Mount Rushmore.  I wonder how most modern Republicans would view him today?  Although a fiscal conservative, he was a social progressive (including support for eugenics), and an advocate for global involvement.  Would he still find a home in the Republican party?  He didn’t fit in well then, and I am guessing he wouldn’t fit at all now.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Need for Experience to Be President

One of the principle Democratic Party talking points this election season will be how Ms. Clinton has experience in government and her opponent, Mr. Trump, does not.  That, she will say, “will make all the difference in maintaining our position in the world.”

I wonder is that true?  How much experience did President Obama have before he rocketed to the office of President?  Do his supporters believe his lack of hands-on experience made him less effective in achieving his party’s goals?

I will grant it is a dangerous world, but then again it is always a dangerous world.  It was so in 1789, 1860, 1932, 1952, 1960 and 1980 just to pick a few relevant years.  In each of these years someone who had no experience being President rose up to lead the nation.  In fact, what job prepares you to be a great President?  Is it being a governor?  If that is the case then we have Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter as examples of the good and bad.  Of the 44 Presidents 10 were governors at one time before their election.

How about a life long history of public service?  George H.W. Bush had that, how did he do?  Is being a Secretary of State a good indicator of competence?  There were three Secretaries of State who moved up to the job of President.  Unfortunately, the last one was James Madison, so who knows if that helps out in a modern world full of sophisticated things like private servers and blackberries.

Military leaderships seems to be a good quality…but the last war hero was Dwight D. Eisenhower, and this protracted conflict we are in does not seem to be growing a lot of household names.  True… there are a few who’ve been profiled in Rolling Stone, but that hasn’t seemed to work out well for them.

There does seem to be one obvious truth, no one in the history of the US has walked in off the street without some experience in political/government life to become the President.

We elect our Presidents based more on emotion than reason.  How they will do once they have to get to work in the Oval Office is hardly, if ever, really thought through.  The only thing we have to base our choice on is the history they have shown, and the words they speak.  Do the two align?

In this election neither candidate has a great track record of saying and doing the same thing.  One is a billionaire, reality TV star, real estate tycoon, and the other a millionaire, secretive, inner circle lawyer/bureaucrat.  One has left a wake of disgruntled politicians behind, the other has left throngs of disgruntled social justice idealists behind.  On the one hand we have an outsider promising to change government, on the other a political insider also promising that change.  Who do you believe?

So we come back to the question does experience in government service matter?  Obviously the answer to that question must come from each voter.  If you like the way government is operated, then yes it does.  If not, then no it doesn’t.  In the final analysis, the job either candidate will fulfill will be unlike anything either of them has ever done in their life.  This 2008 campaign ad sums it up nicely.  In the case of Ms. Clinton we know how poorly she handled it.  As to Mr. Trump, all we have is a guess about how he will do.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Thoughts Formed on My Drive From Texas.

For the past two weeks and three days I’ve been on vacation. I’ve visited my daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, I’ve had a chance to visit my sisters, brother, and brother-in-law, and finally to stay with a very old (as in longtime) friend and his wife in Texas.  It has been a wonderful couple of weeks; during which I’ve paid scant attention to the political posturing of either the Republicans or the Democrats.  From what I have seen it appears I missed little or nothing of substance.

Yesterday, on the drive home from Glen Rose, Texas I did happen to catch some comments from Ms. Pelosi, (D-CA) who was apparently talking with someone on PBS about the problem Ms. Clinton will have with “non-college educated white males” who, she believes, historically vote against their economic self-interest because of the 3 Gs (Guns, Gays and God).  She went on to clarify that a belief in God really meant opposition to a woman’s right to choose abortion as the preferred solution to an unwanted pregnancy.  I had about eight hours of driving to think about this interview, and here is what I came away with.

I would like to offer just a couple of thoughts on this obviously elitist view of a senior Democratic Party politician.

First, the idea only the government can provide economic benefits to an individual is one of the central themes of any party wishing to move toward a totalitarian government where control of the population is derived from the government’s decision on who can work, and what wages they will receive.  We see this in all totalitarian regimes regardless of economic basis.  Dictators, Czars, Commissars, or Presidents for Life, facist, socialist or communist, it doesn’t matter.  Control of individual income allows the government to control the political debate, and encourage the dependency of the individual to the central administration. 

Consider, for a moment, the current state of affairs in Venezuela where after Victor Chavez’s move to socialism, the dependence on oil exports, and spending on social programs far in excess of income from the state owned businesses the economy has collapsed.  For most citizens this is a time of increasingly severe economic hardship, but somehow the political leadership seems to be increasingly wealthy as they skim their take from the oil exports.  The shelves may be empty for the average working man or woman, but not for the elites.  How is this different from the capitalist system and graft at the top of the government it was supposed to fix?

So my question is, at the end of the day is there any difference between crony capitalism or crony socialism for the average citizen?  Ms. Pelosi’s position is a strong central government controlling the livelihoods for the average person is best, and if the leaders of that strong central government can shake a few dollars of compensation for themselves, or a few perks like free flights home courtesy of the taxpayers it is a small price to pay for the benefits the average man or woman receive.

Now I’d like to talk about the 3 Gs Ms. Pelosi referred to.

Guns… The Democratic Party has long made gun control a central plank in their platform.  Pulling out all the celebrities and social media engineers they can find to vilify the NRA, semi-automatic rifles, and even handguns, they have convinced a large number of Americans the protections of the second amendment are no longer relevant (a position supported by a large number of jurists, including a majority of the US Supreme Court justices).  The approach they take is to appeal to the emotions that arise from the illegal use of a firearm to kill and maim the innocent.  The question they seem unable to answer is how do they propose solving the problems that stem from the already illegal use and ownership of guns?  If they believe in confiscation of all firearms, then why not just propose the abandonment of the second amendment?  I know, I know, that would be a tough sell and why would we ever expect any political power, or its spokes-people to be honest with the average citizen?  Hmmmm, but it does seem to tie in nicely with her belief that a strong central government should control the economic well-being of the average citizen, and confiscation would certainly limit armed rebellion.

Gays.  I didn’t know that it was only non-college educated white men who had an issue with the LGBT movement.  I learn new things every day and I guess this was my learning opportunity yesterday.  I seem to recall only a few of years ago Ms. Clinton and President Obama both voiced their concerns with the movement, but apparently there was a memo out about the political voting block they represented so any previous moral objections have been overcome.  It must be that only non-college educated white men find value in maintaining a consistent position on their beliefs.  For the record I’d like to know who speaks for all these men?  Because to be honest most of the men I talk with really don’t give a damn what two consenting adults do, they just don’t want it thrown in their face day in and day out as is the current fashion.

And finally we come to God.  I found it incredible that someone who claimed to be a practicing Catholic just a couple of years ago would finally come out and admit that a belief in God meant you opposed abortion.  If that is true, then it must correlate that if you support abortion you deny God.  I wonder if all the Christian feminists of my generation got that memo?  I know a number of people who have said they believe in a just and righteous God, but have also said they believe a woman has a right to choose to end the life of a developing fetus.  While I choose not to challenge their beliefs, in either the pro-abortion movement or religious faith, it appears that Ms. Pelosi believes the two are incompatible.  Hopefully the DNC will be issuing a memo on this so the party faithful can get in line.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I Disagree

Dilbert’s creator, Scott Adams, has a blog.  Unremarkably it is called Scott Adams' Blog, where he has been writing about this year’s political campaigns and his theories of persuasion.  In the piece “The FBI, Credibility, and Government,” he opines that Mr. James Comey, Director of the FBI, is a hero because he chose not to recommend prosecution of Ms. Clinton and throw a monkey wrench into the political system, perhaps tilting the democratic nomination to Mr. Sanders and the election to Mr. Trump.  He believes the elective process is necessary to provide credibility, which he says is the principle mission of the government.  Sorry, but I have to disagree.  Not so much about the need for credibility by the government, but on the potential impact an indictment would have to the elective process as a means of establishing the President-elect’s credibility.
This election, perhaps more so than all other elections, will result in less faith in the political credibility of our government based simply on the polarizing extremes of the two main parties.
But first I’d like to write a single paragraph to explain my difference with Mr. Adam about the principle need of any government.  While credibility is nice, credibility is the expectation the government will do what it says it will do.  For a government to continue it needs legitimacy.  Legitimacy, as the founding fathers point out, can only come from the belief of the people the government serves the purpose for which it was formed.  For us that legitimacy is codified in the Constitution.  For the government to maintain its legitimacy in the eyes of the majority it must “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.” What our government has actively done since 2006 is undermine the citizen's belief that our government cares about justice, works to maintain a balance between personal rights and communal demands (to maintain domestic tranquility), and provide for an effective common defense.  The government, under this administration has seemed to work harder than previous administrations to undermine confidence in the political leadership. 
My personal belief is that the President has no vision, but reacts to the events of the day as if he were still a community organizer running to be the Senator from Illinois, but he is not the issue on the table.  We are talking about the upcoming election and whether or not as Mr. Adam’s believes it will provide credibility to the government.
If Ms. Clinton’s opponent were a visionary, a candidate with a sense of history, an individual who could make people believe in the future of the nation, and could serve as a unifying force then perhaps Mr. Adams would have a point.  But the presumptive opponent is Mr. Trump, a man best known for his entrepreneurial deal making; buildings, golf courses, and casinos that bear his name; a failed for-profit university scheme; and a reality game show that highlights the Trump enterprises while allowing him to sit in judgement of contestants.  His greatest appeal?  He is not one of THEM – a career politician who lives off the power inside the Washington DC beltway.  He says what he thinks, or he says what he wants (I’m not convinced thinking is always involved), unfiltered by the political spin doctors that sit on the shoulder (think of Jiminy Cricket) of career politicians like Ms. Clinton.
Allowing Ms. Clinton to run, unencumbered by a pending criminal trial, will not remove the stigma of the FBI investigation.  Her followers care little of the findings and I believe they would not be terribly deterred with a pending criminal finding.  The Obama administration would have to choose one of two courses of action.  To fast-track the trial, and perhaps based on the urgency, seek an emergency hearing by SCOTUS.  With the current SCOTUS composition that would seem the ideal scenario, but even if they did do that, how much confidence would the critics have that the political organization the DOJ has become would put their full effort beyond anything but a shame trial they would work to lose.  Then again, Ms. Clinton’s law team would have a vote, and I am guessing they would slow-roll the trial until well after the election, hoping once she was President-elect they could kill the indictment all together through a Presidential pardon.  In either scenario the people for, and the people against, Ms. Clinton are all pretty much decided.  Her success or failure in a general election will not improve this countries divisions or instill an improved belief in the legitimacy of the government. 
Those who support her will still argue for the President’s narratives: America is racist, radical Islamic terror is not evil, we are killing each other because we have guns, whites killing blacks are racists, but blacks killing police is too complex an issue to understand, and finally, we need more welfare and higher minimum wages to help those poor Americans and illegal immigrants who can’t find work because of the evil 1% who have all the wealth.
I believe those who support Mr. Trump will still rant and rave about the foolishness of those “Liberal Democrats.” They will fight against any gun legislation, they will seek to limit spending on welfare, they will unsuccessfully challenge most of the Democratic half-truth narratives and we will ultimately run out of money for social security.  But if Mr. Trump is elected he will follow the consolidation of power within the executive branch and use those offices in much the same was as President Obama and his cabinet secretaries have.  In fact, since the precedent has been set by the current administration he will be able to further open the envelop beyond what Mr. Obama has done, just as President Obama expanded on what President Bush had done during his terms. 
At the end of the day we will have just as much debt, fewer individual freedoms, and a more powerful central government that is despised and vilified by a significant segment of the nation.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Global Warming

Ya know nothing says "I'm really concerned for the environment, and the global warming caused by the use of carbon based fuels," quite like taking you and your staff on a 747 to Spain where you are met by your security element who flew over on a couple of C-17's to carry your helicopters and motorcars.

Friday, July 8, 2016

What Does War Look Like?

Today, July 8th 2016, we wake to the news from Dallas.  Snipers have executed at least four five officers and wounded at least seven others.  In the days prior to last night’s shootings we learned of the events in Louisiana, and Minnesota where two black men were shot and killed by the police.  In all three cases the outside interests have rallied their social forces and condemned the events prior to a full investigation.  But then again we no longer need full investigations do we?  As we’ve seen in recent days some people are above the law. 
  Take a moment and consider this question, what does war look like?  I think it looks like today!

We could talk in the abstract and say there were similar events in Boston when the colonists chaffed and fought against the British Army prior to the revolution.  We can speculate that in the opening days of our Civil War we saw similar violence as the Southern separatists and the Union authorities clashed, but we don’t need to do that.  We can look at the Israeli/Palestine conflicts of our day and see where we are headed.

     This, is what war looks like.  Innocents placed in the line of fire, authorities attacked without provocation, the authority of the government challenged at every turn.

What has separated us from the other nations was our faith in some abstract concept known as the “Rule of Law.”  The idea that no one, not even the President, was above the law and those laws would be applied fairly and universally to all our citizens.  For the black and minority communities that myth was dispelled a long time ago, for the rest of us it is dissolving before our eyes.

When we look to the prisons and see the huge disparity between black and white inmates, when we look to the major cities and see the minority crime rates and violence, when we look to our politicians and see the unprosecuted corruption, when we tolerate terrorism because it suits our political agenda, and when we look to the way we crucify some to appease others we all know the law is not fair and evenly applied.  As I watch the media -- I find myself standing in the square, looking up to Pontius Pilot, listening to the crowd call for the release of Barabbas.

So this is what war looks like as it starts here at home.

Could we have prevented it?  Yes of course we could have, but long ago we sacrificed our civility and the opportunity to shape the society.  We’ve encouraged violence in our youth, we’ve created an entertainment industry filled with the glory of violence. We have pitted ourselves against others in a life-or-death struggle for the political power of the nation.  We have armed our police with all the weapons of the military, and we have created a mindset within many departments that they are the centurions of the state and must protect the state, not the individual.

Finally, too many of us believe our political party of choice is never wrong and the opposition is to be reviled as stupid, ignorant, racist, bigots who care more about themselves than the common good.

Can we stop it?  That is, to use an old cliché, the 64 thousand dollar question.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Law
There is much consternation among my friends and former colleagues in the Air Force.  We cannot fathom how the investigation into Ms. Clinton’s private e-mail system does not rise to the level of prosecution.  We who have had TS/SCI level clearances know the penalties for mishandling the most sensitive of our governments secrets.  Many of us are acquainted with people who’ve lost their clearances and faced both discipline and criminal prosecution for violations far less egregious than that of Ms. Clinton.  She, and her personal assistants, purposely set out to circumvent the freedom of information act and its unwanted requests for information by not using the government system. 

On the other side Ms. Clinton’s supporters remain convinced she is a fearless advocate, a truthful individual, and a superb human being who embodies their ideals for the future.  A strong woman who made a minor mistake and the FBI found the only reasonable answer for such an embarrassing oversight on Ms. Clinton and her personal staff’s part. 

Fundamentally we are again talking past each other.  We in the 2% who have served to defend the nation, have a code that is becoming more abstract from the morality of the other 97% who occupy this country, and the 1% who run it. 

As we have seen with this Administration, everything is secondary to its political agenda, and the leadership will wield the entire force of government to support that goal.  It doesn’t matter if it is on climate change and the administrations push to criminalize the opposition, the deflection of the discussion of radical Islamic terrorism to an anti-gun message, the targeting of the Tea Party by the IRS, support for the BLM movement against the police, or the push for total acceptance of the LGBT life.  This administration has actively pursued the centralization of power into the hands of the President.  Those who agree with the Administration, and there are many, believe that a “right thinking” administration with unlimited power will protect America and better fix the all the problems.  To do this they will willingly sacrifice their personal freedoms.

What this FBI investigation, findings, and recommendation did was undermine the very thing this country was based on, the idea we are all equal in the eyes of the law.  There will be those who say Mr. Comey’s report undercut the claims Ms. Clinton has made about being the more responsible candidate, but it will now become the job of the DNC and RNC to put the “proper” spin on the facts.  Is that how the law is supposed to work now?

I am afraid for the average middle-class white American the trust in the fairness of the legal system will now begin to sink to the levels of the minority communities who have long-standing reason not to trust it.  At the end of the day, it will undermine every judicial decision on prosecution and may in fact be the event our historians point to that began the movement away from our current constitution to whatever will follow.  As a friend pointed out the SCOTUS decision in United States v Richard Nixon showed no one, not even the President, is above the law.  What the FBI investigation reconfirms is the inequality in application of the law by our federal law enforcement agencies is real and increasing. (updated for minor edits)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Lost and Found

I assume from the beginning of time and space there must have been things lost and at the same time things found.  Leading me to this theory.  The universe is a really big mall, even bigger than the Mall of America, King of Prussia Mall, or for super-size "the New South China Mall.As such, it must have a lost and found booth.  I wonder what we would find in it?
Let’s start with privacy.  When the universe was, as modern science tells us, a single dense point it had all the universe to itself.  BANG there goes the neighborhood.  Now there are all kinds of galaxies, black holes, stars and planets cluttering up the place.  Whoever is in charge has done a poor job of setting up the zoning codes to keep things orderly.  My county commissioners have chosen to follow this universal model of zoning oversight so we have multi-million dollar homes located conveniently next to $50,000 construction marvels.  Kind of like in Brazil where the rich live within the walls of their property while the poor live on the other side of the wall in cardboard boxes.
Understanding.  Again in the beginning we understood we didn’t know everything and perhaps there was a higher power or guiding force for our lives, our planet, or star system, and our universe.  What should we place our faith for a future in?  What should we do to establish order and harmony within our society?  Along came someone who said he understood and brought down the word from above.  This gave the people new understandings.  It also created classes, jealousy and envy.  Eventually a new guy (or gal) would find some new understanding and bring down new tablets.  Sometimes the people in charge would claim divine guidance and next thing you know there is are a bunch of pyramids laying around.  So here we are today where everyone has their own, customized and unique, understanding and everyone else is full of bull feathers.  Come to think, I wonder if understanding was really lost or just never existed.
Humility.  Until “Star Trek” taught us we were not quite as good as the Vulcans, but far better than the Romulans and Klingons we were a humble people, one small spec in the cosmos.  We mostly kept our opinions to ourselves and engaged in gossip and backstabbing on a local level.  Now that we’ve lost that humility we engage in a global and perhaps galactic level of pontification.  We all know more than everyone else, just ask me!
Insight.  An ancient philosophizer once said “There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading.  The few who learn by observation.  The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”  We have cultivated a society where few people seem to understand what they read, fewer still observe the universe around them, and the majority really don’t even learn after they pee.  We accept the pabulum from our preferred media as if every grain of it is either completely true.  By the way, I will say I’ve only peed on electric fences I thought were turned off.  Usually I was right.
Well the sprinklers are done and I can go clean up the yard so this is enough thinking for today.  I hope both of you who will read this far have a great day.

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Few Random Thoughts on Education

I often start these posts with a question, for I seem to have far more questions than I have answers, but this time is different.  I don’t have any more answers, but I do have some solid opinions on our educational systems and the desire to share them for what that is worth.

First, I wish we would stop comparing our test scores with Finland, Norway, or Japan.  We are not those countries, and our students are not their students.  For the most part, these are countries with a single predominate ethnicity where all the families, all the teachers, and all the administrators share a common expectation.  We are a multi-cultural society that is striving each day to accommodate the wants, desires, and choices of a plethora of races, religions, and social beliefs.  We will never achieve the standards they set because of the educational choices we make.  Besides, Japan has a much higher suicide rate among students that don’t meet expectations, do we really want that?  At the end of the day it has nothing to do with how much or little we pay our teachers, or how many hours a week and weeks in a year we send our kids to school.  The belief we can be number one is both delusional and unnecessary.  According to Aristotle, the purpose of education is to prepare the young to support the state.  The question we should ask is are the children being prepared to meet the needs of America?  To meet the needs of America do we need debt ridden college graduates fixing our sinks, building our roads, raising our skyscrapers, or building our homes?  No.  What about the future mandates college? Nothing!

Next is the issue of centralization versus local control.  As the federal and state governments control the funding for education they exert greater and greater control of the curriculum.  Setting demands and expectations that are based on studies, formulas, and personal experiences of the people writing the rules.  I’ve observed that most of these rule making efforts are based on the issues and needs of urban school systems where the political and educational experts seem to reside.  How well these translate to rural areas is at best questionable.  Each rule, each demand, each expectation takes away from the local teacher and administrator's ability to customize the curriculum to suit the community.  Years ago schools could start and end based on the growing seasons, so the kids could help on the family farm.  Not that we should still be doing that, but there are times when some district might benefit by starting later or ending earlier, but again federal funding demands a certain number of days or they lose their funding.

Training or education.  When I was a Captain in the USAF, I trained young officers on the art of aerial navigation, or how to operate the systems on the aircraft to successfully complete the mission requirements for the aircraft they would fly.  We taught them basic dead reckoning, celestial navigation, low level navigation, and global navigation using pressure and GRID.  This was training – we didn’t expect them to develop new theories, to think independently, or to translate one technique into a new method.  We wanted them to know how to efficiently and effectively use the tools we provided.  Education, on the other hand, strives to provide the basic tools so people can solve complex problems and understand complex relationships.  Both forms of learning are absolutely critical, but our educational experts seem to have forgotten that.  Drivers Education is life critical training, just as are Home Economics and Auto Shop.  The study of humanities is, in my opinion, absolutely vital education we seem to sacrifice for this idea that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are all we need to know.

Speaking of training and education, whatever happened to the idea we should worry about the whole person, mind, body, and soul?  Oh right, we can’t worry about the soul because we are just animals and don’t have a soul, or it is confused by the concept of religion.  We shouldn’t worry about the body because each of us is unique and may not feel comfortable with exercise.  That leaves only the mind to worry about, but of the three isn’t that the most fragile and dependent on the other two?  So if we forsake training in those other areas don’t we degrade education in the last?

Children have a lot of energy.  We now demand they sit still in class for long periods to learn whatever is being taught.  My memories of grade school, granted they are now over 50 years old, seem to focus on the recesses much more than the class work.  I read today about a school in Texas that has mandated four recess breaks a day, totaling 1 hour each day, where the kids are allowed to vent that energy.  I think this is a great idea, and it should be the standard at least through middle school.

Competition in education is a good thing.  Heck, competition is the engine of life.  We have created a generation of youth who think they deserve trophies for showing up.  The animal kingdom doesn’t work that way, why do we?  I read an interesting thing on Reddit today (my first experience with Reddit by the way), where a group of interns thought the company dress code was too strict so they decided to petition the company with their demands for a less formal set of standards.  All but one of the interns signed the petition and all but one of the interns was immediately released and told to pack up and go home.  The person writing this on Reddit was one of the interns released and thought it terribly unfair of the company since she needed the work experience since she had never worked before.  It seems to be a “Special Snowflake” world out there that we of my generation have created, but now we want to eliminate all recognition of superior performance so no one has their feeling hurt.  Are our educational administrators and parents’ crazy?  Sorry I said I didn’t have any questions so let me rephrase that.  If we do eliminate recognition of excellence -- we will destroy this country faster than either of the two Presidential candidates can.
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