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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Law and Government

At the prompting of a friend I have read Frederic Bastiat’s book titled “The Law”. This book was originally published in 1848 during the revolutions and upheavals that followed the fall of Napoleon, Louis XVIII and Louis Napoleon. At this time the only democratic models were ancient Greece, England, and the United States, which are referenced in passing but are generally ignored. The focus of this book is on socialism and communism and how these defeat the very intent of law and justice.

In general this book should be viewed as the very foundation of the Libertarian Movement. The basic premise is that the law exists solely to prevent injustice and to protect the life and property from others – especially the government in the form of legislators, a group of people whom he holds accountable for the perversion of government into a group of legal plunderers. However, the unspoken assumption throughout is that these legislators act in their own interest and not in the interest of those who elected them. In fact the idea that legislators are elected and that the government is not a democracy but a republic is largely ignored, although there are some off handed references to England and the United States, there is no recognition of the fact that the infringing laws he so abhors were the result of elected officials who can be turned out of office. There seems to be an assumption that the legislators are a separate class who act independently, which appears to be a residual recognition of the class-ism that continues to afflict Europe today. Nevertheless, this is a good book that makes some very compelling points regarding Socialism and Communism.

The primary focus of the book is on the individual and the right of the individual to enjoy the fruits of his labor unimpeded by the government or legislators who wish to redistribute his earnings to those who have less. Clearly this whole idea of wealth redistribution is wrong and just as clearly this is what the concept of proportional taxation is all about as well as the manifold social programs governments – including our own – seems bent on implementing. But the arguments against this plundering of the wealth of a few for the benefit of special interests fall short because they ignore some of the basic facts of human nature.

The underlying assumption in Bastiat’s position is that if people are left alone they will pursue productive employment, be prudent with their earnings, and live happily with their neighbors. However, this is the same underlying assumption that was made by Karl Marx. He assumed that people would pursue work for the sake of society as a whole. The difference between these two extremes is that the first retains private ownership and individual rights while the second rejects both of these. While it seems that these are diametrically opposed philosophies they both rely on unrealistic expectations regarding human nature. The fact is that some people are lazy, some are incapable of work, some have limited abilities, some are jealous or envious, and in general people are competitive and will act in what they think is their best interest, not the best interest of society as a whole. This was demonstrated by the total failure of Marxism in the communist countries and described in vivid detail in George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm.”

However, in spite of these flaws Bastiat makes a compelling case for individualism and limited government. The role of government should not be intrusive or intended to increase the power of the governors over the governed. Unfortunately the American society has tended since its inception to become more and more intrusive. In some cases this can be explained or at least justified as in the example of conscription during the Civil War. The same is true of the introduction of the (temporary) income tax to pay for WW I. But the reality is that the Federal Government has continued to increase its power over the governed to the point where the people are being taxed at a very high rate to pay for things desired by the government but not desired by the people. For example if a referendum were held today it is very unlikely the American people would vote to send money to the UN, or the PLO, or virtually every tin pot dictator around the world. But this is only the beginning of how the Federal Government has intruded on our lives. We are treated almost daily to examples of the government curtailing our free speech by establishing “hate crimes”, which are demonstrated by using words that are deemed politically incorrect and examples of “hate.” We are told that our children can celebrate Kwanzaa and Hanukah at school but not Christmas. We see the government curtailing property rights in order to protect some obscure bug. The government has created a Gestapo type organization—complete with police powers – in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency, which acts to protect things other than the citizens who support it. It is very unlikely that put to the vote that the American People would support or retain the EPA.

Bastiat calls all of these governmental ills – socialism – which to me is a misnomer but his point is valid. Government should be limited and without restraint the government becomes oppressive. It is probably time that the Constitution returns to our class rooms.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Response to the Denizens of California

I thought that with the election over, the liberal contingent of the Democratic Party would stop their bashing of the President and come to grips with the reality that they are in the minority. That their negativism did not resonate with the majority of Americans but apparently I was wrong because this is a missive I received in my mail responding to comments that I made regarding the lies spread by Soros, Moore, Kerry, and the Hollywood crowd.

you are just like the boat people they lie and then get mad when somebody
proves them wrong and wrong with their own words. You slam California but
at least they don't let people like Robertson and Bob Jones tell them what to
do. They elected Arnold and now they are finding out he is just like the
rest they lie and take your money and pass the bills off to the next generation
just like Bush. I don't have a problem with being a Christian nation I
probably go to church more than you do, but think for yourself and do not let
other people lead you, and Bush is leading us down a path I think this country
doesn't need to go down. The religious right is trying to force their religion
on everybody especially abortion when the majority of the people in this country
is for the women’s right to choose ( I personally don't like abortion but do
support the right to choose) Pat Robertson and Falwell and Jones and the like
are pushing Bush to appoint judges that will repeal roe v wade, and I’m sorry I
don't think that is right, you are right I think this country is going overboard
with religion out of government but the gang of religious leaders want
everything over turned and I don't support that either.

Please note that nothing has changed since the election, the rhetoric continues to be based on things unsaid, unsupported, but stated as facts. The fact is that Dan Rather, George Soros, Michael Moore, and the rest of the extreme left lied, they made up things and attributed them to the President or the Republican Party. The fact that these were later demonstrated to be lies is totally ignored – just as it is in this response. The fact is that President Bush made all of his military records available – Kerry did not. The President stated that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but was accused of lying about this. The 911 Report (which I have read) makes it very clear that the previous administration plus virtually everyone else in the world believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But President Bush is accused of lying, not making a mistake, not in repeating poor information, but flat lying meaning that he knew the truth but elected to state something different. Since that has been demonstrated to not be case, he didn’t lie but then his accusers are lying since they too know the truth but elect to ignore it in favor of a more convenient belief.

Also notice in the above response, that it is filled with beliefs, assumptions, and suppositions stated as revealed truths. Bush is being manipulated by Robertson, Falwell, and Jones – and how does anyone know this? The fact that Bush is a real Christian instead of a “convenient Christian” like many of his predecessors makes him a pawn of the religious right? I don’t think so. The fact is that the liberals are totally out of touch with the rest of the country. They are so smug in their belief that they are the intellectual superiors of the yahoos inhabiting the flyover country that they can’t let go but continue their whinny strident unfounded accusations. They continue to see President Bush as some dumb ignoramus from Texas. They really should look in the mirror and realize that dumb ignoramus from Texas made fools out of them so perhaps he is actually smarter than they are.

Answers Answers

Here are my answers to the 30 questions. I thought these were good questions to use as a conversation starter. But as I read answers they don't seem to be very provocative or even unusal, but here they are -- the real me.


Thirty Questions
1. Do you have a personal hero? If so, who is it?

I don't really have a personal hero, but the people I admire the most are George Washington (set aside absolute power), Winston Churchill - a true leader

2. What is your favorite book of all time?

I love books but the ones I have reread many times are the various books by Issac Asimov and Shakespeare, but I read extensively – mostly non-fiction.

3. What does "diversity" mean to you?

A left wing political slogan used to justify the destruction of the American melting pot and blatant discrimination against English Speaking Caucasians

4. What is the wildest thing you've ever done?

Getting drunk on Rum and Coke (I hate it to this day), falling into a river, losing all of my clothes, including a new pair of custom made boots, getting toasted over a fire by my roommate and the two of us waking up the following day without any clothes and no knowledge as to where they were or how we got home. I was hung over for a week and I no longer drink alcohol in any form.

5. Do you regret doing it?

No, it makes for some great stories when we get together now.

6. Can you drive a stick shift?

Yes

7. What’s the highest speed you've ever traveled in a car?

A bit over 130mph in my corvette.

8. Were you driving, or riding at the time?

Driving and I got a ticket too

9. How do you define success?

Difficult thing to define but I think if people respect you, seek your opinion and look up to you then you are successful. It has nothing to do with wealth. If your children grow up to be productive citizens that too is the mark of a successful person.

10. What is the most disgusting thing you ever ate?

I don't know but it was an unidentified Chinese thing – disgusting. I ate it at a business dinner and couldn’t refuse it. No wonder I hate multi-cultural diversity (LOL)

11. Have you ever wet your pants? Be HONEST!

Not recently, but once I was in such a hurry that I didn’t get it all the way out in time and managed to wet my pants pretty good. I covered by saying that I splashed water on myself (LOL) (Now that I think about it -- I guess SIZE may have been a factor in association with haste).

12. Was losing your virginity an enjoyable experience?

No

13. Should oral sex be outlawed or encouraged?

I don't think it is anyone's business one way or another

14. Name one man with a fine ass.

Believe it or not, I racked my brain and I can't think of any man whose ass I noted as either good, bad, or indifferent. I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms and can’t think of one ass that I remember.

15. Do you watch golf on television? If not, will you iron my shirts?

No and No

16. Who is John Galt

Character in Atlas Shrugged (bet you thought I didn’t know)

17. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I think I'd lose some weight and about 20 years

18. Do you eat raw oysters?

No. Maybe that was what that disgusting Chinese thing was??
..
19. Are you claustrophobic?

Not especially.

20. If you rode a motorcycle, would you wear a helmet even if the law said you didn‘t have to?

I wouldn’t ride a motorcycle to begin with.

21. Name five great Presidents.

Washington, Lincoln, Truman, Reagan, and George W. Bush All conservative except for Truman who easily weighs in as number 3..

22. Name three really bad Presidents.

Clinton, Carter, and Harding but I'm revising my opinion of Clinton so maybe Grant should be substituted.

23. What was the dumbest thing you ever did?.

Aside from the rum and coke incident, I stood next to a shooting (geophysical) hole when they blew 250lbs of dynamite. The result was I was showered with mud, crud, and humiliation since I just proved a college education doesn’t make you smart. Everyone else took cover. It did mark me as human rather than the priggish college boy that people thought I was.

24. This is the 4th of July. Did you set off any fireworks?

Too hot – watched the neighbors

25. Are you successful or unsuccessful?

I have always considered myself a failure since I have never achieved my goals, but then some one calls me every day looking for insight, advice, or help. So I guess by some standards I am successful as a person even if I am not as an executive. But I guess I don’t think of myself as successful.

26 What do you consider the most boring activity?

Watching most sports on TV – in fact I am not much of a spectator so I guess watching life go by is boring. Too many people must be entertained rather than entertaining themselves. So I think passiveness is the most boring thing.

27 Do you have a “best friend”? Who is it?

Not really. I have been in a leadership position since I was 22. That has isolated me from almost all personal connections. My wife is my best friend today and at various times in my younger life I had close friends. Even today I keep in touch with my college friends and my roommate but I don’t think I have a “best male friend.”

28 Have you ever been naked outside in a public place? Where?

Apparently the Rum and Coke incident resulted in me being naked outside in a public place since my roommate and I later found our clothes by the river side several miles away. Obviously we came home naked as jay birds so I was outside in public naked as the day I was born. However, I had several opportunities to be naked outside in a public place while I was in the Army and I am not shy about being nude even though I don't parade around naked.

29 Who is the most interesting person you know? (Spouses don’t count)

I know several well known psychics and they are quite interesting. I also know a gay guy who used to work for me who is an absolute stitch and he is a great conversationalist. But I find almost everyone interesting.

30 If you could have dinner and conversation with anyone in the history of the planet, who would you choose?

That's a tough question but I think I would pick Jesus Christ, to get the real scoop, Tallyrand - for his wit and consummate political skills, Winston Churchill for his command of English and English History, Cicero for his insight into law and history, and Benjamin Franklin for his intelligence, wit, and charm.


Well there you have it -- my life in a nutshell. Sort of like everyone else's life. I discovered a long time ago that people are all pretty much alike. There are some evil people in the world but they are a small minority. Most people are good upstanding people whose lives are pretty much like mine.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Tale of Fred E. Frog

Unfortunately I am engaged in a number of activities at the moment, which do not allow me to devote very much time to my usual pontifications. Hopefully by January all of my distractions will have faded into the past and I will once again have time to comment on the passing parade. So in the meantime, I will leave you temporaily with a little morality tale. This tale -- like so many morality tales is rooted in truth and describes some aspects of corporate America as I experienced it.

The Corporate Jumping Frog
A Management Morality Tale

Consultants are known for arriving on site, diagnosing the problem (too many enemy submarines), offering a solution (boil the ocean), collecting their fee, and moving on to the next ridiculously simple problem. (I really don't mean to pick on consultants, I are one, but as a group you must admit we make easy targets). However, for many of us at the far end of the management scale, we see some executives who seem to have moved from oblivion to greatness, without actually doing anything, or at least not bringing anything to conclusion. These people are like frogs jumping from lily pad to lily pad, catching all of the flies but never getting wet. How do they do it? Well if I knew the answer to that question I wouldn't be writing this essay I would be lolling on the beach with the rest of the frogs. However, we can look at the career of one of these frogs and watch as he jumps from lily pad to lily pad.

Fred E. Frog began his career as a philosopher-at-large but soon discovered that the last person to successfully ply this trade was Aristotle, so he quickly moved into business. Not as a salesperson, after all they have quotas and are measured. Engineering was out because it was not only difficult but there were schedules and deadlines. Accounting was out because every single bean had to be counted and if you were one bean off there were those troublesome procedures and measurements. Ultimately Fred E. Frog landed a job in marketing, but not the hard part, but the planning part. The part where you ran focus groups, interviewed people in cool places, and wrote lengthy reports summarizing the data without adding any personal opinions or conclusions. It was on this, the first of many lily pads that Fred E. Frog learned that reports should be lengthy, detailed, and boring. Charts and graphs should be excluded unless they are on a logarithmic scale accompanied by a series of completely incomprehensible formulas. (Actually the formulas don't have to pertain to the charts because if they are complicated enough no one will understand them anyway.) If the reports can be expanded into more than one binder that is even better because that assures that no one will ever read it. The cover letters and executive summaries must be concisely written but avoid drawing conclusions, after all that is the role of an executive, not a lowly marketing analyst. Having produced a number of these exquisitely bound reports and been singled out as a high producer Fred E. was ready for the jump to the next lily pad.

As the Product Manager for a new product, Fred was in a high profile position whose responsibilities included marketing forecasts, garnering R&D funding, product promotion, and progress reporting to the Vice President of Marketing. A truly wonderful job because the engineers did the work, the marketing team did everything else, and all Fred E. had to do was report progress. Of course his colleagues spent time with the engineers (a scruffy lot), lobbied for money (the beady eyed accountants), and worked with the sales team (well-dressed fellows) to refine the requirements and forecasts. The Frog devoted his time to preparing flashy full motion progress reports, playing golf at the same club as the Vice President of Marketing, and trolling for a better job. Before the product development cycle was completed, Fred was successful at landing another opportunity and was asked to head a task group to solve an account problem that was plaguing the Vice President of Marketing. At last Fred E. Frog was on his way. He was now known as Mr. Frog with an office and a job where he could claim all success but failures could be placed upon someone else. After all, the troubled account was already failing so if it continued to fail Mr. Frog arrived too late to salvage it. If by chance it succeeded, he could trumpet his success from the rooftops. It didn't take long before his success at turning this troubled account around landed him the job as Assistant to the Vice President. Of course it was unfortunate that the account cancelled their contract but that wasn't Fred's fault, after all the account was already in trouble and if the customer had just waited Fred would have been successful.

His first job as Assistant to the Vice President was to go back to his old job and fire the Product Manager who succeeded him. It seems the new product was a failure. The engineers complained that they never had enough money to do it right and the sales forecast wasn't large enough to warrant further investment. The troubled account was now suing the company so Mr. Frog reluctantly fired the account manager who couldn't seem to get the account organized. Clearly it was time to show his stuff, so Mr. Frog turned his attention to training. It seems the account managers were improperly trained. Fred commissioned some minions to create a fun but effective training course for account managers. The class was to be known as Fred E Frog's Management Seminar and it was a booming success. It was fun and entertaining and thousands of dollars were spent training everyone. Banners, buttons, and balloons were given by the score to the various students. After attending the first two classes (Fred never actually taught the class) he firmly established to his superiors that the class was a booming success and asked to be assigned to something more challenging. With such a track record of success, everyone agreed that Fred's talents would be better used in an operating environment.

Fred was made the temporary President of a troubled business unit. Of course Fred didn't know what the problem was or even how to determine it because he had never actually managed anything before. Up to this point Fred's career had been a series of starts with no finishes but he had learned the fine art of distraction. Therefore, he immediately terminated the incumbent management team, which showed the President he was action oriented and was on his way to getting things under control. Then he hired a new management team including a new financial officer, and set about telling everyone at corporate headquarters what a great job he was doing. In the meantime the seminars had ended, everyone had had a great time but there was no discernible improvement in the quality of the account management. This was not surprising since Fred had never set up any process to measure the effectiveness of the seminars and by the time they were completed the senior management team was on to something else. As expected the only thing they remembered was how great the seminars were. The new management team at the Business Unit was struggling to catch up, to get their financials in order, and trying to make sense of what was going on. Mr. Frog set about his usual routine of flashy progress reports and trolling for new and greater opportunities. The President of the company was so impressed with Fred E. Frog and how he had taken control of the troubled unit, that he promoted him to the position of Vice President responsible for several business lines. Fred E Frog was written up in the company paper, photographed, and interviewed by the press, and held up as an example of dedication and hard work. Here was a successful executive destined for even greater things.

I'm sure all of us recognize Fred E. Frog because all of us have encountered more than one of these executives who never seem to be tainted with failure or measurable contributions. Life in the corporation is much like life in the pond, the larger the pond the more frogs you find. The irony is that many of these Jumping Frogs jump over people more technically qualified but less skilled politically and they jump into some very important jobs. As you can see from this little example the technique for jumping is not difficult but like so many simple things doing it well is quite another matter. However, this is not about how to jump, but about what to do with a jumper when you see one. The surest way to thwart a jumper is to actually measure their performance and report the results. While this will certainly shine the light on the jumper it is like a flashbulb. The light is intense for a moment, it exposes everything, and then leaves everyone blinded. If the timing is good and the right people are watching you might be successful in pulling the lily pad out from under the frog, but just as often no one sees the truth because jumpers seem to be invisible when viewed from above.

In the actual case that Fred E. Frog is based upon the jumper did in fact become the President of a major corporate division but when he tried his usual stir things up and move on ploy, he finally got nabbed. The company President wouldn't allow him to change jobs until he could demonstrate some tangible profit improvement. Mr. Frog had never actually managed anything to completion and really didn't have a very good idea of how to go about organizing a team much less something as complex as a division. He floundered about, attempted repeatedly to change jobs, but the President kept him on a short leash and his repeated attempts to move on just raised the President's suspicions. When Fred realized the jig was up, he tried to bring in competent people to help him, but his reputation was such that very few would join up. As expected by those who knew him things went from bad to worse and Fred E. Frog, like the Captain of the Titanic, went down with his lily pad. So the facts eventually caught up with Mr. Frog and justice was served, but justice is blind and the Sword of Truth does not always find its mark like it did in this case.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A Strategic Glimpse at Ukraine

The situation in Ukraine is creating some consternation among the deep thinkers in the Think Tanks and while I think there is some cause for concern I think that at least some of this consternation is not only misplaced, I think it includes at least some underlying view that America is imperialistic. However, while it is tempting to beat that tired old liberal drum once again, it is probably more productive to take a strategic view.

The underlying attitude seems to be that the Ukraine is a buffer state between Russia and the west with the west being NATO. Many of the former Soviet States have already joined NATO and others may join in the future – possibly Ukraine. With NATO sitting on its western border, Russia would then be defenseless and surrounded by American spheres of influence to the west and south. This is an untenable position for Russia so they cannot allow Ukraine to move into a western orientation – i.e. join NATO, but is this conclusion valid?

Certainly, Russia would like to restore its former power and once again become a power capable of balancing American power. The Ukraine is vital to that strategy for two reasons. First it was the intellectual capital of the USSR and secondly, it also was the breadbasket. It also formed a buffer state between central Russia and the West and it is this fact that seems uppermost in the minds of the think tankers, but is it relevant?

I think the idea of buffer states is a little quaint and has little relevance in modern warfare. This idea is predicated on the idea that wars of the future will be fought between nation states using vast armies of men moving en masse as they have in the past. Personally, I think the Gulf War was the last of the wars of big battalions. We have aircraft capable of flying nonstop to anywhere in the world and returning. We have missiles that can strike at will anywhere in the world – as do the Russians. So what role does a buffer state have in that type of scenario? Increasingly battles are fought with special forces at strategic points, not using massed divisions sweeping across territories like the Mongol Horde. At one time irregulars were viewed as poor soldiers not capable of inflicting great harm or overcoming organized opposition, but this is no longer true.

In Viet Nam the special forces – or irregulars played an important role and began to change the face of warfare. Since that time these irregulars have become mainstream and SecDef Rumsfeld is remaking the American Army with these special forces as the core. This is being copied by military worldwide. The current battles in Iraq are largely being fought with irregulars and certainly the major threat today is the Islamic radicals who are an irregular force. Therefore, the idea that Russia needs and must have a buffer state between its borders and NATO doesn’t seem to be a crucial or strategic issue, but a political and economic one.

The real strategic threat to Russia – if there is one – is the EU. Some of the former Soviet Republics have joined the EU and if the Ukraine were to look westward the EU would represent a greater threat than NATO. While it is true NATO is a military organization it was originally created as a counterweight to the USSR. Since that no longer exists, NATO has much less relevance and it increasingly viewed as a sort of central police force. The real threat to Russia is from the EU and the economic power it represents. If the Ukraine orients itself to the West and Europe then economic ties to the EU are unavoidable. Russia is struggling to throw off the shackles of communism but as anyone can see they are having a difficult time. Putin is increasingly becoming a dictator – a virtual Tsar in the making. The economy of the country is in a shambles through corruption and the legal system continues to be just as corrupt as it was under the communists. With the Ukraine under the influence of Russia then the Ukraine does indeed become a buffer state but not necessarily a military one but an economic one. If the Ukraine forges ties with the EU then capitalism – or at least what passes for capitalism in Europe – will bring greater economic growth to Ukraine as well as social and political order. This event will not be wasted on the Russians and thus the Russian government could become unstable – meaning that the reformed communists and their criminal allies could be in jeopardy.

So while the deep thinkers are not totally wrong in their geo-political thinking I think the real threat to Russia is more pragmatic and rooted not in military issues but economic ones.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

LOVE - MARRIAGE -- RESPONSIBILITIES

Several things have occurred in the last month that move me to make some observations about love, marriage, and the responsibilities that go along with marriage, children, and parenthood. These are simply my observations based on my own marriage and the marriages of my friends and family. These are not very scientific observations but they could easily be more realistic and accurate than those of the various pundits and psychologists who may be divorced themselves, study dysfunctional marriages, or view marriage in terms of groups and statistics. I’m not sure this is the way to study marriage or what makes it succeed or fail, but then my observations cannot be viewed as anything other than anecdotal and far from a universal view, nevertheless, these are my opinions based on experience.

Most people get married in their twenties, when the partners are young, healthy, and vigorous. It is an adventure filled with fun and frolic. But the excitement fades – usually after about a year – and life takes over. Things become routine, life assumes a pattern, and day-to-day responsibilities begin to intrude on the excitement. For those couples who expected life to continue much like it was before marriage the first signs of dissatisfaction begin to appear. There is a feeling of entrapment, of not being able to go clubbing with friends, of being obligated to pay bills, wash dishes, make beds, and in general act like their parents. Sometimes these marriages correct themselves but just as often the dissatisfaction grows and then divorce ends the adventure. Frequently, this begins a lifelong pattern of dissatisfaction because the individuals never get past the idea that life should be fun and that their personal happiness is all that matters – and this brings us to what I think is the very foundation of a solid marriage.

The cornerstone of a successful marriage begins with “liking”, not with love. Certainly love enters into it but the love that exists at the beginning tends to be passion rather than true love. Those who expect that feeling of exhilaration to last forever are in for a disappointment that usually culminates in affairs and ultimately divorce. Certainly this passion exists to a greater or lesser extent in all marriages but as it fades – and it always does – what is left is “liking” or friendship. Most happily married couples describe their partner as their best friend. If the partners truly like each other, this liking evolves into real love – something enduring and sustaining through all of life’s challenges. In these marriages the partners would rather be with each other than anyone else because they have more fun together than with others.

The second foundation stone in a solid marriage is unselfishness. The idea that a marriage is a fifty fifty proposition is totally false and anyone who thinks that it is doesn’t understand what a marriage is. The idea that each partner is obligated to carry half of the burden all of the time is unrealistic. The fact is that a marriage requires each partner to give 100% all of the time. Ironically when each partner is willing to give up everything for the other then neither partner must give up anything. A solid marriage requires that you give yourself 100% to the other person. When this happens then everything becomes equal and the partners have created a bond that grows in strength with each passing year. When you view marriage from this perspective you begin to see how arranged marriages might work, especially in societies where divorce is frowned upon.

It is worth noting that the purpose of marriage is not to have fun but to have children. Obviously some people cannot have children and others choose not to, but most people do and this brings one of life’s greatest blessings and greatest challenges – raising children. Although it is politically correct today to accept that there is no difference between women and men the reality is that they are different and different at a very fundamental level. If you doubt this watch very young children at play and which toys they select – boys and girls are different and all of the politically correct studies in the world will not change that and it is this difference that is carried over into marriage and parenthood.

Women are the child bearers and it is their role to love and nurture the young but their role is truly much larger. It is the women of the world who make a house a home. It is they who create the warmth and comfort that we all associate with home. They do this in many subtle and indirect ways and they do it while maintaining the home, preparing the food, and raising the children. Now I can hear the screeches now accusing me of being old fashioned, of sexism, of male chauvinism, and a lack of understanding of the current reality of marriage. However, I am talking about successful marriages and child rearing based on personal observations not the reality of the contemporary state of marriage or the politically correct view of gender roles. Nowhere did I say that women could not or should not work outside of the home. No where have I said that they should not have careers. What I did say is that it is the woman who makes a house a home and that it is the woman who feeds, loves, and nurtures the family. This does not mean that the male half cannot or does not contribute but this is not his primary role. The man’s part is to protect, defend, to provide shelter, food, and clothing but also to train and introduce risk. Not all men are up to this challenge, especially if they did not have good role models themselves, but the man plays a very important role in child rearing. While it is possible for a single parent to successfully raise a child, it is better if both parents are present.

Obviously this is a very simplistic view but not all people who get married and have children are prepared for these responsibilities. Some people become overwhelmed by these responsibilities for many reasons. Sometimes they are not financially capable of supporting the children, sometimes they are not emotionally prepared for the sacrifices that come with children, while others view the children as an impediment to their fun. These are the parents that leave their children alone and unattended, the ones that become abusive, the ones that neglect their children emotionally as well as physically. Many times these are the people who sink into alcoholism and drug abuse. These are the ones who lack the emotional strength to deal with life’s problems much less the responsibility of children. Ironically it is these parents who after a lifetime of neglect expect their children to love, respect, and care for them once the children are grown. A parent is a parent first and a successful parent may be friends with their children once they are grown but no parent has a right to expect anything from his adult children. Whatever they give should be from the heart and not from obligation.

And this brings me to the point and that is what responsibility does an adult child have toward his parents? In my opinion no child owes his parents anything and anything that they do offer should be done willingly and from the heart. If the parent was abusive, neglectful, or abandoned the child then why should the child feel guilty for being neglectful and abandoning the parent? Being a parent is a lifetime commitment and should not be undertaken lightly. The child has no control and is totally dependent on the parent but if the parent fails the child, then the child is absolved of any commitment to the parent. This is not to say that the child should abandon the parent but that they should do what they wish to do, not what society or others think they should do.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Undeserving Rich

I’m Rich --- and probably you are too but of course neither of us was aware of this fact until our liberal friends pointed out that we are among the “fortunate fifth” and that it was high time that we started paying our “fair share” of income tax. This is what is behind the drive by the liberal left to rescind any tax breaks in order to ensure the “rich pay their fair share”. Of course you and I know that the truly wealthy – like Senator Kerry pay very little tax (12% for Heinz-Kerry) because they can afford to pay the very best accountants to find ways to avoid paying taxes. In short it isn’t the really wealthy who are paying taxes and supporting all of these wonderful pork barrel projects like the “big dig” (thank you Senators Kerry and Kennedy), it is the middle class – the very people who are being promised tax relief and who are in fact carrying almost the entire tax burden. But the government needs more money so the “rich” have to pay. But the reality is that it is those of us who are keeping our nose above water that will be robbed once again because we are “rich”. So how do these liberals get by with selling this snake oil? Who is buying it?

The people who buy this fall into two categories, one is that group of people who pay no taxes but get plenty of free benefits from the government. In effect they are selling their vote to the politician that promises to continue giving them all of these benefits while taking the money out of some one else’s pocket to pay for them. These are the people who say they “vote their pocket book” when in point of fact it is some one else’s pocketbook they are voting to empty into theirs.

The second category is that group of na├»ve` people – who actually believed what they were taught in school by professors who never held a job, never had to meet a financial objective, and actually believe that the government should tax the wealthy because they are “fortunate” and that corporations are essentially evil enterprises that are exploiting their workers. These are the people who truly believe that it is right to take money from the undeserving rich (you and me) and give it to the deserving poor. In effect the rich don’t deserve their wealth because they just got lucky and therefore should have it taken away by the government and redistributed to those who have less – those who are less fortunate. Although the liberals would dispute this their position relative to taxation can be summarized by the statement

“From each according to his ability. To each according to his needs.”

Does that phrase sound familiar? It should because it is a quote from “The Communist Manifesto.” Is it any wonder that the liberals prefer to call themselves “progressives” rather than the more accurate—but out of style – “Marxists”. If they actually articulated what they are attempting to do i.e. create and egalitarian society people might catch on. Naturally, just as in Animal Farm, the elites (meaning the professors and their intellectual friends) would be the most highly revered and rewarded because they are simply smarter (and not profit oriented either but I digress).

But are those of us who exist in that rarefied atmosphere of the “fortunate fifth” – meaning that we are in that glorified group of the top 20% of wage earners in the country—have we truly won “life’s lottery” as described by Dick Gephart? The (insulting) implication is that we just got lucky while those who are “less fortunate” were simply unlucky. Is this an accurate portrayal or is our “luck” the result of our decisions? For example, who went to school, had an after school job, saved their money, went to college, worked to pay for their education, and then left school and got a high income job? Who waited to have children until they were married and could afford them? Who goes to work in the dark and comes home in the dark? Who cut class to hang out on street corners? Who finally dropped out of school because it was a bunch of old guys telling them what to do? Who had a series of illegitimate children? Who got a job then lost it because they couldn’t get up that early to get to work? Who blamed everyone else for their lack of income, their old car, their drug problem? Who is on welfare and feels the government should provide better benefits to them? It seems to me that those that were lucky and won life’s lottery seem to have made a number of good decisions in association with some significant sacrifices while those that lost in life’s lottery made a long succession of poor decisions and focused exclusively on immediate self-gratification.

It seems to me that those of us who fall into the undeserving rich category deserve to be there by dint of hard work, good decisions, and a lot of self-sacrifice while those who live in poverty and have a marginal existence got there as the result of poor work habits, bad decisions, and a lack of self-sacrifice. Therefore, the idea that the “rich” are undeserving because they got lucky is not only a total falsehood it is downright insulting. But the liberals feel sorry for these people and think that the government should provide them housing and income simply because they are poor. Well as I recall, in the United States of America all men are created equal so if the government thinks they should subsidize housing for the poor, why don’t they subsidize mine—after all I’m a citizen too and the Lord knows I could use some help. But this isn’t the way liberals think is it? They see that the rich live in nice houses, drive nice cars, and pay their bills, so clearly they can afford to give some of their wealth to the poor simply because the poor need it. This was Robin Hood’s philosophy but as I recall the Sheriff of Nottingham had quite a different take on Robin’s activity. That evil ungrateful, exploitive Sheriff actually thought Robin Hood was actually robbing people – like a common criminal. Of course the liberal spin is that taking money from the rich to redistribute it to the poor is morally justified because the rich have too much and the poor have too little. This was the philosophy of Robin Hood but it was also the philosophy of Karl Marx which was carried out by Nikolai Lenin with disastrous results but this failure has not deterred our liberal intelligentsia because they still refuse to recognize any individual’s responsibility for his circumstances.

So on a parting note consider this:

“Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual once and for all.”

This is a quote from Nikita Krushchev that really describes what the liberal establishment is trying to do by focusing on societies “victims” and subordinating individual rights to those of these “groups”.

“From each according to his ability. To each according to his needs.”

Remember these words because this is the unspoken mantra of the liberal establishment.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Jock Itch

Am I the only person who is sick and tired of pampered spoiled athletes? You know-- the ones who treat us to the spectacles like the one that transpired in Detroit where the mighty pampered one left the court and sprawled on the timekeepers table. Some disgruntled fan apparently threw water on him and the fight was on. This turned into a brawl with the athletes fighting the fans and the fans pelting the pampered ones with chairs, bottles, cups, and anything they could lay their hands on. Apparently the solution being offered by the NBA is to protect the players from the fans by building some sort of a barricade – presumably like the hockey rinks have. However, to my jaundiced and uneducated eye, it seems the fans need to be protected from the players. But no one it seems is willing to suggest that maybe – just maybe – this overpaid and pampered ignoramus was actually personally responsible. In fact, the county prosecutor in Detroit is actively looking to prosecute the fans and not the athletes while the players union (these guys NEED a union?) is appealing the suspension of the athlete who instigated the whole thing. As bad as this is – it is really just symptomatic of a much greater malaise.

Almost on a daily basis we are treated to some ignorant, semi-literate barbarian mouthing off on the TV about how he is being treated, underpaid, not on drugs, or explaining his most recent arrest for drugs or drunkenness. Even when these overpaid dumbbells are conducting themselves in a more or less civilized manner, they still display appalling conduct. It isn’t just the brawling but it is those cute little dances in the end zone when they score. It isn’t enough to score—each touchdown must be accompanied by some sort of pubescent victory display --the sort of thing that used to mark one as a poor sport. Then we have the strutting, chest bumping, and weird hand wringing (apparently in lieu of a handshake) and gang gestures, all of which are viewed as normal behavior rather than what they are, which is setting a low standard of conduct. This is alleged to be all in good fun and well it might be, but it also is a vivid example of how acceptable conduct has declined in civility, courtesy, and standards.

However, it isn’t just basketball or football but virtually all sports have been contaminated with this sense of entitlement by the athletes that leads them to believe they are special and thus outside of the rules of society. Every year we are treated to the spectacle of some athlete being arrested for drug possession, drunkenness, assault, or rape. If these are student athletes they are slapped on the wrist and excused, which reinforces their sense of being outside of the law. If they are professionals then they don't even get a slap on the wrist. Instead they are paraded before us on television so they can explain -- in some dialect that resembles English -- how they are singled out and persecuted for their fame, wealth, or skin color. Once these jocks ascend into the ranks of the highly overpaid, they lose all control. They are then free to use steroids to enhance their performance, they are entitled to take drugs because it is the thing to do and they can afford it, rape and assault is OK because they are the victims of these groupies gone wild. Gone is any semblance of propriety or responsibility to those who actually pay to see them play. These athletes for the most part are low class over paid trash who are terrible role models.

This is a little cynical I admit, but the fact is that sportsmanship, self-respect, and courtesy seems to be completely lacking in the sports scene. Not just with the athletes who have appalling conduct but the fans as well. We see riots at soccer matches that result in major property damage plus fatalities. We see fans using language that turns the air blue without regard or consideration for those around them. The athletes no longer set an example unless you wish to cite them as bad examples. What is worse is that most of them cannot construct a simple English sentence and express themselves in understandable English. Are these really the people that we want to think of as role models? I for one am sick and tired of these people and their sense of being outside of the law. I think it is past time that they are held to account for their actions.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Clinton Revisited

Last night I heard one of the talking heads slamming President Clinton’s lack of action regarding Bin Laden. Essentially the President was being accused of being too fearful of international criticism due to collateral damage. Well from reading the 9/11 report this accusation isn’t precisely accurate.

The 9/11 report has been advertised as being non-partisan and objective and from my reading of this report I concur in this assessment. This report essentially presents documented facts in chronological order that describe who did what, when, and why. The report draws no conclusions and makes no accusations but leaves that task up to the reader. In many ways by offering no interpretation the report is more damning than if they had offered some opinions but then that would have discredited the report. However, this report describes the various actions and plans regarding Bin Laden during the Clinton Administration.

It seems clear (at least to me) that President Clinton wanted to whack Bin Laden and had instructed his staff – on several occasions – to prepare plans to either capture or kill Bin Laden. None of these plans ever went anywhere for a variety of reasons. First, they were constrained by the congressional directive forbidding assassination, which meant that all plans had to be oriented toward capturing him. This was later amended but initially the plans focused on capturing him, which meant that we had to know his precise location. This required the CIA to locate him with some precision and they had to rely on “tribals” which turned out to be not very reliable.

Once plans were made – and there were many—they were consistently objected to the Presidential Staff. General Zinni objected because all of the plans were either too risky militarily or had too low of a probability of success. Reading between the lines it seems obvious that Zinni was afraid of repeating the desert debacle of the Carter Administration, consequently he wanted a foolproof plan. Not a very admirable quality in a General. When Zinni was not actively opposing the various plans Madeline Albright objected because various countries might be offended for various reasons. Even when Ms Albright was supportive Janet Reno was opposed. In fact Janet Reno opposed every plan for fear that some “innocent” bystander would get hurt. This reached its insane pinnacle when the last viable opportunity to whack Bin Laden was passed over because a Prince from the United Arab Emirates was with Bin Laden. Reno and Albright didn’t want to offend the UAE. The fact is that the Prince was consorting with a known and wanted terrorist in a known and identified terrorists training camp but this didn’t seem to excuse taking action and apologizing later.

The fact is that President Clinton was urging action and was being thwarted by his staff. Because he was in charge he can be accused of taking no action but the fact is he was trying but was being undercut by a very timid staff and he was too distracted by his personal affairs to deal with the situation more forcefully.

The 9/11 report clearly indicates that the CIA was ineffective for many reasons but mostly due to congressional directives that hampered the exchange of information. The determination to avoid any semblance of a secret police spying on the population resulted in such a level of compartmentalization that it was impossible to connect the intelligence dots. It seems ironic when President Bush moved to correct this situation the very people who created the problem opposed his actions to correct them even while they were demanding action. Nevertheless, my point is that President Clinton tried to do what needed to be done but he selected a staff that was too reactive to public opinion to be effective. This doesn’t seem to be a failing of President Bush.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Democrats Vs Liberals

I continue to watch in amazement as the Liberals – aided and abetted by the media -- eviscerate the Democratic Party. Senator Lieberman – always the gentleman—has stated that these extreme left wing liberals do not speak for the mainstream Democratic Party, but the media is focusing on them and the real Democratic message is getting lost in the process. President Clinton has been a little more direct and has pointed out that the liberal rhetoric should be toned down because they are insulting the very people they need to win over if they are to regain the Congress and the Presidency.

Personally I am conflicted on this issue because I truly believe that the country is better off with a strong two party system and the declining influence of the Democratic Party is not good for the country as a whole. However, I am elated that the liberals and their media running dogs continue their hysterical and insulting behavior. These people are not only suffering from a terminal superiority complex they are totally convinced the average American is not only too stupid to vote, they are too stupid to grasp the natural superiority of the liberal establishment and must be clubbed into understanding what’s best for them through insults.

The resentment of the average American toward these liberals is deepening with each insulting article or sneering reference to their stupid belief in morality and God, when every clear thinking person knows that there is no God. Every anti-American remark, every sneering reference to Christians, and every reference to the stupidity of middle America is another vote for the Republican Party, but these superior intellects seem unable to grasp that simple exercise in logic. Perhaps it’s because they never learned good manners or to respect anyone but themselves. The Democratic establishment, in the form of Senator Lieberman, President Clinton, and other responsible politicians recognize the threat that these extremists pose, but seem unable to get their message across. If this doesn’t change over the next months it is highly probable that the Republicans will gain an absolute majority in the next elections.

There is a wild card in this scenario and that is President Bush and his agenda for this term. It seems clear that he intends to run an action oriented administration with the expectation that Congress will back him up. This means that he will be even more aggressive toward terrorists and rogue regimes. Translated this means that he may call Iran and North Korea to task and if they fail to curtail their aggression he probably won’t take military action but he certainly will employ some level of coercion. The probability is that he will be much more aggressive toward Syria and essentially inform them that either they butt out of terrorism or the US will actively work to put a new and more friendly regime in place. The PLO will be high on the agenda and the various warring factions will either disarm and work toward accommodation with Israel or the US will cut off aid and sit on the sidelines while they kill each other. What ever course of action the President takes it is sure to inflame the Europeans – especially the French—who will continue to support the PLO simply because they hate the Jews and the US.

All of these things – plus the judicial appointments – are sure to drive the liberals into a frothing frenzy. The attacks on the President will continue unabated and probably become even uglier but the advantage of his lame-duck status is that he can (and surely will) simply thumb his nose at them – making them even wilder and more frenzied. Of course being blinded by their belief in their superior intelligence the liberals will never detect how these attacks are being perceived by the typical American, who sees these loud mouthed liberals as Un-American bomb throwing crazies who have no concept of reality, morality, or good manners. The reaction will be to move increasingly to the Republican agenda and once that happens the President will be in a position to move the judiciary back to the right. This is sorely needed but when it happens the liberals will be even more convinced of their superiority and the stupidity of the typical American.

However, this is a wild card because if the President is too aggressive or moves too far to the right he may not be able to carry the left-of-center votes that he needs to gain total control of the Congress.

The real question is can the Democrats regain control of their party? At this juncture it doesn't look very promising because the media itself is extremely liberal and prefers the inflammatory rhetoric of Michael Moore to the reasoned analyses of Democratic mainstream. It is quite possible that the Democratic Party could split along the lines of liberals (media, Hollywood, Academia, ACLU) and Democrats (unions, party apparatus, and real people). Sort of neo-Dixiecrats. Keep on truckin' Michael Moore -- you're the best vote getter the Republicans have.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Observations on the Passing Parade

This is a quote from the StraightRight blog that I think makes some very valid points.

Wow! These liberals are still in a tizzy over the election. I think I am correct in assuming that the schools are fast becoming one of the last places that liberals hold with a strangling grip. Whenever they go around spewing their ideology to anyone other than students, they end up losing elections. Then, they blame it on how stupid the majority of voters are. When they aren’t indoctrinating another generation of idealistic, impressionable youth, they are out preaching to the only people left who are holding on to the failed liberal policies that have been tried since the sixties. These folks usually consist primarily of, but not restricted to drug users, welfare recipients, unskilled immigrant workers, illegal immigrant workers, convicted criminals, angry feminists, homosexuals, angry homosexuals, anti-Semites, and aging Marxists who still where berets and go around at peace rallies calling one another “comrade.”

I know I keep saying it, but more and more I am realizing that the fundamental difference between my professors and me is that both my worldview and political beliefs have changed since I was twenty years old. These people are still clinging to the defining period of their life. Perhaps it’s time to move on. The movement is dead.

First, I think the extreme liberals, the ones who are talking secession, moving to Canada, Jesusland, and those who feel the electorate is simply too stupid to vote properly, are losing ground very rapidly and the more strident they become the faster they are moving into irrelevancy. A look at the county map shows that the concentration of Kerry voters were centered in the large urban areas -- which consist primarily of people who understand that McDonald's is evil and a demonstration of American Imperialism, that Global Warming is a fact even though there is no empirical evidence, that food comes from the supermarket, that oil companies are in control of the administration, that corporations are evil and exploitive, and that employment is the responsibility of the government and not businesses -- which are evil. The reality is that most of the people in these urban areas have little to no concept of business or economics and certainly few critical thinking skills. These are the people who think that the government is responsible for their welfare and income. They don't understand that the government exists on taxes -- which to their way of thinking is -- or should be -- a way of penalizing the rich and redistributing their wealth to the lazy, uneducated, homeless, drug user.

The second point is that the liberal camp seems to have seized control of the University system in this country. The reference to the cute little beret's, peace marches, and references to "comrade" is fairly accurate. Most of the Universities like Harvard, Berkely, and Univ. of Michigan are virtually under the control of these left over Marxists and Flower Children. It is worth noting that the way it works in these Universities is that in order to teach you must have a PhD and that most of the PhD's started school in Kindergarten and went striaght through to professorships without ever having stepped into the real world. Hence they have retained their unsophisticated and theoretical view of the world, economics, and the workplace. What is needed is a complete revamping of the university system so that no professor is hired until they have spent at least 5 years in a profit oriented enterprise. Until this happens the universities will continue to be propaganda mills.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Erosion of American Education

More and more I despair over the continuing decline of what purports to be our educational system. In fact the term “education” is increasingly a misnomer as the professors use their podiums, not to educate, but to indoctrinate the students in their liberal points of view. This is an example of a “discussion” that was held in a college classroom.

the conversation in the class was revolving the relationship between black drug addicts, crime, and the supposedly deplorable state of taxpayer-funded rehab programs. The general sentiment was that the “only” reason crime occurs is because individuals are in some way involved in the drug trade. Either they are addicted to drugs and they have to steal in order to feed their addiction, or they produce or deal drugs. Apparently, adherents to this theory were also trying to convince my friend that this is why blacks are so disproportionately represented in the penal system. One person, a black woman, said that “the reason black people are ‘all’ on drugs is because the government does not provide good enough drug rehab programs!”

Please note the total lack of any idea or concept that the drug addicted individuals had any responsibility for becoming drug addicted. That this was a personal choice was never even considered. Also note that there was never even any discussion regarding the high dropout rate among blacks, their seeming inability to speak proper English, and how these are related to their high unemployment rate. There is no attempt to make any correlation to these statistics. Then we have the assumption that it is the GOVERNMENTS fault that so many blacks are drug addicted prisoners because they failed to provide enough drug rehabilitation programs. Note that there is no attempt to demonstrate the success rate of the existing programs nor is there any attempt to correlate education with crime and drugs. This is a vivid example of how the liberal community focuses on victim-hood while ignoring personal responsibility. Liberals always seem to focus on groups rather than individuals.

But this goes on and then we see the Professor moving onto personal attacks:

The instructor apparently knew that my friend was a Republican and he started jabbing at her about how the only reason she went there (to a Republican sponsored election party) was so that she could hob-knob with some rich folks. He said to her, in front of the class, that people “like her” are republicans simply because they want to be associated with elites that have cash. “Because Republicans are all the rich folks and people that associate with them just want to get close to them so they can benefit from their wealth in some way

The fact that this is hate speech or stereotypical speech is obviously overlooked because it is attacking conservatives who clearly need to be attacked. However, what no one seems to notice or to mention is that the war-chest assembled by Senator Kerry came from some very wealthy folks – like Michael Moore, George Soros, and a host of others. No mention is made that Senator Kerry is a zillionaire, Senator Kennedy is a zillionaire, and most of the prominent people who supported Kerry were very rich. Admittedly many Republicans are wealthy but not all and certainly this criticism is not only unwarranted it would never be tolerated had it been leveled against Democrats or the liberal establishment.

Now I’m sure that many of my academic friends will insist that this discussion was intended not as a partisan attack but as an attempt to have an open discussion. To this argument I can only respond with “HOGWASH”. I have been associated with the academic community and have had three children go through what is purported to be a university education and based on my personal experience I can assure you that this was not an attempt at an intellectual discussion but just what it appears to be – an indoctrination based on some (unspoken) assumed truths.

It was recently reported in the news paper that a student was protesting a failing grade because the professor assigned the class to write a paper on why President Bush was a bad president. The student wrote a paper essentially pointing out the positive side of the President’s actions. The student was failed, protested the grade, and the professor was upheld by the university because the student didn’t do the assignment, which was to point out how bad President Bush was. The fact that the assignment may have been intellectually shallow or biased was never even considered. THIS is how our university system is being run today, not as an educational forum but as a propaganda and indoctrination mill.

As a manager I refused to hire any Harvard, Princeton, Berkley, or University of Michigan graduate because I knew that they would have limited education and would be personally disruptive due to their generally anti-business attitudes. I think it is time for Universities to stop awarding PhD’s to students who have never worked at a profit driven company. I think that would go a long way to curtailing this groupthink.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Seppuku and the Democratic Party

I am watching in amazement as the Democratic Party continues its systematic destruction at the hands of the extreme left while the REAL members of the Democratic Party sit idly by and do nothing. In the meantime we are listening to the outrageous statements by Bill Maher, Michael Moore, and the nitwits at the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. We hear that beacon of intelligence - Michael Moore - refer to "The United States of Canada" and "JesusLand" while no one who truly represents the Democratic Party repudiates either Michael Moore or his derisive comments. Does anyone in the Democratic Party actually think that calling the majority of Americans stupid or sarcastically referring to their homes as "Jesusland" will gain them respect or support? We hear talks of secession coming from these ideologues who act like they really speak for the Democratic Party while the actual Party Representatives remain silent. Surely someone as intelligent as President Clinton knows that these comments and insults are destructive to the party as a whole and if these extreme leftists are not silenced the next congressional elections will move the Democratic Party further into irrelevancy. This is not healthy for the country.

While I am conservative I am really right of center and truly believe that the country needs both parties to stay strong.There is talk that Michael Moore's propaganda film will be nominated for an Academy Award as "Best Picture" or "Best Documentary", even though it is a far cry from a worthy artistic work and certainly not a documentary. Perhaps the Academy will create a new award for "Trashamentary", but I digress. If Hollywood actually nominates this piece of propaganda there will be an outcry that will stun Hollywood and could possibly have an enormous impact on their industry. The fact is that people like Bill Maher, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, George Clooney, Barbara Streisand, and the rest of the left wing in Hollywood have zero credibility. They act like their opinion matters when most of the country recognizes that these are people who put on make-up and pretend to be people who are even more trashy than they are. These are not people who have or display any moral code. They are in fact people who have multiple divorces, take drugs, accept drugs as normal, are irreligious, and do not display any substantial intelligence. The vast majority of Americans see them for what they are - flashy trivialities. While they are entitled to their opinion they are no more intelligent than the people whom they deride and in many cases they are a great deal less intelligent. The reality is that these people are not only hurting their own careers but their outrageous comments and conduct are actually damaging the causes they support and the Democratic Party in general.

Furthermore there seems to be some misunderstanding regarding the actual vote for Kerry. The Democrats are taking the position that President Bush does not have a mandate since he only got 51% of the vote while Kerry got 48%. This is not supported by the exit polls which show that the President got 51%, Not Bush got 33%, and Kerry got about 15% -- not much of a commitment to anything other than hatred. So the question is "why do these extremists have such a visceral hatred of President Bush?" This isn't an easy question to answer but this is a quote from another source that I think hints at the fundamental reason.

"They don't think the country is necessarily going in the wrong direction; but rather, liberals feel as if they have been abandoned by those entrusted with taking care of them"

This may actually lie at the root of this vehement hatred of President Bush and that is his rock hard belief in:"
Individual Responsibility"
Education is more important than personal self-esteem"
Education leads to employment while ignorance leads to welfare"
God is real and morality and ethics are important"
Practice what you preach"
Capitalism is better than Socialism"
The Government does not owe anyone a living"
America First

When you look at this list of Presidential characteristics you begin to understand why the liberals are so hysterical over President Bush and his re-election. Consider that he is overtly religious while most of the liberals and their activist judges are moving Heaven (no irony or pun) and Earth to stamp out God. He believes in capitalism and personal responsibility while the liberals believe in Socialism and the government's responsibility to provide entitlements and handouts to illegal immigrants, homeless drug addicts, third generation welfare recipients, and the necessity for a world government. Worst of all President Bush has taken action to protect American interests without international approval and he continues to ignore world opinion when he makes decisions. However, when you look at these liberal positions the actual Democratic Party is much less extreme. Senators Biden, Schumer, Lieberman, et al, disagree with many things that President Bush stands for but they are far right of the extreme left wing that is speaking for them and actually hurting the Democratic Party. It is past time for the Democratic Party leadership to speak out and to repudiate these people before it is too late because if they fail to regain control of their party they will lose control of Congress. A failure to act-and act soon-- will be tantamount to committing suicide and the Republicans will have an increasing majority and greater role in national politics for a long time to come.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Flaws of Liberalism

President Bush won the election of 2004 and now the pundits are busy explaining why the enlightened liberal establishment was defeated by a bunch of ignorant yahoos. The electorate, especially in the Midwest, are being labeled – libeled is a better term – as Bible Thumping evangelical Christians who are too stupid to understand what is best for them. The reality is that the group who is out of touch are the liberals and a county by county examination of the votes shows that the liberal elites dominate in very narrow strips along the West and East Coast but even in those states, the mainstream of America made a very strong showing.


So why doesn’t America wake up and realize that the liberal agenda is what is best for them? It recognizes the rights of all people, it furthers the cause of science, it places America at the forefront of international leadership, it provides for the poor by taxing the rich, and in general the liberal agenda is what is best for America so why do so few people grasp that?

In spite of the many glib answers to these questions that are being bandied about the root causes behind the rise of conservative thinking in America is paradoxically more complex yet simpler. In many ways it can be summed up by this quote from C.S Lewis:

“One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up.”

This is where the decline of liberalism begins – it begins with the ironclad belief that their way is the right way and that everyone should conform to their belief system. They are an inward looking group whose focus is on groups rather than individuals. They focus on large government programs aimed at solving world hunger, AIDS, world peace and poverty rather than looking at specific individuals or situations. Ironically in the beginning many of these liberal programs were indeed good programs but as they gained success the liberal elite came to the conclusion that they were smarter than the average ignorant bumpkin in the “flyover zone” and that it was necessary for them to establish the norms of society due to their intellectual superiority. Thus we have Draconian anti-smoking laws, continuous revising of health standards, forced nutrition programs in schools, unjustified amounts of money being spent on AIDS research, revised history to show that Caucasians are essentially evil exploiters of the planets resources, the removal of all religion from society, and the list goes on and on. All of these positions are well reasoned by the liberal left – or well reasoned from their point of view. What they fail to understand is that if the electorate as a whole were asked to vote on these programs and positions they would not be supported. But all of these things are merely symptoms and the root cause for the decline of liberalism is apparent but continues to escape most diehard liberals.

The fact is the majority of Americans think that honesty, integrity, and morality are important. We see on a regular basis the hypocrisy of the liberal elite. Perhaps the most blatant example of hypocrisy was the photographs of Senator Kerry “hunting” in Ohio. Does anyone actually believe he is a hunter? This is an example of how the liberals think that if they say it is so no further evidence is needed. We see them driving huge behemoth autos while protesting the costs of gasoline and energy and supporting less consumption of the Earth’s resources. This is an example of the hypocrisy that the elites expect others to ignore. It is an example of their “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. They want to maintain their current situation while expecting everyone else to change. The California liberals are examples of this thinking. They have legislated gasoline so that it requires special refining processes and yields a gasoline that is sold only in California because it is too expensive to be sold elsewhere. Rather than see any flaw in this and accepting responsibility for the higher cost, they blame the high prices on the oil companies. They consume more energy than they produce because they refuse to authorize the construction of nuclear power plants or new oil refineries. They have authorized the construction of windmill farms to harness “free energy”. Of course these monstrosities blot the landscape and when they were to be placed near the places where the elite live there were howls of protest. Then they expect their hypocrisy on this issue to be ignored. Hypocrisy is not a characteristic admired by most Americans and the liberal elite seem unable to see their actions as hypocritical when they are acting in the best of interest of everyone.

Probably the biggest loser in the recent election was the media. It began losing credibility during the Viet Nam War with their extremely biased reporting and their slide into irrelevancy has continued as they have moved from reporting facts to reporting selective facts and then to rumors and finally to outright lies. We see the media faking photos in order to put those with whom they disagree into a bad light. We see the media reporting facts and events that show a specific point of view rather than showing both sides of the event. This culminated in the CBS forgery scandal. Not only did CBS News devote four years to investigating the President’s military record they finally had to invent evidence that they couldn’t find. This is called dishonesty and lying – characteristics that are not admired by most Americans.

And finally we come to morality. It isn’t that the Conservatives have a lock on morality because there have been many examples of the self-righteous falling from grace. What the liberals miss is that strong moral character is admired by most Americans and that most people strive to achieve a high level of moral behavior. Instead, the liberal left seems determined to demonstrate that Godliness is next to stupidity and that any vestige of Christianity must be stamped out of our society in the name of multi-culturalism. Thus we have the attack on the Ten Commandments, Christmas, and any thing resembling or related to Christianity including the denial that ours is a Christian Nation.

Because of the dominance of the liberals in our schools, the judicial system, and the media we have been subjected to political correctness run amok. We have come to learn that George Washington was a bigoted slave owner as was Thomas Jefferson. We have learned that the American melting pot is essentially wrong and instead of Americans we have hyphenated Americans. The concept of multi-cultural diversity is divisive, destructive, and not in keeping with the beliefs of most Americans, which is a point that totally escapes the liberal elites. They are insulated from any contrary thinking because they congregate together and when they are confronted with any contrary thinking they attribute it to rightwing religious nuts or some ignoramus who doesn’t know what is best for him and thus should be ignored.

The fact is honesty, integrity, and morality are fundamental virtues that most Americans hold dear and if the liberal establishment doesn't begin to grasp what most Americans think and believe they will continue to decline in influence. I am reminded of a quote by Peter Drucker who said “The greatest threat to American Business is the Harvard Business School”. I think this could be rephrased to say that the greatest threat to America is the out of touch liberal thinking epitomized by Harvard.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

THERE IS NO GLOATING

President George W. Bush – the most vilified President in sometime – has been re-elected by a large margin. He captured the greater part of America and even in those states where he ran behind Senator Kerry, he lost by small margins. For some this is a time for celebration and gloating, but I think that is misplaced. The Trojans celebrated when the Greeks packed up and sailed away – unaware of the greater danger in their midst. I think this may be where America is today. I am not speaking of the terrorists, the economy, and the whole host of problems facing our country and the world, I am speaking of the Democratic Party. I do not mean that the Democratic Party is a threat to America – quite the contrary – I think a strong and vibrant Democratic Party is crucial to the well-being of our country and to the world at large. But that is not what I see when I look at the election results. What I see is a Democratic Party that is in decline and has been in decline for sometime.

If you look at the map, you see the Democratic Party captured the Northeast and the West Coast and even here there were strong minorities. From my point of observation I see a political party that seems to have lost its focus. Their spokesmen seem to be extreme and exemplified by George Soros and Michael Moore with a sprinkling of Hollywood intellectual lightweights. I don’t mean to say that the Democratic Party is devoid of capable people, quite the contrary, I think the Democratic Party has some strong leaders and dedicated people, Senators Biden, Schumer, and Lieberman come to mind – yes even Senator Clinton would fall into this category. But these people do not seem to have any control or influence over the party as a whole. Instead we are faced with people whose only agenda seems to be hate and whose only objective seems to be obstruction and failure.

There are many examples of this but those that come to mind are the obvious ones. We have Michael Moore who seems to be obsessed with a virulent hatred of President Bush -- not his policies per se but the man himself. Then we have George Soros who has stated that he thinks capitalism is evil and is opposed to the President at a personal level and with a passion that borders on insanity. Soros has gone so far as to say if President Bush is reelected he will join a monastery. This is highly unlikely but is an example of his extremism. Then we have the press who have doctored photos and printed false statements in order to discredit the President – once again – not at the policy level but at a personal level. From this we can go to the networks whose bias reached a high (low?) point with Dan Rather using forged documents to discredit the President – again an attack at a personal level. This is not to excuse the ad hominem attacks launched against Senator Kerry because they are just as serious nor is it intended to say all of these attacks are wrong and evil. Quite to the contrary – our country has always lampooned, attacked, and generally insulted every candidate of every party. I don’t think this is wrong or that it should stop but I do think that when the attacks reach the point of pure personal hatred then that has gone over the line. My point has to do with how this destructive behavior, which is conducted outside of the mainstream Democratic Party is hurting the party as a whole and the country in general. Although I am couching these remarks in terms of the Democratic Party much of this applies equally well to the Republicans.

I think it is imperative that the Democratic Party repudiate these extremists and move back to their constituency. The people who are speaking for them are not connecting with the people. Instead they are relying on activist judges who are legislating from the bench but who are not in touch with the people. This is a Christian Country at heart. While it is true that we have religious freedom, that does not mean that we repudiate our Christian Roots. The actions by these judges at removing the Ten Commandments, removing Christmas Celebrations, and actively attempting to suppress God are not in keeping with how the majority of Americans feel. But the issue lies even deeper than this, because the extreme left wing on the West Coast and Northeast, support issues that are not supported by the vast majority of Americans. For example, the liberal elites support unlimited abortion and refuse to see any middle ground. I think the majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose but think that the woman should make that choice before the third trimester. But any limitation is viewed by the extremists as a direct attack on Roe v. Wade. I don’t think this extreme position is really the position of the Democratic Party but it is the position of those who speak for them. Another example is AIDS, gay marriage, homosexuals in the military. Although these are all different issues they are connected in the minds of many Americans – including many Democrats in the heartland. We are spending millions of dollars on AIDS research when the actual number of people impacted in quite small and due in large to their personal conduct. This money could be better spent on other research but this topic and homosexuals in the military as well as gay marriage are perceived by many as attempts to have society accept homosexuality as a “normal” and “acceptable” code of conduct and life style. If homosexuals want to be in the military all they have to do is keep their mouth shut but this isn’t acceptable. The same is true for gay marriage. Many Americans think that the state does not have the right to deny a license for a civil union to any one but marriage is between a man and a woman. But once again the extreme left – exemplified by Hollywood – insists that any limitation is nothing short of racist, sexual persecution, or whatever. Where is the voice of reason? Of compromise? Then we have the internationalists who actually believe in a world government and think that the UN is that vehicle, ignoring the rampant corruption and demonstrated impotence and anti-Americanism of that institution. The vast majority of Americans think America first and the UN be damned. It isn't that the mainstream are isolationists but it does mean that they put America first and the international community far down their list of priorities.

All of these points are arguable and can be debated endlessly. It can be argued that Republicans are just as guilty as the Democrats but I must come back to the obviously unbalanced distribution of the electorate. Something is wrong and perhaps my analysis is wrong as well but whatever it is, I think the Democratic Party needs to undergo a serious self-appraisal – for the good of the country as well as the party and that they need to purge or other wise disavow people like Michael Moore and George Soros.


I thought Senator Kerry retired from the field of battle with grace and dignity. He was more Presidential in defeat than he was in the campaign. He demonstrated that he really did put America first--something that he was unable to do in the campaign. It is my opinion that had he repudiated these extremists he might have fared better in the election. Although he did not win a majority he certainly won a strong minority and his "supporters" like Moore, Soros, bin Laden, and the international community did he a great deal more harm than they helped.

I mean these comments to be constructive and helpful because I truly think every party in power needs a strong opposition in order to steer a medium course – not too far left but not too far right either. Presently I fear that the true spirit of the Democratic Party has been hijacked by outsiders who have no agenda or an extreme agenda but do not represent the heart of the Democratic Party

Monday, November 01, 2004

Photons have mass?

So the question that was raised initially was how does the classic physics equation of F=MA apply if M is the mass of a photon, which has zero mass. The response was that a photon has zero mass at rest but has mass in motion giving it “momentum”. The definition of momentum follows:

Momentum, also linear momentum, in physics, fundamental quantity characterizing the motion of any object (see Mechanics). It is the product of the mass of a moving particle multiplied by its linear velocity. Momentum is a vector quantity, which means that it has both magnitude and direction. The total momentum of a system made up of a collection of objects is the vector sum of all the individual objects' momenta. For an isolated system, total momentum remains unchanged over time; this is called conservation of momentum. For example, when a batter hits a baseball, the momentum of the bat just before it strikes the ball plus the momentum of the pitched baseball is equal to the momentum of the bat after it strikes the ball plus the momentum of the hit baseball. As another example, imagine a beaver jumping off a stationary log that is floating on water. Before the beaver jumps, the log and the beaver are not moving, so the total momentum is zero. Upon jumping, the beaver acquires forward momentum, and at the same time the log moves in the other direction with an equal and opposite momentum; the total momentum of the beaver plus the log remains at zero.

Conservation of momentum is one of the most important and universal of the conservation laws of physics; it holds true even in situations where modern theories
of physics apply. In particular, conservation of momentum is valid in quantum mechanics (see Quantum Theory), which describes atomic and nuclear phenomena, and in relativistic mechanics, which must be used when systems move with velocities that approach the speed of light (see Relativity).
According to Newton's second law of motion—named after the English astronomer, mathematician, and physicist Sir Isaac Newton—the force acting on a body in motion must be equal to its time rate of change of momentum. Another way of stating Newton's second law is that the impulse—that is, the product of the force multiplied by the time over which it acts on a body—equals the change of momentum of the body.


With that understanding of Momentum we turn to the Physicist’s explanation which follows – read carefully.


While light does indeed have no rest mass, it has momentum. It also has a relativistic mass, but this is concept is rather outdated. The term mass in modern terminology 'mass' refers to the invariant mass, which is zero for photons. This invariant mass is defined by

m = sqrt(E^2/c^4 - p^2/c^2)

where E is energy, c the speed of light, and p the momentum. In the case of light, p = E/c, so the mass is zero. But you already know that. The important thing is that light has a non-zero momentum despite having zero mass.

In an atom, there are electrons orbiting a nucleus in discrete energy levels. This just means that there are only certain distances from the nucleus an electron can be. When an electron becomes excited due to something transferring energy to it, the electron goes to a higher energy level, where it will stay there for an extremely short time. When the electron falls back to its original energy level, it emits a photon, and sometimes the photon is in the visible range of the spectrum. If you search for "Bohr atom" or "spectra" online, you should find some nice diagrams that illustrate this.

As for a light bulb, well, that's filled with an inert gas, usually argon. The bulb also contains a (usually) tungsten wire that carries the electric current. In a solid conductor, the current is generated by the movement of free electrons through the wire. The electrons bump into atoms along their way, and excite the bound electrons, causing them to go to a higher energy level. When the electrons return to their ground state, a photon is emitted. Metals tend to emit in the infa-red, which is invisible to humans. However, if heated to a high enough temperature, the metal will emit in the visible range of the EM spectrum.


This explanation seems very glib to me and smacks of the usual scientific game of naming things without actually understanding them. The fundamental problem here – in fact there are several fundamental problems. Consider that light has no mass at rest – because light is (presumably) never at rest. However, light does in fact have mass and this has been demonstrated (Einstein) because light bends when passed through a strong gravitational field. If a “photon” is emitted when an electron takes on energy that moves it to a higher shell and then returns to its natural state it gives up a photon – the photon has energy but no mass – except that it does have mass. In fact the electron has mass, better still the universe is essentially all energy and that energy has mass. This leaves with these questions:

• If the electron takes on energy and changes its state why doesn’t it take on Mass?

• If the electron gives up a photon when returning to its natural state where does the photon’s mass come from?

• If the electron never took on any mass when moving to the higher state and never lost any mass when returning and the energy level remained the same throughout then where did the photon’s mass come from? Why doesn’t the law of conservation of energy apply?

• If the free electron bumps into bound electrons why isn’t there any loss or gain of energy?


It seems to me that when two objects collide there is an exchange of kinetic energy but with electrons this doesn’t seem to apply – why? If that exchange is the photon and all it receives is energy then that energy has mass – but where did it come from since the electrons neither gained nor lost mass.

Obviously I am not a physicist and my questions might (probably do) parade my ignorance, but this whole explanation of the mass of a photon doesn’t ring true. I think – intuitively I admit – that photons have mass and that light can be captured and weapon-ized (Star Trek’s Photon Torpedoes). I think this is an illustration of how science is structured to fit the thinking of the scientists without any real explanation of what or why.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Managing Dead Horses

In my travails as a manager and a periodic lecturer on management, I am constantly amazed at how some managers, many of them highly placed, seem to continue making the same mistakes over and over again. Explaining good management practice never seems to penetrate because the lessons don’t seem to fit the problem as these managers perceive it. Sometimes, the lesson is best explained with an analogy and these are some examples of poor management as explained by a fellow project manager who has clearly encountered more than one of these management solutions to otherwise intractable management problems.

In terms of Project Management it is always a good plan to get off of a horse when you discover that it is dead, but this logic isn’t always followed by modern managers who seem to insist on alternative strategies. I’m sure you will recognize some of these strategies and may even have attempted some of them yourself, so here they are – the alternative strategies to dismounting a dead horse.
1. Changing Riders
2. Buying a stronger whip
3. Falling back on “This is the way we’ve always ridden”
4. Appointing a committee to study the horse
5. Appointing a committee to study the horse’s equipment
6. Arranging a visit to other sites to see how they ride their dead horses
7. Increasing the standards for the performance of dead horses
8. Increasing the standards for the performance of dead horse riders
9. Appointing a committee to revive the dead horse
10. Appointing a committee to review the acquisition standards for horses
11. Appointing a committee to review the job description for riders
12. Creating a training session to improve riding skills
13. Comparing the state of dead horses in today’s environment with those of previous decades to show that today’s dead horses are really an improvement
14. Changing the standards so that the horse is no longer technically dead
15. Hiring an external consultant to show how the dead horse can still be ridden
16. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase their collective performance
17. Increasing funding (horse feed) since the horse is obviously malnourished
18. Declaring that “No horse is too dead to ride”
19. Doing a study to determine if outsourcing will reduce the cost of riding the dead horse
20. Buying a computer program which is guaranteed to enhance dead horse performance and productivity
21. Declaring a dead horse more cost effective than a live one
22. Forming a process action group to find uses for dead horses
23. Promoting the dead horse to a position of greater responsibility

Did you wince? Did you recognize some of the actions you may have taken in the past when you discovered that a project you launched isn’t meeting expectations? Certainly it is easier to look back and criticize because hindsight is always 20:20 but then at the time some of these may have seemed quite reasonable. Of all of these the first one is the one that is most commonly implemented because it presumes the horse is dead because of the rider so what is needed is another rider. At the base of this strategy lies the manager’s belief that the project he initiated is sound but it is the leadership (not his of course) that failed. Sometimes this dead horse will have several riders and owners before a manager has the courage to declare the horse is dead and no rider can get it to run or even walk.

Another favorite and one that you see with company mergers, is the idea that if you can’t get the dead horse to perform, harness it to another dead horse in the hopes that they both will suddenly come to life and perform as never before. How many times have you observed this in the corporate world? Ironically, when this happens you sometimes get the Zombie effect as the two dead horses begin to shamble and stumble about in some semblance of competitive life.

The fact is that when the horse is dead – bury it. This is a hard lesson but it is surprising how many otherwise intelligent and reasonably competent managers can’t bring themselves to declare the horse is dead even though they can see it is lying on its back with all four feet straight up. But as an experienced Management Consultant, I must admit that in many cases the manager who has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the horse was dead was promoted to a higher level position seemingly reserved especially for dead horses with no discernible brain activity, frequently with such grand titles as Vice Chairman or even CEO. I guess this is attributed to the miracle of modern (management) medicine and it requires the intercession of an outside consultant to declare the horse is dead.


By way of disclosure this dead horse analogy is not original with me but I do not know its origin so I cannot attribute it to the original author. Only the comments are mine. C.