Archive for July, 2008

Kids R From Jupiter

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

As challenging as it is for a man and woman–who love each other–to get along. It is nearly insurmountable to come to grasp with how to get along with your kids.

Dr John Gray wrote the famous Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus book in 1993. In it he points out some differences between men and women–besides the obvious–and argues that happier relationship can be achieved by acknowledging and accepting them. It sold a lot of copies back then and is still popular today. Some folks say it actually helped their lives. I remember giving it a try back then, but we gave up on it and just decided to have kids. Now if someone could just write a guide on how kids differ from parents, that might be worth reading–if it revealed how to get along with them.

They must be from Jupiter. Think about it.

Jupiter is the most massive planet in the solar system, which is pretty much symbolic of how much the average parents think about their kids. Even as an empty-nester, you can get all dressed up and go out on the town–and what do you talk about?
Your kids. You can’t help yourselves.

Jupiter has four planet-sized moons and at least 59 smaller moons. That would represent all the friends your kids have, that you don’t know about. They have names like Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. They sound like street names for a bunch of other-people’s kids. And your kids spend more time with their friends than they do with you. Just like Jupiter.

According to NASA, Jupiter resembles a star. Most kids believe they are stars–or even superstars. But alas, Jupiter would need to be about eighty-times more massive to actually become a star. Now does that explain it all? Your kids think they’re a star, but they really don’t have what it takes to become one. Yeah, that was mean. So what?

Did you notice the famous red spot? It supposed to be a huge storm. Maybe it represents the anger our kids have because they’re not natural stars. Then again, it might represent the growing popularity of tattooing, piercing and notching–attracting attention through tribal-like marring of their bodies. Or maybe it just represents self-induced chaos. What ever it stands for–it seems like it applies to our kids.

Jupiter’s year is much longer that Earth’s year. Maybe that is why it takes kids five or six years to finish a four-year degree. And because they are in a distant orbit, they take a lot longer to get around the Sun. No matter how much advice you give them, it seems they have to go their own way.

Eventually, they get where they’re going. Maybe it’s all for the better. Jupiter in all likelihood needs to stay where it is.

If Jupiter tried to move in close and share our orbit, there’d probably be some sort of a collision and precious little room left for us. And then nobody would be happy.

It just makes sense.

Just Words

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” William Shakespeare’s “As You Like it” Act II: Scene VII. As spoken by the character Jaques.*

Famous words. The character Jaques goes on to identify the seven stages of a man’s life in this oft-quoted Shakespeare passage.

But did you see what I did?

I gave credit to the source of those words. I did that because they’re not really mine.

Even though I could have just used them–the copyright limitations expired long ago–there is probably a lot of people who would read them and get the impression that I’m quite the bard. But if I resorted to such deceitful tactics, eventually someone, such as yourself, would read the words only to get the impression that I’m a liar, a cheat, and a thief. But I didn’t do it, so stay with me and I’ll explain where I’m going with this.

When I was merely a teen, I saw the movie Patton starring George C. Scott in the post theater at Fort Lee Virginia. The famous speech to his troops is legendary. It’s been copied and mocked ever since.

America was struggling for good leadership in those days. I remember believing, in my still-growing mind, that George C. Scott was the man we needed to lead our Army. Yes, that sounds silly now. Being young, dumb and whatever else–I was fooled.

That’s not a bad thing for an actor to do to the audience.

The best actors are the ones who are gifted enough to make you actually believe they are the character they are playing. George C. Scott was a brilliant and gifted actor. But he was not like the real George S. Patton. I didn’t learn that until I watched another movie that starred Scott, which was made three-years earlier. It was called the Flim-Flam Man.

Scott played the character Mordecia Jones, who was a con-artist whose motto was “you can’t cheat an honest man.” He was a master of lying, cheating, and stealing–everything that Patton was not. Mordeica Jones was a parasite. I was nearly mortified until I felt my brain grow.
Once again Scott had proved himself to be such a great actor that he touched my soul. Scott’s performance helped me to understand the difference between a man who reads scripts well and looks good on camera from great Americans who have led our nation in times of crisis.

Like everyone, I remember 9-11 well. I was working with in an Air Force command center as the attack on our homeland began. As the event progressed, I was concerned not only about the attack but also because my generals lacked answers. They stopped being generals. They had never been trained for this. Nothing was scripted. In military contingencies they practice checklist procedures over and over–with tutoring as required–until they appear to be as smart and in-control as we’d expect them to be.

But 9-11 was different. Nothing was scripted.

Seeing my senior leaders appear as confused as everyone else was initially disheartening. But it helped me to understand that there is a difference between leaders and great leaders.

Later on that infamous day, Air Force One came to our base. President Bush made an impromptu speech to the nation via our facilities.
Before he left to lead our nation’s reaction to the unprovoked attack, he talked with my generals. I wasn’t in the room, but they came out quickened. Confusion was lifted. They were not afraid. They held their heads high. They looked like generals again. They were generals again.

We are bombarded with propaganda almost daily suggesting our President is a fake, but I know better. My generals know better. George Bush is a great leader.

Now, I told you those stories so I could tell you this.

We have a presidential candidate who often uses other people’s words as his own. Here’s one example. Here’s another. In each of these Obama uses the exact words Deval Patrick used years earlier. Seeing and listening to the recordings next to each other clearly suggest something is wrong. But not everyone agrees it is wrong.

In Obama’s defense, he has said he didn’t steal these words because he was given them by Deval Patrick. They are friends and often swap words, or something like that.

But do you see anything wrong with it?

Maybe. Because it gives the impression when he is speaking that they are his words. He didn’t just put the concept in his own words, he recited the words exactly. If there’s nothing wrong with it, then its more like acting. No, it is acting. Merely reciting a script. Just words. Written by someone else. Practiced. Polished. Until they can fool most of the audience.

When Joe Biden said that Obama was “articulate” it created quite a stir in some circles. The complaint went something like since Obama was a senator–of course he was articulate. In addition, some people considered the comment to be racist. They said that Biden was suggesting Obama was somehow not expected to be able to speak well because he was black. Most Americans know by now that Obama’s father is African and his mother is not. Nevertheless, that word “articulate” is often used to describe Obama’s speech presentations both by conservatives and those who are not.

But how is he under pressure? What happens if his tele-prompter or the mic in is ear malfunctions? Here’s an example. Obama gets lost, unable to complete his presentation when his audio feed is disrupted.

The Bristol Virginia gaffe is not an isolated event. It seems there are more and more of them, but you just don’t see them on the news very often. You don’t hear much about them unless you scan YouTube or listen to talk radio. And if you do, you’d know there has been some discussion that Obama’s speech writers may have borrowed heavily from popular music lyrics for his Berlin performance. Just words.

I think actors are important. What would we do in our spare time without them?

Some folks have argued that Ronald Reagan was an actor, somehow believing the fact meant he should not have been President.  They leave out the fact that he did other things also.  Things like being Governor of California for twelve years.  That trumps the actor experience.  No one in their right mind could believe actors, even ones who pretended to be Presidents on TV or movies, are qualified to be a real president.  It would be like believing Tom Cruise is qualified to be a fighter pilot because he played Maverick in “Top Gun.”  As a more personal example, would you want Alan Alda (a.k.a. Hawkeye Pierce from M.A.S.H) performing emergency surgery on you?

Don’t be misled by practiced words that flow sweetly from the lips of pretenders. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a flim-flam man and a great leader. But much depends on your ability to do so.

If you fail in that task, the last part any of us play may be that of the disenfranchised citizen; sans money, sans property, sans freedom.

It just makes sense.

*The entire passage is:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy,
with his satchel
And shining morning face,
creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace,
with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

— (Act II, Scene VII, lines 139-166)

One More Last Chance for Iran

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Iran is teetering on a political precipice. Very soon it will fall one of two ways.

Iran will either back down or get shut down.

They’ve adopted an anti-civilization stance since their muslim-revolution in 1979. They purged themselves, fought with their neighbors, threaten the world, and sent terrorists to kill the people in many places. They were identified as a charter member of the “Axis of Evil” by the President of the United States. And have been sponsoring the terrorists in the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT). Even with a stack of sins that high, they weren’t on the edge of what is about to happen.

What put them on the brink of doom is their well-publicized effort to acquire nuclear weapons and their public declaration that they will destroy the nation of Israel. Any reasonable reader of the news should be able to deduce that Iran intends to use nuclear weapons against Israel some time after they get them. Since it appears that nothing short of national disintegration will change their minds, the only solution is to deny Iran the ability to possess nuclear weapons.

As much as a nuclear attack on America would bother us, a geographical small nation like Israel couldn’t absorb the attack and expect to recover. Thus is seems that nothing short of national disintegration will prevent them from doing everything they must to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Some say it would be impossible for Israel to succeed with such a mission against Iran.

That’s what some people said prior to the successful 1981 mission against Hussein’s nuclear reactor in Iraq and the surprising 2006 mission against the “secret” nuclear reactor in Syria. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, it does suggest more truth than those who oppose freedom’s war against terrorism.

Suppose Iran doesn’t back down. Suppose Israel decides Iran is about to have functional nuclear weapons. Suppose no other nations shut down Iran. Then one of two things will happen.

The first possible outcome is that Israel once again pulls off the impossible. They destroy the 1000-megawatt nuclear plant at Bushehr and the other two-dozen or so suspected nuclear targets. In the process they out-think and out-fight what ever defensive actions Iran tosses at them. Standing in the rubble of extensive national damage and total embarrassment Iran would have two choices.

Choice one: Cut their losses and back down. Squeal to the UN and complain about the aggression of Israel, producing nothing more than a tongue-lashing for Israel. Israel, believing they saved their own lives, would tacitly accept the short season of talk. Eventually indigenous forces for change inside of Iran would prevail and they would have regime change.

Choice two: Iran squirts out of their borders with their diminutive airpower only to have most, if not all of it converted into smoking holes in the sand. Iran’s neighbors are not likely to give them free-transit of their airspace. Most of Iran’s neighbors are friendly enough with America to request assistance as needed. Having failed in the air, they would try to shut down the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz. After one or two successful attacks against merchant vessels, American air and sea power would neuter Iran’s ability to project power. Civil unrest at the embarrassing turn of events would most likely produce a violent regime change.

Another outcome supposes something different. Suppose Israel’s attack is unable to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then Iran will most likely use their nuclear weapons on Israel. Maybe even on some of their other neighbors, but certainly against Israel.

Thanks to Jimmy Carter the world has little doubt that Israel has more than 100 nuclear weapons.

Let’s suppose Iran’s nuclear strike on Israel is successful. Israel would have little need for their nuclear weapons after they’ve been wiped off the map. Thus, they would at least give a major portion of their arsenal to Iran. Pointy end first. The parties in the streets of Iran’s major cities would be short-lived. The bowl of death produced by the nuclear shock-waves rebounding off the mountain ranges around Tehran would probably be studied for years by nuclear weapons experts. There would probably be little left of the near 13 million who live there now. But that would be from just one of the more than 100 weapons that would rain down on the Iranians. The small bands of survivors in the less populated areas of Iran would eventually be assimilated by their neighbors as the land became more inhabitable. The ultimate regime change.

The really ugly part of that entire scenario is that it would establish a precedent for using nuclear weapons in war. A pity for twenty-first century humanity, especially after over 60 years of investment by Americans to deter use of such destructive weapons.

But that’s what happens with rogue nations are not convinced to back down.

When will the attack happen?

According to John Bolton, former American ambassador to the UN, the attack will take place between the November 4, 2008 presidential election and swearing in of whoever replaces George W. Bush on January 20, 2009. Thus George W. Bush will be in command of the American response to Israel’s bombing of Iran.

So is all lost?

Not yet. You might have read in the news about the American envoy going to Geneva this week for the Iran nuclear talks. It hasn’t gotten as much attention as the Obama cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker or Jackson’s vulgar language but it’s much more important than either of those.

It is completely out of step with American policy. Presidents have been impeached for less. Yet, the civilized-world’s leader is sending Williams Burns, the third highest-ranking American diplomat to Geneva. The cover story is that he’s there to listen.

Of course we know that diplomats are best at talking, not listening. Is it possible that America is going to give Iran one more last chance? Will Mr. Burns say something like, “Let me help you save yourself from embarrassment, pain, and national suicide. Back down or get shutdown.” Will he? I hope so.

It just makes sense.

Party Pooper

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Five Hundred and Fifty metric tons of yellowcake. That’s a lot.

A metric ton is equal to a little over 2204 pounds. So 550 of them is just on the shy side of 1 1/4 million pounds. Needless to say, over a million pounds of anything is a huge amount. Thus, 550 metric tons of yellowcake is a huge amount of yellowcake.

No joke.

The Canadians bought the huge amount of yellowcake from the Iraqi government. The US military saw to its safe shipment via aircraft then by ship. Canada will process the yellowcake into energy-producing nuclear fuel. Yellowcake even in its raw form is a radioactive hazard. Now this potentially hazardous material is going to be used for good and not for the evil it was intended.

Certainly the former leftist ruler of Iraq, Hussein was his name, never intended for any good to come of his WMD seed. Even with his body digested by worms, the remnants of his nuclear weapons development program still was a threat to civilized people.

Imagine suicide terrorists padding their underwear-bombs with a few pounds of radioactive yellowcake as they went about their dastardly deeds. Now don’t imagine it, because America and its allies have prevented that from happening.

At least that time. At least in that place. America had the leadership with the determination to do what they believed to be the right thing to do. Since Americans were unable to deter Hussein from plotting, preparing, and performing evil, the next best thing was to invade, dispatch his fielded forces, and force a regime change. The criminal had to be stopped.

To have allowed Hussein’s fascist forces to fully develop nuclear weapons for employment against the civilized world would have been criminal on America’s part. Even though the powerful press in America continued to insist there were no WMD in Iraq, even though influential left-bent politician in America continued to call for the impeachment of President Bush, even though evil still stands strong in some rogue nations, America went the distance.

And it worked.

The terrorists invaders have nearly been completely pushed out of Iraq in a war of attrition. The strategic sponsors of the terrorist fielded forces have been mostly untouched, except for the former regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, which were annihilated. Because the people of Iraq recognized Operation Iraqi Freedom as a liberation campaign within the Global War on Terror (GWOT), they joined forces with the civilized nations of the world. Soon Iraq will be cleansed of any large scale terrorist forces. But the GWOT will continue. It’s not over.

If the majority of the well-financed, left-leaning Americans would stop for a moment and realize that the terrorists are not their buddies, not their ideological soul-mates, they are their want-to-be executioners–then the war could end soon. Before that can happen, those same folks will have to understand that Hussein had a huge amount of yellowcake in his basement. He was planning a surprise death day party for a huge amount of people.

George W. Bush was Hussein’s party-pooper. Thank God for George W. Bush.

It just makes sense.