Thursday, April 18, 2013

To Combat Terrorism, A 'How To' case study

Firstly, in the interests of total disclosure, I supported the IRA as a child.  And I still support the cause of a united Ireland.   While I disagreed with many of their attacks, I STILL supported both the IRA and the Sinn Feinn (the political party that supported a Unified Ireland, free of British Rule)

This post is steeped in that belief, as is ALL my feelings on "terrorism"  However, MOSTLY this post is about how the British WON the battle with the IRA... (yes there are still hard core IRA cells out there...)

First I want to look at the old school ORIGINS of the fight.

Ireland was an independent country that was conquered by the English, and the Irish people were completely marginalized.  The Brits brought in their OWN lords, and peasants, and forced the Native Irish people out into the hinterlands.  They fought (WAY unsuccessfully for the ONLY country to defeat a Roman invasion...)

hundreds of years pass by, and there is a growing struggle between the Catholics and the Protestants.  Ireland (and the OLD native Irish) was mostly Catholic, and the 'newcomers'  (some of whom had been there for a hundred years or more) were protestant (CofE)... and there was a LOT of religious struggle between the 2 sides... But UNDERLYING that struggle was the struggle just to be free.

This came to stand up fights a few times in the latter half of the 18th century, culminating with the "Easter Rising" in 1916, which was the START of the IRA... Irish Republican Army  (which included MANY men of note, Padric Pierce, Eamonn DeValera(whom i named my eldest after) James Connelly, Michael Collins)

But Again, I digress

Fast Forward to the modern days... the 80's 90's and today.  Now since the 80's there have been plenty of Hollywood films that have covered the IRA, and the "Troubles"... and a LOT of support (especially on the East Coast) for the IRA.  Movies have painted the IRA as heroes AND Villains( "The Devils Own" "the Name of the Father" "Patriot Games" to name a few)  And Americans have likewise had mixed feelings about the IRA...

However THAT is not the point of my post.

THE POINT is to consider the 'end game' and see WHAT we can LEARN from it.!

lets look at the movement... the IRA...

First you have the 'hard core' people... who will keep fighting NO MATTER WHAT.

Secondly you have the "revenge seekers"  in SOME way these are the hardest to reach, however they STILL have some family, and are just motivated by PERSONAL feelings, rather than the OVERRIDING feelings of the 'Hardcore"

Thirdly  you have the "rational combatants"... in other words  those who have LIMITED goals in their heart,  They are TOTALLY committed to the cause(and are willing to DIE for the cause), however they see another way out... These people are OPEN to a compromise... BUT they are not willing to betray their compatriots

The Fourth and Fifth (and sometimes sixth ) level are very fluid... these are people who" support the goal" or have friends, lovers and family on the front line, and will support or harbor THEM

NOW we come to the Gist of my post... IE, How To Win.

you HAVE to separate those people from each other...

In America we have a "cut off the head" mentality, that is a carryover from WWII, because it WORKED... without Hitler, and his inner circle, the Nazi regime faltered and fell  and Germany went back to a democratic republican government.

HOWEVER that doesn't always work... ESPECIALLY when dealing with "Non State Actors"...

IMO, (and this is what Britain did with the IRA) you have to cut off the lowest levels...  in other words  GIVE 3,4 and 5 a COMPROMISE of their goals... (in Ireland it was Seats in Parliament, and a 'National' Representative gvmt over the northern 6)

So, THAT cuts the ankles of any terrorist movement out from under them.
At the same time, attack funding, and provisions .. but the REAL goal is to WIN over the third level... and get the 5th/6th level to win over the SECOND level FOR YOU

 The Basic idea is to provide the 'fence sitters' and thier families with ANOTHER option.  HOW can we fight an opponent in small villages when we DONT give them UP FRONT bonuses to supporting us, and the other side does??AlQ brings in a goat, we bring in nothing but "dreams of democracy"

NO, we have to meet their goat, and raise with medical support, irrigation knowledge, seeds,, etc...

we have to hold forth not only a future but a PRESENT that is undeniably better when they support US, and Democracy, than when they support the Jihadis...when the FAMILIES of those "revenge seekers" and "rational combatants" are getting better off, when there is SOME stability, even if it is just local... then SOME, if not MANY of those 2 and 3 fighters will come back home...

and when the day to day life is better NOW, than the support, the food shipments, the people who HIDE their friends and loved ones STOP hiding them, STOP sending food, and are willing to STAND UP and fight AGAINST the insurgants.... than, like a vine deprived of soil and water, it withers and dies...

DEFEATING terrorism CANT be just a military battle... we need to bring ALL our tools into play, social, economic, medical, educational, Technological,  food, farming, etc...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Jimmy Carter, the BEST ex president, AND the MOST Christ like president (at least in the 20th Century

Carter has been in the news a lot recently, at least his name.  Bill Maher raised him as an idol for Presidents, because he "didnt fire a shot" (not completely true... )  and Mr Carter himself was on "the Daily Show" this week.  I agree with most of the world that  He wasnt a particularly good president, Much like "w" he surrounded himself with like minded 'yes men'

However, AFTER his term as president, he returned to his roots.  He continued to teach bible studies, he CONTINUED to work with  Habitat for Humanity, and he used his name to create "the Carter Center"  This week, on 'The Daily Show" he talked about the Carter centers work in fighting Guinea Worms
This is a Nifty idea in the realm of urban renovation, renewal and recycling of Historic sites.  The city of Indianapolis is creating Apartments on the site of a historic minor league Baseball stadium, while maintaining the actual playing field in the center

The pictures show what could be a Beautiful site, maintaining a link to the past while drawing in new residents. and (hopefully) a more energy efficient building.  It looks like the existing overhang is going to be elevated from the roof, it will lower cooling costs for that section of the building, (a cheap and easy "green" choice

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Thought on the Economy

This is something that has been Near and dear to my heart for the last ten years or so.  For the last 4 years we have been hearing a lot about the "jobless recovery" and most conservatives have just blamed it on Obama.               ((Now, I am NOT defending him... I didn't vote for him, nor am i a strong supporter.  the BEST i can say is he was better than RoMoney... although i DO have my doubts about McCain, he MIGHT have been better))         But isn't the REAL problem that the 'investors" haven't been investing?  the "job creators" haven't been creating jobs??   SURE, Obama talked a good game, and I will admit, i kinda bought into it.  Frankly, i thought he had talked to some lower level gvmt leaders, the corps of Engineers, towns, counties, districts, and states and found places where a bit of cash would turn DIRECTLY to "shovel ready jobs"

HOWEVER, I digress...  Michael Steele, the former chair of the RNC said on Bill Mahers show that "No one is making  the necessary investments in these cities, No One is making the types of investments that are going to be necessary to have that  money get back into the flow of the economy so that those black owned, women owned, minority owned, (( and i say ANYONE owned)) businesses in Detroit, in Baltimore, and elsewhere in the country  can begin to invest in those jobs, EXPAND their oportunities,   and CREATE a Marketplace.  Everyone has sort of abandoned it..."

I personally think that there is a BIG problem with our economy... and that can be simplified into the fact that about 40% of our GDP is in the financial sector and WHAT does wall street ACTUALLY produce???  mostly it is just a bunch of people just shuffling chits around and somehow, MAGICALLY producing money.  without actuatly creating Wealth or economic Health...WHERE is our middle class?  Where is our long term worker that created a safe and secure future for himself?  

frankly, OUR COUNTRY has sold out the worker, the middle class in favor of Gorden Gekko.

I watch a lot of movies, and just recently i watched "gung Ho" with Michael Keaton...and it was a REALLY positive movie, about american know how, and american determination... and that is the LAST "pro union" movie i can remember... now we have "horrible bosses"

This Country needs an Enema

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mister Rick Warren.... I am SORRY

Yesterday, Pastor Rick Warrens Son committed suicide.

my heart, and sympathy goes out to the family.

I have NOTHING but sympathy in my mind for this man, on the untimely death of his son.
I can ONLY IMAGINE how he feels today, right now... the guilt he MUST be feeling... the second guessing of his every move...

"should i have done this"  
"COULD i have done that"...

should have
would have'
COULD have
I done something better...

I DONT know...

but me,

I only have the biggest hug to give him... it is a GREAT loss for Mr Rick,,and his family...

and i Do NOT want to cheapen it


and, most ESPECIALLY to anyone who calls themselves a christian


                   SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!

(and this goes for the christians too)

some of the worst nastiness was on the WND (a christian website) forums...

/FRELL, dont you listen to what your Christ Told you???

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Housing Collapse, a DIFFERENT view

Today, i ran into one of my LEAST favorite arguments concerning the current Recession.

"if it hadn't been for Barney Frank, and the Dems, pushing sub Prime house loans, we wouldn't be in this situation."  with the UNSPOKEN blame falling on poor families who tried to buy a house, and fell behind, either because of OTHER bills, or loss of work, or (most frequently) shady business dealings by the lender... IE variable rate mortgages, which jumped to 2,3 4 times the original amount after a year... so the banks could make their money, then repossess the house, and sell it again...

Well, there are MANY problems I have with this argument.  however I will not cover them all.  Right now, i just want to point out a few.

Firstly, the LENDERS were gaming the system, KNOWINGLY.... knowing they would get bailed out...
Secondly, the Banks and mortgage houses had a policy FROM THE TOP DOWN to make as much money in the short term as possible, no matter WHAT the cost to the economy...

However, the MOST important point I want to make is simple... no matter WHAT the Media has said, it WASN'T the poor/lower middle class home-buyer that was the MAIN problem.

lets think back like 5/10 years, and think about ALL the TV shows about "Flip this house"
a 'get rich quick scheme, where you buy a house, invest 10k in new rugs, new floors, maybe a new bathroom, then SELL it for 60k more than you bought it for...

THAT was the rage in the early part of this century.  
And people DID it... they bought a property and mortgaged it to do repairs, then took out a second mortgage to buy ANOTHER property... mortgage THAT one... repair, rent, second, third mortgage for a few more...

Until there were 5 or 10 or 15 properties, all tied into each other... So when ONE property couldnt be rented, and the bill came due, maybe for a month the owner could float it... shuffle things around... max out a credit card or two...

then came the REAL costs of ownership... repairs... mold, busted pipes, backed up toilet, missing shingles, flooding...  THEN the COST of being a property owner came due... and MANY owners were beyond their limit of what they could pay out of pocket... so either more mortgages, or default were their options...  they TRIED to game the system as long as they could but then one and 2 and 4 and 12 defaulted... which made it HARDER for a family in a house to refinance, or cut a deal...  and the WHOLE HOUSE OF CARDS collapsed... which was exacerbated by the amount of shuffling, trading, repackaging, ETC that the BANKS did...

I often use the metaphor of a chair to describe the 'economic collapse'.  It IS NOT a perfect metaphor, however it does work.  In my metaphor, the poor family is merely a support arm... sub prime loans are ONE leg, bank re-bundling  financial instruments, shuffling of debt are a second leg...  Shady economic choices and a debt ridden national policy, which puts NO ONE to work is the third... and the last is greed...

plain and simple greed...IT WAS GREED THAT PUT US HERE... both at the highest and lowest levels of society.  Greed and Envy... Envy is the fuel that feeds the fire of family, one person looks over at his neighbor, who has a similar job, but perhaps had less college debt to start off with,. or fewer children, or made a lucky investment... WHATEVER it is.... one person looks at another, of the SAME BASIC CLASS and says to herself "why don't  'I' have 'THAT'.... then greed and envy rear their ugly heads... and people look to even the score... 'keep up with the joneses'...

hence, we come here.... to a society of the WORST, impulses of humans, where there is LITTLE empathy, no heart, no soul... just 'get what you can while you can get it"

Frankly, THAT is NOT the America I was raised to believe in...

how about you?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cutting Gvmt spending.... the peoples voice ( Work in progress)

I have been watching last weeks "real Time" and Mr Maher had a GREAT segment where he had a camara person go back to NJ in the wake of sandy,a nd ask those "cut gvmt" conservatives "what should we cut...?"
and they couldnt give ONE thing that should be cut....

hell, i am a LIB and i can give you a bunch of places to cut GVMT spending... Firstly (and yes, this is kinda a passion of mine) CHANGE THE DEFENSE DEVELOPMENT CONTRACTS.

currently, DARPA signs contracts with companies that make it MORE expensive, on a year to year basis, to CANCEL a project than it does to keep it going forward.  lets look at the Osprey V-22 project.

ok, first of all, I LOVE the original goals of this program.
The IDEA was to create a VTOL platform that could get to the 'hot zone' significantly faster than the huey or the blackhawk.  and carry MORE troopers, with BETTER on sight heavy weapons support.

as for the v-22, almost EVERY time that the project got in front of the pentagon, it just got got a pass, and the "requirements" (from the pentagon) got limited....because the companies said "well, we can do this, but not that"

well, i am a WWII fan... and there was A LOT of cross company sharing... for THE COUNTRYS GOOD

the newest Osprey has NO FORWARD GUN.... therefore while our next gen  troop transport approaches the LZ, it is DEFENSELESS....  because the Osprey developers COULD NOT just plug in an APACHE forward gun control system

Speculative Fiction (SciFi) and the future (under construction)

I read a lot of books, fiction and non...

but my BIG passion is for SciFi... and I have been the brunt of many jokes for my love of SciFi... however (and this isnt a

The Mission

This is the mission statement from my old Myspace Blog.  I still think it is Relevant to what i am doing here and now, so i repost it, with my own permission, it IS after all, what still intend to do

1: Encourage and engage in discussion and debate on ALL ideas.  The ability to change ones mind when presented with rational arguments is VITAL both the people, and, more so, the Government.

2: combat fuzzy headed radicals and demagogues on BOTH sides of "the Aisle"  knee jerk environmentalists and affirmative action nuts are just as annoying as Fundie Christians ((i say christians solely cause they are the ones in power in this country))

3: Debunk, Dismiss, and Destroy ANY idea or belief held solely on an emotional level ((at least when it comes to government... religion is, by its very nature emotional and held without proof...even mine))

4: Encourage Solely Rational beliefs and arguments, while instruscting people as best i can how to RECOGNISE both kinds of beliefs, ideas and arguments.

5:strip the power (unfairly gained) from the political partys, special interest groups, corporations and lobbiests and return it WHOLE cloth to where it belongs.  We, The People.

6: Increase the direct power the people hold over the government.  Transparancy, accountability and rationality in government serve to better ALL our lives.

7:Further the "grand Experiment" that is this country, To Wit by attempting to create a "More Perfect" union of personal freedoms with political expediency.  For too long we have been resting on our laurels and pursuing our own greedy, selfish little goals and ignoring the gredual degridaton of our democracy... eventually in every society, there comes time for a change,  usually marked by the period known as "bread and Circusses"  (or in our case, the crazy years)  however we stand on the brink of drastic change, and STILL have the power to enforce that change WITHOUT violence... which could, in and of itself usher in a age of peace...

About the Think Tank, Welcome

Greetings and Salutations, Friends, Neighbors, and Countrymen (and Women)

As this is my first Blog, I will begin with an introduction.  I am a 36yr old, married father of 2.  All my life i have been a political and social observer.  I have traveled the country, camping with my parents throughout most of the country, seeing beautiful places and meeting interesting people, watching, listening, and above all learning.  I am a Man of wide and varied interests, from science (both 'hard' and 'soft') to history, literature, theatre, movies, books (probably my main passion... RIF).  I have some college and trade education (not enough in my opinion) and have continued my education through books and this wonderful thing we call the internet.

The Main Purpose of this blog is as a commentary on the current state of politics in this country.
I believe, as do many of my fellow Americans, that this country has many problems, and is approaching a tipping point.  Unfortunately, the politics of this country do not seem to be addressing some of the fundamental problems with our Government or society.  Rather, the Duocracy that rules in Washington applies mere bandaids and  kicks the ball down the field.  The downside of this policy, which has been the status quo for at least my life, if not much of my Parents lives.

to quote a bumper sticker, "politicians and diapers need to be changed often, and for the same reason"

or to more correctly sum up my thoughts (and misquote Nicholson's Joker) "This Country needs an Enema

Therefore, while i comment on the topics of the day, many of my thoughts and posts are going to concentrate on the question

What can We do Different to correct the problems we are faced with?

To that end, I have been thinking, reading and learning, starting with a "thought exercise" from my HS years.  How would I write the constitution?  This idea was further influenced by Robert Heinlein's Posthumously  published utopia, titled "For Us, The Living" where he posited a second american constitutional convention whose constitution was voted as an amendment to the original  instantly supplanting and overriding the First constitution, WITHOUT violent revolution.  In fact, this constitution was the single platform of a third party candidate for president in a time of strife, civil unrest, corruption,  polarity, and Depression.
kinda like we have been living in for the past dozen years+

So, i will intermittently be presenting ideas for how to radically change the government, and society, from the ground up, from the top down, and everywhere in between.

For the most part, i concentrate on (in no specific order) healthcare, economic strength/health, (which is different than just growing the GDP) Military (which, while i support, i also think is almost FUBAR.... especially DARPA and acquisitions) political parties, education, welfare...

wait, that is about the whole government...

as a last note, few of my ideas are actually MY ideas. Many, if not most of my ideas and thoughts have been gleaned, harvested and stolen from other thinkers, Ranging from experts like Gen. T. Zinni and R. Smith, Martin Gross, H. Lakoff, to "gifted laymen" (and mostly Speculative fiction writers" like Michael Z Williamson, Robert Heinlein, KS Robinson, T Kratman, LE Modessett, Jr etc.

My gift, talent and particular genius is in synthesis... taking ideas from disparate parts and places, and molding them into a cohesive whole.  I will never (or rarely) claim to have the 'perfect' answer... and i am ALWAYS open to good arguments opposing me.  LOGICAL arguments to be precise.  Additionally, presented with a well thought out logical argument, i have been known to change my mind, or at least modify it.  do not be suprised if one post contradicts in some way an earlier one.  this is LIFE... nothing is the same and we all grow through our individual lives.  our experiences inform our future statements and thoughts.