Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Marco Rubio Question

Well Mitt Romney may or may not be vetting Marco Rubio as a potential running mate, depending on who you believe.
Senator Rubio seemed more interested in hawking his recently released memoir on this Sunday’s Meet the Press than engaging in speculation about the Vice Presidential nomination.
In politics, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate.
Picking Senator Rubio has many advantages.
 First, he’s a popular senator from a battleground state (Florida.)
Secondly, because of his Hispanic heritage, he may be able to help Romney make inroads among the Hispanic voters that will play a key role in determining who the president is in January of 2013.
Rubio also comes with a fair number of risks.
 Going with a fresh name doesn’t always pay dividends. John Mccain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, and although she pleased the base, she inspired a fury among Democrats and Moderates.
 Your VP selection should not alienate potential voters.
 Secondly, Marco Rubio hasn’t even served a full term in the Senate yet.
President Obama had similar experience when vaulting to the presidency and  many Republicans chide him for creating the worst presidency since Jimmy Carter.
Yet some Republicans want to put a man of comparable experience one seat from the presidency? I haven’t seen Rubio do enough for me to put my faith in his ability to be president.

The Perils of Picking A Vice President

Sometimes when picking a running mate, safe is sexy.
 While “sexy” picks like Marco Rubio or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie grab headlines, they run the risk of overshadowing the dubiously popular Mitt Romney.
 Trust me, it is not a good thing to have the Vice President overshadow the President.
Unfortunately, a presidential run may also be cursed, if one doesn’t pick the “sexy” candidate there could be a letdown among supporters because your chosen candidate fails to rally the base.
 Oh the perils of picking a vice president!

When the IRA meets The Queen

Apparently the former head of the Irish Republican Army and Queen Elizabeth shook hands under high security in England today.
The IRA and its’ various splinter organizations have been fighting an intermittent gruella war against Britain for the last hundred years. The organizations stated goal has been the creation of an independent Northern Ireland.
Despite the fact that the handshake makes great press, I’m not sure how effective the gesture is in terms of a national security strategy.
 Judging by the level of security, the Queens people weren’t exactly convinced of the IRA’s intentions either.
The fact of the matter is that the IRA has splintered so much in recent decades that even if the queen shakes hands with the former IRA head, he may not speak for every element within the organization anymore.
Some IRA members still believe in the strategy of sporadic guerrilla car bombings, while other members have laid down their guns and given the recently devolved political processes throughout Scotland and Wales a chance.
My main point here, is that there’s not just one IRA anymore and we shouldn’t read too much into a single, highly guarded, handshake.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When Advertisers Go for Duh! Value

Thought I would close today’s blogging with something fun. Over the weekend, I caught Lifetime Televisions’ new slogan: Your life. Your time. Lifetime.

My first thought was fire the ad agency that came up with it because Lifetime was likely charged thousands of dollars for something that a seven year old could come up with.

Then I got to thinking, what if we did same thing for sports? Here’s some that I came up with off the top of my head…

NASCAR: We Race Cars 

Major League Baseball:  Baseball at the highest level

NHL: We Play Hockey

The Olympics: Here’s a Bunch of Sports

Any others?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When Politics Forgets About People

It is not an uncommon view to say that politicians have forgotten about the people in the pursuit of high office and money from special interest groups.

 When politicians discuss issues like jobs, education, and immigration, they seem to know the line of electability “we need more ______________, but they fail to understand that there are people behind these statements who need something beyond electoral buzzwords.

Even worse, a candidate for president went throughout the Southern United States blithering about cheesy grits as though the great people of Alabama and Mississippi were ignorant children needing to be talked down to.

Those people are people whose votes you need, you might want to act like you give a damn.

No party is above contempt in this regard, a great number of Democrats also treat their perspective voters as misbehaving children too.

How would the Romneys and Obamas of the world like it, if we just walked up to them, patted them on the head and cooed “That’s a good little presidential candidate”?

5-4: The Problem with the Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court is still one of the most popular institutions in America (despite declining poll numbers)

Within the next few weeks, the Court will hand down its’ decisions for the term.

 The most anticipated of these decisions will be the health care reform bill dubbed “Obamacare."

Although I believe that the Supreme Court is the proper venue for such challenges, the 5-4 nature of these decisions often creates more problems than they solve.

Earl Warren took great pains to ensure a 9-0 decision in Brown vs. Board of Education because he understood its’ importance. We need more 9-0 decisions and less of these 5-4 decisions.

5-4 decisions imply a sharply divided court that could change its’ decision, if a justice is replaced due to retirement or death.

When a majority is that slim and malleable, we really fail to meaningfully settle important constitutional questions for the long term.

The Notion of Playing Politics

When President Obama announced the change to his immigration policy on Friday, Mitt Romney was quick to call it “playing politics.”

 There’s an election in four months, just in case you missed the memo.

 Of course, this is a political move. Mitt Romney, we didn’t need you to tell us this.

 By the way, Mitt Romney having been the Governor of Massachusetts are you trying to imply that you never did anything to give yourself a political advantage?

 If your implying that, I’m prepared to call you a liar.

My larger point is not engage immigration itself, but rather the concept of “playing politics.” It’s always baffling when one party does something, then the other party calls it playing politics.

Apparently, they forgot their own record during previous administrations. What makes one party superior than the other?

 Republicans play politics every bit as much as Democrats.

This whole notion of “playing politics” during a presidential election just smacks of trying to pander for votes, among people who don’t give much thought to politics.

Playing politics is what politicians do, so both parties need to stop playing the victim.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Now Comes Government: The Greek Election Fallout

The conservative party that supports austerity measures and continued membership in the European Union won Sunday’s vote. Ironically, that may have been the easy part.
Now they have to begin the complicated task of forming a coalition government.
Because of the complex nature of the task awaiting the perspective Greek government, they want to form a majority cabinet that can force through its’ agenda.
However, you also want to form this majority using the fewest number of parties possible. A large number of parties means a greater number of interests that need to be accounted for. Agreements become tougher.
I think we can all agree that the last thing the Greek people need right now is the self-interest of politicians.
 Yet, playing politics is a big part of what makes a politician, a politician.
 Just because Greece is in trouble, doesn’t mean that the Greek people should expect politicians to come back to humanity.
I’m very much afraid that the election was the easy part for Greece.

Egypt: Between Islamists and the Military

The Muslim Brotherhood candidate won the two day Egyptian presidential election.
 In the wake of this victory, the Egyptian military has made a grab for unprecedented powers. The Egyptian military does not appear willing to give up power without a fight. Egypt has been ruled by military figures and strongmen for almost forty years.
 For its’ part, the United States government has expressed concern about the military, not respecting the election results, a key element of any democratic process.
The Egyptian military should respect the election results. That’s the bottom line.
 Egypt is primarily a Muslim country, so the Muslim Brotherhoods electoral victory should’ve been expected.
 But then again, the military in Egypt has no real interest in democracy or democratic processes. Military officials are ultimately concerned about their position and role within the government in Egypt.
This standoff between the electoral reality in Egypt and the militaries historic role was sadly too predictable. Hopefully, we can settle it without blood in the streets.

Wall Street Never Learns: Spanish Bailout Edition

When the Spanish bailout was announced last Sunday night, it was expected that this action would cause the markets to surge higher.

 This belief was predicated on the idea that markets hate uncertainty. Well, if the markets uncertainty, why is this bailout reason to go on a stock buying spree?

The bailout does not solve Spain’s debt problem. All the bailout does, is buy Spain some time to formulate a plan to deal with its’ debt.

 Since the market doesn’t know whether Spain can formulate such a plan, I can’t understand how these markets who hate uncertainty can see a bailout as a prudent reason to go crazy buying stocks, since we could be in the same position six months from now?

Sounds like the same short-sided, live for today attitude that nearly led us into a global financial collapse to me. Readers?

Europe: Too Big to Fail

In the aftermath of the 2008 U.S. financial crisis the phrase “too big to fail” became a part of Americans social vocabulary.

The recent bailout in Spain and the turmoil in Greece, give me heart that “too big to fail” isn’t just an American thing.

As a general rule, I don’t like the notion of giving bailouts to countries that spent like there’s no tomorrow during good times, and now find themselves knee deep in debt.

Private citizens would not be afforded such opportunities, why should governments be so special?

The interconnected and global nature of the world economy is what makes governments special. If Spain and Greece go belly up, they take economic interests in Europe and the United States with them.

I don’t think people can understand that point enough. Having a globalized economy means that our fates are interconnected, whether we like it or not.

What we should be rallying against throughout the United States and Europe is the culture and circumstance that have made “too big to fail” institutions okay.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review of “At War With PTSD: Battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Virtual Reality"

Robert N. Mclay acknowledges that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is one of the most difficult disorders to treat because it doesn’t show up on our most advanced medical tests, there’s no one treatment that works for everyone, and it’s often hard to convince people that PTSD exists.
 In “At War With PTSD: Battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Virtual Reality, Mclay takes us through the emotionally raw journey of using virtual reality to treat soldiers with PTSD.
 Several of the early chapters are devoted to explaining PTSD through both psychological definitions, and personal stories that help illustrate the effects PTSD can have. 

There’s nothing terribly overpowering about the psychological lingo as Mclay writes in an easy to understand conversational manner.
Then he discusses the doubters of PTSD and the pitfalls of wanting to study virtual reality as a form of treatment for PTSD.
Perhaps most interesting was the sections where he discusses the competing companies who manufacture the virtual reality gear because I already figured that it might be difficult to get soldiers to accept the reality of PTSD.
The premise behind virtual reality for PTSD is that soldiers have suffered some trauma. Using virtual reality, we can create something that closely resembles this traumatic event and give the soldiers the opportunity to deal with it.
What I really liked was that Mclay does not portray himself as the god of PTSD, by illustrating that there is no perfect treatment for PTSD.
 I further appreciated that he remembered that the soldiers’ families have to deal with PTSD as well.
Overall, a thoughtful and cautious, yet hopeful, look into PTSD and virtual reality.

No Good Choices: The Greek Election

Today’s election in Greece offers no good choices in a country that is running out of time.

 Do Greeks battered by massive unemployment, austerity measures, and European Union brokered bailout plans stay with the European Union or leave the Euro Zone?

Greeks want to stay in the European Union, but realities inside Greece may override this desire.

As unemployment grows and people become more insecure about their money, the domestic standing of parties favoring continued presence in the EU falters.

Complicating matters, European leaders have said that there will be no renegotiation of the terms of the Greek bailout. This would probably lead to a Greek exit from the Euro Zone and untold economic chaos.

Staying in the EU really doesn’t fix anything either.

Assuming Greece does form a government (we’ve already done the election thing once this year), it will be tasked with yet more painful austerity cuts that have led to riots in the streets and an increasing number of suicides.

They’ll also encounter a Greek state that is disillusioned with government and in need of jobs. The new leaders will further have to do a delicate juggling act between the domestic need for jobs and order with international demands for plans on debt relief.

I don’t envy the alleged winner of this election, or the Greek people.

What the West wants in Egypt

While neither candidate in Egypt’s presidential election would seem to embody the spirit of Egypt’s revolution, does the West have a favorite among the two candidates?

The United States has enjoyed decades of friendly relations under the Sadat and Mubarak regimes.

Considering the West’s fear of Islamic governance and the Muslim Brotherhoods statements against Israel, it is quite likely that Western governments would welcome the victory of Mubarak’s former Vice President.

Policy makers would view his victory as a continuation of Mubarak policies, which were often beneficial to Western governments.

What about Revolution? Egypt’s Presidential Election

Last January, Egyptians celebrated in the streets after longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak stepped down after days and weeks of protesting, clashes with police, and bloody violent death.

 Today in Egypt, I can’t help but wonder, what those brave souls who spilled their blood to stand against Mubarak’s dictatorial rule would say about the choices being afforded Egyptians going to the polls this weekend ?

The Egyptian people have a choice between Mubarak’s last Vice President and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The former is a symbol of the old regime, while the ladder wishes to impose Islamic law throughout Egypt.

If one votes for either candidate, they have in effect betrayed the twin spirits of democracy and freedom that led so many into the streets, and ultimately cost some people their lives.

This lack of choice is distressing, but not uncommon.

Many democratic revolutions often get bogged down once the original goal of ousting the dictator is achieved. The key is not the election itself, but how the Egyptian people react to the outcome of the election.

 They can either take to the streets and seize the revolution from the clutches the bureaucracy or let the revolution wither away, leaving democracy advocates to question: “What About Revolution”?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Problem of Militants in Pakistan

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta paid a visit to Kabul last week and declared that the United States was reaching “the limit of our patience” with Pakistan’s sheltering of insurgents, who then cross the border and attack Western troops and Afghans.
 You know what I’m sick of Leon Panetta? The uninterrupted line of U.S. presidents from Carter through Obama who continue to believe that Pakistan plays anything more than token lip service to anything we say on the issue of Afghanistan.
The Pakistani president can't do much more because he risks a military coup, if he is seen as overly aggressive in capturing militants.

Factions within the state intelligence bureau, the ISI and military fund groups that commit terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
 But yet, we’re pretending that we’re friends because they provide easy access to Afghanistan.
It would be very refreshing, if just one U.S. president could have the guts to admit that Pakistan is a terrorist haven.

Al Qaeda: To Capture or Kill?

There’s an interesting debate taking place on Capitol Hill concerning whether we should capture or kill members of Al Qaeda.
 Proponents of capturing senior Al Qaeda members site the intelligence value that might be gleamed from their capture and interrogation. In addition, they also note that the drone strikes that have killed many militants have angered governments from Pakistan to Yemen.
Advocates of killing Al Qaeda stress a need to take Al Qaeda members out of the field of battle. An added consideration is the cost of drones compared to the cost of sending an intervention force into a Pakistan or Yemen.
 While I understand both viewpoints, I have serious reservations about capturing Al Qaeda operatives that cause me to lean towards the kill model pursued by President Obama.
Al Qaeda is not one entity, but rather a bunch of smaller organizations, who are largely operated with a fair degree of autonomy. The cell structure is typically smaller (3-4 people) as well, meaning that capturing even the most senior leaders of Al Qaeda may provide limited intelligence value.
 Capturing terrorist leaders also implies that once in custody, terrorists will tell the truth.
Pardon me, if I don’t feel comfortable trusting my security to the truthfulness of men who dedicate themselves to the task of convincing people to blow themselves up because they consider it sanctioned by Allah.

Phoenix Flashlight Bomber

On the blog today, we are going to talk a little terrorism.
Police in the Phoenix area are investigating several incidents involving flashlight bombs. These “flashlight bombs” are basically explosive devices placed inside flashlight covers and then left on the ground. When an unsuspecting person picks up the flashlight and turns it on, there’s an explosion.
 Though no one has been seriously injured, these devices have the potential to cause serious damage.

These flashlight bombs are representative of both new terrorism and so called lone wolf terrorism.

Here, a single man can rig a common household object with an explosive device without a tremendous financial cost or the need for a large group of people.

There’s been so much focus on large scale terrorist attacks like 9-11 or the underwear bomber. A terrorist attack doesn't have to be 9-11 to be effective. 

 If we’re ever going to meaningful combat terrorism, we must not lose sight of smaller scale operations like the flashlight bomber or else we will ultimately lose the battle against terrorism.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review of The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist

When I heard that David Crist was a senior historian for the federal government and an advisor to government officials on the Middle East, I was slightly concerned because one is never sure whether or not someone has a political agenda. While, I can't determine anyone's political leanings, David Crist has written a painstakingly thorough and detailed history on the thirty year conflict with Iran. Although every president from Carter to Obama is covered, wide swathes of the book are dedicated to the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.

The Reagan administration (1981-89) takes up approx. three hundred pagesor more than half the book. This may not indicate any political bias either way as the Regan administration was tasked with dealing with the Iran-Iraq war, the 1983 marine barracks bombing in Lebanon by Hezbollah, and Iran-Contra affair. No president since Reagan has been tasked with dealing with quite so much on the Iran front.

This twilight war, like any other war conventional or otherwise has ebbed and flowed, perhaps explaining why some presidents get so much coverage, while some get decidedly less. The war was hot during the Reagan and Bush II administrations, while other presidents had other concerns (Bush I had the Gulf War, while Clinton had his own personal conduct to deal with, for example.)

Crist because of his unique position is able to take the reader on ships and airplanes that had the task of patrolling the Persian Gulf with the pilots and crewmen while simultaneously taking us inside presidential administrations to detail the decision making and infighting among administration officials, which I feel is the ultimate strength of the book.

The Iran issue created divisions within every American presidents administration and perhaps surprisingly within the leadership of Iran towards the United States as well. This ultimately creates a book where both sides come out looking equally at fault and no president comes out looking spectacular. Both Iran and the United States have missed opportunities to potentially lessen the hostilities.

A remarkably fair and even handed book, highest recommendation.
This review is from the Amazon Vine program. Twilight War is scheduled for release July19, 2012.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Best Laid Plans: The Reality of New Presidents

With several new leaders being elected throughout Europe and the possibility of Mitt Romney winning the presidential election in the United States in November, I thought it was time for an early June reality check.

Many of these elected leaders, particularly in the European case, ran on and won because of popular platforms of increased spending on social programs. These are great for election campaigns, but politicians are often slapped down to reality by national and global events pretty quickly.

Campaign rhetoric doesn’t look so great when your confronting wars or an economy that’s on the verge of utter ruin. There comes a point when presidents become victims of their own expectations.

The greatest example of this point is President Obama. He entered into office promising hope and change. Instead, we had a bruising health care fight, a continued economic slog and a Congress that moves with the swiftness of a sloth, and can’t really agree on much of anything.

Now, President Obama is in a dogfight with Mitt Romney for a second term.

That new presidents enter office with big ideas and ambition is not bad, just the nature of the office. But the people who vote for politicians should really lower the expectations and remember the difference between running for office and actually occupying said office.

It also would not hurt the candidates themselves to remember this lesson. After all, they are the ones facing the voters, who will make their decisions based upon expectations and circumstance.

Wars: Conventional vs. Things and Ideas

I groaned upon hearing on Good Morning America this morning that lawmakers are declaring “war” on intelligence leaks.

My unease with declaring war on these leaks is founded on the notion that while the United States fares well in war on conventional military terms, when our leaders declare far reaching wars on ideas and concepts, it is usually, to be frank, a complete fiasco. I’m picturing a proliferation of leaks onto the front pages of America’s newspapers since war has been declared.

We’ve declared war on drugs, terror, and obesity in recent history. Yet Americans have grown fatter and more drug dependent than they were before we declared the so called war. Terrorism is impossible to ever declare a victory against, because its’ existed since the beginning of time.

Many of these mentality wars on things and ideas involve personal choice, which suggests that the intelligence community itself is misfiring. Until we identify the larger failure, this new war has little chance of success.

Syria: 2012 Rwanda

Syria continues to give the international community headaches. While investigating reports of this week’s massacre, it is reported that United Nations monitors were fired at by Syrian loyalists. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Clinton was again reiterated that Assad must go, as though perhaps the strength of her breath will somehow blow him from power.

Sorry for the cynicism, but I am concerned that Syria is becoming the 2012 Rwanda. We have a dictatorial regime that is killing its’ own people combined with an international community that seems unable or willing to stop it.

Like Rwanda, Syrian forces can fire on U.N. officials because the international community is restrained from action both because Russia and China back Assad, and the questionable political will of the U.S. to enter into a military situation.

How seriously are we supposed to take United Nations efforts, if the seven Security Council Members can’t get on the same page? This constant flow of words and emphatic finger pointing is only permitting the forces loyal to Assad to kill more people.

This boys and girls, is how Rwanda happened.

Media vs. National Security: A Dangerous Cocktail

A story has broken over the last few days concerning alleged leaks of sensitive national security information from the White House to various newspapers, apparently make President Obama look strong on national security issues ahead of the November election.

I was tempted to brush this story off as mere Republican posturing until I heard yesterday that several Democrats have voiced concerns and that the FBI is launching an investigation into the matter.

Firstly, this election will most likely be fought on the grounds of the economy, not national security.

But I have often felt that in the interest of knowing, the media goes entirely too far, and its’ been that way for a while now.By leaking information, such as the help we received in tracking down Bin Laden and other clandestine operations within the last few months, we are putting the lives of innocent people at risk.

Who in the hell is going to want to help us, if we’re splashing covert operations details across the front page of The Washington Post ? These leaks damage our intelligence gathering capability and threaten our national security because we couldn’t get the information we needed.

If your trying to help President Obama get him an economic genie in a bottle, don’t put our national security at risk.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

To Recall A Governor or Not?

Opponents of recall elections usually cite the cost of putting on an election and the danger that the process will be used as a quick way to remove incumbents who pursue unpopular policies from office, as opposed to waiting for the next general election.
While I am no advocate of having a revolving chair in the governor’s mansion, I believe that recall should be available under a very specific set of circumstances: such as a crime being committed in office because the impeachment procedures on the books in many states are frankly often as burdensome and politicized as the notion of holding another election.
Any politician facing recall has erred from the will of the people on some level. It is through the people alone that you serve.
I don’t think that if you’ve lost the will of the people two years in, that the people should be forced to deal with two more years of actions contrary to the will of the people, even though this flies directly in the face of my previous comment about not having a revolving chair for politicians.
 Recall elections are complicated ethical excerises that begile even our brightest political minds.

The Curious Case of Wisconsin Recall Turnout

Forgive me, but I couldn’t help but laugh about the news reports about how much higher the estimated turnout was going to be for the recall election than the general election that elected Governor Walker two years ago.
 Admittedly I’m a Wisconsin outsider, but this doesn’t send the world’s greatest message. It says “We couldn’t be bothered to vote two years ago, but now that there’s a recall vote, we better run out and vote.
These people either love the policies of Scott Walker or hate them, but could not rouse themselves for a general election that received far less national media fanfare.
I’m a big proponent of actually turning out and voting. I’m not sure that it could’ve prevented this election, but it couldn’t have hurt.
Maybe, if people acted more like every election was a recall vote, we wouldn’t get ourselves into such dire straits that switchboards at talk radio shows wouldn’t burn up with day after day of angry callers, quite so often.
 It would be interesting to find out what made this recall election, so much more important than the general election that elected Scott Walker in the first place.

Wisconsin Goes National

A personally troubling aspect of the recall election was the vast amounts of money that flooded into Wisconsin from national donors. These are the type of politics that we can expect from now on as long as the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is considered good law.
 Even though the candidates talked about Wisconsin issues, no one can dispute the influence of national organizations and political figures that proceeded to turn a Wisconsin governors race into front page news nationally.
As a believer in the old axiom that all politics is local, this nationalizing of electoral campaigns is worrisome because if we argue that one campaign is a microcosm of the national political mood (as I’ve heard argued), aren’t we creating an interconnected chain where what happens in one set of races dominos and creates the national effect?
My ultimate worry is that by nationalizing races, the local concerns of the population who are effected by the day to day running of the state, will be forsaken in the pursuit of national dollars.
 As a politician, are you more concerned about appeasing national interests and getting money to run a campaign, or the local issues that may not appeal to national donors.

Total Recall

Today, I will be presenting a series of blogs relating to recall elections. Last night, Wisconsin Governor Scott Brown became the first governor to survive a recall challenge, defeating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. My concern in today’s blogs is not so much the Wisconsin recall election itself, but some of the debates that go along with it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vladimir Putin’s Syria Moment

Vladimir Putin has an image throughout many circles in the West as a cold, calculating, autocratic former KGB officer, who seems determined to return Russia to its past glory that he believes was flittered away by previous leaders.
His conduct during the recent crisis in Syria has done little to disbar this image from the international image. He has continued to back Bashir-al Assad in his murderous rampage against his own people, as Putin’s own government offers the token words of condemnation required of any Western government.
 Many have blamed the decades of friendship that exist between the Russian and Syrian states.
I believe that Putin is missing a major opportunity to enhance his image both at home and abroad. Putin is known for his tough as nails, take no prisoners attitude. This guided him during the incursion into Georgia in 2008 and his rather fiery rhetoric against the United States wanting to be a dominant power.
 It would fit with his character to take this same line with the Syrian leader, yet he appears unwilling to do so. He would earn respect by showing that he’s willing to go after his friends as well as his enemies.
 By not doing this, he’s only confirmed the West’s fears that he’s nothing but a dictator dragging Russia back to the Soviet glory days.
Come on Putin, aren't you man enough to scare anyone outside of Eastern Europe?

Africans can use Technology !

Africa is a place of many problems. Africans have been described by more than one person working in a governing capacity as lazy, stupid, and barbaric.
 I’ve begun to question whether the so called civilized world’s big problem is Africa is our own moronic prejudices, rather than glaring inferiority of the African people.
 Watching the World News the other night, I heard about the plane crash in Nigeria and the news people were sent photos of the crash from someone using an IPHONE. I rejoiced because it showed me that Africans are indeed capable of using modern technology.
This is quite a leap seeing as less than a decade ago, Jeffrey Sachs put an anecdote in his book about an person on a development mission insinuating that Africans didn’t know how to tell time.
 Maybe, we’re the ones who need to have our priorities examined.
Instead of talking to the African states like they are our misbegotten stepchildren, we should actually talk to them instead of talking down to them ?
 I’m not saying it will make Africa Disneyland, but if we’re not even on equal footing, how can we make anything better?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I would like to close todays blog update by discussing a few non-political items that occurred over the weekend…

·         Richard Dawson of Hogan’s Heroes, Match Game, and Family Feud fame passed away from cancer at the age of 79. As a avid game show fan, many an hour was spent watching both Match Game and Family Feud, they simply don’t make game show hosts like Richard Dawson anymore. He will be sorely missed.

·         I was surprised to hear the announcement by 2008 Olympic Gold Medal winning gymnast Shawn Johnson that she was retiring from competitive gymnastics due to knee problems. Hopefully, she’ll be as successful outside of the gym, as she was inside it.

Securing London: Missiles on a Roof

The London Olympics are less than two months away and the British are putting the final touches on security for the Games.Securing the Olympics is a Herculean undertaking because its’ global reach make it a prime terrorist target.
 But recent reports of security officials positioning surface to air missiles on the roof of an apartment building near the Olympic venues, though well intentioned, is a security misstep.
 Though I don’t want any athlete or civilian injured in a terrorist attack, I fail to see what parking a bunch of missiles on a roof will do for security.
Placing missiles on a roof, in effect makes the apartment building itself a potential target. In the effort to provide security, you may also be creating insecurity within the law abiding population as a cache of missiles on an apartment roof doesn’t exactly breed secure thoughts.
Furthermore, these measures rely on the notion of a seen enemy through a suicide bombing or something. Terrorist history tells us that far less sophisticated means can be used to create the terrorist ideal of fear and chaos at the Olympic Games.         

Outrage Inc. : The International Response to Syria

The Friday before last, there was a massacre of hundreds of people, including many children in Houla.
The international community was promptly outraged. The international community excels at being outraged as though it were an Olympic sport. Yet, all they seem to muster is being outraged.
The Syrian people do not need our outrage and our words, they need our actions. Unless someone is willing to do something tangible to uproot Bashir Al Assad, then we might as well just save our voices for something we are willing to act on.
 Russia has continued to back Assad and accept this lame terrorist explanation for the massacre.
Eyewitnesses reported tank fire. No terrorist group I’ve ever studied used a tank. Tanks are weapons of states, not Al Qaeda inspired terrorists.
 Without Russia’s help, I’m afraid that we’re just going to allow this garbage to continue. We can be outraged until we’re choking on the floor, but what do such displays accomplish
? It’s not like Assad is going to wake up one morning and say “God, I’ve been a bastard for years, maybe I should become a leader that bends to the will of his people.
 I have a better shot of dating Hannah Teter.

Beyond Morals: Why John Edwards Got Off

John Edwards walked from a North Carolina courthouse into a media swarm after the jury in his corruption trial declared a deadlock on five of six counts held against him.
 The government’s case was tied to Andrew Young, a man of questionable character in his own right. I can only surmise that the jurors found Mr. Young lacked the credibility that they needed in order to sentence Mr. Edwards to a thirty year prison term.
The reality is that while John Edwards may be scum morally, being moral scum is not in itself a crime. Congress would have many empty chairs, if it were.
As someone who has sat on a jury in a criminal trial, jurors are tasked with making a determination based upon the evidence, not whether we personally liked the individual. In my case, the defendant had a criminal history.
Yet, it is incumbent upon the prosecutors to make the case for a guilty verdict. In both the Edwards case and the case that I was involved, they relied on questionable characters and created nothing but reasonable doubt.
 To that end, the government would be well served not to spend tax dollars on a retrial. Why is it the taxpayers fault that your lawyers couldn’t make the case the first time?