Just a Live-Ammunition Demonstration in Syria

The president  has decided to strike Syria, which is both a response to his having made a stupid “Red Line” comment (we hope he learned a lesson), and hardly necessary. Not only is it not necessary on “national security” — it is probably counter-productive because at least Assad has control of his weapons and we don’t know who will inherit them.

Killing children is a terrible thing, but we killed tens of thousands of children on March 9, 1945 by dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on a city whose homes were built by wood and rice-paper. Children die in war. Lots of children.  Women, too, and old-folks. Lots of women and old-folks.

That is why there should not be war.

But there is, so, unless you want to just roll over and surrender, whoever is involved on either side of war is going to both lose children, women and old-folks, and they are going to kill children, women and old-folks.

While this may even seem like common knowledge, apparently it is not understood by our president. In fact, we, as a nation apparently we want to do everything possible not to kill anyone — we have given the Syrians enough warning that every potential target in the entire country of Syria has been moved, and there is enough time for the entire population to have taken refuge in Iran.

This is not an attack. This is a live-ammunition demonstration. Whoopee!

This is Syria as the San Clemente firing range. Lots of dirt stirred with little damage.

All of the destroyed “Triple C” (Command, Control and Communications) will be replaced by Iran and Russia with much newer and more capable equipment in six months. This is urban renewal done effectively by the US, at no Syrian cost. If anyone dies it will be from over-excitement in watching the fireworks show.

I am. Sorry, but reacting to a few hundred children killed by poisoned gas is like reacting to a few hundred children killed by  machete in the Congo/Rwanda’s daily toll.

We have to be selective about what we do, and reacting only to the death of a few hundred children in Syria because of poisoned gas, is dumb. (As if dying from poisoned gas is different from dying from bombs, or machetes, or fire bombs is different.) If we are going to effectively destroy Syria’s Air Force and military forces then it might be worth doing something, but this is doing nothing at a great risk, in a tinderbox.

This may prove to be a heavy price to pay because the president made a promise that he makes his military fulfills.

Can We and Should We?

We need to have a serious discussion of the use of  American military power in the world.

On the one hand, I personally could not stand by and watch a man drown, or a woman abused, but then I cannot save the world of women who are abused and I am not often in a place where men drown.

The world is ABSOLUTELY filled with abused women. Entire nations are filled with abused women — millions upon millions of them. My Chiropractor’s beautiful daughter is going to Turkey on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English to women. She is a real proponent of women’s rights, and hopes to help women get educations. I absolutely support her effort, and worry about her safety, because Turkey is only marginally out of the 14th century insofar as women are concerned, and there is a strong Muslim influence.

At least she is not one of the Peace Protestors who protest where there is peace.

But the world is a messy, messy place. There is poverty of the sort that people in the US cannot fathom, violence of unimaginable brutality, government policies that make Americans gasp.

What can we do? What should we do? Even more important, what should we do even though we can do?

We COULD pick a backward, starving nation and save millions from starvation — we don’t. We could push on our “good friends”  — the Saudis — about their treatment of women. We don’t.

An even heavier lift would be the women in Afghanistan, where the problem is terrific but we already have the troops and the money to have influence.

O.K. — Afghanistan may be a bridge too far, even for us, but you see the problem.

Apparently Syria was a terrible mistake on the part of the president — he let his alligator mouth overcome his hummingbird ass (as we say in the South about those who over-promise physical attacks), and now an attack must take place in order to maintain some semblance of international credibility.

But this is Pandora’s Box, and once opened it is like the assassination of Prince Ferdinand — it is a trip-wire for all sorts of mischief. No one knows which nation or tribal entity will do what, but our attack will not be an isolated event.

I have often proposed building a physical, 100 foot  high wall (I’ll settle for a metaphorical “wall”) around the Middle East, and throwing over a cell phone with directions to call us when their fight is over.

It’s a mess, and it has real potential to get to be a whole lot bigger mess. I know the military brass is reluctant to get in this tar pit because the military is not well designed for limited wars, as we have seen since 1945.The “limits” of war are too easily dependent on the actions of the opposition and only in “get in and win” wars” are both sides holding the same intent.

Quick Hits

The Escondido school board has appointed to its board, a former student who was the student representative to the board decades ago.

Wonderful!

Once again, someone who has never signed the front of a paycheck, assumes the financial management position of a mulch-million dollar corporation — one in which her only experience was as a buyer of the product.

Sorry, but this public school mess belongs to the voters who vote for that really nice (lady)(man) down the street who couldn’t personally manage a successful ice cream parlor, and suddenly they are under control of a professional staff of bureaucrats to whom they are beholden for all information about the organization, about which the elected or appointed official personally understands NOTHING.

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Want to solve the prisoner release problem tomorrow morning?

Simple! Pass a law that all released prisoners must be housed in state-owned houses within 100 feet of a Superior Court Judge, or Appellate Judge.

The state will only have to buy a few houses before judges throughout the state get the message. I wrote a business plan for such a plan, called the Gander Society, because what’s good for the goose…

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Fast food workers are striking, nationwide for $15 an hour.

Hey! If a little bit is good, then a lot more must be better! How about $100 an hour, minimum!

Actually, I am surprised any of these people have a job. Any self-respecting mechanical engineering firm, coupled with a couple of computer systems engineers can build a robotic fast food system over their lunch hour, using off-the-shelf hardware.

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Quoted with no comments necessary:

“Texas is home to six of the top 25 cities for global trade, according to a new ranking from Global Trade magazine based on which areas posted the largest export growth from 2010 to 2011.”

http://dailyeurope.org/2013/08/28/texas-dominates-new-ranking-of-cities-for-global-trade/

It’s Bigger Than Filner! (Much Bigger!)

The mayoral race is just the City Council race, or even the school board races or an HOA writ large.

Voters elect on the (D) or (R) behind the name, or because they like the politicians looks, or speaking ability, or because they are a Progressive or Conservative all regardless of ANY demonstration of actual ability. It all starts with people with an HOA mentality, who acquire a subtle megalomania complex and think they can solve the (fire board)(school board)(city council) problem. These are (sometimes) nice people, but generally people with zero knowledge — and often people with zero ability — people who could not manage a local book store, or cyber cafe.

Somehow, voters forget that in the end each elected position is a management job. The U-T is currently featuring the appointment to the Escondido School Board, a person who served on that board as a non-voting student! This is emblematic of the Filner, and political problem in general.

Would we elect to the Board of Directors of Apple Computer, a person whose only experience is that they had bought an Apple Computer? Absolutely not!

Why then do we voters continue to support and elect people with zero management experience? Filner was a professor (without management experience), a city councilman (without management experience), a CongressCritter (with no management experience) and finally, the voters elect his to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation.

The mind boggles

 

Beats me!

The Syrian problem is not easy.

Both the interventionists and the non-interventionists have great arguments. It is a question of the lesser of two evils, and there are many moving parts to the puzzle.

If we strike, will Iran react? Beats me.

Will Russia react? Beats me.

Will it help Al-Queda take over Syria? Beats me.

No one can predict how mercurial governments will react to ANYTHING, or how they will react to failing to act.

In the end, neither Russia nor Iran can do much to dent the US, but there are more moving parts than just Iran and Russia. There are the populations of Britain, and Germany — already seriously questioning of US hegemony.

In the end there are two questions: Should the US be a policeman, and, how many human rights disasters can we stomach without reacting?

Beats me,

What doesn’t beat me is that the US Constitution gives the vote to Congress. I am sick and tired of Congress avoiding their responsibility. If Congress can meet to declare war on the Japanese, it can meet to authorize Obama, and take some of the responsibility for US action, or lack of action.

536 minds are better than one, even one who has a Nobel Peace Prize.

ESPECIALLY one who has a Nobel Peace Prize.

They Knew!

Progressives should be held accountable? Not all, but some.

 Filner should not be the only, or even the major object of their scorn. He is what he is, and has been what he has been.

First, on the positive side, Donna Frye and her cohorts, Progressive lawyers Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez of the first news conference. Assuming they did not have prior knowledge, they spoke out first, loudly and clearly. They deserve credit. Clearly Todd Gloria lined up quickly with the right side.

Now the negative ledger of the Progressives, and it is a long list with “organized labor” still unwilling to admit Filner should resign — even after he has agreed to resign. Enrique Morales, so-called “immigrant advocate” is also still in the Filner camp.

Then there are City Councilwomen Marti Emerald and Myrtle Cole, who deserve to both lose their Council seats because they had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to the light. Francine Busby, who heads the SD County Central Committee also deserves to be condemned because she hung the vote in the first go-round vote of that organization.

That they are women just makes their continued support of Filner just that much more insidious. If the Progressive movement intends to regain the high ground, these three women need to be assigned to political oblivion.

The Progressives who warned the Democratic Central Committee in advance of Filner’s election, would have done better to have warned the voting public. Their silence cost the voters, and eventually cost the Progressives their credibility.

They knew.

Lesson: Lock Your Doors

Crime is rising in many California cities, and all would be wise to increase their vigilance because the release of tens of thousands of California inmates will take its toll.

One of the problems is that inmates are categorized as non-violent or violent based upon their LAST incarceration – so someone with two violent attempted murders but whose last criminal act was spitting on the street would be classified as “non-violent.”

Liberals, who write these days and are not commenting on Filner, deny this obvious problem.

Perhaps those who disagree with me will believe the liberal LA Times:

” A 2006 Times investigation found that nearly 16,000 inmates released early were rearrested for new offenses while they were supposed to be in jail. Sixteen were charged with murder.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/05/local/la-me-jails5-2010mar05

I am always surprised with how little I really know

A quick comment on audible.com. I use audio books because with audio, books are always with me, downloaded automatically on my PC, iPhone and iPad. With a system called WhisperSync, wherever I leave off on one device I automatically pick up on the next device (at least often)– at least when I am inside my Wi-Fi signal, which I usually am.

This is really important, because some books are short and some, like my current project, are more than 24 hours long

My current project is actually a Great Course series through Audible: “The Other Side of History. Daily Life in the Ancient World.” It is a series of short lectures by a Cornell University Professor, Robert Garland.

I am always surprised with how little I really know.

(A LOT!)

There is always more to learn, because history changes. As Professor Garland notes: in his home country of Britain, in just one month (June, 2010), stone shards from tool production found along the British coast put ancient inhabitants back to 840,000 B.C. a cool 250,000 years earlier than previously known.

Additionally 54,000 bronze and silver Roman coins were found in a place that marked that spot as a mercantile center that had not been known, and to the Professors dismay, bones from a British cave 14,000 years old demonstrated that his forefathers were cannibals.

“…Sink the Bismarck”

For those interested in the history of WWII, may I commend the book (or audio From audible.com) named “Bismarck, The Final Days of Germany’s Greatest Battleship”

Hitler wanted the world’s best warship to challenge the might of Britain’s fleet, and, despite being under international restrictions, Germany built what was described as “faster than anything stronger, and stronger than anything faster.”

The trick was to get it from Germany into the Atlantic Ocean without being discovered by the British, but that was like sneaking a steak past a hungry dog, and, as you might imagine the Bismarck was discovered — but it made it to the Atlantic, unmolested.

It had a short, violent life. About nine days to be exact. Hitler apparently did not know that a pack of individually weaker wolves can collectively bring down a much larger and stronger animal.

First, the Bismarck sank the British Battle Cruiser HMS Hood (much to the dismay of the British), and 1,400 British sailors died while only three sailors survived. (One of the Bismarcks salvo struck a magazine of Hoods ammunition, and the Hood sunk in seconds.)

When Churchill heard the news, he famously said, “Whatever it takes, sink the Bismark.” British Battleships, Aircraft Carriers, and Battle Cruisers were signaled to return from their stations as far away as Nova Scotia and Africa, and the hunt for the Bismarck commenced.

Partially disabled in the initial fight with Hood, the Bismarck tried to get to occupied France for repairs, but it was trailed by a Battleship that fought alongside the Hood, but was no match for the Bismarck. The British Battleship was fitted with early RADAR, as was the Bismarck.

(I was surprised by this — I never knew the Germans had RADAR that early (1941) and was surprised the British were so well RADAR equipped. As I discovered, even canvas covered British bi-plane aircraft had RADAR.)

The first attacks on the injured and coastal-bound Bismarck were from torpedo planes from a British Aircraft Carrier — single engine, fabric covered bi-planes who bravely flew (slowly) to the attack against withering fire from the best guns and gunners the Germans had, and all survived although only one torpedo from nine planes struck the Leviathan. Oddly, it was the slowness of the planes that saved them. The German guns and gunners were not prepared for planes coming in at wave-top heights at only 170 MPH!

Slowly, the might of the British Navy gathered, and, as the Bismarck fled from rainstorm to rainstorm, she was further  injured by more bi-plane attacks. The Bismarck finally succumbed to withering collective surface ship gunfire and torpedoes, taking more than 2,000 German sailors with her.

Hitler should have learned at that time that being a German Army Corporal in WWI did not make him a military strategist — which is why the German military tried three times to assassinate him. In this case, he could have built a LOT of much more successful U-Boats for what the Bismarck cost in money, war material and men.

Many of us studied the overall Bismarck story once upon a time, but this detailed account is a thriller.

As The World Turns…

Have you noticed how quiet the North Korean Loudmouth Dictator is these days?

That is because his last tantrum — which actually was his first, but right from the play book of his successful predecessors — only this time it just didn’t work. Tom Brady couldn’t make a play work that many times.

Even China said, “Aw,  cut that out”

And he has. Unfortunately for him there is lingering pain — substantial pain.

The cooperative North Korean city of Kaesong, where South Korean industries had employed North Korean workers at wages one-third that of Chinese workers was closed in a fit of dictatorial pique.  That threw 53,000 North Koreans out of one of the few opportunities the NK had of making foreign currency.

It hurt South Korea cooperating industries as well — it destroyed a docile, non-union work force, and left not just un-filled orders but left a lack of confidence in those industries to fulfill orders. Those industries lost both current and future business.

Recently the NK graciously announced that the industries were invited back, but little moved in the South — once burned, twice shy. The Dictator probably expected that the South Korean government could order industrial resumption and that would be it.

The South Korean government has offered the industries $270 million in reparations, because they see the potential inroads that 53,000 well-fed observers of industrial prowess might bring to the eventual re-unification of the entire country.

The industries say that they lost $1.8 billion in lost current and future business, so they are not anxious to play on that ball field again. The buyers they once had are nervous over the reliability of their product chain. Deservedly so.

So the Dictator had to sweeten the pie. He offered a resumption of the family reunification ended in 2010. Families long separated could again meet at a camp in North Korea, which is certainly a win-win on the diplomatic front, but does nothing for the  industries tempted to return to Kaesong. Perhaps the government of the South might be inclined to sweeten the $270 million offer, in order to get movement on the industrial front.

However, the main consequence is the Lessons Learned on the part of the NK: People tire of temper tantrums.

The North Koreans, while still not able to feed themselves at least no longer die by the millions through starvation. The nation is as insular as ever, but the Internet is making small inroads, cell phones are owned by more than just the government apparatchiks, and what passes for fashion is beginning to appear.

It is too much to ask that the 38th Parallel will fall any time soon, but if the latest missile launch threat is the last (they have dismantled the threatening rocketry), then perhaps things might slowly move in the right direction.

My hope is that the Swiss educated dictator tried to tell the Generals, who have more control than influence, that the missile threats and closing of Kaesong was a big mistake, and, as history has demonstrated he was right. That may have given him the latitude to do something new and different

The industries don’t need Kaesong cheap labor as much as the NK needs foreign currency — cheap labor is a world-wide product.

The problem is that in their own right the North Koreans are as irrational as the Middle East, not from religion but from insular culture. The success of the South shows that, but without major in-roads into that culture, nothing changes.

Still, the NK are better than they once were. Barely.