Thursday, September 01, 2005

Two can play at this game

I guess the ribbons pic was a low shot. I don't blame anyone for staying out of Viet-Nam. Besides, Dad Bush was head of the CIA back then and W would have been a walking bulls-eye. Kerry's ant-war stance came at an historical time where choices had to be made that were different than today. His testimony to congress in 1972 was educated and concise. It was probably the apex of his meager political career. Viet-nam was a true quagmire. America was xenophobic and still reeling from the backlash of her historical racism. Both Lyndon and Nixon saw fit to lie to America. Different times require different responses.
Vietnam was America's crusade to stop the Communist dominoes from falling in that region. It was part of the Containment Policy inherited from Truman. And I'm sure he told a few whoppers from time to time. Presidents are human. They err.

Vietnam was merely one battle in the larger context of the Cold War.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Cold War ended and hundreds of millions of people were liberated from the straitjacket of socialism. The sacrifices in Vietnam were not in vain.
Don't you love how hopelessly idealistic I am?

Somebody's got to counteract your sourpuss cyncism!

You never got to hear Brother Jed preach, like Larry and I did.

I get all my "neo-con" stuff from Brother Jed.

Theodore, my cynicism is hard earned and not easily given up. Not that I've seen everything, but I've seen a lot. I've seen little kids in the inner-city in Milwaukee playing happily with cardboard refrigetator boxes on a dirt and snow covered hill. I've seen spioled rich boys in jail because their girlfirends turned on them for drug dealing.

I guess I kinda do admire your undying idealism, though I really don't understand it. The quiet desperation that Brother Larry refers to so often is, alas, a large part of my esse.

You are right. The sacrifices of Vietnam were not in vain. But that's easy to say when neither you or I had to sacrifice ourselves. Would I have gone? Probably not. I had friends a year or two older that didn't come back. War is vile and ugly and, yes, at times inevitable. But the question still must be asked. The best and brightest of Kennedy's administration laid the groundwork for pretty much a decade of self-righteous meddling.

At times like this, I look at the years, then and now, and think that the best response to human frailty and failure and the grace of the almighty can be found in the Sermon on the Mount. No politician and no ideology can hold a candle to that.

With all the natural upheval of these days, one can only say "Maranatha"
Good point, Leo.

And I'll throw you a bone here, from my own cynical bag of thoughts: Even though the Cold War has ended victoriously and gloriously for the Capitalistic West, there remains a serious "pocket of resistance" ... namely, China. They can muster a 200,000,000-member army, which is a helluva lotta troops. We're lucky if we can match that by a hundredth. Forget using nukes to neutralize an army like that; they've got nukes too. Stalemate. However, we can eventually expect wild-card nukes from the wild-eyed fanatical jihadists. This three-dimensional, multi-player chess board makes for an interesting game.

But the Chinese! The Book of Revelation mentions an army of that exact size. Says they'll march toward Armageddon from the East.

Hmmmmmm ....

Maybe our troubles are soon to begin.

Or, as the gospel/blues genius Blind Willie Johnson of Texas sang in the 1920s, "Trouble Soon Be Over ... "
China's the least of our worries. When American businesses outsource all the manufacturing jobs to countries like China, they are literally giving our country away one job at a time. No, Businesses like Wal-Mart are probably a bigger threat to American economic or social stability than China.
Many Americans express that belief. There's a distinct fear among us of seeing our jobs go overseas.

Sometimes that fear crosses the border of irrationality.

Others have learned that whether we like it or not, the Earth is a community that is becoming closer and closer -- through improved communications and transportation technologies. Imagine if America were to shut her doors, hoarding her precious jobs and trying to maintain an artificial standard of living while the rest of the world starved outside her door. Meanwhile, the average shrewd and savvy American shopper would continue to demand the best value for the cheapest price, and that pressure would build as well. Inflation.

When you open the markets, everybody wins. You also get some wonderful diversity and immense choices for the consumer. Products you never dreamed of become available to you in the market place. Maybe they are some cool shoes from Brazil. Too bad some union boss thinks that you the consumer should not be allowed to make that choice in the marketplace, so that his constituents can get fatter paychecks while another honest, smart worker starves outside the American door.

The larger backdrop of this picture is: If you earn $10,000 a year, you are in the top 1 percent of wage-earners in the world.

Therefore, some Americans need to adjust their attitude.

It amazes me that some American socialistic types -- who claim to be for the common man -- are among the fiercest deniers of this reality. Instead, they focus their irrational anger, envy and hatred toward people who are earning the highest salaries, when the true situation is that all of those salaries combined would not make a drop in the bucket when compared to the mass of hourly wages.

The problem with China is its political system. Evil leaders could rise up. Militarists in China have long been threatening to invade the free island state of Taiwan. Other military adventures will probably follow -- and not the noble kind that America and her allies undertake, such as the liberation of oppressed countries and the removal of tyranical leaders such as Saddam and the Taliban.

China poses a real challenge if democratic reforms cannot be achieved in that country, and if the West cannot maintain a strong enough military to deter a potential military threat from China's extreme elements.
Most times I think it's pretty irrational to trust that the free market is all that free, especially in other countries that end up being the victims of our consumerism gone rampant.

It would seem that the anger at the high wage earners is pretty absurd at times, but then CEO's pull the business they've pulled the last few years (Enron, and those workers that trusted the market and their employers are not only out of work but lose their pensions and investments as well. I am well aware that when dabbling in investments one is always in danger of losing the gamble. But when the bosses walk away with billions because they lied to their employees, something is seriously amiss.

This would take us back to the old argument of how is the money made? Does the lion';s share go to the owners of production or to the laborers who sweat to make the product? The logical answer would seem to be somewhere in the middle, wouldn't you think?

A perfect example is Lincoln Welding Equipment here in Nebraska. They bordered on bancrupcy some years back because the original owners made some errors in analysing the market. They sold a majority of the stock to the workers, who were determined to not lose their jobs. After a few lean years, they persist and, dare I say, succeed. No billionaires there, just well paid workers and a company that survived.

Now some proponents of the free market would see that as an anomaly. It resembles socialism a bit. But it works, so who cares how anyone wants to label it?
Vietnam happened because LBJ had Kennedy killed. Lyndon owned 48% of Bell Helicopters, and was losing money because JFK was pulling troops out of 'Nam in '63. So he had Kennedy killed, and then escalated the war.
Hooray for Lincoln Welding Equipment!

I've seen this sort of thing before. In our culture, the People are free to do this!

I would not lump all CEOs into one basket. Occasionally you will have a bad apple, but their deeds will be uncovered and they will go to jail, as we are seeing. The simple fact remains: good leaders deserve to be paid more than bad ones. And, I'm sorry, Mike, but a good leader who can organize teams and materials through complex challenges and obstacles will always deserve more pay than the guy working on the line.

As far as how money is made, and where does the lion's share go, and shouldn't more go to the ones who sweat ... again, this is settled by supply and demand in a free market. If your skills are in demand, then you will earn more. "The more you learn, the more you earn."

I work at my job because I accepted the wages offered. Nobody forced me to accept that job. The wages were offered by my employer because they appraised me and decided that I could perform the job that they needed to do.

I could have declined the job offer because I wanted more money. But there were other qualified persons who also wanted the job. But if there were not, then perhaps I could have negotiated a higher wage.

People who envy rich people would hamstring the freedom that has made our society great. They would kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. You only have to look at the disasters of the Soviet Union and Communist China, and how grinding the shortages became there. I visited East Germany in 1981 while it was under that system. Complete ruin! Yep, socialists get the credit.

Jesus' parable of the vineyard, Matthew 20:1-16, clearly supports the free market. I dare you to read it and not come to the same conclusion. The Eighth and Tenth Commandments clearly support private property.

Now, I think what you and Leo could do to scratch your socialistic itch is to focus more on charity and helping the poor. This is a separate issue from the free market and earning wages. Right now we are seeing a tremendous charitable outpouring in response to the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. Do you see that in other countries when they have disasters? Not always. And more often than not America is there to help because she is very generous indeed.

In addition to his clear statement on the freedom of laborers and employers, The Lord also makes it utterly clear that we are to help those less fortunate than us, although he also made it clear that we will always have the poor with us.

That's an interesting caveat: You will always have the poor with you.

How can you motivate someone to work? To learn higher skills to earn more wages?

Hmmmm ....

Motivation comes from within.

We are each FREE to CHOOSE in our own minds how we will respond to each situation that is presented to us. That doesn't relieve wealthy folks from lending a helping hand, but the CHOICE clearly is up to us. That's FREEDOM.
Chester, you're funny.

But it does make sense. I mean, after all, LBJ was from Texas. That's where JFK took the bullet.
More conspiracy. Nixon was leaving Dallas that day. He had a meeting with Pepsico, as he and Mitchell's law firm represented them. They were owned at the time, I believe, by Joan Crawford.

Add to the Lyndon thing that Lady Bird's family owned Brown and Root, fabled military suppliers. Brown and Root is now, ironically, a subsidary of Haliburton.

As far as socialism goes, that's another losing battle. Socialism on a local scale, as in Milwaukee with Hoan and the Zeidlers, created the core of city infrastructure and did it while balancing budgets and making jobs. On a national scale it could never work. Personally, I think Marx would have shit himself if he saw what USSR and China did with his ideas. Socialism, pure and simple, has never really been tried, outside of communal living (convents) and local politics as I've noted. But then neither has unfettered Capitalism ever been attempted. Fixers and pundits and manipulators abound in every political/economic system.

I guess what I found humorous in the whole sadness surrounding the hurricnae was when some character, commenting on the fact that the US always comes to the aid of other countries and now where are they all? What? Somalia's gonna send us some medical supplies? Namibia's got some grain surplus?

There have been assistance offers from other countries, notably Japan offering oil. Now, what I want to know is Where's Saudi Arabia, our royal tyrant pals? How about some breaks on crude from the allies?

By the way, I'd have no problem whatsoever going to battle with Saudi Arabia and trying to give them a little freedom and democracy.
Saudi Arabia ready to help US after hurricane
08.31.2005, 04:14 PM

RIYADH (AFX) - Saudi Arabia said it is prepared to help the US in any way it could to ease the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the official SPA agency reported.

According to the agency, King Abdullah assured President George W. Bush in a telephone conversation of the 'support of the kingdom to its friend the United States during its misfortune.'

He said that Saudi, the world's top oil exporter, is prepared to 'do everything that it can to help towards lessening the consequences of the hurricane.'

According to SPA, Bush thanked King Abdullah for this 'initiative' and expressed 'the esteem of the United States for this noble attitude'.

Amid soaring oil prices, Saudi Arabia had earlier this week said it was prepared to increase its oil production to make up for supply losses caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Earlier today, the Organization of Petroleum Countries (OPEC) said it will do its utmost to ensure the stability of the global oil market in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and will discuss this at its summit in Vienna on Sept 19-20.

OPEC has sent a message of condolence to the US government and Americans following the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina on southern US states, causing 'enormous' loss of life and property, the cartel said in a statement signed by its president and Kuwaiti Minister of Energy, Sheikh Ahmed Fahad al-Sabah.

Separately, Venezuela's foreign ministry said it has offered emergency funds and fuel to the hurricane-battered US, and is ready to send a humanitarian aid taskforce to assist US disaster recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
See article that follows. This kind of news routinely pops up over there. They're actually on our side. But if we're not careful, we'll cause the pro-Western monarchy to be toppled. Be practical. Besides, it's their freakin' oil. Are we gonna dictate that they will sell it to us a lower price? That doesn't seem very nice.

Saudi Arabia says forces killed al-Qaida leader
In all, 6 suspected militants killed in raids in Riyadh and Medina

Aug. 18, 2005

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Al-Qaida’s leader in Saudi Arabia was killed Thursday during clashes with police in the western city of Medina, the Interior Ministry said.

Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi was among six al-Qaida militants reported killed during police raids on numerous locations in the holy city and the capital, Riyadh, security officials told The Associated Press.

Al-Aoofi, a Saudi in his late 30s, and another militant were killed during one of seven police raids in Medina, the Interior Ministry said.

Al-Aoofi was considered the top leader of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden’s network in this conservative Gulf country, which has been rocked by multiple terror attacks since 2003.

He was among two of the kingdom’s 26 most-wanted militants still at large. The other 24 on the list issued in December 2003 either have been captured or killed.
These are some good news stories but a
Pro Western Monarchy? What about all the discussion of bringing democracy into the region? A country that has never even had a coerced election? What about the religious tyranny they practice against our troops? When I got out of Nam in 74, I was still in the intel service for another 8 years and I traveled extensively. I spent many months in Turkey and several other middle eastern countries, including a short stay in Saudi. That was the only country that banned me from having my bible, a practice they still enforce. My nephew just got back from there after 6 months. They forbid religious services of any kind and search servicemen's belongings routinely.
You've gotta choose your battles. Just because we don't like other cultures' behaviors, it is not practical for America to go out there and try to whip everybody's ass (although we are characterized like that by people who hate us).

The Saudi regime, though very strict with internal affairs, does not try to destabilize its region. It does not invade neighbors like Iraq did. Nor is it seeking to acquire WMD.

And, it is, as you can see, cooperating in the war on terror by killing Al Qaida leaders.

It has never been enough for America to go to war simply to bring freedom and democracy to oppressed lands.

Our first priority has been the defense of our nation, her allies, and our interests.

When someone gets liberated as a result of our defense operations, well, that's just icing on the cake.
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