Tagged: politics

Step 2: Gather The Data

https://www.economist.com/international/2022/02/12/how-russia-has-revived-nato

For review. Note the legend on the bottom left.

In short, the “red line” (which when crossed by Russians will trigger unmentionable alterations to our lives) is actually blue on this map.

Step 3 is “List all possible solutions.” I mention it so you know. But I’m still at Step 2.

What Did I Expect?

The media coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is appalling. It is inhumane, inconsiderate, and inept.

Inhumane because it contains no truth. I’m not in Ukraine, so how could I possibly know I’m being lied to? Because I’m an American and tradition holds that Russian leaders are incapable of telling the truth. But more than that, because President Zelensky’s comments betray the same tone and tenor as community activists and Greta Thunberg. By his comments, he seems to revel in this oddly fortunate opportunity to become an influencer.

Inconsiderate because if some of the numbers are correct, then the gravity of the situation needs be elevated dramatically. The US troop deaths in nearly two decades of fighting in Afghanistan sits under 2,000. The media is asking us to believe (because some politician heard some other politician say so) that 3,500 Russians have died in three days. And don’t get me started on this Ukrainian fighter pilot. I had heard 6, and then later I heard 8 kills in one day. An “ace (five kills)-in-a-day”, the claim. The last verified ace-in-a-day was in WWII. Truth matters. But then, the media coverage wouldn’t understand that idea, because they don’t believe in evil.

Inept because at their core, the media do not believe in evil. To them, it’s a catchy word—one of many. Fun to write. But they truly are watching without any sense of evil. A bomb explodes, they wonder how their expression looked on camera. “How was I? Fearful? Hopefully not cowardly? A balance of compelling and showing the true danger I am in, that’s what I want. Can we shoot it again?” And more than this, they look to others for what just happened. “They’re telling me that sound was…” But make no mistake, the media does not believe in evil. So the coverage is inept. It’s lackadaisical. Boring. The media seems to believe it is competing with fashion news, with San Francisco school board elections regarding a pandemic that ended two weeks ago at the Super Bowl.

What did I expect? They don’t believe in evil.

I’m Confused

I went to bed a bit unnerved. I had in mind a post which I would title, “War—At Least That’s The Rumor.” This was because everything in the news about the “full scale invasion” was seemingly based on “I heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from another…”

Then I woke up and checked the news and still was not liking the tone, tenor, and lack of first-hand accounts. So I changed my tune. My post was now going to be a comparison of headlines from WW1 and WW2 opening days. The point being to show the stark contrast between what’s happening today (I believe to be a veritable blip) compared to actual war.

But then I found video which purported to be, and evidently was, a plane zooming overhead and dropping ordinance that explodes in due course below.

As a pilot, and as a former Air Force pilot, I couldn’t help but wonder what that pilot was thinking. Was he a true believer, like I was for my country? Or was he praying to his maker, “Forgive me, for I have sinned,” as he launched the weapon, under gunpoint?

We know that the pilots of Iraqi Air Force were not exactly interested to fly the night of our invasion of Iraq. The popular legend is many, if not all, defected as quick as their jet could fly. And I heard one USAF F-15 pilot tell the story of his shoot-down, very anti-climatic, and also relate that other Iraqis were shot down over the airport before they could get their landing gear up.

For me, there will always be a distinction between someone pressing a button in a remote location to launch missiles, and a pilot actually dropping bombs, when ascertaining the seriousness of the war/conflict. The distinction being: the pilot is already mobile. He could elect to not drop the bombs and instead “defect”.

So I want to know what the pilots are thinking.

But mostly, I’m just feeling confused. I will never mean to cause fear—far from it. But at this moment, I think it’s safe to say that this confusion wasn’t present two days ago. And it only slightly built last night after my bravado-filled prediction that cooler heads would prevail proved terribly naïve. And I must admit that this feeling of confusion itself is probably a sign that things are worse, than better. Again, not to cause fear, just to tell the truth.

Mind made up.

I am gonna stick with my training. “Step 1- Recognize the Problem.”

Problem- “I am unable to get clarity on the implications of the attack of Ukraine by formal Russian forces. The lack of clarity is driven by ignorance of the situation. ‘What about the 14,000 lives lost previously in some local fighting? How is this different?’ for example.”

“Step 2- Gather All the Data.”

I need to time for this step. We in the peanut gallery all do.

While we wait, I’ll conclude by saying this: I need to stop worrying about “what it means if…” Right now decisiveness on the battlefield is needed. If Ukraine is vitally important to us, let’s go win. Starting, like, yesterday. If Ukraine is not vitally important, then shame on them for not joining NATO sooner. The world could stand to learn a lesson about “choosing sides”. USA all the way.

I’ve Completed My Investigation Into What The Heck Is Going On with Russia and Ukraine

I’ve completed my investigation into what the heck is going on with Russia and Ukraine.

But before we get to the results, I want to share what was fun about the investigation.

Two things.

First, I learned or re-learned that I like history more than advice.

The first major reading I did was of a series of three essays and the first essay was history, whereas the third was advice for stability etc. History of the region? Exciting and interesting. Compelling too. I never have known much about Russia. And I had totally forgot, if I ever knew, that Ukraine is on the west side. Reading the history brought back memories of when I looked on a map for Moscow after reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace. He had made the big point that Napoleon turned around when he got to Moscow. Boy was I disappointed to see how near Europe Moscow really is. Napoleon really did peter out.

Anyhow, similar thing this time. Ukraine was in a totally different spot than I had pictured. Knowing the geography actually helps the headlines make sense.

Secondly, I randomly had extra time to read with A- the other night and was feeling like one hour of Swiss Family Robinson would be a bit much, so we switched to the Book of Knowledge Children’s Encyclopedia thirty minutes in, specifically to Volume 1’s first sections on World History. There, in an early paragraph, we came across this sentence, “While the whole of Russian history shows the effort of a landlocked people to reach the shores of the seas, which were for thousands of years the only really convenient highways of trade and communication.”

What fun! Reading really does invigorate the soul. “…the effort of a landlocked people to reach the shores of the seas…”

So, now, here’s the result of my investigation: Russia wants to get to the Black Sea in a bigger way. On the other side, the West believes the people of Ukraine should get to rule themselves by virtue of their being human beings.

Regarding Russia’s desire, that Ukraine was or was not previously a part of Russia or the USSR or whatnot is besides the point. Put differently, to be faithful to reality we must acknowledge that Russia wants something tangible, something that all parties can agree is or is not real. Either Russia has ports in the Black Sea or not. Either Russia’s boundaries extend to the Black Sea in Ukraine’s place or not.

Also, we need to say Russia isn’t crazy for the wanting-the-Black-Sea bit. But Russia is maintaining an un-Western, and specifically un-American, belief when it brings force to Ukraine instead of a soapbox or a stump.

Conversely, the West, specifically America, isn’t wrong for choosing to oppose Russia’s action, but if America cannot get Russia to engage us on our terms, then everyone is literally talking past each other. And if this is the case, it truly is a fight.

For all I care, the country Russia can have access to the ports it wants. But if this desire is not the result of representative votes of its people, then we’re really not talking about Russia, but about some one leader—Putin.

Next, I want to know, “Is there some reason for the West instigating the Ukraine-join-NATO stuff right now?” I don’t know. But it surely is a move that I’m convinced that everyone who is read-in would have known would result in being interpreted as provoking Russia/Putin.

The question, then, is what do we, the collective West, believe? Is conventional war truly a thing of the past? Or will there be conventional war once again?

I think conventional war is a thing of the past. So my money is on the West easing up whatever pressure it has recently placed on the idea of NATO and Ukraine marrying. And this then would result in Russia/Putin backing down.

Lastly, President Biden has a speech impediment. Never, never give that man a line which sounds powerful only if delivered well.

I mean, I ask you, dear reader, “Who in the LORD’s name does Putin?”

Lemme Tell Ya What’s Stupid

You want to know what’s stupid? Using visual aids or graphics to describe COVID-19.

You want to know what’s stupid? Boosted pro-vaxxers, who finally got it and now say, “This time everyone’s gonna get this s—-!”

You want to know what’s stupid? Self-policing mask usage/fit.

You want to know what’s stupid? Children declaring that they don’t want to get “COVID”.

You want to know what’s stupid? Adults feeling ashamed for getting COVID.

You want to know what’s stupid? Variants.

You want to know what’s stupider? Sub-variants.

You want to know what’s stupid? Saying “He/she/they died of COVID.”

You want to know what’s stupid? Fearing death.

You want to know what’s stupid? Fear.

You want to know what’s stupid? Pandemics.

You want to know what’s stupid? Buying and using a home test whose result you know isn’t going to be definitive in your eyes.

You want to know what’s stupid? Signs above sinks that read, “Wash your hands for 20 secs.”

You want to know what’s stupid? Using your eyes to read a test to discover if you feel sick in your body.

You want to know what’s stupid? Using short animated videos to explain/defend/justify the need to lockdown.

You want to know what’s stupid? Bubbles.

You want to know what’s stupid? Worrying.

You want to know what’s stupid? Telling a child to worry.

You want to know what’s stupid? Mankind testing animals for COVID.

You want to know what’s stupid? Restricting travel during a pandemic.

You want to know what’s stupid? Runs on toilet paper.

You want to know what’s stupid? Emails explaining COVID plans that may change.

You want to know what’s stupid? Feeling like you can (and should) do something to help during a pandemic—like explaining things in emails.

You want to know what’s stupid? Email pronouncements that describe the last two years without using the word “stupid”.

This hasn’t been interesting, strange, complicated, challenging, scary, wild, or any other of the many safe-for-work adjectives.

Lemme tell ya what’s stupid. The last two years—that’s what.

An Example of Tuesday’s Post

The Twin Cities have announced that January 19th begins a new rule for restaurants. On that day you gotta provide proof of vaccination or negative test from last 72 hrs in order to receive service.

It’s being decreed by Mayors, as it is only for the two cities (and mayors are kings of political units called “cities”…)

So now what? Who do the folks affected seek relief from? Another government official? Say, the governor? I doubt that would result in the desired relief.

The politicians are backed by doctors.

So to whom do we petition as we seek relief?

A judge?

Peter Drucker handily explains in his tome on management that the reason written, or even spoken, propaganda never actually works is that eventually people lose faith/ignore it. He suggests that there is just something inmate in us that recognizes the difference between experiences and false descriptions of experiences. “You’re happy! Believe me!”

I can tell you that even 6th grade boys know whether they really beat me in a game of basketball, or whether I threw it.

In any case, this new situation in the Twin Cities is just another example of the definitive reason we can’t stop talking about the pandemic. Who can be called upon to provide relief?

After Lies

Oooo. January 6th is tomorrow! The one year anniversary of… What? What exactly happened one year ago tomorrow?

As usual, while that’s a compelling question, it’s not the most pressing question. A better question is, “How many people died due to the events at the capital on January 6?” If you have time to spare, figure that answer out. The rest of the answers will fall into place.

But even that very specific, particular, and on some level should-be-simple, question is not the best question to ask right now. The problem we face is made evident by asking this, the best, question:

What do we do after determining we’re being told lies?

What do we do after lies?

Some people are quicker than others at recognizing lies. Other people lie with gusto. But that’s not the problem that faces us. The problem is, “What next?”

The problem that no one is directly addressing, but in priority needs address immediately, is, “So we’re being told lies. Fine. What next?”

Plug our ears? Blot out our eyes? Neither of those would seem to motivate the truth to come out.

Direct requests? As in, “Please stop lying.” Would that work?

Commanding language? As in, “STOP LYING!” Anyone think that would have the desired effect?

Maybe a shouting match? They lie, and we tell the truth, but a little bit louder, hoping to drown the lie out through force. Would we be wise to place hope in that strategy?

What do we do after lies? How can we know what to do? What method even helps with the choice? Is there an analogy or a small-scale example?

After being lied to in a relationship, friendship or romance, there is often a breakup or cooling off period at least. Accepted wisdom for those situations includes the need for “time” to be taken.

Fair enough. But what would “taking time” look like between a government and its citizens? Or even on a smaller scale, a group of leaders, say at a business, and its employees? Does anyone have any experience at that level? Initially, I want to say that “business” is measured by performance, so as long as the business can perform while on a “break to re-establish trust/truth” it could proceed.

But in volunteer organizations, it seems like wholesale change of personnel usually accompanies lies from leadership. Those caught lying have got to go.

The performance measurement of a nation is security. Security in business, security in home, security in diversions, security in economy, security in law, security in institutions, security in defense, security in contracts, security, security, security. Security = no questions. Security = I know what’s next. Security = predicability. Security = stability.

Are we any closer? What do we do after being lied to? What do we do while being lied to?

To stop paying attention isn’t a fix when it’s government officials.

To tell the truth louder isn’t a fix.

To ask them to stop isn’t a fix.

By process of elimination, the fix isn’t becoming any more clear.

This is why I say, the problem that faces us, the problem that the events at the capital on Jan 6, 2021 reveals, is made evident by the fact that there is no manifest answer to the question, “What do we do after lies?”

Reaction to One Political Conservative’s Reaction to Dave Chappelle’s Latest Joke

As most of you know, I spent my twenties in the Air Force as a pilot. This means that all the things that folks generally do in their twenties, I did while a pilot in the Air Force. Before this, I was a very active little Bible thumper at church, and always working towards being an Eagle Scout at Boy Scouts. Then came college at a small private college, in a super small town whose only bar I never frequented. The picture I’m trying to paint is that I lived a life full of full disclosure. I could, did, and was encouraged to talk about life within all these groups. Real life, you know? Personal things didn’t stay personal. We all just lived together, good, bad, and ugly.

Due to the limited size of groups I was in within the elite pilot training program that is the Air Force’s SUPT, I never really gave much thought to the very different nature of social environment that I had then found myself in as a 23 year old. Put plainly, I hadn’t had my trust broken in life yet, and given the similarly small group size, I just assumed the Air Force would be no different.

Suffice it to say, I was wrong. And I got burned big time.

Time go’d on. Time go’d on.

I became known as a guy who wasn’t “one of the guys”. The fellas liked me and all, but they knew that I wouldn’t put up with much teasing (said I had “thin skin”) and they knew that I wouldn’t dish it out much either.

One day, a mentor figure saw my consternation (and I saw he saw) and so I finally asked him for help. He sat me down and answered my confusion by saying, “Pete. It just makes people more comfortable when they know that they can pick on you and that you’re willing to pick on them. Nobody means anything by it. But when you don’t join in, it feels off, and makes us nervous. You know we all really like you, right? We’re just picking on you a bit extra because we like your reaction so much. So if you want, feel free to give it back and then we’ll eventually get to a happy medium and all will be well.”

I was pretty sure then, and am more sure now, that this type of moment is rare. And so I considered it and then happily consented. And all was well.

The point of this trip down memory lane is to demonstrate that I know the concept that being picked on (a seemingly negative event) can actually be proof of a positive and healthy relationship. So, when Andrew Sullivan’s piece on Chappelle’s controversial joke landed, “Dave Chappelle Is Right, Isn’t He?”, I was intrigued and gave it a read.

In short, Mr. Sullivan claims that, much like my mentor, Mr. Chappelle, in making his joke, is doing the trans community a solid by picking on them. Mr. Sullivan argues that it’s good for the trans folk to be picked on, argues that it proves they’re approved.

Like my personal situation, I have to agree that Mr. Sullivan is right that Mr. Chappelle is doing the trans community a favor by directly, and with surgical precision, picking on them. (Make no mistake, Chappelle picks on the trans community.)

But I cannot agree that anything meaningful is taking place. The most compelling social/political problem in America and the West today (and given the hegemonic value of America—in the world today) is people valuing “social justice” and “equity” and “diversity” and “equality” and “inclusivity” above morality. It’s this replacement of core values that’s the problem, not one particular social group’s standing in society. Here’s how I know.

There is one little sentence that can be uttered which brings the whole house down, one little claim that shakes the foundation to the core. One minor comment that brings to the surface the true nature of the social/political problems our nation faces.

It’s arguable that Dave Chappelle is the greatest living comedian. It’s definitely true that he is on the leading edge—a bonafide influencer of the highest order—of Western Culture. But these two facts, powerful as they sound, don’t negate the claim I’m still preambling and which will not disappoint.

Ready? (I’m excited for you.)

“Dave Chappelle’s joke ultimately is not like my mentor’s advice, nor like Mr. Sullivan’s assessment, because Dave Chappelle is black.

Of course he can safely say the joke. To pick on Mr. Chappelle will only earn you the label “racist”.

If you think Mr. Chappelle’s joke could do anything but help the trans community, that’s your mistake. A joke which hurts the trans community is like Muslim Imams performing wedding ceremonies for gays. It just ain’t happening. The only thing that Mr. Chappelle’s joke has influenced is the amount of confusion.

It’s not confusion we’re after, it’s alignment. It’s integrity.

My mentor helped me because he had spent years developing himself into someone all considered worthy from whom to seek social advice. So when I was stuck, I sought help, sought wisdom from him, regarding how to navigate a confusing social environment.

On the other hand, the trans community is not interested in social advice. They feign to seek social approval—and from a culture which has so far shown nothing short of total willingness to re-center the culture on “social/political tranquility” instead of “moral excellence”.

Does Mr. Sullivan have pithy distillation power on Mr. Chappelle’s inverse goal? Sure. Does Mr. Sullivan (and other erudite pop culture commenters) make the clever, pragmatic observation that he supposes he does? Nope.

Mr. Chappelle doesn’t get cancelled because he’s black.

Final proof: Anyone see Jerry Seinfeld addressing the trans community like Mr. Chappelle does? Anyone see Brad Pitt jumping on the Chappelle Show? Anyone see Leonardo Dicaprio or Christian Bale or George Clooney or Steven Spielberg or Craig, Daniel Craig signing a petition with Mr. Chappelle? No. No, we don’t. We do not see these demi-gods doing these things. And we won’t either. Why not? Because the real fight between social/political tranquility and moral excellence is ongoing and they’re hedging their bets.

If you think Mr. Chappelle’s joke is helping the trans community, you’re right.

Conversely, if you think the trans individuals need help, you’re right.

My Second Anniversary

Nearly two years ago I posted, while on my honeymoon, an update to the classic children’s tale “Henny Penny”. You know the one. It’s where the chicken gets a whole line of animals to follow it as it claims the sky is falling—that is, until Foxy Woxy comes along and takes over as leader and slaughters them one by one. Remember?

It’s on my mind tonight again for two reasons. Firstly, because I chatted with a policemen at the HyVee where I was picking flowers and a card (and candle) for the occasion. This then reminded me that, secondly, last week Peggy Noonan wrote a Henny Penny-esque column that I had meant to respond to here.

Mrs. Noonan is a force, that’s for sure. She won’t stand the test of time, but she is compelling for today. It’s not that she writes poorly that’s the problem. It’s that she writes in a way that seems to indicate she really understands the word on the street. Her “M.O.” seems to be pinpointing the word on “main street” and then giving it context. But like most folks, since Trump, she’s lost the pulse.

The specific point of hers that I’m referring to, in her “Lost Thread” column, is the part about how police used to be respected and how now there is no respect. Instead, she points out, there are actual calls to defund them etc.

Before joining the Air Force, I had entertained the notion of being a policeman. And this, despite having seen “Wayne’s World” and laughing with the jokes, “[sniff sniff] Definitely a pork product.” Can you believe it?

You see, Peggy Noonan is no different than the other hype-sters. How could she be? The sky is not falling. And yet she says it is. She says the very men who have sworn to protect and serve are today under a newer and stronger attack than ever before.

It’s all hype. They are not. Police have never been popular.

Hear me clearly. When I say, “Police have never been popular,” I am not wrong. Nor am I able to be persuaded away from my position. This is because I am not basing my position on facts, I am basing it on belief.

The police are only now under attack? Give me a break. Never in human history have people wanted to submit their actions to judgement or consequence. This law of nature is behind how police barely exist in history. Who would even want to get in a criminals way? It’s a nearly unreasonable profession.

Mrs. Noonan has it all wrong. The police have never been popular. And there isn’t enough data in the universe for her or anyone to use which would prove otherwise. Sorry, Ms. Penny. The sky isn’t falling.

The right perspective is that life is hard—if you’re hellbent on living as a man and not an animal.

This Post Is Not About Trump

Unlike every other composition of contemporary writing, I want to be clear up front that this post is not about Trump.

My grandpa died a short while ago, after a long life. Like Billy Crystal’s character in City Slickers, I have to admit that this one death calls to mind other deaths—and death in general. Keep in mind, this post is not about Trump.

Since this post is not about Trump, I want to use it to talk about and I need to work out three deaths that have happened in the course of my life.

The first death is that of the exclusively male Air Force flying squadron. I proudly state here that I was a member of the last flying squadron in the United States Air Force that required the aircrew members to be male. The squadron, or I should say, that iteration of the squadron exists no more. Now females can take part in every aspect of aerial combat, at least in the USAF.

The second death, chronologically, is that of the Boy Scouts. I’m talking Shakespeare here. There is something in a name. Or in this case, there is something in two names. I am an Eagle Scout, the highest achievement the Boy Scouts of America offered. And when I grew up there were Girl Scouts. The best organization the females in the country could develop was the Girl Scouts—a bad facsimile of excellence training for boys. That the Scouts now lets in girls does not change history (whether meaning the past facts or the introduction of some new mode of living): where on earth do women have a club that men want to join or wish they had thought of? The new name just admits that the Boy Scouts have died. Like my flying squadron.

Lastly, the Baptists have died. Sure, sure, sure. The Baptists are still meeting every Sunday. And they collect money and they publish Sunday School materials and run some seminaries. But it’s over. What makes me so sure? I just spoke with a new-ish Baptist pastor this morning who confessed that in five years he has not had one non-believer attend, convert, and join his church. Five years. Five years? Five years!

Remember this post is not about Trump.

I spent nearly every Monday from 4th grade to 12th grade in Boy Scout meetings. I spent nearly every Sunday and Wednesday in the Baptist church. And I worked my tail darn near off to get into the last male only flying squadron the United States Air Force had.

What will America be like without Men, Boys Scouts, and Baptists?

That’s an easy answer that you already feel in your bones.

Feminine, fatherless, and godless. In other words, absolutely unremarkable.

Pointedly: uninteresting.

Tragically: unsafe.

And most frustratingly: undesirable.

Remember, this post is not about Trump.

Luckily for you, I am still alive and happy to call your attention to what has died. Why? Because I was a Boy Scout, I was in the last exclusively male flying squadron of the USAF, and I was a Baptist. In short, because I am not afraid of you.

(This post is not about Trump.)