Wednesday, December 29, 2010



Thinking is a conscious process. Most people live their lives in the unconscious stream of stimulus and response. We do things from habit; we do things by rote. With little more thought than an ameba moving through its environment, we move through our daily life, controlled by schedules and guided by beliefs, conjectures, emotions, opinions and the influences of others. As humans we like to think we are animals of reason, but in reality we are automatons reacting from societies program. We do as society dictates and we think what our peer group demands.

All men are not created equal (another fallacious adage.) We are each endowed with varying degrees of intelligence – and as we all now know, education does not necessarily equate with intelligence. Intelligence, as I see it, is the ability for critical thinking applied with logical reasoning.

Critical thinking = understanding causality.

Logical reasoning = therefore.  (A=B, B=C, therefore A=C)

In Buddhist practice we are told to WAKE UP! We should also be told to THINK!

How many people attending religious worship have actually applied critical thinking and logical reasoning to the presupposition of their religious doctrine? How many people take a critical and objective look at their political party affiliation? We all use some degree of intelligence when tasked to do so, but mostly we react according to our program and installed beliefs.

Living an intelligent life would entail consciousness with an objective view of the world. The reality of our existence is mostly unconscious with a world view based on a system of dogmas.

Let’s break this down further:

Reason is a product of IQ, available facts, personal experience, critical thinking and logic - applied to reach a reasonable conclusion. Reasoned conclusions are open to change and modification as factual information changes.

Dogma is a product of facts, fancies, opinions, emotions, conjecture and the influence of others. Dogma is more rigid and resistant to change, regardless of facts.



Most of us operate in some middle zone: opened minded on some subjects and closed minded on others. However, the further to the right you appear on the VIEWS scale the more intolerant, prejudice and confrontational you are likely to be.


Subject clarification is the process of critical thinking in order to clarify one’s convictions. Let’s use a loose form of Socratic questioning to clarify our thinking on the confrontational subject of abortion.

Question: What do we know about abortion?

Answer: It is the termination of a human zygote  at some stage of development.

Question: At what stage of development can an zygote be considered a human life?

Answer: During the first eight weeks the zygote is classified as an embryo, after which it is classified as a fetus. Generally, the viability of the fetus becomes a possibility after the first six months.

Question: Does circumstances make a difference?

Grey areas: Rape, incest, age of mother, financial responsibility, emotional instability of mother, retardation of mother, physical or mental deformity of the fetus.

Answer: This is a vlaue judgement.  The conclusions will differ according to the individual’s position on the VIEWS scale.

Question: How do we view other terminations of human life?


Allied war casualties

Enemy war casualties

Death from collateral war damage

Police line of duty shootings

Self defense



Capital punishment

Terminating life support

Suicide when quality of life is gone


Answers: Again, a values judgement.

Question: Should a woman have the sole right to decide whether to carry a fetus to term?

Answer: Arguable. Again, your answer will depend on where you appear on the VIEWS scale?

Question: Should a woman be forced against her will to carry a fetus to term.

Answer: Arguable.

Question: Should terminal patients be required to become organ donors?

Answer:   It would be good for society but what of personal freedom. 

Question: On what grounds can we oppose abortion?

Answer: Religious, humanitarian…

Question: On what grounds can we support a woman’s choice?

Answer: Humanitarian, protecting personal freedom, extenuating circumstances …


“I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all the doctrines he holds, are true, and all he rejects, are false.” Ben Franklin

Some teachers have caught real grief for presenting values clarification in their classroom. The lunatic religious and political fringe always objects to any scrutiny that might bring their dogma into question.

Once we have completed our subject clarification we should ask ourselves:

I believe __________ therefore I should __________.

I believe __________ therefore you should __________.

You believe __________ therefore you should __________.

You believe __________ therefore I should __________.

Is there any one right answer? I don’t think so. I don’t believe there is any absolute answer to any question in this world. We are in constant flux and everything changes by the minute…There are no absolute black and whites, only varying shades of grey. So where does that leave us? Does any of this really matter? Hell, I don’t know. Let’s move on to the final question.



I’ll share a ZEN story called THE RITUAL CAT.

In a remote Buddhist monastery the teacher and his disciples would begin their evening meditation each day at sunset. The young cat that lived in the monastery made such noise and commotion during meditation that the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during evening practice. Years later, after the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the evening meditation. When the cat died, another kitten was brought to the monastery and it too was tied up during evening meditation. A century later philosophy majors would write scholarly treatises on the religious significance of tying up a cat during evening meditation.

My next blog will deal with the state of education in the United States - from the prospective of an professional educator - me.   

Thursday, December 23, 2010



To establish my bones on this subject; I spent 22 years in the military including deployment to Viet Nam.

The men and women I served with were fantastic. The professionalism of the units I served in was beyond question; BUT, the U.S. military complex as a whole operates like a big sow, eating up a huge portion of our federal budget – growing larger and fatter than necessary. This results in the inability of our government to fund important social programs; and, it tempts our politicians to use our military injudiciously.

The military is made up of mostly young men and women from the lower socio-economic classes that go into the military for a pay check, for job training or, in some cased, to act out an adventure scenario they experienced in a Play Station video or saw on television. The reality of war and death is not a concept they truly understand.

Once in the military they are indoctrinated on valor, flag, country and corps. They are animated to become the cannon fodder that can be deployed by politicians and manipulated as expendable chess pieces by senior officers on career tracks (who, in almost all cases, are not themselves in harms way.)

I find it sad to see veterans lined up with their flags, their hats, their campaign ribbons and their military insignias in support of wars. For a great many, a military deployment in a combat zone is the high point of their life. It is their only bragging right. They have never been able to separate their membership in the “band of brothers” with the ignoble mission and carnage of war itself. They came home, married girlfriends, sired children, worked in a mill ,or some other dead end job, and on occasion line up at the bar in the VFW and drink beer and get misty eyed about their experiences. Hey, I’m not knocking them, they are my brothers.

But, my Viet Nam vet brothers seem not to realize: WE LOST THE VIET NAM WAR!   58 thousand men died – and we lost.   300 thousand wounded – and we lost.   Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died – and we lost.   Billions of dollars spent – and we lost.

We had no legitimate reason to be in Viet Nam – all bullshit aside, we were trying to establish a permanent military presence on the southern border of China – but we lost.

I get tense when I hear the about a young man or woman who has died in our present wars. They gave their all for our country. Bullshit! They are dead – and for no good reason. They will never have a family; they will never experience beauty; they will never have joy; they are dead. But, the politicians who declared the war are doing just fine. In an off moment, between reelection campaigns and feathering their nest, they may feel the obligation to utter some catch phrase of lip service for the dead, but it is as quickly forgotten, and their life and priorities go on.

Enough beating the antiwar drum – WAR SUX and the military should never be deployed except in a response to an imminent threat to our country. And, at such times a draft should be instituted so that all share equally in the burden and pain.

SNAFUA word coined by military men and women.

Situation Normal All Fucked UP.

We have the image of the military as a lean mean fighting machine. In reality, the movies Catch-22 and Mash were not far afield. The military as an entity often appears to the men or women in uniform as a comedy of errors. During war time I would express it as a tragedy of errors

The idea of the military as a smooth operating, efficiently functioning autocracy is a misconception. In some cases military units are run by officers that are not screwed down tight. I served under one Commander who was obsessed with parking regulations and would threaten court-martial if the tire of your car extended a few inches beyond the gravel parking lot onto the grass. Another Commander in Vietnam refused to issue pistols to flight crews flying covert missions over the North, because his Pentecostal preacher had named him a missionary to the Vietnamese people before he deployed. A junior officer I knew pulled a pistol on his flight crew because they were not cleaning the wheel wells of his aircraft in a timely manner. Another Commander risked the lives of 23 crew members by refusing to abort from Iceland to Scotland during a blizzard and subsequently crashing his aircraft in the rough between runways. I could fill pages of mission SNAFU’s and erratic leadership from my experience of twenty-two years in the military. Yet, the junior officers and enlisted men and women on the ground always seem to be able to pull it together, protect each others ass and complete the mission.

The military is an integral part of the American experience. As mentioned earlier, our history is denoted by wars and the time periods in-between. There have been times when military service was a requirement; and, at all times (Viet Nam a possible exception) military service has been honored.

Big Brother, in George Orwell’s 1984, has a lot in common with our Republican Party. In Big Brother’s Party the word doublethink denoted the ability to accept two opposing concepts at the same time. The Republicans practice doublethink. They believe in decreasing the size of government, decreasing revenue and decreasing government spending; and, at the same time, increasing the size of the military and increasing military spending.


One of the biggest goals of our government should be to balance the National Budget and pay down the National Debt. If we are ever to achieve this goal we must bring our military spending under control.

President Obama’s budget proposal for 2011 is for $3.83 trillion (with a deficit forecast of $1.56 trillion, increasing our national debt from $13.8 trillion to over $15 trillion.) Approximately one third of the budget is slated for defense.

Our government spends over one half of the world military expenditure. Our military budget is greater than the next 168 largest national military budgets combined. It is more than six times the military expenditure of China.

At present we have military troops stationed all over the world. It has been estimated that there are over 700 military detachments on foreign soil. The following is a list of major U.S. bases located overseas. Very few of these are actually necessary for our defense.


Armstrong Army Heliport, Buedingen, Hessen, Germany

Brasschaat Army Airfield, Brasschaat, Belgium

Bucholz Army Airfield, Kwajalein Atoll, Kiribati, Marshall Islands

Camp Able-Sentry, Macedonia, Skopje

Camp Bondsteel (Army), Kosovo, Urosevac, Serbia

Camp Comanche, Bosnia-Herzegowina

Camp Doha, Kuwait City, Kuwait

Camp Eagle (Army), Wonju, Korea

Camp Gary Owen (Army), Munsan, Korea

Camp Henry (Army), Taegu, Korea

Camp Monteith, Kosovo, Gnjilane, Serbia

Camp Page (Army), Chunchon, Korea

Camp Udairi, Kuwait City, Kuwait

Camp Walker (Army), Taegu, Korea

Cochran Army Airfield, Camp Stanley (Uijongbu), Korea

Coleman Army Airfield, Mannheim, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) - Hohenfels AAF, Regensburg, Bayern, Germany

Conn Barracks (AHP Schweinfurt), Schweinfurt, Bayern, Germany

Fort Kobbe (Army), Colon, Panama

Hanau Army Airfield, Hanau, Hessen, Germany

Heidelberg Army Airfield, Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Hohenfels Army Airfield, Hohenfels (Regensburg), Bayern, Germany

Kastner Army Airfield, Camp Zama, Japan

Katterbach Barracks Army Airfield, Ansbach, Bayern, Germany

Mayaguana Army Airfield, Mayaguana, Bahamas

Patton Barracks (AAF Heidelberg), Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Schweinfurt Army Heliport, Schweinfurt, Bayern, Germany

Storck Barracks Army Airfield, Illesheim, Bayern, Germany

Stuttgart Army Airfield, Stuttgart-Echterdingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, Hessen, Germany


Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait

Akrotiri Royal Air Force Base, Akrotiri, Cyprus

Al Dhafra Air Base, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Al Udeid Air Base, Al Udeid, Qatar

Alconbury Royal Air Force Base, Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire), UK

Ali Air Base, Nasiriyah, Iraq

Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait

Andersen Air Base, Yigo, Guam

Aviano Air Base, Aviano, Pordenone, Italy

Bagram Air Base, Parvan, Charikar, Afghanistan

Balad Air Base, Balad, Iraq

Bitburg Air Base, Bitburg, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Camp Adder (Ali Air Base), Nasiriyah, Iraq

Camp Anaconda (Balad Air Base), Balad, Iraq

Cha Shan Air Base, Hualien, Taiwan

Cheong Ju Air Base, Cheong Ju, Korea

Clark Air Base, Balibago (Luzon), Philippines

Croughton Royal Air Force Base, UK

Diego Garcia (Air Force), Diego Garcia, BIOT

Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Eloy Alfaro Air Base, Manta, Ecuador

Eskan Village Air Base, Saudi Arabia

Fairford Royal Air Force Base, Fairford (Gloucestershire), UK

Feltwell Royal Air Force Base, Thetford (Norfolk), UK

Ganci Air Base (Manas Intl. Airport), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Geilenkirchen Air Base (NATO), Geilenkirchen, NRW, Germany

Ghedi Air Base, Vicenza, Italy

Greenham Common Royal Air Force Base, Greenham (Newbury), UK

Hahn Air Base, Hahn, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Howard Air Base, Panama City, Panama

Hualien Air Base (Cha Shan), Hualien, Taiwan

Incirlik Air Base, Adana, Turkey

Istres Air Base, Istres, France

Izmir Air Base, Izmir, Turkey

Kadena Air Base, Kadena, Okinawa, Japan

Kandahar Air Base, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Kapaun Air Station (KNCOA), Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Khanabad Air Base, Khanabad, Uzbekistan

Khost Airbase, Paktia, Khost, Afghanistan

Kimhae Air Base, Pusan, Korea

King Abdul Aziz Air Base, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

King Fahd Air Base, Taif, Saudi Arabia

King Khalid Air Base, Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia

Kunsan Air Base, Kunsan City, Korea

Lajes Field Air Base, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Lakenheath Royal Air Force Base, Lakenheath (Suffolk), UK

Mazar-e-Sharif Airbase, Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan

Mildenhall Royal Air Force Base, Mildenhall (Suffolk), UK

Misawa Air Base, Misawa, Honshu, Japan

Molesworth Royal Air Force Base, Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire), UK

Moron Air Base, Sevilla, Spain

Osan Air Base, Osan, Korea

Paya Lebar Air Base, Sembawang, Singapore

Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Rhein-Main Air Base, Frankfurt/Main, Hessen, Germany

Richmond Royal Australian Air Force Base, Australia

Riyadh Air Base, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

San Vito dei Normanni Air Station, Brindisi, Italy

Sembach Air Base, Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Seoul Air Base (K-16), Seoul, Korea

Soesterberg Air Base, Soesterberg, Netherlands

Sola Sea Air Base, Norway

Soto Cano Air Base (Camp Picket), Comayagua, Honduras

Spangdahlem Air Base, Spangdahlem, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Stavanger Air Base, Stavanger, Norway

Suwon Air Base, Seoul, Korea

Taegu Air Base (K-2), Taegu, Korea

Tallil Air Base, Nasiriyah, Iraq

Taszar Air Base, Pecs, Hungary

Thule Air Base, Thule, Greenland, Denmark

Torrejon Air Base, Torrejon, Spain

Upper Heyford Royal Air Force Base,

Upwood Royal Air Force Base, Ramsey (Cambridgeshire), UK

Woomera Air Station, Woomera, Australia

Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, Honshu, Japan

Zweibruecken Air Base, Zweibruecken, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany


Andreos Island Naval Air Station, Bahamas

Munoz Air National Guard Base, San Juan (IAP), Puerto Rico

Borinquen Coast Guard Air Station, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, Okinawa, Japan

Keflavik Naval Air Station, Reykjanes, Iceland

Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station, Cuba

Cubi Point Naval Air Station (Subic Bay), Olongapo City, Philippines

Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Sagamino, Honshu, Japan

Guam Naval Base, Guam

La Maddalena Naval Support Activity, Sardinia, La Maddalena, Italy

Lajes Field Naval Air Station, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Naples Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy

Yokosuka Naval Station, Yokohama, Honshu, Japan

Subic Bay Naval Base, Olongapo City (Luzon), Philippines

Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station, Caguas, Puerto Rico

Rota Naval Air Station, Rota, Spain

Sigonella Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Sicily, Italy

Souda Bay Naval Support Activity, Chania (Crete), Greece

Why do we need this world deployment of U.S. forces? The expense to maintain these bases is mind boggling.
Imagine the accomplishments we could make if we could channel this money into social programs, health care, education, medical research and scientific research.


As I mentioned; in another life time (Solzhenitsyn) I was a career military man. One thing I can state for certain is that the military spends like a teenager with a credit card. They pay too much and buy things they don’t need. We want our military to be the best armed and best trained in the world; however, we are stuck in a mentality of tradition that is costing our government trillions of dollars.

One huge chunk of our military budget goes to maintaining five separate and distinct military organizations (not including Homeland Security) that overlap in order to do one job – protect the United States.

Each one of our military organizations has distinctive uniforms. When I was an enlisted man in the Navy I had two summer uniforms, two winter uniforms, two dress uniform and three working uniforms which I had to maintain. Granted, the maintenance of these uniforms were at my expense after the initial issue, however the government had to contract with clothing manufacturers to produce the distinct pieces of clothing apparel. Add to this list a pea coat, rain coat, working jacket, fatigue jacket, shoes, boots, hats, flight suites, flight jackets etc, and you can see how the expense adds up – Navy officers had totally different sets of uniforms of their own.

If we multiply uniform expenses times four, for the Army, Navy/ Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Air Force, you can visualize the cost to the defense department just in uniform contracts (Coast Guard and Navy share the same uniforms.)

And then there is equipment: the Navy has a grey flashlight, the Army has a green flashlight, the Air Force has a blue flashlight – each one of these had to be produced to military specifications under contract which included research and development: In other words, expensive, identical, flashlights of different colors. The list is unending; military equipment, including vehicles is duplicated for each specific branch.

Major crossover expenditures come in aircraft. Here there is more duplication. We have the Air Force, Naval/Coast Guard Aviation, Marine Corps Aviation and Army Aviation. Each of the branches issues contract for research and development of aircraft specific to their needs. Each branch has its own training commands that train pilots and support personnel to fly and maintain their specific aircraft. All of these aviation missions could and should be transferred to the Air Force, which could operate them cheaper with multipurpose aircraft.

See Military Budget of the United States.

Combining the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Home Land Security into one force (U.S. Forces) makes sense. The defense department would have to supply only one set of uniforms, one set of equipment, one set of training commands per mission, one administrative branch and one supply corp. This merger alone would save the government at least a quarter of its defense budget.

Why don’t we do this? Can you imagine the flack the politicians would have to take from veterans groups? No more Army, Marine Corps, Coastguard, Navy, Air Force – just American Forces. How would it work?


It would take a strong, resolute president to assert him or herself as Commander-and-Chief to totally reorganize the military. As Commander-and-Chief I do not believe the President would require Congressional approval for the reorganization. Reorganization would be extremely unpopular with military veterans who live in past glories. The outcries would be horrendous, but the results would increase our security and decrease out expenditures.

Suggestions for a leaner meaner combined force:

• Organize the military into five specialized units: ground command, air command, sea command, homeland command and support command. Each command would have a specific mission with no duplication.

1. Air command assigned all missions of aviation nature.

2. Sea command assigned all missions of sea security.

3. Ground command assigned all missions requiring ground troops.

4. Homeland command assigned all missions effecting homeland security, including response to natural disasters such as fire, flood and earth quake relief.

5. Support command assigned joint administrative, supply and medical support.

6. All commands would have specialized training but work cooperatively under one central command i.e. the air command would be tasked to supply air support for the other three commands, as needed.

• The defense department would adopt one set of uniforms – distinguishing each command by unique rank insignias and different color berets.

• Equipment would be standardized

• Where possible commercially available materials and equipment would be purchased in place of more expensive government contracted designs.

By drastically reorganizing the military we could cut waste and duplication. Our military should be strictly a defensive force. With the technology and weaponry we have, we should be able to decrease the size of our military and increase our secure, while cutting our total military expenditures by at least fifty-percent.


If we are to bring military expenditure under control, we can not continue with a world police mentality. We must restructure our military to a formidable defensive force

We can not and should not police the world. We will not survive as the world power if we hold all countries we disagree with under the threat of an American first strike. The cost is too great in lives and money and world opinion for us to engage in continual warfare.

There are countries where military intervention should take place. Nations in chaos like Darfur should be occupied by United Nation’s troops and the killing of civilians not tolerated. It is not, however, the place of the United States to go it alone. And, it is not the place for the United States to form a coalition and intercede. If we unconditionally backed the United Nations, supported it financially and militarily, and accepted the U.N. resolutions as law we could turn over the job of world police to the world body. Without our world wide police actions they would have to step up.

Here we have dealt with the financial cost of supporting the largest, most expensive military in the world, and the effect on the national budget and by extension the effect on our inability to fund social programs.

The problem in defense spending is to figure out how far you should go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.
President Eisenhower

We have not focused on the morality of war.

War is like fire in the human community, one whose fuel is living people.
Dalai Lama

I will propose a simple solution to war:

The reason our leaders do not flinch sending our young men into battle is because they have no personal vested interest in the mortality of the outcome.

I propose that when countries are destine for conflict, we should take the major political leaders ( ie. President, Speaker Of The House, Leader Of The Senate, and the Minority Leaders From Both Houses) of the United States and pair them with the top six leaders of the opposing country; we should strip them all naked, give each two single edged razor blades, and place them in a small room and cut the lights out. The first ones to surrender are the losers and must accept the terms of the winners.

If this was the recipe for war - there would be no wars.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Pie in the sky
The musing of a mad man
Changing a world that can’t change
A Fairy Tail

I opened an earlier BLOG post with the statement: What do we need to turn the country around and make it what we would like to believe it is? We will continue with the subject of moving toward a more perfect democracy – or what needs to be fixed.


The recent crash in the stock market and banking industry is the final results of years of the flawed Republican Regan economic policies to deregulate markets and backing big business with tax cuts and subsidies. The idea that promoting an environment where the rich can become richer, with a results that it will trickle down to a stable economy for the rest of us, has not worked.

The government must control spending. We must have price controls; we must have clean energy; we have got to quit subsidizing businesses that are not making a profit; and we must close the loopholes that allow business to move manufacturing jobs outside the U.S. in order to profit by avoiding U.S. tax on their products.

Recently the government had to bail out a number of businesses that if allowed to fail would have would have brought about the total destruction of the U.S. economy. We need to learn from this near disaster. The word should go out to all businesses: Never Again.

If the product is good and the business practices are sound the business will survive on its own. A policy of bailing out companies in order to save their work force is encouraging the companies to run inefficiently. Taking a lesson from history, we can see government subsidized businesses in the USSR produced poor products and eventually bankrupted the Soviet state.

American manufacturing companies can not compete against third-world companies, where a workers daily salary equals the hourly salary of an American worker. This type of company is not viable in the United States. We are going to have to allow these companies to restructure or go under. The billion-plus dollars we are spending in the Middle East per-day needs to be channeled into retraining displaced workers, and tax and grant incentives for entrepreneurs to begin new businesses. Steel workers, mill workers, manufacturing workers must be helped to train and find work in other fields. The money spent to save an insolvent company should be used instead, as a safety net to assist displaced workers. There are workers needed in health care, transportation, education, construction…

Manufacturing (the Industrial Revolution) built the wealth of America. With the turn of the new century manufacturing is becoming a third world industry. We must not stagnate – we must move our workforce into the new era of technology. We must have an educated work force with specialized training, if America is going to remain a super power.


I love the railroads. My granddaddy worked for the Illinois Central for sixty-five years. I remember the era of the elite passenger trains: the Humming Bird and the City of New Orleans.

The City of New Orleans in Covington, Tenn.

A few years ago, my wife and I took a trip on Amtrak. We scheduled a compartment from Seattle to Washington D. C. but ended up dumped in Chicago because our train was four hours late (no hold-ups, just not on schedule.) We missed our connections and had to rent a car to complete our trip. It was an expensive and depressing experience.

Amtrak is another company that is poorly managed but subsidized by the government. Rail traffic, however, makes sense. It should be a thriving industry instead of an inefficient government subsidized program. The problem is the infrastructure and technology has remained in the twentieth century. While the oil industry and automobile industry promote the trucking industry with lobbyist in Congress, there are no spokesmen for the rail roads.

An updated freight train should be able to haul a semi-truck load of goods a hundred miles for just a few dollars operating expense, and with a fraction of the energy consumption and pollution. One freight train should be able to replace a hundred semi-trucks.

With grants and tax incentives we need to encourage a renewed interest in railroad transportation. With a network of new tracks and new equipment we could more profitably transport goods, decrease pollution by removing thousands of semi-trucks from the highways. It could relieve the stress on air travel by offering an economical and efficient alternative. Our government would have to accept the decline of the trucking industry and all its support industries. The compensation would be new jobs and new industries to support the modernized rail system.

Right now our rail system is government controlled. Retired railroad workers receive government pensions. The government needs to get out of the railroad business (which they are not running very well) and return it to private, free market control. Privatized railroads, without government subsidies, would run more efficiently. It would initially be costly and require government seed money, but a revitalized railroad system could revitalize the country and eventually operate without subsidies. .


The American oil industry and the sheiks of the Middle-East are raping our citizens. They have convinced us that oil consumption is necessary, while they control the supply.

We are presently at war in Iraq because that country sits on the second largest oil reserve in the world. Saddam was a bad guy, but no real threat to America. He did not have nuclear weapons and he did not have a delivery system, but he did have an undeveloped oil reserve. American companies had wanted to develop that oil reserve but were denied access because of an Allied embargo on the country.

Along comes the 2000 presidential election and the oil industry finally take over our government. Cheney was an oil man and the CEO of Halliburton. Bush W. failed as an oil man but is from an oil dynasty. Rice was a lawyer for a major oil company, etc. The dynamic duo of Bush/Cheney came into office with the intention of taking over Iraq and opening the oil fields to American Companies. It was a business move, plain and simple. They just did not understand the complexity of the Middle-East.

We have the technology for wind power; we have the technology for solar power; we have the technology to tap geothermal energy; we have the technology to tap tidal energy; what we do not have is the desire at the government level. Oil company lobbyists, and lobbyists from related industries, are insuring that America remains on the oil standard. And, as long as we remain on the oil standard, we can never truly move toward a low cost, green environmental friendly energy policy. The answer, again, is term limits.


The shout in Washington is to reduce revenue, increase spending and balance the budget. If you buy into that you probably plan to spend your tax return on a season pass to the Noah’s Ark Theme Park in Kentucky.

The proposed U.S. budget for 2011 request $3.83 trillion ($3,830,000,000,000.00) in expenditures with an estimated revenue of $2.57 trillion – resulting in a deficit of $1.267 trillion. This will effectively increase our National debt from $11.9 trillion to $13.8 trillion.  See: How Big Is A Trillion? in my Blog of November 22, 2010

In my next BLOG I will look at the big sucking black hole that accounts for over one quarter of our budget.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The U.S. National Deficite or I'll pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today!


I want it!

I want it all!

I want it now!

And I don’t want to pay for it.

We constantly preach to consumers to pay off their credit cards, lay out a budget and live within their means. However, this is the antithetic of the financial program of the Republican Party. Since the time of Regan the plan has been to operate the budget at a deficit, give the money to the rich, and the rest of us will benefit by serving the needs of the rich as laborers or producers; and, in the meantime the economy will grow to counter set the deficit. Regan called it Trickledown Economics. What an insult to the common man, and yet the punters bought it. We know how much the rich and powerful care for the middle and poorer classes: Let them eat cake. We have seen over the Bush years how well tax cuts for the wealthy benefited the economy.

Ronald Regan begin his term with a tax cut that was not matched by a spending cut, resulting in the largest deficit since World War II. This has only been topped by George W. who, along with the Republican Congress, increased discretionary spending by 26% and decreased revenues with a huge tax cut for the rich, which results in our present deficit.

As of 22 Nov. 2010 at 7:43 GMT our national debt peaked at $13,804,733,376,403.78. Let’s read that off: thirteen trillion, eight hundred and four billion, seven hundred and thirty-three million, three hundred and seventy-six thousand, four hundred and three dollars and seventy eight cents. With an estimated population of 309,527,555 citizens, the debt averages out to about $44,599.37 per person. An even more horrible truth is that with Bush’s wars and the slow economic recovery the debt continues to grow at about $4,170,000,000.00 (four point one seven billion dollars a day.)

When we start talking about millions, billions and trillions the numbers are so large that people don’t really have a concept of actual size. People are so use to hearing the government talk in “trillions” that they become jaded and unconcerned.


• If you would drum your pencil on the top of your desk once-per-second, it would take you seventeen minutes to drum out one thousand beats.

• If you continued, without stop, twenty-four hours a day, it would take you twelve days to drum out a million beats.

• If you could continue, non stop, it would take you thirty-two years to drum out a billion beats.

• And if you could continue for the rest of your life, and your children’s, and your grandchildren’s… – you could drum out one trillion beats in thirty-two thousand years.

Remember the US budget deficit is over thirteen trillion dollars.

(Check out the national debt at: http:\\



Remember, the primary goal of any Senator or Congressperson is to remain in office. Fact: the politician able to spend the most money usually gets elected. So how do you stay in office? It doesn’t require a business degree to figure that if you’re good to mamma, mamma’s good to you.

All major businesses are looking for an advantage. It can be government subsidy or relaxation of environmental or labor laws that can increase the profit margin. Therefore, businesses hire lobbyist to romance the legislators with an unspoken understanding that if pro-business legislations are supported the legislator will receive financial support at election time. This whoring by politicians is the results of no term limits.

Now the fly in the ointment: Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010), was the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that corporate funding of independent political advertisements in candidate elections cannot be limited, under the First Amendment. In other words, corporations can now finance political ads for or against candidates with unlimited funds – they are allowed to buy any election.

As long as politicians can be bought they will legislate on the side of the money. The mega-wealthy and large corporations have usurped control of the Congress and Senate and future legislations will be on the side of war profiteering, tax cuts for the wealthy and tax loop holes for big corporations. The results will be a constant increase in the U.S. deficit and the cutting of social programs as a Republican lip service to deficit responsibility.

Doing away with pork in the U.S. budget is overtly proclaimed by both parties as a step toward financial responsibility – though each Senator and Congressperson covertly pursues all the money he or she can get for their states. A line item veto for the president is the answer to leaning down a bloated budget. (When pigs fly…)

Finally, the U.S. spends more money on its military than all other countries in the world combined.

So, in an ideal world, how would we bring fiscal order to the National budget?

1. Raise taxes to bring in more income.

2. Close the tax loop holes for corporations and the mega-wealthy – one rate for everyone – no deductions.

3. Reorganize and downsize our military.

4. Cut back on unnecessary military related expenditures.

5. Require a balanced budget.

6. Enact a line-item veto for the President.

7. Limit campaign contributions and enact term limits.

Two tears in a bucket – motherfuckit.

The Lady Chablis

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Thursday, November 18, 2010



Did you ever consider that you have to pass a test to be a doctor, a lawyer, a CPA or a school teacher; but, any fool on the street can become a senator or congressperson if they can talk enough people into voting for them?

Our legislative body was set up almost two hundred and fifty years ago. Our founders believed in the rights of the individual, but they also believed that the people needed a benevolent, sage group of men to guide them. Illiteracy among the people was the norm and communication and transportation between colonies took weeks and sometimes months. Our founders were opposed to royalty but unknowingly they were creating a royal class.

Both Franklin and Jefferson realized that access to power tends to corrupt politicians and both men supported term limits for officials.

Just as Franklin and Jefferson feared, our Legislative Branch has an old-boy network which is composed of members whose primary concern in reelection. What other small group of people have the power to vote in their own pay raises, decree their own term limits (none) and lock the government into a two party system? Strom Thurman was a senator for 48 years, finally dying while still in office at age 100. Ted Kennedy was in office for 47 years. This is the type of service that locks-in and guarantees the old-boy network. A career as a Senator or Congressman is the best job in town. It is a stepping stone to power, wealth and privilege. It is a coronation to American royalty.

At present senators are elected for six year terms and representatives for two years. Their salaries range upward from $174,000 a year. There is per diem, dislocation pay, foreign travel allowance, domestic travel allowance, office expenses for two offices and allowance for aides and staffers. Legislatures vest in a retirement after five years. They get to choose civil service or government employees retirement systems and health insurance coverage. Their retirement can be up to 80% of their salaries – determined by length of service.

An eight year term limit would change this. It would attract people who desire to serve the public and are willing to make changes for the good of the people. The election to the legislative branch should offer an adequate salary and prestige, but not retirement benefits. It could benefit the people willing to commit to service by returning them to civilian life with an impressive resume. By rotating people in the Legislative Branch we could break the mindset of business as usual and oust the old white men who have controlled and manipulated our government for their own purposes for so many years. The focus would change from getting reelected to serving the people. The Catch-22 is - that the only way we could decree a term limit would be for the Legislative Branch to enact it as law – and they are not about to do that.

In the early 1990’s there was a move by some states to institute term limits for their members of Congress and the Senate. A law suite instituted by legislatures (including Tom Foley, ousted Speaker of the House) against term limits made its way to the Supreme Court. In 1995 the Court ruled term limits unconstitutional. (US Supreme Court ruled term limits unconstitutional in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (May 22, 1995).

Now, the only way for term limits to be instituted would be by an act of Congress. Fat chance for that…

Now let’s move on the other big lie.


As Americans we are brought up to believe that we sustain our democracy through the process of one person one vote. In the Presidential election this is an allusion: the President is elected not by popular vote but by the Electoral College (the old boy network.) It has happened, as recently as Bush that a president was elected that did not receive the majority vote of the people. How wrong is this? In this technological age tabulating the vote of the people is not rocket science. Why do we need an Electoral College if not to allow an avenue for the old-boy network to manipulate the vote?

When we, as Americans, cast our vote for a presidential candidate we are actually casting our vote for electors. Article II of the Constitution requires an Electoral College. The idea of the College was to give states with a smaller population an equal weight in Presidential elections. Also, Congress did not trust the common man to make an informed decision. Each state has one electoral vote corresponding to its number of senators and congressmen. There are five hundred and thirty eight electoral voters and two hundred and seventy are required for a win.

Major political parties may select their electors at their party convention or they may be appointed by party leaders. Here lies the problem: the electors are not required to vote as their state popular vote indicates and their collective votes do not correspond to the percentage of votes cast for each candidate. In the 2000 Presidential election Al Gore won by more than a half million popular votes but George Bush ended up elected to the presidency (with the help of the Supreme Court) by an electoral vote of 271 to 266. Who are these electors that supposedly cast our vote? Most Americans will never know.

Article II, Section I, Clause II of the Constitution states:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Changing this system would require a Constitutional Amendment. The old white men who wield the powers in our government and political parties would loose their influence if a Popular Vote Amendment were enacted – and they control the direction of legislation in our House and Senate.

Again, a circular outcome and self-fulfilling expectation comes from a Legislative Body without term limits.

The next BLOG will deal with the selling of our government (Citizens United Ruling,) line item veto and balanced budget.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010





What do we need to turn the country around and make it what we would like to believe it is? I can give you my list. (Remember, this BLOG is all about me.)

• We need our senators and congressmen to have term limits: being a member of our legislative body should be a service to the country, not a career. No state has term limits for US Senators, as the US Supreme Court ruled such limits unconstitutional in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (May 22, 1995, so tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of that decision).

• We need to get rid of the Electoral College and have the people’s vote elect our president.

• We must close the loop holes that allow industry to manipulate government through lobbyist and contributions. (Citizens United Ruling)

• We need to have a fiscally responsible government: we must stop the pork by enacting a line-item veto for the president.

• We must demand the government operate within a balanced budget.

• We must rethink and reinforce the idea of free enterprise, by not subsidizing inefficient and outmoded companies.

• We need to reinvent the railroad in order to transport goods more efficiently and drastically decrease the need for inefficient and polluting semi-trucks on the highways.

• We must enact a totally green energy-policy.

• We must reorganize and down size our military.

• We must control population growth.

• We must improve the education in this country by removing it from the hands of uninformed legislators and placing it under the total control of educators.

• Finally, we must be an active member, and accountable to a world of nations.

This is a wish list; an unrealistic musing of a path toward a more perfect democracy. The reality is that the United States is not a democracy but a plutocracy: a country manipulated by corporate interest. The government proper is juxtaposed between two political parties, each vying for control. What’s good for the people is second place to securing power for the party and the personal ambitions of the legislatures. All this is fed by the wealthiest Americans and mega-corporations that funnel money into the electoral process, allowing them a major influence on legislative outcomes. Add to this a sizable sector of the population that is not bright, uninformed and easily manipulated by thirty-second commercials, loaded phrased and catch words like abortion, gays, guns, god, patriotism, the military… and you have a country locked in to system that is moving toward a place and time that we will all regret.



In future Blogs I will discuss each item listed in the above wish list.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Patriotism: God Bless America and Don't Tell Me Otherwise.


Life is full of experiences,
though it’s dust in the wind.
What’s really important
are women and men.

People are important. Every person lives in a mini-world of loves, pains, accomplishments and failures. The path we follow constantly changes us. As individuals we are capable of great good and great evil – but generally we just try to keep-on keeping-on: but we constantly change.

Solzhenitsyn said it best (Gulag Archipelago,) “One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being.”

I have empathy for human beings. Most of the people I know struggle just to get by. There are women raising children, men working long hours, kids in school, old people facing the reality of their passing; everyone wants that little bit of happiness, or at least contentment.

The individual’s great down fall is when he loses concern for the feelings of other human beings. We are egocentric by nature, but we have the ability for compassion. It is only when we organize ourselves as group that we tend to lose our personality and our individual compassion. That is when we are capable of the greatest evil.

Humans are heard animals and we have an imprinted nature to organize and identify ourselves as a group. There are good groups, destructive groups, and necessary groups; and when we become a member of a particular group we willingly hand over our individualism and identity to the group. We have club affiliations; church affiliations; local, state and federal affiliations: political parties, law enforcement, military, clubs and gangs etc. As a member of a group the needs of the group become paramount over the needs of the individual – and as a member we loose our individual empathy and concern for people outside our group.


Good God y’all
What is it good for? 

We make a mistake when we show blind allegiance to our government. Our founding fathers came from a monarchy in which the individual’s purpose was to serve the needs of the government. Our country was founded on the premise that the government be organized to serve the needs of the individual. But, over the years our government has moved away from the principals of individual liberty and freedom guaranteed by our constitution. We now find ourselves alumni of the Bush “W” era when the government operated in secrecy; a chilling parody of George Orwell’s 1984:




And Big Brother knows what’s best for you.

We should hold our government accountable to serve our needs and our best interest.

It makes you wonder at what point in the Orwellian nightmare did Big Brother begin scaring the people with Terror Level Colors – At what point did Big Brother give immunity to the tela-coms for spying on the people – At what point was Big Brother able to convince the people that arrest and confinement without due process was acceptable – And at what point was torture warranted for the protection of the state. It took real patriots to accept the rule of Big Brother.

I don’t trust the word Patriotism, for it bespeaks blind allegiance to the heard. I am fortunate to be born in this country, but I am not blind to the fact that there have always been factions in our government that do not, and have not served the needs of the individual. Just as we must have a realistic view of religions we need to take off the rose colored glasses and have a realistic and informed view of our country.

When I taught History in high schools I always begin by making the point that U.S. history is a record of wars and the lulls in-between the wars - as written from the perspective of the winner. In the United States our heritage is war. War has defined us:

• 1620-1754: Scrimmages with the Indians, Dutch, French and Spanish

• 1754-1763: French and Indian War

• 1770: Boston Massacre

• 1773: Boston Tea Party

• 1775-1783: Revolutionary War

• 1786: Shays Rebellion

• 1812-1814: War of 1812

• 1846-1848: Mexican War

• 1861-1865: Civil War

• 1898: Spanish American War

• 1914-1918: First World War

• 1939-1945: Second World War

• 1950-1953: Korean War

• 1961: Cuban Standoff

• 1964-1973: Viet Nam War

• 1982: U.S. invades Grenada

• 1991: Persian Gulf War

• 2001 The war on Al Qaeda

• 2003: U.S. invades Iraq

• 2003: Iraq war

• 2004 :Troops sent into Pakistan

Each war has brought on social and political changes. We could paraphrase Solzhenitsyn and say: One and the same country is, at various times, under various circumstances, a totally different country. As wars and weaponry have become more and more dangerous to humanity, war should be viewed less and less as the means of settling disputes and controlling natural resources.

The specter of war rallies many of our people to blind patriotism, which allows our leaders to maneuver our Nation into dangerous and destructive situations.

I have told my students that the history they are taught has been written and edited here in America – with an American perspective – and an American spin.

Let’s take a realistic look at the United States.

• We are 16% of the world population, yet we consume 25% of the world’s natural resources

• We have a huge disparity between the rich and the poor resulting in a decline of the middle class.

• 25% of the world’s jail population is incarcerated in the United States.

• We have a greater percentage of citizens in jail than in college.

• We have the highest infant mortality rate of any developed nation.

• We are the only major industrial nation that still has a death penalty.

• Our students perform poorly on standardized test.

• Industries are leaving the United States at an alarming rate because they can not compete using American workers.

• We have a decaying infrastructure: roads, railways, bridges, sewer and water

• We have a government willing to spend billions of dollars a month on the unnecessary invasion of Iraq while we have thousands of families that can’t afford health care, and thousands of children that go to bed hungry.

On the positive side: we live in a country where an intelligent boy from a poor family, raised by a single mother can become President of the United States. (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama)

On the flip side: we must also be aware that a boy from a rich family, with a mediocre education, a background of drug addiction and a history of irresponsibility and business failures, because of his connections, can be appointed President of the United States. (George W.)

Nothing is black and white. People with initiative can succeed here. Good, hard working people can also fall through the cracks. We have many opportunities in this country yet many of our people are disenfranchised.

We have our proud times: On September 11th twenty-three religious fanatics took the lives of 3000 innocent civilians, and our people rallied. This attack will go down in our history books as an atrocity against humanity.

But we also have our darker side that you will not fine detailed in the high school history books as an atrocity against humanity:

The date was August 6, 1945. It was eight fifteen in the morning. The sun was coming up in the east and the city was coming to life. The people of a major metropolitan city were starting their daily routine. Mothers were feeding their children breakfast and preparing them for school; fathers were leaving for their jobs; while somewhere overhead an American bomber was releasing the first nuclear bomb.

The explosion took place 1900 feet above the city. The ground zero area was disintegrated and two thirds of the city leveled instantly. Of the three hundred and fifty thousand civilians in the city of Hiroshima, one hundred and forty thousand died.

Five days later a second nuclear bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Of the two hundred and seventy thousand civilian inhabitants, seventy thousand died: men, women, children, old people, pregnant women, unborn babies…and no birds sang.

The men who released the bombs were American patriots. We are the only country to have ever use nuclear weapons: and we dropped two of them – on civilian cities.

Are we bad? No, we are human. Men have always been willing to kill other humans, we had just learned to do it more effectively – and we did it first. We write the history, so we will justify this killing.

Am I proud to be an American? Sometimes.

I live a pretty good life. I have a cabin in the north Maine woods, a beautiful wife, a fat cat, a four-wheel drive truck, and enough income to keep the wolf away from the door (barely.) There is no place else I would care to be.

Am I disillusioned with America?  No. I am disillusioned with Americans. The American people on the whole are poorly educated, uninformed and apathetic. They do not make it their business to hold their government accountable. A small percentage of our people vote and of those that do, many blindly follow a party allegiance.

A large percentage of the American people believe they live in a fairytale utopian city/state ordained and overseen by a Christian God. They believe that to question actions of the government is blasphemy and they are willing to blindly line up with flags and placards in hand – and even give their lives – when the political/ industrial puppeteers invoke the cry of patriotism.

Samuel Johnson defined patriotism as the last refuge of scoundrels. Actually, patriotism is the autonomic response of the heard to the scoundrels who invoke patriotism as a means of control and manipulation.

Patriotism is mindlessness – Beware!