Wednesday, March 6, 2013

48 Hours

     Switching the White House from governing to full time campaigning makes it difficult for a blogger to keep up - here are major strategic issues raised by the Administration within the last 48 hrs:
          - DHS announced use of 2700 armored vehicles within the US, to go along with 1.6 Bil rounds of ammo, 7,000 assault rifles, 1600 graduates of the FEMA Corps, etc.  The MSM - main stream media - has ignored this.
          - ICE admitted release of thousands of illegal aliens scheduled for deportation.   Remember that the Secretary of  DHS has been saying for years that DHS is focusing deportation resources on only the most dangerous illegals, not just rank and file people here to work.
So according to its own claims, DHS is releasing thousands of dangerous criminals. The MSM has ignored this.
          - Sec State said we are training Syrian rebels and we are now confident that the arms we are supplying are going "mostly" to the moderate factions. Training means boots on the ground. "Now" confident means we are NOT confident that the weapons we provided in the past went to moderates. (This is like "Fast and Furious" on a huge scale).  Apparently, the federal government has broken federal law - providing weapons and support on a large scale to people and organizations listed on the Treasury's "forbidden" list. 
          - Attorney General Holder says the President may legally order a lethal drone strike within the US. Last week Attorney General Holder said the orders may be issued by "a senior federal official." (who? the Attorney General? The head of the EPA? a Killing Czar?) What really matters here is that  drones are only part of a much larger system employed for targeted killing. Nationwide intel, maintenance, armament and munitions, etc. - drone operations require a lot of resources.  DHS already own drones - operated by the Border Patrol. All support can be provided by law enforcement and private contractor - military support is not required.  And MOST IMPORTANTLY -- the drones are only a tool. What Holder is claiming that the President can do is use the entire mechanism of targeted killing within the US -- snipers, assassination teams, mines, etc. etc. etc. He did not say this, but it is exactly what his interpretation implies. They don't have to track down Klan members any more or trap them with an informant. They only have to satisfy a "high ranking official" that the targeted person (a US citizen on US soil) is a "terrorist" intending harm to the US. And remember who the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a terrorist -- "haters" like the Family Research Council.
     I am not a fan of conspiracy theory web sites that pretend secret information, then sell gold and silver investments "to protect your family." What I really want is for the Administration to talk to us - explain what they are doing.  Help us "connect the dots" in a way that does not look so sinister.  
     But I didn't make any of this up or paint any paranoid pictures from my own imagination. These are stories and policies right out of the Administration's mouth.
     And BTW -- the republican members of congress do not seem to be interested in any of this. They are fixated on the death of the Ambassador in Libya -- a very minor part of this whole deal, but a club they can understand and use against the President.
     So go about your business now folks. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Carthage Must Be Destroyed!

     The federal taxes we pay as a nation this year will cover less than 60% of the bills we are racking up.  Every penny that we raise from taxes will be spent on Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Everything else the Federal Government does, from the military to the national parks, will be paid for with borrowed money.
     And really, we are not even borrowing that money anymore.  We are just making it up. The largest purchaser of US bonds today is the US Treasury.  We are printing paper money to buy our paper bonds, and paying 40% of all our bills with that pretend money. That can't last forever.
     The Democrats want to solve this problem by raising taxes on "the rich." But every federal tax (from the gas tax to income taxes to the federal tax on airline tickets) would have to be raised by 2/3 to close the gap. This would devastate the economy.
     The Republicans want to solve this problem by cutting taxes and growing jobs. But we would have to create 2/3 more jobs than we have now - an impossible task.
     The only other way to solve the problem is to cut federal benefits -- Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, etc. -- by 2/3. Not only would that cut hurt the people who depend on benefits, but it would suck $1.5 trillion out of the cash drawers of the pharmacies and grocery stores where those people shop.
     We are like a couple making $60,000 a year and spending $100,000 a year. Living within their means means changing their entire lifestyle.  And so it is with us, taking in $3 trillion a year and spending $4.5 trillion.
     The nation is in peril.
     During the 2d century BC, Cato the Elder ended every presentation to the Roman Senate with the words, "Carthage must be destroyed!" It was his way of reminding the senators that no matter what the subject of the day, the greatest single threat to Rome was the existence of their rival city, Carthage.
     For the same reason, I have decided to open all my presentations with the words "The debt crisis must be solved."
     The greatest single threat to the US continues to be the national debt. Which we are increasing every single day.
      "The debt crisis must be solved."

Friday, February 1, 2013

What should Conservatives do now? (3 of 3)

            (Recently I was asked to speak at a meeting of political conservatives in Byan/College Station/Brazos Valley, Texas. The format was three five-minute presentations, followed by a Q&A session. There were, of course, other panelists, but I do not have copies of their presentations.  Here is what I presented.)

First we are going to repeat the narrative. (Yes again, and in a tighter format each time until you can remember and relate it to others.)

            The Romantic/Marxist/ Socialist/Leftist/ Progressive narrative that explains life but doesn’t work says:

·         It is only fair to take from those who work and save and give to those who don’t, and if you do, those who are productive will continue to work just as hard, and those who are free riders will begin to contribute.  And the elite where you concentrate power to effect change won’t misuse it, because they are embarked on a moral crusade for change.

Not true. Never been true. Never worked. Never gonna work.  Their narrative is fundamentally opposed to the nature of man.

             The Conservative narrative:

·         God has given men and women rights, but to make their liberties work, they must exercise moral restraint. Government can protect citizens and promote their well-being, but being comprised of humans, it tends to abuse power, so checks and balances are essential. Stick to the wise guidance provided by the Founding Fathers, and amend our laws and Standards only as legally provided for, and we will protect civil society and stimulate growth and prosperity  in a way that benefits all citizens and our nation.

Now – what follows in the next 2 minutes is NOT a complete program for the future. This is just some ideas we can put to work.

·         Capture the conservative narrative, learn it, repeat it, share it, use it.

·         Insert that narrative into every aspect of your personal life and your civic life. Teach it to your children and your grandchildren, and encourage them to use it to change the world.

·         Use the liberty, freedom, growth and prosperity from this narrative to attack every failing of the Progressive Program. The have been lots of failures – there is about to be a flood of more (in diplomacy, the military, in health care, and especially in the economy).

·         And use the Progressive narrative to show its own failure, hypocrisy and corruption. They cannot produce a prosperous nation with the narrative they teach. They cannot promote initiative by punishing it, or reduce irresponsibility by encouraging it. Point out those failures to the world.

·         Focus on what is right for people – help the world see the Conservative Narrative as a way to help and lift up the less fortunate, not as a barrier to their progress. The original conservatives were looking forward, not back. If conservatives are not helping people, they are implementing their own ideas incorrectly.

·         Be prepared to engage – the media, academia, the courts, and your friends, family and neighbors.  We will not reestablish the conservative narrative in this nation by whispering politely from the sidelines.

·         Be prepared to jettison those who pretend to be your friends, but hurt the cause more than they help it. (Big business and conservatives who can’t find common ground with others, I am looking at you.)

·         Start promoting those new and younger leaders who understand the conservative narrative and are prepared to advance it.

·         Don’t be afraid to mention God. American politics should not look like a tent revival.  But neither can our freedoms endure if discussion of the origins of those freedoms is banned from the marketplace of ideas.

We can do this – we can return truth and justice to this nation. But we can’t do it with a cacophony of voices.  We need to rediscover the conservative narrative. Learn it. Internalize it. Teach it. Triumph with it. This great nation demands no less.

How did Conservatives lose their narrative? (2 of 3)

(Recently I was asked to speak at a meeting of political conservatives in Byan/College Station/Brazos Valley, Texas. The format was three five-minute presentations, followed by a Q&A session. There were, of course, other panelists, but I do not have copies of their presentations.  Here is what I presented.)
            OK – to review, our opponent’s narrative follows: 
·         People are basically good until corrupted by wealth, history, tradition, religion, business, nationalism, etc.
·         Poor people (and those closest to Nature, like native peoples) are the least corrupt and the most deserving because corrupt rich people have stolen everything from them.
·         So it is only fair to redistribute wealth to the poor, at the same time we break down all the traditional weapons of the rich against the poor – the military, the church, business, marriage, etc.
·         We need a new elite to carry out this plan, but they are not corrupt even if wealthy and educated, because they are carrying out the moral transfer of wealth, knowledge and power.
·         If they can just destroy the old, oppressive system, a new, fair, progressive system will naturally arise.
Of course, this narrative is a pipe dream. Every time liberals and progressives try to build a strategy, laws and a system on these ideas, it comes to disaster. It is at odds with the nature of man.

            Now, the conservative narrative actually works. Here it is:
·         Man was given his rights by God, but at the same time he has responsibilities as a person and as a citizen.
·         These rights and responsibilities are codified into behavior by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and legitimate laws made in accordance with that Standard.
·         This system is fair & just, but when shortcomings are identified they can be corrected in accordance with established representative procedures. (What we must not do is violate the system just because we perceive a problem we want to fix. Use the system to fix the system.)
·         But we do have to be alert to bad behavior (internationally and domestically) and the misuse of power especially toward the weaker members of our society. So we need checks and balances and limitations on the collection of power.
When you use this set of conservative  ideas as the platform to build your strategy, laws and behavior, you encourage initiative and maximize freedom – and you get a healthy, growing society with opportunity for every one.
So if our narrative works, and theirs does not . . .why did 53% of the voting public in the last election reject it?  Where did we go wrong?

Boy there have been lots of missteps I could identify – I know you could do the same.  Let me mention just a couple of points.
·         After World War II, we used our conservative narrative as the basis of the Marshall Plan that saved Europe. But we did not establish that narrative as a way to change, shape and improve the future at home. Too many conservatives just wanted to put the wars behind them and get on with their families and their own lives and prosperity. Our Fore Fathers used conservative ideas to look forward;  many modern conservatives did not. This surrendered the world, our institutions, and our children to the argument that liberalism and progressives were interested in changing the world for the better, while conservatives wanted to stick to their wealth and their past.
·         Liberals sent their children and their most passionate believers into law, teaching, media, and politics. We tended to send our children into business, law enforcement and the military. We secured the nation.  They seized control of it.
·         In the 1950s, social conservatives aligned with business to oppose creeping seizure of property and the increase of taxes to support  institutions that sought to destroy our traditions.  Over the years, as big business exploded, this alignment remained in place -- until conservatives trying to build jobs at the local level found themselves painted with the taint of those moving jobs overseas.
·         For 40 years a vocal and well organized community of believes on the left have pushed their “leaders” further and further left, while “leaders” on the right resisted the conservative push from their voters at home on anything but tax reduction, fearing it would be “bad for big business.” In the few cases where conservatives triumphed – Goldwater, Reagan – the institutional elite of the Republican party resisted the conservative swing, and push back at every opportunity.
·         Today, it is clear that much of the leadership on the right side of the aisle feels more threatened by the tea party than by the democrats. They are more eager to cut a deal with the Progressives than address the concerns of conservatives in their districts. This is not a broad charge against all in Congress or at the state or local levels. But it is evident among many top “leaders” every day.
·         Conservatives have been too embarrassed to restate their faith in God as an essential part of their narrative, and to argue that it is an essential element in American Exceptionalism.  As a result we have surrendered the foundation or our narrative – the idea that our rights, our liberty, our laws and our government are based on the concept of Christian morality – instead of some sort of international humanism,  which works only in theory.
That’s enough. But the short answer is, we lost our conservative narrative because we didn’t use it. We didn’t live by it; we didn’t teach it to others.  It’s time to change that, starting now.

What is the Conservative Message? (1 of 3)

(Recently I was asked to speak at a meeting of political conservatives in Byan/College Station/Brazos Valley, Texas. The format was three five-minute presentations, followed by a Q&A session. There were, of course, other panelists, but I do not have copies of their presentations.  Here is what I presented.)
I have been asked tonight to address three questions:
1.      What is the conservative message?
2.      How did we lose it?
3.      What should we do now?
I have only 5 min. to address each question, so I will not provide a full answer – just some organized thoughts to start our discussion. Since I was first assigned to write congressional testimony in the Army Chief of Staff's office 26 years ago, I have been writing, teaching, and speaking about strategy on a daily basis. By strategy, I mean a concept of cause and effect to achieve victory against a thinking enemy over time. Every good strategy is founded on a solid narrative – a message about how the world works, what you want to achieve, and how the two are tied together. My specialty is crafting the underlying narrative that provides a strategy its power
Many people are bored by discussions of strategy because they see no way to apply it. I have been asked to provide some applications tonight – what actions can we take to advance the conservative message? I will satisfy his request before the evening is out. But I want to begin by describing the narrative missing from the conservative movement today, because it is the absence of a common understanding about how the world works that is robbing us of our power.
Here's a quick example. Throughout World War II, President Roosevelt and his closest advisers misunderstood the developing Soviet threat. They did not perceive the power of the Communist narrative which said to poor people around the world: "You are being cheated. You are doing the work while the owners and the capitalists and those born into money enjoy the benefits. Help us take from them so we can give to you. This is only right and fair."
      By 1950 we had recognized the danger and developed a counter narrative:  "In the West, anyone can work and save and improve their position and become an owner – a capitalist. Punishing such people for their initiative in order to reward those who do not work or save will reduce productivity and overall wealth, and hurt everyone."  This narrative became the basis for our strategy of Containment. Using our diplomacy, military, intelligence, and economic power, we drew a line around communism and refused to let them live off of the wealth and resources of other nations. A system that punishes work and independence, and rewards dependence and sloth, cannot survive without taking from others. The Soviet Union did not survive our narrative or our strategy or our forty years of hard work. And therein is a lesson for conservatives.
            The Cold War was just one part of a 250 year battle over what ideas provide the best government for human beings. Until the mid-1700s, one form of government dominated pretty much the entire earth: aristocracy. In France that aristocracy stole everything, impoverished the people, and even corrupted the church. When told that the people had no bread, aristocrat Marie Antoinette said," then let them eat cake.” No wonder they cut off her head.
            From this horrible oppression in Europe arose the narrative that challenges us today. It says:
·         There is plenty of everything – food, clothing, health care, and money – if rich people would only share.
·         And poor people do not have these things because the rich have stolen from them.
·         So it is only right, fair and moral that we redistribute wealth.
·         Furthermore, poor people are fundamentally honest and moral, so if we can just destroy the tools of the wealthy class – history, religion, laws protecting private property, respect for elders, the bonds of matrimony, and so forth – the forms of government and economics that follow will be naturally good as well. We don't even need to worry about issues like productivity and debt. Because once we destroy the institutions of the past, things will get progressively better on their own.
·         Of course, someone would have to guide this fundamental transformation and that will require a new elite – a new aristocracy. But don't worry about their rise to power because they are performing the moral act of taking wealth from those who have it and giving wealth to those who don't.”
Does that sound familiar? Does that sound like a campaign speech or inaugural address or words from a progressive think tank that you've heard before? You bet. It is a 250-year-old narrative that has caused chaos and worse around the globe.
Fortunately, conservatives do not have to create a counter narrative from scratch. The best explanation in the history of mankind was created for us in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers.
·         They believed that man’s worth and rights came not from wealth or poverty or political standing, but were granted directly by God – not to be constrained or denied by other men no matter how pressing their issues.
·         The Founders thought people should be free to work and save and advance themselves and their families above the crowd as long as they did so in a way that did not hurt others – or they could choose to stay home and enjoy leisure, as long as they didn’t demand someone else pay for it.  Be free.  Just take responsibility for how you use that freedom.
·         But the Founders also recognized that all people could be tempted toward evil – especially if they did not have a firm moral foundation.  And so they provided ways for people to speak their piece and defend themselves against outside threats and inside dangers, in the field, in the home, in the workplace, and in the courts.
·         Recognizing that this balance of rights and responsibilities might not be perfect, they provided a legal way to amend it, but by consensus of the people, not by fiat of any president or judge or EPA administrator.
·         Don’t tell me that you can’t better yourself under this system, because people from all walks of life have done so. If they did it, you can do it. But you have to stop your own self destructive behavior first.
·         This narrative is not perfect – neither is our system. But it is so good that everybody on earth is trying to sneak in, and NOBODY is trying to sneak out.
That is the conservative narrative. It is a strong one. We should teach it and use it. Later I will speak about how we lost it and how to get it back.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fight’s On – Women in Combat

     Once in a while, I receive a note from a blog subscriber who provides a fresh perspective on an issue of the day. In this case I will post the short essay I received without the writer’s name (and without comment) because that’s what he/she asked me to do.  I think you will find their reasoning provocative.

     “I for one am happy to finally see women in combat in the armed forces. Unfortunately, however, they have a long way to go to find full equality.  I believe, therefore, that we should move directly to full equality in other fields, starting with sports.
     “For example, it will be awesome to see how many NFL teams select women once they're finally given the chance to compete openly with their male counterparts.  Boxing will provide another wonderful spectacle – can’t wait to see those girls prove they can take a real punch from a male heavyweight fighter. And throw an effective one too. Putting women into the top ranks of Mixed Martial Arts contests should be easy, now that we have wisely opened the door to combat, its closest non-sport relative.
     “The best results will probably be found in team sports, where any  miscalculation about, say a female player’s ability to hold back a 280 pound offensive tackle, can be quickly compensated for by a little extra effort on the part of their male counterparts. Certainly these fortunate guys wouldn’t object to doing their fair share to advance the cause. Unless the players to her left and right are women, too.
     “And this would be just a start. In another example, fully merging prisons will no doubt save us a lot money while advancing our egalitarian principles. I am confident that just as some women will qualify for our most physically demanding special operations military programs, some women will be able to keep themselves safe from the Crips and the skinheads. If their success reflects poorly on others who don’t make the grade, well they just need to try harder.
     “To suggest that there are situations in our society where men fit better than women (or vice versa) is to rely on the ridiculous example of 4000 years of recorded history, instead of the dreams and aspirations of progressives everywhere.”

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thinking About a Little Bed

(reposted from where it originally appeared.)

            Not everything on Thinking Enemy is about an Enemy.  Sometimes it is just about Thinking. And today I am thinking on a very personal level about why we do all this national strategy and homeland security stuff. It is not to advance national interests, no matter what the professors and textbooks and politicians say. It is to “Provide for the Common Defense and Promote the General Welfare” of those we love. I am thinking about that today because the little bed is going away.
This is the bed that every one year old hates and every two year old loves, for the same reason – because it is the first foray out of the crib – out of the security of the pack-n-play, and into the independence of your own bed with its own little pillow and its own little sheet.  In seven and a half years, six of our grandchildren have made that transition. And now we are done.  No more stories in the little bed. No more nightlights next to the little bed. No more “one more drink of water” in the little bed. No more little prayers in the little bed.
            Everyone who visits, sleeps in a “big boy” bed now (or a princess bed as the case may be) – even Daniel, the littlest guy. And so the little bed is going. It is following out the door that shopping cart thing with the lights and annoying electronic music that six unsteady little people pushed through the kitchen until they learned to walk. And that dash board thing with a wheel and horn and blinkers and a radio button that played “Jimmy Crack Corn,” while little feet danced and big feet fled the room. Our house will never be the same again.
            This is not a tragedy. It is just another phase of life. Parents hardly notice. They are just happy to be rid of the clutter. But pushing the bed out the door hits grandparents hard. They know what parents don’t – that the time between an empty little bed and an empty bedroom at the end of the hall is the blink of an eye. And then it is gone forever. Unless the kids bring home their kids, and then – for a brief Indian Summer – you get another turn at bat.
            This time – if you are Thinking – you try not to blow it. You try to listen to the little voices, and give heed to the little questions, and take the little egos seriously.  Because, as the poet Andrew Marvell said, “At my back I always hear time’s winged chariot hurrying near.”
But that’s the rub. Even if you are Thinking, time hurries on. The little voices learn to get their own drink of water. The little feet make their own way to a big bed. And the little bed heads out the door. It becomes hard to ignore the fact that you will eventually follow it.
And so – what to do?  Well, first, don’t miss the opportunities that this Indian Summer affords. And second – for those of us who understand that there ARE Thinking Enemies out there – Think Harder.  That’s a very little bed in a very big and ugly world. Someone must stand watch if the occupant is to grow out of it, and into responsibilities of his own.