American Ingenuity and Winning Friends, Redux

"No one cares about us, and no one understands exactly what happened, because we are Yazidis. Everyone wants to kill us. Where should we go? I don't have a dream because I don't have a life. That's all I have to say." I think we can do much better Photo courtesy of "Spirit of America"

“No one cares about us, and no one understands exactly what happened, because we are Yazidis. Everyone wants to kill us. Where should we go? I don’t have a dream because I don’t have a life. That’s all I have to say.”
I think we can do much better
Photo courtesy of “Spirit of America”

[OK, I posted this the other day, and with all he nonsense, I’m not sure anybody actually read it, so here its again. i think it a very worthwhile endeavor. Neo]

A while back, Jessica wrote a post entitled We’re Americans, We Act, As always with her articles, it is excellent. it deals with the problems last summer in northern Iraq, and don’t kid yourself, those problems are still there, we have perhaps helped hold the ring, but it ain’t all sweetness and light. Much remains to do.

You’ve all heard me complain about elephantine American/multinational big business and how the little guys can run them into the ground six days a week and twice on Sunday as well, given a level playing field. Nothing has changed on that front either.

And we all know that a S&P 50 firm is agility itself compared with the US Government, even that part that works fairly well, which would be the US Military.

But all problems have solutions, if we have the vision to see them but, that’s the hard part: seeing them. Well actually it’s not, our young men and women in the military, with their butts in the weeds are as adept as anyone in the history of the world at “improvising, adapting, and overcoming”, that’s one of the main reason our military is justly feared by our enemies.

But they are too often stymied by the elephantine bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and even so, some of the things that Captain Lunchbucket thinks would help him get along with his new neighbors are not things that the taxpayers should be buying but, neither should the Captain’s wife, really. Talk about a nightmare, how about a Pentagon program to supply 50 softball bats to a village in Afghanistan? It would likely be cheaper to airlift them to Colorado and give them a lifetime income.

But the American soldier has always been America’s best ambassador, everywhere he goes, his basic goodness reflects well on us, and people are drawn to him. In fact, when I was young I knew many men who flew in World War Two in 8th and 9th US Army Air Forces, the two based in England. they were proud of what they had done in the war. But the ones who had stayed in were even prouder of what they had done in 1948. In something called Operation Vittles, where we (and the British) completely supplied the city of Berlin during the blockade. That was a mission a man could really be proud of. But even in that one, the story we all remember is the pilot who bought candy out of his own pocket and airdropped it to the kids watching the planes land. Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome, indeed.

So how do we harness American entrepreneurial skills to the young soldiers’ needs in the field? We know we can’t do it with a Pentagon program, too slow, too expensive and other reasons as well.

Here’s one way that has worked for 13 years. From the Hoover Institution and the Wall Street Journal learn about Spirit of America and its founder Jim Hake.

American ingenuity: winning friends and influencing people since 1776 (at least).

Here’s the link to Spirit of America

Optimism in America? 2

[I’m just going tp pit this post up and let the air clear again. I was working on other things and didn’t get today’s done. But Jessica reminds us of some eternal verities here. America was built on optimism, and we’d be remiss if we see only the gloom these days. So enjoy. Neo]
America optimism

One thing which has always struck me about America, and it is one of the reasons that FDR and President Reagan stand so pre-eminent, is that it is built on optimism. When you think of the situation of the Founding Fathers, goodness, what a leap of faith! They literally laid their lives on the line in a fight for independence against the great British Empire with its huge military might; but they triumphed. Their Republic consisted of twelve States on the eastern edge of a great, and largely unexplored Continent, with French and Spanish territory to the south and south-west; Louisiana essentially barred the route westward; Spanish Mexico barred the route to the south. Yet, within fifty years of the founding of the Republic, these barriers had vanished.

West of the Missouri, however, despite Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, was more or less terra incognita, and even within the United States, tension was growing between the slave-holding States and the Free, so much so that by the 1860s, the Republic was tearing itself apart in one of the bloodiest of civil wars. Until the end of World War II there was hardly a decade when Bruce Springsteen’s lines about having ‘no work, because of the economy’ were not true; forty-odd years of exceptional prosperity in a material sense may have inculcated the belief that somehow the Republic’s people would always live on easy street – but that, whilst being part of the American hope, was never necessarily something most people actually achieved; you only have to look at the history of the Irish and Italian immigrants to see how it was for many first generation ‘Americans'; and of the suffering of the slaves, well, that is indeed a scar on the conscience.

But, despite of these things, America got on with it. Shady politicians? Crooked businessmen and bankers with their hold over the politicians? Politicians who were in it for themselves? Pork-barrelling? Faction fighting? Bitter insults hurled by political opponents at each other?  These are not new, these are American history; and you know what? America is bigger than them all. Sure, there are worrying developments – that FDR and his attempts to use SCOTUS to put in place that socialistic ‘New Deal’, with that Communist Wallace and Harry Hopkins, that really worries me! What’s that, that happened in the 1930s? Oh well, I mean Obama and Pelosi – except they don’t have an ounce of the talent and drive of FDR and his ‘Brains Trust’. The Great Republic remains standing. Does that mean that the fears of FDR’s opponents were wrong? Or does it mean that their vigilance stopped the worst happening? Or does it mean that the realities of America proved too great even for FDR’s ambitions? I confess I don’t know.

But what I do know is that at his first election Obama spotted something important – he knew that the American people are optimists, ‘can do’ people; after all, how many of their ancestors would have been there had they not been so?  So when he ran on a rhetoric of ‘hope’ he struck an authentic chord in the American people. It was one his opponents did not catch and still show insufficient sign of catching. It is all very well to call Obama out for being pretty useless, and to prophesy that the skies will darken and the waters rise and doom will fall upon the land; but is it a political programme to put before a People founded on the optimistic dreams of a bunch of guys who, if they’d calculated, would have paid the tax on tea and gotten on with feathering their nests?

I am an outsider who loves America. But I can’t help thinking that unless President Obama’s opponents get away from negativity (after all, if people feel, as they do, negative about him, they don’t need to be told to feel it) and offer a vision of the America its people recognise as optimistic, then for all her many faults, it will be Hillary in ’16. At which point, even my capacity to be Sunny will vanish :)

American Ingenuity and Winning Friends

"No one cares about us, and no one understands exactly what happened, because we are Yazidis. Everyone wants to kill us. Where should we go? I don't have a dream because I don't have a life. That's all I have to say." I think we can do much better Photo courtesy of "Spirit of America"

“No one cares about us, and no one understands exactly what happened, because we are Yazidis. Everyone wants to kill us. Where should we go? I don’t have a dream because I don’t have a life. That’s all I have to say.”
I think we can do much better
Photo courtesy of “Spirit of America”

A while back, Jessica wrote a post entitled We’re Americans, We Act, As always with her articles, it is excellent. it deals with the problems last summer in northern Iraq, and don’t kid yourself, those problems are still there, we have perhaps helped hold the ring, but it ain’t all sweetness and light. Much remains to do.

You’ve all heard me complain about elephantine American/multinational big business and how the little guys can run them into the ground six days a week and twice on Sunday as well, given a level playing field. Nothing has changed on that front either.

And we all know that a S&P 50 firm is agility itself compared with the US Government, even that part that works fairly well, which would be the US Military.

But all problems have solutions, if we have the vision to see them but, that’s the hard part: seeing them. Well actually it’s not, our young men and women in the military, with their butts in the weeds are as adept as anyone in the history of the world at “improvising, adapting, and overcoming”, that’s one of the main reason our military is justly feared by our enemies.

But they are too often stymied by the elephantine bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and even so, some of the things that Captain Lunchbucket thinks would help him get along with his new neighbors are not things that the taxpayers should be buying but, neither should the Captain’s wife, really. Talk about a nightmare, how about a Pentagon program to supply 50 softball bats to a village in Afghanistan? It would likely be cheaper to airlift them to Colorado and give them a lifetime income.

But the American soldier has always been America’s best ambassador, everywhere he goes, his basic goodness reflects well on us, and people are drawn to him. In fact, when I was young I knew many men who flew in World War Two in 8th and 9th US Army Air Forces, the two based in England. they were proud of what they had done in the war. But the ones who had stayed in were even prouder of what they had done in 1948. In something called Operation Vittles, where we (and the British) completely supplied the city of Berlin during the blockade. That was a mission a man could really be proud of. But even in that one, the story we all remember is the pilot who bought candy out of his own pocket and airdropped it to the kids watching the planes land. Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome, indeed.

So how do we harness American entrepreneurial skills to the young soldiers’ needs in the field? We know we can’t do it with a Pentagon program, too slow, too expensive and other reasons as well.

Here’s one way that has worked for 13 years. From the Hoover Institution and the Wall Street Journal learn about Spirit of America and its founder Jim Hake.

American ingenuity: winning friends and influencing people since 1776 (at least).

Here’s the link to Spirit of America

The Barbarians Within Our Gates

christians-eradicated-in-iraqThis article, which got buried in my drafts dates from last September, but little has changed, I think.

Hisham Melhem is the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel. He is also the correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily. I  find him to read like a man who knows whereof he speaks, and understands the culture far better than most of us do, and who laments the destruction of his culture.

I think it worth our time to read, and to reflect on what he says here.

With his decision to use force against the violent extremists of the Islamic State, President Obama is doing more than to knowingly enter a quagmire. He is doing more than play with the fates of two half-broken countries—Iraq and Syria—whose societies were gutted long before the Americans appeared on the horizon. Obama is stepping once again—and with understandably great reluctance—into the chaos of an entire civilization that has broken down.

Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world.

Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?

No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies. No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule.

Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/the-barbarians-within-our-gates-111116.html#ixzz3VDDOy6NN

I have little to add to what he says. But my point is that, whatever happens, in the Arab/Muslim world, we in the United States, and western Europe will find ourselves drawn in.

It behooves us to inform ourselves about the situation,, or we will undoubtedly do more harm than good. We should remember though, that we cannot fix the world, nor does all the world want to be like us, and it is up to them, not us to decide. That does not preclude us from attempting to persuade and encourage those whose goal strike us as laudable but, there are limits.

Read and reflect

Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of th...

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of the United States (1923-1929) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, as always from Amity Shlaes, excellent. It has often seemed to me that our politicians think the electorate is very stupid, not to mention having no memory at all.

While this seems more obvious on Democratic side of the aisle, it’s pretty bipartisan, as watch Congress continually indulge in get-rich quick schemes for Congresscritters and their sycophants, especially in the lobbying industry. Truly I have come to believe we have the best Congress money can buy. Somehow, I don’t think that is quite what Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and the rest had in mind. Who comes to my mind is a chap named Nero, a famous violinist who thought he was more than that.

From Amity

But 18-year-olds are wiser than their elders realize. Jobs alone won’t suffice to keep them. Young people seek something else: prospects. The distinction feels trivial, but there’s a difference between jobs and prospects. That difference is one of time. “Prospects” means long term, and long term is how many youths think.

This became clear in a contest recently conducted by the Vermont-based Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, where I work. The foundation asked high school students to answer a simple question regarding the Green Mountain State: Should I stay, or should I go?

That’s indeed the question we have all faced isn’t it. The perennial American question, ever since the Pilgrims landed. Is the grass greener someplace else, or is this rockpile as good a farm as there is. usually itching feet have prevailed, and we have indeed, “Go west, young man, go west.” and what we have usually found is the chance to build something to be proud of, whether it was a farm, a business, a church, or indeed a nation, which has become second to none.

Still, the kids were just breaking bad news gently. And that bad news was that they were indeed departing. One semifinalist established the imperative of migration: “In times such as these, the world needs people to step up and keep it from collapsing in upon itself. … While I do not think every Vermonter should leave the state, I think those of able mind and body should.”

The winner put her conclusion more bluntly: “I need to get out of Vermont to see different places around the world and to meet different people. I need to experience those things in life that Vermont simply cannot offer.” Another pupil wrote in rap-style slang: “Not necessarily the state for success. … So competition is weak/ People need to travel so they can raise to their own peak/Vermont’s getting older.”

Now mind you, I’m very traditional but you know, if I was growing up in Vermont, and it’s as lovely as everyone says, I’d leave as well. Why? I like to eat, and I believe in earning my own way. The view out the window is important but not as important as that.

The economist Milton Friedman, who once had a house in Vermont, labeled a phenomenon he observed as the “Permanent Income Hypothesis.” People, Friedman posited, were not rabbits. They would spend not according to what cash they had on hand but according to their estimate of what money they’d have in their lifetime. The PIH holds for decisions beyond saving. You choose a home not just because it pleases you this year but because it might prove a good investment over a lifetime.

The essays of the perspicacious Vermont teens suggest that states around the nation may want to alter their pitches. Jobs matter, but less than education. Regulation matters. Tax rates matter, even top rates—again, because of prospects. The ambitious consider what rate they’ll pay tomorrow, not the rate that applies to them as they start out.

Well, of course they do, we all do. And that is why what Washington does increasingly is so pernicious. When you kill people’s dreams, which is what our welfare system has done systematically in our cities for fifty years now, we train whole generations to believe they are worthless, that the best they can hope for is to be paid for existing, so sit down and shut up.

But it’s even more than that, isn’t it. I’m a highly skilled tradesman, living in one of the better states for business, and yet, as I’ve written before, because the state itself has a habit of ignoring its laws, to take care of its guild members, I’m unlikely to work again. When a guy like me becomes convinced that my best chance to retire is to win Powerball, you are doing something wrong.

Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer – Forbes.


This is more an aside than anything else but, am I the only one who thinks the national Democrats increasingly look old and tired, yesterday’s news. I mean jeez, guys, I’m in my early sixties myself, and when you look old and shopworn to me, what must you look like to the 30 year olds that you built your party on. It’s the people, to an extent, we’ve been talking about the Clinton’s for what seems like forever, is it really only twenty years? Then again, do you have anything else that you bought in 1990?

Nor does it help that they are still pushing the same programs that have failed everywhere they’ve been tried, usually catastrophically and they haven’t changed a jot or tittle since Wilson was president. I is a further handicap to at least some of us that not a single one of the member of the nomenklatura has ever held a real job even (mostly, anyhow) ever served in the military.

Time to consign them to the dustheap of history and move on.

Libertarian Nationalism

1904 cartoon. United States threatening Morocc...

1904 cartoon. United States threatening Morocco for release of citizen held. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ran across this article, with a hattip to  @MZHemingway. He pretty well sums up my feelings but I won’t let that shut me up! ;)

For instance:

It’s worth remembering that libertarianism is a political philosophy regarding the nature of the relationship between citizens and states with whom they are in political compact; a philosophy that places a high premium on individual autonomy and the enforcement of negative rights. As such the government of the United States exists for the benefit of its citizens, not those of other countries. While foreigners have the same inherent, inalienable rights as Americans, their protection is simply outside of the responsibility of the United States government.

Got that? We, the Americans, created the US government to the benefit of us, the citizens of the United States.

Not really for the benefit of Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys everywhere. It’s OK if they benefit from our thoughts and actions but it’s not ever our primary aim. If you want to live like an American, you have two choices, come on over and be a US citizen, or change your government to be more or less like ours. Both work, both have been done successfully, and both have been tried and failed, it depends on you, mostly.

Or this:

We should seek non-aggression pacts with all who will treat us honorably, and alliances with those of good reputation whose interests align closely with our own and who can carry more than their own weight militarily.

With regard to nations that lack civilization, seek conflict with us, or simply wish us harm, however, a nationalist libertarian policy should have one overarching principle: if you lay a finger on one of our citizens — or otherwise violate their rights as we understand them — it will end badly for you. The nature, degree, and timing of your punishment will be of our choosing, and we will be less concerned about inflicting collateral damage or injustice on those around you than we will be in seeing you suffer for your wrong. Indeed, the harder you make it for us to punish you, the more likely it is that we’ll have to get sloppy about it. If that concerns you, we encourage you to reconsider your actions and refer you to infographics such as this for calm reflection.

There is a Marine Corps T-shirt around that summarizes this well:

No better friend

No worse enemy

Teddy Roosevelt was a mixed bag as President. An admirable man, he had huge flaws as well. What else can you say about a man who started our slide into (misnamed) Progressivism, and almost single-handedly gave us the idiotically stubborn and freedom-hating Woodrow Wilson as President. Thanks TR.

But when Ion Perdicaris was kidnapped by a non state actor (the Raisuli) in Morocco TR sent the whole Atlantic flotilla (although nobody had a clue what to do) to make the point that we cared about that individual American. You may remember the phrase,

This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.”

When he was released Perdicaris commented while looking at the fleet gathered in Algiers harbor, “It was that flag, aye and that navy, and that nation, to which I owe my freedom.” or something like that, since I can’t find the quote right now. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

And this:

Punitive campaigns against nations who harm their own citizens but do not otherwise affect the United States’ interests should, therefore, be avoided, unless cogent arguments can be made that failure to intervene will harm the United States.

He uses the example of Gaddafi, which is an excellent choice. There are plenty of other examples, which might include Iraq, and Syria (or ISIS, if you prefer).

Pointedly, I do not include Afghanistan, which allowed a state sponsored terrorist group to mount an attack, using weapons of mas destruction, against civilians, in the US homeland. As such, according to doctrine, 48 hours later Afghanistan should have been a smoking, radiating, sheet of glass, but we didn’t think it necessary.

He ends this way:

More simply, our foreign policy should be motivated solely by our interests and limited only by our morality, rather than the other way around.

The Case For Libertarian Nationalism, Part II: Defense | Ricochet.

I have little to add to that.

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