Friday, February 27, 2015

Adam Smith and the Free Market Principles in Higher Education

Since I was in college, Adam Smith's "Free Market" principles have awed me, fascinated me, intrigued me and shown me that the principles are viable, sound and work if allowed. Yes, there are winners and there are losers in the system but that gap creates the impetus for competition and I find that good in any endeavor for it makes you work harder than your competition to succeed.  The FE principles have many examples of those throughout our history that would alter or eradicate those principles only to have the population ultimately overthrow usually via bloodshed the harsh yoke of oppression that finds its way to the hearts and minds and bodies of that population.  The forces of Supply and Demand are viable and are powerful. 
Earlier this week I heard of a remark made in a higher education environment about higher education that really grabbed my attention for I felt Adam Smith nodding his head in agreement that higher education is finding itself in the pincers of his principles ... finally.  The remark, I cannot cite it but wish to find the original source, stated that if you take the high education population in Ohio and divided it by the higher education school occupancy capability, then each high education facility in Ohio would have a population of roughly 200 students. Let that sink in for a minute. If that statement is even half correct, the core reality is that universities both large and small have spent massive amounts of capital via borrowing and ever increasing student tuition thus student loan borrowings to finance expansion and gadgetry to attract tuition paying students only to realize, now, there is far more capacity than supply. In other economic terms, the Demand for such higher education facility / classroom far exceeds the Supply of such expensive facilities.  When,  per Smith, Supply exceeds Demand, which is the case in higher education, then costs have to be lower or and / or tuition must be even more increased as state and Federal funding sources dry up.  There is just far too much university classroom space than is needed. So universities are left in a conundrum are they not?  If you want to see this in parallel, look at the airline industry for the parallel is clearly there to be seen. 
That conundrum comes down to a four letter world educators tend to run from which is C O S T!  I learned many years ago in my manufacturing career in many tire plants around this world that you can have anything you want, anytime you want it in any color you wish but somebody has to pay for it.  I have watched universities I know very well spend billions of borrowed and tuition-fueled dollars purchase entire sections of a town and convert it with additional monies to make it an esplanade of glitzy shops and student magnets having little to do with enhancing the educational delivery systems which is the real core purpose for education.
Six million plus dollar salaries for celebrity football coaches, sports complexes that stagger the mind,  organizational layers in academia that would never be tolerated in a for-profit private business are just a few examples of the horrific manifestation of not managing the bottom line via the           C O S T metric.  So we end up with too much classroom space housed in Taj Mahal campuses paying for bloated academic organizational structures with deans, assistant deans, academic deans, etc, etc all of which are paid.  I am not saying these people that fill these bloated organizations are bad people but I am saying that too much organization and too many layers COSTS MUCH MONEY that the students and their families are forced each year to pay for via tuition and the cancer of student loan borrowing.
Private jets, limousine services are just a few perks some of the university presidents in Ohio have that somebody must pay for so when viewed through the COST lens in the environment outlined above, one just scratches their head in amazement in trying to justify such extravagance again paid for by so many people strapped for money to begin with.  Then the student in cast into an environment where the professors, generally, are more focused on research and writings and seminars than on the only reason for them being there which is their customer; the Student. So it again becomes a negative equation for the student seeking and needing to be educated to live in this every changing world into which they will pass into to add value. But we see ample example and studies to prove far too many of our students in America are not prepared and educated to accomplish that.
So, for me, in weighing the implication of the opening paragraph and I do believe that statistic is more right than wrong, it is the student and their funding support that is most negatively affected by the era of expansion and creation of what I could call cathedrals to college presidents in making their mark but adjudging what that "mark" really means is where the befuddlement triggers. 
Students DESERVE academia's total and complete investment in them for it is the students that determine the report card of effectiveness of academia is my solemn and very deep belief.  I once had a boss that would remind us often that "if you are working on anything other than the business priorities, then you are working on the wrong things..." He was absolutely correct. So if academia is working or doing anything that would impede the learning experience, then they are working on the wrong things and I believe tenure, cathedral building, teacher unions are all emblematic of what is wrong with the American educational system and the long term impact in an ever globalizing environment will be felt for at least two generations is my belief.
In other words, there are too many universities many of which are doing the same things with far too many people in too many levels of too many organizational structures.  What we are witnessing right here in my hometown of Canton, OH of an administrator fighting the forces of history and politics to do the right thing in creating a single educational high school complex that is needed in spite of all the complaining is exactly what collegiate leaders in this state and other states must embrace. It is not about the number of buildings or computer labs or world class gymnasiums or boutique on-campus shops or restaurants; it is about driving the cost of education down while driving the quality of education up; that is Adam Smith speaking to us. But will he be listened to?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Great Power of Government Meetings ... NOT!

This link is to a great article by the columnist George Will.  Reading it twice and then factoring in what the world is watching over these last few months with ISIL, Al Qaeda, the terrorist acts and the unending threats that creates polarization and stagnation most of which are fueled by cyber -140 character words; given that, I continue to be anguished.  Governments' and presidents' approach to seemingly anything is a commission, a committee, big meetings, hearings, debates; all translated as blowing air and time to circumvent the process of deciding and doing.  Each time I watch the legislative process on CSPAN especially the times for voting and all the back patting, hand shaking, glad handing that goes on, it makes me sick to my stomach.
Big gatherings, by definition, accomplish fundamentally nothing but only invests much time, energy and preparation to come together in a large meeting somewhere in a major venue such as Paris, or Vienna instead of Boaz, AL or Alliance, OH.  Meetings of the nature administrations lean toward becoming political events, of course.  But to my real point!
For the United States of America to decide, apparently, to attack ISIL via more tweets in trying to convince these supposed thousands of Western young Muslims to stay home and not become part of ISIL seems, well inept, expensive and ineffective.  We are going to "out tweet" them.  With Obama just a few weeks ago calling ISIL a "JV" team shows his apparent very poor intelligentsia or a choice to ignore the threat reality that has been there. I do not believe ISIL and its growth is a surprise for if it is truly is, then woe be to our nation.  I believe ISIL intel was known and to some degree buried due to the political fall out that such a revelation would unfold for a president doing all he can to draw forces from combat zones and at the same time not offend Islamic believers via sending or telegraphing military timetables to the enemy and yes ISIL is the enemy. How do you defeat an enemy?
Well, tweets will not do it. FB posts will not do it.  Waiting for Santa Claus is not going to do it. You defeat an enemy by calling it what it is and unleashing the fury of a military force through overwhelming power to ensure total peril of the enemy.  That last sentence is how every war ever fought was won and not doing that assures military and strategic defeat.  Let me be frank:  America is losing the WAR against ISIL for America is choosing to kick cans down the streets, seeking to not offend and all this via large gatherings of diplomats leading to more meetings by lesser diplomats all under the cover of TV speeches assuring We the People it is all going to be good so don't worry about it.
Well, I for one, am not buying that swampland in Nebraska story.  As I have stated many times, my greatest concern about our / my nation is that we have no national leadership wanting to act as a Commander-in-Chief in time of war; yes in TIME OF WAR. I think it inevitable another 9/11 event on American soil will happen and shocked it has not already.  I ask once more that if 500 Americans were beheaded on the beaches of Florida, what would be the reaction of this White House?  More meetings, more rhetoric in not wanting to offend the followers of Islam. If the followers of Islam wanted this to stop this with ISIL, they could stop it but I see no, NO, evidence there is a movement afoot to inject pain into the supply chain driving this cancer called ISIL. 
The world is screaming for a leader that will mass the forces of good and focus those forces on the evil that is eating the lifeblood out of the Middle East and is threatening the rest of the world. There is no question that the ultimate aim is to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth, to eliminate the Pope thus taking over Europe and I believe some of the current threats against soft targets in America in large shopping malls is proof positive that unless this cancer is removed and destroyed, it will spread globally.  I have listened to all the "reasons" why these underprivileged young Muslims are leaving their multi generation homes and families in Western nations to join and fight with ISIL to the point it means nothing to me.  Realizing that last sentence means apparently "normal" citizens of many nations are choosing to leave family and friends to go to the desert to rape, pillage and plunder and murder other Muslims is telling me something is much larger afoot and I believe that is larger than Islam itself. 
I have many Islamic friends, especially Turks, in this world and I know them to be wonderful, warm hearted people.  But this behavior is beyond reprieve that something like ISIL cannot be stopped by the 1.8 billion Muslims in this world IF there was force enough to stop it in its track; not buying it at all. Which brings me back to the greatest question of all; why is our President taking the road his is taking? I do not care where he was born, if he Muslim, Eskimo or Hindu but he is our Commander-in Chief and is blatantly choosing to not serve We the People as that capacity dictates.  This nation deserves better but we certainly are being ill served.  Then you look up the street to the Capitol and we still see only gridlock and posturing.  Constitutionally, our nation is taking giant steps backward from the role of global leadership and we thus see the dividend for such behavior.  I cannot imagine two more years of this in all sincerity.
In the absence of leadership, Chaos reigns!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Three Rivers of Historical Blood Seeking Confluence Empirically

I have chosen to use my blog today to focus on history as the lens of what our world look like today. As this New York Post rightly posits, there are three rivers of bloody history trying, yearning to come to confluence via the rebuilding of ancient and deadly empires.  The Medo-Persian Empire is very Biblically documented and prevalent during those times.  If you watch the news or research what is happening in our world. the Islamic Republic of Iran stands as the chief culprit of all these thug mobs such as ISIL as they fund, man-up, up- gun these groups with their own men and treasure. We see Putin doing pretty much what Putin wants and the United States, the world's "police power" since WWII stands, what appears to be, in a state of shock and surprise thus as impotent.  If you add to that that I believe Iran is using the threat of the nuclear negotiations falling apart as as vehicle to buy more time for ISIL and the others to expand the core desire to resurrect the Medo-Persian Empire on the ground and our own president is threatening Congress publicly to not increase the sanctions that are having a slowing effect on Iran, we think. I think, as of now, Iran is strategically one of if not the most astute political, military and diplomatic geo-strategic force on earth. That is frightening to even write but all evidence is shaping up to support that assessment on my part.  
This is an amazing article that takes the reader on a historical tour that is chilling. It is made even more chilling when you view the lack of will for the powers of the earth to come together to stop this three-fold threat to Mankind.  It is especially ironic to me, frankly, that the world, including America, seemed tethered to Germany via Ms Merkel. That alone is historically concerning I believe you will agree. 

I wish to say once more than the great powers of earth, China and India, are seemingly choosing to stay out of the fray but they have legitimate roles in this blunting effort. So it causes me to be suspect of their silence and disconnectedness.  But my greater concern is my own nation in its seeming to be surprised by ISIL growth and cyber capability.  We are the only nation with the military capability to impact this cancer but we are not, simply stated!  There is a sense in this nation and especially in Washington that if we stay out of this, it will all just blow over or worse, they have been killing each other for centuries so just let them kill themselves until it is down.  This does not work so cleanly, does it? Certainly not.  I think it deplorable and embarrassing to see my nation so impotent in this global threat that we see everyday in an expanding web in the world's villages. I think history will shame America about our lack of will and commitment to stand on the sidelines as this plays out in the trail of blood by the gallons.
I remarked to my wife last night that strategically, whoever is directing the efforts of ISIL is truly brilliant but then I realized it is not ISIL at all but rather the Iran and its desire to assume its historic role as superpower. There was a time when the Persian Empire controlled nearly 50% of the world's population.  Iran is the centerpiece of all of this global chaos thus, as well, giving cover to Putin's aggression. It is all tied together!

The Iranian dream of a reborn Persian Empire

February 1, 2015 | 6:00am
The sight of vast graves opening and the undead clawing out should unnerve us all. But we haven’t even noticed. As more blood flows than any horror film offers, it’s brought the hope of eternal life to bygone empires we all thought dead and buried — and good riddance.
Blinded by the flash of headline events, we fail to see the strategic arcs of our era: the agonized collapse of Europe’s empires — climaxing in the Soviet Union’s demise — and now, amid the chaos and fanaticism, the belief on the part of once-mighty powers that they can rebuild fallen empires.
History is vengeful toward the ignorant. And we’re historically illiterate.
A Turkish attempt to establish a neo-Ottoman Empire failed (none of their neighbors wanted the Turks back), but three other imperia have gotten at least one foot out of the grave: the Persian Empire, the Arab Caliphate and the Russian Empire.
Not one means us well.

The Persian Empire

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Iran is piling one brick on the other. As I’ve warned on Fox News and Charles Krauthammer described — eloquently — in The Washington Post, today’s Iranians, with their Persian heritage, are on the march as surely as were the armies of Xerxes 2,500 years ago. Desperate for a legacy, our president obsesses about a deal (no matter how wretched) on Iran’s nuclear program, while ignoring Iran’s aggression across the Middle East. In his recent State of the Union message, the president even defended Iran against Congress and further sanctions.
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The Achaemenid Empire was the “First Persian Empire” and lasted from 550-330 BC.Photo: Getty Images

Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons matters. It’s a potential strategic disruptor of the first magnitude. But it’s only one aspect of Tehran’s grand design. And a bad deal is worse than no deal. To date, Iran has given up nothing, while we’ve given its rulers time, sanctions relief and almost $12 billion in “unfrozen” assets.
And what are the modern Persians doing as they drag out the talks? Iran has established hegemony over western Afghanistan. The junta-for-Allah has turned the Shia rump of Iraq into a vassal state and our president’s “no-boots-on-the-ground” minimalism has led to American airpower serving Iran’s ends against the Islamic State.
If the caliphate is rolled back, Iran will control the territory regained. And not just in Iraq. Syria long has been Iran’s client state. Now it’s become a vassal. If the Assad regime survives — which it probably will — Syria, too, will pay tribute to the reborn Persian empire.
Through Hezbollah, Tehran dominates Lebanese politics. And our refusal to directly arm the Kurds (as we continue pretending that Iraq can be nursed back to health) drives our only allies amid the Islamic State chaos into the arms of Iran for their own protection.
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Protesters march in Yemen to show their support of the Houthi rebels, who recently overthrew Yemen’s pro-US government.Photo: Reuters

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels — fellow Shia — just overthrew Yemen’s feeble pro-US government. And Yemen borders the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, our ally of inconvenience, which faces a leadership transition amid a web of regional crises. The Saudis may have to intervene in Yemen. And the ruling family’s terrified that the expensively armed Saudi military will be exposed as a hollow force.
Nor have the Iranians given up on swallowing Shia-dominated Bahrain.
Even leaving the existential threat to Israel aside, the mere possession of nukes by Iran would make it the hegemon of the Persian Gulf and all its oil.
What’s striking is the power of history and heritage. The first Persian Empire matured in the 6th century BC. That was the empire that sent vast armies of revenuers against the stubborn hillbillies of Greece. We see history from the Greek perspective and through cartoonish films such as “300,” but that vilified Persian Empire was a milestone of civilization, its culture rich and original. Even Alexander the Great was awed by Persia’s “lifestyle,” and only the coming of Islam in the next millennium triggered Persian decay.
Other empires — Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians — disappeared, but Persian language and culture conquered conquerors, and Persian pride is powerful and enduring. When Americans rant about quick bombing campaigns or claim that the average Iranian longs to rally to us, we’re being delusional. Unlike the eternally fratricidal Arabs, Persians have a unified ethnic identity, reinforced by Shia Islam. Iran’s already a formidable enemy. A reborn Persian Empire with nukes would shake the world.

The Arab caliphate

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ISIS craves the old empire of Saladin the Turk, the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, who founded the Ayyubid dynasty and ruled from 1174–1193.Photo: Reuters (right)

There may be more misunderstandings about the “great age” of the Arab Caliphate than about any other bygone empire. First, it wasn’t spoiled by the Crusades, a brief annoyance confined to a coastal strip. The Arab caliphate was shattered by the Mongols. The Seljuk and, particularly, the Ottoman Turks, established their own empires on the ruins — and declared the Ottoman sultan the new caliph.
Unlike the Persians, who built their own civilization, the Arabs came from a nomad culture, zealots of a new faith cribbed from muddled Christian and Jewish teachings. Learning and arts relied on Greek-speaking bureaucrats and scholars, on Jewish doctors and philosophers, on Persian artists and architects. The Arab caliphate was a pastiche glued together by force of arms. When its military authority collapsed, there was nothing left but a retreat into stern religion and cultural indolence.
“Arab identity” is a fiction that crushes together tribal Libyans and urban Egyptians, Sudanese and Syrians, the Mediterranean culture of Lebanon and the barbarism of Yemen. Cold War-era efforts to achieve unity through pan-Arab nationalism foundered on the differences. Islam is something else. Far more powerful even than a shared language, the Sunni extremist call to revive the caliphate strikes deep chords.
The odds are against Islamic State or successor fanatics building and sustaining a sprawling caliphate. Extremists create a valley of death, not a Silicon Valley. The effort to revive the caliphate has ruptured the Arab world — while renewing the old collision of empires between Arabs and Persians. It’s a 7th century conflict replayed in the 21st century.

Tsar of all the Russias

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Photo: AP

In the euphoria of the 1990s, some of us who studied Russia tried to make Washington understand that, while governments might change, Russians would remain Russians (as Persians remain Persians and Arabs remain Arabs). No one wanted to hear it. In the Clinton years, Russia was the great arctic-white hope.
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“Ivan the terrible,” wasTsar of All the Russias from 1547 until his death in 1584, during which he founded the tradition of Russia’s secret police.Photo: Getty Images

Welcome to reality. Russian President Vladimir Putin is a czar who possesses the iron will of such predecessors as Peter the Great and Ivan the Terrible (whose name, Ivan Grozniy, is better translated as “Ivan the Awesome,” a great name for a rapper). Ivan started the Russian Empire on its way by grabbing Siberia and conquering Muslim khanates. He also founded the tradition of Russia’s secret police, of which Putin’s an offspring.
Putin sees himself as heir to those mighty czars. He has his own sense of history and destiny. The current economic crisis has barely slowed his program of re-conquest: His surrogates in eastern Ukraine are gobbling up more territory as you read this. Last month, our president took a lunatic victory lap, claiming that his policies had stopped Putin, but Putin will rule in Moscow long after Obama has left office.
And Putin means to rebuild the Russian Empire — not the Soviet Empire, but the Russian Empire. He thinks in terms of decades, while we’re trapped in election cycles. And Putin will fight.
Bottom line: We face three reawakening corpses from the graveyard of history, a Persian Empire whose origins date back 26 centuries; an Arab caliphate founded almost 1,400 years ago; and a Russian Empire born in the era between Henry VIII and Elizabeth the Great. All three menace our vision of the future and our security, even our long-term survival, should nuclear weapons (Iranian or Russian) come into play.
And we’re not even paying attention.
Ralph Peters is Fox News’ Strategic Analyst.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Well here I sit on a blustering, chilled, snow laden Saturday morning. We have had our fair share of the snow, more than our share last year but hey, this is NE Ohio and I have seen a seven inch snow on April 1 so this winter is far from over.  Speaking of noise ...  How do you like that segue?
We live in a world of noise.  We even have noise makers at our bed side as do our children in their homes to generate "white noise" to aid in the going to sleep.  Noise is relative to the individual I would imagine. The music I love to hear and sing no doubt is noise to some either in volume or style or whatever.  You are perhaps wondering why I am not writing about a global issue or a strategic dilemma or a social decay as I usual invest my fingers into but no, today I want to talk about noise colored by disrespect and rudeness for others. On a celebratory evening such as last evening, going to a restaurant for a nice meal, though crowded, one would expect, this one at least, for the ambiance of a national franchise steakhouse to be at least at a noise level where normal people can converse facing each other not two feet apart, right?
As my wife and I quietly sat in trying to talk and share a meal, there was this cacophony of loud laughing and squealing and just downright rude degree of loudness that was causing people in our area to turn and see what in the world was causing the noise just behind us. The culprit was a group of eight thirty-something women, all alcohol fueled bringing their beers and wine glasses from the bar to the table behind us.  The frolic and loudness and stupid comments and trying to out-laugh each other not to mention shouting across the table at each other was repugnant to say the least.  I felt my stomach churning at the rudeness for the many others paying good money just to enjoy a meal. And then another group of eight made their way in taking their place at the noise machine with their loud alcohol-fueled shouting, joking.  Sixteen women, not a one with a husband or boy friend, but sixteen women out for the evening drinking heavily and being disruptive and rude.  I was within two breaths of going over to the table to confront the degree of rudeness or to speak to the manager but my wife convinced me to just let it go. It spoiled an otherwise good evening, frankly. But let me come to my thesis.
See, I HATE alcohol and that HATE was rekindled last evening.  These young ladies were probably professionals out for an evening to celebrate something; I have no idea.  But in listening and watching and becoming more irritated, images of alcohol and its terrible addicted character I witnessed for too often growing up in my own home came rushing back.  Working in prison ministry these twelve years and working with hundreds of thousands of male and female prisoners realizing that the great, great majority of them have been addicted to alcohol, at least, most of their lives.  Seeing families torn apart my entire life over this addicted serpent or to alter a family lifestyle so negatively due to the selfishness of the one consuming alcohol is very sad.  Then to have sixteen young women blatantly "party" at the expense of paying patrons in a nice restaurant was simply inexcusable. I moved from being angry to feeling sorry for them back to anger several times.
I realize social drinking is accepted as normal but for this man that saw first hand in my father the terrible devastation alcohol creates as well as other men in our neighborhood with wrecked cars, fights, spousal abuse, etc, etc, all fueled by this terrible mixture, still leaves me cold and detested. You are to hate the alcohol but not the alcoholic but I have to say that is much harder to do than many would imagine if you have been on the receiving end of the results of endless days of whiskey consumption. So given that, I wish I could sit with all sixteen of those women this morning face-to-face and have this conversation.  If they claimed to be Christians, their testimony was certainly demeaned. If they claim to be professionals, they certainly did not act in that regard.
So Noise, for me last evening, awakened in me lifelong disgusts that have scars to this day emotionally.  Why our nation has not attacked the alcohol industry as it has the tobacco industry is very sad for me for the very reasons I posit above. Alcohol kills more people each year in this country than guns and there were sixteen women on the cold, snowy roads last night that should not have been.  So it lets me know the alcohol industry money flows to the politicians to keep it off the radar screen.  Being the son of an alcoholic,  I have spent a lifetime literally scared to death of the potential genetically of alcohol thus never consuming it. As a Christian, I believe my testimony would be damaged as would be my credibility if i did what I experienced last night.  Please know a prude I am not and have seen much of this behavior in my career and in the military in others.  But in realizing many, many times people saying really stupid, career damaging things under the influence, I chose to drink a lot of water and be a sponge listener.  I believe I have salvaged several good careers in others in deflecting criticism and attacks on the person because I heard exactly what was said and what was intended to be said.
Alcohol is a drug and it is addictive.  Let me say again. I HATE ALCOHOL and last night's noise event sparked that hate for it displays stupidity, bad things being said, opens the door for bad relationships, destroys families and is a terrible example for children. I hope one of the sixteen ladies see this and that they know I am talking them concerning last night. See, acting a fool is not cool!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Bubble Busted

At this moment, many are shocked, disappointed, angry about Brian Williams now proved embellishments of his news reporting over the years; a Busted Bubble.  That is sad but as my mother always taught me that if you make your bed it is you that must sleep in it thus what Mr. Williams is doing is laying uncomfortably in his bed. I feel notparticular shock or angst about this for wrong is wrong. 
A great tether I recall with during the caustic days of the Vietnam War when LBJ was struggling with the war, he made a classic statement about the beloved Walter Cronkite that "if I lose Cronkite, I have lost everything." Well, he lost Cronkite for Cronkite was the undeniable voice of the people for his reporting was never about him; a trap so easily fallen into today which Mr. Williams is feeling the pain of the bottom he has fallen into.
But I believe this matter with Brian Williams, while hot news today, is iconistic of a greater, macro issue of loss of confidence in our nation and its leaders, our view on values of our society, globalization, war, spirituality and principles.  I hate making a generalization but I believe our world has generally lost confidence in leadership. period!  More and more, me being one, has no confidence in our president from six years of doing things that still stagger the imagination, has broken relationship, such as Israel, has cow towed to foreign governments, has apparently killed or severely injured the strength of our diplomatic weapons and have critically hurt the impact of our military on the global stage.  Currencies around the world continue to weak which is a reflection of a nation's confidence in his leaders.  We see the Middle East literally imploding before our very eyes and it seems, to me at least, that the destruction is unstoppable which I have spent a lifetime believing MY military could do anything to anybody anywhere. Guess I was wrong!
It is the lack of absolutely that I am most concerned about in our world today.  Daily we see the chipping away of  the values that has been the hallmark of our national existence and society.  Marriage is becoming a thing of the last generation.  Choosing to live together is now considered normal and more and more the issue of same sex couples marrying, adopting children, artificial insemination to have children, transgender and  gay and lesbianism is celebrated, applauded and help in high regard as an other example of the equality of rights in our nation.  Aside from the fact that these items are in direct violation of the Word of God in His Scriptures is now an afterthought if a thought at all. 
We we have lost confidence in our leaders, our values, our hopes for a better life meaning, for example, pursuing a college education.  Having taught several thousand students during a decade after my retirement from my career, I saw first hand that the educational model is not aligned with the needs of business. I saw clearly a high percentage of students entering college should not have been their due to skills gaps, no commitment to the worked and all the times stacking up thousands of dollars of debt by buying cars, toys, not coming to class, etc. etc.  So, for me in the middle of the fire, another bubble was busted as I thought back to my days in college when I worked full time, young family, attended Officer Candidate School, etc.  Education requires energy, focus and commitment and far too many of some really great young people simply did not grasp those three core ingredients.
My love for my country has not waned but my love for the leadership and the confidence that should be there in their leadership is pretty much exhausted. I cannot, at this juncture, imagine two more years of the Obamaesque leadership.  When this nation is dependent on Germany to agree with anything as to a strategic decision by the United States, that speaks volumes to me about this Busted Bubble named Obama.  Our nation and our world has lost its rudder in a choppy sea and the storm is escalating.  Another example is the way Ebola was handled and now measles.   I find myself wondering, in complete honesty, if this nation can do anything right the first time and never did I think I would even allow that to enter my mind but it has.
The world NEEDS America!  The world is seeing America on its knees instead of seeing America project, inject, command and direct. My bubble sadly is busted!  So Brian Williams, while sad, is certainly not surprising for his fall from grace, like King David, can be regained, and it will. But the greater, far greater concern I hold is that his is not symptomatic of our Land and our world.   The raw, naked aggression of Putin in the Crimea and the Ukraine and probably Poland, etc, is unchecked and seemingly unstoppable. Why?  Busted Bubble of Leadership!

Monday, February 9, 2015

America the Impotent

I have intentionally not written a blog in several days for several reasons major of which was to give my mind a rest from the seemingly never ending hot spots erupting daily on our globe. Also, I wanted to take a space to try and get a sense of who we as Americans really are in 2015 and must benchmark that assessment to the sixty-six years of my life. 
As a Baby Boomer, born in 1948, I remember with greatness the memories of World War II for so many men in my neighborhood including my father were soldiers in that War. I must factor in that for each summer a group of us boys would gather at George French's house and watch a Channel 13 movie at noon and it was always a war movie.  So my mind was blasted with great joy with the defeat of the Japanese or the Germans. We would then retire outside and have a war of our own for three or hour hours using China berries as ammunition. We would store caches of China berries throughout the neighborhood to use to reload during the countless battles.
It is a miracle a single one of us made it to puberty with both eyes but we did. But we fought with great pride for we had seen movie evidence that Americans win day after day, movie after movie. I remember the only movie I ever went to with my father was SINK THE BISMARCK and the entire Ritz theater crowd stood up and cheered when the great Nazi ship was mortally hit. America and our friends, the British, won and we were always quite proud of that. Ah, life was quite good in hindsight with seemingly no problems while on the battlefields of Hill and Norris Avenues back alleys.  Americans Win!
Today, as the news is more comprehensive and graphic, it is too easy to get caught up in the hype of the stories, YouTube, FOX, etc and thus lose your own perspective of what is actually going on in our crazy world.  Those that know me know I have an insatiable desire to connect dots to gain a deeper understanding of the major events in our world. As you do this, with practice, you begin to see so many of these events that have a common core. Oil is a great one. Israel is another great example.  But for me in assessing the landscape, I have come to the reality that the real core is consternation in our Land is lack of political leadership and a President, the Commander-in-Chief remember, that is either stupid, gutless or cunning and playing a very dangerous game with the issues of Islam.  I never cave in to whether he is a Muslim or not though many want to believe that. I never fall in the trap of believing he is simply naive for even if he is, six years in office kills any rationalization of motives or leadership.
In the world, we see ISIL going basically unchecked while spending billions each day from taxpayers funding and more borrowing.  We see Putin making us all look like village idiots with his imperialistic onslaught of the Ukraine. I told my wife today having spent nearly ten years in Southeastern Poland and having many wonderful friends there, that they have to be scared to death of what Russia is doing and doing unchecked by, well, anyone.  The list of hot spots seems to be endless and worsening so it is my belief that our enemies see America as a weak, stumbling former giant that has too much debt, has thrown away any semblance of the values that made our nation great. We live in a world where everything must be tolerated which translates to the bare reality that there are no longer absolutes.  Black and White is now gray so everybody can do what they feel is right with no consequence.  In other words, we are no longer the America that I fought savagely for in the battlefields of Alabama City.  
In reading through the Bible from Genesis 1:1, we just began the Book of Hosea this morning. It is startlingly amazing to see God's Hand deal with exactly what I have described above.  Why God does not clean his Creation up is beyond me for seemingly nothing is sacred, nothing is precious and nothing is worth taking stand on it would seem.  So my blog tonight is written to reassert that fact that as Americans, we have lost the war and by choice; that choice by the partisan, money driven people we send to Washington.  When a presidential candidate is assessed as viable based on the amount of money the pundits feel he can raise, there is something terribly wrong but alas, that is where we are.
My hope is for the world I have grown up in is to be a place my grandchildren can thrive and grow but they already live in a world where same-sex is normal, suicide no longer is shocking and a husband and wife together in a marriage is a rarity. 
I love my country. I love my family. I love knowing where I will spend eternity. But I do not love what this nation has become and apparently is bent on worsening via depravity on a scale we cannot imagine.  
I love America but I think America no longer loves itself! That is very, very sad.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Persia; Redux?

My assumption is that having been admitted into a hospital earlier this week with the flu and going through an intensive admission interview with many of the questions about family history, I was reminded all over again that nothing happens without cause and reason and we are all parcels of our history with each breath we take. From that platform, my mind was deeply challenged by watching yet another Charlie Rose interview with three young men, none of whom I had ever seen nor heard of until the interview which was a four way colloquy on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the new Middle East. Each of these men are fresh, brilliant, teachers, time on the ground with vast networks and a rich flavor of history. It was that aspect that grabbed me more deeply for I am pretty much a student for history or it is always the best predictor of the future. I wish I had the link to the CR interview for every word is worth watching and digesting in the context of the world before us; it is not pretty for an array of reasons. 

A most powerful, and for me at least, quote Mr. Rose put on for us to see toward the end of the program for comment was given credit to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, a most interesting man but he borrowed the quote from a Le Monde column by Mr. Serge Halimi which from 2011, I think sums up where our world is evolving to when he stated:

The democratic Arab revolts are redrawing political, diplomatic and ideological boundaries in the Middle East. Repression in Libya threatened this dynamic process, and we do not know where the UN-approved actions of western forces in support of the Libyan rebels will lead

by Serge Halimi

The flavor of the rich discussion deeply touched me thus why up early with my mind in gear on what I listened to. We, as a People, want to generally know why things are happening and the result if we have time for it and it does not interfere too badly with our preset thoughts or agenda, I believe. If I picked on one concept that really brought home, for me at least, the context of what I have been witnessing over this last post 9/11 era where we now a whole generation being categorized as that, it was be the meaning of Empire. A definition for Empire is:

an extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority, formerly especially an emperor or empress.

As Americans we, by nature, push back from anything that smells of empire. The Japanese Empire is still a stench in the minds of my generation, for example, due to the WWII schism as it still true for the German Empire. But the term in today’s world actually has morphed into a more sinister and actually more dangerous amplification of the definition. Why am I taking this path? As I listening to the uprising in Yemen, most of you reading this would probably have to take a moment or two to find it on a map, could not name who heads the state nor provide a shred of evidence that it even exists. But it is there and yet another casualty that we are regularly getting to witness melt into this strange post of overthrow, mass killings, threats to our Homeland, upheaval for Europe, the role of NATO, etc., etc. If you filtered back through all the news, blogs, talking heads, etc., there is a nation, an Empire that denominates and seemingly has tentacles running through each of these seemingly ever burning fires with more added regularly as cans of gasoline being cast into the cauldron. That nation is the theocracy of Iran.

Awakening this morning pondering these thoughts and being a Christian, I thought a great stop off on my mental journey would be to Google Persian Kings of the Bible and names like Cyrus the Great, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes quickly flood my mind. You see Iran is the modern day Persian. These names are almost mystical for the Christian for the Christmas story is wrapped with their influence and part of the process that leads to the birth of the Christ Child, doesn’t it? Many of us reading this remember Iran in our generation for the hostages during the debacle of the Carter Administration thus we lose the flavor of the richness of the Iranian / Persian Empire’s historical greatness, influence, wealth and reach. All that sounds pretty positive when viewed in the historical context of an imperialistic state for these is one thing that seems common to empires which is they tend to never lose that desire to return to those empirical days of yore and thus greatness.

I believe most of us would agree that Iran is an “Evil Empire” many call it today. If you trace the gunpowder and blood trails just in the last few years, we find at the intersection of the death and destruction this once mighty empire. We hear it so much that I believe we, including me, have become sort of tired of hearing about it. But here we are talking about it but now in the wake of the American president, our Mr. Obama now trying to hold our Congress under threat to stop all sanctions, that seem to be having an intended affect on Iran’s spread of evil today, over Iran
nuclear program thus giving even Iran time to breath and time to develop a nuclear weapon. I believe Israel sees this Iran more clearly that most and thus why Obama is so set on not have the Israeli Prime Minister address the US Congress in the new few days. All this this translates into giving Iran more time to develop a nuclear weapon the brains of the world are telling us but our diplomatic leaders in Obama and Kerry are yelling a new, wait and see rhetoric if you have been listening. I posit one question; try to imagine Iran as a nuclear power in the sand box of the Middle East. Got it? No, you probably do not for none of us can imagine that.

The Shia lead government of this so called theocracy, a God-led state, is what that means, does not translate the same for a Christ-based Christian which is part of the emotional struggle many have at the mention of Iran. I paste in some opening comments to a FB post I put up last evening about a WSJ piece by Peggy Noonan that was built heavily on a Senate testimony I got to watch earlier while in the hospital this week. If I can find the CSPAN program in an archive I will post it for to hear the rich history from three formers Secretaries of State talking about this was enough to cause me to take deep pause and reflect. Why? We are, in fact, witnessing the redrawing of the traditional post WWI boundaries England drew after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire which all has root structure back to, yes, Iran / Persia. My commentary last night on FB:


... This Noonan article was based heavily on a CSPAN program live I watched earlier this week as the three former Secretaries of State address a Senate Committee chaired by John McCain. It, dialog left me totally unsurprised yet almost looking for a fresh breath. Lack of leadership in Washington is heavily responsible for the state of chaos unfolding in the Middle East and while we may hope there is a solution, I am about to decide the unraveling is too far gone to hold anything resembling the Middle East through the lens of the post WWI boundaries drafted by the United Kingdom when they could no longer afford to keep it all under the UK flag.

Many fingers can be pointed and much blame can be cast but we are as a global people are where we are. One thing for sure, I do not believe American has the political will nor the respect required internationally to provide leadership. I believe another national, probably China, can potentially take that role assuming they even want it but for sure, the maps we have grown up with will be changed and redrawn before too long in blood red ink. This will force additional change in the EU spiked by the issues with Russian aggression that could well unravel the EU thus melting geographic borders forming with would roughly be the old Holy roman Empire. That spell the Biblical end times. I believe it inevitable, the events, The end ... I cannot wait for I know where eternity resides and I will be there.

I will close this for now but I feel like this will result in other reaches back to this base for I see more clearly than ever the dangers of Iran, the bloodshed they spawn for hegemony using proxies we cannot even pronounce fueled by starving, now, their own people due to low oil prices as it Russia on her conquest to reestablish the old Mother Russian Empire via the Ukraine aggression. See, all this starts to really tie together in my mind for what Iran and Russia are creating, and oh yes, we must never look too far from China for they are part of this geographical and ideological redrawing of our world we have known. It is my belief that as the end times of this world as we know it draw ever near, certain historical events will return. One will be the geographic of the Holy Roman Empire; there is that world again, Empire. The HRE was a composite of a ten nation confederacy headed and housed in Rome. I believe the general configuration of the HRE will return in the ashes of the now European Union that continues to struggle for solidarity, an ever weakening single currency, the EURO and now that largest Muslim population outside the Middle East all painfully un-integrated into France, UK, Germany, Spain, etc., etc. We saw what happened in France but a few days ago. All this will can have a case and effect process in the EU nations melting borders in consolidation leading to larger states but modeling the HRE. configuration. All of this has End Times written all over it. Add to that a Pope I think nobody understand, a theocrat if you will, creating strange and unique alliances about social issues the Catholic church has long stood against. Just another can of global gasoline I believe. The shift in Turkey is all part of this as well headed by their Mr Erdogan and part of their angst is the EU refusal to grant them access into Europe. Europe has raped Turkey as Europe has raped and colonized Africa and we see where that has taken us. It all times together. 

We all just want this to get over, get some more popcorn and the Lone Ranger will ride in and it will all be good again. Me thinks not! I am convinced more than ever before we are only in the open act of a global shift of epic and Biblical proportion. Yes, I said Biblical proportion. I am sure more will come from where this has drawn my attention. I hope you agree and will be fueled to learn more about the Persian Empire as we see via ISIL, AQ, Boka Haram, etc., etc. are all proxy means controlled by the new Cyrus, etc., etc. in the nuclear twenty-first century that is moving so quickly in some indefinable direction is dazzling to try and understand; it is to me anyway. 

Never forget, the Bible is also a Book of History! That is my richest source of thought. As well, in the context of this writing, my suspicions and concerns about America and this POTUS are elevated even high for I fight going down the sinister pathway with this Administration. Something just never smell right in the sniff test, does it?