Goodbye Barry - Welcome Home AMERICA!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"May You Live In Interesting Times" - ancient Chinese curse

Interesting times, indeed! Any point in time is "interesting" for somebody... whether they are struggling for their life, or fly fishing in a quiet stream. Interesting is a relative term - relative to humdrum or boring. Our present time is one I find quite interesting.

Among those things of interest to me are the troubles in the middle East, the world-wide recession, the election of a socialist as the President of the United States and his appointment of various incompetents to Cabinet posts, "swine flu"/H1N1 virus, what is essentially the nationalization of two-thirds of the US automotive industry and many of our financial institutions, and the preference a 2" long fish is given over the jobs of 80,000 farm workers - causing an immediate and critical shortage of American grown vegetables from California. Let's look at them one-by-one.

The middle East of which I write consists primarily of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Pakistan and all the other, relatively calm, "flyover" countries in between.

Afghanistan has its own unique set of problems. For decades (perhaps centuries) Afghanistan's main cash crop has been heroin, and the leadership had been primarily Islamic fundamentalists. The paradox is that, even in a major narcotic producing country such as Afghanistan, drug abuse is illegal. And punishments for breaking their drug laws are much more Draconian than our own. Death is about as severe as a penalty can... get short of perhaps death by torture. Add to that problem a heavy influx of Western military personnel, bringing with them a perception (real or not) of invasion, and a reactive, militant Taliban, and you have a fine recipe for chaos! The intelligent thing for the Taliban to do? Sit quietly and do nothing. Sooner than later, the Western forces will depart, and then Aghanistan can go back to business as usual. Turn that blind eye toward the heroin poppy crops and drug "smuggling" (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), reinstate Sharia law, subjugate females again ... all the fun things of Islam.

Iraq gets the same recommendation: cool your heels until the West leaves, then complete your struggle for control against the democratically elected government. They will quickly fold, and you win! Why fight against a multinational force with superior technology, weaponry, and training. You have something they don't... the desire to be there! Leave them alone and they will get bored and go back to wherever they came from. They are not there to take over your country. Besides... who but you would want it? I see it as nothing more than a gigantic litter box!

Pakistan... what can I say about Pakistan? They're having some internal strife, caused by the Taliban in the Swat valley. They also seem to have the motivation, and the forces and necessary logistics ability, to deal with that strife. The West should just sit back and watch from afar, as the situation there develops. Let the Pakistanis decide their own destiny. If the government asks for assistance perhaps provide logistical support, but no "boots on the ground".

The real problem in the middle East is Iran. Perhaps not the people of Iran, but the mentally deranged leadership of Iran. Their "elected" president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and their religous leader - who is the actual power in Iran - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are two nuts from the same tree. First of all, they believe that Israel should be "wiped from the face of the Earth", which is a position that sounds pretty much non-negotiable right now. It's almost as if "Kill the Jews, and Death to The Great Satan (that's the USA)" has become their national motto. Add to that attitude, the fact that today, May 20th 2009, Iran announced the successful launch of a Sajjil-2 missile with approximately a 1,200-1,550 mile (2000-2500km) range, which can easily reach into Israel. Now, throw in Iran's unmonitored, super-secret nuclear program, and Israel has a genuine reason for concern. In the past, the surrounding Arab nations have discovered that Israel does not like surprises from outside their country. In fact, when it comes time for somebody to jump up and yell, "SURPRISE!!", it's the Israelis who prefer that role. It is not outside the realm of belief that, for some time, Israel has been busying themselves developing strategies to deal with just that type of situation before it becomes a problem for them. Can you say preemptive strike? History has shown that the Israelis don't start trouble where there is none - they specialize in ending those troubles!

And, speaking of surprises... did the world-wide recession come as a surprise to you? It caught me off-guard, for sure. Luckily, I have no personal investments, or at least no direct personal investments to watch evaporate. I'm sure my credit union has some going with my money, but I still feel that it's relatively safe, even though my money may be inflated more than the Goodyear blimp. For decades, The USA has been the world's largest consumer of those things we call "consumables". We have done our part! Our consuming of consumables made consumption by lesser consumers look miserly. So what happened? Unfortunately, I do not have even a tenuous grasp of international economics, so I can't make an educated guess. What I can do is provide this quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
3. You cannot help small men up by tearing big men down.
4. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
5. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
6. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
8. You cannot establish sound social security on borrowed money.
9. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.
10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln

Since the 1940s these “Ten Points” attributed to Lincoln have been widely reprinted. They have appeared in such places as magazines, Christmas cards, and the Congressional Record. However, the Library of Congress and Lincoln scholars believe that any connection made between Lincoln and the “Ten Points” is spurious. On the other hand, they are "good ol' homespun, common sense" statements - the type for which Lincoln was known.

As for the President and his Cabinet appointments - what is, is! Sadly, the American people must now live (hopefully) with it. I find Obama's apparent lack of birth certification interesting...

"Swine flu"... SCARY! Well worth being aware of, but not worth putting oneself into panic-overdrive. It's interesting that there have been relatively few fatalities from the H1N1.

Nationalizing private industry and financial institutions is socialism at its finest! Next will be the unsuccessful attempts at firearms confiscation, control of food supplies by banning home gardens, rationing of fuels, national health care, etc. It will be interesting to see just how all that plays out.

Eliminating the critical irrigation system to the largest single produce-growing area of our country - California - to save a 2" long freshwater smelt! However, smelt are not naturally freshwater fish, but were introduced into the freshwater ecosystem by man! Isn't that interesting? Somebody needs to start a "SAVE THE HUMANS" campaign!

There is always a chance I could be wrong about this, but we certainly do live in "interesting times".

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