Civil War

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We have always been a nation with a populace ready to fight like siblings until attacked from the outside, which unites us in common cause for as long as the threat exists, so that we can return to squabbling among ourselves.  Historically, we began as a nation of opposing views, our independence gained over the opposing actions of English loyalists as well as the British military.  Ninety years later we became a nation divided, at war with ourselves, brother against brother, father against son, neighbor against neighbor.

During that time we were led by Abraham Lincoln, a president detested by many, reviled in the press, attacked in speeches, and ultimately assassinated.  This all happened one hundred fifty years ago, at a time when news traveled slowly, when communication took days and weeks, not minutes or seconds as we experience today.  Then it was a war over economic factors and the related issue of slavery.  Today we are a nation divided on different lines, but divided all the same, and the politics are just as volatile.

We have a new administration and a new Congress, both elected on the promise of changing the manner in which we are governed.  The dissatisfaction which brought about the change of administration did not arise over a few days or months, but over a period of years.  Our government has grown so large, the regulations and related tax burdens have become so overbearing, and the overspending of revenues to outrageous that voters voiced their discontent.

The day the election results came in the losers set out to cripple, damage, obstruct, and destroy the winners.  We have become a nation divided in a manner not seen since the Civil War.  We are divided between those who in Luddite fashion set their target on any and all actions for the new administration and those who wish for changes which will hopefully improve the lot in life for everyone.  It is truly sad to hear public officials sworn to protect and defend the Constitution standing forth to defy the law of the land it prescribes.  We are a nation of laws, laws which can be changed, amended, or removed through legislation.  Law enforcement agencies are not charged with writing or changing laws, but with administering and enforcing them.  When these agencies openly defy the law we are a nation on the brink of chaos.  Citizens are guaranteed the protection of the law.  Open defiance in the past had a terrible painful result, one which we can ill afford to repeat.  There are no winners in a Civil War, only a nation badly injured and slow to heal.

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Natural Cycles

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Eight years of serious shortages of precipitation have resulted in alarming shortages of water for California and other western states.  This situation has led to depleted water tables, regulations limiting usage, and a long laundry list of reasons advanced to explain the phenomenon.  In my lifetime I have witnessed cycles of weather ranging from devastating floods to debilitating droughts on several occasions.

Keeping things in recent perspective, in the 70’s California experienced a drought which crippled water supplies for several years, then experienced a very wet winter and subsequently a more normal pattern of precipitation which lasted a couple decades.  During the 25 years I lived in Hawaii, there was a drought lasting several years.  This meant low levels in reservoirs, water conservation actions, imported water, and hand wringing folks looking to point the finger of blame.  Then the rains returned, the reservoirs filled, the grass grew, and the rainbows once again graced the islands.

This winter, after years of shortfall, the rains and snows have returned to the west coast, the reservoirs are filled to overflowing, and the snow pack is deeper than previous records.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  The simple truth about the weather is that it is cyclic.  The patterns are observable, but our observation of the patterns and modern records of them are only a little over a century old.  Civilizations have risen, fallen, and disappeared because of shifting patterns of weather.  Geological studies show evidence of verdant lands where today there are extreme desert conditions.  Our planet and its atmosphere are subject to change, and as yet, no one has figured out how to control the weather, the ocean currents that influence the weather, or the impact of solar rays on our atmosphere.

The good news is that we now have an abundance of precipitation to restore our depleted water tables and a snow pack in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges to provide storage of water for the warmer months. The not so good news is that control of the runoff is difficult to manage.  The good news is that agriculture will again have water to produce the food we all require and that home owners can water their yards and wash their cars.  I don’t have an explanation why the weather cycles through these patterns, I only know that the cycles have been with planet Earth for eons, and don’t appear to be going to change any time soon.

A Parallax View

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Donald Trump has been office 24 days and in that brief time has generated more confusion, protest, speculation, threats, and accusations than any President in recent memory.  After eight years of the press ignoring anything negative about Obama or simply spinning it to a sunny aspect, they are suddenly confronted with a man who aggressively attacks what he views as their absence of journalistic honesty.  The question, as I see it, is whether what he is doing is the manic ravings of an ego-maniacal narcissist, or is it the clever manipulation of the press by a brilliant business man who doesn’t care about politics.

Donald Trump did not rise to office through the halls of political bargaining and back room deals made in exchange for pork barrel projects and voter support.  He made his way to the forefront of our nation’s leadership by succeeding as a hard nosed, cut throat, visionary businessman.  Yes, he has a big ego, just like every other elected official, but look beyond it and try to see the end game in his antics.

Politicians tell people what they think they want to hear so that they can get into office and ignore the desires of their constituents.  Trump has achieved office and set out immediately to do what he promised he would do, and no one in the press is looking for his end game.  If you study the history of the man, you will discover that he always has a target and will do whatever is necessary to befuddle, distract, confuse, and upset the opposition in his negotiations and actions.  After only a few weeks he has managed to create more chaos in the status quo than any President in the last century.  Exactly as he promised he would do.

Step back and take a different look at the man in the Oval Office.  Is he actually the persona he is showing to the press, or is he playing a longer game, one aimed at rebuilding our manufacturing base, taking control of immigration, reducing our taxes, changing our foreign policies to favor the US, and standing face to face with foreign leaders as the leader of a great nation, unapologetic for our prosperity. Look beyond the struggles to find the right people for his team and see if you can determine why he is doing what he is and where he is determined to take our nation. If he can shake things up this much in three weeks, think about what he will accomplish in four years.

Be Careful What You Wish For

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Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.  I don’t know the root source of this adage, but it is a healthy cautionary tale.  The people of the US elected a new leader, a man who told them what he intended to do if elected, promises of changes from what has become the status quo.  After less than a month in office he has demonstrated that he meant what he promised, the result being demonstrations and threats and liberal judges violating the law to a background chant of “Impeach him now!”

Our President may be brash, politically incorrect, disrespectful of the media, out of step with the liberal attitudes of the opposition, but this is why he was elected.  The desire of the majority of the nation (not just the population centers of the east and west) was for someone who was not a political insider to step up and take executive action to enforce the laws of our land.  There has arisen a great hue and cry regarding the deportation of illegal immigrants, particularly from those places which have deemed themselves to be “sanctuary cities”.  The constitution does not provide the right for cities to declare themselves sanctuary for illegal immigrants.  It actually prohibits it.  When the President takes action as Chief Executive to enforce the Constitution of the United States, he is doing his job.

As a retired law enforcement officer, I understand that the law as written is not always the best solution or answer, but until the laws are changed, they must be enforced as written.  The President does not write the laws, that is the purview of Congress, the Legislative branch of our government.  He  doesn’t interpret or decide if a law is constitutional, that is up to the Judicial Branch.  As the head of the Executive branch his job is to ensure the law is enforced as written.  The electorate of the US chose a man who said he would enforce the law and would work to influence Congress to change the laws where necessary.  You don’t have to like what he is doing, but he is doing what he promised he would do.  We might wish he would be more polite or diplomatic, but we knew he wouldn’t be when we elected him.  How refreshing it is to know we got what we wished for.

Taking Responsibility

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“The person who can smile when everything is going wrong has already figured out who to blame.”

In the beginning, the Obama administration and and the Democratic party made a habit of blaming George W. Bush for any and all shortfalls, failures, disappointments, misunderstandings, or unfortunate choices.  Eight years later, with a new president about to enter office, the Democrats are still blaming GWB for any and all failures they have experienced in the last eight years.  Go figure.

Let’s take a look at just one issue: The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it is more commonly known.  This is a law passed without a single vote from any Republican law maker.  Prior to passage, health insurance was purchasable with reasonable deductibles for a somewhat reasonable price.  A thousand dollars a month would provide decent coverage with a $500 deductible and a 10-25% copay.  You could select the coverage you wanted or needed, and pay only for them.  With Obamacare, things changed a bit, including the number of broken promises, but more importantly, costs skyrocketed.  Not for the lower income folks, who became eligible for government health care at the expense of others, but for the people who needed to buy their coverage.  Deductibles rose to $5000 or more on premiums of $1200 or more per month.  In other words, your insurance doesn’t kick in until you spend $5000 on health care. In addition, if you are a single male, you are required to purchase insurance to cover pregnancy and other female related health issues.  You don’t need it, won’t use, but are obligated to purchase it.  So let’s see, you spend $14400 a year for coverage, then need to spend another $5000 before you can use it, and don’t even get a kiss from the ladies you pay to cover for their female issues.  No, instead, if you resist participating in this ludicrous rip off, you get to pay a tax for not doing so.  Fortunately the tax is much less costly than the insurance and you still have the balance of the premium left over to cover any medical expense you might incur.

For this the Democrats want your applause.  For failed foreign policy, for a world that laughs at the still sitting president, for taxing and regulating businesses out of existence, well, those little problems are GWB’s fault.  Obama campaigned in 2008 on a platform for change, but without saying what he would change.  Eight years later, the people who felt the burdens of those changes expressed themselves loudly and clearly.  But this, according to the Democrats, is all the fault of GWB.

After eight years, don’t you think it’s time to stop pointing your fingers at anyone but yourselves?

 

Another Year Ends, Another Year Begins

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The final hours of 2016 are rapidly fading, another cycle of our calendar surrendering to the relentless cycle of our planet’s orbit of the Sun.  Traditionally this is a time of reflection on the past, plans for the future, and setting of goals for the first page on the new calendar.  Most resolutions made at this time are bold, grand, and generally of a life span too short to be noticed.  Yet, changes happen, some are good, some are not, some are preventable, some are unfortunate on a very personal level, but change is as inevitable as the spinning of the Earth on its wobbly axis as it orbits the Sun.

Climate change has been much in the news since the 1980’s, a conversational hot spot and political hot potato with opinions falling on both sides of the subject.  Many people believe the variations in the climate are the result of human behavior since the Industrial Revolution.  Others are not so certain humans are the primary source of the changes.

Global warming is a reality.  Beginning at the end of the last Ice Age, the climate has been warming.  This is not a new experience for the Earth.  There have been several eras of glaciation and inter-glacial warming in the billions of years our home planet has been in existence.  The current inter-glacial period has lasted more than 25,000 years, or about the average for such a variation historically speaking.  This is a pattern which humans can neither alter nor control.

I do not take issue with the argument that pollution in all its forms threatens our health and the health of our environment.  Each year the human population is responsible for a massive amount of pollutants in our atmosphere and our lands.  We are also in the midst of a period of volcanic activity.  Mt Pinatubo demonstrated how much a single eruption can effect air quality on a planetary basis.  On the island of Hawaii, the new activity in the Kilauea crater has sent a plume of gases down slope that has destroyed vegetation and closed roads for the past decade.  Hawaii is in the center of the “Ring of Fire” which encircles the Pacific, but is only one location with high activity.  Of course we can’t ignore Europe and Africa, where volcanic activity is also on the rise.  We live on a ball of fire, and cannot even hope to quench the molten furnace at the core.

I think we each have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, and our future descendants to preserve for them, as best we can, the planet for their use.  I also believe a balance has to be struck between what we need to do and use and what we save for the future.  It is arrogant and foolish to believe that highly developed nations can dictate to nations attempting to achieve the same development how to govern the use of their resources.  It is equally arrogant and foolish to destroy the productivity of our own nation in an effort to bend the changing climate to our will.  Climate is not a controllable entity.  The temperature of the oceans and the shifting of ocean currents are not within our realm of influence any more than the shifting of the jet stream, the movement of the tectonic plates, or tilt of the axis upon which Earth rotates, a movement which brings our changing seasons.

As we begin a new calendar year, I suggest we should look around our personal environment and determine what we can do in our personal lives to make things better.  If each of us does something in our own space to improve and preserve our home planet, we will all enjoy a better life.  Along with this resolution we should also resolve to respect our personal and national neighbors’ right to choose their own way of doing or not doing something to make life better.

Happy New Year!

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling

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In my lifetime, a span of seven decades, I have had the opportunity to observe several elections, some that went the way I had hoped, some that didn’t.  I have heard campaign promises last as long as the echoes in the building where they were spoken.  I have watched and worried about decisions made in far away places erode my freedoms and burden my grandchildren with the costs incurred.  I have witnessed political unrest, demonstrations, riots, and embarrassments over which I had no control adversely impact my life.  In spite of my longevity granting me these experiences, I am now witnessing something not previously experienced.

The President-elect will not take office until January 20, 2017, but I cannot read, listen, or watch a news program without hearing prognostications of impending disaster for our nation because of what this man will allegedly do based on statements made during the campaign or at some point in the distant past.  I hear claims that he is unqualified for the office, but Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution sets the following qualifications for holding the presidency:

I hear predictions of economic disaster, failed international policy, anti-union actions, destruction of Social Security, and the list goes on.  The sky is NOT falling.  A new administration has been chosen for the executive branch of our government.  A new balance of power has been elected to Congress and the Senate, and nothing else has happened or will happen until those elected people take office.  Once that happens, it will take many months for changes to occur and what those changes ultimately will be remains a mystery to me and to all the prophets who are wringing their hands and telling anyone who will listen that the sky is falling.  To borrow an old adage, predict in one hand, poop in the other and see which fills up the fastest.  The future will unfold in its own way as it has done from time immemorial.