August 14, 2016

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/11/magazine/isis-middle-east-arab-spring-fractured-lands.html?_r=0

June 28, 2016

"Cowards die many times before their death, the valient never taste death but once"  Shakespeare

September 8, 2014

On Being a Pragmatist

While I’m very patriotic, I do not adhere to a political party, person, belief or ideology. I’m interested in what our government and leaders do - but as I grow older, there are two political related words I have come to dislike. They are the words “liberal” and “conservative.” The reason I do not like them is that adherents to liberal or conservative ideas and people are always painting the state of the country or a leader with too broad of a political brush. My patriotism and political beliefs come more from my understanding of history, an understanding of our country and, I take each leader and subject on their own terms. I avoid being “categorized” but if I must - I think my political persuasions would fall more into something like “pragmatism.” I can look at my voting record of leaders and causes and it seems to bear out my independence. For presidents, I look first at the man (at least until now) and try and decide if this is a person capable of not just being president, but being a good president. Thus, I have voted for Nixon once, Ford once, Ronald Reagan twice, George Bush Sr twice, once for Clinton, never for George Bush junior ( I just came to believe he did not have the right stuff to be a president), Barak Obama twice ( this was tough because of my military background and John McCain’s heroism, but picking Sarah Palin just shut the door on him - he gave a heroic concession speech which made me like him even more). So that is 6 times republican and 5 times democrat. I voted for George Sinner, democrat for governor twice, Ed Schafer, republican twice, John Hoeven, republican twice, Kent Conrad, democrat for senator twice, Byron Dorgan for senator twice, John Hoeven for senator once and Heidi Heitkamp for senator once. I never voted for Earl Pomeroy. Each time, my thinking was considering the person’s ability to do the job made the difference. I’m pretty much anti-abortion (conservative) in which I was influenced by my wife and upbringing , which is conservative. I’m pro-gun control which is liberal. I’m a Teddy Roosevelt environmentalist and think that someday, it will be OK to drill in the arctic wilderness for oil. I would like to see our country do more to conserve our non-renewable sources of energy. I’m pro-business, but at the same time, I do not want to see excesses with profits can blind business such as that which occurred during the days of the “sweat shops” with unsafe work conditions. I believe this is reasonable and that is why I call myself “pragmatic.” I have not changed my mind since high school when we were taught in civics, political science and history of the internment camps of the Japanese. Nothing has changed - many people today consider all middle easterners “terrorists” even espousing conspiracy theories and would like to see Muslims put in camps. Our music teacher, Don Johnson, was also a good social studies teacher told us that history often repeats itself and we will likely see the same thing in our life time and we needed to read and be prepared to be a good citizen and do the right thing. I think good government has a place in our lives but there are limits to what government can do. For example, through the government we have monetary and fiscal policy and this is about all government can do in terms of economics. There does not need to be any kind of “economic stimulus” program - we already have one and it is called the free enterprise system. I also learned that in high school. I think presidents propose an economic stimulus plan not because they believe it will work but because they will be chastised by the opposing party if they do not do something. Presidents have really no control over the economy except perhaps to appoint a Federal Reserve Chairman, and spend more government money, real, borrowed or by printing more money. I believe in a strong military and today, a very strong CIA and intelligence program to deal with this asymmetrical warfare by radical extremists. But I do not like the idea of our country getting involved in these opened ended wars with extremist (extremist who will eventually fail from their own excessive barbarianism). I think we need “drones” - many of them and jet fighter flyovers like we were doing to control Saddam Hussein and stop the ethnic cleansing in Korsovo. While not an isolationist, I think we should be involved in the world with a concentration on preventing nations from obtaining nuclear weapons and “working with” countries who are trying to implement democratic reform. I supported Desert Storm 100% and think that George HW Bush Senior will eventually be placed higher in history as a president for his action in pulling the world together and kicking Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and just as important, stopping once the job was done. I think we were 100% wrong in going back into Iraq under George Bush junior and that our country is experiencing many problems because of this and will for many years to come. A failure of this magnitude led by George Bush Jr tells me I was right in not voting for him. I’m concerned that the history of our country at this point will be written “after the civil war” and “after the second intervention in Iraq" for supposed weapons of mass destruction. I do not support “extended unemployment payments” because there are too many in this country that are satisfied with $1200 a month and not have to work for it. A little “benevolent neglect” would go a long way in in this regard. Although my voting history and beliefs might put me more in a Republican type of thinking, I persist in saying I’m more of a pragmatist. The Republicans have disappointed me in the past 20 years or so and I long for the type of Republican I thought I used to know. It seemed like it happened around the time of President Clinton with Ken Starr, all the investigations, Karl Rove and just trying to bring down a sitting democrat. That is not leadership and I long for it from the Republicans. Dialogue and honest dissent is OK but when it comes down to Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate saying “ the purpose of the Senate Minority will be to see that Obama is a one term president" saddens me. That is not leadership and it is no wonder congress is held in such low esteem. The purpose of Congress is to legislate, not play political games. I think we should get behind our president more, but with healthy skepticism when one thinks something is not right (e.g going into Iraq, continual extension of unemployment checks). I think as American’s, we have to look at our history going back to 1776 when our forefathers declared our independence. At that time there was really only one significant democracy in the world. Since that time - and mostly through the example of the U.S.,over half of the countries of the world are some form of democracy. I think democracy - a government of the people, by the people and for the people is the “most natural” form of government and thus - can be equated to “mother nature.” It is that which is most natural. And mother nature, be it rich river bottomland that became farmland or a city built below sea level, mother nature always reclaims what is hers and eventually prevails through flood or the dike breaking. I’m an optimist and believes this will happen with our great democracy - I do believe in it, have fought for it and not soon, but eventually the entire world will be some form of democracy. I do not think we should force it at the point of a gun but should “defend it” and assist countries and groups who are trying to obtain it. But not intervene and “force it” in the form of nation building like we tried in Iraq - with "shock and awe." On immigration, again I think we need to take one step back and look at what our founding fathers did. They felt pretty sure this idea of democracy would work - but what they did not know was that it would work far beyond their greatest expectations. Therefore, they did not envision the large, porous borders and that other humans, acting independently and in group would do what anyone would do - they would try to get into this country anyway they could. Therefore, border security was never a high priority until the age of instant communication came along and the people of the world could see what a great democracy is. Freedom, commerce, health, comfort, food, a roof over ones head, security and much more. So they started coming. We built a great, democratic country from immigrants but did not look forward enough to see nor act to deal with the ensuing needs like border security. Using my tendency toward thinking pragmatically, I look at one important aspect of our country becoming as great as it is as a result of ethnic diversity. We are a country of immigrants and from our ancestors to present day - we made this country as great as it is. So approaching this pragmatically, I think we should secure our borders - secure them very tightly but we have to consider first and foremost, the children and consider them present day immigrants and give them a path to citizenship. But with secure borders, stop them from perpetually coming unhindered. I do think they should be required to be fluent in English, our official language and no special exemptions made for them. I think they should be able to pass a reasonable civics test like that administered by the American Civil Literacy society - but also, we must deal with the fact that the majority of American born citizens could not pass this simple 36 question test. * With new discoveries in DNA, again I take the pragmatic approach and think we need to review the death penalty. There are many people who are put to death who later are found to have been innocent. But those who are guilty should be sat down and explained that their argument that “life was not fair to them” - does not fly, it certainly was not fair for the person they murdered or raped. Being civilized people, they will spend their life behind bars doing worthwhile labor that is good for society and that is better than what their victims received. If they prefer to die than be behind bars, accommodate them. The pragmatic side of me says there is a place for government in our lives. Human nature, being what it is - most people do not plan adequately for themselves in terms of old age, their health and many other matters. Therefore, money needs to be taken from their earnings but managed well by professional money managers (not the way our government handles social security) under the watch of the government to provide for their old age and health. This is just a practical matter to me. Thirty percent of American’s did not carry health insurance yet they are treated just the same as someone who pays with an insurance policy. So make them pay right out of their paychecks. Then I’m not paying their way with my health insurance premiums (trust me, the insurance companies and medical practice will get their money) - at least they are paying more into the health system. I think there is a place for government in overseeing the healthcare industry, actually much like the military does it. Cradle to grave health records so there is not repeated and repeated testing and treatments. Limits should be put on “malpractice” so MD’s do not have to pay such exorbitant insurance premiums - the fact is they are not perfect. So I close. I’m easily amused. If I speak of one conservative subject like anti-abortion, too often a finger is pointed at me saying- you are conservative. If I speak out on something like protecting our environment, a finger is pointed at me saying “your a save the owls liberal!” This short essay is part of my explanation of why I’m not a conservative nor a liberal, not a Republican nor Democrat. If I must have a label, let me be called a Pragmatist. Aime Casavant * Google American Civil Literacy

March 13, 2012

"The highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it."
-unknown_

January 22, 2012

Indispensibilty

The cemeterys of the world are filled with men who thought they were indispensable.

January 16, 2012

PERCEPTIONS

I was thinking about perceptions. Perceptions are something you own, they are yours, completely but they may not be true. Communicating your perceptions to someone about someone can be very dangerous because they are only yours. Your perceptions of me are not mine, they are yours. And what you do not have and can never have is the ultimate knowledge in your perception of me, because I'm the foremost authority in the world on myself. This is a good example of "walking a mile in my shoes."

July 5, 2011

"At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is at his worst."
said by Aristotle and posted by Tyler Halvorson.

May 29, 2011

The Art of Music

"The art of music
frees us from ourselves
for fleeting, hallowed glimpses
into the golden galactic mirror
of our soul and of its universes"

as said to my by Lyle Taylor

April 13, 2011

US Owing Trillions

It took the US over 10 years to get into this type of debt and it will take it at least that much time to get out of it. It started with an unfunded $2-4 trillion dollar war in Iraq. Then came the banking crisis as bankers went unregulated and started risky business practices. Then came along several national disasters and several other natural disasters in the world that we helped on.

Better to have done what Thomas Jefferson would have done - he would have, if he were president at the time, went to the United Nations about Iraq and left the country go the way of Tunisa, Egypt and Libya, as he believed for a true democracy to emerge, the revolution must come from within. For us, that is democracy on the cheap.

We are a government of the people, by the the people and for the people. So we only have ourselves to blame. We elect these people. We want everything from our government, the leaders are not real leaders, they are interested more in keeping their high paying jobs in government, democrat and republican alike. Pay the taxes and get out of this mess and watch who you vote for. Wars are very expensive and send a country spiraling deep into debt. And remember history. How many of you can remember the "guns and butter" of Johnson's "Great Society" and funding the Vietnam war at the same time and that fiasco. Those who don't understand history tend to repeat it. Pay up.

April 4, 2011

Hypatia

This is Hypatia who was a teacher and scientist at the Library of Alexandra in about 400AD. To me, she is the most important woman in history that is hardly ever talked about. All she wanted to do was research and teach. She was considered a pagan and pulled from her carriage while going to work, brutilized and killed by a Christian mob. The orders came from Cyril, the archbishop. He was made a saint.