In an earlier post, I discussed the staggering cost of our attempts to prevent another major attack, on the homeland, by terrorists; we also looked, briefly, at how such major, non-productive expenses bleed our weakened economy, and could lead to national, economic collapse, and thus, national destruction. Airport security is the larger part of such national anti-terrorism efforts, so I thought it might be interesting to take a brief look at such security measures, as applied at the World’s busiest airport, the Hartsfield-Jackson International, in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Hartsfield General Manager (Miguel Southwell) admits that “Any system is only as strong as its weakest link,” then goes on to discuss many “weak links” in Atlanta’s busy airport. One of the more significant of those is the essential failure to screen the 45,000 workers, which have badges giving them unscreened access to the airport’s supposedly secure areas. The Atlanta Airport’s TSA screens a reported 55,000 passengers each day; in the same time period, an estimated 20,000 workers have unscreened access.
I am as sure as is possible that at least one of those 20,000 could easily be recruited to place an explosive device aboard an aircraft, or in a normally crowded part of the airport building. That appears to be very significant “weak link” in Southwell’s airport security. Why isn’t something being done to correct that glaring and dangerous problem? Why. indeed, spend what we already are on airport security, and suffer its interminable inconveniences and embarrassments, if it is essentially ineffective?
The answer, again, is economics. Southwell is quoted (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 1st) as estimating that facilities needed to adequately screen employees would cost $35 million, and another $11 million a year to operate them. According to a GAO report, screening employees at airports across the nation would cost from $5 to $15 billion for the first year alone, while today’s entire TSA annual budget is already a wasteful $7 billion.
And there are other “weak links” is security at Hartsfield: for example, “known crew members” pass through check points without inspection or delay. Wasn’t it a crew member that intentionally crashed a full passenger aircraft shortly after leaving Boston. Clearly, crew members can be recruited, just as easily as other airport employees. According the newspaper, just last year: an AirTran employee, at Hartsfield successfully bypassed security with a machine gun; JetBlue employees, in Boston, were charged with smuggling cash while evading airport security checkpoints; and a man in California was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his part in a drug smuggling network involving airport employees.
Clearly, TSA’s airport security is filled with those “weak links,” so is it worth keeping and wasting billions on? Or, must we beef it up, and try to eliminate possibilities, such as someone throwing a package with an explosive device over a perimeter fence, which is picked up by an airport employee and placed aboard an aircraft?
At what level of security do we feel safe, and how much of our national treasure (i.e., tax funds) are we willing to pay for such peace of mind? We already spend some $700 billion a year more on government than we take in from taxes; do we want to add another $100 billion or so to that inevitably crushing debt? And, if there will always be that “weak link” somewhere, are we ready to accept steep increases in the cost and inconveniences of air travel, as airports try to recover some of the stated costs of ramping up security? Might it not be better to use the “big stick” approach to deterring terrorist attack (as I proposed in a prior column), than to attempt to plug all possible openings to attack? I don’t have the answer; what’s your opinion?
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
When “war” is mentioned, we usually think of airborne bombing attacks, barrages of artillery, lumbering, clanking tanks, and waves of occupying ground forces, but war today can be waged solely against a nation’s economy, which, if destroyed, inevitably forces that nation to cease to resist, and ultimately leads to domination by the aggressor.
Terrorism, as exemplified by the highly effective attack on, and destruction of, New York’s iconic Trade Towers, is an extraordinarily cost-effective form of warfare, which, while costing the aggressor only a trivial amount of assets, results in substantial, and long-continuing loss of money and human assets by the nation thus attacked. It is estimated that the destruction of the Trade Towers, and around 6 large, commercial jet aircraft, resulted in immediate property losses of around $7 billion, another half-billion in cleanup costs, and perhaps another half billion in losses associated with law suits, insurance claims, etc. Thus, while the nation suffered an immediate loss in physical assets (i.e., not considering the loss of productive capacity by the thousands that were killed that day) of some $10 billion, the almost immediate creation of A Department of Homeland Security, and the infamous, Transportation Security Agency, has cost every taxpayer in the nation an estimated 2.5 million since 2001. or some $250,000/year. On top of that staggering financial waste, we must also add the significant costs of added thousands of armed guards and other security measures in large public gathering places, such as sports stadiums and shopping malls. All of this takes money, along with physical and material assets, away from the national economy, while putting nothing back in; that’s a very significant net loss to our economy, which was already bleeding red ink, without the added cost of homeland security (which does not include any part of the Defense Department and our military forces).
What has that thus-far eminently successful “war” on America cost the enemy? Next to nothing! Just the trivial cost of training a dozen or so men to take over, and then drive captured aircraft into chosen targets. And the fanatical terrorists continue to win the battle to destroy our economy, without essentially spending another dinar, riyal, or dirham; all they now need do to excite us into another escalation in spending, on physical security of public places and transportation, is to simply place a cost-free threat on something such as Facebook.
As long as we react predictably (by ratcheting up physical security somewhere), and spend more and more of our shrinking national wealth on unproductive security, every time someone suggests that another 9/11 is being planned, the successful enemies of the USA will continue to wage war in that manner. Clearly, if allowed to continue, there is a real danger that our economy will be so undermined by growing debt that it will collapse; along with it the entire nation. But how can we combat such “attacks”? There appears to be no acceptable answer, because the only way to combat this sort of warfare is through direct, counter-terror. One must fight terror with terror.
It approaches the unthinkable, but if attacks, such as 9/11. or the mall massacre in Nairobi, are to be prevented, one must be ready and willing to so severely punish terrorists that they will decide that such barbaric tactic isn’t such a wonderful way to wage war after all. The problem here, obviously, is how do we punish terrorists (which hide amongst populated centers) without causing unacceptable suffering by innocent persons? The answer is that, for our “counter terror” to be effective, it will almost certainly, have to be applied, harshly, and a couple of times (think Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which brought an end to Japan’s fanatical effort to rule Asia and the Pacific). Yes, if we warned potential and active terrorist groups (e.g., Islamic, fundamentalist extremists) that, the next significant act of terror against us will result in a massive, obliterating, attack on whatever their capital city may be, and if we were forced to carry out our threat, once or twice, the civilian population, which now tolerates, if not supports such terrorists, would rise up and stop those terrorists from any such continued activity. The war on terror would end, just as did the terrible war in the Pacific, in the 1940s.
Is it possible for this nation to reach the resolve necessary for such drastic, but not unprecedented actions? I don’t know; but I am sure that, if we don’t FIGHT terror, and not merely try to defend against it, we will eventually be defeated — quite possibly by economics alone.
Of Cabbages and Kings is a feature produced and copyrighted by j.g.nash. Pertinent comments may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communications between humans can be represented by a pyramid, whereon the most efficient and effective methods appear toward the bottom, or foundation. We, today, appear to be moving closer and closer to the peak, which seems to be the wrong direction.
The bottom layer, or foundation, of such pyramid, is face-to-face discussion, complete with body language, gestures, vocal inflection, and, especially, facial expression. This remains the most effective means of human communication.
One, smaller layer up (thus less effective) is the voice only means, such as is provided by telephone and radio means. By giving up the face-to-face feature, a huge chunk of mutual understanding is now lost.
Hand-written letters are a still smaller layer of the pyramid, because they take away even the signals we receive from a speaker’s voice. It is the first layer about which it can be wisely said: “If what is written can be misunderstood, it will be.”
The layer representing the arrival of electronic mail includes those famous ungrammatical telegrams, where STOP replaced the period, but it is most concerned with messages sent and received on computers. Although, unlike telegrams, the length and composition of e-mail was essentially unlimited, and delivery to the recipient instantaneous, its very simplicity and speed encouraged careless, often thoughtless composition, so there arose much misunderstanding about what was being written in that way, and that slice of the pyramid shrank significantly, and continues to shrink today, even as new, ever-smaller layers are built atop it.
When compared to the centuries between the bottom layers, and years between those that came later, new layers on the structure of communications seemed to be put in place almost overnight, and each shrank noticeably. With tweets, titters, social networking sites, and even texting, made possible by exploding advances in electronic communications technology, some “communications were no more than a few letters, numbers, or other characters, such as “UR4ME, WTF, 4Q, LMAO,” or even “:>”. It is not just possible to misunderstand such gibberish: it is certain.
It appears that, as we get closer and closer to the pointy tip of the pyramid, we’ll have lost the ability to effectively exchange thoughts, ideas, concepts, and emotions when communicating over distances (e.g., from the kitchen to the children’s rooms upstairs). There is, however, a glimmer of hope in this rush to kill human communications: some computer programs, such as Skype, when coupled with the worldwide scope of the Internet, have the capability of restoring just about every useful facet of primitive, face-to-face communications. Trouble is: to effectively use person-to-person, live video communications, one must be seated at, or at least in front of, a computer, but we seem to be living in an age where the computer is being replaced by the cell phone, wherewith, unless one hangs the phone way out in front of him (on one of those idiotic looking, selfie poles) he can’t carry on a video conversation while walking down a city street, or shopping for groceries, which are places many of us now seem to be trying to communicate via cell phones.
One wonders, how much longer before we’re able to beam ourselves anywhere, anytime, so that, as far as communications go, we’ll be back at the base of the pyramid, with most effective, face-to-face communications, but in real time, and from anywhere — even Mars?
Beam me up, Scotty!
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated, copyrighted column, by j.g.nash. Pertinent comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
All reliable, available data shows that illegal immigration significantly drains resources (medical, education, law enforcement, etc.), adds significantly to dollars flowing out of the nation, with no offsetting return, takes jobs needed by legal citizens, and undermines government at all levels (e.g., it’s well on the way to control of California’s city and state governments).
Yet emotions block many of us from recognizing those cold, hard facts, and we thoughtlessly sympathize with the illegals; especially when they have, usually intentionally, given birth to another illegal immigrant, while unlawfully here. The President, whom clearly demonstrates a lack of interest in national security, welfare, and economic strength, encourages and supports efforts, by misguided, uninformed, but well-meaning groups, to not only do nothing to slow the epidemic of illegal immigration (especially across our southern border), but indeed acts to encourage increases in that destructive invasion, by granting citizenship and forgiveness to the millions of illegals now here and destroying this nation. This is a most serious problem; one that requires long and thoughtful discussion, which isn’t reasonably possible in this short space; so let us, at least briefly, look at three steps we must take to attempt to save our nation from inevitable destruction, if the President’s present course of inaction is permitted to continue.
If water is leaking into your home, pumping it out is necessary, but essentially useless, if the leak isn’t found and plugged. We simply must significantly secure our southern border, so as to slow the tidal wave of illegals crossing there everyday to, at the least, a controllable trickle.
Discouraging such illegal immigration will do much to slow the stream of illegal hopefuls, and make border control more effective, and less expensive. The only seemingly reasonable, if harsh, action appears to be a well-publicized policy, whereby anyone, identified as here unlawfully, is immediately incarcerated, their assets seized, then quickly sent to internment camps, somewhere in the southwestern deserts, where they are confined for 6 months (1st offense), and where they must work to produce much of what they need to survive. It should be punishment, which is designed to discourage the present practice wherein those which we do deport, often turn right around and return illegally.
Thirdly, we must take immediate action to change the provision for citizenship being conferred automatically on those born here. I have seen estimates that something over 20% of the illegal immigrants have planned to give birth shortly after sneaking into the U.S.A., thus creating an “anchor,” that protects them from deportation. That provision for native born citizenship is common in many nations, but more and more they require that such birth be made and respected only when the parents (both of them) are in country legally. We must change our applicable laws immediately, so that automatic citizenship is conferred only on children born here, by parents that are clearly here within applicable immigration laws and provisions. Until that is done, the illegal immigrant parents of children born here, must be deported posthaste, and in spite of predictable moaning and wailing by bleeding-heart liberals. It sounds harsh and heartless, but for as long as sneaking across our border illegally, and then giving birth so as to protect oneself from deportation is allowed, it will not only continue, but grow to epidemic proportions. If illegals care at all for their anchor babies, they’ll take them with them when they are interred and subsequently deported; if not, we can provide measure to handle those that are abandoned. Keep in mind that, if we granted citizenship only to babies born to couples here in compliance with immigration laws and procedures, this problem wouldn’t exist.
Bottom line — Illegal immigration, especially across our southern border, is a serious and present threat to our nation; harsh and immediate measures are needed if we are to have a chance of stopping that looming disaster. Our inexperienced, Harvard-lawyer President seems to want to allow the threat to be ignored; even acting to encourage increased illegal immigration. Our only hope seems to be in the new Congress acting in concert, to combat the President’s irresponsible behavior. Will that happen?
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Of Cabbages and Kings is a copyrighted feature by j.g.nash. Pertinent comments may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News media continue to sporadically report on our Air Force’s pervasive and spreading problem with what, at best, can only be called “unprofessional conduct,” by officers charged with the heavy responsibility of controlling nuclear missiles that could, if launched, signal the end of mankind. Some hundred or so of the Air Force cadre of 500 missile launch control officers have been removed from duty; there also are reports of willful violation of nuclear safety rules and other relevant directives, and of widespread, immoral behavior, such as cheating on vital tests, or the use of drugs. On top of that, come reports of deteriorating associated equipment, shortages of maintenance tools and spare parts. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be, but you darned well should be deeply concerned.
Those worrisome reports of serious weaknesses in our nuclear deterrent forces, are attributable to two factors: traditionally incompetent leadership (military and civilian), and widespread deterioration and destruction of our general society’s vital, moral codes.
Nearly all of the generals and admirals (especially those with more than one star) are self-focused, egotistical, dictatorial, personally ambitious, politically motivated and controlled, unfit to lead, unconcerned with mission, and incompetent managers. Their civilian bosses are all too often just politically controlled, career government employees. What, for example, qualifies Deborah James to be Secretary of the Air Force? She has no applicable military experience nor training. It is unfit persons, such as she, that have made possible serious flaws in our military services — including the present scandal about amoral officers controlling nuclear weapons. Is she just another Obama appointment, designed to please one sector of irrational and ignorant voters; the good of the nation be damned?
It is those dangerously unfit and unsuited persons that are primarily responsible for the present scandal involving missile launch control officers, and who, in fact, made possible a nuclear control system so flawed that it is only by God’s grace that the trigger hasn’t already been pulled by some nut case, such as those that now play violent video games and then act them out in theater, school, workplace, or shopping center.
The Minuteman missile force was conceived, developed, and commanded by the same sort of disinterested, incompetent, egocentric, career-oriented senior officers (e.g., cigar-chompin’, General “Bomb the Hell outa them,” Curtis LeMay) and civilians that have seemingly always existed. Those arrogant, ambitious officials were in charge of the creation of an unimaginably complex, nuclear weapons system, which eventually required its carefully-selected, launch officers to work extraordinarily stress-filled jobs, during minimal 70-hour work weeks, wherein the simplest error or oversight resulted in severe punishment (e.g. forced out of the service in disgrace), and where a normal “workday” was 24 hours without a moment’s rest or relief. On occasion, starting in around 1962, when General Thomas Power had replaced LeMay as head of the Strategic Air Command (which was supreme headquarters for ICBM operations, at Malmstrom), some missile control crews were being forced to stay awake, and in control of 10 nuclear-tipped missiles, for as long as 72 hours. Many couldn’t perform that superhuman task, but all, in those days, tried their damndest to do their duty. The divorce and commission resignation rates were then the highest that the Air Force has ever experienced: due primarily to uncaring, incompetent leadership, and mismanagement at the highest levels.
That brings us to the second factor in the recent degradation of nuclear deterrent and/or safety. The officers, chosen to become launch control officers at Malmstrom AFB in the 1960s, still had the moral code that made this nation great. They never gave thought to following only the orders, regulations, and procedures of which they personally approved, nor to cheating on nuclear safety or relevant command and control tests. Their families frequently broke under the strain placed on the officers, and many resigned their commissions rather than continue to suffer the literally impossible conditions placed upon them. However, as an example of the incompetent, uncaring leadership then exercised by top generals: one came to Malmstrom to deliver a message from the four-star general (Power) in charge of the Strategic Air Command. To the hastily assembled, exhausted men, he scolded, “The Chief wants you babies to know that he wishes he could make it tougher on you.” Tougher than an average work week of 70 hours, with some “days” lasting for 72 hours, without sleep? Predictably, the resignation and divorce rates soared, after hearing that incompetent, destructive general’s stupid comment.
Yes, we have, and long have had, a problem in our armed forces; it is a result of a promotion system that ensures the advancement to highest office by the least suitable. The unavoidable results of incompetent leadership and management are aided and abetted by a population of young men (and women) that no longer have the moral fiber needed to do the right thing, in spite of unfit and uncaring leadership at the top. The military’s incestuous promotion system (i.e., whom you know, and successfully boot-lick, is more important than what you do on the job) has been with us so long that it is fair to wonder if it can ever be corrected, but the destruction of societal morals is relatively new, and perhaps it’s not too late to turn that around. Perhaps?
Sleep tight America, your “burned out,” liberal, free-thinking, pleasure-oriented, nuclear warriors are on alert, and they’re watched over by incompetent generals and civilians, who care far more about selfish ambitions, than about sworn oaths to defend this nation.
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Of Cabbages and kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Pertinent comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
Right from the start of amateur photography (early 20th Century), when the Brownie camera made photography possible for just about everyone, perhaps 95% of the photos made have been far less satisfactory in quality, and usefulness, than need be. Thankfully, because film cost real money, as did the subsequent required processing and printing, at first, relatively few photographs were made, and we were spared having to look at the dreadful images created by eager amateurs, that had no time, nor inclination, to want to learn how to make better photographs. Today, with the explosion of digital photography, just about everyone, ages 4 and up. are photographing anything and everything, including especially themselves in front of something or other thought to be impressive. The result is a flood of terrible photography, which its creators ignorantly and proudly post on public bulletin boards (e.g., Facebook) .One of my favorite songs became known as “The Kodak Song”; it encourages us to “gather memories while you may (in order to) remember the times of your life.” That is indeed very good advice, because. through good photography, I can rather clearly “see” three generations of my ancestors, remember my now middle aged children, as darling infants, and continue to appreciate my beautiful wife, whom was taken from me far too soon. I submit that this mindless, lazy, careless rush to photograph everything, without any knowledge how best to do that, is creating a flood of essentially worthless images, which will, in the future, serve little other than to illustrate how shallow were our lives. If you think that you may want to “remember the times of your life,” I urge you to now learn enough about making acceptable photos, so that you’ll have them when needed.
My Dad, from whom I fortunately inherited a love for photography, was an outstanding amateur photographer, eventually creating great photos, such as this 1921 image of his mother. He obviously understood the basic principles of composition, posing, focus, depth of field, optimal exposure. and the need for a tripod, to maximize sharpness. No mindless “selfie” this — and the timeless quality of the print speaks to the benefits of knowing what you’re doing when you jab a the “take” button on you camera.
You can make photos almost this good, even when using one of the PHD (Push Here Dummy) digital cameras that seemingly everyone curiously sticks up in the air at public events these days — but only if you have, at least, a basic understanding of how good photos are made.
Let’s look at another example, from out of the distant past, where two, very different photographers clicked their shutters on the same scene; it translates well to today’s digital craze.
Photo “A” was made by a photographer such as is all too common today; image “B” was carefully and skillfully made by my father. The first, typical snapshooter, looked through the viewfinder from where she stood, and jabbed at the shutter release. The result is sad, but predictable (and typical of what is slapped up on Facebook, by today’s ignorant, thoughtless “photographers.”)
My father climbed down close to his son, perhaps even directed the boy in how to pose, set an optimum exposure and depth of field, then carefully depressed the shutter release. The result (Image “B”) is a classic, timeless, informal portrait.
What a huge difference a bit of applicable knowledge and care made in that photo! It could in your photos as well — but only if you recognize that your knowledge of photographic procedures, skills, and techniques are something that you know next to nothing about, but are really willing to learn.
It is a curious thing about “photography” today — if it can really be referred to as that — most persons react emotionally. and defensively, when someone (such as I) dares to suggest that one or another of their dreadful, publicly-posted, photographs could have been improved. Often, entire clans or families will become agitated, and rise up in righteous rage to slay the attacking dragon. It does seem that once we have initiated the entirely automated process to record a digital image, we believe that we have thereby created the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, and no one can even suggest that it less than perfection. That, dear friends, will ensure the death of useful photography, which even now is gasping to stay alive.
I am not just a bringer of bad news; I offer, in my now-retired years, to comment constructively, on selected images (one at a time please), which you may care to send to me for critique. I will be pleased to help seriously interested persons in making acceptable photographic images — even with a cell phone.
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Pertinent comment may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Almost from the beginning of history, as taught in U.S. schools, we have been led to believe that mankind first set foot on the American continent after an arduous hike across a newly developed, natural “land bridge.” spanning the Bering Straits. But recent discoveries, coupled with rational analysis, now seem to demolish, not just “question,” that theory. Consider the following points, which, if not by themselves deciding the origin of man in America (the continent), seem to suggest that man arrived there by various means and routes, and that such “man” was of more than one race or ethnicity.
Clearly there are many fascinating questions about who the “first Americans” really were; I, however, see clearly that there were several, distinctly different races or ethnicities involved in the original population of the American continent, including the USA itself; and it is adequately evident to me that they arrived by several different routes and methods of transportation.
What’s your opinion?
After a century of slow, laborious progress, during which Turkiye (which we arrogantly, and incorrectly refer to as “Turkey”) moved from being a typical, backward, Arab state, to the doorstep of acceptance as part of the long-desired, European Union, that unique nation is slipping back into the dark past, from which it had nearly escaped. That bodes ill for mankind and peace on earth.
If the significance of Turkiye’s regression escapes you, allow me to point out that Turkiye holds a unique position in the World, because it is, literally. both a physical and sociological “bridge” between East and West; between Europe and Asia; between Islam and the World’s other major religions. It could, as a democratic, industrialized, modernized, tolerant nation, have set the example for other regional nations to follow, for the benefit of all. Ever since the start of the Cold War, the U.S. has depended on Turkey as a loyal member of NATO, and has used its land for numerous and varied military purposes. Even today, the largest, and busiest U.S. Air Force combat airfield is in Turkey, and the U.S. maintains stockpiles of nuclear weapons in Turkiye. Relations with Turkiye have been eroding ever since we, thoughtlessly, sided with Greece in their argument with Turkiye over the divided island of Cyprus, and, although for a while it appeared that things were getting better, the new President of Turkiye (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) seems intent on turning his nation into an archaic Islamic Caliphate, which will not only result in our loss of use of military facilities there, but also widen the gap between Turkiye and the rest of the West. It’s not far fetched to imagine a day, in the not too distant future, when the satanic black flags of ISIS might fly over the Capitol, in Ankara. Even now, Erdogan has trouble deciding whether to to fight ISIS or aid them.
To more fully understand what’s going on in Turkiye today, we need to go back in time, to when the Turkish Republic was established — largely though the efforts of one man, Ataturk. The long-revered (almost worshiped) “Father of Modern Turkiye,” Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, began life as just plain Mustafa; there then being no surnames. He was such an unusually bright scholar that his teachers added “Kemal,” an honorific meaning “the brilliant one,” or something like that. Mustafa Kemal saw his future in the army, and when WW I was being fought along the Dardanelles, at Gallipoli, Mustafa became a genuine hero, which led to his becoming head of the first Republic of Turkiye, following the Treaty of Lousanne, in 1923. Mustafa instituted the use of surnames, adopting Ataturk (i.e., Father of the Turkish people) as his own, and began an inspired program to modernize the nation, and move it into the western block. He switched the exotic Arabic alphabet to Latin; banned strange religions (e.g., the Dervishes); forbade wear of the foolish-looking fez, and ordered all prostitutes to be veiled, which effectively stopped all other women from wearing the traditional ve1l; promoted rights for women; supported public education; separated government from religion; urged men to wear western dress; and modernized the nations industry. As a product of the Army, he well knew its importance to government, and so nurtured a close relationship with his fiercely loyal generals. Whenever, or wherever, a serious challenge to his progressive reforms might popup, the Army was quick to put out the flames. So, peace prevailed, and the nation crept toward westernization.
Throughout the years following his death, whenever sectarian violence erupted, and Sunnis began fighting Shiites, the Army moved quickly to restore peace. The Army was the key to continued progress and prosperity for the new Republic. It was thus that when the first publicly elected president (Erdogan, an irrational follower of Mohammed) came to power, his first act was to gut the entire high command of the Army, riding it of any and all loyal to Ataturk and his principles; that key act opened the door for him to begin the return of the nation to the dark ages of Islam.
Erdogan has already established that women’s rights are a thing of the past (e.g., “Women and men are not equal,”), and women’s faces are increasingly veiled all across once-progressive Turkiye. He tried to build the worlds largest mosque, right in the center of a popular park, in the most western, modernized section of Istanbul, but was, temporarily, stopped; now he is jailing journalists that disagree with his policies. He has also prevented U.S. Air Force assets, based in Turkiye, from attacking ISIS, and is even suspected of providing supplies to ISIS forces. Without Ataturk’s loyalist Army to stop him, it seems likely that he may soon have a caliphate in Ankara.
This is a very worrisome for the World, and one to which we should be paying much more attention. In the worst case, if we are forced to leave Turkiye, we will not only lose the use of our most important air base in the entire region, but what will become of the nuclear weapons stored there? There are two rings of security around them: the inner ring is made up of U.S. forces, but the outer ring, through which we’d have to pass to remove the weapons, is made up entirely of Turkish troops. Would we go to war with Turkiye if they stood in the way of removal of those weapons?
Yes, it appears that Turkiye is moving towards becoming just another repressive, Arab state, ruled by unreasoning worship of a mystical moon god; that’s bad for all of us.
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
There are two major parts of our economy to watch when attempting to determine its health: National Debt, and International Trade Balance.
The National Debt is the amount we owe to those that have loaned us the funds needed to cover the government’s spending more than it takes in by taxation. The International Trade Balance shows how much our national wealth is being increased or decreased, as we buy and sell abroad. They’re not really all that difficult to understand, and they are vital indicators of the nation’s strength, or weakness, so stick with me for a few minutes.
Our National debt can be thought of as a family budget, which consists of income and expenditures. When we earn more than we spend, our savings and investments grow; our family’s future becomes increasingly secure. When the reverse is the case, we take out loans to cover spending more than we earn. Loans involve payment of interest, which increases the amount of debt actually owed. No normal family can long exist when operating under debt, when such grows so large that we can’t even pay the current interest, let alone pay off part of the principle amount owed. That is exactly where we are as a nation today. Our National Debt stands at a record $18 trillion, and it rises about $2.5 billion EVERY DAY; that’s about $56,000 that each citizen (children included) owes today, and it’s growing every minute. Someone has to pay it, someday! Who will, and when? The answer is rather complex and confusing, but one thing you should understand, as our government simply prints “Monopoly” money, with which to pay the creditors, the value of your money decreases, and inflation rises still further (e.g., it today takes about $1,500 to buy what, in 1940 cost only $100). That dangerously ballooning National Debt is a result of spending far more than is taken in from taxation. Clearly we can’t afford what Federal Government spends now, yet we press on, adding huge new obligations, such as Obama Care, which dangerously increase that crushing debt. Government simply MUST, not only strongly, and with unwavering determination, resist any and all new welfare expenditures, subsidies, and “free” loans, but even take an “axe” to existing programs (e.g., Obama Care, Student Loans, Unemployment payments, etc.), while simultaneously identifying and rooting out corruption, greed and other abuses that waste billions of our tax contributions every single day. Failure to do this, ensures the near-term economic failure of the nation, and thus your way of life.
The balance of International trade (difference between what we pay for goods and services bought from others, and what we sell to them) doesn’t directly add to our national debt, but think of it this way: Your town has one bank, which opened business with $1,000,000 in its vault, which could be used to make loans to local businesses, and provide the currency necessary for simply buying groceries, or paying the doctor. As long as all business is done in town, that million remains available to permit and stimulate business of all types; but, when the town buys goods from other towns, that original million is reduced by such amount. If that continues, and unless the first town eventually sells more to the second town, the first town’s bankroll will run out, and business will stop. That’s where the U.S. is headed today: we’ve suffered constant deficits ($10-50 billion) in international trade, since 1976. The present deficit is more than $40 billion (i.e., $40 billion of our “bank’s” resources flow out, reducing the “bank’s” ability to function locally, and, as more “play money” is printed, with which to pay foreign businesses, the dollar’s value internationally drops, and inflation increases here at home. Recently a new, and very destructive player has entered this picture of international exchange: uncounted millions of illegal immigrants regularly send large portions of their unreported, and untaxed incomes, back to their native lands, thus even further draining vital dollars out of the nation.
The combined effect of these two destructive economic policies is unavoidably leading us toward national collapse, which would, almost certainly, introduce a period of lawlessness, crime, violence, disease, starvation, and racial/ethnic warfare of unimaginable scope and destruction. Starving humans do quickly turn into brutal, primitive survivalists. We have but two choices today: 1. Reduce the National spending craze, and insist on staying within an approved and balanced budget; while also reducing imports of what we buy to be equal to, or less than, what we sell (that implies rebuilding our gutted industries, such as coal and steel, while putting the population back to work in industries that produce things, rather than unmarketable services. Or, 2. Stockpile survival supplies for the years of primitive violence that will accompany national bankruptcy.
Sleep tight: your elected government officials don’t seem to really understand this, or else they simply don’t give a damn?
On Nov 6th, in this space, I presented a somewhat detailed discussion of the fiscal crisis facing this nation, because we are so heavily in debt that we can barely pay the interest due on those loans, and even that we pay with increasingly worthless dollars. I suggest that, to fully understand this editorial, you read, or re-read that column.
The referenced column ended with this [colored text here added, for present applicability]: “In summary: in order to avoid national, and thus also personal, bankruptcy, we must immediately cut national government spending by at least 30%; focus our national energies on restoring, repairing, and reopening the industries, such as steel, that once made this a great nation; while simultaneously creating a predominantly, technologically-oriented work force needed to produce, not only what we need here, but can even sell abroad, so that our destructive international debt is gradually reduced — even becomes profitable. I can’t imagine that happening.”
You will note, I trust, that a key element in any potentially effective plan to possibly avoid national bankruptcy, involves the creation of a technologically-oriented workforce, which brings us to today’s discussion, about subsidizing higher education.
There is today an urgent need for workers trained in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). We are so short of such, that we import it, just as we import almost everything we need, which is why our international debt is going to destroy us, if not corrected yesterday. Whether in California’s Silicon Valley, or Florida’s Space Coast, a roster of valuable employees reads like a telephone book from India, because India’s government has, for a couple of decades, correctly recognized the importance of STEM training, and is therefore cranking out a steady stream of technically trained professionals, in all of the more important fields. At the same time, we (a much smarter group than those Indians) use an estimated 70% of our advanced educational facilities (that’s “college and technical schools,” Hillary) to train lawyers, social workers, athletes, actors, television personalities, sports managers, linguists, historians, and cosmetologists, none of which directly contribute to the national economic health.
That imbalance is untenable, and unless immediately reversed (i.e., 70% of students should be studying STEM subjects) will cause financial ruin, and, most likely, essential destruction of the U.S. of A. as we think we know it today. But our government, led by an inexperienced, tragically misdirected President, continues to promote college as a “right” enjoyed by every high school graduate, regardless of ability to pay for the education, and regardless of the individual’s ability to benefit from whatever education they might thus receive (e.g. a degree in Artificial Turf Management, for sports arenas, or some courses in Under Water Basket Weaving).
To continue with President Obama’s tragically misdirected approach to higher education, is to ensure national bankruptcy within a generation, at most. But when I, and a few others, suggest the vital necessity of making immediate and somewhat unpleasant changes to how we use tax monies to encourage young persons to pursue higher education, the predictable, socially progressive, liberal voices begin shouting “RACIST.” or other inflammatory terms; some have even suggested that any attempt to “discriminate” in how public funds are used in supporting higher education, would result in a flood of law suits (which lawyers would, of course, be especially pleased to see happen).
I suggest that government funds for post high school studies, should go first to those students, regardless of financial need, whom are enrolled in STEM courses, from Astro Physics to Applied Welding. If any monies then remain unmarked, it should go to important support subjects, such as Medicine, Law Enforcement, and Education. Our National debt is a looming disaster, along with the International obligations, so no tax monies — that’s ZERO — should be spent on unnecessary education (e.g., lawyers, beauticians, artists, athletics, personal trainers, dog groomers, tv talking heads, etc., etc.).
There is absolutely nothing racist, sexist, or otherwise prejudicial in my proposal. The opportunity to attend college, or technical school, and have it paid for by the government is open to all ages, races, religions, ethnic groups, and sexes. Not everyone will choose to study Chemical Engineering, or Naval Architecture, and that’s probably ok — as long as enough do to satisfy the nation’s need for such — because just as we must have those highly trained professionals, we need carpenters, miners, farmers, loggers, machinists, mechanics, masons, police, soldiers, etc. We already have an excess of non-productive persons, so not a nickle of tax monies should be spent on training more.
My proposal stops no one from making a career out of painting someone’s toenails, injecting colored dyes under human skin, or suing restaurants because their coffee was too hot; it only cuts off the use of tax funds to support such nonessential jobs. That’s not discrimination: it’s plain old common sense, which we’d darned well better begin to apply.