Real World Graduation: Introduction

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Congratulations, all you young people who have finished your formal education. Welcome to the real world.  No more lectures, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.

But there are a lot of things they don’t teach in the schools, especially in the public schools. The most important omission in the formal education these days is the lack of “critical thinking”, which is just a fancy phrase for applying for applying facts and logic to a certain situation to determine rational options. Back in the bad old days, this was called “common sense”.  “Common sense” is now an outdated concept, since the schools have consistently taught that it is best to rely on the opinion and analysis of “experts”.  There is nothing wrong with “experts”, but that should not imply that you, the citizen, are obligated to follow their advice or embrace their opinions as fact.  A citizen of a free society must be able to think for themselves.

This little series of essays is designed to present a set of practical questions, most of which deal with the kind of choices you will have to make for the rest of your life, but were not taught in school. Many of you I trust had parents who instilled this type of practical thinking, and if so, these questions should be fairly easy.

In our politicized culture, the media and influential people are attempting to convince you of the “right choices” based on their political views, even if the issue at hand is not inherently political. I believe that this large-scale indoctrination (which used to be called brainwashing) is corrosive to the nation, since it tends to eliminate debate.  When once we had debates in which issues were discussed using facts and logic, we are now frequently subjected to shouting matches about “talking points”, or reversion back to good old name-calling (like it was in first-grade recess).  But those only occur when any opposing viewpoints are even tolerated.

So here then are a set of “practical questions”, designed to represent an exit-exam graduation day into adulthood. Hopefully they will dispel any illusions you picked up in school, and they will likely address some things never discussed in school.  The idea is to tune up your intuition and common sense such that you don’t get fooled when faced with important decisions in the future.

To make it more interesting, I have eliminated the essay format, and have instead adopted a multiple-choice question format. (We used to call them “multiple guess”.)  All of them are “word” problems, which is the kind you will have to solve in your adult life.

All you have to do is choose the correct answer from the options listed, and the answer is provided on the second page. Good luck.

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 12

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It would be easy to criticize Mr. Obama for his policy toward North Korea, but it would be likewise unfair.  His policy was to do the best he could to ignore Mr. Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean dictator, and not attempt to “negotiate” (which is to say, pay him off), as did Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton.  Mr. Obama’s administration referred to his policy as “strategic patience”, which means to take a wait-and-see attitude on Mr. Kim’s actions, while attempting to use diplomatic means to influence China to in turn influence Mr. Kim.  As expected, as Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton both found out, North Korea’s ultimate objective is to develop a credible nuclear force which (they claim) is only to serve as a deterrent to any invasion by the U. S. or South Korea.  They continued to develop nuclear arms, and set off several nuclear tests in 2013, despite diplomatic pressure from the Obama administration.  (They did so even in the face of an actual United Nation press conference during which the U. N. issued three formal harrumphs!  Mr. Kim is playing with fire now).  Whether Mr. Kim has intentions of conquering South Korea are not known, but it is reasonable to assume he will try to use his nuclear leverage to do so.  Mr. Obama either failed to realize or failed to accept the notion that Mr. Kim is not an independent actor.  Because the Stalinist economy of North Korea operates at a bare subsistence level, it is necessary for Mr. Kim to arrange for support from elsewhere, namely Communist China. China provides a great deal of military materiel, technical expertise, and food to North Korea.

Mr. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, (in essence, dictator of China) is likely in complete control of Mr. Kim.  Mr. Xi had throughout the Obama administration resisted repeated calls for tighter sanctions or other measures to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions on the grounds that he did not want to provoke a revolution in North Korea that would lead to many refugees crossing the border into China.  It is a patently absurd notion.  First, China certainly has the means to prevent all crossing of the Yalu River separating the two nations.  Secondly, with a population of 1.3 billion, it is hard to see how a few million more from North Korea would make any material difference; and besides, they are already trained slaves, easy to incorporate into China’s economy.  Third, there will never be a revolution in North Korea unless Mr. Xi orders it.  He will not order it so long as Mr. Kim remains his loyal puppet.  When Mr. Xi says ‘jump’, Mr. Kim asks “How high, what color, and how else can I serve you, Mr. Xi, my lord and master?”  One phone call from Mr. Xi and Mr. Kim, his family, and his regime will disappear from history. North Korea is allowed to exist because China finds it useful to have a client state capable of unnerving the U. S. and its Asian allies (South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, and sometimes New Zealand).  While North Korea’s antics keep the West off-balance, and unable to develop a coherent strategy against Eastern Asia, China does what it pleases elsewhere, especially in the oilfields of the Middle East and Africa.   Lastly, North Korea serves as a buffer state between China and South Korea.  Communist regimes have absolute power but also absolute paranoia.  Communist China needs a buffer state (like North Korea) to separate their nation from South Korea lest any notion of freedom leak over the border into China.

In the long run, there are three outcomes regarding North Korea.  The first is that China desires North Korea to conquer South Korea, thus drawing the U. S. into an Asian land war.  This attractive to China only if North Korea could do so quickly while not inflicting any casualties on U. S. forces in South Korea.  If the U. S. forces were to become trapped, they are handy bargaining tools by which China could promote an arbitration by the U. N., in which China gets whatever it wants, and China is seen as a peacemaker. Secondly, China may be using North Korea’s antics as a means to drive a wedge between the U. S. and its Asian allies, leading the U. S. to abandon South Korea and turn away from Asia in general.  That would allow China to become the dominant and uncontested power in the Southern Hemisphere.  A third possibility is that China allows North Korea to attack the U. S. directly, to which the U. S. will respond accordingly, and China will remain neutral.  This is highly unlikely, as it would put America at China’s doorstep, and would likely result in the U. S. turning Japan into a nuclear power, the situation the Chinese probably fear the most. In the long run, our main adversary is China, not North Korea.  Because it is too soon to tell what China actually wants, Mr. Obama’s policy of wait-and-see was probably correct.  I would say however, that Mr. Obama’s failure to identify the real culprit did not help our cause.

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 11

ObamaLegacyPart11 <– PDF

It is no secret that Mr. Obama detests Israel and their Prime Minister Mr. Netanyahu.  Mr. Obama even went so far as to try to influence the Israeli election, seeking to oust Mr. Netanyahu (yet he complains about alleged Russian interference in America’s election).  Mr. Obama did however, find himself obligated by previous commitments to Israel made by his predecessors, and during his term, much as he wishes it were not so, the U. S. continued to supply Israel with arms and intelligence about the activities of Hamas and Hezbollah.

In my opinion, it is not possible for any Western force, military, economic, political, or otherwise, to arbitrate or resolve the problems of the Middle East.  Those issues date back to before the establishment of Israel (1948), before the British Mandate (1922) that created the political Middle East as we know it; prior to the conquest by the Ottoman Turks (1517); prior to the conquest by the Mongols (1258); prior to the “Crusades” (intermittently from 1096 to 1291); prior to the conquest of Arab lands by the Seljuk Turks (1055); and some of them prior to the establishment of Islam by Mohammed (622).  The Arab tribes fought the invaders; sometimes they joined the invaders, and when not dealing with them, they fought among themselves.  It is no more realistic for a Western power to resolve the hatreds and dissensions of the peoples of the Middle East than for a Buddhist monk to have mediated peace between the medieval Scottish clans.  The Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Persians, comprising various tribes and Islamic sects, will have to fight it out for themselves.  The less we are involved, the better for everyone.  Either Islam goes back to what it was originally (as revived by al Qaeda and ISIS), or it is a private set of rituals and practices independent from civil society.  It is up to the established political and military forces in the region to resolve this on their own.

It seems to me then, that Mr. Bush’s policy, following President Wilson’s moronic mandate to make everyplace “safe for democracy”, was destined for failure. The people of the Middle East do not want democracy, nor do they want freedom (other than to kill their enemies, real or imagined); nor are they ready for it.  Mr. Obama, despite his protests to the contrary, continued Mr. Bush’s policy in many regards.

Mr. Obama’s policy of withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq was the correct policy: but he failed to anticipate the civil wars that would naturally result.  Then he went back on the policy, getting involved once more by sending U. S. forces there and initiating numerous drone strikes against ISIS.  Mr. Obama was correct to ignore the uprising in Iran in 2009; he was correct in ignoring the rebels in Syria.  He was wrong to announce a red line against the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and then doing nothing when Assad crossed it.  He was wrong when he allowed the nitwit Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to instigate the revolt against Libyan President Ghaddaffi and his ultimate removal.  The correct policy for the U. S. in the Middle East is to protect Israel as much as practical, and let the rest of them fight it out.  If that battle spills over onto U. S. territories, then, and only then, should the U. S. get involved, and in doing so, make the entire region a free-fire zone.  As Westerners, we are finding it difficult to treat Oriental peoples in terms they understand: brute force, tyranny, and death.  Mr. Obama’s policies failed because he wanted it both ways: to withdraw, but at the same time prevent the Arabs from doing what comes to them naturally.

Mr. Obama’s tilt toward Iran and the “nuclear deal” appears to have been done purely as a political claim of “having done something”; nothing was gained by it.

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 10

ObamaLegacyPart10   <– PDF

Continuing an analysis of Mr. Obama’s Middle East policy, it is obvious that he, like his predecessor Mr. Bush, failed to understand the source of “Islamic terrorism”.  Actually, it is worse than that.  At least Mr. Bush was willing to call it what it was: a certain branch of Islam that adheres to the original definition of ‘jihad’ as handed down by the Prophet Mohammed and his immediate successors.  That is, anyone who is not a particular type of devout Moslem has to be killed in the service of Allah.  Mr. Obama, sympathetic to Islam, and also convinced that America is first and foremost an oppressor and exploiter nation, declined to admit that the problem was even related to the Islamic religion.  Instead, he and the members of his administration referred to the work of al Qaeda and ISIS using euphemisms such as ‘workplace violence’, ‘personal issues’, ‘hate crimes’, or whatever he could get the compliant media to repeat.  He went so far at one point to deny that ISIS (which established an Islamic Caliphate) was even Islamic.

The incorrect policy pursued by Mr. Obama, imitating somewhat the policy of Mr. Bush, was to enlist the Arab nations in a coalition against the terrorist group. As expected, none of them did much.  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not part of the solution to Islamic based terrorism. Saudi Arabia is the problem with Islamic terrorism.  The Saudi royal family maintains it power by allowing the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam to control the subjects by a religious secret police that also controls the legal system and the education system.  (The Wahhabi’s prefer to be called Salafi.) The Saudi royal family supports and defends the Wahhabi sect as the de facto national religion and in return the Wahhabi’s educate the subjects that they are obligated to support the House of Saud.

The Wahhabi sect is the one branch of Islamic “theology” that has revived the original definition of ‘jihad’ as a viable political and religious system, hence the cause by Al Qaeda, ISIS, and many other like groups to enforce their objectives: a) kill as many Jewish people as possible; b) force the U. S. and other Western nations out of Middle Eastern affairs; c) establish a Caliphate to emulate the grand position once held by the early successors of the Prophet Mohammed (they had conquered vast tracts of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Spain); and d) use the power of the Caliphate to kill anyone who embraced any other system of faith, starting with Christians. To do that, it is necessary for them to gain control of the Middle East using the terror methods to intimidate the Arab dictatorships, whom they accuse of being too closely aligned with the evil West.  It is notable that they have never attempted any terrorist activity inside Saudi Arabia: it is too soon to attack their current protectors.  The Saudi royal family claimed to be opposed to ISIS, but they never put a division in the field or a squadron in the air against them.

Mr. Obama’s policy of tilting toward Iran as an American favorite was poorly received in Saudi Arabia, as Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia regard each other as mortal enemies.  But the capitulation to Iran’s demands did not deter Mr. Obama from continuing to advocate for weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as confirmations of security agreements made in the past.  Why did he do that?  Because ISIS had gotten stronger in late 2013 and early 2014, and started making noises that they might like to attack Saudi Arabia and remove the royal family.  The House of Saud realized there was no prospect of an alliance with ISIS so they turned to the U. S. for protection, and Mr. Obama came through.  He then began to attack ISIS positions and towns controlled by ISIS, and with it the inevitable collateral damage in the form of civilian casualties.  Those casualties only served ISIS’ propaganda methods, by which they induced more young impressionable idiots to join with them and fight against America, the great Christian evil.

In the end, Mr. Obama he affirmed that the Saudi policy of supporting Wahhabism has no opponents in his administration. On the other hand, his support for Iran and his reluctance to attack Syrian President Assad made the Saudi regime uneasy.  In other words, Mr. Obama acted against a traditional ally’s interests, while ingratiating himself with Iran, Saudi’s greatest enemy.  He dug himself deeper into the moral and political cesspool known as the Middle East, reducing the U. S. to a position of being hated as either an infidel or an unreliable enemy.  Meanwhile, Wahhabism continues to be endorsed by the Saudi regime.

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