Category Archives: law, democracy, politics, economy, The American Way

Book Review: The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Book Review: The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

What I liked.

This is a smart story. It’s action packed for those who like the genre. It is also suspenseful and stuffed with dramatic confrontations. It isn’t just smartly told. The prose is easy to follow with a good bit of humor for such a serious subject, an act of cyber warfare on the United States. This is one of the highly charged current topics up for debate as the modern world becomes more and more dependent on artificial intelligence and we realize how much of the essentials we take for granted are interconnected in an invisible cyberspace that has little, if any, existence in a tangible form.

Why is this an important issue all of us should think about? Here are some reasons. How much money do you have? What is the source of your income? Your savings? Your investments? Your health benefits? What physical proof of them exists? How much of our basic needs, water, electricity, communication, depend on the electronic grids that help facilitate them? How vulnerable are we individually and collectively as a society if we do not protect them well enough from potential enemies?

All of these ideas and more are addressed in this novel. But it’s all done in a very entertaining fashion. It doesn’t preach, lecture, or promote an ideologically biased point of view. It delivers the news. Then lets you, the reader figure things out for yourself.

On a deeper level the story is strong in the way it touches on key themes such as trust, integrity, political animosity, and prejudice. I applaud that effort because I think it’s true that if we don’t work on removing stereotypes and establish priorities that put the common interests of most people first so that we avoid trying to create winners and losers in every important area, we may wake up to find out that we have already lost what few other nations have ever had, a secure republic that works for every American who is willing to work hard to live with liberty and pursue what makes them happy.

What I didn’t like.

Some of the characters were not developed well at all. They were primarily present to move the plot along without delving deep enough into their motives or moral dilemmas. I’m not sure they even had any! So the problems a world power like the U.S. faces from external threats aren’t going to be fixed by such a simplistic worldview that is barely defined. I will admit that we have to figure out our internal problems before we can best understand foreign threats. So I hope the next novel following this, if there is one, makes an effort to look at where our enemies come from and what we can do to mitigate their creation.

What you should know.

This is a book for the average everyday reader. It isn’t full of technical, high level complexity. Although it has a message that everyone should consider. There is nothing wrong with simplifying things in order to make the story more enjoyable for most. If you are looking for the intricate details found in some of the more intellectual offerings from other authors, try not to be too disappointed. Think of it as a fun summer read.

Recommendation: Must Read

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The most valuable tool in the police officer’s bag.

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Photo by Dom J on Pexels.com

An item indispensable in its potential to insure the safety of the officer and resolve incidents with people in the field to satisfaction is the officer’s tongue. The words used, when and how they are delivered, the tone of voice, body language, and eye contact are all part of the package. This verbal judo is the most powerful weapon that can be yielded because it has the capability of saving lives without taking lives.

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Photo by Ivan Cujic on Pexels.com

Like all complex tools, it has to be employed in combination to work effectively. An officer must combine verbal skills with training, experience, and problem solving abilities so that each individual circumstance can be given the unique approach it deserves. No two people are alike, and no police encounter is identical, regardless of the similarities or the appearance of ‘routine’ that might imply otherwise.

Most encounters involve persons who are being reactive, they are responding to the actions of the officer. We are not talking about most situations. We have to approach it from the point of view of all situations. Therefore an officer must be objective and avoid making assumptions. This allows for flexibility, so that you can adjust quickly to whatever occurs. One method is for the officer to put themselves in the position of the person they are contacting. “What would I be thinking in this situation?” “What would I do under these circumstances?”

Officers make thousands of public contacts. Overtime they have catalogued a large volume of experiences with criminals whom they have investigated. So in a interaction involving suspected criminal activity, you could substitute the former examples with “What would a person committing a crime be thinking in this situation?” “What might that person do under the circumstances?”

Officers who avail themselves of these techniques are often willing and able to use words as a tool to disarm a potentially threatening contact, to catch someone off balance, to discern whether or not physical force is required. And if physical force is not required, choose a different tact.

One of the things an officer has to prepare for is the mentality of the person who is thinking in the following pattern. Why is the officer talking to me that way? Is he trying to intimidate me? Who does he think I am? Who does he think he is? Why is he being so pushy? Where is the rude attitude coming from? The good news is that the officer can be prepared, and can prevent this person from having a negative interaction.

One final point. Everyday people can have bad days. They can be generally unpleasant. Officers see that and learn to compensate. By the same token, officers can have bad days. Some can be generally unpleasant. Let’s not excuse either of those behaviors. Because those officers find themselves all too often in situations that go bad, and everybody loses when that happens.

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Prepared text of the 2016 Stanford Commencement address by Ken Burns | Stanford News

 

Excerpt of Ken Burns Stanford Commencement Address

Our spurious sovereignty is reinforced and perpetually underscored to our obvious and great comfort, but this kind of existence actually ingrains in us a stultifying sameness that rewards conformity (not courage), ignorance and anti-intellectualism (not critical thinking). This wouldn’t be so bad if we were just wasting our own lives, but this year our political future depends on it. And there comes a time when I – and you – can no longer remain neutral, silent. We must speak up – and speak out.

“We must remain committed to the kindness and community that are the hallmarks of civilization.”

—KEN BURNS

For 216 years, our elections, though bitterly contested, have featured the philosophies and character of candidates who were clearly qualified. That is not the case this year. One is glaringly not qualified. So before you do anything with your well-earned degree, you must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house, to fight against, no matter your political persuasion, the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much maligned but subtle art of governance; who is against lots of things, but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offering only bombastic and contradictory promises, and terrifying Orwellian statements; a person who easily lies, creating an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter; who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment; who insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and all Muslims; a man who took more than a day to remember to disavow a supporter who advocates white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan; an infantile, bullying man who, depending on his mood, is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships. I feel genuine sorrow for the understandably scared and – they feel – powerless people who have flocked to his campaign in the mistaken belief that – as often happens on TV – a wand can be waved and every complicated problem can be solved with the simplest of solutions. They can’t. It is a political Ponzi scheme. And asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.

As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers,always making the other wrong. These are all virulent strains that have at times infected us in the past. But they now loom in front of us again – all happening at once. We know from our history books that these are the diseases of ancient and now fallen empires. The sense of commonwealth, of shared sacrifice, of trust, so much a part of American life, is eroding fast, spurred along and amplified by an amoral Internet that permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.

We no longer have the luxury of neutrality or “balance,” or even of bemused disdain. Many of our media institutions have largely failed to expose this charlatan, torn between a nagging responsibility to good journalism and the big ratings a media circus always delivers. In fact, they have given him the abundant airtime he so desperately craves, so much so that it has actually worn down our natural human revulsion to this kind of behavior. Hey, he’s rich; he must be doing something right. He is not. Edward R. Murrow would have exposed this naked emperor months ago. He is an insult to our history. Do not be deceived by his momentary “good behavior.” It is only a spoiled, misbehaving child hoping somehow to still have dessert.

And do not think that the tragedy in Orlando underscores his points. It does not. We must “disenthrall ourselves,” as Abraham Lincoln said, from the culture of violence and guns. And then “we shall save our country.”

This is not a liberal or conservative issue, a red state, blue state divide. This is an American issue. Many honorable people, including the last two Republican presidents, members of the party of Abraham Lincoln, have declined to support him. And I implore those “Vichy Republicans” who haveendorsed him to please, please reconsider. We must remain committed to the kindness and community that are the hallmarks of civilization and reject the troubling, unfiltered Tourette’s of his tribalism.

The next few months of your “commencement,” that is to say, your future, will be critical to the survival of our Republic. “The occasion is piled high with difficulty.” Let us pledge here today that we will not let this happen to the exquisite, yet deeply flawed, land we all love and cherish – and hope to leave intact to our posterity. Let us “nobly save,” not “meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

Let me speak directly to the graduating class. Watch out. Here comes the advice.

Look. I am the father of four daughters. If someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, take it effing seriously. And listen to them! Maybe, some day, we will make the survivor’s eloquent statement as important as Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Try not to make the other wrong, as I just did with that “presumptive” nominee. Be for something.

Be curious, not cool. Feed your soul, too. Every day.

Remember, insecurity makes liars of us all. Not just presidential candidates.

Don’t confuse success with excellence. The poet Robert Penn Warren once told me that “careerism is death.”

Do not descend too deeply into specialism either. Educate all of your parts. You will be healthier.

Free yourselves from the limitations of the binary world. It is just a tool. A means, not an end.

Seek out – and have – mentors. Listen to them. The late theatrical director Tyrone Guthrie once said, “We are looking for ideas large enough to be afraid of again.” Embrace those new ideas. Bite off more than you can chew.

Travel. Do not get stuck in one place. Visit our national parks. Their sheer majesty may remind you of your own “atomic insignificance,” as one observer noted, but in the inscrutable ways of Nature, you will feel larger, inspirited, just as the egotist in our midst is diminished by his or her self-regard.

Insist on heroes. And be one.

Read. The book is still the greatest manmade machine of all – not the car, not the TV, not the smartphone.

Make babies. One of the greatest things that will happen to you is that you will have to worry – I mean really worry – about someone other than yourself. It is liberating and exhilarating. I promise. Ask your parents.

Do not lose your enthusiasm. In its Greek etymology, the word enthusiasm means simply, “God in us.”

Serve your country. Insist that we fight the right wars. Convince your government, as Lincoln knew, that the real threat always and still comes from within this favored land. Governments always forget that.

Insist that we support science and the arts, especially the arts. They have nothing to do with the actual defense of our country – they just make our country worth defending.

Believe, as Arthur Miller told me in an interview for my very first film on the Brooklyn Bridge, “believe, that maybe you too could add something that would last and be beautiful.”

And vote. You indelibly underscore your citizenship – and our connection with each other – when you do.

Good luck. And Godspeed.

 

Text of Commencement address

Source: Prepared text of the 2016 Stanford Commencement address by Ken Burns | Stanford News

Who We Are – Better For America

Source: Who We Are – Better For America

America can do better. America deserves better.

The country deserves an independent presidential candidate who is better for America. Our mission is to get a credible candidate on the ballot, presenting the nation with a third party option who changes the historically bad choice we’re facing this fall. We need to unite around a candidate who will bring us together and lead this already great nation into the future.

Americans still believe that our country is capable of greatness and that our children deserve leaders they can look up to. They deserve a president who represents the dynamism, diversity, and deeply held virtues of the United States.

This election is a unique American moment. The electorate has shown historic levels of dissatisfaction with the two major party nominees. According to a recent poll, the majority of American voters (including 90% of millennials) want to see an independent candidate run. Nearly two-thirds of Americans said they are willing to support an independent candidate.

Fortune Magazine Article: No Labels and America Let’s Continue the Conversation 

A copy of this article that appeared in Fortune Magazine is here in an effort to consider how we might continue the conversation to fix what’s wrong. Go to Nolabels.org for more.

60 Ways to Fix the Economy
Since we launched in 2010, No Labels has had a distinct focus: Bringing America’s leaders together to solve big problems.
For the past two years, No Labels has worked diligently to create a playbook for our next president that represents both good politics and good policy.
Working with our pro-bono partner Deloitte Consulting, No Labels conducted almost 20 policy workshops featuring policy experts, former senior government and military officials, and business and community leaders from across the political spectrum. Along the way we researched, debated and discussed hundreds of discrete policy proposals in areas including tax, budget, health care, Social Security and Medicare, investment and innovation, energy, education and regulation.
If an idea was deemed good policy in our workshops, No Labels took it straight to the people, conducting national polling to survey the American people’s feelings on strategic choices facing the country.
The end result is the No Labels Policy Playbook For America’s Next President, featuring 60 ideas, the vast majority of which poll above 60% overall and at least 50% among Democrats, Republicans and independents.
All 60 ideas are designed to help America reach four national goals focused on job creation, balancing the budget, securing Social Security and Medicare and achieving energy security.

GOAL #1: Create 25 Million New Jobs in the Next 10 Years
The Great Recession of 2008-2009 was so deep and damaging that total employment in the U.S. did not return to its pre-recession peak until May 2014. The American job market is in better shape than people think, with the U.S. unemployment rate dipping below 5% in 2016 and wages growing at the fastest rate in six years. But our next president and Congress can’t get complacent because there are still far too many American families who don’t feel an economic recovery.
Solving this problem will require a more creative and flexible response from the U.S. government—one that focuses on reform of taxes, education, workforce development, regulations and our infrastructure.


The U.S. isn’t sufficiently preparing our students for the job opportunities of the present or the future. College educations are often unaffordable, inaccessible or incomplete for many students. And a number of problems, including lack of effective worker training and expensive childcare, are conspiring to prevent far too many Americans from getting in and staying in the workforce.
The policy ideas below are designed to address all of these issues.

America’s roads, bridges, public transportation systems and electric and broadband infrastructure are in increasingly poor condition. The immigration system, a key component of a healthy economy, is broken. And while most Americans agree we need common sense rules and regulations to protect citizens, preserve our environment and promote public safety, the U.S. regulatory system is increasingly complex and incomprehensible and the costs are adding up.
Here are our ideas for tackling these issues.

GOAL #2: Secure Social Security and Medicare for the Next 75 Years
Social Security and Medicare are true lifelines for tens of millions of Americans. But these lifelines are fraying. Social Security and Medicare are not sustainable on their current trajectories due to the retirement of the enormous Baby Boom generation, falling birth rates and rising health care spending.
There are no easy answers to this challenge. But securing Social Security and Medicare is not impossible. There are a number of relatively modest and gradual changes to how benefits are paid and how these programs are funded that can keep Social Security and Medicare secure.

GOAL #3: Balance the Federal Budget by 2030
If the money we spend as a nation consistently outpace the money we bring in, the burden of our increasing debt—including the interest we pay on it—will crush us.
America’s public debt-to-GDP ratio is around 74%. That’s higher than at any time in U.S. history, except for a short period after World War II, and more than double what it was in 2007. The budget trajectory we’re on is unsustainable and we ignore this warning at our peril. That’s why America’s leaders need to commit to balancing the federal budget by 2030.


GOAL #4: Make America Energy Secure by 2024
In a global economy, the U.S. can’t expect to completely insulate itself from energy markets. What we can do is focus on the priority that really matters, which is energy security.
No Labels defines energy security as freedom from harm to our economy or national security from the energy decisions of other countries or acts of nature.

I lied to myself for years about who my allies were. No more. | RedState

All Americans please read this.  It can happen to you.

Donald Trump is my fault as much as anyone else’s. It started way back in 2009-2010 when the Tea Party erupted on the scene.  At the core of the tea party was a principle that I agreed with so much that I became a conservative activist during that time period. That core was principled, fiscal conservatism and a desire | Read More »

Source: I lied to myself for years about who my allies were. No more. | RedState

Donald Trump Isn’t the ‘Presumptive Nominee’–Not Yet, Anyway | RealClearPolitics

Donald Trump has declared himself, after following up his New York win April 19 with victories in five other Northeastern states Tuesday, the

Source: Donald Trump Isn’t the ‘Presumptive Nominee’–Not Yet, Anyway | RealClearPolitics

Guest Post: A Look At John Kasich by Cindy Lee — LifeLove&Truth

The Medicaid expansion in Ohio helped 500,000+ of Kasich’s constituents, Saved many lives, provided healthcare to 40,000+ poor and unemployed VETERANS, provided drug treatment to keep people out of jail, Provided mental health treatment to thousands some of which would be in Jail, added thousands of new jobs to Ohio and boosted the economy. Kasich…

via Guest Post: A Look At John Kasich by Cindy Lee — LifeLove&Truth

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: New Kasich Presidential Campaign Ad Focuses On His McKees Rocks Roots – New Day For America

A new John Kasich ad released today in Pennsylvania highlights the presidential candidate’s McKees Rocks roots and asserts that he’s the only Republican left in the race who can beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in November. “When [Donald] Trump and [Ted] Cruz whine that Kasich should quit the race, John says YOU quit,” the commercial’s narrator […]

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: New Kasich Presidential Campaign Ad Focuses On His McKees Rocks Roots – New Day For America