Enlightened Conflict

skittles and safety

September 21st, 2016


Donald Trump Jr. sent out this tweet last night:




<note: the actual metaphor, to be accurate, would actually be 10,000,000+ skittles and one poisoned>


I have seen it before.


And I have heard the same point made on talk radio with regard to USA accepting refugees.


I will not comment on the fact that 80% of domestic terrorism is conducted by non Muslims.


I will not comment on the fact that 1 immigrant has been convicted of a terrorism crime since 9/11.


I will not comment on the fact that recent terror acts were conducted by legal citizens.


I get fear.

I get national security.


I get terrorism is named terrorism because it creates terror.


I get the link between ‘permitting immigrants/refugees in to a country’ increases some risk of security <albeit a small risk as compared to the risks of everyday life like driving, crossing a street or drinking>.


I have one thing to say to everyone, which will be controversial, but reflects the liberty freedomnotfortimidthumbthought of one of the framers of our country and constitution:




“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”


Benjamin Franklin





I have one other thing to say to everyone, slightly less controversial, but takes a little more thoughtfulness on the part of everyone to think about the true repercussions … this time from one of our greatest presidents:



“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”



Abraham Lincoln





Here is most likely the most unpopular thought I will ever share on this site.


The current American terrorism problem is not an immigration issue, nor a Muslim issue, it is a domestic issue.




Trump, if he actually had half a brain, would recognize that something he is promoting is actually the best possible long term solution to domestic terrorism – jobs, economy and opportunity.

It isn’t about building a wall across from Mexico <which I could point out that almost 80% of illegal immigrants do not come from south of USA>. It isn’t about ceasing immigrants from any country <and, yes, you continue vetting and stringent processing>. It isn’t about not accepting refugees.


It is about making any possible disaffected citizens not become disaffected.


It is about insuring everyone has the potential for some level of prosperity if they work hard.


It is about insuring there are good, fair jobs for everyone who wants to work hard.


Happier citizens who believe the country they live in provides fair opportunity do not conduct terrorist acts.


I could argue, and I would, that people come to America to be an American, accept the freedoms America has to offer and is more than willing to live by constitutional law <which is about the only ‘test’ that matters>.


If America lives up to its side of the bargain then the people who come have no desire to be receptive to someone suggesting where they are living is not a ‘good’ place.



wrong stupid

The skittles metaphor is stupid and shows a lack of understanding.


I don’t need a candy metaphor … if you want to debate what it may mean to allow 10,000 refugees in to a country and the possible risk … just tell me.


But suggesting real people are skittles is just stupid and shows an incredible lack of awareness.


It doesn’t reflect a ‘smart mind’ <coming up with some visual metaphor> but rather shows a lazy mind who cannot grasp how to properly articulate an issue and have the intellectual strength to debate it on its own merits.


In the end it seemed appropriate to offer words I wrote back in My 2013:


Liberty is a choice. And with that choice comes some responsibility … and some broad boundaries … an expansive circle as it were.

And certainly some uneasiness within that wide open space … that tumultuous sea.

And unequivocally some fear because of its broadness.

In the end … the enemy of liberty is fear & ignorance.

Therefore to enable liberty there must remain the courage in all of us to accept it even with its imperfections.

Sadly the cost of having true liberty may be lives.

But the true tragedy would be if the cost of liberty was our freedom.

It seems to me that the biggest tragedy would be to have lost lives, people who most likely embraced the full liberty America had to offer, as a means, or an excuse, to kill or restrain liberty.




Impose our will

November 21st, 2015




This is about terrorism, accepting refugees and how politicians mismanage truth <and are crappy leaders> and how to battle terrorists has less to do with guns & bombs and more to do with “will.”

fear will lose terror


As a French leader said …

“… as a nation we take risks, we expose ourselves and we face these risks and what they mean at home.”


“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Ben Franklin


“I think our culture encourages all of us to always put our best foot forward.

I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s nice to rise to the occasion, to be kind and considerate, and have self control.”

Amy Grant




chaos and safetySo.



America and Americans are currently having an important discussion, a prudent discussion, about safety of citizens. And, yet, at the same time there is an overflow of fear driving normally rational people to not only start believing irrational things but saying irrational things.


Americans politicians are vying for votes rather than standing up and speaking the truth.


The American president says the truth, and in principle I agree with the policy and American stance he speaks, but am sorely disappointed in the decision to not calm the people but rather chastise the loud irrational voices of supposed leaders stoking irrational fear.



I wish maybe some of our country elders would have listened to a young Parisian couple who were interviewed … the young man when asked if he was afraid and what he plans on doing from here on out … “they are attempting to impose their will upon us … we will impose our will upon them.”



To be clear.


The young man is not in the military. His idea of ‘imposing will’ was not military but rather to show what we have is better than what you have, what we have cannot be broken by you because we believe in it and what we have is bigger than anything you can say or do.



Show our will is stronger than their will.


Show that our idea is stronger and better than their idea.



That is the message American leaders should be shouting at the top of their lungs … not suggesting we should fear terrorists and terrorism.


responsibility does not matter but it does

While we must always seek to find constructive solutions for our security there must be some responsibility in the choice of words.



There shouldn’t be any room for ‘blaming untrue flaws in an existing system’ or ‘weakness in conviction’ or just blaming in general.






But we are in a cover-your-ass world where the government is made up primarily of asses. From here on out all they will be suggesting is more bureaucracy so that when there is an act of terrorism <because at some point you have to assume something will happen> they can place blame on someone.



We know that truth is always the first casualty in a conflict like this and lies thrive up to a point where truth and lie cannot be differentiated. I guess I just never thought supposed leaders of our country would perpetuate the lies.



Interestingly, while nationally high government representatives are sounding like idiots … at the local level Mayors are standing up one by one being incredibly mature and calm and reasonable. They are the ones standing up for the refugees in their community. They are the ones standing up suggesting fear will not dictate their behavior.





Terrorism will not destroy France. Shit. It will not destroy any country outside the Middle East. Just start getting it into your head you will never see the Isis black flag flying over any Western Capital.
As a foreign policy expert <Stephen M Walt> said in Foreign Affairs magazine … Isis neither has an ideology contagious enough to topple stable governments through popular revolution, nor the firepower to spread its ideas through conquest. Isis, in other words, poses no existential threat to the western world.





Mostly because this topic is one I have been dealing with a lot in email exchanges with friends let me share some of the email responses I have slammed out lately:



– Control <is ISIL being controlled>.



damage-controlIf everyone would get their heads out of their asses they would note that desperate people do desperate things.

ISIL has been controlled on the ground therefore they have to lash out doing other things to make people think they are still powerful. They aren’t going anywhere on the ground in the middle east … and they never will. But they needed to be shoved back in their corner until someone other than European and west countries went on the ground to take them on.


If anyone thinks that when the president said “control” he meant ‘terrorism’ … well … they are silly. He was referring to on the ground. But, I would point out, that terrorism at best can only be controlled and individual events are almost impossible to stop 100%.



But … as Anthony Cordesman, a former government security and intelligence analyst now based at the Center for Strategic and Intelligence Studies points out …. “you have a posturing contest … everyone wants instant progress in complex areas where you can’t achieve it.”



Here is some Truth.

Over the past year ISIL has gone from the offense to the defense, has lost territory and had forces reduced. That sure seems like having a positive effect, or ‘controlling’, to me.



One last point <which no one wants to say in public>.



The more successful the on-the-ground action is against ISIL the more likely there will be more terrorist activity.


Sorry. The truth.

Losers get desperate when they start losing.




– JV <is ISIL the JV team>.




ISIL are the JV.


lovers quarrel life and me

If a real military became involved …. (Me being ISIL)

They have no air force. They have no main artillery. They are maybe 35000 fighting force at best. They are guerilla fighters using fear to maintain whatever ground they have. They would be crushed if Turkey military <alone> stepped in. They would be crushed if Egypt military <alone> would step in.

They would be crushed if any real military force was invited on the ground to take them on.


We don’t need a coalition on the ground to beat them … we just need a coalition to support what on the ground Muslim forces may need is what needs to happen <for long term USA security>.



Our policy isn’t a disaster … Syria is a disaster.


There is nothing … and I mean nothing we can do to kill the problem. Muslims need to squeeze out extremist radical Muslims. There is a civil war in the country where there are 4 sides. Please tell me how we can pick a ‘side’ and come out with better security for us <someone will be pissed off at us>.




– Civil War.



This is the part no one seems to discuss when bitching about ‘why don’t other Muslim countries do something.”

middle east complexity terror

First. It is Syria & Libya’s problem to the other countries. They know it isn’t a real issue to them because the moment ISIL steps over the border they can crush them.


Second. You cannot invade another country <which is what one of these countries would be doing if they intervened> … well … you could … but the precedent would be one none of these countries would like to establish. In our own civil war other countries did not intervene and on occasion provided some support economically but certainly not on the ground. Unless Assad <or one of the anti-assad forces> requested Egypt or Saudi Arabia to come into their country they almost cannot. And Turkey? Yikes. We, and they, are fucked in that we cannot support the Kurds because the moment we do they will turn around and start fighting Turkey for their freedom … and if Turkey steps in they almost have to fight the Kurds & ISIL.


As for fighting age men leaving and not fighting for their country?



What is their country? You could join the Kurds and fight ISIL and get bombed by Turkey as you do so. You could join the rebels, get some guns and weapon support from UK/USA and fight ISIL … and get bombed by Russia and fight a rear guard action with Assad. You could join the Assad forces and fight ISIL … well … only if your commanders weren’t aiming you toward the Kurds & the rebels.


There are 4 distinct effective fighting forces in the area … and I haven’t even mentioned the Western coalition. If I had a family … heck … even if I didn’t … I would also want to leave the country.



– Refugees.



This is embarrassing to not take them. This is like Ebola all over again. We Americans running around like chickens with our heads cut off scared that ‘the rest of the world will take us down’ and that our ‘systems were so flawed that people need to be fired they are so ineffective.’Controversy Continues To Swirl Around Erection Of Mosque Near Ground Zero

Christ. Germany makes us look stupid. Lebanon makes us look stupid. France makes us look stupid <as they just committed to taking in another 30,000 refugees>.


Our vetting system isn’t what many people say is “perfect” … well … it will never be perfect and it never was. Yet. It is possibly the most stringent vetting immigration policy in the world.


Just as with the Ebola fear when politicians started pontificating about a CDC with lack of control and the reality was America already had a stellar system for managing a horrible disease our refugee immigration vetting process is solid and difficult for any terrorist to navigate.


And the new vetting process being voted on?

C’mon. Politics at its worst.

It is unclear how much more difficult the new legislation would make the process for admitting refugees. Applicants already face daunting hurdles to admission, including in-person interviews with homeland security officials and background checks by multiple agencies, in a process that typically takes 18-24 months.

In my eyes the only thing the new legislation does is demand more bureaucracy so that if there is a terrorist act someone will be clearly blamed <and not the congress>.



But such a fear is misguided because the process of relocating refugees to America is very different from the way that refugees currently arrive in Europe. Syrians flown to the US will be the most heavily vetted group of people currently allowed into the US, according to the State Department.
Each candidate is vetted first by the UN’s refugee agency, and then separately by officials from the State Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department. The process takes between 18 months and two years.

<source: The Guardian>



In addition.

The refugees the US takes in are among the most vulnerable in the Syrian conflict. Most are women and their children, others are religious minorities and victims of violence and the majority represent families.



Lebanon, whose population was previously an estimated 4.5 million, now has a Syrian refugee population of roughly 1.2 million – meaning that around one in five Lebanese residents is a Syrian refugee. Turkey, which houses more Syrian refugees than any other country, has welcomed 2 million, or 2.67% of its total population of 75 million.



I would also like to point out it is almost laughable we harangue about immigrants when even in Paris the terrorists were citizens of their own European countries.

As for the USA? We cannot handle our own citizens from killing us <you are more likely to be killed by an American citizen in today’s world than any terrorist … shit … you are more likely to be killed by a piece of furniture>.


And, please, what an insult to our immigration department … does anyone think they don’t know the pressure they are under and haven’t taken steps to be overly careful? It is an insult to them.


If anyone wants to be driven by fear than simply let refugees come but turn away anyone you may have some doubts about. But stopping people in need?


Please. Please everyone… if it were you & your family … and America was your vision of what the world was supposed to be … and they turned you away … tell me how you would explain that to yourself.



One last note on refugees.


Since 9/11 America has taken in 784,395 refugees … and exactly 3 have been arrested on terrorism charges. It appears the refugee immigration vetting process does pretty well.



– Our long game policy.

islam expression antii west


Our president may not attitudinally communicate the way I like all the time but the administration policy and strategy is solid and well thought out. They see the long game.
Short term steps are fraught with peril. I am all for being a humanitarian but it is a civil war in which choosing sides is not only difficult but because of the religious ideologies we cannot win in any choice if we use military.


This is not our on-the-ground fight.


In fact … as soon as we go on the ground we increase the likelihood of short term terrorism as well as long term terrorism. Plus, frankly, you cannot stop terrorism … you can only control it. And what I mean by that is every decade and every generation has some terrorist wackjob group who indiscriminately kills people. To imply that simply because they are wackjobs that they are stupid is … well … stupid. They aren’t stupid <although they have a stupid view of their own religion>.


We just have more resources therefore we can overcome 99% of the time even the smartest of the wackjobs. But 1% is 1%. And 1% can hurt a lot when they have a smart moment and overcome the resources.



– Russia.




What about Russia <and the supposed ‘being stronger than America in leadership’>.




Russia is in a different spot <and they play by different morality rules>.


First. They have no long standing relationships in the Middle East and they seek to establish one … so supporting Assad is an avenue in.


Second. By doing something to try and squash extremists in middle east they send a message to their own significant Muslim community that Putin will not hesitate to try and squash them.


But. I would point out that Russia is doing nothing that we, and the rest of the coalition, has been doing for quite some time. The media makes it sound like before Russia entered nothing was happening. Where Russia has been different is that their military skills and technology is not as good as America’s so they are less accurate and end up killing more hospitals and civilians without making any more damage to ISIL.


Russia is playing a dangerous game in which they can either win big or lose big.


Whoever proclaims which one it will be today is only guessing <albeit they will claim foresight in the end>.



– Muslim responsibility


pew muslim attitudes




Here is one part of the speech President Obama gave in Turkey that was overlooked as Republicans came out of the woodwork crying “foul” after he chastised them:



[T]o the degree that anyone would equate the terrible actions that took place in Paris with the views of Islam, those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive.

They’re wrong. They will lead, I think, to greater recruitment into terrorist organizations over time if this becomes somehow defined as a Muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem.

Now, what is also true is, is that the most vicious terrorist organizations at the moment are ones that claim to be speaking on behalf of true Muslims. And I do think that Muslims around the world—religious leaders, political leaders, ordinary people—have to ask very serious questions about how did these extremist ideologies take root, even if it’s only affecting a very small fraction of the population. It is real and it is dangerous.

And it has built up over time, and with social media it has now accelerated.

And so I think, on the one hand, non-Muslims cannot stereotype, but I also think the Muslim community has to think about how we make sure that children are not being infected with this twisted notion that somehow they can kill innocent people and that that is justified by religion. And to some degree, that is something that has to come from within the Muslim community itself.

And I think there have been times where there has not been enough pushback against extremism. There’s been pushback—there are some who say, well, we don’t believe in violence, but are not as willing to challenge some of the extremist thoughts or rationales for why Muslims feel oppressed. And I think those ideas have to be challenged.




While everyone seems to want to ignore this and bash the president … this is a statement of judgement <which many suggest Obama hesitates to do> as well as a clear statement with regard to a solution <albeit a difficult solution>.



Here is what I imagine the Muslim world has to grapple with.


Any war against terrorism is not against the religion of Islam … yet … the fate of their religion is at stake with any war. For Muslim leaders to stand to the side takes destiny of what they truly believe in the most … out of their hands.


That does seem … well … not only irresponsible but fairly un-self-serving in a situation where it would behoove them to actually be self serving.






Let me be clear.


Prudent thoughtful security of one’s homeland is imperative and first criteria for action <or inaction>.

lead the way print



If there is a clear target that can be eliminated … and that eliminates the issue and idea which creates the issue … I would be one of the first to say “send military.”




Ideas cannot be killed, nor do they shed blood … only people do. Isis and the idea that motivates its members cannot be eradicated through bombs.





Great countries are not driven by actions of fear. The moment you let fear dictate your actions you have sacrificed liberty <that is a bastardization of something Ben Franklin said>.


We need to tell people what we need … not what we want. Especially when fear is running rampant. People do not make clear decisions when driven by fear.



… “they are attempting to impose their will upon us … we will impose our will upon them.”






Even one death from terrorism is a tragedy … let alone 130.






Some perspective on the current “terrorism fear mongering” <based on 2011 CDC stats>



You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from terrorism.

religion terrorismYou are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack.

You are 5,882 times more likely to die from medical error than terrorism.

You are 4,706 times more likely to drink yourself to death than die from terrorism.

You are 2,059 times more likely to kill yourself than die at the hand of a terrorist.

You are 1,904 times more likely to die from a car accident than from terrorism.

You are 1200 times more likely to be killed buy a US gun owner than a terrorist.

You are 452 times more likely to die from risky sexual behavior than terrorism.

You are 353 times more likely to fall to your death than die by terrorism.

You are 271 times more likely to die from a workplace accident than terrorism.

You are 187 times more likely to starve to death in US than be killed by terrorism.

You are 22 times more likely to die from a brain – zombie parasite than a terrorist.

You are 9 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than by a terrorist.

Obesity is 5,882 times more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

Prescription drugs are 1000 times more likely to kill you than a terrorist.



===    article on whether Americans should fear an attack    ===



the price of the tempestuous sea of liberty

May 14th, 2013




liberty freedomnotfortimidthumb

Liberty is certainly not for the timid.



“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”


Benjamin Franklin






The actions committed by the Boston marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, were cowardly, heinous and unforgivable.

Four people dead and over 150 wounded.



This is certainly not the first time that homicidal killers have attacked a major American city.


In 2002, Washington DC was terrorized by two  snipers, who randomly shot and killed 10 people. In February, an unhappy police officer murdered four people over several days in Los Angeles.


I would also note that on the same day as the Boston tragedy I believe 30+ other people were killed in America because of some type of violence.




I say this not to diminish the Boston tragedy but rather instead to suggest we fight this battle every day.


We are constantly at war with those who attack liberty.


Liberty is certainly not for the timid.


We cannot allow ourselves to be easily and willingly cowed by the threat of terrorism.


We cannot allow fears for temporary safety permit us to be timid with liberty.


It would be easy to begin increasing restrictions, surveillance, and oversight of the citizenship under the overall <good> guise of safety.


I do believe people deserve to not actually feel safe … but also to be safe. But I say that also with an eye toward ‘we cannot always be 100% safe.’


It can easily go beyond punishing everyone for the evil transgressions of a few to punishing the foundation of liberty. We should be seeking to remain vigilant without superseding liberty.


Liberty is not for the timid.


“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”

George Washington


American liberty, democracy, is all about the freedom of citizens to speak their mind, choose their leaders, demand their rights, be valued entities in their society and be different <think and believe different thoughts>.


Now … democracy, to be truly effective, must be rooted in the hearts and souls of each individual within that citizenship.


But here is an uncomfortable <and unsafe> truth.



Within a citizenship of over 300million people not only are the roots going to vary <depth & breadth of belief> but also the simple meaning of democracy <how it is defined> will be different in each individual.


Some will abuse it.


That is a fact.


That is an unfortunate truth.


That means people will get hurt on occasion.


And that also does not mean we can deprive people of liberty because we ‘think’ they will abuse it.




This is difficult.


And it makes you feel unsafe even thinking it.



There is a natural inherent risk in democracy and liberty.


Because this means we need to stop seeing ‘enemies’ everywhere … even though they may truly be everywhere.


Liberty is certainly not for the timid.



“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. liberty under_water

But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” 


Alexis de Tocqueville



A democracy seeks equality in liberty.


For good or for bad. The highs and the lows <of the people making up that society>.


I do not suggest this lightly … for death is a very high price to pay.


I am certainly not suggesting senseless sacrifice of life. Nor am I suggesting losing life through the ineptitude and irresponsibility of practical monitoring of the citizenship and its safety <note: I am not suggesting that anyone did that in the Boston tragedy>.


Nor am I suggesting any perpetrators of violence should not be pursued to the full extent of the law.


I am suggesting that sacrificing life for liberty … well … that I, personally, would do.


Restraint and servitude are not characteristics of democracy and the liberty our forefathers foresaw for the country’s citizens.


Freedom means … well … freedom.


“… what we call freedom … it is necessary to determine the justice or injustice of this phrase. Try to draw a circle with the ‘free’ hand, and with a single line. You cannot do it of your hand trembles, nor if it hesitates, nor if it is unmanageable, nor if it is in the common sense of the word ‘free.’ So far from being free , it must be under control as absolute and accurate as if it were fastened to an inflexible bar of steel. And yet it must move, under this necessary control, with perfect, untormented serenity of ease.”

<1905 Evolution of Expression>



The circle must be drawn with a strong hand. And, yet, it must be absolute and accurate true with its intent. The circle, drawn with intent, does not wax and wane with fear or the thought of ‘what could happen.’ It remains resolute in its space.


Restricting liberty is not, should not, be what democracy & freedom is defined by.


Will some people abuse a broad definition of liberty? Absolutely.


Should they pay the price for that abuse? Absolutely.


<unfortunately> Will others pay the price when those few abuse it? Absolutely.


Does that mean we should restrict liberty? Absolutely not.


Liberty is not for the timid.




The tempestuous sea.


That sea called liberty.


“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”

Thomas Jefferson


liberty Tempestuous Thomas


Every day, week, year, decade … whatever … we are buffeted on this sea of liberty. That is the challenge liberty to gives us all. We get tugged this way and that way by waves of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ but our intent is to remain afloat … and not sink. Sink to tyranny or fear or … well … lack of liberty.


“It is of small importance to any of us whether we get liberty; but of the greatest that we deserve it.

Whether we can win it, fate must determine; but that we will be worthy of it we may ourselves determine; and the sorrowfullest fate of all that we can suffer is to have it without deserving it.”

<1905 Evolution of Expression>


Oh my.  “… that we will be worthy of it we may ourselves determine.” Yes. We <the people> determine whether we are worthy of Liberty.




A mistake <to me>?


Seeking absolute calm or safety. And I fully recognize that we could end up debating what constitutes ‘absolute’ or ‘acceptable’ and what a citizenship deserves.


All I suggest is that we remember Liberty rarely equals safety or calmness.


It most often provides the turmoil of great minds and great thinking and … well … greatness.


Is it an uncomfortable greatness? Surely.


It is the greatness insured by not remaining stagnant despite the temptation to find some calmness in the tempest.


Not a mistake <to me>?


Freedom and equality.


Liberty is a choice. And with that choice comes some responsibility … and some broad boundaries … an expansive circle as it were.


And certainly some uneasiness within that wide open space … that tumultuous sea.


And unequivocally some fear because of its broadness.


In the end … the enemy of liberty is fear & ignorance.


Therefore to enable liberty there must remain the courage in all of us to accept it even with its imperfections.


Sadly the cost of having true liberty may be lives.constitution-we-the-people-american-01


But the true tragedy would be if the cost of liberty was our freedom.

It seems to me that the biggest tragedy would be to have lost lives, which most likely embraced the full liberty America had to offer, as means to kill or restrain liberty.


Harsh words? Maybe.




Liberty is certainly not for the timid.

Enlightened Conflict