Iraq: Oh the Mess We Have Made

Posted by Frankly Francis on June 20, 2014 under Social Issues/Politics | Be the First to Comment

Let me relay to you a conversation that occurred not long after Iraq War I – Desert Storm, but well before America toppled Saddam Hussein:  This was told to me by a stand-up guy regarding a talk that he had with a Prince of the royal family of Kuwait. He asked the Prince what he thought of Saddam Hussein. The Prince said that he thought Hussein was a very bad man, but the only man that could rule Iraq and keep it in check. My guy was more than a little surprised to get this answer. My guy pointed out that Saddam Hussein had invaded the Prince’s country, raped its people and destroyed many things of value. The Prince acknowledged the heavy price paid at Hussein’s hands, but reiterated that Saddam Hussein was still the best man for the job for all concerned.

Now let’s go forward to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the others…all of whom could be tried for war crimes in my opinion. They lied about the weapons of mass destruction – there weren’t any. They lied about Muslim Jihadists being supported by Iraq – there were none (at least there weren’t until we showed up). They asked us, the American people, to believe them in this. Most of us did. Our Republican and Democrat representatives told the administration “bombs away.” The Senate voted 77-23 while the House voted 297-133 in favor of the Iraq War Resolution.

 

Hussein Toppled

 

I remember watching Colin Powell present the administration’s case to the United Nations. Powell was a man that I respected, and still would like to respect, but he really looked strained and uncomfortable making his argument…the way people look when they are saying something they do not believe, but feel compelled to say it anyway. Whatever his reasons, he supported the wrong cause.

 

Powell UN

 

We were told if we didn’t want another imminent 9/11 on our hands that America needed to make a pre-emptive strike against Hussein. From my knowledge of history, virtually all pre-emptive strikes are framed in this manner to justify the action, but the underlying reality is sinister and self serving. We, the People, got swindled by our elected representatives. It was a cowardly act of war – one that will probably shame us forever.

 

Mission Accomplished

 

Funny too in that we had unprecedented world support before we turned our guns on Iraq. What a waste of goodwill.

Now I am hearing self righteous sabre rattling from the chicken hawk right. Now I am hearing “we don’t get fooled again” from the progressive left. Now I am hearing we were never fooled and we told you so from the libertarians.

Personally, on the record, I was opposed to our offensive war against Iraq. The subsequent facts reinforced my belief established in the ‘60’s about our government, which is: the only thing I can believe from our government is that I cannot believe our government.

But I am personally troubled because of one pretty significant reality: We did this thing to Iraq. We created this mess. I do not think that this can be disputed.

For your consideration, like it or not, do we have an ethical obligation to clean-up the mess we made even though we were lied to?

 

Iraq War Cost

 

Benjamin Franklin said, “Wars are not paid for during wartime, the bill comes later.” Though I am far from an expert on the sectarian issues in Iraq, whether we own up to what we did or not, we will probably be paying that bill forever… one way or another.

Frankly,

Francis

I, Libertarian

Posted by Frankly Francis on March 9, 2012 under Social Issues/Politics | Be the First to Comment

In the interest of full disclosure, and as a self diagnostic, I must start by saying that I am a pre-disposed individualist, never much of a joiner, always a rebel of the status quo, never politically correct, and always as true to myself as I can be.   And in spite of how my perspective may sound, I do not take myself too seriously.  Dear Reader, you would be well advised to not take me too seriously either.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect” – Mark Twain

And I must also say that I enjoy freedom of thought and ideas.  I believe that diversity is the thing that makes us the strongest.  So while we may disagree in our beliefs, I welcome discussion that is contrary to my own values.  I am pretty sure that when we interact that way, we are all the better for it.

I was Once a Young Man

While the Vietnam War was going on, I began to suspect that the American ideal I had been trained to believe in was not being practiced.  I took particular interest studying the historical pathway of humanity in learning to live together.  I realized just how revolutionary the Declaration of Independence was.

What a lucky break for me to be born when and where I was!  But when I looked around at my fellow Americans, very few seemed to get it.  And “it” can be best described this way:

“There are those who would say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right.  It is the American dream“- Archibald McLeish

Such a powerful and wonderful thought.  How few of us that have ever revolved around the sun on this planet have had this opportunity?

Instead, I watched America reverting to a centrally controlled government with aspirations of ruling the world, while subjugating its own citizens.

“Don’t it always seem to go, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” – Joni Mitchell

In the midst of this, I stumbled upon the Libertarian Party.

My first formal exposure occurred when I made an exploratory phone call to the office of the NYC Libertarian Party.  It started off this way:

Frankly Francis: “I’m interested in learning about the Libertarian Party.  What can you tell me about it?”

Libertarian Representative: “Basically, we want to do some good before we become corrupt.”

I appreciated the forthright honesty.

Actually, I was Intrigued

I learned that libertarians take the Constitution really seriously.  Seriously…really seriously.

“We may be tossed upon the ocean where we can see no land – nor, perhaps, the sun or stars.  But there is a chart and a compass for us to study, to consult, and to obey.  That chart is the Constitution” – Daniel Webster

The Libertarian Party motto is:

The Party of Principle: Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom

This suited me well.  Upon further study…

I Became a Libertarian

I remember back, over 25 years ago, when I spoke with people about my libertarian point of view, those little few who knew about libertarian philosophy laughed at me.  Those who didn’t laughed at me when I explained its tenets.

I was a real mirth maker back then, spreading joy to all of those around me.

And there is inherent off-beat humor in being of the libertarian persuasion – the Libertarian Party is an oxymoron.  As libertarians are, by their very core beliefs, individualists, I think that one of the biggest challenges libertarians face is being part of an organized group, even their own political party.

Some Libertarian Perspective:

If I were to apply Occam’s razor to libertarianism, I would describe it thusly:

“My right to throw a punch ends at your nose”

First and foremost, my life is mine to do with as I please, provided that my actions do not infringe upon anyone else’s rights.  Like most of our Founding Fathers, I believe that everyone is better off when the individual is valued over the group.

Government is a Necessary Evil

Libertarians are not as naïve as some claim – I know that there are no utopian solutions, but when government’s purpose is limited to protecting the rights and property of the individual, I believe that humanity will have made the next great leap forward.

“What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?” – Elvis Costello

I confess to being an idealist who would rather be considered a resident of planet Earth than an American.  But until such time as that is practical, I believe that our military should be so strong that no one would be stupid enough to attack us on our own soil.

“Let my actions speak so loudly that no one can hear my words” – Marv Levy

I don’t think that we need to evangelize ourselves to the world.  If we have a compelling way of life, our example will be enough for others to want to adopt it.  I suspect that this is where organized religions get it wrong; they spend too much time selling their product rather than living it.

We just need to be what we say we are.

The American Government is the Best Government…That Money Can Buy

We would be so much better off with a free market economy fairly regulated by government.  Don’t be deceived however; America has nothing resembling a free market economy.  And don’t be further deceived, the government does not fairly regulate the economy – it plays within it and gets bribed by big business.

I Love Competition

An even playing field of fair competition brings out the best in each of us and for each of us.  And as a consumer, I love competition because I get the best value for the least price.  It leads to new life improving developments…who isn’t in favor of new life improving developments?

Capitalism is the natural by-product of liberty that allows each of us to be whatever  we choose to be.

Live and Let Live

And we need to grow-up a bit.  While I do not advocate drugs, prostitution or gambling, none of these are criminal acts.  Nor is government the authority over marriage or civil unions.  Let’s get over it.  Government has never been able to legislate morality, nor should it; we each need to do that for ourselves.

More Government?

In recent times, we have endured the “War on Poverty,” “The War on Drugs,” the government’s intervention into healthcare, the bail-outs of government’s good time business buddies, undeclared wars that clearly violate the Constitution, government openly stealing from us by devaluing the dollar, along with foreign policy actions that breed terrorism, enabling the government to strip us of our essential rights.

“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared.  To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.  If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements.  If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy” – Thomas Jefferson

I confess that I am stupefied by the prevailing belief that more government is the solution, based on the actual results of government’s actions.

But We Digress…

Our founding was labeled “The Great American Experiment” and it did, for fact, produce the best standard of living in recorded history…until we somehow decided that the experiment was no longer worthwhile.   We chose the intoxication of other ideals.

We let our government take over the spirit and law of our Constitution.  That’s what governments do.  I am not saying that it is right; government can’t help it.  Like all other biological and social organisms, government lives to grow for its own purposes.  Its growth has become cancerous.

Using “The New Deal” of the 1930’s as a baseline, it has taken us about 80 years to clearly devolve from the intent of the Declaration of Independence.

If we could even possibly re-boot America, it might take even longer to dial back what has happened.

But I don’t think that is in the cards for America.  America has gone empire, and I am pretty sure that there is no coming back from that.  No empire ever has before.

Though humanity is becoming more humane, the pathway has not yet been linear.  And it has at times been downright ugly.  But if we do not socially evolve through America, I do believe that humanity will utilize American principles in some other place, in some other time in a better way.

But We Go Forward…

or

“You can say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” – John Lennon

Unlike decades ago, hardly a day goes by when I don’t run into the word “libertarian” in the media.  There are now libertarians hosting national TV and radio talk shows.

Perhaps it’s not too little, too late.  In the past, due to the largess of my vanity, I have said that I look forward to saying that I was a libertarian before it was cool to be a libertarian.  Maybe I will get the chance.  It really doesn’t matter; vanity certainly never does.

So We Close…

But don’t kid yourself, there is a real battle going on right now:  Will we be a centralized corporatist state or the land of the free and the brave?  Will we continue on our empire course or will we be good neighbors to the rest of the planet?  Will the government continue its quest to control every aspect of our lives or will we reclaim our unalienable rights, among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

Frankly,

Francis

 

Suggested Reference:

The Declaration of Independence

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

The Constitution of the United States of America

http://www.constitution.org/constit_.htm

Be careful of this – if you answer the 10 questions you might find out you are a libertarian too.  The World’s Smallest Political Quiz:

http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz

Libertarian Party website:

http://www.lp.org/

Suggested Reading:

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds – Charles Mackay

The March to Folly – Barbara W. Tuchman

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization – Charles Adams

Free to Choose – Milton & Rose Friedman

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World – Harry Browne

Libertarianism in One Lesson – David Bergland

Libertarianism: A Primer – David Boaz

The Revolution: A Manifesto – Ron Paul

It is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong – Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Why Government Doesn’t Work – Harry Browne

What It Means to Be a Libertarian – Charles Murray

The Libertarian Reader – David Boaz

The Great Libertarian Offer – Harry Browne

An Open Letter to My Nephew Joining the Marines

Posted by Frankly Francis on December 27, 2010 under Social Issues/Politics | 2 Comments to Read

Hey Nephew – You’ve been talking about joining the Marines for a long time.  As you know, each time that you do, I grimace and then remind you that on my side of the family, we are Air Force men.  Your grandfather, your father, and I, your loving uncle, all served honorably in the USAF.

And if you have our aim, you should definitely avoid having anything to do with guns.  As your grandfather has pointed out, during his pistol training, trying his hardest, he couldn’t even hit the target.  Of course from that, we made note that should he ever go postal, as long as he was aiming at us we should be completely safe.

You joined the Marines and are expected to begin active duty soon, but can decline at any time before your report date.

You did, however, grant me an open ear to dissuade you.  And that is what I intend to do.  If this doesn’t do it, then I’ll have to come up with a better plan.  But if I fail to convince you not to do this thing, I will respect your decision as I have respected the decision of another nephew who previously joined the Army.

I was just old enough to have to register with the draft board during the Vietnam days.  I complied.  I was very opposed to our involvement in that war.  I decided that I would not serve in the military in any capacity and if drafted, I would relinquish my citizenship and move to another country.  Conventional wisdom suggests that wars and killing can be “just,” but there was nothing coming close to that in ‘Nam.

It turned out that I was never called to duty, but years later I voluntarily joined the military.  I followed orders and did my best to do a good job.  If you do decide to join, I know that you will do the same.  And under the present circumstances, that’s exactly why I don’t want you to join.

Let me say that I have nothing but respect and gratitude for those serving in America’s armed services.  I don’t say that because it is so politically correct to say it.  I say it because I have been there.

Here’s the way I see it – If you join the Marines, you will undoubtedly spend time in either Iraq or Afghanistan.  Let’s take a very abbreviated look at both:

Iraq
America invaded Iraq because of the supposed threat of hidden WMD, because of the supposed Al Qaeda presence and because of the supposed threat of Iraq’s future actions against America.

Hitler pointed out that the bigger the lie, the more likely that the people will believe it.  Man, he sure was right.

There were no weapons of mass destruction.  Al Qaeda wasn’t there.  And we did a most un-American thing by making a pre-emptive strike against, at best, a mouse that might roar.

Of course, Al Qaeda is there now – our presence made sure of that.

Of course, we will be enmeshed in Iraq forever.

Frankly Francis score:  Unjust War 1 – Just War 0

Afghanistan
We very quickly invaded Afghanistan after the despicable acts of terror on September 11, 2001.  The “supposed” purpose was to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice and remove the Al Qaeda supporting Taliban.  Well almost 10 years later that’s sure worked out swell, wouldn’t you say?  It’s at best another forever presence that will accomplish nothing.

Frankly Francis score:  Unjust War 2 – Just War 0

Frankly Francis Side Note:  And as long as I’ve mentioned our Enemy Number One, Sarah Palin has recently suggested that we hunt down the WikiLeaks front man like Bin Laden.  Seriously, or at least as seriously as one can take that statement, that should make the guy feel pretty safe and comfortable…

That’s Not the Worst of It
The number of innocent civilians killed by the U.S. military is staggering.  And I say this carefully and with the utmost of respect, but even conservatively, they are so massive that they make the number of innocents lost on 9/11 miniscule in comparison.

Maybe, underneath it all, it is revenge we are seeking…and if so, what is the ratio of other innocent deaths to our innocent deaths that we must achieve? 1:1, 2:1, 5:1, 10:1?  We are already far above those ratios.  So how many more innocent people must die to avenge our loss?

Perhaps There’s Worse Than That
The innocent civilians that survive American attacks have this nasty tendency to want revenge against us.  Thus, our very actions are creating more terrorists.  YIKES!

In Conclusion
I can only imagine, but it must be very difficult to kill another human being, even if they have it coming.  To kill innocent people must make life unbearable.

Your well intentioned uncle knows that you would never choose to suffer the blood of innocents at your own hands.  But if you join, at best you will be much closer to that process and at worst, a direct part.

And while I know that innocent casualties occur in any conflict, I can’t help but think that it is worse when the war was not just to begin with.

Again, I’ll respect your decision to join the military, but I urge you to consider my thoughts before you go off to war.

Your Loving Uncle,

Frankly,

Francis

Gays In The Military – Redux

Posted by Frankly Francis on May 31, 2010 under In The News, Social Issues/Politics | Be the First to Comment

It being Memorial Day, with the recent activity in Congress to finally do the right thing in this regard, and MOST importantly for the gay soldiers who have served in our military and died for our freedom, I submit the following, which I originally published in January 2009.

army-pic

I abhor discrimination in any form.  It is insidious – the social and economic costs are enormous.  The lives that are diminished because of it reflect the real loss that our society endures.  It is just plain common sense that we all lose out when we deny opportunity to those willing to take it.

Gay people cannot serve in America’s military.  I’ve never understood the argument that someone’s sexual orientation affects their ability to do a job.  I do understand that homophobic attitudes certainly impair the ability of gays to function in any capacity.

Under President Clinton, in order to compromise the rules regarding gays, the policy for all sides of the issue became, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  This is patently unfair.  A person’s sexual orientation should not be a matter that needs to be revealed or hidden.

Yet, somehow this is still an issue.  We need to get past it.

As a veteran of the US Air Force, I can say this… I was always proud to serve beside anyone else (gay or straight, black or white, believer or non-believer, etc.) who took the oath of serving in the military as seriously as I did.  Can’t think of anyone I served with who didn’t feel the same general way.

And for those of you still clinging to the foolish concept that being gay is a choice, then I pose the following: If you believe being gay is choice, then you, yourself, should have the ability to choose to feel the same way emotionally and sexually to members of your own gender as you do about the other gender.  If you cannot honestly do this, then you are on the road of awareness headed towards reality.  On the other hand, if you can honestly do this, you probably have a suspicion that you may have been programmed bi-sexual.

However, the foregoing test is irrelevant when it comes to anyone’s rights as an American.  It is important for all of us that gay people have the same rights as straight people because, ponder this, when anyone’s rights are infringed, everyone’s rights are infringed.

To the Gay Community, my apologies as you continue to face this discrimination, along with the other needless indignities you still endure.  May it end soon.

Frankly,

Francis

The Drinking Age

Posted by Frankly Francis on March 17, 2009 under Social Issues/Politics | 8 Comments to Read

Every state in the union has decided that you must 21 years of age to purchase and/or consume alcoholic beverages.  How did this event unanimously occur amongst 50 states that have some substantial differences in their laws?  As I understand it, the federal government decreed that if any state’s legal drinking age was below 21, that state would not receive any federal funding for its highways.  Federal coercion and extortion!

Here’s what you can do at age 18:

You are expected to vote for your elected officials, and from an American national perspective, vote for a President who can wage nuclear war upon the planet.

You can join the military armed forces and by doing so, be committed to accepting orders that will result in your death, under penalty of court martial.

You can you enter into legally binding contracts and loans.

But you are not considered by American society to be responsible enough to buy a six-pack of beer.

At the time that I tuned 18, I could legally purchase alcoholic beverages in the state of New York.  Moving forward a couple of years, I am 20 years old, a few months away from my 21st birthday.  I am in the State of California where the drinking age was then 21, as it now is on a national basis.  I am in the United States Air Force.  I am married.  I have a child.  I vote.  I can’t buy a beer.  This could not seem more ridiculous to me at that time and it still feels completely ridiculous to me now.

So, if I were 18 years old today, I would really be pissed.  I think it is illogical.

Ponder this and then Please, Seriously:

Don’t let a kid be legally obligated to die in military service if he/she is not responsible enough to buy a beer.  Don’t let a kid be legally obligated to a contract if he/she is not responsible enough to buy a beer.  Don’t let a kid vote if he/she is not responsible enough to buy a beer.

Let’s get it right, one way or the other.  Few things seem simpler to me, one way or the other.

Frankly,

Francis

Gays In The Military

Posted by Frankly Francis on January 30, 2009 under Social Issues/Politics | 3 Comments to Read

army-pic

I abhor discrimination in any form.  It is insidious – the social and economic costs are enormous.  The lives that are diminished because of it reflect the real loss that our society endures.  It is just plain common sense that we all lose out when we deny opportunity to those willing to take it.

Gay people cannot serve in America’s military.  I’ve never understood the argument that someone’s sexual orientation affects their ability to do a job.  I do understand that homophobic attitudes certainly impair the ability of gays to function in any capacity.

Under President Clinton, in order to compromise the rules regarding gays, the policy for all sides of the issue became, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  This is patently unfair.  A person’s sexual orientation should not be a matter that needs to be revealed or hidden.

Yet, somehow this is still an issue.  We need to get past it.

As a veteran of the US Air Force, I can say this… I was always proud to serve beside anyone else (gay or straight, black or white, believer or non-believer, etc.) who took the oath of serving in the military as seriously as I did.  Can’t think of anyone I served with who didn’t feel the same general way.

And for those of you still clinging to the foolish concept that being gay is a choice, then I pose the following: If you believe being gay is choice, then you, yourself, should have the ability to choose to feel the same way emotionally and sexually to members of your own gender as you do about the other gender.  If you cannot honestly do this, then you are on the road of awareness headed towards reality.  On the other hand, if you can honestly do this, you probably have a suspicion that you may have been programmed bi-sexual.

However, the foregoing test is irrelevant when it comes to anyone’s rights as an American.  It is important for all of us that gay people have the same rights as straight people because, ponder this, when anyone’s rights are infringed, everyone’s rights are infringed.

To the Gay Community, my apologies as you continue to face this discrimination, along with the other needless indignities you still endure.  May it end soon.

Frankly,

Francis