Tag Archives: politics

Lufbery Circle Politics

A “Lufbery circle” was originally a defensive tactic, but today is a term in air combat for a phenomenon where the combatants are stuck in the fight across from each other. Each is unable to reach a firing solution, yet leaving the circle will immediately put them at a disadvantage.


(Image: Gervais Raul Lufbery, WWI flying ace.  He would feel quite lost in today’s politics)

The “lizard brain’s” reaction to a Lufbery is to stay where you are. Keep turning and hope something changes. It is by its nature an energy-losing maneuver, continually spiraling to the floor. It will almost always get you killed because you run out of gas, run out of altitude/into a rock, or get shot by another guy who happens to poke his nose into your merry-go-round.

The four major divisions of Congress (ideological progressive/socialist left, ideological conservative right, establishment left, and establishment right) are in a Lufbery. The smaller factions have very little influence except perhaps the GOP Libertarians who tend to hang out in the ideological conservative right.

The establishment left and right are party before principle. They will always do what is most likely to help them gain or maintain seats, power, and money.

The ideological left and right are principle over party, but there is one big difference between the two (beyond their values).

The essential nature of the ideological left includes a large state and centralized power, and that lends itself to them working together with the establishment left. However, the essential nature of the ideological right is a smaller state and decentralized power, which lends itself to conflict with the establishment right.  Thus, the right side of the aisle tends to be at a disadvantage toward pushing traditionally “conservative” agenda, even when it is in the majority.

The result is this Lufberry circle. Everybody is chasing each other’s power. There will be some gains, and some losses, but largely I would expect to see the same results – a continued spiral to the floor.

Regardless of where you are in the various political spectra, the only way out of a Lufbery is to take the risk to exit the circle, separate, do something bold and unexpected, and pitch back into the fight with aggressive ingenuity, something for which few of our elected representatives have shown a willingness or aptitude.

We need virtue-based leaders.

How to Destroy the United States

In years past, different people, groups, and nations have tried to destroy the United States of America.  They’ve used conventional forces, guerrilla tactics, and, increasingly over the past years, terrorism.


But today, if I wanted to destroy the United States, I wouldn’t use force.  Instead, I’d use the people against themselves.  I’d use not just their fears and insecurities, but also their pride and selfish desires to create division and friction between different groups within the country.  In targeting these different groups, I would use both real and manufactured criteria to define them.  I’d get them to define themselves by their financial status and occupation, by the color of their skin or country of their birth, by political party or even by on which side of the street they lived.

Now, this is nothing new.  It’s been tried to various levels of success in the past in this country and others.  We even have a new word in our Dictionary to describe one particularly successful venture from the 90s: “Balkanization.”  But today, I could be much more effective because of the additional leverage I could apply through advances in information technology, mass communication, and social media.

These are all tools that have advanced in capability and availability, rapidly and well beyond the pace of any ethical framework or practice with which to wield them.  Because of this, an entity, group, or even individual has carte blanche to say nearly anything, and to have those words or images transmitted instantly and globally.  Meanwhile, the consumer willingly makes himself available 24/7 to these unfiltered or even targeted messages through our enraptured embrace of personal electronics in lieu of personal relationships.  Moreover, that consumer is now able to interact with the messenger and, even more importantly for our desired ends, other consumers.  To make the attack even more effective, these messages can be transmitted either anonymously or with false attribution.

One way to execute this strategy would be by first creating several online anonymous profiles for legitimate news sites and social media outlets.  I’d make these identities represent both sides of a divide I sought to exploit or even create.  I might give them names like “BLM of Central Texas,” “TrueBlue Cop,” “Concerned Mom,” “Aryan666,” “In Christ Alone,” “Gangsta,” or… well, you probably get the picture.  If I had time, I might spend some time creating a backstory by commenting somewhat benignly on various issues, building a friends list, or even a “fanbase.”  Yet, to be realistic, few people check very deeply into sources these days, so I could probably spend my time and efforts more effectively simply by creating more shallow online identities.

Then, I would look for my opportunity – a current event that illuminated that targeted divide.  If no such event happened, I might even manufacture one with a contrived or adapted news story I reported and transmitted on a fictitious news site.  Again, fact-checking and contemplation are not strengths of my targeted population – the American people’s desire to get ahead of a near-instantaneous news cycle has outpaced their appetite for accuracy or even conscious thought.

A ripe opportunity would be the stories surrounding the recent officer-involved shootings, protests, and ultimately, the slaying of police officers.

Now, I’d commence my attack.  I’d make some inflammatory comments about black men killed by police – ranging from mild to wild.  I’d attack their character, and then black people in general. My hope would be that I’d get a response from other commenters, but I wouldn’t need to – I would also pit my online identities against each other.  They are cheap and expendable.

Simultaneously, I’d make statements about the cops involved, and continue to attack police officers in general.  Again, I’d hope someone would bite the troll bait, but I’d engage with empty personae as well, just to get the fires rolling.

I’d do the same on the fictitious organizational pages, lending credence to the growing appearance that these thoughts were held not by individuals but entire groups.

I’d post links to videos of “violence porn” – police brutality and shootings, looting in Ferguson, gang and drug executions.  I’d use the power of Google to find other links to stories, old or new, legitimate or false, to fan the flames.

Oh, and memes… I’d make lots of memes.  It seems easy these days to boil complex controversies into a couple lines of text written in bold letters on the photo of a Hollywood personality or generic protagonist/antagonist – and post those also.  The beauty of a meme is it is so shareable, and by simplifying the argument it sharpens the divides.

Soon, incredibly soon due to the modern phenomena of media, I wouldn’t need to do anything but sit back and look for the next divide I wanted to exploit.  If the fires of hatred, mistrust, and fear seemed to lessen, I might stoke them again, but that is unlikely.  Again, in the absence of ethical frameworks and practice, social media is like a drought-baked forest waiting for a match.

That’s what I’d do if I wanted to destroy this country.  It’s a good thing I don’t, because I’m pretty sure I could be successful.

In fact, this strategy is already in play by others, and we’re playing right into their hands.  By doing so, we’re allowing a small number of foes the luxury of a force multiplier heretofore unseen – the ability to turn masses of people against themselves rapidly and with little expenditure of material or personal capital.

Take a few minutes (and only a few minutes) and check out the comments on stories about current controversies.  You will read words you would never hear in even the most heated of in-person intoxicated arguments.  Angry, provocative, inciting, and hateful messages fomenting increasingly angry, provocative, inciting, and hateful responses.  If you don’t think a lot of this is intentional, you are fooling yourself.

The countermeasure is simple, but not easy.  In this age of instantly-available media, we need to take time to turn it off.  We need to take the time to meet people face-to-face, to shake hands, hear concerns, discuss differences, and have vigorous debate when necessary.

This is not efficient.  It is not quick.  It is not convenient.  It is not easy.

It is, however, necessary.

Cowardice or Courage – It’s Our Call

“Our national security strategy, once a robust combination of diplomacy, information, military, and economy, has become one of ‘just do something…anything,’ in which we believe any problem can be solved with a sprinkling of drones, bombs, or boots.  We simply cannot sustain this accelerating expenditure of blood and treasure.”

In recent years, our country has become embroiled in many wars, most of them not authorized by Congress as required by Article I of The Constitution.  In fact, the last authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF – what we have substituted for a formal declaration of war) were for Iraq and Afghanistan, issued under the administration of President George W. Bush.

President Obama has cited both AUMF 2001 (Public Law 107-40, directed at those who committed the 9/11 attacks, and which authorized the invasion of Afghanistan) and AUMF 2002 (Public Law 107-243, authorizing force against Iraq) as his justification for his use of military force throughout the Middle East, and specifically in Iraq and Syria against Daesh (also known as ISIL/ISIS).

The problem is that that neither of those AUMFs are valid for such action.

AUMF 2001 specifically authorizes force against “nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”  Daesh, an organization which did not exist prior to 2013, does not fall under such authority.

AUMF 2002, on the other hand, had as its scope the now-defunct government of Iraq under Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organizations that government supported, and was limited to the confines of Iraq.

So, just like his war in Libya, President Obama’s war in Syria and Northern Iraq is illegal under The Constitution.

You might ask why this matters.  Shouldn’t President Obama, in his role as Commander-in-Chief, address the threats represented by Daesh?

Yes, he should.  However, The Constitution is full of brilliant checks and balances between the three branches of government, and one such system of checks and balances is between the Legislative and Executive branches when it comes to waging war.  In short, when the President as the Head of State determines that a threat to our national security and/or interests exists that warrants the use of military force, it is his responsibility to request authorization from Congress to use that force.  It is then Congress’ responsibility to evaluate the request, debate it, to authorize such force, and to initiate legislation to authorize expenditures to support the war.  Finally, the President, in his role as Commander-in-Chief and under authorization from Congress, executes the war.

Of course, some time-critical events especially in this era of rapid decision cycles preclude the President from seeking such authorization; yet even in these situations, it is the President’s legal responsibility (under the War Powers Resolution, 50 USC 1541-1548) to inform Congress within 48 hours and to gain authorization for continued military operations.

In the absence of such authorization, whether pre-emptive or reactive, the President must withdraw all forces within 90 days.

Again, you may ask why it is important for these laws to be followed.  I present three reasons.

First, we are a nation of laws.  That is the definition of a republic.  If we allow our leaders to ignore those laws, we risk either anarchy or dictatorship.

Second, by not holding our elected representatives to the clearly-defined requirements of The Constitution and applicable laws, we have created a vicious cycle of continuous and indiscriminate war.  In the past 25 years since our 1991 war in Iraq and Kuwait, we have committed combat forces to a dizzying number of places around the globe: Zaire, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Somalia, Macedonia, Haiti, Liberia, Central African Republic, Albania, Congo, Gabon, Cambodia, Guinea-Bassau, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Sudan, East Timor, Serbia, Kosovo, Nigeria, Yemen, Cote d’Ivoire, Georgia, Djibouti, Pakistan, Lebanon, Libya, Uganda, Jordan, Chad, Mali, Syria, and so many other places not even known, as well as the seas between them and the air and space above. Most of these wars have been unauthorized, and with each of them, the ability of the President to commit our forces unilaterally, without any checking or balancing of his powers, has become easier and more frequent.  Our national security strategy, once a robust combination of diplomacy, information, military, and economy, has become one of “just do something…anything,” in which we believe any problem can be solved with a sprinkling of drones, bombs, or boots.  We simply cannot sustain this accelerating expenditure of blood and treasure.

Third, our aversion to making the tough decisions either to declare (or at least authorize) wars or not has led to an increasingly-wide gulf between our military at war and our populace at peace.  Without any requirement to convince Congress to support our wars, the President has not had to express his reasons or strategy to the nation.  The absence of such communication, combined with our habit of spending ethereal borrowed money on military operations and the consequential expenses, allows the wars to continue without any sacrifice in the form of taxation or program cuts.  The citizenry thus remains blissfully insulated, ignorant, and detached from the sacrifices made by our forces.  And the ultimate consequences of this include an angst and bitterness in our returning combat veterans, directly contributing to their obscene rate of PTSD and even suicide.

For this reason, I have been urging Congress to declare our illegal wars in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere.  Often, this endeavor has felt as if I am tilting at windmills, and I must confess to having gained little traction, or even an audience, with either my Representative (Annie Kuster) or senior Senator (Jeanne Shaheen).  I have had some interaction and discussion with Senator Kelly Ayotte and her staff, but despite the pro-military credentials she trumpets, and some promises to visit the subject, she has not taken action.

“The silence of Congress in the midst of this war is cowardly and shameful…this Congress, the very body that is so quick to argue against President Obama’s use of executive power… allows an executive war to go on undeclared, unapproved, undefined and unchecked.” – Sen Kaine (D-VA)

In the words of Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), “The silence of Congress in the midst of this war is cowardly and shameful…this Congress, the very body that is so quick to argue against President Obama’s use of executive power… allows an executive war to go on undeclared, unapproved, undefined and unchecked.”

But perhaps, if you and others join me in this Quixotic venture, we might begin to make enough noise that would cause our Congress and President to act.  So, I am asking you to do so, to spread this message, and to hold your representatives’ feet to the flame.  I’d also appreciate any ideas you may have in ways we can do this.  Feel free to contact me, or post your thoughts below.

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