Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My name is RB and I endorsed this message - National Defense

Delayed posting - very sorry. Last week was busy, then a brief, but needed mini-vacation.

I'm back to laying out my presidential platform planks - explaining what I think are the most important issues facing this country over the next four years. It's a remake of a series I did four years ago, I'll review my comments from then and update as required.

My first issue - the one I think is most important is National Defense. If we don't defend our nation properly, we will have no nation to defend. Even with Osama Bin Laden gone, there are still a lot of people out there who intend to do us harm, and to interrupt our way of life. In 2008, I thought we were due for another terrorist attack, that hasn't happened thanks to some very good police work.

Looking at our defense status, I earlier said "Iraq is over." That's true for our involvement. The US failed to negotiate an extension to our efforts there. I'll talk more about that in my post on foreign policy. I don't think Iraq is a defense concern at this time. They have a limited army and no navy or air force. While Afghanistan is far from over, our involvement will be soon. They are not likely to be a threat and - at least for now - don't seem to be a breeding ground for terrorists. Of course it was our ignorance that led to 9/11 - not watching places like Afghanistan to see who was trying to get rid of us.

The current budget outlook calls for major cuts in defense and we're relying less on boots-on-the-ground and more on drones-in-the-air and special ops. This makes for good politics in the US as drones don't come back in body bags and they don't have pictures taken with prisoners in Abu Ghraib or over dead bodies. But I can't help but wonder what the world thinks of our shoot-first-ask-questions later approach to taking out bad guys. It also seems a little cowardice to pull the trigger from Md where the enemy can't shoot back.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for taking the least dangerous approach to taking these people out. But we were accused of being cowboys for going into these places, how much more will we be seen that way due to drone attacks?

In the area of defense, I'm most concerned about the Pacific rim at this time - N. Korea and China don't like us very much. Fortunately, I don't think either is likely to attack us. They may attack allies, (S. Korea, Taiwan, and countries on the India sub-continent). We will have a choice to either ignore them as we did when the Russians attacked Georgia or to lend aid.

Personally, I think we should continue to work diplomatically in these areas. There is little to be gained from our involvement. In fact, I can't think of a single area in the world at this time that needs our involvement other than possibly Iran and the Straits of Hormuz.

Ships with aircraft should be positioned near the straits to ensure continuous access to the shipping lanes. Dredging ships and other equipment necessary to clear the seaway should be positioned nearby, in case Iran decides to do something stupid (and I would announce it THAT way).

That said, we cannot afford to let out military to fade away like we did in the Carter and Clinton years. We must keep developing skills and weapons both for boots-on-the-ground and for bombs-on-the-ground. We learned a lot in Afghanistan and Iraq, that knowledge should be put to use. Robotic technology that lets soldiers defuse IEDs and spy on the enemy needs to be perfected and produced en masse. We should focus on tools that detect IEDs before they develop.

Piracy off the coast of Africa seems to have settled down, but additional development and vigilance in this area is warranted.

That's my take on national defense, what's yours?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My name is RB and I endorsed this message - Platform priorities

Yesterday I explained that I wanted to lay out what I thought were important priorities for the Presidency 2012-2016. This will be the planks of my platform should I decide to stick with the idea of the run (it will have to be a write-in campaign).

In preparation, I looked back at what I said in 2008. I think the same issues apply, so I'm going to steal heavily from my ideas back then. One difference I notice between 2008 and 2012 is the lack of focus on change. In 2008, almost every candidate was talking change (both the D's and the R's). Well, change happened, we went from a Republican in the White House to a Democrat. Some might say too much changed, some might say too little. But change happened.

My focus will be pretty much the same as last time, with some change thrown in for good measure. Here are the areas I see that need to be addressed for the next four years. This post won't tell you my opinion on any one topic, but instead will list topics I intend to cover later. They will be somewhat in priority order, but that's subject to change (there's that word) later on.

In my platform, I intend to address these topics:
1. National Defense - Iraq is over. Afghanistan will be soon. The current budget outlook for defense means major cuts. We're relying less on boots-on-the-ground and more on drones-in-the-air and special ops. Where do we go from here?

2) Foreign affars - Russia, Pakistan, Iran, India, Europe, Africa, South America, China (including trade) and Mexico (including immigration) - My only update to this list is to add the Middle East (Egypt, Libya, Israel, Syria, etc) and North/South Korea

3) Isolationism vs. becoming entangled in the affairs of other nations - it seems one candidate wants us to pull back and focus on US alone, I'll look at my ideas four years ago and update them.

4) National economy - Jobs, training, mortgages, housing, taxes and spending. I know you think this should be higher. When I look at the economy, I'll explain why it's ranked #4.

5) Healthcare, education and abortion, global warming, carbon credits (hopefully, I'll explain why I grouped these)

6) Points of light - This is an old George H Bush idea. I mentioned it yesterday in a phone conversation with a friend and think it needs to be addressed.

What did I leave out? What do you, the voter and my readers, want me to address?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

My name is RB and I endorsed this message

I'm in it to win it. I'm the one you Hope to Change. I Believe in America. All of those catchy phrases go here.

You see, 4 years ago yesterday, I started a series of blog posts declaring my candidacy for president. In those posts, I laid out my platform, my ideas on every topic. I also laid out which pieces of that platform I thought were most important and the order of importance.

So, I decided to do that again. I will look back at what I said four years ago. And to start that out, I'm going to cut/paste my comments from that blog post here, so you don't have to go back via links. Here it is with updates in {brackets}:

My name is RB, I endorsed this message and I'm running for president

When I turned 35, I announced to all my friends and neighbors that I was running for president. I had examined all of the recent candidates and announcements and decided I was equally qualified.

However, it was not an election year, so I soon bowed out. Now, 14 {18} years later, I'm re-announcing my candidacy.

Since I'm entering the fanfare a little late, I'll plan a slow entrance. I'll start by announcing and deciding my platform. This will help all of my followers (thanks mom) decide which of the current candidates should be elected to hold my place until I'm truly ready. In fact, he or she could revoke the constitutional amendment that placed term limits on the presidency so that once I win the office, I can retain it forever, in the spirit of my senator, Strom Thurmond.

So, over the next several weeks, I'll post my ideas on the presidency and what I believe are important subjects to be covered. Since I'm a formulas and function kind of guy (see my post on functions), I'll also put some sort of priority or weighting with each idea. This way and astute reader could write a simple function for Excel to decide which of the current candidates best fits my model.

Regular readers will know that I've already stated there was one candidate I could NOT vote for, that's Rudy G. See my reasoning here. They may also note that I've suggested Jenna Bush for president (see here), but it's going to be a while before she's eligible. Other than these two items, I haven't decided who I will vote for. I fully expect to make that decision as a part of this exercise. {My anti-Rudy reasoning has softened some. I'm still not sure I can vote for a man that has committed that particular sin, but over the last four years I've become less focused. Romans 3:23 comes to mind.}

So be looking for my posts. Tell your friends and neighbors, dogs and cats, dead uncles and aunts to all vote for me (it works in Chicago). Seriously read my posts and comment on them. If you disagree with me, feel free to say so. I reserve the right to flip-flop as often as Clinton and Romney have been accused. After all, one man's flip-flop is another man's shoe.

{In reading the comments from my post four years ago, it looks like David of this blogsite,  offered to be my Yard Sign Creator. Hoping he's still available}

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Do sweat the small stuff

Sometime back, a popular saying was "Don't sweat the small stuff". This was usually followed by the corollary, "and it's all small stuff." Lately, this has been on my mind a lot, or more correctly, the opposite has been on my mind - "do sweat the small stuff."

It's by sweating the small stuff - mastering those seemingly meaningless tasks - that we gain the abilities we need to do the big stuff. In his book "Outliers", Malcom Gladwell mentioned the "10,000 hour rule claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours." That seems like a lot of time to become a master, but if you look at it as 40 hrs/wk for 5 years, that seems to fit accreditation requirements in a lot of jobs. Five years to become an "expert" seems reasonable. Five years of sweating the small stuff doesn't seem that ridiculous. Gladwell points to The Beatles and Bill Gates as examples of his "10,000 hour rule" (read the book for more details).

When my kids were young, we handed out chores. We started with small tasks, for example cleaning there room with our help, and expanded to bigger tasks (loading the dish-washer, cutting grass). In our work lives, we typically follow a similar process, working with co-workers at first, then leading projects. By sweating the small stuff, we show our employers that we are capable of moving on to bigger stuff.

It turns out this idea is not new, I didn't invent it and neither did Gladwell. I keep repeating Matthew 25:23 which says "You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."

Sweating the small stuff means different things to different people. It may mean showing up on time for a job that you really don't like. It may mean a little extra polish in the spit-and-polish (and a little less spit). It may just mean doing the things you know need to be done without expecting any recognition.

What does sweating the small things mean to you?