Borders and Boundaries: Don’t Fence Me In

On a walk through my neighborhood, which contains a sizable number of kids, something seemed amiss. As we wandered along, I could not quite put my finger on it, but way in the back of my mind the voices were chattering.

They weren’t a chorus of alarm, panic, or fear, but they noticed something. Some incongruity reverberated in my mind.

Then it bubbled to the surface. They were no kids anywhere playing outside.

School was out.

The weather was a perfect summer day of 75 degrees, bright sun, no humidity, and not a thundercloud in sight.

Yet the streets were empty of kids being kids.

I then noticed the fences. Artificial borders and boundaries restricting what for us growing up in Cumberland, Rhode Island, in the 1960s was the main inter-yard highway, backyards.

The street was for bikes, pickup baseball games, and games of kick-the-can, but the backyards were our byways to adventure, to the homes of friends, and the path home when necessary.

The only border I knew of during my youth was the limitation of how far my legs could take me between the first light of morning—as my neighborhood friends gathered to enjoy, not plan, the day by just following our whim and fancy—and when we had to return by sundown.

We faced no serious fence boundaries. Perhaps the occasional split-rail fence, more for sitting on then keeping us out, but no real impediment to our wanderings. During school, I could walk from my house and never touch the road until I got almost the whole way to the bus stop.

The borders and boundaries we faced were through learned behavior—understanding that some, usually without children, preferred us to detour around their yards, which we easily did by heading off into the boundless woods surrounding us.

As I continued on our walk, seeing almost every yard fenced in with no evidence of well-worn paths between them, I could not help but think we’ve lost some great opportunity for kids to learn boundaries and borders of behavior by substituting more forced restrictions out of some sense of protecting them.

We owe kids more than the safety of the moment. We have an obligation to teach them to navigate life — with all its risks — by recognizing borders and boundaries not by the fences we build around them but by inculcating the sense of right and wrong.

Some say that good fences make good neighbors. I have my doubts. I think they prevent adults who’ve lost the lessons of life, or never learned them, from acting like fools. Such fences serve the same purpose as a cage in a zoo. They don’t promote friendly behavior, they merely prevent any interaction at all.

The best fences are something we sense intuitively and through learning. Let kids be kids. The paths they make in growing up will serve them better as they navigate their way.

Otherwise, all they experience are borders and boundaries to life.


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A Rising Tide

Hope for America

The hope of America lies not in her great history or in the resiliency of her people, but in the ability of our system of government to survive regardless of the level of quality in our leadership. The founding fathers understood this more than anything else; if you rely on just the good nature of most people you will leave a way for those with evil intent to thrive.

America is like a pristine beach; warmed by the sun with a gentle surf changing the shore in subtle but continuous ways.  Men such as Mr. Trump come along and build intricate sand castles that mesmerize those who cannot see their vulnerability.  They become enamored of the spectacle, ignoring the fundamental flaw in the foundation.

When the storm arrives, as it will, such structures last but a moment in the face of the onrushing waves. Yet the shore, with just the millions of grains of sand bound by a common purpose, not only survives but over time erases the remains of the turbulence.

We are now facing the storm of rising mistrust in America by the rest of the world. By the disdain of former allies abandoned by ill-considered policies based on a self-aggrandizing charlatan and his sycophantic minions. By opposing governments feeding the ego of the President to interfere in our elections with his consent. By the constancy of American resolve to bear any burden abandoned in the face of challenges we once welcomed.

The sand castle that is the Trump administration will not withstand the coming storm, a storm of outrage and disgust by the American people who see their country roiled in the minefields of racism, injustice, virtual foreign invasion, and nationalism.  The storm will sweep away the sand castle and the shores of America will bask in the sun of a powerful but considerate, wealthy but generous, and vigilant yet hopeful nation once again.

A Message to Nike: Sell the Damn Sneakers

First, Happy 4th of July 2019 the 243rd Birthday of this American Experiment!

More than a symbol

The controversy over the original flag and its symbolic relationship to slavery and racism does nothing to further the discussion on racism in the United States.

While I disagree with his methods, Colin Kaepernick does demonstrate the courage of his convictions. However, he misses the point with such meaningless protests toward Nike and their Betsy Ross sneakers.

Slave labor built much of early America. Of that, there is no dispute. Slaveholders provided much of the labor which drove America’s rise in global trade. When slavery ended, inequitable treatment of minorities offered a slightly more expensive but still bargain price for labor.

It is one of the strangest dichotomies of the rise of the United States from the bonds of British tyranny. The founding fathers joined to fight for their independence from a Royal Government which trampled their rights. This same Royal Government recognized the inhumanity and inherent injustice of holding a fellow human in slavery and banned the practice.

It underscores the point that no government, no society, no people are perfect. They have their brief shining moments, rising to greatness as shown by documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and their failures by killing over seven hundred thousand of their fellow Americans to end slavery in the “land of the free.”

However, symbols are often never single-purpose. While the original flag may well have flown over institutions or government organizations which supported slavery, it also flew over many that did not.

History is not a moment in time. If that were the case, we would be right to argue the genocide of Native Americans, where both pre- and post- Civil War American Soldiers slaughtered tens of thousands and displaced millions, is worse than slavery.

Quantifying such atrocities is an exercise in futility.

Nothing can ever undo the tarnish of the practice of slavery in the US, nor the ever-present racism which permeates much of our culture to this day. However, to isolate one symbol and demand its removal from the public discourse without recognizing the multiple manifestations of its symbolism is disingenuous.

I would argue the effort to remove such a symbol amounts to placing an unfair comparative standard on items with little connection to the reality of the times.

Americans stole slaves from their homeland, brought them to America, and bred and traded them like cattle. The ships bringing slaves to America flew the same American flag.

Americans, by declaration not birth, stole a country from Native Americans and destroyed their entire culture. The soldiers who imposed the policies against these Native Americans followed that same flag into battle.

These are America’s darkest chapters.

There are brighter chapters written by the American people.

That same flag led Americans into battles at Belleau Woods, Marne, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Chosin Reservoir, Hue. Places where Americans died to save others from tyranny.

That same flag flew in planes that airlifted food to Berlin, brought aid around the world, and offered reassurance just by its mere presence throughout the world.

That same flag flies on the surface of the moon and on the Voyager spacecraft which left the solar system and now travels in interstellar space.

One cannot take a symbol from one moment in history and equate it to the practices, beliefs, or actions of an entire nation. We cannot eliminate racism by attacking the past. We can eliminate racism by learning from the mistakes, and the triumphs, of the past to change the future.

Nike, sell the damn sneakers. Americans died to ensure freedom of speech and the flag represents that more so than reflects racial bias or support for slavery.

Dissolving the American Dream

As an optimist, I look for the positive in all things. Sometimes, it is all but impossible to find. Yet, even within the turbulence of the first week of the Trumping of America, there is a shiny element of good.
Trump pulled the bandage off the ugly festering wound that is prejudice in the form of nationalism in America. His rabid bulldog approach to immigration offers an opportunity. Now that we see this insidious infection, we can treat it.
There are those who support these policies celebrating in the street. Proud in their contempt for everything and everyone they perceive as un-American.
Keep out the terrorist.
Build that wall.
Tax the Mexican products to make them pay.
The only thing missing is goose-stepping thugs ensuring compliance. But it’s only been a week.
I travel out of the country quite often. Never, in all the time I’ve been doing this, have I ever been anything but proud of my country. Yet, this time in Costa Rica, I could sense a difference in the perception of the United States.
They felt sorry for us. So did the Canadians on the trip with us. It was as if the sports legend used steroids. Our reputation tarnished and diminished.
America has always offered hope to the world. Our openness and willingness to accept others, no matter where they came from, perceived as a strength, not a vulnerability.
That we, as a people, were willing to risk the harm of a few to offer an opportunity to the many was evidence of our courage.
That perception is fading. We are becoming a huge paranoid isolated society, shying away from our fellow man.
No measure of border protection or walls can stop a determined enemy. Every effort to strengthen the openness of the America I love chips away at those whose hopelessness is the source of these terrorists.
Every effort to prevent the rest of the world from coming in diminishes us.
This is no longer a disconnected world. Something that happens in Des Moines, Iowa can have an effect in Berlin.  Something that happens in Seoul, South Korea can affect Boston, Massachusetts.
As history shows, something planned in medieval-like Afghanistan can affect New York.
The solution is not simple, making the problem worse is.
Words matter. Perceptions matter. The words announcing this blockade of immigration carry more than simple meaning. Wiping Islamic terror from the face of the earth. Opening our doors to Christian, but not Muslim, immigrants from Syria. These all play into the hands of those who twist the words of the Quran into a recruiting tool.
Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same Abrahamic God. They interpret the words in a different manner. The issues in the Middle East are not a recent phenomenon. The Palestinian problem is thousands of years older than the United States.
The issue of asymmetric warfare, in the form of terrorism, is not solved by the stroke of a pen or a wall.
The solution is an open and courageous people willing to stand up to the risk of terror. One way to do that is by living in a country that serves as an example, not a convenient target.
The whole world is watching us. Those that are our friends are scratching their heads trying to come to grips with this new America. Those who wish us harm are taking delight in their ability to imprison the Great Satan behind a wall.
To borrow a line from the song by Lee Greenwood, “I am proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” How long will those words ring true?
If the American people no longer have the courage to keep our society open, our pride will disappear.
We, the people, are better than that.

Trumping America

I think I have figured out the Trump phenomenon. His success in the primaries comes from supporters who behave at the maturity level of 15-year-old boys and 13-year-old girls. They are not quite children, not quite adults, and driven by raging emotional responses to anything they cannot or choose not to understand.

They are willing to sacrifice civil liberties and constitutional protections in the pursuit of fighting terrorists. They are willing to employ torture as a means justified by their mistaken belief it will protect America.

They support a candidate who said targeting families, including children, is a worthwhile military strategy. One he is prepared to order our military to carry out. Trump, with all his pride in his Ivy League education, must have skipped history and ethics. His was a poison ivy education.

Here is a quote Trump and his supporters could adopt in support of effective genocide.

Raymond D’Aguilers, a witness to the victorious end of the Crusade of 1096-1099 in Jerusalem, wrote

‘Men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers.’

Men, women, and children not of the Christian faith dead at the hands of the faithful. Unbelievers meaning those who believe differently than the one holding the sword or the launch codes for nuclear weapons.

Trump must believe My Lai was the most successful operation during the Viet Nam war. Unless he missed the story on TV.

Trump’s idea is not even original. Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheik Mohammed thought it a good idea. If we follow Trump’s logic, flying planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon was brilliant.

This country is in a lot of trouble if anyone, let alone a candidate for the Presidency, takes such policies seriously.

They risk destroying the very freedom and moral character that built this country.

Trump screams he will lead us to Making America Great Again. By what measure? By what means? He wraps himself in the flag, portraying himself as the ultimate patriot.

To quote Samuel Johnson, “Patriotism is the refuge of the scoundrel.”

Trump’s idea of patriotism encompasses all the evil of nationalism that no rational American should condone.

Out of this fire of ignorance, Trump emerged as the poster boy of xenophobia.

This pseudo-tough, swaggering, ne’er do well spouting invectives and threatening anyone not in lockstep with him. An American version of ‘das Herrenvolk.’

A schoolyard bully picking on the weak while his “fans” stand around with their cell phones recording and posting their childish voyeuristic nonsense, afraid to stand up for what’s right.

We face the real specter of a President whose policy platform consists of acting like a junkyard dog.

During the last debate, where supporters considered jokes about the size of appendages high humor, there was only one adult on the stage. Trump was not it. Yet his supporters are okay with that.

The reality that people are fooled into believing Trump represents the best of America is frightening.

Nevertheless, he is winning the primaries. True, he is winning Republican primaries under a system rigged to favor the lead candidate; designed to minimize the chance of a brokered convention. They never imagined the rise of the Donald and his living, but brain dead, hordes.

Keep this in mind; he is winning with at best 35% of the vote. Which means 65% of the vote went against him. Many of these are winner take all contests.

Staunch conservatives, like the Tea Party and others, deserve some of the blame here. As Stephen King so aptly wrote. “Conservatives who for 8 years sowed the dragon’s teeth of partisan politics are horrified to discover they have grown an actual dragon.”

We can only hope a St. George will arrive on the scene to slay the dragon before he incinerates us all.

If Trump wins, he will have at least given us one thing of value. We will need that slogan, Making America Great Again, once his Presidency ends. I fear, if there is a Trump presidency, we’ll be singing the line from the Paul Simon song, America.”We’ve all come to look for America…”


Using Apple to take a Bite out of Crime

As most of us know, (and if this is news, you should pay more attention), the Justice department sought Apple Computer’s assistance in bypassing the security encryption on an iPhone.

Not just any phone, but the phone used by the two shooters in the San Bernardino case.

The FBI contends there is probable cause to believe that the phone contains evidence related to the case, may contain names of unidentified co-conspirators, and is a matter of national security. They cannot break the encryption without Apple’s assistance.

Now at first blush, this is a no-brainer. Apple should decrypt the phone and turn over the evidence.

However, upon more contemplation, I think Apple’s position is better for our cherished freedoms.

Now, for those of you who may not know my background, I was a police officer for twenty years. Every job has it fun moments. Ours often consisted of having a search warrant in one hand and a sledgehammer in the other.

Knock, knock we are coming in. One way or the other.

Over time it was inevitable I would see abuses of this system. Warrants obtained on the flimsiest of information. Governmental fishing expeditions usually in the cause of the Holy war against drugs.

Now, that Holy war has a new cause. Terrorism.

In the cause of fighting terrorism, we have lost sight of our original founding principles.

To force Apple to defeat the encryption designed to protect personal data is to start down a road from which we cannot return. The government wants companies to design a “backdoor” into encrypted devices. A door controlled by government.

That is a frightening thought. Imagine the potential for disruption of the political process, privacy violations, and abuse.

To invoke the specter of Orwell’s 1984 has lost some of its once chilling effect. In this world 32 years after that date, it fails to convey the dire warning it once did. Yet we should keep this in mind, Orwell’s warning of “Big Brother” may have been premature, but he was not wrong.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”





The Inherent Risks of Freedom

Freedom carries with it responsibilities and risks

Those who enjoy the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution and Laws must accept the responsibility to support the same freedom for those that hold different perspectives.

We bear the burden of tolerance for those with whom we disagree in exchange for a tolerance of our own ideas.

The risks of freedom are not the same as the risks to freedom.

The laws of this nation insure that all views, religious, political, social, or personal are entitled to equal protection.

One does not have to agree with or support such diverse differences, but you cannot support or condone oppression.

The sole exception is to remove those who refuse to tolerate  others, or seek to impose their beliefs on others by force or law.

Thus the risks of freedom include the necessary evil of tolerating those that may hold abhorrent beliefs (Neo-Nazis, KKK, Supremacists of any color, racists) so long as they do not try to impose their beliefs or break the law.

However, the reality of the world is it can be a dangerous one. The risks to freedom are often masked as attempts to preserve it.

So it comes down to a simple decision. Do we live in fear? Do we sacrifice our long-held hard fought for principles of equality?

Or do we stand up to it?

The single greatest tool against the fanaticism of fundamentalism and intolerance is education. The free exchange of ideas and knowledge.  Embracing intelligence and education seems to be woefully out of fashion in this country.

What is needed today, along with the reality of a strong military, is a 21st century version of Radio Free America.

The spread of knowledge will someday negate the need for force if we just use the best qualities of America.

Perhaps, in the not so distant future, the next generations who occupy this earth and the universe, will look back on this time as the moment the United States of America once again led the world by virtue of our courage and intelligence, not just our miltary might.

When Did the American Eagle become the Cowardly Lion?

When did we become so afraid? A country born in revolution, tested by a civil war, and bloodied on the battlefields of the Ardennes, Bastogne, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, Hue, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

When did this country, blended of people from all over the world, the sum of the parts being greater than the whole, lose its heart?

When did this country, once willing to risk everything in its pursuit of democracy, once challenging itself to put a man on the moon, once serving as a beacon to the world, willing to bear the brunt of supporting the rights of all to be free, become afraid?

Are we so fearful of our inability to sustain and protect ourselves that we would turn our back on the downtrodden and oppressed?

Those who have been born here often forget the words that greet those who came here through the gateway of Ellis Island…

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Are these words that have inspired millions to risk it all for the opportunities of freedom meaningless?

Are they just words?

The opportunities of freedom so cherished by this country bear an obligation. Those that embrace freedom for themselves must be willing to bear the burden of supporting those that seek freedom.

I was raised to believe in an America that stood for something. An America that was willing to put actions to words and fight for all those that seek freedom and against those that would oppress us.

The Syrian refugees are the latest in a long line of oppressed seeking help. The idea that the United States of America is incapable of extending our protections to them as well as protecting ourselves from those forces of oppression is disheartening.

Xenophobia is a fever which has plagued mankind since the dawn of time. We are better than that. We are smarter than a bunch of illiterate zealots masking their craving of power with a distorted view of Islam. The very idea that we need to deny freedom from oppression to thousands of refugees because it involves risk is pathetic.

Where is our American pride? Where is our courage to do what is right, not because it is easy, but because it is hard?

Where has the America I grew to love, respect, and believe in gone?

I am not a religious person. I often poke fun at religion, but it is only because of the certainty which some of the faithful promote the particular faith. No one has a lock on the truth, but everyone is entitled to choose their belief, without compelling others to adopt this.

The Islamic terrorists misuse religion in their quest for power. We are smarter, stronger, tougher, and better than that.

There’s a line from J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye- “If Christ could see Christmas, he’d puke….”

I dare say if Mohammed could see what’s being done in his name, and our fear to do something about that, he’d have the same reaction.

A thousand years from now, if mankind can survive, those studying our history will remember more what we failed to do, than what we chose to do.

The America I love is better than that.


Gun Control: A Time to Rethink the Realities

I struggle with the idea of gun control.  Over time, my ideas have gone from embracing the idea that anyone should be able to own a firearm, as long as they comply with the law, to questioning the need for anyone to possess a weapon with the exception of the Police and Military.

I argued that there are practical problems with imposing serious gun control in this country.  Best estimates show there are 114 million handguns in private hands.  To create a program to remove them lawfully from private ownership has nightmarish legal and practical implications.

There are issues with overcoming the constitutional arguments.  I have revisited the arguments of the second amendment. I see a clear distinction in the common interpretation between its original intent and today’s modern era.

As with all aspects of the Constitution, adapting to a changing world is both necessary and reasonable

In light of the clear and undeniable problem of gun violence in this country, a new approach to gun control is long overdue.  The numbers for 2010 were 18,000 deaths and 33000 injuries from firearms.  Homicide rates in urban areas are 12.1 per 100000.

Some other interesting information; (various on-line sources)

The U.S.A. is ranked third out of 45 developed nations in regards to the incidence of homicides committed with a firearm. Mexico and Estonia are ranked first and second.

In 2009 United Nations statistics record 3.0 intentional homicides committed with a firearm per 100,000 inhabitants; for comparison, the figure for Mexico, where handguns are prohibited was 10 per 100,000, the figure for the United Kingdom, where handguns are prohibited was 0.07 per 100,000, about 40 times lower, and for Germany 0.2.

Gun homicides in Switzerland however are similarly low, at 0.52 in 2010 even though they rank third in the world for highest number of guns per citizen.

Perhaps we can learn something from the Swiss.

So, what are the arguments for allowing private ownership of guns?  Here are the two most commonly cited, the second amendment and protection against a tyrannical government.

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Written at a time when the United States did not keep a standing army, citizens were called to duty when needed.  The benefit of having citizens maintaining and possessing firearms was clear.  The use of a firearm in daily survival, hunting for example, was common.  It was a different time.

Hunting is a hobby now, not a necessity. However, keep in mind, I am talking about handguns and, perhaps, high-capacity military type weapons.

Protection from tyranny.

Proponents of gun ownership often cite Hitler’s Germany outlawing private ownership of weapons as an example.  There is no evidence that the lack of private ownership of firearms by the German people contributed to the rise of the National Socialists in Germany.  The reasons behind that rise to power were infinitely more complex; handguns in every German home would not have altered anything.

This tyranny argument fails on two counts, one philosophical and one practical.  On the philosophical side, the idea that any American government could direct the military to attack the general population is ludicrous.

The men and women who serve do so because of the American people, not despite them.  I know no one who ever served in the military that would follow an order to attack American civilians.

Isolated incidents notwithstanding, the idea of a wholesale attack by the US military on Americans is insane. It makes for an entertaining movie theme, not reality.

Now the practical side of this argument.  Assuming for the sake of discussion that the President somehow convinced the military to attack civilians in a coordinated way, using the full power of the military, the “second amendment” advocates would not stand a chance.

A fully orchestrated attack by the 1st Marine Division, supported by aircraft, armored vehicles and artillery would utterly overwhelm a bunch of yahoos clinging to their precious weapons whose idea of training is drinking beer and shooting targets bearing the image of a politician they despise.

The idea that a citizen army could withstand such an attack is nonsense.

There is a long history of well-established civilian control over the military because the military is comprised of citizens. While one always needs to pay attention, I think a bigger threat to our freedom comes from Congress and not the Pentagon.

It really boils down to this, does the tradition of private ownership of firearms outweigh the real risk to our society.  We have a failing war on drugs because we thought we could arrest our way out of a health issue.  One that, while tragic, takes far fewer lives than handguns. Yet we seem to ignore the bigger threat of these weapons.

It is time for serious reconsideration of eliminating handguns, and perhaps non-hunting weapons, from private ownership and imposing strict control over their use by Law Enforcement.

Maybe it requires a discussion on the reasons behind our violent tendencies that are exacerbated by the easy availability of weapons.

I don’t know the answer, but ignoring the problem is not it.

A country that once said they would put a man on the moon, and did it, is most assuredly capable of finding a way to eliminate the very real threat these weapons pose to people.

Cold Memories and Critical Thinking

The recent cold brought back memories of when I was a young boy growing up in Cumberland. We had a trash barrel in the backyard where, a few times a week, we would burn our trash.

I know this is giving the environmentalists among you nightmares, but it was a different time.

During the cold months, my father and I would stand close to the flames.  He sometimes told me stories of the Korean War, fighting in temperatures of minus 30 degrees.  He hated the cold.

I was thinking about this in light of some recent headlines.

In one headline, state legislatures want to eliminate funding for Advanced Placement History classes, because these classes are critical of America.  According to one of the Oklahoma lawmakers, these classes only teach what is “wrong with America.”

The other headline is from Rudolph Giuliani talking about President Obama.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

Giuliani believes Obama is too critical of past American policies and decisions.

How does this all relate to Cumberland, Rhode Island in the winters of the 60’s you ask?

It matters because our government made decisions, against the evidence, sending my then 18-year-old father to Korea.  These decisions put him, and thousands of other Marines, at the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in November of 1950, surrounded and outnumbered by the Chinese.

General MacArthur ignored evidence of a sizeable Chinese presence on the border.  He ignored his own intelligence reports that the Chinese might enter the war; in fact, they had already crossed the Yalu River.

The Truman administration ignored a message from the Chinese, delivered by the Indian Ambassador to China, that if the US crossed the 38th parallel, China would respond militarily.

The horrors experienced by my father haunted him his whole life.

I have another memory from those years; my father screaming in the middle of the night, thrashing around on the bed, my mother desperately trying to hold him until the nightmares, reliving the battles, drove him to exhaustion and he fell asleep.

I believe those experiences contributed to my father’s battle with alcoholism and death at the relatively young age of 65.

To argue that we need eliminate classes that educate our future leaders in critical analysis is ludicrous. This country needs more critical thinking, not less.

The decisions in Korea were not an aberration.  In 1965, we did it again, sending American troops into the wrong place, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons despite knowing the impossibility of the mission.

During WWII, we supported Ho Chi Minh against the Japanese yet, twenty years later, we sent our soldiers and Marines to fight him. It cost the lives of almost 60000 Americans, along with millions of Vietnamese. We failed to understand the nature of the conflict.

We did it again in Iraq, ignoring or fabricating intelligence, in pursuit of a doomed policy.

In each case there was evidence against the efficacy of those decisions, we knew it, we ignored it, and we did not learn from it.

Giuliani says President Obama does not love this country because he is often critical of it. Giuliani has it all wrong.  No one demonstrates love of country better than through a willingness to seek the truth, no matter how critical or difficult, in pursuit of improving our future decision-making processes.

I understand sometimes going to war is inevitable.

However, critical analysis shows there are opportunities to avoid them. Perhaps, if critical thinking took center stage rather than blind patriotism or hubris, we might have found such an alternative.

The freedom to criticize government is the foundation of our political system. Freedom of speech is the First Amendment for good reason. The founders recognized the absolute necessity of open and free discourse without fear of governmental intrusion.

Critical analysis of past actions can lead to a better future.  Many of the founding fathers owned slaves.  It took almost 70 years after the creation of the Constitution before we abolished slavery.

“All Men are Created Equal.” When these words first appeared on paper, All Men meant white men.  Black men were not included until the Civil War and women not until much later.

It was critical analysis of the errors of the past that righted those wrongs.

Legislative discussions should not be about reducing funding for advanced courses; it should be for increasing the funding.

Perhaps, with a stronger understanding of all the good this country does, tempered by recognizing our weaknesses and mistakes, future generations will not send young men and women into the nightmares of warfare absent full, and continuous, critical analysis.