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There is no sugar-coating it. These are bad times for the Republican Party. In the space of one two-year election cycle, we somehow managed to give the American electorate such a bad opinion of us that we have lost NOT ONLY the Presidency to a first-term congressman/marxist /community-agitator from Chicago, but we ALSO have managed to go from the majority to the minority in both houses of congress. The carnage and humiliation also has extended to the state and local level. To sum-up the situation, in the wake of this two year whirlwind of crisis and doom, the GOP brand has been effectively left in tatters and the voters have taken the party to the woodshed for a well-deserved ass-whipping and left it there for a while to consider the error of it’s ways .

 As the current leader of the conservative-movement-in-exile ( Rush Limbaugh ) likes to remind us -” elections have consequences”, and now we have to face those consequences. I especially hope that all of you Republicans who sat out this last election because you couldn’t quite stomach pulling the lever for John McCain are pleased with the results and are enjoying things so far. I had my problems with the guy as well, but the alternative didn’t even bear consideration , as we all are now finding out.  It’s going to be a VERY, VERY long 4 years my fellow Republicans… I hope we use this time in the wilderness well.

So… Where do we go from here as a party? Well, for starters, let’s pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and take a look around us. Let’s review the situation in a nutshell…We  are now  10 months into this “Ultraviolet Catastrophe” known as the Obama administration, and our distinguished colleagues on the left have already rammed  40 years worth of pent-up liberal programs and TRILLIONS of dollars of government spending and debt down our throats, and they aren’t even CLOSE to being finished. National Health Care is imminent. Stimulus Package II is already being put through as we speak (piecemeal this time instead of all-at-once for obvious stealth reasons ). Early next year we have energy and climate-change  legislation ( AKA “Cap and Trade” ) warming-up in the on-deck circle. What our distinguished opponents have planned for the country in that area will, in actual  practice, place a virtual tax on every single thing that is manufactured or transported in this country while also raising the price of electricity and gasoline for every single American consumer. Later next year, the agenda  will then proceed to “comprehensive immigration reform” . Translated, this means amnesty for tens of millions of illegals and STILL no sign of border or workplace enforcement . Meanwhile, the Bush tax cuts will expire, and employee health benefits will be slated to be taxed as income to partially pay for National Healthcare. Capital gains taxes, payroll taxes,unemployment insurance premiums, corporate taxes, small business taxes, and personal income taxes are all going to go up to pay for all of these wonderful programs and the debt that our fine Democrat friends are running up. A ton of leftist federal judges are going to be being appointed to the bench for life , and probably two more liberal Supreme Court justices as well. Oh, and lest we forget, Mr. Obama seems determined to also find time in his busy schedule to lose the war in Afghanistan, and almost every economist will tell you that we are looking at a repeat of the massive inflation of the early 80’s  in the latter half of Obama’s second term thanks to all of the money he’s been printing. This all coming on the heels of the total collapse of the housing market, the credit-crunch, the auto-bailout, the banking and financial sector meltdown, record unemployment, AND the worst recession since the Great Depression. Whew!

 The Democrats now control the Presidency, they have a large majority in the House of Representatives, and they hold a 60 vote super-majority in the Senate. They are going to, therefore,  do whatever it is that they want for the next year or so until the 2010 elections when their majorities will be pared down somewhat. But even then, they will still have effective control of  both houses of Congress AND control of the White House for the next three years and two months even under our best-case scenarios. Things are bad, and they are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better folks.

The good news is that the Democrats are going to OWN all of this mess come 2012! So it’s hard not to find SOME hope and opportunity for our party to be given another chance in the driver’s seat. But before we start cheering and slapping ourselves on the backs at the likelihood of our coming right back into power soon, we should probably take a minute to consider just how badly we have failed as a party while we were in office to DESERVE being where we are now, and also we should consider the long-term damage that these people are going to do to the country while the adults are out of power . That mess will be left for our children and grandchildren to clean up because we failed to be worthy of the trust that the American people once placed in us. We should be ashamed of ourselves as a party that we strayed so far from our principles, and that we allowed the country to be taken over by these awful miscreants. We should all take this time to re-evaluate our party and to reflect upon what we once stood for, so that when the American people give us a chance again, we will once again be worthy of their trust.

To paraphrase Reagan- The American people didn’t leave the Republican party- we left them. I have a question for all you true-blue republican conservative types- Who was a better champion of the principles fiscal conservatism?- A)  Barack Hussein Obama, B ) George Walker Bush, or C) William Jefferson Clinton? ( The correct answer is “C” ). I was raised Republican. Cut me and I bleed Republican.My family has been Republican since the civil war. Harrises  voted for Lincoln and for every Republican presidential nominee since. Once upon a time, my Dad told me that he couldn’t bring himself to vote for a Republican candidate for a state office  because he disliked him personally.  Rather than do the un-thinkable (vote for a Democrat) , he instead chose the socialist-labor candidate. True story. I have many fond memories of Grandma Harris cussing at the Democrats on television. But even given all of my well-established Republican bonafides, I have to be honest- if I were given a choice right now of who I would want to be president- Obama, Bush, or Clinton…. I would choose Clinton in a heartbeat. And that, my friends, is why we are a party in exile.  We don’t need a third party to split the good guys down the middle and leave the bad guys in office ad infinitum. What we need is a SECOND party to give the electorate an actual alternative to the Republicrat monster we have created. Towards that end, it’s high-time that conservatives took over their own party again.

From a purely tactical standpoint, Republicans will be right back in power very soon, controlling both the Presidency AND both houses of Congress. However, the larger question remains- what do we DO with that power once we have it again, and NOW is the time to answer that question. That power will be handed right back to us by the Democrats themselves, who are not only over-reaching, they are doing-so BADLY. They have somehow managed to completely misinterpret the results of the 2008 elections as being an overwhelming mandate for the biggest  expansion of  the federal government since the Roosevelt administration. For some unknown reason, they seem to feel they have been given a license to run up the national debt so high that our great-great-great-great-great grandchildren will still be paying it off. It’s truly appalling to watch these folks toss around TRILLIONS of dollars like it was the change they found in their couch cushions while cleaning the living room last night . The speed with which this run-away spending is taking place is historic, and absolutely unsustainable. The sheer SCALE and SCOPE of their plans for the expansion of government  is absolutely breathtaking in it’s audacity. But this was absolutely NOT what the American people had in mind. You see, we ALREADY had runaway expansion of the federal government  and uncontrolled spending by the PREVIOUS administration ( although to a much lesser extent ) and they got summarily thrown out of office, just as these people soon will. Bush may have been a social conservative but he was also a budgetary disaster, and the American people rightly repudiated the party that he belonged to for- among other reasons- his criminal mismanagement of the economy- which is now continuing under the Democrats.

The 2008 elections came down to this I think- the Republicans got into office and behaved badly. Also they had the bad luck to be on-duty when the housing and financial crisis hit-( for which they were only about half responsible ). The American people only had two major parties to choose from-  Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. So the people had no choice but to throw one set of bums out and put the other set of bums in for a while. That’s not a mandate- it’s a lack of options.

If we Republicans want to regain the majority and KEEP it, then the first thing that we need to address is giving the American people a real choice again- we need to stand for a set of principles that are clearly distinct and different from the Democrats. Win or lose- going forward from here, we need to quit being “democrat light” and go back to our roots. We need to make elections about our conservative ideas, policies, and solutions again- not about who has the better slogans. The message of the Democratic party in the 2008 Presidential campaign boiled down to this- “Hope”, “Change”, and “Yes We Can!”  Are you freakin’  kidding me?!  If the Grand Old Party- the  party of Lincoln and Reagan for Godssake!- has now sunk so low that we could actually LOSE to these infantile buffoons with their carpet-bags full of jingoistic horse shit, then we truly DESERVE to spend some time in the political wilderness. Our party leaders should consider themselves to be in “time out”, where they now have the opportunity to stand in the corner and totally re-evaluate just what exactly our party is to stand for, and to remember what our core principles once were. Getting back in power again won’t be a problem for the Republican party. The Democrats were given a whole lot of rope in 2008 and they are -predictably- proceeding to hang themselves with it. The popularity of Congress  is worse than some plague rats I know, so we’ll get our chance soon enough. The REAL question is- what will we- the Republican Party- STAND for when we ARE given that chance again. That’s what we- all of us- need to be thinking about as a party now.

The American people NEED and desperately WANT national LEADERSHIP with real solutions now. This crisis CAN be an opportunity for our party, if we are able and willing to step in to that void with real solutions and ideas. There is  a sense of desperation and near-panic in this country that is almost palpable among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. There is a growing sense that our elected leaders in BOTH parties seem incapable of solving even the most basic and obvious problems. It’s like everybody knows what needs to be done, but no matter who you vote for, nobody ever does it! You put the Democrats in charge and they run up the debt, spend money we don’t have, ship all our jobs overseas, and allow millions of illegal Mexicans to invade our country. So you put Republicans in charge and they do the SAME DAMNED THING! It’s maddening! It’s like NOBODY represents our interests anymore!  Health care costs keep rising all out of proportion to everything else and NOBODY seems to know what to do about it. The public schools just get worse every single year no matter how much we spend on them, and the kids seem to keep getting dumber and dumber- graduating knowing less and less. The streets of many major cities have degenerated into little more than gang-infested war-zones for all intents and purposes, and in many, many communities there is a growing sense of a fundamental breakdown of law and social order. The entire midwest- once the manufacturing heart that drove our nation- seems to have been all but written-off as lost by our political leaders. Nothing seems to WORK like it’s supposed to anymore. Things we used to take for granted can’t be relied upon anymore. And nobody really understands why. We are the first generation of Americans that believes our best days are behind us now. Now, more than ever, the Republican party needs to come forward with some answers to at least SOME of these problems. I believe that our party HAS those answers if we will only go back to our roots and quit trying to please the leftist news media by showing how limp-wristed and “moderate” we can be! Reagan didnt have any problem getting elected last I checked, and he was  an unapologetic conservative who was able to proudly and clearly explain what conservatism has to offer voters. The people who are encouraging us to become more “moderate” do NOT have our best interests at heart! They WANT us to lose, and no matter how much like Democrats we try to become, they are NEVER going to be on our side or like us!  If we continue to make elections a choice between Democrat and Democrat-light  then we are finished as a serious national party.

If I had just one wish for my party, it would be this-  that going forward, we win or lose from now on as who we really are. It’s totally up to the American people to choose what direction they want to go, and if a new generation really does want to give up on our nation’s founding principles of freedom and limited government, to go down the road to socialism and an equal share in misery and debt for all,… well, then they have that right in a Democracy. We may have to respect that choice, but we can at least have the courage to stand up proudly and give them a clear alternative to that path!

Now is our time to do just that, fellow Republicans. Let’s consider what we can stand for as a party now that offers voters clear alternatives and positive solutions. Let’s do that  by applying conservative principles of fiscal responsibility and personal liberty to the problems that face our nation now. Let’s then boil those ideas down to a few core, focus-group-tested, bedrock policy planks that our party and all our national candidates vociferously STAND UP FOR every single time they give a campaign speech or appear on a Sunday talk-show. We need to reclaim and reframe the terms of the national debate in the context of a few clear, concise policies and principles that delineate and separate us from the alternative .

We need a new “Contract With America” with clear, easy-to-understand solutions that a majority of Americans agree with us on, and those core ideas and policies need to define us to our consumers/voters as a national brand. Every candidate and campaign- state, local, and national should then hammer those few core points- ten or less- home with the voters over, and over, and over again! Every Democrat should be beaten over the head with them at every opportunity! It worked great in 1994, and it will work again! 

The GOP is potentially set for a MAJOR comeback here. The Democrats were reluctantly handed the keys to the family station wagon in 2006 and 2008 by nervous parents with grave misgivings about doing so, and sure enough… that crazy bitch Nancy Pelosi immediately jammed the gas pedal to the floor and pointed the car-of-state right off a cliff. These people will be grounded again very soon, and won’t be back in the driver’s seat again for a very long time. This is the Carter administration all over again. I just hope to God we can find another Reagan to clean up this mess. But regardless of who the standard-bearers wind-up being,  we as a party have to get back to our core principles and come up with some clear, concise policies and ideas that all of our candidates can get behind and sign-on to in 2012.

Towards that end, I have some thoughts about which specific areas of national policy we need to focus on as a party to bring us back to what we once were- a true national party that actually represented the people’s interests and had some real policy solutions to the problems that face or nation – not just slogans, flag-waving, and ideology, which isn’t going to cut it anymore.

 Here would be my Top Ten ideas for a new “Contract with America”…

ISSUE NUMBER ONE: LAW AND ORDER

For starters, let’s go with our core competency as conservatives and pledge that if the Republican party is put back in charge, that we will take back our neighborhoods from gangs and lawlessness. Let’s pledge to put as many police officers on the streets and build as many jails as we have to , to re-establish basic Law and Order in our cities as a national priority. Long-term, of course this is going to mean getting ahold of the awful public school systems, and stopping illegal immigration, both of which are feeding all of these murderous gangs that are exploding everywhere and turning our communities into war zones. But first things first- In the short-term, we need to meet this enemy head-on and in-their face with boots on the ground. We need a “Surge” into the areas that the forces of law and order have basically lost total control of in the last ten years or so. We need to employ counterinsurgency tactics to “hold and  clear” the enemy strongholds in our cities and take back the areas where they currently operate with  impunity. If it sounds like we are fighting a war, that’s because we are. Case in point: the city of Oakland, California is currently being terrorized by over TEN THOUSAND gang members running amok killing each other ( and many innocent bystanders while they are at it ) with total impunity. You walk down the wrong street wearing the wrong color, and you stand a fairly high chance of being summarily executed in broad daylight.Primarily, these hoodlums consist of;  the “Norteos”, the “Sureos”, and the “Border Brothers”. Each and every single one of these saggy-pants-wearing fucktards needs to be rounded up, cuffed and stuffed,  and thrown in jail for a twenty year sentence immediately and without further delay. To accomplish the task of  battling ten thousand mexican gangbangers, the city’s gang-unit ( recently disbanded ) consists of eight officers. Eight. 

  Let’s face it… Republicans are natural Law and Order, hard-ass types.  Our party’s base is basically Hank Hill from “King of the Hill. We  like peaceful, polite, and safe communities. We don’t litter.We like to mow our yards. And we have no use whatsoever for any aspect of thug culture. None whatsoever. The American people in Oakland, Chicago, and Detroit are tired of living in fear. So let’s roll into these neighborhoods with 50,00 new cops, round these jackasses up, and kick some ass! This issue has always been a total winner for us. Republicans should ALWAYS stand for more cops, safer streets, and criminals in jail where they belong!  

ISSUE TWO: THE BORDER AND WORKPLACE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT

The majority of the American People have HAD IT with this situation! Thirty million illegal Mexicans have just waltzed into our country like they own the place, taken over entire cities and industries, completely inundated our schools, filled our jails to overflowing, bankrupted our healthcare system and overwhelmed all of our social welfare programs which are supposed to be serving  American citizens and now no longer can. These people show little if any inclination to assimilate into our culture or customs as previous waves of immigrants in our history have done, and instead are perfectly content to continue jibber-jabbering away in spanish while they steal our identities, celebrate Cinco De Mayo instead of the 4th of July, and lower everybody’s wages while they steal the jobs of millions of out-of-work Americans. Mexican gangs are turning hundreds of previously safe communities into war-zones where decent, law-abiding working people and senior citizens are now forced to live in abject fear for their lives.  Enough is by-God enough! We know where the Democrats stand on this. They want to do everything in their power to keep the status quo going- open borders, sanctuary cities, and amnesty. They thwart every attempt to secure the border, to enforce immigration law in the workplace, and to allow local cops to check immigration status. They do everything they can to allow these people to enter and re-enter the country, and to stay here illegally. They do everything they can to make it possible for illegals to get healthcare, education, welfare benefits, food stamps, WIC, Section-8 housing, home loans, bank accounts, driver’s licenses, voter registration cards and auto insurance. They hinder every attempt to identify these people, to round them up, and to deport them. This is understandable. The Democrat party is the party of  government services. Illegals need these things and represent a vast potential constituency if they can only be legalized somehow. The Republican party needs to offer an alternative to this ongoing national outrage. The VAST majority of Republicans want the border closed, and want the assholes who are giving these people jobs rounded up and thrown in jail. The majority of Americans- regardless of party- also want the border closed. So let’s get on the right side of this issue!  On DAY ONE of a new Republican administration, let’s pledge to put troops on the border, and make a border-duty rotation a PERMANENT part of normal Army and National Guard service. Troops come off their tour-of-duty in Afghanistan or wherever, and rotate back to peacetime duty on the border for 6 months or so. Enough with the foot-dragging and hand-wringing on this issue! Let’s build a thirty-foot wall from Brownsville to San Diego! And let’s put illegals awaiting deportation in charge of clearing the brush from a hundred meter  zone on either side of that wall. Again, this issue is a total winner for us! Even most legal hispanic citizens want the border secured and immigration enforcement in the workplace. In fact, these people are the ones MOST hurt by rampant illegal immigration, as many of them are the ones on the lower rungs of the job market  having their wages lowered and their jobs stolen by the illegals.

ISSUE THREE: TRADE REFORM TO BRING OUR JOBS HOME!

I am a realist, and as such, I have been willing to tolerate a little bit of corruption, bribery, graft, and personal enrichment on the part of our public officials- just so long as while they are stealing a little piece from a very large pie, they make sure that the American people’s interests are looked after as well while they are doing it. But at this point, our elected officials are focused entirely on taking care of themselves, but are apparently not even remotely interested in taking care of us. And that has to stop. The trade agreements and  policies of the last 25 years have absolutely been to the ruin of this country. Republicans and Democrats alike have been falling over each other to ship our jobs overseas and to transfer trillions of dollars of national wealth out of the country to China that could have- and should have- been spent on American’s needs. The industrial heartland of this country has had it’s guts ripped out and the entire industrial Midwest has been in a permanent recession and bleeding jobs now for two decades thanks to these idiotic trade agreements. The Republican Party has traditionally been the party of trade protectionism, and we need to get back to that- if , for no other reason, than to give the American voter an actual choice betwen the two parties. Because right now, BOTH political parties have sold us down the river on this issue.

First of all, “Free Trade” with a third-world country where the workers earn less in a day than American workers earn on their coffee breaks is not even possible. The entire premise of “Free Trade” is preposterous.OF COURSE factories and producers are going to go where the labor is cheapest if we allow them to! Hello MacFly! Also, the playing field is not even remotely level. Not only are we paying for most of the world’s security with our military, but we have a lot of worker and environmental protections in place during the manufacturing process that add to the costs of goods produced here as well. The only thing “Free Trade” with third world countries gets us as a nation is a massive transfer of wealth and jobs to other countries- who then turn around and loan that money back to us to finance our out-of- control government spending. It’s pure insanity! The Chinese are our bankers now, and can bring our currency and our economy to it’s knees on a whim should we ever get out of line on Tibet, on human rights for Chinese citizens like free elections, or on the issue of Taiwan just by selling even a small percent of their massive currency reserves- which are in dollars. Not only is our trade imbalance with China an economic disaster, but it’s also very dangerous in terms of how our hands are tied now in on matters of foreign policy! We wouldn’t last one day in a war with China if they decided to invade Taiwan tomorrow. They would dump their dollars on the world market and throw us into another Great Depression overnight! Am I in favor of trade? Sure! But we should be adding duties and tariffs on imports and on multinational corporations who base themselves elsewhere to avoid taxes , while still having access to the biggest market on earth. We are getting screwed here! We need to raise tariffs such that the costs of production overseas equal the costs of production here. Period. That’s fair. Everything H.Ross Perot said turned out to be true. Lincoln was a staunch trade protectionist! And for all of his free-trade rhetoric- when push came to shove, so was Reagan. He wasn’t about to let us get pushed around or taken advantage of, and practicality was much more important than ideology with Reagan when it came to motorcycles, machine tools, steel, semiconductors, and cars. There’s a reason why Toyotas are being built in Alabama today, employing American workers and paying taxes HERE, and that reason is Ronald Wilson Reagan playing hardball on trade. We need to tell the WTO to go take a hike, abrogate all of our trade agreements, and renegotiate them on a case-by-case basis according to what benefits THIS nation the most. I mean, that should be our fundamental guiding principle on matters of trade, should it not?- IE. what benefits this nation the most? If OUR interests are not the primary concern of our elected officials, then exactly whose interests are they looking out for?! This issue is a TOTAL winner for the Republican party, and it puts the GOP  back in play again in the entire  midwest- Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois specifically.  I am amazed that , considering the huge electoral bounty of these states, that both political parties have gotten away with giving states like Ohio and Michigan the ol ” Dirty Sanchez” on the issue of trade and manufacturing  jobs for the last twenty years. It’s outrageous! Why do the voters of Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Dayton tolerate this unmitigated, unlubricated cornholing by their national leaders in both parties? In Michigan, they are literally letting paved roads revert back to gravel. They are razing whole neighborhoods and turning them back into grassy fields. Unemployment is at 17%! This issue is RIPE to refuel an entire political re-alignment in the heartland, and Republicans need to get in there and fight for those votes!

Besides, practically speaking, if the Republican party has a future, we HAVE to take back the midwest, which used to be our power base, to counteract Democratic encroachment in the west and southwest. California- for all intents and purposes- is a write-off for us now. If we are also writing off Ohio, we may as well pack it in, because the GOP is finished as national party. Let’s pledge as Republicans to leave WTO, to re-examine our trade relationships, to bring those relationships back  into balance, and to start bringing our manufacturing  jobs ( and the wealth and prosperity they generate) back home!

ISSUE FOUR: RADICAL CHANGE TO FIX OUR SCHOOLS

Really, I should have put this one first, because it’s by far the Republican’s best issue, and the one that Democrats are most vulnerable on. We spend FAR, FAR, FAR more than any other country in the world on education, and yet we somehow wind-up  back in 27nth place on standardized testing among nations in some subjects at some grade levels. We keep pouring our national wealth into the disgraceful, FAILED abomination that is our nation’s public schools, and STILL  all the Democrats want to to is spend more money! All across the country, millions of school children in places like Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Chicago are either dropping out entirely, or graduating from high school dumb as a box of rocks- not knowing how to read, write, speak the english language, or add two numbers together. The ignorance and lack of learning taking place in public school systems across the country- despite our massive national investment in these failed institutions – is APPALLING. We’ve seen time and again that charter schools and private schools accomplish ten times the results for half the price, so let’s give ALL parents the choice to take their kids out of these awful public failures and put them in private schools that will better serve their needs. Let’s toss this current failed model on the scrap heap of history and give people their own tax dollars back in the form of a voucher that they can spend on ANY school they choose- public or private. Let the marketplace decide who wins and loses. Make parents and kids empowered consumers and let them vote with their feet! The Democrats will fight us tooth and nail on this, because if we take away their ability to subject captive school children  to leftist indoctrination in the public school system for 12 years, they are sunk and they know it. The job they’ve done using the public schools to brainwash and dumb-down American school children ( future voters ) has been a critical component of the success  the counterculture has had in remaking our society as a whole. If we manage to put all those kids in private schools where they will actually learn facts about history and government, learn how to read, and learn how to critically reason,  the Democratic party as it is currently constituted is done for. Education reform is a  dagger aimed right at the heart of the liberal democratic base- especially the Congressional Black Caucus- who want to keep American school children dumb, poor, and dependant on them. There is a REASON why our political leaders all put their children in private schools while they expect poor, inner-city kids to go to failed public schools- it’s because they care less about the children than they do about their political power base with the teacher’s unions, and more about their opportunity to indoctrinate children into leftist ideology. We as Republicans should beat Democrats over the head with their vile hypocrisy on this issue every day of every single election campaign. No Republican politician or candidate anywhere should EVER step in front of a microphone or TV camera without demanding to know when the President will either be sending his own kids into the Baltimore public school system, or will be giving the parents of those kids who are trapped in there the same opportunities to learn that HIS kids have! Republican office-seekers should be standing on the steps of every failed school in America DEMANDING equality of opportunity for every child regardless of their race or income. How is that not a winner for us? Republicans have been on the right side of this issue for a long time. We NEED to put this front and center, and start PUNISHING the Democrats for being on the wrong side of this. We need a national, coordinated marketing-campaign every single election-cycle to throw this in the face of Democrats who have no leg to stand-on, and no choice but to hang their heads in abject shame on this issue.  Micheal Steel are you listening to me? 

ISSUE FIVE: A REALISTIC ENERGY POLICY

The bursting of the housing bubble wasn’t the only thing that sent this economy into the current recession. Four-dollar -a-gallon gas prices are what finally pushed us off the edge of the cliff. How soon we forget, eh? High gasoline and electricity prices add a virtual tax onto the production and transportation of every single good and service in the economy. It’s a tax on all consumers and producers. It’s money taken right out the pockets of commuters and working families trying to make ends meet. It’s higher prices on food and dairy products. It’s a tax on every manufactured good that gets to the marketplace on tractor trailers or rail cars. It’s a tax on all road and air travel that cancels vacations and road trips, and affects tourism , the airlines, and hotels. Looking forward, because of the slowdown in the economy, the lack of investment capital, and quite frankly, because of a democratic administration that is openly hostile to most traditional forms of energy production, there has been greatly reduced investment in exploration, refining capacity, and new energy infrastructure over the past two years . This lack of investment means that when the economy finally DOES start to get some legs and starts getting going again, gas prices are going to go right back up to four or five dollars-a-gallon and will quickly put the brakes on any economic recovery. And that should be happening right about 2012 when the Democrats are going to have to answer to the American voters as to why they have done NOTHING during their time in power to increase our nation’s ability to produce energy- instead choosing to leave our economy at the mercy of OPEC.

We Republicans have been doing everything possible for years to try and increase domestic energy production- including more offshore drilling, oil-shale conversion , tapping our own abundant natural gas stores in Alaska, and building more safe, clean, non-polluting nuclear power plants. The Democrats have thwarted us on these things at every turn, and in 2012 we have to make them PAY for it, with a well-marketed and well-publicized National Energy Initiative focused on increasing domestic production, and on bringing an end to our reliance on foreign oil.

It’s a statistical fact that even if we turned the entire Great Plains into one giant windmill farm, and turned the entire state of Arizona into one giant photovoltaic cell, there is no possibility that these sources can ever power more than a fraction of our national energy needs. Nuclear power plants and increased natural gas production are the only thing we can realistically do in the short-term to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of oil and coal until we can bring hydrogen power to bear in the long-term. And yet Democrats who supposedly care so much about reducing carbon emissions and stopping global warming, block these beneficial things at every turn. They have no realistic answers or solutions to offer, and we Republicans need to smack them around on this issue like the limp rag-dolls they are in 2012 when Americans are fuming at the gas pumps once again. 

We should also be smart and couch our energy policy in terms of a realistic plan to reduce carbon emissions in the short-term with nuclear and natural gas, and we should get 100% behind cellulose-into-hydrogen research as a long-term solution as well. There is no reason at all why the Democrats should own the “Green” issue. All they have is empty talk- we are the ones with real solutions that we can present within the framework of a realistic national energy policy!

ISSUE SIX: A BALANCED BUDGET PLEDGE

It’s not that difficult. If I spend ten dollars for every five I earn,  I am soon going to find myself  in a financial mess. The same is true for both governments and for private citizens. Americans are rightly horrified and appalled at the spiraling national debt. And this issue should especially be a way for fiscal conservatives to reach out to young voters, as all of this spending and debt really amounts to nothing more than generational theft. Why the hell should our children and grandchildren be forced to pay off trillions of dollars of debt that we have run up? It’s a crock! Republicans have traditionally been the mean old party-poopers who say “No,we cant afford that!” when Democrats want to spend more money on failed systems or create some new government program or entitlement. We abandoned that traditional role under Bush II. That’s our J-O-B as conservative Republicans people,  and it’s high-time we got back to it! This current course we are on is unsustainable, and is going to be to the ruin and bankruptcy of generations of Americans yet unborn. Our next Republican candidate for President should swear a blood oath before God and before the American people, that he will not sign a budget that is sent to him by Congress that adds one penny to the national debt, and swear that he will resign if he ever does. Further, Republicans should bring up for a vote in both houses of Congress a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution each and every single time the Congress is in session. Let the Democrats vote it down over, and over, and over, and over again! Then beat them senseless with their own voting record  each and every election cycle. We should also put forward a thirty-year plan to pay the national debt down to ZERO- and it shouldn’t be back-loaded until “our guy” is out of office either! The reason why we waste so much money on things that we don’t really need is that it’s all going on the national credit card. If we cut up the credit card and actually have to pay as we go, we will find it a lot easier to set priorities and cut waste. Every federal dollar spent on cow-fart experiments, dog-parks, aquariums, the Endowment for the Arts, National Public Radio, PBS, and Woodstock museums should be a dollar taken out of Grandma’s retirement check. That should keep them honest and focused for a change.

ISSUE SEVEN: A STRONG AND CLEAR VISION FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE AND HOMELAND SECURITY

 In 1980, Ronald Reagan was able to compare and contrast favorably his strong vision for America’s national security against Carter’s wimpy, whussy, apologetic approach to international  affairs. This should also be the case for Republicans running against Obama in 2012 who is repeating all of Carter’s mistakes. Mr. Obama managed to somehow convince us all during the campaign, that he wasn’t just some flakey first-term community agitator from Chicago by talking tough on National Defense. He said time-and-time-again during the campaign, that we needed to focus and get tough on the war that REALLY counted- Afghanistan. And yet here we are 10 months later, and the Taliban is taking over again, and general McKrystal’s request for 40,000 additional troops has been sitting on Obama’s desk while this chump worries about the 2016 Olympic games. The man is getting advice from people who are actually telling him to cut a deal with the Taliban, cede the cities to them, and to then focus on predator strikes and special ops missions instead of on counterinsurgency. He is not even listening to the guys who engineered “the Surge” in Iraq and snatched victory  from the jaws of defeat with a brilliant “clear and hold” counterinsurgency strategy. 

The current administration- in addition to trying real hard to lose the war in Afghanistan, is setting the Guantanamo detainees free, is tying the hands of our law enforcement agencies to conduct surveillance and wiretaps on terrorist suspects, is still leaving the border wide open despite recent actual attempts made by islamic terrorists to cross over from Mexico, and is even launching a major criminal investigation into CIA interrogation techniques during the Bush administration.  The question can be fairly asked- just whose side are these people on anyways?  

The argument can perhaps be fairly made, as to why we should not have gone into Iraq during the Bush years, but one thing that CANNOT be denied is that the overall strategy of placing the country in an offensive posture of  engagement with the enemy ABROAD was a smashing success that needs to be continued. We buried tens of thousands of  Al Qaeda, jihadists, and other assorted muslim whackjobs while fighting over in Iraq, and it’s much better that we engage them there as opposed to engaging them here. The Clinton-era policy of treating national security and anti-terrorism as a law enforcement matter best left to the courts and to international sanctions was a total disaster. Bush and Cheney did what was necessary to keep this country safe, and thwarted over thirty separate plots with their aggressive surveillance, interrogation, and wiretapping policies. Mark my words, we are going to rue the day that we let this current bunch of lawyers and armchair theorists get into office.

Iran is going to acquire nuclear weapons and supply them to the terrorist groups that they already fund and arm all over the world, and Obama is going to do absolutely nothing to stop it from happening except to wag his finger at them, and threaten to “engage in serious dialogues” with them. He will impotently plead  for more UN resolutions and sanctions ( which never accomplish anything even when implemented ), and most of those resolutions and sanctions will be blocked in the UN security council by Russia and China.

Just as they did during the carter years, our enemies are laughing at us. Once again, Russia knows it has a free hand to expand into Ukraine and the Baltics thanks to our weak, spineless President.

How soon we have all forgotten the lessons of 9-11…  We saw that day what our enemies have in store for us, and we should remember that the only reason the death count wasn’t 50,000 or more that day, is that those buildings didn’t collapse as quickly as they had  hoped. Also, we should remember that we foiled an even worse plot than 911 to hi-jack and crash multiple 747’s and we did this by water-boarding Khalid Sheik Mohammed. FYI, we dont DO waterboarding anymore  because this new bunch is running things and figures that if we will only be nice to our enemies, then they surely will be nice to us in return.

We live in dangerous times, and we are fighting a new type of war that is full of asymmetrical engagements and one where our success or failure is highly dependent on surveillance, intelligence gathering, and on interrogation. Like it or not, we just can’t afford to have a bunch of pussy liberals running the country at this juncture in our nation’s history. Maybe some other time would be better. I mean, God bless them for their good intentions and for wanting to be nice to everybody, but we need serious adults in charge now, and these people are simply going to be the death of us.

We Republicans, for better or worse, are the party of war and ass-kicking now, and that’s what the country needs, not the  Democrat party of defeat and retreat. We have to lay it out plainly for the American people that we are the ones who are going to keep them safe. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to take another 911- courtesy of our dear little friends the well-intentioned Democrats- to remind the voters who needs to be in charge at this point. Don’t get me wrong, the Democrat party wasnt always like this. Kennedy and Truman took no crap from anybody, and neither did FDR. But the Democrat party today is the party that was taken over by the dope-smoking hippy counterculture of the 60’s and is run by their worthless children now. It’s up to the Republicans to keep America safe now.

The next American President needs to be brutally honest with the American people about our prospects in Afghanistan and make both a serious commitment to victory in that theatre of operations, and to setting realistic expectations for what we hope to accomplish there. Afghanistan is never going to be a successful country per say. It will never be a particularly happy or prosperous nation. They have nothing at all going for them in that godforsaken place except yak dung, heroin, and Islam. ( And I am not even sure which of those three excreable items is the worst to have – although personally, if I had to pick which of the three I would most want to have in my country, I would start with the yak dung, which could at least be used as fertilizer, then I would put heroin second, followed last of all by Islam- which is probably the most dangerous and mind-numbing of the three … ) Any “nation-building”, modern progress, or human-rights  that we manage to create there for those people is all well and good, but we need to remember that that is not really why we are there. They need those things in Ghana as well, yet we haven’t invaded them. We are THERE to send a message to other countries who would allow their territory to be used as a base for terrorist operations against the United States. That message is this: If you do that, your country will soon find itself under new management and your leaders will go from living in lavish palaces to living in caves and waiting for our laser-guided munitions to come flying down their vent pipes. We should not be looking for an “exit strategy ” in Afghanistan. We should stay there indefinitely and keep our boot on the throats of the Taliban for the next 40 or 50 years. Why not just be honest about that with the American people?

We just can’t walk away from there after 911 without ceasing to be a great power, so why not settle in and accept it? We’ve had troops in Germany and Japan for longer than that. Why not transfer them over to Kabul and Kandahar until 2060? We kill people every day over there who wish this country harm. Great! So why leave and give Al Qaeda back their safe haven? Let’s stay!

Oh, and on the subject of 911- the fact that eight years later, ground-zero is still a fucking hole in the ground is a national disgrace! Why couldn’t we have spent some of that trillion dollar stimulus package to put up a skyscraper three times as tall as the WTC, only this time with anti-aircraft batteries on top and a big sign that says “Try that again motherfuckers!” I seriously think that our next President should step in there and vow to rebuild on the site of the twin towers something bigger and better than anything anywhere else in the world! Talk about a perfect symbol of strength and defiance for this country and an expression of our party’s renewed commitment to national strength and pride! It’s exactly what we need, and what’s more it’s the right thing to do. Would Lincoln or Reagan have just let the site of the twin towers sit there empty as a testament to American impotence? I think not.

ISSUE EIGHT: TERM LIMITS

A recent poll showed that the America people- Democrats, Republicans, and Independents- would gladly vote tomorrow to remove every single member of Congress from office and start completely over. I would be among those who would vote in favor of this. Whether we accomplish this by state referendums leading to a Constitutional Convention, or by bills pushed forward in Congress, I actually think this is something that we need to do. I am sorry to say that money and lobbyists have such an influence over our political leadership now, that the nation’s work is simply no longer getting done. It’s time  to start over. As things currently stand, fund-raising for the next campaign has to begin the very first day of an elected official’s new term in office. We have created a class of permanent career politicians whose primary function is to raise money to keep getting elected. These people are insulated from reality by class privelege and by power that is wielded over others for far too long. They exempt themselves from the laws and burdens that they impose on their constituents, and rarely are held accountable for violating those laws. Representative Charles Rangel is the living, breathing poster-child for everything we have created.

Half of the people our new President put up for Cabinet positions were admitted tax cheats- including the Secretary of the Treasury! You couldn’t even make this stuff up and be believed it’s so crazy.

 I say it’s time for REAL change, not just empty campaign slogans about “change”. I advocate a new  “One and Done” term-limits law for both the House and the Senate. It would not be a career or a lifetime pension type of deal anymore, but rather an opportunity for community service, and then you go back to private life- or, if you do a good job, you could run for higher office. A majority of the American people want this, so let’s get behind that sentiment. Alternatively, I wonder if we couldnt set up some kind of vote-swap on the internet that would pair Democrats with Republicans who  live in districts currently controlled by their own respective parties. Maybe we could make a mutual pledge to one another to not vote for the incumbents in our districts even if it means voting for the other party. It would be sort of  like bi-lateral disarmament negotiations. We could try it in two districts at first- one republican and one democrat, and see if everybody lives up to their word. 

ISSUE NINE: CONGRESSIONAL PAY AND BENEFITS

No more automatic pay-raises in the dead-of-night, and index the bastard’s salaries to exactly match the average American’s salary. They earn what we earn. And they have to retire on Social Security- no  pension. And they have to use the “Public Option” for their own families’ healthcare. And they have to send their own kids to public schools. It’s time to bring these people out of their comfortable cocoon of privilege and wealth, and make them live in the mess they are creating for the rest of us. It’s the political equivalent of rubbing a dog’s face in his own crap when he keeps pooping on the carpet despite your best efforts to teach him otherwise.

ISSUE TEN: A BOLD AND VISIONARY NATIONAL UNDERTAKING OF SOME SORT

We Americans are natural pioneers. We are risk-takers. Builders. Dreamers. We crossed a rugged wilderness in covered wagons to make a better life. We landed men on the Moon. We built the Panama Canal. Built the Internet. Constructed the Interstate Highway system. Invented sliced bread, Tai-bo, and TV remotes. We spend more money on chew toys for our dogs each year than the Gross National Product of many nations.We liberated Europe and invented the Atomic Bomb. People are being born into abject poverty right now, today, in American hospitals- who will go on to college and become millionaires someday. We can do all of these things because we Americans have an absolute faith that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! The word “CAN’T” doesn’t even exist in our dictionaries.If you can dream it, you can do it! Every true American believes this deep down in their hearts as individuals, and what we need to do to get things back on track , is to get that spirit back AS A NATION again. We should have higher hopes and aspirations for ourselves than looking forward to an equal share in misery for everybody, and to have to go to work every day just to pay off the interest on the national debt, and to fund a bunch of social entitlement programs.

We need a new national undertaking. Something bold. Something special to work for that unites and inspires us. We need a candidate for President to stand up and say that if he is elected , then we will do something audacious, incredible, and almost unimaginable. Something tangible. Something specific. Something to look forward to. Something to gather the family around the television set to watch happen. Something to keep kids laying awake at night in their beds wondering if maybe someday – if they study real hard in school-maybe they could be a part of such a thing.

Most of all, we need a President  to tell us that we WILL NOT FAIL at it- to say it to the world! And to say that we will do whatever we have to as a nation to achieve the goal. We need something to remind us that our best days are NOT behind us, and that ANYTHING IS STILL POSSIBLE. Now more than ever, we need that. So let’s do it! Let’s go someplace nobody has ever gone before, or do something that’s never been done before. Let’s go to Mars or cure cancer or build a giant spaceborne interferometer to see if we really are alone in the universe. Let’s commit ourselves as a nation to something that will stand as OUR legacy to the ages- like the Apollo project was to our grandparent’s generation. Maybe we could get NASA back on track. Maybe they could do something with their 18 billion-dollar-a- year budget besides pay the russians for rides to the International Space Station- which is all they apparently have planned for the next decade. Maybe instead of “Cap and Trade” legislation, we could spend that trillion dollars setting up the greatest medical research center that the world will ever see , and pay for the schooling for 50,0000 new doctors and researchers to go and work there. To cure Cancer, Aids, and all of  the genetically passed-on diseases while we are at it. You know, we could probably actually pull it off,  if we were to put all of the  power and  imagination of the American people behind it .

Something. Anything! Just not the fading away with a whimper of the greatest nation the world has ever known. Just not to go softly into the good night of socialism and unending debt-service. To instead hold our heads up and to dream the impossible dream like Americans are supposed to.

As Republican’s, let’s venture something bold, and offer an optimistic vision for our future!

In conclusion…

 To anybody out there on the on the internet who actually reads this screed/manifesto in it’s entirety, I just want to say thanks very much for listening to my ideas on where I think the Republican party should go from here . I am happy to listen to any ideas if someone has any better,additional, or alternative proposals.

Take Care and God Bless…

PS. – Cheney/ Limbaugh 2012!

Further Suggested Reading:

Pat Buchanan on the Border:

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=33903#

Ronald Reagan: Trade Realist, by Alan Tonelson…

http://www.americaneconomicalalert.org/view_art.asp?Prod_ID=1134

The notion that there is no God is somewhat prevolant these days in certain institutions and intellectual circles in America. And the idea that we are nothing more than a self-assembled collection of proteins with no underlying intent or design is taught in most of our schools now as scientific fact. Certainly a large percentage of the smart, hip, young, crowd that comprises the majority of opinion on the blogosphere has been raised to hold nothing but contempt for both God and religion in general. At best, God is written off these days as a fairy tale for children and for those among us who cant deal with life and existence as it really is-a thing without purpose or intent.

And yet isn’t it ironic that these people who hold forth so strongly on the internet about their opinions on everything under the sun- life, politics, culture, war, and peace- these people strangely proceed and behave as though they and their thoughts, opinions, and lives  MATTER greatly even when the philosophy and worldview which underlies all their aguments demands that they DON’T matter in a life with no purpose.

In a view of our universe where there is no maker, no design, no purpose, no intent, and nothing sacred or divine, we MUST accept that all morality is but illusion and a pretension. What is the notion of right and wrong- of good and evil anyways, but a statement that THIS is how things are MEANT to be, whereas this other thing is NOT as it was intended to be. Without an appeal to a greater plan or meaning, what value can one act or idea possibly hold over another one? In a life where all conceptions are equally meaningless, how shall we say then that this is right and noble, or that this other thing is wrong or bad? What is the special value of a life anyways if we are just random matter flung about in a cold, empty, dead universe ? A clod of dirt or a man- what’s the difference ? To live or to die, to kill or  be killed- it’s just re-arranging a few quantum particles to no particular end isnt it?

 If the sole meaning behind our lives is survival of the fittest, then why should we care for the weak, the sick,the old, the disabled, the tired, the poor, and the simple? Why do we labor for and care for and sacrifice for them? Why should we bother? What is their assigned role in secular neo darwinism?

This philosophy of a Godless existence which we have so blithely accepted as a matter of fact in our schools and in our society is not a philosophy without consequences, for if we answer to nobody for our actions and for our life, and if we have no responsibility to each other or to a higher moral code than our own wishes and ambitions, then we quickly see what becomes of a nation that founds itself on such things. We soon find ourselves looking around ourselves at situations, events, and at a way of life that doesnt seem to make sense, or to sit right with us on an intrinsic level- like the proverbial splinter in Neo’s mind. Life becomes unfamiliar, strange, and not quite right somehow when we abandon all metaphysical concepts of morality and spirituality in favor of atheistic naturalism and conduct ourselves according to the tenats of that philosophy. That is because we KNOW deep down  that this is not as it was INTENDED to be. We are all born with a conscience and the dictates of that intrinsic knowledge of good and evil do not always run parrellel to the intrests of darwinian self preservation. The firefighters who ran into the twin towers on 911 when everyone else was running OUT were not behaving according to their own survival interests, but rather acted contrary to them as a result a belief in metaphysical principles. They chose self-sacrifice rather than self interest as a result of their belief in a higher moral code.  

 Deep down, we humans all have an innate frame of reference. We KNOW that there is a meaning and a purpose to our lives, and that there is intrinsic value in the lives of others- although we may find that meaning hard to grasp or understand or articulate sometimes. We also know deep-down what right and wrong are, and we know that the foundation of such concepts is NOT survival of the fittest. Rather we see the best that we can be as people in the polar opposite of darwinistic selection – in heroism- when a man or a woman devotes his or her life to serving others rather than themselves, and in the service and bravery of those who would lay down their lives for another. These are lives of signifigance that we hold up as examples for us to be inspired and guided by.

My attitude towards people who have no faith in a life with any meaning higher or more relevant than random particle interactions is this- If you want to write-off  life and everything we are as meaningless and random- without design or intent- then by all means please go ahead and do so. But IF you do so, then in the interest of consistency and intellectual honesty, I must also insist that you quit acting and shit-talking to those of us who disagree with you, as though the things you do and say in this life matter- because they clearly DON’T. Without a greater metaphysical meaning to your existence, you need to just accept once-and-for-all that everything you are is nothing but DUST IN THE WIND and therefore nothing you have to say is of any consequence whatsoever to anybody. If that is the path you choose, then please go sit quietly in a corner, in the mud, and sulk- because your life has no point or purpose. Wear sack cloth. Throw ashes on yourself and on your meaningless, pointless life. But why should you bother to trouble those of us who do choose to have faith? If we live our lives  as though our short, precious time here actually is special, relevant, and part of a higher plan and meaning designed by a power greater than ourselves, then why should we suffer the insults and scorn of those who claim their lives have no greater purpose? If you have no purpose, then why not go away and be quiet? Why all the sqwawking from these people who claim there is no point or purpose to anything?

Deep down inside us all, sometimes hidden behind the walls of rationalization built in the mind, we know that there is a meaning and a signifigance, and a purpose to this life. We all know it -through our lives, our loves, our aspirations, our tears, our laughter, our joys, our sorrow, our losses, and our triumphs in this life. We see in our desires to act and to prosper and to labor and to create and to bring forth some good thing into this life that there is an intent and a design to this thing- that there is right and wrong- and that we are all part of a plan that is greater than us.

To not acknowledge a maker and a designer is to write off everything we know and love as nothing but quantum dust. That includes every aspect of our lives and thoughts, our families, the birth of our children, the death of a loved-one, home and hapiness, holidays and laughter, jokes and games, neighbors on the porch, education, all our life’s work and aspirations, competition, charity and sympathy, outrage and tragedy, righteousness and a seeking after justice, the notion of freedom and self-determination, sacrifice, labor and harvest, reaping and sowing, freindship, marriage, war and peace. To not acknowledge a greater plan or intent for our lives writes these all off to random particle interactions in the cosmic microwave radiation background.

If you doubt me, then try this experiment sometime- At SOME point in you life, even the most jaded and cynical of souls  will be moved to tears by their experience with one of the above-mentioned concepts. On that day, when your moment of clarity comes, and you find tears of sorrow, or of gratitude, or of anger, or of joy streaming down your face-I want you to go on a walk on a crisp fall day when the gold and red leaves are falling around you and the smell of freshly cut grass and the first chill of coming winter is in the air. Listen to the sound of children playing happily in the distance, and smell bread or maybe warm apple pie baking somewhere. Do that and then tell me there is no God, no meaning, no design, no intent and no purpose in this life. I dare you. If, on that day, you can feel and experience all that and you have nothing in your heart that says any of it it matters or has purpose beyond natural selection, then I won’t argue with you anymore because you’ll never get it. I know there are people like that in this life, and I pity them, these walking dead.

But life is not just a solitary experience or a path we walk alone. Men’s greatest hopes, aspirations and acheivements are only possible acting in concert with other men united in a common goal or faith in a way of life with common metaphysical underpinnings. For this reason nations are brought forth among men- groups of people dedicating their lives and labors to a certain way of life, which to them, seems most harmonious with what they perceive to be a greater intent, purpose, or meaning for our time here for a while under the sun and sky. And among these nations is my nation- America, which I love.

To understand why I love America, you have to look at the ideas and charachter of the nation within the context of metaphysical meaning. The interstate highways and the amber waves of grain are NOT what makes America worthy of our love. But rather the ideals, and the principles that govern it, and underlye it, which make lives of signifigance and goodness possible to live.

Freedom and Democracy are not just words or another theoretical model of social governance. They are the ideas of a good, noble, and morally upright way of life that is how Americans believe God INTENDED things to be for men. I can’t put it much simpler than that. The idea that these metaphyical concepts are proper parts of a greater design and plan than our own is WHY patriots hold our nation up as being worthy of  sacrifice and being worth fighting for.

 The true idea of America is not a mere physical place or a collection of persons individually pursuing wealth- but rather is the living embodiment of great metaphysical ideas. It is the idea of intrinsic human worth, of the divine INTENT for human liberty, and the notion that every human aspiration should be free to figure out what God intended each of us be. It is the idea that each of us is able to see down our own proper path a little further than another can, and the notion that Governments are instituted among men to preserve liberty, not to rule us. If you don’t view America within the context of a greater metaphysical plan, then you simply can’t get the real meaning of it.

 That lack of context explains to a large extent why so many are willing to let our nation slide into mediocrity and depravity- why so many are willing to let America stand idly by instead of leading in this world. It explains why some don’t see America as a shining city on a hill. Or as a light of hope in the darkness of this world.

Viewed in a godless, purposeless frame of reference, that’s all understandable. But I do see America in a greater metaphysical and spiritual context. And so do others. And that’s why we love her and why we love what she stands for. Not out of war-like boastfulness or competetive pride, but rather out of a love for the good things she has brought forth here on this sad, weary sphere of ours. I see the true spirit of America in every child’s lemonade stand, and in the purple ink that stains the finger of every sad, tired Iraqi citizen who thought that it was worth risking their life to go stand in line to vote. I see the true spirit of America in neighbors helping neighbors and in old men at the barbershop speaking their half-baked opinions on whatever they want without fear of government reprisal. I hear the true spirit of America lifted up in thanks to God for all he has given us, from the pews of ten thousand places of worship, and I see it in the flags that fly over the graves of our veterans who gave the last ounce of devotion and love for a metaphysical idea that is America.

Put simply, America is most properly understood within the context of God and his greater plan and intent for what humans can be if we follow that plan. Indeed, the Declaration of Independance basically is nothing but a defiant proclamation of what the founding fathers believed was God’s INTENT for Man. Read it and you will see that that is actually the case. It EXPLICITELY appeals to a higher justice and to a divine intent that man should be free. The whole nation and everything that it has brought forth since it’s birth therefore HAS to be viewed in that context to be understood. It was ALL built upon faith in a divine intent.Given that , it should come as no surprise that sometimes prayers lifted up to God for our nation capture and articulate the essence of America best.

I  want to share two prayers for America with you. They were not written by me- I could never write anything so beautiful, but rather were uttered by two Americans ministers at two memorial services seperated in time by more than a century. Both prayers captured with a few words some of what is best about our country. One prayer was given at a time of great national and personal sorrow, and another at a time of celebration. But both were spoken out of thanks to God for what he has given us. Both ask for his blessing and lay out the reasons why we should expect to hope for that blessing, by expressing succinctly the purpose of America within the context of God’s greater plan. Both prayers also remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice for a few metaphysical ideas that were deemed greater than the value of their own lives. Across so many years, and through so many trials and tribulations that this nation has been through, it is remarkable to note how much these prayers have in common.

The first prayer I want to share is one that was read by Major General Lorraine Potter, US Air Force Cheif of Chaplains, October 11nth, 2001 at the memorial service that was held to honor those who died in the 911 attack on the Pentagon.

” Let us pray. Almighty God, from the watchfires of a thousand circled camps, to the flames within the Pentagon offices, the World Trade Center, the Pennsylvania landscape… Our great land has known the brutal sounds and sights of war. The truth of Democracy, the truth of goodness found within this nation goes marching on. You destined our great nation to be birthed as a free land from sea to shining sea. We have taken our purple mountain’s majesty and made them a shining beacon of hope to a world in conflict. We have been inspired by your holy grace to use our amber waves of grain to feed the hungry of the world. We do not forsake our destiny now. We remember those who have now made sacred this hallowed ground by the sacrifice of their lives. Bless them and those who celebrate their lives and deeply mourn their loss. May the citizens of our nation be inspired by the devotion and service of our national leaders, and of all soldiers, sailors, and airmen, marines, coast-gaurdsmen and civilians of our military in the removal of terrorism from this world. May this and all nations be assured of our thoughtful seeking after Justice. Creator God we stand in the history of your presence within our land, assured that you do bless America today and into the challenges of the future. May our world see that you oh Mighty God, Jehova, are indeed in this place. God bless all those who serve the cause of freedom, and God bless America. “

The second prayer I want to share was sung as a hymn at a service held on July 4th, 1847, to dedicate a monument that was erected at the Old North Bridge in Concord Massachussets to the memory of the farmers who died there and fired the first shot of the American Revolutionary War. It was written by my favorite poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

“By the rude bridge that arched the raging flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conquerer silent sleeps;

and Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We set today a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem ,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To Die and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee. “

The hearts that wrote those words and lifted up those sentiments to God on behalf of America spoke for me too, and were inspired by the same love I have in me for this nation, and for human liberty which she rightly stands for. I know I am not alone in that.

Who was it that once said “Charachter is Destiny”? I think that truer words were probably never spoken when it comes to predicting how a given individual will turn out in life, but this old saying may also be equally applicable to the question of  Humanity’s ultimate fate as a whole. Who we fundamentally ARE, both as persons and as a species surely determines, to a large extent, where we will all wind up in the end.  So, if you want to make educated guesses about Human Destiny, then probably a good place to start is by asking the fundamental question- “Who are we?”… What is the basic nature of our species? The answer to that question should give us a good idea of where we are headed.

I’ll tell you my own theory about human nature, that I arrived at as both an amateur student of history, and as a critical observer of human individual and group behavior. Here’s what I think about people… I think that Humankind can be divided into two groups- I call these groups the Accepters, and the Dreamers. I think that an objective assessment of human history  ( and indeed, of human present ) reveals manifestly that the former group is by far the more prevalent of the two groups. I have observed that -on average- for about every ten people who are open-minded and courageous enough to believe that a good or great thing is possible and worth investing time and effort in,  there are usually about ninety other people who will… A) lack the intellectual curiosity to even consider the possibility of a given good or great thing, … B.) summarily dismiss the notion of a new good or great thing ( if they ever did consider it ), on the simple basis of it being unprecedented – especially if it involves any work or risk on their part,… and C.)  glibly and without the slightest thought as to the alternatives, accept almost any misery, suffering, disease, war, enslavement, injury and outrage as a routine and unavoidable part of life, rather than use a little imagination to aspire to something better than what they have now.

I never fail to be amazed by the things that people will put up with in their lives, and how they will come to just accept as routine, so many things that  should not- and need not- be. In my opinion, a large part of human nature is just laziness and ambivalence. What else could possibly explain how so many people just sit there and take it without doing anything? We all accept so much in this world that is bad and wrong that need not be so. We leave so many things unchanged and undone, that NEED to be changed and done, simply because we don’t CARE enough to do anything. Who will challenge the truth of that statement?

 Another undeniably large part of  human character is selfishness. The scientifically-proven, objectively-observed, and mathematically -measured SUCCESS of survival-of-the-fittest capitalism as the socio-economic system which CONSISTENTLY creates the most human progress, and creates the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people, PROVES the inherent prevalence of selfishness in human nature. The most forceful impetus for human action and motivation in this life seems to be self- reward, NOT an interest in helping others. Micheal Douglases’ famous ( infamous?) charachter ” Gordon Gecko” had it about right when he said that ” Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all it’s forms, greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.” Self-interest acts powerfully in capitalism , in concert with basic human nature, to create wealth and prosperity. It’s not so much that capitalism works because that’s how it SHOULD be, it works rather, because it’s based on a cold, hard realization of how things ARE with us. That is not to say that all human motives are bad. They aren’t.  It would be wrong to say that ALL human activity and motivation is based on a desire to expend the least possible effort for the greatest possible personal gain.  But it would be fair to say that a large percentage of human activity is so-motivated.

Given these facts of human nature, it’s not hard to see why the world is what it is- both the bad and the good. You take laziness, ambivalence, selfishness, and some genuine but vaguely-defined good intentions towards others, and turn them loose upon the world and what you see is pretty much what you get.  Progress and stagnation, wealth and poverty, war and peace, side by side. I think it all boils down to this… A lot of us care about others to some extent. Most of us, for instance don’t WANT there to be starving children in Africa. We care about that situation to an extent. It’s just that we don’t care ENOUGH about it to actually do the things necessary to make sure those people have food, because that would require work and self sacrifice. So, by-and-large, it’s like this- humans have the capacity to care about others, but they usually care about themselves a bit more. Predictably, this has mixed results in terms of the world, and the societies that humans create.

In light of my admittedly somewhat cynical view of human nature, it would be reasonable of you to assume that my outlook and predictions for mankind’s ultimate fate would be largely pessimistic. That assumption would be both reasonable, and incorrect.

While it’s easy to get depressed sometimes by looking around ones-self at all of the woe and trouble that the Accepters of this world tolerate and indeed CREATE by their actions and inactions in this life,  one also doesn’t have to look very far to be inspired either, by the efforts of the Dreamers- by the people in this life who will not accept this thing or that, who toil and strive to change this thing, or to improve that other thing, and who usually labor alone with little company except for the  ridicule of the Accepters. The Dreamers are like stars in the night, and the darkness  in which they work merely reinforces by contrast that which they are, and that which others are not.

The saving grace of the Dreamers is that , while smaller in number, they usually accomplish ten times what any given Accepter does, because they work harder, and because they are more highly motivated. By definition, they care more. So while it is true, that the throngs of the lazy, the uncaring, and the selfish can bring much that is wrong to pass upon this earth, it is also equally true that the efforts , courage, and vision of a committed few can counteract much of it.  There is always a struggle going on somewhere between Dreamers and Accepters. You don’t have to look hard to find it. The Acceptors always have the numbers, and the Dreamers always try harder. I root for the Dreamers mainly- at least when the Dream in question is plausible and merely difficult to achieve… ( I consider myself to be a frustrated Dreamer for what it’s worth ). It’s hard to know who ultimately will prevail in this age old struggle between the Dreamers and the Accepters, but I think the Dreamers have the edge because of a third group of people…The Visionaries.

 For every ten thousand Accepters,there are maybe a few hundred Dreamers. The net result of the interactions between these two groups amounts (for the most part ) to a stalemate. Sometimes one group has the upper hand for a while, and sometimes the other does. But for every ten thousand Dreamers, there is also one Visionary, and their works sometimes have the potential to outweigh the works of  the Dreamers and the Accepters combined. Sometimes these unique individuals can unite the efforts of all the other Dreamers and even win the hearts and  long-suppressed hopes of  many of the Accepters, in pursuit of some very noble thing every so often. Every now and then, you will get a dreamer that comes down the pike who has not only the faith to see that a thing is both noble and  possible, but has the vision to see the path to the dream’s fulfillment, has the courage to see the journey through, has the eloquence to communicate the dream to others, and most of all, has the pig-headed force of will to simply not be denied this one thing no matter what. Most fields of human endeavor have visionaries every now and then. They come along  maybe every hundred years or so. They ignore the ignorant and the fearful around them, they apply their particular skills and talents to making some good or great thing a reality, and then, like all spirits who are bound to flesh for a while, they are gone. Then the rest of us gaze upon their works and remember them. Their works are always their legacy. It’s the visionaries who give me hope. Those people who see just a little bit farther than the rest of us. The Founding Fathers who gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1776 to give voice to some long felt, but never adequately expressed ideas were visionaries… ” We hold these truths to be self-evident…” That was a powerful vision!  In science, Galileo and Einstein come to mind. In politics, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , and Ronald Reagan. Strange bedfellows you say, Dr. King and the Gipper? Not really. Each had a true love in his heart for individual freedom, a desire to unleash it’s power as a force for good in this world, and the passion and eloquence to make the case well for the ideas and truths they cherished. They weren’t that different at all.

Emerson described the fundamental nature of visionaries…

” Self-trust is the essence of heroism. It is the state of the state of the soul at war, and it’s objects are the last defiance of falsehood and wrong, and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil agents.”…”The hero is a mind of such balance that no disturbances can shake his will, but pleasantly and as it were merrily he advances to his own music, alike in frightful alarms and in the tipsy mirth of universal dissoluteness.”

At any rate, that is my basic view of human nature, and it is my view of that innate human character that forms the basis of my predictions for our ultimate fate as a species. Honestly, there is enough bad and good in us, that I think it could break either way for us. But as I spin this great rhetorical roulette wheel, I am putting my money on the Dreamers and on a glorious, wonderful future for Humanity someday . I think I can plausibly imagine a world that is peaceful, happy, free, and just.  It’s not impossible that humanity could one day unite by establishing just a FEW basic, universally-accepted areas of common-ground. Cornerstones of a new era and a better world founded upon human rights, individual freedom, democratic principles of governance, and tolerance for all to worship God as they best see fit- or not at all. I am not saying it will happen, but I am saying that it COULD happen.

 Despite my semi-misanthropic view of humans, the one thing you have to give them, is that if something is possible, it’s a near-certainty that somebody somewhere- sooner or later- will do it. Especially if there is a buck to be made in the process. Sometimes I wonder how progress ever happens. But miraculously, it always seems to. And the rising tide of progress sooner or later lifts all boats, even if it does seem to lift some more than it does others. It’s certainly been a long, dirty, and bloody slog for humanity, but sometimes I think we might actually just make it.

What I wanted to do with this essay / blog entry is to share some of my thoughts on Human Destiny- and about what is possible if we DO “make it” as a species and manage to survive at least a few thousand years more. Nobody can foresee everything, but I do have some thoughts and predictions for a few specific fields of human endeavor that are near and dear to me.

We live in incredible times. Sometimes I will read on the Internet about areas of scientific or technological research that seem to be knocking on the door of things that humans could have never imagined a hundred years ago. Think about how far, and how fast we have come of late. It took us ten thousand years to get from hunter-gatherer status to something as simple as the light bulb, but in the last 50 years, we have unlocked the secret of the atom, decoded the human genome, and walked on the moon. The potential likely advances in many areas of human endeavor  in the next 100 years are breathtaking to consider. Physics, Medicine, Agriculture, Energy, Astronomy, Communications, Information Technology, Computers, Networking, Robotics, the spread of Economic Freedom, the spread of Political Freedom, the establishment of Universal Human Rights, the elimination ( or reduction ) of War, Disease, and Poverty, Space Exploration, Engineering and Materials, Electronic Devices, and even Entertainment. We are primed for advances beyond our wildest dreams in many of these areas. Perhaps the most fundamental , underlying, and critical technological advancement of all – the one that is going to make all the rest of these things possible, is humanity’s new-found and  widespread access to personal computers, and the information technology that these devices make possible. Certain things were simply never going to be possible for mankind without the power to process large volumes of information far faster than the human brain ever could. The E8 structure could never have been specified. The hydrocodes that made nuclear fusion possible could not have been modeled. The ability to unravel the hundreds of billions of lines of coded information that comprise the human genetic program would have been set beyond our reach forever without these particular advances. In fact, I think that the recent advances in  personal computers and information technology are a critical threshold for our species- without them, there were permanent limits on we what we could do and become. But WITH these things? Who knows what is possible now?

 Perhaps the most powerful aspect of these advances is that we have compounded the power of these devices and capabilities by linking  ideas and information together via the Internet. What will be the final result of  connecting the ideas, the hopes, the knowledge, the wisdom, the dreams, and the fears of seven billions souls in a network of open communication and collaboration? We shall see, but I suspect that it now becomes not so much a case of what IS possible anymore, but rather a  question of what ISN’T.

 These are the times in which we are blessed to live. It is a Great Awakening of sorts. The light of Knowledge and of Ideas is shining into all the dark places of the world now. What truth can be hidden now?   All of the ideas, all of the knowledge, and all of the possibilities in the world are cast at our feet like pearls for us to pick up and consider . This blog entry represents an attempt on my part to share some of my considerations of the pearls I found as I went.

Human Possibility # 1:  Mankind Becoming a Permanent Space-Faring Species…

The possibility of Mankind establishing a signifigant presence in space, and making a permanent home out there among the stars is an absolutely critical component of us reaching our full potential as a species. The Apollo program of the 60’s and early 70’s represented- like the power of the personal computer- a critical threshold for us. It represented another way-point on humanity’s journey to a better future. The reason this is so, is that the number one pre-requisite for us to have a glorious future someday is that we have to have a future period…That is to say, for any of our hopes to come true,  we first need to survive. If you step back and look at Humanity’s position in the great scheme of things,  right now, all of our fragile eggs are in one tiny basket. This is not prudent, for we are an utterly minuscule species with  a very tenuous foothold on a tiny speck of rock and water hurtling through the vastness of deep space at insane speeds. We spin  around a  tiny star, and that tiny star is just one in a galaxy of hundreds of billions of them. That Galaxy itself spins through a universe composed of hundreds of billions of other galaxies. Sooner or later-be it tomorrow or  a thousand years from now- we are going to face our terminal crisis if we don’t get off this rock. Be it from war, disease, extra-terrestrial impactors, genetically engineered super-viruses, overpopulation, quantum experiments gone awry, unanticipated consequences of artificial intelligence, or trends/events  involving our our sun or our planet’s radiation shield, – EVENTUALLY, we are going to zig when we should have zagged as a species, and we are going to go the way of the dinosaurs unless we do something to improve our odds. There are just too many perils, trials, unknowns, and hazards out there that we face for us to simply assume that our survival is a lock if we stay where we are. There are NO such guarantees in this hard, cold universe.

 In fact, the deafening silence out there in the universe that SETI is finding is ominous, for it almost IMPLIES that if it IS possible for complex life to arise by natural processes ( ie. independent of design ), then- for whatever reason- that life largely ceases to advance or exist much beyond  a level of technology approximating our own. Otherwise, we would be detecting these advanced space-faring civilizations out there who made it into the great expanse before they destroyed themselves. We may not be the first species to have reached this way-point where computer power and information technology make it possible to delve into areas of research that simply aren’t possible until you reach this particular technological threshold. Those areas of research hold unknown, and unknowable perils. I am referring especially to areas of research in extreme quantum physics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology. These types of capabilities in the fields of computer science and information technology may be the usual immediate precursors to an advanced species’ imminent self-destruction for all we know. There may be something we haven’t considered yet that we are about t unleash upon ourselves in our cleverness. The current situation reminds me a little bit of the Manhattan Project scientist who realized the night before the Trinity shot, that there was a slim possibility the atomic chain reaction might ignite earth’s atmosphere and kill every living thing on the face of the planet. He spent the night with a couple of grad students checking and re-checking calculations. In the end, it turned out that it wasn’t possible for that to happen, and that’s all well and good I suppose, but what worries me is that a large collection of the brightest minds on the planet hadn’t even considered the possibility until the night before the test. Our knowledge and enthusiasm for technological advancement can never be questioned, but our wisdom and caution in such matters is suspect at best. 

At any rate, we need to get some of our eggs in a few other baskets, and quickly I think. If we stay here, then sooner or later, it ends here. Everything that lives either is growing or dying. Nothing stays the same, and we have just about reached the limits of sustainable human population here on our planet- indeed, we are almost certainly past those sustainable limits. We need to be thinking now about “what next”. Recent advances in astronomy have shown us just how prevalent planetary bodies are in the galaxy and in the universe. In fact, we are now just on the cusp of detecting earth-sized planets. Projects along the lines of the Terrestrial Planet Finder are going to make it possible to directly image those earth-type planets , and to analyze their atmospheres / compositions. It’s a statistical certainty that there are other planets out there compatible with human life and colonization. Probably, a few of them are just within our ultimate capability as a species to reach with slower-than-light travel. That’s the jump we have to make somehow, someway if we are to survive. At a minimum, establishing outposts on other planetary bodies in our own solar system would be a good first step along that path. I heard recently that somewhere in Scandinavia, scientists are building an ark of sorts- seeds and genetic samples of life-forms that exist here on earth- a hedge against catastrophic climate and habitat changes here on our planet. It’s a great idea, but I would like to see an ark of this sort placed somewhere other than on this planet as well- just in case.

Here are my predictions for the human race as pertains to Space Exploration: We WILL become a  space-faring species, and establish a permanent home out there beyond the planet of our birth. The first dipping of our little toe into the water that was Apollo will become a full headfirst plunge into space before it’s all over. The tentative drawing-back from deep space that has characterized the last couple of decades, and our pointless  piddling around in earth-orbit with the ISS and the Space Shuttle, merely represented a necessary acknowledgement of the limitations of government-run, not-for-profit Space Programs. Such programs may have gotten us our first ” Giant leap for mankind”, but as we have seen since,  they don’t have the capability alone, of establishing a sustainable and significant human presence in space. For one thing, government-funded space programs consume insane amounts of money, which is barely justifiable on a moral basis when one considers that war, hunger and disease and poverty are all running rampant here on earth. Secondly, they do not serve any particular purpose from a consumer standpoint, nor are government-run space-programs ruled by the laws of supply and demand. Their product is not  improved by competition in the marketplace. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” does not guide the direction or implementation of their wasteful (and often pointless ) activities, nor does it provide for the efficient use of resources and treasure that is commonly inherant in for-profit operations. This explains the mindless, pointless, directionless activities  of NASA in recent decades, and also explains the waste, fraud and abuse that largely characterizes what NASA seems poised to give us for decades to come. Government-funded and managed space programs are are NOT the vehicle by which humanity will achieve it’s permanent transition into space. With all of the needs that humans have here on earth, there are ALWAYS going to be definite limits to levels of spending on these sorts of things because they do not really fulfill any immediate human needs per-say. We need a space program that GENERATES wealth, not one that consumes it, and if we do not find a way to drive the next era of space exploration forward using the engine of free-enterprise, then financial obstacles will represent the final insurmountable roadblock that dooms our species to live and die here on Terra Firma.  At best, using the Apollo model, we MAY achieve a single plant-the-flag misson to Mars in the next 100 years, but even that will be taxing the limits of what we can afford when we consider the budgetary crisis we face now as  a result of decades of fiscal irresponsibility and deficit spending on the part of the US Government. 

There are two critical thresholds which we must achieve to put mankind’s journey to the stars back on track, and to make our presence in space significant and permanent-

 1. A radically cheaper mass-to-orbit system must be built.

  2. A consumer-demand driven, market-force guided, and for-profit-based  aerospace industry MUST take the lead in terms of putting humans in Space. 

Government spending cannot get us where we need to go, EXCEPT to the extent that it invests in infrastructure conducive to private industry achieving the two goals listed above. A space-based equivalent of the US government’s investment in the intercontinental railroad would be a MUCH better use of funds than George W. Bush’s multi-zillion dollar plan to basically have NASA repeat the Apollo program and build a bunch of government funded moon bases.

The cheaper mass-to-orbit system I am referring to  is the Space Elevator. (A ground-to-orbit “tether” which stays up based on the principles of centrifugal force). I discussed this scheme in more detail in my last essay on Space Exploration, so I won’t get into it too much more here, except to say that I am on record as predicting that the Space Elevator will certainly become a reality one day soon. The missing component that made such a structure impossible up until recently was the lack of a material capable of bearing it’s own weight in a structure of that size. That problem is solved. Carbon nanotubes do have the necessary strength -to-weight ratio. And as I’ve said before, if it’s possible to do something, sooner or later, somebody WILL do it… ESPECIALLY if there is a buck to be made for doing it. Believe me, there are a LOT of bucks to be made by building a cheaper, safer, and more reliable mass-to-orbit system. 

When the cost of getting people and things into orbit drops a hundred-fold as a result of Space Elevator technology, then that’s when everything changes for us as a species. The path to Mars- and beyond- will then lay open to us.  Orbiting hotels, affordable space-tourism, and maybe even a beamed-power generation industry will put us in space permanently, and the power of consumer-demand and market-driven, profit-based BUSINESS competition will keep us there for good- not government spending. I believe that the Space Elevator will be built. I believe that one day, many humans will routinely live and work in earth-orbit. I believe that one day humans will live and die on Mars. I believe that one day humans will look down on Alpha Centauri from orbit. I believe that  humans will one-day live and die on another new Earth that we are going to find out there among the stars. Those are my predictions for the record.

Wikipedia Link on the Space Elevator:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator

Human Possibility # 2: The Establishment of A New World Order Based upon Peace, Freedom, and Justice

 When I ponder Human Destiny, and I consider how it will all likely wind up for our species, I can’t help thinking of that scene from the movie Terminator II, where a young John Connor is talking to his Terminator. They are watching two young boys playing together, pretending to kill each other in imaginary battles. The point being made by the director in this scene is that aggression and killing seem almost to be hardwired into our fundamental nature. Connor looks over at the cyborg and asks ” We’re not going to make it are we?”, and the Terminator replies ” It is in your nature to destroy yourselves.” I remember thinking at the time I saw this movie, what a plausible and ( potentially ) prophetic statement this was. Agreement among men and nations on even the most obvious and basic  truths seems so elusive doesn’t it? And our tendency as a species to wantonly kill one another, and to consistently “do unto others as we would NOT have them do unto us” seems fairly clear by any reasonable reading of history. And though many issues of human contention remain largely unresolved through centuries and millinea, and our innate hostility and aggression as a species remains unchanged, our technological capability to unleash the means of our own destruction continues to grow exponentially with each passing year.

We just barely survived nuclear self-annihilation in the dawn of the atomic age as the two cowboy super-powers stared down main-street at one another at high-noon with their WMD six-guns at their sides and their sweaty, twitchy palms resting on the pistol-grips. In the last few decades the nation-states of the Earth have amassed enough explosive firepower to kill every man, woman and child on the planet ten-times over, and scientists have laid that power in the hands of governments and militaries whose wisdom and intentions have often been suspect at best. The Cold War was a tense era, and just one mistake- just one accidental or rogue launch of a single SS18 with it’s multiple MRV’s targeted on American cities would have been the trigger that set off the sequence of the final moments of mankind. Mankind got lucky because one of the super-powers in this Old-West showdown was founded upon an unworkable and completely unsustainable economic and political system – communism . The Soviets simply couldn’t compete with capitalism and democracy objectively speaking, and thankfully things settled down a bit when our Soviet comrades folded and threw in their chips. But lest we forget, the large part of those missiles are still out there-  in the hands of a less-sure command and control structure. Add to that danger the trend towards nuclear proliferation, and now the rise a new superpower ( China ) possessed of great wealth, questionable intentions, and a growing nuclear arsenal, and we must not forget that we are NOT out of the Nuclear Woods just yet. In addition, there is a growing threat  of atomic weapons falling into the hands of  unstable regimes and state-sponsors of islamic terrorism. Doomsday could still happen. The centrifuges are spinning in Iran today,  Musharraf is sitting precariously perched atop an islamic nuclear-armed tinderbox in Pakistan, and the United Nations passes empty resolutions and writes reports. The West is fiddling while Rome burns.

 The need for the nations of the world to reach some common ground, and to forge some universal agreement on a few basic tenets of acceptable human culture is not merely a hope. It is a necessity. We simply can’t continue on like this forever with the same old tensions, disagreements, wars, and contentions keeping the nations of the world at each other’s throats in perpetuity. A New World Order MUST be made if we are to survive, because the weapons that humans have now devised to use against one another are getting too dangerous to even be allowed to exist- never mind to be used.

 But even if a nuclear World War III WERE to happen, while the loss of life would be great, it still would not be a true worst-case scenario for the human species, because there is a likelihood that SOME of us would survive to rebuild what’s left. Mankind might well survive even the worst-case scenario of the nuclear age. But far greater dangers await us than the H-bomb. Pandora’s box has only been cracked open a bit so far. It opens much wider in the century that lies ahead.

We will NOT survive the worst-case scenario of the age of genetically- engineered super-virus WMD’s. It has been said that the 19th century was the age of chemistry, the 2oth century was the age of physics, and that the 21rst century will be the age of biology. That is probably a true statement. The age of Biology is upon us, and it’s weapons will prove far deadlier than those of Chemistry and Physics. Advances in computers and information technology have brought us to the point where we can unlock the secrets of the genetic code and indeed, to the point where we have the abilty to re-write that code. Viruses and bacteria can be, and already have been, modified, augmented, and given new capabilities. Couple this genetic code re-writing capability to the free-flow of data of ANY kind around the world via the Internet, and we are looking at a potential scenario where hackers and genetic programmers can write, exchange, and even unleash genetic programs in the same way that they now create and unleash computer programs. We made it past chemistry and physics, but the power of biology – both for good and for evil- FAR surpasses these things, and the capability to re-write genetic code may be the final turning point for us. I say again- a New World Order isn’t a hope, it’s a necessity.

So does all this  mean we are doomed? No. But it does mean that we have got to get past this era of warring nation-states, and adversarial, hostile relationships between fundamentally incompatible civilizations who are hell-bent on destroying one another. We HAVE to settle some things, and establish some common ground- even if it’s just on a few basic matters of human rights, religious tolerance, and democratic government. Even if we need to just slug it out militarily- at great cost of life- to decide which ideology wins and which one loses, these matters need to be SETTLED one way or another. Continued conflict isn’t an option forever.We need to create a worldwide agreement on some basic things that will allow us to coexist as cultures who tolerate one another, accept one another, and ( gradually ) grow closer together. If we cant achieve that- and the seperate nation-states remain committed to each other’s destruction, the technology of the 21rst century is going to eventually put the means of achieving that destruction in the hands of people who will use it.

As I look around at the geopolitical situation, and survey the forces and powers that may aid or hinder the creation of a New World Order founded on Peace, Freedom, Human Rights, and Justice, I think that the greatest threat that humanity may ever face is the acquisition of biological WMD capability by islamic theocracies who simply are not capable of coexisting peacefully with the western democracies on a fundamental ideological level… In fact If I had to guess what one thing would wind up killing us all – if we wind up not making it as a species- I would guess that it would be a scenario that involves Islam and biological WMD’s.

Here is a link to an Article on the new Field of Synthetic Biology by Rick Weiss of the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/200712/16/AR2007121601900.html

When I survey the rest of the NON-islamic world, I am more encouraged.  I don’t see anything out there ideology-wise that would prevent humanity from moving closer and closer over time to a more-or-less friendly collection of democratic governments who respect human rights, provide for religious tolerance, give people a fair say in their own governance, and  achieve at least minimum standards of prosperity for their peoples. The non-islamic world gets a little closer to that all the time. I can envision these friendly democracies perhaps having differences- for instance, different governments may tinker with various levels of taxation and have different spending priorities. There will be varying,  greater-or-lesser percentages of government and private sector involvement in different aspects of  providing for people’s needs, but by and large these matters will work themselves out within acceptable parameters peacefully as long as the voters of each nation have a voice in what their politicians do. None of these small differences is necessarily fatal to friendly relations among democratic nations . For example- Norway may have more socialistic aspects of governance in areas such as health-care. France may decide to have higher taxes and a shorter work week. That’s fine. That’s not a threat to America or anybody else. These cultures aren’t out to conquer the world, or to impose any form of oppressive rule upon anybody. That’s the kind of world we should be striving to build- a world that agrees on the larger aspect of a few fundamental principles, and implements the details of those principles locally and in such a manner as the voters of each country choose to implement them. In many respects, the world is already headed that way.

Consider how far Democracy, Human Rights, and Freedom have come in the last 50 years.  Many nations now share a large degree of similarity and agreement on these fundamental matters to a greater or lesser extent. People in many far-flung places are moving closer and closer together through peaceful interactions, travel, immigration,  trade, interconnected economies, the Internet, and international currency flow. Consider the combined landmass, the combined natural resources,the combined wealth and capital, the combined Gross Domestic Product, the combined technology,  and the combined military-might of the countries in the world right now who enjoy at least some form of political, cultural, and economic freedom, and whose cultures do not fundamentally threaten one another. Think about it. We are STRONG!

 Honestly, you’d almost have to say that the free peoples of the earth have a serious advantage in these things at this point, relative to the forces of totalitarianism and opression. The war-weary nations of Europe have united politically and economically,  and have established enough common ground for friendly relations and cooperation that that blood-soaked continent can look forward to a new century with genuine hope of peace and prosperity. Britain, Ireland, Scotland, France, a re-united Germany, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey. Together, these countries have a bright future ahead of them. And now most of Eastern Europe is free and democratic as well, with slowly growing hope and prosperity- Poland, Slovakia, the Chech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Belarus,and Romania can add their names to the list of peaceful Western democracies and look ahead with some hope. Look around the world, and you see the astounding prosperity and power of democratic, capitalist socio-economic powerhouses like  America, Canada,  Australia, India, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Israel. They have strong, growing, vibrant democracies, are largely free, and are relatively prosperous. As a result of trade, China ( which now includes Hong Kong ), and it’s people- a billion strong- are embracing the power of economic freedom, and it’s very possible that political freedom may follow closely behind. The Internet is helping there as well. A little freedom is like a little fire. It’s dangerous, and it has a tendency to spread rapidly. The economic trojan horse that we rolled into China may unleash freedom there in many other aspects of that society. We will see.

The last miserable outposts of communism and dictator-based ideology in places like Cuba, South Korea, and some piss-ant countries in Africa that nobody remembers the name of, are looking more and more like sand-castles about to be washed away by the tide of a new era. In Africa, Asia, and Central/South America the real problem is not so much ideology, or religious contention, as it is simple poverty, but global free trade is helping in many of these places, and despite the poverty, there is no fundamental  reason why the world should feel threatened by most of these nations- and nothing in them that would prevent the good people of this world from continuing to find common ground and collaboration. Hugo Chavez is just a simian buffoon railing against historical forces he doesn’t understand, and cannot hope to control. He might as well command the wind to not blow, and the rain to not fall. He will change nothing as we head into the next century. I don’t fear a relapse of any major part of the world into communism . That threat has had it’s day. Economically, it just can’t deliver for the people who live under it, and, given a choice, most people would rather have a democratic voice in their own governance than be ruled by an un-elected elite.

 Russia is worrisome I suppose, but those people just seem to have a permanent need for autocracy , and for a strong central government. What are you going to do? It’s sad, but you have to sympathize with their situation too. Things have been so bad for so long, that maybe only a strong, authoritarian figure like Putin has a chance of straightening out that mess. Give him credit where credit is due. He has turned that country’s financial situation around, and he recognizes that the country’s future depends on utilization of their natural resources. He chose to nationalize the oil resources rather than have them exploited by foreign companies which WAS happening. It was the right thing to do.  Their country is making a difficult transition into the 21rst century, but I don’t see them going back to communism- nobody wants that, including them. I think that Putin is just strengthening his own power to give himself the ability to put Russia’s mess back in order as best he can. Ultimately, Russia’s destiny lies with Europe. Russia is a   European, Christian democracy, so why would it be otherwise? Like China, Russia will depend on trade with the west to bootstrap it’s nation into the 21rst century. Putin has put Russia on that course, even if the loss of some human rights in that country is disturbing. Despite their internal problems, Russia is NOT a threat to the west anymore. They aren’t out to rule the world like the Soviets were. They’ll come around in their own time. They have vast natural resources, and a legacy of technological know-how in the areas of space, military weapons, industrial equipment, and nuclear power that can form the core of a new capitalist infrastructure. The West and Europe should be building stronger trade relations with them, instead of ostracising them economically, irritating them militarily, and driving them into the arms of the ne’er-do-wells of the world like Iran and North Korea. We can surely offer the Russians a lot more than these countries can, in a friendly long-term relationship.

The only thing that worries me very much about the world, in terms of our ability to EVENTUALLY reach a common ground for the nations based on peace and freedom is Islam. There are some real and potentially unsolvable problems with this particularly vile belief system that make it in many ways FUNDAMENTALLY INCOMPATIBLE with progress, freedom, and democracy. And by real problems, I mean problems above and beyond it’s medieval repressiveness, it’s cruelty, and it’s oppression of women. Problem Number One is that Islam does not merely purport to be a religious belief system  or a mode of worshiping God, but rather , it conflates religion and politics by laying claim to an actual right of POLITICAL governance over it’s followers via the rule of un-elected clerical rulers whose word is law. This is unacceptable. Period. You look at many other religions- Christianity, Mormonism, Buddhism, Judeaism, Hinduism, etc and you see that these religions are capable of coexisting within the context of a secular government that protects the rights of ALL faiths to worship as they see fit. Islam however, as a system of both worship AND governance, when left to it’s own devices, and allowed to blossom into it’s full intended expression, is NOT capable of peaceful coexistence in a free, democratic society. It seeks to rule, it seeks to oppress, and it seeks to impose itself upon everybody through Sharia Law. That is not to say that muslims are incapable of getting along with anybody else, it’s just they only seem to be able to do so when an external force of some kind – like a stong secular governmet- keeps them in their place. Islam ALWAYS has to be watched with a wary gimlet eye by freedom-loving people.

The other problem with Islam that makes it such a threat to progress and peace,  is it’s viscous intolerance for other belief systems. A muslim in America may face the peril of being mocked or laughed at, but a Christian in Saudi Arabia faces literal beheading for expressing his or her faith. You don’t see Buddhists rolling hand grenades into muslim prayer services, or followers of Falun Gong flying airplanes into buildings full of women and children, or Hindus strapping bombs to retarded persons and sending them into crowded marketplaces. Only muslims do such things. The true-believers and the fanatic followers of islam seem to be able to rationalize ANY heinous act, no matter how vile or unjustifiable a given act may seem to a normal, rational human being. In Islam, there are the believers and there are the infidels. The infidels are the enemies of the believers, and it is the DUTY of the believers to destroy the infidels, or to make them submit to the word of Allah through the sword of Jihad, and through the Fatwas of the Clerics who rule the faithful. This bullshit is totally unacceptable, and is totally incompatible with any kind of positive future for mankind. The clerics, the madrassas, and the islamic state-run propaganda machines have conditioned a large part of the un-educated muslim faithful to HATE the west, to hope for it’s destruction, and to cheer when any act of violent terrorism is committed against innocent men, women or children- just so long as they are infidels. THAT is the biggest threat facing the world today ( sorry, it’s not global warming folks ). There are LEIGONS of angry, seething, hopeless, ignorant, hate-filled young muslim men who are ready and happy to commit any atrocity their rulers would ask of them. The ironic part of Sharia Rule is that, by coupling an oppressive political system to a deity worship system, the devout are convinced to willingly and enthusiastically hold the chains of their enslavement in their own hands.

This is not to say that all muslims are evil.  Indeed, like all of us talking pink monkeys here on our tiny blue marble, most muslims simply adhere to the belief system in which they happened to be born and raised- as most of us do. Most muslims care more about taking care of their family, and about trying to earn a descent living, than about spreading the word of Allah through Jihad. Because of this fact, the west DOES have a chance to partially defuse the threat of Islam, IF it can successfully de-couple the political aspirations of islam from the worship aspects of it. But to accomplish that, Islam must have IMPOSED upon it, the rule of a strong secular government that denies all political power to the clerics, and which effectively separates the fanatics / jihadists from the resources of the nation-state. Secular governments must FORCE muslim practicioners to reject natural Islamic tendencies of aggression towards other belief systems. Only a strong secular government can impose and enforce Human Rights protections upon the followers ( and potential victims ) of Islam. Without these externally-imposed Human Rights protections, Sharia Law, and the Clerics will hold sway by default, for that is the custom of Islam. All muslims must be made to learn tolerance of others if they are to ever join the family of men and nations in peace. They must be made to understand that they may bow towards mecca three times a day if they wish, but they will NOT be allowed to prevent women from driving, from voting,from working, from showing their faces, or from associating freely with whomever they please. Nor will muslims  be allowed to impose their belief system upon others who choose to believe differently in the New World Order.

 So, to sum up- the only hope for the peaceful coexistence of Islam with the rest of the free world, is for Islamic peoples to be ruled by strong central governments, and to be forced against their will to behave and conduct themselves in a manner contrary to their natural and historic tendencies. That is the best we can hope for from Islam- that they will be put in their proper place, and made to go sulk and brood in the corner with their hate and intolerance where they are not a threat because they are ruled by others with better ideas.

 I believe that the only way for the western democracies and secular governance to impose it’s will upon Islam , and for the rest of the world to drag these intractable people kicking and screaming into the modern age, is by the use of military force. I just can’t see any other way. It’s going to have to be done sooner or later, and I expect that in the end, the muslims will FORCE the west to just go into that part of the world and establish a new way of life there. I predict that radical Islam will accomplish it’s own downfall by lashing out at the West one time too many. They are going to do something so viscous and breathtakingly evil, that we will have no choice but to use all the capabilities at our disposal and end this tit-for-tat kabuki dance.

There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the jihadists would , and will, use a nuclear weapon on an American city if they ever get their hands on one. Their hatred, and their ability to rationalization ANY evil act is total and complete. Sooner or later, they will get what they seek.  I predict a nuclear 911  in the next 50 years. London or New York will be wiped from the face of the Earth, and I predict that the west will do one of two things in response ( It will depend on whether the US caualty count reaches into the millions or not, and on which political party occupies the white house on that fatefiul day). It will be either a full-scale nuclear assault on every single islamic state-sponsor of terrroism ( including the “kernel of evil ” Saudi Arabia ) that will wipe the plague of radical islam from the face of the earth forever , OR a total and PERMANENT military occupation of the entire middle-east by the West, who will have have had by-god-enough of these people. You watch, It’s going to come down to one of those two options one of these days. These people are just going to keep pushing us, and pushing us, and pushing us, until one day we are going to have to open up a can of whoop-ass on them .  And it’s just as well. We need to do that anyways. They’ve gotten away with too much already.

Someday…When the radical Islam has a western boot put permanently on it’s throat for as long as the world lasts…

Someday… When China holds it’s first free and fair elections…

Someday… When the Korean Peninsula is re-united as one people with a common destiny.

Someday… When Russia Joins the Family of Europe that has been it’s destiny all along.

Someday… When the tired, poor people of Cuba finally say “Enough!” and string up their dictator from a lamp-post. 

Someday…  When the weary nations of the earth look around at each other and realize that they now have more in common than they have differences…

On that day the Lion really will lie down with the Lamb, and the good people of the earth will come together to agree on some basic principles of human rights and democratic governance once and for all. Then a new age for humanity will begin, and the trillions of dollars we now spend on weapons and wars can be spent on eliminating hunger and want from our planet entirely.

 It can happen, and I believe that one day it will. It has to if we are to survive. I also believe that the west is going to have to settle accounts in epic fashion with the Islamic world before that day can arrive. Hopefully we can do it before bio-tech weapons make it possible for Islamic terrorist nation-states like Iran to kill us all.

Here is a link to an article about mentally retarded women being used by Al Queada as suicide-bombers in crowded Iraqi marketplaces- by AP writer Steven R. Hurst:

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8UHNN081&show_article=1

Human Possibility #3: The Post-Human Era is Ushered-in via Genetic Modification

The capability of Mankind to process large amounts of information on a scale only possible through the use of computers, represents a critical threshold for many aspects of  Human Destiny. In no other way is this more true than the fact that computers and advances in information technology  have allowed us to begin to understand, and to modify, genetic programming.  Were it not for this ability, it could truly be said that who we fundamentally ARE as a species is permanently limited. But with the ability to understand and modify genetic information, we now are aquiring – very rapidly – the ability to CHANGE who we fundamentally are.

Life- at it’s most basic level- is information. Everything that makes us what we are in the physical sense, has as it’s basis a complex, specified set of instructions coded in billions of lines of genetic programming and stored on the self-replicating information processor known as DNA.  I have argued at length with people on this blog, and on other blogs, about the likelihood of such an assemblage of complex, specified information assembling itself by natural un-guided processes from simple compounds ( never mind where the blank information processor that STORES said information came from in the first place ), but that’s neither here nor there. The fact is, the code exists, and we have acquired the ability to read it, and are slowly beginning to understand it. We also have aquired the means to change and re-write that code. The upshot of these developments is that EVERYTHING is on the table now. Nothing is assumed anymore. We are, quite simply, playing God here. The human genetic code is the most unlikely, and fantastically complex thing in the entire universe, and it will surely take us a long time to understand it all. But a lot is already becoming clear. Clear enough that I can state the following prediction with almost total certainty. All genetically passed diseases will be cured in the next hundred years. We are going to understand and specify on a very fundamental level, the information that makes these diseases what they are, and we are going to re-program that information. Period. Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Downs Syndrome… Gone. All of them. In less than 100 years. I guarantee it.

  There are even a number of companies who are very close to creating genetically modified partially-synthetic bacteria that can produce hydrogen fuel by the simple process of digesting cellulose and agricultural waste.  Fifty years from now, middle-eastern oil wont be worth the cost of shipping it here to use. Clean, cheap, non-polluting hydrogen derived as a direct result of genetic engineering will replace oil and coal as a fuel source.

Also, as our knowledge of the human genome grows, many POSITIVE genetically-specified traits- like raw intelligence, creativity, longevity and a thousand other skills and attributes-  will be identified, broken down to basic information, and programed into children before birth. Parents will be able to choose their kids’ attributes like las vegas tourists choosing food from the $5.00 buffet. 

Humanity won’t have to wait around for random genetic luck to give us an Albert Einstein every thousand years or so. We’ll whip up batches of fifty Einsteins at a time- with higher IQ’s, superior creativity and problem solving skills, more mathematical aptitude, and better hair. 

We may even identify a few traits- like raw IQ- that we judge to be UNIVERSALLY beneficial, and introduce those informatic changes into the programming of the WHOLE human race. At which point, we wouldn’t be quite human anymore would we? We would be augmented. Improved. We would be Post-Human… not just the creation of God, or of Darwin’s process ( depending on what you believe ) anymore, but rather, at least partially- what we have CHOSEN to be.

Imagine turning  50, 100, or  100,000 Albert Einsteins loose with time, resources, and the sole instruction to discover and make whatever is possible. What would we get? That’s hard to say, but I’ll  bet it would be pretty amazing. Why not do it?

 Humanity’s mastery of Chemistry has brought forth some very useful things. Humanity’s mastery of Physics has unlocked some amazing secrets, but Humanity’s mastery of Biology will change EVERYTHING.

And the ultimate prize? The most that Humanity could EVER hope for? Why not The Holy Grail itself? Question…What law of physics mandates that human life-spans MUST be limited to about 100 years? Cellular decay, telomer shortening, etc… etc… these processes are all written in the code. They are nothing more than programmed instructions. Who’s to say that we might not write a DIFFERENT code? A BETTER code. If there is anything that humanity should hope and strive for as our penultimate achievement before we end our journey as a species through this universe, should this not be it? Laugh if you will, but can anybody say for certain that it’s impossible now? I sure as hell won’t be around to see that day, but let me add this to my list of predictions- not only will disease be eradicated by the hand of man one day, but death itself is going to be given a serious run for it’s money before it’s all over.

Here is a link to some information on telomers and their role in Cellular Aging:

http://www.atozofhealth.com/Allergies/telomers.htm

 Human Possibility # 4: Mankind Comes to Know it’s True Place in the Universe, and answers “The Great Question”

“Are We Alone?”, “How did we get here?”, ” Is complex life common or rare in the universe?” People have been asking ( and arguing about ) these types of things for a long time. That debate is going to come to an end soon. The definitive answer to ” The Great Question” is not far off. Advocates for  Darwinian naturalism vociferously assert their guess that complex life arose as a result of purely natural ( albeit unexplained and unspecified ) processes, and  that the information processor of DNA self-assembled without the aid of design. They claim further, that tens of billions of lines of complex, specified information wrote itself on that information processor to bring about the coded program that specifies and creates life as we know it today. By their logic then,  all that is required for life to arise is the right environmental conditions, and time. If they are right, then the universe is literally teeming with life- both simple and complex.

 We’ll test that hypothesis one day soon. Intelligent Design advocates, on the other hand,  are somewhat skeptical of this claimed naturalistic process, and would like to actually SEE the unguessed and unknown means by which spontaneous abiogenesis allegedly occurred, and would like very much for darwinists to produce and SPECIFY the exact nature of the highly implausible path that RM+NS supposedly took to self-assemble human complexity from a pile of rocks. ID’ers argue against naturalistic explanations for life on several grounds. The Lack of evidence and specification for the DETAILS of Darwinism’s alleged methodology being one. The total mystery of Abiogenesis being another. Irreducible Complexity is one objection. Universal probability bounds is another too.  Darwinists are long on bluster and assertions, but short on details and specifics. Intelligent design advocates make good, logical arguments, but neither can they point to a specific designer if one does exist, nor can they specify that designer’s location and intentions.

 The truth is that neither side can conclusively say how we got here, because nobody was around when it happened. Nobody has EVER seen, duplicated, or explained abiogenesis, nor has anybody ever specified an EXACT plausible, pathway by which RM+NS ( or any other process ) in this universe managed to create human biological complexity. Hell, we haven’t even completely DESCRIBED human biological complexity, never mind come up with a serious explanation for it’s origins. Talk of human origins, and of Life’s prevalence in the universe is speculation and inference now, but that’s not always going to be the case. The problem is that we have such a small frame of reference. We know of only ONE place in the universe where life exists, and we only have knowledge of only ONE place in the universe where life COULD exist… Earth. Trying to make sweeping generalizations about naturalistic processes we cannot explain, specify, or duplicate , all extrapolated from our measly data-set of one is not so much a case of science, but rather a case of faith.

The observable data that is going to answer  The Great Question, of  Life and of  Life’s Origins is near at hand. We are looking out into the universe now, and we shall see what we shall see. I suspect that a lot of arrogant know-it-alls are going to have to re-think their positions when we see what is actually out there. Space-born interferometric telescopes are going to directly image earth-size planetary bodies within the next 100 years, and we will be able to analyze the composition of atmospheric gases on many, many distant worlds using spectroscopy. If biological processes ARE  going forward on other planets throughout the galaxy, and throughout the universe, we will know it by the presence of gaseous ratios that exist ONLY through biological processes. If an alien civilization were to run a spectrographic analysis on our atmosphere from a billion light-years away, they would KNOW that life is here. It works two ways.  If there ARE other advanced life-forms and civilizations in our galaxy and in our universe, we will know it soon. If they do not exist, we will know that too.  Darwinism is either going to be spectacularly confirmed in the next 100 years, or it is going to be UTTERLY discredited by definitive and undeniable observation. In the next 1000 years, the human race will have a good idea of how common life of ANY complexity is in the universe, and we will have a likely answer to the question of “Are We Alone?”. We will either make First Contact, or we will look into Douglas Adam’s Infinite Perspective Vortex and know just what it truly means to be small.  I am not going to predict an answer to the question here. I did that to some extent in my first essay on this blog. But I do predict that the answer to The Great Question will be known. Whatever the answer is, it’s worth knowing. 

Here is a link to an article in the Boston Globe by Colin Nickerson, about the ENCODE project- which has thrown Darwinism and current theories of evolutionary biology back to “Square One”:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2007/09/24/dna_unraveled/

Here is a link to the Blog of Dr. William Dembski, Arch-advocate for Intelligent Design:

http://www.uncommondescent.com

Human Possibility #5: Humanity will come to understand all of the fundamental particles and forces in the Universe, and that knowledge will allow us to reach many distant stars.

For those of you who know a little physics, ( I’m an amatuer at best ), you know about where we currently stand in terms of the standard model of particles and forces. We know a good bit about how three of the four fundamental forces that govern interactions between all known particles in the universe relate to one another; the Strong Nuclear Force, The Weak Nuclear Force, and Electromagnetism. We have also described and specified  the behaviors of particles associated with these forces.  The 4th fundamental force ( gravity) has been well described in Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, but has not been unified with the other three forces, and no particle has yet been discovered that is associated with it. In other words, we still lack a fundamental theory that encompasses one of the basic constituent forces that allows our universe to exist.

 The laws of Physics are the FINAL word on what is possible and what is NOT possible for mankind in EVERY field of endeavor. we can dream and hope and wish, just so long  as something has not been proven to violate the laws of physics. But once an idea DOES contradict these laws, well… that’s it. It’s not happening, at least not in this universe. If you believe in multi-verses, then more power to you…The Grand Unification Theory, when it  is successfully put forward, will give us a better idea of where we stand, and an idea of what we are working with in our universe in terms of what MAY be possible, and what is definitly NOT  possible. We are close to understanding those limits, but are not entirely there yet. Until we can identify the particles associated with gravity, and understand what they can and can’t do in interactions with other particles and forces, there are still some open questions. 

An unlikely character by the name of Garret Lisi ( known throughout the Internet as “The Surfer Dude” ), MAY have just come up with a valid Grand Unification Theory. By his own admission, it will either be spectacularly right, or spectacularly wrong. His simple yet elegant theory describes all forces and particles in the universe using something called the E8 geometric shape. It is the most complex structure ever described, and it MAY ( or may not ) be an accurate model of our universe. Even if Lisi’s model is incorrect, ( the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland may confirm or deny Lisi’s theory in the next few years by finding actual gravitons ), sooner or later, it looks like we WILL come to understand the fundamental nature of our universe. With that knowledge, we will be able to see what is physically possible.

 These matters bear heavily – indeed definitively- on our species’ prospects for survival, and the finite limits of how far we can go. For one thing, the sheer size of space is daunting. Just getting to our nearest neighbor- Alpha Centauri- is currently beyond our capabilities as a species. But even with conventional slower-than-light travel, we WILL get there someday though… probably. With slower-than-light travel, humanity MIGHT ( maybe ) even make it to  a couple thousand other stars that are within a few thousand light years of our birthplace. I give us a slim, but possible chance of achieving that. But as for the rest of the universe? The other 99.99999% of the universe that comprises untold billions of stars in our galaxy and contains many billions of OTHER galaxies with billions of their OWN stars? We won’t get to experience any of that without a very lucky break from the laws of physics.  A better understanding of gravity and quantum physics is what will tell the tale. Those of you who are Star Trek fans are more-or-less aware of the fact that warp-drive capability is what allowed captain Kirk and his posse to fly around the galaxy from star system to star system. If we are stuck permanently with slower-than-light travel, then that’s not ever going to become reality for us. Faster-than-light travel is the Holy Grail of Physics- and gaining that capability represents  the absolute best that humans could ever hope to achieve in this physical universe. Without that capability, we will go only so far, but no further.

So the question is… is faster-than-light travel possible? For an object traveling through normal, uncompressed space-time, it is NOT possible. But according to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, we KNOW that Space IS able to be warped and curved by gravity. Space-time curvature is what actually makes it possible for planets to orbit stars, and the FACT of space-time curvature has been confirmed by one of Einstein’s predictions- the gravitational bending of light- which astronomers observe every day. Since it IS possible to bend space itself, it IS theoretically possible to go faster than the speed of light- relatively speaking- by changing the actual distance that something has to go to get from one point to another.  Black  Holes represent a curvature of space-time so total that nothing – not even light- can escape once it has passed the event horizon, and all matter within it is compressed to a singularity. This is all accomplished gravitationally. The secret to warp-drive capability then lies in the ability to manipulate gravity and it’s ( presumed ) associated particles ( gravitons ) in such away as to amplify space-time compression ahead of a space-ship, and to  create space-time expansion  behind it. To do this without actually destroying the ship, would require the ability ( obviously ) to protect ones-self from the deleterious effects of said gravity using some kind of shielding or material opaque to gravity. In star trek jargon, this would be the “warp bubble”. Until graviton particles are discovered and described, we don’t know if such a thing is possible . The gravity source to power a warp-drive has to be powerful enough to warp space, but small enough  to be portable- which would seem to imply that we would need to gain mastery of a singularity.  Is all of this highly unlikely? Yup. It would be the most that we could ever hope to achieve, even if our species lasts for another million years and we write our names in glory on the concave of the heavens. But is it Impossible? Not yet. We don’t know enough to definitively say one way or the other. Further advances in quantum physics, and a better understanding of the particles associated with gravity will settle the matter. My prediction for faster than light travel? I’d have to say probably not. But we’ll see. 

There IS still one other possibility that may make interstellar travel routine and easy though- even if it’s only travel to a few thousand other stars within our realistic reach. THAT possibility will represent the most ridiculous thing that I will mention in this essay and I am prepared to be laughed at for suggesting it, so go ahead – yuck it up. But it’s actually more likely than warp-drive capability, and there appears to be  at least a plausible possibility that it will be achieved  . What I am referring to is teleportation- ie instantaneous quantum information-transfer using the principle of photon entanglement. Photon entanglement is a creepy, but very real phenomenon of nature in which two photons given off by the same atom can exist in two completely unrelated positions in space-time, but whose spin attributes are inexplicably linked no matter how far apart they are. In other words, information can be instantaneously imparted from one entangled photon to the other with absolutely NO regard for the distance involved.  Einstein referred to the phenomenon as “spukhafte fernwirkung”, which means spooky action at a distance. Using this information transfer technique, it IS possible to instanteously take the charachteristics of a particle or OBJECT that exists in one place, and  have those charachteristics instantaneously appear in ANY other place. Scientists have already transferred entire atoms using this technique ( they started out with single photons ). It works the same whether the particles are ten meters apart, or if one of them is located on earth and the other is in orbit around alpha centauri. When you think about it,  everything that we are can ultimately be broken down to information.  Everything that makes you PHYSICALLY what you are right now, can be informatically defined as matter- atoms- existing in a certain configuration relative to one another. That specification can be expressed mathematically and transmitted as information. It’s a fact. It all comes down to computer speed, scanning speed,  and information technology. Think of it as a 3D fax to anywhere with no busy signals. My prediction? It might take us 10,000 years to master the technology, but I see no law of physics that actually prohibits teleportation using quantum information and photon entanglement. I think it will actually happen someday, and THAT hopefully will be the wackiest prediction I will ever make.

Here is a link to a Fox News article about Garret Lisi:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,311952,00.html

Here is a link to the download page for ” An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” ( Lisi’s Theory ).  Reader beware- apparently the word “simple” has a different meaning to quantum physicists than the one that I am familiar with. :

http://arxiv.org/abs/0711.0770

Here is a link to a Scientific American article on photon entanglement and quantum information transfer:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00014CBD-7633-1C76-9B81809EC588EF21&pageNumber=1&catID=4

At any rate, those are some of my hopes, my wishes, and my predictions for the future of Humanity. I have tried to be both optimistic and realistic. I guess at heart, I will always just be a Dreamer, but that’s OK if you ask me. Sometimes dreams come true, and you’ll never know what’s possible if you don’t have the faith and the hope to try.  Is humankind fated to blow itself to kingdom come, or can we look forward to a glorious future? It could go either way I suppose, but  I prefer Gene Rodenberry’s optimistic vision of the future, and who knows- It may happen.

If anybody out there on the Internet actually reads this entire thing, and your guesses and predictions differ from mine, I would love to hear your opinions on how it will all turn out for us as a species, and I would also like to hear the logic behind how you reached your conclusions.

The real reason I wrote this essay though, is because I wanted to leave a record of what myself, and people like me hope for from the future. With any luck, this entry will survive me, and maybe someday a young person in another place and time will get an idea or two, be inspired, and go out and do their part to make some of this stuff a reality.  If the Dreamers prevail over the Accepters someday, and our human destiny does turn out to be a glorious one, then maybe future “Internet archaeologists” will unearth these primitive digital scrawls and I will become known as the Nostradamus of the 21rst Century. Then again, if the Accepters wind up determining our fate, maybe those future “Internet archaeologists” will get a good laugh at my posthumous expense, and I will become known far and wide in posterity as “The Great Dumbass of 2008″. We’ll see.

Space exploration is one of the things that I am most passionate about in this life. I guess that my interest in the subject began when I was in Kindergarten. I remember being 5 or 6 years old and spending a lot of time looking through a copy of National Geographic that my parents had, which featured pictures of the Apollo Moon Landings. That  magazine also came with a tear-out record that I played over and over again on our old vinyl record-player. The recording was of Mission-Control talking with the Apollo 11 crew as they made the first lunar landing. So, from a VERY young age, I could quote Neil Armstrong’s famous words… ” That’s one small step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind”. My interest in manned space exploration only grew from there, as I spent the next few years of my life watching the original Star-Trek episodes on our old black and white TV. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty and the whole gang would fly around the galaxy at Warp Factor Nine, having interesting adventures, “encountering new life and new civilizations”, meeting hot alien chicks, and going”boldly where no man had gone before!” Spock would calculate the crew’s curent odds of survival to the 8th decimal point, Scotty would save the Enterprise from a warp-core breach every week ( usually with about ten seconds left to spare ), and Dr. McCoy would say “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a fill-in-the-blank-with-your-occupation-of-choice…” Those were the good ol’ days… when not only were we taking our first bold steps as a species out into the “final frontier” in the REAL world, but space travel was also being semi-plausibly portrayed on TV shows like Star Trek as a fairly routine, and perfectly normal activity in the not-so-distant future. NOTHING seemed impossible in those days. For a young boy with a typical young boy’s infatuation with exploring new things, NASA’s Apollo program was  absolutely as exciting as could possibly be. I mean,  what an incredible concept… to actually fly up to the MOON and walk around up there! Alan Shepard even played GOLF up there! The Apollo 15,16 and 17 astronauts even brought a car with them and drove it around up on the moon! I just assumed- as did many of my generation- that the Apollo program was only the very BEGINNING of a “grand age” of space exploration that I was going to have the PRIVILEGE of  living in. I felt VERY fortunate to be born into such times, and I gazed ahead in the days of my youth, to a future brimming with limitless possibilities- mars landings, moon bases, warp-drive capability etc…etc…

Alas, dreams die hard sometimes. By the time I got my hands on  that issue of National Geographic, the Apollo program had already been canceled by the government as a waste of money that the public was already growing bored with. On December 14th, 1972, Gene Cernan ( commander of Apollo 17 ) climbed up the ladder of his LEM ( Lunar Excursion Module)  and headed back to earth.  Humans haven’t left Earth-orbit since. It’s now been 38 years since Neil Armstrong made his “one small step for man”, and for a generation of dreamers who really, really believed that mankind’s destiny lay in the heavens, the intervening decades have been a cruel disappointment. You see, for many of us, Apollo wasn’t just about going to the moon and beating the Russians- it was an expression of hope for all of humanity. It was a foreshadowing of human POSSIBILITIES- a glimpse at what our species COULD be and do! And those  old Star Trek episodes weren’t ( entirely ) about William Shatner’s hammy acting and the silly paper-mache sets- it was all part of an optimistic VISION of  a human future wherein we set aside our differences as a species, and reach out to the heavens to achieve what we are capable-of,  instead of blowing ourselves to kingdom come with weapons of mass destruction. The dreams, the hopes, and the best qualities of a whole generation were captured by the pioneering spirit of those times. The imagination of a nation, and of a world, was sparked and captivated by WHAT COULD BE!… THAT was the true spirit of Apollo, and THAT is what lives on in me, and a lot of other people out there who watch with dismay as NASA has devolved from being the bold, pioneering vangaurd of an entire generation’s aspirations,  into a sad, rudderless, bloated, bureaucratic monstrosity with low aspirations and even lower achievements.

In the 35 years since the final Apollo mission, the United States, Russia, ESA ( European Space Agency) , JAXA, and other would-be space-faring nations  have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on manned space-flight, and have almost NOTHING to show for it except a lot of pointless space shuttle missions to mere Earth orbit, and the on-going, decade-long assembly of an orbiting flop-house that doesn’t seem to have much purpose. In-orbit construction on the ISS began in 1998, and is expected to be completed in 2010. The life-expectancy of many of the station’s original station components expires sometime in 2016, at which point NASA will have to either have to invest tens of billions of dollars in refurbishing it, or de-orbit it and allow 14 years of work to burn up in the atmosphere. THIS is the the opus-magnus of NASA for the entire post-Apollo era? THIS, is the final result of our nation’s four-decade, hundred-billion dollar investment in manned space exploration? Don’t get me wrong… I don’t want to denigrate ALL of NASA’s achievements in space over the last 35 years- there HAVE been some good things accomplished. GPS and communications satellites come to mind. Rovers  have sent back  amazing HDTV-quality video of the surface of Mars, and many  un-manned deep-space probes have been sent flying all over the solar system in the years since Apollo, which have yielded amazing discoveries, sent back terabytes of valuable data, and vastly increased our knowledge of our  solar-system. Also, The Hubble Space Telescope was ( and still is ) the crown jewel of all our efforts in the field of un-manned space exploration. The pictures we got back from HST are probably the most mind-boggling images ever seen by human eyes. But while unmanned exploration has some great achievements to point to, the manned-exploration side of things has been a miserable, pathetic failure, and a great disappointment to our country and to the world, for a long time now. NASA’s two primary undertakings of the last 30 years have been the Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station. And neither one of these programs has even remotely come close to surpassing Apollo, in terms of historical significance or in terms of sparking public interest.

The bold pioneers- the “steely-eyed missile-men”- of the 60’s and 70’s were able to land men on the moon with archaic technology and a flight computer that had less computing power than your average modern wristwatch. NASA’s activities today focus on the Space Shuttle and the ISS. Near as I can tell, the Space Shuttle exists now for little other purpose than to give us a way to get to the ISS, and The ISS apparently exists for little other purpose than to give the shuttle someplace to go to. So we launch our insanely-overpriced shuttle missions up to Earth-orbit, putter around for a while in our insanely-overpriced, orbiting tin-can, and then fly home. What’s the point? I think it’s no wonder that so many people now think that Space Exploration is  just a colossal waste of time, and that the money could be better spent here on Earth. I disagree, as to that sweeping characterization, but I certainly can see where that attitude comes from, and I certainly don’t think that NASA has been good stewards of the national wealth it has been entrusted with. Certainly, there is nothing in what we are currently doing in the area of manned space exploration to capture the spirit and imagination of a new generation. Nothing bold. Nothing audacious. Nothing inspired. Nothing worthy of public interest and attention.  I think that a humorous article from one of my favorite on-line newspapers, ” The Onion”, accurately captures the essence of the frustration that so many people now have with NASA’s pointless and wasteful activities in space these days. For a good laugh please click here….

NASA ANNOUNCES PLAN TO LAUNCH $700 MILLION INTO SPACE:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/47977

Sadly, the FUTURE that NASA, the bureaucrats, and the politicians have mapped-out for the next 30 years or so looks about as pointless and stupid as the LAST 30 years have been. The current plan du jour is to spend the next few years spending tens of billions of dollars finishing the ISS ( by which time it will be obsolete and in need of major refurbishment or abandonment ). THEN, we are to embark on a decade-long, zillion-dollar quest to RETURN TO THE MOON, and THEN to build insanely-expensive permanent bases there that will be regularly re-supplied and re-staffed with even MORE insanely-priced moon-shots. In other words, NASA’s grand vision is ( IF everything goes to plan) to put us, in the year 2018, right back where APOLLO 11 put us FIFTY YEARS  AGO. From there, the moon is supposed to act as a “stepping-stone” to Mars and ANOTHER multi-decade, multi-zillion dollar NASA extravaganza to get there.

Look, it’s time to face reality here- about NASA, and about the course that manned space exploration in general is currently on. We’ve lost our way. The original NASA was built on the shoulders of committed visionaries like Robert Goddard, Wernher Von Braun, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Gene Kranz. It was an organization that was basically formed to give these dreamers,these explorers, these brave pioneers, a MEANS by which to give shape to their aspirations. The current NASA is a government bureaucracy staffed with government workers who function, aspire, plan, and behave as all government bureaucracies do- inefficiently, slowly, wastefully, and in plodding, drudgerous, safe,  un-inspired fashion. It’s a different culture now, with different attitudes, and different motivations. The CURRENT bunch is simply not cut from the same cloth as the original NASA guys, and I honestly believe now- when I look at NASA’s track record of uninspired mediocrity and waste over the past few decades, and when I look at their truly pathetic and unrealistic plans for the next few decades- that they are fundamentally incapable on a basic INSTITUTIONAL level, of achieving and implementing the next steps that humanity needs to take in the area of Human Space Exploration. If the optimistic vision of a human destiny in space- the kind of vision held by people like Gene Roddenberry, Carl Sagan, Robert Zubrin, and Buzz Aldrin-  is ever going to realistically come to pass, we are going to have to find another way to get there I think. We are going to need a new plan, new leadership, new goals, a new mission, a new paradigm, and a new business model.  I believe we should honor NASA for it’s past achievements, but when you consider the insane amounts of money that they have basically thrown down pointless rat-holes over the past few decades and their plans to throw even MORE money down the same rat-holes in the future, it is becoming increasingly clear that the whole concept of NASA- as it’s currently organized- is becoming a deteriorating scenario of diminishing returns on our national investment.

We need a totally new paradigm for human space exploration if we are ever going to achieve what we are capable-of,  as a nation, and as a species. That’s what it comes down-to. My thoughts on how we can realistically get to that place we are trying to get-to, will comprise the majority of the rest of this essay. 

 A couple of weeks ago, I went to go see “In the Shadow of the Moon”- a limited-release documentary comprised of interviews with the original Apollo astronauts, and never-before-seen footage from the NASA archives. If anybody else out there is feeling as depressed as I am about the current state of NASA, and about the state of manned space exploration on general, do yourself a favor and go see this movie. ( Don’t worry about finding a seat. Public interest in the space program is at a low ebb, so it was me and about six other people watching this movie on a Saturday night, in a city with a population of  about 1 million. ) The documentary was absolutely inspirational. I left the theatre with renewed  hope, renewed pride, and a renewed prayer for the return of  the TRUE spirit of Apollo to our nation. This movie reminded me of why I became interested in manned space exploration in the first place, and reminded me of the POSSIBILITIES that once inspired my generation.  We dont need to settle for this pathetic state of affairs! We can do more, and we deserve better! At this point, I think that things have gone so far astray at NASA that we should just start over with a clean sheet of paper.

First of all, lets start with some basic facts….We don’t even have a realistic vision of what we are even trying to accomplish in space, much less a serious plan for getting us there! Let’s start with a VISION, shall we? It seems to me that the critical component of ANY long-term sustainable human presence in space is that the people who are PAYING for it have to see a REASON to support it. There has to be something in what NASA is doing to inspire us- to capture our interest- and to let us live out our dreams through their bold and audacious plans. “Hello, McFly!”, we’ve already BEEN to the moon! A hundred-billion dollar, multi-decade “vision” to return to the moon is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. There is no possibility of anybody caring about this moronic waste of time, much less any chance of anybody being inspired by it! And after that, why are we building  “bases” there? Bases that are supposed to be continually staffed via endless, insanely-expensive missions like we currently use to restaff and resupply the ISS?… What is the purpose? Why would we do such a thing? NASA should be smacked in the head repeatedly with a dead waterlogged rat for adopting this monstrosity as it’s mission-plan for the next couple of decades. And WHY is the moon a necessary “stepping-stone” to Mars any more than the ISS was a necessary “stepping stone”? That simple question is the 800lb gorilla sitting on the living room couch isn’t it? USA Today said as much in an  editorial, that captures very well, I think,  the absurdity of NASA’s future mission plans…

USA Today Editorial:NASA, The Costly Frontier:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-12-05-edit_x.htm

To quote briefly from the article, ” On a practical level, this project raises a number of obvious questions. Why go back to the moon? Why build what is partially rationalized  as a base camp for an eventual trip to Mars in the gravitational sink hole of a planetoid? Where’s the scientific reward that would justify such an expense? “. So at least I am not the only person asking impertinent questions  about NASA’s plans for the next few decades… Just a thought, but instead of going to the moon again, why don’t we at least consider trying to do something we HAVEN’T done before, that MIGHT  at least stand a chance of capturing the public’s interest for a change-ie. a manned mission to MARS. I’m willing to bet that when an astronaut climbs down a ladder, and says something brilliant as he ( or she ) puts their boot down onto the martian soil for the first time, that there will be a few people tuning in to see that! So… Step ONE of a much-needed complete re-vamp of NASA’s mission plans going forward would be to jettison this whole moon-base stupidity, and get on with something that has a realistic hope of rekindling public support and interest in the space program.

 Step TWO, is to have a realistic, straightforward plan of getting to the new goal. We cannot afford to waste hundreds of billions of dollars re-inventing the wheel, and we DON’T need a bunch of intermediate steps and exotic new technologies to get to Mars. The Apollo-era heavy-throw Saturn V booster had everything we needed to put the peices required to get to Mars into orbit. ( As an aside, I’ve seen one of these beasts in person. They’ve got one laying on it’s side in a hanger at Johnson Space Center in Houston. It’s open to public viewing, and I would rank it highly among the most amazing things I have ever seen in this life. Trust me, if you have a chance to go to Houston for any reason, make time to go see the Saturn V. ) It’s not that difficult… you throw up two or three components into orbit with a few Saturns, you do a quick orbital rendezvous ala’ Gemeni and Apollo, you light the damned rockets, and you head to Mars. We have NEVER needed the intermediate steps of moon bases, international space-stations, space-shuttles, orbital assembly of “Battlestar-Galactica”-type ships,  nuclear-thermal propulsion, and warp-drive capability to get to mars. All we need is some leadership! We could have been to Mars  20 years ago with Apollo era technology, and if we committed ourselves to it today, we could be there in 10 years or less. If we cast aside all of NASA’s useless, intermediate steps and pre-conditions,  and instead adopted something like Robert Zubrin’s “Mars Direct” approach ( see Links at the end of this essay ), we could get there NOW, not 50 years from now!

 Let me tell you something that I have learned in the corporate world from real-life experience- a commonly used strategy to avoid doing something hard that really does need to be done, is to commission a bunch of “studies” of the problem. That alone can take years. THEN, you make sure that your “studies”‘ have conclusions that recommend a bunch of pre-conditions and intermediate steps  that would have to be to be fulfilled prior to actually addressing the primary task.Then you make the process of fulfilling the study’s recommendations for intermediate steps, so time-consuming and onerous, that the hoped-to-be-avoided course of action can never actually come about- at least not during a manager’s time there, and THAT’S what really matters.  I have PERSONALLY witnessed this variety of corporate-management-kung-fu in action. I’ll give you a real-life example… At my own company, we own many buildings. We have a problem with leaking flashing, and a multitude of “gaps” in many of our building’s exterior surfaces ( some of them so wide you can stick your whole hand in there ). There are gaps between the siding, the stucco and the wood- which allows rain and snow to just run freely into the walls and to cause widespread mold and drywall damage. The straightforward solution would be to get a bunch of guys with caulking guns to come out and seal the gaps- which I once “boldly” suggested in a memo. But my company has managed to largely  ignore the problem and avoid spending the money, by insisting instead,  that I generate a spread-sheet first, which LISTS each and every crack AND correlates those cracks to SPECIFIC areas of interior water-damage. There are literally thousands of cracks, and many, many hundreds of instances of interior water damage. If I did nothing else but work on crack-detail spreadsheets for the next three years ( I have no time for it whatsoever ) , I MIGHT be able to satisfy the pre-conditions for taking actual steps to solve the problem. But they know that I don’t have the time, and so the can gets kicked on down the road for ANOTHER few years,  ( or at least until the million-dollar toxic-mold lawsuits start flying). NASA is doing EXACTLY the same thing. They don’t want to undertake anything bold, risky, dangerous, or uncertain. What government bureaucrat DOES want to be responsible for something with a significant potential for catastrophic failure? So instead, they commission a bunch of studies and reports which predictably conclude that before we do anything crazy ( like doing something we haven’t done before ), we should FIRST finish the ISS, repeat the entire Apollo program, build a bunch of moon bases, develop nuclear thermal propulsion etc. , etc… NASA has now set so many pre-conditions and intermediate steps that have to occur before we leave orbit and head for Mars, that it will take many decades, and trillions of dollars before that day ever arrives- if it ever does arrive . By THAT time, the current crop of NASA managers will be safely retired on their government pensions. And that’s all that really matters here. NASA is also well aware of the budgetary crisis our nation faces in next few decades. The chickens of all of our multi-generational, unfunded , ponzi-scheme entitlement programs are going to be coming home to roost when the baby-boomers retire soon. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Prescription Drug Benefit ( not to mention interest on the growing national debt, and the cost of rapidly-escalating military commitments around the world ) are going to basically bankrupt the next generation of Americans. There is a realistic limit to what NASA can expect funding-wise in the years to come, and they know that the money is going to run out LONG before all of their intermediate pre-conditions for a Mars Mission are met. They know that they will get a lot of totally-wasted funding in the meantime to keep everybody on the gravy-train, but at least under their plan, they will get that funding without ever having to realistically deliver anything resembling a mission to Mars. That’s the sad and honest truth folks. So that’s what I think of Nasa’s “vision” and of their so-called “plans” for the next several decades. I think it’s a complete crock of bullshit.

So what’s the alternative? Well, as I have already suggested, Step ONE would be to get a realistic vision, and Step Two would be to get a realistic road-map to get there. The best that I could hope for for NASA, would be that somebody sensible becomes president and simply kicks the 800lb gorilla off the living room couch and says- ” Look, this isn’t happening. You guys go back to the drawing-board, and come back with a ten-year-plan to get us to Mars that doesn’t involve moon bases. ” Furthermore,  rather than investing another fifty-billion bucks on the ISS before we de-orbit it into the atmosphere, why not save the money and time and de-orbit the damned thing now? Instead of pursuing this folly to it’s ultimate pointless and wasteful conclusion, why don’t we stop throwing good money after bad, and call it a day shall we? And while we’re at it, let’s save ANOTHER twenty-billion bucks by not waiting until 2010 to retire the shuttle fleet. If I were president, I’d hand the keys to the ISS to Russia today and say “good luck comrade”. They would probably turn a profit on the thing by selling tickets to space-tourists. They need the money, so I say God Bless em’. I’d approve one more shuttle mission to service Hubble, and then I would send the shuttles to the Smithsonian.

The shuttle was supposed to be a cheap, safe, reliable, re-usable system capable of  quick-turnaround times and easy, routine,weekly, launches to and from Earth orbit that would radically lower the cost per-pound of mass-to-orbit. It wasn’t ANY of those things. It was a lemon from the start, and a totally bad idea from the get-go. ( Anytime you spend 50 billion bucks on a peice of equipment and you have to use the phrase ” the tiles fell off”, you pretty much know youv’e got problems.) We’ve wasted the time and treasure of an entire generation puttering around in earth-orbit, and the sooner we put this sad era behind us, the better. I admit, I DO like the next-generation CEV ( Crew Exploration Vehicle ) AKA “Orion”, and the “Ares” heavy-throw Saturn-type booster that NASA is developing as a successor to the shuttle system, but I would change two things. I would immediately divert all  ISS and Shuttle funding to a crash -program to get these new systems operational pronto. I would also insist on developing  Orion and Ares within the architecture of a near-term, Mars-focused mission plan. No moon bases!

We also need to reform  NASA on an institutional level, and give that reformed agency a bigger budget- a budget commensurate with a country that has a GDP of 13 Trillion dollars. Truth be told, I think that the government’s investment in Space Exploration should be quadrupled. As a percentage of GDP, the money IS there, and we could easily come up with the funds, given the VAST size of the federal budget, with even MINUSCULE cuts in the rate of entitlement spending growth , and by curtailing earmarks and blatant pork-barrel waste ( bridges to nowhere and woodstock museums ).  HOWEVER, along with that funding increase, NASA DOES need to be re-focused, and re-organized. Also, we need to introduce some new paradigms into aspects of the system to better utilize the power of market-driven competition to drive progress, spur innovation, and to encourage the flow of private capital into the area of space exploration. Also, we need to invest in new launch technology in the same way that the government once invested in the railroads to open up the rest of the continent to commerce. I will detail some of my specific proposals in these areas below…

 If it were up to me, I would divide the new up-sized NASA budget 4 ways. One Quarter of the new quadrupled budget ( the equivalent of  the entire current budget ) would be focused solely on Orion, Ares, and on a ten-year plan for a manned mission to Mars.  Un-manned science missions would also get a full quarter of the new budget money for probes, orbiters, and un-manned landers- with a large part of that budget focusing on finding suitable landing sites on Mars with frozen sub-surface water ice ( which would open the way for long-term colonization ), and on Robert Zubrin’s in-situ fuel production lander idea. I would green-light a major robotic mission to Europa ( currently canceled ), because it’s oceans probably have the best chance of harboring life of any place in our solar system outside of Earth.  I would absolutely continue to fund ( and upgrade ) from this money,  NASA’s  fine array of space-born astronomical observatories- Chandra, Spitzer, and  Hubble, as well as the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope. I would also also make SIM and TPF ( Space Interferometer Mission and Terrestrial Planet Finder ) long-term priorities for the “Science Directorate” of NASA. The unmanned exploration sector within NASA has EARNED the right to be stewards of our hard-earned tax- dollars. Another quarter of Nasa’s new super-budget would go to the development of a totally new launch system, and I would administer that part of the budget in a totally new way.

The new “launch system” that I am referring to, is called “The Space Elevator”. It has the potential to change the fundamental paradigm of space exploration to such an extent that it may wind up being more historically significant to our species than even the Apollo program was. I really do believe that it deserves funding equivalent to the entire current NASA budget. The fact of the matter is that there is only so far we are going to go as a species with space-faring exploration and colonization with conventional chemical rockets. The cost of getting people and material into orbit on a per-pound basis by conventional means is a PERMANENT limiting factor to what is possible for mankind if another cheaper method is not found. People have needs here on earth, and governments have many responsibilities to their peoples. Health-care, the military, retirement, roads, schools etc…., etc… There is only so much money that will EVER be able to be allocated to the space program. The fact of the matter, is that the BULK  of what is currently spent on space, is being wasted on propelling minuscule amounts of mass into orbit atop millions of gallons of propellant in insanely-expensive chemical rockets. Chemical rockets are an economic dead-end for space-exploration in the long-term. They have enabled us to take our first steps out into the great unknown, but they won’t allow us to take human presence in space to the next level for reasons of cost.  Not only are chemical rockets cost-prohibitive for non-profit organizations like NASA, but they are even MORE prohibitive to space-based, for-profit business ventures like space-tourism. Since we must assume that the amount of money that governments can spend on space exploration will ALWAYS be limited as a percentage of budget, the ONLY possibility for a significant expansion of human presence in space is if the cost of launching mass-to-orbit is radically reduced. In this way, it can it become profitable for private industry to drive the next phase of  human expansion into space. To make an analogy to another time in our history, the great expansion of the railroads that connected the east coast to the west coast, and the government’s investment IN those railroads, were only made possible by the fact that economic opportunities awaited at the end of the line. What SUSTAINED that rail infrastructure  ( and later built the interstate highway system as well ) was the economic activity that UTILIZED the road and rail grid. The government has a vested interest now in developing a better mass-to-orbit system that will radically lower launch-costs and make it possible for profitable space tourism to grow and thrive. The impetus of capitalism,of market-driven competition,of private investment,and of consumer demand  can bring to bear a  VASTLY greater power and wealth upon the area of human space exploration than government spending will EVER be able to in the long-term. But there has to be something IN space that motivates people to want to go there, and there has to be a much cheaper and potentially profitable way for private companies to meet that consumer need. The primary reason for average people to ever want to go into space is to see the view. Plain and simple.There is no other compelling reason for most people to need, or want to go there, or for private industry to find a way to send them there. The primary economic engine, therefore,  that will expand human presence in space will be tourism, and the lynch-pin that space tourism hangs upon is the development of a much cheaper mass-to-orbit system. That system is the Space Elevator, and quite frankly, I think that the development of that system should probably be NASA’s PRIMARY focus. It should be AT LEAST equal in terms of funding and in terms of priority, with every other thing that NASA does.

 For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Space Elevator concept, I will give a brief description of what it entails, and a few links to more information. Basically, the idea of the space elevator can be likened to tying a ten pound weight to the end of a rope and swinging it in a circle. The centrifugal force of  a weight attached to a spinning body ( in this case the earth itself ), holds the tether upright and rigidly in position between the weight and the spinning body. The critical component that was lacking in such a scheme, until fairly recently , was a material strong enough to bear the weight and stress loads required to permanently connect an orbiting object with the surface of the Earth. That structural material exists now. The strength-to -weight ratio of carbon nanotubes is sufficient to make a permanent space elevator an actual reality. From the standpoint of an observer on Earth, the space elevator would appear to be a thin, stationary, black ribbon stretching all the way from the ground to outer space. Of course, it would only appear to be stationary, as in reality, the earth would be spinning at many miles per second, as would be the elevator and the structure tied to it’s end.It’s just that it would seem stationary because we are also spinning at the same speed relative to it. A mechanical climber simply rides up and down the “elevator”, with none of the ridiculous costs and infrastructure associated with chemical rockets. Mass-to-orbit costs stand to be reduced a hundred-fold, and the first job of the first space elevator will be to lift up spools of carbon nanotube fibers containing the initial filaments of a hundred MORE space elevators. Many of these elevators will be financed by new businesses, and by a massive influx of venture capital that will be attracted to the new frontier by the now- potentially profitable space tourism industry. Indeed, ALL of the current industries that utilize chemical rockets for mass-to-orbit would find their costs greatly reduced, and capital /investment would flow to these sectors too. Cheaper mass-to-orbit also opens up possibilities for entirely new industries and technologies such as beamed power generation. The space elevator is the key that unlocks the gateway to the final frontier, and also to actual COLONIZATION of Mars, as opposed to just a few “plant-the-flag-and-look-around”  missions.

Discover Magazine Article: “Going Up”

http://discovermagazine.com/2004/jul/cover

Wikipedia: The Space Elevator:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator

Also, I would spend Nasa’s  entire Space Elevator budget under a new paradigm. It wouldn’t be an in-house operation at all. It would be along the lines of what DARPA ( Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration ) did with their open-to-the-public Autonomous Vehicle competition- only on a much grander scale. I would dole out the money as grants to approximately five companies that wanted to have a go at it, and have a 50 billion dollar “X-Prize” for the company that gets the first space elevator up and running. Let’s face it,  government bureaucracy is the method of absolute last resort if you want innovation, efficiency, speed, and excellence. On the other hand, try dangling that kind of money  in front of some lean, mean, greedy, hungry, profit-driven corporations, and you’ll have the elevator up before you can say Jack-and-the-Beanstalk.

  

My proposal for the final quarter of Nasa’s new budget would be to spend it on addressing another fundamental problem that is holding back human space exploration . I am talking about trying to do something unheard-of, and almost unimaginable, to recapture the daring spirit of Apollo again. We need to fire the imagination of a NEW generation! We need to capture the hopes, and the dreams of all the hard-working people out there whose tax dollars makes all of this stuff POSSIBLE! We need a bold, visionary goal- an audacious undertaking that is WORTHY of the attention, of the interest, and of the un-flagging support of the PEOPLE. We need a goal whose noble and lofty vision brings a tear to people’s eyes, and makes school-children lay awake at night in their beds thinking ” is such a thing REALLY possible?!”It should be like it USED to be, back in the early days of the Apollo program.  I have an idea of what that goal could be. I think I know what undertaking would be truly worthy of NASA, and worthy of the yearning for brave  EXPLORATION that lies at the core of what is BEST in the human spirit…

 I propose that an American president should lay before the American people the idea of building a vast space-born optical interferometer. The purpose of which would be to answer two fundamental questions-

 1.) Are we alone in the universe? …Does Life exist out there, and if so, is it simple or complex? Rare or prevalent?

2.) Is there another Earth? Are there many?… And are any of them close enough for us to consider what would be the greatest journey of all- going there. ( Via either a multi-generational colony-ship, or via a probe with genetic seed-material that could start a new branch of the tree of life in the universe.)

 For those of you unfamiliar with the possibilities and potential capabilities of space-interferometers, I will briefly outline the idea, and provide a couple of links to more information. Basically, the idea of putting telescopes in space is based on the fact that they are above the atmosphere- which obstructs and distorts our view of distant heavenly bodies from Earth. The Hubble Space Telescope ( launched in 1997 ) is one of the most amazing accomplishments in the history of mankind, and just so you don’t have to take my word for it, I’ll include a link to some of the images that Hubble has given us, and let you see for yourself. Honestly,  any words of mine would be totally unable to express the grandeur and majesty of what is out there anyways. Suffice it to say, that our view of the universe will never be the same. The Hubble deep field photographs boggle the mind. They are filled with millions and billions of tiny red, green , blue and pink smudges that fill up the HST’s entire view of the sky. Those tiny multi-colored pinwheels are galaxies. Each of them contains hundreds of billions of stars just like our own , and around those stars are circling billions – if not trillions- of planets. Some are inevitably going to be similar to own tiny blue marble that we call home. Statistically speaking, it’s a lead-pipe cinch that SOMEWHERE out there is a planet that is, for all intents and purposes, practically identical to Earth.  Now consider for a moment that Hubble only has a lense two meters-wide. The principle of interferometers ( in space in this case ) is that it is possible to create a “vitual lense” equivalent to the diameter of a CONSTELLATION of movable telescopes placed at great distances from one another. Someday, it will be possible to create a telescope in space with the equivalent of a lense that is TENS OF THOUSANDS OF KILOMETERS wide. Think what we have seen with Hubble’s tiny lense, and then imagine what we would see with an interferometer of that size! We will look down on distant worlds- maybe even in other galaxies- with the same resolution that CIA spy-satelites currently use to read a car’s licence plate from space. We won’t need SETI to be randomly looking for patterns in interstellar radio signals anymore. We will simply look down on distant worlds in VISIBLE light wavelengths , and SEE if there are any designed structures indicative of complex life. We will also use gas spectroscopy to determine the exact composition of those planet’s atmospheres, and see whether or not there are un-natural combinations of gases which are incapable of forming apart from the presence of life and biological processes going forward. If life is out there, we will know. If we are alone, we will know that too. Darwinists claim that abiogenesis, the origin and evolution of species, the spontaneous creation of self-replicating information processors like DNA , the code that is written on that information processor, and the irreducible biological complexity that code translates into, are all NATURAL processes that merely  require time and the right environmental conditions to occur. Intelligent Design advocates dispute that unproven claim and point to the problems of irreducible complexity, and of universal probability bounds in a finite universe, as proof that Design had a hand in creating complex, specified genetic information and interwoven, interdependent biological structures and processes that would never have come about by the “small, ,sucessive steps” required of Random Mutation and Natural Selection. The fact of the matter though, is that advocates for BOTH Answers to the “Big Question” can only point to a data-set of one. We currently only know of ONE place in the entire universe where life exists, and nobody has ever specifically explained, demonstrated, or duplicated the process by which that life came to be. If Darwinism is correct, then these natural processes must go forth on a trillion other worlds, and CERTAINLY the universe must be teeming with all manner of life- both simple and complex. Space interferometry will tell us if that is so or not. Objectively speaking, so far, SETI has laid a big fat goose egg, and the silence out there is deafening. Observational data so far has NOT supported that notion of complex life existing outside of this planet. Certainly SETI isn’t tuning into the bar-scene from Star Wars like it probably should be if Darwinism and purely naturalistic forces are solely capable of explaining life independent of design. But we’ll never really know the answer to the question of Life until we get out there and look for it. Personally, I think that the Fermi Paradox deserves to be resolved, and I want very much for us to actually get up there and SEE the truth.  The space interferometer will show us that truth, and I believe I can HANDLE the truth- whatever it turns out to be. The Space Interferometer is a worthy goal – for our species and for our nation, and it is a perfect mission for NASA, as it it has no possibility of ever turning a profit. It’s a pure-scientific mission of exploration and discovery.

Wikipedia: NASA’s Space Interferometry Mission ( SIM )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Interferometry_Mission

NASA’s Long-Term Terrestrial Planet-Finder Plans:

http://origins.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/missions.html#pi

Hubble Images:

http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album

Wikipedia: The Hubble Space Telescope:

Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_Space_Telescope

 My first essay on this blog adressed the potential impact that space interferometry will ultimately have on the question of life’s presence and prevolance in the universe. Personally, I think that data from the space interferometer will ultimately  prove to be definitive on the matter. Here is a link to that essay. The ensuing comment-fest following that essay wound up being a spirited and informative debate on the whole Evolution versus Intelligent Design controversy. The link is included here for those interested in the subject, as well as a link to Dr. William Dembski’s Intelligent Design Weblog…

Evolution Versus Intelligent Design:

http://tyharris.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/evolution-versus-intelligent-design-astronomy-may-soon-settle-the-matter-once-and-for-all/

Dr. William Dembski’s Blog:

http://www.uncommondescent.com

 I want to thank everybody out there reading this, for taking the time to consider my opinions and ideas. I realize that I tend to run a bit long, and that I am paragraphically challenged. I dont claim to know everything, or have all the answers, but I am pretty sure that the space program is currently not on the right track, and I hope I have thrown some ideas and alternatives on the table that are worthy of consideration by those interested in the matter. I do think that our long-term survival  depends on us becoming a space-faring species. Remember, we have all of our eggs in one basket here. We are a teensy-weensy carbon-based life-form, with a very small foothold, on a very tiny blue speck of dirt and water, in a VERY large, cold, and un-caring universe. There have already been several ELE’s ( Extinction Level Events ) in our planet’s history, and statistically speaking, we are almost due for another one.  Right now, even as we speak, there probably IS a rock flying though space at millions of miles per hour that the un-ending graviational waltz of heavenly bodies will eventually send our way – with potentially fatal consequences. That could be a thousand years from now, a million years from now, or tomorrow, but it’s probably coming. And perhaps the even greater threat is our own self-threatening tendencies as a species- our warlike tendencies, our hatreds, our inability to get along with one another. Combine those tendencies with advances in biotechnology and the potential production of bio-agents, super-viruses, and biological weapons of mass-destuction, and  you have a human future that is NOT a sure-thing. If it turns out that  we really ARE the only sentient beings in the universe, and anything ever DID happen to wipe us out as a species on this small planet orbiting a tiny yellow star, well… then that’s the proverbial ballgame isnt it? It’s something to think about….It probably IS worth establishing another branch of the human family tree elsewhere- just in case. At any rate, we don’t really seem to be currently on-track to achieve any kind of Human Destiny out there in the stars. I hope that changes, and soon. While my faith in a Human Destiny in space has not died or been shaken by the recent stagnation of the Space Program , my faith in the current caretakers OF that dream HAS died. I think it’s time to do as Sammy Hagar once said, and “Dream another Dream… this Dream is over.”

Suggested Links:

The definitive book on the current state of affairs at NASA… Lost in Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age by Greg Klerkx: 

http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Space-Fall-NASA-Dream/dp/0375421505

Ward and Brownlee’s Rare Earth Hypothesis / the Fermi Paradox:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_hypothesis

Books by Micheal Behe, ( arch-advocate for Intelligent Design and Irreducible Complexity):

http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Evolution-Search-Limits-Darwinism/dp/0743296206

http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-Black-Box-Biochemical-Challenge/dp/0743290313

Robert Zubrin: Author and arch-advocate of “Mars-Direct” plan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Case_for_Mars

Carl Sagan’s vision of a Human Destiny in space:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot:_A_Vision_of_the_Human_Future_in_Space#Book_summary

The Encode Project… More bad news for Darwinism, and more evidence in support of Irreducible Complexity: “The picture that’s emerging of how living cells actually operate and evolve is so immensely more complicated than anyone imagined, it’s almost depressing”….”illness, health, and evolutionary change appear to be the work of an almost fantastical coordination between genes and swaths of DNA previously written off as junk”:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2007/09/24/dna_unraveled/

The Apollo Program:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program

Orion and Ares, the sucessors to the Space Shutle:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_%28spacecraft%29

Shadow of the Moon movie:

http://www.intheshadowofthemoon.com

Nasa Budget:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget

The International Space Station:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISS

The Space Shuttle:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_shuttle

“Men From Earth”, my favorite first-hand account of the true-life epic adventure that was the Apollo program. Written by my favorite astronaut, Buzz Aldrin:

http://www.buzzaldrin.com/merchandise/books/index.html

If you came here looking for the “Evolution versus Intelligent Design” essay, click here:

http://tyharris.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/evolution-versus-intelligent-design-astronomy-may-soon-settle-the-matter-once-and-for-all/

If you came here looking for the “Most Worthless Generation” essay, click here:

http://tyharris.wordpress.com/2007/08/19/the-most-worthless-generation-an-essay-on-the-state-of-american-culture-by-ty-harris/

If you came here looking for “Political Prognostications” on the 2008 Presidential race, click here:

http://tyharris.wordpress.com/2007/09/10/political-prognostications-by-ty-harris-on-the-2008-presidential-election/

To learn more about Ty Harris, click here:

http://tyharris.wordpress.com/author/tyharris

                   So… If I could invite ANY ten people who had ever lived to dinner, who would they be ? I first asked myself this question during the summer of 1992. I was camping in Roosevelt National Forest, and late one night I found myself bored and alone in a tent -in the dark- for several hours with nothing to do. Unable to sleep, and having nothing to read, no television to watch, and no radio to listen to, I began looking for mental exercises to keep my brain occupied and to make the time go by quicker. Some people “count sheep” in this type of circumstance to try to get to sleep. I invite historical dignitaries in my mind to imaginary dinner parties. You may infer whatever you want to about me from that fact….

             Incidentally, on an aside-note before I get to the dinner guest-list, I would never “count sheep”, because having actually LIVED on a sheep ranch when I was younger, I can tell you that sheep are the LAST animals I would voluntarily spend time thinking about for ANY reason.  I can still remember my Dad saying to me with barely-disguised disgust in his voice, that sheep would stand there in the snow and die of starvation right next to a bale of hay because they were too stupid to eat it. But I digress… 

             At any rate, I did manage to pass a few hours in the tent that night, racking my brain as to who it would be best to invite. Once I got the guest list worked-out, I spent a little time on the seating arrangements to try and create the most interesting dinner conversations possible at my imaginary dinner party. I still remember a few of my original invitees, and I find it interesting to note that the guest-list has changed a bit now that I am re-visiting the thought experiment over a decade later. I think that this is one of those mental exercises along the lines of ” If you had a million dollars and you never had to work again, what would you do?” However you answer that question is what you are supposed to do as a career. In much the same way, who you would invite to dinner in this question, reveals a lot about you.  The changes in how I answered that question then and now, also reveal how I have changed as a person in the interim.

The Guest-List:

              Well, like many of you out there reading this, the first thought that comes to mind, when told that I can have dinner with anybody who has EVER lived, is to bring back loved-ones who have passed away. In the great scheme of things, the people that we know and love in our own small, historically-unimportant lives are much more worthy invitees to this hypothetical dinner, than any statesman or heroic figure could ever be, and I am sure most people would do the same thing. So I would save the first seat at the table for my Dad. I miss him all the time, and it’s ironic too, because I took so few opportunities to enjoy his company while I had the chance, and that only makes it worse. My Dad and I shared a lot of the same interests, so I have a feeling that he would enjoy talking to a couple of the other invitees to this dinner party as much as I would. It would be a fun night. For the sake of argument in this thought exercise, I am pre-supposing that my Mom and Sister were already coming to dinner anyways so they don’t count against the  9 more official-invites I have to send to historical figures and such.

             The second seat at the table goes to Albert Einstein. If there is a human being who ever lived that I am most in awe of, it would be him. People like Einstein come along about once every millennium or so, and during their relatively brief time here on earth, they make discoveries so profound that they will be talked about forever basically- or at least as long as our species lasts. His genius, his clarity of thought and perception, and his ability to see, understand, and define the relationships between the fundamental forces of nature that underlie our entire universe were unlike any who ever came before him, and probably will never be surpassed by any who come after him. I mean no disrespect to his family when I say this, but the man’s DNA should seriously be dug-up and cloned in my opinion. As a species, we can’t wait around another thousand years for somebody like him to come along by genetic randomness. Every generation should have their own Einstein. If it were so, we would soon know everything there is to know, comprehend everything there is to comprehend, and reach our full potential as a species. Maybe someday genetic engineering will endow EVERYBODY with this level of perception and intelligence. Wouldn’t that be something?

               The third seat at the table belongs to Abraham Lincoln. I once heard somebody on the radio describing the events of a man’s early-years ( I didn’t know it was Lincoln at the time) – and he was reading off a list, nay an un-ending LITANY, of all the failures and obstacles the man had to overcome in life. ( At the end of the long list of failures and obstacles, the radio-host mentioned that oh-by-the-way, the guy he had been talking about was Abraham Lincoln, who went on to become one of history’s greatest figures.) Failure- time and again- at EVERYTHING he tried, through poverty, defeat, and severe depression… and yet he persisted, and eventually- even when he DID finally hold the highest office in the land- he performed his thankless tasks commendably in one of the darkest times on our nation’s history as the recipient of little encouragement and much derision. If ever there was somebody who had an excuse to fail in life, it was Lincoln. And yet even as he was scorned and hated by so many in his own time, in hindsight, we revere him for his vision, his fore-site, his seeking after justice, and as the living embodiment of the leadership qualities that we desperately seek for now in vain, in an age of lobbyists, special-interest groups, sound-bytes, and focus-groups. Surely if anybody could give us sage advice to guide us through these uncertain times, it would be Lincoln.

           The fourth seat at the table goes to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Although he was long dead by the time I picked up his essays as a skinny 16-year old trying to make sense of a world that didn’t seem to make much sense, when I read Emerson, I sometimes felt as though he were speaking DIRECTLY to me personally, through his words. His thoughts were my thoughts,his feelings were my feelings, and his yearnings were my yearnings. No author ever spoke to my soul like Emerson did. Most people wouldn’t be able to guess this about me from my current couch-potato physique, but when I was a teenager, I was a serious middle-distance runner. I didn’t posses the genetic traits requisite to be truly “elite” or to compete in the Olympics, but still, for a time there, when I was 16-17 years old, I was just below that level. I was on a sort of “vision-quest” in those times- seeking the limits of my mind and spirit through athletic exertion, self-discipline, and most-of-all through transcendental thinking. My mental and spiritual approach to running took me a lot further in that sport than I ever had any right to go, and Emerson was a big part of that journey. I can still remember spending the summer of my 16th year in a tent by myself on South Padre Island, Texas, running 3 times a day on the beach, and filling my mind up with Emerson’s writings and philosophy as I watched the sun set over the Laguna Madre. My favorite essays of his are Heroism and Spiritual Laws, and they absolutely changed my life and opened up my world. How I would dearly love to meet Emerson!

               The 5th seat goes to Henry David Thoreau. I didn’t get into him as much as Emerson, but I know that he and Emerson were kindred spirits, and were friends. I think that Ralph would want to see Henry again. I would sit them right next to each other at the dinner table and listen to them talk. It should make for good conversation.

                The 6th seat goes to Thomas Jefferson. His revolutionary ideas and writings changed the world unlike anybody else who came before him or anybody since. In the Declaration of Independence he went WAY beyond merely justifying the birth of new nation. Rather, he spoke as nobody had ever spoken about the inherent rights of ALL men. “We hold these Truths to be self-evident…” He revealed fundamental truths to all mankind that we are all indebted to him for forever. His words are God’s own Truth on this earth as far as I am concerned. The nation that was formed and built upon the vision and principles he set forth, has ushered in a new age of progress, prosperity, freedom, and human enlightenment  for the world. Even today, 200 years later , his words are spoken in hushed, hopeful whispers by the enslaved and oppressed. His ideas are like a light in the darkness in remote corners of the globe where the torch of freedom and democracy has not yet been brought. And don’t tell me that if Thomas Jefferson were presented with the opportunity to expound on today’s current-events, that it wouldn’t make for some good dinner conversation! ( By the way, Saturday Night-Live did a hilarious skit once, in which the founding fathers came back to life and held a news conference to answer questions and solve all the world’s problems. In the skit, Thomas Jefferson loses his temper, because he can’t get the reporters to ask him any relevant questions. All the reporters care about is the “slave-sex ” scandal. They say the funniest humor is based on truth, and this accurately characterizes the shallow, celebrity-obsessed, intellectually incurious nature of the news media today… )

            The 7nth, 8th, and 9th Seats go to Charles Darwin, William Dembski, and Micheal Behe. They are all sitting next to each other, and nobody is getting up from this table until we settle the whole Evolution versus Intelligent Design controversy once and for all. I actually expect that the conversation would be a lot more respectful and congenial than many would predict. All three of these individuals were and are intellectual rebels. They have all had scorn and insults heaped upon them, and they all have the intellectual courage and honesty to see what they see, as opposed to what they want to see. All three state their theories based solely on the facts as they are best able to understand them, with no regard to acclaim, popularity, or approval. Darwin was working in the dark, without the benefit of a lot of modern data and knowledge that we have now. My guess is that the three of them would sit down and find common ground and consensus in the end. Common descent would be agreed upon, as well as Random Mutation and Natural Selection being true, but I expect that when confronted with the irreducibly complex nature of human molecular biology, and the unexplained abiogenesis of a DNA information processor capable of storing tens of millions of lines of ordered and structured CODE,   Darwin would probably acknowledge the limits of his theories to explain EVERYTHING and probably would acknowledge the apparent hand of design in human biological complexity.  Richard Dawkins is not invited. Although he might be able to contribute to the conversation intellectually,  he is so hateful, obnoxious, and poorly-mannered, that he would probably fart at the dinner-table and throw rolls at the other guests. Dembski, Behe, and “the Chuckster” will hash things out without him I am sure. 

           The 10nth seat goes to Buzz Aldrin. Looking back at human history from the future 1000 years from now,  Apollo 11’s “one small step for Man, one giant leap for mankind” may be the single event that most defines the age in which we live. Neil Armstrong was first, but having read an awful lot about the space program, I have a feeling that I have more in common personality-wise with Buzz than I do with Neil. Also, I am in awe of Aldrin in this sense- not only did he have the incredible courage to get out there on “the sharp end of the lance” and boldly face danger and personal risk, he ALSO was the leading authority at NASA on the orbital mechanics and rendezvous theories that actually MADE the apollo missions possible. His mind AND his spirit are unique. Also, he would be one of the few people in the room smart enough to have a conversation with Einstein, so I would seat them next to each other.

                 And that makes 10. However, I am not satisfied with that, so I am dragging a couple of folding-chairs out of the closet, and asking “ole Abe” to please scoot over a little bit so we can squeeze a couple of more people in at the table. There’s plenty of food at my imaginary dinner, and I am sure nobody would mind a couple of extra guests. I’ll stand, so somebody else can have my seat.

             The 11nth seat goes to Galileo Galilei. The man narrowly avoided being burned at the stake for his outrageous, audacious helio-centric theories, and is considered by many to be “the Father of Modern Observational Astronomy”, “the Father of Science”, and “the Father of Modern Physics”. I am bringing my laptop to the dinner table so I can show him some pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. If anyone deserves to see what is out there, it’s him.

            The 12th seat goes to Sir Richard Branson. I’ll sit him next to Galileo. If there was ever a pair of visionaries that were far, far ahead of their times, it would be these two. They are both such outside-the-box thinkers that they would probably have all of the world’s problems worked-out before desert.Besides, if anybody in these times deserves to gain the benefit of the wisdom and advice of luminaries-of -yore, to better lead us forward into the future, it would be Branson. His keen-ness of perception, his vision, and his intellectual courage earn him a seat at this table as far as I am concerned.

            The 13nth seat goes to Bill Russell, and he is going to be sitting right next to me. I’m a lifetime NBA fan, it’s MY imaginary dinner party, and he’s coming- so deal with it. A lot of people don’t realize this, but the Greatest Center in NBA history only stood 6’9″ tall. His keen mind, and his warrior heart allowed him to do things in his sport far beyond what his body should have allowed him to do. A lot of people also don’t know that he was a player-coach – not just a player- during some of the Celtics Dynasty years. In a room of 1000 people talking, I could find him blindfolded just by following the sound of his unique laugh. I haven’t met the man, but I can tell from listening to some of his interviews that he’s the kind of guy that nobody could ever hate- no matter what. ( Unless you are a Laker fan maybe… ) I would ask him to wear his championship rings to dinner, but that would be impossible, since he only has 10 fingers…

             The 14th seat would probably be empty most likely. But just the same,  I would be sending an invitation out to somebody that I would like to see just one more time before I die. If nothing else, just to ask how their life went. The purpose of this thought exercise is to see who you would invite to dinner for just ONE special night if there were NO limitations or considerations to be placed on the guest-list. So I am forced to admit that I would set aside a chair, just to see if this person showed up. And we’ll leave it at that.

              If I could squeeze in a 15th seat, it would be Jesus of Nazareth. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That’s not a bad idea really… Simple, true, and maybe even the most profound words anybody ever actually uttered in the long, sad, selfish saga of the Greek Tragedy that is human history. If we could all just learn to  follow that ONE simple commandment in our lives, is there a problem anywhere in this world that would NOT be solved? Seriously, would there be ANYTHING that would be impossible?  Naturally, he would be the one to say grace before we ate dinner…( Ha, Ha )

So… The final run-down is:

Me, My Dad, My Mom, My Sister, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, William Dembski, Micheal Behe, Buzz Aldrin, Galileo, Richard Branson, Bill Russell, One Probably-Empty Chair, and Jesus. That’s 18 all-in-all, which doesn’t exactly conform to the rules of the thought -experiment, but the point of the exercise is not really  the specific number. It could be 8, it could be 16. The POINT is to learn something about yourself by the choices you make. Also, I could probably come up with a few more dinner guests if I thought about it longer, but probably the people who come FIRST to mind, are the ones that tell us the most about ourselves. 

If anybody wants to comment on this post, please state what YOUR dinner guest-list would look like, and why you would choose the people you chose.

Those of you who came here looking for the “Evolution versus Intelligent Design”, essay please click here:

http://tyharris.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/evolution-versus-intelligent-design-astronomy-may-soon-settle-the-matter-once-and-for-all/

Those of you who came here looking for “The Most Worthless Generation” essay, please click here:

http://tyharris.wordpress.com/2007/08/19/the-most-worthless-generation-an-essay-on-the-state-of-american-culture-by-ty-harris/

Political Prognostications by Ty Harris on the 2008 Presidential Election:

This is not part of the “Essays” series persay, but rather just a politically- oriented blog-entry. It’s a summary run-down of some thoughts I have on the 2008 Presidential election. Nothing in this entry is particulary controversial or argument-inspiring, at least compared to the last two essays. It’s just a topic that interests me, and since this is my blog, I am going to write about it whether anybody reads it or not. Politics has interested me since I was about 12 years old. That’s when I started expanding my mental horizons a bit, away from my own small, personal  affairs, and into the bigger questions of what is going on in the world at large, and why things are the way they are. I remember as a kid, watching the evening news and asking myself ( and my parents ) endless questions about WHY there was so much fighting going on in the world, and about WHY there was a gas shortage. I was never really content with just accepting that things are the way they are. I always wanted to know the “why”. I wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes in the corridors of power, in government, and in politics that caused national policies and decisions to come about. I wanted to know what wars were SPECIFICALLY being fought over,  and what historical hostilities like the israeli-palestinian conflict, were SPECIFICALLY rooted in. I wanted to know WHY children were starving in Africa. I wanted to know WHY the world was the way it was. I didn’t see any really good REASON for all the poverty, hunger, war, and unhappiness in the world, and I so I really wanted to understand and know about the different social and economic systems that people had adopted in various cultures, that caused things to be the way they are. Those pre-teen musing were the beginnings of my “career” as an amatuer political junkie. In the intervening years, I have used my political punditry to stir up many conroversial and pointless arguments -for no reason whatsoever- in the workplace, in the home, and at many social gatherings such as holiday dinners and parties. And I never seem to get tired of  it either. I still remember going up into the study in the attic of my Grandma Harris’ large old house, and going through all of the hundreds and hundreds of books that she had on every subject you could think of. I devoured the knowledge contained in those books voraciously- especially the political ones-, and I still have fond memories of sitting indoors on rainy or snowy days- leafing through musty, old encyclopedias and ancient tomes- finding out interesting things about every topic under the sun. I also still vividly remember finding a worn-out, old booklet in a pile of books up there in that study, which contained the text of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. I found those documents fascinating, an I read every word of it, over and over again. I came to know those documents forwards and backwards. It was in those days that I first fell in love with America. I came to realize, through reading and through trying to understand the words contained in those documents,  just how lucky I was to live in a free country. The fundamental justification for everything America stands for is contained in the preamble to the Declaration of Independance, and I challenge anybody to this day,  to show me words or principles more true, more just, or more beautiful. In fact, if you want to read it right now,  you can click on this link:

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

I still get a shiver down my spine when I read the words in the preamble to the Declaration, the Constitution,  and the Bill of Rights. The words are so powerful, so revolutionary,  and so FEARED that they  are still banned and censored in places like China, Iran, and North Korea. But like all truth, there seems to be no way to hide the light in the darkness forever, and I dont doubt that we have only seen the very beginnings of the tidal-wave of Freedom and Democracy that will sweep this world in the next hundred years. As I grew up, and got older I kept reading. In high-school, when other kids were out drinking and partying, I was more likely to be found curled up in bed with a cold glass of milk and a copy of Nixon’s memoirs. I never lost my interest in politics, and I never joined the legions of beaten-down cynics who just shrug their shoulders today, and say that all politicians are corrupt. I never gave up on my country – or the world- as being beyond hope, and I never thought that my vote didn’t matter. To the contrary, I have never missed a presidential election in my adult life, and I have never stopped learning, reading, and listening as much as I can- trying to understand the issues, the arguments, the philosophies of governance and economics, and the various controversies that make up American political discourse in our times. My family was the type of family that sat around the TV on election night with our electoral tallies in hand, and our state-by-state predictions already on-the-record. I had many, many enjoyable political discussions and arguments with my Dad growing up. He shared my interests- if not all of my opinions- and it’s one of the things that I miss about him the most. To this day, on election night, I will be up until dawn waiting for the final tally and the returns from Hawaii to come in, long after the final result has been decided.

 So, here I am- all grown up- with a lifetime of political reading and thought under my belt going completely to waste. I just figure it would be a shame to have a blog, and to not offer my two cents worth about the 2008 election. So I will offer herein a few prognostications about the 2008 candidates, a few opinions about the issues, and a few predictions- just for the record. Labor day is traditionally the start of the American Political season heading into a general election year, so I wanted to get my opinions on the record promptly, before some of the candidates start dropping out, as they soon will.

I don’t want to drag out a hundred different issues in this blog entry. Anybody who has read my essay on “The Most Worthless Generation” already knows my basic stance on things, and the general direction that I come from politically. I am a conservative republican. I am a fiscal conservative. I am budget hawk, and I am a war-hawk ( some would say a neo-con. ) I have a populist streak in me, and I see eye-to-eye with Pat Buchanan on immigration and trade policy, although we had to part ways after 9-11 on the War on Terror, and on Foreign policy. I am pro-life, pro-gun rights, and generally conservative on most social issues. I’m not exactly from the redneck wing of the party though. I am not racist, and I have no particular problem with homosexuals. I like or dislike people based on who they are, and on how they conduct themselves- not based on what color they are. Also, I think gay people were just born that way. In the same way that I never made a “choice” to start liking women ( it just happened ), I think homosexuals never made a “choice” to start liking members of their own sex. I figure it’s genetic. I think that someday scientists will discover the “gay gene” and vindicate my opinions on that matter. So I guess I have a bit of a tolerant streak in me- although I also seem to have ZERO tolerance for certain behaviors that people CAN control ( For instance, these idiots in their cars with the loud, buzzy mufflers who drive around in residential neighborhoods playing loud bass and shaking windows. I wish the cops would pull these jokers out of their crappy honda civics and execute their sorry asses on the spot. ) I tend to like to evaluate issues on their own merit, and I can be persuaded if the facts support a particular side- even if it’s not my party’s traditional stance. I am open-minded on global-warming, although the hypocritical demagoguery with which the phoney-baloney left uses this issue nauseates me. I WOULD like a better national energy policy that would result in less pollution, ( and I am sure that our country could easily acomplish this, if the  environmental advocates who want to reduce carbon-emissions  would stop preventing us from building nuclear power plants). In accordance with my populist streak, I am not happy with corporate loop-holes and tax dodges that are enriching these villains at the country’s expense while the federal budget deficit grows astronomically each and every day.  My biggest issues politically are;1.) strong national defense and going after radical islamists in every way possible, 2.) education reform, 3.)  entitlement reform, 4.) immigration enforcement, 5.) homeland security, and 6.) trade policy reform. I agree, generally speaking, with the founding father’s original vision of limited government, but I am not a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination. I see that Government does have a proper role in certain matters that people can’t better do for themselves. I see also, however, that government is notoriously, and inherantly, in-efficient and I think that government programs should be viewed as a last-resort to solving most societal problems- not the first. I also advocate strongly for cultural reform- although I think that that lies less in the perview of politics, and more in the perview of the choices we make as individuals.  I may write an essay at a later date called “Why I am a Republican”, in which I will go through the issues one by one, and explain why I feel one way or another about a given topic, but for now, suffice it to say that the Republican party is on the right side of MOST of the issues that are MOST important to me- but not all of them.

 Both modern American political parties today are like “Big Tents” in the sense that there are a number of “wings” in each party who part ways on particular issues, but who share a lot of common core-beliefs that still bind them together as a party underneath the tent. The primary candidates often reflect these various “wings”, and in the primaries, those of us who care enough to vote, pick the candidate whose beliefs most closely reflect our own special conscerns. In the general election though, usually, the wings set aside their differences and come together for the good of the party, and you have to settle sometimes for a guy whose general philosophy matches your own more closely than the other guy’s. That’s how I came to vote for Bush- twice. The first time around, I voted for him because he was a social conservative, and a straight talker. After 8 years of listening to the pervert-in-cheif  explain his way out of his “bimbo eruptions” with such brilliant statements as ” it depends on what the meaning of the word is, is”, I was ready for a good ol’ boy from Texas who loved his wife, saw things in black and white, and had some kind of a moral compass. After 9-11, I was glad for my choice of bush, because he had a Reaganesque good-and-evil view of the world, and I knew that he wouldnt be afraid to meet radical  Islam on main street at high-noon and shoot it out clint-eastwood style. In the post-911 world , the presidency is not for the morally and idealogically conflicted. And Bush was neither.

 I have supported bush’s overall policy on the war on terror 100% from day one. In the field of foreign policy, his clarity of vision has served the country well in terms of GENERAL guidance.It’s in the details, the implementation, the management, and the competence areas that Bush unfortuately doesnt do quite as well. It’s clear that his heart is better than his head. He means well, but let’s face it- he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer sometimes. While I support our war-effort in iraq in terms of the justness of our cause, tactically speaking, it’s been a botched disaster of incompetent management from day one. Rumsfeld bears a large responsibility for this fiasco, but so does Bush. ( General Shinseki will go down in history as the Cassandra who was absolutely right about everything, but who – sadly- wasnt listened to by anybody. ) The Hurricane Katrina fiasco was one of the worst examples of presidential incompetence in the history of the republic ( right up there with Clinton and Carter giving enriched uranium to the North Koreans ). We have had 8 years of complete non-leadership on energy policy, trade policy, and on immigration policy. Bush’s fiscal policies have been disasterous- nay catastrophic. His primary fiscal legacy will be the HORRIFIC Prescription drug bill, which- when added to the already un-funded entitlements of medicare, medicaid and social security – may be the final nail in the coffin for our nation’s financial future. Also, he brilliantly managed to turn Clinton’s ( and in fairness, the republican Congress’s ) budget suplus into a deficit of historic proportions. Fiscally, Clinton was actually  more of a Republican than Bush has been. The border situation is a disaster of unmitigated proportions, and he has continued the utterly ruinous trade policies of the Clinton/Gore administration. Frankly, I am ready for a change. I am NOT voting for a good ol’ boy this time around just because he’s a republican, and because I think his heart is in the right place.

If a candidate wants my vote this time around, he had better quit talking in vague generalities  and show me some specific policy proposals on a whole range of issues that have been totally ignored by Bush for far too long- especially illegal immigration. I’m not voting Democrat, but by-god, if John McCain gets the nomination, I ‘m staying home for the first time. The democrats can put whoever they want in office, and I’ll wait for 2012 to see if my party can nominate a serious candidate who will protect the god-blessed borders! So- without further ado- the candidates, and my take on them…

 The Big Four Republicans:

John McCain-

 As I said, if he gets the nomination, I am staying home. I know other conservative republicans who feel exactly the same way. When you lose the base of your party you CANNOT win a general election, and McCain is in trouble now. McCain was actually the presumptive early-favorite going into this, so he has had to make some major mis-steps to wind up where he is now. He is also a very decent, honorable man who I would be proud to shake hands with, but when he decided to part ways with the party base on immigration reform, he sunk his presidential chances. Honestly, the border situation has gotten so ridiculously out of hand, that I am NOT voting for somebody who is soft on this issue. I respected McCains’ brave attempt to clean out the agean stable that is the  modern political process, with his Campaign Finance Reform bill even when most republicans didnt support that. I am willing to tolerate a little bit of his “maverick” tendencies as far as toe-ing the party line goes, because it smacks of integrity and intellectual honesty. But if there is ONE issue that good Americans in BOTH parties are howling for blood on, it’s border security. He screwed himself on that issue, and he would probably admit it if you asked him. And it’s too late for any feeble back-tracking now. I don’t trust him. When we needed him most on this issue, he wasnt there for us. Sorry, John. Sadly, his brave, and patriotic support  of Presidnt Bush on the Iraq War has probably damaged him more than helped him. There are just too many independents and “particular participants” out there who have totally had it with the whole fiasco and how it’s been run. If Bush had fought the war correctly, with appropriate troop levels and such, McCain might be riding a wave of victory right into the white house now, but with things all going bad, and the President’s poll numbers in the toilet, the wagon he hitched his star too is going right down the drain. I dont think McCain will get the nomination, but according to recent polls, he IS one of the very few republican candidates with a real chance to beat the democratic nominee.

Rudolph Giuliani-

According to current polls, he is the solid republican front-runner right now. He is also the ONLY republican that currently polls favorably in a head-to-head match-up with the early democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton. I like Rudy Giuliani. He was a good mayor. He is a highly competent manager. He is highly results-oriented, rather than ideology-driven, and he DID clean up New York City with no-nonsense, hard-nosed anti-crime policies. But, like McCain, he is soft on immigration. New York City is one of the so-called “sanctuary cities” in this country now, where illegal immigration and illegal employment is ignored as a matter of policy, and Guliani had a large hand in that. I have zero faith that he is going to take serious measures as president to close the border, deport the illegals, and punish the employers who are driving this whole mess to begin with. I also question whether or not being the mayor of ANY city qualifies a person to be President. He is also an un-abashed supporter of abortion rights. The conservative christian base is NOT going to support his stance on that, and for many in that bunch, it’s their number-one issue. If you want the republican nomination, a good place to start is by NOT iritating the core of the party base. Nevertheless, he is a smart, articulate man, and he is rock-solid on national security. He, better than anybody else, knows EXACTLY what the islamic terrorists want to do to us, and there is no danger he will ever forget that. He might just pull it out and get the nomination. If he swears a blood-oath to do something serious on immigration policy, I MIGHT even hold my nose, cross my fingers, and vote for him in the general election, but he sure-as-hell wont get my vote in the primaries as punishment for this “sanctuary city” crapulence.

Mitt Romney-

I like Mitt Romney. I am voting for Mitt Romney. I want a proven track-record of results, specific policy proposals, and a candidate who is whip-smart and has the experience to do the job. That man is Mitt Romney. Yes, I know he is mormon, and that scares a lot of christians, but I am here to tell you that I have met many mormons, and they are every bit as conservative and family-values oriented as christians are. The man is running for head of the secular government, not for the position of supreme religious commander. Some tolerance is in order here. His record as Governor is stellar. He achieved FULL medical coverage in the state of Massachusetts with a brilliantly concieved, practical, and detail-oriented plan that assisted those who could afford the coverage the least, while still leaving the actual implementation of health care in the private sector- which is the exact opposite of hillary-care. Socialized health-care is coming if she gets elected, and it will be a total disaster for our country. You have been warned, and you heard it here first…Clearly, SOMETHING needs to be done with America’s health-care situation, but I believe that what we need is smart reform, not nationalization of the industry. He was a fiscal conservative in office, and a budget hawk. He wasn’t afraid to raise fees in his state to balance the budget, and he turned deficits into surpluses. I have had enough of the economic train-wreck that we have been on for the last 8 years. Romney will put the books in order. Also, he was the Governor of a state- which is a more appropriate stepping-stone to become head of the executive branch, than being a senator, a mayor, or a congressional representative is. He is also a sucessful businessman, a self-made millionaire, and is far and away the smartest guy in this bunch. He has flip-flopped on abortion, but he is saying what he needs to say now, to get the nomination. Really, it’s hard to know what his real thoughts on the matter are. He probably just said what he had to say on social issues to get elected as a republican back in liberal Massachussets. I trust him on fiscal policy, on national defense, on leadership qualities, and on entitlement reform. He’s saying the right things on illegal immigration too, although I don’t know if he’s for real or not. He’s certainly preferable to McCain and Giuliani in that regard. He has the money and the organization to do well in Iowa and New Hampshire, so he should pick up early momentum in the primaries. Go Mitt!

Fred Thompson-

 Sigh… He’s been hyped like the born-again second-coming of  Ronald Reagan, but I just dont see it. Reagan was a California Governor, and he cared a LOT about conservative principles. Reagan was on a MISSION. As for Fred, well, you get the idea that he doesn’t really care all that much. He had a short, un-distinguished, boring career as a senator from Tenessee. True, he was a reliable conservative vote, but what- in particular please- makes him qualified to be president? Sure, he’s a nice guy. A down home good ol’ boy who talks in vague generalities. But, I’ve had enough of that, and I dont care if he was an actor on Law and Order. As far as I am conscerned, acting abilities are where the similarities between him and the Gipper end. He’s a nice enough guy, but really, there’s NOBODY in this bunch of candidates who is fit to carry Ronald Reagan’s jock-strap- including Fred.

The Second Tier Republicans:

 Mike Huckabee-

 If Romney or Giuliani gets the nomination, Huckabee would be a fine Vice Presidential pick. He would balance the ticket demographically ( Northeastern/ Southerner ), as well as throw a bone to the religious right who – rightly- love Huckabee. Huckabee distinguished himself in the debates with direct, smart answers. He is a rock-solid christian conservative and is  an ordained minister. He is a sucessful state governor to boot. Heck, if I didnt like Romney so much, I’d be voting for this guy. His name recognition, his record of achievment, and policy proposals aren’t neccesarily on a par with Romney, so I cant vote for him in the primaries, but I do really, really like this guy. If Republicans lose in 2008, he might be a more well-known candidate for a second run in 2012. And if- by some miracle- Huckabee does get the nomination, I would whole-heartedly support this fine candidate. His inclusion on the ticket as a vice-presidential candidate would also greatly energize the base, and excite me as well.

Sam Brownback-

A good, reliable conservative, but not so much appeal beyond the hardcore conservative base. There’s only room for one such niche-candidate in the field, and the christians seem to have coalesced behind Huckabee. Besides, Huckabee is a better speaker, and is a Governor, as opposed to Brownback only being a senator. When Brownback drops out, Huckabee gets his base of support by default. That might be enough to move Huckabee up into the first tier of candidates- possibly ahead of McCain.

Tom Tancredo-

 I know I can count on Tancredo on immigration, but I’m not sure that that alone makes a person a viable contender. Besides, he hasn’t got the experience to be President as a mere congressman from Colorado. He knows this. He knows he isn’t going to be President, and I believe he is only making this presidential run as a labor of love, to draw attention to the problem of illegal immigration that has been ignored for far too long. He has forced the issue into the debate, and for that, God bless you, Tom.

Ron Paul- He’s the Dennis Kucinich of the republican party. He’s the niche candidate of the kooks. The black-helicopter, isolationist, libertarian wing of the party that unfortunately sticks it’s snout under the flaps of the republican tent. Paul is not so easily dismissed though- there is enough anti-war sentiment out there now, that dis-illiusioned, dis-enfranchised kooks from BOTH political parties are actually supporting this guy. He has growing grass-roots support. It’s hard to see the guy ever winning, but he does have some true-believer followers, who are peacefully participating in the political process and having their voices heard. For that, I must respect his devotees, even though I  have a hard time understanding why these genuinely earnest people think he should be President.

 Duncan Hunter-

Just as the religious wing of the party has to choose between Brownback and Huckabee, the anti-illegal immigration wing of the party has to choose between Tancredo and Hunter. NOBODY will ever out-Tancredo Tancredo, so I am not sure why Hunter is even in this race.

The un-announced Dark Horse:

Newt Gingrich-

Newt is every bit as smart as Romney, and he rightfully claims the mantle of “champion of all true conservatives everywhere”. The man has “been there and done that.” A former Speaker of the House ( third in line in the Presidential order of sucession ), he stormed the house of representatives in 94′ and gave republicans their first majority there since humans split from chimpanzees, I think. He has a knack for putting together a few key, focus-group-tested issues into a platform, and then beating the opposition over the head repeatedly with those talking points. He is a formidable campaigner. He said he would probably be getting in the race if Thompson flops as the annointed savior of conservatives ( my words not his )- which Thompson has proceeded to do so far. ( Skipping the debate was a BIG mistake Fred ). So Newt will probably get in. He is well-spoken, and has a broader-base appeal across the party than Huckabee does. Conservatives like him more than McCain, and he’s a better candidate than Thompson, so Gingrich – if he runs- probably COULD even wind up third behind Romney and Giuliani. If any of the other conservatives bow out, he picks up many of their votes at the expense of Romney and Giuliani. He could even wind up in second place behind Giuliani , if christians just aren’t having any of Romney’s mormon-ness and wish-washiness on abortion. As much as I really like Newt, I also hope he doesnt get the nomination. The problem is that he is a polarizing figure with high negative approval ratings outside the party. In this evenly-split elecorate, it’s critical to have a shot at swaying some of your opponent’s less-reliable demographics, and at winning over some independants. Also, it’s not a good idea to nominate somebody who will give your opponents an inspiration to go out to the polls in droves. Newt does for the republicans what Hillary does for the democrats. He galvanizes the opposition into action.

Ty’s Republican Predictions-

 Giuliani is in the catbird seat. Every one of these candidates has flaws which make them  unpaletable to at least SOME major wing of the party, and in the end, Giuliani may have the BROADEST appeal and simply be offensive to the LEAST number of republicans. Romney is my guy, 100%, and I hope he gets the nomination, but if he doesnt… well, I will probably support Giuliani for the good of the party. But I’ll be holding my nose when I pull that lever. I do hope Huckabee becomes the vice-presidential nominee. It would season him for a realistic run at the big chair in the future.

An Outrageous Statement by Ty, Sure to Draw Gasps From The Peanut Gallery:

 Truth be told, the most qualified guy on the planet to BE President of the United States is Dick Cheney. He can’t run for president, because of the unpopularity of the Iraq war,  and also because of this administration’s rank incompetence in so many areas , but if he COULD run, I would damned well support him. The guy is as rock-solid steady as they come. Our country’s enemies fear him in their bones, and honestly, he’s probably been the adult in this administration all along.

Two Other Guys Who Can’t Run:

Jeb Bush-

He is well-qualified to run for the office of President. He’s an experienced, well-spoken former governor of Florida, with a proven record of strong leadership, and he can bring Florida’s priceless swing-state electoral votes to the table. But at this point, the country is suffering from the advanced stages of Bush-fatigue, so it’s probably a non-starter, even as a vice presidential candidate ( which he would be well qualified for ).

The Terminator-

The only thing that stands between this California Governor and the oval office is the Constitutional prohibition on foreign-born citizens becoming President. If he could run, he would win, and I would sleep like a baby knowing that Arnold has his finger on the button. Nobody would DARE attack this country. It wouldnt be the M.A.D doctrine ( Mutual Assured Destruction ), It would be the A.I.D.O.Y.S.A.I.Y.E.T.A.I doctrine( Assured Instantaneous Destruction Of Your Sorry Ass If You Even Think About It ). I heard once, that Utah Senator Orin Hatch was working on a Constitutional Amendment to allow foreign-born citizens to run for President, but when the dems took over congress last year, that was the end of all that.

 The Democrat Big Three:

Hillary Clinton-

The fact that this obnoxious, insufferable, ethically bankrupt, soul-less seeker of power is currently running way-ahead in all of the polls to be the democratic nominee, proves that the Democratic Party has a slightly suicidal streak in it. I mean, havent they been frustrated long enough? Aren’t they tired of being denied and dissapointed? Even when Bill Clinton managed to sneak into office courtesy of H. Ross Perot, he had to practically govern as a moderate republican because of the disaster that Newt and company visited upon the democrats in congress. Now that the Democrats have both houses of congress, they have a REAL shot at finally getting some of their major policy initiatives through, if they can only find an electable candidate. But here we go again with  another Mondale/Dukakis/Kerry joke with no chance to win! Even if the democrats were to run the anti-christ himself, they couldn’t pick a candidate more certain than Hillary to bring out every last Republican to the polls on election day, no matter what- come rain, fire, hail, hell, or high water. How much does this woman motivate me as a republican to vote? Almost enough to make me actually vote for John McCain, that’s how much. I hope they nominate her. I really do. She will never be president. Too many people flat-out despise this very hate-able woman. Her marriage is a total sham, and it’s obvious that at her core, there is nothing there but a lust for power. And this recent business with the illegal campaign contributions from shadowy chinese figures is bringing back WAY too many bad memories. She’s got a LOT of baggage- the travel office firings, the improper gifts, the pardons, the secret nationalized health-care hearings, the rose law-firm billing records, Web Hubble and Susan McDougal, the insider trading, the ridiculous notion that she really didnt know about her husband’s innumerable extra-marital affairs that have been going on for decades…. I could go on and on, but I won’t. For republicans, a Hillary nomination is the same as handing us the keys to the white-house limousine again.

John Edwards-

 The biggest phoney-baloney hypocrite to ever come down the pike. Yeah, right, he cares about global warming while he drives around in his SUV, flies everywhere on his private jet, and uses more energy to heat and cool his buzillion-square-foot compound in a month than the average citizen spends in five years. His conscern for the poor half of his “two Americas” is so touching too, while he is living in his mansion, getting 400.00 haircuts, and working for the hedge-fund. And what exactly qualifies him to be President? Being an ambulance chaser trial-lawyer? One undistinguished term in the Senate? Being Kerry’s losing VP candidate? Please. If the dems dont nominate Hillary, I hope they nominate this buffoon so Romney or Giuliani can use him for a punching bag.

Barak Obama-

 While he is in no way qualified to be President, ( he hasn’t even completed his first term in the Senate!), of the top three Democratic candidates, he’s the least offensive one by far. If the Dems have any brains at all, they will snap out of their stupor and nominate this guy and seize the steering-wheel away from the seemingly inevitable Hillary nomination, before she drives the whole party over the cliff. The guy is talking tough on the war on terror, and wants to invade the tribal reigons of Pakistan to go after Bin Laden. Hell, I’m a conservative neo-con republican, and I may have to vote for the guy. He’s electable. It could actually happen. Plus, he has the backing of Oprah, who is more powerful and influential than Hillary will ever be…

 The 2nd Tier Democrats

Dennis Kucinich-

He wants to create a “Department of Peace”. Presumably he will also create a “Department of Dope-Smoking Hippie Crap” while he’s at it. We have Ron Paul. They have Dennis Kucinich. The kooks have their man.

Mike Gravel-

 Sigh. Shouldn’t there be some kind of psychiatric exam , before you are allowed to run for president? Did you see this guy in the debates? The other democrats were obviously embarassed that he was up there.

 Chris Dodd-

 Un-distinguished party-line hack from the do-nothing senate. Zero possibility of ever being President, and he knows it. Maybe he is running to raise his name recognition enough to possibly get tapped for Vice President, who knows….

Bill Richardson-

 I actually kind of like this guy. He’s a Governor. As a republican, I disagree with him on enough issues that I would never vote for him, but he’s not so far to the left that I wouldnt be able to respect the man if he were ever to become President. He’s a bit more moderate on some issues than some of his fellow democratic contenders. Some of that probably comes from being governor of a western swing-state with conservative values for the most-part. He also has experience as a cabinet secretary, but he didnt exactly accomplish very much while he was there. Based soley on experience, he’s the most qualified candidate in the field. If Hillary gets the nomination, she could use a guy like Richardson as a VP vandidate to smooth out some of the rough edges on the ticket, and he would even balance things demographically. Also, New Mexico is a small, but critical swing state in the very tight electoral vote breakdown. It could come down to those 4 electoral votes. He seems a bit out of his league as President, but would probably be a good VP.

Joe Biden-

 The smartest guy running for the Democrats actually. Has a nasty habit of speaking the truth though, and therefore wouldnt appeal much to the kook base. Generally acknowledged as an expert on the military, on intelligence matters, and on foreign-policy, he would probably be a steady-hand on national security, diplomacy, and the war on terror. Maybe a little too adult and responsible to get the nomination of the Defeat and Retreat party at this time though, whose primary mission this election cycle is to see us lose in Iraq as quickly as possible. A truly distinguished career in the Senate. A man of integrity, and somebody who could reach across the aisle and work with leaders in the other party. His approach to things would be different from Bush’s, but I would still feel semi-OK with Biden in the oval office. I guess that probably means that he has no chance of getting the democratic nomination.

 The un-announced Dark Horse:

Al Gore-

He should run. Time is runnning out fast for him though, because he needs to get in the game FAST if he is going to compete in terms of organization and fund-raising. He is watching things, and weighing his chances, but he had better not wait too long or the bandwagon is going to pass him by. His opportunity is historical in proportion, if you look at things. You’ve got an unpopular two term incumbent republican President with approval ratings lower than some plague-rats I know.The democrats are riding a wave of popular sentiment and discontent in the country with the hugely unpopular war in Iraq. Gore’s chances would be MUCH better than in 2000, without Bill Clinton’s tom-foolery and hi-jinks , and much better than Kerry’s chances in 2004 against a 9-11- bolstered incumbent Bush before things went sour in Iraq. The democrats are PERFECTLY positioned to take the Presidency, but they dont have a viable candidate. Gore should get in there! Hillary is the republican’s heaven-sent inspiration to get everybody out to the polls, Edwards is a ridiculous clown, and Obama’s experience pales beside Gore’s. Gore has even given himself a lot of street-cred with the democratic base with his tireless ( if hypocritical ) efforts to raise awareness about global warming during his years in the wilderness. He was never a bad candidate to begin with , in terms of most of his positions on issues. Fairly strong on national defense- at least when he was a senator. He’s a moderately conservative southerner on a lot of social issues, so he has a potentially broader-based appeal out there in “fly-over country” than many  libs like Hillary ever will have. Also, he was against the war in Iraq from day one ( anything Bush is for, Gore is against as a matter of principle ), so the democrats already like him better than Hillary, who they feel let them down. On the negative side of the ledger, Al may actually be SLIGHTLY- but not totally- unhinged mentally, judging from some of  the shrill, crazy speeches that he gave in the wake of the 2000 post-election fiasco. Also, he is without a doubt, one of the most insincere and boring public speakers I have ever witnessed. But what the heck- he has had 8 years to work on his delivery. Maybe he will pull a Richard Nixon and rise from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix. There IS historical precedent. Nixon lost to Kennedy in 60′ in a VERY, VERY close election that was rife with voter-fraud and electoral shennanigans- just like in  2000.

Ty’s Predictions: 

I am not going to predict who will win the democratic nomination. It all depends on how suicidal the dems are feeling coming into the primaries. If they have a moment of clarity and choose to pull back from the abyss, it should be Obama. If not, then Hillary. The others don’t seem to be credible nominees at all.  What I WILL predict is this- if Al Gore runs, then he will win the nomination, AND the general election. The question is- will he run? I am told that the Clinton camp has people carefully monitoring  his weight at his public appearances, because they see that as the most likely indicator of whether he is going to run or not. He knows the nomination is potentially there for the taking in this weak field of contenders. The question is- is somebody who lost the presidency by 300 votes in Florida, AND wanted the job so badly that he was willing to try and SUE his way into the office- is such a person capable of passing up another grab at the brass ring? My guess is that he won’t be able to resist the siren call.

The Ten Million Dollar Prediction- Who will be the next President of the United States?:

Impossible to say with any reliable degree of certainty, but if I was in Vegas, and I had money riding on it , I would put my money on Al Gore. If he does run, then I will go out on a limb and definitively predict he will be the next president. If he doesn’t run, then my fall-back prediction would depend on whether Hillary gets the nomination or not. If she does, then I herebye make the following prediction- the republican nominee will win -regardless of who it is.  The woman is unelectable.

As far as who the Republican nominee will be, I will predict Romney, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. He’s not polling well compared to Giuliani, but he’s got more money than God, and he’s doing well in the early primary states. Now, if Gore doesn’t run, and democrats do the smart thing and nominate Obama, I will make the following prediction as well… crazy as it sounds, I think Obama will win. As a republican, I hope not, but the democratic nominee in this election cycle, if they even remotely electable, has the wind of historical precedent at their back. They would have to screw up royally to lose in this current anti-republican climate.

 So… my predictions, in order of likelihood of being the next president are…

1. Gore

2.Obama

3.Romney

Of course, the hazard of making reckless predictions about an event that is completely unforseeable at this time, is that I may be totally wrong about all of it.  Be that as it may, if you want to be a political prognosticator, then I think you should be brave enough to go out on a limb and make specific predictions that you have a chance of being wrong about, so I have done so. I hope that some of you fellow political junkies out there will enjoy these totally pointless ( but enjoyable from my standpoint ) political ramblings of mine. If anybody has any comments, please state the following in your comment somewhere- 1. Who do you predict will be the next Presient, and 2. Who do you WANT to be the next president?

Good night, and good Luck- Ty

Those of you who came here looking for the Evolution Vrs. Intelligent Design essay, please click here:

http://tyharris.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/evolution-versus-intelligent-design-astronomy-may-soon-settle-the-matter-once-and-for-all/

           

The Most Worthless Generation: An Essay on the State of American Culture – by Ty Harris… 

          On my last day of work prior to the 4th of July holiday weekend, an older gentleman whom I had spoken to the prior day about some routine business matters , called me up for the sole purpose of apologizing to me for having used the term “Son of a Bitch”  in our conversation. Now I, being 36 years old, and having been exposed to appoximately 3.5 million oaths, curse words, and assorted vile imprecations in the course of watching television several hours a day since I was five, had not given it a second thought, and I was very surprised that he would think it important enough to make such a phone call. He hadn’t even used the term in a hurtful or depricating way when he said it, but rather just as a reference in casual conversation to something or other. I had been in no way offended by his use of the term, but he- having grown up in a much different time, when much better manners were commonly in use- had felt bad enough, that he had gone to the trouble of calling me just to explain that he was sorry for letting the word slip, and to let me know that he doesnt use such langage usually. That’s the kind of phone call you dont get every day, and it really made me think. It brought home to me in great clarity just how different things were in this country once-upon-a-time. 

          Later that evening, I was standing in line at Barnes and Noble waiting to check-out. In front of me was a  family. A well-dressed man in his late twenties or early thirties, with his wife, and their young child- a cute little girl-about eight years old- in a dress. Directly behind me in line were three young men in their late teens or early twenties. They were all dressed more-or-less like Eminem, and were talking loudly and behaving boisterously- joking around. Every other word out of their mouth was “Fuck” or “Bitch”. I could see that the parents in front of me were obviously uncomfortable with this kind of language being used in front of their child, and I felt a boiling rage building up inside me as these cretins went on and on with their loud, foul language in front of the little girl. I gave the rowdies my best “Clint-Eastwood-right-before-he draws-his- six-shooters-and-guns-your-sorry-ass-down-in-the-street” stare, but they just ignored me and kept yucking it up, obviously not caring about anybody else around them.

       Driving home from the book store, I was stuck in traffic at a light, and as I pondered how much I had mellowed since I was in MY late teens and early twenties ( when I would have waited outside the store for the above-mentioned miscreants and taught them a lesson in respect with my fists), on both sides of me were some late teens or early twenty-somethings. My car was literally shaking from the bass vibrations eminating from their stereos. I am positive that they were audible from a quarter-mile away. As I sat there with a growing headache,  contemplating why it is that these ridiculous people were deriving enjoyment from playing loud thumping noises for no apparent reason ( did they want attention or what? ), traffic began to move. These obnoxious noise-polluters accelerated past me in their crappy honda civics with their buzzy little aftermarket mufflers, like a scene out of some low-budget remake of “The Fast and the Furious” ( easily the worst movie ever made ). As the bass gradually subsided, I looked to my right and walking down the sidewalk, were three teenagers with their pants sagging, six inches of their underwear showing, and their butt-cracks clearly visible. I caught the eyes of one of them, and shook my head ostentatiously. He laughed ostentatiously in return.

           I finally got home, and with a box of Ritz crackers in hand, and a cold carbonated beverage at the ready, was preparing to eagerly delve into Newt Gingrich’s new historical novel on Pearl Harbor. That’s when the bass started coming from my neighbors- thumping through my walls. It was the Twenty-somethings upstairs acting in their usual disprespectful manner. I stepped out on to my balcony and the smell of pot was vaugely detectable. I went inside, turned on my Air Conditioner to drown out the thumping, and went to sleep. I was tired and it had been a long day.

The next day- it being the 4th of July, I engaged in the yearly, obligitory, ritual-viewing of “Saving Private Ryan.” The movie, and indeed the history that the movie depicts, really comes down to not much more than a bunch of teens and early twenty-somethings of a different generation, in a different time and place, making sacrifices that I cant even imagine- and in the process, becoming what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation”. And I couldn’t help but compare and contrast that generation with the bunch coming up now. How far we have fallen…

          They say that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put the frog in the water and turn up the heat slowly, it will just sit there and cook to death as it’s environment changes gradually. Sudden threats are easier to deal with than insidious ones. You are forced to deal with imminent crises whether you want to or not. But gradually occuring crises can be put off and put off, and before you know it, the situation has gotten away from you.  I think that the frog example above  is a good analogy for what happened to our culture. Imagine your parents- or, if you are a bit younger, your grandparents- sitting in the den with the kids watching “I love Lucy” on their black and white television back in the 1950’s, and all of a sudden, on their screen were to pop-up a 50-cent video, with a bunch of half-dressed hoochie mamas gyrating suggestively, and a gangster-criminal cursing every other word, all-the-while advocating murder, drugs, gangs, race-hatred, and disrespect of women.  What would have happened if the people of those times had gotten a sudden look at what their culture was to become? Bloody Riots is what would have happened. If the purveyors of this subversive and obscene filth had trotted out this garbage in the Eisenhower era, they all would have been dragged out of their hollywood studios by the good-and-rightly-outraged-American-people, and strung up from lamp-posts by their necks. And now? Well… we’ve seen so much already, that nothing is really shocking anymore. It happened so gradually over the years- a slow, but persistent lowering of standards, bit by bit, that we were able to avoid dealing with until it got away from us. We are numb.We shrug our shoulders, go home after work, close the door behind us, and try to create our own little oasis of sanity and decency in our own homes, even as we are surrounded by a culture that grows more crass and outrageous with each passing day. We accept as normal in our daily lives now, and as inevitable, that which is completely unnaceptable, and abnormal.

           And I am not just talking about music videos and bad manners in public.Low standards and low expectations seem to pervade the whole fabric of society now. In terms of respect for others. In terms of standards of acheivement. In terms of personal responsibility.In terms of accountability for personal choices. In terms of expectations we place on others. In terms of the tone and tenor of public and personal discourse on any topic whatsoever. Everything is ruder than it used to be. Cruder than it used to be. Less intelligent. The high rhetoric and rational logic of yester-year has become the simplistic sound-bytes and talking points of today.  Polite disagreement is impossible, and everybody who disagrees with me must be stupid or have sinister motives it seems. The standards for education in our culture have slipped so low that even the ability to critically reason, to rationally argue, or to objectively form opinions based on  non-emotion-based facts seems all but  absent.Public discourse is hateful, and shallow, and base. We have become a country of low standards, low expectations, low morals, and low intelligence. Our miserable failure of a public education sysytem churns out empty heads full of mush by the millions. If you have ever watched Jay Leno’s on-going segment called “Jaywalking”, you know that it graphically illustrates the apalling- and dangerous- ignorance of the current generation of young people. He will go to a college campus and ask students simple questions like ” Who wrote the Declaration of Independance” or “name any member of the Supreme Court”. Invariably these “scholars” are baffled by such questions. And they dont really care either. Their own ignorance doesnt bother them, and that’s truly the scary part. People like that are sheep who can be made to believe anything. Today’s college degree is not even the intellectual equivilant of a high-school diploma from the 1950’s. The standards and the culture have slid downhill to the point where the current group of late teens and early twenty-somethings coming into their own now are- in contrast to “the Greatest Generation”-  well on their way to becoming “the Most Worthless Generation”.

          How did it come to this? What happened in the intervening years to bring us as a nation to this point? What mistakes did we make as a society? Is it fair to judge so harshly of this generation? I have some thoughts on these matters, and I will share them with you. I will answer the last question first… Is it fair to judge so harshly of this generation? And furthermore, is it fair to even judge people AS a generation? I mean, we are all individuals, right? And we should all therefore be judged only AS individuals, correct? The kind of behaviors I gave as examples above do NOT accurately reflect ALL members of the generation in question, and so – you may ask- why should all be tarred with the same brush? I’ll answer that. In certain matters, we all are, and of course should be, judged as individuals. Our personal choices in our own lives, and in the lives of the people we interact with each day. But on another level, we all are part of a bigger whole too. The nation, the culture, and the world in which we live, is nothing more than the sum total of all of our choices lumped together- and not just the sum of the choices we make for our own lives, but also the sum of the choices that we make as to what we accept and expect from OTHERS.The culture results from not just what we do ourselves, but also from what we will tolerate, and what we won’t tolerate from our fellow man. What we are willing to fight for, and what we are willing to go along with . To an extent- whether we like it or not, we ARE all in this together, and the society that you walk out the door to every morning is, in the end,  what we as a GROUP have made it. What behaviors and customs we accept as a nation, what standards and expectations we set as a people, and through these things what we ACHIEVE as a nation, are not a function of the individual, but of what we as a PEOPLE do, or fail to do. Europe was not liberated by one individual. The Interstate Highway System was not built by a single person. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin didnt get to the moon soley by their own abilities and choices. The greatest acheivements of Mankind, and the greatest aspirations of human culture aren’t possible through individuals acting alone. As individuals, we can make small ( and important ) choices, but a nation’s great challenges can only be accomplished through large groups working in conjunction who share a common set of standards, core beliefs, and expectations. All of their efforts and hopes must be joined together in a common goal.  It is the work of a GENERATION  that leaves behind a world and a nation changed for better or worse. And so it IS fair to judge a generation- as a group- based upon what they did together, what kind of culture they left behind together, and how they made their mark on humanity together. In the case of the current up-and-coming generation, it is fair to judge what they HOPE to do- together- in these areas and fair to look askance at what they are currently doing- together- in these areas, for surely the seeds of what they will ultimately be and do as a generation can be seen -even now- in what they aspire to, what they hope for, and what price they are willing to pay to acheive these things. Based on what I have seen so far, things arent looking too good. They ask little, they expect little, and they aspire to little.

          I dont expect that these sentiments are going to be particularly well-recieved by the young hipsters who populate a large percent of the blogosphere, but before the outpouring of scorn and hatred begins, let me just say this- the way you distinguish between a true friend, and a fair weather friend is this- the fair weather friend will tell you what you want to hear. The true friend will tell you what you need to hear even when you dont want to hear it, and is willing to suffer as a result of saying it. I honestly do want the next generation to prove me wrong. I want the torch to be passed to a generation that will step up to their own responsibilities and their own challenges like the Greatest Generation did, and leave behind them a better world than the one their parents and grandparents gave them. But I think that if we are all honest here, we will see that things are not really trending that way. And so now is the time for brutal honesty,objective introspection, and candid commentary from folks like me who are willing to speak the truth, if  the young people of today are going to avoid actually meriting the title of  “Most Worthless Generation” of Americans.

          Before I offer some forward-looking suggestions as to how the late teens and early twenty-somethings of today can alter the terminal cultural trajectory they are on, I think a quick look BACKWARDS is in order- to see where we started out, to see just how far we have fallen, and to assess where we went wrong as a nation. In choosing a course forward, we may also want to look back at what challenges other generations have faced,  and how they rose to those challenges to make their own mark on history and human culture. History is always relevant to the future. Those who fail to learn it’s lessons are doomed to repeat it. The prosperity and freedom we enjoy today didnt just happen by magic. Every young American should look around the world at the billions of starving , opressed masses still living in the dark-ages today and say to him or herself ” there, but for the Grace of God, go I. ” All we enjoy today came about by the efforts, sacrifices, and choices of generations past who wanted better than misery, poverty, and opression for their families, and so they stepped up to their own resonsibilities and duties in their own times to make us what we are today, and to give us what we have. What we have, for the most-part, we did not earn, which may explain why we are so willing to squander it with bad choices, low standards, and low aspirations. We are children standing on the shoulders of giants that came before us.

          Where did the country go wrong? I think it all went bad in the sixties. Up until that time, we had a fairly decent culture. Well-mannered, well-ordered, and on the right track. Our national debt was less than what the federal government spends in a day now, taxes were low, government stayed out of your life for the most part. People relied on themseves and on their neighbors. The culture was less urban, and more rural by comparison. In the small Ohio town where my Dad grew up,  the family farm was a real way of life still,  for many, and it was a better way of life too. A lot of people left their doors unlocked at night. The Crips and Bloods certainly werent around, and if they ever HAD showed their faces in Byhalia Ohio, they wouldnt have lasted two seconds, because back then, gun ownership was considered a patriotic right and every family had one. People owned their own communities then, not the criminals, gangs, and drug-dealers. The outrageous crap that goes on in the streets in broad daylight every day now, would have been handled old-school, and in short-order by the communities of that time. People were more likely to know their neighbors than nowadays. Families actually sat down around a table to eat dinner together every night, and said grace before they ate. Most folks went to church on Sundays, and children were taught right from wrong. There were standards for behavior. When kids misbehaved, they didnt get a “time-out”- they got “the belt”. When I was a kid in school, Ritalin was not required to have quiet, attentive, respectful students in our classes. All it took was the threat of a visit to the principal’s office and an appointment with “Big Chief Hot Seat” ( the name we gave to the large wooden paddle used to punish ne’r-do-wells in Mrs. Blackburn’s class ). Kids were raised primarily by their Mothers, instead of by day-care providers, as they are now. That was possible, because the man of the house could go out and earn a living that would provide a decent standard of living for a single-earner family.The Mom could afford to stay home and raise the kids. Kids went to school and dressed properly, and behaved properly, and they learned a lot because they were held to high standards by teachers who cared about acheivement- not exuses. If you didnt live up to the standards, then you flunked. You werent passed, on the basis of social promotion and self-esteem. Students graduated high-school in those days being able to actually read and write the english language, and posessed actual mastery of actual mathematics, and a knowlege of real, non-propagandized American and World History. ( By comparison with the standards of 50 years ago, today’s high-school graduates are dumb as a box of rocks ). The Pledge of Allegiance and the Ten Commandments werent being dragged through the courts by the ACLU, and Amnesty International wasnt trying to get the prisoners at Nuremberg released like they are trying to get the Guantanamo Bay prisoners released now. The culture was more polite. People said ‘excuse me’. Men opened doors for ladies. Abortion was unheard of. Young men and women got married and started families. And young women didnt often wonder who- of their 20 sex partners- was their babies’ daddy. America was a growing , prosperous nation. Economically sound, more-or-less culturally homogenous, and rooted in a morally upright culture – confident of itself, and rightly proud of  itself as the proven bulwark of  freedom in the world- the liberators of Europe, and of Asia,- the great Arsenal of Democracy. ( Whereas today, many young people have been brainwashed by liberal public educators to look at America as the source and cause of all that is WRONG in the world- that is, if they hold any opinions AT ALL about their own country… ) It was an era of enlightenment and of optimism. In only a few short years, JFK would audaciuosly commit America to the seemingly preposterous notion of sending Americans to walk on the moon. ( Who ever heard of such a thing!) Anything was possible in those days, and the liberators of Europe and the destroyers of Nazi Totalitarianism passed the torch to the next generation in good order, to those who would man the ramparts of freedom around the globe for decades to come, against communist totalitarianism- from the Demilitarized Zone, to the Berlin Wall, and from the triple-canopy jungles of South-East Asia to the wind-swept steppes of Afghanistan, the watchfires of freedom were tended. The next Generation of Americans stepped up to their responsibilities and kept us safe and free, and took the torch from the Greatest Generation. Or at least some of the next generation did. But not all of it. And that’s where things started to go wrong.

          There was a cancer growing in the country too. Parts of the country maintained the standards and values of the prior generation, but a big part of the next generation turned their back on the old ways. The seeds of self-doubt, and the seeds of self-destruction that we are reaping today, were planted then, by the sixties Counter-culture. In that time, America split in two. Half the country held to conservative values and ideas. Patriotism and duty. The other half threw all that aside as rubbish, and started their own culture within the culture- in which the Most Worthless Generation was raised. I believe it’s how we came to be where we are today. The Counter-culture, and the drug-smoking hippies did this. But in spite of that fact, THEY do not merit the title of Most Worthless Generation, because while they may have led our nation down the wrong path, objectively speaking, you have to give them credit for having a goal, and for being commited to it. They get an “F” for judgement, but an “A” for effort. They wanted to re-make the nation, and the world- and they did so. They  turned their back on conservative values, and they did so with a veangance. The flag and the soldiers who gave them their rights- to do the things they did and say the things they said- were reviled and- literally-spat upon. The church was left behind. The conventional family unit, and the way families had been raised since time-out-of-memory were cast aside as obsolete. Women’s careers were more important than their children. Total abdication of morality, standards, and responsibility were the marching orders of  half a generation, and now we reap the results. The rude , crass, disrespectful culture of today is what you get when the parents don’t pass along the moral values of the previous generation. The Counter-culture wanted freedom without responsibility, and so we got abortion-on- demand, and sexual liberation. But  along the way, somebody forgot that  those tens of millions of unwanted, cast-aside, un-born babies were neccesary to continue to build the country and sustain our way of life. Now, we are a shrinking culture that can only replace it’s old and dying through illegal immigration and an all-out invasion by another country and culture. The nuclear family is gone, and the women are all now “liberated” from the home, and from raising children, but while they are out there working, nobody is raising or teaching the kids (the kids that still DO manage to be born in spite our busy schedules)- except television, day-care, and a public school system  that is busily instilling it’s own worldview and values. The Counter-culture wanted to change the nation on a fundamental level, and to do that required changing the core values and beliefs held by it’s populace. Control and domination of the public education system was absolutely critical, if the hippies were going to undermine the prior generation’s values and substitute their own in the next generation. The abdication of parental guidance, and the infiltration of educational institutions were essential components of their aspirations, and they acheived total sucess on both fronts. The result is what we see before us now.

          The economic underpinings of our nation are also a wreck now, thanks to the Counter-culture. And that will bear greatly on the hopes and aspirations of the Most Worthless Generation, just as their lack of moral upbringing will. The hippies ushered in the era of Big Government where our every need was to be provided for by beaurocrats. The Great Society it was called- but it didnt turn out so great. Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare alone, now consume most of the federal budget, and are totally insolvent and unable to meet their future obligations without financial and societal upheavals on a scale heretofore unseen. The national debt is so big, that instead of Apollo Programs and Manhattan Projects, the next few generations will be be using the fruits of their labors to pay off  interest on the bill that was run-up to pay for the disasterous liberal social-engineering experiments of the welfare state. The legacy of the unfunded ponzi-scheme entitlement programs that the hippies left us will be wrecking our nations’ economy long after they have shuffled off this mortal coil to meet whatever God their faith in Darwin allows them to hope to meet. To make matters even worse, the unfunded entitlements the hippies left us, are PAID FOR by debt that is held by the Chinese Communists- who can now bring our economy to it’s knees anytime they please by selling off their positions in American treasury notes. 

          But getting back to how we arrived at this current generation’s  plight….  The greatest acheivement and undertaking of the hippie generation was what they did to the education system. We spend more on education per student than any country in the world, but somehow the liberal establishment which  has taken over the education system wholesale ( 90+% of college professors self-identify as liberal ), manages to churn out students that are HISTORICALLY ignorant of basic reading, writing, mathematics, and history. Worse, they are utterly incapable of critical thought or rational argument. Right and Wrong, Fact and Fiction are equivilants now. Everything is relative, and it’s not our place to judge or criticize. Patriotism has been replaced with guilt at what we have as Americans, and kids are taught that America is the great antagonist of the poor, opressed peoples of the world, instead of their greatest hope. Fighting for what is right is not brave, it’s imperialistic. And according to the new moral relativism, we must accept other cultures as our moral equals, even when those cultures have as their foundation the denial of all human liberty. Our enemies only hate us because we deserve to be hated. Optimism and National pride is now replaced with guilt, and a reluctance to judge or to act. The Most Worthless Generation is now expected to meekly take our nation’s place in the world- not as liberators, or as a Shining City on a Hill- but as a  guilt-ridden paper tiger who frets in a corner of it’s cage- unsure of itself, while dangers gather, our enemies move against us, the darkness of islamic fascism spreads, and the jihadists plot our destruction. Evil in our time is to go unchallenged, even as Naziism and Communusm was stood-up-to by our grandparents and parents. The Most Worthless Generation just hopes that if  we will leave them alone, maybe they will like us. Truly, we are now innocents abroad.

         On the homefront-as a nation and a culture, we are free-er and less inhibited in our manners, customs, and in what we accept in others as appropriate, but is anybody really happier with the result? Is the neighborhood that your kids will grow up in better than the one your grandparents grew up in? Does anybody want to argue that the rude, crude society we have now is BETTER than it was before? Is Ozzie Osbourne really better than Ozzie and Harriet? Are we happier as a people? Are we better off? Oh sure, we have more material goods- but is our way of life more fulfilling? Sundays are about NFL football now, instead of church and after-church fellowship. The resolution on my HDTV is pretty damned impressive, but I’d trade it in a heartbeat to be 12 years old again- picking apples and shucking corn on a glorious summer afternoon, in preparation for dinner with a few neighbors after church-  back in rural Ohio… fields as far as the eye could see.

           At any rate, a large amount of the blame for what the current generation coming-up is, and is becoming, lies with their own parents, and with the society that these kids grew up in. I mean, when a nation abandons so many good and great things, in the space of such a short time, is it any wonder that the kids are going to be affected adversely by that? The Hippie Generation really screwed up our country, and their offspring looks well-positioned to screw it up even worse. But just the same, people do surprise you sometimes. Regardless of where we came from, we do all have a choice. And sometimes, personal choice and a desire for something better, can change the course of a life, and maybe even the course of a generation. Sometimes people who have every reason to fail,  don’t. While it’s entirely possible that the Most Worthless Generation may take the path they are expected to take, and continue the Hippie Generation’s slouch to mediocrity- onward and downward into out-and-out depravity, it’s also possible that the cynicism I see in a lot of young people will manifest itself in a desire to have a culture different and better than the one they unhappily find themselves in. It’s obvious that a lot of young people are unhappy with the way things are. They find their daily lives tiring, and spiritually unfulfilling. They feel like something is missing, but they dont really know what to  do about it. Those feelings may ultimately bring us full-circle as a nation. From a decent, morally-upright people who walked away from their roots- to the remnants of a dying culture who looked around at the mess they were living in, and decided that they wanted something better for their own kids- and chose to go back the old ways and customs that their grandparents knew in the beginning. We’ll see.

          Offering criticism and complaints without offering suggestions for a better alternative course of action is cheap and easy, so I will take the next step as well, and say what I think the Most Worthless Generation could DO- going forward- to change the path they are on. So…what would I suggest for the current group of teens and twenty-somethings to make their lives and their communities better and more fulfilling? How could the next generation take the shitburger that they’ve been handed by their parents and make fillet mignon out of it? What choices could they make that would reverse the trend they are currently on as a culture and as a nation?

         Well, for one thing- they- and all of us- need to quit being so self- absorbed. We live in a world of 6 billion people. You aren’t all that important. Get over yourself. If I was living in North Korea and my family was dying of starvation while a fat, lazy, selfish generation of Americans stands by and watches it happen, because we lack the stomach to fight, I would say, “Screw you AND your I-pod, jack!” The “Shining City on a Hill” looks more like a “Fading Hope Dissapearing in the Night”to some who are counting on us. We could cure cancer, cure AIDSs, feed the entire continent of Africa, AND liberate the entire world for Democracy with the insane amounts of  money we spend funding entitlements like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare- which all could have been fully funded by the beneficiaries of these programs if the money had been properly set-aside,  and safegaurded ( perhaps in Al Gore’s famous “Lock-Box” of SNL fame ) instead of squandered on the Great Society. This Generation’s failure to DEMAND fundamental entitlement reform means that all of the fruits of the Most Worthless Generation’s labors will go to nothing more than paying off debts and unfunded obligations instead of doing something good and great in the world. Demand better! Care enough about the poor and opressed peoples of the world to put your own house in order, so you can do the kinds of things that America was put on this earth to do.

       Try thinking of yourself as a part of the whole. Consider not so much what you can take and have, but rather what responsibilities you have to others, and to the efforts and sacrifices made by generations past who gave you everything you have. Stop focusing on the aquisition of consumer goods, and focus on making yourself spiriually and intellectually wealthy. Ask yourelf some questions that are more important than the things you usually fill your mind up with- what is the state of your family? What hopes do you have for your own children? What steps are you taking to make those hopes a reality? Are you spiritually right? What do you actually KNOW about the forces and events that shape your life and the times you live in? What are you a part of that is bigger than yourself? Learn something. Turn off the TV and read a book. Gain some facts. Invest in the aquisition of some knowledge. Why not learn something profound and interesting about the human condition by reading Shakespeare or Emerson, instead of playing Madden 2007 with your buddies today? Maybe you will form an intelligent worldview, and have some cogent thoughts about life, the world, and your place in it. Read history- learn some facts about the GOOD things your country has done, and maybe through that aquisition of knowledge, you will regain some confidence, some optimism, and some patriotism. Start with William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”. If you ask me, it’s the best book ever written. It should give you a more realistic perspective about America’s place in the world, and about your own generation’s responsibility to stand up to the enemies of freedom in your own time. Think about how the Greatest Generation responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor- even with their much smaller population and Gross National Product. Now compare that with what THIS generation has done in response to the attack on the twin towers. Pathetic isnt it? 150,000 troops for Iraq? And we cant even sustain national support for THEM? Previous generations fought the  Nazis and the Communists. What is your generation’s contribution to freedom? To save the planet from Global Warming? Will your great sacrifice be to drive a Prius? When your grandparents went to war, they did it old-school. They lost more men ( 23, 019 Killed in Action ) just in the Normandy campaign, than we have lost in  Iraq and Afghanistan combined, and gave up 407,300 American lives total in world War II.  And yet Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are falling over each other to see who can declare defeat the quickest, so we can retreat from our towell-head enemies in the face of the slightly bloody nose they have given us. Even with their vastly smaller population and GDP, the Greatest Generation assembled the following forces to go take some names and kick some ass- Army: 3.4 million, Navy: 4.1 Million, Marine Corps:669,000, Coast Gaurd:241,000. Let me reiterate- the US Coast Gaurd in World War II was signifigantly larger than our entire combat troop commitment to the Iraq War. Kind of sad isnt it? I wonder what the Greatest Generation thinks of the Most Worthless Generation’s “troop surge”. Dont’ believe the defeatists who say we cant win in Iraq, or win the War on Terror. It’s only a question of commitment.

          The biggest lesson that the Most Worthless Generation needs to learn is that there is such a thing as objective truth, and that right and wrong are real things. Not every culture and value system is equivalant. Remember- most folks in this world would trade everything they own for an American passport- right now, today. You have no reason to be ashamed of your country’s legacy to this world. Set aside the hippie zen of moral relativism and grow some testicals. Muslim theocracy is antithesis to all possible aspirations and progress that humanity could ever have. Un-intentional collateral damage is not the moral equivalant of islamic suicide-bombers who walk into elementary schools and crowded marketplaces to intentionally murder innocent women and children. Wake up and see evil for what it is. Fight it like your grandparents did- with everything you have.

         Embrace higher standards for yourselves, and demand higher standards of your freinds and neighbors. The rudeness, the crudesness, the disrespect, the filth and vulgarity- this is the cesspool you will be raising your own kids in. Make your neighborhood a better place, and instead of quietly going along with what you know is wrong, stand up and be counted. Get in somebody’s face and tell them you demand better behavior from them.

         Start insisting on fiscal and budgetary sanity from your elected leaders. Be willing to entertain debate about whether we should spend money on this thing or that other thing- but do NOT tolerate any talk of spending money you dont have and passing the debt on to future generations. If you want it, then pay for it with higher taxes, or by cutting waste elsewhere.  Demand that all entitlements be funded by the beneficiaries of those programs- not paid for by you and by your debt-saddled children. Demand reform! Bush may not be able to construct a sentence correctly, but apparently, he can add. The best thing ever put forward by his administration was his proposal to allow young Americans to invest part of their own retirement savings. It’s the only way Social Security can ever be solvent at this point, so let’s all get behind doing what needs to be done.

         Demand that your elected leaders take steps to re-make what America once was- to reclaim your standards of living. It’s one thing to argue that a woman should be able to choose to leave the home and pursue a career. It’s quite another when a woman HAS to leave the home, because the family can no longer survive on single-earner income.We NEED to reverse three economic mega-trends that have contributed greatly to the loss of our American way-of-life over the last couple of decades. They are…1) the unchecked influx of 10’s of millions of illegal aliens into the country who are willing to work for signifigantly less than what Americans make,  2.) the outsourcing of our industrial production base to foreign countries where the workers make much less money, and 3.), the trade imbalance that simultaneously wrecks our own nation’s budget, while it enriches our nation’s enemies. The various free-trade agreements that Democrat and Republican administrations alike have negotiated in recent years are probably the worst mistake in the history the Republic.  Take back your own country for God’s sake! Secure the borders, bring our jobs back home, and make it possible again for a man to support his family.

         Re-embrace the goodness that was- and still is- the foundation of America’s greatness. Demand a way of life that is more moral, more respectful,and more spiritually fulfilling. Insist that the things your kids are exposed to are appropriate. Teach them right from wrong. Do not tolerate filth from the television, or from the culture in general, and make that stick with the power you have as both a voter, and as a consumer. Take back your streets from the criminals and the gangsters. Demand harsher sentences for these people- life sentences if need be. Build as many jails as you have to. Lay down a clear boundary as to what you will tolerate from people. Work in conjunction with local law enforcement to make your neighborhoods safer, happier places. The police are not the enemy. They are there to protect and serve you, but they can’t be everywhere at once. Their power to do good is exponentially multiplied when the citizens act as their eyes and ears in the community.

         Use your economic and military might to spread political freedom and economic opportunity around the world. The kids of India, Asia, the Middle-east and Africa deserve every chance to have a good life, and to know what freedom is , just as your own kids do. Be willing to pay the price, and to lay down the sacrifice of both blood and treasure for the spread of Freedom and Democracy in this world. Someday, the world may be united in Peace and Freedom, and Humanity’s efforts and treasure can all be devoted to seeing what humanity is ULTIMATELY capable of- the end of all disease and want? , interstellar exploration?, species-changing breakthroughs in human longevity? Who knows what is possible? But we wont get to that place until we as a species, can work out a few common points of agreement regarding human rights, and regarding the personal and political freedoms that are the right of every living soul on the globe. To get to that point is going to involve more conflict. It’s going to involve more war. Just as prior generations had to pay a price to carry the torch of  freedom to the fields of Normandy, and to the archipeligos of the south Pacific, you have your own torch to bear and enemies to face.

          The “Enemy Without” is islamic fundamentalism. They have thrown down the gauntlet, and it’s yours to pick up, or to leave laying there on the blood-stained streets of lower Manhattan. It’s your choice. I know that your hippie parents brought you up in the infantile notion that “peace” was something you could achieve by the simple abdication of responsibility, and if , by peace, you mean the mere abscence of resistance to evil, then that’s true. But if peace actually refers to some kind of  ideal state that includes personal and political freedom, then a willingness to fight for it is required. That’s cold , hard truth, and you cant avoid it with clever slogans and the protest signs you and your buddies whipped up in your dorm rooms. Nothing worth having in this life is free.

            And a final word of advice to the Most Worthless Generation-don’t forget the Enemy Within either- the subversives, the liberal educators, and the hippie brainwashers who turned your country’s educational system into the miserable failure it is today.  Take back your schools. It’s YOUR money that is paying for YOUR child’s education. Don’t accept failure and mediocrity anymore. Don’t accept secular-progressive  brainwashing as a substitute for actual learning. Don’t accept social promotion and self-esteem building as substitutes for real standards. Flush the Ritalin, and bring back Corporal punishment. Don’t accept schools where kids graduate from high-school not being able to read and write. Don’t accept schools where the children run things, and the teachers fear for their own safety. Demand school-choice for parents. Demand accountability for results. Demand that patriotism take it’s rightful place in schools again, and send the anti-American subversives like Ward Churchill back to the hippie communes where they belong- not brainwashing your kids with your own tax dollars. Demand DIRECT control over your tax dollars as it relates to your child’s education. There is only one solution to reforming the current mess, and that’s vouchers. It’s not as sinister an idea as the Teacher’s Unions and the Democrats make it out to be. The government taxes everybody, allocates a certain sum for education, and sends that money back to the parents in the form of a voucher that they can spend on ANY school they choose that meets their needs and lives up to their standards. Vouchers gaurantee the same equality of opportunity for the poor, black kids of inner-city Washington D.C., as is enjoyed by the children of the rich white folks living out in the Arlington suburbs, who can afford to sent their kids to vastly superior private schools. Acess to excellence in education for all- regardless of race or economic origin should be the greatest aspiration of your generation. It’s acheivable, through market-based reforms, and it will plant the seeds for your own children’s opportunities.

         In closing, I just have one small request for all of you members of the Most Worthless Generation. Regardless of whether or not you aspire to change the culture or to create a better place for you and your children to live in- regardless of that- on behalf of all of the rest of us who have to put up with you on a daily basis, could you at least make a token effort to start holding yourselves to some minimum standards of behavior, and try to show just a tiny little bit of respect for others? Could you do us that small favor at least? Because I have to say- your standards, and your manners, have slipped so far that a lot of the time, you people are genuinely insufferable. If you continue on the path you are on, you’ll never amount to anything… Dont’ say I didn’t tell you so.

         I know I am going to get hammered for this essay by the Most Worthlesss Generation, and I am prepared to take my beating. That’s OK. My skin is tough. It was worth it if even one person of that generation takes anything I have said to heart, and tries to make a better life for themselves, and for their own children, by using any of my suggestions. Good luck, and God Bless.

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