Saturday, March 29, 2014

It's Time For A Political Reboot

h I am sooooo very sick of politics. So, this installment of Reboot America themed articles ( the first is here) will talk about the character of the people we elect. It is time, past time, to demand that our elected leaders be men and women of character. It is time to differentiate Statesmen from mere politicians. This will be a long read. So, gather your beverages, take a deep breath, and read on please.

In the sixties, I was a kid and we all wanted to be one of three things. We wanted to be President, an Astronaut, or a Marine. I got the best of the three deals. Today, I know kids who still idolize Astronauts and people in all kinds of uniform. I don’t know a kid that wants to be President. That’s pretty sad. I can’t prove it, but I think the stench of political corruption has finally permeated down to the point that even grade schoolers know that “politician” isn’t a word that inspires images of trust and selfless service.

The first thing I would propose is a Constitutional Amendment that mandates integrity and honorable character be demanded of our federally elected officials. I don’t mean something vague like “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” either. I mean an amendment along the lines of “Any elected Member of the United States Government, or Member of an Appointed Federal Judiciary suspected of violations of the current code of ethical conduct will be removed of his or her official duties during the duration of an investigation of said allegation. If said allegation is substantiated, the member shall be removed from office and where applicable referred to appropriate judicial proceedings for prosecution.”

The next thing we must lobby for is the complete revision of the rules used in each house of Congress to define and investigate ethics complaints. Like the Constitution itself, if you get to make the rules, you should at least try to live by them. Currently, the process of identification and investigation takes entirely too long. The Office of Congressional Ethics, for the 2nd Qtr of 2012, conducted 32 preliminary reviews. Of those 32, 10 were sent on to the actual House Ethics Committee for further review. The OCE was a great idea by Pelosi in order to drain the swamp as it were. But it is a ‘civilian’ committee with nothing more than the authority to tell the HEC that they should or should not pursue an investigation. So, what happened to those ten cases sent from OCE to HEC?

The House Ethics Committee has swallowed them up. There is no easy to find information of what or who the allegations pertained to or progress of investigations. The best I could easily find were three press releases on the HEC website. I read one of them and noted that Rep Waters was personally cleared of violating house rules. One of her employees was issued a “Letter of Reproof”. More on that later.

Finally, even in cases of egregious misconduct, House Members are rarely hit with more than a “Sanction”. For all it’s ominous sounds, a sanction is nothing more than a public slap on the wrist. From there it is up to the Justice Department to determine if they wish to pursue a criminal action.

For brevities sake I omitted the Senate. I strongly feel that we need an amendment to remove the self-policing action of either house, the judiciary, or the executive branch. The process needs to be brutally swift, decisive, and draconian on those who violate the peoples special trust and confidence.

Remember Rep. Waters employee who received a “letter of reproof”? I’d say that the wrong person was punished. I’d say that as a Leader, Rep Waters is responsible for everything done or not done in her name. I’d say that her employee is accountable to her, and to the law when required, but that she and she alone should bear the official blame.

To be a Leader, one must strive to be unique in that matters of character do not surface. Each of the uniformed services clearly sets a standard for every leader from the most junior (Corporals, Petty Officers) to the most senior (Generals, Admirals). Amazingly the standard is the same. If we can expect such a high level of performance from our 19 year old Corporals, we damn sure should expect it from our elected officials. Leadership Traits for Congress as well as Leadership Principles for Congress explores the military leadership standard and how it can translate to better elected leaders. I submit that if we are people of integrity we will want to hold our elected leaders as close to these standards as humanly possible regardless of party affiliation. I actually dare you to read the two articles, then do a mental matchup and see how your current Presidential favorite stacks up. If he or she doesn’t measure up; do you have the moral courage to not vote for him or her? Remember, voting in the lesser of two evils is still supporting evil.

The final part of this reboot involves the President of the United States personally. He or She really isn’t the long term leader of the nation. That is Congress. He or She cannot really influence the law. That is the Judiciary. But, He or She has their finger on the button. The POTUS is the person who determines when, where, and how your friends and neighbors die all over the globe. The POTUS determines when, where, and how our enemies and the noncombatants they hide behind die all over the globe. The POTUS has the power to unconditionally pardon mass murderers if he so chooses. Someone with that much immediate power must be held to an even higher standard than those under his command.

I propose another Constitutional Amendment. This time it is for a vote of no confidence and removal from office to be initiated by the States themselves. I envision any state drafting a letter of no-confidence. Then the letter is sent to all the other state legislatures via the senior of the two Senators. Why? Because per the Constitution, the Senate is the voice of the States as opposed to the people.

Once this letter is received, each state legislature and Governor will debate it and either approve, ignore, or reject it. If a supermajority of States approve the letter of no confidence then it is delivered to the Congress stating that the President has been declared unfit for continued service. At that point the Amendment would grant the House of Representatives the option of drafting Articles of Impeachment. If the House declined or ignored the States declaration (silence equaling contempt or consent), then the States themselves would convene its’ own version of the Senate court to try the President with the ultimate penalty being removal from office. It would require a three-fourths majority to convict. And, as in the case of impeachment trials now, would not be subject to judicial review.

There’s a point to the alternate impeachment amendment, or simply revising the relevant parts of Article I, II, and III. It’s purpose would be to ensure that a partisan Congress could not ignore egregious violations from the executive by virtue of numbers in office and political party affiliation.

I would leave you with one last thought. It is often said we get the government we deserve. It is said that the government is a reflection of the people and the times. If this is true; what does it say about us?
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Integrity matters, more than any other single leadership or character trait that I can imagine. Lack of integrity leads to misery, ruin, and sometimes people die. Lack of integrity is a hallmark of our elected officials. Lack of integrity is also a hallmark of our military leaders that have been placed into the media spotlight for sexual misconduct of all types. My question to everyone is why we tolerate this state of affairs? How is it that we accept such poor examples for ourselves and our kids?

Having integrity means that you can trust someone to have your back. And lack of integrity means that while you're moving forward you have to constantly be scanning around you to make sure the person guarding your back is still there. Look at your elected officials. Do you actually expect them to tell the truth, mean what they say, and execute the promises that they made before you elected them? If you do, great, you are not falling for the tyranny of low expectations. If you don't, then you need to evaluate the standard to which you hold your leaders to. If there is not a Disqus comment box at the end of this post, click the title one will appear.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A General's Court Martial

There's a news story floating around that a U.S. Army Brigadier General is actually being court-martialed for sexual misconduct. Isn't it amazing that he attained that exalted rank and no one knew beforehand that he was a sleaze? This officer has also had several charges removed or reduced. If nothing else that will placate the crowd that says "it was only sex" or "look at everything good he did". In the first place, it wasn't only sex. It was abuse of authority and abrogation of integrity. Both of those can be especially harmful, even deadly, to his subordinates both in the field or in garrison. And, in the second place, we put our military on a higher pedestal than anyone else. They are one of the few institutions we actually expect great things from instead of tolerating human failings. Look at what goes on in Congress that we tolerate.

I admit I don't know the facts of the case. But, what I do know is that had this been an enlisted soldier, they would still be measuring the rope they were going to hang him with. This guy is a sleaze. He has totally lost any respect that was due to him for his accomplishments in the army. I sincerely hope that his sentencing is more than a slap on the wrist. We expect leaders to set an example. Hopefully the example will be that if you don't measure up to standards that you will pay a real price. If there is not a Disqus comment box at the end of this post, click the title one will appear.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bold Statements

L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace is French for "Audacity, audacity, always audacity." It is normally attributed to Napoleon and General George Patton. It describes a way of thinking and acting in life. Audacity is the act of "the willingness to take bold risks." Boldness is closely related and defined as "...not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring:..." And like anything else, it can be either good or bad.

As we look at our government we see a demonstration of audacity on a daily basis by those politicians identified as Progressive, Liberal, Democrat, or RINO. We see weakness and timidity in the leadership of the opposition. If we don't flip the traits of each side it will continue the slide from American Exceptionalism to American Impotence. Or, worse but still a valid concern, American Tyranny.

Our President has lied, cheated, and subverted the plain language of the Constitution. He has killed American Citizens without benefit of trial. He has failed to actually execute the laws of the land. And, he has openly stated that if the Congress doesn't follow his lead and do as he says... he'll do it himself. The very definition of audacious and bold in the worst possible sense. And the beginning of a potential American Tyrant.

In the Congress on faction has bent over backwards to subordinate themselves to his power. The other has talked tough but in the end submitted rather than fight. Those up-and-coming politicians that advocate boldness in pursuit of liberty and freedom are demonized by all the above. The Republican Party, long billed as Conservative and committed to Liberty and Constitutional values, is in the midst of a civil war. The establishment Republicans are more closely aligned with the Democrats than they are with conservative elements. By their own actions they show that the priority is to remain in power even if it means rolling over and showing their belly.

What can you do? Here are Four Simple Steps that the electorate can take. In future posts we will go into more detail.

  1. Call or write your elected representatives on every issue of importance. Make it known that you are a voter. Make it known that this isn't a private conversation and you will be spreading the results of it around. Most elected reps have a facebook and twitter page. If you contact them that way there might be a more immediate response if the rest of the world picks it up and helps you to beat the drum.
  2. Crucify, publicly via social media, every politician of any party that is provably unethical or criminal. You and I have the right to openly expect elected officials to be Statesmen vice Politicians. By allowing corruption to go unseen, unaccounted, or ignored we are the enablers of the Tyranny of Low Expectations. Instead demand great things and settle for nothing less.
  3. This one goes hand-in-hand with the above. As elections approach, get involved. Do the due diligence on every candidate and publish via social media the results. If one of the candidates is suspected of beating his wife it would be smart to publish it. After all, we are demanding greatness instead of rewarding substandard character right? Right?
  4. Identify key legislation that is either good or bad and go after it. Use the vast resources of the internet to provide factual support or opposition. Be openly prepared to defend your conclusions with rational thought. You should welcome the conflict because it will attract those that normally sit on the fence and take no action.

It's up to you. You can match the boldness of those working to steal your liberty or you can sit back and keep on playing angry birds.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Great Expectations v. The Tyranny of Low Expectations

Win. Or. Die. I learned those words on the first day of physical training at Parris Island, SC, over 30 years ago. We had to do a physical assessment so the Drill Instructors would have an idea just how out-of-shape the newest Marine Corps Recruits were. According to them, the Drill Instructors, there'd never been a sorrier bunch of weaklings allowed to step foot on the infamous yellow footprints. On that day, among a million other things, we were going to run one mile. Most of us had never run any further than it took to escape parents or a cop. Most of us knew that we could not run a mile. We found out that we damn sure could. We found out that the Drill Instructors not only expected us to do it, they were not going to accept anything less than success or death in the attempt. That "Win or Die" attitude in regards to accomplishing any mission (personal or professional) lasted through my entire time in uniform and is still going strong.

We started to learn that day one of the key reasons Marines were "different". From that point on every leader (eventually including me) expected nothing less than success no matter how hard the mission. The exception, as the saying went, was to die trying. It didn't matter what the mission was. It could be shining boots and brass brightly enough to read in the reflection, cleaning a weapon so that it would not support germs let alone rust, or clearing a hostile building.

We learned that Germany and Japan had something in common; Both tied for 2nd Place in WWII.

I call this attitude "Great Expectations". How is that relevant today? On this past Tuesday I was on a road trip and listening to Andrew Wilkow of "The Wilkow Majority" on SiriusXM radio. He was talking about the pending cuts to the military. He stated that the focus would be on more "Special Operations". He referenced a famous named SEAL who said that "Ordinary" units in the Middle East were already doing some things traditionally left to the "Elite" units. Wilkow opined that if the drawdown included raising standards so the force was smaller but ever more badass, he was fine with that. None of that is a direct quote but it is the gist of what I heard.

I like Wilkows' show because he tells his listeners that "We're Right, They're Wrong. That's the end of the story. The arguments on this radio program cannot be broken". That is a pretty bold and ballsy statement for a civilian. So, give him a listen. He also has a show on the Blaze Network if you get it on your provider.

This blog post isn't about to argue with his conclusion or recommendation. It's to spell out why it would work and why he's right. He's right because I am sure that the Marines are not the only DOD element with Great Expectations. I am willing to bet a six pack of good beer that every armed service has it as well. I also know he's right from personal experience.

The problem with our Government isn't Great Expectations however. The problem is the "Tyranny of Low Expectations". Low Expectations are what cause us to allow a dope smoking, draft dodging womanizer to be President; Twice. Low Expectations are continually reelecting known ethics violators. Low Expectations are us not demanding impeachment and removal of the current President.

Low Expectations mean that we expect, tolerate, and accept failure as part of daily life as well. We are told that it isn't "reasonable" to expect a teenager to follow a curfew, and get outstanding grades in school, or even to graduate. Low expectations awards participation ribbons instead of a clear cut championship trophy. Low expectations by parents and school boards undermine teachers who want to teach in an environment of great expectations. I am convinced that the Tyranny of Low Expectations is the overall reason for the "plight of the poor, minority, or challenged people".

Most of my previous posts exhort people to get involved and make a difference. So now is the time to get into the fight. Win or Die. Demand that your government live up to Great Expectations. When they don't, do the right thing and vote them out. If you allow the tyranny of low expectations to keep its' grip, you'll get more of the same over and over again.

Demand Great Expectations. Your kids and grandkids will thank you.