Remember the Past to Protect Our Future

Welcome veterans and active duty to our Memorial Day program … “Remember the Past to Protect our Future.”  This is your day.  You and all the fallen warriors are to be honored this afternoon.

How many of us in here today know how much freedom is worth?  I think all of us have our own idea.  It’s probably like that ad you see on TV when you learn that something is priceless.

We are honoring veterans from WWII and the Korean War, fought by a generation known as “The Greatest Generation.”  Would those veterans please stand or, if you cannot, please raise your hands.  These GI’s didn’t want recognition, but they were willing to die in the fields with their band of brothers to protect our fragile freedom.  They made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, but wanted nothing in return except to know that they were making America safe and free for their children and grandchildren.  Thank you (applause).

We also are honoring veterans from the Vietnam War, fought by “The Marred and Scarred Generation.”  Would those veterans please stand.  The stories that you  heard about these veterans returning home and being spit on by fellow Americans are true.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was a problem both over the pond and back home as these warriors received a double whammy as they were shot at in Vietnam and then came home to unwelcoming arms.  Our freedom cost these veterans more than most.   Hopefully, this program today can help bring you peace, knowing that this audience greatly appreciates what you did for your country.  Thank you (applause).

We are also honoring veterans who served in the Middle East.  Would those veterans please stand.  You stood tall in serving your country in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.  You know that freedom came at a cost as you watched your fellow-soldiers crash to the ground, bleeding on foreign sands.

You know that America was at the top of its game in the First Gulf War.  President Bush stated the goal of getting the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and he gave this singular assignment to the military to get the job done, which they did after losing several hundred soldiers against the fourth largest army in the world at that time.  This may have been America at her best in wartime.  But any loss of life was a high price to pay, but these heroes never complained.  Thank you (applause).

We also want to honor those active duty military who are here today.  You keep us safe at home, while fighting on foreign soil.  Would you please stand to be honored.  Thank you (applause).

Finally, we veterans want to thank the First Responders… those policemen and firemen from our communities who serve and protect our families when we are overseas.  Are there any policemen, firemen, paramedics, or family members here today?  We want to thank you since you stand tall every day serving your country in a different way.  Your comrades have also died saving lives.  You know the cost is very high, but you do it just the same.  Thank you again (applause).

Please give a standing ovation to all these great American heroes.

As I said, the presentation today is:  “Remember the Past to Protect our Future.”  Quite frankly, I borrowed this idea from Confucius who said: “Study the past if you would define the future.”  In effect, if you learn from the past, you may avoid prior mistakes and build a brighter future.

However, you needn’t dig up our peaceful past and study it, because times of peace are not as valuable in forecasting our future.  Of course, peaceful times are important, and analyzing these periods can show changes and patterns, but they typically don’t help us in protecting our future.  Why?  Because hard times present the true challenges to our integrity and beliefs.  It is easy to support your beliefs in peacetime, but it is more difficult if somebody is shooting at you because you support those beliefs.

The older generation generally worries about the younger generation losing moral ground.  Decade after decade, older generations shake their heads and wonder what the future will be like with the younger generation in charge.  Elvis, the Beatles, acid rock, heavy metal, punk rock, and rap made older generations think that each succeeding generation was worse than the last.  History tells us that moral values deteriorate more during peace time, so one theory is that America’s loss of values occurred during decades when either there was peace or no war on our soil, much like what led to the fall of the Roman Empire.

On the other hand, the younger generations thought the older generations were in the way of progress… their progress, and should not be trusted after age 30.  But these past events probably will not matter that much in the future scheme of things.

It is wars and hard times that seem to matter the most.  We must remember and study past wars and depressions and revolutions in order to protect our future.  Analyze how we made it through those hard times.  How did we survive the tough tests of life?  Remember that saying:  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”?

These difficult times typically had battle lines drawn by two major forces:  (1) self-serving interests and (2) community-serving interests.  And we need to study the past so that we can ensure that community-serving powers overcome and are never controlled by self-serving interests in the future.

The bottom line for the past is summarized in a question:  Were the generations that went through those hard times willing to die for their country?  In other words, were they willing to die for what they believed was the right thing?

Then the most important question for future generations will be:  will they be willing to die for their country?  In other words, will they first believe in something and secondly will they be willing to die for those beliefs?

Some of you might argue that younger generations form their moral codes and beliefs in times of peace, so that peace is an important time to analyze their development or lack thereof.  Even though this is true to a certain extent, the hard times are much more important for analyzing the human spirit.  I have seen criminals and nere-do-wells change into powerful leaders during hard times.

Just because people appear to have no backbone or moral standards in peaceful times does not mean they will not fight for their freedom to the death.  In fact, terrorists are examples of young people who will die for a cause.  But there is a significant difference between dying for your personal beliefs and dying for somebody else’s beliefs that have been imprinted in your brain.  But I will save the discussion on brainwashing for a little later in the presentation.

Let’s first analyze WWII.  We were very lucky that two self-serving interests, Hitler’s right-wing totalitarian society and Stalin’s left-wing totalitarian society, did not prevail against our Band of Brothers.  So how did the community-serving side win the war?

To answer that, I will rely on my dad’s experiences.  I remember waking up in my early years with my dad screaming because of his nightmares from WWII.  My dad served in combat under General George Patton for almost three years.  Let me repeat that.  He was shot at for almost three years.  So, he knew the answer as to why we won the war.

He told me that we won because of the “DC rule.”  The DC rule is when the leaders in Washington DC are finally motivated to Delegate and Cooperate.  The generals in the Pentagon delegated decision-making powers to the soldiers in the field, while Hitler demanded that no troop movements be made without his approval.  The Band of Brothers then cooperated by making excellent tactical decisions, while the Nazis waited for a self-serving dictator to tell them what to do.  We need to focus on what is best for our community and not on selfish pursuits in order to protect our future.

The Korean War was more of the same.  The selfish totalitarian forces of China and North Korea lost out to the powerful teams of soldiers formed through delegation and cooperation, working together to defeat a common enemy.

The Vietnam War showed us what happens when selfish interests overpower community interests.  The American soldiers were never given the green light to do what they needed to do to win the war.  Politicians held them back based on their self-serving interests.  There was no delegation and cooperation.

But we learned from our mistakes.  In the First Gulf War in 1991, Papa Bush as President told the military to remove the Iraqis from Kuwait.  He then delegated that mission to the military, allowing them to do their jobs.  America cooperated with many other countries.  With United Nations Security Council sanctions, we formed a coalition of 34 countries, including eight Arab countries, to remove the Iraqi army from Kuwait.  At that time, the Iraqis had the fourth largest Army in the world with the vaunted Republican Guard, which had over eight years of experience fighting the Iranian army.

Since the Iraqi army had the advantage of being dug into solid defensive positions, we expected to lose about two to three times as many soldiers as the Iraqis would in the ground warfare.  As it turned out, we only lost 148 troops, while the enemy had 20,000 to 35,000 killed in action.  That was amazing.

What made for this unbelievable result?  Primarily, it was because of Delegation and Cooperation.  Our military made decisions in the field while the Iraqis waited for guidance from Hussein.  We also were patient and waited until we had built up worldwide support to remove the Iraqis from Kuwait.

We also cooperated by following international law or the Law of War, which is the civilized rules for fighting a war.  One of the important rules of war is that you should minimize civilian casualties.  Hussein ignored this rule and it hurt him on the international front and in the press.  Hussein just plain didn’t care, so he used civilians as human shields for his military and he placed his military in schools.  How do you think we handled this?  We bombed the military at night after the school day was over.

Did you ever wonder why President Bush didn’t go into Baghdad and oust Hussein?  Many in America thought it was the right thing to do, but this was based on American selfish interests and not the needs of the communities in the Gulf to maintain stability in the region.  Bush, who had many years of international experience, including being Director of the CIA, knew Hussein’s value in Iraq was that he controlled the diverse and fractionalized religions and cultures.  If you removed Hussein, the area would become a powder keg.  Iraq also was the neutralizer of Iranian power in the region.

Bush knew that the international community and coalition forces had agreed to remove Hussein from Kuwait, and to go further than that would have been a violation of international law.  You can only secure your military objective and you have to stop.  If you go beyond your military objective, then you are in violation of the Law of War, which has not only international implications, but also carries sanctions.

If we had not followed international law, we could not have maintained the fragile coalition.  If President Bush had gone into Iraq attempting to oust Hussein, he would have been going beyond the military objective.  To go after Hussein would have been a breach of international law.  Bush was experienced enough to know the consequences of that.

“Didn’t have to do it.  Didn’t have to go to Baghdad.  Only had to get ‘em outta Kuwait.  Did it and did it quick.  Followed the rules.  Followed the law.” 

In my mind, Papa Bush was the best war president we ever had.  He knew the national security interest, announced the goal, and then stood back and let the military do its job.  And the military did its job extremely well, always following the law.

I served as a JAG in both the Army and the Air Force during the wars in the Middle East.  JAGs and military attorneys were even used to examine the targets to avoid violations of the Law of War.  As an example, these attorneys told Gen. Colin Powell and Secretary of War Dick Cheney that they could not bomb a triumphal arch in Baghdad because it was a cultural object just like the Washington Monument.  Powell and Cheney were not happy and shook their heads that attorneys were running the war, but they scratched this target from the bomb list.

International law is that important in cooperating in the world today.  As an example, Bush’s son did not fare as well as his dad did in understanding international law.  When he used water boarding at Guantanamo and other torture at Abu Ghraib, he probably was in violation of international law.  We lost world respect and, more importantly, fiscal and physical support and cooperation from other countries.

I taught the CNN Test to the pilots who were going into war environments.  I told them to see if the targets passed the CNN Test.  In other words, how would that target look on the news the next day?  For example, we advised Gen. Powell not to bomb a statue of Hussein because it was a cultural object and did not have much military necessity… not enough to risk getting a CNN story about how our pilots risked their lives to bomb a statue.  The media supported the First Gulf War and it was used very effectively to obtain worldwide support.

By issuing general orders and delegating the details to your troops in the field, you enable soldiers to think outside the box.  I worked in the Pentagon and I believe that most of the people I worked with thought that thinking outside the box was coming up with new excuses for not coming to work.  And when you did run into people who thought outside the box, they were still touching the box.

One of my favorite Pentagon stories involved one of those meetings with all the big whigs and mukety mucks and the big brass.  And at this meeting, the generals were handing out new emergency plans to evacuate the building in case of any emergency.  After the meeting, I took the map and followed the directions right into a dead end.  The staffers who had prepared the map had not actually walked the course.  They based it on the old blueprint.  To me walking the course is not even thinking outside the box.  It is just simply thinking.  You should at least get out of your office and check out the course before handing it out to people.

It is interesting.  When you place bureaucrats in the field to face hard times, assuming that you can ever get them there, they actually think differently.  They quickly get outside the box and start thinking much clearer as bullets are whizzing and bombs are bursting around them.  War is surrealistic.  It makes people think and sometimes makes them think differently.

I served in four military services over four decades.  Let’s go back in time to the early 1960’s when John Kennedy was president.  I started my service in the Viet Nam war.  It was a difficult war for those of us in the military and also for those who were at home.  President John Kennedy first sent our troops into Viet Nam as trainers.

“I uh, was not certain that we were doing the right thing, but I couldn’t just stand idly by and allow the communists to overrun the country.  So, I sent small military teams over there to train the Vietnamese to fight.”

The Viet Nam war continued and we sent more and more soldiers overseas, but our leaders would not allow the military to do what they needed to do to make it a short and victorious war.  President Lyndon Johnson took most of the heat for the political bureaucracy that bogged down the military.

“Mah fellow Americans.  I come to you tonight with a heavy heart.  Ah think it’s that dadburned chili I ate.  I want you to know that ah nevah lied to you about Viet Nam.  I may have kidded you a lil’ bit, but ah nevah lied to you.”  

I remember when we finally pulled out of Nam, our military leaders met with the Viet Cong and angrily told them that we had won every battle that we fought with them.  The Viet Cong leaders quietly told them, “Yes, but that was irrelevant.”  The point is that you have to think differently than the selfish bureaucratic leaders in order to win the war.  You can even win all the battles, but if the leaders in DC don’t delegate and cooperate, you can still lose the war.  President Richard Nixon finally brought our troops back home.

“Let me say this about that.  I was the one who brought our boys home.  Give me credit for that.  You may kick tricky Dicky around for other things, but I brought our troops home from Nam.”

I remember President Jimmy Carter was on the television show, “What’s My Line?” when he was Governor of Georgia, and the panel didn’t know who he was.  He was elected president a short time later.  His inexperience hurt him when he tried to deal with the Iranian hostage situation.  It was another failure to delegate and cooperate.

“Hidy, hidy.  I relied on experts around me, but I didn’t have many experts with military experience.  I had served with the Navy, but not in combat.  I wanted to work things out with the Iatolla, but I had to learn the hard way that you can’t negotiate with fundamentalists.  I did better with Sadat and Begin because I learned to delegate and cooperate.”

And it is not a matter of Republicans vs. Democrats.  Unfortunately, both parties carry bad and selfish records into wartime efforts.  Both Bill Clinton and George Bush, the son, did not understand or appreciate international law.  First, Bill Clinton.

“Hillary, have you seen the latest polls?  I want to find out if I need to take more military action in Bosnia and Serbia today.”

Presidential decisions should not be made based on public opinion.  Decisions should be based on protecting national security interests while complying with international law.  Gen. Colin Powell, recommended allowing the European powers to handle the problems in former Yugoslavia because America had no national security interest involved.  We should have delegated and cooperated with other countries.  Clinton got America involved in the Bosnian-Serbian war based on opinion polls and not America’s national security.  Presidents must be civil servants protecting our national interests, not securing votes for the next election, a selfish interest.

Next, George W. Bush.

“Those are evildoers out there in Iraq.  They tried to kill my daddy!”

Presidential decisions to attack a country cannot be based on emotion or a personal vendetta.  Again, these decisions must be based on national security interests while in full compliance with international law.

After 9/11, Bush went on the offensive in Afghanistan going after the terrorists.  That was a reasonable response to the bombing of the Twin Towers.  It was similar to a policeman’s “hot pursuit” policy when chasing a criminal into another jurisdiction.  We definitely had a national security interest at stake, and the international community understood our response and considered it appropriate.  But we should always have an exit plan.  We need to get in and then get out.  The longer you stay, like in Vietnam, the worse it gets.

But what was our national security interest in invading Iraq?  There were several reasons given:  (1) Hussein was an evil dictator, (2) Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, (3) Iraq needed democracy, (4) terrorists were being protected in Iraq, and (5) Iraq was one of the countries in the Axis of Evil.

I don’t really need to talk about any of these because they were all distortions of the reality of Iraq’s role in the Middle East.  No matter what you thought of Hussein, Iraq was a great counterbalance to dangerous fundamentalists in Iran.  By removing Hussein, we allowed both Iraq and Iran to become a serious threat to peace in the Middle East and to our national security.

It’s really not an issue about which party you belong to, but it is an issue about following the path of what is best for our community or nation.  Sometimes, the two-party system creates two extreme positions, neither of which is helpful for our country.

I was raised in downtown Louisville in the 1950’s.  It was a time for the Jets and Sharks.  Gangs were a way of life.  I remember that those gang members who were extremists never became leaders of the gang.  The leaders were assertive, but not aggressive.  Whether you are fighting in a gang or as a soldier in a war, if you are aggressive, you will get yourself and your friends killed.  The best leaders in war are assertive.

I remember my dad telling me that the new soldiers were ignored because most of them were too aggressive and would get themselves and anybody around them killed.  The combat hardened soldiers took their time and never jumped into the fire.  They were assertive, but not aggressive.  They actually adopted an approach to war that avoided aggressive, self-interest actions, but focused on group-assertive activities.

If your friends pressure you to take an extreme position, do you conform or do you think for yourself?   If your boss tells you to do something that is illegal, do you do it?  If you join a terrorist group and you strap a bomb to your back and blow yourself up, did you do this because it conformed to your belief or was it somebody else’s belief?  Generally, the terrorist leaders who instruct followers to blow themselves up, rarely strap any bombs on themselves.

An experiment was conducted at a university using students being directed by a person in authority telling them to administer shocks to test students.  Initially, it was thought that about 1% of the students would actually shock their fellow students under the direction of an authority figure.  They weren’t under duress or offered money, it was just simply somebody telling them what to do.  It turned out that 65% of them shocked the other students, even to the point of causing severe pain.  And the painful sounds made by their fellow students didn’t deter them.  Of course the students receiving the shock were hidden behind a screen and were only faking it, but the students administering the electric current didn’t know that.

The actions taken at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo Bay were based on instructions from above.  Nobody questioned the authority from above.  These were Americans torturing people in violation of international law.

During the McCarthy hearings and during the witch trials and during the rules of Stalin and Hitler, most people did nothing to stop these extremist positions.  You may be afraid of consequences to yourself if you say anything, but the worst consequences are from doing nothing.  Do you think Hitler would have stopped with the Communists?  With the Jews?  With the Catholics?  With the Protestants?  You can keep silent until your group comes up for annihilation.

When I worked with Exxon, I made a two-hour Power-Point presentation to the president.  After it was over and questions had been answered, the President asked, “Is there any way I can do nothing?”  And that’s what he decided to do.  And by doing nothing, there were environmental consequences.  Yet, I was the only one in the meeting who spoke up.  If others had said something, he might have actually done something.

An 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke believed, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  How many times have we done nothing after we saw that something was wrong?

Many politicians are self-serving, doing nothing for their constituents.  It’s very difficult finding politicians who are more interested in doing the right thing than in getting elected and then re-elected, but hopefully they will come forward, especially if times get really bad.

Many people today are like the politicians… out to serve themselves.  But if times get tough, I wonder if Americans will take action to defend our beliefs.  If we recall the past things that awakened America, Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers come to mind.  These were actions that awakened the sleeping giant.

I see where military bases have stepped up their security since ISIS is taking actions in the United States.  I believe that at some point, ISIS will awaken the sleeping giant.  It may be an attack at a mall or an elementary school, but there will be a line that they will cross that will bring out the Hulk in America.  ISIS will go too far and awaken America from its slumber just like Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers did.  And when it does… watch out!  When these tough times reach our soil, that is when I believe young and old Americans will unite against the enemy.  As we transition from peace to war, the genetics in Americans that is found in our ancestors who were tough immigrants and hard-core pioneers will reappear in an independent spirit of America.

When we reach that point, we will need to be smart.  We need to follow the past recipe for success:  “DC” – delegate and cooperate.  The political leaders in DC need to delegate the details to the military and law enforcement officials, who then need to share information and cooperate in a coordinated attack.  It might even be our cells against their cells, as we form Terrorist Tactical Teams throughout the United States combining specialists from federal, state, and local levels for the teams.  And all the different agencies must share information and cooperate.

Federal Executives Under Fire Should Be Fired

The “Federal Times” in a front page article on December 1, 2014, written by Andy Medici, indicated that the Senior Executive Service (SES) needed a major overhaul in the wake of recent scandals and criticism from lawmakers.

Former SES employees stated that things could be improved by increasing pay and incentives, by emphasizing positive achievements of SES’s rather than negative actions, and by encouraging movement between agencies.

Are you kidding me?  How will the SES’s be held accountable for mismanagement by giving them more money, bragging on them, and shuffling them around between agencies?  Well, just consider the source.

I was a fraud attorney for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines.  I proposed criminal prosecution against SES members who broke the laws.  None of them were ever prosecuted.  I worked for over four decades in the military and only rarely were there consequences for SES’s when they violated laws.  And there were few consequences for incompetent and inept SES’s.

My opinion for over four decades remains the same.  They need to be prosecuted for unlawful activities and fired for incompetence.  The average salary for these overpaid managers is about $166,000.  In 2016, over half of these SES’s will be eligible to retire.  This would be a good time to recruit competent supervisors from the private sector.  The system of promoting home grown federal employees into management positions has only advanced the best “suck up’s” and career advocates in the system, who were not competent enough to enter private practice.  Over the years, the federal government loses its best employees because they can make more money on the outside and they get tired of working for incompetent management.

There are outstanding retired supervisors from the private sector, who would jump at the chance to help improve the federal government.  Simply downsize the pool of SES employees through attrition.  Don’t hire replacements for those who retire.  The federal government will be better without them in the work force.  Then take that money and hire former managers from companies to run quality control surveys throughout the federal government.  These managers must have power to fire the remaining SES’s and any federal employees.  They should also be empowered to make changes that will improve our government.  They must be given the ability to recommend prosecution and terminations for cause.

Federal executives who are under fire for incompetence should be terminated.

Freedoms of Religion and Speech

The American Constitution makes freedoms of religion and speech a number one priority in the Bill of Rights.  The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”

The references to freedom of religion are commonly referred to as the “establishment clause” and the “free exercise” clause.  Both of these clauses have been expanded to apply to state and local governments by separate Supreme Court decisions.  Even though the Founding Fathers clearly were concerned about the federal government and not local governments, both the state and local government now also contribute to restricting religious freedom.  Justice Clarence Thomas has correctly argued that the Court was wrong in extending these clauses to the state and local governments.

The rights of the states were significantly curtailed after the Civil War, probably in violation of the Tenth Amendment, which some would say has been emasculated by the Supreme Court.  James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers # 45:  “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”  Madison went on to say that one of the powers definitely reserved to the states was our liberty.  This includes both the freedom of religion and speech.  In effect, Madison was saying that the federal government has no power to interfere with religious liberty.  The First Amendment does nothing more than tell Congress to stay away from religion.

Thomas Jefferson said that there should be a wall separating church and state.  Jefferson was interested in walling off the church from the state in order to protect secular interests.  On the other hand, Roger Williams, an English Protestant theologian from Rhode Island who was an early proponent of religious freedom, believed that religion should be protected by a “sturdy fence” from the secular segment.  Both sides wanted the same thing:  to keep the federal government separated from religion.  Thus, freedom of religion and speech were both guaranteed by the Constitution, and they walk together hand-in-hand as our most important liberties.

The Founding Fathers agreed that government and religion do not mix any better than oil or water.  So, they decided that Congress should neither establish nor interfere with religion.  In other words, there should be a separation of church and state for purposes of preventing the federal government from either taking positive action for or negative action against a religion.  In effect, our government should have a “hands off” policy regarding religion and religious rights.

The only legitimate concern for the Supreme Court is determining what religion is.  The Court generally attempts to avoid formulating a definition, skirting its real job.  Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taosim, Shinto, and other well formulated religions are accepted as world religions.  This is not to say that it will be an easy job determining what religion is, but it is what the Court should be focusing on rather than how it can interfere with religions by using the establishment clause.

How has the Founding Father’s clear message been misconstrued so that our government not only interferes with the beliefs of Christians, but many times goes out of its way in an effort to destroy these religious rights?  There is nothing in the First Amendment that gives the government the right to discriminate or harm Christianity, or any other religion for that matter.  A hands-off policy means “hands off.”  The Founding Fathers did not want the federal government to have anything to do with religion, because they wanted to steer clear of the religious persecution practiced by the English government.

If the government were to create a religion and compel participation, this would violate both provisions.  But the confusion occurred when Supreme Court decisions parsed these two provisions and focused on the establishment clause.  For example, if the government provides for chaplains in the military, this was argued to be the government establishing religion.  However, if the government tells military chaplains what they can and cannot say, it is denying the free exercise of religion and speech under the guise of the “establishment clause.”

In the Supreme Court case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, the government violates the establishment clause if the government’s primary purpose is to advance religion or if the principal effect is to aid or inhibit religion.  This makes no sense because the primary purpose of the government is to advance religion every time it acts to protect the free exercise of religion.  The Supreme Court has recognized this friction between the two clauses, but the problem is that the two clauses should have been interpreted together and not separately.

If you examine both clauses, they both refer to religion.  In Everson v. Board of Education, Justice Wiley Rutledge wrote in his dissenting opinion: “’Religion’ appears only once in the Amendment.  But the word governs two prohibitions and governs them alike.  It does not have two meanings, one narrow to forbid ‘an establishment’ and another, much broader, for ‘securing’ the free exercise thereof.”

The Constitution includes both clauses as being consistent with each other, so that the message is for Congress to stay clear of passing any laws or taking any action that would impact religion by either establishing it or prohibiting its free exercise.  In effect, don’t do either one, but the bottom line is to not infringe on our freedom of religion.  Both freedom of religion and speech are the trump cards in the First Amendment which sometimes are overlooked by the Supreme Court.

In the above example of military chaplains, the government is not establishing a religion even under the Lemon case, because its primary purpose is not to advance religion.  The primary purpose is to provide faith based support for our troops who are in harm’s way.  By removing the chaplains or restricting what they can preach to our military is definitely a denial of America’s freedom of religion and speech.

When I was in grade school, we had our morning prayer and a short Bible verse.  This is not permitted anymore.  And “Merry Christmas” has been replaced in federal offices with “Happy Holidays.”  This is a governmental hands-on policy with a strangle hold around the neck of Christianity.  The federal government’s actions are clearly a violation of the Constitution because these actions prohibit the free exercise of religion and speech.  If I am a Christian, I can practice my belief anywhere I want, even in federal buildings and at federal functions.

Americans fought and died for their freedoms of religion and speech.  Many early Americans left England because they were persecuted for their beliefs and speech.  Today, we are losing our freedoms of religion and speech without a shot being fired.  Our government is taking away our freedoms a piece at a time, and few seem to care.

If you don’t fight for what you believe and if you don’t fight for your faith, then you deserve to lose it.  But why would our government want to take away our beliefs, faith, religion, and speech?  Well, if you want to form a worldwide totalitarian government, you need to neutralize religions and speech.  How do you do this?  You get the different segments in a majority to turn on each other.  And you stifle speech by making the majority embarrassed about being a member of the majority.  Did you ever think that you would be embarrassed to tell people that you believe in God and that you enjoy working for a living and that you don’t need anything else beyond having a loving family?  How sad that this is now considered “nerdy” or even worse.

If Muslims, Jews, and Christians enter into a religious war or jihad, this would create a vacuum for potential worldwide domination that could be filled by totalitarian leaders.  How does a minority control the majority of the world?  A minority can control when the majority is at odds with each other and is too embarrassed to say anything.  A majority that is divided becomes weak minorities.  That is how Hussein ruled Iraq with his minority Baath party.  The Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds could not agree on anything.  Divide and conquer.  If all the religions in the world hate each other and are trying to kill each other off, this would be a perfect environment for a totalitarian government.

Think about it.

Discrimination Is “All About You”

I have heard younger generations say, “It’s all about you.”  This is their way of saying that the person being honored with the comment only thinks of themselves and not other people.  Unfortunately, I hear this phrase more frequently in today’s environment.  It seems that politicians do not stand alone in a modern society that has evolved into narcissists.  Currently, a majority of Americans takes care of itself first and foremost.

What has that got to do with discrimination and racism, which is like a resistant blood stain on a white sheet?  Well, discrimination is also “all about you.”  If you belong to any group that feels superior to others, then you are guilty of discrimination.  As an example, if you belong to a soccer team that is winning most of its games and you taunt the other teams as being inferior to your team, you are guilty of discrimination.  As we will see later in the article, there are degrees of discrimination, some being much worse than others.

Bullying of school children by other students is in the news today because sometimes the child being discriminated against brings a weapon to school and starts killing other students.  Bullying through social media is getting out of control.  All these are signs of increasing discrimination by younger generations who are full of themselves.  They only think about themselves.  By hazing other students, it makes them feel superior to their targets.      

I can remember racist comments made in Kentucky when I was growing up and when I was a young adult.  I didn’t have any friends in these hate groups, but I always wondered what was behind the bitterness.

It seemed like the members of these group gatherings felt better since they found somebody else to put down and criticize.  They, in effect, were able to elevate their status above another group simply by discriminating against them.  They wanted to be members of an elite group.

Throughout history, we have seen discrimination against religious groups, races, cultures, nationalities, sexual preferences, poor people, and sometimes, just those who look and act differently than others.  And discrimination is not always the majority against a minority.  History is replete with occasions when totalitarian leaders, who were motivated by a quest for personal power, murdered or imprisoned thousands who represented the majority interests who opposed their leadership.

But there is one thing that can always be said about discrimination:  it is based on selfish needs and desires.  Those who discriminate are satisfying a personal interest.  For example, high school students may form cliques who make fun of “nerds.”  They may bully them on a daily basis, perhaps calling them “geeks” in the hallways and in classes, making fun of them.  These cliques are formed to make them feel important and better than others.  These students feel that life is all about them, and their egos are puffed up as they continue their taunting sessions.

I was in Air Force ROTC back in the late 1960’s and remember how I felt walking across campus being called a “baby killer.”  I wondered why the other students discriminated against me when I had not done anything except take military classes and have a short haircut.  The students who did not like the military were perfectly within their rights to express their opinions about the Vietnam War, but when they burned down my ROTC building and punctured the tires of military students’ cars, they were satisfying their personal needs to place themselves at a higher level than us.  In effect, they believed they were smarter and ethically superior to the military, including ROTC students.

I joined a fraternity in order to get dates because girls would not date somebody with short hair.  But things did not get better because I joined a fraternity.  The members of the fraternity abused the pledges, both physically and mentally.  I watched the members carefully and they seemed to inflate their egos by being able to treat the pledges like second-rate members.  It was all about them.  They had no interest in making the world a better place by encouraging pledges to be better students.  They only cared about making themselves feel superior. 

After completing pledging and becoming an active member of the fraternity, I refused to participate in the abuse and slave rituals, instead requiring the pledges to study for an hour before I would sign their pledge books.  Other members of the fraternity had the pledges do their wash, polish their shoes, get their dinner, or wait on them in some manner.  I did not participate in the physical abuse heaped on the hapless pledges.  It seemed rather barbaric to me and accomplished nothing more than to make the pledges want to do the same thing once they were active members.  It was all about them. 

The active members of the fraternity tried to “black ball” or eliminate me from their group because I did not conform to their standards.  I found out that groups who discriminate try to cull out those who do not join in that discrimination.  It seems that the glue for the groups is discrimination of some kind.  That, sadly, is what keeps them together.  And that discrimination seems to be focused on building up one group and tearing down another.

One definition of discrimination is a difference in treatment or favor on the basis other than individual merit.  This is an interesting definition since it points out that discrimination may also occur when institutions and businesses select individuals for school or jobs based on their belonging to a race, nationality, or religion, rather than based on the merit of selectees.  This is sometimes referred to as reverse discrimination.  All forms of discrimination are based on satisfying selfish interests. 

Does this mean that all forms of discrimination are harmful?  There are degrees of discrimination.  If you are interviewing six people for one job, you will have to discriminate between these six in order to select the person you deem best for the job.  This type of discrimination may be based on comparing education and experience.  This type of discrimination is reasonable.  But you also may discriminate based on the appearance of the individuals.  If a gentleman wears a nice suit and another wears tattered jeans, you may pick the man wearing the suit even though he did not have a strong background in education and experience.  This type of discrimination may be unreasonable.   

Let’s examine laws that discriminate against those who commit crimes.  Are these discriminations acceptable?  I believe so because they are moderate in their approach.  In order for society to avoid, anarchy, chaos, and disorder, there must be consequences administered to those who harm society. 

The problem is where to draw the line.  For example, should society be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals?  Since this is discrimination against a sexual preference, rather than a crime against society, these laws should not be permitted.  Some might argue that homosexual activity harms a society which is based on male-female marriages and families, but this makes little sense.  Homosexual activity, although clearly a sin under the Bible, does not appear to have any more negative impact on society than adultery, also a sin according to the Bible. 

However, sexual predators who attempt to rape others or have sex with children would be harmful to society, thus laws against these activities make sense and should be permitted discriminations.  We may not like to admit that we discriminate on a daily basis, but we all do.  We prefer to have friends who are like us, not necessarily based on race, but on creed.  We like to surround ourselves with people who think like us. 

Is this type of discrimination, based on creed, problematic?  It could be.  A healthy society needs to be creative and should not stifle new thinking.  If everybody thought the same way in a society, it would not be long before those who thought differently would be singled out as being bad for society.  An example is when Darwin came up with the theory of evolution.  This type of thinking is accepted today, but it initially had a difficult road as hard-line religious thinkers discriminated against those who championed this new thought.  However, the opposite may be true today.  Many who believe in evolution are making fun of Creationists.  Those who discriminate improperly may become those who are discriminated against in the future.  Neither form of discrimination is appropriate for a vibrant society.

The bottom line is that discrimination is all about you.  That means that you can change things for the better.  It is not practical to attempt to eliminate all discrimination, but it is possible to focus on improving society and our world through moderation.   

Sub-objective Cycle

Philosophers and religious leaders have argued over the millennia whether we understand ideas, concepts, and religions either subjectively or objectively.  Some philosophers called it a priori, knowing something instinctively or subjectively, or a posteriori, knowing something through experiences or objectively.

Interestingly enough, few have examined the possibility that both have merit and can be used in a continuing cycle I call, “Sub-objective Cycle.”  It is an “east meets west” unification of eastern and western thought. 

Eastern religions emphasize subjectivism, while western religions focus on objectivism.  Zen Buddhists might say that, “All statements are absurd, so there are no moral objective principles.”  And some Christians might respond that, “The Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and the Beatitudes of Jesus are examples of objective moral principles.” 

So what happens when we combine the two methods of thinking?  If we start with subjective principles, we could say that the Holy Spirit was working within us to bolster our conscience.  Then you can complete the circle by utilizing the objective approach to show that there are morals that are universally an essential part of our human fabric like the Ten Commandments.

But you do not stop at that point because it is a continuing cycle.  Any objective laws or moral codes must be given the subjective test to determine if it runs counter to our conscience.  Just because society or a religion has established a law does not mean that it is perfect.  And, by the same token, just because you think that something is morally wrong, does not mean that you are perfect in what you believe.  Subjective and objective thinking must be counterweights and balance or moderate each other.  Running ideas through this dual cycle constantly is the best way to improve ideas.  I call it Sub-objective Cycles.

In law, there are subjective and objective tests to determine consequences.  In criminal law, the prosecutor has to prove in many cases that the accused intended to commit the crime.  This must pass a subjective test.  But in civil law, the plaintiff’s attorney has to prove negligence of the defendant by showing that a reasonably prudent person, under the same or similar circumstances, would or would not have taken that action.  This is an objective test.

As a judge advocate in the Air Force, I taught the Law of Armed Conflict to airmen entering the war in Iraq.  When leaders make a decision to bomb a school, being used as a military headquarters, which test do they use?  The political leaders typically utilize the objective test to determine how the average person on the street will view the bombing, while the military leaders employ a subjective test to determine in their minds if they will accomplish the mission.  As you can imagine, the results of these two tests can come up with opposing decisions.

What happens when you utilize both tests?  In the case of the school targeting issue, the politicians decided not to bomb the building and the military wanted to bomb the headquarters.  If you first examined this problem from the subjective standpoint, you would see the military value in bombing the headquarters; but the objective test shows that the bombing of a school would land you on the front page of newspapers throughout the world, especially if you killed innocent school children. 

So, run it through the cycle again.  We reexamine the problem subjectively and our conscience allows us to bomb the school after school hours because we can destroy the headquarters without killing any children.  We would limit our collateral damage and still accomplish the mission.  Then we reexamine the problem objectively and discover that a reasonable person would understand and appreciate this approach.  By running this problem through the cycle, you can arrive at an improved solution.  Typically, the two sides argue their cases and do not give an inch.  Not only is there nothing wrong with using both subjective and objective tests together, but it promises a better result.      

Union Cannon Positions at Manassas

The picture shows representations of where Union cannon were positioned at the top of Henry Hill, facing Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s cannon line on the other side of the hill,  where most of the First Battle of Manassas occurred and where Gen. Jackson received his nickname for standing like a Stone Wall resisting the Union attack.  In the background is a replica of the Hill House that was destroyed during the battle.  Lt. Col. Joe Hinds wrote about this battle in his books, “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”

America’s Two-Party System

The Founding Fathers had two opposite magnetic poles that attracted American citizens.  One was a group led by Alexander Hamilton, George Washington’s secretary of the treasury, who believed that the common man should not control the government.  Hamilton argued that a president for life would be the best course of action, similar to the crown in England.  He thought that mob rule would take over if left to the common man.  The followers of Hamilton were called Federalists (federal rights).

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington’s secretary of state, led the other side, which believed that the people could rule themselves and that the Federalists would promote a dictatorship by taking away powers from the people and the states, giving them to the federal government.  Jefferson wanted a nation of farmers who needed few laws governing them.  The followers of Jefferson were called Republicans (citizens’ and states’ rights).

But these two parties agreed on two important items:  (1) they wanted to do the right thing and (2) they wanted to serve the public.  They just disagreed on how best to do that.  Interestingly, the presidents during this “Founding Fathers” period of time were very independent, and did not follow their party line in all cases.  They did what they believed was best for their country even if they didn’t get reelected.

The evolution of the two-party system has swapped names around so that it is a bit confusing.  The Hamilton Federalists later became Republicans, and the Jefferson Republicans later became Democrats.  However, today the old Republicans are the new Democrats, and the old Democrats are now new Republicans.  It will make it easier if I differentiate the parties with a reference to their ideology at that particular time.  For example, the Hamilton Federalists would be designated by (federal rights) while the Jefferson Republicans would be categorized as (citizens’ and states’ rights).

But because of the maverick spirit of the early presidents, it was never crystal clear about party alignments.  George Washington, the first president, was a very successful independent president by setting a middle course for our young country and never affiliating with any party.  John Adams, the second president of the United States was a Federalist (federal rights), but he lost favor with that party when he went with his conscience and not the edicts of the party.  He was successful though because he avoided a war with France that could have destroyed our young, fragile nation.  Even though Thomas Jefferson, the third president, represented the Republicans, he still followed his conscience.  He was also successful by purchasing the Louisiana Territory.  James Madison, the fourth president, also a Republican, did what he thought was right during his two terms, but he got wrapped up in the War of 1812, which drove the federal debt up for the first time since the Revolutionary War.  He still was a success by winning the war.  James Monroe, the fifth president, also a Republican, created the “Era of Good Feeling” with his expansion of territory and decrease in spending.  Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe all only ran for two terms, believing that it was improper in our democracy for them to stay any longer.  The first five presidents were both independent and successful.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, was independent like his father.  Even though he was elected also as a Federalist (federal rights), he voted for what he believed to be right and not what the party wanted.  This guaranteed one term for both men.  But John Quincy Adams was not as successful as his father.  He was a cold and distant person and had no abilities to compromise.

Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was elected as a Democratic Republican (citizens’ and states’ rights) over the new National Republican party (federal rights).  Jackson’s party eventually became just the Democratic party, while the Republican party became the Whig party.  Even though Jackson believed in states’ rights, he drew the line with South Carolina declaring that it would not comply with a federal tariff.  Jackson was ready to send in federal troops to enforce the federal law.  It was interesting that many of the early presidents were independent enough to ignore the ideologies of their party lines and stand up for what they thought was right.  Jackson certainly fit this mold.  He vetoed more bills from Congress than any president up to his time, but Jackson was very successful.  The federal debt “flat lined” through Jackson’s administration and over the next thirty years.  It wasn’t until 1860 that the federal debt started climbing, building up to the Civil War.

Martin Van Buren, the eighth president, a Democrat, tried to do the right thing, but he was blindsided by a deep depression caused by land speculation and liberal borrowing of money.  Van Buren was unsuccessful as a president, but it wasn’t really his fault.  American citizens couldn’t blame themselves, so they blamed Van Buren.  William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, was elected as a Whig (federal rights), but he lived only for a few months and obtained no success during that short period.  His vice-president, John Tyler, also a Whig, assumed the presidency.  Tyler stood his ground and supported states’ rights even though his party did not.  Tyler also was a single term president because of his independent positions, but he was unsuccessful because both parties hated him.

James Polk was elected the eleventh president as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Even though he was involved in a war with Mexico, it was one of the few wars that did not dramatically increase the federal debt.  In the peace treaty, America obtained California, Nevada, and part of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.  Polk was a very successful president.

Millard Fillmore, the thirteen president, assumed this office as a Whig (federal rights) after his predecessor, Zachary Taylor, died suddenly after contracting an illness on July 4th, a year after he was elected on the Whig ticket.  Taylor wasn’t president long enough to be successful, but Fillmore was a success.  Even though Fillmore was from a party that supported a strong federal government and that was against slavery, he was independent and followed what he believed.  He was a big influence on the Compromise of 1850, which made California a free state and enacted the Fugitive Slave Act allowing slave owners to recapture slaves who escaped to free states.  Fillmore was the last Whig president as that party disintegrated after the compromise.  Fillmore also was the last successful independent president until Abraham Lincoln.

Franklin Pierce, a northerner, was elected as the fourteenth president, as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Pierce was one of the first presidents who followed his party line and not his conscience.  He started a string of presidents who followed a strict party policy.  Pierce followed his party and promoted the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the citizens in those territories to decide whether it wanted slavery or not.  This was the tinder box that set a fire that led to the Civil War because it allowed extremists to operate and take over in those territories.

James Buchanan, the fifteenth president, was also a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  He did not take a strong stand on much anything.  With two weak presidents in a row, the extremists within America took over and ran us headlong into war.  Buchanan did not want to make anybody angry, especially his party, so he avoided confrontation.  But the country needed a strong, independent leader to avoid the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president, was elected as a Republican (federal rights and anti-slavery).  Lincoln was a much more capable president than Pierce and Buchanan, but he did not have much experience, so he was polarized by his party into denouncing both states’ rights and slavery.  If he had been more experienced and followed his own beliefs, he would have selected only one issue – slavery.  Slavery was on its way out anyway and clearly was against America’s principle of a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.  If Lincoln had ignored the states’ rights issue, he, at a minimum, would have shortened the Civil War and may have avoided it altogether.  Lincoln also gave in to his party when they proposed military leaders like Erwin McDowell, who was a political staff officer who should never have led the Union soldiers in the First Battle of Manassas.  Other political appointments of officers led to the early years of losses to the Confederates on the battlefield.  After General Ulysses Grant, who was not political, was given command of the Union army, things turned around.  As Lincoln gained experience, he exercised his executive power more than other presidents had done in the past.  He finally recognized the legitimate reason for the Civil War and delivered the Emancipation Proclamation speech after the Battle of Gettysburg on September 22, 1862.  Lincoln had many good qualities that helped him get through a very difficult period for our country, but his inexperience hurt him in his early years of his presidency.  He became a successful independent president after September 22, 1862.  There was a hiatus in independent successful presidents until Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.

Of the first sixteen presidents, nine were successful independent presidents:  Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Jackson, Polk, Fillmore, and Lincoln.

The Reconstruction period paraded a series of Republican (federal rights and big business) presidents who were controlled by Congress.  Andrew Johnson and Rutherford Hays should be given credit during this period for attempting to do what they thought was right, but Congress and big business were just too powerful, and these presidents were not successful in their efforts.  Johnson, the seventeenth president, was impeached by Congress when he attempted to do what he thought was right.  Hayes, the nineteenth president, tried to clean up politics, but Congress and big businesses had too much power as America rolled into becoming an industrialized nation.  Ulysses Grant (eighteenth president), James Garfield (twentieth president), and Chester Arthur (the twenty-first president) were all weak presidents who conceded to their parties and Congress, leading to widespread corruption within the government.  The Republicans became more of a party supporting big business and drifted away from promoting federal rights.

Grover Cleveland, the twenty-second and twenty-fourth president, was elected as a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights), who was going to bring a change along with an honest government.  He also brought a change to the Democratic party, which became less focused on states’ rights and more centered on laborers and small businessmen.  Cleveland made his decisions based on what he thought was right and not what his party dictated or what was popular.  However, he wasn’t successful.  That’s why he lost to Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president, on the Republican (big business) ticket.  But Harrison, who supported high tariffs and big business, lost the following election to Cleveland as farmers, labor, and small businessmen voted for the Democrat (small business).  The pendulum continued to swing back and forth between the two parties as William McKinley, a Republican, was elected after Cleveland’s second term.  All these presidents, as a general rule, followed their party line.

It wasn’t until the colorful twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican (big business), was vaulted into the presidency after McKinley was shot and killed, that successful independence returned to the presidency.  Roosevelt recognized a new division within America, not between federal and states’ rights, but between the rich and the poor.  Even though he was a Republican, he set out on his own to protect the small businesses and workers.  Roosevelt was the first president to successfully follow his own set of values since Millard Fillmore, about a 50-year hiatus.  Roosevelt busted up many of the big business trusts.  He also saved the natural resources in America by establishing national parks and forests.  This highly popular president easily won a second term.

William Taft, the twenty-seventh president, also a Republican, attempted to follow-up on many of Roosevelt’s programs, but he was not as aggressive as his predecessor.  Although competent, Roosevelt was a tough act to follow, and Taft looked weak by comparison.  He was a party man, too complacent to be labeled as an independent.

We continued the swing back and forth between parties as Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights), was elected as the twenty-eighth president.  Wilson championed the rights of the people, following the party position.  Wilson was in power during WWI when the federal debt escalated to about what it was during the Civil War.  After Wilson, Warren Harding, a Republican (big business), became the twenty-ninth president.  He was a loyal Republican who voted the party line.  He died in office and Calvin Coolidge, another Republican (big business), kept things going for big business.  Coolidge said, “And the business of government was to keep out of business.”  Herbert Hoover, a Republican (big business), was the thirty-first president.  Hoover inherited the Great Depression, but he still did not want to interfere with businesses through government regulation.

Franklin Roosevelt, the thirty-second president, a distant cousin to Teddy Roosevelt, was a Democrat (citizens’ and states’ rights).  Roosevelt really was an independent and kept to himself for the most part.  He was the architect for an expansive and expensive federal government.  The Democrat party suddenly looked a lot like the old Federalist, Whig, and Republican parties that championed federal rights.  He became the leader of a Democratic party that now represented the people through the federal government (big government).  He created new federal departments and spent money at a rate never seen before in our country.  He modified his party’s platform to use the full power of the federal government to champion the rights of Americans and small businesses.  He created a larger federal government to get America back on its feet.  The change was perhaps one of emphasis.  The emphasis was on a larger government.  He was elected for a fourth term, more terms than any other president, as a Democrat (big government) but he died in office.

Harry Truman, also a Democrat (big government), became the thirty-third president with the shadow of Franklin Roosevelt over him.  Truman, like both Roosevelt’s, was his own man.  Even though Truman had some shady political ties in Missouri, he stepped up and made the tough decisions, such as dropping the first atomic bomb.  There was no passing the buck with Truman because as he said, “The buck stops here.”  He was from Independence, Missouri, and he was truly independent.  During the Korean War, he took on a very popular General McArthur, but Truman did not back away from making the difficult decisions, and he was generally right.  Even though Truman was able to decrease the rate of federal spending, he still incurred heavy expenses in WWII and the Korean War and our government continued to grow.

Dwight Eisenhower was elected the thirty-fourth president because he was a likeable war hero.  His slogan was, “I like Ike.”  He was a Republican, but his party’s philosophy didn’t look that much different from the Democrat (big government) beliefs.  He pretty much followed the party line and was not considered to be a strong president.  However, he was able to continue a decrease in federal spending even with continued growth in the government building interstate roads and other projects.

John Kennedy was the next independent president after Truman.  He also was a Democrat (big government) elected as the thirty-fifth president based on his personal charm and wealth.  He attracted smart independent advisors, and he was willing to go against the military, corporate, and political powers.  The Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis were both headaches for his administration.  Kennedy was assassinated, but we still do not know why.

Lyndon Johnson, the thirty-sixth president, returned to the Democratic party (big government) mantra.  Johnson started a group of presidents, whether Democrat or Republican, who followed their party line of increasing the size of the federal government, carrying right up to the present.  The Democrats might argue for increased taxes, and the Republicans might decrease taxes, but otherwise the two parties contributed to a higher federal deficit.  Johnson, unlike Kennedy, embraced big government, big business, and big military.  Richard Nixon, the thirty-seventh president, was a Republican, but it was difficult distinguishing him from Johnson except that Nixon got caught.  After his resignation, a very honest president, Gerald Ford, took his place, but Ford ran into an inflationary recession and didn’t have time to make his mark on the presidency.  Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth president, was an inexperienced Democrat who struggled to find his identity and the Democrat party fared no better.  Nixon, Ford, and Carter were able to maintain a reasonable federal budget, but the next president, Ronald Reagan, started the elevator rising to the giant federal debt that we have today.  He didn’t initiate this with the growth of federal government as much as he did with tax decreases.  The reduced taxes increased the debt.

Ronald Reagan, the fortieth president, finally defined and designed the new Republican party.  Reagan was the pioneer leader of this Republican party (business/small government), modifying its big business role to embrace less federal government.  The Republicans became a party that wanted to make the government smaller, making businesses less regulated and less taxed.  Now, the lines were clearly drawn between Republicans (business/small government/less taxes) and Democrats (unions/large government/more taxes).  Since Reagan actually formulated the new Republican party, he did not deviate from what the party line.  He was independent in that he created what he believed in.  And because of his firm ideological beliefs, he was able to dismantle the Soviet Union.  However, the costs for the federal government were increasing under both parties now.

George H.W. Bush, the forty-first president, continued following the Republican ideological philosophy.  Bush was one of our best war presidents.  During the First Gulf War, he formed a coalition of nations to remove Hussein from Kuwait.  Bush announced the objective and turned over the strategy and tactics of war to the military and let them do their job.  It is a lost art called “delegation” that few presidents ever learned.  William Clinton became the forty-second president as a Democrat, still pursuing what was best for a larger government.  Clinton was lucky to see a decrease in the federal budget because of the boost in the economy, giving the government more tax revenue and better profits on its investments. George W. Bush was the forty-third president, following the Republican movement to minimize government and reduce regulations on businesses.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent our federal debt spiraling up into the stratosphere.  Bush understood neither the power of coalitions nor international law like his father did, so America lost some of its moral luster.

Barrack Obama, the forty-fourth president, was perhaps the biggest Democratic champion for a larger government.  We have seen our federal debt go over $16 trillion and watch as Standard & Poor’s downgraded our country’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.  With our debt increasing over $1 trillion each year, we are reaching a fiscal tipping point.

In summary, the first five presidents from George Washington to James Madison carried an aura of successful independence about them that may have carried over from being the “Founding Fathers.”  Jackson, Polk, Fillmore, and Lincoln were the next four successful independent presidents, but this combination wasn’t seen again until Teddy Roosevelt came crashing onto the scene.  Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan were the last presidents who exercised successful independent spirits.  I believe that Lincoln fit in the category of independent successful presidents after September 22, 1862, when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Also in my opinion, Reagan did what he thought was right as another successful independent, which matched the new party line that he had created.

In effect, I argue that there were only 14 out of 44 presidents who were successful at doing the right thing for their country even at the risk of not getting reelected.  The most successful presidents were independent, but still knew how to build coalitions.  The least successful presidents were those who just simply followed the party line or who refused to compromise or work with anybody.  I think we could use another independent president, but if we have already reached the tipping point, I don’t know if they could be successful.

Gen. Stonewall Jackson

This statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson is located on Henry Hill at the Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  Gen. Jackson is the hero in Lt. Col. Joe Hinds second book, “First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”  The strategies of Gen. Jackson are also studied in his first book, “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times.”

Stone Bridge at Manassas National Battlefield Park

This is a picture my wife, Deanna Hinds, took of the Stone Bridge at Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  This bridge on the Warrenton Turnpike was the primary crossing of Bull Run, but the Union soldiers avoided it because they thought it was rigged to blow up.  They, rather instead, took a long detour following a “cow path” through the woods that delayed their attack on the Confederate troops.  This proves that a little “intel” goes a long way.  This first battle of the Civil War was the subject of both books by Lt. Col. Hinds:  “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “The First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”

Stone House at Manassas National Battlefield Park

This is a picture my wife, Deanna Hinds, took of the Stone House at Manassas National Battlefield Park near Manassas, Virginia.  This house sits in the valley between two hills:  Matthew Hill and Henry Hill where most of the fighting occurred during the First Battle of Manassas.  This first battle of the Civil War was the subject of both books by Lt. Col. Hinds:  “Col. John Boyd – A Warrior for All Times” and “The First Battle of Manassas – Like a Stone Wall.”  The building faces the Warrenton Turnpike.