China Must Tame Kim Jong-Un & Save Face – Intricate but Not Impossible

Forgive, is the message of Christmas.  But do not forget.  The person who betrayed trust is still in that body.  Trust is a gift best reserved for those who deserve it. We reserve the word “disgrace” for a serious reason – it is the permanent loss of credibility and assumed morality; it is a revocation of the gift of grace.

In 2005 Doug Bandow resigned from the Cato Institute because he accepted bribes from Jack Abramoff.  He published articles in the Copley News Service, favoring Abramoff’s clients.  He served almost four years of a six-year, plea-agreement sentence.

My question:  why does anyone listen to him or publish his opinions?  Well, the Huffington Post raised their hand.

His recent HuffPost opinion article is about Korea.  After visiting Pyongyang in June, he says, “Washington sees North Korea as a security challenge. Yet the North threatens America only because the U.S. intervened in the conflict between the two Koreas. The case for defending now populous and prosperous South Korea expired long ago.”

What did they do to him while he was there?  Did they bribe him too?  Does he know Dennis Rodman?  Is he still an American?

He proposes more-of-the-same diplomacy.  From 1953 until today,  North Korean’s persistent, winning tactic has been to extract financial aid and other concessions from the West by making promises to be good or do better.  Once they have what they need, they break all the promises, ratchet up the oppression of their people, and take food out of the mouths of their children for money to develop rockets and nuclear weapons.  (I wonder if they would be willing to sell such things to terrorists?)

220px-Kim_Jong-Un_Photorealistic-Sketch

The whole mindset of engaging North Korea in diplomacy is ludicrous.  How many times will we settle for the same false promises to liberalize their iron-fisted culture, or scale back their military?  After six decades of this soft-headed, “gentle” approach, what do we have to show?  Rocket Man.  Doing more of what has not worked is insanity.

What do we have now?  Change.  China knows North Korea intimately.  They buy most of their exports.  They have people living and working there.  They are North Korea’s lifeblood.  As long the N. Koreans stay “in bounds” and do not unsettle the region, China sees them as proxy insulation between themselves & Western encroachment.  But the “buffer” has begun to attract rather than distract Western attention, and not in a good way.

China has finally broken ranks with the North Korean government.  They have more to lose than gain from world condemnation or another Korean War.  China knows that the U.S. cannot, and will not allow any kind of attack on itself or its allies.

Our current stance is likely to spur the Chinese to neutralize Kim Jong-un and achieve their ultimate goal: stability.  Appearances are key.  No one wants their fingerprints on this effort.  Deniability is the standard by which all will be judged.

I am confident that China, South Korea, the U.S., and Japan are engaged in every type of discussions and plans they can imagine.  The main obstacle to resolution is “face.”  All parties need to preserve and improve their “face” at home and in the world.  How to tame or replace Kim Jong-un is a top priority for some of the world’s most powerful governments.  I have faith that Chinese ingenuity and American courage will combine to defuse threats to peace in the region.

(Discussion of Face: https://wp.me/p1qZOe-C7)

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Media Magnifying Glass – More Like a Fun-House Mirror

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Disasters, accidents, violent events, novelties, and scandals sell news.  Human nature compels us to gawk when we drive past an auto accident.  Danger, violence, and death attract us.  We “try on” the situation as if it is happening to us.  If our imagination is vivid enough, we experience what we see.  Our adrenal glands secrete cortisol, which gets us ready to freeze, fight, or flee.  The media know this well, and play to that part of our nature.  The more they succeed, the more fearful and suspicious we become.  Common sense tells us to lock our doors and cars, and take other wise precautions.  But, exaggerated fear-based stories lack context and perspective.

Gun Violence

Fifty-million Americans own more than 300 million guns.  We see the gun violence on TV and read about the terrible incidents of people dying. We hear about the mounting toll of Chicago’s homicide victims.  That does not mean you can expect more gun violence in your neighborhood.  It does not mean that every owner of a gun is a menace to you or your family.  The statistics sound horrific until you realize how vast America is and how many people live here.  The US population is over 323 million today.

Race      Pop.   %
Total 323,515,021 100%
White & Hispanic 232,943,055 73.6%
Black 44,908,095 12.6%
Other 50,663,871 13.8%

Below is a table of firearm death facts.

Firearm Deaths
  Total Black White & Hispanic
Homicide 17,250 7,881 6,576
Suicide 21,000 1,152 16,980
Police      500    233      267
Accidents      800    400      400
Total 33,900 9,666 24,223
% 100% 28.5%   71.5%

I broke the figures down by race because news about guns often revolves around race.  Note that blacks were 28.5% of the victims, which is more than double the 12.6% of the population who are black.  The FBI statistics show that 90% of black homicides were shot by blacks; likewise, 90% of white homicides  were shot by whites.  Gangs were responsible for most of the  homicides, while attacking other gangs, or committing  crimes.

Gunshot injuries 2015 were 85,000, according to CDC.  Total dead and injured 118,900.  Divide 118,900 by 300 million = .04%.  That means that 99.96% of guns did no harm.  That same total divided by 50 million gun owners = .24% were involved.  That means 99.76% of gun owners did no harm.

Police Shootings

Police shot 963 in 2016; 233 were black; of those all but 16 were armed.  The news media make it seem like hundreds of white police officers are shooting unarmed black men. A new study, “Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects?” used details of 2,699 police shootings 2013-2015 from 1,500 police departments around the country to discover:

  1. Black officers killed unarmed black suspects at a significantly higher rate than white or Hispanic officers.
  2. Both black and white police officers kill unarmed black suspects with higher probability than unarmed white or Hispanic suspects
  3. White police officers are not more likely than black officers, to kill black suspects.
  4. Hispanic police officers are significantly less likely to kill black suspects than either black or white officers.
  5. No evidence of significant racial discrimination on the part of white police officers with respect to black suspects.

John R. Lott, Jr and Carlisle E. Moody
College of William & Mary and the Crime Prevention Research Center
July 21, 2017

Here is a link to the study: https://goo.gl/xqI4bu (Unless you are a statistician, their paper can be daunting)

Virtual Fahrenheit 451 – No Part of History Is Good Enough

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“Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns…”.

In Ray Bradbury’s prescient 1953 novel, the government made the past illegal. Guy Montag is a “fireman” employed to burn the possessions of those who read outlawed books.  They even had book-sniffing robots to find homes with hidden books.

When Guy becomes despondent over the meaning of his work, his fire chief explains that, “over the course of several decades, people embraced new media (in this case, film, and television), sports, and a quickening pace of life.  Books were ruthlessly abridged or degraded to accommodate a short attention span, while minority groups protested over the controversial, outdated content perceived to be found in literature (yet comic books, trade papers, and sex magazines were allowed to stay, as those fed into the population’s want for mindless entertainment).”  People would watch the “parlor walls” (large televisions) with visiting friends instead of conversation.

We are now in the throes of a virtual Fahrenheit 451.  The need for burning books has become moot with the advent of ubiquitous, mesmerizing “screens.”  Evidence:

  1. Generations of high school graduates who show increasing ignorance, apathy, and illiteracy; they are ill-equipped for self-sufficiency, yet they excel at World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto.
  2. People without enough money for food, have cellphones, and giant high-definition televisions, with cable. They read little and text a lot.  Everything is Facebook, selfies, videos, and soon virtual reality.
  3. Minority groups are protesting the controversial facts of our history. For example, the Fairfax County, Virginia school board just renamed my high school, J.E.B. Stuart High School, Justice High School.  (I can just imagine my next class reunion.)  Why?  Because he was an officer in the Confederate army.  Does anyone believe the Confederacy won the war?  Does anyone not see the tragedy of 600,000 lives lost as a lesson in pain?  Why remove the reminders?

What is next?  Will we remove the Civil War from our libraries?  Will museums take down every work of art with elements of that part of our nation’s history?  Will schools bury the history of slavery and the people responsible?

When will we hold accountable the Africans who sold tens of millions of other African as slaves to the entire world? https://goo.gl/EXnyGT

Were they not even more responsible for the misery of those slaves and their progeny?

Ignoring or censoring history will neither change the past, nor the consequences of what happened.  It will leave us less aware of the truth; a type of cultural dementia.  We must resist becoming a world of virtual Fahrenheit 451.

Take Time Off from Politics – Flowers for Las Vegas Before Pointless Witch-hunts

Today, Stephen Paddock, a deluded, deranged, depressed, millionaire, from a small town in Nevada committed suicide in a Las Vegas hotel.  Tragically, beforehand, he tried to take 600 people with him.  He shot 586 outdoor concert-goers from his hotel window, before shooting himself.  He killed 59 people and wounded another 527 in the worst mass shooting in US history.  The grief and pain of the victims and thousands of loved ones is unthinkable, and indescribable.

President Trump showed true class in his address to the nation.  His speech held not one shred of politics, only honest compassion for the victims, their families, and friends.

Meanwhile, the political wolves began to howl partisan slogans, about gun control.

Gun control?  How about a CDC campaign against prescription hatred addiction and vitriol overdoses?

Hayley Geftman-Gold, CBS vice president and senior counsel, posted on Facebook: “I’m actually not even sympathetic [because] country music fans often are Republican gun toters,” and, “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing.”

This is heartless, dispassionate, disregard, of death, pain & suffering, in Las Vegas.  She dismissed empathy for the victims and families of the tragedy.  This is a frightening manifestation of a widespread mental illness – ideological, borderline-personality, “left-supremacism.”

Here is a scary question: How many “friends” does she have on Facebook?  She must have felt safe posting her feelings to them.  Who would share, or be sympathetic to, such a soulless, sociopathic viewpoint?

CBS quickly disowned and fired her.  But she and her madness are not gone.  If anything, she now has more free time and a lot more anger, to power her rhetoric and spread the word.   I shudder to think that people with similar beliefs are kneeling next to me in church.  The harm their hatred does is pernicious, poison in the spiritual air we breathe.

She needs our prayers too, to heal herself and her “friends.” But not before we pray for the souls of the dead, and the hearts of the living who mourn them.

Puerto Rico Dilemma – Distribution Chokepoints Plague Every Catastrophe

Distribution is the barrier to helping Puerto Ricans recover from the aftermath of two major hurricanes, Irma & Maria.  Natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, etc.) always block the means and ways to relief.  The lack of airfields limits aid delivery to large helicopters; for areas open to water, boats that can land on beaches.

The Island of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure is destroyed.  Ships waiting in harbors will do no good if they cannot moor and unload; mountains of needed supplies piled on docks and airfields will do no good without roads, trucks, and drivers to get them where they are needed; generators and powerplants at full capacity will do no good without transmission lines, power stations, and power lines; without power, fuel for generators and vehicles is largely unavailable; thousands of volunteers and military will do no good if they cannot get to the victims.

Waiting for aid might not be the best strategy for the stranded; it might be better if they could move to locations that offered food, shelter, medical aid.  Travel is difficult, but unless transportation becomes available, walking is better than starving.  It may be more effective to transport people out, than moving enough support to the afflicted areas.  In addition, when supplies are delivered, the transport must return to its origin; it could carry refugees.

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was built to meet the needs of the 3.4 million residents and 4 million plus tourists per year.  They do not have the capacity to repair/replace everything at once.  Complaining and blaming will not change that quickly.

Addressing humanitarian needs (water, food, medical) is priority one.  Restoring power to enable equipment and transportation is priority two.  Opening roads, ports, and airfields is priority three.

Allowing more ships to clog the harbors, adding more soldiers to crowd the capital while they wait for transport, will not help.

Top needs:  Helicopters, generators, bulldozers, and fuel are the hardware; pilots, engineers, drivers, and equipment operators are the software.  Let’s focus on these first.

Trump Ignores “Face” at Our Peril – North Korea Not Like NYC

If America desires influence in Asia, we must understand the sensitive parts of their cultures, that may not be as sensitive in ours.

President Trump’s aggressive, public, verbal attacks on North Koreas may play well in the USA, but they are more harmful and dangerous in Asia than most Americans think. Regardless of how you see Kim Jong -un, he is Asian; you must take Asian culture into account.

Asian culture developed the concept of “face” over thousands of years. A person’s “face,” sums up their standing in all parts of life; it is much more important than our concept of reputation; it is who they are as a person.

Most average American’s discovered Asian culture in World War II.  We were confronted with totally foreign, Japanese ideas and customs, including seppuku, the noble term for honorable, ritual suicide by samurai (the term familiar to most Americans is, hari-kari, a term used by Japanese commoners.).

Decades later, we are motivated to observe Japanese etiquette socially, and in business; we are challenged to understand what “face” means, and how it works.  “Giving face,” “losing face,” and “saving face” are extremely important in every part of daily life.

“Giving face” means acknowledging, honoring and giving credit to another, while minimizing one’s own importance, and deprecating one’s role in the matter with humility.

“Losing face” means being, publicly slighted, criticized, ridiculed, or humiliated. The caustic, demeaning language Americans commonly tolerate could evoke suicide among some Asians sensitive to “losing face.”

We only recently see such sensitivity among youth immersed in social media.  “Shaming,” and “cyberbullying,” are examples of the new American version of “losing face.” Ironically, Facebook is a big part of this phenomenon

“Saving face” means recovering positive standing, dignity, and honor with offsetting actions and expressions; for example, smoothing over mistakes, and minimizing losses.  In  “face” culture, even adversaries seek to give tokens and acknowledgements that do not dishonor each other.  Bragging or ridiculing are considered ignoble, vicious, low-class breaches of etiquette.

President Trump and Kim Jong-un have lost face, in the eyes of many Asians and Americans.   Both have established “low-face” reputations already.

Kim Jong-un is feared, more than respected, as a man who would assassinate rivals, and punish those who would embarrass him, or challenge his godhead.

Donald Trump is disrespected for his feral attacks, predictable, public taunts, and churlish name-calling.

The brash, threatening exchanges, threats, and personal, demeaning attacks, slash at the “face” of these vainglorious, egoistic adversaries; the use of “Rocket Man,” and “dotard,”are examples of the escalating, vulgar, and unforgivable personal affronts they have exchanged.

Both men must somehow find a face-saving way to end their disputes, or they will escalate without reason.

First, they must clear the “face” board; no more personal attacks, minimum admissions of error, and tolerable acceptance of blame.

Second, they must engage in building trust and agreement, without losing face.  For the most part, that means letting diplomats forge whatever agreements it will take to tamp down this “monkey dance,” and reduce the threat of nuclear havoc.

Third, they must give and save face to hold agreements in place.

 

Would You Die to Save Your Family? – Extraordinary Measures Ruin Families

Most people say yes, when asked if they would die to save even one member of their family.  There are different kinds of saving.  The medical costs of extraordinary measures to preserve vestiges of life in terminal patients are also extraordinary.  Who wants their family members to die?  Anyone?  Of course not.  WE don’t want to die either, but we will die, even though we don’t want to think about it or admit it will happen to us.

The emotional storm which comes with the prospect of death of a loved one more than fogs intellect and reason.  The brain chemistry alone prevents most people from thinking clearly.  People die despite our wishes to the contrary.  The fear, hysteria, anger, confusion, and grief renders any normal person witless.

Historically, death, by itself, did no direct harm to the survivors outside of losing the income that person produced.  But things are vastly different in 2017, when death, especially delaying inevitable death can kill the surviving family financially.  And what is life without money in our society?

But, no one thinks of this when they rush to the hospital, or hear the pronouncement that their loved one has a terminal condition. Doctors do not describe anything as terminal any more.  They use euphemisms provided by insurance companies and lawyers to give doubt and hope to the family, even though the doctors are pretty sure of the outcome.

Family members ask, “what is the prognosis?”  The only answer that is forthcoming comes when the patient is dead.  Cannot get around that one.  That is the least threatening to the families’ financial welfare.

The threat arises when “extraordinary measures” keep the body warm, even though the soul has moved on.  This penchant to “heat the meat” is driven by at least four factors: 1. Doctors do not like patients to die; 2. Families do not like family members to die; 3.  Medical technology can sustain the semblance of life with heart and lung supplements; 4.  The billings are huge.

The other side of “billings are huge” is medical bills are staggering, devastating, unpayable, and strangely enough, not the obligations of the patient, but of his “estate,” which means his family.  How many families have an extra million dollars lying around to cover giant bills?  Except for exempted items, most families lose everything and have to declare bankruptcy.  Sad but true, what the insurance company will skillfully avoid paying lands on the grieving spouse, children, parents, or whoever would be a beneficiary of his estate.

The only approaches I have heard to dealing with this threat are:

  1. Amazing, triple-source, health insurance
  2. Multi-million-dollar life insurance
  3. Planning and legal documents

I can only point you to the issues.  It is up to you to do the research and planning.  If you have not considered this issue, consider yourself warned.