Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer

Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer
They sent me here just to watch...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It's time to American Up!

It is time to American Up.  That’s right, we need to take all of our differences, diversity, and dialogue and use it to make ourselves better.

We have been divisive and derisive enough for long enough and it needs to stop.  Your side doesn’t have to win every issue.  I don’t have to be right every time.  Maybe you can’t remember a time when we actually listened to each other, respected each other, and looked out for each other, but we can move towards that time.  It doesn’t have to be something long lost.  It can be our American Aim—a United Goal if you will—for 2016.

We don’t have to value a black life more than a white one, hate police officers, or bomb abortion clinics.  We have a lot of differences among us, but we are Americans and it’s time that we stopped acting like a bunk of hoodlums.  We don’t have to hate refugees to honor veterans.  Are we not a nation grand enough to do two things at once?  Can we not help those afflicted by war and respect those who stepped forward to serve with honor at the same time?

Can we not tell our politicians, “Enough!  I am not listening to another word that bashes someone.  Tell me what you will do or why we should vote for you, but enough with the put downs of other honorable men and women in the arena.”

Enough with hating people because of their faith.  If you are a Christian as I am, then fulfill your commission—proclaim the good news and do it with love.  If you belong to another faith, then live what your faith truly says.  Don’t let anyone hijack it in the name of their secular cause.

If you are an enemy of the United States, get ready to get your ass kicked big time.  We are through fighting among ourselves.  You are our target.  If your faith compels you to attack the people of this nation, then expect to die.  The one true God has not set you upon this course, so as much as I would like to reach you with good news of life in Jesus before you launch your attack; because I haven’t, then expect not only to die but to burn in hell.  You are servants of the god of this age (That’s Satan for the biblically illiterate).

I am really not a big fan of telling people to burn in hell, but if you have declared war on my country, Burn Baby Burn!

That last part really speaks to only a few who have made it to this country to do us harm.  If they wanted, they could just sit back and watch us destroy ourselves.  We have been fighting each other for too long.

But that time must end.  It must end now.  We must unite as Americans, tolerate our differences better, synergize our diversity, and be the light to the world that we can be when we are at our best.
We are better than we have been for the first 15 years of this century.  We became selfish, self-centered, and just outright lazy.  It is time to reignite our pioneer spirit, bring out the ingenuity that vaulted us to world prominence, and quit fighting among ourselves.

Look ahead with optimism that we can work together once again and truly live as brothers and sisters in this nation that so longs to be great again.

It is time.
It is time to American Up!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Let's talk about guns in America, and while we are at it, the shootings as well

Let’s talk guns.  Everyone else is breaking out their clich├ęs for and against them, so let’s break the mold of immobilization and actually talk about the issues.

First in any discussion that pertains to guns is the fact that the crux of the discussion cannot be about the tragedy of the moment.  The shooting of the week will surely bring the discussion to the forefront of the national discussion; but the two are separate issues.

There is senseless killing, very often accomplished with guns; and there is the issue of guns in America.

Let’s begin with the latter.  The United States of America is a unique nation in that the right to bear arms is fundamental to our foundation.  It is the second of ten initial amendments to our Constitution.  It is integral to the operation of our system of government.  It is not a standalone provision that may be removed without impacting the system.

If you don’t want satellite radio on your vehicle, then you don’t get it.  The vehicle operates just as well.  If you don’t want a suspension system; the ride might be much bumpier than you had anticipated.

If we want to have a national discussion on guns in America, then let’s do it in the proper arena—the constitutional arena.  I find it odd that the National Rifle Association has emerged as the leading advocate of Second Amendment Rights.

Who better?
How about the American Civil Liberties Union?  What!  Those guys won’t get anywhere near this.  That’s too bad because the Second Amendment is the ultimate civil liberty

If we want to restrict or do away with guns in this nation, we must first answer a fundamental question.  Do we no longer fear tyranny or oppression from our own government?  Our system of government was not set up for efficiency but for stability—that no branch or individual was able to seize too much power.

Do we no longer fear tyranny or oppression from our own government?

We must first answer this question before proceeding.

The right to bear arms is about throwing off a government that no longer represents the people.  I hope that we never see that day, but if we do, a few handguns against the full force of whatever government has supplanted our republic won’t do the trick.

The very weapons that cause the most damage in these mass shootings are the ones that would be needed to overthrow an unjust government.  Yes, if we are at odds with tyranny in our own government, we will need assault weapons not small caliber pistols to wrestle back our liberties.

Our government is a mess, but I don’t think we need a call to arms at this point; but the question is, “Must we preserve the power to overthrow our own government should it cease to be one that is of the people, by the people, and for the people?”

That’s a tough question.  That is a gut wrenching question.  That is a constitutional question not a matter for simple legislation or executive order.  Constitution amendments are difficult by design, but not impossible.  We have knocked out more than two dozen after the Bill of Rights.  That’s an average of more than one each decade in the life of our young nation.  It can be done.  If it is important, it will be done.

It can be done and it should be difficult.  We must decide if our duty to preserve the blessings of liberty not only for ourselves, but to our posterity, is at risk when we change the system.  Make no mistake; changing the Second Amendment changes the entire system.

If we need to do this, then let’s do it as a constitutional amendment with the labyrinth of process that must accompany it.  It should not be done lightly but if it is necessary, then let’s have a true national, constitutional discussion.

Knee jerk legislation and executive orders are not the answer.

But what about all of the people who will die while we are having this protracted constitutional dialogue?

That’s another issue.  That is about the sanctity of life.  Addressing this doesn’t take any laws or amendments.  It takes a willingness to return to seeking God.

Even without another law hitting the books, it is already illegal to murder one, two, or two dozen people.  Whether it is done with a truck bomb, pipe bomb, or assault weapon; the malice aforethought is what is responsible for the killing.

We as a nation must once again value life.  Black lives?  Yes!  Hispanic lives?  Yes!  Asian lives?  Yes.  Christian Lives?  Yes!  Lives of people who don’t even believe in God?  Yes!

Unborn life?  Yes!

Ouch!  Let’s frame that as a woman’s right to choose.

Let’s not.  Let’s look at it first from the sanctity of life.  We don’t need more abortion laws or overturned court decisions.  We need to value life from conception to the last breath.

We don’t do that!  We do not value life.  We get upset—for a while—when a couple dozen people are killed in a school or at a Christmas party or one person is shot by a police officer but by and large, our culture does not value life.

We must return to God and value the sanctity of life if we want to see the shootings and bombings and other recurring forms of human hatred stopped in our time.

If we need a constitutional discussion of the right to bear arms, then let’s have it.  It needs to be one of the most robust discussions that we have ever engaged in as a nation.  It will take at least a decade.

If we want to stop the senseless violence, then let’s stop it.  This has to do with everyone—not just the faithful few—the modern day remnant—but everyone repenting of their selfish ways and returning to God.

Jesus broke it down to one command, that you love one another.  This is what will stop the violence.  This turning from the wickedness of this age can begin now.  It doesn’t have to take a decade.  Once we as a nation turn to God, he will draw near to us.

We will know his blessings.

The challenge is that this will take courage.  Do we have enough men and women of courage left among us to lead us back to God?

Where are you men and women of courage?

Will you lead this nation back to God and out of this senseless violence?


Where are you?

Monday, November 16, 2015

On the other hand...

Okay, so I will be the voice that runs counter to my conservative brethren.  I will not jump on the bandwagon of pettiness in the name of the national security nonsequitur of the week.

This whole business of not taking in refugees runs counter to the compassion and mercy that I grew up with as an American.  We are a people who know compassion.  To deny it is to deny ourselves.
That said, we also are a people who once had a flag that read, “Don’t tread on me.”  I see no conflict between compassion and combat, between mercy and might, or between if you mess with America, you should expect the wrath of the entire nation.

If you have suffered and are a victim of the most powerful regimes in the world, the USA should stand as unique in that we still accept your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

I am all for blowing evil men and causes to smithereens but let’s not turn a blind eye to the refugees that this creates.  We drop bombs at will.  I am good with that.  Send a sniper’s bullet to split open the skull of an evil man—go for it.  Have the Marines fix bayonets and send these Islamic terrorist to their 72 virgins—git ‘er done; these brokesticks are surley not getting any in the here and now anyway.  Send them on to their eternal reward.  On the other hand, let’s dip those bayonets in pig blood first and mess with the ongoing eternal orgy that supposedly awaits them.

If you are an enemy of the USA I am in favor of hunting you to the ends of the earth and killing you. 

If you are a victim of war, we must still be a nation that knows mercy.  It is part of who we are.

Do we need to maximize screening?  Absolutley!  Enforce some sort of tracking and verification system—by all means.  Help only those who truly need it, of course.  I am not saying that we should expose ourselves to attack.  We are by and large an intelligent people who can figure this out without saying that we have become such a puny nation that helping the helpless has suddenly fallen into the “too hard” category.

Deny who we are by sending the helpless and homeless to fend for themselves—I hope that is not who we have become.  How petty a people we must be if that is the mindset of America.

Enemies of America look out, there is a bomb or a bayonet headed your way.


Those who need mercy need to know that we still have a heart of mercy in this land.  We are still a light in a dark world.  We are Americans and we will continue to be a light unto a dark world.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Address to Veterans at Burns Flat - Dill City High School Program

I was privileged to be the keynote speaker at the Veterans Day program hosted by the Government Club in the Burns Flat - Dill City School System.  These were my remarks.



Who likes music?  Think of a song that starts and ends with questions.  I will get back to that.

For now, let us will move on to another question:  Why do we celebrate  Veteran’s Day?

It’s on the calendar.  It is what you do on November 11th.  You didn’t invent this day but you are making a special effort to observe it and to recognize these men and women that collectively we call veterans.

You might come up with reasons such as:
They served their country.
They sacrificed.

They are the less than one-half of one percent of the population of this country that put their hands in the air and said:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. The oath continues with words about committing to following orders.

Officers of the armed forces continue with that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office I am about to enter, SO HELP ME GOD!

This is a little bigger commitment than when you sign on to work with Halliburton, McDonald’s, or Walmart.

This is just to get you in.  You still have to get through boot camp.  Some may be tougher than others, but you still have to finish this period of initial screening and orientation.

Then comes the real commitment.  Consider the words of the original Code of Conduct.  It has been updated to be more gender neutral now, but this is the one that I learned long ago.

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE U. S. FIGHTING MAN

1. I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
2. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist.
3. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
4. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information, or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.
5. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am bound to give only name, rank, service number and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.
6. I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

These men and women seated to my right and left know this level of commitment.

It is a little more than being asked to work a couple hours overtime or work outside on a rainy day.

You can bet that your boss will yell at you more than once and you and you learn to take the correction and make yourself a little better for it.

These men and women know that it is not just about them.  Leaving a buddy behind on the battlefield is unthinkable.

Lowering standards is unconscionable.

A half hearted effort in training deserves the wrath of the sergeant or captain running the exercise.

The men and women that you see before you have lived the mantra that the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.

There is good reason to set aside a day to recognize these men and women.

But a question remains:  Why is this day important to you.  What does Veterans Day mean to you.  How is it relevant to you?

The answer is tougher than you might think for you must ask yourself, “What do you value?”

Do you value liberty?

How can you know for it is all that you have ever known?  You can study your history but all you have ever known is liberty.  All that you have ever known is freedom.  You have never tasted tyranny or feared dictatorship.  Most of you have never been to another country, especially one where freedom is not a given commodity.

How can you know that liberty is something worth valuing.
I suggest that you get a few moments with one of these men or women sometime and just listen to what they know.

What do you value?

Do you value opportunity?  Education, work, military service, are all options available to almost everyone one here.  But most of you have never known anything else.

Talk with these men and women who have seen the world and know just how blessed we are.

There is a lot of talk among candidates for president of the United States about illegal immigration, even building a wall across our southern border.  Do you know what I hear when I hear all of this political babble?

More people still want to get into this country than want out of it.  
Nobody to speak of is trying to leave and unless you broke the law and are being pursued by the law, nobody is trying to stop you if you want to go.

But so many still see our country as a land full of opportunity.  If we could only have the eyes of those desperately trying to get into our country, we might value what we have a little more.

Finally, do we value efficacy?

Efficacy is the power to make desired change.  Self efficacy is the power to make changes that we desire in ourselves.

Some examples:
·       To develop better study habits
·       To bench press 30 more pounds
·       To learn a second language
·       To quit a bad habit
·       To give up profane language

The list is what you want it to be.

Efficacy as a nation is to set our own course as a free people in a modern world.  Can we still do this?  Do we have the commitment to do this?

About 240 years ago, 13 colonies started forming an army, navy, and Marine Corps because they wanted a nation that could be self directed.  Brave men served and died forming this country.

Do we still value what we have here enough to serve in the armed forces of the United States of America?

Are we ready to fight for what we have?  Is it worth it?  Or will we watch it slowly slip away?

There is the long standing analogy of the frog place in a pot of boiling water.  It will jump out.  It doesn’t have to think about it.  There is no deliberation.  It jumps out.

But if you put a different  frog—you are never going to catch that first frog again—in a pot of room temperature water and slowly turn up the temperature 1 degree at a time, it doesn’t take too long until you have boiled frog.

It never knew what hit it.

Most people go through life never knowing what they have and what they might be losing day to day and year to year.  A small segment of our society—our service men and women—remain vigilant, watchful, and ready to preserve what most people don’t even realize they have.

Fewer than one half of one percent stand ready to preserve what our founding fathers thought was precious enough to offer their lives just to give it a chance of success.

A very few people have stepped forward to preserve for us this grand experiment that we call the United States of America.
See if these words don’t sound familiar:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Secure the blessings of liberty for this generation and those to come.

Secure the blessings of Liberty—what a charge.  Who can live up to this?  Who will stand and fight against those who would take this from us?

You are looking at many of them seated before you.

The challenge set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution is for everyone in this country, but only a small percentage will set aside their lives and livelihood to ensure the blessings of liberty for us all.

We are still talking about efficacy—the power to effect desired change, the power to preserve those things that we value.

As I look at you, I wonder who among you has the determination to step out of a culture that promotes selfishness and take on the yoke of service.  Who among you will pick up the torch of liberty for the generations to come?

These are some noble thoughts.  These are serious decisions to make.  Some of you may yet be a few years from making these decisions, or at least you think that you are.

For what you do today impacts whether or not you might be able to serve.  One of the best indicators of whether or not an individual can successfully negotiate basic training in the armed forces is high school graduation.

Do you finish what you start?

You might be thinking, I’m not going to college, why should I be serious about my schooling.  High school graduation—not a drop out and a GED—but graduation is a strong indicator that you can complete boot camp, and by the way, many other endeavors that will come along in life.

Do you finish what you start?

Now you must know that there is a price to be paid for serving.  It is called sacrifice.

Some sacrifice being close to family.  Some sacrifice personal liberty, even those liberties that they fight to preserve.  And some will be called to sacrifice their lives.

Thomas Jefferson once said:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Serving your country in the armed forces sometimes exacts that last full measure of devotion.  Should you serve, you may not return to enjoy the liberties for which you fought.

War is an ugly thing.  Understand that war is an ugly business.
But also under this about war—I read from the British philosopher John Stuart Mill.

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, — is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”
I began by asking a question about a song that started and ended with a question—at least the first verse of the song, that’s the one most of us know.  Maybe you thought of one.  Here is the one that I thought of.  It begins:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Does this idea, this grand experiment, this noble idea of a country still have a chance?  Did we survive the night?

Are we going to have a chance at this bizarre concept of self government?  Can we just survive the night?  Can we just last one more day at having a chance at our dream of self government, self-determination, freedom, and the prospect of liberty and justice for all.

The question at the end of the verse is just as dramatic:

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Does today’s generation still value freedom enough that brave men and women still step forward out of the ranks of the self centered into the ranks of selfless service.

The men and women seated before have said yes.

What will you say?

Are you willing to preserve the blessings of liberty for your children and grandchildren?

What will you say? 



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Democracies and Republics--what were we thinking?

God’s people asked God for a king.  The elders of Israel went to the prophet and demanded a king so they could be like the other nations.  God told the prophet what it it would cost them.  It was a very steep price that a king would exact from his people. 

The people wanted a king anyway.  God told the prophet, “Give them a king.”

I wonder if God laughed out loud when the peoples of the world wanted republics and democracies.  Sometimes it seems that we bit off more than we can chew in this whole business of self government.


Dear God,

Please have mercy upon us as we embark upon a year of presidential campaigning.  Please grant the parties and candidates some civility and cast out the demons of bitterness and acrimony.

Grant us the wisdom to turn off or shut down the bombardment of ads that are surely coming our way and read your holy word more and more in the year to come.

Please bless America and send your Spirit to guide us back to you!

Amen.


When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord.22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”


Friday, October 2, 2015

Another shooting...


Another shooting.  More lives lost.  Senseless violence.  

Senseless.

Now come the calls to take away guns and add new laws.  The cries for Black Lives Matter will be accompanied by Student Lives Matter to join the chorus of Cops Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.

But we miss the point once again with our cries and causes.  Fewer guns and more laws is not the solution.  These are Band-Aids that we place on gushing wounds.  All life matters, but human life is sacred.

We are of the earth and of God.  We sit atop of the creation; yet we do not understand that we ourselves are a sacred creation.  God made us in his own likeness.

All human life is sacred.  It is set apart with special purpose and yet we value it so lightly.  Slogans and tag lines such as Black Lives Matter or Cops Lives Matter let us rally support for our causes while ignoring the heart of the matter.

Human life is a precious thing. 

The child in the womb or walking the halls of a high school is precious.  Parents, encouraged by society must bring their children up in the way they should go—valuing life.

The 95 year old woman in a nursing home is holding on to a sacred thing—life.  From inception to death, we must regard this thing we call life as a precious gift from God.

The soldier or Marine that gives his life to save his buddies knows what he is giving up.  He knows the value of his ultimate sacrifice; yet does it any way.

The surgeon who fights off anger towards the shooter and anguish for the family in order to focus on removing bullet fragments from the victim of a drive by shooting understands the sacred task entrusted to him.

Why do so few have eyes to see life as a gift from God?

The answers to shootings and violence in America will not come from protests and new laws.  The answers lie in recognizing the gift that life truly is and then teaching our children to value it.

The answers to violence in America will not come from legislatures and executives but from homes where God is once again first and the gift of life that he gave us is valued as the precious thing that it is.

It will come from homes where fathers are the spiritual leader.  It will come from homes where godly values take precedence over top television shows or the most graphic video games.

Answers reside in families that seek God, his kingdom, his righteousness, and pray for his continued grace.

If you are looking to your favorite lobby or congressman or the president for answers, you will be disappointed.   They will fall short.  Their options do not include the condition of the human heart.  

Senseless violence stops when we value life enough to cherish it and pass on these values to our children.

Life—from inception to very old age—must be regarded as a precious gift from God.


To stop the violence we must value the gift of life once again and stop letting the world teach our children other values.

Let's commit to bringing up our children and grandchildren in the way they should go.

Friday, July 10, 2015

239 years of liberty: 1 year of maturity

As I consider the most recent birthday celebration for the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, otherwise known as the 4th of July or Independence Day, the following thoughts come to the forefront of my mind.

We have enjoyed 239 years of liberty but can’t seem to muster 1 year’s worth of maturity.

Grow up America!  It is time to deal with real issues and put our liberty to good use instead of the insane squabbles that seem to be centermost in our culture today.


Let’s grow up America and start tackling the real issues of our nation and the world.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Libertarians as the modern nuclear deterrent

If I were forced to classify myself politically, it would be as libertarian.  I think that government should be as small as possible and individual liberties maximized to the fullest extent.

I also know that in this 21st century, my political leanings are not practical for governing.  At best, I can describe them as a nuclear deterrent.  Two hundred years ago, we could have come close to a libertarian society.  Today we live in a far too complex world.

I don’t like the fact that the government can and probably does listen to all of my electronic conversations; however, I like it less when some radical hijacks a jetliner and flies it into a skyscraper.

I know that the cost for “Big Brother” looking out for my security is high, but that to drop all of our high tech surveillance in this age would be an invitation for invasion on multiple fronts.

So what is a libertarian to do in this post modern era?

Join the conversation. It is just that simple.  Unique perspectives add collective strength.  Insistence on an exclusively libertarian stance is as absurd as the opposite extreme.  Our system was set up for a dialogue of dedicated servants.

Our system works on balance not extremes.  Extremes within the system are good so long as they do not bring things to a halt or are likewise ignored because they are not in the majority.

I want libertarian views heard, considered, and worked into the mix.  I do not want them as the mainstay of modern government.  They are at best a nuclear deterrent when used in standalone mode.  As part of the grist for the governmental mill, they make for a better meal mix for the people that must consume these products of law and regulation.

We libertarians were born two centuries too late to get our own way, but we would still like to influence the overall health of our republic.


We don’t want to nuke the system and leave our country devastated, but we know that we must turn around from the heading that we have been on too long.  We need to be a serious part of the discussion without insisting on our own way every time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top quality needed in a job candidate

A short list appeared in the context of an article on Christian colleges and several college ads in the  March 2015 issue of Christianity Today.  It was titled the Top 10 Qualities Employers Seek in a Candidate.

The list was purported to be the output of a 2013 employer survey and included many of the usual suspects:  communication, teamwork, decision making, organization and prioritization of work, information skills, proficiency with computer software, writing skills, as well as the ability to influence others.

I doubt that lists from other sources would vary much.  I doubt that such lists have varied much in the past two decades.

Is there a problem with consistency?

Perhaps.  What if employers have been blind to one of the most defining qualities in a candidate?  What if this blindness has become institutionalized?

What was missing?

Honesty?
Integrity?
Faith?
Hope?
Love?

What?  What could have the bulk of employers in this nation have missed for so long that could be brought to light now?

How about efficacy!

Efficacy?  Most employers and job candidates don’t even know what the word means.

Efficacy is the power to effect desired change.  When working with others, we might call it leadership; however, for new hires the power to effect desired change in one’s self is of utmost importance.

Job applicants that come out of college or the military or other sources come with a specific set of knowledge, skills, and abilities.  In most cases, they have one thing in common.

They won’t be enough.

Education, experience, and work history can only take you so far.  You must be able to make desired changes as you take on greater responsibilities and positions.    You must be able to make desired changes in yourself.

Sometimes that is more education.  Sometimes it is becoming more assertive.  Often it involves becoming a better listener or a better delegator of tasks and responsibilities.  Sometimes the task master must learn to be the trainer or inspector.

Some folks find difficulty in adapting and hold on to their initial skill set as if it were sacred.  Others understand that degrees and certificates form the starting blocks and not the finish line.

The power to effect desired change in one’s self—self efficacy—might just be the most needed quality in a candidate for a job and it did not even make the list.

The casual observer might just chalk this up to the casualties of the modern job market.  The candidate looking to separate from the crowd might just highlight this quality of self-efficacy on his or her resume and have sufficient examples to back it up during interviews.


The candidate with the power of self-efficacy seldom remains a candidate for long.    These are the take charge men and women who find the best jobs and are always contending for promotion.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

There is no decision to make. Put rounds on target!

Dear Mr. President,

You have used your war making powers without much regard for the laws of our land up to this point.  You are not alone in this course of action.  Your predecessors have done this for half a century.

Realize this:  Now is not the occasion to suddenly decide it is time for a protracted discussion on what to do next with regard to ISIS and other terrorist groups that threaten our American service men and women.

ISIS is closing in on 320 United States Marines.  What you do is send everything within your command to support them.  The end state of this engagement is dead enemy terrorists.  Period.

Discuss the merits of whether these people have engaged in ruthless killings because they don’t have jobs, want to revisit the crusades, or because they thrive on evil (most of us know this is the answer) at your leisure after you send everything that turns beating hearts into bleeding ones and put it on target.

We know where these armed extremists are.  Put rounds on target.

If it looks like it’s going to be a fair fight, then our Commander in Chief needs to be tried for treason.  We engage our enemies with everything we have.  The world may or may not respect us for the many humanitarian missions that we conduct, but our enemies must fear us.

Our enemies must fear us!

Inaction on your part is an invitation to attack when and where they please.  The greatest armed forces in the world have no commander in chief.

It is time to get this part of you presidency right.  Be the commander in chief and destroy the enemies that believe you don’t have the backbone for combat leadership.

Semper Fidelis,
Thomas R. Spence

Major, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)