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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ashton Carter's Stupid Comments About the "Will to Fight"

So the reason ISIS/ISIL has taken Ramadi, according to Ash Carter, our Secretary of Defense, is that the Iraqi Army lacks "the will to fight."  Here's what he said, according to CNN:

"We can give them training, we can give them equipment -- we obviously can't give them the will to fight," Carter said. "But if we give them training, we give them equipment, and give them support, and give them some time, I hope they will develop the will to fight, because only if they fight can ISIL remain defeated."
Carter said it was "very concerning" the local forces showed little willingness to fight, as they are the ones who will be charged with fighting, winning and holding the territory against ISIS.
He's obviously not been reading this blog.  The whole problem is that what we have been doing all this time is giving training, equipment, and support to a bunch of Muslims for the purpose of getting them to kill another bunch of Muslims, all on behalf of the great U.S. of A., which is responsible for making such a mess of the Middle East to begin with.  Just like we gave the mujahideen training, equipment, and support to fight our proxy war against the Russians.  They actually had the will to fight, but look where that got us.

Thought experiment:  let's suppose that the United States was conquered by some foreign country, which killed a lot of civilians, installed a puppet government (or at least tried to), and then left.  Then let's say a large number of Americans -- at least one in every family -- caught some kind of religious fervor and tried to establish their own Christian state here in the United States.  And in doing created a lot of chaos and violence.  The puppet government responds by sending its puppet army out against the zealots.  But the puppet state soldiers have a common religion, a common nationality, and to some extent a common ethnicity and family ties with the zealots they are supposed to be fighting.  The people who come to train and who foot the bills for the fighting (but don't risk their lives) are the recent conquerors.  

Will the soldiers ever develop the "will to fight"?

Why should they?

They will always be resentful at essentially being told by an alien power to go out there and kill people who could be their own brothers.

Did any of the Iraqi soldiers join the Iraqi army as part of a path toward self-actualization?  I kind of doubt it.

So the whole half-hearted and half-assed hope that the Iraqi soldiers might just develop the "will to fight" if we arm them enough and train them enough is just stupid.  They won't.  They are basically mercenaries, trying to eke out a living while not getting killed, at the expense of the West.

The focus should instead be on recruiting people who DO have the will to fight.  The exact same disaffected youth that are so easily recruited to the ISIS side would be even more easily recruited to the anti-ISIS side.  All we need to do is adopt ISIS's recruiting tactics by appealing to and satisfying the basic human needs of the recruits, and offer the opportunity for self-actualization.

It should not be hard to sell Muslim youth on the idea of wiping out a cancer on the Muslim religion.
I've explained at great length here exactly how to go about it, and who should pay (in my view, the ones who should pay are the very rich Sunni Muslims whose religion is being corrupted).  I've explained that it will only cost about $2 billion.  This will not only defeat ISIS's recruiting efforts, but it will also lead to the creation of a fighting force with the "will to fight" against ISIS.  Hard as it is to believe, we need to given them something OTHER than the stars and stripes to fight and die for.

We need a real "counter-ISIS" now.

PriceFixer: Fighting ISIS with Maslow's Hierarchy

Update May 26, 2015:  CNN now has a good report from an Iraqi soldier who was there, and who definitely had the "will to fight."  Here's how that story ends:

He bristles at the notion that Iraqi soldiers like him don't have the will to fight. He faults the military leadership and logistical failures that left them without adequate resupply and support.
He believes that the order to withdraw was a betrayal. The Iraqi government has said it launched an investigation to find out what went wrong and how the order was issued, but so far, no one has given a viable explanation.
"I want to quit the army, I would, if I thought I wouldn't get into trouble," Al-Yassiri says. "I want to join the militias and go back to the fight."
I'm not sure exactly what this say about my major thesis -- that the Iraqi soldiers are mostly mercenaries who will never have the will to fight.  I guess I should issue a retraction.  But it also further highlights the prematurity and stupidity of Ashton Carter's remark.  Making a remark like that before all the evidence is in risks alienating the Iraqi soldiers who do indeed have the "will to fight."

And the soldier's last remark (plus an earlier remark about how the Iraqi soldiers who gave their lives at Ramadi are "martyrs") is what I am talking about -- we need to help create a militia whose only unifying purpose is to wipe ISIS out, for the sake of Islam.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Emergence by Derek Rydall -- A Negative Review

I was on Amazon lately, and, apparently based on other books that I had looked at, Amazon offered me the chance to look at Emergence, Seven Steps for Radical Life Change, by Derek Rydall.  I went ahead and clicked on the link.  Apparently, Derek published this book on January 6, 2015, with Atria/Beyond Words, which seems to be an affiliate of Simon and Schuster. So far, so good.

But then look at the Amazon reviews:

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars

And he did almost as well at Goodreads.

Average rating: 4.70 · 142 ratings · 64 reviews · 4 distinct works · Similar authors
Emergence: Seven Steps for ...
4.85 of 5 stars 4.85 avg rating — 117 ratings — published 2014 — 4 editions

My point is merely this.  Nobody, I mean nobody, is that "good."  The very best books I've ever read have plenty of 2 star and 3 star and even 1 star reviews.  

What that means is that statistically speaking, there are a lot of fake reviews here.  Nobody is actually reading this book -- if these were true reviews of people who had read the book, there would be a more natural distribution.  Come on -- only one three star review?  And here's what it says: 

1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2015
Just started reading this book & so far I am enjoying it!

If I had to guess, I'd say THAT was probably a fake review also, just so there would seem to be SOME mediocre reviews.

The "Editorial Reviews" are equally fake-seeming.  No real-name publications, just a bunch of people who you've never heard of who have also written books you'll never read.  

Who is Derek Rydall?  I've never heard of him, but that might not be saying much.  Googling him just points to his own stuff.  And a none-too-informative wikipedia article, which tells me that he is a an American screenwriter, screenplay consultant, script doctor, stuntman and author, and also the nephew of a somewhat better-known movie director Don Siegel.  

Nothing about him being a life coach, but apparently that's what he is now, at least according to the reviews for "Emergence -- Seven Steps for Radical Life Change."

His Wikipedia entry also  tells us that 
He has also worked as an actor, starring in several films & television shows with Tom Skerritt, Charles Bronson, Elliott Gould, Tony Roberts (of Woody Allen films), Paulie Shore, director John Turtletaub, and many others. His biggest role was the lead in Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge, along with Morgan Fairchild, Rob Estes, Pauly Shore, Jonathan Goldsmith and Kimber Sissons.
The part about Eric's Revenge seems to be confirmable on Wikipedia -- the movie got a 4.4 rating, which is somewhat sad testimony to the state of the careers of some of his "costars" at that time.  IMDB also tells me that he wrote a poorly-rated "Beethoven" (the dog) movie, and also some Power Rangers episodes. I can't confirm that he worked with Charles Bronson and Elliott Gould -- it looks like the only show he might be said to have "starred" in was Eric's Revenge, and neither of them were in that.

I haven't read the book.  I tried looking for it at four different large libraries.  None of them have it in any form.  So the lead line in the Amazon review -- that this is some sort of a "bestseller" is a bit of an exaggeration, I'm pretty sure.

But what can I tell about the book from reading the reviews?  Well, there's this:

"His "Seven Stages of Emergineering" give the reader a blueprint on how to work through the process. The stages include visioning, creating a plan, and acting "as if" the conditions you desire are already in your life. He includes exercises and meditations to assist you along the way."

I've certainly seen stuff like that before.  Go on . . . 

Derek writes about the Vision Process which teaches us to go within. He says that everything we need, we already have waiting to emerge. It's not out there. It's within.

From another review:

Derek Rydall's words are so moving that I could feel the tears inside me straining to erupt: 
"I had been swimming through a maze for years, following one brightly colored thing after another, looking for something to fulfill me, until I found myself trapped in such a confined sense of self that I was gasping for air, drowning inside."
When I read this piece a stillness came over me cause, this was so me!.
And another:

The idea that we're already good enough, that we don't need fixing, and that there's nothing wrong with us, allowed me to breathe a deep sigh of relief, and know that I already have what I need...if only I can create the conditions to allow it to be activated within myself.

And yet another:

I resonated to his metaphysical position that we are all perfect spiritual beings, who come to this planet with bodies and an inner template that we need to unfold to realize our full potential, like the acorn becomes an oak tree if the conditions for that are provided! Beyond the metaphysics, I particularly found Derek's personal stories of his own successes in transforming situations to be the things that registered most deeply, and that were the most transformative for me.
His story about being stressed at the traffic on the San Diego freeway, and then catching himself going into a negative spin, and then singing "Let it be" at the top of his lungs over and over -till the shift happened, and he was then in another state, free of the stress, and able to enjoy and appreciate the situation! This cemented the idea for me that we can't give in to the negative tapes that run in our head, and need to commit to moving past them with the help of grace as we reach out to that place inside ourselves where we know help is available if we ask for it!
His story about his job as a waiter, where he held it as "his perfect job" and treated all the customers that way - and was fired three times - by mistake - but then, after the third time, deciding iti was time to quit - and then getting a Fortune 300 company job that paid him 30X what he got as a waiter! This story cemented for me the idea that I need to hold that I have what I want, in spite of appearances to the contrary - I need to LIVE in the "as-if" mode, until the circumstances shift and I AM in the reality of what I envision.
Finally, his analogy of the caterpillar who can't imagine flying until he's a butterfly - but still he must take action - the next action in front of him - to become the butterfly- and then he can imagine what it's like to fly - this analogy was very powerful for me in taking whatever action was in front of me right then - toward my vision - even if it isn't the complete or ultimate vision - and trust that the next step will then unfold - the next level of the vision and the next action step to take toward that will emerge. 
This actually happened to me. I started with what I was passionate about and this led to the next thing to do and this is leading to the next thing to do - and now I have hope that my ultimate vision is also going to become a reality! I have recommended this book to my family and friends - and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants support in moving beyond the "shadow" parts of ourselves that keep us from becoming who we were meant to be and who want a blueprint for how to make their visions a reality.

Anyway, you get the gist of this.  It seems to have a powerful effect on a large number of people with very similar writing styles.  There's really only one negative review.  It looks like there are a lot of used copies (74) for sale (which could lead you to believe it actually was a best seller), but that's a sham too -- most of those are new.  I haven't actually researched this, but based on similar observations, I'm pretty sure a lot of books out there have print-on-demand licenses that simply allow people to print copies to satisfy "used" book orders.  There's no such thing as a real print run for this kind of book.

I don't feel too bad about reviewing a book I haven't read.  That just gives me something in common with nearly all the other reviewers.

The bottom line is that the idea that after thousands of years of self-help books, one particular life-coach has somehow hit upon the solution that transcends them all is ludicrous.  I don't need to read the book to know that.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Doug Hughes for President

He can't be any worse than the rest of them.  And everything I know about him tells me he's a lot better.  Here's his explanation of why he flew his gyrocopter to the White House last month/

As he says:  "It’s appropriate that we spend billions protecting the United States from terrorists. It’s time for Americans to spend time protecting democracy from plutocrats."

He also draws our attention to the Unity Statement of Principles, which I'm just going to reproduce here:

Unity Statement of Principles
Solutions to the Undue Influence of Money in Politics

Democracy requires a commitment to selfgovernment passed from one generation to the next. We recognize our obligation to preserve our representative democracy as our way of resolving reasonable disagreements on public policy. Like generations before us, we come together as citizens setting aside policy differences and uniting to preserve our democracy, so that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this Earth. We stand united in support of a comprehensive set of public policies that recognizes the people as the ultimate check on the corrosive influence of money in politics that is eroding the very foundation of self government. 

This Unity Statement of Principles reflects policies already working in many parts of the country to ensure a democracy where everyone participates and everyone’s voice is heard; where everyone knows who is buying influence in our elections and government; and where politicians play by common sense rules and are held accountable with enforceable penalties to deter bad behavior.

1. Everyone participates: In a democracy, everyone should have a voice in the decisions affecting their lives. Our system of funding elections should not privilege any particular interest, nor suppress the voices of others. We need to provide incentives that encourage the active participation of small donors in our elections so candidates are accountable to, and dependent on, the people, not moneyed interests.

2. Everyone’s voice is heard: Our democracy is based on the principle of one person, one vote— not one dollar, one vote. From equal access to the ballot box to the right not to be silenced by big money, democracy requires we recognize each other as equals in the political process. When elected representatives only hear the policy preferences of the very rich it distorts government’s responsiveness to the people. We need limits on using money in politics so our democracy doesn’t just respond to wealthy and corporate interests but responds to the needs of the people.  

3. Everyone knows: Voters have the right to know who is trying to influence our views and gain improper influence over our representatives. We need effective disclosure requirements for the use of money at all levels of government because transparency is a foundation for accountability.

4. Everyone plays by common sense rules: Access to and influence over our elected representatives should not be determined by the size of your wallet. We must overturn the effects of cases like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC and reclaim our Constitution to empower people to adopt common sense rules to stop the improper influence of big money on our government.

5. Everyone is held accountable: We need a fair and accessible elections system so our elected officials will be responsive and accountable to the people. This requires the FEC, IRS, SEC, FCC, and state agencies to enforce our laws so those who break them face real consequences that deter bad behavior.

Makes a lot of sense to me.

“I gotta pay our bills”

That's the reason Bill Clinton recently gave for why he is not going to quit giving paid speeches while his wife runs for President.  Apparently he said it sometime before May 4, but it was reported again in today's Washington Post, in an article currently titled "Clintons have made more than $25 million for speaking since January 2014."  I could have sworn that when I started writing this post (just a few minutes ago), the title of the article used the word "earned."  And sure enough, the url still says "earned":, at least as of this moment.

It's interesting to note how various other news outlets characterize the Clintons' take:

I'd tend to go with the Japan Times -- they raked it in.

My point is that it's very hard for me to understand how in any sense of the word Bill or Hillary "earned" the money they were paid as speaking fees.

To be fair, the word "earn" has multiple definitions:

verb(of a person) obtain (money) in return for labor or services.
"they earn $35 per hour"
synonyms:be paid, take home, grossnetMore
(of an activity or action) cause (someone) to obtain (money).
"this latest win earned them $50,000 in prize money"
(of capital invested) gain (money) as interest or profit.
(of the Clintons) gain money in exchange for prospect of future influence.

Ok, I added that last one.

But that's my point -- we are really stretching the definition of "earn" when somebody is routinely given $250,000 for giving a one-hour speech.  Nobody is that good a speaker.  Nobody.

So who is giving them this kind of money?

Here is the full list of speeches:

Hillary Clinton’s speeches:
GE1/6/2014Boca Raton, Fl.$225,500
National Automobile Dealers Association1/27/2014New Orleans, La.$325,500
Premier Health Alliance1/27/2014Miami, Fl.$225,500
Salesforce.com2/6/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$225,500
Novo Nordisk A/S2/17/2014Mexico City, Mexico125,000
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society2/26/2014Orlando, Fl.$225,500
A&E Television Networks2/27/2014New York, N.Y.280,000
Association of Corporate Counsel - Southern California3/4/2014Los Angeles, Ca.$225,500
The Vancouver Board of Trade3/5/2014Vancouver, Canada$275,500
tinePublic Inc.3/6/2014Calgary, Canada$225,500
Pharmaceutical Care Management Association3/13/2014Orlando, Fl.$225,500
Drug Chemical and Associated Technologies3/13/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
Xerox Corporation3/18/2014New York, N.Y.$225,000
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal3/18/2014Montreal, Canada$275,000
Academic Partnerships3/24/2014Dallas, Tx.$225,500
Marketo Inc.4/8/2014San Francisco, Ca.$225,500
World Affairs Council4/8/2014Portland, Or.$250,500
Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc.4/10/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$225,500
 4/10/2014San Jose, Ca.$265,000
California Medical Association (via satellite)4/11/2014San Diego, Ca.$100,000
National Council for Behavioral Healthcare5/6/2014Washington D.C.$225,500
International Deli-Dairy-Bakery Association6/2/2014Denver, Co.$225,500
 6/2/2014Denver, Co.$265,000
United Fresh Produce Association6/10/2014Chicago, Il.$225,000
tinePublic Inc.6/16/2014Toronto, Canada$150,000
tinePublic Inc.6/18/2014Edmonton, Canada$100,000
Innovation Arts and Entertainment6/20/2014Austin, Tx.$150,000
Biotechnology Industry Organization6/25/2014San Diego, Ca.$335,000
Innovation Arts and Entertainment6/25/2014San Francisco, Ca.$150,000
GTCR6/26/2014Chicago, Il.$280,000
Knewton, Inc.7/22/2014San Francisco, Ca.$225,500
Ameriprise7/26/2014Boston, Ma.$225,500
Corning, Inc.7/29/2014Corning, N.Y.$225,500
Nexenta Systems, Inc.8/28/2014San Francisco, Ca.$300,000
Cisco8/28/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$325,000
Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP9/4/2014San Diego, Ca.$225,500
Caridovascular Research Foundation9/15/2014Washington D.C.$275,000
Commercial Real Estate Women Network10/2/2014Miami Beach, Fl.$225,500
Canada 202010/6/2014Ottawa, Canada$215,500
Deutsche Bank AG10/7/2014New York, N.Y.$280,000
Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed)10/8/2014Chicago, Il.$265,000
Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers10/13/2014Colorado Springs, Co.$225,500
Salesforce.com10/14/2014San Francisco, Ca.$225,500
Qualcomm Incorporated10/14/2014San Diego, Ca.$335,000
Massachusetts Conference for Women12/4/2014Boston, Ma.$205,500
tinePublic Inc.1/21/2015Winnipeg, Canada$262,000
tinePublic Inc.1/21/2015Saskatoon, Canada$262,500
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce1/22/2015Whistler, Canada$150,000
 2/24/2015Santa Clara, Ca.$225,500
eBay Inc.3/11/2015San Jose, Ca.$315,000
American Camping Association3/19/2015Atlantic City, N.J.$260,000
TOTAL  $11,987,000

Bill Clinton’s speeches:
Patient Safety Movement Foundation1/12/2014Laguna Niguel, Ca.$315,000.00
National Multi Housing Council1/23/2014Boca Raton, Fl.$285,000
Thomas Lloyd Global Asset Management1/24/2014Frankfurt, Germany$200,000
The Fragrance Foundation1/29/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
 2/4/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$290,000
Centurion Jewelry By Invitation Only, LLC2/4/2014Scottsdale, Az.$225,000
 2/27/2014Los Angeles, Ca.$100,000
Bright Futures International2/27/2014Beverly Hills, Ca.$225,000
Microsoft Corporation3/3/2014Las Vegas, Nv.$225,000
Bank of America3/6/2014London, United Kingdom$500,000
Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP3/7/2014The Netherlands$500,000
Telefonica (via satellite)4/1/2014Miami, Fl.$175,000
CSP LLC4/1/2014Scottsdale, Az.$225,000
Oracle Americas, Inc.4/2/2014Rancho Mirage, Ca.$300,000
Experian5/5/2014Dallas, Tx.$225,000
Jefferies LLC5/6/2014Miami, Fl.$225,000
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies5/12/2014Toronto, Canada$275,000
Target Markets Program Administrators5/13/2014Baltimore, Md.$275,000
UBS Wealth Management Americas5/19/2014Washington D.C.$225,000
SCIP Capital Management, LLC5/20/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
EAT The Stockholm Food Forum AB5/26/2014Stockholm, Sweeden$500,000
Entergy Corporation6/5/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
Insurance Accounting and Systems Association6/10/2014Indianapolis, In.$225,000
Castlight Health6/10/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
Hogan Lovelis US LLP6/20/2014Toronto, Canada$225,000
Skechers USA, Inc.6/26/2014Redondo Beach, Ca.$350,000
Deutsche Bank AG8/27/2014Boston, Ma.$270,000
 9/9/2014New York, N.Y.$150,000
Association of Energy Engineers10/1/2014Washington D.C.$275,000
Affiliated Managers Group, Inc.10/9/2014Napa Valley, Ca.$225,000
Veritas Capital Fund Management LLC10/14/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
UBS Wealth Management Americas10/14/2014Boston, Ma.$225,000
Citadel LLC10/15/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
SAP America10/23/2014New York, N.Y.$250,000
Press Ganey Associates, Inc.11/3/2014Orlando, Fl.$225,000
World Affairs Council - Los Angeles11/10/2014Los Angeles, Ca.$150,000
Centerview Partners LLC11/13/2014Carefree, Az.$225,000
AT&T Services, Inc.11/20/2014Tuscon, Az.$225,000
Williams Morris Endeavor1/9/2015Carlsbad, Ca.$225,000
MPSF, Inc.2/2/2015Marin, Ca.$181,250
MPSF, Inc.2/3/2015Oakland, Ca.$181,250
MPSF, Inc.2/4/2015San Mateo, Ca.$181,250
MPSF, Inc.2/5/2015Marin, Ca.$181,250
UBS Wealth Management Americas2/19/2015Nashville, Tn.$225,000
National Association of Manufacturers3/2/2015Scottsdale, Az.$325,000 Limited3/31/2015Irving, Tx.$275,000
Texas China Business Council, LLC3/31/2015Austin, Tx.$265,000
Wyndham Hotel Group4/1/2015Las Vegas, Nv.$225,000
ISN Software Inc.4/9/2015Grapevine, Tx.$275,000
Oracle Corporation4/16/2015Rancho Mirage, Ca.$360,000
Univision Management Company5/12/2015New York, N.Y.$250,000
Apollo Management Holdings, LP5/12/2015New York, N.Y.$250,000
American Institute of Architects5/14/2015Atlanta, Ga.$250,000
TOTAL  $13,460,000.00

Basically and unsurprisingly, it's almost all corporations  Drug companies, insurance companies, tech companies, and, of course, banks.  And as everybody knows, corporations have an obligation to try to make money for their shareholders, not give it away.  I wonder what the defense would be if someone brought a shareholder's derivative suit against, say, Qualcomm, for wasting $335,000 on a Bill Clinton speech.  Would the defense be that the company needed to have him in there to motivate the employees?  Or that he had some information that could help the employees become more proficient at their jobs?  Not likely -- the answer would almost certainly be that the money was "invested" in the possibility that Bill or Hillary would one day be in a position to help Qualcomm out.

But maybe the speeches are really really good, as one might infer from Deutsche Bank, which apparently can't get enough of the Clintons.  Bill got $270,000 for a speech in Boston on August 27, and $150,000 for a speech in New York on September 9.  But that left them hungering for Hillary, who scooped up another $280,000 on October 7.

I initially found those four $181,250 MPSF events over Feb. 2-5 by Bill a bit suspicious, but those may well be the most "innocent" speeches of the lot.  MPSF is some kind of a speaker series, and year after year, they have reasonably famous people out there speaking.  Bill spoke there before in 2002, at $100,000 each for three speeches.

Clearly, his over fee for this 2015 "work" was $725,000, and he divided it over 4 events.  I haven't quite figured it out, but it looks like he really did give four speeches in a row, including one on a Monday in Marin, and another on a Thursday in the same place (subscribers can choose the Monday or Thursday option).  Here's their website (; you can click around to get some information about past events (

These recent disclosures also reminded me about Chelsea Clinton's $75,000 speeches, which the Daily Show tells me are mostly about diarrhea  To her credit, her fees are apparently going to the Clinton Foundation. Of course, she doesn't really need the money -- up until recently, she's been "earning" $600,000 a year at NBC.  

Anyway, back to the beginning -- "I gotta pay our bills"??  What kind of bills are they getting?  Each of these people "earns" more in one hour than 99 percent of the rest of us earn in an entire year.  They only had one kid, and that kid is long through college, and is making a pretty good living herself (see above).