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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Time to re-paint my End the War sign


The sign has seen a lot of weather during the three years it has been up. I'm spending Thanksgiving Day in my basement, making room for more numbers.
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Sun Tzu said circa 400 BC:

“Thus, while we have heard of blundering swiftness in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged…For there has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.
The worst policy is to attack cities. Attack cities only when there is no alternative.”

“If the general is unable to control his impatience and orders his troops to swarm up the wall like ants, one-third of them will be killed without taking the city. Such is the calamity of these attacks.”

“Thus, those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle. They capture his cities without assaulting them and overthrow his state without protracted operations.”

“Your aim must be to take All-under-Heaven intact. Thus your troops are not worn out and your gains will be complete. This is the art of offensive strategy.”
“Those skilled in war cultivate the Tao and preserve the laws and are therefore able to formulate victorious policies…The Tao is the way of humanity and justice; ‘laws’ are regulations and institutions. Those who excel in war first cultivate their own humanity and justice and maintain their laws and institutions. By these means they make their governments invincible.”
---Sun Tzu "The Art of War"

Monday, November 20, 2006

US Mint Releases New Presidential Dollar Coins

The US Mint has announced that it will produce a series of one-dollar coins bearing the likenesses of U.S. Presidents.

I understand that the Nixon coin will come pre-tarnished and that the Reagan dollar will be made of wood, an endangered species of wood to be precise.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Some insight on how history will judge the Bush Administration

(Ancient Wisdom for the War in Iraq)


Sun Tzu said:

“War is a matter of vital importance to the State; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it be thoroughly studied….War is a grave matter; one is apprehensive lest men embark upon it without due reflection.”

Sun Tzu on Waging War:

“When your weapons are dulled and ardor damped, your strength exhausted and treasure spent, neighboring rulers will take advantage of your distress to act. And even though you have wise counselors, none will be able to lay good plans for the future.”

“Thus, while we have heard of blundering swiftness in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged…For there has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.”

“Thus those unable to understand the dangers inherent in employing troops are equally unable to understand the advantageous ways of doing so.”

“Those adept in waging war do not require a second levy of conscripts nor more than one provisioning.”

“When a country is impoverished by military operations it is due to distant transportation; carriage of supplies for great distances renders the people destitute.”

“If war drags on without cessation men and women will resent not being able to marry, and will be distressed by the burdens of transportation.”

“As to government expenditures, those due to broken-down chariots, worn-out horses, armor and helmets, arrows and crossbows, lances, hand and body shields, draft animals and supply wagons will amount to 60 per cent of the total (cost).”

“In transporting provisions for a distance of one thousand li, twenty bushels will be consumed in delivering one to the army…If difficult terrain must be crossed even more is required.”

….

“Treat the captives well, and care for them....This is called ‘winning a battle and becoming stronger.’”

“Hence what is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.”

“The difficulties in the appointment of a commander are the same today as they were in ancient times (written circa 400 B.C.).”


Sun Tzu on Offensive Strategy:

“Generally in war the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this….for to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

“He who excels at resolving difficulties does so before they arise. He who excels in conquering his enemies triumphs before threats materialize.”

“The worst policy is to attack cities. Attack cities only when there is no alternative.”

“If the general is unable to control his impatience and orders his troops to swarm up the wall like ants, one-third of them will be killed without taking the city. Such is the calamity of these attacks.”

“Thus, those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle. They capture his cities without assaulting them and overthrow his state without protracted operations.”

“Your aim must be to take All-under-Heaven intact. Thus your troops are not worn out and your gains will be complete. This is the art of offensive strategy.”


Sun Tzu on how “a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army.”

“Now there are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:

(1) When ignorant that the army should not advance, to order an advance or ignorant that it should not retire, to order a retirement. This is described as ‘hobbling the army.’ (2) When ignorant of military affairs, to participate in their administration. This causes the officers to be perplexed. (3) When ignorant of command problems to share in the exercise of responsibilities. This engenders doubts in the minds of the officers.”

“If one ignorant of military matters is sent to participate in the administration of the army, then in every movement there will be disagreement and mutual frustration and the entire army will be hamstrung.”

“The wrong person cannot be appointed to command…Lin Hsiang-ju, the Prime Minister of Chao, said: ‘Chao Kua is merely able to read his father’s books, and is as yet ignorant of correlating changing circumstances. Now Your Majesty, on account of his name, makes him the commander-in-chief. This is like glueing the pegs of a lute and then trying to tune it.’”

“He whose generals are able and not interfered with by the sovereign will be victorious.”

“Now in war there may be one hundred changes in each step. When one sees he can, he advances; when he sees that things are difficult, he retires. To say that a general must await commands of the sovereign in such circumstances is like informing a superior that you wish to put out a fire. Before the order to do so arrives the ashes are cold. And it is said one must consult the Army Supervisor in these matters! This is as if in building a house beside the road one took advice from those who pass by. Of course the work would never be completed!”

“If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”

“A victorious army wins its victories before seeking battle; an army destined to defeat fights in the hope of winning.”

“Those skilled in war cultivate the Tao and preserve the laws and are therefore able to formulate victorious policies…The Tao is the way of humanity and justice; ‘laws’ are regulations and institutions. Those who excel in war first cultivate their own humanity and justice and maintain their laws and institutions. By these means they make their governments invincible.”

===========

Sun Tzu’s Art of War was written about 2,400 years ago.

The Bush administration disregarded every principle in Sun Tzu’s time-honored work. There is no need to list the comparisons here; the reader is challenged to make the connections and draw his/her own conclusions.

The comparisons apply equally to the Bush Administration’s incompetence in the use of the Armed Forces and to its ignorance of Iraqi political and social realities.

Prior to the accession of Rumsfeld, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had direct access to the President. Rumsfeld closed off that access between the highest ranking man in uniform and the Commander in Chief.

The blame does not, of course, rest entirely with Rumsfeld. The buck really does stop with the President, who went along with the move, and Cheney, who was strengthened by it.

Sun Tzu’s book has influenced countless military and political leaders over a span of 2,400 years.

But George W. Bush celebrates his ignorance of books and deep disdain for the work that learning demands. That’s the Commander-in-Chief we have, certainly not the one we wish we had or the one we hope to have at a later date.

More on this later.

I'm not kidding about the Predatory Towing

Steve Duin's column in the Sunday Oregonian titled "Local towing hostilities are escalating" describes how another of Retreiver Towing's vehicle harvesting operations leads to a mother of eight getting her arm broken for her trouble.

Here's the link:

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf?/base/news/1163832954170180.xml&coll=7

How History will Remember George W. Bush

My theory is that some day history textbooks will identify the failed President as "George Bush the Lesser"...

...as will they identify George H.W. Bush as "George Bush the Father, later the Great Spanker."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Are you a victim of predatory towing in Portland?

In Portland, you may be a victim of predatory towing and not even know it, not until now. Read further.

Tow trucks operating in Portland carry two sets of invoices in their trucks, one set for the tows they make that are subject to City of Portland regulations, and another set for those that are—heh heh—immune from the regulations.

They know which set to use on you, and you don’t. You don’t even know about the second set, and that is the way they like it.

Which invoice they use on you depends—believe it or not—on the number of parking slots in the lot.

If the parking lot holds ten or more parking spaces, then they are supposed to issue you an invoice with charges regulated by the City of Portland. The City puts a cap on what they can charge you for, and on how much that charge can be.

However, if the lot you are parked in holds fewer than ten spaces, you are screwed. That’s when they can hit you with the unregulated charges. And, understand that ten is a completely arbitrary number.

Under the unregulated scheme, they can charge you for mileage even though you have no control over where they take your vehicle. Regulated tows cannot charge you for mileage.

Unregulated, they can also charge you for the fuel that they say they burned towing your vehicle. They are free to decide how much that fuel was worth. That charge is not permitted on City-regulated invoices.

Unregulated, they can charge you for the use of the dollies or other equipment that they say were used in towing your vehicle. This practice is forbidden by City regulations.

Unregulated, they charge you ten bucks for the digital photograph they took of your vehicle. That is ten dollars of pure profit, and the practice is not allowed on city-regulated tows.

Unregulated, they charge you about 60% more per day in storage fees. Retriever Towing, for instance, was charging daily storage of $ 20.00 on the regulated invoice and on the same day charging $ 33.00 for unregulated.

The difference? The size of the parking lot, whether it holds greater or fewer than ten vehicles.

The fact that the tow truck drivers are unpaid unless they hook somebody encourages them to be more aggressive than they need to be, from the public point of view.

The tow truck companies used to pay their drivers some sort of guarantee or minimum wage, but the owners decided that their drivers weren’t aggressive enough in their vehicle harvesting operations and now they pay them nothing.

The drivers are paid on a commission basis.

Are you starting to sense that this issue applies to you? Then join in and end the practice of predatory towing. Here’s how to start:

The City of Portland contracts for towing services with private companies. The Portland Police Bureau, for instance, orders thousands of vehicles towed each year, and that contract is worth millions of public dollars.

Due to loopholes in existing State and Federal law, the tow companies are immune from regulation for properties with fewer than ten parking slots.

The tow companies cannot be forced to change these predatory practices without changes in law, but the City of Portland could require all contractors performing business with the City to conform 100% of their towing activities conducted within the City of Portland according to the regulations already established by the City.

This contracting requirement should take effect at the earliest practical date, as early as tomorrow would be fine.

You can help make this happen by contacting Portland’s Mayor, City Council and Chief of Police, and requesting that this change occur.

Also, contact your State legislators, US Senators Wyden and Smith, and Oregon’s congressional delegation. It is time to close the loopholes at both Federal and State level.

No public entity should do business with companies that take public money with one hand and unfairly treat members of the public with the other.

This is a call to action.

Sean Cruz

More on this later

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Governor Ted Kulongoski is a Hero to Me

Oregon Governor Sets Example for the Nation.

As the father of two Army National Guard soldiers, one who has served two tours in combat in Iraq as a .50 caliber machine gunner, and one who died in April 2005, I urge you to vote for Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Of all the candidates for Governor, Ted Kulongoski is the only one who cares about our troops and their families, the only one who stands with the families when they bury their loved ones.

Ted Kulongoski is the only candidate who understands the sacrifice our troops and their families have made, are making, and will make in the future, and he feels this in his heart.

Ted Kulongoski recognizes that governors have no voice in shaping U.S. foreign policy, no role in conducting war, but that has not kept him from seeing every deployed Oregonian off and seeing every deployed Oregonian return. The other candidates excuse themselves away with their narrow agendas. Ron Saxton wants to save me ten bucks on my taxes.

It takes a giant heart and a very special sort of courage to face those grieving families, and Ted Kulongoski is the only governor in the nation who has these qualities.

For this, Governor Ted Kulongoski is a hero to me.

The number one issue for those of us who are making the sacrifices in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for those of us who are making these sacrifices again and again, is the war itself. Of all the issues the candidates want to talk about, the only issue for us is the war, the most important question is—when will our loved ones come home?

The typical Guardsman comes from a small town or rural area. The death notices often name a town that few city people have ever visited or even heard of. The names and places are quickly forgotten in the city, as quickly forgotten as the sacrifice itself.

But Governor Kulongoski has made our soldiers and their families a priority from the very beginning of the war. He understands the mission and the needs of our troops, and he will never forget the names of those small towns, the faces of the families, and the stories that flesh out the human beings we have lost in faraway places.

He does this for all of us, for every single one of us. For you, and for me.

The only candidate in this race with his heart in the right place is Ted Kulongoski. I urge you to vote to re-elect Governor Ted Kulongoski.

And send a message to George W. Bush while you're at it.

Sean Cruz

Thursday, November 02, 2006

At Last, George W. Bush Gets it Right

Referring to himself in his most recent press conference, President Bush said: “I’m a campaigner. That’s what I do.”

That is exactly right. George W. Bush is not a thinker. He’s not a reader of books. He dismisses print and broadcast media. He has no interest in history or understanding why world events unfold the way they do.

There is no danger that he will learn anything from reading reports, even if produced by his own administration, because he simply can’t be bothered with information (I’m referring explicitly to the 9-11 Commission’s report, but take your pick).

George W. Bush has made ignorance a point of pride throughout his career. He celebrates his snooze through the institutions of higher learning that his family’s pull got him through. Many of us would have valued the Ivy League golden opportunity enough to actually work hard at it.

And he left his National Guard unit when he felt like it, which happened to be just before a mandatory drug test.

John Kerry’s remark to the university students suggesting that they study hard or they’ll find themselves stuck in Iraq is actually based in recent American history. It was an actual fact during the Viet Nam war era that a college deferment could keep you out of the jungle. Just ask Dick Cheney.

There is no denying the appeal of a practiced sneer to a group of people who are mean-spirited at heart, and that describes the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld base at the core. It works in just about any policy area.

Bush and Cheney both have the gift in the sneer department. Rumsfeld is just pure, cold bastard in spades. I cannot recall a Cabinet member who has displayed greater contempt for the public he supposedly is paid to serve than this man.

As Election Day draws near, the President and Vice President are full-time partisan campaigners, which is decidedly not the job they were elected to do.

As a President, as a world leader, as a Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush is a miserable failure and we as a nation are all the poorer for that.

But he is a hellacious campaigner. He and Cheney are flying all over, working that sneer magic.

Send them a message on Election Day with your vote.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Walking 1000 miles to find my kids

In 2002, I decided to attempt to walk from Portland to Utah.

I had fought unsuccessfully in the courts through four jurisdictions in three states, trying to locate and establish contact with my children against the unlimited legal resources of the child abduction ring that had taken them.

They had hired more than a dozen lawyers at one time or another and six years had gone by since my kids had disappeared.

At every point where contact with my children could be achieved—short visits supervised by associates of the very people who had abducted them—the kids were intimidated into silence. Their demeanors were wooden, and they were shadowed by people taking notes and reporting on what was said, on what transpired. There would be a penalty for appearing happy to see me.

These sessions were so tortuous to my children and myself that I stopped fighting for visits in the courts. I didn’t want to see my children ripped in half like that.

But I could not do nothing. One day, I decided to walk to Utah, hoping to send a message to my children that I had not forgotten them, that they were still my number one priority.

I had no illusions about actually seeing my children, but I wanted to send a message that was clear—I’m your father and I love you this much.

My plan was fairly simple. I would walk fifteen miles a day and sleep by the side of the road. I would leave in late Spring, avoiding the cold of winter and the heat of summer. That was pretty much the plan.

I made a banner to wear on the back of my pack, to let people know I was walking, not hitchhiking.

I decided to start the walk on the courthouse steps in Vancouver, Washington, where I fought in court for the first two and half years of the abduction. From the beginning, the walk was intended to be symbolic.

In upcoming posts, I will write the story of this walk. I took some pictures along the way. I’ll post those, too.

Walking--Oregon to Utah--to find my kids



















I wore this banner on my backpack