American Thinkers

Short, Sweet Story of the Simple …

Posted on April 25, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |

Ronald James Read (1921 – 2014). worked as a gas station attendant and mechanic for 25 years.and then took a part-time janitor job where he worked for 17 years.

He grew up in an impoverished farming household. He walked or hitchhiked four miles daily to high school and was the first high school graduate in his family.

He died bequeathing US $1.2 million to a Library and $4.8 million to a Hospital.

He had amassed a $8 million fortune by investing in stocks, avoiding the stock of companies he did not understand, living very frugally and being a buy and hold investor in blue chip companies.

Surely a Full Life. Brings to mind Duke Ellington’s Quote when his friend Louis Armstrong, passed away, “He was born Poor and died Rich and in between hurt Nobody on the Way” …

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Alcatraz – Possible Escape Story? …

Posted on March 14, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |

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A Tree …

Posted on January 25, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |


Thankfully, no loggers took it down, nor forest fires or earthquakes!  Just a quiet life in a California forest for all these years … 3,200! 

Not every tree has a nickname, but ‘The President’ has earned it. This giant sequoia stands at 247 feet tall & is estimated to be over 3,200 years old.  

Imagine, this tree was already 700 years old during the height of ancient Greece’s civilization and 1200 years old when Jesus lived while Rome was well into its rule of most of the western world and points beyond.  

The trunk of The President measures 27 feet across, with 2 needles from base to top. Because of its unbelievable size, this tree has never been photographed in its entirety, until now.National Geographic photographers have worked along with scientists to try and create the firstphoto that shows The President in all its glory. 

They had to climb the tree with pulleys and levers and took thousands of photos. Of those, they selected 126 and stitched them together to get this incredible portrait of The President. 

And here it is: The man standing near the trunk of the tree is a good indicator of the tree’s size. Incredible, isn’t it?

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The US – Much Maligned …

Posted on August 19, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers |

Robert Fredrikberg writes –

British policy in the 19th century was that its navy should be as large as the next two combined.

Air power is the most important thing these days. The US Air Force is vastly larger than anyone else’s.

So you might ask, who has the second largest air force? The second largest air force in the world is the air force of the US Navy! The Navy’s air force is larger than any other country’s whole air force.
And the US Army has a third air force on top of that. So, totally dominant, basically. And it could stand a little cutting and still be totally dominant.

A number of commentators have brought up other powers. It seems to me that they are missing the point. What other country could wage a several year long war on the other side of the planet? None.

There are only a few countries that could even send in helicopters to rescue a hostage on the other side of the planet – without help.

Of course the US doesn’t always win. Of course it’s wrong most times. That’s not really the point. And I’m not even necessarily saying the situation is good.

It’s just a fact.

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Oliver Wendel Holmes Sr …

Posted on August 9, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts, Personalities |

Image result for pics Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr was a jurist and Supreme Court Justice for 30 yrs. He is famous for his concise, pithy, prescient opinions and remains one of the most widely cited Supreme Court justices. He is the author of the phrase, “clear and present danger.” These extracts are from his thought

ATTITUDE is more important than heritage, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say; it is also more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.

Carve every word before you let it fall. A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used. Don’t be ‘consistent but be true.

Every event that a man would master must be mounted on the run, and no man ever caught the reins of a thought except as it galloped past him. Man’s mind, stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.

A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience. A new and valid idea is stronger than an army. The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are tending. The rule of joy and the law of duty seem to me all one.

Most of the things we do, we do for no better reason than that our fathers have done them or our neighbors do them, and the same is true of a larger part of what we think. People talk fundamentals and superlatives and then make some changes of detail.

To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man. Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at the touch, nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.

Beware how you take away hope from any human being.

The only prize much cared for by the powerful is power. Yet nothing is so commonplace that it has not the wish to be remarkable.

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Checks n Balances and a Great Soldier …

Posted on July 31, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, Personalities, Searching for Success |

Gen KM Bhimaya …

The founding fathers had carefully inserted this feature as a safeguard against the putative tyranny of one branch of the government over the other: the tyranny of the judicial branch over the legislative, for example.

This powerful feature has worked very effectively in the U.S. government for over 240 years. On some occasions, it has frustrated the President, and on others, it has infuriated the Congress. On reflection, however, it has helped moderate popular passion and judicial overreach.

The preceding paragraph is an over simplistic introduction of a basic feature that sometimes has had far reaching implications on the lives of the citizens and on the decision/law making processes of the government in power.

The “Checks and Balances” are exercised through the Presidential veto, the override of this veto, filibuster, amended bills to circumvent judicial interpretations, and so on.

The recent solitary negative vote by Senator John McCain (a former Presidential candidate) spelled the doom of the much-debated health care reform, that is, the plan that the Republicans crafted to repeal and replace the Obama care.

Three Republican senators crossed the aisle and voted against the bill that their party had curated diligently and assiduously. All of the dissenting senators proclaimed without hesitation that their loyalty was to their respective constituencies, not to the President.

Senator McCain’s vote was crucial in defeating the bill. Republicans had 52 senators and an additional casting vote of the Vice President in their favor. They could afford to lose two votes only. Eventually, they lost three, and with that, the bill.

Senator McCain is a war hero whose father and grand-father had been full Admirals in the U.S. Navy. He is the recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross, among others. He was a prisoner of war for over five years in Vietnam and had refused an offer of early repatriation with which his captors had tempted him for propaganda purposes.

Although diagnosed with brain cancer, he got a temporary discharge from the hospital to be able to participate in voting. He did not vote against this bill impulsively, but after consulting with the opposition, particularly with the Senate Minority leader.

In so doing, he saved medical coverage for millions of seniors with pre-existing conditions, and those who depended upon Medicaid for their survival.

PPS What about our Supreme Court”s Over Reach in the National Anthem Case as well as the Liquor Ban on Hotels near Highways?

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Viet Nam War – A Viet Namese tells McNamara where he went Wrong …

Posted on May 28, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, From a Services Career, Personalities, Searching for Success |

Image result for pics of robert mcnamara

This is Mr Xuân Thuỷ, Foreign Minister of North Vietnam (1963 to 1965), during a 1995 meeting with former US Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968, Robert S. McNamara.

“Mr. McNamara, You must never have read a history book. If you’d had, you’d know we weren’t pawns of the Chinese or the Russians.

McNamara, didn’t you know that? Don’t you understand that we have been fighting the Chinese for 1000 years? We were fighting for our independence.

And we would fight to the last man. And we were determined to do so. And no amount of bombing, no amount of U.S. pressure would ever have stopped us.” 

From – The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara:

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Gen Giap and the Media …

Posted on May 14, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, From a Services Career, Personalities |

General Vo Nguyen Giap. was a brilliant, highly respected leader of the North Vietnam military. He is credited with defeating the French and then the US. This quote from his memoirs is seen in the War Memorial in Hanoi:

‘”What we still don’t understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for a little longer, we were ready to surrender!  It was the same at the battle of TET. You defeated us!  We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media was helping us. They were causing more disruption in  erica  than we could on the battlefield. But for your media we were ready to surrender. You had won!'”

General Giap confirms what most Americans knew. The Vietnam war was not lost in Vietnam — it was lost in the US. A biased Media can cut the heart and destroy the will of a  Nation.

A truism: – Do not fear the enemy, for they can take only your life. Fear the media,  for they will distort your grasp of reality and destroy your honor.






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Possibility of US China War …

Posted on April 28, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, Chinese Wisdom |

These extracts are from a Speech by Nick Xenophon, an Australian Senator – 

Earlier Britain and then the USA was our trading partner and strategic ally. Now China is our largest two-way trading partner in goods and services ($150 billion), our largest export market ($86 billion) and our largest source of imports ($64 billion). And the integrated East Asian economic zone is the world’s fastest growing.

So, how do we negotiate the tension between our major security partner and our major trading partner?

China sees as vital to its security the string of archipelagos from northern Borneo to the Kuril Islands north-east of Japan. It has piled sand onto reefs in the South China Sea, creating seven new artificial islands, and has installed missile batteries and radar facilities, giving it effective control over sea and air traffic in the region.

Increased tension between the US and China seems inevitable, and Australia may well get dragged in.

Last year the RAND Corporation published a report called “War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable”.

It makes sobering reading. Their research team concluded that “war between the two countries (the US and China) could be intense, last a year or more, have no winner, and inflict huge losses and costs on both sides.”

China’s defensive military capabilities will continue to increase, and it will be able to inflict heavy losses on its opponents.

As both sides’ technologies and doctrine create a preference for striking first, the potential for miscalculation is high. Each side may believe that by striking first it can gain and retain the initiative, and by doing so it might be able to end a conflict quickly.

Yet this kind of thinking has uncomfortable parallels with Europe of a century ago, when the belligerents initiated their own military plans to attack before being attacked, and both sides believed that in doing so they would gain operational dominance and end the war swiftly. Back then, both sides had strong economic ties, which ‘experts’ said would prevent any conflict.

Furthermore, using the line and military strategy attributed to Sun Tzu, China may decide to “kill the chicken to scare the monkey” – sink an Australian vessel to warn off the United States Navy.

Are we truly ready for the consequences of a war?

Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, where there were relatively few casualties, this time we may see large numbers of body bags returning, or never returning at all, since they may have been sunk at sea.

Other consequences – Calls from the extreme political fringe for Chinese Australians to be interned in camps?  For India reinforcing its troops along its border with China? For Russia to be emboldened along its western border? For increased activity in the Middle East, as extremists there take advantage of US preoccupation in the South China Sea?

We already know what the invasion of Iraq unleashed. And back home the consequences would be catastrophic, both for our economy and society.

RAND said a US-China war could shrink China’s GDP by up to 35 per cent and the USA’s by up to 10 per cent. But given our much higher trade dependence on China and the region, a 30 per cent contraction would not be out of the question.

And demographically? Seeing Chinese Australians and Chinese students on our streets shows how integral they’ve become to our nation’s fabric. A war with China would rip Australia’s economy and society apart.

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South China Sea Dispute …

Posted on April 22, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, Chinese Wisdom, From a Services Career |

Dotted with small islands, reefs and shoals, the South China Sea is a crucial shipping route and home a messy territorial dispute that pits multiple countries against one another.

Tensions in the contest waters have ratcheted up since 2014 as China has turned sandbars into islands, equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems and warned US warships and aircraft to stay away from them. Adding fuel to this heady mix, the Trump administration looks set to take a much more confrontational stance toward Beijing than its predecessor — setting the stage for a potential showdown.
China bases its claims on the “nine-dash line” — its claimed territorial waters that extend hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan, abut its neighbors’ claims and, in some cases, encroach upon them.
The Paracel Islands (Xisha to Beijing) have been controlled by China since 1974, but they are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. Tensions flared in 2014 when China installed exploratory oil rigs in the vicinity.
The situation is more complicated in the Spratlys, which Beijing calls the Nansha islands. The archipelago consists of 100 smalls islands and reefs of which 45 are occupied by China, Malaysia, Vietnam or the Philippines. All of the islands are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while some of them (or nearby waters) are claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
What’s China been building?
In early 2014, China quietly began massive dredging operations centering on the seven reefs it controls in the Spratly Islands — Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef and Hughes Reef. According to the US, China has reclaimed more than 3,000 acres since the beginning of 2014.
On his 2015 trip to Washington, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China wouldn’t militarize the islands, but a December report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said China had installed comprehensive weapons systems on seven reefs that include anti-aircraft guns. Some have called the islands China’s “unsinkable aircraft carriers.”
Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan have also reclaimed land in the South China Sea, but their land grab — the US says approximately 100 acres over 45 years — is dwarfed by China’s massive, recent buildup. What’s the US view? It could be changing.
The US has traditionally taken no position on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea but has repeatedly asserted its right to freedom of navigation in the disputed waters, with the US military flying and sailing its assets close to the islands China controls.
Tillerson and Trump have not minced their words on the issue, suggesting that the State Department could take a more muscular approach. “Building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea. Its taking of territory that others lay claim to,” Tillerson said in his confirmation hearing.
“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also not going to be allowed.”
Blocking Chinese naval vessels from accessing South China Sea reefs would almost certainly trigger a US-China clash, says Ashley Townshend, a research fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
“More to the point: as many of the reefs are effectively a part of international waters, preventing Chinese ships from sailing to or near them would undermine the very freedom of navigation rules that the US has been trying to uphold,” he adds.
China warns US surveillance plan with CNN crew on board
China warns US surveillance plan with CNN crew on board 03:47         What could China do? As China stretches its muscles as a growing superpower, the South China Sea, rich in oil and gas reserves, has become a testing ground for whether the country will rise as part of the existing international order or outside it. China says both the Paracels and the Spratlys are an “integral part” of its territory, offering up maps that date back to the early 20th century.
It has repeatedly defended its right to build both civil and defensive facilities on the islands it controls. In December, a Chinese warship unlawfully seized an underwater drone from a US oceanographic vessel.
One new strategy could be to declare an air defense zone in the South China Sea, which would require all aircraft to file flight plans even if they don’t enter Chinese airspace.
Beijing has also ignored a landmark ruling last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which said there was no legal basis for China’s maritime claims. Even though they now have international law on their side, other claimants have done little to challenge Beijing. The Philippines, which originally brought the case, has pivoted towards Beijing under President Rodrigo Duterte.
Beijing’s response to Tillerson and Trump’s comments to date has been fairly muted, but some analysts think Beijing could soon test the new US commander in chief.
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