As a country we’ve been at war for the past 13 years. Despite that fact we’ve begun bombing yet another terrorist organization. Based on what we’ve heard, seen, and read, it truly is a horrific organization. They’ve beheaded journalists, innocent civilians, and their own people. These are truly horrific acts that snuff out any potential that person had to impact other’s lives. The great things they could or would have done has been destroyed because of a fanatic religious belief. To me, there’s nothing more abhorrent than this.

However, our country has little leverage to enact change in the Middle East. We’ve continually upset our Arab allies and have had contradictory policies depending on the country around intervening in any given civil war or revolution. This has caused some serious issues in the US’s considered reliability in any given conflict. Furthermore, it’s unclear who will win a given conflict and if they will possibly be an ally of ours once the conflict is over. ISIS likely has elements of some of those Syrian rebels that we helped.

Engaging with ISIS is basically confirmation that we will bomb any country that has any elements of an organization that has been deemed a terrorist organization by the executive branch. This is an expansion of what Bush claimed and was able to gain Congressional support through the Authorization of Military Force, however, it’s not entirely clear that it’s applicable in this situation.

The bombing further revealed, that while in this case we do have support of our Arab allies, our alliance with Israel has prevented them from acting in the manner that they would have to protect the Gaza strip. The US shouldn’t be involved in these land wars. We will only continue to lose our credibility in these parts of the world and will likely to continue creating new extremists, as according to the blow back theory. I don’t believe we should be bombing another country. We need to end this war and work through other means to address these issues. We’ve been at work for 13 years, without a true declaration of war.

Stupid laws, poor Decisions, and corruption

Uber and Lyft have been all over the news lately. They’ve been getting pushed out of city after city. They have had rulings go against them, like one in PIttsburgh today. The ironic thing is that the Judges were completely sympathetic to the people of Pittsburgh and Uber/Lyft, but had to rule in that way because of the way the law is written. I think it’s fair to say that the judges believe that if the people of Pittsburgh want these services they will have to work with the city council to have the commission responsible for Taxis change the rules so that Uber and Lyft are legal. Uber plans to running through the holiday weekend, in a similar fashion that they are in Austin, Texas where the services are also illegal.

The Supreme Court of the US has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in a case around if a privately held company has to pay for birth control based upon religious exceptions. However, there have been a lot of points indicating that there is hypocrisy in their approach. Through their 401(K) they own stocks in companies that manufacture birth control. They are willing to pay for vasectomies and vVagra, which seem incongruent with their beliefs. To be internally consistent Hobby Lobby should be against paying for vasectomies as well – the only difference between them and the Pill is that it is on the man not the woman. Should the results imply that Hobby Lobby must be internally consistent and be forced to divest those stocks and be prevented from paying for vasectomies? I’m not sure, but I think that there could likely be a lawsuit over that – forcing Hobby Lobby to explain the rationale of refusing to pay for one over the other. Which may have a different unintended consequence of hours getting cut to Wal-Mart levels and no one getting insurance except for salary employees.

Apparently a DOJ antitrust lawyer was invited to a big Comcast shindig for the Olympics. The only reason the person didn’t go was because of the rules put in place to prevent her from going. I think there are two ways to interpret this. First, she’s sincere and wants to go, but is aware that it could look bad for her and Comcast if she went. Second, she’s sincere and is saying that it would be corrupt if she went even though it did look like a lot of fun. I can see both sides, but I think it’s pretty fair when people assume this is part of the general corruption within the US government. Where the government has a revolving door between the regulated and regulators. How can you hope to not have general corruption though being a decent person. You get to know the people you’re working with and you want to help them because that’s what good people do. It’s the most likely type of corruption to happen – corruption through complicity.

All in all, these three stories don’t play well for the US being a shining light on the hill. We’ve seen the MIddle East blow up of late and there’s a lot of discussion as to why. One reason is that we’re trying to push democracy on people that aren’t ready for it, however, are we even ready for it? Each of these stories shows that we have broken laws that could be captured by business or other entities. I think that for a country to export their version of democracy they need to have their house in order and show how well the system can work. I liken it to process improvement. Porsche is one of the best examples around this – they became some of the best Lean consultants in the world through fixing all of their problems first. You need to build credibility and show you can execute, then you partner with a struggling supplier and build the change together. You cannot force it down their throat.

Our system is broken in many places and the past few weeks really highlights that.