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APRIL 22, 2012 4:31PM

Choosing Your Battles When The Field Cannot Be Seen

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So called "wise" people would tell me to choose my battles carefully. Of course I would check these wise people out over time.  Much to my disappointment, none of them were smart enough or brave enough to fight any battles at all.

I also learned that real soldiers do not get to choose.  Soldiers fight their battles where ordered to and when ordered to.

Officers get to decide when ripe and good battles are called for. In fact, we were tested just to see how good we were at starting a battle and winning it. The corps is not a place for wimps who always avoid trouble by picking only the easy battles.

It is much better to see and know the field of battle, then to execute a smart strategy. Sometimes the battlefield is one of ideas, of doing the right thing, or of righting wrongs that have been done.

With many battles, there is no roadmap, there are no rules, there are few weapons, and there is little guidance except for experience, knowledge and wit.

There is also no choosing battles when enemies attack. There is  only defense, offense, or running away. Running away is only effective when the enemy cannot follow.

So this is my attempt to describe some fields of battle and some strategies for a nation going through menopause. Something must be done before we are all forced to live under the rule of entities who are neither elected nor answerable to the will of the people.


Academic bureaucracy gone mad has cost far too many students their high school degrees.

Most of us got our high school degrees after 4 years of serious work that was punctuated by our drama,  trauma, foolishness, fear and fun.

How many American students are now being denied their high school diplomas, the ability to work, and the ability to move on in life because bureaucrats decided to make it all about "testing"?

Students need to be awarded their high school degrees based on a combination of their grades in essential core courses, specialized courses, special projects, student activities, and their contributions to the community.

Testing should be prohibited as the sole or final determinant for awarding a high school degree.

Instead, let tests, the SAT's and other college tests determine who moves upward in the educational system, not who moves out or is pushed out of the educational system. 

And get the corporations out of designing school curriculums to serve themselves.  


The damage was done by ending the vocational high school degree:

It is stupid to think that all students can be forced into learning computers, science,  history, literature and advanced math.

Many "failing" students would show pure genius if they could study or learn skills where their needs and passions lead them. Without such options, far too many  students are more inclined to drop out or slack off.

With such options, many students may be convinced to do a better job in their core courses. 

It is a waste of our national assets to force the educational system to meet self serving, useless and transitory goals that are pushed by corporations, out of touch politicians, and academic elites. The students should come first and their needs are quite different.

Yes, American schools, like every other institution, have become beholden to the corporations, to politicians, and to their own elites at the expense of the final product: human beings who need to qualify for jobs once they graduate high school.

Where do those kids end up? In deep debt to for-profit 18 month schools. What a ripoff.

How many thousands of dollars are these kids borrowing just to learn medical reception? Auto mechanics? Basic secretarial and computer tech? Carpentry? What what?

There is no excuse for children to spend 12 years in one of the most expensive school systems in history, just to end up with neither a basic high school degree nor a marketable skill.

Young adults should have the option to be trained and certified for  productive jobs, without incurring debt, and  during the last 18 months of high school.


Keep ignoring the veterans benefits disgrace and two things will happen: the draft will be reinstated and the lefties will have to migrate to Canada. The chicken hawks will have a shortage of functional volunteers to fight their wars.

Don't worry. There will be more than enough desperate and undesireable people who will volunteer. Then we will continue with the same strategic and military success that we have been enjoying for the past 10 years.

Yes, that was sarcasm. 

And the veterans will take the losses, over there and back at home. 

The backlog in veterans claims processing  has stayed at about 900,000. This means that nothing has been done to clear the backlog.

How did almost one million veterans claims came to be so corruptly handled, mishandled and poorly handled by the VA? The VA is a huge, stubborn and arrogant agency that operates quite well in some divisions.

It must be understood that veterans are trained to be happy with what they get. Don't try to survey our satisfaction.

The improvements in the medical care system have made us very happy, even if the system is not one of optimal greatness or luxury. We must live with those improvements for the next 50 years, as we had to live with the last major set of improvements,  so the new features have to be good. 

The claims division has been a train wreck that operates poorly and with impunity. Even the courts and Congress have demonstrated that they have no power to order a successful fix.

Why are  self serving and opportunistic service organizations like AMVETS and Disabled American Veterans allowed to control so much of a government process? These organizations hug up with the VA, claim fake powers and abilities, and take in tons of donations.

But they have been doing little or nothing for their backlogged, denied, and mistreated veteran clients. Veterans should be able to remove their records from these organizations and to take their claims to county Veterans service officers who are not required to work with private groups. 

Because of Rumsfeld's wet dreams and  Bush era mismanagement,  combat veterans return home to die from diseases and injuries that are new to medicine. Many have contracted mental illnesses, been denied support, and have committed suicide after being turned away by the VA.

Even more war veterans have ended up in prison or have killed someone before they got any help. Neither the VA, nor the media, nor the government made an effort to track these lost veterans.

The massive claims backlog happened because of unprecedented rates of PTSD and new types of battlefield injuries.

The new injuries often come from advanced explosives and weapons that we or the U.S.S.R. handed over to past allies. Those former allies are apparently  our new enemies, so there we go.

Our mess is one of our own making, and it cannot be buried away. 

America has a contract with our veterans. The contract was broken and the debt is headed toward the collection agency. The 9th circuit court of appeals has already determined that the Veterans Administration is incompetently run, but was manipulated into reversing itself because the right wing judges on the bench take their marching orders from the Republican party. 

The veterans administration needs to clear the backlog and approve the claims within the next nine months, or the courts needs to step in and manage the agency.

Look for and sign petitions that will help to force the VA claims division to clean up its act. The VA claims division is an arrogant and stubborn fool, so a huge amount of public help is needed.


Child abuse and fake science that is harming children:

Using everything from extreme vegan diets to child torture and abuse, sadistic opportunists, racists, cultists, religious deviants, and and pseudo scientists are exposing children to irreparable harm.

Adult terrorism suspects get massive amounts of attention while children  in juvenile prison, religious and secular cults, and so called "boot camps" are pointedly ignored.

This has to stop.

A light needs to shine on our juvenile institutions, and aggressive attention needs to be paid to our American disgraces.

Suck it up, America and care more for our own children than we do for people who will not be gratified until they kill us all.
























The Supreme court wiped out a lot of the 4th amendment protection against improper search and seizure with its recent strip search ruling, yet few Americans are considering impeaching the Supreme Court justices who are pushing such unlawful, treasonous and extremist decisions.

Anyone can now be forced to strip naked and expose themselves, whether they are taken into custody for a criminal offense or not. One individual was stripped searched for not having an audible bell on his bicycle.

There is a guarantee that people of color, poor people or any of us without major political connections will suffer the worst abuses.  

The plaintiff in the strip search case was arrested on a warrant that had been issued for a fine that he had already paid. He was shipped from jail to jail and stripped searched twice. He spent six days in jail before a furious judge ordered his release.

He and all of the rest of us lost this case. 

The 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure must be restored.

Unwarranted and abusive "strip searches" must be outlawed at the state level.

Extremist supreme court judges and judges with chronic conflicts of interest must be impeached before they manage to take away the people's right to impeach them.












The war on women is declared and women are fighting back. There is no doubt that the recent anti family planning, anti contraceptive and anti abortion actions are virulently misogynistic.

No equal law was passed  requiring men to undergo a urethral scope procedure to look at their own sperm before they have vasectomies. Men are not prevented from buying Viagra and condoms with government funds.  

Of course, the  more sick 'n stupid state level laws will be tied up in court until they reach a Supreme Court  so corrupted that the fourth amendment has been stripped of its power.

In the end, the odds of getting rid of these malodorous legislative plots are not so good unless the miscreants are booted out of office.

Demand that the governments stay out of people's reproductive decisions, or remove the extremists from their elected positions at the local, state and national government levels.

Boycott the corporation-people who support the worst elected officials and candidates. 

Impeach and vote out those who would declare and carry out a war on women. Send a message that power comes from the majority of voters, not just the right wing voters or women who like being chattel.


In summary, these fields of battle are open right now. Nothing is simple. Everything is complex. But ignoring the serious threats to our nation and to our world is a good way to stay blissful...

...for a while.

After that, regret does nothing for anyone, and most of us won't want to hear about it.

Take an issue. Make a move. Do a thing. And, as always...


Don't hog it all!!!!


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Go for it... I do adult literacy as my thing... small changes but high rewards.
Fantastic! I write this crap and help others to start writing. They are small works, but those small works add up.
The VA said that approximately 18 veterans commit suicide every day. They are going to hire 1600 more psychiatric personnel, but there will be longer wait times.


Why did out apathetic populace allow this to happen? I remember high school shop class, and typing and home ec. Typing included shorthand and awards were handed out to the fastest people. My uncle taught wood shop, and auto shop class was always full.

My local high school actually tells the kids taking Spanish that they cannot speak it outside of class. No finding a native and practicing. They HAVE to learn proper, classical, Spanish. Like that will do them any good.

These are a lot of battles to fight. How do I get my non-voting sister to vote? She's in Texas and doesn't approve of what they're doing but won't vote to change it. Yet still claims the right to complain. She states that if you vote you CAN'T complain because you are culpable in the mess. I think she's ass-backwards.

This world is going so sci-fi. Dumb down the populace, make education a dream only for the wealthy and powerful so that the military is the only course open for a job, keep the VA slower than a slug in mud so that the veterans die off before they can tell their stories, reality TV game shows will only get more and more like the Running Man. Professional sports is already playing to the lower classes, keeping them enthralled and rooting for "their" team, as if the players give a hoot about them. Soon we'll be standing around barrels of fire in the street watching government propaganda on the big video screens and cheering on someone to their death and it will be normal.

There's my little burst of doom. I hope I'm wrong. I'll keep signing those petitions and voting for people that promise to help.
When you said "Soldiers fight their battles where ordered to and when ordered to," I thought only untrue if Nuremberg principles apply. And there's the rub. The soldier is also an human. Education is meant to create fulfilled humans, not be a tick on some checklist.

When I read your words "...denied their high school diplomas, the ability to work, and the ability to move on in life because bureaucrats decided to make it all about 'testing'" I couldn't help conjure the corollary, sorry amplification to that where the diploma is awarded as a self-esteem builder.

We all need to be able to finish the thought: "nobody should be denied an education and here's why." I'd say you've started the ball rolling nicely.
Phyllis: You wrote a good post and have said a lot about the battlefields. I remember leaving high school and getting a job in a week. I had the same: typing, filing, bookkeeping, dealing with people. There is no excuse for these kids not to have our chances.

I don't know why a grown person will not vote. Was there past voting trauma?

People just got sold a bill of goods with that testing. I was ticked off when the idea came up, but there was no way to stop the idiots. They didn't want to listen to anyone who disagreed with them.

Thanks, Toritto!
Thanks, Stacey: The battle is a major engagement of the whole war. Now, skirmishes, engagements, encounters and a host of other businesses is something else that comes up as it happens. I did a lot of skirmishing, that's for sure. Especially with those Italian men...they are like octopuses.
I was just outside prepping plants for a potentially frosty night, and all I could think was, "Look out, there's a middle aged white woman wearing a hoodie and carrying a leopard print sheet, some rocks, and a pitcher of water..."

Around here, though, that would make me normal.
You continue to be an inspiration. Good work Zuma!
Excellent theme, this concept of choosing your battles. One thing that strikes me as I read your blog is the great effort the corporate elites go to convince people to do nothing but sit home and consume.
Amen and nicely put out there. Myself I have been making every effort I can to help returning veterans work through the maze of disregard and never ending walls of incompetence that is the VA and the government. Former Vietnam Vets and friends of mine have been instrumental in obtaining 2 transitional and homeless shelters where Veterans only can get referrals for mental health and employment and also help for their families. But these are only short term where many need long term care and treatment. Education for youth has been a priority of my wife and myself which is sorely needed everywhere because of inaction by a useless Congress and an apathetic society. Thank you for this Zuma, we are sacrificing our future as a country by the inability to help our own. Vote all the useless bastards out of office before long because time is not on our society's side much longer. My best as always my Good Friend.....older/exasperated
Zuma, there are always many good intentions and publicly voiced propaganda about what we as a country are going to do, and it never gets done. Rights for the oppressed, people of color, women's rights and help for vets. It is all chit chat and bullshit to look good, to look like a proud American, to look like you really give a rat's ass about humanity. I am 64 and lived most of a lifetime to see what? An itsy bitsy change and help and fairness in this world. it is about money, clout, and power, any other of societies 'problems' are just seen as obstacles to be overlooked. My son is in the Army, 33 and going for his very 1st deployment to Afganistan in the fall. He has 5 kids, and if he gets hurt he is screwed, if he dies, she can make out. That is pathetic and that is just one small part of this.
Inspiring call(s) to action; well done.
Oh my gosh!

What a fantastic blog!!

My only complaint is that it covers just waaaaaaaay too much territory! I'd need to write a book - perhaps several books - to properly respond to this incredible post!

Without going into the specifics of what I agree wholeheartedly with, disagree somewhat/agree somewhat with, and what I think y0u need to do a lot more work on (or I do!), let me say that you are describing a pretty much completely dysfunctional society.

None of the things you've brought to our attention happen in a vacuum. A little thought tells anyone that the root causes of many of these difficulties are often similar; even when the problems are so very different. And ALL of those "causes" are societal in nature.

They are long term problems; they didn't begin a short time ago and they won't be changed a short time into the future. Not without a complete change of society; a change that reflects a total re-alignment of our social goals and our attitudes toward people and the value of individuals within the society.

We need to re-examine our ideas of what purpose we expect our society to serve; both for all of us living in that society as part of the "group" that it is, and for each of us living as an individual within that society.

Your essay makes it very clear that we're doing a lot of things wrong. We can NEVER begin to "get it right" until we decide where we want society to go and how it can get there. Without that understood common goal and the "rudder" of a method to achieve it, we're just another bit of flotsam being pushed around by forces beyond our control.

Thanks, all of you, for your kind words, smart words, and support. I am honored to be here.

Skypixeo is right, but he has no clue as to the magnitude...this is only half of what I wrote today! The other half is on another blog! There IS so much that is wrong. I like the concept of the rudder. There is no unifying and guiding force and we can thank the Republicans for polarizing us into such a mess. Makes it easier to pick the bones of us, I guess.

O/E I am proud of you and wish I could give your comment an EP!

Phyllis: I love how you end the doom with such a positive action. That is the best we can do.

Thanks for taking time to read and leave a kind comment: Sheila, and Annie.

Dr Stuart: Home, school, the courts, our laws: the corporations want us to consume, all right. And thanks a lot...you just triggered a very complicated new pathway to travel down.

Cindy: Prayers for you, your son and his family. I don't know what is on the minds of these kids who go to the front these days, but they are to be treated right, not like disposable tools. It's just sick.
[r] you address so much!!! thank you!!! well done. not often a blog makes me want to stand up and cheer while reading. best, libby
spent 2 yrs to finally convince VA that their other govt agency HAD sent me to RVN in 69. must admit that while the va is as missmanaged as all govt agencies, the attitudes of all the people i've dealt with were extremely helpfull.....a welcome change from....u know when....good writing...
Libby: Thanks!

Steel Breeze: Me too.. I ended up in the reserves. My reserve unit was activated for weeks. I had orders to the Gulf War, shots and everything...But still I'm not a wartime vet. This should be automated and we should be able to make them get the records, not us.