Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Now, we see this and I can honestly say that it might be a glimpse into our future:
They are in the position of trying to backtrack. Maybe we can notice and stiffen a bit to prevent going down that path.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I discussed the need for grand coalition building last week. You’ve got to expand the tent and it isn’t done with demands for ideological purity. It particularly won’t work when your successful candidates very obviously don’t walk the walk once getting into office. You’ve got to build coalitions on what you offer, not on how bad the other guy might be…even if he and his party are demonstrably and obviously wrong. People might just be ready for a positive political posture. Sell ideas not criticism.
Abandon the morality-by-fiat model of government. There is nothing at all wrong with an agenda based on family values, a strong sense of morality and a demand for ethical behavior. But it would be more palatable to work toward those goals through a program of education, opportunity, reasonable choices and outreach than by draconian Constitutional amendments or restrictive legislation. In the short form; don’t outlaw abortion, make it a less preferable choice than the other alternatives available. This is a methodology which will attract rather than repel voters.
Get big on success and opportunity in America. Don’t try to out-Santa the other side. They are the party of despair and handouts. They are the party of welfare and food-stamps. They are the party of government make-work jobs and programs of misery abatement. Republicans should be the party of achievement, success and keeping the profits of your effort as a just reward. Free enterprise should be explained at every town hall meeting as the means to achieve the American dream. Rather than demonize success, profits and accomplishments, express the open possibility of everyone aspiring to similar status. Work hard, succeed and reap the profits. There may still remain in this nation a slice of the electorate that wants more for themselves and their families than a government stipend at the end of the month.
Redirect your priorities in Congress from bringing home the pork for your district to a nobler goal of doing what is right for the nation. Cut earmarks, stop kickbacks, eliminate waste and get serious about reducing the size of government. That is fundamental conservatism at its best and it doesn’t turn off any voter. Smaller government inevitably leads to lower taxes and who wouldn’t like that?
Take pride in your country. Contrary to what the mass media says, most of the world still respects us and aspires to be what we are. They may express disagreement with some of our policy choices, but they don’t have to bear the responsibility for the actions. We have fought wars and left our blood on lands around the world and in the process we have not established any empire. We don’t colonize; we attempt to provide a framework for democracy to thrive. Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails. But we’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. We have immense power and most of the world knows that we use it for good. They might be envious, but they don’t hate us. Be proud and stand up for the role of America in the world.
Be willing to let failures in the economy occur. There is little evidence to support a conclusion that government economic intervention is anything but a stop-gap. If a company cannot compete in a world market economy, let them fail. It is brutal and it may result in some workers hating you for it, but the country at large will be better off in the not-so-long run. You will gain voters by doing what is right.
These ideas aren’t new, but they’ve quite obviously been abandoned as the Republican Party and elected Republicans had opted over the last twenty years to wrestle with the pig. The old fighter pilot maxim is that you don’t do that:
You can’t win, you both get dirty and the pig loves it.
Monday, January 26, 2009
But, I learned about competition and winning or losing. I subscribe to that semi-articulate pitcher with the hots for Susan Sarandon in "Bull Durham" who said "winning is a whole lot better than losing."
When you play a game, you keep score. Someone will, by the very definition of the sport, win and someone will lose. We all acknowledge that running up the score on an out-classed opponent is an ungentlemanly thing to do. But sometimes it happens even if you are trying not to do it. Is it a better lesson for your players to "take a dive"?
By now, you've probably heard about the girl's basketball team in the Dallas area that lost 100-0. The losers have become heroes in this topsy-turvy world and the winners vilified. There is something wrong with that. Now this:
A World Upside Down
That's right, the winning coach has lost his job! My first reaction, is what about the loser? A guy who's drawing a paycheck to coach a team and gets his girls into that situation deserves to lose his job, not the winner who had little choice.
Notice that these are two very small, private girl's schools. The "teams" are about six or eight members total on each side. That's not even a good intra-mural squad let alone a league sport entry. The winning coach cautioned his girls to ease up after the first period. He put in all three of his subs. He called off the press. He offered the other coach a resignation opportunity. He asked the refs to keep the clock running to end the brutality. He lost his job.
I'm sorry, but I don't get it. Winning is GOOD! Losing is bad, but it is a part of life. Glorifying defeat and firing the winning coach is so "Alice-in-Wonderland" weird that I'm at a (relative) loss for words.
Where the hell is America going?
Everyone is aware of the law, but the problem is that it is damnably difficult to identify those outcomes beforehand. That's why they are "unintended." Ooops, I'm sorry. My bad.
So, now we've got the Big Three automakers, having returned from Washington where the successful CEOs of the unsuccessful companies, faced the prosecutorial blockheads of the Congress who hamstrung them in the first place, they've returned to Detroit with large bags of bailout money. Maybe there is hope for a recovery, maybe not. But there's some wiggle room to work on it.
Oh yeah, there are some strings attached. They've got to build a lot more cars that will cost too much, perform too poorly and erode on the dealer's lots. But, they will also be able to leverage some reasonable wage concessions out of the UAW and they will be able to balance the crap they've got to build with the saleable products they want to build and people want to buy.
Ready, Fire, Aim
Is the Messiah serious? We've got a major industry in trouble and we've given them a boatload of money to get out of it, but he can't foresee the consequence of this? Is he not the smartest man on the planet, possibly even exceeding Hillary in his brilliance? Does he not see a linkage; a cause and effect from this action?
Let me spell it out. Jumping CAFE standards from 27 to 35 MPG might be feel-good policy, but government mandates don't equal the necessary technology. If the market wants high efficiency vehicles, the demand will demonstrate that not government fiat. It won't help the situation.
And, if the states--California in the socialist, government-mandating lead--get to establish their own emission standards then the auto-makers who just thought they could go to work again will have to retool for different standards for different states. Certainly if CA does something, it will be de rigeur for other states to join the trend of environmental propriety and set their own standards. Have no doubt that they won't be compatible with each other.
Does it take a Harvard graduate to recognize that now is not the time for this?
I'm thinking impeachable offense already...In less than one week! Manifest incompetence in office.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
But, in a brief nod to those who live outside the Beltway traffic jams, they acknowledged that a lot of America is wide open spaces and not at all like either the east coast urban mess or the dense cities of Europe. We like trucks and vans and SUVs along with the occasional irrational muscle car or status-sedan which is bigger, faster and more luxurious than mere transportation. So, you build what the market wants, but you’ve got to also build a lot of itsy-bitsy cracker-boxes that get great mileage. Sell them at a loss or we’ll make you stop building profitable vehicles that the public wants.
Well, the vampires are back and this time they’re GREEN too! Check this review of the once dramatic and now pathetic Detroit Auto Show:
Like CAFE Only Stronger
Oh yeah! With oil below $40 a barrel and the potential to revitalize the car industry in America, the emphasis is on more vehicles that nobody is going to want. Would you spend $40K for a vehicle that plugs in and sucks your electric bill into the stratosphere as you sleep or would you rather buy a new Ford F-150 pick-em-up? Get this; it will go 40 miles before it needs recharging for eight hours. Yep, travel for half an hour then rest for eight.
Let’s be honest. It does have a little lawn-mower engine to power the onboard generator to charge the batteries, so you can get the thing home from the mall after shopping without an electric socket nearby. Read about your future here:
Plug It In, Plug It In
Doesn’t sound too bad does it? But, that’s marketing hype. Here’s an in-depth look:
More Than You Want to Know About It
Did you get the part about batteries from Asia and the cars assembled in Europe? That should really pump up the UAW in Detroit.
And will somebody tell me how all of that electrical consumption is going to work this summer in Dallas when the power grid is running at 120% of capacity already trying to keep up with air conditioning demands?
Oh yeah, it just keeps getting better. With a government like this one, who needs enemies?
Saturday, January 24, 2009
By extension then, when the left ponders their view of what they would like to see this nation become, they are a bit apprehensive with regard to an armed citizenry. It never seems to work out well for dictators and demagogues when folks have the means at their disposal to say, "Enough already!"
Take a couple of minutes to go here and view the video of testimony in the Senate committee considering the confirmation of Eric Holder as Attorney General:
Why Eric Holder Shouldn't Be AG
That's the good news. Now, rewind and notice the "rapt attention" of the committee members as the CSPAN camera gives a view of the committee at 3:10 into the video.
The metaphor of crying in the wilderness or pissing into the wind comes to mind. Only Leahy and Specter remain in their seats, and one is talking to a staffer while the other shuffles through his papers. Neither hears a damn thing and the rest of the committee is out for coffee.
This doesn't bode well for another of our freedoms.
You've got to agree that there is a lot of symbolism here.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Racism, Sexism, Skill-ism Established as Policy
You hardly need to get past the title. That's what the vaunted establishment guru named it himself. It isn't a paste-on from some Neo-Fascist conservative trying to make him look bad.
He wants the jobs which the Messiah is promising to "create" to not go to whites; not go to males; and heaven forbid that they should go to skilled workers. Nope. If the federal government is going to build us some bridges, then lets have it done by minority women who've no experience, training or skill in the task. Having people who know how to do it, actually doing it would be bad for the "stimulus."
Sorry, but I'm not about to cross that bridge if I ever come to it.
And, I don't feel the slightest bit stimulated.
But let’s take a moment to look at bigger picture reality. The maps on the nightly news paint the country into “blue” states and “red” states—places on the two coasts that are heavily indentified as liberal bastions and areas of the heartland that are viewed as redneck frontiers of independence, otherwise known as conservative. That might be the stereotypical view, but the truth is that every state has some liberals and some conservatives—folks that identify themselves that way. The proportions vary, but there are always some of the other color wherever you go.
Nationally we find that the nation is politically divided into thirds, not halves. It isn’t “either-or” with regard to liberal or conservative, but one third liberal, one third conservative and one third moderates or “independents.” If you listen to Rush Limbaugh, a moderate is someone to be reviled as unprincipled without ethical or moral grounding. I would rather view them as individuals who potentially might be either Republicans or Democrats depending upon the candidates at the forefront and the particular issues that trigger their involvement.
If one wishes to gain the Presidency and control of the governmental majority then one must garner all of the votes of your own party. That goes without saying. But please recognize that won’t get you elected. You ideally should try to whittle away some supporters of your opponent. But that is unlikely and still gets you no majority. You MUST attract the preponderance of those despised moderates. Without them, abandon all hope.
That is why it was ordained early in the election cycle that John McCain would lose. Rush and Hannity and Coulter and O’Reilly and the pantheon of conservative idols all sought a “true” conservative as the party standard-bearer. Unfortunately they couldn’t really find any of the candidates who were ideologically pure enough. Each had some redeeming qualities, but none were perfect. Each fell by the wayside as John McCain carried some base constituencies (like former military), and inexorably attracted independent voters who actually liked the idea of a conservative who wasn’t at the extreme right. McCain was palatable to them, but not to his own party hard-core.
Limbaugh went to the extreme of denouncing McCain as the nominee of those cursed moderates and the media, somehow ignoring the millions of voters in Republican primaries who checked McCain’s name. You simply can’t win, when you don’t carry all of your own party and you disdain the moderate voters you need. That is reality.
So, step two of the remedy for the Republican Party after tempering their dealings with their own members who aren’t ideologically perfect, is to then reopen the doors to the Big Tent. Create an agenda of moderation which appeals to the politically uncommitted middle class of America. Moderation isn’t unprincipled it is attainable and reasonable policy that preserves the baby in the bathwater until carefully separating the two without further damage. Give people a reason to support you and then welcome them when they do without demanding unconditional commitment to an agenda they may only support 60% of the time.
A majority in America requires building coalitions, not throwing up obstacles to support. That’s reality.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Imagine then, the opportunity to meet 48 of the 99 living MOH recipients in one location at one time. Would you pass it up?
Well, read this:
Choosing the Balls
Now, I'll be fair and acknowledge that there are a lot of competing events all seeking the new President's attention. But, for the last 56 years, this particular gathering has been worthy of a respectful visit. I've heard the accusation that the Messiah's ego couldn't quite stand up to the idea that he might not be the center of attention. But that can't be it. Every time I've met one of these folks I've found them to be self-effacing and humble--even though they have every right to be otherwise.
What was the reason? I can't imagine his opting to be elsewhere.
Building a New Majority or Not
It is inevitable that we should start to see efforts to rebuild the party. Part of those efforts will be to first define that elusive “what went wrong?” Until you understand how you went astray it is hopeless to think you can find your way out of the wilderness. How did it happen?
I’ve always noted that “conservative” basically means individual responsibility and as a corollary a severe distrust of government solutions to societal problems. The famous Reagan quote applies, “government isn’t the solution; it is the problem.” The free market, when allowed to operate in the classic Adam Smith model, is the control for avarice and greed. It is the protection for the consumer. It is the guarantor of quality and price. It is the reward for effort and the punishment for sloth. When allowed to operate unfettered, all can be hopeful for the future. If examined in contrast to a controlled (read Communist/Socialist) economy, it can be seen historically to be successful because it effectively eliminates the two-class structure upon which the envy that foments revolution feeds. The free market builds a middle class.
But, that basic conservatism got hijacked along the way. Suddenly we equated conservative with a far-reaching moralist agenda. In a perverse twist, the conservatives began to demand government action to resolve their moral questions. Rather than expect families and churches, schools and communities to instruct and demand proper behavior, they sought the easy solution of government control. What happened to freedom to make bad choices? What became of individual responsibility and consequences for bad behavior that rose from society not government? What happened to parenting and self-control? No problem, pass a law!
What followed was the natural outgrowth of any severe ideology: intolerance for straying from the true path. Consider again that Reagan dictum of the Eleventh Commandment—“never speak ill of another Republican.” How then does one rationalize the very concept of a RINO? At the core, you are speaking of an individual who identifies with the conservative party and opposes the liberal/socialist agenda, but does not totally embrace a particular stance on a moral issue. If you take a party forged from disparate elements to achieve a majority in order to prevail in elections, then you begin to discredit and undermine your own members, how can you succeed? In a day filled with quotes, recall that from the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “we must hang together or surely we will all hang separately.” What then of “RINO”?
There is certainly justification to purge those who fail to meet basic standards. Larry Craig, Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley meet that definition. Denounce them and oust them. But driving wedges between groups who don’t meet an arbitrary standard of ideological purity begins to create a resemblance among Republicans much like Sunni and Shi’a. You won’t win elections that way. You’ve got to focus on the enemy, not your friends.
Can the party cease and desist in this foolishness? Can they form a united front in which they develop a meaningful agenda of policy actions that America can understand and embrace? Can they define themselves beyond the elemental pro-life position which is always followed with “you are either with me or against me”? Or will they follow the model of the Democrats for the last eight years and do nothing in power, but continually characterize the opposition as something incompetent and evil? That way lies madness.
I’m not optimistic right now.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
But take a minute or two to drop in at New Paltz Journal and read this:
Insight Rarely Seen
He captures it so clearly. We won't be stormed at the gates. No Attila will need turning back by a Pope. No barbarians from the North will have breached the alpine barriers. Nope, we'll simply sip quietly from the cup of hemlock, huddled over a small table counting our food stamp allotment and waiting for the mail-carrier and his three equal opportunity Young American Job Corps assistants to deliver our welfare check.
The failure to read the history of the likes of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and the other revolutionaries of the failed experiments of the Twentieth Century while simultaneously embracing the basic concepts of their doctrine is what will do us in.
Been to see "Che" yet?
Then I thought it might be the back streets of Kabul or Fallujah where the twelfth century mentality doesn't yet recognize indoor plumbing or that 19th century invention, the trash can.
No, this is our nation's capital. This is the mall, the showplace of American democracy. A place I've always walked with reverence and awe for what the Founders had given us. From these hallowed grounds you can turn and see the Capital, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way there is the World War II Memorial and in the trees to the right of this view is The Wall. It's a place I've always respected.
Apparently there is less reverence and respect among the hope and change crowd. Or maybe this is the first step in the Obama job-creation program? High wage, low training federal jobs for the "working poor"? They make the mess then get paid a lot to clean it up--it may be a perpetual motion machine.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
"People are rooting for this guy."
That was Joe Scarborough, just now, on Obama.
I am not. A massive failure of the Obama program is essential, now, to any future prospects of American life. No socialist will ever be granted my approval, and that includes this one. All calls for "bi-partisan support" come from moral cowards -- human worms -- and must be met with "patriotism" to the ideal of freedom. I just heard some scandalous imbecile of a journalist saying that, "If your heart isn't swelling with patriotic pride today, then there is just something wrong with you."
This whole Roman decline freak show going on across the nation today is scaring the hell out of me. Bread will not stop the rioting and circuses will not quell the unrest. The bleating of inanities rising to crescendo today will not uncover the slide into socialism with nationalization of our industries and deterioration of our freedoms.
It is frightening to say, but it is necessary. The goals of the Obama administration, if they are pursued as they have been expressed, must be failures...abject failures. If the level of failure is too subtle to notice, the Republic is doomed and the grand experiment will have slipped from the pinnacle of our greatness.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Yep, with the Obama/Biden administration in charge, Reid/Pelosi running the candy store, and the likes of Durbin, Leahy, Dodd, Franks, etc. pontificating, the boys are back.
The Secret Service and White House ComSec folks are telling him he can’t be walking around with that thing in his pocket, triangulating his position, probing his files, subjecting his correspondence to intelligence and hacker probes. He, being the man-of-the-working-class (albeit one who never held a productive job), says he needs it to stay in touch. He refuses to be isolated like those nasty old Republicans before him who didn’t know the price of a half-gallon of milk and had never seen supermarket scanner checkout. He will keep his Blackberry to break free of the circle of yes-men who will surround him and get the “real” word from the street.
Commendable, but absurd!
Maybe if he can’t trust his most trusted advisors to give him the honest word off the street, he needs to get some new advisors. I’d be happy to volunteer, as long as I didn’t have to stand too close or associate with Hillary or Rahm. If he chooses yes-men to surround him, he’s not the genius he has been portrayed to be. (I’ve voiced suspicions on that score before, you may recall.)
And, the whole keeping-in-touch canard crumbles when you ask, who is going to have his number? Suppose Joe-the-Plumber is going to drop him a line?
Is he going to have a Facebook page? Can I be on his friends list? Will he be on mine? Will he Tweet me?
This is SOOOOOoooooo much about style and so little about substance, from the train trip to Washington to the wreath-laying at Arlington to the Lincoln Memorial speech and concert to the poet selection and the $150 million price tag. And it is only just beginning.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Jefferson and Locke Reviewed
That's pretty much the way I've been talking about it in classes for about twelve years now. Somehow there aren't many other folks who examine the words that way. Maybe one component of this failure to understand our freedoms and liberty comes from this background:
In Texas, where I now live and teach, to graduate from high school you must have had a course in American Government. Since my students are largely college freshmen, they've already had what I'm teaching yet they apparently know little or nothing. When asked about their previous exposure to American government and political process, they often will admit that they didn't learn much and hated the high school course.
My follow up question is simple, "Was the course taught by a coach?"
The answer is inevitably yes. Which tells us much about the emphasis in TX schools.
That's why this is becoming of concern:
Worthy of Concern?
This is starting to take on a life in the blogosphere. But, note particularly the second comment in that piece. The commentor offers chapter and verse on the pedigree of Ms Panetta that seems to indicate conclusively that she is NOT Leon Panetta's daughter.
I'd say that is pretty easy to prove or disprove in the real world which should dispell this before it gets out of hand. If she is the CIA Director-nominee's offspring, then this is an issue. If this campaign is a misguided load of disinformation, then it should be quelled quickly.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Much of the question revolves around the “nature or nurture” aspects of the issue. Is it a conscious behavioral choice, or is it a genetic predisposition that makes the orientation inevitable? I’ve always found it difficult to believe that someone would choose to face that life in a society which views it as largely abnormal. Just as I know I didn’t wake up one day and choose to be heterosexual, I don’t accept that others made any conscious choice in the matter either. At the bottom line (no pun intended) I’m not concerned as long as their choice doesn’t impact me. I’ve never been able to understand how someone’s sex partner could possible influence my marriage. I’ve never assumed that government prohibiting or recognizing the legality of a two-person union would have any impact either way on their behavior in the bedroom. My moral behavior is my choice and I neither impose my ethics on others nor allow them to impose on me. I guess I’m laissez-faire too.
But, what about the military? The percolating issue is “don’t ask, don’t tell.” President Obama is apparently poised to change the policy shortly after assuming the role of CinC. What’s my opinion? Frankly, Scarlett…
First, let’s acknowledge that most folks haven’t really examined what DA/DT means. Begin with the military proscription against homosexual behavior and the policy of involuntary separation of homosexuals. It still exists. But, if the command structure doesn’t ask someone to incriminate themselves, there is no reason to know or act on the fact. Don’t ask. And, if the individual can keep their mouth shut and not declare themselves as gay, they are not in jeopardy. Don’t tell. I don’t profess that I’m a flaming hetero, who likes voluptuous women with ample curves and insatiable appetites. You don’t profess what your particularl preferences are, and then we all get along.
Second, please note that unwelcome sexual advances are verboten regardless of the gender of the individuals. Heterosexuals can’t prey on subordinates or co-workers, so homosexuals have to keep their urges sublimated as well.
Third, recognize that some demographic slices of our society (and our military) retain strong prejudices against homosexuals. Since the military is an “up or out” system of rank, that means that a homosexual individual must advance in rank and responsibility and inevitably be placed in a leadership or supervisory position. If the prejudiced component of our military is too large to accept that leadership from a known homosexual, then order and discipline will be threatened. If the prejudiced percentage has reduced to a very small number, the problem of leadership goes away. The question is; have we reached that point sociologically in America?
Fourth, anyone who believes that homosexuals are not serving honorably, effectively, courageously and in leadership positions in our military is ignoring reality. This is true now, and has been true in the past. The issue is whether they disclose their orientation. If they don’t, they have no problem. If they do, under DA/DT they are out.
Now, I would be very apprehensive about a precipitous change in policy by the new administration. Lacking some evidence to support the fact that the military rank and file are ready to accept gays at all level and to follow them unquestioningly into battle, I would be reluctant to change a policy that fits the society. Responding to a vocal, but largely non-military constituency on this issue is political pandering of the highest order.
This issue will get a lot of talk-show yammering in the coming weeks. Try to filter out the emotion, the religious overlay, the moral posturing and the appeals to “fairness.” Take a pragmatic approach and see what solution you come up with.
I’m concluding that no action is currently the right action.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Chicago Not So Warm
Lower Electric Usage in New England
Georgia Peach Prices to Rise
Records Set Nationwide
No Cherry Blossoms for Inauguration
Swim Suit Sales Stagnant
I’m wondering if the Nobel committee can get their money back from Al? We haven’t heard much from him lately? How’s this warming crisis working out anyway? Did we solve it as quickly as we did $4-a-gallon gas prices?
Where will we be told the next chunk of falling sky came from, Chicken Littles?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Slate Finds Something New to Pillory Bush
As a wine lover who can only dream of having the budget to taste some of the great wines of the world, I’ve got to say this is a degree of inanity which defies even the most jaded views. The guy takes one final shot at the outgoing administration and offers advice from his own taste palette perspective on White House wines.
How many ways can we dismantle this puff piece? Let’s start with the mention of Thomas Jefferson’s famed cellar. Can we say that he was a personal collector rather than a micro-manager of state dinner gastronomy? His wine collection was noteworthy, but it wasn’t a function of his office.
Then, in this period of economic crisis, terrorist threat, sociological breakdown and political realignment, do we really want the President getting involved in the wine cellar? Is this guy serious about building a collection of 3000 bottles or so by the end of his first term? Does he have any idea what the turn-over rate would be for official functions? I’m betting that number flows through the White House program monthly. It’s meaningless.
Did you get that dig at Nixon? Yep, the accusation is that he was serving American swill to the guests while secretly getting Ch. Margaux poured into his own Styrofoam cup. But, at least the Slate thinker acknowledges that it was LBJ who established a policy of serving American wines exclusively at state dinners. In 1965, that might have been purely a function of Lyndon’s down-home BBQ and cornbread sort of tastes. For anyone to suggest, as the writer does, that this nationalistic behavior somehow leads to inferior wines at the executive dinner table today is ridiculous. Showcasing America’s wide ranging and very high quality wines is appropriate at state functions. There is no shortage of exceptional wines for all menus and from all varietals that are strictly domestic.
Give Sarkozy some fine California cabernets, cab/merlot blends and Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs and he’ll be blinking back tears as he sees the market for first growth Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundies eroded before his Gallic eyes. Slip Chancellor Merkel a bit of American Reisling and she’ll think it’s homeland Rheingau Auslese. Serve Berlusconi a glass or two of California Sangiovese and he won’t notice it doesn’t have the black rooster on the bottle neck. Give any of them some fine Zinfandel and they will wish they could grow it in their home country.
And, having grown up in Chicago I’m familiar with the district which Obama came from. I’ve got to suspect that neither from his current neighborhood nor from the experiences of his upbringing does he bring a lot of wine expertise to the job. He could appoint someone from the Clinton years to be his Wine Guru, provided he could get them through the vetting process. Maybe Gov. Blagojevich could recommend someone? Most of the folks from the South Side of Chi-town are into a “forty” in a brown paper bag or a pint of Thunderbird in the back pocket.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
There is a school for company grade officers (Lts and Capts) where principles of basic leadership are taught. Things like teamwork, goal-setting, low-level budgeting and elementals. Some time is spent on broadening of perspective so that all members of the service have a rudimentary insight into the “big picture.” Pilots get to learn about non-flying specialties in the Air Force and usually for the first time gain a feeling for how much the ground pounders despise them.
At the intermediate level there is a school for majors who have been identified as potential candidates for higher rank. Here they get an education in strategy and doctrine, roles and missions as well as some military views of international relations. The pyramid at this level gets quite narrow. While almost all officers get a chance to go to the lowest level school, the intermediate school opportunity reduces to only about 15% in year-long residence. Others are encouraged to take the course by correspondence.
When you get to the potential general officers that is the “war college” level. Each service has their own war college and there is a National War College which focuses on preparation for assignments to the Joint Chiefs Staff. This is high level thinking and research. The focus is on immediate global conditions and future planning. It deals with threat analysis and creative strategic responses. There are issues of force structure and equipage along with doctrinal concepts of operations. It is heavy duty thinking—a PhD in military leadership. The goal is learn from the current experience and prepare to fight the next war.
Or at least it should be.
When I was in the business there was an emphasis at the schools from day one on the concept of “intellectual freedom.” What that meant was that there should be no restrictions on ideas or the ability to express them freely in discussion. You could say outrageous things without fear of career repercussions. Lecturers could expound from any perspective on the presentation stages of the schools. Often they would use the devil’s advocate approach to trigger analytical thought and vigorous debate. Offer a contrarian argument, then see if you can defend it.
But, that was then and this is apparently an entirely different situation. The need for inclusiveness and the demands for political correctness have merged with the increasing careerist attitudes of the leadership to foster an environment of pseudo-intellectual egalitarianism that seems ill-suited to preparing a cadre of leaders to win wars. While it might be appropriate to give some consideration to the “Clash of Civilizations” and the role of Islam in the current situation, I don’t think we are well served by indoctrinating our warriors with sympathy for the poor downtrodden thugs of Hamas.
Here’s an example of this enemy. They don’t do quite as well against an organized military, but in the streets of their own slums against skinny guys in T-shirts, they are about as vicious as MS-13, although without the discipline or organization:
Maybe Pogo was right. Maybe the enemy is us.
A Culinary Delight
But, upon reading the piece I discover that it is objective reporting about life in fly-over country where the people know that "food" is often alive before showing up in a stryofoam, shrink-wrapped package in an antiseptic grocery mega-store display case. Occasionally "food" was foraging in your garden just last week for food of its own. Sometimes it looks like Bambi and Thumper or one of those characters from "Over the Hedge."
Regardless of the cuteness factor, it is nutritious, tasty and often a delicacy to be savored when one is lucky enough to get some. Yep. Americans are eating raccoons in the heartland. It is important to note, however that it is not because they have to, but because they want to. I wonder how that will play in Manhattan and San Francisco?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Weather Channel Accused of Pro-Weather Bias
Monday, January 12, 2009
Let's start by admitting that the war in the Middle East has been fought in the news media without cease-fire for decades. Let's also note that there is a cultural aspect of propaganda in the region that allows the most absurd statements to be accepted at face value EVEN WHEN THE VISUAL EVIDENCE POINTS TO THE CONTRARY. Remember Baghdad Bob speaking of victory as American M-1A tanks rolled by in the street behind him? Saying it, in the Middle East makes it so.
Yet, there is truth somewhere. The trick is knowing what is credible, what fits the behavior pattern, what makes sense based on the past.
That's why I first consider the source of this piece. Let's admit going in, that the Jerusalem Post is not an unbiased source. But, let's put the whole thing in the perspective of what we've seen in the Middle East before. Read it for yourself:
Weigh the Evidence
I've got little reason to doubt the story. Probably the only question I would be forced to ask is why the citizens of Gaza tolerate this loutish and cowardly behavior.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Yet, it is traditional that upon a change of administration the members of the executive branch above a certain level are all subject to the pleasure of the new incumbent. Typically, all previous appointees will submit a letter of resignation. This allows the new administration to either accept or ignore the letter.
We might recall a couple of short years ago that the Bush administration was subjected to investigation, derision and challenges when they dismissed a number of US Attorneys. Yes, all parties agreed that those individuals serve "at the pleasure of" the President. Yes, they all agreed that he could act, but the opposition sought to make it an issue. In large, they succeeded. The fact that the previous President had dismissed the entire cadre of US Attorneys upon assuming the office, this situation was somehow "different."
Well, here's an interesting situation:
What Are The Odds?
Here's a pretty strong indication that the dismissed individual in New Mexico was derelict in his prosecution. Clear grounds for dismissal. Now, we've got the Governor of the state under scrutiny such that he withdraws from consideration for a cabinet post. That creates a situation in which an unbiased, objective, US Attorney would seem to be a requirement. The Wall Street Journal appears to think so.
And, we've got an unusual situation in place. While President Bush removed six US Attorneys, he didn't make the appointment in New Mexico. The replacement was selected by a panel of federal judges. That clearly removes the stigma of being a tool of the previous administration.
Throw in that the evidence indicates that the current incumbent is competent, clearly uninterested in publicity at the expense of justice, and is well respected by the legal community of the state. About the only folks that don't support him are the criminals and law-breakers who run afoul of his efficient prosecutions. Add the last issue of the current investigation of the governor which seems inevitably to be destined to be dragged into the federal court system and you've got a compelling case to keep Mr. Fouratt in office.
The decision of Mr. Obama in this matter will go largely unnoticed across the country (unless the WSJ follows up on this), but it will certainly be indicative of the attitude of the new administration. I'm going to watch this closely.
How many folks could tell you the distinction in definition between an "assault" rifle, a semi-automatic and an automatic firearm? Have you ever heard a limp-wristed liberal twit ask, "how many guns do you really need?" The answer is properly, "as many as I want."
Read this item and see what you think:
How much can you trust a federal agency that can't count accurately with regard to how many firearms were seized? They apparently find a gun in a box, then assume that all other boxes also hold a gun. Maybe the guy should file for return of all 37 originally claimed weapons rather than the actual 16 involved?
Notice that only one weapon was loaded. That would mean all of the rest were in a reasonable condition for transportation.
Ask some questions about the incident. Was the weapon concealed on his person in violation of California law? Or was it simply in the vehicle as allowed by law? Was he inside or attempting to get inside the security zone? Or, was he simply on airport parking area property picking someone up with whatever he happened to have in his vehicle at the time?
I'd really like to know what this guy did and why the Feds opened up what was in his truck in the first place. Was there any probable cause involved, or is the Fourth Amendment as defunct in the People's Republic of Kalifornia as the Second?
"Papers, pleeze. You must show your papers..."
Friday, January 09, 2009
Or, you could have a situation in which a third party holds compelling authority over the disputants. Tired of the bickering, the mature, objective and powerful authority lays down the law forcing the the combatants to comply with a dictated solution. No problems there, either. Fail to comply and the third party enforces the decision.
Neither of those situations appear to exist with regard to Gaza. That's why this is so amazing:
UN Says: Make Them Obey Me
The UN, assuming some sort of mantle of pseudo-authority, votes in the Security Council to dictate a cease-fire to Israel and Hamas. Without preconditions of having accepted such authority of the toothless diplomats of Manhattan, the two contentious parties simply ignore the resolution. Surprised?
Among the fourteen members currently which voted to mandate behavior by the two parties are such as Burkina Faso (?), Libya, Vietnam, Croatia, Costa Rica and Uganda.
Wow, how could Israel resist such powerful world forces? And, where the hell is Burkina Faso?
The conclusion is that while Gaza/Hamas and Israel have "standing" in the court when it comes to reaching an agreement on their disputes, these other nations in particular and the UN in general have no valid jurisdiction. And they definitely have no enforcement authority.
Toward The Fully Self-Aware Termite Heap
The OODA loop of John Boyd applies to politics as well, but whereas Boyd applied it to air-to-air combat initially and then to military engagement generically, the principle is not constructive in the political context. It works to force the enemy to react too fast. He makes mistakes and you then achieve victory. In political discourse, the result of acting too precipitously is meltdown. Speeding up the OODA loop in government will bring down the house.
In my Introduction to Political Science course which I taught for several years there was a block on comparative governments that discussed various forms ranging from totalitarian/authoritarian to socialist, monarchy and both parliamentary and presidential systems of democratic republics. Naturally the tenor was that democracy is "good"...or at least as Franklin said, "the worst form, but better than any other."
The rationale for that conclusion was that there is an inherent belief that democracy will be responsive to the people. Taken at face value, that is good. But, if we examine that concept more critically, we should quickly conclude that responding to what the people want is just like giving children only the candy they want and no nutritious food. What they want is not necessarily what is good for them or their development.
Tempering the responsiveness of democracy is the process of pluralistic politics. Not all of us want the same thing at the same time usually. So, we form parties and voting blocs, interest groups and pressure triangles to build concensus and coalitions to establish policies tempered by reality and judgment. Then democracy is reasonably good. At least it is more good than bad.
Now, as Billy points out, the OODA loop of modern technology allows the great unwashed to whimper and whine about what candy they want for dinner and the power-brokers dispense it immediately. As the pandering accelerates, the sugar in the candy will inevitably have to be reduced. And as the children come off their sugar high of government handouts, the need to respond faster and faster to the demands of the spoiled little brats will increase. To maintain power, the government will become increasingly dictatorial and autocratic. All because the OODA loop has inevitably shortened the response time. Mature and rationale decision-making goes by the way, subordinated to the simple need to maintain power.
It works in one-v-one with guns, but it simply sucks in politics.
Breitbart Visits Palin
Now, if you are too lazy to read his comments and view the viddie there, here it is:
Why am I not surprised that she is really what she appeared to be? More importantly, why were the MSM so deathly afraid of this sincere, real person?
The answers are a bit scary, aren't they?
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Here's a perspective on the conflict from the Wall Street Journal opinion page:
Now, let's acknowledge that there is an Israeli election in a few short weeks and that Netanyahu is a candidate for Prime Minister. Let's also admit that he's on the hawkish team.
But, can anyone refute the basic facts of his statements? Did Israel voluntarily give up a chunk of countryside and coastline in a good faith movement to gain peace? Did the people of Gaza elect a known terrorist faction as their representative government? Have Hamas indiscriminately fired unguided rockets regularly and frequently into Israel resulting in death and destruction of innocent civilians? Is Hamas a militant proxy for Iran, a government vocally dedicated to the extermination of Israel and not representative of either Arab interests or Palestinians? Is there a limit to tolerance for such violence?
When the recipient of the terrorist activity gets tired of being bullied and then stands up to take charge of the situation, what rational individual can whine about proportionality?
If there is one concept in this entire muddled philosophical world which can prompt me to suspend discussion and resort to administering an ass-kicking, it is the idea of proportional application of military power.
Once military power is applied, it is never a slap me/slap you game. It is kill people in vast quantities and break all of their stuff so that they have lost all will and all means to resist.
As the Red Baron might have said, "anything else is rubbish."
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
A couple of days ago I wrote about IL Governor Blagojevich and his authority to do what his state has written into law as a power of the governor of the state. It seems so simple and irrefutable; the fact that it should be the source of a controversy should be the discussion, not the exercise of the power itself. Consider these easily stipulated facts:
- Blago is the Governor.
- Blago is empowered to appoint to fill vacancies to the US Senate seats from Illinois.
- A vacancy exists because former US Senator Obama gave up the job.
- The IL legislature has not acted to modify the power of the governor nor is he under impeachment.
QED: Blago can appoint a US Senator to represent his state---whether the media, Harry Reid, the unwashed illiterates of America or Patrick Fitzgerald like it or not.
The US Constitution which holds at least a modicum of residual power despite the convolutions of the Supreme Court over 220 years specifies that the Houses of the legislature can refuse to seat a member because of failure to meet the clear criteria of the Constitution for the office. Roland Burris, Blago’s appointee meets the criteria. He’s old enough, resides where necessary and is a citizen. No excuses there.
The minor bureaucratic kerfluffle over the lack of signature by the Sec. State of IL on the appointment order is meaningless. The Secretary’s role in state government is to conduct ELECTIONs in accordance with the state constitution. The results of those elections are required to be certified by the Secretary as testament that they were properly conducted and in certification that the results are accurate. A gubernatorial appointment is not an election. While the signature block may be present on the form, it really has no functionality in this context. No justification there.
Somehow, after the very base theater in the streets of our capitol yesterday, someone who can read, write and rationally apply facts—even those with which he might be unhappy—has finally gotten the ear of the dense Senator from Nevada and explained all of this to him. And, now we’ve got Burris admitted to the chamber where he can assume a career of mediocrity for the next two years. We shall all watch expectantly for the genesis of statesmanship in that fertile ground.
And, one last thing.
Can someone explain to me what Blago did wrong on this whole matter? (I don’t know what Fitzgerald has in the indictment—maybe he’s got some left-over innuendoes that weren’t used against Scooter Libby.) The big blowup was about the governor discussing his appointment authority, nothing much more that I can see.
We could start stipulating here as well:
- Is the appointment of a US Senate a power plum which is quite sweet?
- Should it be simply handed out to someone merely for the asking/pleading?
- Would it be prudent to weigh what long term benefits it might have for the Guv’s future?
- Will our party’s agenda and power be enhanced by someone Obama wants, someone Dick Daley wants, or someone the Guv wants?
Should it maybe be a placeholder so that Blago might seek the seat in two years?
None of those questions are unreasonable or illegal. You can bet that every single state with a similar situation has a governor asking those questions. Simply because Blago lapsed into the Chicago “Organization” vernacular doesn’t mean it was illegal or unethical—merely crude.
I can hardly wait for the next installments on this from Minnesota and New York. And ain’t the Cabinet getting interesting: bye-bye Bill Richardson, hello Leon Panetta, and won’t Sanjay Gupta make Jocelyn Elders look like Louis Pasteur?
Monday, January 05, 2009
Is Gaza a viable society? I think a good argument could be made that a concentration of over a million people, totally dependent upon external aid sources with more than 50% unemployment is probably not. Was Gaza established by the nation-building efforts of Hamas? Nope, it was established in its current form by voluntary ceding of the territory by Israel. Hard to view them as the villains then. Is Gaza attempting to improve their lot by hard work and constructive effort? Nope, they are dedicated to creating suicide bombers, launching unguided rockets into the general area of populated cities in Israel and hopefully acquiring longer-range, more powerful destructive devices in the near future. To raise themselves up? Nope. To bring Israel down.
Does Hamas have a “real” military? Any aircraft? Helicopters? Tanks? Uniforms? Do they target military installations or simply operate a campaign of urban terror? The answers are obvious. If they then choose to tweak the nose of a very capable national military structure and expect impunity, one would have to question the rationality of the leadership. Now they are getting their butts kicked.
Does the world applaud the comeuppance? Read this piece from the UK Guardian carefully:
The Guardian Sticks Its Nose In
My simple reaction is who the hell do they think they are?
Mr. Obama has absolutely NO foreign policy position in this country until January 21st. Period! None! What he thinks is important but irrelevant today.
If this Brit Twit thinks that Obama is going to stand up in support of poor, innocent, Hamas against mean ol’ Israel he is totally addled. There is no justification in any kind of moral universe for the US government under any circumstances regardless of how we would like to curry favor with the Arab world to favor Hamas. There is ample evidence that the civilized Arab world views Hamas as beyond the pale, even at the low standard for Islamic nations.
Yet, we’ve got a supposedly reputable newspaper like The Guardian publishing such mindless twaddle and inevitably we’ve got a couple of hundred thousand readers sucking up the Kool-Aid. Let us hope they are not waiting breathlessly for the Messiah to take office and then embrace the terrorists as the hope for a new Middle East peace process.
If that should happen, we’re in very deep kimchi.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
He considers it for a moment and then announces, "I'll do..." whatever regardless of the consequences. Rimshot, canned laughter, shot of audience in coats, ties and women with corsages roaring....
Now, consider this real life example of a mean widdle kid in a great big adult body with a lot of responsiblity:
Did you catch some of that stuff?
Nizar Rayan, his four wives and 10 of his children were all killed by in an Israeli air strike on his home after he ignored warnings they should go into hiding.
Wasn't it nice of the IAF to warn him before excising this wart from the butt of humanity? I wonder if he had a family meeting to consider whether his wives and kids wanted to become symbols?
Israel's military says the homes of Hamas leaders are being used to store missiles and other weapons, making them a legitimate target.
Ahhh, honey #1, darling #2, sweetie #3 and you, bimbo #4, could you move some of that falafel in the basement and let me store some stuff down there? And, by the way, don't let the kids smoke there any more!
Rayan, an influential preacher, had previously denied Israel's existence and was a known mentor of suicide bombers.
Quite the minister, heh? Makes Jeremiah Wright look positively benevolent in comparison. I can only imagine some of his sermons.
He even sent one of his sons on an October 2001 suicide mission that killed two Israeli settlers in Gaza.
I guess that saves the cost of college expenses.
There's more background on this piece of detritus, but I've got to say I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep over his demise.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
The elephant is your fear and your courage and the battle which they fight in your mind when you are faced with combat. You get to choose whether to fight for what you have said you believe in or whether you abandon the field. Make no mistake, this isn’t about philosophical or political battles, this is about real guns, bullets and dying. Some men can’t deal with the elephant and some seem to have been born in the jungle among the beasts, living a life that is neither awed by their power nor intimidated by their potential. Karl Rove writes about encountering some of those folks:
Sleep Well, Rough Men Stand Ready
The effete are reluctant to acknowledge that such folks exist, let alone to admit that we as a free society are dependent upon them. They look down their patrician, Ivy League noses at such brutes and view them as a manifestation of society’s failures rather than the guardians of our way of life. They could not do what these guys do, therefore rather than respecting it, they demean it as some sort of Neanderthal behavior. In the process they ignore the education, intellect, training, patriotism and dedication of the profession. Pity the fools.
Can we be surprised at this?
Is there any evidence on the record to indicate that the gentleman in question, who will be making decisions so critical to these folks has any appreciation at all for what they do on our behalf? Do we see him as leaning politically toward those who support them or coming down heavily on the side of those philosophically opposed to the realities of life in our global struggle? I think that it is going to take a considerable length of time before those who have seen the elephant will be able to have confidence in the administration of the donkey.
Friday, January 02, 2009
The American Thinker offers a synopsis of ongoing events and compares it to a humor column that might have been written by Dave Barry:
Only in Chicago Thinking
What strikes me in today's iteration of the tale is the convolutions of racial politics in America. How can this nation have just elected a demonstrably African-American president and still be considered in anyone's judgment as racist? How can we have a Congressional Black Caucus and be accused of discrimination against blacks? How can we have African-American cabinet members and Supreme Court justices and be viewed as prejudiced? How can we have US Senators come and go, some black, some white, some brown and some Asian and still cling to the idea that any sort of criterion for membership in that august body is ethnically dependent?
Possibly the most basic question related to the issue is, "does it take someone of my race to effectively and justly represent me?" I think we've had more than enough evidence to conclude objectively that the issue is irrelevant.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Just a Commercial Link
Did you get that? We've got this chunk of hell that Israel owned and shed blood for and which they voluntarily ceded to the Palestinians in an attempt to gain some semblance of security. Gaza is a perfect example of the sort of failure which the Arafat legacy has meant. More than 50% of the population is totally dependent upon welfare--government subsistence. The government, of course, produces nothing but is totally dependent upon aid from other nations. The whole thing generates what Ross Perot would call a "giant sucking sound."
Do the leadership of first the PLO, then Fatah, and now Hamas seek to build a flourishing economy and raise the people to a reasonable level of society? Nope, they lob rockets into Israel, haphazardly killing innocents. Why? They have no rational justification other than the whining about their pathetic state. And, every so often, Israel gets tired of absorbing this crap and kicks some ass.
Predictably then, the MSM starts to sympathize with the Palestinians who brought the punishment on themselves and failed to exercise any restraint. It is those Zionist agressors, of course.
Miles of tunnels, used to undermine the security of Israel, bring in weapons and provide a route for terrorists get destroyed. And, the AP paints it as a bustling commericial thoroughfare providing food for the Palestinian children!
Gimme a break!