Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Bit of Boogie

You don't hear much like this anymore:

The Inevitable Race Card

Consider this excerpt from a Presidential speech:

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.


I like that concept. It elaborates only slightly on the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, but it isn't from one of his speeches--he reputedly hated public speaking--nor is it from his writings. Rather it came from Calvin Coolidge.

Now consider this well-reasoned piece from PowerLine:

The Ethnicity Is the Foundation of the Qualification

We have watched the evolution of the race debate in this country from the foundational principle of equality which served us reasonably well even unto Martin Luther King's vision of "being judged on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin," to the convoluted application of equal opportunity in affirmative action.

The principle of correcting a society which harbored discrimination by blatantly enforcing racial preferences is overwhelming everything we do. Once we start with the concept that a body of nine must somehow reflect proportionality of a population of 300 million we are on an impossible slope. Denial of access based on race or gender would be wrong, but mandating that seats on that very limited body be allocated in quotas is even more egregious. We've had women on the court now, but simply because a woman leaves, does not mean that has become a female seat on the bench. We've had African-Americans, but when Clarence Thomas leaves the court it should not be assumed that the next justice must be black. There should be no restriction on a Hispanic justice nor on a member of any other minority, however defined. But there should not be an expectation either.

A Latina should have as much opportunity to rise to the federal bench as any other qualified individual. But, at its most basic, the simple characteristic of heritage and gender don't predispose someone for the position. When the individual seems to have historically taken that identity and described it as a unique qualifier for the job should sound alarms in even the most egalitarian.

You may recall the Supreme Court rulings on the University of Michigan--one covering the law school and the other dealing with the undergraduate university. (University of Michigan) Sandra Day O'Connor managed to mangle the law into having it both ways on offering compensating evaluation criteria for admissions that benefited race. There is little doubt that the issue is not resolved. In fact, O'Connor herself suggested that her opinion was only temporarily relevant and should be reversed at some future, more diverse time.

So, how do we think a Justice Sotomayor might rule on extra credit for skin color in the future? Will equality be trumped by empathy?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Insightful Opinion

Here are some quotes that could have come from a right-wing blog in the USA. I could have written them myself, but take a look and then see where they really came from:

First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights.


Can't find much to disagree with in that. Or how about here:

Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another.


I've got to say, even an agnostic like me noticed that. In fact it could be a major contributing factor to my agnosticism. But then there is the blatant power grab and nationalization thing as well:

Then came Barack Obama's command that GM's (General Motor) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of "pure" free markets, the American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will.


There is a lot more of this delicious stuff so peruse it in its entirety. From a source we all should remember, Pravda, we get this penetrating analysis of what is occurring in America:

The Massive Slide into Marxism

Those folks know a little bit about it.

Comments

When your readership is small, as is the case with Thundertales, you don't need to worry about the sophomoric, ill-reasoned drivel that tends to infest more widely known blogs. But, you quickly encounter it when you go roaming through the b'osphere.

Today, over at New Paltz, we get a philosophical tour of the owner's approach and a pithy comment on why he keeps his comments section closed:

Summing up, on the comments policy, opening that door is our call. We have been involved, over many years, in massive and rigorous defense of our points of view, and we are sufficiently familiar with the sloppy, confused, and disjointed thought to which the postmodern American university graduate feels entitled, and we are reluctant to have that sitting around here at the bottom of our posts like rusted out vehicles parked in the front yard.


I don't think I could have expressed it as clearly myself. My comments are open, but the paucity of interaction protects us all from the garbage that constitutes discourse in modern America.

Read the whole thing over at NPJ:

On life, politics, morality and economics--among other things.

Saturday Morning Rocker

Here's Marilyn Manson done right:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Of Course We Understand

Why does this action by the Attorney General for the Obama administration not surprise me?

We Ain't Yo Momma's Klan, Honky

Could these guys be groomed as the initial cadre for the Obama Civilian Defense Force? Remember that proposal? "Equal in manpower and weaponry to the military..."

Why am I flashing on brown shirts and hobnail boots?

Playing Grown-Up

Peggy Noonan offers some excellent insight into what the Republicans in the Senate should do about Sotomayor. Notably it isn't what we've been hearing and reading in the conservative media.

Talking Points and Cautions

Mature and probing questions regarding the judges background on the bench will reap more support for the future than the thuggish behavior we've come to expect from our most esteemed legislators. It isn't about her ethnicity or gender, it isn't about her empathy or sympathy. It is essentially about her judicial reasoning.

If her legal rationale stands up to scrutiny then she should be confirmed. If it fails, then support for her will erode and even Democrats will be forced to respond.

I'm thinking that this approach, suggested by Ms Noonan, has merit.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Candy-Gram For Kim Jong-Il

Justice is Myopic

The furor is crescendoing over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. It didn't take more than an hour after the annoucement before the blogs and talk radio were filled with snippets and factoids about her unsuitability. I was sympathetic to the noise.

Probably the most damning quotation was the now familiar one about decisions by a Hispanic woman being hopefully wiser than those of a white male. Being a white male, that nudged my outrage meter up a notch. If I were in a suit against a Latina and standing before Judge Sotomayor, how would I feel? Would her wisdom and empathy be antagonistic to my whiteness and hormonal differences? I want justice not social redress of implied grievances.

That's why this piece got through to me:

The Context of the Statement

The facts to keep in mind here are first that the ideological balance of the court will not shift based on this appointment. Souter might have been appointed by a Republican but his consistent behavior on the bench placed him on the liberal side of the court's decisions. This is not the appointment to go to the mat for. There will be little difference in the ideology of Supreme Court opinions.

And, second, there aren't enough Republicans in the senate to raise a credible threat of a filibuster to stop the appointment nor is there any possibility of a defeat on a floor vote.

Maybe next time, after a 2010 election in which the GOP offers some viable candidates in a renewed effort at conservativism.

A Look at the Future

On day one of my government classes I ask the foundation question, "What is politics?"

I do so because it is a term that everyone uses and many do not understand. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science and probably couldn't have told you coherently an answer to that question until I was halfway through graduate school. The answer is: politics is PROCESS.

It is the method by which society does five critical things.

  • Choose its leaders
  • Make its laws
  • Allocate its resources
  • Set its priorities
  • Adjudicate its disputes



It doesn't matter if it is a monarchy, a democracy, a constitutional republic or even a dictatorship. The methodology of those actions is process and that is politics.

With that awareness, read this item and then consider the future:

Actions Will Have Consequences

That is a clear example of what happens when your government seizes private assets under the guise of economic necessity and then proceeds to intervene in the managment.

It is also an example of how process functions in a dictatorship to maintain control. If you have a business and you wish to keep it, you must maintain the favor of the leadership. If you conspicuously express your political opposition, guess what happens? Your Chrysler dealership, despite being successful, becomes defined as a drag on the corporation and you are roadkill on the economic highway.

Look for more of the same coming from GM, mortgage companies, banks and at a doctor's office near you. After that, stand by for utilities, grocery stores, information services and broadcasting. Be sure to get on record as being supportive of the Messiah or you could be out of business next year.

The Gateway Pundit is continuing to research and paint a bigger picture of this:

A Trend Not an Anecdote

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Never Volunteer Part II

“Get on the ground! Face down.” Dick and I drop to our knees and lay out on the grass. I’m briefly thankful the snow isn’t any deeper yet. We are searched and lose our hunting knives to our captor. He wears a ski mask and is about the size of an average American football player. He’s got a 9mm Beretta in his hand and he definitely knows what he’s doing.

When we’ve been searched he tells us to stand and then whistles softly toward the bushes. A short, sprightly figure emerges wearing classic Tyrolean clothing with a gray goatee and bearing a mountain wanderstuck. He makes me think of Heidi’s grandfather from the classic movie. In short order it becomes apparent that he is the boss. He tells the big guy to blindfold us and move out. We’re given bags for our heads and with our rucksacks slung over our shoulders told to put a hand on the shoulder of the man in front of us and follow. We shuffle what may be half a mile through the woods in the gathering snow. There’s a smell of wood smoke becoming stronger.

A stairway, apparently, then a porch landing and creaking hinges mark a doorway. A glow of lanterns permeates the burlap of the bag over my head. We shuffle inside where it is much warmer. The bags are removed and we see the inside of a mountain lodge. A large stone fireplace has been well stoked. A dining table and chairs at one end, more furniture and two bunk beds at the other then a narrow stairway up to a loft. Dick and I are each seated on a wooden chair at the far end of the room from the fire and the table. A third man works at the table where a car battery is attached to what is apparently a telegraph key and a crystal set. He is unpacking a briefcase.

I’m dragged to the table and asked my name and rank. The third man takes my right hand and it becomes obvious that he is going to fingerprint me. He fills out a card with my name and then turns to Dick to repeat the process. Nothing more is said. The clack of the telegraph key about fifteen minutes later indicates communication with someone somewhere. Reply takes about an hour, during which time we are isolated and largely ignored.

After another half hour, there is a hurried conference over the table. They look at me and then approach. “What was your first car?” It is the first of five questions kept on file from my E&E card. That classified card is the backup identification process for all combat crews to insure the enemy doesn’t attempt to decoy rescue or aid efforts by using someone’s name. The questions are highly classified and only to be used once.

“A ’58 Olds convertible.” It’s the right answer. We are now accepted. Our fingerprints had been coded and the codes transmitted by Morse over a simple carrier wave radio. Mine was smudged and two of the five codes did not match the record on file. The backup questions had done their job. We are welcomed to the fire and offered a shot of grappa. I’d always thought grappa was a lot like kerosene, but not as good. After a week in the mountains, this is the finest cognac. Some bread and cheese make up the rest of the meal. After eating we are directed upstairs where our bunks have been prepared, each with our rucksack on it and a Playboy centerfold unfurled to offer us sweet dreams.

Morning dawns with half a meter of snow outside the lodge. The fire is down to embers and Heidi’s grandfather is already donning his mountain jacket. He signals us to get ready. The football player, the telegraph guy, Dick and I fall into trail behind the old man as he breaks the trail for the youngsters. He hardly seems winded as we huff and puff along behind him. No blindfold today for our journey through the forest. Five kilometers and we emerge into a pasture with another white stucco mountain lodge. This one once supported a small herd of sheep and possibly a crop or two in a small field. Smoke drifts from the chimney and a man with wrap-around sun glasses in an unlikely black trench coat stands in the doorway smoking a Parodi cigar. He looks like an extra from a Fellini movie. He waves to our guide.

As we enter the lodge, we are greeted by two more of our evader group, a pair of Naval aviators from the Nimitz. Several more Italians are in the main room. The sailors show Dick and I to a bunk room with eight beds in a row. We grab two and dump our packs. The Italians are gathered before the fireplace animatedly discussing the storm. Behind them on a table next to the wall is a what apparently is a UHF radio with microphone and speaker. It hums and crackles then rattles in Italian. A conversation on the weather is going on. A few hours later two more American evaders are brought in. From a box on the table, one of the Italians dispenses civilian clothing to us. We are outfitted in Levis and black turtlenecks. Flight suits go into our rucksacks. It’s becoming very Bond-ish.

Food is Italian combat field rations. We joke that this is why they may have lost the war. The food is excellent, but they forego considerations of dimensions and weight in favor of traditional Italian cuisine. A shoe-box sized container spills out a bottle of sparkling water and a half-liter of red wine, a small baquette apparently only a few days old, a small wedge of cheese, a link of salami, a pack of biscotti and a small can of pasta in sauce that puts Chef Boyardee to shame. If we are to be evaders, then this is the way to do it. Things are looking up.

Three days pass in the lodge. The storm breaks, the sun shines and we gather in the field to construct a ten foot tall snow-woman with Rubensque hips and tremendous breasts. Mid-day on the second day an Italian Air Force helicopter arrives to resupply us with a forty liter demi-john of wine, makings for pasta sauce, loaves of fresh bread and a supply of pasta. Life is quite good. We’ve named all of the Italians. The Tyrolian grandfather is Gepetto. The football player who captured me displays a blond crew cut when his ski mask is off, so he is Paul Hornung. Mr. trenchcoat and sunglasses is from Rome and with his pointy toed shoes obviously unsuited for field ops. He is Fellini. Telegrapher is Marconi.

We are told it is our last night in the field. We must consume our helicopter delivered supplies. A huge vat of spaghetti is made and wine is consumed in great quantities. From their packs the Italians deliver various bottles of liquor. Some grappa and a particularly evil Slivovitz. We laugh and tell stories that at least half of the group doesn’t understand. Morning will arrive with horrendous hangovers.

The next evening we are marched down the mountain to a village with a waiting van. The van rolls down the mountain highways through village after village. We cruise out into the flats of the Po Valley and in the dark of night it is impossible to tell our direction or location. After several hours we pull onto the shoulder of a deserted road and are hustled out into the tall grass edging a mown field. The van departs and we are left with four Italians. One tells us in broken English that a helicopter is coming. He will land in the darkness. He will be on the ground for two minutes—no more. We are to be on it or be left behind. Don’t forget to duck the rotor as we approach.


Three of the net-members signal with flashlights and fan out into the open field. The whup-whup tells of an approaching Huey. The three men lay their flashlights on the ground pointing toward the center of the field, forming a dim glow like a Mercedes star. In the dark the chopper lands at the junction of the lights as the Italian next to me jabs me in the ribs and mouths “run” in my ear. The six Americans rush crouching across the new-mown hay and jump into the grasping arms of a Green Beret sergeant who pushes us into jump seats and thrusts lap belts into our hands. We are airborne. It is just after mid-night.

It takes about a half-hour flying time to arrive over Aviano, but the airfield is closed at this time of night. On the ground, a small team of Special Forces are climbing the stairs to Aviano tower in full battle dress. The night tower operator is there for emergencies only and unsuspecting as the door opens and three troopers burst in. “Turn on the field lights and floods on the parking ramp. Get the UHF on 287.7 and turn it up. Now!”

“Who the hell are you guys? I’ve got no orders to do anything like that.”

“Get out of the way.” The controller is pushed aside and the trooper hits the light switches for the runway lights and floods, then cranks the dials on the UHF. He hands the controller the microphone and tells him he is authorized to say, “cleared to land” and then shut up. He nods.

Our Huey is about five miles out when the airfield comes alive. The SF sergeant tells us to hit the deck running and head for the white sedans which will be waiting. Don’t stop, don’t talk, don’t worry. We nod understanding as the chopper flares to touchdown. Flashing blue lights of security police vehicles can be seen hurtling down the ramp and on the road approaching the tower. In the glare of the floods we see three Fiat sedans with rear doors open. We run and in seconds we are speeding away down the perimeter road toward the secondary Victor alert area. We are home. Exercise over.

No one in the Aviano command structure beyond the Wing Commander knew of the operation until after it was over. The SF seizure of the tower was part of their training. The exfiltration helicopter was an Italian Special operations unit that did covert insertions and extractions in Communist Yugoslavia. Gepetto had been in the E&E net since World War II. Fellini was a shoe salesman from Rome. Paul Hornung was a banker from Milan. Marconi was a ham radio operator who did TV repair in nearby Pordenone. All were real NATO operatives.

Of the six two-man teams of evaders, two teams failed. One gave up almost immediately and withdrew. A second team had a member fall ill and be taken out. In the six teams, only one team succeeded in avoiding detection during their evasion. Every other group had been seen and reported, some several times. The undetected team was so successful, the exercise controllers considered a broad recall of all players to see if someone had been badly injured. That team? Let’s just say they blended in. “Buon Giorno!”

Sometimes volunteering isn’t so bad, after all.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Never Volunteer

It’s the second rule you learn after the one about not calling an NCO, “Sir.” Learn it well and it will see you through a career. “Never volunteer for nothing.” I screwed up once and managed to survive it. Of course, that was what it was about. Surviving.

I was floggin an F-4 Phantom out of Torrejon Spain after my second combat tour. I’d been in the squadron for more than a year and thought maybe I needed some unit credibility beyond my illustrious previous achievements. They asked at the squadron meeting for a couple of volunteers for a Flintlock exercise in Germany. I knew about Flintlock. It was a Special operations Europe-wide exercise in the fall and it involved a lot of POW and escape/evasion stuff. Not a picnic and not something I really got off on. But, they specified they were looking for a field grade officer from a flying unit with an international driver’s license. I’m thinking this is going to be referee or evaluator or supervisor. No discomfort, no interrogations, no torture. Short hours, lots of beer drinking and back-slapping with a letter of appreciation for the file afterward. My hand went up.

Three weeks later I’m on a Swissair DC-8 headed for Zurich and then Stuttgart. Next morning breakfast at the Patch Barracks O’Club when a Green Beret many-striper comes up to the table and says I’m to accompany him. As we leave the club he tells me to get my gear rounded up and we are leaving. “Where?”

“Sorry, sir. I can’t tell you.”

Twelve of us. Six Air Force and six Navy fighter crew members boarded a T-29 and were airborne within an hour. Next stop unknown. Mountains pass underneath and after little more than an hour at prop driven speed we descend along a mountain face to touch down at one of my familiar deployment sites from Spain, Aviano Air Base. Not much secret there. Still feeling unthreatened.

A blue bus takes us past the Victor alert shelters to the secondary alert area. We pass through the concertina topped double chain-link fence and the guard towers to the expansion nuclear alert facilities and the controller’s offices between the Tab-VEE shelters. We file in and dump our bags as a half-dozen field dressed Special Forces NCO’s gather to welcome us and break the news.

“You are downed aircrews. You will have two days of training here and opportunity to select and prepare your gear. We will train you. Relax and learn.

“You will then be broken into two man teams. You will be taken to random locations in the nearby Tyrolian Alps and dropped. This will simulate your bailout locations. You will have six days to navigate to a contact point for a rendezvous with members of the Escape & Evasion assistance net. From that point you will be under their control until your escape is completed. The local police departments in all communities in the region will be alerted to your mission and seeking you out. The Italian Carabinieri or state police will also be seeking you. They are the enemy. You must avoid detection. We will also be in pursuit.

“Know one more thing. The E&E net is the real thing. These are the real NATO team members who agree to covertly operate the assistance network in the case of nuclear war. They train and prepare to aid you in a war. They are generally civilians and the net has been in existence since World War II. Good luck, gentlemen.”

I travel with Dick Masters, an F-111 weapons officer from England. We’re dumped from a white Fiat sedan off a two-lane blacktop somewhere a few kilometers short of the Austrian border. We’ve got a GI sleeping bag and poncho making a survival style rucksack. We carry a canteen, whatever we want to take from a case of C-rations, a hunting knife from our aircraft survival kit, some matches, a compass, a map and some parachute panels and cord. Flight suit, jacket and boots complete the outfit. We run up the hillside into the woods seeking cover. We’ve got twenty kilometers to cover and six days to do it. Volunteering seems not to be working out.

First night we learn that a hammock from parachute material slung between two trees is not conducive to a healthy back in the morning. We also learn that traveling along the “military crest”, that untrammeled area two-thirds up the hillside, is a bitch. We keep encountering ravines and washouts that require descent to the road and re-climbing the mini-mountains. The second day is drawing to a close and we’ve found ourselves on a bluff overlooking a wide river valley, a branch of the Po. It’s easily ¾ of a mile wide with a stone two-lane bridge covering most of it. The river is not full but a long way from dry. We’re several hundred feet above the valley and our objective is at least ten klicks on the other side of the river. There’s a small village at the base of the mountain on the far side of the bridge which we will need to traverse as well. It’s raining like the proverbial cow on a rock. This sucks.

I turn to my partner. “Ok, Dick. Here’s what we are going to do. We can’t sneak across that valley. We’re going to walk the road. Just like we belong there. Italy is a Mediterranean country. It’s like Spain. These are friendly people and the custom when you meet someone along the road is to look them in the eye and greet them. It ain’t New York city where you avoid contact. These people are friendly. If we don’t look threatening or suspicious, we’ll go right through. Can you say Buon Giorno? Everyone we pass on the way, everyone, gets a smile and a ‘buon giorno.’ OK?”

We descend and hit the road, looking like two refugees from a youth hostel rather than evading fighter pilots. We meet little old ladies with market baskets and black-suited grandfathers riding bicycles down to the trattoria for lunch. We’ve got no money and only our ID cards, so there’s no pasta or vino in our future. We smile and greet our way across the bridge and into the picturesque little village. We stop at the central fountain and fill our canteens. While checking our map for the next step a kindly old lady asks in Italian if we need help. I mangle some Spanish with pidgin Italian and some signing to ask the way to the top of the mountain. She points to a sign leading to a trail and matches it to a broken wandering line on our map. We “grazie” and “buon giorno” her assistance. She smiles and “prego”s us back.

Up the mountain like a couple of puffing goats we follow the path. It narrows and fades until we are wandering through a grassy meadow hoping to find a resumption on the opposite side of the field. We don’t. We are lost. We make camp in the field in a shepherd’s small shelter. We’ve got a flat floor to spread our sleeping bags and in short order we build a small fire to warm ourselves and dry our gear after the rain. In a few minutes a somewhat petulant man approaches us and points accusingly at our fire. We show our wet gear and he relents. He warns us to be careful and we eagerly promise to do exactly that. “Buon Giorno.” Three days to get to the meeting place.

Backtrack down the mountain. Halfway we find a fork where we clearly had missed the obvious route. We resume the climb and by late afternoon of the fourth day we reach the saddle where the trail drops over the crest. About half a kilometer away is the rendezvous, a conspicuous split in a rock face alongside the trail. Below the crest there is a hunter’s lodge, a large white stucco building which currently has a gathering of four or five boisterous Italians who look as though they have been traipsing the hills in search of grouse or partridge and are now enjoying some vino and birra with a bit of cheese. We hide and watch. The weather darkens and there is a chill in the air. Soon they pack up and leave. We continue to our destination. We are here a day ahead of schedule.

We squeeze through the cleft in the rock to get off the trail and make a cozy evasion shelter under the bushes. We crawl into our sleeping bags and drop off for the night. The next day dawns cold and clear. We scout the area and see no one around the hunting lodge. There also is no sign of a contact. We wait in our shelter under the bushes and watch. The day passes. Clouds begin to build and we fear we’ve missed our contact.

Snow flakes begin to fall. “Dick, we’re going to be up to our butts in snow on top of an Alp if this keeps up. I’ll stay here by the meeting place and you go back to the hunting lodge. Look around and see if maybe there is a way in. Did they leave a door or window unlocked? Maybe there’s some food inside. We’re going to need shelter.”

He heads to the lodge. I stand at the cleft. I see nothing unusual. Dick is rooting around the building two hundred meters away. A voice, “Don’t move! Put your hands up. Don’t turn around.” Until that moment I’d seen nothing. Heard nothing. I’m caught.

“You have a friend? Don’t turn, just say yes or no.”

“Call him back. Don’t warn him.” This guy better be the E&E net or we’re in a heap of trouble. It’s now snowing heavily. Volunteering is stupid. Never volunteer for nothing!

Tongue Firmly in Cheek

Sometimes we are so spring-loaded to express our approbation at that which seems outrageous that we fail to realize our leg is being tugged, our dudgeon is misplaced, the tongue is firmly in the cheek. We wonder if Swift's modest proposal would garner serious outrage.

The Other McCain wants to laugh or puke, but isn't sure which.

But, read it for yourself and appreciate the satire for what it is. This isn't a serious rehab for this flamer. It isn't an attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's posterior.

The Spy Who Had No Cold to Come In From

Nah, it couldn't be serious.

It's About Who You Know

The odds are most Americans don't read the British press, and although known for their tabloids and cheesecake shots on page five, there is also respectable media in the UK, like The Telegraph. Arguably they are more credible then our own NYT and WaPo, when it comes to unvarnished coverage of our political foibles.

So, knowing that machine guns, i.e. FULLY-automatic weapons, are illegal in the US unless manufactured before 1968 and transferred to someone vetted by our government with a Class III federal firearms license, what is one to make of this:

Wrist Slap for Gangsta Rap

That's pretty clear. If you're "from da hood" and you've got a trunk full, not just one, in case you meet a competitive rapper on the way home from your "club" with your "ho" then it is OK to get a pass on the multiple federal firearms violations.

The important thing, apparently, is that you helped to get out the vote for the Messiah. Yah, it's about dat community service thing. Get the youth vote. Explain it to them in terms they understand, like your lyrics demeaning women, destroying language and perpetuating the culture of solutions by 9mm. That's the ticket for the future of America. Let them feel your pain.

Here's what his mentor notes on how to get them involved:

"If you have two posters, one that says 'Discussion about the economic stimulus package' and another that has 'Hip Hop Town Hall, find out how to get yours' on it, which is going to get the kids?" said Mr Yearwood. "That's the power of hip-hop."


See, it isn't about understanding policy or economics or political process. It's about learning "how to get yours". It's about redistribution of wealth. How much nicer it is to get a government check and free food and healthcare. You don't have to put a hood over your head and bust a 7-11 with the possibility of an armed proprietor capping your ass.

So, what I conclude, as someone politically active myself, is that if I can get myself a quick felony conviction, downsize my vocabulary to a few scatological phrases, get a lease on a big black Range Rover and tweak my tan a bit, I can collect as many automatic weapons as I can get without apprehension over those pesky federal penalties.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Words Have Meaning

He said it himself. "Word have meaning." He knows what that means, and that is why he is so effective in keeping the sheeple bamboozled. He says those words with meaning and then acts differently knowing that the fools in the hills won't notice. He will return to his words and point out how sincerely he said them.

So on this Memorial Day weekend, dedicated to the memory of those who have fallen in battle for the United States since the Civil War, he says words with meaning that convolute the very principle of the day:

He Tells You to Honor a Vet

That's not what the holiday is about, although even that action would have merit. But, look at how he wants you to demonstrate that honor:

people can honor veterans by sending a letter or care package to troops overseas


Think about that. I'll be honest and blunt here. I never got any great joy out of a letter or card from someone I don't know who has nothing in common with me and who addresses it to "some soldier." That isn't what Memorial Day is about.

volunteering at health clinics


Think about that. The incredibly great majority of veterans aren't found in health clinics. They are found in the cubicle next to yours, in the checkout line next to you at the store, in the house next door to yours, and in the car behind you on the freeway. If he funded military health care adequately they wouldn't be dependent upon volunteers. When I need health care, I don't want to go to a clinic for government controlled and rationed health care. His nationalization agenda on health care isn't what Memorial Day is about.

taking supplies to a homeless veterans center


Think about that. This is where I come off the tracks. Vets, as a class, are NOT HOMELESS. We don't wander the streets bearded, dirty and in field jackets with a syringe dangling from our forearm and a bottle of cheap wine in our hip pocket. If his own VA would stringently apply any sort of verification criteria he would quickly discover that most of those homeless vets are simply derelicts and wannabes with no credible service records. The exceptions are rare.

His words are designed to reinforce the stereotypes of the crushed and shattered, government dependent, mentally deranged detritus of military service. He reinforces the stereotypes of Code Pink and his ultra-liberal Ivy League cronies. That isn't what Memorial Day is about.

Yes, you sniveling panderer-in-Chief, words have meaning. And you never use them haphazardly. You mean exactly what you are saying.

Today, ponder what those who went into battle faced on your behalf. Think about the nation they defended and the sacrifices they made. Contemplate the families they left behind and the futures they never had the chance to realize.

Memorial Day is about remembering the fallen. That has meaning.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's Not About a Long Weekend

When I was growing up in Chicago one of the local stops, all too frequently, was St. Adelbert's Cemetary. It was on Milwaukee Avenue, about half a mile north of Devon. All of my relatives are buried there and during my childhood it seemed like they were dying at the rate of one or two a month. Old Polish aunts, uncles and cousins were shuffling off this mortal coil at a great rate.

On the 30th of May each year, before our American holidays became a mandatory Monday, the nurseries and monument shops along Milwaukee across from the cemetary would be ablaze in Memorial Day grave adornments. Wreaths and bouquets, flags and symbols were displayed so that we could all honor our loved ones who had made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. They were bought and then taken across the street where we roamed through the lanes of graves to find that special someone. Then with a silent prayer, maybe a tear or two, we left our salutes and returned home.

Flopping Aces offers some great pictures to help you think about what it means:

Our Heroes, Our Memorials

I've hated The Wall since the first time I saw a photo of it. I hated it still more when I visited it the first time and wrote this which went into "Palace Cobra":

Washington D. C. is a city of beautiful buildings and soaring monuments. The capital dominates with its majestic dome and broad stairways. The Supreme Court similarly rises among the stately trees with strength in its columns and classic façade. The memorials to the greats of our nations are white, broad and tall befitting the stature of the military and political leaders which they honor. But, the Wall is black and buried, a depression in the ground symbolizing the depression of the nation that did not win the war or respect the men who fought it. You can see the Washington Monument from miles away and you won’t need a map to find Lincoln or Jefferson or the World War II memorial, but you could walk within a hundred yards of the Wall and never see it. We seem to want to hide it, maybe hoping that an obligation has been fulfilled but no one wants to admit that the obligation existed in the first place.

The names are listed in a paper directory, dog-eared and dirty from thousands of hands searching through it for a name of a friend or family member who was lost. It’s chained to a plywood pedestal like a small town phone book at a gas station pay-phone, almost as an afterthought by the government that maybe some visitor might want to know where on the wall among the 58,000 names their special person is memorialized. But, they do want to know. They come from across the country to see and to feel and to remember. Some say they come for closure or to heal, but that is only a few. More come for respect and to belatedly honor the fallen. And some come out of guilt that they hadn’t gone or hadn’t done the right thing at the time.

The sidewalk along the brooding black marble wall slopes gradually, there are no steps along the way. It’s almost a metaphor for the gradualism that led us to failure. It marks the descent into the immorality of sending men to die for a cause that the nation wants to ignore. But when you reach the deepest point, the walk rises again and gradually, over time returns to the level of the street and the city. All things pass and maybe this represents a return to normalcy and patriotism and honor; belief in your country’s might and the principles that the other soaring white monuments of Washington commemorate. Maybe.


Then I went back on a Memorial Day weekend when the Rolling Thunder bikes came to town and the people at The Wall seemed to remember what it was all about. It's different now.

Saturday Morning Rocker

After watching Adam Lambert fronting Queen last Wednesday night, I've got to say the resemblance in both voice and personality is remarkable.



Rolling Stone Rumor

That would be a huge mistake. Adam would wind up spending the rest of his days doing covers of Freddy Mercury hits rather than mining his own creative genius.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Creating the Petard to be Hoist Upon

There's many a slip between cup and lip, or between the campaign trail and the realities of responsibility. That's why we find the Messiah pretty much in full debacle retreat on the Quantanamo issue. It just felt so warm, fuzzy, human and, darn it I'm going to say it, American when he promised to get rid of the detention facility and let those poor mis-treated Jihadists head for home.

Yes, there might be some trials but then justice would be served. They would have their day in court then be released to live the American dream as envisioned in a M. Night Shyamalan movie. Their home country would welcome a lot of them back, our European allies would have their outrage assuaged and love us again, and we would get to know what lovable folks these bearded fellows were.

Now increasingly he is backtracking. His good buds in the Senate just played slap-down with a 90-6 vote against funding the Gitmo shut-down. Obama is back on the campaign stump, standing before a backdrop of basic American documents and rambling about "truth, justic and the American Way."

Krauthammer Covers It Better Than I Can

This pretty much says it all:

Saint Helena needs refurbishing. Elba didn't work out too well the first time. And Devil's Island is now a tourist destination.

Civics Lesson

If you've had sixth grade civics you probably know that the legislature writes the laws. Now, if you've had college courses in American Government you might be a bit more cynical. You've become aware that our congress-critters depend upon staff and even lobbyists to prepare proposals for them to submit over their names. It wouldn't be practical to expect our law-makers to slave away all night and on week-ends to write the laws they vote on and impose upon us. When could they raise campaign money?

And, besides, many of them are manifestly illiterate.

So, here we have TX Republican Joe Barton asking CA Dem. Henry Waxman if he knows what his own bill will do to America:



He admits he doesn't have a clue. He's relying on "the scientists" who convincingly don't have a clue about economics or business or global trade or world markets or the impact of drastically higher prices on everything Americans consume.

He doesn't have a clue.

Too Much Time on Their Hands

I don't now how they did on their finals, but there seems to be a lot of creativeness in the dorm:



And, no, I don't believe this is real.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Idol's Last Hurrah

I will freely confess that I'm an American Idol fan. I don't really get into the audition freak show and I'm less than lukewarm about the elimination rounds, but once you get down into single digit players, I'm there every week.

Last night's finale was the best TV I've seen in years. There wasn't much suspense. The clear winner, Adam Lambert, only needed to fill the time until the crown and sceptor were his. During the two hour lead-up to the announcement, however, Idol's producers trotted out the most impressive line-up of major entertainment names that has been seen since anyone watched a full season of Ed Sullivan.

Queen Latifah on one side of the sandwich that contained Keith Urban, Fergie & the Black Eyed Peas, Carlos Santana, Rod Stewart, Lionel Ritchie, Kiss and topped off with Queen. It was power TV and it provided a duet showcase format for the new crop of finalists. If you didn't recognize the re-incarnation of Freddie Mercury in the final number, you weren't awake.

Then the announcement. OOooops! It's the cuddle-baby crooner from mid-America with no rough edges, Kris Allen. Safe, smooth, no danger, no controversy.

Here's a great take on the let-down:

Know Your Demographics

Is Adam gay? I'll give him the benefit of reasonable doubt--don't ask/don't tell for rock stars. I never held the vampire thing against Alice Cooper either. He was theatrical. He was showmanship and talent with a knife edge. He wasn't someone you would leave alone to babysit your thirteen year old daughter with unlimited texting on her cell phone. He'd be playing all our Black Sabbath records while she was redressing her Barbie doll collection.

The point is that the phrase used was "one hundred million votes were cast," not one hundred million people voted! Do the math. There are 300 million folks in America. Only around 25 million watch the show. Only a small percentage of them vote. But take it to the bank that of those that voted, the greatest group were those "tweeners" with texting adept fingers and little or no musical discernment.

What all of this means is that the future demographic for AI is going to be recognized even more firmly as the Sanjaya fans. We're going to see more bubble-gum and white bread doing Kara DioGuardia songs about hurricanes and mountains. The folks who are old enough to drive will probably go out to dinner on Idol night next season. Game over.

The Voice of the Villain

They made him into some sort of evil puppet-master, caricatured as pulling the strings on an Oz-like George W. Bush. Yet, if you take the time to listen to what he says and read what he writes, Karl Rove makes sense.

He offers a mature and experienced perspective on American political process, the office of the Presidency and the agenda which faces our nation. That's why he draws the big bucks from the few remaining rational media outlets.

Here's his latest from the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Good News and Bad News

This isn't a screed. Rove certainly didn't like the campaign agenda, but he now willingly admits that some of the actions since taking office have apparently been tempered by reality. Unfortunately he also notes that the rationale usually comes out as political expediency rather than mature analysis of the policy choices.

Maybe the key thought in the piece is the last paragraph:

Mr. Obama either had very little grasp of what governing would involve or, if he did, he used words meant to mislead the public. Neither option is particularly encouraging. America now has a president quite different from the person who advertised himself for the job last year. Over time, those things can catch up to a politician.


How much time do we have for that "catch up" to become meaningful?

We're Here to Help You

The laugh line was always, "We're from the government and we're here to help you." It simply is never so. Now, it is becoming no laughing matter.

The far-reaching hand of the new administration into the pockets of what were previously free enterprise business ventures under the guise of helping the economy is doing things well beyond the limits established by our Constitution and the rule of law.

Read this item:

It's Gone. All Gone.

That is the impact of that seemingly benign act of bailing out Chrysler, then forcing bankruptcy and micro-managing what the government thinks is acceptable. Real people attempting to live real lives are destroyed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What About Federalism?

The root of our two party system was the delicate battle between Hamilton and Jefferson regarding the proper relationship between the thirteen independent states and the incipient national government. Hamilton, who led the Federalists and with the aid of Madison and Jay, left us the journal of the debates called the Federalist Papers. They wanted a powerful national government. Jefferson supported strong state governments and a functional but not dominant national level.

Clearly over the years there has been an inexorable drift from Jefferson's concepts to wholehearted embrace of Hamilton's and then some.

Now we've got the spectacle of bankrupt states. California is the poster child for failed socialism and left-wing progressive policy. Take a verdant landscape with vast natural resources and a largely temperate climate, add a booming post-WW II economy, stir for sixty years and you get a profligate society of welfare dependence and indiscriminate entitlement. Overdrawn by $42 billion this budget year.

You simply can't take more and more tax out of productive hands and distribute it to all and sundry without eventually having to face fiscal reality. Ditto for New York. And Illinois. And Michigan. And Ohio.

So, there's backlash:

The Voters of California Speak

And They Say NO!

But underlying it all is the fact that there can be little doubt that the Obama administration will rescue them. It's what they do to get re-elected. Here are some carefully crafted words and an image that almost makes it difficult to consider what's for dinner this evening.

The Roiling Corpulent Trollops

Now as those bulbous bodies roll over the heartland, you need to be asking yourself, why can't supposedly intelligent folks in Washington relate the state experiments with these failed policies and extend it to the national level?

The Law of (Un)Intended Consequences

We've heard the mandate from the Messiah. We're going to be required to depend upon fuel-sipping mini-cars with choked off emissions from their combustion to transport our smaller families with our preciously expensive single bag of government supported daily sustenance.

From the pinnacle within the Beltway, our elected prima donnas who are chauffered to and from their offices, enact the enabling legislation to make this miracle of automotive disprogress occur. If they hauled their puffy and pampered bodies to the heartland and followed many of us through our daily routine they would quickly begin to understand the value of pickup trucks and SUVs. This isn't medieval Europe with the village inside the castle walls. It's sea-to-shining-sea, amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties with occasionally slippery roads. The soccer moms and good ol' boys aren't ready for this.

So, here we've got the real agenda laid out in a panorama spanning the failed history to the mandated future:

Plug Me In Please

I've ranted before about the ludicrous concept of a $40,000 Chevy Volt with a 40 mile electric powered range supplemented by a lawn-mower engine and a 12 hour recharge cycle. That isn't practical even if anybody beside a Kool-aid sipping, Birkenstock-wearing metrosexual wanted one.

Apparently the thinking of the administration ends after "gasoline is bad--electricity is good."

We are approaching another summer. It looks right now as though it isn't following the global heating cycle quite so obviously. So far, the temps have been cool in my neck of the woods. About 10-20 degrees below average highs each day.

Still, I'm certain that come August we will see the electric grids challenged to meet demand once again. California's paradise will see the annual "rolling brown-outs" to equalize the load on the deteriorating network. In Texas we will hear of the lack of capacity for the future and again go through the painful debate about whether to build more coal-fired power plants.

And, once again, on the first of the month I will get an electric bill that exceeds $700. Electricity is expensive and we use all we produce to light our homes, wash our clothes, cook our food and make life bearable in the summer.

So, what happens when the Messiah achieves his dream of electric powered kiddie cars for the masses? Do we then exploit all our our coal resources? I doubt that seriously. Do we build nuclear generating plants? Oh, my God...of course not.

What we will do is depend upon the Messiah's doubling of the 1% of our electrical generating capability to a whopping 2% produced by wind and solar. Yep. We'll recharge all those magical cars without actually doing a thing about the realities of how to produce all that juice.

Cato Offers Details on the Plan

How does a Harvard educated man create such a fantasy?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Link to the Video

Hat tip to Pajamas Media for this pithy video.

He's Got the Right Idea

The metaphor for the economy will swirl in your mind as the rest of his comments resonate for your afternoon.

The Clearest Explanation

Wisdom comes where one finds it:

Ungrounded in Market Forces

We watched the free market function during the last year despite the tentacles of government being fully intertwined with the commodity in question. I'm talking about the price of gasoline.

Remember roughly one year ago that gas was costing drivers about what it does today. Then, market instability reared its ugly head. Unrest in the middle East and socialization in Venezuela indicated potential disruptions in supply. Inexorable growth in demand in China and India put pressure on that side of the equation. Prices soared like an NFL lineman who just discovered HGH and testosterone. By October we saw gas prices double. It was $4.25/gallon and six bucks was in our future in less than a year.

Our congress-critters wailed that nothing we could do would impact the situation. Better sit on our hands rather than start exploiting our national resources. No hope for even a dime of price reduction in less than ten years.

But, then people started becoming aware of how much gas they were using. Demand dropped. Supply remained steady. The price responded and within four months dropped by 60% back to where it is today.

The government didn't do a damn thing. The market did. Adam Smith was right.

Now we've got the nationalized car companies under the wise and benevolent leadership of the Messiah. He knows that with a wave of his hand we can solve our gasoline problems. We hope, he changes.

Read it and weep:

So Let it Be Written, So Let it Be Done

If CAFE standards were the root cause of the disaster that is Detroit, why not simply raise them even further? Sure, we'll just legislate. The engineers will make it so. Won't they?

I'm thinking that what this means is tiny tin boxes on itsy-bitsy wheels with contortions required to get in and out, but at least they will be easy to park.

Auto makers will whither, travel will be uncomfortable, jobs will be lost, deaths will soar as accidents become more deadly, and the environment won't be one whit different.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Closer

If you pay attention to news you already know that there has been a change of command in Afghanistan. General David McKiernan got replaced by Lt. Gen. Stan McChrystal. The former was a white world specialist in counter-insurgency as outlined in the field manuals. The latter is a special operations guy. That's a whole different animal.

He's been described as an "ascetic" which might cause the unwary to flash on Ghandi or similar. He's clearly nothing of the kind.

If you've got twenty minutes for some serious info on what the switcheroo in the war means, go here:

Operating in a Darker World

If Nancy Pelosi has her panties in a wad about enhanced interrogation techniques, she is really going to be apopletic when she gets the briefing on the next couple of months.

Build Your Case

The adage is famous, but the attribution ranges from Mark Twain to Ben Franklin to Oscar Wilde and a dozen others: "never get in a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel."

The idea is that you can't possibly counter the quantity of opposition that will be arrayed against you even if your are right in your position. Try to fight the mainstream media and you will lose. Try to counter a major talk radio figure who has three hours a day to rant against you and you will lose. Attempt to speak truth against huge Internet blogs and e-zines who will flood you with links and graphics and "authority" voices you will be overwhelmed.

I couldn't resist a look at Salon today where they offer "The 13 People Who Made Torture Possible." Since we've already considered that the legal opinions rendered in accordance with US and international law were little more than counsel's reviews and that the enhanced interrogation techniques were a far cry from finger-nail excissions, rope tricks and the rack I wondered who these enablers were.

I could have saved my time. You know the names already.

What really caught my eye though was this paragraph:

The Torture 13 exploited the federal bureaucracy to establish a torture regime in two ways. First, they based the enhanced interrogation techniques on techniques used in the U.S. military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program. The program -- which subjects volunteers from the armed services to simulated hostile capture situations -- trains servicemen and -women to withstand coercion well enough to avoid making false confessions if captured. Two retired SERE psychologists contracted with the government to "reverse-engineer" these techniques to use in detainee interrogations.


You see, I've been through SERE training. All US military combat aircrews are subjected to it.

Two things stand out in the paragraph. First we weren't "volunteers." We were required to take the training. It wasn't a choice, but a job qualification. There is no opting out.

Second, can anyone decipher that objective statement? "trains...to withstand coercion well enough to avoid making false confession..."???

So, I was trained well enough to make only true confessions? That hardly seems like a worthy goal. I could make a true confession simply for the asking. No need to torture me for that. What do you want to know? I'm trained not to be false!

The conclusion one reaches after that paragraph is that the author of the agit-prop piece is clueless about SERE and by extension the remainder of the assertions crumble under scrutiny.

Go here and read it for yourself:

The Usual Suspects Listed

I guess the adage should be not to argue with someone who accesses bandwidth by the gigabyte per microsecond.

Recruiting for Cabinet Positions

I think this was part of the vetting process:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Relax

Layla for the adult set:



Now, don't you feel better?

Did You Read the Memo?

I regularly bewail the lack of factual information in our political dialogue. We go nose-to-nose with emotions rather than data, depending upon volume and repetition to make our case.

Here is an effective dismantling of the "truth commission" concept by someone who is definitely knowledgable:

Making Up the History Won't Work

Regular readers will recall that I pointed out several weeks ago that it seemed improbable that any sort of legal conviction could be obtained against an attorney who reviewed the relevant laws on an issue and provided client advice on what could be done...even if the advice turned out to be incorrect.

The opinion piece describes what the law is and what the interpretation was by the White House counsel. It could be that the law isn't what some folks would like it to be, but that doesn't change the fact that it remains the law.

What is most surprising to me, looking at the world through cynic colored glasses, is that apparently the various international agencies that crafted the agreements on torture are more realistic and rational with regard to what needs to be done than I had expected.

Increasingly I recognize that torture is much like pornography. Recall that Supreme Court justice, Potter Stewart, said, "I don't know what hard core pornography is, but I know it when I see it."

There is a lot of stretch between being locked in a dark room with a caterpillar, or forced to lean against a wall and the infamous "rope tricks" of the Hanoi Hilton. The degree of intensity varies significantly.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

You Might Have Missed It

A hundred thousand "clingers" from fly-over country gathered in Phoenix over the last couple of days. They were a convention and that's not usually newsworthy. But, they also represent about 15 million Americans and are a significant lobbying group. They are the National Rifle Association.

There are speeches and workshops, a display area for the latest products, forums for interchange of ideas and, of course social events. Typically there are major presentations by some of America's conservative, pro-Second Amendment voices. Since we've been told that the current administration bears no animosity toward gun owners, it might seem that rather than visiting Notre Dame this weekend, the Messiah might have headed for a much larger crowd in Phoenix. Nahhh, unlikely.

Did you read anything in the media? Miss this?

Spinning the Event

At least that was a bit of coverage. Maybe this was the only thing in a major outlet that made your list:

Potential for Drunken Gun-Slingers in Convention Center

That's appropriately hysterical enough for Shep Smith to offer a stereotyping rant on gun lovers. But take a look at this coverage from the aptly named fetid backwater blog of the Chicago Tribune:

Why They Are Going Bankrupt

If you haven't got time to read the Trib piece, here's the "lead"--the first paragraph that sets the tone:

Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Commitee, dropped in on the National Rifle Association's "Celebration of American Values'" (assault weapons, 15-round ammo clips, 9 mm semi-automatics, etc.)


It simply deteriorates from there.

Nothing Happens by Chance

The Messiah comes forth this AM with the announcement of Jon Huntsman, Republican governor of Utah as his choice for ambassador to China. The speech carried the usual trademarks of the administration: fervent stares into the teleprompters and avoidance of eye contact with the camera, platitudes about bipartisanship, and a strong expression of China's importance in the world without even a hat tip to the dismal human rights record. Nothing new there.

Is it a good choice? Well, the fact that the gov is fluent in Mandarin couldn't hurt. That he is a Republican now tabbed to serve a conspiciously leftist administration is a nice nod. A Mormon from a conservative bastion seals the deal.

But, then the talking heads mentioned Huntsman as a potential Presidential candidate in 2012. Now we've got a puzzle. Take a look at this:

What's The Bottom Line?

For the Messiah there is absolutely no down-side here. He's got no fear of an ultra right wing, i.e. conservative, opponent really gaining traction to defeat him. It's the younger, more appealing and less strident sort of opposition that he has good reason to watch with caution. Methinks yon Huntsman has a lean and hungry look. Lets send Brutus out to the far reaches of the empire.

Take the rising star governor and put him on the other side of the world for a couple of prime fund-raising, name-building, news-making years. Yep, that's the ticket. When was the last time you saw a hot news item about an Ambassador to China?

No need to activate the media destruct team for Huntsman now. They can stay focussed on Palin, Jindal, Sanford, et. al.

Saturday Morning Rocker

Since April 29 in Texoma country we've had more than two FEET of rain. It's raining steady today and the lake is ten feet below spillover at the dam. Controlled release is not an option since the country down-river is already saturated. Marinas are being closed and lakeside restaurants are shut down. Sure is green though!



Playing killer guitar is one thing. Doing it behind your back is a whole nuther game!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"I'm Melting, I'm Melting..."

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."

I Didn't Know What I Knew When They Told Me What I Then Knew But Don't Know Now

All Those Charts and Memos and Briefings Didn't Exist. They Are Always Lying to Me

Only I Was Able to Break the Mystery of the Missing Strawberries

How Was I to Know That? It Wasn't Defined As Torture Until This Year

Can I Help It I was Misled?

Why does all of this cause me to recall Humphrey Bogart?



Has the Speaker found her bearings?

Atlas Revisited

I don't care if you read it before, read it again. It is all coming true!

Here's a review:

In the Name of Fairness

Who is John Galt?

Stooping to Conquer

I’ve always been a believer in the power of ideas. It is easy to complain but damnably hard to fix the problems. Standing around and being critical doesn’t feed the bulldog even if it can feed your ego. Debate the issue, not the personality. Attack the concept, not the person. “Just Say No” might be Nancy Reagan’s drug resistance policy, but politics should be about more substantial debate.

Yet, I’m objective enough to know that isn’t the case. Here’s some “red meat” for a plan for the good guys to recapture the momentum:

Get In the Fight

I get where they are coming from. But, the basic concept is wrong.

Being like the other guys in terms of spin, sound-bites and puerile name-calling won’t attract the electorate as well as being principled, logical, rational, sane and constructive. When the damage of the current policy proposals starts mounting, the masses are going to seek explanation and alternatives.

Fred Barnes says, “become the party of NO.”

Not An Alternative to Reason

Sorry, that isn’t what America needs. Nay-saying didn’t build the Republic, it only can tear it down. If the Dems come up with a good idea, you don’t need to say no. The fact is that is a totally improbable scenario. Simply stand up for what is a better idea. Then be consistent. The elections will take care of themselves.

The John Hawkins idea to play as dirty as the left does isn’t a good one either:

Wrestle With the Pigs

Engaging in the same low-brow mud-slinging as the Dems won’t win over any disaffected voters. Some folks love that sort of thing, but I like to think that the Jerry Springer, Maury Povich audience isn’t a long-term strategy.

Melissa Clouthier takes the ultra-conservative role and suggests blowing off the moderates who aren’t true believers in her interpretation of conservatism.

Recognize Who You Need to Win, Please

I guess poor Melissa failed basic math in school as well as vote counting in her political training. While it is commendable that she won’t waver in her principles, she needs to realize that someone who isn’t 100% in agreement is not totally opposed either. To build a coalition which is necessary for victory, she will have to accept if not tightly embrace those folks in the middle of the ideological spectrum. There simply aren’t enough far-right conservatives to win. They might come around eventually, but meanwhile let’s welcome their votes.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Warning--Warning--Warning: Severe Laughter Zone

I try to keep it PG-13 here, but that can get staid, dull and terminally unfunny. That's why I turn to Iowahawk with some degree of regularity for chuckles. He's got a priceless wit and a sharpened pen, er, computer keyboard when it comes to skewering.

But, today he simply outdoes himself. This absolutely knocks it out of the park. If you are offended by a bit of cable TV language, or something you might hear in a high school hallway, then don't click here:

Celebrity Roast

That is absolutely masterful!

The Living Bloglist

If you visit here, you've seen the list down the right side of the page under the heading "Regular Stops." It's my bloglist and the software allows the option of showing the header for the most recent postings on most of the sites. You probably notice as well that quite often the items I comment on are follow-ups to what I find when I go cruising the list.

It's a shameless adherence to Rule 2 of The Other McCain. He calls it "The Full Metal Jacket Reach-Around." If you want to get a million hits on your blog, you link to other good spots and that creates the viral marketing we've all come to know and love.

Regular readers here know that McCain offers a lot of insight and while I probably don't reach around as much as I should, I use his posts for a jumping off place on a lot of items. He's got an inside track that I can only envy.

The Regular Stops list is dynamic. It changes several times a week as sites come and go. If I encounter a worthwhile or interesting page, I'll add it to the list. If what attracted my interest doesn't persist over time, the link will disappear. Places that stagnate or troll or get monotonous are an endangered species.

Many blogs have lists. Some of them are incredibly long, almost as though the list owner simply feeds the list with any link he looks at. The length tells me two things. First, it is too long for the linker to frequent regularly and second, he isn't very discriminating with his additions. I try to avoid that. Hopefully my Regular Stops list won't waste your time.

Click on some of the links occasionally and see if what is there tickles your tastes. If it does, post a comment or bookmark the joint.

We all know that a tree falling in the wilderness with no one to hear it still makes a noise. What we also should know is that a blogger writing in a vacuum is wasting time and talent. Spread the word.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Please Help Me, I'm Stalling

I'm always amazed at the reportage of an aircraft accident. The talking heads frantically blather away on something they don't have a clue about which is sucked up in panic by the ignorati of their audience.

Then they cut away to live viddie from their newly post-adolescent affiliate in Diddle Widget, Iowa who interviews some fool on the street who saw a huge ball of flame erupt from the aircraft just as a group of flashing red and blue lights in a saucer shape went roaring back into the darkness. None of it is believable unless you have no background to start with.

Let's start with this breaking news on the Bombardier in Buffalo crash:

Pull UP, No Push DOWN, Ooops

First, let me note that in any multi-person crew, whether a two seat tactical fighter or an airliner, the banter will generally be viewed as innocuous by other aircrew members yet fraught with significance by Joe Sixpack. It is simply humans interacting routinely and nothing more should be read into it without significantly more background.

Then let's get to the key issue. The accident was apparently the result of significant ice build-up on the airplane.

From the earliest days of pilot training every student pilot learns that ice is bad for your airplane. It does two very significant things: it drastically increases the weight of your airplane thereby increasing the demand for increased lift to counter that weight. And, ice deforms the airfoils. Build-up of even the thinnest coat of ice on wings and tail surfaces will disrupt the airflow over those lift producing areas and effectively cut the ability to do their primary function. So, you need more lift because of the weight and your wings can't generate that lift because of the ice.

When an airplane needs more lift, the way to generate that lift is by increasing back-pressure on the controls to increase the angle of attack of the wing. Angle of attack is the usually slight angle between the airfoil and the direction of flight. Increase that angle and you generate more lift. Whether fast or slow, it is the wing angle that controls how much lift you produce. The generation of lift has a by-product in that it also produces drag.

It all works nicely until the point of diminishing returns. Increase angle of attack too much and you create a sudden rise in drag which greatly exceeds the further increases in lift. That point is called stall speed. The aircraft will then either begin to sink in a nose high attitude or it will pitch down enough to relieve the stall condition.

An aircraft stalls aerodynamically, not as a function of engine operation. An aerodynamic stall is exceeding the critical angle of attack. The solution to the stall is to reduce the angle of attack. Then the airplane starts flying again. It is simple, basic and taught to pilots on the first or second flight. The lessons are repeated in all aircraft for as long as one flys. All airplanes work the same way. If you are approaching a stall you ease off the control pressure--you let the nose drop. The fighter pilot cliche is, "unload for control."

Flying on autopilot, the system will try to maintain your altitude. That means as you get heavier with ice buildup the autopilot will try to raise the nose to counter the weight. You will slow down as drag builds. When you approach the stall there will be buffet and aerodynamic warnings. The autopilot will disengage and in most aircraft a beeper, horn or flashing light will alert the pilot. Then he does what he has learned from day one--get the nose down and gain some airspeed back.

That is the problem in this whole story. How did this pair of crew-dogs ever get so far in their brief careers without having that very basic principle beat into their insensitive skulls? How do you let the airspeed erode that much? How do you ignore all that ice? How do you not experience approaches to stalls and stick-pusher operation in a competent simulator program?

There were some real clankers made in this business and it goes well beyond the hapless crew.

The Horrible Weight of Responsibility

If this piece were buried on the op-ed page of the Tulsa World, it would be interesting. When it shows up in a Washington DC newspaper, it will have legs--even if that rag is the second string Times and not the Post. People who matter will read it.

Training Wheels Coming Off Soon

There is so much truth in that item that it bears slow reading more than once. We've heard the incessant repetition about the Bush administration being the cause, but no rational man can equate a quadrupling of the budget deficit in hardly more than four months in office with somehow being less egregious than George W. Bush' excesses.

The whole effort so far looks so much like a teen-ager with a credit card and no job that the eventual arrival of the monthly statement on daddy's desk is going to be a grounding for a year at least.

Inevitable Results

Business, unlike government, deals with that infamous "Bottom Line." When all is said and done, you add up your costs and your revenue to find out how you are doing. It can get complicated and while the cliche is that "numbers don't lie," we increasingly are becoming aware that our convoluted laws do indeed offer numbers an opportunity to prevaricate. When bad loans become sub-prime and bundles of rotten paper are euphemistically referred to as derivatives you are getting into the lying numbers business.

Still, if your costs exceed your income, you are losing the business battle. When you negotiate labor contracts without regard to the competitive value of that labor in a free market, you are not going to succeed. That's what makes the foray of our national government into the auto industry such an outrage. Business decisions aren't subject to political overlays. When you nationalize a car company, oust the CEO and board of directors, award your union supporters a major stake and then mandate production of a product that few Americans would voluntarily choose to buy, you will create a recipe for failure.

Across the country we can see the results at the state level of what is now going on at the national. Some states have chosen to pander to the lowest, laziest level of society in return for votes. Pork-barrel politics prevails at the expense of a logical business model for governance. The belief that you can simply confiscate private wealth through punitive taxes and then distribute it where it will get you re-elected shows eventually to be a failed philosophy.

Examples of failing states abound. California is awash in red ink. Illinois' corruption can't hide the fact that it is a failed state. Pennsylvania, even with the infusion of John Murtha's largesse is going down the tubes. New Jersey? Even Tony Soprano's boys are leaving.

So, doesn't this make sense?

GM Says They Might Move

Michigan isn't reluctant to load on the taxes. Detroit is a mess. How can a corporation mired in bankruptcy proceedings continue to believe that they can turn things around while carrying the unnecessary load of financing a socialist experiment with no hope of success?

I don't think it is a question of if, but rather of how soon they can head to a business friendly red state.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Economic Stimulus--Old Style

Here's a refreshing piece of news:

Finding a Way to Make it Pay

I hope somebody in the administration reads that. All of it. Twice at least!

Branson got built on free enterprise. Take a scenic, wooded, lake and hill country community then build some flashy hotels, some reasonable restaurants and hire some modified Disney World song-and-dance crews to entertain. You don't need the flesh-pot and depravity of a Las Vegas strip joint. Try wholesome country entertainment among golf courses, fishing lakes, swimming holes and hiking trails. Pretty soon you've got entrepreneurs making money and people smiling. Kids have fun, parents think they've got some adult relaxation and everybody profits.

Of course they had to drive themselves or maybe try the Springfield-Branson airport more than an hour away, so the potential market had a restriction. What to do?

Using the Obama model pioneered by that great patriot and non-combatant ex-Marine, John Murtha they could have pork-barrelled the project. They could have, but they didn't.

They built the airport with private investment. They built their business plan around competitive affordability. They made the facility economical for the airlines to offer service. And, they didn't depend upon big gubmint to do it for them.

I've got to like that concept. Hat tip to those Bransonians!

Looks Like an Iranian Rant

We've all gotten used to the Middle East practice of gathering ten or twenty thousand rag-clad twelfth century thugs in the village square and shouting "Death to America." It's what they do in their version of polite discourse and exercising their impression of a First Amendment freedom. We just write it off as Muslims being Muslims.

And, by now we know that periodically the Washington media and intellectual elites gather over rubber chicken and cheap chardonnay to recite scripted jokes about their personal foibles and take pot shots at their opposition. Hasty Pudding and similar are reminiscent of Friar's Club roasts of the Rat Pack back in the day.

So, we shouldn't be too taken aback when the Messiah and the White House Correspondents gather with a couple of bus-loads of Hollywood airheads to exercise their humor attempts. I watched out-takes from the dinner last night on the telly news. It looked relatively benign. Not particularly funny, but harmless.

That's what a good edit can do for you. Here's commentary from someone who was there:

May the Dung of a Thousand Camels Coat Your Kidneys, Rush

At least in that individual's interpretation the "humor" was pretty malevolent and the Messiah was grinning like an adolescent fool. When the right makes the slightest reference, that's vicious but praying for a violent and painful death of a spokesman for your opposition is really funny for the left. I guess that's the new bipartisanship he was promising.

The topper for me was the coverage of the red carpet arrivals at the dinner. That's right, the only thing missing was Joan Rivers. The glitterati debarked from their limos, flaunted their cleavage and two day macho beards while the strobes flashed and the microphones were thrust at them. This is media in America!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Golden City on the Hill

I grew up being proud of America. It was easy in those days. My father, my uncles, our friends had all fought in World War II. Europe was liberated from Hitler and the barriers went up to contain Communism. Japan was occupied, democratized and industrialized. We rebuilt half the world after the war and then left them to their own successes. We probably only failed at being an oppressive colonial power. Which isn't a failing at all.

Why is it that the "modern" leftist is so embarrassed by his nation? What makes them unwilling to acknowledge that for most of the Twentieth Century the United States was a beacon of freedom and hope for the rest of the world?

Here's a dismantling of one of those apologist lefties who somehow misinterprets one of the classic movies of all time:

Play it, Sam. You could play it for her, you can play it for me.

I may have to dig that out.

From the Archives

Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Joe Morello and Gene Wright show what can be done with some unusual time signatures.

Ready For Refutation

If you haven't figured out my position on global climate change yet, let me summarize:

1.) I don't believe in it.
2.) If it exists, we can't change the cycle.
3.) If man could change the cycle, it would take the entire planet, not just the U.S.
4.) If we go it alone, we emasculate our economy and achieve only a disadvantage in the world trade balance.

Probably the best explanation I have yet read on the carbon tax and/or cap-and-spend proposal is this:

Step by Step Dismantling of Alternate Energy Plans

If the Messiah is going to move forward on his draconian plan to save the world, let him have one of his crack staff take that detailed piece and refute it point by point.

I'm confident that he can't.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Skeptics Supported

I'm a skeptic. Nah, I'm a disbeliever. I look at the fellow-travelers of the Great Global Warming...er, Global Climate Change panic and find it impossible to believe them. I mean, really, Al Gore? I know he invented the Internet, but when did he have time to become a full-blown climatologist?

Following the money is a great idea and then you see a lot of it to be made by becoming a believer. But, I resist. Fellow Texan, T. Boone Pickens announced his support of saving the planet, but when you scraped the wrinkled surface of that reformed oil baron, you found he was heavily invested in windmill production, installation and maintenance. It is inevitably about the Benjamins.

Today, I'm contemplating turning on the heat in the old adobe. It's Texas and it's mid-May. Temps should be in the mid-80's or higher, but my weather widget shows it to be 66 degrees at mid-day. Nope, we aren't melting any more.

Are dissenting voices of greater authority than mine being heard?

Hat tip to The Warrior Class for pointing at this:

It's Really About the Politics

It is clearly a political issue, not a scientific one. The left is heavily vested in dismantling our existing capitalist free-market society--at least what is left of it. They want us to be subservient rather than self-sufficient. They build their own moral high ground by assigning us guilt for being Americans and benefiting from our industry and productivity. They demand that we "downsize" our life so that we can be a bit more miserable like the rest of the world. The solution for equality is lower us rather than raise others.

So, they propose "lessening dependence on foreign oil" but without seriously allowing us to exploit our own resources. They mandate development of "alternative, renewable energy sources" while plotting to tax us to subsidize the most inefficient technologies we've been able to devise. They propose a new concept of taxing, capping and exploiting what has always been a part of the life cycle--our carbon dioxide. The synergy between plants and animals somehow being ignored.

All to save our planet from our sins.

Meanwhile, the planet goes on doing what it has always done--heating and cooling in a continuous cycle of life.

Saturday Morning Rock

From the days when Pete still had his hearing and Roger looked young.



I wonder how many times in rehearsal one or the other of them got knocked in the head by that swinging mike trick?

Friday, May 08, 2009

For the Children

One of my frequent classroom rants (I've got a broad repertoire,) is that when someone explains to you that an action must be taken "for the children" it is a good time for you to grab your Constitutional rights with both hands because they are threatened.

You've heard it before. We've got to crack down on "dirty books" in libraries to protect the children. Of course, who would argue that a library should potentially be a threat to a child. We've got to clean those shelves of all that filth...don't we?

Actually, no we don't. The catch is that parents should be the ones to protect the children, not the librarian or the police chief or the federal government. Children should be accompanied to the library. If they are old enough to go by themselves, they might be told by parents to stay in the children's or young adults section. Or, they might be mature enough and responsible enough to read controversial works. It happens.

But, the important issue is that we wouldn't want to have a library filled with only that material which was suitable for third-graders. No intelligent adult would spend a minute there. We would all be harmed in that case.

You've heard the children being protected with gun control arguments. Laws mandating separate storage for guns and ammo. Laws requiring trigger locks or disassembly for storage. Laws requiring complex storage security. Even laws totally prohibiting guns in homes--all to protect the children. Wouldn't want to have some child hurt by a gun--better we all should be defenseless.

Take a look at this item:

How Much for That Nehru Jacket?

Why yes, you did read that correctly. When you hold that yard sale you are responsible for knowing all those arcane federal regulations on all those products you are selling for quarters and change. Got those old books from the basement for two-bits a piece? Well, they were OK when you bought them, but now the children might be endangered by lead in the ink on those dried out and yellowed pages.

That vintage Korean War era toy set? Lead paint is possible. Those Toys-R-Us plastic goodies from China? They might have melamine in the plastic. That old circular saw you don't use? Are you sure the ground wire is still functional? You'd better be.

And, if the storm-troopers pull into your drive-way during your sale, you could be fined a cool one hundred Gs! That should stimulate your economy!

But, who could complain. They are simply doing it to protect the children.

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
Ayn Rand