Monday, May 31, 2010

Thunderchief to Fly Again?

The rumors have been swirling for months now. We know that the Collings foundation has refurbished a beautiful F-4 and A-4 which they have been flying on the air show circuit. The airplane that many of us would love to see fly again is our first love, the F-105 Thunderchief. Can it be done? If it can, then what is stopping it?

Here's some back-channel correspondence from Medal of Honor recipient Leo Thorsness, MiG-killer, Wild Weasel and former POW.

Hello Gents: 5-17-10: Thanks to several of you, and organizations that support getting the F-105 "Thud" back in the air. Bob Jeffrey and Jim Hivner suggested we contact Cavanaugh Museum about their Thud. I have learned that aircraft, like all Thuds on display, on ramps, and in museums, are on loan from the USAF Museum in Wright Pat. Apparently that Museum gets control of USAF aircraft when they are decommissioned. Gen Charlie Metcalf, the Director, and I have spoken a couple times about getting a Thud airborne.

Twice he has told me, "Forget it Leo, it won't happen." Recently the Air Force, through a letter from the Vice Chief of Staff, has come out against transferring a Thud to the Collings Foundation.
The letter said all Thuds are "committed."
The Collings Foundation is the predominate organization now flying vintage American military aircraft.

Dr Collings and I met with the USAF Chief of Staff, General Schwartz, Friday, May 14th. I spoke as the "face" of the Thud, representing officially the Wild Weasels, and for many River Rats, POWs and MOH recipients.

Gen Schwartz was straight forward and said the AF was not in favor of giving a Thud away because of three reasons: Availability, Sustainability and Liability.

I opened our rebuttal citing the emotional side mentioning most or all members of the organizations (above) are in favor of seeing a Thud airborne again. I said that a flying Thud would be a phenomenal memorial to all living and dead Thud aviators, maintainers and want to be "Thuders" - to all Vietnam Veterans. I cited Thud numbers: just over 800 built, just under 400 lost in combat, just over 100 Thud aviators killed in actions and right at 100 POW Thud Aviators.

Next Dr Collings professionally and methodically rebutted the three issues mentioned by General Schwartz:

Availability: there are just over 100 Thuds available - about 23 F & G. Dr Collings had pictures of several sitting on ramps as pigeon poop collectors with panels falling off etc. He also told the Chief that there are Museums who have offered "their" Thud to the Collings Foundation.

Sustainability: Dr Collings said the Collings Foundation would ask for the eight thuds, which will succumb to corrosion, sitting on the ramp at Lackland AFB as "spare parts" and did not feel sustainability would ever be a problem. He noted a Thud flying nowadays would be much easier to maintain than a Wartime Thud. Example: the air ducts would be in permanent sub-sonic position as FAA does not allow the Thud to fly supersonic. Dr Collings did a good job refuting the sustainability issue. Also they have maintained a F-4 & A-4. And have received no support from the USAF. That 2-engine beast requires a lot more attention.

Liability also was well refuted. The Collings folks have been flying the F-4 for 11 years, and about five years flying the A-4. There are several legal "hold harmless" precedents that have held the government harmless after a USAF / Army Air Corp aircraft has had incidents. The Liability issues were well handled, like the Sustainability and Availability issues.

I closed the meeting mentioning that we Thud aviators did our best for the Air Force and United States - often knowing the odds for Weasels were greater than 50 percent of being shot down at the beginning of the war. I appealed saying that I hope the Air Force would go to bat for us as we Thud drivers did the Air Force in Vietnam. Also I mentioned that there are over 200 Vietnam era Soviet bloc country jets flying in the United State - we should be allow at least one Thud in the air.

To his credit, General Schwartz said they would "Double back" on the issues/concerns. After that, he will ask us to another meeting for their final decision to support or oppose the Collings Foundation getting a F-105F/G.

Sorry for the long report. But as long as we spent in Hanoi, I felt this report deserved more than one summary paragraph.

The battle is not won, but nor have we lost. The battle is ongoing to get a Thud airborne. Whatever support you are willing to give is appreciated gents. Congressional support is paramount and any calls that can be made are very helpful. We are still waiting to hear if Ike Skelton, Chairman House Armed Services Committee will support this. No response yet!

Best regards, tailwinds

Leo Thorsness

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day

From the last chapter of Palace Cobra, musings on a visit to The Wall:

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 fa├žade. 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.

Children visiting the Wall from the inner cities of America laugh and tussle on the grass, showing little of the solemnity that we might wish for this spot. They don’t know these many years later exactly what this is all about. They don’t make a great distinction between Verdun and Vietnam. But, that guy over there, the one in the dark suit with the sunglasses, he knows the difference. The gray-haired fellow coming down the walk with his grand-son holding his hand, he knows many of these names. The heavy-set fellow in the West Point sweatshirt, sitting on the park bench with the cane by his side was there. The one in the tattered field jacket, with the beard and dirty matted long hair? No, probably not. Odds are he’s ten years too young and simply another poseur and “wannabe.” There are a lot of them these days. You can buy the jacket in any town and the medals can be found on eBay. But, that’s the stereotype; the homeless, drug or alcohol addicted hulk destroyed by the war. The reality is that the great majority of the survivors of the war are just quiet old men, living out their lives and remembering.

The POWs were released just weeks after the Christmas bombing, but as the years pass we continue to question. Were there more? Were some held back? We want a full accounting, but is such an accounting even possible? Most of the POWs will tell you that the names they know are all accounted for, yet there are names that didn’t show up and remains aren’t returned and final disposition is unsure. We may never know.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Classic Political Incorrectness

Here's why I've grown to love Texas:

Back in the mid-90s we had Waylon come to the Pikes Peak Library District Cowboy Poetry gathering. He brought Jessy along with him for the show he did and I suspect he was in his declining years because he was pretty mellow and laid back. I'm not sure what was the high point of that event, Waylon's concert or Baxter Black's poems. I do know that it was an honor to be on the Board of Trustees during those years.


It seems it is more about creativity than creation.

A lesson I stress when we cover the instructional block on economic policy is that government doesn't "create" jobs. Yes, you can establish an environment which is conducive to job growth, but to "create" a job you need to expand the economy. The verb implies establishing something which was not previously there. You "create" a job when you have a requirement for additional labor. That need for labor comes from growing demand for goods and services. Without production of a saleable commodity, you can't make a job out of nothing. Government produces nothing, hence there is no way for government to "create" a job. Whitewashing the rocks around the courthouse is not creating a job.

So what do you make of this tabloid piece:

Hire 'em, Fire 'em, Those Are New Jobs

I guess if you can shorten the hiring/firing cycle to milliseconds you can statistically create your way out of this employment slump.

Labor doesn't check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

That would make me an economic powerhouse apparently. I "create" a couple of jobs every week when I employ my housekeeper and yard guy. If I make them go out and come back in every hour I can up my job creation even more!


It's the subtle things that influence us...and the blatant ones for the denser among us. We are herded along the path that forces larger than ourselves desire us to follow. We are told that global warming is going to kill the planet, but then we learn that maybe it is simply the cycles of heating and cooling that have been going on for eons. We are encouraged to "think green" and to ignore the ratio of Americans to the global population. If we buy a hybrid car, we will save the world or at least the polar bear clinging to the last melting ice cube of the arctic. If 300 million Americans stop using toilet paper, the other 6 billion humans won't have to either.

How do we get caught up in this? Are we so malleable that we get misled with little effort? Consider the BP blow-out for a moment.

It is not a good thing. It is a mess. But are we fully cognizant of the magnitude of the mess? A friend sent an email this morning that asserted that "all of the Gulf states are effected..." Are they? Or are we being led to think that. Is there any influence felt yet in a state other than Louisiana? If so, I've missed it.

Well, yes, but Louisiana's wetlands, fisheries, coastline, beaches, tourism and industry have been destroyed. Have they? Yesterday Gov. Jindal was pleading for Corps of Engineers approval to get working on sand berms to protect OFFSHORE islands while there is still time. Has oil reached some isolated marshlands? Absolutely! Is it bathing the coast of LA? Not quite.

Wow, some analysts are now saying this spill is exceeding the Exxon Valdez disaster. I suspect that is very probable. Is there a difference though? Well, yes there is. Exxon Valdez was a big one for the US, but not for major oil spills globally. In fact, the EV spill doesn't rank in the top 10. The leader was the Gulf War!

Lots of Spillage Globally

Why then do we think this is the end of civilization as we know it? A few minutes ago on Fox News (you probably already knew in your heart that I watch FN), I heard the talking head solemnly declaring that the spill already covers area as "large as Delaware and Maryland combined!" I've actually got to feel a bit relieved by that info since DE and MD would be dropped into most states West of the Mississippi without causing a splash.

Is there a motive for shaping our perceptions this way? How about the enviro whackos desire to get us all to live in caves and wear sack cloth and ashes while we atone for consuming fossil fuels and building civilization?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When We've Lost the LA Times...

When I lived in California for one terrible year in the hopes of finding post-military employment in a no-longer-existant coastal paradise, I quickly found out which way the newspapers leaned. The fun of having a sticky hand in the development of YF-23 and flying the simulators for ten or fifteen hours a week ended at the end of the work day. Then I headed to my Redondo Beach apartment and would often read the local rag by the pool.

The LA Times was very apparently the liberal journal and the conservative counterpart was the Orange County Register. I seldom glanced at the LAT after my initial orientation. But, it looks here as though even that worm has turned:

The Bamster Needs a Photo-Op and a Scapegoat

Take the time to watch the video at that link. Imus is neither ultra left or uber right. He's more like spaced out strange with a touch of iconoclastic skepticism. That makes his incredulty at the Chris Dodd blame game all the more impressive.

We've got sixteen months at the helm by the Chicago crowd. We've got news reports of his EPA administrator being surprised at the gooiness of crude, his Interior Secretary about to "push aside" the experts on the scene, his Secretary of Homeland Security looking for something to do to appear busy and Dodd trying to say that it's Bush's fault. On top of that we've got the reports of the meth-head at Mineral Management and the daily porn site surfing sessions while cozying up to the industry insiders:

Wow, Dude, Look the Pneumatics on That Rig!

If Imus isn't buying then you'd have to wonder who they think might accept the concept of Bush causing the problem.

But the president wants to spend Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. And how would that look enjoying Hyde Park and maybe yet more golf or a Sox game while one of the nation's worst environmental disasters gushes unabated down south?

So to assuage that anticipated criticism, the White House has quickly laid on a Friday presidential trip back down to Louisiana, his second. He didn't see a drop of oil during the first one. But it looks good on TV.

I wonder who on the protocol team is in charge of preparing the oily boots and gloves for the Messiah to wear and how many trucks of crude will be delivered to set the stage for his appearance.

I just hope he can get in and out of the photo-op in time to get to Chicago for dinner with the Daleys. Suppose Blago will have a pass to join them?

Sometimes a Man's Got to Know His Limitations

Or maybe some men aren't as limited as others:

Expertise Not Required

Without the need for further comment, I offer this:

Representing da 'Hood

That should do it...

It's Good To Be the King

Yes, the power of the throne is immense. Remember Yul Brenner's "so let it be written, so let it be done"? Remember Henry II, asking "who will rid me of this turbulent priest"? And shortly thereafter Becket was dealt with. Remember Mel Brook's King Louis nuzzling in the voluptuous brea...but I digress.

So, this clearly should take care of it:

Just Plug the Damn Leak

Yes, there's nothing like a bit of royal petulance to get some rapid results. Now that he has said it, can any one doubt that the problem is resolved?

And, we've got this assurance:

Top White House officials said they're in charge.

"All decisions about the clean up, all decisions about shutting down the well are being run through the federal government," (White House energy advisor, Carol) Browner said. "The federal government is in charge."

And yet, BP is still defying a federal order to use less toxic oil dispersants, despite mounting warnings of secondary environmental damage.

"If we can minimize the toxicity, if we can minimize the amount being used, obviously that's what we're going to do," Browner said.

I feel so much better now, knowing that they are in charge...and that BP is still defying them and working as hard as they can to apply their expertise to dealing with the issue that the feds don't really have a clue about.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Meatheads on Parade

If you needed more evidence of the Peter Principle graduates we've got at the helm in Washington, you simply needed to watch the braying on display in Louisiana yesterday.

The Bamster is packing for his second vacation since the well blowout and loss of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Remember when he asserted how his every effort would be to take care of this issue? I guess the basic rule of Bamster-talk still applies. Whatever he says, he means just the opposite.

What seems to escape people is that if you have a serious, complex and highly technical problem to deal with, there will be a limited number of qualified entities to work on it. If you have a brain tumor, you are going to become dependent upon a small cadre of neurosurgeons. All of the posturing, screaming, threatening and finger-pointing Senate investigating committees in the world won't do you a bit of good.

EPA Boss Notices Crude Oil is Thick

Isn't that amazing? If you really wanted to pick a government bureaucracy that might have a top end responsibility for regulation, management and response to deepwater oil exploration, I'm willing to bet you might choose EPA. From her we get this pithy quote:

"Oh my God -- it's so thick!" exclaimed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson who toured delicate coastal wetlands that have been invaded by the black and orange crude

What has Ms Jackson contributed to the effort? She's the head of the agency that is seeking to force BP to abandon the dispersant they've been using because it is "too toxic." Is it possible that the stuff being dispersed is more toxic than the dispersant? It it possible that there is no more effective dispersant available? Is it possible that the dispersant being employed is the only one available in sufficient quantities? Might the EPA have explored this prior to the need? Did she miss Exxon Valdez and noticing that crude is thick?

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hasn't gotten the last ten revisions to administration talking points. He's stil talking about keeping his carefully polished Lucchese boot on the neck (metaphorically) of BP. That was the Messiah's line three weeks ago after pondering the problem on his last vacation. It got more laughs than results so it has been abandoned. Ken is still using it.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar suggested over the weekend that the government could intervene aggressively if BP wasn't delivering. "If we find that they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way appropriately," he said.

One must ask if Secretary Salazar knows what he would be looking for with regard to capping a well blowout a mile beneath the surface. One wonders if he is competent to judge if they are "not doing what they are supposed to be..." And most certainly one can ask what his plan is after we "push them out of the way".

We also had Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano on the scene. I'm not sure why. Is she expecting that the oil spill will make the Rio Grande approaches too slippery for the illegal aliens to walk across the border? Is she thinking maybe we need more TSA magnetometers and shoe-removal forces deployed along the coast? Possibly an update to our spy network and intel gathering regarding petroleum exploration?

In the mix as well there was Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. He will be investigating the response and he certainly inspired confidence as he exclaimed that if BP couldn't figure out what to do, he would take over and tell them. Where do you suppose he gained his oil well expertise?

This is a display that defies belief. It is a Monty Python skit writ very large and amazingly, we don't have more people laughing out loud at it.

Not Socialism

You've heard the accusations and the denials. Many of us say that the current administration is marching us at double-time into socialism. The government is aggressively taking over business, regulating what it hasn't yet taken, dismantling the free market and redistributing wealth from those who earn to those who don't. You know the line: walks like a duck, quacks like...

The apologists argue that the Messiah most assuredly is not a socialist. We don't understand what socialism is. We misinterpret the actions. These are things we all need being done for our own good. They certainly aren't socialist.

So, what do we make of this?

Private Wages Set Record Low, Government Payments Record High

As I sit at my computer this morning, the Dow is again descending. It is a pretty clear demonstration that the "recovery" and "stimulus" and "Wall Street to Main Street" programs are a disaster. When you put people who have never held productive, free enterprise, private sector jobs in charge of the economy, you can't expect optimism to prevail for too long. Eventually we figure out that the handouts aren't free.

The trend is not sustainable, says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes. Reason: The federal government depends on private wages to generate income taxes to pay for its ever-more-expensive programs. Government-generated income is taxed at lower rates or not at all, he says. "This is really important," Grimes says.

Yes, this is really important.

I guess the apologists on the left are correct. It isn't socialism. It is something far more pernicious. It is something that has failed everywhere it has been tried. It is that happy meal of "from each according to his ability" that Marx sold the post-industrial Europeans. It is communism.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Smithsonian Air & Space Book Club

Smithsonian Air & Space is establishing an online book club. The first selection of the new venture is apparently one that is well worth reading:

Fighter Pilot: Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds

I don't think we'll assign book reviews for course credit this time around. But, you might sign up for this event:

The authors will be taking questions online during the week of July 19 to 23. Use the form on this page to submit comments, ask questions, and respond to other readers' remarks
---that would, of course, refer to the Smithsonian web page.

Our Schools

Ignorance is dangerous. If we aren't aware we can be duped. If we don't understand we can make mistakes. If we haven't considered the issue we can find ourselves making emotional choices that aren't what we think we are doing.

That is the essential problem here:

Keep Our Educators Working Act

Did the problem jump out at you? Do you have children in school? Did you ever? Do you know a teacher? Did you ever vote in a school board election? Do you know who administers your schools, sets your curriculum, chooses your textbooks, sets teacher pay scales?

Hint: It isn't the Federal Government!

Schools in America are traditionally the lowest rung on the federalism ladder. School districts are generally taxing entities who levy a real estate property assessment to fund their efforts. In some communities they might be part of municipal government, but typically they are independent boards of education. Look at your real estate levy.

We like it that way because our schools reflect our community. They are a manifestation of our local and regional culture and values. They mirror the emphasis that we put on life. In Texas they are independent school districts and usually show a lot of focus on athletics.

Good districts tend to set their priorities properly and attract quality faculty. They demonstrate success in their role.

Over the years we've recognized that poor neighborhoods have a tougher time in education. They don't have the substantial tax base to be competitive in their circumstances. In recognition of that the states have filled the gap with various forms of redistributive funding. In Texas they even call it the Robin Hood Act. Wealthy districts contribute to a fund to support poorer districts and improve education throughout the state.

But, the Feds don't play a significant role in the game. You can establish a federal Department of Education and you can make expansive pronouncements in speeches, but the reality is that the Feds don't run the show or pay the feed bill.

That's why that proposal is dangerous. It is yet another example of the Chicago Way of government. Payoffs to the AFT and NEA in the billions of dollars ostensibly to prevent significant teacher lay-offs are a kick-back for political support.

Your teachers are paid by their local district and your state. Learn it. Believe it. This is not a crisis.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"It's Not My Fault"

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt for just a minute or two. Let's say that the 2008 election was really a repudiation of George W. Bush's policy against terror, taxes and social welfare. I don't necessarily believe that it was, but let's start there.

That would mean that sixteen months ago Barack Obama swept into power with a controlling legislature behind him and everything that has occurred since then should be ignored. At least that's what we see here:

We've Got an Overwhelming Majority, But It's Their Fault We Can't Govern

Is there any reason to believe that a strategy such as that will gain traction? How about this:

“The president needs to indict not simply Bush or even Republicans. He is a visionary thinker, and his rhetoric should reflect that,” said Democratic strategist Paul Begala. “I want President Obama to make a consistent, compelling indictment of conservative ideas.”

Do mature adults really seek to shift blame when things aren't working out for them? Generally we don't like or respect people like that. Excuse makers aren't favored in most organizations.

And, how do you make a compelling indictment of conservative ideas? Do Americans really want governmental control of our lives? Do we seek the abandonment of a culture that rewards individual effort and success? Are family values indictable offenses? Should self-sufficiency be opposed? Are higher taxes a goal worth seeking? Is a weaker defense a better course in a dangerous world?

C'mon Mr. Begala, tell me how this works?


Where do we get such men? A gathering of old warriors and the airplanes they flew:

A big hat-tip to TigerHawk for leading me to this.

Clearly Profiling

Have you ever gotten one of those "customer service representatives" or "technical support" persons who is obviously in some off-shore telephone boiler room that speaks with such a heavy accent that you finally give up in frustration because you can't understand a word they say?

What if that person were your teacher? What if they were your teacher of English?

Is There a Spanish Version of Ebonics?

How could a child be expected to learn to speak English if the teacher can't be understood by native speakers of the language? Why shouldn't we expect that a teacher be able to speak the language with grammatical precision?

Maybe a more serious question is how did these teachers get certified in the first place? Do we need some form of license renewal for teachers which insures that they continue to meet minimum standards of competence?

Just asking.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Enumerated Powers

I can hear the debate in Independence Hall. Ben Franklin, known as a ladies man despite his advanced age, joins forces with Alexander Hamilton, who despite his short stature was purported to be amply endowed and quite the swordsman, arguing with John Adams the staid minister about exactly how to "promote the general welfare" on this issue:

Looking the Gift Horse Askance...

The nerve of that government! Providing a product that is simply too small! And not have sufficient quality! Why after the fourth or fifth use, they simply disintegrate.

Is that a source of civic pride? Having to distribute the "Magnum" caliber?

Be Careful What You Wish For

I've never been a Ron Paul fan. For that matter I stumble a bit when faced with any hard-core Libertarian. I'm a great believer in free enterprise, minimalist government, individual rights and the limitation to enumerated powers in our Constitution. But, I'm also realistic enough to recall that Rosseau's "Social Contract" told us quite clearly that to reap the benefits of society and civilization we need to compromise our personal latitude for action. Anybody who has ever lived with a roommate or spouse knows that you will have to modify your behavior. The jungle law gets left at the door.

Well, Ron has a son named Rand. Rand has just achieved a huge victory by wresting the Kentucky Republican nomination for the US Senate from the anointed party regular in last week's primary. He is exactly what so many have been looking for, an attractive, intelligent, outsider who can speak truth to power (whatever that implies today,) and who can start the arduous process of cleaning up the mess in Washington. The Tea Party folks love him and so do most moderates and anti-progressives.

But, it appears that young Dr. Paul has not read the basic play book of American politics. One of the earliest lessons a politician must learn is that in order to govern you must first get elected. Having the highest of principles and the noblest of ideals won't mean squat without gaining the legislative seat.

To get elected in our two party system it has become necessary to win the primary by throwing a lot of red meat to the party base. Appeal to the ideological core and stress the things that primary voters support and believe in. Then when you've got the nomination, you have to appeal to that third of the electorate that takes such great pride in their lack of affiliation; the moderates or independents. They have no ideological anchor and they can shift, often capriciously, from liberal to conservative and back again.

You can't win a state-wide election such as a Senate seat by simply getting all of your party to vote for you. You wind up with a third of the votes in that instance.

The second lesson that a son of a controversial congress-critter should have learned is that the main-stream media was going to come gunning for him. There weren't going to be any soft-ball questions and feel-good patty-cake interviews. His every word was going to be dissected for negative nuances. It didn't take long to set the trap.

Would He Repeal the Civil Rights Acts? Would Robert Byrd?

His statement to Rachel Maddow was not particularly controversial if viewed in the light of reason. But, we know that isn't the way any mention of race in America is viewed. Paul took the Libertarian view. Government should not discriminate. Individuals, however, should not have their First Amendment freedom of association rights compromised in the process of opening doors to racial equality.

It isn't a black or white (no pun intended) issue of either-or. It is a question of acknowledging what you are doing and why. A rational person can debate that proposition. It doesn't mean you are racist if you come up with a view that forcing a business to accept an unwanted clientele is beyond the reasonable reach of government.

Regardless, of the correctness or prejudice of Paul's statement, the important issue is that there is a Senate race to win and a majority to seize if we are to recover from the current mess. If we take a look at that goal then we can quickly recognize that Rand Paul needs to get prudent for the next couple of months. Once he has been elected he can dust off the mantle of his Libertarian flamboyance and force folks to think through some of the garbage of political correctness. Until then, however, I would counsel him to button it!

Saturday Morning Rocker

We fat guys have to stick together:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spinning Their Wheels

It is getting national news coverage and it probably should. Texas is a big state and it arguably is representative of that often over-looked "heartland" of America which we all remember but which is increasingly irrelevant to the Ivy League and the two coasts which control our environment. Texas State Board of Education is debating text books for K-12. What shall be taught to our children?

Because Texas is a large state, we buy a lot of books. That means what Texas teaches will cause publishers of textbooks to make large press runs. That means other states will find it economical to buy mass produced books and hence will be adopting the Texas emphasis for their own children.

Maybe that's good or maybe that's bad. If the goal were really to provide the best, balanced, most objective and effective education it would be good. If the goal were to fulfill a political agenda whether for radical egalitarianism or fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, then it would be bad.

See what you think:

His Name Sounds Humiliating!

Milhaus and Herbert Walker and Fitzgerald were fine middle names, but Hussein not so much. Does it humiliate because it is applied to our first African-American President? Are we digging a bit too deep to find offense?

And, who is Ruby Bridges?

Do you find a problem with
strengthening the study of the Founding Fathers, free enterprise, eugenics, the extent of Soviet spies during the cold war that helped explain the 'Red Scare' and motivate Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

... study of the Black Panthers during discussion of the Civil Rights Era, the internment of Germans and Italians, as well as the Japanese during WWII, and the economics standards now require teachers to consider the "solvency" of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

It all sounds wonderful until I put it in the context of my own experience in a community college classroom. There is the final end-product of this debate arrayed before me in all their glory.

They couldn't define eugenics or identify Joe McCarthy. They would not be able to tell me how Germans, Italians and Japanese are related to WW II. They don't have a clue about "solvency" of entitlement programs. This is all angels dancing on heads of pins stuff, well beyond them. They are the graduates.

They don't even know the basics. They can't tell me how many US representatives there are, how many Supreme Court justices, how large the Texas state legislature is, what a bi-cameral legislature means, what a deficit is, where federal spending money comes from, or how laissez-faire policy might differ from Keynesian.

Too tough? They can't distinguish between whether and weather. They don't understand a difference between to, two and too. Paragraphing is way complex and verb/noun agreement is magic and mystery. Spelling doesn't even benefit from the little squiggly red lines under a word in their word processor as a clue.

I suppose the debate in Austin is among people who mean well, but the outcome is a long way from what they apparently think it is.

The Art & The Science

Possibly the most mis-understood skill of governing, at least by the man in the street, is the exercise of international relations. Lacking a global sheriff to enforce agreements, how does a "society" of nations function without descent into anarchy? What compels a nation to live up to a treaty? What restrains a nation from spilling over the borders and seizing the resources, land, manpower and property of a smaller and weaker neighbor state?

It is a complex skill which is some part art and some part science. The obvious exercises of military force can be more destructive than effective in achieving an outcome. The applications of aid can be wasted and simply fuel for corruption if not administered and monitored carefully. The exercise of positive and negative reinforcement is easily as complex as raising a child. Do you offer a cookie or trip to the zoo to achieve your goal; or do you impose time out or grounding to compel an outcome?

The Messiah was quite vocal in condemning the policies of those who believed in a strong America, a model of democracy and the "golden city on the hill". He built a legend of a world which despised America as an imperialist aggressor and he promised a future of love and understanding as we join hands and softly sang Kumbaya.

So, how is that working? Krauthammer observes:

Iran Thumbs a Nose and Allies Shift Alliance

From the revolution lead by Kemal, Turkey has been an anchor for democracy to pivot upon in the Middle East. Attaturk aggressively secularized the nation and become a Muslim partner with Free Europe to stand against Soviet Aggression. This was an ally upon which we could build a modern world in a medieval society. There have been ups and downs, but throughout, Turkey has been a pillar of our policy in the region.

The Bamster's manifest weakness has led them to this situation. Rather than looking to the US for their future, Turkey now links hands with the obvious mad-man of Teheran and effectively insures that our policy goals will not be achieved with regard to nuclearization of Iran.

Ahmadinejad is certainly displaying greater ability in the art and science of international relations than the President of the United States.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Be Smarter Than Holder

Yes folks, you can be smarter than the Attorney General of the United States or the Secretary of Homeland Security if you invest about fifteen minutes here:

Complete Text of the Arizona Immigration Law

The link takes you to Part 1 and you can find your way quickly to parts 2-5 from there.

You will be amazed at the protections which are provided for the individuals, the penalties for malfeasance by law enforcement officers in application of the law, the ease in demonstrating someone is not an illegal and by extension the ignorance of the bleaters who are objecting to it.

Biting the Hand

To come here and comment in our legislature on the actions of a state of our union trying to defend itself against lawlessness and violence spilling across our borders from his country is discourteous. To lecture us on what we should be doing before he has his own nation's security established is hubris beyond tolerance:

Don't Discriminate When Law-Breakers Are Also Illegals

What remains now is to see how the Messiah grovels his apologies to this upstart from a third-world ghetto.

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave

...when first we practice to deceive.

So Blumenthal "misspoke" when he repeatedly cited his Vietnam experience. He held a press conference with his VFW friends to show their support for him.

But, what a second! To be a VFW member you must be a veteran of a foreign war. You don't qualify by simply being on active duty while a foreign war is going on. You must actually have been in the combat theater. Blumenthal must have mis-wrote when he filled out his application.

But he brought his buddies to support him, decked out in VFW caps and jackets with patches and records of grand achievements:

Vets Express Their Support for Prevaricator

But wait a second! Here's one of the supporters mentioned:

Elliott Storm is a Blumenthal supporter. The campaign called him and asked him to show up; he called up his friends in the “Vet Pack” to join him, friends who, like him, travel around the country talking about ex-soldiers who contend with post traumatic stress syndrome.

Storm, who lives in Milford, wrote a book on the subject, called These Scars Are Sacred.

“If a man wore a uniform during those turbulent times, they were rejected and called ‘babykiller,’” Storm said at Tuesday’s event “People are still attacking veterans who served in Vietnam.” The Times story about Blumenthal’s service is a yet another example of that, he claimed.

Storm is a man who should know about having their service attacked. Particularly if their service claims don't really match up with their service.

Storm Makes the Big Time on POW Network

Add a claim of a commission he didn't earn, some medals he never was awarded, some disabilities he really doesn't have and you've got a fine guy to support Blumenthal.

What a tangled web we weave...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Aviation Week Reviews Fighter Pilot

Good reviews are always a thrill. Fortunately bad reviews haven't shown up in my short writing career. They lurk in my future, but hopefully they can be avoided.

This is one of the best:

Aviation Week Likes Fighter Pilot

It is inevitable to feel a sense of impatience when a work which you are proud of is released, but there is also a wonderful feeling of having the rewards for your effort extended slowly out over time. I'm pleased and honored with the reaction.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fibbing for Votes

He can surely be excused because...drum roll, please...he's a Democrat. They can't be expected to be perfectly clear after saying they would like to be perfectly clear on a topic.

This is one of those guys that should be brought to a VFW meeting in fly-over country for an evening's entertainment. He should be a guest at a River Rat/NamPOW reunion for a 2:00 AM appearance at the hospitality suite. He should visit a Marine barracks for an orientation. We might all like to talk to him about his experiences "when he served in Vietnam":

Five Deferments and a Reserve Slot Stateside

Mr. Blumenthal, that is quite simply called lying. It is claiming an experience which you do not have the right to claim. That demonstrates your unsuitability for public service at the very least.

Unencumbered by Facts

Start with an inflammatory statement then pile on a ludicrous suggestion, pretty soon you've built the basis for a compelling liberal argument:

Littering the Road With Discarded Guns

Lautenberg's position on the Second Amendment is pretty clear. He raises the issue here because he wants the Feds to usurp the right of the state of Georgia to administer Atlanta-Hartfield Airport.

Does he really think that currently, in the absence of a new Georgia authorization, that concealed carry permit holders are not already carrying firearms into stores, malls, restaurants, and, yes, airports? In Texas, the law is pretty clear regarding the posting requirements to prohibit CHL holders from exercising their license on a property. Most of the signs you see specify "unlicensed" firearms or they are non-compliant with state law. Georgia may be different, but I doubt it.

So, if you aren't planning to go through TSA check points into the secure area, I would be willing to bet that there are people around you legally exercising their rights. The carnage is somehow still in abeyance.

Does he really think that someone intending to cause mayhem with a firearm is going to be deterred by a statute saying that an area is off-limits for firearms? Should he be allowed out by himself without a baby-sitter?

But, I particularly like this warning of consequences:

“The greatest concern is when you’re taking someone to the airport, that you not have to roll down your window and throw out your gun when you get close,” said Representative Katie Dempsey.

I suspect Katie has been forced to take violent evasive action on the approach roads to the airport to avoid the many discarded firearms in the right of way.

The arguments are typically ludicrous.

I'm a great believer that I am free to act unless specifically and clearly prohibited from action. I do not consider myself restricted to only those acts which the government specifically authorizes. The difference in perspective is very basic to the concept of liberty.

From the Heart of Colorado

They don't quite get it in Washington, but these folks do:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Test Question

OK students, here's the question of the day:

Name a credible, serious presidential candidate in the last fifty years that did not have an (auto)biographical book recounting their life, background, experience and political ideology published within two years of their candidacy.

It has been part and parcel of campaigns since long before "The Audacity of Hope" or "Going Rogue". It is done and it is purposefully trying to convince you to vote for that individual. Books are published to make money. Someone fronts a chunk of change to publish them, with the exception of vanity press or publish-on-demand, in the belief that their investment will reap profits. The candidate is typically listed contractually as the "author" and therefore will benefit from royalties which can be quite significant.

So, what to make of this potential Supreme Court Justice's interpretation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

If It Ends With "Vote for Joe" The Government Could Ban It!

Yes, she says, even Thomas Paine's seminal pamphlet that advocated the American Revolution would be under government scrutiny.

Are you scared yet?

Man Eating Man

Ahhh, try a little priest. Fat? Only where it's at. What about poet? You never know what it's got. Something lean? Then Royal Marine...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Security is a Role of Government

An essential question which I always ask my students in government classes is, "what is a proper role of government?"

You could go to the enumerated powers of the US Constitution. That would be a concise and mercifully short list. Or, you could delve into political theorists and get more complicated answers. Some ideologies might lead you into the all-encompassing social welfare statism that appears to be our future. Those would be in contravention of our Founding Fathers' dreams, but you could ponder them.

Security of the citizenry will always make the list however. You can debate many other roles, but keeping the people safe in their property and person is basic.

That's why it would be nice if the Attorney General took the time out of his busy day to scan the ten pages of the Arizona law.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review of Fighter Pilot

This got posted on and is particularly noteworthy for the last paragraph:

"Where have all the Cowboys gone"....., May 15, 2010
By Keith (Crestview, FL) -

This review is from: Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds (Hardcover)
Like the Paula Cole song asks: "Where have all the cowboys gone?" "...where is (our) John Wayne?" "...where is (our) Lone Ranger?" Gen. Robin Olds was not only a hero because of his valor in a cockpit, but his willingness to buck the conventional wisdom of USAF and political leadership...even to the detriment of his own career. The words LEGEND and HERO are often misused in describing actors, sports participants, and musicians, but those words are apropos when describing Gen. Olds.

What a life! Gen Olds' life could fill 10 other fighter pilots' .....from growing up the son of a pioneer in US military aviation and being surrounded by the likes of Spaatz, Rickenbacker, Arnold, Turner, Mitchell ect. What role models to mold a young fighter couldn't have been better than that! Over his life, he excelled by his own makings, not by riding coat tails. Whether it was being an All American at West Point or becoming a leader and ace at an age most would consider still wet behind the ears.

Tales of both his aerial battles and the battles with those on the ground are riveting. It lets us see the steel willed determination of a man who truly believed in "lead by example" and "never ask those you lead to do anything you weren't willing to do." It's obvious the men he led, loved him and were willing to go to the Gates of Hell for him.....that is something that can't be demanded or is earned.

Throughout this book we got glimpses of his home life and his marriage to the beautiful movie star, Ella Raines. Though he (or Christina) didn't go into depth about it, we got enough to know things weren't always blue skies and sunny days on the Olds' home front which made an extraordinary life seem realistic...we all have personal problems and Robin was no exception...but in true Robin Olds fashion, he didn't shy away from the truth. Whether it be about his marriage, his love of parties and drink, or his feelings about friends and foes....he (and Christina) kept it real....and I for one thank them for it.

I could pick out passages to quote in this book, but others here have done a fine job doing that... so I won't. Just know that if you are a fan of aviation, military history, or just want to read about a REAL hero and this book, you won't want to put it down and will find yourself wanting more.

Note to Hollywood: This is a movie that needs to be made.....I hope someone with credentials is smart enough to see the action and humanity that are waiting to be put up on the silver screen. I suspect it would be a cross between "Topgun" meets Mel Gibson's "We Were Soldiers" and/or Hanks/Spielberg's "Band of Brothers" with a little "Patton" sprinkled in for flavor. In fact this would make a great miniseries ....are you listening HBO?

Questionable Integrity

Can you help but be suspicious about this one?

Take the Money and Run?

So, how long have we had "Don't Ask--Don't Tell"? It was initiated by the Clinton administration in 1993. That is seventeen years ago. That means that if Widdle Sara is about to graduate from college it has been a well established policy since she was four or five years old. She knew very well about it.

She has been post-pubescent for roughly eight or nine years, so she probably has a pretty good idea about which direction her libido leans. That would mean that when she applied for, qualified and accepted the full four year scholarship through Army ROTC she knew the conditions of the agreement. She even knew the part in the fine print which explains that if the recipient doesn't fulfill their service obligation they are obliged to refund the money spent on their behalf.

Isn't it fascinating that she suddenly comes up with this uncontrollable display of "integrity" which requires her, despite being counseled that she would not be asked about her orientation nor should she tell, to blurt out her position.

Where was her integrity four years ago when the first check arrived in the mail?

It would be enlightening to know whether there might be some relationship to that ambition to become an Army doctor. Do you suspect that maybe she didn't get accepted for the military's graduate program in medicine? Is it possible she wasn't on the fast track to become the female Nidal Hasan of the next decade? Maybe she was now being told that she would be line of the Army, a potential supply officer in a combat brigade? Maybe there was a ticket to the Sandbox with a departure date of a year from now in her mailbox?

Clearly it isn't a question of her integrity which has not been displayed other than through its lack.

How Would You Know?

This is funny! I've visited New Orleans many times although all were before Katrina. You've got to accept that an old, damp, below-sea-level, sweaty, alcohol-soaked, sea port cum chemical processing region is going to have some smells that don't compliment Emeril's cuisine. The place stinks by tradition.

So, we've got this opportunism:

Something Stinks Here, Must be BP

So, they are 100 miles from the coast, so far there has been minimal land impingement despite potential for much more, and the prevailing winds are westerly, yet in that miasma of foul odors which is the Big Easy, they are wrinkling their probosci over what can only be the result of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Amazing. They must be getting in line for reparations.

Why Am I Not Surprised?

Yes, indeed, it is Cannes Film Festival week, so with Roman Polanski off the street we have to check for other pedophiles and weirdos to see what's really important in the world:

Wooden Headed World View En Espanol

That nasty old representative republic thing just isn't working out for them.

Saturday Morning Rocker

It was good with Eric Burdon and the Animals, but this has a more realistic touch:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Manifestations of Misguidance

The administration seems intent on displaying total disregard for facts or analysis while continually touting the intellectual superiority of their positions, even when those positions are disconnected or manifestly political in nature. What's that mean?

Try this analysis of the Kagan position on allowing military recruiters access to the hallowed halls of Harvard law school:

JAG Corps Aren't Baby-Killer Warriors Either

Ludicrous isn't it? She doesn't like the "military's discriminatory hiring practices" so they can't come on campus. The clear implication is that there is something illegal, immoral and blatantly homophobic about these knuckle-draggers in uniform. But she conveniently blanked out that the policy they were applying was the one that was mandated for them by the President, the Congress and even by the Clinton Administration that she had worked for.

If they don't make the rules, how can you fault them for complying? Somehow she also manages to read "the right of the people..." in the Second Amendment to not really mean the right of the people, but actually mean the right of the states to form a militia that can then keep some arms and bear them occasionally when the feds think it would be harmless. But, that's a gripe for another day.

But, this Supreme Court candidate with no judicial record is only part of the Bamster legal team. There's also the crack Attorney General. By now you've probably heard about his appearance on the Sunday news talks shows and his lightning quick repartee in Congressional testimony. Here's a summary of quotes:

Probably Unconstitutional Based on a Feeling, I Guess

Now that is really some talent there. He can apply legal tests of Constitutional compliance even without actually reading the brief ten page document. Clearly that puts him above the common man.

Convenience Trumps Cash

I hate carry-on luggage. I carry a laptop in a briefcase because some Neanderthal would use if for a sledge-hammer to fit suitcases into the stowage area if I checked it. I don't watch movies on it during flight. I read books usually on my Kindle until the Scotch lady comes around.

A couple of years ago I was on a nationwide job search for a new Library District director in Colorado Springs. I traveled with two other Board of Trustees members to interview candidates in Washington DC, San Francisco and Denver. They were carry-on sort of guys. I'm a checked bag and a newspaper type. They were disgruntled that they would have to wait for me to get my suitcase upon arrival. I delighted in strolling unburdened down the airport halls while they dragged carts and hang-up bags then wrestled trying to stuff them into overhead bins.

When we arrived my bag was inevitably on the carousel by the time we walked by toward the waiting taxis.

Boarding an Air West flight one afternoon out of Las Angeles a flight attendant grabbed me at the doorway. She pulled me aside while passengers continued boarding. She then told me I was the day's winner. I didn't have a thing in my hands beyond my boarding pass and the Orange County Register. That made me the winner of four mini bottles of my choice of liquor. I always liked Air West in those days.

Here's someone on the other side of the issue:

Extremes For a Cause?

I felt a couple of years ago that I was vindicated in my habits when the airlines reasoned that having people check bags would make boarding and exiting the flights more efficient, safer, painless and pleasant. Check your bags and then there's no stuffing bins, arguing over space, dumping boxes on heads or wrestling in the aisles. Encourage checked bags and you improve your bottom line.

That was then. The last two years have brought us checked bag fees and they can be substantial. The result is folks like Ms Floyd who would rather suffer the indignities of looking like a tourist in a throw-away rain jacket with wrinkles than pay for the bag. She values a buck, but gives up quite a bit for her principles.

I'm amazed at what people take on airplanes these days. They don't seem to be bothered by the pack-animal syndrome they exhibit. I'm wondering if it might be a marketing problem.

Do you travel enough to save money by not checking bags to outweigh the cost of your light-weight carry-ons, custom toiletry containers, modified non-wrinkle, shapeless clothing and as Ms Floyd practices the Bulgarian Laundromat tooling?

Does the airline really come out ahead by charging the fee and then enduring a boarding and deplaning process that may take over half-an hour at each end? Why not confess that bags like bodies require service and that the ticket cost is simply what it is to provide the service. If they balanced the cost of providing the service with the pricing, they could eliminate a lot of issues and probably have a much happier clientele and a much better on-time rate.

I'll continue to pay for a bag if they continue to charge. I think it's stupid to haul, heft and suffer to avoid a couple of bucks. The convenience to me is in the freedom. And, I'll gripe to myself about the idiot whose butt is hanging over my seat while he tries to stuff a sixty pound bag into the overhead. I might even spill my $6 scotch in his lap later.

Iowahawk Reports

This should convince you that Iowahawk remains mandatory reading:

Professor Kagan's story is not so different than those of countless other Harvard Assholes; born precocious, a budding intellect nurtured by a crib full of Swedish monochrome creativity blocks and gender-neutral Balinese finger puppets, at age 3 she earned admission to Hundred Acre Wood Academy, one of the Upper West Side's most selective Ivy League feeder preschools. From there it was off to Leon Trotsky Prep where she distinguished herself as captain of the state champion Feminist Theory team.

Yes, he's waxing comedic on the Kagan background and the Harvard Asshole Society. Read the whole thing here:

Press Release on the Heroine of the Harvard Crew

Thursday, May 13, 2010

There, That Should Do It!

What to do? Well, do what you do best!

Punishment Tax the Perfect Fix

Of course! It isn't like BP intentionally caused the blow-out. I sincerely doubt that they meant to kill a dozen employees and sink a billion dollar drilling rig. I have no doubt that this is a public relations disaster for the company and a financial burden not only in capital losses but also in repair and recovery costs. They are taking a big hit and certainly appear to be grabbing the burden properly.

So, what's the Bamster's angle? Does BP need to be punished more? Punishment is a judicial function after a court process. It isn't an executive function. Taxing is a legislative function. It isn't an executive function. Ex post facto rule-making and penalty imposition seem to be explicitly prohibited in the Constitution.

Who would pay a tax on domestic oil production from the Gulf?

That would be consumers, wouldn't it?

You and me. That should help the economic recovery!

Big Brother Pace Accelerates

How much do you want to tell the federal government about your life? Are they really "here to help you"? Should they be concerned with your protection? Should they worry about your eating habits? Your smoking? Drinking? Spending? Driving? Travels?

It is so easy to set that first foot on the slippery slope and before you know it you are careening out of control down the mountain side to a grim outcome.

We shudder when we read about terrorist attacks, so we beg to be watched and monitored. We decry police brutality when we see the local gendarmerie wailing away on some poor indigent who happened to offend them, but we don't express concern at the degree of video monitoring that occurs routinely in our lives. If you are outside your home, there is a very good chance that you're on candid cameras. In the bank or 7-11, at the mall or in the department store, in your workplace or at the cafeteria, someone has you on tape. Don't pick your nose in public.

A Toyota may or may not accelerate because a careless driver may or may not be pressing on the wrong pedals and they may or may not be innocent of staging the whole thing. So, we demand government step in and protect us. Congress holds "hearings" in which they don't hear, they pontificate and berate. We love it apparently and beg for more.

What do you think of this:

Consumer Protection is A Malapropism

I don't like the very concept of a federal "Office of Financial Research". The name smacks of invasion of privacy. Financial transactions should operate under the prinicples of "Caveat Emptor". Deals should be between a willing buyer and a willing seller at an agreed price that is based on value determined in the marketplace. Checking on the deal is the responsibility of the parties involved. Due diligence is a hallowed principle. If a deal is "too good to be true..." we know what that means. I don't want government "researching" my finances.

Similarly the "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau" triggers images of a Washington bureaucrat being in the approval loop for my next shoe purchase or sporting goods acquisition. "Sorry, sir, but the CFPB doesn't think this is a wise purchase for you."

Where do these people get these ideas? More importantly, why do we seem to demand that they do this to us?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Un-Free Market at Work

I bought a home in 1981 with a Fannie Mae mortgage. I'd been out of the country for more than nine years and had missed the great inflation of the Carter era which had blown housing prices up from the affordable $35k I'd spent in 1970 in San Antonio to an average $120,000.00 for a small new home in Alamogordo NM.

Mortgage interest rates, even for a VA loan were still near 18% and the Fannie Mae option got me into a house at a measly 13.5% rate. That was a great deal at the time. But much has changed since then.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became more than mortgage guarantors. They became tools of a social agenda with the lofty goal of "making home ownership affordable for all Americans"...even those who can't really afford a home and have never reliably met their financial obligations or held a meaningful job.

In a real world, that concept might be noble, but it is also unworkable. Now read this:

We Lost Money, But Making Money Isn't Our Job

The whole concept of property with value and finance with obligation has been abandoned apparently.

CEO Mike Williams didn't even pretend that he's running a profit-making business. "In the first quarter we continued to serve as a leading source of liquidity to the mortgage market, and we made solid progress in our ongoing efforts to keep people in their homes," he said.

A "leading source of liquidity" means we continue to pour money into the losing situation. "Keep people in their homes" means that the government now buys certain people a house. Are those deserving people? Of course not. If you were deserving of a house you wouldn't need the government's help would you?

And, how about this example of Alice-in-Wonderland-speak:

the company also clarified yesterday that its directors "are not obligated to consider the interests of the company"

No obligation whatsoever.

Damned if You Do or Don't

I'm not concerned with Elena Kagan's sexual orientation. It doesn't matter UNLESS it becomes a factor influencing Constitutional decisions. I don't know about Ginsberg or Alito or Scalia or Thomas. It doesn't seem to matter there so far either.

But, there are questions from some folks who do seem to care. I don't know why they care, but they do. This, however, confuses me:

The Softball Connection

So, there is a picture of the nominee engaged in an athletic pursuit. Doesn't seem controversial to me. But, wait!

"It clearly is an allusion to her being gay. It's just too easy a punch line," said Cathy Renna, a former spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation who is now a consultant.

What? A woman playing softball is presumed gay? Methinks Cathy doth protest too much.

In our current society we've largely begun to ignore such concerns. Gay or not isn't supposed to matter, particularly for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. If they are against defamation, aren't they supposed to support that noting sexual orientation without comment is a positive thing? If playing softball is a lesbian activity, then noting that the Supreme Court nominee plays softball is a positive of the G & L crowd.

Since 1972 we've had Title IX in federal law. It mandates that colleges and universities offer equivalent collegiate athletic opportunities for men and women. Scholarships for women athletes are the very positive result of that law. Are all women athletes lesbian? It seems unlikely.

Softball is a woman's collegiate sport. The men play games like football and baseball. Women play games like field hockey and softball. Men and women both play some games like basketball and soccer. Softball, however, is a predominantly woman's sport in most schools.

Should Kagan be pictured playing softball? Is it a slur against lesbians? Is Kagan lesbian? Is the Wall Street Journal prejudiced? Is Cathy Renna overly sensitive? Does anybody really care what time it is?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Charade of the Summer

The cast is ready, the stage is set and the curtain will rise in a couple of short weeks. It won't be "Must See TV" for any but the most hard-core political junkies. The media will predictably cherry-pick for supportive or destructive statements by the Senators or the nominee. Each day's transcripts will be pored over trying to dig out the faux pas, the titillation, the mis-statement or the rash disclosure. Little will come of it all and in the end the Supreme Court will remain a 4-4-1 balance much as it is currently. Four liberals, four conservatives and one swing vote who is sort of but not quite one or the other on any given day.

Yet, there is something there that frankly bothers me. The Bamster said it himself and inadvertently left one of the few traces of what he really thinks during his tenure at University of Chicago. Justice Sotomayor said it during her run-up to confirmation and here it is again with Elena Kagan:

Justice Isn't Blind, Just Nearsighted

Here's the problem:

Justice Marshall, she wrote admiringly, "allowed his personal experiences and the knowledge of suffering and deprivation gained from those experiences, to guide him." In his view, she explained, Constitutional interpretation demanded that the courts "show a special solicitude for the despised and disadvantaged . . . and however much some recent Justices have sniped at that vision, it remains a thing of glory."

I wondered on first reading that such an outrageous statement should come from that early Chief Justice John Marshall, but on revisitation of Ms Kagan's comment I see that it was the much more recent Justice Thurgood Marshall speaking.

The Constitution is supposedly the supreme law of the land and we as a nation are supposed to be one governed by the rule of law rather than the rule of man. In the most simple format that principle is the foundation of the British common law, that the king is no more priviliged before the bar of justice than the lowest serf.

Apparently the first African-American justice on the court felt that suffering and deprivation bestowed some level of privilege in the court. And, now Ms Kagan seems to be saying that if you can demonstrate that you have been "despised and disadvantaged" you can get a leg-up in terms of consideration by her application of the law.

Just as having been fortunate shouldn't free you from the law, so neither should being disadvantaged give you preference.

If Justices of our Supreme Court can't accept that foundational position something is very wrong here.

Everyman a Rifleman

Every Man Should Have A Rifle

So I sit and write and ponder, while the house is deaf and dumb,
Seeing visions "over yonder" of the war I know must come.
In the corner - not a vision - but a sign for coming days
Stand a box of ammunition and a rifle in green baize.
And in this, the living present, let the word go through the land,
Every tradesman, clerk and peasant should have these two things at hand.

No - no ranting song is needed, and no meeting, flag or fuss -
In the future, still unheeded, shall the spirit come to us!
Without feathers, drum or riot on the day that is to be,
We shall march down, very quiet, to our stations by the sea.
While the bitter parties stifle every voice that warns of war,
Every man should own a rifle and have cartridges in store!

~ by Henry Lawson, 1907 ~

Monday, May 10, 2010


Let us say you are a hospital administrator. Yours is a large hospital that leads the nation in complex, leading-edge surgery. You need a senior surgeon for the staff, a chief of surgery to guide and shape the advances in the technology. What do the job requirements look like?

Ahhh, here's the recommendation to the board. We need a woman. The staff is unbalanced with regard to gender. This candidate is a woman. Not a very attractive woman, I'll admit, but a woman nevertheless. There are some orientation questions, but they don't need to concern us. She might even give us double-credit, diversity-wise.

She is very knowledgeable about surgery. She actually taught anatomy in one of our leading colleges. She has taught many surgeons. She can be the chief cutter in our surgery department. She certainly knows where the body parts are.

Well, this could be problem here. She has never actually held a scalpel or made a real incision. She lectures brilliantly on it and can explain precisely what went on in the the surgeries we have previously performed here, but she has never really put her hands on a living human organ. She has no surgical experience at all. Never worked in an operating room.

Should that be a problem?

Meet Elena Kagan, the potential Supreme Court Justice who has never worn a judicial robe, sat a judge's bench, or lifted a gavel.

Now, take a look at this bit of background:

No Military Recruiters on Harvard's Campus

Yes, that Elena Kagan. She wouldn't let military recruiters come on the campus of her university. The supposed "best and brightest" young leaders of the nation could not be exposed to the opportunity to possibly consider contributing to the defense of their country.

I've mentioned previously here that I am well aware that gays serve in our military. I served with several that I know are gay and I'm certain with some that I was unaware. I don't have a problem with that.

I know that American society is increasingly accepting of gays in all professions and I also know that the military is not necessarily a demographic slice that leads in that acceptance. There can be problems with leadership positions and it is a fact of life that all military personnel must advance into such positions to succeed.

My problem is that Ms Kagan doesn't seem confident enough in the brilliance of her students at Harvard to let them make their own choices. My problem is the discrimination against military recruiters abiding by the rules they are given while the political figures that established those rules are welcomed on her campus.

I'm concerned that in a world filled with deadly threats to our nation and dependent upon a strong military we are seeking to place an individual in a critical position who is both lacking in experience in that occupation and demonstrably opposed to supporting our military.

Kagan is a bad choice, but we've come to expect bad choices from this administration.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Little Knowledge

We've all heard the cliche and we never apply it to ourselves. Cliches are viewed as a shorthand for describing the other guy or as a misunderstanding by the other guy of what we mean. The cliche du jour is "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

It can walk hand-in-hand with the one about "we don't know what we don't know." We all are experts, particularly when it comes to griping about government. We experience deep frustration with "the system" and fall quickly into the pattern of attributing evil motives and bad behavior to "them" while knowing in our hearts that we are pure and righteous.

I had some interesting discussions the last couple of days over at Roberta X's place. It all started with her lamentations over the Indiana primary election last week. She was frustrated and felt deprived by the law from exercising her franchise. Take a look at the problem and the discussion that ensued:

The Issue of Honesty and Voting

I was confused. I've taught my classes about primaries and the more convoluted caucus system in a couple of states for about fifteen years. I'd never heard of such a restriction. How could a state have any idea regarding your performance in the last general election? Who could possibly enact such a restriction?

I took some time to find out what sort of primary Indiana has. Turns out to be an "open" one which means simply that you aren't declared in a party in the registration system. Simply walk in on primary day and tell the election judge which party ballot you wish to complete. Previous commitments are irrelevant.

The persistence of embedded incorrect information seemed pretty strange, but upon further consideration I think we all encounter it on a daily basis. We are indoctrinated everywhere we turn with sound-bites and innuendo. We should question, probe, confirm and verify but we don't. We grab for that which props up our prejudice and we deny the items that conflict with our preconceived notions.

Roberta X came back to the topic two days later and we got to the real meaning of the two party system in America. Is there a real difference any more? That is a much deeper question:

Where Are the Foundations?

I sympathize with her disgust at what we see in Washington. The daily reporting affirms another cliche, the one about "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." They have abandoned principles and seem totally in the thrall of the powerful blocs which keep them in office.

But, even there, the comments again display our tendency to let a little bit of knowledge confuse what really is foundational. I note particularly that one poster recalls that the acknowledged founder of the Democratic Party is Thomas Jefferson, and the Republican Party is Abraham Lincoln.

That is put forth to confound my assertion that the essential of conservatism is individual responsibility and free markets while the core of liberalism is governmental solutions and market regulation. I stand by my statements.

Jefferson, it must be recalled was the leader of the Anti-Federalists. He opposed the strong central government proposals of Hamilton. His party became the Democratic-Republicans, not the Democrats. They were staunch believers in state's rights and the virtues of agrarianism rather than urbanization. They were principally slave-holders and the southern states. They evolved into the "Solid South" of Democrats which led us to the Confederacy and segregationist Democrats of reconstruction. Only after FDR and the New Deal did we see the focus shift to welfare and government solution, and only after LBJ's Great Society did we see the incorporation of ethnic minorities. Today's Democrats are hardly examples of Jeffersonians.

Lincoln's party was an evolution as well, but one that probably tracks back to Hamilton's belief in a strong union. But it doesn't embrace, either with Hamilton or with Lincoln, a belief in government centralization as the best cure for social ills.

The present Congressional incumbents aren't ideologically pure. In large instance they aren't even ideologically consistent. That is why we participate in primary elections. We should be seeking a return to the principles we believe in. We won't find total alignment with our own preferences. We won't find lock-stop unanimity in our candidates. We can't expect a foundational ideology such as individualism versus collectivism to translate directly into our preference on particular issues like immigration, abortion, religion, gun control, taxes, finance, the environment, or toothpaste flavor.

Our problem is that we've got to stop grabbing at what Joe at the bar said he thinks he heard from a guy down at work about this politician or that one. We've got to do our homework, learn the basics, read our history and get in the game.

Failure to get into that game before the game is over is going to cost us dearly.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Terminally Stupid

Want to know why our kids are so woefully uneducated? Want to know the intellectual capacity of some teachers and administrators? Try this on for size:

The Jolly Rancher Bust

Courageously, the administrator and teacher barricade themselves away from the TV camera. Brilliantly they hide behind state law. Fearlessly they explain their reluctance to endanger federal funds. Heroically they protect this potential criminal from a childhood with a piece of candy in her pocket leading to who knows what sort of future addictions.

Is state law that stupid? Not really according to the report. The law stops things like cafeteria junk food, vending machine junk, and similar. The law allows discretion and judgment. The consequences of stupidity seem to be less detailed.

Saturday Morning in Texas

For your boot-scooting pleasure:

And, if you don't like it? This one's for you:

Friday, May 07, 2010

Counter-Productive on Many Levels

I had to go read this item. As a drinking man with global experience, I like to consider myself to have standing beyond the minor league levels. I've been stupid in bars around the world and lived to vaguely remember some of it.

Stop and Go Simultaneously

This is a concept, however, that I just don't get. Alcohol is a depressant. It takes the jagged edges off a rough day. It relaxes you, reduces inhibitions, leaves a euphoric least initially.

Why then would you want to do that and at the same time fire up your nerves, jangle your senses and palpitate your heart? On the one hand you are trying to relax and on the other you are trying to keep from relaxing at all.

While you are reducing your mental acuity, you are firing up your energy level so as to be able to demonstrate your stupidity even faster and more aggressively. Why would that be a good idea?

Even if you weren't sending these incredibly conflicting messages to your body and all who surround you, isn't there also the question of enjoyment? If you are going to drink, isn't a major part of it about the taste? I'm not saying you have to swirl, sniff, slosh, gargle and spit then write a pompous essay about the nuances of terroir displayed in that pint of Annie Greensprings. But isn't the drinking supposed to have some good tastes involved?

What then to make of the sampling of that author?

By far the tastiest, it looks, smells and tastes just like someone spilled malt liquor in Welch's Grape Soda

That was the best tasting? Seriously? Welch's Grape Soda is something that most of us haven't tasted since we were four and moved up to the more mature flavor of Nehi Orange Pop. Malt liquor is a fermented concoction that was created to give good beer a bad name. Pouring bad beer into kindergarten bubbly makes the best in show of the energy boozes!

I just don't get the whole thing.

Just Say No!

Why is it that everyday seems to bring a new effront to my American sensibilities? If we don't have some mindless mouth-breather in a public school exercising a zero tolerance policy against Tic-Tacs or kindergartener pointing an index finger and saying bang, we've got a political sensitive removing flags somewhere.

But if we are going to talk chutzpah in the grandest scale, take a look at this one:

If You Build It, They Will Come

There is a First Amendment protection of free exercise of a religion in America. At least as long as it does not involve sacrificing a virgin (endangered species, you know,) or ingesting vast quantities of illicit drugs that is. But there is also a need for perspective and sensibility if not a bit of sensitivity.

Jihadists took down the World Trade Center in what is easily the most outrageous attack perpetuated in history. That can never be forgotten or forgiven. They were driven by an interpretation, whether basic or fundamentally flawed, of Islam. Throughout the world Muslims have been instrumenting attacks against innocents without regard for any niceties of religion. There is no overlooking that.

They are also the religion of such incredible sensitivity of their own that a drawing which is labeled as representing the image of the prophet is worthy of death. I guess they aren't too secure in the other aspects of the First Amendment that covers speech and press.

They can build their mosque wherever they wish. Sure they can. But if they had any compassion at all they wouldn't build it there and they wouldn't build it in that shape and they wouldn't have that neighborhood continually reminded of the events of that tragic day.

If they build it, they will come. But I'm willing to predict that some of those who will come will not have good intentions. Americans aren't going to go quietly into Sharia servitude and politally correct hell.

Hung Parliament in England

No, the subject is not regarding physical equippage of the Commons, nor does it imply that a lynching of the legislature has taken place, although that might be a good model for many of us to ponder. No, it refers to the evolution of Great Britain from a clear two-party system into a three party conundrum which has resulted in no clear Parliamentary majority to form a government.

It is conceivable that they may wish to scour the country side and round up some of these folks to help:

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ride Along With a Weasel

It was the summer of 1966. The first contingent of Wild Weasel F-105F two-seat aircraft was leading four-ship flights with three single-seat Thunderchiefs. I had the opportunity to fly a lot of these missions both that summer and again in 1972 when I was flying the F-4E but specializing in the same business.

Listen to the communication during actual missions. You've got the back-seater giving most of the commentary regarding where the defense radars are, few acknowledgements of the front seater and then the background chatter of the other aircraft in the mission.

If this doesn't make your palms sweat and the hair on your neck stand up, I don't know what would.