Monday, August 15, 2016

Words to live by

 

This came in an e-mail from a friend of my … I find it rather enlightening and entertaining.

 

Golden Sayings of Chanakya


 

Learn from the mistakes of others… you can’t live long enough to make them all yourselves.

A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first.

Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous.

There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.

Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions – Why am I doing it, what the results might be and will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead.

As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it.

Once you start a working on something, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.

The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all direction.

God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple.

A man is great by deeds, not by birth.

Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness.

Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends.

Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person.

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    Saturday, April 30, 2016

    Random thoughts for the end of April 2016

    Reminder: Some of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

    Once more I venture into the wilderness of my thoughts, which I share with you who dare read my wanderings. However, I know, that on some fronts I am not alone in the wilderness; that there are others who share my questions and views of the world and in that I take heart.

    You may or may not be among them, but I welcome you and challenge you to consider the things herein. If you disagree, give me your intellectual arguments, your non-visceral reasons, why you stake the ground you stand on. You see, I find far too many people aren’t really thinking about their positions, say, in the presidential campaign but are merely reacting emotionally to the various candidates. Far too many people seem to hate the candidates who oppose their favorites rather than merely disagree with their proposed policies and solutions to the various problems facing the nation.

    For example, this commentary does a far better job of explaining what is, and what is not, "democratic" in our political process than my earlier feeble efforts.

    You see, I see the process working as it is supposed to, as it was designed to. Nothing more and nothing less. To quote Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over until it’s over.” Despite the whining and statements to the contrary, until you win, the game ain’t over and the “losing” side should – no make that needs to - play on until the last second of the game and until the last out is played. It is the old saying that “Quitters never win. Winners never quit.”

    I respect Bernie Sanders announcement that he is not going to just drop out of the Democratic race, even though it is pretty apparent that Hillary Clinton will most likely be crowned on the first ballot. It is as it should be.

    I respect Ted Cruz for his efforts to plug on until the convention, even though everybody is telling him that it is a losing effort (even if he could win on the second or third ballot should Donald Trump come up short of a first round coronation). This is as it should be.

    Or have we raised a nation of quitters? Or complainers because we have to meet certain standards because those are the rules? Nobody has changed the rules. They are the same as when the game started. You may not have not understood the rules because you didn’t know them, but whose fault is that?

    Here is a commentary by the redoubtable Thomas Sowell on winners and whiners. Which are we people? 

    Now, it should come as no surprise that I am not a big supporter of Donald Trump. That does not mean that I might not vote for him if the choice comes down to him, Hillary Clinton or some third party candidate who doesn’t stand a lick of a chance of throwing the vote to House. I would, because, at the moment, the choice is quite stark … the manipulative, criminal, anti-individualist whore vs. the manipulative sideshow barker. I’ll swallow my principles and vote for the barker as hopefully the lesser of the evils.

    I have more to say … but I find I don’t have the emotional energy to put it down.

    Pray tell, I urge you to disagree with me and tell me where I have erred.

    Sunday, April 17, 2016

    Random thoughts on things political

    Reminder: Some of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

    This is sort of a follow-up to the my previous post … a continuation of my thoughts there.

    I spent much of the day reading news reports of what passes for political reportage today on the various comments of spokesmen for the sundry political campaign, as well as participating in a feedback discussion over my previous post.

    The thrust of most of it is that a) the political process is broken and b) nobody’s vote or voice counts. My response to that is barley corn! Of if you prefer, bovine scatology. What people are angry about is that their view is not prevailing and they think it should. Understandable, but the wrong attitude.

    Donald Trump’s campaign manager says that since his candidate has the most votes so far, that he is the nominee presumptive … nominee presumptive, what in the blue blazes it that? You mean just because he has a PLURALITY over the popular vote cast in GOP primaries (a whopping 37 percent) then all the other candidates should give up and go home? What about that democratic principle that it takes a majority vote at the very end to be declared the victor? I guess that doesn’t apply to Mr. Trump, because he is such a wonderful businessman, celebrity and candidate. The guy really must be channeling Joseph Goebbels.

    Damn, man it don’t work that way. And when the convention rolls around, and if Trump does have 50 percent plus 1 of the popular vote, then he might have a case, but not now, so stop whining. (But if he achieves that he might have a shot at the delegates)

    In this interview, the chairman of the Republic National Committee points out that the party, per se, is not taking sides but does take umbrage at candidates, or their minions, threatening delegates. To me, the threats mean the candidate and/or his staff and supporters realize they have lost the fight and are planning to call in the storm troops.

    Secondly, in both the Republican and Democratic parties, the conventions always have been about delegates, not the number of ballots in local primaries. The process of delegate selection always has favored those who get their grassroots supporters to the district, county and state conventions, which is something the Trump campaign has done an absolutely awful job at doing and Cruz’s campaign has been performing miracles. You may not like it. You may think it is unfair. BUT that is where the battle is fought … not in some helicopter battlefield where you drop in for one day and then helicopter out again. (The US did that in Vietnam and it didn’t work out very well) Cruz and his supporters figured this out and have planned their battle accordingly.

    It actually says a lot about primary ballots. They really are just straw polls and beauty contests that allow people to salve their consciences by saying “I voted” and think that that was all the process our participatory form of a democratic republic asks of us. Granted, most of the primaries require that the delegates vote a certain way on round one at the convention, and that is an obligation that no one disputes. The problem comes if that round one is not decisive, what are these delegates to do on round two? If none of them can change their vote, then the balloting will just go on and on.

    No, the delegates are free to vote their own wills, and that is what has the outsiders upset. Because, if the county, district and state meetings don’t elect delegates that are dye-in-the-wool supporters of the candidate they are pledged to vote for in the first round, then … oopsie … they might vote for another candidate. This is where Cruz is winning the battle, and Trump and his supporters are coming unglued. Trumpians think that they have got the first round ballot of the delegates sewn up because of their plurality lead in the popular vote and that is all it takes. Wrong answer.

    If Trump doesn’t win a majority (remember, in a democracy it is majority rules) on the first ballot then his failure to follow up and ensure that those who vote for him are voting for him out of conviction and not just obligation will reach up and bite him big time. Nobody will be cheating. The system will be working as it is designed to work.

    This is an interesting commentary that discusses whether it is all rigged or not. It is not, but then if you lose, then it makes a good excuse for saying you lost.

    You see, the biggest problem we Americans have is that we are an impatient and lazy lot. Now, that is not really all that bad. It has made us the most productive country in the world because we always are looking for faster and easier ways to do things so we can kick back and enjoy ourselves. But it does ignore that if you really want to do something, it usually takes a lot of effort and investment in money and hard work. That sure doesn’t sound like fun, does it? We have better things to do.

    But I would have to say to those who say the two big parties have rigged the system to favor incumbents and the party establishment: You are right … and if you were an incumbent or a party leader you probably would do exactly the same thing because it makes it easier for you to keep your perks. Not saying I like it, but that is how life is … as unfair as it seems.

    Now, that means you have a number of choices: 1) you can accept the status quo, 2) quit and join another party (that probably will be just as rigged), or 3) work your butt off in the business of retail politics. That means investing a lot of time, usually a bundle of money and a whole lot of effort going door-to-door selling your platform, getting people excited enough about it to get off their duffs and help spread the word.  Dang, that last option doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. I will let you in a little secret – it ain’t. It is hard work that takes a whole lot of dedication and a willingness to lose a few battles, but the courage to get back up and get back in the fight.

    Now, you can start a whole new party (and even greater challenge) or you try to go ahead and battle the establishment, which will be a challenge, but it can be done. You just have to be willing to take your knocks and lumps and keep on hitting the line until you have convinced enough of your fellow followers that you are right and the old guard is wrong. Then have them put you in the old guard’s place. Is it easy? Is simple? Can it be done overnight or even just a few years? Nope … but then how committed are you?

    Being involved in your own governance is not some thing you do when the mood strikes you … not in a democratic republic. It takes constant attention and I know with all the distractions we have today, that really is a big bother.

    The old cliche that Liberty and Freedom require eternal vigilance has never been more true.

    Now, for conservatives, here is a excellent commentary about how we (yes, I consider myself a conservative) should reassess about how we complain and maybe the problem is more with ourselves and our view than the system.

    Remember folks, it all starts with us as individuals … and yes, your vote counts … when it has to count and that is when we are electing people to office … all that happens before that means little, especially if you haven’t jumped in with both feet.

    Now, if you agree with what I have said, I encourage you … ok …. beg, plead, cajole, inveigle and any other word you can think of … to share these thoughts with as many people as you can. No, you don’t have to use my words, but some similar would be great.

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

    Random thoughts and reflections for April, 2016

    Reminder: Some of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

    Interesting article on the downfall of the Westphalian view of the nation state in the 21st century. It is well worth the read. (Found way back on March 1, but I have been about moribund in my efforts here since then, for which I apologize to the few, if any, who bother to read my random efforts.)

     

    What I am about to say will be unsourced. Why, because a) I am assuming that you have been following the news of the day and b) it is purely my opinion, although much will be predicated on facts and easily researched truth and a lot will be based in the history of the United States. I encourage people to study it and a basic civics primer from 50 years ago, because it seems that the American people are tragically ignorant  of their own history – and those from other countries probably learned the Cliff Notes version. Having said that, let me begin.

    FIRST, FOREMOST AND ALWAYS: The United States is NOT a pure democracy. Got that? It is not a democracy. Never has been, never will be, as long as it is governed by its current constitution. Don’t like that fact? Get over it.

    The United States is a democratic federal republic, with all the nuances and vagaries that entails. Now, I hope you understand that. Despite what politicians say, your friends say, and maybe even your teachers may have said, the United States is a representative republic, not a democracy, where you and your neighbors are charged with the responsibility to select representatives to meet in councils to decide public policy, from the local town hall and school or water district all the way up to the president of the United States. Those representative are charged with their own responsibility to vote their best judgement and conscience when making their decisions on how to cast their vote at whatever level they are at, and not to have call back to their constituents on every vote for their advice and consent. Note: they are to use their own best judgement.

    Now, having said all that, political parties are not part of the government. Regardless what may appear to be the case, political parties are not covered in the U.S. Constitution and are not arms of the various governmental bodies. I hope you understand that.

    First, political parties were not envisioned playing any role in the political process by the brilliant gentlemen who drafted the grand compromise we call our Constitution. They anticipated various factions and interests competing for influence, but the idea of political parties was pretty much an anathema to them. In fact, the Republic had been in business for about a dozen years before the first semblances of what now are political parties began to shake out.

    So, what are political parties? They are clubs. They are associations. They are groups of people coalescing under a common ideological banner. As such, they are not required be “democratic.” PLEASE, Trump and Sanders supporters, get that through your thick heads. Over the last 200 years, each party has developed its own system for selecting the candidates for public office. There is no requirement that they “elect” these people, or ask the advice of people who are not declared members of the party, regardless of what the pundits, talking heads, on-air personalities, columnists and reporters of various print and web news outlets may lead you to believe.

    If the members of the party want to go ennie-menie-miney-mo to pick who runs for office under their banner, that is what they can do. They don’t have to hold caucuses or primaries or conventions. They can just do it.

    Or they can ask for v0lunteers and go you … you … and you.

    Funny thing, somewhere along the line the American people have been told that they get to pick the candidates, regardless of their party affiliation …  well, at least if they are to be the candidate from the Democratic or Republican Party. Wrong answer. They don’t necessarily get that privilege if the candidate is a Green Party member, Reform Party member, or Libertarian Party member, or a Communist Party member, or one of the any other parties that tend to appear on the presidential ballot in November. Why should they get it from the Republican or Democrat parties?

    People, WAKE UP! It is not a democracy. That is not how things work. The parties make their OWN rules on how the process works for picking their candidate and that IS how things work. It behooves candidates to learn those rules backwards, forwards and sideways, and then play better than anyone else according to the rules.

    You want to play a key role in how your “party” selects its candidates, then get involved in the process. Go to party meetings, volunteer to be delegates to district, county, state and national conventions, or at least get involved at each one of those meetings to help decide who will be the delegates. Just helicopter voting in a primary doesn’t cut it. It is convenient and it may salve your conscience, but the system and the process demands more of you.

    AND if your candidate doesn’t want to play by those rules, and die by those rules if that is the judgement of party leadership, then they had best go form their own party rather than to try to piggyback their candidacy off the back of a party that maybe they don’t agree with all their precepts and complain when the party regulars rally (although they maybe have been divided among other candidates earlier) against him or her and say they aren’t being fair. It is not a matter of fairness, but it is a indication that the candidate doesn’t want to play by the rules, unless the rules benefit them.

    TRIGGER WARNING: A candidate who is unwilling to play by the rules, however arcane and weird, is NOT a candidate who demonstrates to me the requisite qualities to hold any office that they are running for in my book and will not (except in cases of dire extremity) get my vote for office.

    You see, when you get into public office, whether elected dog catcher or president, you are bound to follow the rule of law. Unfortunately, we have seen far to much of NOT following the rule of law in this county in recent years, much to our detriment.

    Unless and until Mr. Trump gets the majority of delegates at the Republican Party’s national convention the nomination is not NOT “His” to be stolen from him. I don’t care how many primary votes he gets or doesn’t get. They don’t matter. Delegates do, according to the rules.

    Now, when Mr. Trump and his supporters whine about the GOP not being “fair” to him, or trying to “steal” the nomination from him, I want to take a long 2x4 and start whacking people upside the head to get their attention and give the aforesaid lecture.

    Same thing holds for Bernie Sanders supporters who live and breathe the “Bern”

    Now, children, for if you do not understand this, then you indeed have some growing up to do. Call me arrogant. Call me what ever you want. But whether it is sports, politics or governance, in a civilized society we play by the rules whether we like them or not. That is what grownups do.

    Of course, if your candidate doesn’t win, then you can always go home and sulk, or you could, mind you, look at the alternatives – the other candidates in play and decide which is the lesser of all those evils – or at least the least bad. Because if you don’t, then be willing to accept that some people actually think what you consider is the most evil alternative really is a hot idea … even if the c0nsequences will be horrible … or haven’t we learned that lesson over the past eight years.

    Friday, February 5, 2016

    Random thoughts and readings for Feb. 5, 2016

    Reminder: Most of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

    It seems the new just keeps rolling along … funny about that … that is the way life is … it doesn’t stop for anybody, no matter how much you want it to so you can get off and try to figure out a better way.  With that in mind, the old walrus of a news editor offers up this commentary on current events. He hopes you find it informative, educational, possibly inspiring and at least thought-provoking.

    Some good advice to veterans out in the civilian world on how they can continue to protect and serve their fellow countrymen ... or is that countrypeople these days?

    This article encapsulates just about all the reasons that Bernie Sanders really is just about wrong on just about everything.

    This so makes me think of Richard Nixon it isn't even funny. Only, the "everybody did it" defense shouldn't fly. It shouldn't fly for a number of reasons: There is a difference in scale here and intent. There is a difference in the Obama Administration set the bar higher with the prosecution of David Patreaus. We won't mention the prosecution of Scooter Libby. And like Nixon, Hillary got caught, big time ... so, one would think there would be an indictment coming soon ... only I don't expect one because the Justice Department is too politicized now to do it.

    Already the flak is going up if Clinton really pushes the everybody does it defense. She is wrong, and just shows the hubris and arrogance of someone who thinks they are above the law.

    And then there is the Victim Hillary ... and the wrath that goes with it ... people, can't we see through this garbage and recognize that she is not presidential material?

    It is always interesting to watch how progressives cherry pick data and conflate motives among disparate groups. I suppose if we went back six months, and started in mid-2001 instead of 2002, then the Islamic threat would appear much more lethal than that of all the various "rightwing" groups being lumped together here. Or if we just went back six months from today ... the Islamic jihadi threat would look much more dangerous.

    And this is a rebuttal to the article above ... note that the Jihadi threat is unitary, while the so-called rightwing threat is dispersed among a host of different groups aligning with a host of differing political objectives.

    One hopes that Americans wake up to what the Europeans are discovering: Multiculturalism is not all it is cracked up to be ... Cultures can be different and not be equal. Assimulation is important to a country ... except that progressives are internationalists and don't believe in national cultures (ok, rank generalization, but essentially - in my humble opinion – true)

    This article makes a point you probably have seen me make many times: Terrorists don't play by the same rules. In fact, most enemies of the US don't play by the same rules and use our rules against us, while ignoring them on their part. This always struck me as being wrong, somehow.

    A perspective on the the importance of freedom of navigation patrols (and the ability to conduct them) in the East and South China Seas.

    Ash Carter is trying to put a positive spin on things ... I just hope he is right ... but in my gut I have my doubts

    Military chaplains always will have a special place in my heart. For many reasons, but mostly because they helped me keep my sanity. These chaplains are even more special, but I always think about the interviews I had with the five 82d Airborne chaplains who jumped in to Panama for Just Cause. If they keep watch over the Guardians, then who keeps watch over them ... for the burdens they must carry. They told me it is a team effort among themselves. As I said, they are a special breed of cat.

    Apparently much as changed in the cirriculae since my college days. Although, in many ways, when I look back it was not about learning so much as a paper chase. Now, it seems it is more about indoctrination.

    It seems that the US 4th Circuit had a dose of common sense about so-called "assault weapons" which seems to upset the folks at Huff Po.

    For the record, this is Britannica's definition of an assault rifle. I would note that fully automatic weapons are ILLEGAL in the US without going through a series of federal background checks and getting a special federal firearms license.

    This is a very good brief on questions you should answer - man or woman - before you get a firearm for self-defense. While I think everyone should be trained in the safe handling of firearms ... and I mean everyone ... some people probably should choose not to have one.

    Interesting take on Black History Month ... worth thinking about

    UN panel says Julian Assange is being detained arbitrarily ... Huh? Nobody is holding him anywhere. He could leave the Ecudoran Embassy in London any time he wants. Of course, he will find himself probably arrested for jumping bail, and then deported to Sweden who has sexual assault charges pending on him. Nothing arbitrary about that.

    Of course, Julian Assange, ever the narcissist, is claiming this means he has been vindicated and he can go without fear of arrest ... to wit, the British and the Swedes went: Think again

    Sometimes I think that Climate Change alarmists just look for new ways to raise cain. Now not planting the right trees is causing the earth to get warmer.

    But then again, maybe planting new trees is a good idea

    I guess the Democrats really mucked up the Iowa Caucuses ... well, so much for trying to correct the pre-1968 party shennanigans

    I am sorry, but Hillary dissembling about what the FBI is doing? Hello, that is SOP for her.

    It seems that the media and others are trying to close the book on Carly Fiona ... I hope she hangs on - even with the discrimination - keeps plugging

    This actually scares me a bit. Why? Because when regimes get shaky, they are prone to do things that don't go well for the rest of the world.

    ISIS really is a different breed of cat from your normal Jihadi terrorist group ... and that means it has to be fought on different levels and in different ways.

    This article explains a little bit about some of the hurdles facing fighting ISIS

    This could get interesting if the Saudis and the other countries in the Arab world actually do line up and send troops like they did in 1990-91 to fight on the ground.

    This look at the link between the Zika virus and mosquitoes calls for genetic modification to fight the bugs ... but then there are reports that attempts at genetic modification is how we got in this mess.

    This author takes another tack, and calls for bringing back the insecticide DDT ... which is the most effective one, ever, against skeeters and at one time literally was saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

    Sometimes, except for policy wonks, some issues just stay out of our minds ... to our detriment. It is time for the US to reexamine its nuclear arsenal and not take it for granted.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016

    Random Thoughts and Readings for Feb. 3, 2016

    Reminder: Most of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

    More articles for discussion and consideration, now that the world has moved passed the Iowa Caucuses – I think the candidates should get over them and move on rather than petulantly complain that somebody cheated. Politics is a blood sport, and playing rough is part of the game … and in presidential politics, it probably is good preparation for dealing with the global political stage.

    Having said that, let’s advance to what I found during my grazing of the internet.

    Actually, I think the Navy is on to something here. Now, I did learn as a teen how to do celestial navigation but I never used the training. However, it reminds me of something I used to tell my troops back in the National Guard: All this new computer gadgetry is great, until the unit takes a bullet or too much dust or  you run out of batteries, then you dang well better know how to do the same stuff with a map, a chart board and a range-deflection protractor. Otherwise, you are going to be useless.

    There is a new commission report out on the future of the US Army. This article is a bit critical of its focus and probably offers some valid points about the need to review history while thinking outside the box ... and do some realistic assessments on what the Army really needs to prepare for.

    This article looks at the same report and is a lot less critical. Says a lot of good things about it, so the comparison provides good food for thought.

    This essay makes the point that not addressing the most recent experience of the Army's wars  will not help it win future wars. Of course, the argument there really is about what shape will those conflicts take and how can the Army (as well as the other services) be shaped to be successful.

    Women in combat units ... great debate ... but the point here is that a) it is going to happen ... and b) if they are going into combat units then all able-bodied women, like their male counterparts, need to register and be eligible for the draft. In that I agree with the military chiefs.

    This is an interesting piece on losing focus on your strategic objectives that truly lie in the interest of successfully winning a war. Hitler lost his focus at Stalingrad (really a non-strategically vital objective), split his forces, which caused him to fail both objectives and World War II. There really are some very good lessons here.

    The next president - regardless of whom it may be - is going to face a rather prodigious task of recovering from the debacle that has been the Obama Administration in the realm of global security policy.

    A look at how President Obama's policies - under whatever guise you want to cast it - basically has eviscerated the American military to the point where it really is going to be challenged to meet the threats from Russia, China, ISIS and the rest of the chaos in the world.

    This, unfortunately, provides an excellent example of the bubble the President and his followers travel in. The Iranians just aren't playing by the same rule book ... nor is the rest of the world, which in the end analysis really only respects a mailed fist ... despite what progressives may think.

    North Korea's expected launch of a long-range missile - it really doesn't matter if it for launching satellites or nuclear warheads, the tech is the same - probably is going to happen ... and it is yet another example of the shortcomings of the vision of John Kerry and President Obama, etc.

    This article was written in 1999 ... but unfortunately for several iterations of US foreign policy makers - including the current administration - just didn't get the memo. It remains essentially valid today as it was then. And basically is being validated by current events.

    I happen to agree with Paul Greenberg that the fact we have abandoned the ideals put forth by Douglas MacArthur in his last address to the Corps of Cadets at West Point about the importance of "Duty, Honor, Country" in that those ideals have been lost in the intervening years up to now and that the nation ... and our society ... is much the worse for that.

    This is an interesting essay on how capitalism has promoted the equality of our material well-being. That through capitalism and its power of innovation and invention and the mass marketing of the results, more people everywhere share a standard of living where poor people really do have access to the same technology the wealthy have ... amazing isn't it, when you think about it.

    In many ways, there is much truth here ... although I think the peace is much more fragile.

    It really is strange how similar situations are portrayed so differently ... primarily to advance a political agenda that should be an anathema to those who really are dedicated to individual freedom and liberty.

    For those who don't "do" politics ... actually we do it every day ... and I disagree with the assumption that electoral politics is not worth participating in. But it is an interesting point of view.

    This article in the Atlantic tries its best to spin Hillary Clinton's narrow victory as something more than it was ... like it was a triumph over terrible odds. Ah ... that is rather a load of that stuff metaphorically called bovine scatology. Actually it is much more equivalent to the catastrophic near defeats LBJ experienced in the early caucuses and primaries on 1968 that led, very soon after, with the entry of RFK into the race (who stole the thunder from Gene McCarthy who did the heavy lifting) and LBJ's decision not to run.

    When I read this article asking us to cut Hillary some slack, I was struck by the sexist argument that she deserves it because she is a woman. Look folks, the world is not going to cut the next US president any slack, man, woman or orangatang

    Interesting perspective on Clinton's e-mail problems ... and how it threatens to suck Obama into it. It also points out the hypocrisy of prosecuting Gen. David Patraeus and the problem that makes for decision not to prosecute Clinton ... and possibly Obama, for the same violations.

    Back to the Iowa Caucuses ... it seems that Cruz won the GOP round by doing the old fashioned way ... working for his votes. OK, he played some hardball with Ben Carson, which probably wasn't necessary, but everything was legal ... if not necessarily by the Marquess of Queensbury definition of a sportsman-like effort.

    Oh how the pundits are disappointed ... they thought they already had coronated the two major parties nominees. And now, it seems that the other states may just get to actually have a voice in who their party nominees will be, and not the talking heads inside the Beltway and New York City. It might be a long spring campaign, with possibly no resolution. Wouldn't that be refreshing to watch in August: How a brokered convention is conducted in the era of instant social media

    And for those of you out there who live, breathe and die about the latest polling data ... note that, as usual, it is mostly wrong.

    Good advice to the Republican Party from Victor Hanson ... If Trump falters, don't forget the legions who support him ... do what you can to inspire them to stay with the coalition.

    Sadly, there is a lot of truth in this warning about tyranny. Both the left and the right are advancing it with their visions of how government can be the arbiter and solution to all the problems facing the nation. That path, unfortunately, does lead us unto the tyranny of dependency.

    You know, there is enough blame to go around in the Flint water debacle. Whether it is the incompetence and malfeasance of the elected officials that got the city into receivership or the nimcompoops the governor appointed to rescue the city. As I say, pox on all their houses ... and hooray for those non-government groups who are stepping in to help resolve the crisis.

    I suspect that this case could turnout to be a landmark case, for more reasons than seem apparent ... if the court so chooses. A) I hope the Supremes take the case. B) I would hope they would argue it expeditiously and decide it in the current term. Not that that is likely to happen, but I can dream, can't I.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

    Thoughts for Ground Hog Day, 2016

    Reminder: Most of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

    Yikes, is it really the second of February already even? I feel like Bill Murray, only I am trapped in 1968. Oh, well, the Race for the White House has officially begun and I warn  you believe half of what you see, a quarter of what you hear and a slice of what you read … and the picture still probably will be inaccurate. There will be accusations and charges (and just about anything else you can think of) over the next nine months, but just remember most of it is merely political theater. Everything will be spun, parsed and couched in terms that are designed to elicit specific visceral emotional reactions. So be prepared.

    Having said that, I shall once again venture forth into my own commentary on various articles I have found recently … I hope you find my commentary – and the articles referenced – either enlightening, informative, entertaining or thought provoking, for that is my intent.

    This is an interesting article trying to explain the differences between Republicans and Democrats. You can take it or leave it as is your wont.

    From the same author comes a view of what it means to be a progressive.

    It seems that Gen. David Petraeus will keep his fourth star ... after the Obama Administration's floating a trial ballon about taking it away from him for his breach of security and subsequent conviction and fining by a federal court got blown out of the sky by intense flak. It all smacked of a political move to me to discredit Petraeus and an ex-post-facto punishment for a crime that he already had paid his debt for.

    It seems the Chinese were not too happy about this patrol.  In my humble opinion, it probably should become a routine part of a regular (like every two weeks or so) patrol through the area to ensure freedom of navigation.

    Interesting parsing by Snopes, the fact check people. It smacks of listening to Bill Clinton say it depends on what you say "is" means.

    If this surprises anybody ... then they need to wake up and realize this is the way it is. I actually had a visit last week from one of these paid canvassers. We had a very interesting discussion of the fallacy of raising the minimum wage and how it really hurts a lot of people. Oh, and he admittted he was being paid for his efforts, which I told him was right and proper for him to be paid for his services.

    This story illustrates what is meant by American exceptionalism ... We are not talking government largess here ... or even that of just wealthy philanthropists ... but ordinary everyday Americans ... it is an attitude that I find refreshing my belief in my fellow Americans.

    Another article illustrating that the "science" surrounding anthropogenic climate change definitely is not "settled"

    Go! Go! Go! Elon Musk and SpaceX look forward to Mars in the next decade ... go, go, go.

    Interesting article on what-if. Unfortunately, I would challenge its assumptions because neither housing nor food can be produced without cost … somebody somewhere along the food chain has to pay for it ... and that is why communism/socialism always flounder on its own contradictions.

    Interesting concept on recycling old conex shipping containers. Of course, it depends on a reliable of supply of both energy and water.

    The burden of proof is, to say the least, on those who claim that climate change is primarily the result of anthropogenic influences ... and as this thought-provoking piece points out: That proof just isn't there.

    This to me is a typical progressive response to the arguments put forth by the Republican Party. To me, it seems, more of a case of looking for ways to help individual trees rather than the forest at large.

    A thought-provoking piece looking into the problems that resulted from bad analysis and planning when invading Iraq in 2003.

    Interesting discussion on your options when government proves to be too restrictive or "gets in the way". You basically have four options: Which would you choose?

    For those who believe in the liberty and freedom for the individual, it seems we always must be wary of our own internal wishes to rule in an authoritarian model. But then I have contended for a long time that most people would be really satisfied with being ruled by a benevolent despot.

    Drawing a parallel between the "views" of progressives and Muslims ... ouch.

    Victor Hanson on how the last few decades have split California and sent portions back to the Dark Ages

    It seems that much of Europe is waking up to the cultural nightmare that has descended on them with the migration from the Middle East and North Africa in waves that can't or won't be assimilated.

    While memorials to wars long forgotten seem passe these days, this is one that is long overdue

    Is the United States going to be governed by the rule of law or the rule of power, where those with power are immune and above the law? Damn good question. And one we hope will be answered this year.

    I found this site to be interesting and thought-provoking. Not necessarily convincing, nor am I sure I accept a lot of its basic premises and assumptions but they are at least worth reading.

    Friday, January 29, 2016

    Random Thoughts and Readings from 29 Jan 2016

    Reminder: Most of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

    As we close out the month and the week, I suppose I should post my passing observations and commentary on the articles, etc., which have caught my attention of late. I hope you find them informative, if not interesting, educational, thought-provoking and possibly entertaining. With that we once forth venture into the breach:

    While this video commentary is directed at conservatives and Republicans, I think its message should really be listened to by all Americans. Whatever our differences, we should always remember that in the end we are all on the same team ... or at least I would hope so.

    This former Marine's rebuke to Michelle Obama speaks to a core issue about race and being an American. Either we rise to the level of being Americans or even just humans, or we will find outselves mired in divisiveness and conflict. Consider that for awhile.

    Like most apocalyptic forecasts, it seems another one passed this week without happening. You want to know why I am a skeptic about all the hue and cry about the impending disasters from climate change (or whatever is the appropriate term for it these days), this is why. Folks, the science is not settled ... in fact it harbors too many assumptions and leaves out too many variables to be dependable.

    An essay in defense of President Obama and John Kerry's handling of relations with Iran, especially after the seizure of the two patrol boats and their release. A thought-provoking article, but not necessarily one that I find completes the circle. I find it leaves other issues unanswered.

    Another commentary on what the US owes - if anything - to Taiwan and its Asian allies. This is an issue that we need to consider as a people, because it most likely will be a point where we will have to choose whether conflict is in our interet or not.

    I find it unfortunate that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton felt it necessary to express himself this way. Undoubtedly, on some quarters, he indeed is intimidating - if not scary and frightening - but he neither scares nor intimidates me ... and I would hope that would be the case for most fans of American football. He is, without a doubt, a very talented athlete and leader and that is what we should be celebrating.

    I almost led with this item: Alas and alack, an icon will be built no more. Sigh ... and ever since I was a teen-ager I wanted one ... you know they are virtually indestructible.

    The sad thing is the cartoon probably has it right. Cursive is our new hieroplyphics. I have to admit my own penmanship is atrocious and my signature is illegible ... but I can still read it.

    Interesting analysis of the the electorate in 2016 ... and trying to deduce where the "missing white" vote which apparently sat out earlier elections went and whether it will reemerge this cycle.

    Interesting analysis of the 2016 election prospects from a different point of view ... sort of a qualitative assessment which - if it is correct - does not bode well for the Democrats and indicates the Republicans have the best chance at winning the White House - regardless of who their candidates are.

    This is a view on the Russian perspective and why it is somewhat scary ... for many reasons.

    This is a rather longish commentary on how the US can avoid going to war with the Russians. The question is whether following this proscription really is in the best interest of the US and the West.

    This is one of those economic indicators that no one ever talks about but actually truly reflects the status and future of the world economy (as well as national economies) ... Folks, the outlook is not good ... but that doesn't surprise me in and of the least.

    This is a good article that points out the problem with how we view many of our political leaders these days. We expect a president to be able to do far more to solve problems than one person can do without becoming an authoritarian dictator. Granted, a large chunk of people in any country are comfortable with that ... and that is scary

    A little backgrounder and explainer on how the Iowa caucuses came to be and how they work ... just in case you are interested.

    I happen to agree with the premise here espoused by Victor Hanson ... I often do ... but I think it is wrong if not illegal to try to strip Gen. Patreaus of a star.

    To me, in my humble opinion, the question of Ted Cruz's citizenship ranks up there with questions of Obama's or McCain's ... which in other words ... it is a non-issue with me ... but then opponents will stoop to anything to discredit or disqualify other candidates.

    I have made this case for years: Standing on principle is good, but if you oppose something you need to have a replacement, a solution, something to hang on to while you make the change.

    This commentary is focused on changes in the military, but it really makes the point about all human activities and innovation and changes at all levels and activities in our world ... The Prince's advisor was right.

    While this author obviously supports Planned Parenthood, she makes a good point how the Houston grand jury's decision to indict two undercover journalists on somewhat sketchy and technical charges should be sending a chill of self-censorship thought the field of investigative journalism.

    When you are considering the PPH indictments in Texas, you might also want to consider these points ... which are valid, in my humble opinion.

    Interesting that this should be brought up ... as it is a point that I have often made ... of course the question is how relevant is the context of the Treaty of Westphalia in today's environment and does it possibly hold some key to peace in the Middle East.

    Probably - in a more realistic world - Sen. McCain would be correct. I am just not sure the American people have the stomach for it with our current generational outlook. It was easier in the 1950s and 1960s when there really was a bear to be watching for.

    Boy, is the US Navy being very careful not to offend the Iranians these days ... either that or they are able to discern whether drones actually pose a threat or not ... or maybe it didn't show up on radar ... and that prospect is scary

    The funny thing about this story is that it ignores the truth that slavery was common, if not rampant, among the Native American tribes themselves. So we are to condemn European settlers for allowing the same practice. I really have a problem with that.

    Rut-RO! The WaPo rips apart Bernie Sanders campaign promises and platform ... not good for the Bern

    This is how the rest of the world is being informed about the foreign policy platforms of some of the leading candidates for president (of both parties). Note that the Voice of America is the official US government outlet.

    Next to last, but not least, is this report from the Boston Globe on Thursday's GOP debate (without Trump) ... Having sat through both rounds, I found it probably the most accurate account so far.

    I have seen this progressive meme posted in several place ... I offer this as a its counter point ... remember folks ... there is no free lunch ... no matter how much you want to believe there can be one.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016

    Random Thoughts for Jan 27, 2016

    Reminder: Most of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

     

    So far so good, said the man who jumped off the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building as he passed each floor. Once more, here are some random thoughts on the news of the day and other events.

    Random Thought #1: If Donald Trump doesn’t participate in the Fox News Republican Presidential Primary Candidate Debate Thursday night, my personal opinion of him will ratchet down several notches. Why? Because a president has to be willing to go up against hostile reporters and audiences – if not leaders of other countries – and hold his own against their biases and prejudices. A leader who is not willing to do that demeans himself and not those who he seeks to minimize. Political leaders are going to face hostility from a host of fronts, and be asked unfair and biased questions at every turn. It is how they face those challenges are the mark of how they will lead. Nuff said on that topic.

    This is an interesting take - which I find considerable to agree with - on the angst between the political "establishment" and the populist revolt that seems to be shaking the political process on both sides of the political aisle. It is quite thought provoking in my humble opinion and I sincerely encourage you to read this article.

    Victor Hanson strikes again. I really like his perspective on most issues and so I commend one of his latest efforts on US policies. TR was right.

    There is a certain amount of truth to this analysis of recent polling data.  And the sad thing is that most Americans are feeling a disconnect between them and their elected representatives. I don't know if that is a product of the 24-hour news cycle, or the social media or politicians putting careers ahead of the integrity of doing public service.  But the option is scary, as more people see turning to active militant resistance - whether it racial or political or economic – as the solution and that is getting worrisome.

    On another front, just because it seems at the moment to be not likely, or even improbable, not prepareing for this contingency really is malfeasance on the part of American citizens ... not just the government, not just the military, but the rest of us smucks who should realize that it can happen and to be prepared will be cheaper than not being prepared.

    A very valid point here about the reasons why we fight ... unfortunately, I don't see it going away anytime soon. Something about humans being humans in my book.

    Another story with a very valid point of view ... but it also points out that unless human nature changes (which it won't, in my humble opinion) this what we are left with. If you disagree with me, then you are an evil vile person.

    Another essay by Victor Hanson ... this one on the new segregation that seems to be in vogue right now ... we are deliberating separating ourselves in to racial enclaves in order to make some people feel safe or to meet some arbitrary standard of how people should be distributed in the society's scheme of things. I agree that if we keep going this way instead of assimilating and amalgamating into one group - humans or Americans, take your pick - then the end result is going to be catastrophic.

    Thomas Sowell on how we seem fixated on finding villians for all that beset us so that we can be victims with grievances that can demand that we are entitled to reparations of some sort in compensation for whatever it was the villians did to us ... or we perceive they did to us ... it doesn't matter whether anybody really did, just that it is perceived that way.

    A slight digression here on why barns used to almost always be red. It explains why the red paint used to paint barns was so cheap ... called the law of supply and demand ... which is why barns were painted red ... get it: Red paint was the cheapest paint farmers could find.

    This author is correct ... and it is sad ... but the reason for the populist "revolt" that seems to be prevelant this election cycle is that people really are getting tired of being looked down on and treated with condescenion by our various elites, whether it political, social, economic, media, academic ... or whatever. Sooner or later, the "underclass" will get pissed off ... have we reached that point yet?

    This seems to be the next medical catastrophe that we have to ru‌n in circles, scream and shout in panic (to use the phrase Pappy taught me). Yes, it seems that this disease is coming to America (and at least one report says it already is here) but I don't think panic in is the orders for the day.

    Interesting backgrounder on the term Nazi, and about labels in general. Thought provoking.

    This is a type of story that I find quite distasteful. If someone is your political opponent then let's rain on their parade by pointing out that their father or grandfather or some ancester did something that you find objectionable today. All the more to discredit them because you don't like their political views. In short, this is crap, but I see the progressives keep trotting this bovine scatalogy out ... forgetting that some of their heroes' parents are guilty of the same sins.

    This scathing commentary by a Canadian across the border from Detroit/Flint makes a very valid point that we often don't want to face: Our governments suck at doing their basic jobs.

    This is really going to stir the pot, but hopefully the Oregon standoff will end peacefully, without any more bloodshed. We don't know what went down out there, so speculation is fruitless.

    With the arrest of the leadership of the Oregon occupiers, the leadership shifts. Maybe they will withdraw peacefully ... I hope that local, state and federal authorities let them, without retribution, because that will only fan the flame of dissent.

    A view from the BBC reporters of the Oregon occupation and arrests.

    A YouTube video worth watching from one of the people with those arrested by state and federal authorities. I hope people heed his pleas.

    A somewhat less balanced report, but still ... its does let alternative reports have some airing.

    A very good dissertation on how free markets work and how government price and wage controls serve to distort the market and create problems. Worth considering.

    This writer makes the case why Bernie Sanders would make a very bad president ... I won't argue with him ... unfortunately, he apparently thinks Hillary Clinton would be a better option ... and he loses me there.

    An analysis of the Trump candidacy and what it supposedly means. It is worth reading.

    Another story about Trump and his supporters, which harks back to an article above that talks about framing those who disagree with you as evil and vile people ... which isn't really true, but it is the way it is being put out there.

    The indictment of the undercover journalists who filmed Planned Parenthood executives discussing providing fetal body parts from abortions on what really are technical charges should, and probably will, send a chill of self-censorship through the entire journalistic community that occasionally uses undercover methods to get their story. While the grand jury refused to indict the PPH leaders, I am not sure that absolves them from the moral issue, which as I see it is needed to resolve the legal issue and that is answering exactly when do we recognize the start of a human life and when does that lifeform merit the full protection of the law.

    While supporters of PPH trumpet that this absolves the organization, I am reminded of the reaction to the no-bill given to Darryl Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. I guess it all matters on how  you want to view the situation.

    The New York Times editorially sees the decision to indict the filmmakers as a vindication of PPH ... I think that is a bit of a stretch, both legally and morally.

    The filmmaker offers this defense of his actions ... and points out the legal case if far from over, nor is the political case, which is separate from the legal case, regardless of how various opinion makers and leaders want to couch the situation.

    Another counterpoint to the articles celebrating the absolut‭ion or vindication of PPH by pointing out the legal case is far from over.

    And lastly for tonight, an article pointing out the economic realities of rising wages ... you make not like this explanation, but it really is the cold hard truth ... and that is how it should be, in my humble opinion.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016

    Random Thoughts and readings for Jan 26, 2016

    Reminder: Most of the comments below are links to stories being commented upon. I urge you to read the links for background to my commentary.

    Once more we venture forth … the first effort with this new software seemingly a success.

    I hope you find these readings, essays and articles interesting and informative. … and entertaining as well. As usual, you are welcome to disagree with this old news editor’s commentary and post your comments on the appropriate venue.

     

    This is the replacement for the venerable HMMWV or Humvee or Hummer ... which was the replacement for the even more venerable Jeep or Quarter-Ton Truck. A quarter-ton truck this monster isn't but I suppose it gets the job done.

    According to this HuffPo, white folks don't care enough about diversity. I suppose that is right ... because to me, and I know I am a cranky, old semi-conservative but mostly libertarian, the important thing is not the color of the child in the classroom or their ethnic heritage but the quality of the education they are getting about being an American (I know, I am bad) and learning basic competencies in a host of subjects that help them survive in our Brave New World of the 21st Century, while remembering the lessons of humankind from the hundreds of millenia that preceded us.

    A case for Medicare for all (as proposed by Bernie Sanders) ... well, I suppose it is a good idea if individual rights and liberties are not all that important to you and you think that everybody is dumber than a rock and needs Bernie and his army to tell you what decisions to make (and no, you will not be allowed to make any mistakes). The last point made would be moot because Medicare would determine the price of everything and the providers would provide on Medicare's terms ... or they would be prosecuted ...

    An interesting article on an apparent effort on the part of the UN to get everyone everywhere to recognize the right to gay marriages. Hey, that may fly in the liberal democracies of the West, but I suspect for the vast majority of other cultures this is liable to get spit back in their face. But it is another example of LBGT militias trying to force an acceptance to their behavior, regardless of cultural prohibitions.

    An interesting glimpse into the future that really is a reflection of the past. Just think how far flying above the ground has come in the last 110+ years. I wonder how far it will take us?

    I know how everybody (well, all my progressive peeps) like to wave the Scandanavian countries (particularly Sweden) on how the Socia-Democratic (aka demi-socialism) works, but according to this analysis they are wrong. Interesting and thought provoking article.

    This is an example of the Obama Administration's leadership continues an old Army tradition of just doing stupid things.

    This story is an illustration of the power of expectations ... and probably its pitfalls. Back in the day, so to speak, a starter house was 900 to 1000 square feet ... and you were happy with that much space after living in cramped apartments and dorm rooms.

    Gee, you wonder why so people seem to think you have to follow the law ... particularly immigration laws, rules and regulations ... cause you can get away with it and fewer and fewer prosecutions are being made. Well, we will see how well the open borders mantra plays out. It seems the Germans, particularly, and most of Europe is having second doubts about it.

    This is what happens when you don't have freedom of the press, assembly, religion or conscience. Unfortunately, there are those in the US - on both sides of the political spectrum - who would make just the same threats in the name of political correctness

    Assuming you can get past the WSJ paywall here, this article points out why the current "it was the hottest year ever" mantra is a snow job ... literally.

    I feel sorry for this young female Democrat ... and I think she is wrong. Oh, she is most definitely correct in her assessments about why she can't vote for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (or even O'Malley), but she is wrong in not voting and not participating ... I think she should take a second look at all the candidates (even those evil vile Republicans) and risk the wrath of God, or maybe just her father, and vote for the one who she is most comfortable with. Not the one she likes, but the one that she thinks will do her interests the least harm ... that is the way a whole lot of us usually vote.

    Fascinating piece from a writer at the LA Times. It is so true ... and sometimes we forget it at our own peril. The takeaway I have is to remember the adage of former House Speaker Tip O'Neal: all politics is local ... and that even holds true in other countries ... so they are not going to act in what we perceive to be their best interest, but in what they perceive to be their own best interest within their own national power structures.

    This WAPO Op-Ed piece points how the Obama Administration's propensity for making deals - like those with Iran - really are doing the US no good in dealing with other groups in the Middle East. Not that that is any news, or shouldn't be to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of world news.

    This essay explores how President Obama's nuclear deal with the Iranians basically is off to a really bad start ... other than being entirely unenforceable. OH WELL, we get what we vote for .... might be something we should think about when we visit the polls this election cycle.

    How does one describe this? It was a link posted by my high school guidance counselor (who ranks up there among the saints in my book, despite the revelation about her sexual orientation, which doesn't matter to me at all ... she still is super in my book) and it is about the concept of "white privilege". Personally, I think it is a pile of the stuff that comes out of the south end of a north bound male bovine. First of all, it stinks of racism ... the very racism it accuses whites of. Secondly, it demeans minorities by assuming that all white families are rich, involved in their children's educations and going to help them through college.  Ahhhh ... I find that a patently false assumption and rather disgusting. Having said that, I undertand that cultural and economic conditions definitely hold people back. Guess what? That is life. Life is that way. It isn't fair. It doesn't give everybody the same opportunities, skills, talents, personalities, drive, whatever. No, people are individuals so there is no way to equalize all opportunities so that outcomes can be "fairer" (Whatever the heck that means, because elifino). No, what the individual should do is do the absolute best with the tools and opportunities they have with dignity and integrity. Anything less is wrong.

    I love when old stories get played as big exposes ... Heck, Rumsfeld himself posted this memo on his web site back 2011 - as the article does admit. Folks, the war in Iraq has moved on. Get over it.

    This is definitely a thought provoking piece ... glad to see I am not the only one who has thought of missile armed tramp frieghters launching nukes into the atmosphere over the US ... but that being aside ... the prospect of what would happen when the electric grid goes DOWN down is really scary.  I mean, really really really scary.

    It seems House Speaker Paul Ryan is considering trying to get Congress to exercise its constitutional perogative and duty ... as far war is concerned. The question remains as to what form such a authorization for military force will take.

    Over in the South China Sea, I hope this article is correct ... because the potential for things going horribly, horribly wrong seem so very high to me.

    Warning: the Duffleblog is like the Onion: Having said that, there is so much truth in this it ain't even funny anymore.

    This is why I have problems with the progressive-liberal-Democrat approach to everything ... it is all based on envy, jealousy and resentment. Folks, in my humble opinion, if you feel any of those emotions toward others, then the problem lies with you and not them. You best get over it and start working on what you can to do what is best for you and not worry about what somebody else has that you don't

    I am not sure if anyone has a "right" to fly on any airline ... but this takes the cake as far as I am concerned.

    So much for this edition … I have more topics lined up … but I am tired … and time to take my meds and go to bed … I hope y’all have a nice time reviewing these. I sure did have a good time reading them.