Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Great Ruskie Bust

What are we to make of the headline-busting "bust" of twelve Russians for hacking Dem Party computers, releasing the supposedly confidential info there, and thus messing around with an American election or three?

Notice my question... "What are we to MAKE of" the above.
For to me that is the real question. One that is in and of itself its own answer.

This act by the Department of Justice has no meaning in a legal sense. The Russians ain't done nothing (yes, double negative -- perfect for here) that they (and the US government) have not been doing since at least 1918. And in this case it had absolutely no effect on any outcomes apart from raising the decibel level.

And that is exactly what this supposed 'bust' is to do as well.

Think of how much there is right now that the "Department of Justice" (sorry, but those scare quotes are needed) needs to drown out. -The Mueller idiocy. The success of the Trump Administration's policies. The slow reveal of the DoJ's own malfeasance in trying to upset the last election.

How better to do this than by a phony 'bust' of some ugly Ruskies?

Do they really expect the Russian government to extradite these people for trial here? (Would they 'bust' 'em if that was even a possibility? With the Russians thus able, via American criminal law practices, to demand access to all the information the DoJ won't even allow congressional committees to see? Really?)

And what about the timing? This occurring just as 1) a key FBI official is telling congress between smirks that 'no. I will not answer your questions -- the FBI lawyers tell me I cannot' and 2), President Trump about to meet with Russian President Putin -- and pull off who knows what State Department mortifying surprise?

No, the Russians here are not the target. We are. You, me and our elected president. -Our growing self-confidence and demand for taking control of what is ours -- control that threatens everything the so-called "DoJ" and the rest of "State" looks upon as its own.

Will this gambit work?

I think not.

Yes, NY Times readers will nod their heads in agreement, just as they are inclined and have been trained to do.

Those who live in the social media/tabloid world (increasingly the same thing) will ignore it as far less interesting then, say, four woman beating up a waitress at an Applebees.

But the bulk of thinking Americans will see it as just what it is -- another attempt at gaming us through the old and now largely ignored media circus.

No, they -- those perpetrating this farce -- won't go away. But their hold is day by day, and act by act, weakening.

This entire gambit is equally an example of that -- and an accelerator of their demise.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

An Overdue Apology



It struck me while reading the unreported parts of the "news" how really unbalanced my own thinking and writing has been. I mean it's fine to be glad about low unemployment across the board and such, but aren't business owners, factory managers, shipping directors -- aren't those people Americans as well? Shouldn't I really be considering their plight too? After all its not just workers that are having to deal with the changes since the Trump economy exploded. These peoples' problems also are real!

Think of group one, above. Those business owners. With demands on them growing what is going to happen to their summer vacation plans? Its easy to say we don't care -- but these are often family people. "Sorry honey -- gotta tell the kids -- there is no way I can join you like we planned on that vacation. The phone -- it's now ringing twenty-four/seven. Three of my top managers have left for higher paying jobs. Even my admin assistant has left me. Someone has to answer those calls. And someone has too figure out how to get all those orders filled. Its all falling on me. Day after day after day!. Vacation? I can't even think of taking timer off!"

The fact is that those business owners' plight is real and its simply not fair to ignore them or pretend it doesn't matter just because they are rich and getting richer.

Then there are those factory managers I mentioned above. Do we realize the stress these changes in the economy is putting on them?

"More and more and more! They keep demanding more! Bigger orders that they need now, always now!. I mean what do they expect me to do with the warehouse filled one day and emptied out by the next? It takes time to find skilled workers. Such don't just get in line any more -- begging for work."

"I put up ads and the few who answer them look at our wage and benefit packages and say 'are you kidding me? I can get 40% more just up the street.'"

"And then there is the enlargement of the factory floor. We rented that space out to the welfare office and signed a ten year contract with them. They may no longer need it, but they've got it and we're stuck with no place to expand. -And even if we can find the space that doesn't immediately solve the problem. Manufacturing equipment orders now have to go in months in advance. It like the fifties again and I'm no longer a young man."

"God I miss those golf afternoons!"

And then there are the shipping directors. "We need trucks! We need truck drivers! There are none anyplace! What am I supposed to do -- drive the rigs myself?"

"Oh, and the overtime we are paying. Two or three times what we used to pay during the Christmas rush -- and its Summer -- the supposedly slow time of the year."

So to all you business owners, plant managers, shipping directors -- please accept my apology for ignoring your plight. And anyone else, too, who is being run ragged by what is happening in our nation.

But hang on -- Trump only has, likely, six more years. With any luck at all you get some typical political schmo into the White House then and we'll all finally be able to get some rest.



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Friday, June 15, 2018

Making Sense of President Trump's Numbers


headline based on a Gallup poll tells us that "Donald Trump is more popular with Republicans than almost any president since WWII with an approval rating of 87 per cent." That, we are informed in that same piece, is even higher than the numbers among Democrats for JFK.

How can this be when the President's overall approval rating among voters is below 50%?

In fact those numbers make perfect sense. They fit what we could expect in a politically (and otherwise) divided nation for a president who is, some say, like none before him when it comes to doing what he promised voters he would do.

President Trump's theme, both as he campaigned for the office, and daily since he won the position, is to "Make America Great Again." Now one would think that such a goal would itself be universally popular, with, perhaps, just some question about how that was to be accomplished, or specifically on what basis that "greatness" was to be evaluated

But is restoring the nations economic footing a partisan thing -- or something we'd expect all to see as great? Is greatly rising employment being experienced by every group -- educated, and less educated, skilled and less skilled, black, white, Hispanic and Asian, male and female -- is that of only partisan interest?

The answer seems to be, rather shockingly, yes.

This past week a once popular TV personality, Bill Maher, said that he was hoping for a major recession -- this despite knowing the pain and suffering it would cause many, many people. To him -- a man of significant wealth -- such loss of what one would think everyone judged as "greatness" would be desirable if it hurts the president's popularity and support.

That is how divided out nation is. Some see improved life and security for all as "great." Others do not.

And for that reason President Trump, who has done even more than he promised in more than a few areas -- things that are benefiting almost all Americans -- is loved and supported by some, and loathed and unsupported by others.

The distinction seems to simply be how one feels about America and the daily joy and satisfaction, plus the future hopes and dreams, of the American people.

Bottom line: Are you for them, or against them?

That 87% of Republicans have come to support President Trump -- even those to whom his 'NY ways' are foreign and, perhaps even off-putting -- says a lot about both the man, the party and about America as a whole.

That so many Democrats do not -- well that speaks just as loudly.

The good President Trump is doing goes beyond numbers, or even people's hopes and dreams. For along with all that it is opening eyes to the truth of where the various political entities stand regarding the welfare of the American people. That some are for us, and other simply don't seem to care.  And for that eye opening all of our Republic should be glad.




Saturday, April 28, 2018

War is an Ugly Thing



War is an ugly thing.

After years of looking to fine gentleman generals – men with only one flaw: that they repeatedly lost battle after battle – President Lincoln found Ulysses S. Grant.  Grant was in some ways less than a perfect gentleman.  He seemed focused on just one thing: winning.  "The art of war is simple enough," Grant had said.  "Find out where your enemy is.  Get at him as soon as you can.  Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on."

Was it really that simple?  Not to many educated gentlemen.  And some such "gentlemen of the press" thought it their duty to say so.  "He is a drunkard!" they wrote – not entirely inaccurately.  Others focused their columns on the losses among Grant's own troops, which seemed inordinately high.  Others wrote endlessly of the pain of families they knew who had lost loved ones fighting in Grant's endless bloody battles and, some said, pursuit of his own personal glory.

President Lincoln thought otherwise.  Any or even all of those "facts" might be true, but he had finally found someone who took the war to the enemy and, yes, won.

The publications of the period found themselves in a hard place.  How should they editorially balance the basic values they had long stood for against such things as protecting troop morale?  What were they to do with writers who themselves were friends and gentlemen but who simply could not, or would not, get fully behind the winning general?  One who had finally rallied the troops and raised the hopes of a people long worn down by hopelessness and defeat?

Tough questions, these. 

So it is today.  Where does the balance stand between old ideals and the new situation?  How important is reporting the full truth about a general, including his personal failings and weaknesses, in comparison to protecting the morale of the troops and that of the citizenry, to keeping the finally achieved momentum toward victory moving forward?

Such a choice was seemingly faced by the publishers of RedState – and they apparently chose to stick with the general, letting go numerous respected writers who simply, for whatever reason – maybe even and simple love of "truth" and "principle" – refused to "get on board."

Yes, war is an ugly, ugly thing.

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The above piece is an edited version as it appeared on American Thinker

Thursday, March 29, 2018

It's Over. America Remains Ours


There comes a time when one must realize and accept that one's argument lost.  This is something that every adult experiences.

It needn't mean accepting that you were wrong. Or that you didn't "deserve" to win.  No, just that you didn't. You lost. The game's over. It is time to move on. To be quiet. To go home.

I can't  but think that any objective viewer cannot help but see that we here in America have reached such a time. -That the big "argument" that has been going on -- the one about the underlying worth of our nation and the value of the principles on which it was built -- has been publicly won. And that in the nation's favor.

Yes, you can still think that we, the winners of that debate, were wrong, but the fight is in fact over. Now all that's left is acceptance of that fact, or denial and self pity.

In a real sense that argument was won a year ago last November. Or, one could argue, even before that, when Donald Trump took out all his adversaries and got the Republican nomination.  That because among his adversaries was a voice for every argument for what makes up good government here in America.  The other side in the election itself was simply the remnants of power trying to hold on to the same -- with old, stale, ideas and jaded, empty, promises.

But the losing side on that clear November night a year past didn't, couldn't, wouldn't accept it. They were certain that they were somehow right -- that they had been all along -- and that all that was needed was a bit of time and some loud, coordinated, voices of "reason" -- and then the nation as a whole would see and follow and be thankful.

Uh uh. 'Twas not to be.

This past week or so has, to borrow a phrase, "put the kibosh" on all of that.  The Stormy Daniel debacle on CBS's 60 Minutes, the news out of Korea (how funny -- yes, and revealing -- to see those two things set side-by-side as if they were equals), the restoration of the bull market on Wall Street, and now... and now...  the Roseanne show revival and its 18 million plus viewers.

You, Dear Coasties, lost.
You in editorial position at the NY Times and the WaPo, you lost.
You Hollywood types -- despite all your self-assurances (to say nothing of your self-congratulations) and despite your pretty faces and lovely gowns, you lost.
You in the news rooms, with your deep, serious, sonorous, voices, you lost.

We the people listened. We were unimpressed.

Your machinations of power, your lies, your corruption and attempts at control. They all failed.

You may still believe in yourselves -- in your supposed cause (whatever that may be?) -- but no one else does. In fact we are no longer even really listening. Well, except for a chuckle.

Trump not only won on election night, but he was won again and again ever since.

You can deny it. But you cannot any longer even pretend to be winning.

It's over.
Go home.
Be quiet.

America remains ours.



A slightly modified form of this article appeared on
American Thinker.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Love of 1950s Sci-Fi. Why?

For a few days I've been participating in a really fun discussion on a forum of fellow musicians that focuses on 1950s Science Fiction films.  I was kind of amazed how many folks there love these as much as I do.  And not just older guys either.  Many younger ones who discovered them a while back, or even more recently, via TV and cable.

After several pages of discussion on each of our favorites -- many of which were shared -- one member new to the conversation asked about the thus far unmentioned Japanese sci-fi.  Films such as 1954's Godzilla.

One or two forum members said they liked those films, most had nothing to say.  I said I wasn't a huge fan, but had no idea why.

As is my want that got me thinking.  Is there a "why"?   And the answer is yes.  Here is what, after some thought, I concluded:

Sci-fi films of the fifties were in several ways much like another motion picture genre:  The American western.  Both were entirely products of the American culture of the time -- and for both genres that was a big part of their appeal.

Both westerns and sci-fi typically focused on situations of public risk, and then found the answer in the actions of an individual, often an outsider -- one who was generally viewed as unimportant and sometimes even looked down upon.

In the western genre such were Shane, the gunfighter who enters a community by chance, acts on principle beyond self, and saves that community from an 'alien' force -- he then moves on. Or Will  Kane in High Noon -- an older, retiring, lawman who is himself threatened by a murderous 'alien' force -- and then, after years of serving the town, finds himself totally alone, with everyone else in denial, thinking that the danger is his alone and one from which he should simply flee.  Kane, too, saves the town. Then he moves on.

Fifties sci-fi in much like that.  The "hero" is typically a nobody -- a teenager from outside the 'in group' -- such as "Steve," played by Steve McQueen, in 1958's  The Blob. Or the quiet geologist in "The Monolith Monsters."

Each of these become aware of the threat and takes charge, first for the care of an early victim of the 'monster', (an old man in The Blob, a little school girl in the Monolith Monsters), then for the entire town when the authorities -- the police (The Blob) or the state's governor (The Monolith Monsters) -- gets tied up with 'more important' things.

There have been popular westerns and sci-fi made elsewhere. Sergio Leone's westerns, The Man With No Name trilogy for instance, and sci-fi such as those popular 1950s Japanese monster films (of which Godzilla is just one).  These films have much to recommend them of an for themselves, but they are  very different from what American fifties westerns and sci-fi films culturally represented. Indeed -- and interestingly -- they are in many ways much more akin to what today's society has become.  Places where individuals are at best anti-heroes.  -Where communal salvation comes -- if it comes at all --  not so much from an average individual putting himself on the line, but from the top down -- the work of government agencies and the like. Or some magically empowered "super hero." A world where everyday men and women are basically seen as victims; as mere fodder, grist for the mill.

Much that has filled the news of late has been just this:  The cry for someone -- not meaning some individual, but government -- to "do something." To remove the threats. Yes, and people's fears.

How interesting it was, then, for me to see how, even unrealized, there was in my pre-teen years a strong attachment to that old, and to some, outdated, American ideal. A way of viewing life mythologized in these film forms that focused on an individual acting with conscience and strength. On this being central to a community's well-being.

Yeah, I'm old school.  And that in part explains why I'd often prefer to fill a Sunday afternoon with these old sci-fi films than the modern variety -- those where the focus in on wowing the film viewer with special effects and emphasizing how close we all are to death and destruction -- unless "somebody (else) does something."



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Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Homeless -- "What would you do?"


I recently posted to Facebook an editorial from the L.A. Times about that city's (and others roundabout) severe and still growing problem with "the homeless." The troubled people, their needs, the terribly destructive affect such are bringing to the city's quality of life.  Yes, and the sometimes serious health crises their rapidly increasing presence has brought in its wake.

A long-time friend who is a resident in a community some miles from L.A. shared a caring and thoughtful response. He spoke of  his "mixed feelings about the group of homeless who roam around the park not more than a mile from my home" who "while relatively peaceful ...litter the grounds with all kinds of refuse." Of how "the recreational area where my children played are empty when the homeless sleep on the benches nearby and drive the families away" and how such have taken up residence, too, in the local library. About how "the staff is politely accommodating (as required by law) but must citizens put up with the common areas being used as a toilet?"

He spoke of his own concerns and actvity trying to find even a workable short term solution, and that while recognizing that "what is ultimately going to work to erase homelessness is anybody’s guess."

His thoughtful, deeply felt, and much appreciated comment ended with a question: "...how would you handle a sudden influx of the homeless into P________?"

Here, posted for my regular blog readers, was my response...



*****

K___, your's was a thoughtful answer -- deserving of more than a reply -- worthy of thought. And one that lead me to both think -- and to realize how ludicrous it was for me to do so while in my warm and comfortable home, surrounded by love and beauty, while making blueberry pancakes -- a long-time Sunday ritual -- to bring into my always smiling wife who is snugly wrapped in a blanket.

Where to even start? (and how it keep it appropriate-to-the-venue short?)

First off I realized that no frank answer would make for a good Hallmark Channel presentation. 

I started yet smaller... What if some down-on-their-luck people started an encampment somewhere on my property? Would I allow that?

No. 

I do keep it open for hikers, hunters, bird watchers, picnickers, and have had youths build blinds and small encampments -- a campfire and so forth. Such were welcome. But to take up residence? No.

Part of that is because such grows. One family becomes two then twelve. Appreciation becomes a right. And the law, generally, is so open to "interpretation" that I could not count on it if such became my only recourse.

But then what would I do? 

First find if they were locals. Then, if yes, see if the local family services could help. The goal even there would be for them to fairly quickly vacate.

But why the question of whether they were locals? The answer to me is in nature -- man's nature. Individual, family, tribe. I can care about the abstractions of "fairness" and "justice." But cannot care for the world. Big things for short periods. Small things for long periods. 

Okay, what about in a public park?

Basically the same. The town's shared spaces are just that -- the towns people's shared community spaces. The bigger "family." ("Tribe?)

No, out they must go. Not preferably cruelly, but go they must.

But where? 

The best answer is the old one: "Across the tracks."

That was what American society -- one built on personal liberty and responsibility -- came up with. For those who by choice, genetics, chance -- whatever -- had a non community-values way of living. They were free to do so -- "across the tracks."

Thus there was "the Bowery." Thus there was the "combat zone." Bars, shooting galleries, hookers, families with no responsible heads -- all of that.

Nope -- nothing "Hallmark" about it.

Does such "work"? Not in an idealized way. But better than anything else. For one it is self-contained.For another, self limiting. And nothing else that I have seen is.

"If you build it they will come."

Yup. Public housing. Free this and that. 

Free universities too I guess. But make them open to all, and not admission-standards based -- and well, we see where that took us. To just what your local library has become. And public rest rooms. And parks.

Now your local situation is not the same. The barn door was left open. The cows are wherever. The careful farmer no longer holds sway. 

How to clean up that mess "neatly" I have no idea. Today even what used to be called "slum clearance" is seen as something else. The once honored "smart" and "industrious" are today seen as the thieves. Of places. Of other's cultures. 

Nope. Do what you can. Be kind as you can. Genuinely -- not as mere manners. But kindness includes protecting what is good. What brings others here. They want it too! 

Fair enough. You want it? Here is how you get it... (and it is not what you wish to hear).

Is that an answer?

*****

Is it?


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