sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, January 31, 2011

California: The Golden State

There are rumors that the streets of California are paved with (other people's) gold. It would seem to be the case. $69 million in California Welfare Funds have been spent worldwide...on vacations. The Las Vegas economy has seen a boost courtesy of California's Taxpayer hand-outs to their welfare recipients...

California's $19 billion deficit?  NO PROBLEM...

All this can be yours when you sign up for welfare in The Golden State!

Casting Blame in Egypt

Blame Hosni Mubarak.

He wanted very much for his son, Gamal, to become the next strongman-for-life in Egypt, but nobody else in Egypt saw it that way.  There was going to be a minor civil war when Hosni Mubarak died as the army, the rich merchants (bazar) and possibly others grappled for the brass ring. Omar Suleiman, head of the Egyptian Intelligence Service is now Vice President as a hedge against things getting too far out of hand in the elitist circles, but nobody knows who will have a chair when the music stops, do they?

The demonstrators are the wild card in the current 'crisis in Egypt' and there is no question but what the Muslim Brothers follow the Rahm Emanuel doctrine that there's no such thing as a "bad crisis".  For the moment, there seem to be many factions of demonstrators and they all want something different. The Egyptian economy is very bad and unless the democratic reformers can offer something substantive, they're unlikely to prevail. The same runs true for the radical Muslims, who can only offer 70 virgins after they're dead. 

The Egyptian outcome has less to do with what Iran or Americas want than what the Egyptian people perceive to be the course that puts more food in their bellies. The Army remains intact and is not deserting the way the Iranian army did under the Shah - at least not yet. The Army will support the power elite that rules in Egypt and as cooler heads prevail, they are likely to be the broker that cuts a deal in the short term (which would leave Mubarak in charge but politically weaker).

And from one of my contacts in Egypt:

Note the picture of Col. Sanders defaced in Cairo - do these people have any limits?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crisis in Egypt & Social Media


SOURCE: (LINK HERE) is one of the reasons why the Egyptian government has worked to block Twitter in Egypt. 

The Egyptian operational plan has been previously published and it might aid those who are interested in the politics and evolution of the situation to read it (LINK HERE). The Op. Plan which has been widely circulated on Twitter was also picked up by the Atlantic Monthly

Though I'm not 'breaking news' by any means, the people interested in communicating via internet in Egypt are successfully doing so through the use of dial-up modems. So while the Egyptian government has taken out some of the routing capabilities of networked servers, that is being circumvented through the use of the telephone system, which is still operating. (READ MORE HERE - LINK)

For the most part, the outcomes of these sorts of uprisings in the Middle East create a worse situation than the one that previously existed. I'm not predicting doom and gloom by any means, merely looking at the past and projecting previous results to the present situation.

Karmapa Politics

There is a disturbance in the force - and ripples are blasting out from India and Asia. So I'm reporting it here for my blog readers. (caveat, I am not a Buddhist and have no faith-related axe to grind)

Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje (25), is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Buddhism. He is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.

In January, 2000, the Karmapa fled Tibet and sought refuge in India. Since then he has lived in the Gyuto Tantric monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala - the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Yesterday, Himachal Pradesh police today raided the 17th Karmapa’s home and claimed to have seized six suitcases containing unexplained cash in Indian and foreign currency.  $200,000 is not that much money for a religious leader to have, unless it's India and then it's a scandal. The Karmapa, as with the Dalai Lama, receives donations from the faithful worldwide. 

Dorje has been under scrutiny by Indian security agencies since he arrived in India, eleven years ago. He lives in Sidhbari, 10km from the Dalai Lama’s residence. Indian police confined the Karmapa’s movements to within 15km of his home since his arrival in India, and does not allow him to visit the Dalai Lama too frequently. Dare I ask why? 
According to The Telegraph, "On July 25, 2009, the Karmapa was given only 30 minutes to meet the Dalai Lama. Earlier, three consecutive requests from him to see the spiritual leader were turned down,” a source close to the Dalai Lama said. Since July 2008, the police have refused to let the Karmapa visit other monasteries in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir that are located close to the China border.
"Dorje has also been banned from travelling abroad. He had toured the US in 2008, when he visited New York and San Francisco in an attempt to raise his international profile. He is keen to visit America again but the government has not budged."
Denounced as a Spy? Really?

Sources cited by The Telegraph (Calcutta, India) said the government had increasingly curbed the movements of the “Boy Karmapa” over the past few years under suspicion that Beijing had stage-managed his “escape” so he could keep an eye on the Dalai Lama’s activities.

Is it about graft and corruption in the Indian Government?

A month ago, when the Karmapa began building a multi-crore religious structure on a 75-acre site in Kotla, 42km from Dharamshala, the income tax department and security agencies questioned the source of funding. The foreign ministry later ordered the construction stopped. Followers of the Karma Kagyu sect, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, are believed to be the richest among Tibetans. The Karmapa’s followers often controversially project him as the successor to the Dalai Lama, who heads the Gelug sect.

Or is it about Buddhist Politics?

The Karmapa’s official seat is the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, but Dorje cannot go there because of the emergence of a rival Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje. Yes, for those blog readers who don't follow Buddhist politics, there have been two candidates for the "position" of 17th Karmapa and both have been enthroned. The Karmapa lineage is the most ancient tulku lineage in Tibetan Buddhism and the Karmapa heads the Kagyu sect.

And call me a cynic, but it sounds as if the Indian police and intelligence agencies have a horse in the race of which official Karmapa will have precedence. Only a cynic would connect that influence to money (and therefore, power).

A friend of mine is a tulku, a very eminent Buddhist. I had no idea how political the Buddhist faith was until I started talking about it with him, years ago. There is a perception that they all get along - but that doesn't seem to be the case. This particular tulku who I know said this of the wealthy Buddhist centers: Big Temple=Big Demon.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

National Security and Economics

A new report from the Congressional Research Service explains more or less what everyone (outside of the White House) knows. Economic vitality and national security are inexorably linked. Harken back to the days of the Second World War where American industrial might tipped the tide in both the Atlantic and Pacific Wars. As much as the Russians discount allied help in their Great Patriotic War against the Nazi Germany today -- back then the the convoys and technical aid they received made a significant difference. While I don't discount the blood and sacrifice of individuals and nations, the "arsenal of democracy" could be counted on.

Today the disastrous "progressive agenda" in America has brought us to this sorry state that we find ourselves in. 

Today, CRS states, "There is scarcely an economic policy issue before the Congress that does not affect U.S. national security. Likewise, there is scarcely a national security policy issue that does not affect the economy."

"The United States has long been accustomed to pursuing a rich man's approach to national security," the CRS report said. "The country could field an overwhelming fighting force and combine it with economic power and leadership in global affairs to bring to bear far greater resources than any other country against any threat to the nation's security.... [In the past,] policies for economic growth and issues such as unemployment have been viewed as domestic problems largely separate from considerations of national security."

"The world, however, has changed. Globalization, the rise of China, the prospect of an unsustainable debt burden, unprecedented federal budget deficits, the success of mixed economies with both state-owned and private businesses, huge imbalances in international trade and capital flows, and high unemployment have brought economics more into play in considerations of national security."

Consequently, "In national security, the economy is both the enabler and the constraint."

See "Economics and National Security: Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy," Congressional Research Service, January 4, 2011:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Going it Alone

The Life of a Private Spy

Duane R. (Dewey) Clarridge parted company with the Central Intelligence Agency more than two decades ago, but from poolside at his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul's ruling class.

Mr. Clarridge, 78, who was indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-contra scandal and later pardoned, is described by those who have worked with him as driven by the conviction that Washington is bloated with bureaucrats and lawyers who impede American troops in fighting adversaries and that leaders are overly reliant on mercurial allies.

His dispatches - an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports - have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck.

For all of the can-you-top-this qualities to Mr. Clarridge's operation, it is a startling demonstration of how private citizens can exploit the chaos of combat zones and rivalries inside the American government to carry out their own agenda.

It also shows how the outsourcing of military and intelligence operations has spawned legally murky clandestine operations that can be at cross-purposes with America's foreign policy goals. Despite Mr. Clarridge's keen interest in undermining Afghanistan's ruling family, President Obama's administration appears resigned to working with President Karzai and his half brother, who is widely suspected of having ties to drug traffickers.

Charles E. Allen, a former top intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security who worked with Mr. Clarridge at the C.I.A., termed him an "extraordinary" case officer who had operated on "the edge of his skis" in missions abroad years ago.

But he warned against Mr. Clarridge's recent activities, saying that private spies operating in war zones "can get both nations in trouble and themselves in trouble." He added, "We don't need privateers."

The private spying operation, which The New York Times disclosed last year, was tapped by a military desperate for information about its enemies and frustrated with the quality of intelligence from the C.I.A., an agency that colleagues say Mr. Clarridge now views largely with contempt. The effort was among a number of secret activities undertaken by the American government in a shadow war around the globe to combat militants and root out terrorists.

Mr. Clarridge issued a statement that likened his operation, called the Eclipse Group, to the Office of Strategic Services, the C.I.A.'s World War II precursor. "O.S.S. was a success of the past," he wrote. "Eclipse may possibly be an effective model for the future, providing information to officers and officials of the United States government who have the sole responsibility of acting on it or not."
Mr. Clarridge - known to virtually everyone by his childhood nickname, Dewey - was born into a staunchly Republican family in New Hampshire, attended Brown University and joined the spy agency during its freewheeling early years. He eventually became head of the agency's Latin America division in 1981 and helped found the C.I.A.'s Counterterrorism Center five years later.
In postings in India, Turkey, Italy and elsewhere, Mr. Clarridge, using pseudonyms that included Dewey Marone and Dax Preston LeBaron, made a career of testing boundaries in the dark space of American foreign policy. In his 1997 memoir, he wrote about trying to engineer pro-American governments in Italy in the late 1970s (the former American ambassador to Rome, Richard N. Gardner, called him "shallow and devious"), and helping run the Reagan administration's covert wars against Marxist guerrillas in Central America during the 1980s.
He was indicted in 1991 on charges of lying to Congress about his role in the Iran-contra scandal; he had testified that he was unaware of arms shipments to Iran. But he was pardoned the next year by the first President George Bush.
Now, more than two decades after Mr. Clarridge was forced to resign from the intelligence agency, he tries to run his group of spies as a C.I.A. in miniature. Working from his house in a San Diego suburb, he uses e-mail to stay in contact with his "agents" - their code names include Willi and Waco - in Afghanistan and Pakistan, writing up intelligence summaries based on their reports, according to associates. [Mazzetti/NYTimes/23January2011]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blogging in China

Chinese bloggers "expressed rage and despondence after learning about the plight of 12 mentally retarded men from Sichuan province who were sold into slavery to work at a building materials plant in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region," according to a CIA review of the Chinese blogosphere during the week of December 10-17, 2010.

The CIA survey portrays Chinese bloggers as alert, engaged and influential in shaping government policy.

"The controversy over the mentally retarded workers set off a passionate discussion in the blogosphere on such topics as the treatment of disabled people in society and the role officials play in allowing workers to be exploited in private enterprises...The public reaction resulting from the story's popularity in the blogosphere as well as in traditional media almost certainly had an effect on the quick government response," the CIA report said.

Among several other current news stories, "Many Chinese Netizens continue to follow and comment on the legal case of founder Julian Assange," the report said. [Aftergood/SecrecyNews/19January2011]

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Man who WILL be King (Xi Jinping)

President Hu Jintao  returned home to Beijing this weekend after a trip intended to repair relations with the United States. But the next time the White House marches out the honor guard and polishes the crystal for a Chinese leader, it is unlikely to be for Mr. Hu. (LINK to NY Times) Mr. Hu has already begun preparing for his departure from power, passing the baton to his presumed successor, a former provincial leader named Xi Jinping.

 Xi Jinping

But an extended look at Mr. Xi’s past, taken from wide-ranging interviews and official Chinese publications, shows that his rise has been built on a combination of political acumen, family connections and ideological dexterity. Like the country he will run, he has nimbly maintained the primacy of the Communist Party, while making economic growth the party’s main business. 

There is little in his record to suggest that he intends to steer China in a sharply different direction. But some political observers also say that he may have broader support within the party than Mr. Hu, which could give him more leeway to experiment with new ideas.

For much of his career, Mr. Xi, 57, presided over booming areas on the east coast that have been at the forefront of China’s experimentation with market authoritarianism, which has included attracting foreign investment, putting party cells in private companies and expanding government support for model entrepreneurs. This has given Mr. Xi the kind of political and economic experience that Mr. Hu lacked when he ascended to the top leadership position. 

He is less of a dour mandarin than Mr. Hu is. The tall, stocky Mr. Xi is a so-called princeling — a descendant of a member of the revolutionary party elite — and his second marriage is to a celebrity folk singer and army major general, Peng Liyuan

Unlike the robotic Mr. Hu, Mr. Xi has dropped memorable barbs against the West into a couple of recent speeches: he once warned critics of China’s rise to “stop pointing fingers at us.” But he has enrolled his daughter in Harvard, under a pseudonym.

On a visit to Mexico in 2009, when he was defending China’s record in the global financial crisis before an audience of overseas Chinese, he suggested that he was impatient with foreigners wary of China’s new power in the world. 
“Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us,” he said. “First, China does not export revolution; second, it does not export famine and poverty; and third, it does not mess around with you. So what else is there to say?”
China is China and the flexible political Mr. Xi is a shrewd operator with a solid understanding of all things Chinese. Some feel that he'll be more tractable in dealing with the West than Hu has been. I feel that he will do what is in China's best interests. Period.  You can't fault him for doing that - but it may not play into Europe's and North American interests the way pundits seem to keep playing their forecasts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Value of Critical Thinking

Proud progressives and postmodern thinkers must be slapping themselves in sincere congratulations that the minds of our next generation have been prepared for the new politics of the political left, which are essentially the same old collectivist politics of the left. This struck home solidly for me when I attended a junior high school function years ago for one of my children and a disheveled guy wearing an old, stained t-shirt with a picture of Ernesto (Che) Guevara on the front was identified as the "sociology teacher". This same faculty member had a student successfully evicted from one of his classes for wearing an American flag on a shirt with the slogan, "These Colors Don't Run!"

Postmodern philosophical ideas have permeated all aspects and levels of western culture. Most find a a defining moment in modern aspects of "political correctness" which tend to police and order those progressive notions. None work so hard to enforce the transmission and inculcation of political correctness into a new generation as do elementary school teachers.

When my daughter, Amanda, became an elementary school teacher, I thought that she personally would make a difference -- but I had no idea how tightly they were controlled by administrative faculty, who held positions of educational, artistic and political power. The political party line of 'conservative bad, liberal good' was one of those things teachers were expected to blast young minds with. 

How can such ideas thrive? It is relatively easy when you "deconstruct" the Western philosophical tradition and introduce moral relativity; contradictory discourses, deceptive rhetoric; and a pervasive contempt for both reason and truth. The latter attitude, in particular, allows one to develop an amazing and mind-boggling talent for being able to ignore objective reality under any circumstance, expecially when said reality punctures your ideological bubble.

College students have become the children of postmodernism; steeped in the nihilism of our day; marinated in its metaphysics and epistemology. They go to college to learn to think and instead learn how not to. They believe in nothing and stand for nothing. They are taught to mindlessly mouth the same old tired and worn self-serving platitudes of a defunct and dangerous world view. They will become the minions of the left. Since they do not know how to sift fact from opinion, they can be easily manipulated by postmodern rhetoric. Their poster child is Barack Hussein Obama.

While the neo-Enlightenment thinkers have come to terms with the modern world, from the postmodern perspective the universe has been metaphysically and epistemologically shattered. We cannot turn to God or to nature; and we cannot trust reason or mankind.

But there was always socialism. As bad as the philosphical universe became in metaphysics, epistemology , and the study of human nature, there was still the vision of an ethical and political order that would transcend everything and create the beautiful collectivist society.

Yes, there is always the "perfection" of socialism in the back of the minds of the leftists today; as they slowly but surely push this country toward that wakingdream nightmare. And they have a new generation of mindless minions who will vote for a smooth talking, talented non-entity and make him an American Idol. An idol to be worshipped.
"The aim of public education is, and has always been, to make members of the public more standardized and thus better suited for incorporation into The Plan. It is unsurprising that socialists have taken up the cause with verve. President Obama, speaking to an audience of schoolchildren, described in some detail how he expects the schools to produce students who will serve the needs of the state; unsurprisingly, he cast the situation in terms of his own agenda, emphasizing health care, racial discrimination, and job creation." (Socialism is Back, Kevin Williamson)
Sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia published a new and unprecedented study - now a book: Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. They followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education. 
"Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event." (according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum)
The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin. (does that sound familiar?) Not much was asked of students, either. Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.

Is any wonder that these students graduate with the feeling that the mainstream media is a fair and truthful arbiter of "news"--- or that they voted for an empty vessel like Barack Hussein Obama?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dealing with Computer Syndromes

Are you a fan of Call of Duty, Crysis Warhead, Medal of Honor, Doom or other "first person shooter" games?

Are you aware what will happen if you get too into the games, themselves?

When I was a young man, I was told that I'd go blind - or something horrible like that, but we didn't have computer games to occupy America's youth back then...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thoughts on Moral Courage

I am not a military critic or apologist, but I am a pragmatic conservative who doesn't like to see taxpayer dollars wasted. As any of you who served in the military can attest, there are STUPID things done every day that wastes untold million. This is another of those Boondogles -- LINK TO AIR FORCE NEWS.

The US Air Force wants to go paperless, and I applaud their decision - and they want to put manuals on (at least) 28,000 laptop computers that cost roughly $4,000 each. Keeping the technical library up to date for air operations is a huge, yet absolutely critical, task. Haven't they heard of a Kindle? $130 each.

A defense contractor rep called me (through his attorney) yesterday and tried to hire me to influence a sale of seventeen C-130 Hercules aircraft that had been disapproved. Based on what he said, the US State Department (under the aegis of the Merida Initiative) initially supported the gift/"sale" of those aircraft to Mexico. 

Because I deal with some bilateral issues with Mexico, they thought that I was the guy to make it happen. I suspect I was their last gasp, but my response was that the Mexican government had absolutely no use for seventeen C-130's and I applauded the decision of somebody in the Office of Bilateral Implementation (in Mexico City) who spiked the deal. So I declined the offer of employment.

There is a real problem in the military and the defense establishment when it comes to intellectual courage. Some of that is reflected in the two items above that came across my desk in the last two days. In one case, senior leadership is thrilled, and proud to spend $112 million on computers where they could spend on the order of $3 million for a product that worked as well or better. In another, a smart and nameless public servant saw waste and called it for what it was. 

Washington greed and pork is well reflected in a 2,000 page healthcare bill or an $800 billion stimulus bill that legislators are told to vote for without reading -- because they wouldn't understand it anyway. Washington leadership does not want courage - they want fear - they want silence. And that sense is profound within the US Military - and worse the higher you go. 

We as a nation will never dig ourselves out of the moral and fiscal morass that we find ourselves in without people who are willing to stand up, THINK, and act out of an appreciation of the best interests of the nation and its people. Sometimes it means that a computer contractor won't make $112 million - for example.  And maybe a computer contractor might suggest an alternative that cost 3% of what the military thinks best...

The White House Caves

As I sat down to write a bit on Obama's proposed concession on ObamaCare, I looked through the blogs and came across this one (LINK) by Andrew Price. Since He wrote what I proposed to write, I can't help but throw a H/T his way and recommend that you read what he wrote as well.

As the House of Representatives move forward today to de-fund and de-fang ObamaCare this morning, it's extremely interesting to see what Obama himself is doing. Here is his statement:
“I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. But we can’t go backwards. Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing that insurance companies can’t deny, cap, or drop their coverage when they need it most, while taking meaningful steps to curb runaway health care costs.”
As Obama and the House Republicans begin to decide the fate of ObamaCare, and as Andrew Price noted, Obama sets out his demands for the finished revamp of his unpopular national healthcare plan in the statement above. This legislation is the crown jewel in his presidency and he doesn't want it to be officially repealed, so the name must remain the same so he can claim victory. And though he hasn't said that he'll veto this new version of healthcare reform if there is tort reform, he didn't say that he would. That is a major slap at the trial attorney associations who pushed a fortune his way for his campaign. The matters he is "concerned" with keeping include pre-existing conditions, lifetime dollar caps, prohibiting dropping coverage and cost cutting. He didn't mention portability, but the Republicans will.

Essentially Obama said that the original Republican proposal for healthcare reform is good enough for him if you keep the "ObamaCare" label on it.

Gone is the public option/government policy/single payer, unconstitutional demand that everyone purchase insurance, massive government subsidies and all of the other pork in the 2000 page ObamaCare Bill that was rammed down the throats of the American people.

The public opposes ObamaCare and Obama knows it. Because it's his crown jewel, he doesn't want to see the Republicans defund it and repeal THE NAME OF THE BILL.

We always needed healthcare reform. I was a proponent of basically what the president has set as his opening bid THIS TIME. He is telling us that he'll back Republican legislation that gives the American people what they wanted and needed if they give him credit for the purposes of his legacy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Culture on Virtual Mirage

Is it ballet or is it simply a dose of Rule 5?

Don't say that you don't get exposed to culture here at Virtual Mirage -- where we reflect life, or something like it:


Sunday, January 16, 2011

I hate rude behavior

Sunday Movie: Lonesome Dove


"Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you."
             --F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

The concept of a sovereign individual traces itself back through history to English Common Law where a man's home is presumed to be his castle. Today it is the antithesis of the progressive movement toward socialized and homogenized life built around the politically correct trend of the moment.

Personal sovereignty would seem to include commitments to individual rights, including the right of self-defense, which would include the right to be armed. The Founders built these rights of the individual into the Bill of Rights and the ideas are hardly new. The problem with personal rights are that they are a thinking person's domain. The lemmings who lap up every bit of propaganda and pronounce it as true seem to be more comfortable wrapped in the arms of the Nanny State. They would opt to trade their sovereignty for the false reassurance of a 'caring government'.

Sovereign individuals often cling to the notion that government is the servant of all, rather than the master. It was an odd concept in 1776, and if you buy what the mainstream media sells, it's just as odd today. Some would caveat the Constitution as outmoded and well past any point of being useful.

Recently, there has been a resurgence of these concepts, which have been best embodied by the Tea Part movement. Naturally, progressives feel slighted. Socialists do not believe in the concept of property in one's own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to be the exclusive controller of his own body and life. They prefer to be parasitic and to feed on those who would exercise personal sovereignty.

ObamaCare seeks to supplant the right of people NOT to choose to have socialized medicine by taxing everyone for a service that they may or may not want at the moment of birth. There are a legion of problems with ObamaCare, but that is the greatest and most insidious bomb embedded within the 2000 page bill.

This is simply a Sunday Morning Rant... and a warning.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Chevrolet VOLT, Nuclear Energy & Harry Reid

I am a vocal critic of the Chevrolet Volt (right), developed at vast taxpayer cost. And I'm not going on a complete anti-Volt rant here, much as you may have expected me to.

The Volt doesn't burn fossil fuels, but many of the energy sources that are drawn on to generate the electric power that run the volt do (coal, gas and petro-based combustion).  I don't see how buying a Volt for the absurd price of $42K will do much to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. They have a short driving range, take a long time to recharge and deliver modest performance.
Actually the Volt is a poor example of an electric car as of its 350 mile range only about 40 miles would be using stored electricity that came from the grid while the balance would be generated from a gasoline engine. So in a straight run most of its power would come using polluting refineries and that use electricity from polluting coal or other fossil fuels in addition to its exhaust emissions. The Volt cannot recharge its batteries using its gasoline engine.
The manufacturer of the Volt says that you can avoid paying high gas prices if you buy a Volt (for $42K), but you still have to plug it in all the time and pay for the electricity that it draws...And the batteries that are used to store the charge become TOXIC WASTE once they have been spent.

Building nuclear power plants will reduce America's need for foreign oil. We're not building them because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) doesn't want spent nuclear materials stored in Nevada. Reid has said that he would continue to work to block completion of the project, and is quoted as having said: "Yucca Mountain is dead. It'll never happen." 
(Lando, Ben (December 4, 2006). "Analysis: Reid's Yucca and nuke waste plan". United Press International. Archived from the original on 2008-05-18)

The Yucca Mountain Repository is the United States' designated deep geological repository storage facility for spent nuclear reactor fuel and other radioactive waste. It is located between the Mojave Desert and the Great Basin Deserts in the U.S. State of Nevada. Although the location has been contested by environmentalists and residents; after characterization, review, and evaluation by thousands of scientists it was approved in 2002 by the United States Congress. In 2009 the Obama Administration stated that the site was no longer an option and proposed to eliminate all funding in the 2009 United States federal budget

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), a small, angry, aging politician

The government spent tens of billions of dollars to build it and now Yucca Mountain sits empty. No additional nuclear power plants will be built until we can safely store the spent fuel. Let's solve the clean power problems before we sink taxpayer funds into boondoggles like the Volt.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Getting There - Getting Back

No sky too high, no sea too deep.

You've tossed the limp duck out of the C-130, followed it down into the ocean - did whatever - and now it's time to bring the combat rubber raiding craft home - because you're late for supper.

God will judge our enemies - but somebody has to arrange the meeting.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Don't look for this in the annals of Islam

Evolution of Political Theory is a concept alien to Islam where the only truth and the only font of wisdom comes from the recorded works and words of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh. (570 - 632) 

John Locke (August 1632 – 28 October 1704), known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology andpolitical philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions toclassical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the American Declaration of Independence.

Locke's theory of mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self, figuring prominently in the work of later philosophers such as Hume, Rousseau and Kant. 

There are a long list of political philosophers who marched through the evolution of political doctrine in the West from Marx to the postmodernists and existentialists. 

In the time of Muhammad, women were chattel, in much the way as camels or goats and had a duty to reproduce to generate more men - (and women). In many nations today women undergo forced genital mutilation, are denied the right to do something as simple as drive a car or attend school. This is justified based on the recorded works and words of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh. (570 - 632). 

There was no Renaissance in Islam, no burst of expression and intellectual freedom, no Lenardo Di Vinci, no Rubens or Van Gough, no Bach, Handel, Mozart, no Beetles, Beach Boys and no Buddy Holly. Evolution has been key to the development of the West. Stagnation has been the comfortable hallmark of Islam. There would be no rockets to the Moon, no exploration of the depths of the Ocean, no experimentation with democracy or anything else if the Religion of Peace had its way. What a sad commentary of a system that sways so many people on this planet. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's time to re-educate all of you.

A famous Clemens/Twain quote goes like this, "The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." 

A 'classroom friendly' version of the famous novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), is scheduled for release in February. In this version, the "n word," which appears in the novel 219 times, has been replaced with the word "slave." Additionally, the language has been made politically correct so as not to offend readers.

You might as well burn every edition of, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to spare the sensibilities of every potential reader. Many dictators and potentates have sought to rewrite history by book burning. Cutting and pasting is the same thing. The book should be read as Clemens/Twain wrote it -- or not read at all, in my opinion.

What have we become as a nation? How dense and historically insensitive can we be that we try to rewrite history based on present notions and foibles?

Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Jeremiah Wright and others use the word, "nigger" continually in their speeches. Does this mean that somebody needs to go through those at their source and edit the speeches?

I also recommend the American Perspective, and Opus #6's take on hate speech. (LINK HERE)

Beheadings in Mexico

There's enough stock photography to give children bad dreams for a century so I'm not going to play shock jock here on this blog simply to pander to those baser voyeuristic impulses. However, want to make a point here. A couple of days ago, (LINK) the bodies of 28 murdered people were found in Acapulco, Mexico. Of the 28, fifteen had been decapitated. 
This sign is due diligence on the part of your United States Government to warn you not 
to travel through this part of the country. Note, they're not stopping illegal immigration and 
smuggling, just warning you that it's happening here (in Arizona).

It made news because the bodies were found in Acapulco outside the Plaza Sendero shopping mall. It would not have made news if they had been found in Los Mochis, for example, because murdered bodies in those numbers are a daily event there, in Juarez and a number of garden spots in Mexico. Last November the bodies of eighteen men were found in a mass grave outside of Acapulco. They'd been abducted from the downtown area.

The New York Times reported (above) that it only happens in a handful of states in Mexico. That would be news to many Mexicans, but the mainstream media has to learn about the stories in order to report them. In Mexico, the local media is often afraid to report what the learn because their friends in the business have ended up headless -- their families left to fend for themselves as best they could.

The bodies in Acapulco belonged to a faction of the Beltran Leyva Cartel that followed Edgar Valdez Villareal (La Barbie). When the Mexican government arrested La Barbie, the cartel tried to include the break-away faction back into the organization. Recently, Hector Beltran Leyva (who now runs the show) found out that this remaining cell had betrayed him to the Sinaloa Federation (cartel).

These Mexican Drug Cartels exist to traffic narcotics within the United States. In order to get drugs from Mexico into the US, they need to cross a border. Forgive me if I'm making this sound too simple, even if it is.

The assertions made by the Obama Administration that they are doing something about Border security is hot air - smoke and mirrors. And the sort of violence and unrestrained organized warfare that exists in Mexico is coming north. Phoenix, Arizona has the second highest kidnapping rate of any city in the WORLD. Guess who does the kidnapping?
I've heard from the Obama Administration, and Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano 
has assured me that the Border is safe. That's why they suggest that Americans 
don't travel through portions of their own country -- because it's controlled 
by drug lords from Mexico.

It's not about ethnicity and it's not about poor people coming North in search of a better life. It's about CLOSING the borders with the exception of authorized crossing points and authorizing lethal force to do so. Call me a radical, but I don't want the sort of unrestrained gang warfare we are seeing in Mexico bleeding across the border into the US.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More Balls than Brains?

I'll let each of you be the judge. Click HERE to watch the video. I did freefall parachute work in the Navy but this makes that look like SISSY jumping.

Wingsuit Base Jumping! [Wikipedia]

I'd put it on my bucket list, but at my age, I suspect it would plant me...but that's the juice, right -- it might NOT plant me. (LINK) This outfit isn't all that far from home for me...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter in SoCal

It's January 8th and in Southern California, we're dealing with the doldrums that come with winter. I walked around the yard with my camera. The leaves are completely off the deciduous trees. Note the leaden skies threatening rain.

The pool toys are sitting, unused on the pool furniture, forlorn in the 65 degree chill - and the absence of strong sunshine to cheer the soul. Yes there is a spa and a waterfall, but it's still winter. The tropical plants are holding their own and I guess that's something.

The unrelenting cold prevents the use of the fire ring. There are no chairs around it -- no sign of life around the bird feeder that's sitting on the rim.

However, in a corner of my back yard, roses still bloom. Though they are not a portent of spring, they rouse the soul in the depths of winter.

I dedicate this blog entry to my friend and blogger, WoFat, who doesn't live in the concrete jungle.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Australia Responds -- to Fundamentalist Islam

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard suggested that Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law  to get out of Australia. (SNOPES - LINK) My first take on this was a lot of pride in the thunder from down under. This is a compilation of quotes on the subject for your review and comment if you are moved to make one.

She has had more to say on the subject: "IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture...This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom." 
"We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society. Learn the language!" By so saying, Prime Minister Gillard simply outlined what many Australians had been feeling for a long time. "Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture. We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony..."
"This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, 'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'. If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted."

I know that nobody in the United States Government would have the courage to say this, but I applaud our brothers and sisters in Australia who risked life and limb from retribution meted out by the Religion of Peace - for speaking their minds.

Dynamic Duo

When I was a kid, the dynamic duos wore capes. I refer to Batman and Robin - Superman and Supergirl - and so forth. Today it's just a bit different as Dale captured in his graphic (below):

We harken back to whether the free flow of information on the internet is a greater threat to national security than fundamentalist Islam. Or whether the ObamaNation (more spending in the last two years than in the previous two hundred as a nation, combined) is a greater threat to America than the latest evil that the Mainstream Media discovered: The Tea Party?

Americans voted (the poor deluded unwashed masses) and returned the House of Representatives to the Republican Party in an effort to balance the books - but will Obama and his toadies in the Mainstream Media ever forgive them for doing that?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Congressman Allen West

The mainstream media are perplexed by Congressman Allen West (R-FL).

Congressman West says things (that we all think) like "Obama is probably the dumbest person walking around America right now." AND he refuses to retract his statements...

A President of the United States showing real courage? Yes, to the MSM, it's a joke and they point to metrosexual Obama as the model of what THEY feel a president should be. It doesn't fly with Allen West.

I can only wish that we could clone Allen West about 500 times and then get them all elected to Congress.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who Are Our Enemies?

This started out as a long response to NFO on my last blog on military spending. I thought that it deserved its own place as a regular blog.

Who are America's enemies?

China - Maybe. We sure owe them a lot of money. I think that the Chinese have invested in our success rather than our failure. How many billions of dollars do we owe them? You could possibly build a land bridge from the top of the ocean to the bottom from China to the US if you stacked the currency they've loaned us and walk across. They want to have credible defense and want to be a genuine player on the world stage rather than a sideshow. We've handed them the key. Technically, the Chinese are sustaining our unprecedented military spending... since they pay a lot of the bills.

Russia - Maybe. The real question is what Russia's intentions are. They have been beggared and for a number of years have been virtually defenseless in real terms. Nobody wanted to capture the cold country that's 9 time zones long or to invest the effort in a rusting, failed nation. They're selling Siberian oil and building new weapons. If I was a Russian I might feel easier that somebody was doing something to secure my defense. Do they show any signs of coming after the US or our genuine allies? If so, I haven't seen them.

Iran - Oh Yeah. Saddam Hussein was the big hedge against Iran and we took him out. Now we have to deal with an evil fundamentalist Islamic power with a yearning to build atomic bombs and become the hegemon in the Middle East. However I see the President being nicer to the Iranians than he is to out allies in Great Britain. Does that make any sense to ANYONE (except Obama)? The Iranians are expanding and their real interests are manifest in their military doctrine that includes eliminating Saudi Arabia and Israel (and whatever lies between).

Venezuela - Oh Yeah. The Obama Administration has been swapping spit (a metaphor) with the petty dictator, Hugo Chavez ever since they swept into power. Hugo would love to be the dictator of South America and if hubris alone counted, he might just do it, but Brazil alone could squash him like an insect. Still, he's an enemy to the United States and has shown that time and time again. Is Venezuela a clear and present danger to the US? No, but they should be on the list of places we watch very closely.

Just because somebody doesn't play ball with the US doesn't make them our enemies. We have a lot of economic competitors (Japan, Germany, Great Britain, etc.) who are our allies. Each nation state has a duty to its citizens to protect them and their economic interests. America and sometimes American conservatives become a bit myopic in this regard. For some time, America was the world's strong man economically and militarily. We're still the big dog - but how big do we need to be and are we rotting inside while we do it. Do we want to become a paper tiger, a Potemkin village? The 110th Congress spent more money than the previous 109 Congresses before it put together. Can we sustain that sort of recklessness?

Back to the list:

With the exception of dirt holes with petty dictatorships like North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and the like, there is one commonality among the list of countries who would do us genuine harm - they are fundamentalist Islamic states. And in the world we now occupy, fundamentalist Islamic people living within our own borders are far more dangerous to us than, say, China is.  --- Unless China stopped supplying WalMart, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. with cr@p for us to buy. Then China would be REALLY dangerous.

The military likes to pick the easy enemy - Big China, for example, because it's big, it has manufacturing muscle and it wants it's own sphere of influence on the planet where it can be king. It's the same with the Russians. We can build missiles and submarines and defense contractors (and their employees in Congress) are happy. Going after an oppressive ideology is a lot more difficult. Particularly when we depend on them for oil.

Making America oil independent from those nations is do-able and would free us to do what we need to do in matters military and political far more effectively than anything else we could do today. How do we do this? -- Just do the opposite of what the Obama Administration has been doing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Military Spending

What role should the United States play in the world 
and how should the US military support national policies?  

At present, we spend more on the US military than the rest of the world combined. Criticize me for suggesting that we rethink things if you will, but I don't believe that the military should remain a sacred cow in an era of retrenchment in the United States. 

(1) The United States Military's job is not to perform humanitarian missions. To the extent that we're put in a position where we're able to help, it's 'nice', but it comes down at the very bottom of the list of what they should be doing. The military should be fighting or preparing to fight the militaries of other nations or guerilla forces (such as the Somali Pirates) who interfere with American commerce or that of our allies.

(2) The country has been meddling in affairs that need to be left to others to deal with (or not deal with) in a post Soviet, multi-polar world. Communist Russia is gone. Communist China is the biggest capitalist nation on the planet and makes everything you buy at WalMart, Costco, Home Depot, etc. I do not suggest that we disarm our nation or dissolve our nuclear arsenal. I simply suggest that we decide what our vital interests are, who our allies are and aren't and go from there. The Obama Administration has made a complete hash of this.

(3) The details of defense procurement are vast and are so politically charged because of the nation's unemployment issue that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want to see programs cut when it means that middle class jobs will be eliminated from the government trough. While I can appreciate this concern, 'welfare for the middle class' is not sustainable.

(4) We initiated the war in Iraq based on a pretext that the Bush Administration knew was false at the time. In the same way, the Johnson Administration faked the Gulf of Tonkin Incident between the USS C. Turner Joy and the USS Maddox and Vietnamese PT Boats to get us into the Viet Nam War. It was wrong when Johnson did it and it was wrong when Bush did it. American lives and treasure were subsequently spilled for NOTHING.

USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) Next generation US warship.

(5) If the United States Congress wants to declare war on Fundamentalist Islam, they should do so openly - and with their eyes open, and make their case to the American people -- or we need to leave Afghanistan. If we think that we'll do what Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviet Empire couldn't, we're wrong. It pains me to write this, but it's how I feel.

(6) The United States needs to decide what its policy will be toward the rest of the world before it spends money on/initiates military platforms. We don't do that very well. Currently we want to be able to fight two or three small wars at once, respond to pirates, smugglers and guerillas, and save dirt-hole countries like Haiti during the aftermath of an earthquake -- at the same time. Hegemony is fine if you can afford it and we no longer can. The Haitian relief would have been better spent at home - or not spent at all.

(7) Although strategy can dictate capabilities, capabilities also limit strategy. A military with minimal expeditionary capabilities obviously will have difficulty fighting expeditionary wars. Small land forces make large scale overseas deployments difficult. The absence of counter-insurgency capabilities may reduce the ability of the military to wage long term anti-guerrilla campaigns, although it may not. This begs the political question of what the US intends to do and how it intends to pay for it.