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Sunday, August 19, 2018

On Security Clearances

Sorry. I know I had vowed to stay away a couple of months (or so) while I dealt with the new house in Wilmington and a variety of issues with my late father's estate. Lots of travel and stress! But, as at least one reader predicted, I couldn't stay away too long.

The issue of Brennan's revoked security clearance has driven me back to the keyboard. What a load of utter nonsense! I have pored through the Constitution to find the part where people are guaranteed a security clearance and I can't find it! The President has removed former CIA Director (and Communist voter) John Brennan's security clearance, citing his "reckless" and "erratic" behavior. Let's be clear. The President doesn't have to cite a reason. He has absolute power over these clearances. He can take them away with no explanation needed. It has nothing to do with the First Amendment or any other civil rights that Brennan might enjoy as a US citizen.

Security clearances have become a scam. I recently read (can't find it) that some 1.3 million people have security clearances of some sort or another. I don't know how many have the top level ones, but I am sure it's in the tens-of-thousands, at least. That's absurd. What's even more absurd is that former Feds (such as yours truly) get to keep their clearances when they leave government service. Within days of my leaving the Foreign Service, I got five or six generous offers of employment with various contractors looking for people with security clearances.--I wanted out of DC! Security clearances can become quite profitable and certain employers (e.g., CNN) will pay handsomely to get people with them. It's absurd. The logic behind letting people keep their clearances until they expire is that they might need to be called back, and get read in on some or another classified program on an emergency basis, or that their advice is urgently needed by the President. How often does that happen? If it does, they can be issued temporary clearances.

Something that's being lost in all the uproar over Brennan's clearance is the principle of "a need to know." It's not enough, in other words, to have a top level clearance, you must have "a need to know" certain information for the benefit of the mission given you by the government. What's Brennan's need to know? None.

All ex-Federal employees should lose their clearances the minute they walk out the door. Not having a clearance is an aid to free speech. When I worked in the government I always had to be VERY careful what I said and wrote for fear I might have learned that bit of knowledge from a classified source. My clearance expired a couple of years ago, and that's fine.

Brennan's freedom to speak has been enhanced. He should thank the President.

Back to my self-imposed exile . . . I'll be back in another couple of months . . . or so.


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Race, the World's Most Boring Subject

This is going to be my last post for a couple months or so. I am simply overwhelmed with all sorts of stuff not worth going into and boring you. Suffice it to say that I am finding it ever harder to fulfill my duties as a responsible blogger, so I have to stop for a couple of months until I get all my life issues straight.

I was at my local Home Depot hardware store (maybe it was Lowe's, I don't know, I can't tell them apart) a couple of days ago. As always, when I come out one of those SUPERSTORES, I can never find my car. Regardless of where I parked, when I emerge, the car is on the other side of the lot. Anyhow, it was a hot, sticky day, I was suffering from mosquito bites, and I was in a foul mood desiring only to return to my quasi-baronial estate and its blasting air conditioning.

As I approached my Chevy Silverado pick-up, I notice a white lady, about my age or so, staring at the front of the truck. I walked to my truck, and started to open the door, when the lady said, "Is this your truck?" I felt like answering, "No, I am stealing it," but instead said, "Yes." She then pointed at the front of the truck and said, "Why do you have a Confederate flag on the bumper? Don't you think some might find that offensive?" I lamely replied, "What?" I dumped my purchases in the front seat and came to the front of the truck where she had her accusatory finger aimed at the front plate. "That's not a Confederate flag, that's the flag of North Carolina," I said with considerable exasperation, "It's the flag of this state!" She gave me a furious look and walked off. My son and I later laughed about this nonsense, but it struck me how bizarre and tense life has become for some people in our beloved Republic, and how they seek to make it so for all of us.

As we see in the news, and in the Home Depot/Lowe's parking lot, there seem to be herds of people just out looking for offense. They are like squirrels or foxes with their ears up, their whiskers atwitter, sensing, sensing, feeling, feeling, searching, searching for the tell-tale signs of offensive speech, display, or conduct. Their senses are tuned to the highest possible sensitivity (Number 11). Nothing is too innocent to give offense. It is no surprise that these folks, who dominate the media, the education and the entertainment businesses, and, increasingly, our political discourse, want to censor, silence, and kill any speech or perceived thought jarring to their finely tuned sensitivity meters. They've already just about killed off comedy, for example. Have you tried to watch almost any of the latest HBO or Netflix stand-up comedy "specials"? Is there anything remotely funny about them? We are only allowed to laugh/sneer at President Trump and his supporters.

It's not just comedy being killed. Have you, for example, tried watching the new cop shows, especially from the UK? OMG! Political correctness run amok and amuck. Are all police detectives in the UK single women with gay or minority men deputies? Are all criminals straight white wealthy Tory males? It's unwatchable garbage.

We are constantly harangued about race. Well, I know this is not "scientific"--what in the world is today?--but I don't see average people much concerned about race or other identities. Everywhere I have travelled the last few days in North Carolina, Virginia, DC, I see white, black, brown people getting along just fine with each other. I don't sense any racial tensions. My son lives in a very integrated neighborhood, and all the neighbors are very friendly and helpful. No problems.

I have written before that I find discussions of race to be among the most boring and potentially lethal conversations one can have. There is little to be gained, and much to be lost. What is the point about going on about race? I find racists and talk about race to be dull and dangerous, and fundamentally anti-American and anti-Western. I say this about racists regardless  of their own race, creed, color, etc.

The charge, again, for example, that President Trump is a racist, is made repeatedly and without any facts in support. This President promised to help create an environment where people of all races could get jobs and better wages, and, behold, he's done it. Black and hispanic Americans are "suffering" the lowest unemployment rates in history. He is the only political leader who seems to want to address the ongoing carnage in Chicago which is costing the lives of dozens of our black citizens every week. Trump is the one who wants to crush the MS-13 and the other lethal gangs coming into our country and terrorizing, primarily, hispanic neighborhoods. The xenophobic Trump is married to a foreigner. The anti-semitic Trump has a Jewish daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, and is the best friend Israel has had in the White House since Richard Nixon, another one accused of anti-semitism (He saved Israel and had a Jewish Secretary of State, but never mind). The anti-Muslim Trump has excellent relations with the Saudis.

Enough with the race card. Put that deck away. It seems to be all Jokers.

See you in a couple of months . . . or so.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Conspiracies!

I don't think I have ever read anything written by Alex Jones or listened to any of his broadcasts/podcasts. One of my sons finds him entertaining, and has on occasion told me about some one or another of Jones's "conspiracy" theories, e.g., the Sandy Hook shooting being a hoax--I ain't buying it. So, if Jones quietly had disappeared from our public discourse, I would have been among the last to realize it. But, of course, he has not just quietly disappeared. He has been "disappeared" by the combined might of Apple, Google, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Why? Well, it seems these massive American corporations, each of them with a net worth more than that of most nations' GDP, "suddenly" decided that Jones was spewing hate and unfounded conspiracy, so we, the world's public, had to be protected from that. What rubbish. What toxic rubbish.

The Jones ban forms part of a well-coordinated progressive assault on "unpopular" speech, in other words, one the first amendment of or Constitution. The ACLU, once the sterling knight who rode to the defense of the First Amendment, is rather muted about it all, only making a tepid remark. A conspiracy?

We hear progs throwing back in conservative faces the line, "Well, they are private companies, so . . . " Yes, they are indeed private companies . . . I wonder if that prog pro-property argument would hold if these tech giants also owned bakeries and refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding? Or refused to allow Muslims, blacks or hispanics access to their platforms? You know the answer.

I think we need some clever conservative lawyers to revisit the whole public accommodation argument that's been used to open up hotels, restaurants, etc., and expand the definition of a "public accommodation." I wonder if the progs would support that expansion of government power at the expense of the private sector?

Speaking of hateful conspiracies, the single most active one is the whole Russia Collusion narrative. Maybe it's time to shut down anybody pushing that factless nonsense? CNN, you're off the air!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Better Than Venezuela

Just came up with a thought to give the proper context to just about anything in our political, social, and economic world: Almost no matter what, it's better than in Venezuela.

Have you been following what's going on in that oil-rich, socialist wonderland so beloved by Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Jeremy Corbin, and Bernie Sanders?

Venezuela, about which I wrote before --here and here, for example--has gone into full failed state mode by almost all measures of the classic definition. The slow-motion anti-democratic implosion that began with the Chavez reign has turned into a massive social-political-economic-humanitarian black hole as the Chavez-Maduro "star" collapses, threatening to pull in other nations of the region. The excuses for that collapse are numerous, and you can find them in the standard swampy media. My favorite is, of course, that Venezuela was done in by the "collapse" of oil prices: a stupid, lazy lie. According to OPEC data, the average price of a barrel of oil in 1999, the year Chavez took power, was $17.44; the price of oil today is over $68. Only in prog world can that be a collapse. Furthermore, at no time since 1999, has oil gone below the price it was in 1999. During the entire Chavez-Maduro disaster, oil stayed well above the 1999 price.

Can't blame oil.

What could be the case of the Venezuelan disaster? The cause of the failure is, dare we say it, dare we say the one word of which our increasingly deranged Democrat party has become so enamored? Here goes, it's a shocker, SOCIALISM. Wow! It was hard to carry that secret around by myself.

Chavez-Maduro followed the global socialist playbook literally to a fault. They even wrote new chapters: they not only ran out of other people's money, they ran out of their own oil money, as well. A notable achievement in the annals of Socialism! The Venezuelan Socialist regime undertook the destruction of the private sector; the obliteration of the democratic opposition; fantabulous social programs costing billions upon billions; a foreign policy of hostility to the West, including promotion of and protection for drug trafficking, and of trying to buy influence wherever possible with those ever handy petrodollars, which they continued to receive from . . . the USA! Yes, we continued throughout it all to be Venezuela's biggest market. No Cuban-style embargo. And, of course, in true socialist state fashion it developed a fabulously wealthy cadre around the Dear Leader of the Bolivarian Revolution. The Chavez and the Maduro families have become extremely wealthy, as have favored Generals and bureaucrats--all the while ordinary people experience hunger, lack of medical care, the world's highest homicide rate, and an inflation rate, according to the IMF,  about to hit one million percent. Yes, one million percent! What does that even look like?

Starvation is now a real possibility in Venezuela. We already are seeing massive hunger and, of course, the flight of millions of Venezuelans to safety in Colombia and elsewhere, including Brazil and the USA.  In the last couple of days, we have seen bizarre stories of exploding drones trying to kill Maduro. I am sure soon the CIA will get blamed. I am a big, big critic of the CIA, but let me tell you, drone strikes is something they actually do quite well. They, furthermore, do not buy their drones at Walmart, Big Lots, or off of Amazon or e-Bay. If it were one of our drones going after big boy, there would be a big black hole--this time literally a black hole, not figuratively as above--where Maduro once stood. It's all nonsense and goes to show how fragile and frightened the regime has become.

The insanity in Venezuela is rippling across the region. The spiraling but barely reported violence in Nicaragua, for example, is at least partly a result of the Sandinistas--more Socialist darlings--no longer able to count on receiving cheap Venezuelan oil. Haiti, too, is experiencing unrest for the same reason. I am not sure what is happening on this score with Cuba, but there could be effects there, too. While I will shed no tears for troubles suffered by the Sandinistas or the Castro klan, the instability in Venezuela could have effects in, thus far, more stable places, such as Colombia and Brazil, as the Venezuelan migration river turns into a torrent, and the regime becomes increasingly belligerent.

The solution? Well, the region has been pathetic in responding to the growing in Venezuela. It's time, however, for that apathy to end. I can see at least a partial solution being an offer of asylum to Maduro and key cohorts from some place such as Panama or Ecuador. That might get the ball rolling for a change of regime in Caracas. Rebuilding Venezuela will be an arduous and expensive task even after the Chavez-Maduro bacteria are removed, but it would be a start.

I won't complain about anything ever again . . . well . . . sorta won't . . .

Monday, July 30, 2018

Heading Back . . . if the World Doesn't End, That is . . .

Almost finished with my current stay in California. Tomorrow we head back to civilization, AKA North Carolina. Gotta see my dogs, Jeeps, and guns, and not to mention get some real BBQ. Today, however,  is another long marathon of lawyers, brokers, etc.

OK. No more whining. I am starting to sound like the editor of the New York Times.

Can you believe that guy? Please, Mr. President, stop calling us names and telling people we are promoters of the Fake. Please. Maybe you should stop being promoters of the Fake? How about that for a thought? The NYT and its cohorts have accused this President, on the basis of no evidence, of being a racist, xenophobe, anti-Semite, who has sold out the country to Russia, pushing us to the verge of a nuclear war with North Korea and Iran, and embroiling us in a "trade war" we cannot win--note to NYT, et al, up to now it's been a one-way "war" against us. They have derided his economic policies, refusing to recognize what is actually happening out in the real world of real Americans, to wit, jobs, rising wages, lower taxes, fewer regulations, industries being reborn, etc.

OK, off to see a man about a (tax) plan.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Back in LaLa Land

I am back for about a week in California working on estate issues and cleaning out my father's house and storage unit. Unbelievable the sort and amount of stuff that one keeps over a 94-year lifespan. Blogging will be light as I am spending a lot of time with lawyers, accountants, brokers, appraisers, junk men, movers, and on the freeways driving back and forth in my wife's little 2006 Jeep Liberty.

I look like like Hell. I have never looked good, but I look particularly bad right now. Quite aside from tired, sweaty, and dusty, I have a YUUUUGE black eye, gift of my dogs. In one of my last days in my beloved North Carolina, I was trying to go out the door of my son's house while shepherding four dogs--two of mine, two of his. Each of the four, of course, wanted to be the first one out the door. Well, you guessed it: running, pushing, backing up, going forward, left, right, underfoot, tangle of leashes and paws and my big clumsy size 12s, and . . . . BLAMMO! . . . down I went to meet the floor, my head hitting the door knob on that way down with a resounding thud. I lay on my back envying Cleopatra after the Asp bite with four dogs licking my face, climbing on my chest, and doing other doggie first responder assistance tactics on a downed human. I slowly got up and within minutes I had a YUUUUUGE hard-boiled egg on my forehead. I don't get it, but over the following three or four days, I guess, that as that swelling went down, blood travelled downward and encircled my left eye. I look like I just came out of a pub in South Boston after saying something nice about the Brits.

Anyhow, I have been only casually following the news and it seems to me that the world is about to end again, this time with a war with Iran. YAWN. Boring movie that.

I see--sorta through my bleary eye--that the story is starting to come out about the FISA abuse. It's only the beginning. A lot of progs are going to be eating crow . . . nah, you have to have a sense of shame for that, and they don't have it.

Hope to be back in action in a couple of days or so.

Friday, July 20, 2018

President Putin: How to Get the Progs to Love You

Dear President Putin:

I know you are very busy these days trying to maintain Russia as a major power on the world stage. You had it pretty easy for most of the past decade, as your biggest "rival"--we're not really in the same league, but never mind--the USA, was governed by "pajama boys," at best, and maybe even active enemies of the USA. I wrote some time back (here, for example) about you,
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the Shining Shooting Tsar of Eurasia-- [is] arguably the smartest national leader in the world. Let me back up. "Smartest" might be the wrong word. Yes, it definitely is the wrong one. That word is too loosely defined and too easily pinned on too many. What makes Putin successful and such a formidable geopolitical foe (thank you, Mitt Romney) is not that he is just "smart," but that he is a throw-back to a different era. He hunts and fishes, and doesn't care about the political fashion and sensitivities of the day; pajama boy has no place in Putin's cage fighter universe. Despite his upbringing as a Communist, he is now devoutly religious and wants to see religion restored to Russian life. As the jihadis have discovered, they have in Putin a rival as ruthless and religiously committed as they, and not bound by the conventions of political correctness.
So you see, I have a lot of respect for you as an actor on the world stage, and am full of genuine admiration at how you could play a pretty weak hand so very well against opponents much stronger than you, well, on paper. I also wrote that, sorry, I was glad not to be in a world where Russia was the dominant power (here) and even gave advice to my leaders on how to deal with Russia's big power ambitions (here). I have written a lot more which I am sure your world class hackers can retrieve with no difficulty, or they can just Google the stuff. As you can see, I am not a big fan of what you're trying to do, but . . . well, the situation in my country has gotten so absurd I turn to you.

In November 2016, we elected a President who has been the toughest on Russia since, since . . . well, at least since the USSR became Russia. You know all the things that Trump has done better than I, and am quite certain this man was not whom you wanted in the White House. Your folks poured a lot of money into the Bill and Hillary Clinton Crime Family, and I am sure you feel a bit burned by that pointless investment. The losers of that election have tried to play political jiu-jitsu by claiming that their opponent was actually in your pocket and that we should ignore all the collusion between your people and Hillary. Our media and "Deep State," which respond to DNC dictates much as did the old Pravda to the Kremlin's, have gone full Orwell. Well, you know all about that. No need for me to spell it out for you.

You are not getting good press here. Good press is important in the USA and West. You're not getting it. The Progs who control the bulk of the media, old and new, don't like you for a variety of reasons having more to do with Prog delusions than anything real. Let me give you some advice which is inspired by Francisco Franco and Josip Broz Tito. There you had two authoritarian European dictators who did not hesitate to sentence enemies to prison and to death. They were very similar in many ways, but Tito knew how to handle the international Progs and Franco did not. Franco talked about the Church, fighting Communism, and crushing the Masons. Tito, as much if not more dictatorial than Franco, talked about the Non-Aligned Movement (he helped found it, in fact), being anti-imperialist, belonging to no side in the great battle of the Cold War, just in favor of peace, anti-colonialism, etc. All themes from Progdam. Tito knew, as I wrote here, for example, that Progs love the FAKE. They adore the FAKE. You can go to my piece, and you will see what I mean.

So President Putin, my advice for you is to go Full Fake!

Tito and Franco, for example, both wore colorful military uniforms with lots of Goering-style medals, but Tito had a snazzy Red Star on his cap. He would wear the uniform of a bloody military dictator but talk about peace, non-alignment, freeing the poor, etc. Not Franco, no, the fool was too honest for that. He just wanted to talk about crushing the Communists and the Masons. In the end, of course, Spain turned out to be a much better place to live than did Yugoslavia (RIP), but Franco (and Pinochet in Chile vs Castro in Cuba) would get no credit for that.

If you go Full Fake, then it will be OK for our President to meet you. Nobody will object. Get on MSNBC and decry the evils of imperialism in Africa and Latin America; quote Marx; talk about Frantz Fanon. You can do it. The Progs in the West will eat it up!

Regards to Sergei Lavrov and tell him I think of him often and of our days at the UN. Ask him if he remembers being trapped in a car with me in a Swiss park . . . a funny story that . . . please don't have him shot because of it . . .

Go Fake!