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Sunday, January 20, 2019

From Government Shutdown to Right-Sizing, i.e., RIF the Raff?

It is time to begin . . . .

I was reading a usually boring article but one, in light of the ongoing government shutdown, now quite interesting. You can find it here. It deals with how to conduct, legal and in accord with voluminous regulations, a Reduction in Force (RIF) of the government. I have read a few commentators proposing that the President should begin a RIF process for furloughed employees, citing the reg that after 30 continuous (I believe) days of furlough  such a process can begin. Sorry. It, of course, is more complicated than that, and the civil service mavens have written all sorts of loopholes that essentially exempt furloughs caused by a failure to appropriate funds.

My usual disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor a civil service personnel expert, and don't pretend to be. I would note, however, that it seems the President could announce that he has tasked the agencies under his direction to develop a plan within X number of days to reduce permanently functions, in particular those shown by the current shutdown as nonessential, and to propose a corresponding RIF. You want to see prog heads explode? And we all do, of course . . .  do that! In addition, there are many positions at State and elsewhere in which personnel serve at the pleasure of the President, as James Comey discovered.

It's time to get serious about what ails us, and one of the principal diseases affecting the American body politic is way too much federal government.

BTW, I loved Trump's canceling of CODEL Pelosi's excursion.

I also love how CNN's Jake Tapper angrily tweeted out that the President had denied Pelosi a "military plane" to a war zone! Does he think this plane is some sort of B-52, or even a B-29, or a Lancaster bristling with guns? It's just a run-of-the-mill Boeing 757 or 767 crewed by military pilots and stewards. That's all. She could have flown to Brussels and Berlin by commercial and then, perhaps and more PR wise, requested a "military" plane to Kabul. But nah. She didn't. Irrelevant, of course. The point is, there shouldn't be CODELS while the government is in shutdown mode, well, that is in accord with the logic of Pelosi's own letter to Trump suggesting he dispense with the State of the Union Address because of security concerns arising from the fact that the Secret Service is not getting paid.

Nancy, my dear, you're playing against the world's greatest chess player. Give up and stay safe behind the walls of your mansion.

Back to picking up all the dead bodies caused by the shutdown . . . that is after I go to the range and burn off some 45 ACP.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Shut Down Madness! BREXIT! Pompeo! The End of the World is Nigh!

Sorry for the long break in posting. I have been deterred from posting by (1) the Diplowife going to Spain on a family visit leaving household chores exclusively to this elderly Toxic Male; (2) her report that her wallet, with all her cash, credit and debit cards, id, etc., went missing in Spain (since found at an honest local bakery); and (3) my having to remove hundreds, nay, thousands of dead bodies from the streets and fields in my neighborhood as a consequence of the US government shutdown.

Let's skip the two most important reasons and focus on the third, the government shutdown. Global climate change is now going through the roof as a result of this event; hundreds of thousands of children and women now go without food and shelter; our food and water have become poisoned; the supermarkets have no food, anyhow; filling stations no fuel; and hundreds of heavily armed men prowl the streets looking for sustenance for their beleaguered families. We, ladies and gentlemen, have entered the Apocalypse! I know this is true, otherwise, why would the Democrat Congressional contingent have fled to safety in Puerto Rico? No fools they.

OK. Look, as a federal employee for 34 years, I went through a couple of these shutdowns and survived quite nicely. I used to tell my crying associates that, "In the private sector when you get laid off, you get laid off. They don't come pay you back wages if you sat at home." Perspective, please.

Clearly the Democrats care more about pandering to illegal aliens than they do about federal workers and the "vital" tasks they perform. They care more about pandering to illegal aliens than about national security or even neighborhood security. They are the party of MS-13. Period.

Now, despite the shutdown (because of it?), Secretary of State Pompeo gave a terrific speech (here) in Cairo. This Secretary is an interesting person. He doesn't get or apparently seek a lot of publicity, and seems somewhat aloof (James Baker style) from the State Department machinery. He does some excellent work. He is low-key, clear and tough. Anyhow, read the speech. It is the undoing of the disastrous Obama Mideast policy. Long may it wave!

New topic: Can we blame Theresa May's disastrous handling of BREXIT on "Trump's government shutdown"? Well . . . uh . . . probably not. PM May must be considered the most clueless and hapless major politician on the world stage. Yes, she has usurped the crown from PM Trudeau! Another first for women! Sorry Merkel, you end up only number two . . .

The whole BREXIT strategy of the May government has made no sense . . . . unless, of course, it was meant to sabotage the whole thing.

Britain held all the cards in the poker game with the EU. In fact, Britain didn't even need to show up, and it would have won the pot! Instead, May's folks got themselves into some needless negotiations with the reptilian EU and came out, of course, second best. The absurd "Deal" they brought back violated the very spirit of the 2016 BREXIT vote and mandate from the British people. The "Deal" was the EU permission slip, to wit, you can leave but only under these conditions . . . No wonder that parliament shot this thing to pieces, and handed May the worst parliamentary defeat of any British government.

What's next? Nobody really knows, but I assume--and I am no expert on British politics and don't pretend to be--May will try to extend the March 29 exit deadline and squeeze a few silly concessions out of the EU in the hopes of making the "Deal" more palatable. I doubt that will happen as the EU is playing chicken. I heard Nigel Farage predict a better than 50/50 chance of a second referendum. That's too bad, because it reaffirms the long held prog tactic of voting and voting until the right result gets produced. I genuinely hope that come the March deadline, the Brits just walk out the door, giving the EU the "up your bum" V symbol as they go.

If Britain walks, none of the predictions of disaster will come about. That's just global elite fear mongering. Remember Y2K? Remember swine and bird flu? How AIDS would turn the world into a howling wilderness by 1995? The end of snow and ice? How the end of net neutrality would kill the internet? Yeah, yeah. It's all of the same piece.

In the end, as I wrote here, some two months before the vote,
I won't go into the economic arguments over whether it's better or not for Britain to remain in the EU. You can go here for a pretty good and somewhat balanced explanation of the two sides' arguments. Let's put all that aside, however, and generously agree both sides have some valid economic and financial points. . . 
At the risk of being reprimanded and corrected by this blog's one or two British readers, I offer that the force driving the pro-BREXIT movement is not solely or even mostly about economics, or finance, or currency exchange rates. It is about something much, much more important. It is about reclaiming the soul of Britain; preserving and restoring that which made Britain, notably England, one of the world's greatest countries, a nation of stunning consequence. It is about deciding whether the great British traditions and innovations that have made our modern world are worth saving or should be discarded.
Once again, BREXIT wasn't primarily about money, but about saving Britain, England especially. It sought to make the UK an independent state, again. Where Marxists and Libertarians both fail is by seeing people as just cogs in a material-producing machine. Other issues matter, to wit, the intangible qualities of life, e.g., safe neighborhoods, remaining in touch with your traditions and unique ways of doing things, reaffirming your bond to the people with whom you live, your sense of pride in nation.

Even the material issues don't need the UK as a prisoner to the EU. The Irish border matter, for example, can be dealt with after BREXIT by a sovereign UK dealing with a sovereign Ireland. They can reach any deal they want . . . well, that is, if Brussels allows the Irish to do so. Maybe Dublin should take a look at EIREXIT? Just saying . .  .

Blame it on Trump and move on . . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Border

Saw the President's speech on the border wall issue last night (text here.) Not bad.

It wasn't the earth-shaking quake/tsunami that some in the press had predicted. It proved measured, restrained, made some very valid points and had some sharp barbs aimed  at the Dems. Trump's speech was loaded with disturbing facts which the Democrats have great difficulty disputing--check, for example, the NY Times' rather tortured "fact" checking (here.)

I found this paragraph very compelling,
Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences and gates around their homes? They don't build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is for the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized. America's heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.
Trump just set the Dems a baited trap. He has called on them to come to the White House to discuss the border issue and the partial government shut-down. We all know how that will turn out, and then Trump will announce that he's building the wall without the Congress. He can, of course, cite previous bipartisan bills passed on the need to strengthen border security. I think his next address on this issue will be something less measured and more Trumpian. 

And the Dem reply (here)? 

What can I possibly say? Sigh . . .

First, a bit of snark. The Dems are the party of Hollywood and the media. Why can't they do something a little more dignified and visually appealing than the absurd show put on by Schumer and Pelosi? I know there's a government shut down, but given how wealthy Pelosi and Schumer are, couldn't they have sprung for a bigger podium, or maybe even two? Or taken turns coming to the podium? When these two politicos flashed onto my TV screen, jammed up against each other, crammed behind that tiny podium, I thought it was a badly photo shopped still shot--until I saw Schumer blink. They looked ridiculous. 

In their statement, they ignored everything Trump had just said, and delivered an obviously long ago prepared, stale word salad of old Dem talking points about Trump relying on "fear not facts," etc. They had no valid explanation for opposing the wall except it won't work--which is a lie. I also noticed that in her reply, Nancy Pelosi--who is very wealthy and lives in a mansion surrounded by a high wall--ignored how immoral her lifestyle has become. I am sure Trump being Trump will be back at her repeatedly with that line about rich politicians living behind walls. 

Time to build the wall, and as I have laid out many times there are many ways to make Mexico and Central America pay for its construction.

BTW, I blame Paul Ryan for this mess . . . 


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Danish Movie for You

Trying to keep things a little light for a few more days. I mean, how many times can you talk about Russian "collusion" or the peaceful nature of modern Islam?

So, we talk movies.

For most of the past century, movies have been dominated by Anglo-American films. Well, that might remain so now, but there is some truly excellent work being done in other countries which is well-worth watching.

Saw a non-Anglo-American film today on Amazon which I highly recommend. It's a Danish production from some three years ago, but I had not heard of it before. It's variously titled "9. April," "April 9" and "April 9th." You will find it under one or all of those names when you search. As you can probably guess, it's about the 9th of April . . . 1940, that is. That being date the Nazis invaded Denmark and in a few scant hours forced the government in Copenhagen to capitulate. The tiny, poorly equipped, and politically hobbled Danish armed forces had no chance against the Germans' aircraft, armor, and well-equppied and motorized infantry. Denmark was quickly occupied. That, of course, as we have discussed here before, did not mean that the Danes just rolled over and played dead for the Germans. The Danes subsequently drove their occupiers mad with a mix of active and passive aggressive resistance--and saved nearly their entire Jewish population from the Nazi extermination camps. Worth a read.

This little film is not about that post-occupation resistance. Based on a true story, it tells of a small unit of bicycle-mounted Danish infantry told to stop or at least delay the German advance. The Danes are sent on their bikes towards the border with Germany in the wake of reports of German troops crossing that border. The Danish government had decided not to pre-deploy its army for fear of "provoking" the Nazis.

The film is beautifully shot with a great sense of pace and timing. With a blend of an excellent low-key musical score, wonderful editing, and direction, it even manages to produce a feeling of suspense, even if we all know the outcome. The production seems to have paid a lot of attention to period detail, with clothing, uniforms, vehicles, and weapons mostly right. It has some absolutely wonderful scenes, kind of evoking "Private Ryan," of the Danes on bicycles moving across the screen, backlit by the impending sunrise. The acting, by the way, is very good; the actors manage to convey the sense of duty and at the same time of hopelessness that the real participants must have felt as they peddaled towards the panzers. Whether it intended to or not, the film is also an interesting exposition on leadership. The character of the second Lieutenant, played by Pilou Asbæk of "Game of Thrones" and "The Borgias" fame, is an excellent study in the demands of leadership, and the stresses it produces. Very nicely done. The battle scenes, by the way, are extremely well shot. Again, some of the urban combat reminds of that in "Private Ryan." The battle ends as we all know it does, so I am not giving anything away by noting that the Lieutenant orders his unit to surrender once he realizes the hopelessness of his position. The irony being, of course, that the government in Copenhagen had agreed to German terms hours before.

OK, without getting too philosophical, or reading too much into a movie, I think I am noting a sort of conservative revolt underway in some recent Scandinavian film. The wonderful Norwegian series "Occupied," the movie "Max Manus," this one under discussion, and some others seem to show that underneath all the soy boy inclusiveness and welcoming of "refugees" that we have seen in recent years in Scandinavia, there is a bubbling caldron of nationalist resistance to the political correctness that is destroying those societies.

I hope so.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Year

OK. Another year is about to expire.

And? What did we learn?

Re politics, we seem stuck in a tiresome film loop with MSNBC, NYT, WaPo, CNN, et al, breathlessly announcing every couple of weeks that President Trump is finished, that a new revelation is about to emerge from the investigation by Don Quixote, er, I mean, Robert Mueller that will put Trump and his supporters in prison for years . . . Yawn! How much more of this nonsense? Time to put up or shut up.

The Dems got back the House, which is very bad news for the possibility of serious government in the coming two years, but they were more than stymied in the Senate, despite some clear voter fraud.  I suppose we're in for two years of non-stop House subpoenas and "investigations," blather about Dreamers, Diversity, the Climate, and, of course, gun control. The GOP House leadership proved, by and large, miserable SOBs, who would rather give control back to the Dems, than further the President's agenda, the agenda for whom the people, defined as American citizens, voted. The failures to scrap Obamacare, and to begin building the much-needed border wall proved simply outrageous and unforgivable.

Brexit continues to be a mess entirely of May's doing. I guess she just wasn't convinced that when the British people said they wanted out, they wanted out. She and her alleged Tories sold out the British position in some absurd negotiations with the EU. The Brits had the upper-hand! They held all the Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Jokers! The EU had nuthin'. I hope that Britain can just tell the EU to get stuffed and walk away; forget about May's deal. If the Brits walk, others will soon follow, and that whole absurd house of cards will come crashing down. Good riddance!

The economy? Well, it's doing pretty well, very well, in fact . . . well, as long as we can continue to ignore the looming debt crisis . . . but we've ignored it for 75 years, so here's to another 75! It's clear to me that there are evil political forces, call them Deep State, Globalists, Uniparty, Communists, whatever you want, working to sabotage the economy in the hopes of destroying Trump. Some of the actions by the Fed are inexplicable otherwise.

And, of course, turning the subject to me, I note that my weapon collection grew notably this past year. Glock 17, SiG P320, several new S&W pieces (including the greatest rifle of all time, the AR-15), a Ruger .22 and a .45, a 1900 Portuguese cavalry sword (made in Toledo, Spain) and an 1850 North Carolina Catawba County musket, were among those artifacts joining the Great Diplomad Arsenal of Freedom. At the risk of provoking great wrath and turning this post into a gun debate, I found the Glock and the SiG mildly disappointing. I thought they both had inferior grips to the S&W M&P 2.0, and while their triggers were marginally better than the S&W's that did not compensate for the grip. That S&W M&P 2.0 in 9mm is just about the most accurate gun I have fired in my life. A beautiful piece of work. I took it to the range yesterday and this morning and was knocking the center out of the target consistently at 3, 5, 7, 10,  and 15 yards. OK, enough of that. Did I tell you that I shot my new M&P 2.0 in 9mm? Huh? Oh, sorry. It's the age.

As habitual readers will know, I don't do New Year Resolutions. They are too depressing. I hardly even do New Year. I, however, will engage in my traditional walk onto the driveway and watch my cars depreciate. That's what passes for excitement these days.

Anyhow, Happy New Year to one and all--well, maybe not to Mueller, but everybody else, well maybe not to Pelosi or Schumer, but to everybody else, well, maybe not to . . . . Did I tell you about my M&P?  

Friday, December 28, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas and Syria

Flying in the face of Political Correctness and risking offending thousands of cultures and sub-cultures and people who shop at Whole Foods, I wish one and all a Merry Christmas! There, if that doesn't prove I have guts, nothing will.

Christmas, of course, evokes the Middle East.

That little corner of the world has played an outsized, amazing, totally awesome role in the development not just of Western Civilization but of Global Civilization. We all have grown up thinking about the Middle East's good stuff, but also spent many thoughts worrying about how the next world war would start there, the next nuclear apocalypse, etc. We have seen almost non-stop warfare in the Middle East and its environs, and out of that region, of course, has emerged the jihadi challenge which we in the West continue to face some 1400 years after the establishment of Islam.

This is just a humble little blog of opinion so I am not going to provide a history of the past 2000 years in the Middle East. I, however, was struck by the uproar over President Trump's announcement that we are finished or will be finished soon with our military presence in Syria. (Note: For now, let me put aside the issue of Afghanistan which the President also has indicated he will be reviewing.)

Let's state the obvious: None of us knows the details of President Trump's proposal for our new posture re Syria. None of the pundits and other bien pensants prattling on about it knows those details or what exactly the President has or has not worked out in terms of a deal with Russia, Turkey, the Saudis, the Kurds, Israel or anybody else. So we cannot really comment on President Trump's new approach to Syria because we don't know what it is. What we can discuss is the issue of whether we should have a presence in Syria and whether our presence there has, so far, done us good. That's what I will briefly discuss.

I have written a large number of posts (go here, for example) which discuss our involvement in Syria, another muddled Obama foreign policy legacy. You will see that my principal concern about our involvement in Syria was that nobody seemed to know its purpose. What was the end-game? From what I could discern our Syrian "war" under Obama seemed to involve a lot of blather about fighting ISIS without really fighting ISIS--our President declared them the "JV team," let's not forget--and we had some weird White House declarations about "red lines" when it came to the Assad regime, "red lines" which the White House promptly ignored when Assad crossed them. There was sloppy bipartisan rhetoric about getting rid of Assad; the late John McCain seemed to like posing with "Syrian rebels," and pushing to have them get our support. It seemed we wanted a repeat of the Libya fiasco or the almost equal fiasco in Egypt when we pushed for the Islamist thugs of the Muslim Brotherhood to take power there--that was prevented only by swift action by the Egyptian military which ignored Hillary's advice. Anyhow, I have written lots about all that, and I shan't repeat it.

I made my recommendation back in 2016 on our Syrian adventure, and said our policy should involve taking note of the Israeli position on Assad,
I have stressed more than once that when dealing with Syria's Assad one should look at the Israelis. If anybody has a right and a reason to detest the Assad family dictatorship the Israelis do; they, despite having the ability to do so, have never sought to knock out the Assads. They know that in the Arab world the devil you know often times proves much less worse than the one you don't. Keep that in mind.
Furthermore, I wrote that our policy should,
o Back the Israelis, of course, but also support the Kurds; help them establish their own homeland in territory that is now Syria and Iraq. They are the last major group in the Middle East without their own country. They deserve one. We can and should tell the Turks to get stuffed. Now, of course, the Kurds are Muslims, but even El Cid made alliances with Muslim princes to get rid of other Muslim princes. 
o We must continue to seek energy independence, so that the Middle East becomes increasingly less important to us. 
o Stop importing that war and terrorism to our shores via our currently insane politically correct immigration and refugee policies. 
o Smash ISIS to drive home to jihadis around the world, that Islamic war against the West leads only to their defeat (here, here).
With the advent of President Trump, it appears  our policy in Syria became somewhat better defined and went along roughly the lines I recommended. In particular, I note, yet again, that our growing energy independence makes the Middle East increasingly less important to us. It turns out, we can drill our way to energy independence despite what the progs have told us for years and years.

President Trump did take a much harder line on ISIS, and thousands of ISIS lunatics have been turned into glass in the desert sands. He also sent Russia and Assad some harsh messages when, for example, our forces turned a large group of pro-Assad forces and Russian "mercenaries" into dust. OK, but was our policy working? I don't know. It seems that ISIS lost a lot of ground and personnel in both Syria and Iraq and have been much less active in  Europe and elsewhere since President Trump went after their Syrian and Iraqi redoubts. So maybe we have "won" and it's time to leave; I would have to see the intel to be certain. I assume President Trump has seen it, is satisfied that our primary redefined mission to smash ISIS has been sufficiently achieved, and does not want to see a mission creep that will involve us in Somalia-style "nation-building." Are we leaving the Kurds in the lurch? I don't know, although it would seem so. I recognize, of course, that my soft spot for the Kurds is not sufficient reason to continue to put our people's lives at risk and to get us involved in some distant ethnic/civil war.

So, in the end, I give a qualified "yes" to President Trump's apparent decision to begin to wind down our involvement in Syria--if, in fact, that is what we are seeing. I will have to await further details to go beyond that.

I, however, must laugh at the Dems and other lefties now so concerned about our national security that they insist we stay in Syria. These are the same people who won't let us defend our own borders, or let us take effective measures to keep ISIS out of the USA, but want us hanging around in Syria presumably promoting "democracy" among people who have no clue what that is all about. They so hate Trump that they would prefer to support a war in a place far removed from our key national interests. Yes, let's have a Libya repeat by all means . . .

Merry Christmas, once again.