Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gratuitous Photo . . .

While I am thinking up a new post, here is a gratuitous dog picture . . . just because . . . that's why it's gratuitous . . . . . .

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

No Politics Today, Just Cars

As I reported last Halloween (here), I got up that morning and went out and bought a new 2015 Ford GT Mustang. I promised to give an update on the car and how it was turning out. This is that update. I will return soon enough to politics, especially the new DNC meme,"If you knew what you know now, would you have supported Bush's invasion of Iraq?"

I just put 5000 miles on it, not many for California, but thought it a good time to do a review.

I am delighted with my GT Mustang with the optional performance package. Overall, it's the best car I have ever driven, and not just the best one I have owned. In my many years wandering the earth, I have driven all sorts of cars from all sorts of manufacturers and countries. Some were great, e.g., Ford Bronco, Porsche 911, Toyota Landcruiser, Corvette Z06; some were OK, e.g., VW Beetle, Ford Aerostar, Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Galant, Toyota Camry, Ford Fairmont, Isuzu Trooper, many FIATs; and some were genuinely horrid, e.g., Triumph Spitfire, Yugo, Datsun 1600, Chevy Vega, Ford Pinto, Suzuki Samurai, and the abysmal Chrysler LeBaron. There are many others I have driven and even owned which fall into one or the other of those three categories. No country and no manufacturer has a monopoly on great, blah, or horrible cars.

Very roughly, this GT Mustang has the old Coyote 302 engine (5 liter) taken from the Boss 302 and the independent rear suspension from the old Cobra Mustang. The engineers, however, have tweaked both, and that along with terrific new steering, braking, and superb six-speed manual gearbox have produced a great machine. The gearbox, by the way, is as good or better than the one I had previously ranked best, Honda's silky-smooth five speed gearbox.

The car is extremely responsive and damn quick--though not, of course, as fast as my old Corvette. The beast is meant to drink 93 octane, and produce some 434 hp, but here in California the best you can get is 91 octane. Doesn't seem to make too much of a difference; I don't notice the couple of horses that drop off. The Mustang stays glued to the highway, even when driven at (ahem) a bit too much speed on a twisting mountain road (Ortega Highway in So. Cal). Plus, the car looks good inside and out, and gets lots of compliments.

Gas mileage is pretty good: about 20-23 mpg on the freeway (those are US gallons which are smaller than Imperial gallons) and anywhere from 13 to 16 mpg in town--depending on how much accelerating I do.

So far, no squeaks, rattles, or system failures of any type.

Negatives? Sure, there are a few minor ones. My biggest complaint: no spare tire. Why? My Vette didn't have one either, and this seems to be a growing trend. I don't like it. Instead of a spare, not even a lousy tiny doughnut spare, you get an air pump and a bottle of goop. That might be OK if you get a little hole from a little nail at the shopping mall parking lot, but if you damage the tire in some major way, especially in a remote locale, you're stuck. Better have your AAA membership paid-up.

Those much-vaunted Recaro seats? Except for giving some bragging rights (I guess), I don't know if they are worth the extra $1500. After buying my car, I saw an identical Mustang with standard seats, and those seemed just fine--although they had some weird stitching along the edges. Oh well, I've got them now and that's that.

The car is not loud enough! If you buy an American V-8, you want it to sound like an American V-8! It's too quiet. I have been told (true?) that the more subdued sound was made necessary as Ford is exporting the car to Europe and elsewhere where limitations on car noise are greater than here. OK, so I guess I'll have to blame it on the French and let it go. I, however, have been exploring getting a new exhaust system, but the Diplowife (retired) is looking askance at that project and even more so at my attempt to contact the Hennessey people here in California to have them boost the car to a 700-plus hp monster. I'll have to wait for her to go on her annual trip to Spain . . . .

In sum, if I knew then what I know now, would I have bought this car? You bet!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Ramble: World War 1, Rats and Democrats

It was 7 am. Unable to sleep, for the past three-plus hours, I peacefully had been binge watching an older British documentary series titled "The First World War, The Complete Edition," (overall not too bad, despite dismissive treatment of US involvement, and only passing mention of the Greatest General of the Great War, Australia's Sir John Monash.) My idyll ended when The Diplowife (retired) burst into the man cave to announce, "Rat! There is a giant rat in the pool! The dogs are in the water chasing it!" All this in Spanish, which comes off much more dramatic than in English. I, however, am used to the Diplowife announcing the presence of rats (here) and took my time repositioning the Lazy Boy, shutting off the TV, gathering and putting on my shoes, slowly lumbering downstairs, and, finally, making it out to the backyard.

Some context to the dazzling events that followed.

Our progressive overlords in California have declared us in a severe drought. That, of course, meant it was raining like hell when I went outside. Global Climate Change causes drought which causes torrential rain. So, please, get with the program you Settled Science Deniers!

My bleary eyes took in a scene comparable to the devastation of Pompei after the volcano; New Orleans after Katrina; Dante's Inferno on a bad day; Detroit after fifty years of Democrat rule; Cher without makeup . . . OK, maybe, I exaggerate.

The dogs, Hartza and Txiki, were, indeed, in the pool. The Diplowife (retired) ran about, yelling at them in Spanish and English, trying to grab 100-pound Txiki by the tail to pull him out of the water and into the rain. On seeing me, the boys willingly climbed out of the pool, and related their adventure. Lots of jumping, barking, howling, wet paws and sloppy kisses. After a few seconds of this ceremony, Hartza ran to the side of the pool, and began poking with his snout and paws at something in the water. Not wanting to miss out on the action, Txiki did a magnificent running belly flop back into the pool, and began swimming furiously towards Hartza. I walked over next to Hartza and peered over his large head into the water. Yes, indeed, a large rat in the pool. When the rodent would poke his/her/transgender head up to get a breath, Hartza, would push the creature back under. Those water boarding classes I had included in Hartza's obedience training clearly had an effect.

With the pool skimmer I fished out the beastie. The poor thing, which I had assumed dead or nearly so, did a Lazarus-like return to life, and in a magnificent Olympic grade leap, he/she/it sprung from the skimmer net over the fence, and into the neighbor's bushes. Gone! He/she/it would live to gnaw again!

Hartza (pictured below) looked at me in total disgust. I had disappointed him and Txiki. What kind of pack leader doesn't kill the enemy or at least allow the troop to tear him apart?

Dealing with rats and chaos, I, of course, began thinking about DemocRATS, and the latest news sweeping our beloved but increasingly ragged Republic.

I refer to ABC "news" anchor George Stephanopoulos. I won't go over the whole mess; there are lots of stories about this (here, for example). I have written before about progressive "journalists" (here) and noted that foreigners rightly express surprise over how much influence and wealth we bestow on news anchors. Little George's apparition at ABC, even before this latest mess, however, made no sense in any world where news organizations pretend to have a modicum of objectivity or at least don't employ the fox to guard the hen house. A long-time Democratic Party hack, and devoted follower of the Clintons, Stephanopoulos has worked for the crooked power couple for years, and has had a close personal relationship with both Bill and Hillary, as well as with their shady Clinton Foundation. Even without "knowing" that he was a donor to the Foundation, and featured as a prominent regular at its events, how could ABC possibly have considered him an objective journalist out for the TRUTH? How could the idiotic Republican party have agreed to allow this DNC hatchet man to moderate a GOP debate next year, especially given his performance the last time when he ambushed the candidates with a stupid hypothetical question about a ban on contraception?

Why not have Karl Rove moderate the Democratic party debates--if there are any? I am available if Mr. Rove declines.

This Stephanopoulos fiasco provides yet another demonstration of the corrupt nature of progressive politics in our country, and the weak response from the opposition. Just what we needed, right? Another example of that corruption and the tepidness of today's GOP. At least in the UK, PM Cameron seems willing to tackle the ideological corruption that has so destroyed the once venerable BBC.

I am going back and finish that First World War series, as I continue my effort to brush up on my knowledge of that war as we mark its hundred year anniversary. By the way, I want to recommend another terrific British three-part series on WWI titled "Our World War." It's a stunning look at the war from the perspective of soldiers in the field--very well done.

Back to guarding the property against the invaders. Fortunately, I have Txiki on the job; always watching for suspicious activity in the neighborhood. Nothing gets by him . . . especially phony news anchors.

Is that Brian Williams over there?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Marx might have something . . .

The "Marx" in my post's title does not refer to the Prussian-born, failed comedian Karl, author of Das Kapital, a turgid precursor to The Onion, but rather to the great Manhattan-born philosopher for the ages, Groucho. I'll get back to this.

The failed jihadi attack in Texas stays on my mind. I, in particular, find amazing the outpouring of liberal and populist (e.g., Bill O' Reilly) willingness to blame the victims of the attack: Don't provoke Islam and you'll be OK! The Great Toronto-born Mark Steyn has a fabulous piece (here) and it's nigh impossible to improve on the Great One when he writes a really Great One. Let me, however, add a few minor observations.

Victimhood in progressive world is a plastic concept. It is hard to keep up with the definitions proffered by our progressive overlords. It seems, however, that we should side with the "victim" when such "victim" belongs to a prog-approved class of persons eligible for the label. That class of eligible "victims," however, changes with time and with the needs of the progressive agenda, so you really must study hard to keep up. We see, therefore, that yesterday's class of "victim" is not necessarily today's.

An example of the above phenomenon: Back in the dark ages when I grew up, a black man accused of raping a white woman was the "victim." So also were the brave Northern white boys and girls who went into the benighted South to "work for civil rights." Some of those progressive folks got killed by the armed wing of the Democratic Party in the South, the KKK, which was quite happy to keep black citizens in their second-class status. The progressives shared the Klan's authoritarian and racist bent, but it was exercised in a different way; see for example the justification that LBJ had for the "War on Poverty" and the "Civil Rights Act" to wit, "I'll have those nxxxxxs voting Democrat for the next two hundred years."

The calm, noble, articulate, and white Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird fame, was, of course, the fictional prototype of the hero who stood up for black men accused of the rape of white women. The white (Communist Party USA) attorneys who defended the Scottsboro boys against trumped up rape charges in 1930s Alabama, and brave Judge Horton who resisted community pressure, were real life counterparts to Atticus Finch. Back then it was OK, in fact, it was more than OK, to question claims of rape--it was a badge of honor, a rite of passage to question such claims.

Things change.

As we have seen in the recent Rolling Stone fiasco and the earlier Duke lacrosse travesty, progressivism now demands that we believe stories of rape and sexual assault of various types--with a couple of exceptions, as will be noted. We have seen sexual assault charges hurled, quite interestingly, at prominent black men who did not toe the progressive line laid out for black Americans by their would-be progressive overlords. The progressives, you see, have replaced the KKK as the keeper of blacks in servitude but have borrowed some Klan tactics. Note the weapon progressives used against black Americans such as Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain and Bill Cosby, all of whom strayed off the path laid down for black men by progressivism. Yes, they are accused of sexual assault, mostly against white women. Men, black and white, however, who abuse women but hew to the progressive line, e.g., Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, David Letterman, Jesse Jackson, well, they get a pass for the greater good, and the women involved do not get the exalted title of "victim." Keep up, folks, gotta keep up with the definition.

For progressivism, black Americans are a handy putative "victim." America, of course, has a guilty conscience for its treatment of black Americans and this can be used for decades and decades after that shoddy treatment ended. Well, that is until another more useful "victim" comes along. Again, an example from my own experience: the affirmative action program at the State Department was PUTATIVELY (that word) about increasing minority enrollment in the largely white Foreign Service. That was its origins until, of course, white middle and upper class women, got themselves listed as "victims." From then on, black men got shoved aside and white women got the jobs. Yep. I had the indelicacy of pointing this out in a couple of cables and letters to the Director General, and got hell for it. The Foreign Service still remains quite white, but with lots of white women replacing white men. Black men remain scarce.

Blacks also have served as progressives' canon fodder for fights against "voter suppression." The progressives told us told that there were thousands, if not millions, of black Americans too poor, too stupid, to sign up to vote. They just didn't know how to get ID cards. Well, it turned out, of course, that the issue was not really about black Americans, at all. It was about enrolling millions of illegal aliens on the voter rolls. Illegal aliens, of course, are needed because blacks are slipping in importance as voters and as mainstays of classic progressive vote machines. The progressives need, therefore, a whole new class of poor wards of the progressive-controlled state and of the progressive election machine. Voila! Millions of Mexicans and Central Americans. But, again, put the blame on black Americans. A pattern is developing here.

I will write more about all this in a longer piece that I hope to finish some time before I die, but for now, let's just say that the progressives are always in search of new victims. At times these victims can come into conflict. Progressives, for example, view Islam as a legitimate reaction by the Third World to the transgressions, real and imagined, of white Western civilization. I wrote that,
Radical Islam is an ideology for the aggrieved, better said, for the losers of the world. It is no coincidence that it is the fastest growing cult among prisoners in the West. Islam is about mindless grievance and revenge for slights real and imagined, regardless of when and where they might have occurred. This is why progressives have such difficulty criticizing Islam and taking a tough stance against its barbarities. Islam is seen as part of the "Third World" reaction to the "offenses" of the "white" West, be those the Crusades, the great European empires, or the West's technological and economic dominance. Islam is the friend of progressivism in its hatred for Western culture. 
There is a Molotov-Ribbentrop type understanding between progressives and radical Islam. 
What will be the progressive reaction when Muslim clerics in the USA, for example, refuse to perform gay weddings? Hard to predict with certainty, but then, of course, progressivism is about generating uncertainty, about keeping society off balance. It is about disrupting long established institutions and practices; it is about tearing down that which is with no real formula for what will follow except to put progressives in positions of power to dictate to us all as the whim comes and goes.

Progressivism is motivated by a deep hatred for Western civilization.

That realization brings us back to the wisdom of the great sage, Groucho Marx, who summed up progressivism's attitude towards Western civilization better than anybody else, "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." 

Friday, May 8, 2015

UK Elections "Too Close to Call" . . . Tories Win, Of Course

Well, it happened again.

I have written several times of the interesting phenomenon we see in the mainstream/progressive media, to wit, when they start calling an electoral result "too close to call" that almost inevitably means the conservative cause or candidate will win (here, for example.) Besides the Scotland independence referendum, we saw this phenomenon in various elections and referenda in Wisconsin; in several of the US mid-term elections; in Australia; and, of course, in Israel.

We now have seen "too close to call" in the UK general elections. As I write this, it seems the Tories are poised to win a majority or close to a majority of the seats in Parliament and the odds favor Cameron remaining PM. I am no fan of David Cameron--who reminds me of many of the milquetoast leaders of our own Republican party--but compared to Ed Miliband, well, no contest: I'll go with Cameron.

I would have preferred a big UKIP win. Alas, that was not to be; absent that, I'll take a Conservative win.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Greatest Threat to Europe: The Anglo-Saxons! Run! Hide! All is Lost!

Whenever I get a bit down about the news and developments in our beloved but increasingly ragged Republic, I find humor and a strange solace in the antics of our European "friends," better said, in the antics of the monstrosity known as the EU, which has over 45,000 employees, and its administrative arm the European Commission.

I enjoy finding somebody doing things even more stupidly than we: hard to believe, but such people exist.

The European Commission has some 25,000 employees--very well paid, by the way--including its own diplomatic corps, and is in charge of all sorts of wonderful things. You can go to their website (here) and just be amazed by the range of great and noble things this Brussels-based body does. It's hard to believe the world ever existed before the Commission came into being, or that the world could exist were the Commission to pass. Anyhow, if you have insomnia, go read up on the Commission. It, of course, has a President, a position currently held by Jean-Claude Juncker, a former PM of Luxembourg, who earns the not inconsiderable sum of some $30,000/month (tax free) plus all sorts of other tax-free benefits--you can go here and read all about EU salaries and benefits and, if you're American, Canadian, Australian, etc., just be glad you're not a European tax-payer. If you are an EU tax-payer, well, I understand the US-Mexico border is quite porous this time of year; if you can speak a little Spanish, and promise to vote Democrat, the Border Patrol will let you through. Maybe you then can line up a job working for MSNBC or the Clinton Foundation's Global Initiative--they're both very relaxed on tax matters.

Back to our story: the Threat Posed by Anglo-Saxons to Civilization.

I have written much about the ludicrous activities of the EU, and especially on its "handling" of the Greece crisis (here, here, here, and here, for example). Again, for those with insomnia, you can go and reread those writings; I won't bore with whole-scale recitations of my Golden Words. I, however, can't resist tossing out one little sample, one tiny gold coin of verbiage.

In the May 14, 2012, piece cited above, I wrote,
the whole "European experiment" was madness on steroids, fueled by envy and resentment of the United States, and hatred for "Anglo-Saxon" dominance. The crowning achievement of this madness was the golden amulet of the euro, the magical coin that would challenge the dollar and become the world's new reserve currency. For a while it looked as if that might happen, but it has become apparent that the euro's "strength" was based on two pillars: German productivity and compliance with the desires of "Europe;" and outright chicanery in bookkeeping. The books were cooked, and every politician knew it. What the euro accomplished was to make unproductive and spendthrift Greece as expensive as productive and thrifty Germany. A formula for disaster.
Ah, those words "Anglo-Saxon." There they are. I used them first--OK, OK, maybe De Gaulle did. Some European friends made fun of me for claiming that the EU was based on fear and envy of the "Anglo-Saxons." They pooh-poohed the whole notion. Well, guess what? No less than President Juncker has confirmed the wisdom of The Diplomad. Perhaps channeling The Diplomad or, maybe, Charles De Gaulle, Juncker said in regard to the possible exit of Greece ("Grexit") from the euro and even from the whole EU scheme,
“Grexit is not an option. If Greece would accept it, if the others would accept it, that the country would exit the zone of security and prosperity constituted by the eurozone, we would be exposed to huge danger, because the Anglo-Saxon world would do everything to try to decompose, at a regular rhythm, by (the) sale, apartment by apartment, of the eurozone.”
Oh, yes! Those horrid Anglo-Saxons! They are what Europe needs to fear. Not the Muslim invasion; the demographic death spiral; the putrid education system; the collapse of law and order in the cities; the stagnant economy--no, the Anglo-Saxons are from whom Europe must be delivered!

Ragnar reborn with an Anglo-American accent, perhaps? Attila the Hun riding out of the plains of Texas? Nigel Farage leading an Anglo-Saxon landing at Normandy?

Juncker's words reveal clearly the utter idiocy of the "European Project." The whole thing was built as an act of defiance of those pesky Anglo-Saxons and their "immutable laws of economics," their disgusting supply-and-demand charts, and their once powerful belief that "there is no such thing as a free lunch." The EU would build a New World, with a new set of economic principles based on an inexhaustible supply of pixie dust, ground up unicorn horns, and German money. Europe would build a massive economy that would put the Anglo-Saxon world to shame! It would build its own defense forces! It would build the world's biggest airplane--nobody wants to buy it, but that's just Anglo-Saxon party-pooping in action! It would establish a non-Anglo-Saxon reserve currency! It would, it would, it would . . . so many things, it would do . . . but . . . the Anglo-Saxons, they are everywhere!

It's tough being right all the time . . .

Back to admiring that cop in Texas . . . he, ahem, definitely knew how to draw . .  .

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Texas - 2; ISIS - 0

A big loud "Bravo Zulu" to that unnamed Texas cop, with nerves of steel, who put two ISIS wanna-be mass murderers on the waiting list for their virgin quota.

Great shooting.

Texas? Really? The land of Chris Kyle? Why would ISIS think that Texas would be an easy target? Note to Islamists: Texas is not Boston or Paris, in case you hadn't noticed.

The story of the failed attack by ISIS on the Muhammed drawing competition seems to have not set too well with a lot of progressive commentators--the competition, that is, not the attack. Lots of mumbling about "hate speech," "hate groups," and even the ones who condemn (sort of) the ISIS attack, hurl insults in the direction of Pam Geller and Geert Wilders for provoking Muslims into forgetting that they belong to the Religion of Peace. The Twitterverse and mainstream media are full of prog whining about hateful speech (here, for example) and implying that somehow the event organizers deserved having their lives put in danger.

Anyhow, I am sure we will now all be treated to endless discussions of whether the two mad Islamists who got euthanized were connected to international terrorist movements, whether, in fact, they were "real" Muslims, and we will hear, no doubt, that it is best to avoid incidents like this by not holding events that Muslims might find offensive. Let's just do plays insulting Mormons, much safer.

In the meanwhile, it's good to be reminded in this time of Baltimore and Ferguson that there are some very good cops out there who have our backs.