Wednesday, February 6, 2013

All So Obvious

Been laid up a few days with a recurring problem, one that reminds me of the old line "revenge is a dish best served cold." Bad knee, lots of pain, lots of ibuprofen, x-rays, tomorrow an MRI, inability to sleep, can't drive my Corvette because I can't bend down far enough to get into it . . . sigh . . . those Guatemalan narcos are getting their revenge some thirty years after the fact. I first messed up the knee getting out of a helicopter in a drug op in Guatemala; I stepped on the skid as I was jumping out, and went for a roll in the dust. Second time was in Bolivia on a hunting trip when I stepped on llama poo, slid, broke my leg and twisted the knee. Third time was three days ago, going for a walk in a peaceful, boring So. California suburb when I took a misstep off  the kerb--shooting pain, almost unable to walk.

Curse you drug war! You claim yet another victim!

Anyhow, sitting about in a ibuprofen/codeine induced haze led me to think, of course, about politics. One should only think about politics these days when the pain is numbed by the products of modern pharmacology or old whisky. Even when under the influence, I cannot bear to hear the news and the pontifications of the pundits. So many opinions, so many solutions for what ails us, when, in fact, any housewife who has ever tried to balance a checkbook knows exactly what is wrong and how to fix it. Stop spending so much! Most certainly, stop spending so much on stupid things!

At the federal level it is obvious what needs doing. Slash and burn. Departments of education, interior, energy, health, labor, commerce, and transportation should be eliminated asap, as should the EPA and USAID. Yes, completely eliminated. The Department of Justice needs to be radically reduced in size and power; eliminate the ATF and DEA, for starters. The FBI has completely overstepped its original mandate and needs to be reined in. The State Department can be cut by one-third almost immediately, and closer to one-half in a couple of years. DOD needs to focus on its mission and shed programs, offices, and employees that have nothing to do with defense. Lawyers. My God, does DoD have lawyers. Slash and burn. Get rid of all the environmental nonsense in DoD. Drop the vast, corrupt, and bloated domestic PX network. In a time of WalMarts and Targets, why have a PX? Negotiate a discount for military personnel. The same with VA hospitals, most of which are substandard; get veterans a voucher system they can use at private hospitals. The CIA? A complete overhaul and reduction in the massive stateside bureaucracy which interferes with and stifles CIA's proper role overseas. NASA? Privatize as much as possible of the space program, keeping in government hands only the most secret and sensitive operations. Don't get me started on Homeland; it needs a radical downsizing or even a splitting apart.

Stop making everything illegal. Get rid of the drug and gun laws, and you will empty a lot of prison cells.

Stop viewing life as a series of problems that needs "solution" by the government.

Not so hard.



  1. "Stop making life a series of problems that need 'solution' by government. Not so ohard."

    Much as I sympathize, I disagree with the "not so hard" part. The Chinese have a saying that once you ride a tiger, it's hard to dismount (骑虎难下). In FDR's reign (it wasn't an administration in the classic American sense), we got on the tiger of big, expansive government and created huge classes of people who are dependent.

    While I agree in principle that government is too large, who will be cut in your proposed reductions? Chances are, it will be people who have hard languages skills at State, DOD, and elsewhere, while those who are best at creative brown-nosing will survive. Slash Ejikashun, you'll have national teachers' unions up in arms, even if their rank-and-file members grumble on the increasing number of make-work tasks they are required by various layers of bureaucracy to perform.

    And, consider the effect of those iron triangles of Executive branch agencies, supposedly regulated interests, and Congressional blocs. Do you think these classes of people will take kindly to the slashing of cash cows that let them milk the public for all it's worth?

    No, I'm sure that the looters, leeches, liars, and loons will have too many Congressional allies to allow the reductions in government that our country so badly needs.

    While we're at it, the private sector is full of people who are of the same mindset that service is for suckers and real men loot. This business at Standard & Poor's suggests that we've hit the point where nobody will be honest unless there are people policing the police at every step.

    What we really need is a backlash cultural revolution. No system, private or government, can really work unless it's staffed by people of integrity, morality, wisdom, and, dare I say it, grace (in the old, biblical sense). Hence, burn the schoolbooks which show the Puritans as killjoys, and go back to praising both their morals and their pioneering of government by compact and consent. Abolish the term "Dark Ages" and show the era as one in which Barbarians learned to be civilized. Shout from the houssetops that Karl Marx's vision was one of failure, failure, failure, and destruction. I guess it shows that I'm now a history teacher. And, while we're at it, shoot anyone who calls himself "multiculturalist" but is unable to score at least 2/2 in two languages other than his own, and publicly repudiate the sexual revolution.

    1. Kepha:
      Pretty much agree. None of them will go until the money runs dry. And they will suck it dry for all their worth, think coercion, compulsion, and confiscation. Disagree a little on the "Puritans". The Liberals are the new puritans humorless busy bodies now in power.

    2. James, re my take on the Puritans, I have long worshiped in conservative Presbyterian/Reformed churches. I ended up reading a lot of the 16th-17th century writers themselves (as opposed to what the warmed-over 19th century Unitarian view now mixed with cultural Marxism that passes for "history" in the High School textbook you used). Modern so-called "liberals" have too great a hatred for God to be anything near Puritan. Ironically, kids getting an early sex education is perhaps the main connection--although the 17th century Puritan or Dutch Calvinist kid got his "facts of life" from sleeping in a trundle under the parental bed, and watching it get more crowded with each passing year (to say nothing of tending to the family livestock).

    3. Kepha:
      Point taken. My school days 50s-60s weren't as bad as todays. My early years were at a parochial institute. Now that I think of it Sister Leo et al probably had a somewhat jaundiced eye for the Puritans. Otherwise it was a pretty good education. As to todays' education, it isn't the marxist influence that bothers me as much as there seems to be a strange nihilism of "nothing is of any worth except you and the state". Now I must go an obvious weakness on Puritans.

    4. In principle democratic systems can see troubles coming and take action to avoid them. But what happens in practice is well-known to us all.

      Any time you attack a set of deeply entrenched interests such as all those government departments, you have no hope whatsoever of changing them significantly, let alone diminishing or eliminating them.

      The ugly truth is that only catastrophic events can put an end to "normal times" and create real change.

      Yet don't get your hopes up there, either, because there are always far more ways for change to go wrong than to go right.

  2. >What we really need is a backlash cultural revolution.

    Bingo. When I look at everything around me, from television, to academia to politics, I see rot. Entropy, even. Sex scandals? Those used to end careers. Now they only end them if you're a Republican or somebody the MSM doesn't like.

    Military officers violating the law (Dempsey)? Nothing happens.

    Boy Scouts considering admitting gays? Sure, why not--we have to force "progress" on private organizations, after all!

    And lets be sure to rename all our parks and monuments so as to not offend any of the victims of evil Western Civilization!

    Let's arrest 10-year-olds for having toy guns (you have to wonder if the police department in Alexandria, VA has any real crimes to contend with.

    Take a toy gun to school? In my day it was taken away and you never saw it again. You also never did it again. But arrested? What is wrong with us as a society?

    I agree, a medication-induced haze is about the only way I can consider any of this stuff without going into deep depression.

    That, and try to pass some of my fuddy-duddy out-of-fashion values on to my son.

    1. Seems to me you went to school about the same time I did.

  3. Sorry about your leg, although the injury was precursor to a great rant to which I am in full agreement. The only question is, when are you going to enter the political fray? Without persons such as yourself with strong credentials and strong opinions moving into positions of political power (Congress - Senate - Governor of California), no changes will be forthcoming until forced by a total economic collapse - a fate to be avoided if possible.

    As an aside: Can anyone explain how to establish a profile using a real name? Anonymous seems to be my only option.

    1. you could establish a google account, live journal or word press account although i think one of the other people who posted recently said for some reason his wordpress account wouldn't let him post here. Creating a google account is relatively easy and if you so desire you can start blogging also. Most of the names if you click on them will take you to there blog.

    2. If you are like me and do not wish to "register" with Google, Wordpress or any other organization that already has too much information that they share with Obummers Dept of Justice, then just click the Name/URL option and think up a suitable (or unsuitable) name an URL is unnecessary.

      Very sensible opinion as to how to balance the budget Diplomad, it is very dispiriting to read Kepha's response immediately saying (essentially) Yes please, but lets not inconvenience anybody-sheesh!

  4. My sympathies on the knee. I'm having my MRI today. Though in my case the damage is because of naturally loose ligaments leading to instability, leading to twisting and tearing, not anything exciting like drug raids and llama poo. (My daughter wants a llama, I'll have to warn her of that particular danger.)

    And you're right about the PX system. We live in Groton, and while the commissary does save us a fair bit of money compared with the regular grocery stores, for some staples like milk and eggs, Walmart is cheaper. If our local Walmart had a grocery section, we'd probably shop there more than the base. And we almost never use the Exchange; again Walmart and Target or online are more likely to have what we want or need, and usually at a better price.

    1. Oh Diplomad, you have really done it this time! I agree with everything in today’s post, but I’ll speak only to the atrocity called the PX/commissary system. I spent 23 years in the military and retired over thirty years ago. Back then, the PX system was the largest retail organization in the world; today, it’s a joke, and a bad one at that; outrageously overpriced clothing and two year old (or more) electronics, installation service stations that often charge more than their off-base counterparts, and on and on. The commissary is not any better. Yes, bread, eggs and milk are generally cheaper, but so what. All commissaries’ charge a five percent surcharge on all purchases, effectively a tax on food. Why? Well our U.S. congress has seen fit to “level the playing field” for their off-base constituents. Those same off-base constituents that would/will scream bloody murder should “their” military installation fall under BRAC. Give me a break!
      Ok, rant off! I feel better now that I have had my second cup of coffee.

  5. Yikes on your pain. I certainly can't disagree with the comments re. wasteful spending and places to cut. And on his way out and in an effort to help his CIC with Congress, Panetta has suggested that perhaps the military should take a pay cut too. Wanting to do my part to cut spending perhaps we could have special foodstamps for all the families of enlisted men who now are asked to do just a little more for their country than sacrifice their lives.

    We have way more problems in this country than rampant irresponsible spending. The kiss kiss moment between Akhmawhatever and Morsi attests to Hilbama's brilliant fp to keep us safe, as does the crowd of illegals in Congress shouting "undocumented and unafraid". And now that paragon of black wisdom Chris Rock has said that Obama is our boss and like our Dad so we should listen to him.

    At this rate, overspending will be the very least of our problems. We can at least print money and the wheelbarrow business should boom. Apologies for any additional pain as a result of this rant. pmcgrace

  6. You've got a lot of good suggestions, but the three biggest money sinks are the military (necessary and Constitutionally required), Social Security and Medicare/aide (neither of which is mentioned in the Constitution). Ditch the latter two and we'd have an immediate surplus (and lots of outraged voters, alas).

    I'd LIKE to see a law disenfranchising any non-crippled citizen who received government transfer payments, but that won't happen. It would hurt the Dems too much.

    Frankly I don't see any realistic way out of our current mess short of a disaster, and the outcome of the necessary disaster is unpredictable. Could well lead to a worse situation than what we've got now. Unfortunately I don't see some kind of disaster as avoidable at this point:-(

    I do, however, second the Anonymii above. Diplomad for President!

    1. I agree with your comments on SS and Medicare. But even if we all decided this afternoon to eliminate them, it would take decades to shut down the system because — thanks to deliberate government policies — there's now one helluva lot of people who depend on them more or less completely.

      Toss the old folks out into the snow? Well, possible, I suupose. But if lots of grandpas and others still have their rifles, it might not be wise to put them into a situation where they have little to lose. Hmmm?

      (Which I think goes a long way toward explaining the Left's campaign to disarm everybody.)

      Anyway, as for president — the whole problem is that the federal government and presidency have become entirely too important in the economic life of this country. All those "wise bureaucrats" making Good Decisions for us all.

      That's why capturing the levers of government is so important. We want to get to a state where it doesn't matter all that much who's running things in Washington.

  7. Regarding the PX and Commissary issues. I patronize the Nellis AFB commissary (I'm retired Army) and find that across the board, even with surcharges and paying the baggers a tip, that significant savings are realized when compared to similar purchases at stores such as Smiths or Albertsons. Regarding the PX's: The booze (Class Six stores have been integrated with AAFEES) is definitely cheaper although other items are comparable to the civilian market or sometimes a tad higher (not a great deal so), but there is another aspect to consider. The PX's, unlike the commissaries for all those who have served overseas, provide to the serving forces in distant lands purchasing options not usually otherwise available. On top of that, the surcharges at both the PX's and Commissaries go towards helping those within the military family in need. Elimination of the US PX's would lead, I believe, in short order, to the elimination of those overseas as well {an argument at this point regarding the need to eliminate overseas bases might be made}. This issue may soon be moot, as with the latest recommendation to cut military pay, it may not be too long before we simply decide to cut the military entirely and depend upon Obama's unparalleled eloquence and capacity for engaging the sympathies of our enemies.

    1. When I was Vice Consul in Bangkok, we had a post exchange. However, it pretty soon became clear that for most things, knowledge of Thai (or a few kinds of Chinese in the Mrs' case) got you pretty far in ordinary stores, which were generally cheaper. We ended up going to the PX chiefly to rent English-language videos.

      But, as a caveat, the PX was a relic of the days when Bangkok had a much large US military presence, and when Thailand was a rather poorer country.

  8. Hope the knee feels better soon. Yea we need to make cuts but everything is darn near a sacred cow to someone and no one seems to have the needed parts or wherewithal to do anything constructive. I would agree that I see us heading for disaster and it will be a doozy.

  9. Agree completely, but who would accomplish that work? It's so radical, and steps on so many toes, that I'm afraid only a complete collapse would be enough to clear the way for what must be done. Sounds a little like something Bill Ayers pines for, doesn't it?

  10. Make me dictator for a couple of months. I promise to leave on schedule.

  11. The last set of reforms that created Finland's excellent school system came about in the 1990s when Finland lost all of its Soviet export markets overnight, resulting in a financial crisis. There was no longer money to pay for the bureaucracy, so responsibility for education was decentralized down to the municipal, school, and teacher level--with excellent results.
    I recently came across a title on Amazon published in a Nordic country in this era called something like, "Creative Destruction in the Public Sector." What a concept.

  12. "Stop viewing life as a series of problems that needs “solution” by the government."

    The art of government is looking for problems, finding them everywhere, diagnosing them incorrectly and them misapplying the wrong remedies. - Groucho

  13. Paul Bremer shoe while delivering a lecture in London today 2013
    here & here (Arabic Text)

  14. I agree with what you said. Get rid of these useless, unauthorized by the constitution, departments (and salt the earth where their offices sat).

    That alone would save billions - maybe even enough to pay for Bumbles (and Bush'es - sad to say) excesses.

    Unfortunately there are a lot of sacred cows there. Would essentially have to burn everything down (hopefully not literally) and start over.

    On and sorry about the knee - if you need someone to take care of the corvette - well it'll be a sacrifice but.... :)

  15. Son #1 screwed his knee and left shoulder up this Sunday in a snowboarding accident.
    I messed up my right knee way back in the day at his roller skating 9th birthday party. Seems like once you injure it things just keep happening...
    I said to my son, welcome to the world of having part of your body not work right for the rest of your life...

  16. Did you see Dempsey's comment about Benghazi? Then the exchange between McCain and Dempsey; “Our posture was not there because we didn’t take into account the threats to our consulate...”

    But sadly our posture was indeed there. Bent-over, cheeks spread apart; a posture so deliberate requests for Cross-border Authority were denied.

    How are John McCain and others so easily duped into accepting the absence of a US posture in Benghazi that night? Not only is the posture obvious, authority was withheld or otherwise used to protect and preserve that posture; bent-over, cheeks spread apart.

  17. its just like H bombing a lawyers convention.

    A good start!!!


  18. in uncle sams canoe club the word on John McCain 40-50 years ago was that he would be a reall "kicker" what with a really good family name etc.

    then he did the time in the black pajama hilton and thought about things to much and now seems to be a bit on the rino side.


  19. Not to complain but…. I keep checking in to see Diplomads take on the latest Benghazi testimony… Come on! Buck up man! We’ve come to except more from you, not some crybaby crap about getting old. That go’s for the commentators as well. Sheesh.

    I’m with OldMan, I’ve had a recurring fantasy to be made absolute dictator of the US. Give me three months and I could line it all out. Ruthless budget slashing; DoE, EPA, DOEnergy- Gone. SS trimmed and replaced ect.. Some programs could be supplemented too. Why the hell don’t we have manned Mars mission by now, for instance. Come to think of it, three months wouldn’t be enough. The idiots would just undo all my good work first chance they got. Probably better make it for life to be on the safe side.

  20. While somewhat different from your prescriptions, I think we have somethings in common.

    Monday morning some friends of mine will hand deliver a FY 2014 Federal Budget Proposal to Congressional leaders. It has a surplus after the first year, pays off the debt in 15 and cuts about $1.4t from the budget, offers tax reform and entitlement reform.

    So, not many people will care, think of it as a stunt, and complain it couldn't get any support in congress. Gee, that describes the President's last two proposals too.

  21. Oh, it can be found here:

  22. Since sexual desire and behavior is innate and cannot be changed by psychotherapy or drugs, why not decriminalize sexual behavior as well? If someone believes that the behavior of someone with an unusual sexual orientation (homosexual, bestial, pedophile, voyeur, poly, sadist, etc.) has damaged her, let her sue in civil court. A lot of jail cells can be used for murderers and thieves if we free all rapists, drug dealers, and other lifestyle criminals