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Lost in Translation, Right Might Not Mean Right

I have written before about how the left sees words as important and tries to redefine them in ways that benefit the left, Words evolve. ...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

John McCain, RIP

I was saddened to hear of the death of Senator John McCain. Having had a close cousin die of the same form of cancer (Glioblastoma) that killed the Senator, I think I know what a horrible way to go that is. He deserved better.

I don't want to get too political when we should be honoring a man who served his country for some 60 years, but . . . .

He came from a line of US Navy officers, and seemed fated to make the Navy his career. War, however, had other things for him. He, as we all know, was shot down over North Vietnam and underwent nearly six years of brutal treatment at the hands of the Vietnamese. I think few persons could have withstood the torture which he--and the other POWs--endured. When the Vietnamese discovered that his father was an Admiral, they turned the screws even harder. His captors later sought to give him special treatment, i.e., early release, if he would denounce the US effort. McCain to his credit refused early release; he would stay in the Hanoi Hilton. He emerged physically broken and his Navy career was over. He divorced the woman who had faithfully waited for him all those years, and married a younger and very wealthy one. He was elected to the Senate five times and was quite a media darling for most of that time--the exception being the Keating Five Scandal. He sought to portray himself as a "Straight Talker" and a "Maverick." I have my own views on those two labels, but I will leave it at that.

He ran for President twice, losing the first time in the GOP primaries to George Bush. He seemed to take the loss personally, remained bitter, and proved a reluctant supporter of Bush's campaigns. He, of course, ran again in 2008, won the primary, and faced fellow Senator Obama in the general election. That, in my view, was an election he could have won. He did one good thing right off, which was to pick Alaska Governor Plain as his running mate. That clinched it for me; I would vote for McCain instead of sitting it out. He, or the people, around him, however, soon began to undermine Palin; it was as though he envied her star power and ability to draw crowds. The sabotage was quite palpable during the campaign. You all know the details as well as I.

He ran an odd campaign. Not only was he sabotaging his running mate, but when the Wall Street crash happened, he suspended the campaign and returned to Washington to "deal with the economy." Those of us who were supporting him, were confused by this tactic, but assumed that he must have some plan to "deal with the economy." Well, he didn't. He just went to DC and spent valuable campaign time talking with Bush and members of Congress along the lines of, "Well what do we do?" Nobody knew what to do, and Obama kept campaigning, implying that he knew what to do. McCain eventually returned to the campaign, but whatever wind it had had in its sails, was now gone. Obama won handily. I leave to others whether it is fair to say McCain "gave" us Obama.

After that loss, McCain returned to the Senate, and, I hate to speak ill of the dead, but didn't really do much. For some thirty years in the Senate, not a whole lot of legislation or legacy, except that the establishment liked him, he was their favorite "Maverick." Enough said on that.

McCain always seemed a bit confused about American politics and the disadvantages that a conservative has in running for national office. He spent a lot of time trying to get cozy with the likes of the Washington Post and the New York Times, and he got not much for it except what Tom Bethell called that "strange new respect." As I have discussed before, trying to get that "respect" from the progs, is the road to political death for a conservative. McCain was the Democrats favorite "Republican." He made no secret of his hatred for Trump, a man who succeeded where he had failed. Enough said on that, too, you all know that story.

Anyhow, the man is dead. We can agree or disagree about his politics, but he was one of those fellows who suits up and goes to war at the command of his country. He proved brave in that endeavor and nobody can take that away from him. The rest of his legacy? We'll have to wait and see.

John McCain, Rest in Peace.

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, however, 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 . . .