Friday, July 29, 2011

Reid Offers the Potomac Two-Step; Tea Party GOP Wise to Him; Dictator Obama?

Did you ever see the Harrison Ford Movie Clear and Present Danger - from the Tom Clancy book of the same name - where Ford, playing fictional National Security Advisor Jack Ryan catches the president of the US running an illegal anti-drug operation in South America?

When he confronts the president Ford's character says "It gives me no pleasure to do it, sir. As acting deputy director of intelligence, it is my duty to report this matter to the Senate oversight committee."

The president replies, "You're not going to do that. ... No, no. You've got yourself a chip in the big game now. You're gonna tuck that away, you are going to save that for a time when your own ass is on the line and then you're gonna pull it out. And I'm going to cash it in for you. Right? But it won't go any further than that. It's the ol' Potomac two-step, Jack."

Jack Ryan responds, "I'm sorry, Mr. President, I don't dance."

Much the same scenario is playing out before the nation's eyes in Washington, D.C., as so-called Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives are throwing a major monkey wrench into the well-scripted nonsense being offered to the American public by both the Congress and the Obama Administration.

Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, called on Republicans in the House of Representatives to pass a measure being put forth by House Majority Leader John Boehner, supposedly his sworn political and philosophical opponent, which is opposed by sufficient House Republicans to block it.

Saying Boehner's plan is a good deal, which in itself makes me suspicious, Reid added, "Put those chips in your pocket and walk away."

Reid's comments were part of a well orchestrated effort by the Obama Administration to force the newly elected GOP representatives to forget who put them in office and why. Both GOP and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are reminding these representatives on an hourly basis that their future Congressional assignments are on the line if they don't kowtow to the long-established D.C. insiders.

Interestingly, in the midst of all the talk that the country will go into default and shut down come Tuesday if the GOP reps don't roll over and betray the voters who elected them, Obama now admits that may not be exactly true.

Obama has been saying for weeks that if he doesn't get his way right now, the country will go into default and we won't be able to pay our bills. But as of this morning's address to the nation at roughly 10:39 a.m., Mr. Obama changed his tune, I guess after so many financial experts said he was wrong.

Now Obama says we DO have the money to pay our bills, "but we don't have a triple-A political system. The time to put party first is over."

I don't see this as a party issue. I see this as an issue of principle. And the only principle I am seeing is coming from the Tea Party Republicans who are bucking the pressure from the media, the White House, the Senate and even their own party leaders in the House of Representatives.

South Carolina Republican representative Tim Scott told Fox News this morning that "we have to save this nation from financial ruin."

Tim Scott R-SC

Rep. Scott is the kind of upcoming Congressional leader we need. He is part of the Tea Party movement, he was elected by the people of his community, district and state to represent them and act in accordance with their wishes. He is doing what he should be doing, and he is standing strong and tall.

The national GOP needs a lot more people like Tim Scott and a lot less like John Boehner and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But President Obama says he wants this issue resolved, and on his terms and his terms alone. If the Congress doesn't submit to his dictatorial decrees, "Some kind of enforcement mechanism" must be enacted to force Congress to act on his preferred deficit spending plan, he said today.

I said it the other day and I'll say it again. We are on extremely dangerous ground here.

The President of the United States is threatening Congress because some of its members are doing the job they were elected to do. He is acting like a budding dictator and he is not only threatening Congress, he is threatening to continue running amok over the US Constitution.

OK, let's fix that. Mr. President step down for the good of the country.

Interestingly, Clancy addressed this issue in his book, so I'll let Clear and Present Danger speak once again.

James Earl Jones, playing Admiral Greer, says to Harrison Ford, "You took an oath, if you recall, when you first came to work for me. And I don't mean to the National Security Advisor of the United States, I mean to his boss, and I don't mean the President. You gave your word to his boss, you gave your word to the people of the United States. Your word is who you are."

The American economy is headed straight for a black hole of debt from which, at some point, it will be impossible to emerge. We can either put the brakes on right now, or sentence our offspring to an uncertain world of darkness and pain.

Hang tough Tea Party Republicans. The American people, your bosses, are watching you closely, to see who you are, and whether you are people of your word.
Thursday, July 28, 2011

Goodbye to a Favored Uncle; Do You Believe in ESP?

I first published this column at the consumer website and it appears here in a slightly longer form. The origins of my interest in politics and the military are touched on. The part about ESP is incredible and leaves me with questions, but no answers. Perhaps you have some.

When I was growing up I was very fortunate to have some of the best uncles a boy could ask for. On my dad's side were my uncles Bill and Chuck, and on my mother's side were my uncles Bob, Vic and Floyd. My aunts were gems too, and as I look back I realize I was very fortunate when it came to relatives.

I saw my maternal uncles and aunts all the time because we lived close to each other in upstate New York. Dad's sisters and their families lived in the New York City area and I saw them less frequently, but the visits were always great times nonetheless.

Last week, the last of my uncles, Mom's older brother Victor Brimmer, who was closest to her in age and a staunch ally in her fights against my siblings and their children who tried to force her into an Alzheimer's home, died at the age of 97. (I expounded on mom's fight in my book Granny Snatching, and write about elder abuse in my CTWatchdog columns.) Uncle Vic had been in declining health for some time, and had developed pneumonia which in the end he just couldn’t beat.

I have decided not to tell Mom of Uncle Vic's death for the time being. There is nothing she can do about it and considering the mental blows she has taken due to these family attacks I am sure it would do more harm than good. They remained very close over the years and she called him regularly after she moved to Connecticut, so I will have to break the news eventually; just not now.

In addition to his support for Mom, my memories of Uncle Vic represent some of the best times of my younger days. He lived in Grafton, which is on the way from Albany to the intersection of Vermont, Massachusetts and New York states, for more than 60 years, on a vast tract of land that at one time encompassed some 300 acres, mostly wooded, although there also were fields that he rented to local farmers for haying.

Vic and his first wife, my late aunt Mill, both loved to ride horses; he had ridden on his parents' farm in Center Brunswick, New York, and a picture of Mill riding when she was a young woman still exists. Vic was a founding member of the Grafton Trail Riders Club.

He had barns, horses that they had rescued from a rodeo circuit – Gringo, a paint, Poncho a dark brown horse of indeterminate breed, and Chiquita a grey. Of the three only Gringo was ridden with any regularity and Vic for a while was an easily recognized figure riding Gringo in Grafton's annual July 4th parade.

But one year Vic had gone a long time between training rides with Gringo, and the horse was not up to his usual pleasant manners. As Vic told it, he led the parade with Gringo walking on his hind feet, and after that year, Vic and Gringo were "uninvited."

But the horses nonetheless were friendly in their own more familiar surroundings and I often fed them sliced apples or carrots and occasional sugar cubes. The barns were across a dirt road from the house, and once past the fences and into the pasture there were innumerable diversions for children of that time.

There was an old wagon road leading down to the "crick" in the upstate New York Dutch parlance – creek to everyone else – and along the way there were huge boulders to climb, an old tack house to explore, and upon arrival at the crick a swimming hole that my family helped Vic create by both digging it out and damming the stream with the plentiful rocks. (We could never do that today.)

Further downstream there were waterfalls and in years when there was an extended snowmelt you could stand underneath them and receive a cooling, sometimes ice cold, shower, even in mid-summer. If you crossed the crick below the waterfalls you would emerge into a sort of primeval forest, where huge hemlocks kept the air cool and decades of needles dropping on the forest floor kept it soft and spongy.

I spent several very special weeks as the guest of my aunt and uncle over the years when I was a teen, and walks through the woods and pastures, in summer and snowbound winters, were favorite activities.

My family went to visit them quite often, and a fireplace and picnic table that nestled up to a large boulder in one of the pastures marked the gathering place for July 4th family picnics. Thanksgivings also were a favorite time in which the extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, boyfriends and girlfriends could easily swell the size of the dinner party to 30 or so.

Mom and Dad visited them on weekends quite frequently, usually on Sunday afternoons after church. Those were some spectacular times, as Vic and my father, with Mill and my mother chiming in when they could, completely ignored the sage advice to avoid talks of politics and religion.

Dad would usually stop on the way to their house and pick up a few quarts of Fitzgerald's beer, a local brew from Troy, New York that is long gone but was quite good. The "discussions" I remember best go back to 1960 and the Nixon/Kennedy election, and again in 1964 when it was Johnson vs. Goldwater.

As I recall one side said Goldwater would drop the A-bomb on the communists, and the other side said he should. I forget who took which side.

Vic and Mill loved to hunt and fish and the area was crawling with game. Further up the old wagon road, heading into the woods a beaver family once built its own dam creating another pond. Deer were seen regularly, and once Aunt Mill found herself picking wild blueberries on the other side of a huge bush from a black bear!

They raised Springer Spaniels for many years, and even rabbits for a while. In his middle ages Vic gave up hunting – he had been an expert with shotgun, rifle and a beautiful recurved bone bow – and took up wildlife photography instead.

Vic had trained as a dental technician and was a member of the American Dental Association. He worked with a firm in Albany and then started his own firm, but he didn’t like city life and eventually moved his business to his house in Grafton.

Vic was a trailblazer in terms of running his home-based business. He built a lab in his basement, where he did gold inlays for false teeth, receiving the molds by mail and shipping them out the same way when he was finished. I always marveled at that facet of his life because when he wanted a break he could walk outdoors and ride the horses or go fishing if he so desired - but he still got paid!

As a youth working on my grandfather's farm Vic and my mother often teamed up, due to them being the youngest of the four children, and my mother's ability to drive teams of horses and help out with the haying and other farm work. Vic had incredible hand strength, probably due to milking a herd of dairy cows by hand twice a day for years, and when in high school he could bend a 10-penny nail into a horseshoe shape.

When he was old enough to drive the farm truck he started taking the raw milk to the processor in nearby Cropseyville each day, sneaking a smoke from cigars he hid in the truck. He allowed Mom to ride with him as long as she didn't squeal and she never did.

In the mid-80s my Aunt Mill died and Vic was a lonesome guy for quite some time. But he had always loved to dance – he and Aunt Mill even transformed one of the unused barns into a dance hall named the Oxbow Ranch which they ran for a few years, and the place was jammed on weekends.

I will never forget my uncle sitting in with the band one night in the mid-50s, singing a commercial song from the Save the Baby cough linament. He forgot the lyrics, as did everyone else, but it didn't matter. The band knew the chords, the joint was jumping and everyone was cheering as Vic did the chorus over and over. What a hoot. That man was at least two generations ahead of the karaoke craze!

Vic's property was about a half-mile up a dirt road from State Route 2 that winds its way through eastern New York and he had placed a sign at the bottom of the hill advertising the Oxbow Ranch and that breakfast and lunch were served. One of Mom's favorite stories concerned the summer morning when a carload of New York City tourists pulled in and ordered a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon.

Vic was not much of a cook and while he handled the coffee, toast and bacon, he didn't know how to make the scrambled eggs - Aunt Mill was out - and he had to call Mom for directions! But Mom knew her way around the kitchen, both at our house and at the Oxbow Ranch, and it all ended well, with the tourists complimenting Vic on his cooking skills.

It took Vic quite some time to get over the loss of Aunt Mill, but eventually he started getting out again, and he met his second wife Joyce, who shared his love of dancing, and antiques. They married in 1998 and she was with him until the end both as companion and caregiver.

I took Mom to Grafton one last time in 2009, about a year after she moved in with us, and they had a great visit. It was then that I told Uncle Vic how his firearms training when I was a teen helped me when I was a Marine helicopter gunner in Vietnam.

Victor Brimmer and Ella Winter 2009

The Marines taught proper firearms handling and precise target shooting at Parris Island when I was a recruit, then added the concept of "battle sights" when we later took the required infantry training. Battle sights amount to pointing your firearms directly into the enemy's center mass without too much regard for what part of the body you hit as long as you hit something and the enemy goes down.

But Uncle Vic who also had taught me firearm safety and the proper shooting positions, had a similar tactic called "snap shooting," which amounted to the same thing done quickly. I told him that snap shooting worked very well for me as a machine gunner, especially when it was clear that no friendly troops were in the field of fire.

Uncle Vic's face lit up like a Christmas tree when I told him that. We hadn't talked much about Vietnam but the knowledge that what he taught me all those years ago helped me out in combat was obviously of great comfort to him. I'm glad I told him.

Vic's life ended peacefully; he died in his sleep, shortly before 9 p.m. on Thursday July 21, 2011. But there is one more item to share.

On the last day he was alive, Mom was in an unusually agitated state. The next day Mom was quiet, even introspective and spent much of the day just watching her television. It was that night, Friday, that Joyce called with the news that Vic had died the night before. I decided to say nothing about it for the time being, so as not to upset Mom.

The next morning, Mom awoke and her very first words were about funerals and graveyards! She was dredging up memories from 70 years ago and more, all about death.

Then, she called to my wife, asking her to come to the kitchen where Mom was reading her daily newspaper. The table where she sits looks out on a wide deck that is adorned with annual flowers that she and my wife planted in the spring. Hummingbirds and butterflies come to the flowers and if it is raining or too hot she still can see them.

Access is by a six-foot wide slider. When my wife entered the kitchen Mom said, "Vic was at the slider, can you let him in?" My wife was in shock and to be certain of what she heard, asked Mom, "Are you talking about your brother, Vic?"

Mom answered in the affirmative, adding that he had approached the slider, stood looking at her for a long moment, and then slowly turned and walked away. I swear to you this is true, and I have no explanation for it.

I told Joyce and she said "I believe Vic was helping her," trying to set Mom's mind at ease. Mom's vision also gave Joyce great comfort concerning the death of her husband, she said.

I don't know what all this means, but maybe some readers have some insight that I lack and can share it with us.

For the moment, I’d like to leave you with a line from the Garrison Keillor movie, Prairie Home Companion, in which actress Virginia Madsen, states, "The death of an elderly man is not a tragedy."

Uncle Vic lived a long and productive life, he saw triumphs and tragedies, and the one thing that saddens me the most is that he never had children and thus his line of the Brimmer family has come to an end. Still, his life was rich and fulfilling, and his death is more a normal part of living than tragic.

But he will still be missed.
Monday, July 25, 2011

Chris Wallace Gets it Done on Fox News Sunday; But Timothy Geithner is a Hack!

Occasionally in this column I give Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace a hard time. If I do, it's because I believe he deserves it, mainly because I think he crossed the "fair and balanced" line or he let someone off the hook who should have been pressed harder.

Sunday, though, Wallace did a great job on an intense interview with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and if I am going to give Wallace a hard time on occasion, then at least he should hear the good side too.

(I have a very personal quirk about journalists who cover politics and the military. It comes from being a journalist and before that an active Marine serving as a helicopter machine gunner in Vietnam. I, and many, many others believe that since we won all the battles in Vietnam and at least twice pushed the communists to the brink of surrender, the communists' ultimate victory over the South Vietnamese, and their subsequent murderous rampage through much of Southeast Asia slaughtering millions who didn't agree with them is the direct responsibility of the media and politicians. Thus my insistence we keep politicians' feet to the fire and journalists do their job right!)

Geithner was on FNS supposedly to explain how the Obama Administration is working so hard, in a non-partisan, politically objective fashion to resolve its major differences with Congress over the fact that our country is rushing headlong into an abyss of fiscal insolvency.

Obama, who seems more and more like the Paris Hilton of politics, wants the government to extend his line of credit by a few more trillion. (It is easier to swallow if you don't say thousands of billions or hundreds of millions of millions.) The Republican led House of Representatives is saying no, and the Democratic led Senate is not exactly backing Obama either.

Republicans are opposed to giving him any more credit unless he agrees to cut trillions from his spending sprees which Obama doesn't agree with, so we are at an impasse with an artificially imposed deadline looming, at which time we supposedly will default as a nation. We won't, but it certainly gives an air of uncertainty and intensity to the situation.

Anyway, in his supposedly non-partisan blathering Geithner repeatedly blamed the entire fiscal mess on the GOP – again – even though it was Democrats who engineered the housing collapse which is one of the major facets of the current fiscal embarrassment – not that the GOP is squeaky clean. If that was a non-partisan appearance I'd hate to see this guy if he was put in charge of Obama's dirty campaign tricks.

What Geithner said he really wanted was to "take default off the table until after the election," in 2012. That's because virtually everyone in the Obama Administration considers the bulk of the American people to be mindless sheep who will forget all this by the next presidential election 15 months from now, if it temporarily goes away now.

Just like we'll forget waging war in Libya without Congressional approval, refusing to salute the flag, a phony birth certificate, withdrawing prematurely from Afghanistan, nationalizing the auto industry, the gross excesses of Obama Care, etc., etc., and etc. We won't, but the administration doesn't believe that.

So Obama believes that if the default option is off the table we all will go back to sleep, mindlessly vote him in again next year, and we'll wake up on Inauguration Day 2013 and suddenly realize to our dismay that we are really screwed.

Once he gets the temporary increase in his credit limit, without any restrictions on his spending spree habits, Geithner said, Obama then wants to impose "A framework of tough reforms that forces Congress to act."

Is this guy serious? Congress is acting, Tim; they are just refusing to give in on your boss' demands that he gets what he wants when he wants it without any lip – or checks and balances – from the other branches of government.

Wallace pressed Geithner and pressed him hard on these points – maybe Fox has it on podcast somewhere so you can see it. But Geithner just went on about completely revamping the US government's fiscal controls, which means giving all power to the executive branch and making the Congress a rubber-stamp body with no control even over a spending addict. (Can you imagine Obama and Hilton out shopping together?)

This is seriously dangerous territory folks. I even heard a "pundit" on Fox Business early in the afternoon segment today saying essentially the same thing. This is seriously, seriously dangerous territory.

The reason we have an impasse at the moment is because our system of government that has been in existence since 1789, is working! Our founding fathers knew what happened when one person - say a dictator or a king - was in control of everything and everyone, that's why they fought the American Revolution.

And when they finally enacted the Constitution, which is the one we still exist under, they deliberately wrote in a series of checks and balances so we wouldn't wake up one morning under control of a dictator. Yet that is exactly what I heard from Timothy Geithner yesterday; the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury laying the groundwork for the destruction of our form of government, in favor of a dictatorial format.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm not buying into this nonsense. I think there are enough Democrats in Congress who are not far-left ideologues to stand up for our Constitution and get a better figurehead for their party than this closet communist who has delusions of grandeur.

Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. What a joke. His job should be retitled as Minister of Obama Propaganda.
Monday, July 18, 2011

Bush Is Off The Hook! Van Hollen Blames ... Us! Not the Failed Policies of the Obama Administration

It's official! Past President George W. Bush is no longer the whipping boy for the Democratic Party's point-the-finger-at-someone-else-blame-game for the dismal state of the economy, foreign relations, national defense and especially the massive multi-trillion dollar budget deficit.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Maryland Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen who is as much responsible for the dismal state of national affairs as anyone else, told Chris Wallace that the American people "can NOT choose to not pay the bills that THEY incurred."

What? Aside from the arrogance of that statement, not to mention the double negative, we have a president who has not come up with a single good idea for running the country. Our president can't prove who he was, who he is, or even where he was for a good portion of his pre-presidential life.

He has spent more money unsuccessfully bombing Libya to boost his "war-time president image" than it would cost to operate all the nation's military music organizations for an entire year, and in the context of this issue has increased the national debt beyond all federal debt accrued in the first 204 years of the nation’s history.

But Van Hollen says WE are to blame?

This mindless lemming - Van Hollen - is now blaming the American public for the reprehensible actions of an out-of-control federal government! Did he clear that with Barack Obama first?

Is this now the official line of the Democratic Party? That the American voting public is responsible for the actions of Congress and the Obama Administration? Is this a sick takeoff on that line from the movie Animal House? "Face it America, you screwed up! You elected us!"

What was amazing about this incredible change in Congressional direction, insofar as blaming anyone else for the failed policies of the Obama Administration, is that Wallace let it go without comment!

Van Hollen is the kind of guest on the Sunday morning talk shows who gives me the impetus to watch Holmes Inspection on the Home and Garden Channel even if I've already seen the episode. But I stayed tuned to Fox News Sunday yesterday because I wanted to see Herman Cain, who appeared after Van Hollen, and I'm glad I did.

Cain is a good man, and frankly I think he's a viable presidential candidate. He tripped up a little when he appeared on FNS earlier this year - he wasn't exactly sure what the Palestinian claim to Right of Return was all about in the continuing strife between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas, but that is not a disqualifier in my opinion.

But on Sunday Cain did remarkably well, even though Wallace did everything he could to convince Cain to drop out of the race for the GOP nomination if he doesn't do well in the upcoming Iowa Straw Poll. Wallace kept referring to Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann's strong position in a number of polls leading up to the Iowa Straw Poll as the reason why Cain should drop out.

Guess which GOP presidential aspirant won the last Iowa Straw Poll? Mitt Romney! Guess where he ended up after the dust settled? Out of the race. He not only is not president, he wasn't even the ultimate GOP nominee.

The Iowa Straw Poll is a great place for candidates to get some national attention in the summer doldrums, but it hardly can be used as a national indicator of who is the best candidate. The straw poll precedes the Iowa Caucus which is held in January.

Know who won the 2008 GOP caucus in Iowa? Mike Huckabee. He out-polled Romney who only five months earlier was the darling of the Straw Poll. Oh, and Huckabee isn't president either, and he also was not the GOP nominee in 2008. In fact, the ultimate GOP nominee, John McCain, who isn't president either, didn't even participate in the Iowa Straw Poll last time.

I was somewhat curious about Wallace's insistence that Cain drop out of if he isn't at least a third-place finisher in the Iowa Straw Poll, especially since he ignored all the other candidates in the race for the GOP nomination and focused on Bachmann.

Now, I like her too, but this is way too early for me to be deciding who will get my vote although I can tell you, I'd rather go with one of the newer candidates, maybe Cain if he can hang in there, than any of the so-called "establishment" candidates. The establishment isn't doing very well for us, in either party, and I believe some fresh blood, new ideas and an absence of hidden ties to power brokers is the way to really get America out of this mess we're in.

I also noticed something else about Bachmann in the past couple of weeks that is worthy of comment. She has flubbed the answers on a couple of issues, showing that even though she currently holds office that doesn't make her perfect either.

Know what the media did when she goofed? Nothing. They gave her a pass. Know what that means? The mainstream media wants Bachmann to be the GOP candidate, probably so they can pull these errors and a bunch of other issues out of the closet at the appropriate time and use them to boost Obama over her.

Can you imagine what would happen to Sarah Palin if she erred in public? Hell, the media goes after her even when she's right, such as the Paul Revere issue where she proved that she knows her American history and the media only knows what it rewrites.

But for Bachmann, silence.

Go ahead call me a conspiracy theorist. That doesn't mean there aren't conspiracies. It only takes two people to conspire you know - and that's the law, not opinion.

Herman Cain wasn't the least bit flustered by Wallace yesterday, which means I'll keep watching and waiting, and hoping that maybe by the time we get to primary votes in my state, he will be a strong option.

There was one other segment of FNS yesterday that is worthy of comment because it too involved a commentator who didn't get flustered.

The second half-hour of the show is given over largely to a panel discussion of the current issues, which I used to like a lot, especially when Brit Hume was on every week because he was a great counter-point to the liberal Juan Williams.

Hume wasn't there Sunday, but Williams was, and so was another liberal, John Podesta. Opposing them was Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president. I like Liz Cheney, both for her extensive knowledge of government and world issues, and her toughness.

During the discussion Liz was making a point on Obama's budget deficits and the federal debt, and a good one too, when both Podesta and Williams who flanked her at the table, jumped ugly all over her, a decibel or so just below shouting at her. In the live version of the show it went on for at least 10 seconds, maybe 15, but she never wavered. (In the taped version of the show show in mid-afternoon and early evening the confrontation appeared to have been edited down to only a few seconds, but in the original morning version, it went on longer.)

In a classic display of the way liberal men really view women, they not only tried to beat up on her, it took two of them to do it ... and she kicked their asses. Wallace ultimately stepped in to shut them down and let her speak, but frankly, he wasn't needed.

So kudos to Liz Cheney for standing her ground and taking it right back to Podesta and Williams, and shame on them for both their approach, their lack of knowledge and their attempts to bully a woman to cover up their weaknesses. Finally congratulations to former President George W. Bush for finally shaking the "it's his fault" monkey off his back.

Want to see one reason why our country is so deep in debt? Take a minute and watch the video below. Warning: it will probably make you angry.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Score One for Obama – He Watches Office Space! But Opens Door for Cyber Attacks on National Defense

If you haven’t seen the movie Office Space stop what you are doing and go watch it right now!

Especially take note of the restaurant manager who constantly berates Jennifer Aniston for wearing only "the bare minimum" of flair – little magnet-like pins with cool logos and witty sayings that are supposed to go on her waitress uniform to show she is a fun person.

"But I thought you wanted 15 pieces of flair" her character says. "Well that's fine, if you are the kind of person who is satisfied doing the bare minimum," he retorts. Then he refers her to a bubbly little pain in the ass of a wait-guy who has 37 pieces of flair on his uniform which apparently is supposed to mean he is lots more fun than Aniston's character.

Well, not to me but let's not go there.

Aniston ends up flipping off her boss and quitting the job. Good move that makes a good movie even better.

Now, back to reality. President Barack Obama held a news conference on the debt and budget crises today – he ignored the news about China hacking the Pentagon computers and stealing our stealth aircraft technology – and twice he used the "bare minimum" argument for why he should ignore Republicans' alternatives to his plan.

"If you just want to do the bare minimum." What a tremendous orator, communicator and all around good guy. I bet in a fit of fiscal restraint he fired his high priced White House speech writers and started watching cult flicks instead to get a cheap supply of great one-liners. Our President.

Karl Rove the GOP strategist and former Bush Administration power player decimated Obama's arguments on the Fox Business Channel right after the President went back to the Oval Office to plot out his next golf game. But I couldn't get Office Space out of my mind.

I mean, here is a guy who wants the world to think he is a devout Muslim without ever going to the local mosque, or a devout Christian without ever going to church, but in reality is a communist who wants to destroy the foundation of American wealth by replacing corporations with government.

Communists have to attack corporations because in reality their economic model was formed in the days of aristocracies and monarchies which pretty much died a natural death a century ago. So if communists want to retain any sense of relevancy they have to dumb down the educational system and then spew hatred for corporations to keep the masses diverted and engaged.

Rove said Obama's attacks on Republicans for supposedly preventing him from creating a workable budget plan that will make everything hunky-dory was hypocritical, and I agree. For starters, he ignored his own words and deeds for the past three years, not that you'll see that on the news because half the media talk about how he looked rather than what he said.

In fact the press conference was supposed to be all about Obama being "the grown up" in the negotiations while Republicans are supposed to be acting "childish."

Seriously. These ass-wipes are talking about who can out-posture whom while our country is on the brink of financial ruin and we are under constant siege from communists and Islamo-fascist terrorists. And no one says so much as a word about the fact that China – which also means North Korea and Iran – has our stealth technology, our sonar technology, and our satellite technology.

That means they know how to shoot down our stealth aircraft, and build their own planes that will avoid our stealth seeking capabilities. Don't put away the ham radios and communication wire just yet.

Know what I think? I think Obama knows damn well that he isn't going to see a second term in the White House and he's goofing off for the next 18 months while our enemies, his friends, build a rocket that can be launched from Iran on Inauguration Day 2013 just in time to blow the hell out of the swearing in ceremony for the next president.

Don't agree? Prove me wrong. At least we'll be talking about real issues instead of whether the guy who was elected on leadership capabilities can stop worrying about whether he looks presidential instead of acts presidential.

Oh, and while I was out driving today I was listening to my friend Jim Vicevich's morning talk show on WTIC-1080 radio, the CBS outlet for the Greater Hartford area – you also can listen to streaming audio on line – while he was interviewing former career US Army intelligence officer Ralph Peters about the cyber attacks on the Pentagon.

Peters, now an author and analyst, said that the Obama Administration just released its What To Do In Case Of … Rules for Cyber Attacks, which basically say we'll be very angry with the Russians, Chinese and others of their ilk if they keep stealing our stuff, but won't actually do anything about it.

Unfortunately, even though we have the capabilities to respond to their cyber attacks with our far more sophisticated cyber counter-attacks that will fry their entire Information Technology networks, and insert killer viruses in places where they'll hide for decades, the Obama Administration says we won't.

Because we are all way too nice and just want a world where everyone gets along.

See where this is going? A world where no one has a military advantage – except the Chinese who have more people that you can kill, and Russia which has more land than can be conquered, and the Islamo-fascist terrorists who have more suicide bombers than bombs. Which means the free world, in particular the United States of America, is screwed.

I bet when Obama ended his press conference he was humming Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta on the way back to his office.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Great Unemployment Scam; or How to "Disappear" 11 Million Workers

I have been keeping track of the economic news, particularly the unemployment figures, on various television outlets, in addition to print and radio shows for several years now and am wondering where I can find an honest journalist.

Perhaps that is too harsh a judgment of my former profession, but still, how often do you hear the real unemployment figures versus the government spin?

According to the US Debt Clock, which shows real time figures on our escalating national debt, state debt, personal debt, and a gazillion other statistics, the real number of unemployed in the US and the reported unemployed in the US are off by nearly 11 million workers – this week.

The government's latest propaganda says the unemployment rate has risen to 9.2 percent of the workforce of 139,811,815 which would be 12 million people. Now, already we have an issue with the numbers because the Debt Clock says the official number of unemployed is 14,059,706, so either the number reported is wrong or the total workforce number is wrong.

Either way is irrelevant however, because the government figures only reflect those unemployed people who are collecting benefits. Even though unemployment benefits now extend for nearly two years, there are millions of people who aren't collecting benefits, either because time ran out, or they weren't eligible in the first place.

The debt clock says the actual number of unemployed people is 24,820,067 which is nearly 18 percent of the workforce, which is double what the government and just about every news outlet in the country is reporting.

And when the media does refer to those 11 million people, without actually mentioning that there are 11 million of them, they call them "underemployed!" What the hell does underemployed mean?

Can someone tell me? I realize that the phrase usually defines people who are not working full time, or are working at jobs which pay significantly less than the jobs they are qualified for or would be working at in a full economy.

But I have a question regarding these underemployed people; how do you know how many of them there are if they are off the grid?

How do you know how many of the 11 million non-reported unemployed or underemployed are in which category. How many are sweeping floors and cleaning bathrooms at fast food restaurants versus the number that have moved in with relatives and spend their days sitting in the basement muttering and sipping cheap wine?

How many are living under bridges? How many former hippies turned yuppies are living out in the woods, sleeping in hollow logs, surrounding by warning devices to alert them when census takers are in the vicinity?

All kidding aside, this is a propaganda scam that rivals the communists, the Nazis and any other totalitarian form of government that attempts to pacify its citizens by generating a non-stop stream of "good" news or news that at least isn't as bad as the real news. We are fed this garbage every single month.

And you know what really frosts me? Every time the news is bad, the Government Accounting Office or some other official organization scales it back using accounting methods that wouldn't pass a Grade Five math course, and then two weeks later they revise the figures!

And the revised figures are always a lot worse than the "official" figures that were released a couple of weeks earlier! But you hear about it on a scale that is exponentially less than the original announcement of the so-called good news.

It really bothers me that so many news anchors and reporters take the liberty of inserting snide comments into their coverage – especially of political matters – when they want to slam some office holder or candidate. But when they are handed information that is so easy to disprove – no opinions, just hard cold facts – they regurgitate the "official" spin without so much as a nod to the fact that it is off by at least half!

I have a question for the bureaucrats, politicians and journalists who regularly spew out these half-truths looking at the public with innocent, nearly angelic visages, expecting that if they look sincere we'll buy it: DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CLAIM THAT WE'RE ALL STUPID????

News flash! We aren't. People have it figured out. And even if they aren't doing the math or watching the Debt Clock they know if they are out of work, and how many of their friends are out of work, and how much hot air they hear coming from Washington and their state capitals.

The best statistic of all will come on Election Day 2012 and that will be the one that says how many B.S. artists posing as concerned politicians find that the Debt Clock numbers now reflect them joining the real ranks of the unemployed. Maybe a president too! Unfortunately, I fear that it will be a long hard journey to find someone who reports the truth, meaning the whole truth between now and then.

Maybe I'll go down the street to visit my friend Diogenes. He'll probably be sitting in his hot tub this time of day, and if I explain this to him, he might let me borrow his lantern.
Monday, July 11, 2011

Of Budget Cuts and Memorial Services; As the Band Played On … Maybe

On a somber day in late October 1968 I entered a hangar at the Marine Corps air field in Quang Tri, South Vietnam, for a memorial service to six members of my unit who had been killed in action a few days earlier. A Marine from another unit at Quang Tri also died that week and his friends were there for the service too.

A few hundred Marines squeezed into that hangar and listened grim faced as the names of the dead were read, their brief histories were recounted and the chaplains from the various faiths performed their services. Then the First Marine Aircraft Wing Band that had flown up from Da Nang played Eternal Father, with one line changed from "for those in peril on the sea" to "for those in peril in the air."

I never was one for funeral services but a Staff Sergeant in my unit had made a point earlier in the day … "If it was you, wouldn't you want to know that your friends cared enough to come for your service."

So I went and even though it has been nearly 43 years I still remember that service, the people who died, and especially the Marine Band playing Eternal Father. I hadn't expected a band at such a forward and remote airfield, but their music touched me that day, and does to this day.

I had been in Vietnam for about six months by then, had flown more than 100 combat missions and had gone a long way toward insulating my emotions from the daily horrors of combat. But for just a moment, that band reached deep inside me, touched my soul, and retained my humanity. For that I will always be grateful.

That was not my first encounter with a Marine band in that area along the violent Demilitarized Zone. In July 1968 the combat base at Khe Sanh, where a siege only a few months earlier resulted in the deaths of 274 Americans and between 10,000 and 15,000 North Vietnamese communist troops, was dismantled having been declared unnecessary with the more mobile tactics successfully being employed against the communists.

Since the fighting was so fierce there, formal decommissioning ceremonies were held and the Marine Band was flown up from Da Nang to play taps. I flew medevac missions there, had taken incoming there, along with air bursts, and marveled at the bravery of these musicians who came armed with brass and percussion instruments, dedicated to doing their jobs to memorialize and honor the fighters who survived and those who did not.

Now, all these years later, in the midst of a nationwide battle over national debt, national spending and the future of America, Congress wants to cut the budget for musicians in all services by about one third!

Are you people serious? A one-hundred million dollar cut from the bands in an overall $500 billion defense budget? Aren't there a couple of old ships that need to go into mothballs, or a few dozen aging aircraft that have outlived their serviceable lives? Don't give me that, we both know there are.

So I ask again, are you people – in Congress – serious? I guess not. In fact, the Washington Post quoted Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who sponsored the measure to reduce funding, arguing that “the Pentagon doesn’t need any more band aid.”

Band aid! Get it? Hahahahahahahahaha.

"Is this House really capable of gutting investments in women’s health care but allowing a $5 million increase in funding for military bands?" the Post also quoted this lamebrain as saying, in a classic example of diversion since one has nothing to do with the other. This woman is a brain dead, knuckle dragging, snot-slinging Neanderthal. I said that. Me, not the Post or anyone else. Me.

The Post said the assault on military music "marks the first time that spending on the military’s 154 bands has been reduced by Congress. To take effect, however, the reduction must be approved by the Senate, which has yet to take up the fiscal 2012 Defense Appropriations Bill."

The Post also has reported that in a classic example of bipartisanship Rep. John Carter (R-Tx.) has joined with his co-chairman in the Army Caucus on Capitol Hill, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tx.), in a "Dear Colleague" letter, describing the assault on the military as "highly detrimental to our armed forces," because the bands "uphold pride and morale through music at funerals, welcome home celebrations, concerts, ceremonies and other esprit-de-corps events."

The bands also make recordings, often in their own studios, which are distributed free, because they can’t by law sell them.

Bands including the U.S. Marine Corps Band, "the President’s Own," which plays at White House functions, the U.S. Army Band, the U.S. Air Force Band and the U.S. Navy Band are well known in Washington. The Coast Guard band is administratively placed under the Department of Homeland Security.

Each service band also has smaller instrumental and singing groups, such as the Marine’s Chamber Orchestra, the Army’s Singing Sergeants, the Navy’s Sea Chanters, the Air Force Strings, and the Coast Guard’s Brass Quintet and Saxophone Quartet. The services also have bands that are stationed overseas but the Washington-based bands often travel as well.

All of this is important and it may be possible to make some reductions in travel or similar costs, but the worldwide cost of the bands is $325 million annually, which the anti-American forces in Congress want reduced by more than one-third to $200 million. So they want to go from roughly one dollar per American citizen to about 66 cents per American citizen. I guess illegal aliens get a pass.

Anyway, I think this is a travesty. There is so much more to our military musicians. They help in recruiting sure, but have you seen their music on the National Mall on Independence Day? Or at the Iwo Jima Memorial? Have you heard their vocalists?

Have you seen the chamber music played at official White House functions for foreign dignitaries? Have you even been to Eighth and I Streets in Washington, D.C., on a Friday night – the home of the Commandant of the Marine Corps – and seen the Drum and Bugle Corps and the Silent Drill Team? Have you been to a summer concert by Pershing's Own, the U.S. Army Band?

Tell me that Anchors Aweigh, or Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder don't get your blood pumping.

Yes, they all help with recruiting efforts and for that alone are worth their money. They also provide a path for thousands of musicians to continue on in civilian music careers, and for some they provide a full-time military career.

They were at Dover Air Base in October 1983 when the bodies of Americans killed in the Beirut bombing were brought home. They are in the vicinity of every American service member anywhere in the world, and they often are ambassadors to countries where some goodwill is a great idea.

And they go to remote, often hostile locales, to do what they do best, and remind our troops that America and Americans appreciate what they are doing, and haven't forgotten them.
Our military musicians represent the best of America, the pride of America, the hope of America. They lift our spirits and remind us of what is possible even when we are locked in desperate struggles against all enemies "foreign and domestic."

To reduce the opportunities to see and hear these ambassadors of the soul is anti-American, there is nothing else to call it. Those who support any reduction in our military music capabilities deserve to spend a two-year tour travelling to hostile environments – carrying the instruments for those who serve so willingly and so well.


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