Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Congolese Conundrum

The Congo is the most chronic of numerous festering sores on the sick man of Earth, Africa.  The civil war there seems to have been going on for generations, but it erupted in ernest in 1996-97.  Since that time, campaigns (a rather civilized name for the actual barbarity) have been assigned different names but always with the same end; savage genocide.

With fully 6 million dead between '98-07 alone, and presently 3 million refugees, it's the most costly conflict, in terms of human life, since World War II.  It's estimated that the conflict is claiming 45,000 lives every month, and, as has been the case in this region, brutal killings are oft accomplished with machetes with the bodies left to rot.

I came across an excellent, though disturbing and heart-wrenching, piece in The New York Times (December, 2012) regarding the conflict by a writer who has knowledge and history in the region- I'd highly recommend it.  In part:

Congo has become a never-ending nightmare, one of the bloodiest conflicts since World War II, with more than five million dead. It seems incomprehensible that the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa and on paper one of the richest, teeming with copper, diamonds and gold, vast farmlands of spectacular fertility and enough hydropower to light up the continent, is now one of the poorest, most hopeless nations on earth. Unfortunately, there are no promising solutions within grasp, or even within sight. 
I didn’t always feel this way. During
my first trip, in July 2006, Congo was brimming with optimism. It was about to hold its first truly democratic elections, and the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, were festooned with campaign banners and pulsating with liquid Lingala music that seemed to automatically sway people’s hips as they waited in line to vote. There was this electricity in the air in a city that usually doesn’t have much electricity. In poor, downtrodden countries accustomed to sordid rule, there is something incredibly empowering about the simple act of scratching an X next to the candidate of your choice and having a reasonable hope that your vote will be counted. That’s how the Congolese felt. 
But the euphoria didn’t last — for me or the country. The election returned Mr. Kabila to power and nothing changed. I came back less than a year later and hired a dugout canoe to take me up the mighty Congo River, where I saw 100-foot-tall stalks of bamboo and spiders the size of baseballs. In the middle of the country, I came to appreciate how shambolic the state of Congo’s infrastructure really is. Rusty barges that used to ply the river now lie on the riverbanks with weeds shooting up through their ribs. The national railway, which used to haul away all the coffee and cotton and bananas that this country produces, is all but shuttered. 
I met a pair of soldiers who had chained a chimpanzee to a corroded railway tie, leaving the animal in a pile of its own feces, staring up at us with rheumy eyes as the soldiers howled with laughter. CONGO IS ESTIMATED TO POSSESS $24 TRILLION OF MINERAL RESOURCES. Its soil is so productive that a trip through the countryside, past all the banana, orange, papaya, guava and mango trees virtually scraping the windshield, is like driving through a fruit salad. But without any functioning infrastructure, all this agricultural potential is moot. “How will you get anything to the market?” one local official asked me. “There’s only so much you can carry on your head.”
Note that last paragraph and imprint it in your mind as you consider Africa in general and Congo in specific, that's trillion, with a "T".  The Congo wars are a confluence of aching ignorance, seeming desensitization as a result of decades of hideous barbarism, and blood lust and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.  They're a continent in desperate need of development, both social and economic.
Anyone with a shred of civilization in their soul must weep at this situation, but the real question is, what would be our best, if any, course of action?  The fecklessness, incompetence and serial impotence of the UN is a given, but as the dominant superpower on the planet, what should be our role in ending the human misery that defines this country/region?
The age-old debate as to whether the U.S. should be the world's "policeman" has been renewed of late with regard to the Syrian Civil War with the "nays" getting a lot of votes, and I think the "nays" would be dominant even without the Muslim factor.  That said, if there was ever a situation that bespoke the need for a "world policeman", the Congo conflict is it.  That said, arming a particular side would seem to just exacerbate the bloodshed and sending in troops or a full-scale invasion would seem a fool's errand.
Add to the mix that Africa has proven to be fertile ground for Islamic expansionism, then keep rolling that "$24 Trillion" figure around in your head.  Sometimes, humanitarianism and strategic necessity find common ground and Africa may just be that ground.
Conundrum, indeed.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve Years….

What can one say about 9/11 that already hasn't been said?  In that spirit, I'm reprinting my thoughts from two years ago on the occasion of the 10th anniversary, which I believe are still valid.  May God bless the souls of those who died that day and may they not be forgotten.

You may have noticed that I am writing this on 9/12 rather than 9/11. I spent much of the anniversary watching the excellent coverage on Fox with one eye, and reading some beautifully written pieces online with the other. 
There are always stories I’ve never heard, it’s as though the story is, in many ways, still unfolding. Some 3,000 people died that day and their deaths effected untold numbers of people around them. We will be hearing new stories for the rest of our lives, and for those who lived through the history, that keeps the history alive. For future generations, it provides a rich and detailed record unmatched by any other historical event. 
Ten years is a milestone, a decade. Ten years is 9/11’s first step into the mists of history where, alas, it will be deformed and mutilated by some for their own narrow interests – that’s already happening in the case of “Truthers”, and the radical Left. People who were 10 year-old children in 2001 are 20 year-old young adults today. There are 10 year-old children who are being schooled as to what that day was about, and how they should feel about it. There are those who romanticize the “sense of unity” that existed on 9/11/01, and, indeed it was palpable and very real. Unfortunately, it was as fleeting as summer in northern Maine and was far more short-lived. Ten years hence, we are far more fractured and polarized than we were before the attacks – instead of focusing on the enemy; we’ve turned on each other and begun the process of self-consumption. It makes one wonder if that, in itself, is something of a moral victory for the enemies of civilization who attacked us 10 years ago. In many ways, the evil that came from without, 10 years ago, awakened and liberated a far more dangerous evil from within – those who actively deny even the existence of evil. 
Yes, the world changed on 9/11/01, but it’s still open to debate as to whether the cause of western civilization has moved forward during the last decade, or is emanating the stench of death. There’s far too much evidence to suggest the latter, though hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Whither Pope Francis Regarding the Atrocities on Christians in Egypt?

I've come to expect President Obama's foreign policy to oscillate between inept and wrong-headed and his handling of the deteriorating situation in Egypt is alas, predictable.  His public silence as the Muslim Brotherhood wages war on the Copts, Catholics and every other Christian in Egypt, while unacceptable, seems tragically predictable.

What has been surprising is the lack of outrage from Pope Francis.  Yes, he has fittingly called for our prayers, but I think what's happening to Christians in Egypt calls for a personal and forceful denunciation from the Pope. I don't have any illusions that the Muslim Brotherhood would cease and desist, but the Pope has a unique bully pulpit. When Benedict publicly rebuked the Obama administration on the subject of abortion and ObamaCare Christians and virtually ALL people of faith rallied behind him

Ostensibly, he's the leader of worldwide Christianity and when he talks, people listen and his unequivocal condemnation would virtually force (or shame) Obama and the West to publicly address the atrocities. Perhaps it wouldn't help, but it would be more productive than the current deafening silence.

This is being called the worst assault on Christianity since the Middle Ages and history is watching.  If we cannot trust the Vicar of Christ to call out evil by its name, who can we trust?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Politics Over Country" is Abysmal, You Say? Look In the Mirror

Obama Appointee Who Heads U.S. Nuclear Security Agency Is Hacked By "Guccifer" 
The Obama administration official who heads the agency responsible for maintaining the country’s nuclear stockpile as well as securing “loose nukes” worldwide is the latest victim of  “Guccifer.” 
Neile Miller, acting administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recently had her Facebook account breached by the notorious hacker, who also apparently illegally accessed one of Miller’s personal e-mail accounts.

I know a lot of my fellow conservative/libertarian types are probably giggling like 13 year-old girls at a Justin Bieber concert over this news because, after all, it makes Obama look bad (rather, even worse). Much in the same way they have lionized the traitor Edward Snowden, we're embracing virtually anyone who will assist us in our quest to say "I told you so!" in the end.

For years, we've preached that "this is a dangerous world"; do these leakers, hackers and abusers of sacred trusts enhance our safety in this dangerous world, or diminish it?

How does endangering our national security, even a little, further our cause? We claim to "put our country first" and decry anyone in this administration who puts politics over our country- and rightly so. How does our abject giddiness over these lapses and transgressions translate into anything but placing politics over country?

Wake up and get your wits about you and try and find the principles that you evidently lost five years ago!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Charge Him With Treason

After a great deal of consideration, I really cannot defend or align myself with this "whistleblower" fellow, Edward Snowden, as many on my side seem wont to do.  In fact, I consider him guilty of treason. He swore to keep secrets and he did not keep that oath. Oaths don't have exceptions. Oaths aren't subject to politics and they're not negated when the administration changes.

My mother was, I believe, a cryptographer with Naval Intelligence during WWII. I say "I believe", because she never really said. I have ribbons and commendations she received- the commendations say little to nothing and the ribbons she was never allowed to wear. She never talked about her work with my father, also a WWII veteran, and she certainly never talked to me, though I pressed her my whole life. I know she worked in Washington and I know it had something to do with Japanese code and I know her service began before the war- that's all she ever confirmed to anyone.

She died in 1982 and took her secrets to her grave. A few weeks after her death, we received a certificate from The White House, signed by Ronald Reagan, referencing her meritorious and invaluable service to her country. My father, also a vet, didn't get one and I've never heard of anyone else getting one. Again, s
he took her secrets to the grave.

That's the way it's done.

Edward Snowden is a traitor; try him as such.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

A Constitutional Crisis for our Time

The Executive (President) will continue unheeded, until heeded.  That's the nature of the office and the very reason we have a system of checks and balances to protect us from the occasional rogue Executive.

For 40 years, I’ve heard Watergate called a “Constitutional crisis”; perhaps it was, albeit a minor one. However, the Constitution worked, pretty efficiently and just the way it was designed. Heads rolled, the Executive voluntarily removed himself at the behest of congressional leaders from his party and White House conspirators were imprisoned.

In 2013, we have an Executive not only flouting the Constitution, but acting in absolute contempt thereof with complete support of his party and, apparently, the at-large press. 

From my own layman’s view, this is “Constitutional Crisis” writ large.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

"Watching the Wheels Go Round and Round…….."

I turned 60 last week and the first time I remember saying “I never thought I’d see that” was when the Berlin Wall and the Eastern Bloc fell…….and I don’t think I’ve stopped saying it since
The passing parade can be horrifying, terrifying, inspirational and downright weird but always astounding as hell and entertaining in an odd sort of way. 
Lest anyone think this is just another case of “Boomer narcissism", I’m sure mine isn’t the only generation to come to this conclusion….but perhaps we’re the most recent.

Monday, June 03, 2013

What's Parody and What's Reality?

EPA Honors Fake Employee

Lisa Jackson aka Richard Windsor, Former EPA Administrator
Richard Windsor may be the most famous Environmental Protection Agency employee. Oddly, he does not exist. “Windsor” is the e-mail alias that Lisa Jackson, former head of the EPA and now an environmental adviser to Apple, used to correspond with environmental activists and senior Obama-administration officials, among others.

Please do read the whole thing, if you dare.

It's all descended into a tragic, through-the-looking-glass farce; I'm quickly becoming depleted of adjectives.

Friday, May 31, 2013

What Happened to the Movies?

I've always loved movies and movie trailers, so I like to frequent Apple's Movie Trailer site. I'm increasingly amazed at, not only how many movies I have no interest in seeing- but how many I would actively AVOID if they were to appear on my TV during a channel-surfing session!

Sure, some of them look mildly interesting and there are a couple that I'd actually go to (or have gone to) the theater to see , but it's pretty thin gruel.

Bottom line: I want to be entertained, inspired, amazed or deliciously terrified. Unless I'm watching a documentary, I DO NOT want to be indoctrinated, disgusted, depressed or otherwise uncomfortable.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Smoke and Mirrors

Nothing in this administration is what it seems, everything is illusory. The styrofoam Greek columns at his anointing at the DNC in ’08 were a harbinger.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Remote Control Execution

Of the scores of people dubbed terrorists and taken out by American military drone strikes, three men -- all killed in the fall of 2011 -- were U.S. citizens. 
And their lives illustrate the complexity of the issue, recently brought to light amid a newly discovered government memo that provides the legal reasoning behind drone strikes on Americans. 
Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed by a missile strike in Yemen on Sept. 30, 2011, while al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, was killed in the country just weeks later.  
Since the attacks, family members have called the deaths unjust and sued the U.S. government, calling the killings unconstitutional. 
I'm not as concerned with the deaths of these particular Americans (they seemed to have chosen their fate) as I am with the precedent being set. It's becoming a tedious old saw, but if a Republican POTUS had ordered the remote-control deaths of three American citizens, one a 16 year-old boy, the wails of outrage would be deafening.

Hell, they're still whining about wiretapping under the Patriot Act, or water boarding  confessed terrorists, but there's not a hue and cry over the summary execution of citizens?

By "our" collective silence, we have affirmed this constitutionally dubious practice and thus given this particular President enormous power to become judge, jury and executioner. Again, these guys may well have deserved their end, but the use of the words "may well have deserved" is deeply troubling.

This may well be legal and justified but far too much in this administration is done with far too little debate, from health care to sweeping gun control, because "the time is now". Let's not make the snuffing of Americans' lives one of the things we have "to pass to see what's in it", regardless of how execrable those lives are. We're either a nation of laws, or we're not and citizenship either means something, or it doesn't. 

Pardon me if AG Holder's assurances don't quell my concerns; he's hardly a disinterested party.

We've needed one of those vaunted "national conversations" about the increases in executive power and now that we have a President who feels justified in executing American  citizens by remote control, under his own authority, the time may be right.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I hate to laugh at others' misfortune, but…….

….this is hilarious.  Sad, but hilarious!  Lest you think this is parody, it's not.
Zimbabwe Is Down to Its Last $217 
There are cash-strapped governments and there are broke governments. And then there's Zimbabwe, which, after paying last week's government salaries, has just $217 left in the bank. No, we didn't forget any zeroes to the end of that figure. Zimbabwe, the country that's home to some of the world's largest plutonium and diamond reserves, literally has the same financial standing as a 14-year-old girl after a really good birthday party. The country's finance minister admitted as much in a press conference on Tuesday. "Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 [left] in government coffers," Tendai Biti told reporters. "The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets."
Later today, you'll likely see them ahead of you in the convenience store buying Malt Liquor, Cheetos and a stack of scratch-off lottery tickets.

Friday, January 25, 2013

About Those "Low Information Voters"

From Istook.Com
Whining about the number of voters participating has become de rigueur over the years, but sans information, larger voting blocs are no more than more formidable mobs

It’s increasingly clear that the current regime sees this as a net positive in society’s current configuration, but that they cannot see this trend is antithetic to the continued survival of the Republic is either suicidally cynical, or malevolently cunning. 

Helluva damned choice.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Monty Python: 
“I think that all good, right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but this describes me perfectly. Sometimes, however, you just become sick and tired of being sick and tired and, at that point, it’s best to walk away and enjoy life’s wonders both great and small. 

Don’t worry, the madness, outrage and tumult will be anxiously awaiting your return.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More of the Whiney Bitches of Islam

McDonald's settles $700,000 suit over Islamic diet in US

McDonald's and one of its franchise owners agreed to pay $700,000 to members of the Muslim community to settle allegations a Detroit-area restaurant falsely advertised its food as being prepared according to Islamic dietary law. 
McDonald's and Finley's Management Co. agreed Friday to the tentative settlement, with that money to be shared by Dearborn Heights resident Ahmed Ahmed, a Detroit health clinic, the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn and lawyers. 
Ahmed's attorney, Kassem Dakhlallah, told The Associated Press on Monday that he's "thrilled" with the preliminary deal that's expected to be finalized March 1. McDonald's and Finley's Management deny any liability but say the settlement is in their best interests.

They don't call it Dearboristan for nothing.

The afternoon of 9/11/01, having watched the horror on TV at my office for hours, some friends and I decided to get out and get some lunch. We instinctively chose McDonald's, not because the food was that great, bit because we all agreed that it was quintessentially AMERICAN. Were I to live that moment again (God forbid), I may not make that choice.

Prostrating themselves before the Muslim hoards was their primary mistake; Muslims have it rigged in their favor and I suspect they had this in mind from the beginning. They're incessant whiners and conflict gives their lives meaning. Screw 'em, close up the restaurant and let 'em eat elsewhere.  

Pardon me if the constant drone of cruelty, inhumanity and senseless death emanating from the Muslim world makes me less than sympathetic to their customs are anything else about their miserable death cult masquerading as a "religion".

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Leaders We Deserve, 2.0

Well, America, you wanted four more years and you'll be getting everything that's coming to you, beginning today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Emotions Are Not A Basis For Law

I'm sure that today's White House push for sweeping gun regulation will be a spectacle worthy of Frank Capra with fresh faced cherubs pleading for their President to protect them from the wave of violence the way that only Barack Obama can.

It's a fools errand of epic proportions, regardless of your stand on gun ownership.

We need to get back to dispassionate governance and leave the emotional heat of the moment out of it. Everything Obama has done has dripped with emotion and immediacy, both of which preclude studied debate and the intellectual exercise that should accompany consideration of any law or regulation. The very worst mindset in approaching legislation is, in fact, the whole of his playbook.

Emotions are fleeting, law is not.

My heart aches for the families of these 20 children, but that doesn’t mean they should have any more influence on law than should any of us here. That’s another BS hallmark of the liberal argument; “moral authority”.

I’m sure that he’ll pull out all the stops this afternoon, pulling at our hearts and ignoring our heads. I’ll be halfway surprised if he doesn’t douse the children in blood, just to drive the point home.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Obama, the Oligarch of Outrage

The shear number of sources for outrage isn this administration almost precludes the success of any of the individual outrages because the opposition is portrayed “obstructing virtually everything” -- clearly this is a planned strategy. In short, if everything is outrageous, then nothing is outrageous.
Obama’s far more interested in discrediting the Republican Party than he is in surrounding himself with competence, and by keeping the level of controversy at a fever pitch he’s effectively casting the Republicans as a party of perpetual naysayers. As a bonus, it keeps the spotlight on the controversy du jour and off of the growing list of administration failures.
Alas, fully aided and abetted by the Entertainment Information Complex, it’s working extraordinarily well.  If you're sick and tired of being sick and tired, then President Obama has you just where he wants you.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Gun Control And The Question Of Motivation

"Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg
Both crime and murder are down by nearly half in the last 20 years, while gun ownership is up by half, yet the liberals are frantic to enact sweeping gun restrictions as though impending doom will surely consume us if it’s not done immediately.
The fervor with which they are selling “gun control” of late should give even non- gun owning “moderates” pause.
Even if one discounts that this is part of a pernicious and wide-ranging conspiracy on the Left to “disarm and oppress”, It’s hard to discount that it’s about authoritarianism, and that every left-of-center politician in the country seems to be eaten up with it.
They’re not trying to save us, they’re trying to control us, whether it be in the form of guns, french fries, big gulps, or Vicodin in emergency rooms and that’s quite pernicious enough for me, thank you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tigers and Hummingbirds

39% Say Government Should Do Nothing For Long-Term Unemployed 
Gawd, what an annoying grin!
More Americans than ever (39%) now think that if people can’t find work for an extended period of time, the government should do nothing at all to help them, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.  
Only eight percent (8%) feel their unemployment benefits should be extended indefinitely, down four points from October and tying the all-time low finding in over two years of regular surveying.  (To see survey question wording, click here. 
Thirty-two percent (32%) of Adults believe the government should pay for their retraining, tying April’s high.  Just  12% think the government should hire the long-term unemployed.
Hmm. A little more than two months ago, Obama was handily reelected and now more than a third say we should just hang the long-term unemployed out to dry.

The disconnect is pretty obvious, and significant.

The President is intoxicated with "mandate" but, as is the case with all intoxicants, what he's seeing may not be reality at all. Were I he, I'd tread lightly…but he won't, of course. As my father was wont to say, he may well be "letting his tiger mouth outweigh his hummingbird ass".

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Don't Blame The Messenger

Trailer pulled for reality show starring rapper who fathered ELEVEN children by TEN women after it is branded 'an attack on African-American families' 
A yet-to-air reality show documenting a rapper, who has fathered eleven children by ten different women, has been slammed by critics who have branded it 'disgusting' and 'negative'. 
Do these people look like they're being coerced?
All My Babies' Mamas, set to air this spring on the Oxygen network, follows Carlos 'Shawty Lo' Walker, 36, as he navigates family life in an affluent suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. 
But after a preview of the one-hour, fly-on-the-wall hit the internet thousands of viewers called for it to be scrapped, with many suggesting it plays on racial stereotypes. petition, which has more than 20,000 signatures, states that the show 'stereotypes and demeans black children, mothers and dads'. 
New York-based Sabrina Lamb, who launched the initiative explains: 'This is not just an attack on African-American parents and children….but all parents and children.

Gawd, the sanctimony of these people is annoying, the people that are most frequently trafficking in "black stereotypes" are black people themselves!  Personally, I despise reality TV, but maybe something like this could shed some light onto a generations-long cultural descent that's all but been ignored.  A cultural descent that even talking about can cause you to be branded a "racist".

The "black community" has given this behavior a wink and a nod for decades and now that there are plans to put it on TV for all to see they claim it's "an attack on African-American families"?

Let's remember that the reprehensible behavior inspired the TV show, not the other way around.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Passing Thought; Should America Be a Global Cop?

If not us, who?

There’s too many people on BOTH sides that want the U.S. to become a version of “Fortress America” and divorce ourselves from our role as the preeminent superpower. We simply must be involved, at some level, in the daily havoc lest it become catastrophe. 9/11 happened not at a time of heavy military involvement, but only eight months after the Clinton administration during which such involvement was eschewed. I don’t want direct action in every shitty little war that flares up, but the serious threat of such action can be cause for reflection.
The United States is one of, if not the only country on earth whose very existence owes to specific, and universal principles, and when these principles are violated we have a moral obligation to act by virtue of being who we are.

So, You Think It's Bad Now?

Don't forget the ultimate penalty on the young and the poor - inflation:
As is clear by this chart, inflation was virtually unheard of until the Creature from Jekyll Island (the Federal Reserve) took over.  However, more importantly, things didn’t really start to get bad until the 1970?s right after Nixon took the nation off the gold standard in 1971.  Since that time, America has seen a period of non-existent real wage growth and a huge gap grow between the rich and the poor ever since.  Nothing like livin’ the debt slave dream!
Chart and quote from 

Monday, January 07, 2013

Truly, We Get The Leaders We Deserve

Politics is just the symptom, the malady goes far deeper. Over the past 50 years or so, the basic underpinnings of our culture have been questioned then refracted to mean anything we want them to mean thus rendering the very concept of “principles” worthless. We’ve become so open-minded that our brains have fallen out, our “tolerance” has reached a point where nearly anything is acceptable and even that which is unacceptable is “explainable”. A civilization without limits is no longer a civilization.

As a people, we want profligate spending, if it’s on us, and we want higher taxes to pay for it, as long as we’re not the ones being taxed. We want peace, but we’re not prepared to do what it takes to defeat those who live for war -- we’re not even prepared to call them by name. As a nation, we’re much like Scarlett O’Hara before the war; secure in our own little egg, actually believing we can stave off reality forever. We can’t.

It’s oft said that we get the leaders that we deserve and that’s never been so true as it is today -- faithless pols to represent a faithless constituency. We, as a people, have gotten precisely what we asked for. 

“The fault, dear Brutus, lies not within our stars, but within ourselves”