Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Roy Moore and Steve Bannon....Losers

It has become very strange when the entire country pays such rapt attention to a Senate race in Alabama.  But that is what it has come to.  I won't rehash all the sordid details because you'd have to be living under a rock to not know the story.  Bottomline for me is that I'm glad a guy like Moore is not going to the Senate.  To me he is a hick.  He's a bigot, a buffoon and a liar.  A guy who is just not living in the 21st century.  His views on gay people and minorities are not in step with society.  The fact that he has been removed from State judicial appointments twice for not following Federal law in my mind disqualifies him.  And oh yeah...40 years ago he pursued some teenage girls as a grown man in his 30's.  That makes him pretty smarmy.  I don't know what happened and it's a definite he said, she said, but he seems like a loser who would do something like that.  But...I was talking to some guys after golf today who are around my age and most agreed that any of us couldn't withstand a 40 year look at our actions.  So for me I'm glad he lost because I don't think he has the right ideals.  The other stuff is just yucky.  It's tough to lose a Senate seat.  But if there was ever a reason to give one up, this is it.

And Steve Bannon is a big loser here also.  This guy is a slime.  He's a smart guy and has some strong opinions, but he is a slime.  He has backed a bunch of losers and my sense is that his time has come and gone.  I just don't think most folks are interested in the radical attitudes that he espouses.  I think he'll continue on the political scene, but I also think he will become more and more irrelevant.

So we have a Democratic Senator from Alabama.  Amazing.  But I think the Republicans will be back.  It's a pretty reliable Republican state.  But for the short term the Republican majority in the Senate becomes thinner.  We'll see how that plays out.

Even more interesting now is that the speculation about the 2018 elections will heat up.  With the losses in Virginia and Alabama, the "experts" will probably predict that there will be blood in the water and the Republicans will get trounced.  I'm not so sure about that.  Mid-terms are pretty tough to handicap and polls have proven to be not as reliable as once thought.  So stay tuned.  It's going to be a bumpy ride!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Army Navy Intro

Today was the Army-Navy game.  Army won.  By a hair.  The game was great.  The crowd was great.  For those of us who care, it was goose bump city.  This game is timeless and for many the greatest rivalry in sports.  Count me among those who thing that.  So much has been written and said about the rivalry that I can't really embelish any of it.  So just let me recommend two things to check out if you're not familiar and want to get a sense of the game.  First is John Feinstein's book, "A Civil War".  It is the definitive book on the rivalry.  The second is today's intro by CBS Sports.  You can see it here.  Watch this and you'll get a sense of the game, the rivalry, the love.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Motivation Monday

Saw these over on another web site that I routinely surf.  The wisdom of Dr Suess.  Can't get much more motivating than that!








Cool Pic



Old School

Don't see this much anymore!


Dogs Are Cool!



Camouflage

Wonder if anyone (important) noticed?


"Why Grandpa Carries"

Like most of you I get a lot of emails from friends, organizations and entities that are trying to sell me something, mold my thinking, or provide me with information that they believe is important that I receive.  And like most, I get a lot of 'spam'.  Some of it's good, some of it's educational, some of it's interesting, and of course, some of it is utter bullshit.  I think the email I got from a friend this weekend falls into all these categories, depending upon your perspective.

I'm not a gun owner.  I've never felt the need or the fascination that many have with weapons.  But that's not to say I'm in any way against them.  I just have had other things to occupy my time.  There are a lot of things like that in my life.  Motorcycles, boats, season tickets to my favorite team, wine tours, etc, etc, etc.  So much to do, so little time.  I think guns fall into that category for me.  I'm a supporter of the second amendment, concealed carry laws, and allowing law-abiding citizens to own guns.  I believe in the popular saying, "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns".  But that's not to say I don't also believe in some reasonable 'rules' when it comes to guns.  I think background checks are important.  I think things like this bump-stock device that turns semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons should be controlled.  I'm in favor of turn-in programs to try and rid the streets of guns.  But all those things are on the margin.  The right to own a weapon is fundamental to our Constitution and our culture.

So I thought this email was interesting.  It's obviously one of those things that goes around and has a ring of truth and is designed to anger gun supporters and cause them to hunker down in their beliefs.  And that's okay.  Since I'm sitting in the suburbs in SoCal and don't own a gun, I can't really relate to the whole concealed carry thing, but I'm sure that it resonates with many.  But the numbers in the gun history really got my attention.  I have not idea if they are real, but I don't have any reason to doubt them.  And even if they are exaggerated, they are pretty sobering.  As Americans, we tend to think 'it can't happen here'.  I know I catch myself thinking that sometimes.  But it can happen here.  Just because something is one way, doesn't make it a hard and fast rule that it will always be that way.  Nothing lasts forever.  So we have to be on guard.  We have to understand history and what has happened in other places, at other times.  And we have to ensure that for as long as we can, we protect the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution.  Because they can go away...faster than you think.

Subject: ​ ​Why Grandpa carries

> Why Grandpa carries a gun
>
> The quintessential reason why Grandpa carries a gun.
> Please take time to read this and pay particular attention  to  "A Little Gun History" about half way down “ staggering numbers!
>
> Why Carry a Gun?
>
> My old Grandpa said to me, "Son, there comes a time in  every man's life when he stops bustin' knuckles and starts  bustin' caps and usually it's when he becomes too old to  take a whoopin'."
>
> I don't carry a gun to kill people; I carry a gun to keep from being killed.
>
> I don't carry a gun because I'm evil; I carry a gun because I have lived long enough to see the evil in the World.
>
> I don't carry a gun because I hate the government; I carry a gun because I understand the limitations of government.
>
> I don't carry a gun because I'm angry; I carry a gun so that I don't have to spend the rest of my life hating myself for failing to be prepared.
>
> I don't carry a gun because I want to shoot someone; I  carry a gun because I want to die at a ripe old age in my bed and not on a sidewalk somewhere tomorrow afternoon.
>
> I don't carry a gun to make me feel like a man; I carry a gun because men know how to take care of themselves and the ones they love.
>
> I don't carry a gun because I feel inadequate; I carry a gun because unarmed and facing three armed thugs, I am inadequate..
>
> I don't carry a gun because I love it; I carry a gun because I love life and the people who make it meaningful to me.
>
> Police protection is an oxymoron: Free citizens must  protect themselves because police do not protect you from crime; they just investigate the crime after it happens and then call someone in to clean up the mess.
>
> Personally, I carry a gun because I'm too young to die and too old to take a whoopin'!
>
> A LITTLE GUN HISTORY
>
> PLEASE  DON'T  THINK  FOR  A  MOMENT,  THAT    THIS  COULDN'T HAPPEN  IN  OUR  COUNTRY  ALSO !!!!!!
>
> In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control:
> From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated
> -----------------------
> In 1911, Turkey established gun control:
> From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
> -----------------------
> Germany established gun control in 1938:
> From 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.
> -----------------------
> China established gun control in 1935:
> From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
> -----------------------
> Guatemala established gun control in 1964:
> From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
> -----------------------
> Uganda  established gun control in 1970:
> From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
> -----------------------
> Cambodia established gun control in 1956:
> From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.  
> -----------------------
> 56 million defenseless people were rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control..  
> -----------------------
> You won't see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information.
>
> Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.
>
> With guns, we are 'citizens'; without them, we are 'subjects'.
>
> During WW II, the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!
> Gun owners in the USA are the largest armed forces in  the World!
>
> If you value your freedom, please spread this anti-gun  control message to all of your friends.
>
> The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible  victory in defense.
>
> The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either.
>
> SWITZERLAND ISSUES A GUN TO EVERY HOUSEHOLD!   SWITZERLAND'S GOVERNMENT ISSUES AND TRAINS EVERY ADULT IN THE USE OF A RIFLE.
> SWITZERLAND HAS THE LOWEST GUN RELATED CRIME RATE OF ANY CIVILIZED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!!!
> IT'S A NO BRAINER! DON'T LET OUR GOVERNMENT WASTE MILLIONS OF OUR TAX DOLLARS IN AN  EFFORT TO MAKE ALL LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS  AN EASY TARGET.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Blasphemy

I've traveled extensively throughout the Middle East so I'm pretty aware of the history, the culture, and the issues present that cause the region to generally be amazingly regressive.  Oh, there are pockets of modern culture that are reasonably progressive in places like the UAE and Bahrain, but they even have their issues.  Many, many areas though are living in another century.  But it's increasingly a clash of cultures.  In most places there is an upper class and a low, low, lower class.  There is abudant money and desperate poverty.  Education of the elites is pretty pervasive but education of the lower classes is problematic.  I've heard it said that Islam needs a reformation similar to what Christianity went through centuries ago.  That seems pretty right.  And it will take a very, very long time.  What it points to is that we need to tread carefully, pick our friends wisely, understand the various sects and their motivations, and resist the impulse to engage heavily to impose our values.  Even when we see tragic stories of repression, we have to understand that there are some things that we just can't impact.

Which leads me to a good article in the WSJ this morning on the rise of the 'crime' of blasphemy in Pakistan.  You can read it here.  The article may be locked so I'm going to paste it below.

Bottom line is that people are being pretty routinely put to death for making disparaging comments about the prophet Mohammad.  Put to death!  Now if that isn't something that the average American can't understand, I don't know what is.  Here's the bottom line quote, “In my religion, there isn’t any room for ‘free speech’,”.

Freedom of speech is fundamental to our culture.  Arguably it's the most fundamental right.  It also points to the harshness and backwardness of Islam.  I hear people all the time say that Islam is a religion of peace.  And like all religions, there is some truth to that.  But it is also harsh, narrowly interpreted, and ultimately violent.  I'm not saying that there aren't good and peaceful people, especially in this country, practicing Islam.  But if a part of your religion is putting people to death for saying something, then there is a fundamental problem with violence.  Add in the radical Islamic zealots of ISIS, Al Quida, and others and the recipe results in violence.  No two ways about it.  So unless and until there is a pretty radical change in the center of the religion, and that means the Middle East region, I don't see an ability to have routine, peaceful relations.  As I said, this can change.  But it's generational and not something that I believe will happen in my lifetime.

"Drive to Halt Insults Against Islam Gains Political Clout in Pakistan
Anti-blasphemy uprising in majority sect wins influence through protests, prosecutions
By Saeed Shah
Dec. 2, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—An emerging religious movement is gaining political clout in Pakistan around the incendiary issue of blasphemy, posing a particular challenge to the country’s leadership because it springs from the country’s mainstream Islamic sect.
Religious activists led by a cleric with a weeks-old political party besieged Pakistan’s capital in late November and forced the government to give in to all of their demands, including promises of stricter implementation of blasphemy laws.
“This is a mini revolution,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on religious extremism.
The anti-blasphemy wave, supported by vigilantism and political activism, is reviving religious strife in the society and politics of Pakistan, which is gradually surfacing from a decadelong struggle with Islamist terrorism.
This time the conflict comes not in militant attacks but an inquisition over who is a proper Muslim.
With national elections set to be held by September, the concessions to protesters last month underscored the threat that the movement could pose to Pakistan’s ruling party among voters and lawmakers, some of whom are threatening to leave the party over the issue.
Laws prohibiting blasphemy—statements or actions against Islam—have long been on the books in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. But there are more cases recorded in Pakistan, with harsher punishments, including a mandatory death penalty for using derogatory language about the Prophet Muhammad.
Anti-blasphemy campaigns are also growing in other parts of the Muslim world, including Indonesia, where a conservative party gained clout this year with accusations of blasphemy against the governor of Jakarta, who is Christian. He lost re-election, was convicted and is serving a two-year prison sentence.
In Pakistan, the new campaign was ignited by a February 2016 decision by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to execute a police officer, Mumtaz Qadri, who had shot dead a politician who had sought to make the blasphemy law less open to abuse. Some 300,000 people turned out for Mr. Qadri’s highly charged funeral.
Khadim Rizvi, then a little-known firebrand cleric at a small mosque in Lahore, seized on the moment, using social media to build a following and launch a group called Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, or Movement in Response to God’s Prophet’s Call.
In recent weeks, Mr. Rizvi made the group a political party, which came third in two by-elections, ahead of long-established parties.
“There’s a big conspiracy, coming from Europe, to take Pakistan towards liberalism,” Mr. Rizvi said in an interview in November. He said there can be no forgiveness for blasphemy, and no punishment for anyone who kills a blasphemer.
In November, Mr. Rizvi led a three-week sit-in protest in Islamabad to directly challenge the government and Mr. Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party.
His group has drawn most of its followers from the Barelvi sect of Islam, which is followed by the majority of Pakistan’s population and has been largely moderate, resistant to the militancy spawned by purist forms of the religion. Mr. Rizvi represents one arm of a broader anti-blasphemy movement that isn’t yet unified, but is now organizing.
The U.S. had viewed the Barelvi as a moderate bulwark against militancy, and in 2009 gave a Barelvi group a $36,000 grant to organize a rally against the Pakistani Taliban, according to the State Department. That group, the Sunni Ittehad Council, is now also part of the anti-blasphemy movement.
The Barelvi venerate the Prophet Muhammad with an absolute devotion, making a perceived insult an inflammatory issue.
Mr. Rizvi is an upstart in the Barelvi world, which doesn’t have a single leader. But his influence is pushing the sect in a harder direction.
The head of a Barelvi seminary in Lahore said the message of tolerance he tries to teach to his students can’t compete with the fiery oratory they hear online from Mr. Rizvi.
An accusation of heresy in Pakistan can trigger a mob: In April, a university student who described himself as a humanist was beaten to death by other students in the northwest of the country. A later police investigation found no blasphemy had been committed by the student.
In the November protests in Islamabad, Mr. Rizvi’s group won concessions including the resignation of the law minister and positions for group representatives on the education boards that decide on the contents of school textbooks.
An editorial in Dawn, a leading daily newspaper, described the agreement as “a surrender so abject that the mind is numb and the heart sinks.”
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday said the deal “was not desirable but there was little choice,” as religious riots would have followed.
Members of Mr. Sharif’s party privately accuse the powerful military, which has long allied itself with radical religious clerics, of backing Mr. Rizvi’s protest to further weaken an administration that has been critical of the armed forces. The military didn’t respond to a request for comment, but has in recent years insisted it no longer interferes in politics.
The blasphemy laws apply to Muslims and non-Muslims in Pakistan. In Punjab province, Mr. Sharif’s home region and the place where most blasphemy cases are registered, between 2011 and November 2017 there were 1,572 blasphemy charges filed, according to police figures.
The number of cases in Punjab had dropped after 2015 because of a procedural change that means only a senior police officer can now register a case, provincial officials said. A band of lawyers has organized to bring blasphemy prosecutions pro bono.
The blasphemy wave has spread watchfulness and paranoia. Cases are often concocted to settle personal scores, human-rights groups said.
Pakistan’s telecoms regulator has twice this year sent text messages to all cellphone users asking citizens to report blasphemy committed online. This year, a Muslim man was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court over a blasphemous Facebook post.
A professor of Urdu literature is currently on trial for blasphemy for asking his class, in a lesson on a poem on a religious theme, to consider whether the Quran’s description of heaven was to be taken literally or metaphorically.
“In my religion, there isn’t any room for ‘free speech’,” said Rao Abdul Rahim, an Islamabad-based lawyer who specializes in prosecuting alleged blasphemers."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Another One Bites the Dust

I woke up this morning to the news that NBC has fired Matt Lauer for inappropriate sexual activity, whatever that means.  It strikes me that we're seeing two very different reactions to this kind of stuff.  The private sector seems to have been dealing with this for a while and has developed procedures, processes and priorities.  In most companies, including my old company, there is pretty much zero tolerance for this kind of stuff.  Now I'm sure that there are instances and occasions when some guys (or gals) get away with sexual harassment or abuse.  But there are also plenty of instances in which the perpetrator is brought to account and either rehabilitated or fired.  Simple as that.  The ones we've seen in the news or entertainment business have been pretty visible.  Witness Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Weinstein, etc, etc.

But then look at the public sector.  You know, the people who work for us.  Congress has an unbelievably cumbersome process to deal with this crap and it seems more designed to protect the perpetrator while using taxpayer money to cover it up than to hold people accountable.  Look at Al Franken.  Look at John Conyers.  And probably many more.  So how is this fixed?  I don't see Congress policing itself.