Friday, November 30, 2012

Just Fix The Problem!

Benghazi.  What a mess.  I've posted about it several times, the latest being here.  As I feared the focus has moved into the political realm.  Now it's all about fixing blame and seeking advantage.  Who said what and when.  Who can be blamed for posturing, dissembling, deflecting.   I guess it was inevitable, but disappointing none the less.

There's a pretty good analysis by Steve Donnelly at Tom Ricks Blog at FP.  Not sure I agree with all of it but I think the bottom line is that our diplomats are doing the nation's work in some very dangerous places around the world and deserve support and protection.  They can investigate all they want to discover the intricate details of that night which are probably not discoverable.  They can express outrage and regret.  But they can't change the fact that those guys were hung out to dry.  By bureaucrats in the State Dept and NSC.  I guess the best we can hope for is for the lesson to be learned.  And a very tough lesson it was.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Too Bad

If I would've won Powerball tonight I was going to invite all my blog friends to take a ride on my new yacht!  And that was only for starters!!

Wait A Minute

In my post immediately below I forgot about the other side, or as I like to call them, the dark side.  Here's their field:

Once again, buckets:

NO, NO, NO--Joe
Inevitable--Bubba's wife

Too Soon?

Three weeks after the election and the post mortems have been coming hot and heavy.  Everyone has an opinion on what went wrong, what to do now, what direction to go, etc, etc, etc.  Pretty silly.  But so what.  It's sorta fun.  So here's the generally accepted field:

My take at this early point?  Well, I can only do big buckets:

NO, NO, HELL NO--Bachmann, Bush, Perry, Santorum
I Think Maybe YES--Ayotte, Haley, Jindal, Martinez, Paul, Rubio
Maybe but not sure---The rest of them

It will be a fun four years.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

I travel a fair bit for my job and we like to hit the road when we can and have time.  This year I have about 130,000 miles on United.  Not earthshattering but not bad.  I've got all the airport procedures down to a science.  I get all the TSA concerns.  I dutifully remove my shoes, change, belt, toiletries, laptop, etc, etc, etc.  (although I don't have to do that in most other countries).  Going through the scanners is a pain, but not a big deal.  Like I said, I get the concerns.  Once through security it's on to the boarding area to wait.  I've gotten pretty good at timing it so that the wait isn't too long.  Because of my status I'm in the first group to board.  So I schlep my stuff, get it stored and settle in for the pre-takeoff routine.

Which brings me to this week's pet peeve.  I would really like to meet the moron who decided that the energy of a cell phone will impact a modern jet's electronics.  And things like Kindles and head phones with on/off switches must be turned off.   Not that I'm so important that I have to stay connected or can't wait a few minutes until we get to 10,000 feet, but the flying waitresses/waiters make it seem like life as we know it will cease if any piece of electronics is left on during takeoff.  I mean, come on.  These folks need to get a grip.  It's an idiotic requirement that is incredibly annoying.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Inspiration Monday


Just when you think it can't get any does.  The Chargers lost to the Ravens in overtime and looked terrible for most of the game.  They essentially gave the game away.  With less than 2 minutes  to go the Ravens had 4th and 29.  Hold them and the Chargers win.  But the Ravens somehow got a first down.  Unbelievable.  They then got a field goal to tie it and go to overtime.  And of course they won in overtime.  Mind boggling!  

The Chargers are now 4-7 and have no chance at the playoffs.  That's probably a good thing because they would just embarrass themselves.  If AJ Smith and Norv survive we will know there is no interest in winning football games in Charger ownership.

The NFL last week declared that games could be played in the Rose Bowl until the new stadium is ready in L.A.   Now the speculation begins in earnest about them moving up there.  And this time it might not be so far fetched...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What He Said

I have a definite love-hate relationship with the columnist David Brooks.  At times he infuriates me with his writing.  Other times I think he is spot on.  This week is, I think, one of his best columns.  It also provides me with good validation regarding what it means to be a professional writier.  I started this blog to share some opinions, provide some commentary, and have a bit of fun.  But I'm not a professional writer.  When I read some of the stuff by Brooks, Peggy Noonan, and others it makes me realize how difficult that job would be.  And how great they are organizing thoughts, keeping a logical flow, and making the reader really feel what they are trying to say.

This week Brooks' column in the New York Times is titled "Why We Love Politics".  It is all about the recently released movie, Lincoln.  I posted about this last week.  But I wasn't close to expressing the texture of the movie, the message, the meaning when compared with his column.

It (Lincoln) shows that you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere. You can end slavery, open opportunity and fight poverty. But you can achieve these things only if you are willing to stain your own character in order to serve others — if you are willing to bamboozle, trim, compromise and be slippery and hypocritical.
I think most people view politics as a rough and tumble, very dirty business.  And it is.  But, it is also an endeavor that can deeply impact people and if the politician can achieve positive results, it must be very rewarding.  Of course, Hollywood and the media has their own spin that has influenced people to take a very cynical view.  To be a politician has become almost a dirty word.  And yet we still pay huge attention at every election to who we elect to represent us at every level...local, state and federal.  And that is because the actions they take can directly impact our lives.

The movie also illustrates another thing: that politics is the best place to develop the highest virtues. Politics involves such a perilous stream of character tests: how low can you stoop to conquer without destroying yourself; when should you be loyal to your team and when should you break from it; how do you wrestle with the temptations of fame — that the people who can practice it and remain intact, like Lincoln, Washington or Churchill, are incredibly impressive.
Brooks describes the evolution of a leader in a brilliant manner...from Gettysburg to the Second Inaugural Address.  From stating a grand vision to doing the incredibly difficult and lonely tasks demanded of leadership.  The movie eloquently shows Lincoln struggling with compromising his own views for the greater good, deciding that the 13th Amendment was so important that the war had to be extended.  It was very powerful and not a fairy tale.  It was real.  And doing that further built the character of our greatest President and led him to write what is generally regarded as one of the best speeches ever written, his Second Inaugural Address.  If you've never read it, here it is.  And for goodness sake, if you haven't seen this brilliant movie, go see it!

Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln 


At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bond...James Bond

We went to see the new James Bond film "Skyfall" this afternoon.  It was everything you expect a Bond film to be.  Good guys against bad guys.  Lots of shootem-up.  Amazing feats.  Returning from certain doom.  Deadpan understatement from 007 in the face of impossible circumstances.  Cool gadgets from Q.  And of course the obligatory Bond girl.  Ooh La La!  All in all a very fun movie that provided great escapism for two and a half hours.

At the end they flashed up that 2012 marked 50 years of Bond films.  Huh?  Could this be true?  Well, like everything we have a question about we fired up Google and sure enough, there have been 23 films over 50 years.

Official James Bond films

  1. Dr. No (1962-Sean Connery)
  2. From Russia With Love (1963-Sean Connery)
  3. Goldfinger (1964-Sean Connery)
  4. Thunderball (1965-Sean Connery)
  5. You Only Live Twice (1967-Sean Connery)
  6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969-George Lazenby)
  7. Diamonds Are Forever (1971-Sean Connery)
  8. Live and Let Die (1973-Roger Moore)
  9. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974-Roger Moore)
  10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977-Roger Moore)
  11. Moonraker (1979-Roger Moore)
  12. For Your Eyes Only (1981-Roger Moore)
  13. Octopussy (1983-Roger Moore)
  14. A View to a Kill (1985-Roger Moore)
  15. The Living Daylights (1987-Timothy Dalton)
  16. Licence to Kill (1989-Timothy Dalton)
  17. GoldenEye (1995-Pierce Brosnan)
  18. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997-Pierce Brosnan)
  19. The World is Not Enough (1999-Pierce Brosnan)
  20. Die Another Day (2002-Pierce Brosnan)
  21. Casino Royale (2006-Daniel Craig)
  22. Quantum of Solace (2008-Daniel Craig)
  23. Skyfall (2012-Daniel Craig)
Of course now we need to play the favorite parlor game when it comes to Bond Films.  Which movie was your favorite?  Which Bond was your favorite?  How many Bond films have your seen.  And of course, who's your favorite Bond girl?  Have fun!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Friday Funnies


It's been said and it's so true that we have so much to be thankful for.  Family and friends.  Trust in God.  Work and play.  Living in freedom.  And so much more.  Here in So Cal it is a perfect day.  70 degrees and cloudless.  We spent a few hours walking on the beach (our favorite activity) and now are prepping for family to arrive for a wonderful afternoon of fun, food, and enjoying each other's company.  So thankful that part of my family is local and very thankful that my son and his family are together with his wife's wonderful family on the East coast.  All in all, no complaints.

These guys are thankful too.  Thankful to be together.  Thankful that they have families, loved ones, and strangers back home supporting them.  And thankful to be part of the thin line between freedom and tyranny.  We all owe them a lot.  The least we can do is today to offer a special prayer for their safe return and hope that we always have people in our midst willing to lay it all on the line for freedom.  God Bless them all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Focus Is Wrong

As I feared, the focus on the disaster at Benghazi has waned.  Also as I feared, it's become political.  Now the focus is on who said what.  What talking points were changed.  Why was Susan Rice sent out to give the message.  Which intel officer decided not to blame terrorists.  The outrage in the Congress is clearly aimed at blaming someone (in the other political party) for screwing up the talking points.  And the media is going along.  If it weren't for this part of the story, they would have moved on several weeks ago.  But when they smell blood in the water, they will perk up.  And blood in the water is the fall of an individual.

But the focus is wrong.  The unanswered question that I posed in my very first post on this debacle, was why weren't the guys on the ground provided the support they asked for.  I continue to be frustrated that there were American's on the ground in a place like Libya asking for help and they didn't get it.  And they didn't get it because some bureaucrat said no.  That's unacceptable.  As in most things, it probably comes down to budget.  Simply put, the State Department, doesn't have enough.  At some point, we need to recognize the kind of world we live, the kind of threats we face, the need for response in a different way.  Maybe we need to buy a few less Joint Strike Fighters and more armed unmanned aerial vehicles.  Maybe we need to buy fewer big deck aircraft carriers and more Amphibious ships and high speed support ships that can act as floating Special Forcs bases.  Maybe we need to buy a few less tanks and more of the kind of weapons that can support up close and personal fighting.  And maybe instead of the long tail that the military and State department employs, maybe we ought to hire a few more Special Operators or para-military types that can protect our diplomats in far off places.

Pet Peeve Wednesday

I've been driving since my 16th birthday.  Went down to DMV, passed the test, and headed out.  And it opened a whole new world.  Mobility equals freedom.  Of course, like everyone I've had a few tickets, a few accidents, a few close calls.  I've always tried to follow the rules of the road.  Tried to be courteous.

Which brings me to this week's pet peeve.  Why do slow drivers drive in the fast lane?  It's one of life's major perplexities.  If you look at any driver's manual, you'll see it right there in black and white.  Slower drivers should move to the right.  So why don't they?  I don't get it.  So if you're a slow driver (and you know who you are) have the decency to move to the right.

Life Has Changed

If you've reading my blog, you know I'm a retired Naval Officer and work for an aerospace company.  So I have more than a passing interest in what is going on in the Navy and still have a lot of connections with the Navy.  We've seen a lot of cultural upheaval in the last decade and it isn't over.

During the last several months and years we've seen an increase in the number of Commanding Officers being fired, and there have been a variety of reasons.  The latest is reported here.  People who know me and know my background have asked my opinion about what is going on.  Of course every situation is different and there have been many different reasons for the firings.  Reading between the lines of many of the reports it was usually either an improper relationship or some sort of leadership failure.   Some of my contemporaries have said, and I agree, that it's a good thing that they can't retroactively fire us because in the "good old days" a lot of shenanigans went on.

Many people of my vintage believe that it's political correctness gone rampant.  That the Officers who had to take the extraordinary step of firing a C.O. are just covering their a$$.  That its the fault of integration of women.  Or the demise of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  Or some other systemic failure of the culture.

I don't buy it.  I can remember like it was yesterday when, during my last few years in the Navy, the ban on women in front line units was lifted.  There was considerable outrage.  Predictions of doom.  The military was going "to hell in a hand basket".   They could never do the job.   Some even decided to leave.  My memory of my reaction is also clear.  I believed then and still believe that it was a change, that the change would have to be managed, but that the American people wanted this change and it was up to those in the military to manage.  Would it change how we interacted with each other? Absolutely.  Would it change the culture?  Definitely.  But would it be better?  When I left the jury was out.  But no more.  I don't think you'd find many in today's Navy that don't accept women as part of the culture. I have to say that the majority of woman I've met in the Navy in the last few years has impressed me with her leadership, humanity, and professionalism.  I suspect the same is true for the demise of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  But it's pretty new so once again the jury is still out.  But I can say that I've heard a ton of people in the Navy say their attitude is Don't Know, Don't Care.

So if we've had this sea change, why all the firings.  I think two things.  First, there are still some who are members (or wannabes) of the "good ol boy" club.  They know how things used to be.  They know how they'd like things to be.  They mistakenly think that their status as CO gives them a pass.  At some point they find out the hard way that they are wrong.  In this day and age, there are no second chancs.  People talk about Nimitz running his ship aground as a Lieutenant and surviving to go on to 5 stars.  There are other similar stories.  That was then.  This is now.  The second is that there are always some bad apples who make it through.  In my time there were always guys in command who never should have made it and guys who never made it but would have been wonderful Commanding Officers.  The system is what it is and it does a pretty good job of selecting only the "best and brightest".  But some bad eggs still make it through.

The fact of the matter is that the people of the Navy today are the best we've ever seen.  They are smarter, more ambitious, more inquisitive, and more focused than ever.  I might even go so far to say they are better pilots, but that would be pretty difficult for me.  To lead this group, it takes only the best that we have.  There can be no let down.  A CO today has to be on his or her game 24/7.  I'm sure some of these firings were the result of a good person who, for whatever reason, forgot the tenants of command for a short period of time.  And it bit them.

But I think something else is true.  In 2012 our society has evolved.  What was acceptable just a few short decades ago, is now a killer.  For old guys like many of my friends it's a tough pill to swallow.  They yearn for the good old days. Those days were good.  They were fun.  They were inspirational.  They drove an incredible bonding of men going to war.  Those days are gone...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Inspiration Monday


If you've followed my blog at all you've seen some posts on my interest (Mrs Mike would say obsession?) with all things about the Civil War.  I've studied that era pretty extensively, read voraciously, visited many battlefields and museums, and just generally can't get enough of trying to figure it out.

So it should come as no surprise that we went to see the new movie "Lincoln" tonight.  Now I'm not one to gush over movies, especially with all the shenanigans of the Hollywood crowd in recent years.  Most of them really piss me off.  But that's a whole other blog topic.  I don't very often pay to go to movies.  I'm usually pretty happy to wait until they come out on pay-per-view so I can get some small bit of satisfaction by not giving them full payment.  But, not on point.

The point is that I thought this was a very well done movie.  I thought Speilberg nailed it.  The story was compelling.  You could just feel the texture of the movie.  The characters were very well developed.  Lincoln, Seward, Grant, Stevens, and a host of others were totally believable.  The torment that Lincoln felt was palpable.  As I have said, I'm a Civil War junkie, but I was kept spellbound the whole movie.

Going in I wondered what aspect of Lincoln's presidency they would focus on.  The fight to get the 13th Amendment passed was a perfect story for this movie.  It was supremely difficult and contentious.  The fight went down to the wire.  It took cajoling, convincing, building alliances, pandering, and even some bribing.  Both sides were dug in.  Both sides were passionate about their beliefs.  Both sides predicted doom if the other side won.  Lincoln had to be dedicated, persuasive, knowledgable, compromising, and self-assured of the rightness of his mission.  Even though we all know how it turns out, it was riveting.

I came away with three overwhelming thoughts.  First, those who say that what we're experiencing today is the worst partisanship in our history don't know history.  That those who say we are at a cataclismic point and that the republic is in danger don't know history.  Second, that the 24-hour media cycle exacerbates everything we see in politics today.  Nothing new there, but it keeps getting more distressing.  Third, that either Obama doesn't have the ability or the desire to exercise the kind of leadership needed in a President to get difficult things done.  He is good at rhertoric, but short on action.  I kept thinking that if we had the kind of President who would exercise the kind of Presidential leadership displayed in the movie, we wouldn't be in the difficult position we find ourselves as a nation.  Of course, it takes two to tango.  The Congressional leadership certainly hasn't been world class.  I think Pelosi, Boehner, Reid, McConnell, et. al. could exercise a lot more leadership when it comes to solving our problems.  But most of it is on the President.  He has the bully pulpit.  He is the most powerful leader in the world.  A good and accepted definition of leadership is getting people to do things that they otherwise wouldn't want to do.  I don't see any of that in Obama...

They Are Now Officially Pathetic

Good news, bad news for the Charger game today.  The good news is that we went to the movies so I missed the fourth quarter.  The bad news is that it is obvious that they are awful!  I mean just awful!  And I still don't put it on Rivers.  It's not him, it's the offensive line.  And Matthews.  And the ineffective linebackers.  And mostly...the Coach.  I don't see any other explanation.  He has to go!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Surprise For Lunch

I can still remember it.  When I was a kid I took my lunch to school.  Most days anyway.  My Mom made a great lunch.  She knew what I liked.  The sandwiches were yummy.  Usually some chips.  Maybe an apple or orange.  And every once in a while for a special treat...a Hostess Cupcake.  Sometimes a Snowball but she knew I liked Cupcakes the best.  When I opened my lunch and saw that there was a Hostess Cupcake included, all was right with the world.  We were always trading stuff, but I rarely traded a cupcake.  Maybe with my Italian friend who's Mom made the best sandwiches with all kinds of exotic meats (and then only a small piece of sandwich).  But that was it!

So now I open up the fishwrap this morning and read the sad story of the demise of Hostess.  Lots of joking done today about the hording of hostess products.  Funny little blurbs on the news.  One of the local stations even had one of their talking heads go out and buy a bunch of Hostess products and sample them on air.  Like we needed to be reminded about Twinkies, Cupcakes, Snowballs, Ho Ho's, Donettes, Ding Dongs, and Wonder Bread to name a few.  Now they are gone.  The conventional wisdom is that someone will come along, buy the recipes and rights, and we'll see them on the shelves before you know it.  But it won't be the same.  Just won't.  Now I know that this stuff isn't good for you.  That they are full of sugar and preservatives.  That if you eat too many/too much, you'll wind up looking like a favorite cartoon character from my youth, Porky Pig.  But there is just something sorta iconic about the brand.  And I'm sorry to see them go.

But the larger story is why.  Lots of blame to go around.  As usual...he said, she said.  There's a pretty good explanation of both sides here.  Some say bad management and greedy Wall Streeters.  Some say union thugs demanding too much.  I think that there are several contributors.  Hostess probably didn't respond too well to the newly health concious America.  Maybe they could have diversified their products a bit better.  They got in trouble financially during the boom years.  Generous salaries.  Perks.  Overly generous pensions.  And they couldn't walk it back.  Not with a union lurking nearby.  So finally a couple of hedge funds come in to do what hedge funds do.  Identify a distressed company.  Buy the stock.  Come in a squeeze out ineffeciencies.  Put in your management team.  Look for opportunities to grow the company.  Streamline.  But not all those endeavors work.  And it sounds like this one was a long shot from the beginning.  For it to work would mean the stars would have to align.  And that alignment includes labor.  Meanwhile, the union idiots only want more.  The bosses demand, demand, demand.  No concessions.  Don't let the scabs cross the line.  So the hedge funds finally give up.  They could keep trying but not in the face of determined opposition.  The employees can't say they weren't warned.  The company was clear that without concessions they would close.  And they did.  And 18,500 people are out of a job.  So just how is it better that the company closes and all those people lose their jobs rather than take some concessions?  I've not seen any statistics on salaries or benefits. But I'd bet that conditions and salaries weren't so bad that it warranted the loss of 18,500 jobs.

So another one bites the dust.  It isn't new.  It isn't earth shattering.  Life will go on.  But I will always have a soft spot in my heart when I remember opening the bag and seeing the cupcake...

Irrational Love

I grew up in So Cal.  It was American Graffiti personified.  I could have been buddies with Richie Cunningham.  And a big part of the scene were cars.  All kinds of cars.  I had a VW Van.  Yep.   Louvered windows.  Wooden Bumpers.  Big Tires.  Big antenna that did nothing (but looked very cool).  Engine intake scoops with flames painted on the side.  Bumper sticker that said, "Don't Laugh.  Your daughter might be inside."  It was bitchin!

Anyway, everyone did their thing when it came to cars.  Lots of variation.  But the consistent thing in the So Cal culture that I grew up in was cars.  Even if your ride was some little Datsun subcompact, you could proudly cruise the Boulevard.

But I've evolved.  I've had many (my wife would say too many) cars.  Once again, all kinds.  Right now I'm in a BMW 535.  Can't even imagine a better car.  But then I see a collection like this and it prompts all kinds of imagination.  I like them all but I'd really like this one...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Even The Mighty...

Since I've been posting and commenting on contemporary issues of the day, I guess that it's inevitable that sooner or later I'd have to write something about the Gen Petraeus affair.  What a sorry mess.  Careers, families, institutions, reputations...ruined.  I can't begin to elaborate on the thousands of words that have already been written.  But I think one of the best is here.  I can't really add anything.

"There was more than one decision point in the relationship that brought down General Petraeus where he should have diverted then-Major Broadwell back to the gym solo, but he didn’t. As a result, a reputation is in tatters, a critical agency has lost a leader, a war’s leaders are distracted, and two families are in turmoil. In time I am sure we will all know more than we want to, but one thing is clear. He is the person responsible for this. He was senior in age (almost two decades) and position (at the start we think O-4 to O-10). It was his inability to control his weakness, his ego, and his actions that brought him here. He knows this too, or at least he does now."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spiraling Down

My post of a few weeks ago on the Benghazi disaster detailed what seemed like a really bad situation getting worse.   Of course, the election came along and obscured everyone's vision.  Now, the dust has settled from the election and, although its hard to believe, but things seem to be getting even worse.  The Petraeus affair (do I really need to explain what's going on there?), the surprising inclusion of Gen Allen in a truly weird linkage, the running away from this issue by everyone who matters including Clinton and's all a bit....unsavory.  It's almost as if someone has something to hide!  Or a lot of people have something to hide.  Now let me be clear, I'm not a conspiracy theorist.  But in this case, every time we turn around something strange crops up.  But maybe it's just me.

Here's my bottom line.  I get and can accept (it's difficult but I can do it) that during the battle (the 8 hour battle) there was confusion and maybe it was too difficult to get help to the folks on the ground (even though help was near).  But, I'm still really stuck on the fact that the security team in Libya asked for security assistance help and didn't get it.  Libya!  That is shameful and someone needs to be held accountable...

Pet Peeve Wednesday

I get a ton of emails every day, both personal and professional.  Usually 50-100.  It never seems to end.  Some are easy to answer.  Some are automatic deletes.  Some take more time.  But I try to answer everything in a timely manner.

Which leads me to this week's pet peeve.  When you are working on a reply to an email, think through the who needs to see it.  Usually (and most often) you do not need to hit "reply all".  

I'll Take This One

We've lived in a lot of houses and in a lot of places but have never had a pool.  Not really sure why not.  Seems like it might be a fun thing to have.  But sort of a pain also.

Anyway, here are several really good looking pools.  I think I'd like any of them, but given a choice, I'll take this one...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Inspiration Monday

The Way Ahead

The last week has brought a lot of navel gazing for folks of my political persuasion.  What went wrong?  What can we do?  What do we change?  Some say be defiant and hunker down.  Some say jump on the pendulum and swing the other way.  Some point to past losses and urge caution and patience.

I got an email from a friend that reflected despair as reflected by Charles Cooke in National Review.  Now there is a lot that is right with his writing.  But I choose to have a more optimistic view.  This is what I wrote to her.
As for the future of the Republican Party, IMHO they need to think about three things.  The first is the message.  We know that a fiscally conservative message works.  Arguments against rampant spending and mortgaging the future resonates.  People can understand and embrace economic growth.  That was the story of the first debate.  Hell, that was the story of Reagan.   Pounding home economic growth, widening the opportunity for success, increasing jobs..all that stuff works.  What doesn't work with how the country has evolved demographically, educationally (we're not as smart as most people think) and socially is the way Republicans have communicated their message.  

And that leads to the second.  The messenger.  The messenger has to have the "right stuff", to coin a phrase.  He or she has to be someone who is relatable.  Someone who can take the message to the people who doesn't come across as extreme.  Someone who can embrace fiscal conservatism while at the same time make people not feel they are voting for someone on the fringe.  I really liked, respected and believed in Romney, but clearly the average person didn't because they didn't believe him, were scared of him, or believed something the Democrats said about him.  Will some of the Republican social issues have to be moderated?  I think yes if we want to win. Which ones and how is a whole other blog post, so keep checking my blog. :)  

But that leads to the third.  The organization.  The Democrats clearly were superior and won because of organization.  Their get out the vote effort was mind boggling.  Their record keeping, analysis, prioritization, you name it, was far superior.  Maybe not everywhere, but in key places.  And part of the organization issue reverts to the message.  In another blog post I talked about being in Florida last week and being shocked at the ads demonizing Romney.  The Obama team clearly embraced the famous quote from Sean Connery in the movie, The Untouchables..."You want to know how to beat the mob?  I'll tell you.  He brings a knife, you bring a gun.  He puts one of yours in the hospital, you put one of his in the morgue.  That's the Chicago way."  The ads against Romney were bad but brilliant.  I'm sad we've come to this but they seem to work.  They lied, they distorted, they played to people's worst fears and sensitivities, but they worked.  There is no other way to explain the war on women, the demonization of Bain, the fear of Mormons, etc, etc, etc.  I hate to say it, but I hope we learned that lesson.  

So that's what I think.  Those of us who care need to start now to turn the scoundrel out of the White House.  But we have to be as smart as our enemy.  "He whose ranks are united in purpose will be victorious" Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Much more to come as we get back up, dust ourselves off, and get ready to engage again!


Just about every Sunday night as the weekend winds down we watch Sunday night football.  And every Sunday night Faith Hill opens the show with her traditional song.  And every Sunday night I sit watching and think...Whew...Tim McGraw is one lucky dude!

So Much Talent...So Little Result

Chargers lose another one.  This time in Tampa.  Sad and pathetic.  To my fellow fans I say don't blame Rivers.  Look to the offensive line.  And the coach.  Everything in my history of playing, coaching, and watching team sports tells me that when there is a talented group that is underperforming, there is one likely reason.  The coach.  It's time for Norv to go!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Birthday U. S. Marine Corps

The Marines make a bigger deal out of their birthday than all the other services.  I've been to a few Birthday Balls and they are fun and inspiring events.  There is no denying their history, their dedication, their competence.  As we move forward to an ever more dangerous world with disguised and dangerous enemies, it's good to know we have an ever ready 911 force.  A good and current example of the Marine spirit was chronicled this morning in the WSJ.  Worth the read.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Continuous Battle

I get so tired of everything being a battle.  So someone took a gander at my post that included the analogy about ten people going to dinner. The outrage!  The mean-spiritedness! The rebuttal is here.  The author argues that the dinner analogy is wrong as an argument against our progressive tax code.  Well, that may be true.  There certainly are a lot of people that believe in alternatives like the Flat Tax or the Fair Tax.  There are probably attributes of those alternatives, but it seems to me that we have a progressive tax system that for the most part works.  It seems right to me that some pay more than others.  After all, there is a spectrum of rich to poor.  Always has been.  Always will be.  

But I didn't include the analogy as an argument against the progressive tax code.  I included it as a simple story of fairness.  Many of the so called compassionate progressives continually argue that the rich should be made to pay more.  That the rich are greedy.  That the poor must have a handout.  That we can solve all our problems by taking money from the rich.  Forget about growing the economy.  Of course, I don't know who gets to decide who's rich and how much constitutes rich.  And I don't know why people who have worked very hard to be a success are automatically assumed to be greedy bastards.  To me the dinner analogy is pretty simple.  In our society, the poor appropriately don't pay much, if anything.  The rich carry the burden.  They don't mind doing that.  To a point.  But at some point it becomes onerous and they figure out a way to not get screwed by unfair practices.  They didn't get "rich" by being dumb.  

But, I thought I'd include the rebuttal for all you angry and cynical folks out there.  I just don't know when we evolved to the point that achievement is reviled.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the President's singular achievement was that he was a community organizer.  His experience tells him that the poor are helpless and exploited citizens who must be protected from the greedy rich by the government.  The folks who believe in him, reflect his views.  As for me, the emperor has no clothes...

Brewing Battle

Had to drive up North today for work.  Not bad.  Couple hours.  Along the way I listened to the press conferences from Boehner and Obama.  Stakes put firmly in the sand.  At least it doesn't seem like they are in concrete.  Lots of posturing though.  Will be interesting to see how it plays out.  Will they deal or will we drive off the cliff?  Who gets the blame?  Who gets the credit?  All I know is if they don't get a deal done, a pox on both their houses!

And the when I got home got this little blurb from a friend.  Pretty interesting.  Simple, but instructive.

How taxes work

How taxes work - 10 Men Go To Dinner

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner and the bill for all comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing like they do now with the present income tax structure.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59 of the bill.

So that is what the ten men decide to do.

The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you all are such good customers I am going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20". Dinner for the 10 men now costs just $80...

The group still wanted to pay the bill the same way that they paid their taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six men -- the Paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everybody would get his "Fair Share"?

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth and sixth man would each end up being paid to eat their meal...

So, the restaurant owner suggested it would be fair to reduce each mans bill roughly the same amount; and proceeded to work out the amounts each man would pay.

The fifth, like the first four now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth man now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings)

The seventh man now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings)

The eight man now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings)

The ninth man now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings)

The tenth man now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings)

Each of the six was better off then before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings...

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man "but he got $10"...

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. Its unfair that he got ten times more than me!?"

"That's true", shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth man and beat him up...

The next night the Tenth man did not show up for dinner, so the Nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half the bill!

And that Boys & Girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just might not show up anymore. In fact, they might start eating overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bad News, Good News, and Musings

It's been 24 hours.  24 hours since the disappointment of the election, at least to guys like me.  If you've been reading you know my thoughts on the Presidency.  I was for Romney.  There is a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on.  Pick your reason why it turned out the way it did.  But it doesn't really matter.  That's sorta the beauty of our system.  The other guy won.  Period.  Now we move forward.  So the bad news is Obama won.

But there is a lot of good news.  Every four years we go through this and either reelect or elect a President.  It is painful, but also peaceful.  The experiment in democracy lives on.  We the people have spoken.  Billions of dollars were spent.  Billions of words were spoken.  It was painful, but peaceful.

The other bit of good news is that we will have a check to Obama's rampant spending.  That check is the House of Representatives.  The founding fathers knew what they were doing.  Many will lament the gridlock.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  Obama has been the one that wouldn't compromise.  If he has learned something and now reaches across the aisle, maybe something will get done.  If not...gridlock.  Okay by me.  Stop the insanity of spending what we don't have.  I hope they can get together, but at some point principle must prevail.

A few musings about the election and the future.
  • The Republicans are at a dramatic crossroads.  That much is clear.  They can move to the right and keep talking about "taking back the country" that the tea-party radicals are touting, and they will disintegrate.  They will be a small footnote in the national dialog.  They better wake up.  The country is a center-right country.  They need to think through all of the contemporary issues that are important to people and come up with reasonable positions.  Abortion, immigration, gay rights (whatever that is), women's issues, a revamped tax code, etc.  If the Republicans continue to have postions that a large portion of the population thinks are "extreme", they will lose.
  • No more rich white guys from the Northeast.  Don't get me wrong.  I really like and respect Mitt Romney, but he has a tough time connecting with a big piece of the electorate.  The Republicans have a stable of great future candidates.  Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Nicky Haley, Ted Cruz, Susana Marinez, Kelly Ayotte, etc, etc, etc.  There are a ton of them.  If the Republican party doesn't turn to them, they are done.
  • During the next four years there will be one or more foreign policy crises.  I don't think Obama is remotely equipped to deal with it.  And if Clinton leaves there will be a big hole.  The best that we can hope for is status quo.  We had better all hope that the next four years doesn't bring a large, messy crises, because that could be extremely dangerous.  I agree with George Friedman's latest article on STRATFOR.
    • One of the hardest things for a young empire to master is the principle that, for the most part, there is nothing to be done. That is the phase in which the United States finds itself at the moment. It is coming to terms not so much with the limits of power as the nature of power. Great power derives from the understanding of the difference between those things that matter and those that don't, and from a ruthless indifference to those that don't. It is a hard thing to learn, but history is teaching it to the United States.  The gridlock in which this election has put the U.S. government is a suitable frame for this lesson. While Obama might want to launch major initiatives in domestic policy, he can't. At the same time, he seems not to have the appetite for foreign adventures. It is not clear whether this is simply a response to miscalculation or a genuine strategic understanding, but in either case, adopting a more cautious foreign policy will come naturally to him. This will create a framework that begins to institutionalize two lessons: First, it is rarely necessary to go to war, and second, when you do go to war, go with everything you have. Obama will follow the first lesson, and there is time for the second to be learned by others. He will practice the studied indifference that most foreign problems pose to the United States.  There will be a great deal of unhappiness with the second Obama administration overseas. As much as the world condemns the United States when it does something, at least part of the world is usually demanding some action. Obama will disappoint, but it is not Obama. Just as the elections will paralyze him domestically, reality will limit his foreign policy. Immobilism is something the founders would have been comfortable with, both in domestic politics and in foreign policy. The voters have given the republic a government that will give them both.
  • This election wasn't all about the Presidency.  Here in So Cal the people bought the crazy story from Moonbeam and his union cronies and raised taxes on themselves.  They bought the story that the money will go to the schools.  I have no faith, none, zero, that the current electorate in California will ever hold their politicians accountable.  It is a shame.  The beaches are nice.  The mountains are great.  It's a fun place to live.  But the politicians are rotten.  And they are driving the state toward insolvency.  I really don't know if the people are uneducated, apathetic, gullible, or I really do live in a Socialist state.  I just don't know.  I have some linkages here or would be gone.
  • I think we have a big problem with media.  They have taken sides.  The networks, cable, talk radio, etc.  Everyone has a bias.  Everyone has a point of view.  The outlets that get the biggest audience influence the most people.  And here's the dirty secret that most people don't know.  Big corporations own a lot of the media.  GE, Disney, Viacom, etc.  And they have their own agenda.  I'm not talking left or right.  I'm talking freedom of the press.  I'm a big First Amendment guy.  But how do we, how should we, how can we ensure fairness?   Clearly limits aren't acceptable.  Clearly personal responsibility doesn't work.  Clearly filters aren't constitutional.  I don't have the answer. 

  • Another big problem, and I think this is a huge problem, are the out of control ads.  Once again I don't have an answer, but something has to be done.  Here in So Cal we weren't subjected to the hideous, distorted, dare I say it...un-American ads by the Obama machine.  But I did get a tast of them earlier this week in Florida.  Bad, real bad.  I'd heard of them but until you've seen them, it doesn't hit home.  The ads were the worst I'd ever seen.  Now maybe Romney had some bad ones too, but I didn't see any over two days of watching TV.  But if you didn't know anything about Romney and relied on those ads to guide you at the polls, there is no way you vote for the Governor.  I think that's just wrong. 
So it's over.  Back to day to day life.  And in that day to day life politics don't have a huge impact.  Except when they take a bigger tax bite.  But I'll deal with that.  Unfortunately the way I'll deal with it is to reduce my charitable contributions.  And I don't think I'll be alone.  Watch contributions to charities over the next few years as taxes go up.  For most people, their finances are a zero sum game.  If you move some money to one place, you take some from another place.  It's just human nature.  

Finally, I don't remotely buy that this was the seminal election that many made it out to be.  Just do a cursory look at our history and you'll know what I mean.  But for me the importance of this election is to realize how the country has changed, is changing.  I still strongly believe we're on the wrong fiscal path.  I hope to have a little more time over the next four years to be a better citizen and be a more active part of the process.  After all, you're either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem... 

Pet Peeve Wednesday

We shop at Costco for lots of things.  Its the same as Sam's Club and some others.  It's a warehouse store with some pretty good deals.  The store is huge.  And the things you buy there can be huge.  Don't go there looking for one of anything.  Or if it is one it's big!  Big cuts of meat, big pies, big TVs, etc.

One of the interesting things about Costco are the samples.  At almost every aisle there is someone handing out samples.  Lots of different samples of every kind of food.  I suppose the sample handout might entice some to buy the product, but most just want to chow down.  I'm confident that some get their lunch from the samples.  And it is most frenetic on the weekends.

Which brings me to this week's pet peeve.  People who have a big old shopping cart full of stuff and stand waiting for a sample to be prepared, all the while blocking the aisle.  Or those who leave their shopping cart in the middle so the aisle blocking everyone, while they wait for a precious little morsel.  Just have the courtesy to leave the cart out of the way.  And if the sample isn't ready, don't stand there waiting for it to be prepared.  It's annoying and a bit pathetic.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Limb Just Broke

Sometimes gut feelings are wrong.  Such was the case tonight.  I only hope that now that he's a lame duck and will want to think about his legacy, Obama will reach across the aisle to achieve compromise.  Of course, I think that is like a Zebra changing his stripes, but you never know.

Seems Appropriate

Monday, November 5, 2012

Inspiration Monday

I sorta like having a few regular features.  So far it's Friday Funnies and Pet Peeve Wednesday.  Now comes Inspiration Monday.  There are plenty of people, both historical and contemporary, who have inspired me. So I though I'd share...

Gross and Mean Distortions

Living in SoCal, I haven't been subjected to the attack ads.  But tonight I'm in Florida.  Yikes!  I have watched some of the most vicious, mean, distorted insulting ads that I've ever seen by Obama over the last few hours.  I don't know how these things could be effective.  Even a casual knowledge of Romney's positions would tell anyone that these things are lies.  But someone is spending millions of dollars to drag Romney's reputation through the gutter.  After seeing these ads I come away with a few thoughts.

  • Romney must have a pretty strong character to turn the other cheek.  
  • His family must be very disheartened that the President is saying these things
  • Obama must be very worried
  • I could never be a politician because if I met this guy on a stage I'd be inclined to flatten him

The End (or The Beginning?)

If you've been reading for a few weeks (and I know there are some folks reading because the stats say so) then you pretty much know my views on the election.  I'm a Romney guy.  Or more pointedly, I'm not an Obama guy.  I think he has genuinely damaged the country and, if he wins, will inflict more damage.  Last nite I went Out On A Limb to say that I have a feeling about Romney.  Well, turns out I have good company.  Of all the current crop of political commentators, I respect and identify most with Peggy Noonan.  And here's what she is saying.  Couldn't agree more!

But the election is about more than just the Presidency.  There are Congressional and Senate races, all kinds of other seats from judges to mayor to school board to be filled, and of course the propositions.  For all my California friends I will refer back to my post of a few weeks age about what the state government and their union lackeys think of us...How Dumb Do They Think We Are?  All I ask is read it, think about it, and decide for yourself.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Out On A Limb

Two days to go.  Frenetic activity. Non-stop campaigning.  He's bad, I'm good.  They're evil, I'm not. They hate America, we don't.  Their plan will destroy us, our plan will save us.  Blah, blah blah...  So what to believe and which way do we go?  For me it's a bit academic because I live in California and I'm a Republican.  So my vote (at least for President) doesn't count.  The left coast is safely in the camp of the Dems.

But I've been watching and reading.  Listening and thinking.  The conventional wisdom is that it's too close to call.  Supposedly the country is split down the middle and the winner will be decided on a razor's edge.  But I'm not so sure.  The conventional wisdom is also that an incumbent should have a large advantage.  Actually he should win in a walk.  Most people don't like change.  They don't want to upset the apple cart.

But the guy in there now has been mostly a disappointment, even to his supporters.  He's not come close to fulfilling his promises.  He's blamed his troubles on others.  He talks about his general plan for the future while weirdly ignoring the past four years.  He doesn't seem to understand what it takes to at least set us on a path to a better economy.  His performance as Commander in Chief has been, by almost all measures, not what is expected of the leader of the free world.  Worst of all, he's pitted Americans against Americans.

Of course, that's my view.  But strangely, I think there is an enthusiasm gap.  Like I said, I think many of his supporters have cooled in their ardor.  I think that a $16 Trillion deficit is really starting to worry people.  They are thinking that this problem really could have a devastating impact on our kids and their kids.  I think the novelty of his race has some point, it has to be about competence.

So that's how I get out on my limb.  I'm not much of a gambler but sometimes I get a feeling.  And my feeling now is that Romney will win.  And I don't think it will be that close.  Landslide?  No.  But I think it won't be as close as all the "experts" predict.  But...I could be wrong.  Wouldn't be the first time and certainly not the last.  But I've just got a feeling...

Bike The Coast

Participated in my first organized bike ride this weekend called Bike The Coast.  It was a ton of fun.  There were about 2000 bikers doing rides of 7, 15, 25, 50, 75, and 100 miles.  Since I'm sorta new to this biking thing I went for 25.  It was an ideal ride on an ideal day in SoCal.  Perfect weather and wonderful views along the coast.  One of the coolest things was to see all the different kinds of folks out riding.  There was everything from professional looking groups in identical gear (think Tour de France) to normal, everyday people (like me) just trying to improve fitness and get out in the fresh air.  Literally everyone had a great time!  Lots of smiles and comments about the great atmosphere.  Next year...50 miles!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Down To The Wire

Five days til the election.  There will be a frenzy of activity to convince the last few undecided voters.  But now it's all about turnout.  I've been thinking about four years ago and the feeling in the country when Obama was elected and took office.  I remember thinking to myself that he wasn't my choice but he was my President and I would support him.  His election was historic after all and he got a strong majority.  But he blew it.  He blew it big time.

I'm a big fan of Peggy Noonan and her writings every week.  They usually resonate pretty well with my thoughts.  Her column this week is coincidently in line with what I've been thinking about the last four years.  She is much more eloquent than me so you can read it here.  I think she nails it.  Somewhere along the line he "lost the room".

We don't know what will happen on Tuesday.  Most think it will be close.  And that could be true.  I have a feeling that there are an awful lot of people will go into the booth and pull the lever for the other guy.  They worry about the economy, about gridlock, about the obvious lies that came out of Benghazi, about where we're going, about you name it.  And they see in Obama an intransgient ego-maniac who hasn't been able to fulfill his grand promises and has systematically pitted Americans against Americans.  But we'll see.  I could be wrong.

But one thing is for sure.  If he wins, I won't have the same generous feeling I had four years ago.  And I think there are a lot of folks like me.  People who aren't particularly engaged in the political process who will start to work actively to stop what he is doing to our economy and our country.  The next four years won't be like the last.

They Better Not Gloat

Chargers 31-Chiefs 13...the Chargers beat a bad team tonight.  That doesn't make them good.  I'm not remotely convinced that they have what it takes to get to the playoffs.