Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Friday Funnies


You Say You Want A Resolution III

Copied below is my post from this time last year and my post from 2012 that enumerated my resolutions for the next year.  Can I put it out there or what?!  Of course, not than many folks are reading so it's sort of a small circle.  It's interesting to go back and think about what I thought was important (or doable) and how I did with them.  Anyway, I think setting goals (writing down resolutions) is a good idea.  It gives you something to shoot for and think about.  I'm not going to repeat all the reasons to conduct this little exercise because I still believe them.  I'll comment in red below on the 2014 resolutions so you can see how I did.  And here are my resolutions for 2015:
  • Strengthen my relationship with God and service to the Church--If you know me you're probably a bit surprised by this one.  I mean, I've always had faith, have always believed.  But I've never really been outgoing or demonstrative about it.  I don't know if it's because I'm getting older and facing my mortality, the fact that we have a new Priest and an opportunity for renewed energy/growth in our church, or it's just a natural evolution in my journey of faith.  But whatever it is, I resolve to be more active and a stronger member of God's community in order to serve others.
  • Get better at Golf--Since retirement I've played a lot more and really enjoy it.  Have joined the Men's Club at our resort and play in the weekly tournament and usually one other time during the week.  I'm certainly above the threshold of embarrassment.  But it is a maddening game.  My ability (or lack of ability!) sometimes drives me crazy!  But I'd like to get better and bring down my handicap.  To that end I've recently started to take lessons.  So we'll see.  This is one that truly will only be known by the test of time.  So check back next year and see if I've accomplished reducing my index.
  • Weight & Exercise--Ongoing.  And more important as I age.  As the saying goes, you've got to keep moving.  I've been pretty successful at doing something almost every day.  Need to keep that up!
  • Learn to play the guitar--Here I go again.  I've got a good start.  Now I really need to follow through and go to the next step.  This is one that I'll attack after the craziness of the holidays recedes.
  • Take a pottery class--I've been a failure at this but resolve to move forward.  Not sure yet when or where, but it's going to happen.
  • Go to more cultural live events--From 2013 and hit or miss in 2014.  We always like going to plays, concerts, live events.  But we don't do it enough.  So in 2015 I resolve that we are going to increase our involvement with the arts.  Maybe get a subscription to the Globe.  Maybe do the same for the Summer Pops.  Maybe look at other venues more closely.  It's all enriching.
  • Travel--We've got several trips planned next year and they will be great.  I traveled a lot in my job and at one point thought I didn't want to travel very much when I stopped.  But as I get farther away from that, I realize how cool it is to see other places and experience other cultures.  I think we need to do more while we're still young enough, healthy enough, and energetic enough to enjoy it.  It's easy to sit back and just live your life at home.  But now that we have the time and means, we need to get out there.  Check back next year to see how we did.
And as always, here's the quote that I think of when thinking of facing the new year, “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better person.” –Benjamin Franklin


Happy 2015 Everyone!!

                                                                                                                                                                   

2013
Last December, when Mike's At The Beach was relatively new, I had a post on resolutions.  You know, those things that we all make but rarely keep.  I thought it might be fun (or maybe painful and embarrassing) to go back to review them, take stock, and either update or make some new ones.  Here's last year's post:
Dec 31, 2012--You Say You Want A Resolution... 
So we arrive at the dawn of a new year.  It always seems to be a time of new beginnings.  Or at least wishes for new beginnings.  We look back wistfully, or proudly, or disappointingly and sometimes think of what could have been.  We also look forward.  I like to think most look forward optimistically.  That the new year will bring new challenges, new opportunities, new successes.  At least that's what I try to do.
I'm not huge on resolutions, but they can be fun.  They can also sometimes make us think.  Make us think about what we can be...what we should be...what is good for us and bad for us.  Unfortunately, many resolutions (I RESOLVE to do this!) don't last long.  They get forgotten in our hectic lives.

So I'm gonna try...try to state them...try to work on them...try to keep them.  Maybe I won't be totally successful, but I'm going to write these down, keep them in mind, and this time next year look back.  I hope it will be proudly...not wistfully or disappointingly.  Here they are:

Honesty--This might be pretty difficult.  We all take the easy way out on this one.  We don't say what we think.  Of course, it's very important to take feelings into account when giving your opinion.  Sometimes you need to be sensitive to hurt feelings.  But most times it's tempting to give the easy answer.  To tell someone what they want to hear.   To wimp out.  This year I RESOLVE to be honest.  You want my opinion, you're going to get my HONEST opinion.  If you don't want it, don't ask for it.  If you don't want to read it, leave here now.  Dec 2013--I would say I was pretty successful at this resolution.  Just ask my family.  :)  And I think it's a good one.  I like to think that this trait is now something I'll continue so it comes off the list as a specific resolution.  
Unsubscribe--This one will be easy.  I get way too much nonsense email.  I RESOLVE to unsubscribe to things I don't need/want and keep at it throughout the year.  Dec 2013--Ditto here.  I did a good job of unsubscribing.  I still get too much spam but am pretty good at a continuously unsubscribing to the crap I don't care about.  Again, I now do this pretty routinely.  Don't need to think about or resolve to do it.  As my wife would say, "good job, baby!"
Exercise--Need to do more of this.  I'm a pretty active person.  I get in the gym regularly...but not regularly enough.  I get out on a bike ride regularly...but not regularly enough.  You get the picture.  So this year I RESOLVE to exercise on a regular basis.  Wish I could say an interval or time schedule, but the reality of my life/job makes that not doable.  But this time next year I'll know if I fulfilled this resolution.  Dec 2013--This one was hit and miss.  If you were reading my blog at the beginning of 2013 you'll know I broke my arm pretty badly on Jan 1.  That put a pretty big crimp on my exercise.  And when I was back in fighting shape in the late Spring, we decided to move.  That also took a lot of time.  So around the injuries and excuses, I think i did an okay job.  One thing I did that I really like is  to start going to the gym at 5:00 am to get the day started.  I'll continue that.  And this is definitely ONE I'LL KEEP.
Moisturize--This is another easy one (hey...I need some that are no brainers!).  My doctor tells me to do it more.  My wife tells me to do it more.  I can look at my skin and realize I need to do it more.  So this year I RESOLVE to apply moisturizer to my skin more regularly.  Dec 2013--Little did I know that I would take so much crap about this one.  I mean seriously, grow up people.  :)  I'm going to keep doing it but I'm not going to resolve to do it.  I'm done with mentioning moisturizing!
Getaway Place--we (mostly me) have wanted to get a second home for a while.  I think it would be great to have another place in a resort area for a getaway.  And do it regularly.  And do it more and more.  Right now I'm focused on a condo in Mammoth.  The area it all.  Four seasons, lots to do (hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, golfing, festivals, and much more), pretty reasonable, close to drive to, etc, etc.  But I need to do some more research.  But I RESOLVE to narrow the choices, go visit the target area, and pull the trigger.  Hopefully we'll have next Thanksgiving at our place in Mammoth.  Stay tuned.  Dec 2013--This one was a total bust.  But not from the perspective of not buying a getaway place.  We did the research.  We visited Mammoth and other potential areas.  We did a lot of soul searching.  And then we stumbled on a great home to buy right here in So Cal.  And we realized that if we want to getaway we'll rent, not buy.  Makes way more sense for us.  Plus we have a great Marriott Timeshare that is always available.  It was great to write this down and take action.  It really focused the effort. But it doesn't need to be repeated.  
Electronic Sanity--I really like technology.  I have many of the gadgets that connect me to the world.  I'm all about the web.  It's revolutionized our lives and mostly for the better.  But lately I've become sort of disenchanted with how pervasive they can become if we let them.  I've experienced people who are truly over the top.  People who can't let it go.  They check their devices (whatever they are) constantly, as if there is some all important message or information that needs immediate attention.  It got me thinking...what did we do before these things?  Did we pay more attention to each other?  Were we more aware of our surroundings?  Did we give each other more respect?  So this year I RESOLVE to put the devices down and leave them down more often.  I mean...it's just not that important.  Dec 2013--Jury is still out on this one.  I think I've done better.  I do consciously put the devices down.  But I still have a pretty strong connectivity.  So I need to keep pressing.  ONE I'LL KEEP.
Weight--Okay...you knew this was coming.   Who doesn't go on a diet on Jan 2nd?  Jan 2nd because there are just too many good things to eat while watching football on the 1st!  I'm a big guy and carry it reasonably well, but could stand to lose some weight.  Especially at my age, I gotta eat better.  Of course, that's difficult because I like food so much!  But I'm gonna try.  This is one that will definitely be judged this time next year and I'll look back either proudly or disappointingly.  I'll let you know.  Dec 2013--I'm about where I was.  The broken arm really kicked my ass.  And I travelled a lot.  And I was distracted by the move.  And I like to eat...whine, whine, whine.  Truth is, I still need to focus on this.  ONE I'LL KEEP.
Try New Restaurants--Here's another easy one.  I blogged a while back about going out to eat.  We go out pretty routinely.  But sometimes we get in a rut.  Go to the same places over and over.  Nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with being loyal.  But it's also cool to try new places.  Literally, every time we do we enjoy ourselves.  So we're going to try and explore new restaurants.  But now that I think about it, maybe not so easy.  If I'm going to lose weight, I better choose wisely in exploring new restaurants.  :)  Dec 2013--By any measure we did a great job at this.  The move helped.  Lots of new restaurants explored.  Some real favorites found.  We'll keep doing this but I don't need to focus on it.  
So that's it.  I usually think of a few things in my mind and then go about my business.  But writing them down is helpful...and a bit scary.  I mean...they are out there for all to see.  At least everyone who is reading.  Check back next year, same time.  I'll let you know how I did. 
Finally, here's a quote about the new year that I really like.  Pretty simple and straightforward...and one that after all is said and done I can aspire to...
“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better person.” –Benjamin Franklin
So now I need to add to the list.  I mean, what fun would it be to just reference the old ones.  So like last year, I have been thinking of a few things that I really should do or try.  So in addition to the continuing ones above, here's the 2014 list:
Learn to play the guitar--This one sorta scares me.  I'm mean, I'm an old dog.  And you know the saying about old dog's and new tricks.  But I've wanted to learn to play the guitar for a long time and just haven't pulled the trigger.  So I'm going to get a guitar and take some lessons.  I might suck.  Hell, I'll most likely suck.  But I'm going to do it.  Dec 2014--I bought a guitar.  I started some on line lessons.  I learned some chords and did some plunking.  But I'm not where I want to be.  In 2015 I'm going to pursue this more vigorously.
Take some pottery lessons--Okay, I'll admit, maybe I've gone off the deep end here.  But I remember my wife taking some wheel throwing classes in college and I went with her a few times.  And it was really fun.  So if I can find some classes at the local adult school that fit my schedule, I'm going to give it a try.  Dec 2014--I was a miserable failure on this one.  But...I'm not giving up.  I will look for a class and take the class.  It's just with all that's gone on in 2014 I really haven't had time or given it priority.  I know...whine, whine, whine.  I'm going to do this!
Get involved with a service organization--You know what they say.  You're either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem.  Don't know what it will be yet, but I'm going to look for some way to get involved and give back.  It might involve the community.  It might be veteran related.  Don't know.  But I'll figure it out.  Dec 2014--Since I retired on 30 May I've gotten involved in several organizations.  I have qualified and am active as a docent on the USS Midway Museum, I've joined VFW and attend meetings, and I'm just in the early stages of joining Rotary, which I'm really looking forward to.  It's all good.  I'm also much more involved with our Church and having a good time helping to grow the congregation and do good things.   
Go to more cultural live events--We always like going to plays, concerts, live events.  But we don't do it enough.  So in 2014 I resolve that we are going to increase our involvement with the arts.  Maybe get a subscription to the Globe.  Maybe do the same for the Summer Pops.  Maybe look at other venues more closely.  It's all enriching.  Dec 2014--Hmmmm...not so good.  Did some things but not as many as I'd like.  Still need to work on this.
Get serious about the next phase of my life--I'm coming up on a crossroads.  If you've been reading you know I can see retirement on the horizon.  When?  Don't know but within a few years.  Maybe sooner.  But then what?  I'm not a spring chicken, but I've got plenty of energy.  I want to contribute, have fun, use some of my experience to make a difference, have fun, travel, have fun...you get the idea.   As long as my health is good I'm going to be engaged.  The question is doing what?  More to come on that...check back next year.  Dec 2014--2014 turned out to be a big transition year.  I retired on 30 May.  It was time.  I just couldn't continue going to work when I wasn't having much fun.  I'd been disappointed and frustrated too many times so it was time to hang it up. And I'm really glad I made the decision.  Since retirement I've gotten involved in lots of new and interesting things, we have done some great traveling, and I have much more time to do things I want to do.  It is great to control your own destiny.  I have to say, retirement is a good gig!
Okay, that's enough.  I've learned not to be overly ambitious in setting goals.  Much better to achieve a few than have many with spotty results.  Check back next year to see the results.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!


Cool Pic


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dogs Are Cool!

Every morning...

Motivation Monday


NYPD

This was posted by a friend over on FB.  Powerful!  And maddening....

NYPD POLICE OFFICER SPEAKS OUT
The Media has received the following statement from a current NYPD Police Officer under the condition of anonymity. Please be advised the post contains strong language and profanity which though not typical of WAAR posts, we felt was important to post in a version that was unedited.
* Al Sharpton’s name is left as it was typed as NYPD officers sometimes refer to Mr. Sharpton as the Sharp ton.
When I was a kid I’d see my dad come home with his gun and shield, and I was beyond intrigued. He was not only my hero, but the city’s. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be a cop. Just like my dad and my older brother. I didn’t know what the pay or the benefits were, I just wanted to help people. Fast forward 20+ years and here I am. Except I’m no ones hero, actually I’m the enemy.
It wasn’t until I graduated the academy and went out on the street I realized, wow, where the fuck am I? Dead bodies, homicides, drugs, guns. At first it was fun. A cat and mouse game. I get the bad guy off the street and it saves the city. As the years progressed and the neighborhoods I worked in got worse, slowly that bad guy I hunted transitioned. He was no longer a guy with a gun in his baggy pants, he was me. I was hated. By every single person I encountered. No matter what I did.
There were days I’d get my ass kicked. Days I’d get murderers and rapists off the street. It didn’t matter. I was a white Irish cop, the devil. It didn’t matter I tried in vain to give CPR to a dying baby, I was still the enemy a minute later. But at the end of the day the bad guys still feared us and that’s all that mattered.
Fast forward to the liberal anti-cop movement. City councils, CCRB, Al Sharp ton. Nobody gave a fuck that every night I saw a different black man take a bullet, they just cared that it was not mine. Now I get in trouble for cursing. What? If your wrestling with a mope with a gun are you gonna curse? Are you gonna fight back? Of course cause I’m human. Suddenly though, I can’t even be human. Those rights that are demanded by these protesters, well they’re everyone’s but mine.
I swore I’d never become that cop. That old, angry, numb socially uncouth cop. Well now I make that cop look like mother Theresa. Theres only so much a person can take before they shut down. No one calls 911 for good things. It’s a daily roller coaster of bad to horrific and it never gets better.
You take this job and you know there’s a chance you can die, obviously. But you think of it as, “OK , I’m in this gun battle with a bank robber and I die in glory.” You don’t sign up for “I’m gonna be sitting in my patrol car eating lunch and get executed from behind.” Give me a chance. A chance to fight back you fuckin coward. They never had a chance. And it eats me up inside.
I’m sick over it. I didn’t know them but I know them. They’re me. I’m them. I play it over and over again in my head and it makes me sick. Yeah that heartless animal murdered them, but he didn’t act alone. The city of New York run by its disgrace of a Mayor, di Blasio murdered them too. Here’s a man who stands in front of his city and tells them he’s afraid his son will get killed by a cop, all the while he has cops guarding his son 24/7. He enticed a race war. He allows a city to protest for a criminal and chant they want dead cops. Well they got what they wanted didn’t they? Right before Christmas, 2 funerals. A husband, a father, a son.
Every single day at work I encounter real bad guys. And guess what? They know they’ve won. They know we are hesitant. That fear is gone. Now that fear is in us. I have two little kids at home. I’m gonna leave them parentless for what? A city that hates me? Condemns me? Leave my spouse a single parent for a city that spits on me? It’s not worth it anymore.
I don’t know what’s going to happen but I do know this. You can curse us, spit on us, even fight us, but the day you kill us is the day you awake a sleeping giant. We were executed. We won’t be executed again. We are in hell right now, but if you think we are gonna sit back and get murdered you’re wrong. Their blood is on di Blasios hands. He has single handily divided the city. Not just black and white but black and blue. He stands next to Sharp ton, a man who has professed his anti-white anti-Semitic rants for decades. It’s egregious. Despicable. It’s almost like I’m in a different world. When the fuck did I become the bad guy? When the fuck did they let bad guys run the city?
So I never got to become that hero like my dad. But I got to share the same uniform as 2 of them-Ramos and Liu. Remember their names. They were murdered by the city of New York. The great city that I swore to protect, that never protected us back. Their execution will live heavy in my heart forever. I’ve officially lost my faith in mankind. But I haven’t yet lost my faith in God. And as I get dressed every day and put my vest on, I say a prayer to God, “Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace, to a place where we’ll be safe.” I don’t need to be a hero anymore, I just want to go home.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday Funnies

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi decided to take a road trip around the country to get back their roots and connect with the little people.  They think it would also be good to take a dog so they borrow a black Labrador Retriever and take it with them.

They cruise around the country and wind up in a bar in Montana.  They walk in and start telling people how great they are and that they are doing a great job.  But no one is listening.  So they decide to buy a round of whiskey for everyone.  Well, that gets the crowd to at least pay attention.

As they are talking an old grizzled Montana rancher comes in, lifts the dog's tail, takes a look, grunts, and leaves.

A second Montana rancher comes in a little while later, lifts the dog's tail, takes a look, says, "Hmmmm", and leaves.

Then a third Montana rancher comes in, lifts the dog's tail, takes a look, shakes his head, and leaves.  This continues for a while until finally Nancy asks the bartender what's going on.  "Oh", he says, "someone started a rumor that there is a dog with two assholes in here and they were just checking to see if it was true!".


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sony

What can I say?

I know...Spineless Bastards!


















Cuba

It sure has been interesting the last few days after Obama made his speech regarding normalizing relations with Cuba.  He has taken some grief from both sides of the political spectrum objecting to the United States moving to recognize and normalize our stance with Cuba.

You all know the history.   Fidel Castro overthrew Batista in the '50s and it's been a repressive, dangerous, Communist dictatorship ever since.  When Castro allowed the Soviets to station and aim missiles our way in the early '60s, the world was on the brink of war.  And that would've been nuclear war.  In our hemisphere.  Pretty scary.  And ever since that disaster was averted, we broke diplomatic ties and imposed an economic embargo on the island.  I haven't been there but judging by photos and people who have been, the country is still living in the '60s.  It is repressed economically and the people live a desperately difficult life.  There is no freedom, there are threats from the secret police, the people aren't allowed to leave, currency importation is limited, tourism is restricted, etc, etc, etc.  

So now Obama has declared that enough is enough and he is opening things up.  He wants to open up trade and tourism, he wants to open an Embassy, he wants to bring Cuba into the family of nations.  Of course, economic sanctions are controlled by Congress so there will likely be some severe pushback to his plans.

The thing is, I'm sort of conflicted on this issue.  I mean, we have normalized relations with a lot of pretty bad governments around the world.  We trade with them, we have agreements, we have tourism, we benefit and they benefit.  We've seen instances where the people are given economic freedom to some degree and real levels of freedom can follow.  See Vietnam.  See China to some extent.  But Cuba is sort of a special case.  After 50 years, it's difficult to imagine the status quo of the embargo being lifted.  Plus the Cuban government are pros at repression.  They have kept their heel on their people for 60 years.  But I'd be okay with developing a strategy that would lead to these kinds of reforms.

But I don't think my problem rises from the logic of trying to establish some sort of normalcy with Cuba.  It really arises from my distrust of Obama.  I simply don't think he can be trusted.  To me this whole thing is another example of him arrogantly exerting his executive power and I can't help but think there is an underlying political motive in this.  He is way too naive to understand the international ramifications of this move and the timing makes no sense from a strategic perspective.  Just when the price of oil is falling like a rock which is resulting in the governments of Russia and Venezuela (two of Cuba's main financial supporters) going in the tank, he chooses to provide Cuba with the financial benefits that this move will include.  He says he is doing this to help the Cuban people, but clearly the  government will be the only ones to benefit.  Doing this now removes any leverage we have as the Castro brothers (who are in their 80s) move closer to death.  When they die, we could've tried to reach out to moderate forces in the government and affect change.  But this removes that option.

Another perplexing thing (or maybe it's not) is thumbing his nose at Congress and getting way out in front of them on this.  There was obviously no consultation with key Congressional leaders who would have a big dog in this fight.  He is in effect saying, "f**k you, I do what I want".  So he has made a political calculation that he can gain points from this move.  He also is in his last two years, just got his ass kicked in an election, and probably doesn't care what they think.  I also am surprised he didn't reach out to the Cuban community in the U.S. to gain some support or at least to let them know so they weren't blindsided.  But none of that appears to have happened.  

It's also maddening that he made this move and didn't really get anything in return.  I get the spy trade.  We did a 2 for 3 trade.  I'm okay with that.  I'm sure there is some logic there.  But nothing else.  No assurance that they would take any steps to offer some level of freedom to their people.  No loosening of the repression of homosexuals, no stopping of real torture (not waterboarding) in their prisons, no releasing of political prisoners, no economic reforms, nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  It is just beyond belief.  

So now he'll go off to his mansion in Hawaii for 17 days and let this boil.  It's another example of an ill-timed, uncoordinated, naive, reactionary foreign policy.  It's another example of his reckless misunderstanding of the way the world works.  It's sadly another example of the deep hole he is digging for us in our relations with the rest of the world.  It is going to take time, expertise, and a big shovel to dig out.
                                                                                                                                                                

Another twist (12/22):  A friend has opined that this could potentially be a slick way to close Gitmo.  Obama could have made a deal with Castro.  Part of our admission of our renouncing of our colonial ways.  I hope that it's not true.  But with this guy...you never know.

Friday Funnies

Given the news this week, this seems appropriate...


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Motivation Monday


Nice View



Race

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863.  Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and played his first game in 1947.  The U.S. military was officially integrated in 1948.  The Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964.  We elected a black man as President of the United States in 2008.  If you're counting we've had 151 years as a country, as a society, as a people to get our shit together on race.  So why do we find ourselves still fighting the battles of race?  It defies logic that we are still, as a people, not able to come together and figure out how to live together.


Unless you've been living under a rock you've seen the high profile cases that have sparked the recent outrage.  We've had marches in many major cities, "die-ins", shutting of bridges, and disruption of transportation in an effort to shine a light on what is called "police brutality".  First there was the Michael Brown shooting.  You know, the guy who did a strong arm robbery, challenged and beat up a police officer, and wound up attacking him and getting killed.  At least that is the official narrative that the grand jury got.  The story was that there was so much contradicting testimony that they couldn't produce an indictment.  But the evidence sort of points to a bully who thought he could get away with more than he could...and wound up getting himself killed.

And then there was the Eric Garner fiasco in New York.  This guy is selling loose cigarettes and the police challenge him.  The difference here is that the whole thing was caught on video.  It seems to me that this guy was in the wrong, but the police way overreacted.  By any measure he didn't deserve to die.  And the grand jury didn't return an indictment.

Then there is the case of 12-year old Tamir Rice who was fatally shot by a cop responding to a 911 call.  The kid was waving a very real looking pellet gun around and the cop killed him.  The thing is that the cop took the shot 2 seconds after arriving on the scene.  And we heard later that the policeman had a very suspect past.  This was a tragedy that didn't need to occur.

All of these incidents have produced outrage, especially in the black community.  Now, I get that black people have suffered under what can be termed egregious police harassment in many instances. I have black friends who have suffered.  They have recounted for me the harassment of themselves and their friends over the years.  There is sometimes too much suspicion, too much profiling, too many stops for nothing, too much blaming a person because of the color of his skin.  And it is irrefutable that there are way too many black men in our prisons, sometimes for crimes that are suspect.  And once you get in that system, it's tough to get out.

I get why people are out marching.  It certainly was effective when I was in a kid in the '60s.  Getting attention and shining a light on a  problem is very American.  It's our right.  And I'm happy that so many of the marches have been peaceful (except for a few knuckleheads up in Berkley.  But that's Berkley!).  So I have no problem with the marchers.  But here's what I do have a problem with.  Listening to and following the likes of the hustlers and hucksters Sharpton, Jackson, et. al., giving credence to looters who are clearly out to get something for themselves, and characterizing all police as harassers is just wrong.  I think the comments by Mayor DeBlasio were particularly egregious.  His generalities and disdain for the police is unwarranted.  I really do worry that New York is going to slide backwards into the crime riddled city that it was in the 80s.  This kind of behavior just hurts their cause.  Many, many people are hurting and want change and their voices need to be heard.  But it's difficult to hear them through Sharpton and the looters.

But...and it's a big but, it seems to me that there is way too much stereotyping going on.  Not all cops are bad.  Not all blacks are criminals.  We've got to get to the point where we can treat each other with respect and treat every incident as an individual occurrence.  I know that's easy for me to say.  I'm an old white guy who has never really had any interaction, much less negative interaction, with law enforcement.  So maybe I can't relate.   And maybe the problem is more widespread than I think. Not sure.

But as an old white guy and a citizen of the country, I do have a few thoughts.  First, I respect the police tremendously.  They are the first responders.  They put their lives on the line every day to protect us and maintain a lawful society.  In so many situations, they are heroic.  But they aren't perfect.  And maybe this is regional, I don't know. But it seems to me that there needs to be some increased training and oversight on race relations within law enforcement as a whole.  Are they getting enough training?  Not sure.  Is it ongoing?  Don't know.  Maybe it is in many places, but clearly more needs to be done.  Of the three incidents I described, I think there was a problem with the police in two of them.  That's not a good track record.

Second, personal responsibility needs to be more strongly emphasized in the black community.  It's no secret that there are not enough black men taking personal responsibility to be role models.  It's verifiable that there are too many single mothers in the black community.  Black on black crime is a terrible problem that society hasn't addressed.  We need to get this subject on the table and solve it.  It is not going away.  A partial solution is economics.  More opportunities have to be available for the black community.  But you don't get more opportunity by wishing for it.  You have to work for it.  And don't tell me it's too hard or the deck is stacked.  I know it is.  But there are many, many success stories out there.  We've got to help the black community achieve the American dream.  Not a hand out...but a hand up.  That the number of people (a large number of whom are black) on welfare and getting food stamps has at least doubled under Obama is something he ought to be ashamed of.  I give Clinton all credit in creating Welfare to Workfare.  Giving people a handout achieves nothing.  We need programs targeted at getting this community to work!

Which brings me to number three.  The black community has to get to the point where education is valued and of paramount importance.  I think that is the key to everything.  We've seen that attitude in immigrant cultures for generations and it's been a huge determinant of success.  We see pockets of it so we know it can be done.  We see charter schools experiencing great successes.  But for every successful charter school, there are many public schools which are a disaster.  The black community, local governments, and the teachers unions have to step up to the plate and work harder to create successes in schools.  That will mean a shift in culture and a shift in priorities.

As I said in the beginning, we've got to get our shit together on race.  It's been too long.  We've had many successes but it's still a huge problem.  I was in the military of 25 years, which is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) meritocracies in our system.  So I've seen it work.  Give a person respect, train them to do a job and hold them accountable, and expect success.  And above all...remember that greatest line in the greatest document of all time..."We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...".

BTW, I've been using the term "black community".  That's a pejorative term and I hope someday we will not have to use it.  I hope someday we can just say people.  But we're obviously not there yet.  Not even close.  And you'll notice I don't say "African-American".  I personally thinks that's BS.  I don't get and I don't use the "dash American" terminology.  We're all Americans.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Spies

After the release of the CIA report yesterday I was tempted to write a long missive reflecting just how pissed off I was about it.  But as I gain in age I also like to think I'm able to temper my thoughts a bit.  That is especially true if I give it a bit of time.  So now that a day has passed, I'll try to provide some thoughts without getting too worked up.  But it'll be tough.

First, remember this...

























And this...

















On September 11, 2001 we were attacked.  Over 3000 innocent people lost their lives.  Families were shattered.  The country was reeling.  For those of you with amnesia, the number one thing that the government had to think about was preventing another attack.  It was obviously a very chaotic time.  After the dust settled, after the horrific mess was cleaned up, after the bodies (that could be found) were buried, the military and the CIA went to work.  Remember that they had not encountered anything remotely similar in the past.  If you've been watching the news and if you watched the CIA Director today, you know that they did some tough things.  But I say again, it was a time of national emergency.  And all the things they did were given approval by both the National Command Authority and the Justice Department.  The Director said today that it was unknowable if the information gained by the enhanced interrogation techniques would have been gained in other ways.  I think that's BS.  For some of these lunatics, they have to be broken.  And to break them EITs were needed. 

Let me digress a minute on EITs.  Some are calling them torture.  Once again, BS.  I've been waterboarded in survival school.  Some say that's not the same thing.  Well, I'd venture that those morons have never been there.  Trust me that after several days of enduring all the things that are thrown at you in SERE School, your mind starts to play tricks on you.  You start to question reality.  And waterboarding isn't the worst of it.  But it's not torture.  These techniques are designed to break people.  And everyone breaks.  Everyone.  And when you're trying to make it stop, you're not about to tell lies.  I'm supremely confident that any info obtained from these terrorist assholes was usable and real.  

So tough things were done.  They were done to prevent another attack and find those responsible for 9/11.  They were done with the full agreement and knowledge of National Command Authorities and key Congressional leaders and the authorization of the Justice Department.  And they worked.  No more attacks.  Bin Ladin is dead.  If we would have stayed the course in Iraq and Afghanistan, we'd be seeing very different outcomes than we see today.  But we got out.  Some would say cut and run.  Whatever, the CINC said leave so we did.  We are now reaping what we sowed.

So now Senator Feinstein is going to be in the minority in a few weeks so she decides to release a report on the CIA that is damning.  Now it's only damning if you believe EITs are torture, but there are so many ignorant people in our media, that they can't possibly tell a fair story.  I think many believe what they see in James Bond movies.  So the average person believes this BS.  She did this for purely and solely partisan political purposes.  I have to say I'm really appalled and ashamed that she is my Senator.  What a spineless weasel.  Sorry, there I go again.

I really thought the lowest that our government could go was Benghazi.  I thought the deliberate abandonment of an Ambassador and our guys in that despicable situation was the ultimate betrayal.  And to cover it up with some BS story about a film was both insulting and unforgivable.  But no one was ever held accountable and no one ever admitted to wrongdoing.   Hell, that moron Susan Rice was even promoted to National Security Director.  Now that is something I'm still trying to wrap my mind around!  But throwing the entire CIA under the bus.  Well...that's just breathtaking in it's betrayal.

We also know that this report was prepared solely by Democratic staffers.  We also know that they conducted no interviews with people on the ground or involved in ops in the CIA.  So they have no context.   Without context, it is very difficult to determine anything but what's written.  No historical perspective, no sense of urgency, no understanding of the circumstances.  Without context Lincoln's suspension of habeous corpus was unforgivable.  Without context, Roosevelt's rounding up of Japanese in WWII was unconscionable.  Without context, Truman using the atomic bomb was unthinkable.  Without context, Jefferson the slaveowner was a lowlife.  It is really beyond belief that anyone would give this piece of trash credit.  But by now everyone knows our media are like a pack of circling sharks.  If they sense blood in the water...and especially Bush blood...they'll go in for the kill.

And why is it that Obama is being so non-committal.  Perhaps it's because he's worried that at some point in the future, there will be an examination of his preferred method of waging war.  Because you see, it's all about killing people anonymously with drones.  Find the bad guys, verify the bad guys, kill the bad guys.  Do all this from a Predator equipped with a Hellfire missile directed from a room in Nevada.  The President's sycophants will say the attacks are surgical.  Oh yeah?  Then how come they always kill a bunch of innocents?   I can't fathom how this is a good way to accomplish our goals.  The war on terror is over (because Obama says so).  But how is that we justify launching random attacks around the world?  We are not at war and we are launching missiles around the world.  Think about that for a minute.  And think about what the people in the affected regions and countries must think of us.  And how long it will take to repair the damage.  Not the physical damage, the damage to stability and relationships.  It's just mind-boggling.  And it confirms for me that the people running our National Security strategy are amateurs at best, and incompetent cynics at worst.  But to return to the beginning of the this thought, someday (probably soon) our actions will be judged.  And we will have to pay a big bill.

Now all the useful idiots are coming out the woodwork to demand justice.  The ACLU wants indictments as does the UN.  Many of the most repressive regimes around the world are decrying the U.S. using "torture".  What a joke.  I suppose this will blow over as the media moves on to the next sensational story.  But for a US Senator to facilitate the demeaning of the patriots in the CIA is unforgivable.  What they did was lawful.  It was done to prevent another attack and to find the perpetrators of 9/11.  It was justified.  And it was not torture.  And it was patriotic.  They deserve our ultimate thanks.  Instead they get this.  Shameful.

Friday Funnies


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Police Brutality

Police brutality (especially against black men) is all the rage in the news these days.  You've had to have been living under a rock not to have seen all the stories about the Ferguson and New York incidents.  I've posted about it and I thought the comments I linked to were pretty good.  I'm especially confident that all that are protesting the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson are ignorant opportunists.  Too much contradicting evidence.  Too many liars.  Too much outrage from the likes of Sharpton.  Too much logic that challenging a police officer by trying to grab his gun, hitting him, and then charging him will result in mortal wounds.  In New York, it seems different.  The video evidence really points to some sort of overreach by the police.  I'm not an expert so I'm not sure how it would be defined, but it seems to me the cops really overreacted.  That a death resulted in tragic.  And someone needs to be held accountable.  That the Grand Jury didn't bring any charges seems sort of lame.  I hope that the DA or the Feds do something.

But as is typical, the media didn't tell the story very well.  They like demonstrations.  They like drama.  They do all they can to instigate the protests.  So they have some news to report about.  And of course Obama is no help.  The divider in chief is consistent in trying to divide Americans against each other.  So not very much is told about the other side.  What the police have to put up with.  If you think they have a cush job, you're wrong.  They put their life on the line everyday to keep the piece.  Are they all perfect?  No.  Are mistakes never made?  Of course not.  But my experience is they are doing the best they can in a very dangerous situation.  This video is pretty good at laying out what they are up against.  This issue will evolve and there will be a lot more discussion.  I just wish (hope?) that both sides could be equally heard.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Great Read

For some time now and like many people n the country I've been watching America's foreign policy strategy unravel.  There are so many issues that we are floundering on and so many difficulties that we are retreating from, I have found it difficult to even know where to start when thinking of what the future might hold.  But I've just read a new book that I highly recommend to anyone who has an interest in these subjects.  It's by Bret Stephens, the Wall Street Journal's Foreign Affairs columnist and is titled America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming World Disorder.  Check it out on Amazon here.  The book is short, straight-forward and provides a sobering look at our position in the world.  Or if you don't want to read the whole thing at least check out an interview with Mr. Stephens in the Weekly Standard.  He provides a good overview of the book and some intriguing insights into what are our major difficulties in overcoming the hole that Obama has put us in.  It's fascinating and scary.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Friday Funnies

Ouch!


How Is This Better?

The Keystone pipeline has been in the news for the last several years.  You've probably heard all the arguments.  It essentially comes down to the fear over damage done to the environment due to an oil pipeline that traverses the country versus the economic and strategic benefits (jobs, access to reasonably priced oil, collaboration with an important ally, reduce dependence on oil from the Middle East, etc).  Of course, Obama has been no help.  He's the ultimate bureaucrat and has waffled, delayed, and let the whole thing languish with the expectation that he can avoid making a decision.  With the recent election in which the Republicans trounced the Democrats, it is generally thought that the Keystone pipeline may actually have a chance of succeeding.   This would be a great step!

But one interesting unintended consequence of not allowing the pipeline is emerging.  One thing is for certain is that oil will continue to be produced.  And that oil has to go somewhere.  Companies are not in the business of charity.  So they are moving the oil.  There is a great article on the front page of today's Wall Street Journal called "Shale Oil's Secret Routes to Market".  I would provide a link but the article is locked on the WSJ website.  But I encourage you to pick up a paper and read the article. The bottom line is that the oil, and I mean a lot of oil, is being moved by a virtual pipeline.  And that would be by rail.  There are now trains over a mile long all over the country moving massive amounts of oil.  These trains are extremely vulnerable to mishap or, worse yet, attack.  And since there is little federal regulation, there are not remotely the procedures and responses in place that there would be for a pipeline.  So there you have it.  Unintended consequences.  And...how is this better?


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Motivation Monday

Like many (most?) people my thinking on this has evolved.  I was in the US Navy for 25 years and for all of those years being gay was a crime.  It was outside the culture and grounds for immediate dismissal.  During the last few years of my career Don't Ask, Don't Tell came to be the rule.  But it always seemed like sort of a bullshit rule to most people I knew.  I mean, either ban it or not.   But don't keep people in limbo.  And then after leaving the Navy,  I didn't think too much about it until Proposition 8 came along. I sort of mindlessly agreed that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman.  So what that meant was that marriage would be defined by the majority of the people.  But then one day it dawned on me that I had voted to take a right away from someone just because of their sexuality.  And that didn't seem right.  Ultimately Proposition 8 was overturned.  And the tidal wave of courts striking down laws banning gay marriage which resulted in many, many States allowing it has been perhaps the most rapid and sweeping social change in my lifetime.  And the sun still comes up in the East in the morning.  I think we're finally approaching the better alternative to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  That would be...Don't Care.






Thursday, November 27, 2014

Friday Funnies


Ferguson

I guess, because it's been in continually in the news, that sooner or later there would be a post about Ferguson.  But as an old, white, baby boomer who is a registered Republican and has never been in a tussle with the police, it's a difficult stretch to say something that would sound anything other than trite.  Oh I could trot out all the stuff about personal responsibility, parenting disfunction, flouting authority, the arrogance and stupidity of challenging the police, etc, etc, etc.  But why?  Who would listen?  Like I said, my credibility on this issue is not very high.  But I read something today that seemed to me to hit the nail on the head.  It's a post from an NFL player, Benjamin Watson, regarding the whole Ferguson situation on his Facebook page  It is short, direct, authored by someone highly credible, and from my perspective, is spot on.  So I think I'll let him do the talking...you can read it here.





Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Choices

This is an oldie but goodie and one my favorite stories.  Don't know if I've posted it previously but here it is.

Bob Norris is a former Naval aviator who also did a 3 year exchange tour flying the Air Force F-15 Eagle.  He is now an accomplished author of entertaining books about US Naval Aviation including "Check Six" and "Fly-Off".  In response to a letter from an aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the following:

Young Man,

Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force Academies.  Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way to serve your country.  As you requested, I'd be happy to share some insight into which service would be the best choice.  Each service has a distinctly different culture.  You need to ask yourself "Which one am I more likely to thrive in?"

USAF Snapshot:  The USAF is exceptionally well organized and well run.  Their training programs are terrific.  All pilots are groomed to meet high standards for knowledge and professionalism.  Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely well maintained.  Their facilities are excellent.  Their enlisted personnel are the brightest and the best trained. The USAF is homogenous and macro.  No matter where you go, you'll know what to expect, what is expected of you, and you'll be given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations.  You will never be put in a situation over your head.  Over a 20-year career, you will be home for most important family events.  Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force pilot...so would your wife.  Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.

Navy Snapshot:  Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black shoes (surface warfare) and bubble heads (submariners).  Furthermore, the Navy is split into two distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast).  The Navy is heterogeneous and micro.  Your squadron is your home; it may be great, average, or awful.  A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you know it.  You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on cruise.  The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the availability of parts.  Senior Navy enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn their respect.  Junior enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge made join the service.  You will be given the opportunity to lead these people during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty.  The quality of your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head.  You will miss many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty aboard ship.  You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be scared many times.  You will fly with legends in the Navy and they will kick your ass until you become a lethal force.  And some days - when the scheduling Gods have smiled upon you - your jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it.  The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator. That bar is in Singapore. 
Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm and good luck in Colorado.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Immigration

i inadvertently deleted this post.  Damn!  Thought it was pretty good.  I don't have the time nor the inclination to reconstruct it here.  So here is the gyst...Obama is a liar, an opportunist, and a terrible President.  He does noting but divide us.  And everything is political.  His action regarding illegal immigrants is cynical and only taken to try and get a leg up on the Republicans.  It's disgusting.  But...Republican's should let it go.  There is plenty of blame to go around for not working on an immigration bill over the years.  So just accept that he is an arrogant jackass, formulate a bill and send it up, and concentrate on blocking whatever disastrous proposal he will next try to implement.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

Do You Think...

That maybe, just maybe, we're starting to get beyond the divisive politics of the last 6 years.  We've been enduring the politics of division for so long that it seems like we've just gotten used to it.  But maybe the results of the election this week will start to point us as a society and people back to our roots.  Back to what we are meant to be.

I was struck this morning while attending my Grand Daughter's assembly at their elementary school as the student body recited the pledge of allegiance.  "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the Untied States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  Those words are so powerful.  We are not a nation that is bound by tribal loyalties.  We are not a nation that has a bloodline that we need to revere.  We are not a nation that has a history of a geographical dedication.  There are no Kings or Princes that command our fealty.  No, we are a nation bound to an ideal.  We pledge allegiance to an idea.  The grand idea.  That of liberty.  No where else is it so fundamental or so powerful.  We've gotten away from that in the last six years as our leaders have divided us.  They've tried to put us into groups that are pitted against each other.  Blacks, whites, northerner, southerners, westerners, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Atheists, hispanics, women, men, gays, etc, etc, etc.  It's total BS.  We are Americans.  And no matter where we live or what we believe, we need to embrace the unity that binds us together.

I think that the elections this week might just be a start.  No matter where you looked, the politics of division were repudiated.  People who embraced Obama, the head divider, were thrown our or not reelected.  The whiners and dividers were sent packing.  Now I don't for a minute think that the battle is over, but this was sure a good start.  Gaining the power of control of Congress is huge.  When BO and his ilk try to put forward policies that will do nothing but divide us, now hopefully we will see credible resistance.   Only time will tell, but this was a good week for America.  A very good week.