Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Roy Moore and Steve Bannon....Losers

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Army Navy Intro

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

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Motivation Monday

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

Cool Pic

Old School

Don't see this much anymore!

Dogs Are Cool!


Wonder if anyone (important) noticed?

"Why Grandpa Carries"

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

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

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

Subject: ​ ​Why Grandpa carries

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

Saturday, December 2, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Another One Bites the Dust

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Dam has Burst

I guess it was inevitable.  Sooner or later I was going to offer some commentary about the avalanche of claims of sexual harassment against prominent men.  The problem is that it seems that they just keep coming so it's difficult to characterize where we are in this sordid mess.  But we're far enough in that it's likely not going away and will probably get worse.  So there's really no reason not to jump in.

As I was out walking the pup this morning I was trying to think of all the people who have been accused.  It's a long list.  Trump, Clinton, Conyers, Franken, Rose, Halperin, Weinstein, other Hollywood types, Washington DC swamp types, media stars, etc, etc.  Just tonight there was another name from Pixar who is in deep shit.  It seems that the Harvey Weinstein accusations started the snowball down the hill.  And the accusations were real doozy's.  I've written previously that in my opinion all you had to do was look at this guy and it wouldn't be difficult to characterize him as a slime ball.

During our 6 years living in the Washington DC area, I came in contact with many who worked on the hill.  Some were friends and colleagues.  It was no secret that there was a big sexual component in the environment.  Lots of pressure, long hours, many away from home, plenty of alcohol, and most importantly, power, all contributed.  I heard somewhere today that our government has spent $17 million of taxpayer money over the last 20 years funding sexual harassment settlements aimed at members of Congress and their employees.  If true, that is pretty disturbing.  Probably not much we can do about it, but it needs to stop!

Let me state clearly that I don't think this whole issue is about sex as much as it is about power.  Quite simply, it's a bunch of guys abusing women because of one reason.  Because they can.  They are jerks of the first order and I'm happy they are getting called out.  And as a subjective assessment of these guys, where did they get the idea that they could do some of the things that they are alleged to have done?  I mean, most of these guys are not God's gift to women.  They actions they supposedly took, the way they treated women, the blatant and flagrant flouting of what I can only characterize (because I've photos of them) as old and fat men, is frankly disgusting.  I mean, they must have egos as big as a house.

But there are some questions to ask and some issues to ponder as we confront this new paradigm.

In my most cynical mood I wonder if a lot of this isn't some big diversion.  The hate for Trump is so deep and pervasive, that I wonder if some aren't trying to push this abuse narrative to open the old allegations against him.  Maybe not.  But it causes me to wonder.

As we watch the news and hear the revelations, this sordid mess is causing us as a populace to think about and deal with things that are really smarmy.  Not that they are unserious, but in comparison to the world's problems, they are fundamentally third or fourth order in importance, if that high.  And because of the attention, they have risen to the top.  And I wonder how that affects our people.  And our kids.

These folks, both the abusers and the abused, have a fair amount of the hypocrite in them.  These abusers are the first to call for human rights and then abuse women.  They are also the ones who decry global warming while driving in their limousines and flying in their private jets.  And they campaign for affordable housing while living in gated mansions.  Or they are passionate about open borders while employing immigrants at slave wages.  They are also the ones who don't want tax reform while maintaining their wealth in offshore accounts.  And the women have some accounting to do.  I will go easy on them because they have been on the receiving end of some really terrible actions, but why is the damn breaking just now?   Maybe it's because it's just that simple.  A few came forward and more and more and more felt empowered to do so.  Okay.  So be it.  But it's difficult to figure out why they stayed silent for so long.  If something like that were happening to someone I loved, I would be terribly disappointed if they stayed silent, no matter the consequences.  And I'd be disappointed because they didn't come to me or someone they trust to help.

I also wonder about when the abuse occurred.  The judge in Alabama has charges from 40 years ago. 40 years.  Really?  That's a tough one.  But most are more recent so they need to be taken at face value.  I've also heard it said by more than one person that if anyone commits this kind of crime is should be the death penalty as far as public service is concerned.  Okay.  But I wonder if someone can be rehabilitated in 10 years?  20 years?  40 years?

It's also interesting to see the reactions.  Some give excuses.  Some apologize.  Some deny.  I don't know if any of these strategies work.  There doesn't seem to be anything that they can do but recede from the public eye and hope for the best.

This kind of crime fundamentally comes down to he said, she said.  But we have defaulted to total belief of the woman.  Okay.  So be it.  But...there could be some real consequences with this reaction.

I'm sure that there will be other revelations as the days and weeks unfold.  And they will be probably be just as bad as what we've heard to now.  And it will cause further circling of the wagons and attempts to deflect and blame someone else.  My sense is that strategy is becoming problematic.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Leadership Decision Matrix

There are a lot of ways to select people to work for you or to work with.  Most modern analysis revolves around qualificatiions, eduction, training, experience, personality and timing.  But there are other ways.  Here's one from the German Army.  A bit cynical...but not too bad!  Sad to say, I've seen all these types.
General Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord, the present chief of the German Army, has a method of selecting officers which strikes us as being highly original and peculiarly un-­Prussian. According to Exchange, a Berlin newspaper has printed the following as his answer to a query as to how he judged his officers: “I divide my officers into four classes as follows: The clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities.
Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can under certain circumstances be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite nerves and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.”

American Scripture

154 years ago today Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.  It is one of the most revered speeches  in our history.  It is easily one of the best speeches by an American President.  The battle had taken place in early July, 1863.  Lincoln had been invited to Gettysburg to participate in a commemoration of the battle and to dedicate the hallowed ground.  He was not even the featured speaker of the day.  But his words ring soundly down through the decades as a rallying cry for our country.  It's only about 260 words.  Not long.  Do yourself a favor and read.  Then go to a quiet place and re-read it.  And take just a few minutes to ponder what it meant then and what we can take from it today.  God knows...we need all the help we can get!

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Motivation Monday

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Book Recommendations

I don't usually give book recommendations.  I read a lot and like a lot of different kinds of books.  I tend to gravitate to historical novels, mystery novels, biographies, and history books.  My thinking is that people like different things and my recommendation may or may not be relevant to their interests.  Something I like someone might thing is not very good at all.

But I've read several books lately that I've really liked and since this is my blog, what the hell.  I'll just put them out there and let the reader decide.  Now let me emphasize that these are just three books among many that I've read over the last several months, but they are standouts.  They are also a bit more consequential than the latest Lee Childs or John Sandford mystery.  If you're interested in what I like in those genres, I can provide if you shoot me a note.

Anyway, here are three books that I've recently read and really liked.  You might check them out.  If you like them, great.  If not, well then you and I don't have the same tastes.  Different strokes for different folks!

1.  Churchill:  A Life 
     by Martin Gilbert
Written by master historian and authorized Churchill biographer Martin Gilbert, this masterful single-volume work weaves together the detailed research from the author’s eight-volume biography of the elder statesman, and features new information unavailable at the time of the original work’s publication. Spanning Churchill’s youth, education and early military career, his journalistic work, and the arc of his political leadership, Churchill: A Life details the great man’s indelible contribution to Britain’s foreign policy and internal social reform.
Offering eyewitness accounts and interviews with Churchill’s contemporaries, including friends, family members, and career adversaries, this book provides a revealing picture of the personal life, character, ambitions, and drives of one of the world’s most influential and remarkable leaders.
2.   Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crises
      by J. D. Vance
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class through the author’s own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck.
The Vance family story began with hope in postwar America. J.D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
3.  This Kind of War:  The Classic Military history of the Korean War
     by T. R. Fehrenbach 
I saw this book listed on Secretary Mattis' required reading list and thought I'd try it.  You can't find a better book that details the horror, the futility, and the craziness of war.  Updated with maps, photographs, and battlefield diagrams, this special fiftieth anniversary edition of the classic history of the Korean War is a dramatic and hard-hitting account of the conflict written from the perspective of those who fought it. Partly drawn from official records, operations journals, and histories, it is based largely on the compelling personal narratives of the small-unit commanders and their troops. Unlike any other work on the Korean War, it provides both a clear panoramic overview and a sharply drawn "you were there" account of American troops in fierce combat against the North Korean and Chinese communist invaders. As Americans and North Koreans continue to face each other across the 38th Parallel, This Kind of War commemorates the past and offers vital lessons for the future.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Friday Funnies

Political Crises

Dan Henninger writes for the WSJ and is one of the writers on today's scene that I almost always admire.  His column, Wonderland, is almost always spot on regarding commentary of the issues of the day.  Now I know he's a conservative, but I say that with a small c.  He is more of a pragmatist and offers something that I value above almost everything else.  Logic.  Below is today's column.  It is as spot on as anything I've seen regarding the rat hole that we're spiraling down.  Read it, consider it, live it.  We've got to start being nicer to each other, people.  "Time to sober up"!

Bonfire of the Prosecutors
Political animosities are pushing the U.S. toward a significant political crisis.

By Daniel Henninger
Nov. 15, 2017

"American politics has become an endless fox hunt. The hounds’ heads jerked up this week on news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, responding to a request from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, had asked the Justice Department’s career lawyers to look into the possibility of appointing a second special prosecutor, to investigate Hillary Clinton.

Set aside for a moment what the precise meaning of “investigate” might be. The day doesn’t pass anymore without a demand, from the Oval Office or the ozone, that someone should “look into” some political malefaction. Theoretically, we could have public officials being led to the executioner’s block weekly in Washington.

Indeed, the movement to name a second special prosecutor flows from the fact that the Washington press corps in January decided en masse to “look into” the notion that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to defeat Mrs. Clinton, a thought dropped into the water by the departing Obama administration.

What followed was a river of stories purporting Trump-Russian collusion. Months later, it remains true that the federal code recognizes no crime called “collusion.” Eventually the river of collusion stories joined with Oval Office mania over them to produce special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

A fiction exists that Mr. Mueller represents the “rule of law.” In truth, Mr. Mueller looks about as relevant as a lawyer wandering around the smoking battlefield at Gettysburg. We are in the midst of a multifront political war—between Republicans and Democrats, and President Trump and the Beltway media.

The central, contested issue in this war is the acceptability of Mr. Trump’s presidency. The Trump opposition believes that a Trump presidency remains unthinkable and abhorrent, so opposing it is a moral imperative. But however intense the imperative, it’s nothing more than that, because the formal politics are moot. Mr. Trump received more Electoral College votes than Mrs. Clinton.

But so deep is the antipathy to the existence of a Trump presidency—forget that someone has to deal with North Korea’s nuclear-armed missiles, the Middle East or the U.S. economy—that the opposition has spent nearly a year hoping just one more Russian collusion story would . . . do what? Make Mr. Trump evaporate?

So there is a kind of delicious temptation to embrace the idea of a second special prosecutor to “investigate” the Clintons. Why not? A lot of people on the right and left have been spoiling for a street fight over the 2016 election, so let’s have it out. Light the torch and set off a bonfire of special prosecutors.

The people who brought us the Trump-Russia collusion narrative are now weeping crocodile tears that the appointment of a second prosecutor would mean that President Trump is politicizing and weaponizing the Justice Department. Oh my. They should have thought of that before they approved how the nation’s security agencies weaponized the press last January.

Time to sober up. A self-indulgent American political class, reveling in perpetual tumult, is pushing the U.S. toward a significant crisis. The appointment of a second special prosecutor would bring that crisis closer.

Primary U.S. institutions are already on thin ice with the American people. Start with the malperformance of institutions once thought trustworthy, whether the unprecedented collusion leaks from the intelligence agencies or James Comey’s ham-handed and too-public tenure at the FBI.

Mr. Mueller’s team of prosecutors represents a rebuke of the Justice Department’s credibility and standing. His first act, the Paul Manafort indictment, was a pre-existing case that Justice offloaded to Mr. Mueller. If Mike Flynn or anyone else has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Justice should prosecute, not the deus ex machina of a special prosecutor.

Political accountability remains crucial in a system as open as ours, and historically the press has provided much of that oversight. That’s changed. The media’s referee role has morphed into relentless political tendentiousness.

The media dresses up its collusion stories with insinuations that something illegal has occurred. In fact, the criminal law’s traditionally high bar of proof is being replaced by a weaker, more volatile standard from prehistory. In short, where’s there’s smoke, there must be guilt, so erect a special prosecutor to concoct indictments. This is a formula for creating unappeasable political resentments. Pressure builds; the system blows.

If you want to hate Donald Trump, feel free. But a sane world would have dropped the Russia stuff months ago, just as a sane world would get over Hillary’s crimes so that what’s left of the country’s institutions could get back to normal governing.

It won’t happen. Politics as a permanent bonfire has become both a thrill ride and a business model. But let me wonder who benefits from this scenario:

The day that the Trump Justice Department names a Clinton special prosecutor will be the day Mr. Trump’s impeachment is guaranteed, if the Democrats take the House in 2018. After that, let ’er rip."

Appeared in the November 16, 2017, print edition as 'Bonfire of the Prosecutors.'

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Reasonable Solution?

I heard today an interesting idea.  The solution to the Roy Moore mess in Alabama is Jeff Sessions.  Hmmmmm...intriguing.  Would certainly solve several problems.  Keep tuned in...

The People in the Second Row

We've come to a time in the national discourse where the cable news channels (I use the term 'news' lightly) have a overblown and almost hysterical reaction to almost every event that happens.  When I say every event, I mean every event that will rile up people and get them all pissed off at the other side from their own political views.  It's also all about a ratings calculations.  If they think whatever they are showing will result in more people watching, then it continues.  Relevance and importance don't seem to be in the calculation.  Now don't get me wrong.  When there is a disaster or some sort of atrocity or some international event, then it's proper to cover it.  Of course, at some point the coverage becomes 'over the top'.  And they usually don't cover events in some place that Americans don't think or care about.  When there are dozens of people killed by a suicide bomber or shooter in a remote African or Middle Eastern country, they don't give a shit.  

I was struck this morning by the continuous coverage by all the cable news channels of Attorney General Sessions testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.  My perspective is that this was just more plowing of the same ground.  More asked and answered confrontations.  More attempts at gotchas by the Democrats and more attempts at vindication by the Republicans.  More 'we need to investigate Trump collusion with Russia' by the Dems and more 'we need to investigate crooked Hillary' by the Reps.  Blah, Blah, Blah.  But beyond the rhetoric I continue to be stunned by people (not just members of Congress) who would impugn the integrity, patriotism and honesty of this man who has a 40 year history as a private attorney, a State Attorney General, a U.S. Attorney, a Senator, and Attorney General.  He is a good and decent man who is being unfairly maligned and mistreated because of political calculations.  I think it's pretty shameful.  Of course, the other side will say that treating Hillary badly is shameful.  Please...

But as I watched before embarking on the day, I was reminded of the people in the second row.  They are the ones sitting against the wall behind the members of Congress.  As I watched the Representatives, some pretty attuned and cognizant of the issues and some clueless (I'm talking to you Rep Conyers) I hearkened back to some of the hearings that I attended while a student at National War College in Washington, DC.  We did quite a bit of studying our government, to include Congress.  That study included attending various hearings and events to get a feel for how the Congress works.  It struck me then and again today as I watched, that the people in the second row were really pulling the strings.  They are the staffers, the lawyers, the political hacks, the PR people, even the Interns who do the research, write the papers, and persuade their Members that their position should be his or her position.  Now I'm not saying that many aren't in agreement, but many (most?) members just don't have the background or knowledge to spout some of the nonsense that they do.  So what are they doing?  They are dancing to the tune of their party and their leaders.  Cross the party and you won't be there very long.  And here's the other thing.  The K Street lobbyists aren't sitting in the second row, but they might as well be.  Their influence is deeply felt throughout the room.  There is no doubt about it.  

So I watched this circus and it was distressing.  When I hear the provocative accusations, the ignorant speculation, and the outright disrespect I am disheartened at how inculcated the swamp is in our political process.  And I'm not sure it can be fixed.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Interesting and Provocative Political Questions

1.  What will the Republicans credibility be if they screw up tax reform?  Or more importantly, how big will their losses be?

2.  How will the Republicans handle Roy Moore if he wins?  (Hint:  no good options)

3.  Will the new Majority Leader, Chuck Shumer, be able to get anything done?  Or more precisely, will he want to get anything done?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Something to Ponder

Amongst all the things going on today, a Senate race in Alabama is likely not something that most pay much attention to.  But with the razor thin majority that seems to be omnipresent in the Senate, no matter who occupies the White House, every race seems to take on national importance these days.

The Alabama race was interesting a month or so ago when the Republican primary took place.  Trump and McConnell endorsed the guy who had been appointed to replace Jeff Sessions after Sessions became the AG.  His name is Strange.  I know...not a great name for a politician.  His opponent was a character named Judge Roy Moore.  Moore was endorsed by all the far right wing loonies.  He was the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court in Alabama.  But he's been thrown off the bench...twice.  Once for ignoring a Federal court ruling to remove a plaque of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Judicial Building.  And again because he instructed State judges to ignore the US Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage.

Now whatever I think about Ten Commandment plaques or same sex marriage, the fact that the Chief Justice of a State Court defied Federal Law should be disqualifying.  At least I think it should.  And this guy is clearly a little right of Attila the Hun.  He shouldn't get anywhere near the US Senate.  But of course...he won.  And whoever wins the Republican Primary is likely to win the seat.  Like...overwhelmingly likely.  Sort of like a Democrat running in California.  It's a lock.

But now some pretty unsavory accusations have surfaced about him dating young teenage girls back when he was in his 30's.  Nothing illegal.  At least it doesn't sound illegal.  But pretty smarmy.  Sort of like a lot of the 'holier than thou' types who get caught with their hand in the cookie jar.  And he's blaming everyone else but himself.  There is a pretty good article about it here.  Frank Bruni is a writer I sometimes like and sometimes hate.  But I think he got this one pretty right.

So we'll see what happens.  The Democrats are salivating.  The Republicans are running scared.  The progressives are outraged.  The conservatives are hunkering down.  But not sure how the voters are thinking.  I don't like to think that the Republicans are going to wind up with their already thin majority even thinner.  But personally, I don't want this guy in the Senate.

Motivation Monday

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Friday Funnies

Dilbert never fails to crack me up.  Since I was in Marketing (sorta) these two hit close to home!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Something to Ponder

Which is worse?  
Who deserves more sympathy?  
Who deserves more condemnation?  

A starlet victim of Hollywood mogul sex creeps?
  A mogul victim of starlet golddiggers?

Or are they both pretty irrelevant? 

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Depths

Have you seen the new ad put up by something called the Latino Victory Fund against the Republican challenger for Governor in Virginia?  I've seen some pretty despicable political ads as we are divided even further by those desparately trying to win power.  But this sinks to new depths.  It makes me wonder when people are sitting around a room deciding how to put a message together if they really believe this crap.  And then it makes me wonder when people are sitting around a room deciding whether or not they should actually air this terribly devisive ad, that they go ahead with not much concern.  I don't know if this is the worst that we'll see as the political class decides they can do and say anything to win power, but I hope it is.  Because this is bad enough.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

George Washington...Slaveowner

I saw a story in the news today that is both infuriating and sad.  But mostly infuriating.  The best article I saw was in 'The Federalist' and posted it over on FB.  You can read it here.  It's about Christ Episcopalian Church in Alexandria, Virginia taking down plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee in the Sanctuary.  It seems that the church wants to be welcoming to all and since these men were slaveowners it might be threatening to some.  It is just almost beyond belief.  I say almost because unfortuntately this politically correct bullshit has gotten way out of control.

The sad thing is that the article says that the decision was a unanimous one by the Vestry.  I'm on the Vestry at my church and I can tell you with certainty if my church wanted to go down this shameful path during the time of my tenure, it wouldn't be unanimous.  This kind of stuff makes me want to walk away and just sleep in on Sunday mornings!

16 Years Later

We just got back from a great trip to the East coast.  Spent last weekend in the Boston area with our son and his family.  As usual, it was great to reconnect with the ‘East Coast Zoo’.  It was a spectacular New England weekend with cool, crisp days and glorious Fall colors. We got in our share of soccer games and playing with the kids.  Lots of fun.

On Monday we took the train to New York City which was a great experience (very easy) and spent 5 days in the city.  Our hotel was one of the Marriott Vacation Club 'Pulse' properties.  It was very nice and the location was perfect on West 37th Street in mid-town Manhattan.  I've been all around the world.  Have visited many, many countries, big cities, major capitals and have seen a whole lot of this big marble.  But I've never been to New York City so I thought it was about time to fix that.  

It was a great 5 days!  We did all the tourist stuff, walked a ton, soaked in the sites and sounds of the city, and had some great meals.  The Empire State Bldg (which we had a view of from our room), the 9/11 memorial and museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Times Square, Central Park, and just walking around were the highlights.  It really is a spectacular city and it's true that it never sleeps.  No matter what time we ventured out there was a lot going on.  Of course, with so many people packed into such a relatively small space, there are some issues.  But overall, I thought it was pretty clean and it seemed safe enough.  Of course, we were in mid-town and not in the rough parts of town.  As a Westerner, NYC wasn't my cup of tea and at our age not somewhere we'd want to live.  I get the impression though that if it's where you're from, it's the best place in the world.  And if you're of a certain age (much younger than us!) it would be vibrant, stimulating and exciting.  I could see going there as a young person and never leaving.  We did get some taste of the expense associated with living there and it would be pretty daunting just to live.  One expense you wouldn't need though would be a car.  If I lived in the city I couldn't see a need.  

By far the most impactful thing we saw was the 9/11 memorial and museum.  It was so well done!  Whenever I go to places like this, it amazes me how talented some people are in interpreting events and history.  It was just perfectly appropriate.  The flow, the story, the reverence of the visitors, the impact of the displays were all almost overwhelming.  We both came away with such a better understanding of the devastation of 9/11 and how mind numbingly sad it was.  Not to take anything away from Flight 93 or the Pentagon, but the World Trade Center coming down is certainly the defining event of the attack.  When you look at the wall of faces and the display of notes from people looking for loved ones, you can help but get emotional.  We saw all kinds of people from all over the world and to a person they were respectful and reverent in the museum.  It was almost a religious experience.  

There aren't too many places that evoke such emotion in the populace.  I would say the USS Arizona, maybe Gettysburg, certainly Normandy, and now the 9/11 memorial and museum are places that are hugely impactful to Americans in defining what is worth fighting for.  I know that the memory will stay alive.  If you have a chance to visit, don't pass it up.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Ammo Grrrl

If you’re not reading Powerline on Friday to see the input from Ammo Girrrl you’re missing it.  Here’s today’s post.  Spot on!


Ammo Grrrl takes a look in the rearview mirror to give us DILETTANTE DEFINED. She writes:
“I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. … . He knows what a good reader of people he is … He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.” 
Last week, my wonderful friend Heather included a longer version of the above Valerie Jarrett quote in a comment. And, since ex-President Obama has reappeared to lecture us disappointing deplorables yet one more time, I thought I would return serve.
The original title I preferred for this piece was “Sociopath Defined.” Almost a textbook definition of a sociopath is a “good reader of people.” A sociopath can be or become anything he or she needs to be to fit the occasion and manipulate others: He was Barack Hussein when bowing nearly prostrate to a Muslim bigshot. In front of an all-black crowd, he sported a lilting, halting Southern Black accent that sounded like a bad combination of William Shatner and Hillary Clinton pretending to be a black poet. He was Proud Slacker Barry Soetoro in the Choom Gang in his elite private school in Hawaii. He could morph seamlessly into the Ivy-educated scholar with the creased pants in a roomful of fawning, awestruck white journalists with Tingly Leg Disorder.
If he’s so freaking smart, Valerie, where are his grades? His transcripts? His SAT scores? Still locked in a vault inside a crypt with Jimmy Hoffa. Why? Not a single one of the trolls who wander our Comments Section will tell me why. I know why. It is because those transcripts show he applied to college as a “foreign-born” student from Kenya. Oh, never fear, I believe he was born in Hawaii. He was the original “birther.” He lied to get another leg up in case just being black might not be enough, and he never thought it would come back to bite him. Am I wrong? Prove it. Release the records. What’s he hiding? W’s grades are out there – he was a “C” student who admits he was mostly partying. Nobody cared.
Being “bored to death” is NOT evidence of superior intelligence after, say, the third grade. Life is endlessly fascinating. Do you think that Victor Davis Hanson or Dr. Thomas Sowell has ever been bored? The list of things Barry knows absolutely nothing about is staggering. Hell, my “wicked-smaht” husband has taught himself both Hebrew and Spanish in his adult lifetime. He also studied Latin and Russian in school. Obama speaks no second language; he can’t even say “The black cat is in the tree” in Spanish. And has freely confessed he doesn’t speak a word of “Austrian.”
Can Obama fix a car? Round up cattle? Does he play a musical instrument? Does he know anything about American History other than the one PC diatribe he memorized where everything American is racist, sexist, imperialist and terrible? Did we even learn of any passion or hobby like model railroading or stamp collecting or gun collecting (Gaia forbid!)? He is clearly bored not because he is so smart. He is bored with anything or anyone that is NOT HIM.
But, perhaps my favorite forehead-smacking sentence in Valerie’s Stalinoid effusion is that “He’s just too talented to do what ‘ordinary’ people do.” Like work, I guess. The arrogance on parade there is cringeworthy. Okay, his Rasputin (Rasputina?) said it about him; he didn’t say it. But his every word, thought and gesture in eight years showed me he sure as heck believed it.
Not to mention that he did tell us he was a better writer than his writers, a better everything than any one of his staff, ad nauseam. Lordy! Again, it’s one of those things that, even if you think it, bereft of evidence, why would you say it aloud? 
But the most obnoxious part of that thought was the notion that there are “ordinary” people. You know, the ones that know a lot of stuff about mining and manufacturing and engineering and running a restaurant. The ones who raise your precious arugula and beef cattle and enlist in the Armed Forces so you don’t have to. They go to work every day and pay taxes and start small businesses only to be taxed and regulated until they cry “Uncle” and then are told that “They didn’t build that.”
The older I get, the more I realize that almost nobody is “ordinary,” with the possible exception of the elite who believe they are So Very Special. People are surprising and delightful with interests and talents and knowledge that is a collective priceless resource for America in the aggregate. I play poker every Tuesday with a veteran who knows every single thing there is to know about every single firearm. I have known several brilliant farmers, one an organic farmer from way back when I was a kid, notwithstanding that I hated eating at their house because the food was so weird. Brown bread, seemingly full of twigs and bark? How is THAT going to “build strong bodies 12 ways” like my Wonder Bread, hmmm? If Agriculture were up to me (or Obama), we would all last until our current groceries ran out. Some “ordinary.”
Several years ago in St. Paul on a lake three miles from my house, the Building Trades volunteered to build an Ice Castle on the frozen lake. It was huge and lit up at night. You could walk in it! Not at all ordinary. Yesterday I drove about an hour each way to have a guy fix my husband’s speaker that connects to his keyboard. We couldn’t fix that. Well, probably if he had had time, Mr. AG could have eventually fixed it with a YouTube video and a lot of swearing. But I would have had to just stare at it like a cat staring at a red laser dot, hoping for some kind of miracle like last year’s Cubs win or Hillary’s defeat.
I am just scratching the surface, of course, of the incredible talents of our extraordinary fellow Americans. In addition to their gainful employment skills, you find out that people you never suspected are painters and photographers, singers and dancers. My produce guy is also an actor. Not to go all kumbaya on you here, but America really does possess a wealth of talent and a communal knowledge base probably unequaled in human history. As Venezuela should prove once and for all – as if humanity did not have to learn this lesson anew amid great pain every few years – socialism will destroy a nation’s material wealth in a heartbeat. 
But intellectual wealth can be squandered and disappear too. And it will, unless we stop criminalizing free speech and independent inquiry, and wiping out our history. The 40-year obsession with identity politics and skin-deep “diversity” is a form of slow national suicide by a thousand tiny cuts.owerline’s Friday post featuring Ammo Grrrl you’re missing some good and (usuallyfunny) commentary!  Here’s today’s post.  Spot on!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Trump Support Explained

How do we explain this phenomenon of the Trump Presidency?  Maybe more importantly, how do we reconcile ourselves to it?  I saw a post by one of my favorites, CDR Salamandar today that goes a long way toward achieving that goal.  It's called "Trumpism, Never-Trumpism, and Their Discontents".  He uses some input from another one of my favorites, Victor Davis Hanson, but it is pretty spot on from my perspective.  You can read it here.  

I really, really resonate with this quote at the end.  This is me! 
"In the end, I am content with the following; I am more than happy to apologize to others for a President Trump; I could never forgive myself for a President Hillary.
We may have been hit with a baseball bat, but we missed a load of napalm. Bruises and breaks heal just fine."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bush's Speech

GWB gave a speech on Thursday that most thought was pretty eloquent.  He really captured how coarse our culture has become.  A really interesting thing to me is that the vast, vast, vast majority of the mainstream media has latched onto it as an indictment of President Trump.  Just look at the Politico headline.  I just don't see it that way.  I think it is an indictment of all of them.  There is plenty of blame to go around.  For my money the vitriol and hatred I see on a day to day basis is much more pervasive on the left than on the right.  I see smug hatred routinely coming from the mouths of those on the left who continually attack and block anything that the President wants to accomplish, no matter what.  But maybe that's just me.  You know the old saying...where you stand depends on where you sit.  I think there are two takeaways for me.  First, he's right.  Second, don't be so sure who the speech was aimed at.  I've copied the whole thing below.   Read it and decide for yourself.  And BTW, especially read the highlighted paragraph.  It's sublime!

George W. Bush speech on Trumpism

By POLITICO STAFF 10/19/2017

Below is a transcript of George W. Bush's speech delivered Oct. 19, 2017 at the at the “Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World" event in New York.

Thank you all. Thank you. Ok, Padilla gracias. So, I painted Ramon. I wish you were still standing here. It’s a face only a mother could love – no, it’s a fabulous face. (Laughter.) I love you Ramon, thank you very much for being here.

And, Grace Jo thank you for your testimony. And, big Tim. I got to know Tim as a result of Presidential Leadership Scholars at the Bush Center along with the Clinton Foundation, with help from 41 and LBJ’s libraries.

I am thrilled that friends of ours from Afghanistan, China, North Korea, and Venezuela are here as well. These are people who have experienced the absence of freedom and they know what it’s like and they know there is a better alternative to tyranny.

Laura and I are thrilled that the Bush Center supporters are here. Bernie [Tom Bernstein], I want to thank you and your committee. I call him Bernie. (Laughter.)

It’s amazing to have Secretary Albright share the stage with Condi and Ambassador Haley. For those of you that kind of take things for granted, that’s a big deal. (Laughter and Applause.) Thank you.

We are gathered in the cause of liberty this is a unique moment. The great democracies face new and serious threats – yet seem to be losing confidence in their own calling and competence. Economic, political and national security challenges proliferate, and they are made worse by the tendency to turn inward. The health of the democratic spirit itself is at issue. And the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.

Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of free markets, from the strength of democratic alliances, and from the advance of free societies. At one level, this has been a raw calculation of interest. The 20th century featured some of the worst horrors of history because dictators committed them. Free nations are less likely to threaten and fight each other.
And free trade helped make America into a global economic power.

For more than 70 years, the presidents of both parties believed that American security and prosperity were directly tied to the success of freedom in the world. And they knew that the success depended, in large part, on U.S. leadership. This mission came naturally, because it expressed the DNA of American idealism.

We know, deep down, that repression is not the wave of the future. We know that the desire for freedom is not confined to, or owned by, any culture; it is the inborn hope of our humanity. We know that free governments are the only way to ensure that the strong are just and the weak are valued. And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.

This is not to underestimate the historical obstacles to the development of democratic institutions and a democratic culture. Such problems nearly destroyed our country – and that should encourage a spirit of humility and a patience with others. Freedom is not merely a political menu option, or a foreign policy fad; it should be the defining commitment of our country, and the hope of the world.

That appeal is proved not just by the content of people’s hopes, but a noteworthy hypocrisy: No democracy pretends to be a tyranny. Most tyrannies pretend they are democracies. Democracy remains the definition of political legitimacy. That has not changed, and that will not change.

Yet for years, challenges have been gathering to the principles we hold dear. And, we must take them seriously. Some of these problems are external and obvious. Here in New York City, you know the threat of terrorism all too well. It is being fought even now on distant frontiers and in the hidden world of intelligence and surveillance. There is the frightening, evolving threat of nuclear proliferation and outlaw regimes. And there is an aggressive challenge by Russia and China to the norms and rules of the global order – proposed revisions that always seem to involve less respect for the rights of free nations and less freedom for the individual.

These matters would be difficult under any circumstances. They are further complicated by a trend in western countries away from global engagement and democratic confidence. Parts of Europe have developed an identity crisis. We have seen insolvency, economic stagnation, youth unemployment, anger about immigration, resurgent ethno-nationalism, and deep questions about the meaning and durability of the European Union.

America is not immune from these trends. In recent decades, public confidence in our institutions has declined. Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned, especially among the young, who never experienced the galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War, or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by socialist central planning. Some have called this “democratic deconsolidation.” Really, it seems to be a combination of weariness, frayed tempers, and forgetfulness.

We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.

We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

We have seen the return of isolationist sentiments – forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places, where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs and drug trafficking tend to emerge.

In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.

This is part of the reason we meet here today. How do we begin to encourage a new, 21st century American consensus on behalf of democratic freedom and free markets? That’s the question I posed to scholars at the Bush Institute. That is what Pete Wehner and Tom Melia, who are with us today, have answered with “The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World,” a Call to Action paper.

The recommendations come in broad categories. Here they are: First, America must harden its own defenses. Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber threats.

America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions – including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence – should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.

The second category of recommendations concerns the projection of American leadership – maintaining America’s role in sustaining and defending an international order rooted in freedom and free markets.

Our security and prosperity are only found in wise, sustained, global engagement: In the cultivation of new markets for American goods. In the confrontation of security challenges before they fully materialize and arrive on our shores. In the fostering of global health and development as alternatives to suffering and resentment. In the attraction of talent, energy and enterprise from all over the world. In serving as a shining hope for refugees and a voice for dissidents, human rights defenders, and the oppressed.

We should not be blind to the economic and social dislocations caused by globalization. People are hurting. They are angry. And, they are frustrated. We must hear them and help them. But we can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution. One strength of free societies is their ability to adapt to economic and social disruptions.

And that should be our goal: to prepare American workers for new opportunities, to care in practical, empowering ways for those who may feel left behind. The first step should be to enact policies that encourage robust economic growth by unlocking the potential of the private sector, and for unleashing the creativity and compassion of this country.

A third focus of this document is strengthening democratic citizenship. And here we must put particular emphasis on the values and views of the young.

Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.  And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.

We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

Finally, the Call to Action calls on the major institutions of our democracy, public and private, to consciously and urgently attend to the problem of declining trust.

For example, our democracy needs a media that is transparent, accurate and fair. Our democracy needs religious institutions that demonstrate integrity and champion civil discourse. Our democracy needs institutions of higher learning that are examples of truth and free expression.

In short, it is time for American institutions to step up and provide cultural and moral leadership for this nation.

Ten years ago, I attended a Conference on Democracy and Security in Prague. The goal was to put human rights and human freedom at the center of our relationships with repressive governments. The Prague Charter, signed by champions of liberty Vaclav Havel, Natan Sharansky, Jose Maria Aznar, called for the isolation and ostracism of regimes that suppress peaceful opponents by threats or violence.

Little did we know that, a decade later, a crisis of confidence would be developing within the core democracies, making the message of freedom more inhibited and wavering. Little did we know that repressive governments would be undertaking a major effort to encourage division in western societies and to undermine the legitimacy of elections.

Repressive rivals, along with skeptics here at home, misunderstand something important. It is the great advantage of free societies that we creatively adapt to challenges, without the direction of some central authority. Self-correction is the secret strength of freedom. We are a nation with a history of resilience and a genius for renewal.

Right now, one of our worst national problems is a deficit of confidence. But the cause of freedom justifies all our faith and effort. It still inspires men and women in the darkest corners of the world, and it will inspire a rising generation. The American spirit does not say, “We shall manage,” or “We shall make the best of it.” It says, “We shall overcome.” And that is exactly what we will do, with the help of God and one another.

Thank you.