Monday, September 27, 2010

To Segway or Not to Segway?

In a tragic turn of events it was reported a James W. Heselden, owner of the company that makes Segway, was drown this weekend when his Segway apparently plunged into the River Wharfe while he was touring his property.

The next time you are too lazy to walk consider the danger of not walking...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Once Upon a Time on C SPAN

I watched two CSPAN shows this weekend and I think it framed very nicely the rise and concerns of the American citizens who make up the Tea Party movement.

The first, a rebroadcast of the Senate trial of US Judge Porteous, being impeached by Congress shows the workings of the Senate and the arrogance of the Senators as they conduct the business of the trial. It seems obvious the rule of law does not seem to be a central concern as they move to what appears to be an inevitable decision. Personally, I don't think the loss of this Judge will be earth shattering, but it did bother me to show how political posturing is the most important thing to our elected officials.

The second show was a panel discussion of the Tea Party, hosted by the National Press Club, it included Dick Armey, Kate Zernike, Jill Lapore, and Tucker Carlson. All are authors of new books on the tea party movement and therefore these self proclaimed experts discussed the various findings of their research. I liked Armey's discussion best, but it struct me as typical of Washington discussion, all beltway insiders trying to figure out what was going on outside the beltway.

Although I won't join the Tea Party movement, it certainly matches up nicely with the concerns I've had for the past six years.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Congressional Action or Congressional Inaction Which is Better?

For the past two years we've been pummeled by the news services with all the rhetoric of how the Democrat's can't do anything in Congress because the Republicans have become the party of NO! I've done the briefest of research on the matter, but it seems to me both houses only require a simple majority (50%+1 vote) to pass a bill. Let's review the bidding on the last election.

Since 2008, Democrat's have held 257 seats in the house, and 57 seats in the Senate. Pretty much a majority. All they had to do to be effective was to offer enough room for compromise to persuade 1 Republican and 2 independents in the Senate and a handful of Republican's in the House to join them and they could steam roll any legislation through. Their strategy seemed to be focused on achieving this singularly shortsighted goal.

The net result -- polarizing debate, passage of a couple of social engineering programs, huge increases in entitlement programs, and an almost complete stalemate on doing the vast majority of government business.

With this approach to government I now know that Congressional stalemate is not necessarily a bad thing. I would draw from the wisdom of Barry Goldwater, a conservative Senator who argued for smaller government -- "Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On the Tea Party

This past week Walter Williams wrote a very good article in which he used Charles Krauthammer's 27 August column on "Liberalism under siege" and Paul Krugman's writing in the NY Times on 29 August "Its Witch-Hunt Season" (I'd put a link for this but NY Times didn't offer one that said it was compatible with Blogger). Paul Krugman is a Nobel Laureate in Economics, he received his degrees from Yale and MIT. I believe this qualifies him as a legitimate member of the intelligentsia and the liberal elite. That group of social democrats who know they know what is best for America and we just need to follow their enlightened path.

Dr. Krugman blames the current state of affairs, on the muck rakers like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh who continually inflame the less educated and he believes they are the main stream of the Republican party. He fears we are entering into a period of craziness, caused by these rabble rousers who support secure borders, balanced budgets, and equity in the tax structure. The same crazy people who don't believe we should sell our future for a central government health care program. This civil unrest will ruin the chances that enlightened progressive socialists, like him, will have the ability to shape America into the utopian state they know they can make it.

A little less than two years ago, when the Democrats sweep into power I had hoped they would be able to lead, to govern from the middle, to put America's and American interest first. Unfortunately they have proven incapable of that. Now the Tea Party rises from the silent majorities frustration. I think if the Tea Party had their way we would throw them all out and start over. If I were an incumbent, in either party, I would be worried!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Atom

What is an atom? It is a small bit of matter and energy made up of smaller bits of matter and energy surrounded by large spaces of nothing. But somehow when a bunch of atoms are joined together they form elements and have mass. I think life is like an atom. It is made up of small bits of stuff surrounded by large spaces of nothing, yet when all the bits of stuff are joined together you have a history.

I often wonder if we spend too much time worrying about the small bits of stuff and not enough time filling in the large spaces. I am reminded of a story that is going around the web, about a college professor who is talking about life with his class. The story goes something like this.

One day the class shows up and on the table in the front of the room is a large glass container. The professor fills the container with large rocks until there is no more room. He sakes the class is the container filled, and they all agree. He then pulls out a box of pebbles and pours them in the jar filling up the open areas. Again he asks if the jar is full, again the class agrees. He then pulls out a box of sand, and pours into the container. The sand fills in the spaces between the pebbles. The professor tells the class, "This is your life, the rocks are the important things, your family, your health, your children. The pebbles are things that matter to you like your job, your home, your car. The sand is everything else. The lesson is if you fill up the jar with sand first there isn't room for anything else. Life is like that, if you spend all your time concentrating on the small stuff you never have room for the rocks in your life. Take care of the rocks first, set your priorities and fill in the spaces with the rest.

Friday, September 3, 2010

And I Should Care, Why?

When I was younger I was told we are all part of one world and one destiny. What we must do is find a way to get along with each other. In reflection, this is because the US and USSR were, at the time, engaged in a Cold War that could with little provocation grow to a nuclear war at any time. Fortunately reasonably stable men, with different ideologies, found a way to coexist and not blow us all up.

Now we are again engaged in a war of ideologies, the only difference is the lack of reasonably stable men on both sides. Why is that? Could it be the rise of religious fundamentalism where each church damn's the other and preach's they are the only true path to God, or is it the advent of CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and Al Jazeera 24/7/365?

Having watched the first three networks I am convinced we should go back to the days when television stations went off the air at 2 am and new was only on at 6:00 and 11:00. For Wolf Blitzer, Keith Olbermann, Bill O'Reilly and Mohammed whoever, perhaps you guys should trade in your gigs for the carnival sideshows where at least you could be run out of town from time to time.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A New Campaign Season

It seems like only two years ago we were in the midst of a vicious campaign for the Presidency, a campaign marked with the party not in control of the White House explaining how all the party in control had it all wrong. As we enter into the mid-term Congressional elections I think it a good opportunity to see how well it has gone since the Democrats have taken over.

About this time in 2008 President Bush and his team were advocating for a "surge" of forces in Iraq, the logic being to counter the growing terror movement and allow Iraqi's a chance to stabilize there civil control, establish a viable government, and mature the newly reestablished security forces. The Democrats universally opposed this move, and lobbied for immediate withdrawal, led by then Senator Obama who, I believe, called it a failed strategy. Now two years later we know in reflection the surge was a good strategy and seems to have accomplished much of what it was intended to. Although the President will take credit for this I would rank that Bush 1, Obama 0.

When the democrat's swept into dominating majorities in the House, the Senate and the Executive I hoped they would learn to govern, to find the middle ground, to build consensus and find the compromises they needed to achieve change. I think it is safe to say they did not. They spent the first two years blaming their failures on the previous administration, or the minority parties refusal to deal with them. I believe the name calling between the party leadership continued at about the same level as when GW was in the White House. The whole focus of the Democrats 1st year was implementing their version of socialized medicine. They did that at the cost of our national debt, and any programs which may have incentivize small business. Here we are after two years with the same high unemployment, increasing central government control, and no clear path to economic recovery. I would rank Democrats -1 and Republicans 0 for their complete lack of accomplishment.

Afghanistan and Pakistan: GW and the Republicans sacrificed any chance to get in and out of Afghanistan when they lost focus and invaded Iraq. Obama, in a salute to the previous administration, now advocates for a surge, and we are moving large numbers of troops into a region with no history of successful national government. The Republicans remain strangely quiet on this, obviously they have nothing better to offer. I suggest this is a 0-0 tie.

So where do we stand? The Republican's seem to be ahead, but not through any clear choices. Their complete lack of vision, and their inability to communicate a positive course of action has served only as a foil for the Democrat's, slowing down the socialization of America, but not stopping it.

I think the only option for the next election is to vote for anyone who is not currently in office and start all over. If we could get 435 brand new Congressmen and 33 brand new senators it would be interesting to see what change would be like. Who would be Speaker, or Minority leader, or Whip? 468 new congressman learning their jobs at the same time might mean most are out for the nation and not themselves.

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