Friday, December 30, 2011

End of Year Observations

It is traditional to look forward at the beginning of the New Year, but before I do I would like to look back on a few events of this past year so I can place the next one in context.
What will stand out for me as the central theme 2011 was the on-going political warfare both central parties engaged in.  The brinksmanship each engaged in looking for a lever against the opposition meant they put governing aside.  While I take issue with this, and there is enough blame to be had by both sides, I see the Progressive democrats, and an increasingly isolated President, as the major contributors for the following reasons.
a)     The decision to call the fiscal conservative movement, the Tea Party, terrorists and racists.
b)     The choice to begin an “us versus them” campaign where they pit the lower and middle class against the wealthy in an attempt to force a Republican stand
c)      Their blatant support of the #Occupy Wall Street protests, actually an extension of the class warfare they began earlier
Both houses of Congress continue their downward slide in voter confidence and I think this will be problematic for both parties in the upcoming elections.  I don’t think I am alone in my belief that no incumbent is worthy of reelection.  It is interesting the mainstream media chooses to ignore this quiet movement, but when long time party strongholds like New York’s 9th Congressional District switch from Democratic to Republican in the election caused by the infamous Anthony Weiner scandal it should be some indicator to everyone that 2012 will be a very interesting year.  The real question is will the normal voter apathy continue to allow organizers to dominate the election process.
The government’s inability to control the national debt and move towards a balanced budget will be a big issue next year, just as it was most of this year.  This is an area the Republicans win if they could ever get their feet out of their mouths and show a valid strategy that actually results in a smaller government, not some set of mythical bench marks that allow the Democrats to cast them as the party out to take away social security.
We American’s have a short attention span.  When was the last time anyone thought about the tsunami that washed over Japan, especially now that they are gaining control of the Nuclear reactors?  Who knows that the debris from that event is already beginning to wash ashore on our west coast?
Debris found near Vancouver, 29 Dec 11
And as a closing thought, I wonder how well our advocacy for the overthrow of the Egyptian and Libyan governments is going to work out for us this next year?  I am guessing we will soon regret those inspired interventions.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Poor Social Skills

I would make a poor politician.  I like my privacy, I don’t like to mingle with people I don’t know or share a common bond with, I can leave most organizational parties within a few minutes of arriving and I am terrible at small talk.  But I have to believe an effective politician is one who can build networks, communicate ideas, and when necessary socialize with both friends and opponents to find common ground for good legislation.
I find it amazing we have elected a President who does not believe it is necessary to associate with other politicians New York Times, "Bipartisan Agreement: Obama Isn’t Schmoozing".  This explains so much about why we see the President telling people what they need to do, not rolling up his sleeves to help make it happen. 
I don’t envy anyone who thinks they want to be President, and I doubt the job comes with an instruction manual, but if you want to say you are the leader of the nation, there has got to be something besides your inner circle of friends involved in the process.  As the article points out, President Jimmy Carter, felt himself an outsider and did not socialize enough when he was in office.  President Clinton, on the other hand had no problems with small group gatherings.  You can decide who was more effective, the one who lost his office because of runaway unemployment, high interest rates and failed military operations, or the one who served two terms with an adversarial Congress and managed to leave with a balanced budget?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Laughable Political Excuses and Unthinking Comparisons

Just before Christmas, a leading Republican Presidential candidate was handed a lump of coal for his stocking when the Virginia Republican party announced he, and several others, had failed to submit the prerequisite number of valid signatures to secure a place on the ballot.  The required number was 10,000 registered Republican voters.  Mr. Gingrich submitted something like 11,050 names but not all were registered as Republican voters and those were thrown out.
Since then there has been a broad frontal attack that a) Virginia’s primary is “a failed system” when it excludes a front runner from being the ballot, b) he would pursue a write-in campaign.  Today he, and his campaign manager, is comparing this setback to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  To that I have but one thing to say – Phooey. 
The attack on Pearl Harbor was on one side a brilliant military operation executed with precision, and from a US standpoint a failure in our intelligence community and government to anticipate correctly where or when Japan would initiate hostilities.  Those failures cost over 2,000+ American lives.  The Gingrich campaign’s failure to get on the ballot was plain and simple a failure in the campaign and for that the fault must lie solely with the Candidate.  There was no opposing unforeseeable brilliance that stopped him.  Yet I don’t see a lot of acceptance of failure on the campaigns part.
The campaign must have access to a statistician, don’t they?  Surely someone would know what the probable rejection rate on petition signatures would be?  Wouldn’t a prudent campaign look to eliminate that risk by submitting enough signatures to account for that?  Ron Paul and Mitt Romney seemed to have broken the code on what was required.
If you and your campaign are not smart enough to figure out the rules of the game and then meet or exceed the minimum requirements are you really smart enough to be President?
Update:  Today (12/29/11) The candidate's story is one of his workers, paid to get signatures, committed fraud.  Now he's just another victim.   

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

To all who read this blog from time to time, I wish you all a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah.  May the coming year be filled with joy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

In Remembrance

Every day people die.  Sometimes expected, but most often not.  We read of these events in the news, through friends or because we are directly linked to them.

Each passing has a profound and sorrowful impact on someone.  As we come to this annual celebration of life please take a moment to remember those who are suffering through the grief of their loss.  May they find peace and comfort  through acceptance and our support.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What to Say, When You Have Nothing to Say

    CBS and a bunch of other news and blog sites are making a big deal about Newt Gingrich's slide back to the pack today.  Apparently small sample opinion polling is what passes for news in today's world.
    Personally I don't give a fig about what the opinion polls say right now, but apparently a lot of people do.  Which begs the question, is this just media manipulation or are we moving towards mob rule where every choice must be validated by favorable poll numbers?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Republican Field

A Thought on the Campaign
As Christmas and the New Year draw close, we in Florida are reminded the Republican Primary will follow soon after.  This year I am in a quandary as to what to do.  What candidate best reflects the values I hold dear, and offers a prospect for unifying the country?  With the exception of George Washington; a President the entire country supports has never really been possible, but at least I would like one who can find a way to tone down the rhetoric between the separate interests in this nation.  One who can work with Congress, not against it, a President who will lead, not blame.  So as we look towards the candidates what are my options?
Michele Bachman – Representative from Minnesota’s 6th District, her official biography lists these as key points.  Prior to her election as Congresswoman in 2006 she served six years as a state senator.  She received her Jurist Doctorate from Oral Roberts U, and an L.L.M. in Tax Law from William and Mary.  A mother of five, she and her husband have cared for 23 foster children.  She claims to be a “Constitutional Conservative” and has closely aligned with the Tea Party movement. 
What I have seen so far:  She is confrontational often attacking others based on personality, not ideology, has made poor choices in her campaign staff, and doesn’t let facts get in the way of her speeches.  I like her background, don’t like her approach and think she has little or no chance of either being nominated or elected.  If elected she would not be effective in working with Congress.
Newt Gingrich – Former Speaker of the House, his official biography cites his accomplishments as Speaker, his education from Emory University and Tulane, and his work with health care and the production company he owns with his current wife.  He has a strong background in strategic defense thinking and has served as an instructor for General Officers at Air University at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.  He has authored, or co-authored, twenty-three books.  He has been married three times, and is a recent convert to the Catholic Church.
What I have seen so far:  He has the best grasp of international relations of any of the current candidates, but he is arrogant and seeks to inflate his own importance.  Based on his experience as Speaker I find it is easy to assume he will not work well in bi-partisan compromise, but I am not sure he can do worse then the current administration.  With his love of debate and his desire to showcase a superior intellect I am not sure, if elected, he will raise above the fray to lead the nation.
Jon Huntsman – Former Governor of Utah, Ambassador to Singapore for President George H. Bush, and Ambassador to China for President Barrack Obama, he as hands-on experience dealing with our most likely competition for the next ten years.  Coming from a wealthy family he has worked for several former Republican Administrations.  Since being appointed an Ambassador at 32 is noteworthy I credit this more to financial influence than anything else.  He has worked as a US Trade Representative and US Trade Ambassador for President George W. Bush.
What I have seen so far:  A center of the road Candidate who has demonstrated fiscally conservative policies as Governor and high approval ratings, but has not caught on with the extreme right of the party.  The other Mormon in the race overshadows him. 
Ron Paul – A former medical doctor who has served as Representative for the 14th District in Texas since 1997.  He also served as a Congressman in the 1970’s and 80’s, where according to his official biography he relinquished his seat voluntarily in 1984.  Interestingly he was an Air Force Flight Surgeon in the 1960’s.  His record shows a strong Libertarian approach, where he argues vigorously for smaller government.  As chairman of the subcommittee on Domestic and Monetary Policy he has an understanding of the impacts of the US deficit.
What I have seen so far:  Of the leading candidates he is the oldest (75) and most consistent in his approach to smaller, less intrusive government, but there is no indication he can organize and focus a group towards achieving a common goal.  As he advocates for a return to a gold backed currency most of the mainstream politicians find ways to discredit him.  Not a great debater, if nominated I am not sure he would be able to garner the unified support behind him.  He has not discounted running as an independent, in which case he would play a spoiler role like Ross Perot did to George H. Bush in 1992.
Rick Perry – Governor of Texas, according to official bio he is the first Texas Aggie to occupy the Governor’s Mansion.  After a brief stint in the Air Force, as a C-130 pilot, he has been a career politician in Texas, beginning in 1985 as a representative to the state House.  He has been elected Governor three times, 2002, 2006 and 2010.
What I have seen so far:  He comes across as a pretty face without the depth of understanding to deal with the national issues.  I can’t avoid feeling someone like Dick Cheney is back there pulling the strings that make his lips move.  If elected I don’t see him building consensus any better than the last Texas Governor/Air Force pilot we elected.
Mitt Romney – Former Governor of Massachusetts, his biography has a couple of interesting twists.  Like others he cites a father coming from humble origins to rise to the head of American Motors and become Governor of Michigan.  He on the other hand benefits from his fathers hard work and attended Harvard.  To connect with people his biography talks to the hardships he and his family have faced, but they center exclusively on his wife’s health issues with MS and breast cancer.  He has been a supportive husband.  He has had success as Governor and certainly should be proud of the work he did on helping the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah succeed.
What I have seen so far:  Romney epitomizes the career politician who will say whatever he thinks the people want to hear.  He has stood firmly on both sides of several issues like Pro-life, Government Health Care, and Taxes.  It is humorous to watch him get upset when these questions keep coming up.  As the front runner I can’t help but believe he is more afraid of saying something that will cost him a vote than actually coming up with new ideas.
Rick Santorum – Former Senator from Pennsylvania until defeated in 2006.  He has been the target of a left wing smear campaign on the Internet for his stand on Gay Rights and Pro-life.  When you go to his web site for biographical data all you find is a donation form.
What I have seen so far:  Not much, I think a vote for Mr. Santorum would be a symbolic gesture for the far right of the party.
And the others:
Gary Johnson, Fred Karger, Andy Martin, Jimmy McMillan, Tom Miller, Buddy Roemer, Matt Snyder, and Vern Wuensche – go to:  if you have any interest in these guys.   One is a flight attendant, one a former Governor of Louisiana, and one appears to be a professional candidate for the "Rent is Too Damn High Party" who has switched allegiance for this campaign.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Flying Under the Radar

This has become a rather common expression intended to reflect someone or something that has escaped public notice.  I was curious of its origin so like any rational 21st Century man I “Googled” it.
According to the “Urban Dictionary” its origins are, as I suspected, from the mid-fifties when talking about how to counter a radar defense by flying below its horizon.  There are also several very nice videos of aircraft flying very low.  I thought this might be an enjoyable moment or two for those who like airplanes.
P.S.  This was going to be a short piece on the Presidential candidates but I am easily distracted by airplanes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

That Christmas Sprit

Nothing says "Peace on Earth" like the sound of a 25mm gatling gun firing from an AC-130U in the distance.  I am kind of caught in this weird world of festive Christmas lights and the sound of distant cannons.  I know my sounds are those of aircrew training, but it does bring me one step closer to what our men and woman in Afghanistan must experience.

I pray they all will be safe this season and there will not be any unwelcome visits to families from an Officer, a Chaplin and a medical technician.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Quiet Now

It is quiet now -- too quiet.  The threat from a duo of two year olds, led by the "older sister" four year old seems to have abated for the moment.  B... "airpain-airpain" L, and S... "oh no! T. are separated, one for a nap, one to be paraded at a baby shower with his older cousin.  H... L is maturing into a young girl who mirrors the qualities of her mother when she was the same age.  Whoever said there is no justice in the world is wrong.

Too soon it will be over and they, along with their parents, will return to their lives and the challenges of a young family trying to form young children into responsible human beings to inherit whatever remains when we are done.

An early Christmas comes and goes.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


There are days when I wonder what am I supposed to do?  Then there are days I wonder why am I here?  Finally, there are days when I wonder how can I leave?  Today was one of the days when I wondered about one of those things.

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