Monday, February 27, 2017

A letter to Bob... Not That it Matters.

From Robert Reich, via Facebook posting.
“Let me state this as clearly as I can: The fight we are engaged in is not Democrats versus Republicans. It’s not big government versus small government. It’s not traditional Left versus traditional Right. The more this fight is viewed in partisan terms, the less power and legitimacy it has.
The fight we are engaged in is a fight for democracy against authoritarianism, for inclusion against exclusion, for tolerance against hate, for a fair economy against one rigged by and for those with great power and wealth. We must fight this and win this together -- Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. This is the only way we can reclaim our democracy, our economy, and our fundamental values.
What do you think?”

Well Bob, let me tell you what I think, not that you or anyone else cares, but I think you deserve an answer from someone other than the Berkley rioters you’ve indoctrinated with your hate and intolerance for dissenting opinions, and other far left friends who follow you as another Clinton loyalist, even if you will never see it.

I believe you, and the far left you speak for, are not engaged in a fight for democracy, the economy, or the fundamental values held by the average middle class American.  You are, and have always been, a partisan whose goal has been to convince enough voters, both legitimate and illegitimate, to place the progressives in charge of the Government so as to a) implement a socialist vision where all people are dependent on the state, and b) become rich on the largess of the taxpayer as the elite class of the state.  The fight you are engaged in is for the destruction of democracy and a return to the authoritarian state you were so happy with just a one month ago under the reign of President Barrack “I’ve got a pen” Obama.

Your playbook is right out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals,” but we’ll get to that in a moment or two.

As a Rhodes scholar, I would be a fool to challenge your intellect, but it seems all your intellect is and has been focused on furthering the great divide that has become the form of politics in the nation.  You advance an approach where you are right, and anyone who disagrees is not only wrong but evil.  Before we go any further let's just take a brief look at how you did when you were in charge of one small part of the government.  For the record, let’s look at your track record as the Secretary for Labor.  Serving under President Clinton during his first term you cite as your four standout accomplishments[i]; an increase in the minimum wage, the elimination of sweat shops, a law requiring companies to fully fund pension obligations, and a school-to-work apprenticeship program.   

How have those accomplishments held up over the years?  Have they truly made a difference in the lives and livelihoods of the working men and woman you so passionately claim to fight for?

The minimum wage when you were confirmed was $4.25, when you departed the wage was $5.15 (except for youth under 20 during their first 90 consecutive days of employment).[ii]  Interestingly the increase in minimum wage did not occur when the Democrats controlled the House and Senate, but after the Republicans took over.  The minimum wage increase you take credit for was included as Title II of Public Law 104-188[iii], also known as The Small Business Protection Act.  Clearly this was an example of bi-partisan cooperation.  The Republican’s got the tax help for small businesses and the Democrats were able to gain a marginal increase in the minimum wage.  While the battle over what minimum wages actually accomplish rage on the studies I’ve read suggest there was negligible impact to either the quality of life for the lowest paid workers, or loss of employment due to cost offsets.  At the end of the day what was really gained through this passage? 

The elimination of Sweat Shops?  Really?  Here we are in 2017 and we still find examples of sweat shop labor being used by major manufacturers of clothing and electronics.   I realize on a human and humane level the exploitation of child labor and the often inhumane conditions the child and adult workers in a sweatshop are subjected to is abhorrent, but your claim in 1997 that you and the DOL eliminated them seems a bit far-fetched.  As far as I can tell all you really accomplished was the shaming of Kathy Lee Gifford.  The best article I’ve found on this issue was from CQ Press[iv] and I find nothing in this to suggest sweatshop labor was eliminated in the US, never mind the rest of the world, when you departed as Secretary of Labor.  To support this, I found your 2001 article with American Prospect[v],  where you say as Secretary of Labor you found 61% of garment cutting and sewing shops in LA (and 65% in NYC) don’t pay their employees the minimum wage.  The problem, as you note, is the number of inspectors the DOL has to enforce the laws that are on the books.  (This brings up a question regarding law enforcement I will save for a future discussion.)

Passage of a law requiring business to fully fund pension plans.  A great idea, but as I review all the legislation passed by the 104th Congress I don’t see any law that specifically calls out for the business to fully fund pension plans.  Was it a rider on some other leaving their employees holding the bag and without any of their promised funds.  How could that be if there was a law?  Heck we can’t even get the Post Office to run without stiffing their employees, how can we expect a IBM or GM to be different?

And finally, we have your student to apprentice training program.  You know since you’ve left all I hear from the Democrats is everyone should have free college.  But checking in with the DOL I find the apprentice program alive and well.  It appears to have about a 10% [vi]graduation/completion rate in 2016.  Yea you.

Now about your radical political agenda.

Since leaving the government you have, written a number of books vilifying the concepts of capitalism and condemning the wealthy, but not those wealthy who agree with you like the moguls of Silicon Valley.  You've also served as an advisor to progressive Democrats to keep your views alive.  These would be the same democrats that when in power ruled unilaterally, and when replace stonewalled all the opposition approaches.  You have also taken an academic position at Berkley where you can shape the minds of other radicals such that we now see violence as a protest for speech you find hateful.  It appears you believe yourself and your party to be judge and jury on what constitutes legitimate political speech and warrants public discourse.  This is spread by other like-minded individuals across the social structure of academia.  The fact it leaves the average family behind in the delusional economy you would establish is just an unfortunate by-product of social change, isn’t it?

Remember I said I'd get back to Alinsky’s play sheet.

Saul laid out thirteen rules[vii] on how to successfully engage in social change as a radical. I’ve highlighted those I think most germane to your latest campaign.

They are:

1.     “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.

2.     “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

3.     “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

4.     “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

5.     Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

6.     “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

7.     “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

8.     Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.

9.     “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

10.  "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition." It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

11.  If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

12.  “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.

13.  Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Bob, it looks to me that you and the Democratic Party are pretty much in lock step with Saul.  I am sure he would be proud to see his work so thoroughly embraced by the mainstream party and its media arm in the mainstream broadcast and print news.
 Bob, it looks to me that you and the Democratic Party are pretty much in lock step with Saul.  I am sure he would be proud to see his work so thoroughly embraced by the mainstream party and its media arm in the broadcast and print news.  What saddens me is how the people who believe with all their heart that you are out for the common good are falling for the hate and fear you are creating.

So, how did we reach a point where you and the rest of the progressive/liberal population now think we have a fascist regime that must be destroyed for the sake of all humanity?  Well I'll tell you Bob, I think it is all your fault.  You and the people like you who would not accept that about half the nation thinks we did not build a utopian state under the Obama administration, that the political dialogue was closed by all the people who vilified any questioning of motivations or motives of the DNC and the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to shut down any possibility of bi-partisan lawmaking and force President Obama to work for a common good rather than make every stinking issue a political battleground.

Then we come to the election.  You and the mainstream media were so confident that you would win that you fielded the weaker of the two candidates because she was a Clinton and a woman and come hell or high water that was what you and the inner circle were bound and determined to have.  The fact your media buddies were so on-board with this and so locked into believing that everyone who voted for Barrack would turn out and vote for a flawed, self-absorbed Clinton showed in every poll they reported as if polling was actually factual data.  Polling is, and will always be just a step up from going to Madame Zelda and having her tell your fortune.  Depending on how the polling is done, and how honest the minuscule number of respondents want to be the poll might be fair, or it could be terrible.  As this election showed your polling was terrible.  Looking at Trumps turnouts versus having to pay people to see Ms. Clinton should have been a warning bell, but it wasn’t.

Oh, I would believe your arguments so much more if you were able to accept the premise if you want to avoid a true totalitarian US it has to start with not accepting your own parties moves in that direction. Only then can you make the logical argument that having an American Caesar is probably not a good idea, but you let that boat sail during the last regime when the President began the escalation of a race war that is now playing out to the chagrin of many. 
Post Script:  I saw this in the news and thought about how Bob had forced companies to fully fund pension plans.  Apparently, he didn't force the unions to keep their promises.   


Successful government is by its very nature a balance between opposing forces, ideas, and perceived needs.  As it strives to find balance we often use the idea of a pendulum as a metaphor, but I think a child’s teeter-totter is a more accurate one.  For the past twenty years or so our teeter-totter has made increasingly larger swings up and down, to the point now we are slamming into the ground on almost every issue.  We seemed to have lost our ability to find balance.
Image from Coolclips.Com

Since September 11, 2001 the US has been at war, but it is not like the traditional wars our forces are built to wage, our Generals have trained to fight, or our politicians understand.  True, we have invaded nation-states that harbored our enemies, and we have killed, captured, and retained a great number of foreign fighters, but can we say today this war has made the US and our citizens safer?

The US, under the Bush administration, overthrew two nation-states as it attempted to root out and destroy the threats from the radical Islamic terror networks.  In the course of these actions we created environments were local resentment and suspicion increased the breeding grounds for support to those terror groups. What receives little notice was the support the US provided to another state as it fought its own campaign.  In that case, we did not overthrow the government, we supported it. 

Then we come to the US position under the Obama administration.  During his election campaign, he promised to end the US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and bring our forces home.  What he found was by withdrawing forces from those areas he left the native governments weak and unready to fill the security void we left.  Additionally, his administration, with Secretary Clintons help, destabilized three authoritarian governments, Syria, Egypt, and Libya paving the way for long term political unrest and in the case of Syria -- civil war.  That war has created yet another front the US and its military forces must counter.

As if these problems were not sufficient, the domestic priorities of the Obama administration drove it to reduce (some would say slash), military spending.  This meant that the services had to reduce manpower and make choices between sustaining its aging equipment or modernizing.  Of course, everyone and their mother has an opinion on what should be done and those conflicts of opinion more often than not lead to inaction where wise decisions are cast aside. 

The reduction in manpower, coupled with the Administration’s decision to further destabilize the Middle East, has had a foreseeable and dramatic effect on the soldiers, sailors, marines and airman who are now on a continuous rotation to the battlefield.  Their lives are now ones of constant stress, their families are under constant pressure, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  It seems these human impacts are never considered when the President and advisors choose a course of action, they may “feel their pain” but that is little more than political talk.  The same as saying we know what true hunger is.

Now we come to President Trump, who will this evening issue address Congress, where he will lay out his plans to increase funding of the armed forces, law enforcement, and border security while cutting the funding from those social programs the previous administration had prioritized.  I expect we will see a huge outcry from the press and the political left who will claim the administration is out to destroy the earth and end humanity.  While I doubt that is really Mr. Trump’s intent everyone who has labeled him a hate monger will eagerly embrace it as their theme.

What I don’t see in this administration, and the thing that gives me the greatest concern is any attempt to return to balance.  It is simply a continuation of the I’m in charge, I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone approach we have come to expect as normal for our government.  How long can we continue slamming into the ground before one side falls off or the teeter-totter breaks?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Maybe It's Just Me

Maybe it's just me, but I've noticed a lot of female comic strip writers have stopped putting out new comic strips since January 20th.  What's up with that?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Flight of Fantasy

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom ruled by a nefarious king who had taken the throne of his father, who had died a mysterious death.  The kingdom was known far and wide as the maker of the best chariots for small kingdoms.  They were so well known they were called the Hercules of chariots.  About the time the new king took over there was a realization by most of the surrounding monarchs they had enough of these rather smallish, slow but sturdy chariots, and perhaps should look to stop buying them and use the riches of the their kingdoms for something better. 

To counter this, the King of Lockmart sent out his emissaries across the many kingdoms making grand promises to willing kings.  If they were to buy their newest chariot all the world would marvel at their wisdom and strength.  What they failed to tell all the kings was this newest chariot would ultimately make the various kingdoms so dependent on Lockmart they would never have the money to pursue another option should the chariot not be all the King of Lockmart said it would be.

Not far away there was a young kingdom ruled by a kind and benevolent king loved by all his subjects.  He was in most things a wise king, but he rose to the rank of king by spending his subjects’ money better, that is faster, than other apprentice kings.  This taught him a lesson, it is better to be first with a plan than to have the best plan.

One day an emissary from the kingdom of Lockmart visited, and proposed an alliance to make the two kingdoms great.  If the wise king would throw away all his old chariots and buy Lockmart’s newest chariots there would be joy throughout the land.

And it came to pass that a treaty was struck, but in the process the evil wizards of the distant land of Ohio saw this as a threat to their powers.  So they quickly aligned themselves with the nefarious king of Lockmart, and together worked to make sure the new chariots arrived quickly, but lacked the strength and ability of the chariots they were to replace.

By the time the chariots arrived, the wise king had been replaced by a jester who surrounded himself with fools and spent the days throwing away the most precious wealth of the kingdom, its warriors who would defend the kingdom.  At the end, when the chariots came into the young kingdom only the squires were left to ride them.  Of course the squires, having only had the oldest and most humble of the old chariots thought this new ride was fabulous.

As time passed the jester was replaced by newer kings who each sought their own agenda, but each was to find at the end of their reign a deep disappointment as the chariots never seemed to live up to the original promise of greatness as they drained the treasury of the kingdom.
And the King of Lockmart smiled as he sat on his throne surveying the lands he now ruled.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Spinning Wheel

As we know it, the universe is a sphere expanding from that instant when time started.  Those who do not believe in God, place their faith in the possibility this event was a random occurrence.  While those of the three major religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism believe the divine intervention of God created the heavens and the earth.  While I side with the latter group, I do not believe I know how God created the instant of creation, or even why.  There is a pantheon of theologians who spend their lives trying to understand the will of God and translate it into understandable terms for us normal men.  In the days of the old testament these men were prophets.  They say a prophet is never understood in his own land, and I think there is clear evidence before us.  
Take, for example, those great wise men of Blood, Sweat and Tears who said in their 1968 prophecy, “What goes up, must come down. Spinning wheel got to go 'round.”  I believe at least two generations have failed to grasp the significance of this opus work.  Clearly the visionaries of B, S & T foresaw the fall of the great Democratic party as it worked to divide the nation into the elites and the forgotten people of mid-America.
Today the party of Jefferson and Jackson struggles to understand how a simple billionaire from humble beginnings could have swept into the office they believed to be theirs.  They have climbed on their painted pony and continue to go ‘round and ‘round as they demonize the President using the only language they know.  The themes that led to their loss in October are played daily by the spokespeople who seek to over throw the government.   

Doubling Down

Here we are a month after the inauguration of President Trump and CNN has this headline.  New executive order may be a pivotal moment for Trump's vision of presidency. I guess I should be used to the hyperbole and exaggerations that are now touted as “real news” by the mainstream news agencies of ABCNNBCBS, but it still intrigues me that they can be so self-absorbed to not realize the damage they are doing to their brand when they are patently one-sided in their reporting.

And of course they bring in Christine Amanpour interviewing the Iranian Foreign Minister to get Iran’s view of the President.  My favorite line?  “Iran responds very well to mutual respect.”  But of course, that would be as they define mutual respect.  When you’re the “Great Satan” I am not sure how that mutual respect thing really works.

Scott Adams has a good video on the dialogues now playing out in the MSM.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

It’s a Simple Game

To borrow a line from the movie, Bull Durham, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

I thought about that this morning as I walked around the front 9 at Hurlburt Field playing an enjoyable game with friends from Wisconsin.  We make life far too complicated, just as Ebby Calvin Laloosh did in the movie.   
It is President’s day, and you know, I didn’t give one passing thought to all those hundreds of people nation-wide who felt it necessary to declare it “Not My Presidents Day,”  nor did I give a passing thought to the probable quotes or misquotes that would play out in the news about the President.  Thankfully for me, it doesn’t affect my life and until it does it seems pointless to get all worked up about it.

But you know one thought did play out as I washed my car today.  A little over a month and a half ago I was visiting a relative and she told me she was scared by the new President.  I didn’t think to ask the right follow up questions at the time, because I am slow that way.  But I thought of them today so here they are.

What scares you about President Trump? 

Is it the possibility of starting a nuclear war, like John F Kennedy almost did with the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Blockade?

It couldn’t be that he will start a war we can’t win and spend more on social programs than we can actually afford like Lyndon Johnson, is it?

Is it the possibility he will end a war where we leave Americans unaccounted for, or create an enemies list and have his staff break into the DNC like Richard Nixon?

How about the mixed messages sent by Jimmy Carter that encouraged the overthrow of an ally and then allowed them to take Americans hostage, feigned moral outrage over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, while arming the Mujahedeen and creating the incubation cell for the Taliban like Jimmy Carter?

Maybe it’s the approach Reagan took to bankrupt and destroy the USSR while increasing our national debt, is that it?

Is it the abuse of women?  Like Bill Clinton when he used his position to gain sexual favors from his young interns?

How about the Bush’s?  Are you scared he may start wars we can’t afford, or allow the economy to crash because his focus is on foreign affairs?

Or are you concerned he is not Obama and would choose to support Israel over the Palestinians, while addressing the concerns of the rural and rust belt Americans rather than the urban elite?

Or is it that you just think he’s a vulgar jerk and that scares you?

Simple Observations.

At the beginning of the Obama administration we made a big deal about using federal stimulus funding to fix infrastructure projects that were “shovel ready.”  I read this week the dollars sent to California were used not to fix the most pressing problems, but were sent to districts of the most politically connected.  I am not surprised.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no idea what the most pressing projects were, but I do know how politicians deal with money.  Money is power, control the money you have the power to control the political debate.  I wonder if the District 1 state senator had seniority over the District 4 senator?
There are so many uninformed statements on Face Book that I’ve got to believe we have become a nation of stupid people, or maybe a nation of people who believe an uninformed public statement is better than actually knowing what you are talking about.  My latest example comes from a woman talking about the unfairness of firing people who chose not to come to work on “a day without immigrants.”  She noted that all the firings she knew about came from Right to Work states where people could be fired for any reason.  Since I didn’t know what the law was I looked it up.  Within a minute, I found this:
Right-to-work-laws say workers can be fired for any reason.
Wrong, A common misconception is that, Right-to-work means an employer can fire employees for any reason or no reason at all. Right-to-work laws have absolutely nothing to do with this. What you're talking about here is at-will employment.
Every state but Montana is already an at-will employment state. At-will means your employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all. Whether your employer doesn't like your shirt, wakes up in a bad mood, or just feels like it, they can fire you at-will unless you have a contract or union agreement saying otherwise.
A union can bargain to change this. Many union agreements have requirements that employers only terminate for just cause.

There should be a Robot Tax
Bill Gates has the video, embedded below, on YouTube where he’s talking about how robots will free up the workers so they can do things that require human empathy like teaching and health care.  He then says if a worker making $50 thousand is taxed the robot that replaces him should be taxed to pay for the humans who move into those more noble professions.  What gets glossed over in Mr. Gates grand statements is both the humanity affected and the simple economics of his proposal. 
From the human side he says, IF we could take the labor and “financially, training-wise, and fulfillment-wise” move them to those jobs requiring human empathy we would have a net gain.  A wonderful statement, how can you disagree with it?  But as in most utopian dreams the actual society we live in seems to be completely out of sync with the proposal.  He says we have severe shortages in teachers and health care workers for the elderly and special needs populations, yet we have approximately 10% to 15% of our labor age population today that is unemployed, why aren’t they flocking to these jobs?  Is it training, or financial?  I don’t think so.  We have a huge outcry for free college because students are graduating with mountains of debt and degrees that do not lead to the jobs they were told would be theirs if just they went to college.  Why aren’t all these under-employed and unemployed young people flocking to the severe shortages Mr. Gates referred to?  It couldn’t be because they are not interested in them, could it? 
So, if the jobs they are interested in are taken over by robots would their job fulfillment expectation change or would they just become bitter and drop out?
On the financial side, he says companies who replace workers should continue to pay the same income taxes they did when they had human workers.  He says the robots should pay taxes but they are, at this point, machines who requires no income to survive, just the power and maintenance.  Therefore, what his is actually saying is the government should expect the same income from a business as they had before the worker is replaced.  Since the Federal government operates at a net loss, why does he think whatever taxed income could be attributed to automation would cover the costs of moving the humans to those human empathy jobs he finds so lacking in today’s world?
But…but… but… Bill Gates is a billionaire, he must know what he’s talking about right?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened in Politics Today

I am convinced that people like Will Rogers and Bob Hope must be rolling over in their graves as they look at the state of political satire in America today.  They set a standard for poking the political elite that most of today’s writers and performers have no ability to reach. 
Why is that?
I think the answer boils down to one word, or as Aretha Franklin would say R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Historically, Roger’s would skewer the politicians for their actions with the Republicans being a favorite target.  I believe Hope poked the Democrats more than Republicans in his comedic insights into the two parties, but both of them maintained an underlying respect for the role of government and the necessary evil of the political parties and their politicians. 
Today’s commentators and performers have so little respect for the people or institutions they are attempting to satirize that their words and actions come across as mean, petty, and vindictive rhetoric.  Perhaps it is their perceived notion of shocking the audience by the use of profanity that contributes to this?  I don’t know, but I can’t see the profanity filled dialogues or quotes of Bill Maher being held up to future generations as great American wit.
Then we come to Saturday Night Live, whose agenda is so blatantly bias that it is almost painful to watch.  The hatred seems to ooze from the performer, like puss from a wound.  When did this change?  Was it with the election of GW Bush when the Democrat’s first enlisted the entertainment industry to de-legitimize the office of President, or is a bi-product of the snowflake generating education system?
I leave you with some examples.

Friday, February 17, 2017

It Seems Like Only Yesterday

Do you remember when the news was reporting that climate scientists thought California’s drought could last a very long time?  Some predicted 200 years or more.  Remember these reports?

Weather and weather cycles are a funny thing.  Some people, like conspiracy theorists at Freedom Outpost, are convinced the government is purposely controlling the weather.  They have a nice video narrated by someone who sounds a lot like Martin Sheen where they detail how the world is moving to destruction in keeping with biblical prophecy.  Others, like the progressive government politicians of California, may be playing with the information to enrich those they see as providing a better way.  But my question is if the science of climate change is settled, why didn’t all the scientist actually know when the drought would end or how much rain would come to end it?  Very curious.

A Modern Fairytale.I

This comes cutesy of my brother-in-law.

King Arthur and the Witch: 

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question?...What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.

He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.

Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer.  But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged. 

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.  The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!  Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.
He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur, saying nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table. 

Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question thus: What a woman really wants, she to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared.
And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.

The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened.  The beauty replied since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.  Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day....or night? 

Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments? 

What would YOU do?

What Lancelot chose is below. BUT....make YOUR choice before you scroll down below.

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself.  Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

Now....what is the moral to this story?

The moral is.....  If you don't let a woman have her own way....
Things are going to get ugly

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Just Wondering If I am Alone?

Just Wondering
After eight years of having the press ask White House approved questions is anyone really surprised when the new President thinks they are corrupt and maybe he should let someone else ask the benign questions he is happy to answer?


The morning stillness was shattered as the Merlin coughed to life.  Briefly a cloud of oil-rich smoke filled the air as the cylinders turned over, came to life, and began to warm for the mission before them.  The Rolls-Royce Merlin made the North American Mustang the envy of the sky.  With this airplane, the 8th AF could now reach Berlin with fighter escort for its B-17 and B-24 heavy bombers.  Its twelve cylinders, coupled with a supercharger could take the Mustang to the stratosphere and was the equal of every fighter in the sky, save the Messerschmidt-262.  But that is hardly a fair comparison as one was a jet and in a class by itself.

Along the RAF Duxford perimeter another eleven Merlins sputtered, coughed and settled into a sound that can only be described as power waiting to be unleashed.  The twelve pilots of the 82nd Fighter Squadron had just recently transitioned from the P-47 Thunderbolt with its huge air cooled radial engine.  For most -- the transition was like moving from a Clydesdale to a Thoroughbred with the Mustang proving to be all a fighter pilot could want.  Speed, grace, lethality, and strength.  True, it wasn’t as stout as the Thunderbolt, but it could run, climb and turn with the best of them.

The morning sky was gray, a typical English spring day, but there was enough ceiling to allow a formation departure and climb to the rally point.  The squadron commander called for check-in and confirmation the aircraft were ready to taxi.  Ten aircraft responded with a positive status, and two were working issues they thought would be cleared up shortly.  Leaving four aircraft behind the eight aircraft began their taxi, and sure enough the two sick birds came up before the squadron had reached the parallel moving from their dispersal hardstands.  By the time they reached the end of the runway for final checks and engine run up they were back to full squadron strength.   

They took off as three 4-ship elements from Duxford’s runway 06 heading east to the rally point over Felixstowe where it would join other fighter squadrons before pushing off to catch the bombers as the entered Germany.  Passing ten thousand feet the squadron commander called for check in to confirm everyone was on oxygen.  About that time, they passed into the clear blue sky hidden from the earth by the English clouds.  Flight leads checked in and they assumed a tactical formation as they reached the rally point.  A couple of turns and the rest of the groups arrived.  Once assembled they headed east, into the morning sun to find their bomber groups.  It looked to be a good day.

Climbing to 30,000 feet the 82nd would be providing top cover for the mission.  Major Charles Thomas was the squadron commander, and he had named his plane after his High School sweetheart Mary Sue Jenkins.  It was hard to believe he had been commissioned in 1939 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps and had completed flight school in 1940, going first to P-36s and then P-38s before coming to command the 82nd as they transitioned to P-51.  Five years ago, a Second Lieutenant and now an “old hand” Major with 40 combat missions and two confirmed kills.  Thomas checked his formation and allowed a wry smile to form under his mask, all his men were in a tight formation exactly where they were supposed to be.  The war was going well, its end now in sight, although the German advances of December 1944 in the Ardennes was scary.  The 82nd, brand new in the Mustangs, had been diverted to provide close air support once the weather broke.  This had cost them their last Squadron Commander when ack-ack had shot him down.  Thomas knew the risks but he was leading men who were combat proven in the Thunderbolt.  From his seat the job was an easy one.  Point them at the Nazis and let them loose.  His squadron patch had the winged helmet of Mercury and three Iron Crosses symbolizing their prowess against the Germans.

A quick check behind to see if they were spewing contrails and he was satisfied they were at a good altitude.  About thirty minutes after departing Felixstowe they began to see the contrails of the bombers.  Why did they stay where it made the hunters job so easy Thomas thought, but that was quickly pushed aside as he heard the fighter group lead check in with the bombers to let them know their escorts had arrived.

Thomas signaled for the squadron to pull the throttles back to long-range cruise and he began the S-Turns to keep from overrunning the heavies.  Even with this technique soon or later the speed difference became too much and he would have to turn around to head to the back of the formation and start the overtake all over.  This was, for the 82nd the worst of times because they were not pointed at the most likely direction of enemy advance.

With about two and a half hours of the eight-hour mission down the sky opened up with anti-aircraft fire.  As top cover the 82nd was above most of it, but he could look down and what the bombers and lower escorts getting hammered.  Still they plodded on.  He watched with a dispatched and fatalistic view that comes with combat as first one and then several of the bombers fell away.  Either too heavily damaged to go on, or damaged to a point they would no longer fly and the crews would abandon them if possible.  These were the times he was thankful to be a fighter pilot and not have to worry about the closeness of the crews whose lives depended completely on each other.

Major Thomas knew as soon as the ack-ack or flack stopped the German fighter defense would appear so he checked his squadron, put them in the best position he knew and prepared them for combat.  That combat came almost before he was ready for it.  Twenty-four bandits, three o’clock low and climbing for the bombers.  His wingman had seen them, and made the call on squadron frequency.  Thomas rolled the radio to the bomber frequency called the bandits and then back to squadron where he assigned tasks to the three formations in his charge.  That took about 10 seconds and once done he rolled the Mustang into a hard Split-S, and dove for the Germans, pulling a lead to put his aircraft between the lead fighter and the bombers.  Had they seen them soon enough?  That was always the question.

As the two groups of fighters merged at over 700 knots Thomas saw they were FW190s equipped with four machine guns in the wings and four more on pods under the wings.  There was also a possible 20mm cannon on some of the aircraft, or perhaps up to four rockets.  The rockets were for the bombers and not too much of a threat to the Mustang. As the merged Thomas rolled right side up and his wingman stuck to him like glue.  The wingman had one job.  Protect lead.  He was to alert him if there were aircraft approaching the six O’clock and roll in to engage if necessary.

As they dove, Thompson checked to make sure Mary Sue’s eight 50-caliber machine guns were armed and ready and the gun camera was on.  That formality done he lined up the nose of the FW190 and at about 600 yards let go a burst.  The Germans had not seen the 82nd coming down and that first pass was a good one.  Thomas watched as his target blew apart, and flew through the debris.  His other 2-ship leads each scored a kill as they blew the attacking formation apart. 

He pulled hard to get the aircraft back into the fight, kicking the rudder left and right to make sure his tail was clear.  By the time they got back up the bomber formation that first formation was gone, and the other escorts were engaged.  Thomas called his squadron to resume top cover and check in with damage.  The third element lead had some oil pressure issues, probably from damage in flying through the debris field.  Otherwise, everyone was okay. 

By this time the bombers were approaching their initial point, or IP.  That was the point where they make their final turn towards the target and the bombardiers, using their Norden bomb sights would guide the aircraft to their release point.  Since the targets were defended by flak, and German fighters wouldn’t be around the fighters would pick them up once they came off the target and escort them home.

The expectation was fighters would chew at the formation looking for stragglers and easy prey all the way to the English Channel.   The fighters would do what they could to protect the formation, but all too often the straggler was on his own.

Today it was a quiet return for the 82nd.  All the aircraft made it back to England, although Martha’s Revenge, the Mustang with the oil problem had to put it down as soon as they crossed the coast.  By the time Thomas and the rest of the squadron landed word of Lt. Cowell’s safe landing was waiting for them. 

Once the Merlins had wound down the jeeps arrived to take the pilots to debrief.  The squadron claimed six kills, four were confirmed.  It had been a good day.  Now it was time to hit the Open Mess and grab a drink.  No one knew what tomorrow would bring.

Is it Fair?

We are a nation of immigrants.  We came both willingly and unwillingly to this land to create something that had not existed before.  We displaced the peoples who came as immigrants before us, taking their lands and their lives to build a nation based on the principle that men and women had certain inalienable rights given by God that no government should take away. (The irony of this statement is intentional.)

Today we are engaged in a great civil war where sometimes violent protesters condemn any effort to restrict the flow of new immigrants into the country.  They use all the tools available to tell a story of the great unfairness this is to the class of people we call immigrant.

But who are these new immigrants and what do they offer in exchange for their acceptance?

Is it fair to the citizens and legal aliens already living in the nation to open up the flood gates to all who would seek life in the United States?  Will it make life for those who are already living day to day or hand to mouth better by bringing in the great unwashed masses yearning to breathe free?  That has always been the question.  In the past the great agrarian South pressed the government for the importation of cheap labor from Africa to work as slaves, then the industrialists pressed the government for the importation of cheap labor like the Irish, the Poles, or the Italians to man the sweat shops and factories along the east coast.  Then the Chinese to build the western railroads.  More recently came the  Jews to escape the persecution of the Fascists in Germany, Italy and Spain, but we balked at that and millions died.

So, at the end of the day how do we determine what is fair and who we need to be fair to?  Is it fair an immigrant who has nothing can come to this country and displace an American who has little?  That seems to be the question.  On the one side, we have a group that seems unwilling to answer this question with conviction, on the other we have a group unwilling to understand the risk of not allowing refugees to seek asylum.

But those who are protesting for unlimited immigration rights, is it fair to those who will lose their jobs and perhaps their lives because you think it is unfair to the immigrant?

Fairness and Morality

Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, has an interesting post on communication between Conservatives and Liberals titled How to Persuade the Other Party.   I think his observation of the difference of basis for a position has some good points.  Basically, he says a Liberal’s basis of support is fairness, while a Conservative’s comes from a moral belief.  Because the two groups have different foundations their arguments are not generally persuasive to the other.  I recommend it as a short read.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Saga of the Gun.

About seven years ago, in the middle of the hysteria about the Democrat’s plan to disregard the Second Amendment and eliminate the private ownership of hand guns my wife and I decided we should have one just because.  As a flyer in the Air Force I had to qualify every couple of years or so on a pistol so I was familiar with them, although never having a strong desire to own one.  Well to make a long story short we ended up getting a Springfield Armory XD.  A 9mm semi-automatic with a 16-shot clip.

We came home and put it in the safe where it has pretty much rested until today.  Oh, every six-months or so I would take it out, field strip it, and make sure it was lubricated but I never fired it.  My wife was concerned the gun wasn’t getting used and if I needed it, it wouldn’t work or I couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. 

Well anyway, today didn’t look like a great day for golf so I decided to head down the road to a gun range and exercise the weapon.  I shot about 100 rounds, half as practice and then 48 rounds (three clips) to see how good I could do.  On the test target, I started at 30 feet, then 20 feet and the final clip was at 10 feet.  While I don’t think Annie Oakley need fear me, I think overall it wasn’t a bad test. 

Writing is Work

Writing is work, it requires discipline, commitment and honest self-assessment.  While I enjoy writing I wonder why I bother.  I make a lot of mistakes in my form, style, and punctuation because I did not do a very good job absorbing the lessons of Junior High School English.  Ask me to diagram a sentence and you would get something that looks like a deformed fish.  Placement of commas, fugetaboutit! Yet, still I persist.  Perhaps it is my way to connect with others, or perhaps it is about trying to keep my mind alive, rather than succumb to that age-old disease of waiting around for death.

Of course, in today’s world writing about politics is easy.  There is so much hatred and animosity on both sides of the political spectrum it is, as a fight pilot would say, “a target rich environment.”  But that becomes a rather narrow option if you don’t want to find yourself as a hateful, parody of what you are writing about.  It is also self-limiting if no one agrees with a moderate view of the world.   
It seems today’s internet and social media forums have taken sound bites down to sound whiffs where all you do is let an odor off, rather than even a bite full of information.  Then everyone jumps on board to tell you your odor smells like…, well you can fill in the blank.

Well enough of this introspective crap.  I think I’ll shower and go play some golf.  To the handful of people who read this.  Have a great day or night, and don’t stay up to late.
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