Friday, May 31, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Meaning of Memorial Day

This morning my eleven year old niece informed me that the word of the day was "Memorial".   Being a cunning linguist who hopes to aspire others to appreciating etymology, I innocently asked what that meant.  She was stumped at giving an off the cuff definition.  So I tried another tact by asking "So what are we memorializing?"  thinking that she would instinctively know.  She responded "The Presidents?".  That was a big no as even the colloquially called "Presidents' Day" is actually still Washington's Birthday (Observed).

Sadly, so many in our society simply see Memorial Day as the unofficial kickoff of the summer season.  Or as the occasion to hold the Indy 500.  Such a schoolgirl could be lead to think that it is just another day off of school.  No wonder why Ruben Blades laments that we may be the best informed society that dies of ignorance. 

These illustrations are graphic reminders of the depth of gratitude we should have for those in the Armed Services who fought and sometimes gave their lives to protect the freedoms we have to remain blissfully ignorant of their sacrifices for society.

So when pause to give our blessings at the afternoon picnic, I don't care if I interrupt Popes, Presidents, impressarios or imposters, I will insist that we thank heaven for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their brothers and sisters to live in freedom and aspire for peace. 

The Face of Prayer in America

John Wayne In Harm's Way (1965)

John Wayne In Harm's Way

Lord Kitchener on War

Lord Kitchener  War

George S. Patton on Virtue

Patton Virtue

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Socrates on Wisdom


On Religious Freedom in the Armed Services

Is the so called Military Freedom Religious Foundation encouraging the freedom of faith in the foxhole or is it a stalking horse for secular chaos in the armed services?

Pleading the Fifth to the IRS?

IRS Exempt Division head, Lois Lerner

Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS Exempt Division gave some interesting "non-testimony" at  the House Government Oversight Committee hearing on the IRS Investigations of Targeting Conservative Groups, Chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA 49th).    

Lerner's attorney had publicized that she would invoke her Constitutional Fifth Amendment privileges of not potentially incriminating herself through testimony.  Yet Lerner gave an impassioned opening statement which was an apologia proclaiming her innocence. 

And then Lerner clammed up, refusing to take questions from Congress by invoking her Fifth Amendment rights. 

Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC 4th), a former Federal Prosecutor, insisted that Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment privilege with her opening statement as well as authenticating documents.  Chairman Issa dismissed Lerner and her counsel, with the possibility that she may be called back to testify. 

Newt Gingrich raised an interesting item of intellectual jujitsu--

This celebrity oriented culture ought to ask Wesley Snipes and Lauren Hill how that strategery (sic) works out in the real world. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hannah Arendt on Forgiveness

Hannah Ardent

Stormy Politics

Shortly after a deadly tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma which has killed at least 51 people, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) ranted for 15 minutes against Republicans in Tornado Alley for denying the theory of anthropogenic global warming.  Whitehouse raved:

Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together.

To be fair, Climate Change has long been one of  Whitehouse’s pet policies.   But politicizing a natural disaster of this magnitude before recovery efforts even began was callous and unstatesmanlike. 

But Whitehouse’s rant may have been a barometer for a tempest of progressive politicos.  Social media strings questioned how conservative storm victims could be helped by what was characterized as unconstitutional FEMA assistance.  The comment seemed to have keyed on former Rep. Ron Paul’s critique of FEMA.  Of course, Rep. Paul was a libertarian more than a conservative and he argued that FEMA does more harm than good rather than the constitutionality of the agency.  But what do facts matter for a partisan progressive attack?

Later comments mocked the self-reliant instincts of flyover country folk for needing FEMA, as they should have had insurance.  The money line was “[It] certainly feels like conservatives believe Liberals are a bunch of tax dodging moochers, living off the government teat. who want to take their money, guns and behymens (sic).”

In the Age of Obama, politicizing tragedy is nothing new.  Families of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings were flown to the District of Calamity (sic) on Air Force One and paraded by the Obama White House before Congress to lobby for federal gun control, when the restrictions would do nothing to address what caused their loss.  And some political observers that Superstorm Sandy may have turned the tide in the 2012 election for President Obama.

One would hope that these piquant quips about natural disasters like the Moore OK F4 tornado  are isolated examples of liberal lunacy.  But as Glenn Beck sprang into action after the cyclone hit, corralling two tractor trailers with emergency supplies for the victims of Moore, OK, he was amazed at the hate which this storm brewed.  Beck noted that Twitter messages he saw spoke of God punishing evil Red Staters.  So this bilious progressive temperament from the fever swap seems widespread.

It makes me regret thinking of those on the other end of the ideological spectrum as “Bleeding Heart Liberals”.   Such cruel comments make me question which organ should be substituted as an appropriate descriptor.  

Michael Reagan sensed the stormy political atmosphere when he said:  

What will speak louder than words are actions. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Zig Ziglar on Character

Zig Ziglar

A Bit of DOJ Pride--PC Anarcho-Fascism

In advance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Pride Month in June, the Department of Justice was internally circulating a document entitled “LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers.” 


There are some sensible suggestions in the policy propaganda,  such as avoiding offensive jokes (and cracking down on subordinates who engage in such off color humor).  But this extends to adjectives that might be considered pejorative, like “sissy” or “pansy”. 

The DOJ document mandates some double speak.  Managers are mandated not to use terminology like “trannny”, “the gay lifestyle” or “sexual preference” that some might consider offensive.  Manager are told that inclusive words like “partner” or “spouse” ought to be used rather than gender specific “husband” and “wife”.  

Aside from scrubbing language from common descriptive words that have no negative intent but are not inclusive or recognizing traditional social arrangements, DOJ Pride gives a place of pride to alternative lifestyle activists. The document “suggests” that employees should be allowed to attend LGBT-focused professional professional advancement activities, like the LGBT Bar Association and Out and Equal Workplace Advocacy conferences, presumably on company time and the taxpayers dime. 

What is really troubling is mandating what must be done if an employee comes out to you.  Rather than state the law or the Department’s presumed policy of non-discrimination or being judged on your work performance, the pamphlet notes that managers should not judge them or remain silent.  The document deigns that  "Silence will be interpreted as disapproval”.  The only correct response to such unsolicited sharing is “interest and curious.”  And managers are muscled to display LGBT paraphanalia in their office to let their subordinates know that it is a safe workplace.  So if a manager holds contrary mores, they must not state their preference or bite their tongue but ought to approve of their employee’s choices

DO assume that LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you’re saying (whether in a meeting or around the proverbial water cooler) and will read what you’re writing (whether in a casual email or in a formal document), and make sure the language you use is inclusive and respectful.”

Of course professionalism is expected in conducting oneself in a workplace.  But it is a little troubling about having the expectation that “LGBT employees and THEIR ALLIES” (my emphasis) watching over one’s shoulder.   With the broad swathes of group-think (banishing husband/wife language, or references to sexual preference and the gay lifestyle), this is creating an adversarial environment which accusations of politically incorrect statements (not even using unprofessional expressions for an office place) could well be used as a cudgel against traditional Christians.  It could be an undefensible accusation which does not use a reasonable person’s standards but operates on the contingency if someone claims to be offended. 

This arbitrary and ambiguous standard sounds similar to the new Department of Education edict which lowered the standards of what constitutes sexual harassment”.   



Ray Manzerek Breaks on Through to the Other Side RIP (1939-2013)

[L} Ray Manzarek, [R] Jim Morrison of The Doors

Ray Manzarek, the iconic keyboardist who co-founded The Doors in 1965 died after a long bout with cancer in Rosenheim, Germany.

Manzarek  attended film school at UCLA, where he became acquainted with fellow film student Jim Morrison.  Manzarek met met drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robbie Krieger at Transcendental Meditation. The foursome was the house band for the London Fog and later the prestigious Whiskey A Go Go on L.A.'s Sunset Strip.

Although The Doors were known for the unpredictable antics o iconic but erratic performances of  lead singer Morrison, Manzarek was the musical backbone, as he played both keyboard and bass.  Manzarek's importance is evident in the bluesy organ which is the hallmark of the infamous 1967 "Light My Fire" performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Manzarek also occasionally sang on Doors' songs, which took more prominence on the two albums released after the Lizard King's death in Paris in 1971.

After the end of The Doors, Manzarek continued to play professionally until his death.  In 1984, Manzarek released an album of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana which was produced by Philip Glass.

Manzarek also dabbled in literature.  His memoirs "Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors" was published in 1998.  Manzarek also wrote The Poet In Exile (2001), which was a novel that explored the urban myth that Jim Morrison faked his death.

As Manzarek shakes his mortal coil, it might be worthwhile to contemplate the inspiration of The Door's moniker.  It is based off of a quote from William Blake's "On Heaven and Hell" which Aldous Huxley reinterpreted in "The Doors of Perception".

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite"

May transcending the physical clear Ray Manzarek's doors of perception.  Rest In Peace.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Greg Gutfeld on Politics

Greg Gutfeld

It's Raining--Obama Calls in the Marines

Today President Obama held a joint news conference with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House.  It began to drizzle during this Rose Garden presser and POTUS did not hesitate to call in the Marines to hold up umbrellas.

Strangely, one of Mr. Obama's answers touched on the dangers on the outpost in Benghazi, Libya,  where the State Department repeatedly denied additional security and refused to send in the Marines (or special forces) when terrorists killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. 

But of course Mr. Obama alluded to others to blame for all mistakes.  President Obama urged called on Congress to fully fund Embassy Security.  But for the 9/11/2012 Benghazi attack, it was the White House's call to not send in forces to rescue Americans in distress.  It's better to have Marines look good holding an umbrella as well as the bag for foreign failures.

Post Scriptus--  It seems that ordering Marines to carry umbrellas while in uniform is a violation of  Marine Corps regulations.  But what do rules matter in the Obama Administration?

Sighting the Ship of Fools--Boston Bomber's Scrawled Confession

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev surrendering in boat after manhunt   [photo: AFP/CBS News]

While Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was held up hiding in a backyard boat in Watertown, MA after the Boston Marathon Bombing, he scrawled a confession.  The U.K.’s Daily Mail reports that the 19 year old thought that he was dying while hiding from the police.  Tsarnaev found a pen where he was hiding from the police and wrote on the interior wall of the boat.

The younger Boston Bomber’s apologia reveals that Dzhokar did not mourn his brother Tamerlan’s death as he was a martyr living in paradise.  Dzhokhar opined that he expected to join his brother soon.  Of course, Dzhokar may have been confused about his final destination.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev claimed that the bombings were retribution for American actions against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The younger Boston Bomber claimed that the three innocent civilians killed and the 175 people maimed by the  Boston Bombings were “collateral damage”, like the thousands of Muslims who were victims of American violence.  Dzhokhar defiantly declared: "When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims.”

 Abdul Ali Alharbi [photo: Okaz]
CBS News reported that investigators were interpreting this note as evidence that the Tsarnaev Brothers  were self-radicalized and that they were not Chechen stooges for a broader jihadist plot.  How convenient.  But what about the hub of strange activity surrounding Abdul Ali Alharbi, the well connected Saudi student hospitalized with burnt hands after the Boston Bombing who was then set to be deported by ICE under section 202 (3)(b) for “Terrorist Activities”?   Out of sight, (out of country), out of mind?


If the Boston Bombing investigators are seriously pursuing the theory that the Tsarnaevs acted alone and letting other conspirators "slip away", they themselves are lost at sea on a ship of fools.  Unfortunately, such a pleasure cruise could run America’s ship of state aground.


H.L. Mencken on Adversity

HL Mencken

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Out of the World ISS Musical Experiment

Kudos to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who performed and produced an out of this world music video redition of David Bowie's 1969 hit "Space Oddity" while aboard the International Space Station.  The music video was made with the full cooperation of the Canadian Space Agency and has gone viral as it has been played over 11 million times. 

This was the third time that the 53 year old former Royal Canadian Air Force officer has been to space.  This time Hadfield was ISS Commander of the Soyuz capsule as part of Expedition 35's five month mission orbiting the Earth.  

ISS Expedition 35 landing
Even though Hadfield landed in Kazhakstan on May 13th, it may take months for him to enjoy his cosmic celebrity status on the world-wide-web, as Hadfield will require a couple of months of physical therapy to recover from effects of weightessness on bone density and muscle mass. 

Crew of ISS Expedition 35 after landfall.  

A small price to be paid for sitting in a tin-can far above the world and cutting a music video which truly makes Hadfield a renowned Starman. 

Impeach-Mint: A New Flavor for a Hot Summer in the District of Calamity

The summer of 1973 was a hot time in the District of Calamity when it seemed like every day news broke about scandals connected to the White House, which eventually lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

 In the span of one week, three emerging scandals have embroiled the Obama Administration. The long festering Benghazi Bungle became critical, with the straight-forward testimony of three career diplomat whistle blowers before Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa's  (R-CA 49th)  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  The fact that Libyian Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks was a Hillary Clinton for President supporter and twice voted for President Obama  added fuel to the fire, as the Congressional probe could not be deftly dismissed as a partisan witch hunt.

Libyan Chief  of Mission Gregory Hicks testifying before Congress

On Friday at an American Bar Association meeting,  the head of the IRS Exempt Organization Division Lois Lerner apologized for targeting conservative groups for special tax-exempt scrutiny.  At first this was attributed to a couple of low level IRS agents in Cincinnati and was part of a Friday DC data dump.  But it became clear that such intimidation occurred all over the country for several years.  Then it came out that right wing groups teaching about the Constitution received the "special" treatment.  This was odd since the educational element was sine qua non for a 501(c)(4) organization.   The drip-drip continued when it was exposed that conservative Jewish groups were interrogated about their feelings about the State of Israel.

If that was not bad enough, the Associated Press reported that , Eric Holder's Department of Justice surreptitiously surveilled a score of journalist's phone records for two months supposedly to plug a leak about a planned terrorist attack.  The Obama Administration scrutinized reporters' home, cell and office phones for two months, without informing the Associated Press.   As the Associated Press was cooperative once it learned of the DOJ investigation which calls into question whether such a broad and secret warrant was necessar. .

With the daily drip of scandal, it seems like it will be a hot summer in the city.  It might be time for Ben and Jerry to craft a culinary creation to make this summer of scandal more palatable with Impeach-Mint.

It is dubious if this fanciful flavor would ever get off the drawing board, as progressives would waffle at profiting from the indiscretions of an ideology whom they idealized as a light worker of hope and change.

h/t:  Mad Magazine

Media Family Ties to the Obama White House

The District of Calamity is replete with power couples, who have spouses that do the two step between government service to K Street or Media Row.  

However the nexus between highly placed media leaders and the Obama Administration may well illuminate why the Lamestream Media chose to remain in the dark about the Benghazi diplomatic debacle and the prolonged political persecutions by the IRS of conservative groups due to ideology.  

Now that it has become clear that the Obama Department of Justice has surreptitiously scrutinized phone records of scores of Associated Press reporters, journalists have their noses out of joint for threatening their First Amendment rights of Freedom of the Press.  So it's a little family struggle.  Or have they come to the conclusion that there are some consequences to ideological incest and that they have been co-opted by a power hungry abuser?  It's all relative, so what difference does it make?

There is the matter of trust.  Most Lamestream Media papers are dying.  Network news may still drive the news cycle, but their viewership over the air is dwindling to near nothing.  CNN and MSNBC both have viewership  that is dwarfed by Fox News Channel, which gives left and right a voice.  The BlazeTV, a streaming internet news network started by Glenn Beck about two years ago, has more paid subscribers than Piers Morgan has viewers.  

How do get your news and how do you vet the trustworthiness of their content?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Honore de Balzac on Bureaucracy

Balzac Bureaucracy

A Brief Call For Cellular Change

An important aspect of living in the Twenty-First Century is mobile communications.  Many have severed their ties to landlines.  People use the internet for e-mail, entertainment, information and productivity.  And cellular telephony allows people to take their pocket computers disguised as smartphones everywhere, with the expectation that the devices can be used ubiquitously.

Although the advances in electronics allow for incredible capabilities, the reliability is not perfect and seemingly every option of cellular providers has some disadvantages.


It is unwise to think that there is only one answer for everyone on choosing a cellular provider.  Cost can throttle choice.  Coverage can vary widely.  People also use their phones differently.  The best advice is to know yourself and investigate thoroughly.

So many people are seduced into being locked into a carrier with the “New Every Two” mentality.  While wear and tear and technological improvements can make this replacement cycle appealing, the shiny new “toy” comes at a cost of another two year commitment and possible changes in contractual terms.  A couple of years ago, AT and T alienated I Phone owners by altering the “all you can eat” data plans.  New customers had a cap.  Some old AT and T I-Phone customers  also complained that when they wanted to upgrade that their grandfathered unlimited data plans not convey.  

One other calculus which consumers need to consider is convergence.  Cellular technology can act as a phone, a credible camera, a GPS system, a reading device, a mobile computer etc.  When calling for a cellular change, the savvy consumer will explore how his chosen plan and his handset can take advantage of convergence.  For example a usable hot spot capability can connect a laptop or a tablet making a separate device a redundant expense. 


Personally, my household has been a contract customer with several of the big four cellular carriers, but we dote on the terms of the contract and will not take the phone upgrade temptation track.  As the market has changed, I am developing an openness to pre-paid models that have lower monthly costs but lack the subsidized phone.  Recently,  I was almost ready to switch, I noticed that my chosen MVNO had a limited selection of phones which had LTE capability.   While I was willing to wait for LTE to officially arrive shortly in the District of Calamity (sic), the limited phone choice prompted me to investigate further.  

It was a good thing that I studied the details, as the only LTE phone did not provide a hotspot option, which was a deal breaker for me.  I was willing to pay $15 a month for a Hot Spot with 2.5 GB full 4G LTE, as I could drop a NetZero low capacity Hot Spot and get better service.   This plan has not been ruled out but tabled for better choices.

In the cellular industry, things can change pretty quickly.  It may be that Amazon puts out a Kindle Phone in which Amazon acts as a MVNO.  Like the Kindle, Amazon may sell their devices at near cost and bank on the ease of future purchases through Amazon to pull out the profitability.  This option is appealing as Amazon’s customer service has been top rate (unlike certain phone companies) and my prior Kindle ownerships have hooked me into their system.  But opting for Amazon would still require scrutinizing the calling plans and handsets and correlating  hem to my household’s needs. 

Choice is great but it can be confusing and requires some sacrifices.  Then again, there’s always  the  Obama phone.  

But the  Lifeline program is rife with abuse and Congress is considering cutting back on the program, which has tripled in size since 2009 to cost $2.2 Billion per year.   Considering President Obama’s troubles with surreptitiously seizing phone records of scores of Associated Press employees, cutting back on the Obama phones might be prudent.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Steve Martin on Persistence

Steve Martin  The Jerk

If an entertainer is persistent enough then he or she may become a member of SNL's exclusive Five Timers' Club, like new inductee Justin Timberlake.