Monday, November 25, 2013

A Brief Book Review: The End of Days by James Swanson

The End of Days : The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James Swanson (Harper Collins, 2013 398 pages) is a readily readable account of the four days in November 1963. The author’s title was intended to be a metaphor which marked the end of days for JFK as well as naivite for the nation.

Swanson is a skilled writer who was able to condense 80 pages of source notes into a page turning murder mystery story without the mystery.  Swanson firmly believes  that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman, and Swanson’s story gives no credence to the proliferation of conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination which have been circulating over the last fifty years.

Swanson gives 60 pages of background switching between the 35th President and his assassin in a parallel lives narrative style before their lives start to intersect in Texas.


One of the virtues of the End of Days was giving insight into Lee Harvey Oswald’s mindset by way of recounting Oswald’s appearances on New Orleans radio programs during the summer of 1963 supporting the Fair Play for Cuba cause.


Swanson’s short history of the Kennedy Administration does not whitewash the young Democrat President’s philandering foibles but it does not focus on it.  Kennedy is portrayed as a fervent anti-Communist who was positioning himself for his run for re-election on a pro-growth, tax cutting theme.  These traits are often ignored in other retellings of the American “Camelot”.

The End of Days also adroitly points out the imaging campaign which the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy used to immortalize her assassinated husband’s Administration as Camelot


The detailed account of the run up to the dastardly deed, the manhunt and the interrogation of the perpetrator was masterful.  Since the Oswald murder by Jack Ruby and the state funeral were televised live and became iconic images imprinted on the American psyche, Swanson alludes to a couple of these scenes.  Unfortunately, The End of Days did not seem to have reproduction rights for the photo of Lee Harvey Oswald just before he was shot or little John John’s salute of the casket.


Although The End of Days read like a Murder Mystery in which the reader knows what will happen, there were a couple of instances when the foreboding background voice of the fate that awaits seemed overwrought. The ending of the book seemed rushed in trying to tie up the loose ends about concerns about Robert Kennedy becoming President Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President and Jackie O’s estrangement from American popular focus.

While I enjoyed reading “The End of Days”, his media appearances had me expecting a little more.


The End of Days would neither satisfy a Sixth Floor Museum devotee nor a convicted conspiracy type, but Swanson was not writing for that audience.  If someone wants to read a true life potboiler chock full of facts about the JFK assassination, they should consider reading James Swanson’s “The End of Days.”


Konrad Adenauer on Life

Konrad Adenauer

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

P.J. O'Rourke on Liberalism

Both Evan Sayet in Kindergarden of Eden (2012) and P.J. O'Rourke in "Give War A Chance" (1992) analogized liberals as five year olds.

Are they right on the mark or do they need to be schooled?  Perhaps they should get  "re-educated"?

Are liberals really like spoiled Kindergardeners? free polls 

Dwight D. Eisenhower on Atheism

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jay Leno on Obamacare

Some Surveying of the Surfeit of Cheap Tablets

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaches, many merchants are highlighting inexpensive tablet computers as doorbusters or loss leaders to gin up overall Christmas holiday sales.  But before making impulse electronics purchases, it is wise to consider how you would use a tablet in mobile computing.  

It used to be that tablets were the ideal media consumption device. Tablets with 7" to 10" screens allow an individual to have an almost immersive view of videos.  Applications (a.k.a. apps) generally provided shortcuts which facilitated internet interactions.  Some tablets like the Nook and the Kindle were more e-ink reading devices which could have proto-tablet functions (checking e-mail, Wikipedia, and text based websites).  But Amazon’s Kindle Fire sought to be a loss leader which was a shopping portal doubling as an entertainment device.  Samsung’s strong showing with its Galaxy Tablets as well as the “phablet” Note series sought to tie tablets to cellular carriers.

Discern what are your mobile computing needs.  If you want a communications device with a larger screen (and you don’t mind carrying a 5.5" device in a pocket or a purse), then a “phablet” like the Samsung Note may be the best choice for you.  Many retailers will be offering enticing prices for such hybrid phone/tablets, but be prepared to be locked into a cellular carrier for a year or two.  If you want to keep having the latest and greatest devices, look into the early upgrade programs from major cellular carriers. 

Tablets sales used to be driven by Apple’s i-Pad, which came out in 2010.  The i-Pad still wins 29.6% of the tablet market while asking for a premium price that is rarely discounted.  While this writer is not purposely not part of the Apple cult, if one feels compelled to buy an Apple for its reputation of ease of use, enticing design or to keep up with the Jones’, then buy an i-Pad and sleep in on Black Friday.


There will be plenty of Black Friday sales on Android tablets.   If Android tablets have an appeal, determine which version of OS the hardware has, as earlier versions of Android  (prior to 4.0“Jelly Bean”) are not optimized to tablet proportions. Also be aware of how much storage is on the tablet.  A $40 tablet that only boasts 4GB will barely hold one movie.  That might be good enough for kinderspiel but would quickly be condemned to the land of misfit toys for most other tablet users. 

This holiday shopping season it may be easy to acquire a tablet but take the time to choose the right tablet for you. Consumers who are content to pay premium prices for an entertainment consumption device which is touted to work out of the box should opt for an i-Pad. Busy businessmen may want the Microsoft Surface to be able to do Office work while surfing the web on their tablets.  Those who want an all in one mobile communications device should consider a “phablet” like the Samsung Galaxy Note.  Avid readers who want the functionality of a tablet should lean towards the Amazon Kindle Fire.  And there are a variety of inexpensive Android tablets which may motivate impulse shoppers.


h/t: BFAds

John F. Kennedy on Opinions

John F. Kennedy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Barack Obama on the Filibuster

Wonder what has changed in the last eight years? Does truth have an expiration date? Or is it like a campaign promise "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it?"   

With the Orwellian way that facts are being erased, one should be inspired by  George Orwell's prognostication: "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."   Otherwise, we will suffer through more gloating by Commie Bear

Sir Edmund Hillary on Success

Sir Edmund Hillary Everest  Stamp

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address

On November 19th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address to dedicate the battlefield in the bloodiest skirmish during the war between the States as a resting place for the fallen.
Lincoln was said to have written his brief remarks on the back of an envelope, yet those scribbling still resonate today.

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

The acclaimed PBS Civil War documentarian Ken Burns has been promoting  "Learn the Address" by inviting 58 prominent Americans to recite those solemn words of President Lincoln from 150 years ago.

It is worth noting that the only person amongst the nearly three score of cynosures who failed to read the speech as delivered at the cemetery in Gettysburg was President Barack H. Obama.  Our current President omitted the words "under God".  Perhaps there was a teleprompter glitch.  More likely, it is conscious return by Mr. Obama to conveniently edit seminal American documents to suit his tastes. Such a cavalier approach to what Ken Burns called pure Presidential poetry seems to be what honest historians want to avoid.  

In addition, President Obama chose not to travel the 75 miles to Gettysburg for the Sesquicentennial, despite having a light official schedule.  This is an odd omission as Mr. Obama declared his Presidential run at the steps of the Lincoln statehouse in Springfield, Illinois and adorned the White House with many Lincolnesque trappings. Yet  President Obama will be in the forefront in ceremonies commemorating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Although the currently elected occupant of the White House will be absent, this should not stop us from actualizing Abraham Lincoln's exhortation:

[T]hat we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Henry David Thoreau on Liberty

Henry David Thoreau Disobey

Monday, November 18, 2013

Commie Bear on Obamacare

[L] Commie Bear [R] Buck Sexton

Commie Bear, the Special Correspondent to the Buck Sexton Show, had a devastating diagnosis of Obamacare.

Interesting that the Russian word for good  "хорошо" sounds similar to "horror show" in English. Perhaps there is something lost in translation. Or perhaps socialized medicine is a "good" that should not have been translated into American politics. 

h/t: Buck Sexton 

Ayn Rand on Government

Ayn Rand

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dr. Ben Carson on Obamacare

Dr. Ben Carson gives his diagnosis of the American health care system at the 2013 Values Voter Summit as well as the prognosis for it under the control of Obamacare.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Revealing Politics-- The Crook

Karl Marx claimed that: "History repeats itself..first a tragedy, then as a farce."  in reference to Napoleon I and Napoleon III of France.  Astute political observers can appreciate the irony of that aphorism in American politics today considering President Richard M. Nixon's  deceptiveness and the untruthful antics of President Barack H. Obama.

Yet there is disparate treatment by the Lamestream Media.  Nixon was hounded by a hostile media about the subterfuge and political corruption, leading to his resignation just before the House impeached him.

 In the run up to the passage of the so called "Affordable Care Act", Mr. Obama's often repeated a promise to sell the legislation:

"We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period.”
But it has been recently revealed that the Obama Administration knew this would not be the case soon after the passage of Obamacare.   Moreover, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius interpreted the law to nix private employer health care policies which make any changes.

And after there was hue and outcry from the public, President Obama unilaterally changed the ACA (again) with a questionable "Administrative Fix" which allowed insurers to maintain cancelled plans, if they wanted to do so.  But only for a year, when workers would have to step up to a better model, like a new car with seatbelts. 

During the 1960 campaign, there was a slogan against then Vice President Nixon seeking the highest office of the land "Would you buy a used car from this man?"

Has history repeated itself again in a very expensive farce?

Bet you can get set up with quite a deal on a Volt from Government Motors too.

Jacinto Benavente on Communication

Jacinto  Benavente

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Social Media Communication Quirks

While the Internet 2.0 has greatly increased a sense of feeling connected with others on the World Wide Web, this phenomenon has caused some quirks in communications. 

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake satirized the proliferation of hashtags through a reductio ad absurdum video using the hagtags in real life dialogues.

Since short written exchanges can be misconstrued without facial cues, many internet interlocutors choose to use emoticons.   To supplement these non-verbal cues,  entrepreneurs Paul and Douglas J. Sak  patented and sought to market new punctuation to clarify things-- the Sarcmark.

Free spirits chafed at profiting from punctuation.  A mock website "Open Sarcasm" sought to blacklist the SarcMark in favor of the temherte slaq (the inverted exclamation point) with a tongue in cheek tag line: "Sarcasmists of the World Unite!" 

But another reason that  the SarcMark has failed to catch on was the price for being smarmy.  The grammatical genius initially priced his punctuation at $1.99 for lifetime use, whereas typing ;-) was just three keystrokes and had no cost.  Brilliant!  

Communication has changed in the Internet Age.  Now, sending e-mails are too long for the digerati and may be considered passé.  Traditional types often have difficulty in adjusting to sharing in 140 characters or less.  

Short form social media like Twitter will not be the be all and end all in communicating complex thought.  But it can attract eyeballs to see something more.

h/t: Mike Keefe

Plato on Courage


Obama's Clumsy Salutes to Servicemen

President Obama stint as the Commander-in-Chief have come with some curious verbal snafu's when saluting presumed servicemen.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Celebrating the U.S. Marine Corps' Birthday

The United States Marine Corps was created on November 10th, 1775 to guard vessels during the American Revolutionary War.  Since then, the Marine Corps responsibilities have expanded as in integral component of American military forces working with the Navy to rapidly deploy combined armed task forces. 

While the U.S. Marine Corps is the smallest of the nation’s combat forces, it is the largest Marine Corps in the world and is often the first forces sent out. ... 

 Marines attach great tradition to celebrating their founding.  A ceremonial cake is presented where the oldest Marine cuts the culinary creation with his sword and then feeds the youngest Marine present. Often this is done in dress uniforms and high ceremony.  But this video from the 2011 ceremony in Afghanistan poignantly captures that same spirit in the fields of combat. 


Friday, November 8, 2013

A Storm Trooper's Quandary of Conscience

But this need not be "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."

Some secular "storm troopers" are suffering from a similar crise de confiance with the realization that fulfilling the sweet dreams of Obamacare will actually cost them so now they are against it. 

h/t: Michael Ramirez

Book Review: The War on Football: Saving America's Sport by Daniel J. Flynn

Daniel J. Flynn
So many of those who write about sports come from a liberal persuasion.  So it was refreshing to read Daniel J. Flynn’s book "The War on Football: Saving America’s Game” (Regnery Publishing, 2013 216 pages) as he iconoclastically uses science, history and social relations to defend a beleaguered sport.  Perhaps Flynn’s tenure as the former Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia inspired the author to include over 50 pages of footnotes to score his points, lest anyone doubt him. Flynn surveys the sport on the Pop Warner level, collegiate football programs even womens’ football leagues as well as the pros to try to discern the truth about football.
When listening to the news today, it is hard to escape hearing ancillary reports on the War on Football.  Between the news that former Dallas Cowboy running back Tony Dorsett declaring that hits from his NFL career contributed to his diagnosis of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).  Then there are the charges of hazing by Miami Dolphin Guard Richie Incognito that he bullied other 300 pound rookie players.  Then there is the irate Texas parent who pressed administrative charges of bullying against Alendo High School Football Coach Tim Buchanan after winning the game 91-0.

The battle against football is not simply for safety but it mirrors a “wussification” of society as well as reflecting the lessons which we want to teach our children. So instead of giving football a proverbial pat on the back for instilling discipline, teamwork and the virtues of hard work, football is given a kick below the belt by pointing to questionable science to win their game.

There is no doubt that football is a physically demanding sport, which requires conditioning and practice.  However, the mainstream media weltanschauung is colored by a perception that football is an American version of a gladiator sport.  While there were periods in history, such as 1905 and 1968, where many mortal injuries on the playing field occurred, Flynn contends that rule changes and better equipment mitigate those serious casualties.  So today anti-football fanatics concentrate on concussions. 

The $765 million settlement by the NFL to former players since 2006 with brain damage claims as well as suicides of Junior Seau and Dave Duereson which supposedly implicates CTE to the tragic deaths contributes to the public perception that football is an unsafe sport.

 Flynn’s "The War on Football" book debunks these simple conclusions as they are not bourne out by the facts.    Cheerleaders are more at risk for concussions than football players, but which athlete embodies the fearsome warrior traits so disfavored by Cocktail Party elites?  

Scientists can not find a causal effect between football and CTE.  However hucksters selling safety are able to profit hawking equipment with dubious extra protection.  Moreover, Flynn casts a shadow upon Mark Lovell’s Intermediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT), noting how the expert lacks scientific detachment as he successfully  markets his “low to moderate reliability” product to sports programs desperate for cover against litigation.

The pro-football settlement regarding concussions may have a ripple effect which could well diminish the lower levels of the sport.  Some anti-football crusaders want to ban the sport to minors.  This nanny state protection for the children , which would effectively kill football as the physicality of the sport make football a young person’s sport.  In addition, the skills required for teamwork, precision and strategy takes time to develop to attain the athletic achievements that American football fans admire.  

As a casual football fan who loves history, I appreciated learning how football evolved as a uniquely American sport.  It was amusing to find out that Notre Dame greats George Gipp and Knute Rockne superceded their “tramp athlete origins” to become paragons of football.  In addition,  Pop Warner had his own foibles but still left a great legacy to football.   Flynn’s iconoclastic arguments against the junk science concerning concussions and football were compelling and often ignored by a sensationalist, liberal leaning mainstream media. 

The tone of the book was fair but decidedly not objective.  I appreciated the cynical asides peppered throughout the book questioning junk science or the tongue in cheek critique on litigators: “They don’t teach physics in law school.”    Flynn had so won me over that I was rooting for a blowout at the end instead of the more restrained conclusion that: “Football is good for you.  Play. Watch. Cheer.”


CMA Skewers Obamacare By Morning

In the entertainment industry, awards shows try to create buzz for the craft segment while honoring its echelon.  Often, the buzz from these awards shows are stunts which create resonating word of mouth. These publicity stunts reflect where the industry movers and shakers believe that their audience is (or should be).

On the one hand, Miley Cyrus created buzz this summer at the Video Music Awards by twerking onstage with Robin Thicke  While it may have positioned Cyrus away from her Hannah Montana child star roots. which should make her blue, but the controversy caused many to lament the degradation of popular culture. 

Brad Paisely and Carrie Underwood at CMA Awards
On the other hand, the opening segment of the 47th annual Country Music Association Awards Show managed to create buzz without bawdiness or calumny.   Brad Paisley joked with co-host Carrie Underwood that his back hurt and that he needed to see a doctor.  Underwood enthused "Have you signed up for Obamacare?"

George Strait
As the pair briefly feigned trying to use the inadequate website, the duo launched into a song: "Obamacare by Morning" which parodied Country Music Entertainer of the Year George Strait's "Amarillo in the Morning".  The capacity crowd at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville enthusiastically applauded. 

Although the content of the CMA opening sketch is more appealing to the political sensibilities of the District of Calamity, the manner which the humor was used was sublime yet biting on a real public policy pivot.   Moreover, the CMA sketch acknowledged the audience's druthers rather than defining degeneracy downward ala the VMAs and prompting an impressionable audience to join them in the moral mud. 

James Woods on Liberals

James Wood