Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Drive-By Blogger

The military's “Don't ask, don't tell” policy may end not with a bang but a whimper – so to speak. The old “morale” argument starts to wear thin when you have a look at all the heterosexual “fraternization” that goes on constantly – not to mention pregnant naval personnel on board ships, punctured romances in the space program, etc. The end of this particular hypocrisy is one casualty we can afford, it seems to me.

Third-world pride: You mean it's not OK to just spirit kids out of a distressed country like Haiti, regardless of whether they have parents? You mean the blessings of “a new life” in the U.S. aren't the Haitian government's highest priority for its younger citizens? Imagine that. We always make the facile assumption that just because a country is plagued with what we call “poverty” (they call it “the way things are”) everyone in that country is (1) anxious to leave as soon as possible, or (2) failing that, anxious that their children get to leave. But there is, after all, such a thing as racial and ethnic cohesion and, yes, pride – something we are not only completely unfamiliar with up here, but it is actually discouraged by the ruling regime and is, in many cases, against the law. So who has a better chance of surviving when things get really tough – the Haitians, who are used to hard times, or lard-ass Americans, who are paralyzed by political correctness and other delusions? Maybe we'll get a chance to find out before long...

“Scientists have detected glimmers of awareness in some vegetative patients.” Wow – guess there's hope for Robert Byrd yet. And of course we know that Ariel Sharon is still running things in Israel (and in the U.S. State Department) from his hospital bed.

Looks like the high-end art market is rolling again. But why? One possibility is that the good times have returned for the rich, and they aren't “running scared” any longer. And that ought to create some trickle-down prosperity for the rest of us, right? But another possibility is that – according to plan – they are bailing out of traditional securities as well as the dollar, and putting their wealth in even more traditional holding patterns – you know, the same sort of things that everybody buys during wars and depressions. The only thing that can be said for certain is that it's good news for art dealers.

There's a major snow dump going on right now in Pittsburgh, and sure enough, the “quick stop” store down the street was thronged with people buying milk and bread – including, as I always suspect, people who don't normally even use milk and bread. Mass hysteria is a wonder to behold...

Plus – get this – there are no cars on the street, and no one on foot... except the usual crowd of drunks that shows up a half hour after the bars close. These people are tough.

I still don't quite “get” all the problems we seem to have putting up an effective border fence. Why doesn't somebody just go back and study what the Soviets did – not only in Berlin, with the wall, but around the entire Soviet Union? No one got in or out for decades. And how about the Nazis? They managed to keep people from leaving for a few years at least. And how about North Korea? They have all done it successfully – why can't we?

Best way to save money at the Olympics – watch it on TV.

Obama's working on Son of No Child Left Behind. But it won't work either. The only solution? Run the schools like a private, for-profit business. Which means, any teacher can be fired, at any time, for any reason. That would get their attention much better than another lame government program.

If the Tea Partiers want to acquire any credibility and long-term survival potential, they have to distance themselves as much as possible from the likes of Sarah Palin. With her hanging around the neck of “conservatives”, they're never going to regain any sort of power no matter how much Obama & Co. mess up.

So the swine flu came and went, and the Republic remains. Any chance a lot of the panic was intentionally created by that arm of the government in charge of the perpetual “state of fear”?

High school students in nearby Greensburg, PA tipped each other off via cell phone when they spotted “narcs” on the campus. “Police and dogs” gathered outside one of our stellar public schools recently, in that twilight zone that represents the convergence of fascism with the public school debacle. There are no winners here... but at least the kids have a bit of gumption still remaining, despite all the efforts of the public school brainwashing cartel. If our youth cannot escape the machine, at least they can rage against it.

A jail guard trainee “suffered a neurological problem that required hospitalization and surgery” after being exposed to pepper spray as part of a training course. But of course the stuff is perfectly safe for use on ordinary citizens – just like the Taser. Right?

“I am not anticipating, nor do I want to anticipate, life at CBS News without Katie Coric.” So says CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus. Well, that makes one of us, pal. Heck, I'm still enjoying “The CBS Evening News Without Dan Rather” -- the same thing without Katie would be even better.

So now we have the baddest of Obama's bad-asses, Rahm Emanuel, having to apologize for using the word “retarded” during a private meeting? Wow – talk about liberals getting hoisted on their own petard. So now he says “he will join (a) campaign to help end the use of the word.” Fair enough – might I suggest that a good place to start might be to ditch Obama's economic program in its entirety? That would give people much less cause to use the word in everyday conversation.

Among those who chimed in on the Emanuel gaffe was Sarah Palin, who asked, on her Facebook page, “Are you capable of decency, Rahm Emanuel?” Well, the answer, of course, is no. He's fairly typical of the Obama inner claque, in fact – although, arguably, the first among equals... equals in cynicism, hypocrisy, sharp dealing, and plotting against the American people. How did a nice guy like Obama wind up surrounded by so many con artists and sociopaths? One possibility is that he's not a nice guy after all.

“Treating terrorists like civilians damages our ability to gather crucial intelligence” -- says Sen. Jeff Sessions. Well, maybe... but what about treating our civilians like terrorists? What does that damage?

What is it about the “French face”? I started to wonder about this once again when I saw a picture of Sarkozy. You can tell a Frenchman a mile off, and I don't think it's just DNA. I think there's actually something about the French language that results in the kind of muscle development – and “non-verbals” -- that constitute the “French face”. Anyone out there have any theories?

So Obama is going to have a brewski or two with the Dalai Lama, despite the protestations of his masters in Beijing. (Obama's masters, that is – not the Lama's.) And this after going over there a few months ago, and crawling up to The Forbidden City on his hands and knees, and begging them not to quit loaning us money. Plus, he is selling weaponry to Taiwan – which would be roughly the equivalent of China selling weaponry to Puerto Rico. And meanwhile, China continues to stand firmly in Iran's corner. What does it all add up to? What I imagine is that – just with previous administrations – there are certain token expressions of “getting tough” and “declaring independence” that American presidents are permitted to make, as long as there are no tangible consequences. And to save (or retain) face, China has to respond with token objections. But the fix is in, basically. We're not going to mess with their stuff in any serious way – but for some reason, the demands of diplomacy are such that we have to pretend to have principles, and they have to pretend to object to our expressions of pretended principles. And to think that people actually go to universities to get degrees in “diplomacy”!

Wow, Pittsburgh really is the designated “sin eater” for America's diplomatic highjinks, isn't it? First we had the G-20, which should have gotten us “disaster area” designation by the governor, and now they're proposing that the 9-11 trial be moved here because it would be too costly and risky to hold it in Manhattan. Right. But if it's here it'll be free and safe? Please. It's for the same reason no one wants to have to store their own nuclear waste.

You can keep your guns in Cuba – supposedly – provided you pass “aptitude and psychological tests”. This is part of an amnesty program aimed at, I suppose, rooting out all remaining guns in the hands of private citizens. But what will the criteria be – which “aptitudes”, what level of mental health – for being allowed to keep one's weapons? And... more importantly... will anyone from the Obama administration be keeping an eye on the whole business in order to gather “lessons learned” for a similar action here?

In care you're getting too paranoid about the Department of Homeland Security, rest assured that it is every bit as bogged down in paperwork and red tape as any other government agency – which is why there's really very little to worry about. According to a recent column by Arnaud de Borchgrave, “No fewer than 108 congressional committees and subcommittees claim oversight on... DHS... (which) is required to product more than 500 annual reports in addition to more than 6000 individual requests for information per year.” Now – in my time with the government, I experienced plenty of those “requests for information”, AKA “Congressionals”. What happens, basically, is the entire agency has to stand down and “work the action” until “the mail is answered”... and the mission can go to hell, basically. So really, this is good news for lovers of liberty. DHS is, after all the fuss and bother, just another government agency that is, basically, rendered impotent by people on Capitol Hill with an agenda and nothing better to do. (But -- it should be noted -- the IRS and the intelligence agencies are immune from this sort of thing. So you can't totally stop being afraid.)

“Ruling raises fear of foreign money going to elections.” This, regarding the recent Supreme Court decision regarding campaign finance. Now, is anyone out there so naïve as to believe that “foreign money” has not, for decades, been a key elements in American elections? We're not the only ones who attempt to influence, by hook or crook, elections overseas – they do it too, 'cause... well... 'cause they stand to lose a lot in foreign aid, trade preferences, etc. if the “wrong” person is elected president, or to Congress. At least, they think they do... but in any case, why take chances? The Chinese have been knee-deep in our election process for years... and don't even get me started on Israel! Maybe the decision will open things up a bit and make the process more obvious... and therefore offer an opportunity for true reform. As it is, keeping it a secret has been singularly ineffective.

Hard to believe, isn't it? Tony Blair actually has the shadow of a noose around his neck as serious discussions are held as to whether to indict him for war crimes – for supporting, and participating in, our invasion of Iraq. Well... there was, after all, “the coalition of the willing” -- which basically meant countries either stupid enough or corrupt enough to join forces (albeit very small ones) with the U.S. in what turned out to be a blatantly illegal and unjustified invasion. And most of them, sure enough, dropped out fairly soon, but not Old Blighty! So here stands Tony, with his twin (“W”) in the dock of world opinion, and it doesn't look good.

So vaccinations don't cause autism? Well... maybe, but then how does one explain the apparent epidemic of what was once considered a very rare condition? I don't think “underdiagnosis in the past” quite fills the bill. I suspect that there are environmental factors involved, even if vaccination is not a big player. After all, we have a plethora of “new diseases” that were unknown up until the last few decades – and most of them seem to be based on environmental contamination by various exotic chemicals, including by-products from high-tech manufacturing (including weapon systems). This may be just another price we pay for “civilization” -- but that's not much consolation for the ones to have to deal with it on a daily basis.

The city of Voronezh in Russia can no longer afford to maintain its large bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin, “in heroic style” -- you know, striding along with one arm stretched out toward the future (which “works”). Well... I have a suggestion. Why not offer it to some place where Lenin is still a hero? I'm not talking about Cuba, or North Korea, or sub-Saharan Africa, either – they might not be able to foot the bill any more readily than Voronezh can. What I have in mind is any one of scores of small liberal arts colleges in the U.S. -- or large universities, for that matter. The statue could be re-erected in front of the “political science” building at Berkeley, for example... or the University of Wisconsin, or Michigan... or any number of other places. Who knows, demand might be so high that the statue might have to be cloned. And as for shipping – well, I'm sure ACORN could handle that, with some of its “walking-around money”.

Wow – now this is some kind of new high in... I don't know what. Masochism, maybe? Or, unsolicited confession? Kinda reminds me of these “self-criticism” sessions that were held all over China during the Cultural Revolution. The IRS now “plans to start requiring large corporations to disclose on their tax returns whether they are taking tax breaks that might be unacceptable to the IRS.” In other words, it's no longer enough to wade through the thousands of pages of tax code and do one's best to come up with a legitimate return – now we have worry about things we think are OK, but the IRS might not. Which means, we all have to become mind readers when it comes to the IRS – an ugly prospect, I'm sure you'll agree. (There are some doors that were never meant to be opened – and among them is “the mind of the IRS”.) But hey – no problemo, since we're only talking about “large corporations” here. Which will be followed, I'm sure, by small corporations, then wealthy individuals, then, finally... you and me, bub. So get out your crystal ball and start getting ready to read the mind of the IRS. (Airsickness medicine recommended.)

“Few school districts apply for federal funds” -- this is in regard to the “economic stimulus plan”, and the naysaying schools are in Ohio. Why turn down all the free cash? Why, “because of concerns about government mandates and the future of such funding”. In other words, if it's not guaranteed income for life, and if there might be strings attached – AKA “standards” -- then no dice. Also, there was concern about “the money's effect on union contracts” -- and, as we well know, the interests of the teachers' unions are paramount. But at least they have principles... sort of.

And here I thought North Korea was a totalitarian dictatorship! It turns out that not only do they have a middle class, but said middle class has started to push back against government restrictions on currency – like, you can only use North Korean currency and you're not allowed to hold more than a certain very small amount of that. So... are we looking into our own far-distant future? In which case, maybe there is hope after all – as long as we're willing to put up with a few decades of unpleasantness in the meantime.

Evo Morales has, just like that, “eradicated colonialism” in Bolivia – or so he claims. I have to admit to having some admiration for Evo, since he did kick the DEA out of the country and expelled our ambassador. Clearly, he sees our insane “war on drugs” as incompatible with traditional Andean values. But to simply eradicate colonialism in one fell swoop? That reminds me of nothing less than the fact that homelessness disappears every time a Democrat is elected president of the U.S.

Oh, darn – just when we thought the “where to put the Guantanamo prisoners” problem was solved, some local yokels out in Illinois have started pushing back against the proposal to house them in their state. Obviously, the attraction of “jobs” wasn't enough to counterbalance the fear of rag-headed, wild-eyed terrorists escaping and then promptly violating the local belles. And this is a state that houses some of the most hardened criminals in the country – former Chicago city officials! You'd think that, after all that, a few jihadists would be a piece of cake (or felafel, whatever). Plus, where's their sense of patriotism? You'd think they'd be more than willing to carry their fair share of the burden.

And so, as we enter the second year of the reign of Barack the Great, we see that, basically, all's right with the world and things are firmly under control. We have the ruling class – most of whom are invisible... their designated highly-paid servants (the president, Congress, etc.) -- and the vast, gray masses of serfs – namely us. We can pretend to be “empowered”, to understand what's going on, to have some “voice”, some “say” in things. We can even vote, on occasion, when we are so moved. But in the quiet hours of the night, we suspect that it's all an illusion... that, really, we have no power whatsoever, and that the only claim we have on the Regime is our ongoing need to be alternately reassured and frightened to death. In other words, they still care what we think – at least on occasion. When the day comes that they no longer care, then the transition to totalitarianism and slavery will be complete. Some of us prefer to cling to our illusions, and others prefer to just leap to the bottom line and declare that all is already lost – that from here on out it's just a matter of policing up the battlefield. I guess, in a way, this is a difference in values. As I pointed out a while back, I would rather know the truth than wallow in either illusions or oblivion – but I recognize that not everyone is like that. If you're a regular reader of this blog, I have to assume you at least have the courage to consider the possibility that I may be right about the way things are – at least some of the time. As to what to “do” about it... my preference is to, basically, stay out of politics but keep on digging for the truth – higher, wider, deeper. I won't claim that this is a “reassuring” process – anything but! But with each insight one gets, many illusions and mistakes can be discarded, and this is actually liberating in a way; at least it saves energy! And this is not to claim that my “model” has hardened into concrete and is no longer subject to modification – just that once we have shoved certain premises aside and become focused on the ones that really seem to bear fruit, we can at least make some progress in our own thinking... and I contend that that is a value in itself, and worth pursuing. The least I can claim is that, no matter how hard one tries, it's impossible to actually stop thinking about these issues, since they present themselves to us anew each day – in our normal lives, in the media, in the lives of others. There is, in other words, no escape – so why not try and learn, and preach, the truth to the extent one can perceive it, or at least speculate on it?

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