What Will The GOP Become?

graphic-trump-0111

 

The winds of political change are blowing strongly and the rise of Trump is characteristic.  He is said, by virtue of being publicly outrageous, to be the beneficiary of about $2 billion in free publicity!  This is unprecedented.  What forces are behind this strange development, that the public is so attracted to such transparent demagoguery?  But even more to the point, what does this mean for our two party political system?

My friend, Bud Morgan, sent me this analysis from HuffPost Politics.  (Thanks, Bud.)  It is remarkably well-written and seems spot-on to me.  What do you think?

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Artistic Genius?

credit: mirror.co.uk

credit: mirror.co.uk

I don’t get it.  I just don’t.  My inner curmudgeon demands expression.

The artist formerly and lately known as Prince is being hailed, almost universally it seems, as a musical genius.  Admittedly, I’ve only listened to samples randomly encountered, but his stuff sounds discordant to me.  I wondered then about the lyrics to his signature piece, Purple Rain.  Maybe, I thought, the genius is in those.  So I looked them up:

I never wanted to be your weekend lover
I only wanted to be some kind of friend
Baby, I could never steal you from another
It’s such a shame our friendship had to end

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you
Underneath the purple rain

Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It’s time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too

You say you want a leader
But you can’t seem to make up your mind
I think you better close it
And let me guide you to the purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
If you know what I’m singing about up here
C’mon, raise your hand

Purple rain, purple rain
I only want to see you
Only want to see you
In the purple rain

Compare this to, say, these lines from an older style:

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by

And when two lovers woo
They still say I love you
On that you can rely
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by

Moonlight and lovesongs never out of date
Hearts full of passion, jealousy and hate
Woman needs man
And man must have his mate
That no one can deny

It’s still the same old story
The fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by

Now you tell me which one’s more genius.  I’ve got my own opinion.

Posted in Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Wall

A couple of years ago, if you had asked me whether a completely impractical political assertion could withstand public exposure to humor I would have said no.  But Donald Trump has proven me wrong.  I’m talking about his Mexican wall.  Here is John Oliver to expose it in all its absurdity.  Now we just have to sit back and watch his poll numbers fall. Right?  Right?  Please, tell me I’m right.

Posted in Humor, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Trump U

Got 'Cha

Got ‘Cha

It is clear to me, this far into the primary election season, that it is no longer possible to get much substance out of most candidates. However, humor abounds. I just wanted to share with you, dear reader, an insightful piece from my favorite magazine, the New Yorker. Does this tickle your funny bone, or is the reality a little too chilling?  I’m interested.  You can tell me.

Posted in Political partisanship, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Where’s Globocop?

I just sent this letter to the editor of our local paper in reaction to a letter by Geoff Caldwell.

 

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credit: globalresearch.ca

Globe columnist Geoff Caldwell (March 20, 2016) echoes The Economist journal in asking, “Where is Globocop?” His concern is the rise of ISIS and the failure of not propping up the failed and inept Iraqi state and its feckless military, a legacy from the Bush administration. He and the journal say our allies are “nervous” about this. Never mind that the latest study of the cost of the disastrous second Iraq war and its aftermath (from Brown University) is 1.1 trillion dollars and still counting. (That’s one-thousand billions plus one-hundred billions of dollars, put another way.) As in past columns, Mr. Caldwell blames president Obama for, well, everything, and now including failing to police the world.

“Where is Globocop?”, the Economist asks. Well, we are still pumping out Cold War munitions at a crazy pace, including a destroyer program that is now running over $3 Billion per ship and a gold-plated fighter bomber program exceeding $1.1 Trillion, if that means anything, although thanks to President Obama, the U.S. body count is hovering around the single digits lately. The column prompted me to look up what capabilities our nervous allies might have if they had to, heaven forbid, engage ISIS on their own. Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

Country     Defense $B     Battle Tanks   CombatA/C    Active Military
U.K                 61.8                       227                278                 205,000
Germany      43.9                       410                245                   183,000
France            53.1                       200               395                    228,000
Turkey            10                       2,500               335                    410,000
Saudi A.          80.8                     600               313                     233,500
Israel               21.1                      500                440                    176,000
Italy                 24.3                     160                 440                   320,000

Here are some questions. Is ISIS really too much for our allies to handle? Is it just possible that the rest of the Western world has grown so used to the U.S. defending them that they now expect it? Might it make sense for them to grow up and take responsibility for their own back yard? The U.S. defense budget is, get this, $580 Billion dollars. Doesn’t it make sense to let our allies do some stuff while we spend some of that money on, say, preventing lead poisoning in children and bridges from falling down? (Not exactly shock and awe, I know.  Well, shock maybe.) Or even paring the national debt the GOP has been so worried about? So many questions.

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Secrets

us-coversheetsAs flaps go, the one about Hillary Clinton’s classified emails is one for the history books.  It might even be pivotal in the general election.  But how many people actually understand the nature of the problem?  Not many, I submit.

It is widely-reported that Hillary is the subject of an FBI investigation into the matter, but it is important to understand that the word “subject” is a legal term of art.  If she were suspected of intentional malfeasance, the word “target” would be used.  The investigation’s purpose is to find systemic problems, not nail a criminal.  It is notable, in fact, that as Secretary of State, she herself had the authority to both classify material and declassify it.  That’s how absurd this is.  Nevertheless, the damage was done when she, like numerous other government heads before her, made the now-admittedly poor decision to put work-related material on her own server.

In understanding classified material it is important to consider who is allowed to classify and under what criteria.  The answer is shocking.  Every agency makes up its own rules and it’s subjective. All this smoke hides the nature of a monumental national problem, the bloated and out-of-control national classification system itself.  Virtually everybody in government is aware of it, numerous studies have been done on it, and there’s no sign it is ever going to be fixed. The stuff on that server now considered classified was categorized as such after the fact.  Who decides such things?  They are nameless bureaucrats and they are unaccountable for their opinions.  There is no penalty for over-classification and every incentive to do so.

One of the early jobs I was given as a junior naval officer on a submarine was “Communications officer.”  This was a long time ago, around 1962, and even then the security system was farcial.  The intelligence system sent our ship classified material by the case-load every month, more than any one person had time to digest and much of it unrelated to our mission, or even to the Navy.  We were getting Army and Air Force stuff even.  Clearly, the various agencies wanted to bolster their client lists by shotgunning the distribution.  Every month or two I would have get a witness officer to go with me and pack 10 or 20 pounds of the stuff off to a special burn facility.  Every piece had to be documented as to its destruction.

Later on, it only got worse.  It was not unusual, when I was on a research and development staff, to learn of instances of senior officers’ safes holding reams of classified material being inadvertently left unlocked overnight.  No action was ever taken on these to my knowledge.  The stuff was everywhere and most of it was dull and dated.

Now I’m not saying that classification isn’t needed.  It is, if you are talking about the identity of spies and informants or plans for weapons.  But classification of the highest kind didn’t prevent the USSR and China from stealing our atomic secrets, nor a lot of other stuff as well.  A classification system is like a chain that’s only as strong as its weakest link, and it is usually so clumsy that the information is dated.  We used to joke that if you wanted the latest on military technology, the New York Times was your best source.

derivativeThe practice of over-classification is ubiquitous and is regularly used for political purposes and to frustrate official oversight and public insight.  Even entire agencies have been able to remain secret for years from public scrutiny and budget review this way – example, the National Reconnaissance Office (spy satellites).  Did you know that some stuff can’t be declassified for 75 years?

The system cries out for reform.  Barack Obama has tried, but with little effect.  At least one excellent paper has been done on the matter by the ACLU.  It details not only how bad it is but how much worse it has gotten since 9/11.  It is a system that feeds on itself and it is the antithesis of a free and open society.

Hillary’s classification flap is pure demagoguery.  The only good that might come out of it is some kind of reform to the system.  But I’m not holding my breath.  I wonder how large a hard drive ships now need to hold all the crap from the current 17 intelligence agencies?  But there is one advance – people can now pretend to read it all with the click of a mouse, I presume.

Posted in Armed Forces, Federal Government, Information Technology, Nuclear weapons, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

10 Unbelievably Great Features Of Donald Trump’s Terrific Health Care Reform Plan

My blogging friend, List of X, has outdone himself with this one:

List of X

"My healthcare reform will be so great it will make your head spin, and then it will heal your head right away because my plan is just so great!" “My health care reform will be so great it will make your head spin, and then it will heal your head right away because my plan is just so unbelievably great!”

This week, the leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump finally revealed his plan for health care reform, and it is fantastic. It would repeal Obamacare right away, and will replace it with health care that would be so great, it’s unbelievable just how great it would be. Here are just 10 of the great things Donald Trump’s health care reform would accomplish.

1)  Foreign viruses, like Ebola, Zika, West Nile, Dengue, socialism – we’ll round them all up and send them back where they came from! And then we’ll build a big and beautiful mosquito net all around the country so that they can’t ever come back!

2)  Donald Trump built so many unbelievable casinos that he knows how to…

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