Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What Happened?

"Arguing is not the same thing as presenting an argument."


Every since last years election, the Losers have been asking "What happened?" Trump presented a clumsy but direct message to the people and the Opposition (Hillary, the Democrats, the GOP and the Media) attacked it constantly. And yet Trump is the President. Why?

In the movie "My Cousin Vinnie" the Prosecutor made an opening statement about the crime, the accused and how the two were connected. Joe Pesci countered by saying "Everything that guy said is bulls**t." He was right then, but had the trial ended at that moment the boys would be on death row. Why? Because Joe argued but did not present an argument.

Hillary did the same thing. If one looks at her few campaign interviews and rally appearances, she never really presented a vision for the future to counter President Trump's. She did not say how her plan was better and she did not say how she would continue President Obama's agenda or improve on it. She simply told us that Candidate Trump was wrong. That is not an argument.

To really settle any issue by debate one side presents an argument, the other presents a counter-argument, and then they take turns explaining why the other side is wrong. Finally they get to present a defense of their own argument in light of the totality of the debate. The judges then decide who has the better argument.

Today we see no debate. The Conservative side presents facts, evidence, and solutions. The Left attacks the Conservatives on character and then declares themselves the winners of the debate. This happens everyday in the news media and to people like us online in every forum where comments are open. Instead of counter arguments we get nothing but condescension, insults, and threats. That is not an argument.

We do not ever settle any issue because we can never have a debate. The Left has no argument, no solutions, and no evidence that their vision could improve lives for anyone but themselves. So they argue constantly without ever bringing an argument to the table and lack the courage of their convictions to defend their vision for the country. Thus we have a perpetual stalemate.

. . . or not. The American people saw through the mainstream agenda. Since Hillary did not present a vision for the future we compared Donald Trump's vision with the reality of Hillary's predecessor vision and rejected both the vision and the heir. That is what happened.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


As much as I try to remain distant from political process this year, the FBI dragged me back in. Not because I care about Trump or Hillary, but because I have a deep ingrained sense of Justice as powerful to me as hunger, thirst or the need for air to breathe.
What I saw yesterday was a violation of everything I believed America stood for. I also served this country. I also carried Top Secret clearance and keep national secrets in my possession. I was also well aware of the consequences of violating that trust. Even if no one ever found out I would have betrayed and dishonored my family name. Apparently, I am a dinosaur, a relic that should have been wrapped in a thirteen-star flag and buried wit the Constitution covering my face.
Back in 1983 I sat through two incredible weeks of the Reagan Star Wars conferences. I happened to be running a theater on an isolated base at the time and happened to be vetted for high security clearance. The government and the private sector needed to discuss what was possible for the Strategic Defense Initiative. They also needed someone to operate all of the audio-visual equipment. So there I was quietly working in and around these Pentagon, Defense Industry and Research superstars with a front row view of the Black Tech World. Appropriately I wore a black uniform with no ribbons or name tag, just my rank on the sleeve.
In all of these years I have not once, not one single time revealed a bit of information about it or acknowledged the discussion of that technology even though much of it is public knowledge now. You keep your mouth shut.
Thus I find myself at odds with the same government I served and pledged loyalty to. If those at the top cannot be trusted to Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States, and cannot be trusted to come to the aid of Americans in peril, then what sort of nation do we have?
I questioned the sanity of America when it reelected President Barrack Hussein Obama in 2012 even knowing what he planned to do in a second term. I doubt I will want to live in whatever this nation becomes if we elect a Lawless Woman to the Presidency in 2016. I doubt if I'll need to worry about that for long; I have been on her Enemies List for a very long time - as have been many other veterans of the Old Republic. I won't be surprised when the black sedan arrives at my door.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

THE F.A.R. PLAN: Foreign Aid Reform

Foreign Aid Reform

It is in the best interest of the American people to ensure that the government spend their money wisely and get the best possible value for each expenditure.  One valuable step in that direction is to reform how their tax dollars are distributed around the world. That is at the heart of the Foreign Aid Reform Plan.

Under the current system billions of dollars are allotted to most of the countries in the world to do with as they please with no accountability and no effort to see that the funds are used for the stated purpose. When questioned about the use of American aid dollars we are often met with “sovereignty” or “national security” stonewalls. That will no longer be the case.

Under the Foreign Aid Reform Plan there will be a detailed accounting for money received and tangible proof that the money was used for the requested purpose. If the American taxpayers sent 1.5 billion dollars to build a new highway, a new harbor or a new dam, these are the sorts of things that can be monitored and verified independent of government contact. These are the sorts of things that foreign aid was originally intended for: essentially, to improve the lives of friendly nations and enhance their abilities to grow economically, respond to emergencies and adequately defend their territory. Any other use must be shown to be in the interest of the United States as well as the people of the country receiving aid.


  1. All foreign aid for the subsequent fiscal year is cancelled.
  2. A very limited list of countries will be granted a waiver of effect for this Plan. That list can have as few as three names but no more than ten (10).
  3. Those funds will not be restored. Instead they will be used for the purposes benefitting the people who earned it in the first place: infrastructure improvement, national defense, Social Security solvency.
  4. Every country will have to submit a request for aid in writing for the following year. It is to be detailed in describing the use of funds, reportage for accounting, and progress from year to year.

  1. The most controversial part of this controversial bill is the granting of waivers and who will be on that list and who will decide. Simply put: the granting of waivers of effects will be predicated on those countries that have shown loyalty to and consistent support for the interests of the American people. (Countries such as Japan, Australia and Israel come to mind.)
  2. The duration of waivers has not been determined at this time.

    There are additional issues associated with the FAR Plan application. The relationship between America and the applicant nation is paramount. A nation that is consistently hostile to American interests and policies will not have a strong position from which to make a request. A nation routinely disrespectful of American culture and policies will likewise have difficulties in getting their “request” granted.
    Understand this is a request for money from the American workers. Every sovereign nation is entitled to operate in its own best interest. Every nation is entitled to hold any opinion or policy its laws and people permit. No nation is entitled to money from the citizens of the United States. Your problems are your problems. If we choose to help, we will, but no one can expect generosity from a neighbor who has suffered your abuse in the past.

    Every nation must understand that America is also a sovereign entity and it is also a unique entity in that sovereign powers are invested in each American citizen. Since every citizen is a valuable part of the nation it follows that how nations treat those citizens within their borders is of interest to the United States. Fully twenty-five percent (25%) of any final request will be dependent on the Status of Americans Abroad Report filed by our State Department. This will include:

  1. Issues of crime and official corruption affecting visiting tourist, workers abroad and ex-patriots dwelling on a ‘permanent’ basis within your borders and areas of control.
  2. Treatment of those suspected of criminal offenses. The laws of the host country may be enforced as those nations see fit. However, access to prisoners by American officials is never to be denied, proper medical and nutritional needs are to be provided by the host nation or permitted through the State Department resources.
  3. Even after conviction, access to prisoners is not to be denied and prisoners are to be treated humanely in the manner that nation expects its own citizens to be treated in American prisons.
  4. An unsatisfactory rating from the United States government will automatically reduce any granted aid by 25%.

This is not an effort to exert undue pressure on the sovereign rights and independence of any nation. This is not an effort to influence policies of any nation. This is an effort to properly steward the wealth and goodwill of the American people. They are not under any obligation to fund those nations who mistreat them, who abuse them and do not agree with their policies and will expressed through Trade, Travel, Military Assistance and Personal Safety. It is in the interest of any nation choosing to request aid from the American people to ensure they are in their good graces. Otherwise, seek aid elsewhere.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Why You Should Watch MAN OF STEEL

I finally got around to watching Superman MAN OF STEEL on DVD. I had intended to watch it in the theater but it came and went with the speed such movies do these days. We can no longer count on even a few months run in local theaters anymore. Too bad because this is the sort of movie that should be seen in a big screen to be fully appreciated.

My HD computer monitor and surround speakers did a pretty good job of presenting the movie anyway.  However you watch it, make a point of seeing this movie at least once; it should not disappoint.

No Spoiler Alerts

I hate it when people try to be clever or gain more attention to their blogs by spilling the beans about great movie elements meant to be a surprise. In this case there aren’t any. Anyone already familiar with the Superman mythos from the comic books or having seen the previous movies knows all of the things in this movie storyline. You might even recognize some parts of previous films woven into this movie.

One thing you likely have not seen before is good, quality acting. Most of the previous incarnations of Superman were either campy or deliberately comic. Not so this time. MAN OF STEEL was put together by people who respected the story and respect the audience. I am long past tired of Hollywood morons who want to “humanize” a superhero. Kind of negates the whole “escapist fantasy,” doesn’t it?

But this acting – I don’t usually care much for it in action films but this is so much better because of the dedication and effort the actors put in. Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent: works. Russell Crowe as Jor El: works. Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White: works. The biggest treat for me in the whole film is, Amy Adams works as Lois Lane.

My Least Favorite Character

I have not like Lois Lane in any of her incarnations, whether animated, sketched or performed live. She comes across as an arrogant, reckless brat who thinks she is always right but invariably gets trapped in lethal situations. Most of the time I wished Superman would be too busy saving someone else to get around to saving that woman again for like the 90,000th time.

Ms. Adams’ Lois is not so brash. When she is in danger here it is natural to the story and her profession. More than that, her reactions to the various reveals in the movie are natural, the way most people would react when confronted with the reality of an alien living amongst us. I simply like her—that’s a first.

Not So Special Effects

One of the things that jumps out at you about the MAN OF STEEL is the way the effects seem to fit in the story. What I have termed “Organic Effects”, the way Superman’s powers and the technology of Krypton appears in the movie is interesting without being gaudy.

Since the advent of the STAR WARS phenomenon we have endured decades of big budget sci fi adventure movies with special effects storming the screen with all the subtlety of a carnival huckster. The movie pauses while the effects showcase their dazzling presence. The MATRIX movies were perhaps first to weave the effects into the movie but they were still a bit too eye-popping. When the movie ended most conversation revolved around the effects. Story and acting lagged far behind.

Krypton, My Home

I have to applaud another change brought to this movie. The creators made an effort to fill out the Kryptonian homeworld. Gone are the widespread, sterile crystal spires of the previous film. It looked like an advanced world a sci fi reader would expect to see. A world possessed of native flora and fauna, topography and most importantly, a culture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67IsappPu1QAdditionally, Kryptonians had passion. Like humans, they suffered from ambition, arrogance, self-delusion and other failings sentient beings can fall prey to. No matter which side you agree with, it is nice to see plausible arguments and protests presented. The villains in the story didn’t see themselves as villains but as beings possessed of a singular, noble vision. The story is more real for it.

Clark Kent

There is nothing else to add about the movie except to address the most glaring failing of all other versions of the story. Everyone in our world wonders how nobody in his world could make the connection between Clark and Superman. In this movie, some do – and the story is better for it.

There are a few nods to past versions of the Superman
story. However, the scenes are much more subtle and only noticeable by devoted fan boys. Instead of the heavy-handed homage to STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Khan seen in JJ Abrams’ STAR TREK: Into Darkness, we see the shadings of the characters from SUPERMAN II on screen here. I liked it. I like the nod to the previous characters and like the fact that they did it without flashing a big blinking arrow at each of them.

In summary, the movie works – works far better than all other movies on this topic combined. General Zod talks about building a new Krypton on the foundation of Earth’s ruin. This movie will be the foundation of a series of very well made movies certain to please, certain to thrill and certain to be as exciting as anything else you are going to see. Someone has finally done justice to the man who fought for -


“Truth, Justice and the American way.”

Remenberances of Christmas Past

I have listened for days now while people shared the list of modest but welcome Christmas gifts. It's all we can afford now.

I think back to the "bad old days" when America was ruled by those "Evil Republicans" - you know, the guys who only cared about making the Rich Richer. So the Democrats told us constantly in their attacks on Bushes and Reagan.

I also remember the Christmases we endured back then. When all we had to look forward to was a new XBOX, Nintendo, PC or car. When lines at the store were long and the cash register constantly rang. The economy buzzed along and new gadgets came out just in time for the holidays. It was overt consumerism, true, but was that worse than it is now?

Liberals want you to think rich people take too much from society. They have a lot, yes, but they also employ a lot of us. We lived a pretty good life with our share of the American pie. Liberals simply could not stand to see so many of us content to merely have a comfortable life with families living together, loving each other and peace in our homes. They had to do something.

They gave us Hope and Change. Obama's plan to make all employees government workers and the rest government dependents has left us in this state. And next year will be worse. Once Obamacare kills the remaining industrial sector you can best believe there will be no paychecks to buy products, no workers to make products and no carriers to deliver products.

We will have taxes on what we make and fines heaped on what's left. The government will have the whole pie and we will have nothing left. The only place Merry next year will be Washington DC. The rest of us are screwed unless we take action before then. I'm not placing my faith in the American people to do what is necessary; they are too easily distracted.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A (Navy) Way of Life

Doing Simple things the Right Way

I always fold the clothes after they come out of the dryer a certain way; the same way every time. When I get up in the morning I put the bed together neatly with all the seams aligned to the edges of the mattress. I feel good starting my day in a neat, orderly room without a lot of clutter. That certainly makes it easy to find what you are looking for most of the time.

Once in a while I reflect on why I maintain these habits. It would be easy to credit my career in the Navy but it is actually much deeper than that. I have been cleaning my room like this since I was old enough to stand up and open a drawer without help.

I can remember standing in my pajamas next to the foot of our bed, my older brother on the other corner as we did our juvenile best to stand at attention. My brother would call “Atten-hut!” in his best voice as dad came in the room. Sergeant Johnson, 101st Airborne, (“Daddy” to us), would enter the room and conduct an inspection. All toys were neatly put away, the floor swept and the bed was folded down ready for two little troopers. After we passed inspection our NCO would pick us up and tuck us in for the night. Lights out and we faded off to sleep before Taps sounded on the base.

The Navy Way

Almost four decades ago I reported for boot camp at Orlando, Florida. The whole experience was not as big a shock to me as it was for virtually all of my bunkmates that first night. I grew up in an Army family and took three years of AJROTC at a Department of Defense Dependents School (DODDS) in West Germany. (That's me, 2nd from the right, not yet at attention before the photo snapped.)

That experience made my classmates and me acutely aware of the state of politics in the world. We were mere hours away from the Iron Curtain and only a few minutes by missile flight time from being vaporized. All of the bases we called home were under the shadow of nuclear annihilation.
American civilians had the luxury of thinking they might not be hit; we were certain the Russians would hit us before the world even knew war had begun. That was our reality, our shared backdrop to the turbulent decade of the seventies.
Naturally, I wanted to sign up for service as soon as I was of age. I looked around at the sloppy, slouching, uncaring generation back in the States and knew they wouldn’t lift a finger to defend their country. Thus it was that while Barack Obama was killing brain cells with pot on some Hawai’ian beach I was in boot camp learning to do things the Navy way.
“There’s the military and there’s the Navy, don’t get the two confused.” Someone told me that while screaming in my face that humid fall in Florida. I didn’t need the reminder. The culture in the sea-going service is a far cry from the olive drab reality of my life up until that point. It was more than the strange rank structure (petty officer third class instead of corporal, for instance), it was the whole attitude.

Even before marching in formation at graduation I noticed the whole class distinction that came with Navy rank. Men of the same unit but different ranks seldom socialized like they did on Army posts. My suspicions were confirmed a few months later at “A” school up in Illinois.

Machinist Mate “A” School in Great Lakes was an unremarkable period in my life. It was self-paced back then and I breezed through the various phases as quickly as they could find an opening for me. Only seating availability and the blizzard of 78-79 slowed me down. That and having my wisdom teeth pulled. And I still took a final exam in Basic Engineering before the school would let me go back to the barracks and sleep off the pain-killers (that 93% grade wrecked my GPA; but I’m not mad.)

The lower ranks in the Navy—the E-1 through E-3 pay grades—were called “non-rates” where ratings mean a specific job skill. They are the ones who did menial tasks like mowing lawns, washing dishes and (in the winter) shoveled snow.

On graduation day for my “class” (self-paced, remember?) I sat sewing on my Machinist Mate 3rd Class patch on my shirt for the day1.  A chief petty officer came through the barracks grabbing everyone in sight to go out and shovel the sidewalks. He peeked in my room, saw what I was doing and took all of my roommates leaving me comfortably warm inside. Rank hath its privileges in every service; nowhere more so than in the US Navy.

Underway – All the Time

Eventually I got out in to the “real Navy,” that is on a ship that sails away. All of that boot camp nonsense about folding clothes “just so” actually had a real purpose. As an enlisted Sailor I lived in a very tiny piece of a very large ship.
My bed (called a rack) was one of three in a stack on either side of a very narrow space. Racks are generally enclosed on five of six sides with curtains covering the one open side for what is jokingly called “privacy.” It is barely longer than I am tall and a couple inches wider than my shoulders. For good reasons Sailors call the racks coffins.
Our personal space included a locker the same area as the rack about six inches deep. Add a tiny stand-up locker and you have all the space you could have to store uniforms, toiletries and a few items of civilian attire required in many ports of call. By folding clothes the Navy way you could maximize the space and tightly pack all of your items yet still have them accessible.
This also permitted you to have more space for personal items like books and videos (VHS in my day—electronic toys for the modern fleet). We could also pack away the goodies purchased in foreign ports for family back home.

Home is where your Geedunk is

I don’t miss the Navy life. The hours were too long, the separation from family was no treat for anyone, and I won’t comment on the food. After fifteen years I hardly think about it at all until someone mentions a ship at the VA or on Veteran’s Day when people pretend to care. It is when I get up in the morning and start putting hospital corners on my bed. When I open a drawer of underwear and see them stacked in a vertical row like slices of bread – that’s when I think how much Navy is still a part of me even when I don’t think about it.

[Note1: for those curious about how I could have gotten promoted so soon after joining, I was in an advanced technical field that guaranteed E-4 after completion of “A” school.]

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I finally went to see this latest offering from JJ Abrams in the theatre with my wife. I have been hesitant to view any of the rebooted series since I saw Chris Pine as Kirk in the first movie. It is not that the movies are not entertaining or even visually appealing. There are serious flaws in the way science is done in these new movies and that offends the sci fi writer and reader in me.
Hardcore Trekkies

We are a mature group. Many of us have been fans of STOS since it aired in 1966. Others have been born into the series in the past four decades. Many scientists and engineers joined NASA as a result of watching many hours of episodes growing up. We talked about the show, discussed the ships, politics and personalities at length.
The show is at heart about using science to move people through space and help them accomplish their tasks. People have published serious papers discussing the technology of STAR TREK. Much of our technology in use today was inspired by Kirk flipping open a communicator and Spock wirelessly communicating with the server with his tricorder PDA. Dr. “Bones” McCoy using noninvasive scanners to perform medical diagnoses led to CAT scanners and PET scans.

A Non-Rant

Bloggers love to spend pages bloviating about their pet peeves. I am not going to do that here (or anywhere, that is only interesting to the person ranting). I just want to point out that the new movies have introduced some technical leaps that are going to present problems in the future.

One problem is Warp Speed. The movies make it look great! I get a speed demon’s thrill every time the Big E leaves glowing skid marks across the heavens. The problem is too much speed. If the ship can sail from Earth to Kronos (capital world of the Klingon Empire) and spend hours there and still make it back to Earth in the same day, then that is one fast ship!
What is all this speed going to mean for the series going forward? What is the point of going on a “five-year mission” if you can be back on Earth by tomorrow morning from anywhere in the galaxy? Even in the Next Generation traveling between stars still took a long time and they had moved beyond what was called trans-warp in Kirk’s day. Suffice it to say “they got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

Non Spoiler

They did a good job keeping the identity of the villain of the show a secret before release. And it is a rather good moment in the movie when you find out who he is. I am not going to ruin that here by spoiling the surprise; I’m sure there are plenty of blogs out there shouting it from the title forward, but this isn’t one of them. All I will say is I liked the way the character was portrayed and how he fit into the story. He has almost a Darth Vader quality to him (before Lucas wimped the character out by making him a whining, love-struck teenager).

A point about the Starfleet characters. They are new versions of the old familiars ones. I feel they are sometimes a bit overdone but they are slowly growing on me. Lt. Uhuru is featured more than Nichelle Nichols ever was but this outing is a bit over the top. My favorite is "Bones" McCoy, the cantankerous doctor. He has made every scene memorable with skillful performances instead of obviously "acting the part."

Still waiting for Kirk to man up and stop being a punching bag for the galaxy. Captain Pike even commented on it in the movie.
My Ship

Almost every trekkie feels like a member of the crew. As someone who has actually served in the engineroom of one the real ships named ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) I feel a special kinship with the red shirts.
Abrams does a good job of capturing the industrial, utilitarian feel of a large ship meant to sail in hostile environments. It’s a far cry from the comfortable opulence of the Galaxy-class ENTERPRISE-D for the Next Generation.
My one complaint is: Stop tearing up my ship!” Even Scotty has that complaint after returning to the ship after a brief absence. Please, guys, she cannot take much more of this.

Go or No Go?

Definitely go see it. Some movies work just as well over a tablet or a giant flat screen home theatre system. Unless yours is a monster 60’+ you just won’t capture the scope and feel of the movie. Whether you are an old trekkie like me or just coming around from Harry Potter you’ll have a good time with this movie. Just don’t think too deeply about the science until after the show.