Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Well Informed Voting Public

The Pew Research Center has published a poll showing the awareness of issues in the public realm. Here is a breakout by Republicans, Independents and Democrats:

What I find really interesting (discounting the fact that Republicans scored higher on all but one issue) is the knowledge base of Independents is higher in all areas than Democrats except for Party in Power, Public Option and the spending on health care issues. And all this time, my Democratic friends like to remind me of how smart their friends are (since they can't seem to answer basic questions, they always refer to someone else who is smarter than they are) and that they have superior information.
Seems to be the culmination of the self-esteem generation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

20 Years Now, Where'd They Go?

I was reading this excellent article about the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 20th anniversary is set for next month, and felt amazed that it has been so long since it happened. The article reminded me of Germany before it became reunited. How Germany was essentially an armed camp that had people living between all of the kasernes. West Germany which was the size of Oregon had two US Corps two British Corps, a Belgian Corps and a Dutch Corps, and God knows how many German Corps. (A Corp is a military formation consisting of 2-5 divisions). In East Germany a country the size of Ohio, there were 215 Soviet divisions armed with the latest equipment, and ready to roll to the English Channel as soon as the order was given. It was the greatest place in the world to be stationed if you were a young officer wanting to do something important.
But I returned to Montana in 1987 to teach ROTC at the University of Montana, so my observations of the fall of the Berlin Wall were confined to watching it on television. You have to remember, that this was right after the massacre at Tianemen Squate, where the Army of the PRC had fired on the student demonstrators. I don't know why we accepted it, but I guess it was because we really couldn't do anything about it in any event. But it was also, that we recognized the inherent evil of the totalitarian socialist regimes that the survival of the state was the most important factor in any action.
When I watched the fall of the Wall, I was afraid that the East German government would revert to form and massacre their own people, just like the Chinese had. The other fear that I had was that the Soviet Union would regard the destruction of their client state as unacceptable, and roll their own forces as a diversion from the popular discontent. Luckily, neither happened.
Twenty years on seems to be pretty quick at my age. But there are somethings that are timeless. One of the things from the article come to mind in particular:
The hollowness of the communist ideology, its false promise of an omniscient state, was laid bare. Far from being omnipotent, its impotence was manifest in that moment of truth.
For those who believe in the omnipotence of any government, I would ask them to review the history of those states that tried to infiltrate all aspects of life, and note their abject failure.
Read the Whole Thing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another Reason to be Afraid

Cook County Illinois prosecutors are tired of being embarrassed because they keep wrongfully convicting innocent people. Rather than take up the issue internally, in order to prevent future miscarriages of justice, they have decided to go after the people who keep showing them up: The students of Northwestern University's Journalism School.
Seems the prosecutors are asking for subpoenas for the students' grades, grading criteria, class syllabus, expense reports and e-mail messages of the journalism students. Now, what crime is it that the prosecutors are investigating with the subpoenas? Embarrassment of a public official seems to be the leading cause that comes to mind.
But what I want to know is, what judge in their right mind would ever sign the subpoena? For most who read this blog, they will probably never come into contact with the law, and will never have to face the painful and permanent proctology exam otherwise known as being charged with a crime. But when prosecutors can decide on their own to harass and annoy innocent people who are just seeking justice (which is supposed to be the first duty of a prosecutor) don't believe for a moment, that you are immune. And don't turn to judges for help either, obviously.
I hope that this reminds all citizens to be suspicious of the work of our public servants.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Cross on Government Property

The ACLU is suing to remove a war memorial from WW I. A photo of what it looked like before the suit is here:

Here is what it looks like now:

Apparently, there is no problem with crosses on foreign ground, even though it is technically American soil.

James Earl Obama

I realize for many in the blogosphere, the reference here may be somewhat obscure, but the reference is to James Earl Carter, otherwise known as Jimmy, or Jimmah. The reason that I use this connection was an article by Victor David Hansen where he bemoaned:
I am not a fan of the Obama agenda. But I am (sic) don’t want an impotent Commander in Chief abroad for three very dangerous years to come. So I am worried that the U.S. will be crippled with a weak, unpopular executive, as happened to Bush (35% approvals) in 2007-8. Our currency is tanking. Our debts are climbing. Our energy needs are breaking us. Our borrowing is out of control. The country is divided in a 1859/1968 mode. And the world is smiling as Obama, now hesitant and without the old messianic confidence, presides over our accepted inevitable decline. The country needs to buck up and meet these challenges head on, since the world smells blood, whether in Iran, Russia, the Mideast, North Korea, or South America, and in a mere 9 months of the reset button.

His rant, combined with his proposed solutions brought on a sudden feeling of deja vu. Ah yes, days of disco returned to the forefront of my memories, from whence they had been carefully tamped down, locked in a box and hidden in the back corner of the attic, never to be retrieved again. Just like my leisure suit.
As to our Commander in Chief, let's face it, everybody likes him, but no one is afraid of him. His perpetual apology tour is refreshing to the Left in this country for all wrongs real or imagined. But it is confusing to the rest of the world who understand that power is only power if you are willing to use it. Obama's reticence to pressure anyone but allies will result in less allies as they see their rational self interest is to oppose the President.
Jimmy Carter was much the same way, with his mantra that we should no longer fear the Soviets. Just because the Third Soviet Mongol Warrior Horde with 212 divisions in East Germany alone and more farther east were poised for an invasion, it's not like they meant it. And getting rid of the Shah was atonement for all that we had done before. Surely, Jimmy believed, the Iranian people would recognize our contrition and all would be fine again. And then came the Ayatollah, which you might notice has been the start of most our present "troubles" with the Islamic world. Throw in our support for the Marxist Sandinistas, who willingly took our support, until they came into power, and promptly rebuffed the "Imperialist Yankee." Never mind that if we were imperial, their cute little revolution would have been destroyed in about ten minutes. But Jimmy took strong steps, like the fiasco of Desert One, and our abstention from the Moscow Olympic Games. Yes Sir! We showed them that we were serious by gosh.
Carter did have to face the hangover from the guns and butter aspect of the Viet Nam war, but his economic choices like those now, seem totally ineffectual. By the end of his term, interest rates were through the roof. Inflation was running at double digits, the dollar sucked, and unemployment was sky high, hence, the coinage of the term "stagflation." Pretty much a harbinger of our own economic problems in the next few years.
Energy is and was still a problem even after the nearly thirty years that Jimmy came around. Back then, of course, oil was predicted to be depleted in the 1990s. Jimmy installed solar panels on the roof of the White House, wore a sweater and told us all to turn down our thermostats, all in recognition of the fact that we were no longer a "Great Power" and had to assume our position in the ranks of lesser countries. Now, we have the President telling us how to sneeze and wash our hands. The most powerful man on the planet, is acting like a nanny (or is it ninny?). Our current President is not just installing panels, no, instead he is creating millions of "green jobs" to save our economy. Imagine how bad our economy would be without the addition of all of these millions of green jobs to offset the ones we have lost already. Just like Jimmy, Obama has Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. In fact he has even more power than Carter, and as a result could do anything that he wants. Which apparently ends at giving soaring rhetoric, leaving the dirty details of the work to be done to others.
Hansen had fear that we are entering the twilight of our country under Obama's stewardship. His concerns are well taken, and it is possible that this may be the end.
On the other hand, for those of us who lived through it, I remember the period of 1978-1980 as being the same as today. Of course, then we had a Ronald Reagan to remind us of our better angels. I am still American enough to believe that there will be another who will reinvigorate the image of a shining city on the hill.
Besides, I hate disco.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHT: There is one significant difference between the two though. Carter was trained by Adm. Hyman Rickover, and as such was a nut for control and attention to detail. He even personally controlled who got to use the White House tennis courts and when. Just think, there was so much to do, and that was on the list of jobs for the President. Obama on the other hand seems to have no interest in any details, preferring his peroration to getting down and dirty.