Sunday, February 7, 2010

Successful Iranian Space Launch Uses North Korean Technology

This weekend Iran successfully tested a rocket that they launched into space. I wonder what other kind of technology they could be readying for use with it? Meanwhile, Fox News hottie Sarah Palin met with the Tea Partiers at the Gaylord Opry-land Hotel. (Can I say that again? They're at the GAYLORD Hotel. G-A-Y-L-O-R-D.)

As you might expect, her address showed a complete ignorance of facts-and-figures governance or any knowledge of what's going on the outside world. I guess if you can't see Iran from your house you don't know what to do about it.

Does anyone remember why we're in Iraq? Because of all of Saddam's nuclear weapons; that is to say, because the Bush administration made a HUGE MISTAKE. And the Chiller from Wasilla dares to even imply she's a better national security choice? Do you really want Sarah Palin anywhere near an national office when understanding North Korean space technology is critical to national security?

California Cities Teaching Their Officials Mandarin

[Lancaster, CA] is sending business delegations to China, partnering with a Chinese sister city, and using a language tutor to teach bureaucrats Mandarin.

It may seem odd that this frontier desert town, where many residents relish the separation and distance from downtown L.A., is actively courting the language and culture of a far-flung land. But city leaders say they're on a mission.

"We have to recognize it's a global economy," said Parris, who has been studying Mandarin using the language-learning software Rosetta Stone, and plans to send his two adult sons on a year-long language-study trip to China. "The Chinese have trillions of American dollars. We want them to reinvest those dollars back into America."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Obama's Leftward Drift Since Taking Office

Is it just me, or do some of Obama's speeches seem to be continuing a leftward tilt since he took office? It's as if he thinks he's "safe". Look at the text of some of these speeches and think about what he's saying:

"Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth but that every individual life is infinitely precious and has something to offer. Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace."

He can't hide the liberal obsession with peace and weakening America, can he?

It gets worse:

"The United States believes that respect for human rights is not social work. It is not merely an act of compassion. It is the first obligation of government and the source of its legitimacy. It also is the foundation stone in any structure of world peace."

"Symbolizing his personal campaign to...allow greater freedom of religion, [he] lit a candle during a visit to an Orthodox Monastery."

Are you scared yet? You shouldn't be. These are Ronald Reagan's words. Gotcha! (If this took you in, you should be asking yourself why.) I didn't go quote-hunting; they first two are the summary of a film about his life that's shown in the museum and that he narrates, and the third is from a photographic caption (see below). Can you imagine going to a Tea Party rally and talking about your support for human rights and Obama attending non-Protestant religious services and defending the right to change the established way of doing things? You'd be taking your life in your hands.

I visited the Ronald Reagan Library a few weeks ago and it occurred to me while listening to his stirring speech that if any politician made statements like this today, they would be immediately reviled by Tea Partiers as some kind of radical. In fact, they might point out, the Reagan Museum is chock-FULL of suspicious left-leaning motifs. First of all, it's in the middle of a stunning desert area in California (that's where liberals come from!), AND it contains a theater named after Mikhail Gorbachev. AND he used to be a Democrat. If Ronald Reagan were running for the Presidential nomination in today's GOP, he'd be run out of town as worse than a RINO. A visit to the Reagan Museum will give you more than enough evidence of how the GOP has changed for the worse in two decades.

I highly recommend a visit to the museum. If you're a Gen Xer and you remember Reagan from your teen-aged years, it's good to re-map him to your modern political sensibilities. One reflection I did have is that his speeches and his policy don't strike me as the work of a genius - and that's just fine. What it did strike me as was his the work of someone of solid character and clear-thinking principles. Because Reagan probably wasn't reading Plato in his spare time made him no less effective. Most importantly, he presided over and was at least half-responsible for the end of the Cold War, a legacy that isn't celebrated nearly enough. When I was ten years old I remember being scared every time I heard a siren that World War III had started and I would die within an hour. While the threat is not entirely gone, it's mitigated substantially, thanks largely to Ronald Reagan.

And of course, I ended up in my mind comparing Reagan's heroic handling of the Soviet Union to our current handling of China. I'm not pointing at either party as the one that dropped the ball, but since the Democrats are in office right now, it's their responsibility. This makes me nervous because they seem ready to surrended even to Scott Brown. But then where are the modern Republicans with the knowledge and resolve about foreign affairs? The GOP seems interested in internal bickering, period. (And by the way, it's exactly this willful ignorance of the outside world in favor of political inbreeding and navel-gazing that wrecked Rome and Spain and Ming China and every great nation in history that's joined the dinosaurs.) Attempts to appease the more belligerent elements in the CCP are pointless, but so far it's the best our leaders have been able to do. yet somehow, Reagan stared down the Soviet Union when they were much stronger and able to inflict far more damage than China could now.

Here are some pictures I took; apologies for the quality of my phone camera. It's winter here in Southern California which means it rains, which felt appropriate for a visit to his grave, immediately behind the museum.

Blinded Test: Warren Buffett, or Sh*tmydadsays

It occurs to me that some of the Oracle of Omaha's more candid and off-the-record statements overlap with the tender sentiments we see from Sh*t My Dad Says. Take this quick quiz and see if you can tell which is a cranky retired doctor and which is a cranky investment guru scolding employees and investors:

1) "You know, if I'm playing bridge and a naked woman walks by, I don't ever see her."

2) "Get married when you want. A wedding's just one more day in my life I can't wear sweat pants."

3) "I hate paying bills. Don't say 'me too.' I didn't say that looking to relate to you. I said it instead of 'go away.'"

4) "You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant. It just doesn't work that way."

5) "You practically invented lazy. People should have to call you and ask for the rights to lazy before they use it."

6) "It's nice to have a lot of money, but you know, you don't want to keep it around forever. I prefer buying things. Otherwise, it's a little like saving sex for your old age."

7) "I wouldn't worry about money. It has a lot to do with happiness, I just meant YOU shouldn't worry, cause you would just piss it away."

8) "Sometimes life leaves a hundred dollar bill on your dresser, and you don't realize until later that it's because it screwed you."

9) "If you have a harem of 40 women, you never get to know any of them very well."

10) "[It was like] half a tablet of Viagra and then having also a bunch of candy mixed in -- it doesn't have really quite the wallop."

Buffett quotes from here. Sh*t My Dad Says here.

ANSWERS: 1) Buffett, 2) Sh*t, 3) Sh*t, 4) Buffett, 5) Sh*t, 6) Buffett, 7) Sh*t, 8) Sh*t, 9) Buffett, 10) Buffett

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tim Pawlenty Is Becoming Stupid

[Added later: We need more Republicans like Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who actually produced a real budget - and not only that, but Obama had some constructive criticism to listen to, unlike with the hold-my-breath-until-I-turn-blue tactics most of the GOP is using these days. See, I knew you some of you upper Midwesterners still had your common sense intact.]

That's the only conclusion you can draw from Pawlenty's Politico piece, which Republican economist Bruce Bartlett adeptly disassembles:

Like all Republicans these days, Pawlenty wants to have it every possible way: complain about the deficit while ignoring everything his party did to create it (Medicare Part D, two unfunded wars, TARP, earmarks galore, tax cuts up the wazoo, irresponsible regulatory and monetary policies that created the recession that created the deficit, etc.), illogically insisting that tax cuts are a necessary part of deficit reduction, and never proposing any specific spending cuts.

The only specific thing Mr. Pawlenty is capable of proposing is a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It’s hard to know where to begin in explaining why this is such an irresponsible idea, but I will try.

And he does. Long story short, if Pawlenty's article was a ninth-grade term paper, it might get a C. Lots of talk, no specifics, and the same tired old ideas that have broken the budget. There's no time for grandstanding. WE NEED REAL SOLUTIONS, TIMMY. IF YOU DON'T HAVE THEM, DON'T WASTE OUR TIME APPLYING FOR THE JOB.

This is where GOP campaign strategists take me aside and say "You don't want to get too specific in an article like this. That just gives ammunition to his enemies, and anyway the common man won't understand that. Pawlenty is trying to get his name out to the general public."

Yes, I know that, you dipshits. What's so disconcerting is that I wonder if the GOP is right that this is really where we are - that a would-be national leader has to dumb down his message and avoid any and all substance to appeal to the moronic mob. Is that really where America is? (And do you want it to be there?) I've said it before and I'll say it again: if the only way to get our ideas enacted as policy is to hide them or distort them, or the tried-and-true populist appeal to the most-easily-distracted-by-shiny-objects among us, then we don't deserve to be in office. The other side should win. Elitism is to be encouraged when it's elitism in problem-solving.

In any event we've seen nothing from Pawlenty in the last year to show that he has any ideas other than greasing himself up for a Ted-Haggard-style date with the Religious Right. I was once hopeful for him, but he's not presidential material. While I'm at it, I'll quote another Minnesota voice: "Be as anti-elitist as you like, but when the surgeon comes in to open up your skull to see what that big dark spot on the CT scan was, you don't want him to be wearing a humorous T-shirt ("Hey, it is brain surgery") and eating Jujubes. You board the DC-10 to London and you'd like to see a lean guy with a military-style crew cut, an overachiever, not a guy with hair in his eyes who is really, really into his own music. Your life may depend on an arrogant elitist who happens to know what he's doing."