Archive for January, 2013

Reading list this week

January 30, 2013

I know it’s been a couple of days since the last post. I’ve been debating on what to comment about. The world is a mess right now and there are certainly many subjects to write about. Frankly it’s too depressing so I’m going in a different direction today. The world will have to take care of itself for a while.

What am I reading?

clip_image001The current read is Blink.

Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?

This is somewhat interesting but not really anything new. While it does give some incite into quick decisions and subconscious thinking so far (2/3 through) it’s nothing groundbreaking for me as least.

clip_image003Second Book is Father Night by Eric Van Lustbader

Department of Defense special agent Jack McClure has followed this trail of shadows and lies right into the arms of Gourdjiev’s alluring, powerful granddaughter, Annika Dementiev. The lovers are in Moscow when news of Dyadya’s failing health draws a slew of vultures–circling, anxious to seize the empire of secrets he spent a lifetime building. Jack and Annika find themselves locked in battle to ensure his safety…but when it comes to Dyadya, nothing is as it seems.

I used to read Lustbader books often a few years ago but the last few weren’t quite what I was looking for. In this, Doug McClure novel I find a familiar character but in the first few chapters it’s not lighting a fire under me to read. This can be natural at the start of a book but let’s hope it picks up a bit. It seems too unreal. I can deal with that to some degree with any novel but I have to be able to suspend belief long enough to complete the story. We’ll see. I loved the Nicholas Linnear Ninja novels but everything he has put out since then have been hit and miss with me.

clip_image004The third book is Drug War Mexico (politics, neoliberalism and violence in the new narcoeconomy) by Peter Watt and Roberto Zepeda

In this insightful and controversial book, Watt and Zepeda throw new light on the situation, contending that the ‘war on drugs’ in Mexico is in fact the pretext for a US-backed strategy to bolster unpopular neoliberal policies, a weak yet authoritarian government and a radically unfair status quo.

The start of this book covers historical aspects of the drug trade from early 16th century Spanish. I’ve only just begun this book and the first chapter is all I’ve read but so far it’s been very interesting. Historical perspective might be the best place to look before we continue with our Drug War here in America also. Of course the Drug War in Mexico directly affects the US so I’m looking forward to see what the conclusions are in the author’s research. By the description the book appears to have a political agenda. But I can live with that if the facts are real.

I’ll try to remember to post a review once I’ve finished.

Most honest testimony ever

January 25, 2013

Retired General Barrow testifying before the Senate Armed Services Sub Committee on women in combat. This was in 1991. I have never seen a government testimony so honest, truthful and heartfelt before.  Whether you believe the same or not this is powerful.  There is zero political correctness to be found here.  And yes, I agree 100%

http://youtu.be/fy—whDNNKk

 

Panetta to end ban on women in combat

January 23, 2013

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is ending the military’s ban on women serving in combat.

The move could open up more than 230,000 jobs that had been previously closed to women by overturning a 1994 ban on female servicemembers in small combat units.

A senior defense official confirmed that Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey would officially announce the policy change on Thursday. ‘

I’m wondering, did I retire too soon or just in time?  That foxhole is going to get very interesting. 

General Mattis out as CENTCOM CMDr?

January 21, 2013

Interesting things going on up the WH.  But this should concern us all.  Wait what am I thinking America isn’t concerned.  The last election proved that.  All is well never mind.

Word on the national security street is that General James Mattis is being given the bum’s rush out of his job as commander of Central Command, and is being told to vacate his office several months earlier than planned.

Why the hurry? Pentagon insiders say that he rubbed civilian officials the wrong way — not because he went all "mad dog," which is his public image, and the view at the White House, but rather because he pushed the civilians so hard on considering the second- and third-order consequences of military action against Iran. Some of those questions apparently were uncomfortable. Like, what do you do with Iran once the nuclear issue is resolved and it remains a foe? What do you do if Iran then develops conventional capabilities that could make it hazardous for U.S. Navy ships to operate in the Persian Gulf? He kept saying, "And then what?"

Seems like no General can stay in place very long now.  Remember 2nd and 3rd order effects is hard stuff and not much fun.  I bet Colin Powell could stay in place. 

Rapper removed from stage

January 21, 2013

Rapper Lupe Fiasco … was thrown off the stage at during a private inaugural celebration. Start ups Rock on promotes startup acts.  After a mid song tirade and continual playing of one song Lupe was removed. A clip from the organizers is below.

Lupe Fiasco performed at this private event, and as you may have read, he left the stage earlier than we had planned. But Lupe Fiasco was not "kicked off stage" for an "anti-Obama rant." We are staunch supporters of free speech, and free political speech. This was not about his opinions. Instead, after a bizarrely repetitive, jarring performance that left the crowd vocally dissatisfied, organizers decided to move on to the next act.

This is what’s wrong with America. Folks it’s ok to say, yeah we took him off because he was offensive and that’s not what this was about. But we as a country don’t have the courage to tell the truth. If this had been aimed at a different political ideology I’m pretty sure the results would have been different, which is also OK.  But damn just say it.

When we all become lawbreakers

January 20, 2013

Things to think about.

Passage from Atlas Shrugged.

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

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Hat tip to Instapundit

Danny Glover has lost his mind

January 19, 2013

The Constitution’s Second Amendment was created to bolster slavery and capture land from Native Americans, award winning actor Danny Glover told a group of students at a Texas A&M sponsored event on Thursday.

Actor Danny Glover told students at Texas A&M University the intent of the Second Amendment was to protect slavery.

“I don’t know if you know the genesis of the right to bear arms,” he said. “The Second Amendment comes from the right to protect themselves from slave revolts, and from uprisings by Native Americans.”

I loved the Lethal Weapon series with Danny and Mel but Danny has lost his mind the last few years.  Senility maybe?

Africa, how’s that looking

January 19, 2013

A few years ago I was talking to someone about some contract work in Africa.  The job was basically to train various military forces in various countries. I took another job while waiting to see if the contract would come through.  One of the countries was Mali.  At the time the pro western forces were ramping up training to try and slow the spread of radicalism and general chaos.  It appears we have not done so well.

As I watched the situation in Algeria unfold it was not unexpected.  I’m amazed sometimes how badly we have botched our foreign policy in the last few years.  We have almost no respect in the north Africa, middle east areas. Western countries are laughed at and radicalism is on the rise everywhere.  The Arab spring was certainly a spring for the Muslim Brotherhood but the average Arab?  Not so much. Libya, well that’s not turned in our favor.  Thank you Hillary (We came, we saw, he died” Clinton.

Our policies have been inconsistent, confusing and so vague that on the ground commanders have no idea what they should be doing. 

These are strange days we live in.

All is going just swell

January 16, 2013

Al-Qaida-linked militarnts seize BP complex in Algeria, Take hostages over Mali intervention

Is this possible?  I thought Al-Qaida was on its last leg.  That and the Arab spring, I just don’t understand why it’s so crazy out there.  Hummm

Panetta: U.S. ‘within reach’ of defeating al-Qaeda

The President’s mighty 23

January 16, 2013

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
EMBARGOED UNTIL THE START OF THE PRESIDENT’S REMARKS
January 16, 2013

Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions
Today, the President is announcing that he and the Administration will:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system. Shouldn’t that be happening already?

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system. Ok

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system. Pretty vague

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.  Um again why isn’t this happening anyway?
 
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.  Why are they seizing in the first place.  Didn’t they do a background check prior to seizing or was a crime committed?   If not should they have seized at all? 

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.  Umm I’m pretty sure license gun dealers know how to do this but why should they?  

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. Like the NRA runs?

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission). Umm LMAO, really?

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations. That’s not being done?  Wow, seems like a lot more issues raised than solved here. 

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement. Again, this isn’t being done? What the F… are we paying these people for?

11. Nominate an ATF director. HUH?

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations. I’m with this.  But wait doesn’t law enforcement already train for this along with first responders?  If not WTFN? Ok I’d add School officials.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime. What the hell does that mean? 

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.  Because guns are a disease?

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.  ZZZZZZZZ

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. Sorry it’s not the doctor’s business

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities. Umm, ok.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. Ok, I’ll go along with this.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.  Umm should already be in place.  Why do we pay these emergency management people all over the government?

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.  Don’t they know?  Should we be firing some people?
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.  ZZZZZZZ

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.  That I’ll have to see.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.  You need and executive order for that?  Can we do it in Las Vegas?

All these do is highlight that we are paying people already who aren’t doing their jobs.