Bring In the Clowns

The attachment of Donald Trump to the Romney campaign will, I hope, be forgotten by the time of the election, because Trump is a clown.

A wealthy clown, to be sure, but more showman than serious thinker.

Or thinker at all.

He is as serious a person as Barbara Streisand, or the Kardashians, neither of whom are taken seriously for their political opinions but certainly each could raise money, as could Lindsey Lohan. There is no more reason to respect Trump’s political opinions than Lindsey’s.

Trump will be no more than a sideshow in the election, and his “participation” should be both started and ended as quickly as possible.

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Using the Levers of Government

I have nothing but the highest regard for the Institute for Justice, a law group that fights for the individual against the state when the state becomes overbearing. (A common practice, since governments attract Hall Monitor/HOA Board Member mentalities.)

One of their latest cases involves a group of Monks in Louisiana who make caskets to fund their monastery.. It seems that the Louisiana Funeral Home Association objects to the Monks building and selling caskets in the state.

Now there is no state law in that state requiring that anyone buy a casket, and if someone wants to buy and use a casket built outside the state through Wal-Mart or COSTCO, they may do so under federal law, but if you want to buy a casket from a maker inside the state, everyone must do so from a member of the local Funeral Home.

Pure, restraint of trade by merchants seeking to limit competition using the state as a lever.

That means the hand crafted caskets built by the Monks can’t be sold in the state.

That also means the Institute for Justice has, as the Washington Post quotes a spokesman for the Institute, a perfect case for a challenge: a sympathetic defendant (and who could be more sympathetic than a Monk,); “evil villains” (and funeral directors trying to limit competition certainly fit that bill); and “outrageous facts” (no debate there!.

The Institute for Justice deserves our support. I cannot think of a cause they support that I do not.

Congratulations to “Someone(s)”

There apparently is a new, larger and even more powerful malware software program than Stuxnet attacking Iranian atomic facilities. It is named “Flame” and it is designed to spy, not destroy, although it is so large that there may be portions of the program that have not been executed at this time.

This one, at least so far as is known, sucks information from nearby Bluetooth devices, intercepts and logs background verbal conversations, and logs keystrokes.

That is what permits the US and ISRAEL, as an example, to know with some precision where the Iranian nuclear development is — or at least that is the hope.

STUXNET was sufficiently powerful to have required the work if several thousand programmers, working for several years, and this new program is larger and more sophisticated. It was not developed by some lone genius in a basement. Only a nation, a technologically advanced nation, could do it.

Congratulations to someone for this latest venture, which has been operating for several years.

Obvious Darwin Award Nominee

A West Virginia ” minister” who preaches that God wants to test his disciples through their handling of poisonous snakes has died of snakebite. He was bitten at the age of 44, by his favorite snake.

Mess with the bull…

(Obvious Darwin Award Nominee and possible winner!. I love it when it all comes together!)

A Little Perspective on Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, it is time for a little perspective.

That is what I tried to do recently at a high school US History class, because perspective is particularly important when one talks about past US casualties of war, and the scope of war overall.

It is important because war should never be taken lightly.

EVERONE believes history began the day they were born, and Ancient History is anything the day previously – but that is particularly true of high school students who live so much in the present that both past and future are a simple blur.

To the class, I tried to put their current knowledge of “war” – the War on Terrorism — into some numbers they MIGHT appreciate.

In the War on Terror, over a 10 year period, US war deaths have been 4,707.

In Korea, US deaths were 33,746.

In Vietnam, 47,355.

Most people think that the highest number of deaths at one time In WWII were the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – but those numbers, combined – were less than the firebombing of Tokyo.

In one night during the firebombing of Tokyo, more than 140,000 died! The combined deaths at Nagasaki and Hiroshima were 130,000.

And even those numbers pale when one considers the German attack on Russia. In a single summer, the Russian Army suffered 3,000,000 men dead and captured!

In WWII, all US forces suffered “only” 291,557 military deaths through warfare. That was just barely more than the deaths in the Civil War but those deaths were massive for this nation – and we suffered almost no civilian casualties.

These numbers place the War on Terror numbers of 4,977 over a 10 year period into some perspective.

The losses suffered in WWII were particularly grievous on all sides, civilian and military, but the very size and scope of that war are unimaginable today.

We have a 300 ship Navy today, but the shipping gathered for the Normandy Invasion alone numbered 6,000, and the Germans thought that invasion was just a feint, while the real force under General George Patton remained in Britain for the real push. The Germans were misled.

We tend to think that a bombing raid of tens of bomber aircraft is a devastating force, but many air raids carried out on Germany had 5,000 aircraft or more. Smaller, less capable aircraft in WWII, certainly, but of sufficient numbers to blot out the sun with an aluminum overhead!

War is certainly hell, and the loss of life is always a matter of great concern – but the losses we currently suffer, as much as they are to be mourned, pale in historical perspective.

The United States is particularly risk averse when it comes to casualties – a result of our historical physical isolation and our ability to project force to any remote part of the globe without suffering homeland counterattack.

Those days are coming to an end. Our potential enemies have developed the ability to strike at our homeland with their increased technological development.

One would hope that this lack of immunity on all sides would negate the desirability of one nation – or one person – to seize the fruits of another.

My reading of human nature in the politics of today tell me that is not the case. People always want what someone else has acquired, and if they find or invent a means by which to acquire such assets will try to do so by either deception or force.

We see that in our internal politics.

The Diversity Racket

The controversy over Elizabeth Warren claiming Cherokee background (1/32 or about 3%) to help herself and her various universities gain brownie points in the “Diversity Race” has serious ramifications in the Senate race in Massachusetts.

It all gets back to “intent”

My intent in calling myself an ” Aleut Indian”  while serving in US Submarines was to screw up the diversity statistics. There was no advantage for me to claim any particular ethnicity, so I continued to claim Aleut Indian heritage when surveys came around.

My Commanding Officers always said, “You are NOT an Aleut Indian” and I replied, The question is, “What do you CLAIM to be,  and I CLAIM to be an Aleut Indian!“

If everyone claimed to be something they are not, we could end this farce of rewarding and denying privilege based on some unknowable and un-provable ethnicity. That system exists in the “education industry” in forms it exists nowhere else.

Warren tried to game the system.

I tried to destroy the system.

The “diversity racket” system is bad.

Unemployed College Grads? Big Deal!

There is a news report that 52% of the unemployed are ‘college graduates.”

Engineers? Computer scientists? I doubt it.

Probably the “educated unemployed” are art majors, Latino and Black Studies majors.

The only jobs they can get is teaching more arts majors, Latino and Black Study majors…

I published the results of a study done by an Ivy League College last year that studied the life-long earnings of various degrees – as I recall Psychology graduates averaged about $35,000 while Petroleum Engineers averaged an annual salary $100,000 higher!

Descriptions of “unemployed college graduates” is misleading and incomplete without some differentiation. I suspect, but do not know because there is no specificity, that there are probably fewer unemployed Harvard graduates than there are unemployed graduates of Cal State, Fullerton.

All degrees from all colleges are not created equally.