Monday, July 12, 2010

Random Thoughts

I’m on vacation and may not post for awhile, so left this for your late evening entertainment:

People who text or talk on distracting cell phones, even hands free, while driving are idiots. Period. They apparently think their conversations or messages are important enough to put a child’s life at serious risk.

But I suppose I’m a dinosaur because I think texting and tweeting are time-wasters for twits. If the telephone and e-mail were good enough for George Washington and Abe Lincoln, they’re good enough for me.

My PDA is a spiral notebook and pen in my top pocket.

I do have a cell phone. I use it to make phone calls. I think it takes pictures, but I don’t want to clog up the lines with them.

Someone said that people who want to tell you their views on religion are seldom interested in spending the time to hear your views on the subject. Apparently it’s even more true of religious e-mails.

I’m inclined to vote straight Republican on the theory that Republicans are ruining the country, but at a slower rate than Democrats.

A Middle East without Israel will not be safer for anyone, and people who think so are blinded by their hatred of Jews. It will be especially dangerous for the millions of Muslims who want to live their lives without being thrust into war and destruction by the religious fanatics who have the guns and run their governments. I fear the world will get to learn this in a few years.

There was a stomach-churning irony in Helen Thomas, who came to the US from Lebanon, saying that Israelis born in Israel should go back to the countries that murdered their grandparents, “where they came from.” I didn’t see her packing for Beirut.

My essay, “I’m Tired,” continues to get posted on new blogs and sent to new readers each week. I’m not really sure why. I think other pieces I wrote, like, “This I Believe,” “Why I’m a Republican” and “The Coming Collapse of America” are at least as good. You never know what will take off.

About half the postings of “I’m Tired” get attributed to an actor, Robert D. Hall, with a similar name, due I think to one confused person attaching his photo to the piece and sending it on. I often wonder what he thinks of it. I’d think it was his popularity pushing it, but about half the posting don’t mention him.

“I’m Tired” has drawn thousands of comments on my blog and many others. I think a majority are positive, but a lot are negative. In the way of net cowards who don’t have to give their real name, a number are downright vicious. Lucky I have a thick skin. The one I still like best said, “The man makes some points, but clearly he’s a lunatic!”

Those who don’t like “I’m Tired,” tend to attack what they think I said, or who they think I am, a rich guy drawing a fat pension from the Marines and the Massachusetts Senate, and royalties from my books. So far, I don’t have a penny from those sources, but I have a new book coming out that might make me $50 if I’m lucky.

When I started my blog, a friend told me there were seven million blogs and only two million readers. So if you are reading this, I think you for the compliment.

I’ve noticed that people prefer to make up something they claim you said, and attack that, as it’s easier than challenging what you really believe. For example, if you are for limited government, the statists say, “Oh, you are against the government doing anything. So don’t call they police if you have a crime, the fire department if you have a fire or take Social Security (even though we made you pay into it).” It is possible to believe there is a role for government without believing that the government should be the first answer to every problem. Because I don’t want the chaos of anarchy, doesn’t mean I want to live in the Soviet Union or the Third Reich.

Now that I’m on Oxygen for my IPF, I feel better, but pulling a tank everywhere, I find I have one less hand for carrying things and opening car doors. My cat likes the moving hose, though.

I’ve noticed that the people who loudly claimed Hurricane Katrina proved Global warming now say that a decade of steady temps doesn’t prove anything.

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. --Euripides. Update: Whom the gods would destroy, they first give a sense of entitlement. --R. A. Hall

There's an old military axiom that if you defend everywhere, you defend nowhere. Equally, if you praise everything, you praise nothing. If you want to ruin your kids’ lives, heap them up with unearned self-esteem. Let them feel entitled to receive honors and rewards without work or accomplishment. Assure them they are entitled to live at someone else’s expense, that they deserve the fruits of others’ labor. Unfortunately, this is so prevalent, it’s ruining the country as well as the lives of the spoiled generations, starting with us baby boomers and growing into a tsunami as it went. In twenty years, the Jamestown Rule will be in effect: Only those who work will eat.

I prefer shopping at Goodwill to Macy’s, eating at a local family restaurant to expensive fine dining, the VFW or an Irish pub to Club 21, jeans to tuxes, the “girl next door” look to Vegas showgirls with implants and Daisies and Thistles to Roses and Orchids. Clearly I was not cut out for the aristocracy. No wonder purple is far from my favorite color.

Since teen girls pay big bucks for jeans pre-ripped at the knees, how come my wife tears up a perfectly good undershirt of mine if it has a tiny hole?

My Garnddaughter, Britnye, who is 9, recently said that this year has sure gone fast, "and my friend who is older says it goes even faster once you're ten!" Yup.

Since he’s so strong for “Green Energy,” I want to see President Obama take off in a solar-powered Air Force One. Or wind powered.

Star athletes may be worth their salaries, but I prefer the dollars not come from my wallet. Pretty much the only pro sport that I watch a bit of is football. On TV and with a book in my hand, thanks to instant replay of the good stuff.

The primary victims of black and Hispanic thugs and gangs in our cities are decent black and Hispanic folks. The primary victims of Islamic fanatics—of whom there are far more than the “tiny minority” claimed by leftist multi-culturalists—are decent Muslims who just want to be let alone to live peaceful lives. But it’s still condemned as “racist” to crack down on the thugs to protect the decent folks.

Islam is not a race, and criticism of it is not “racist.” Anyone, of any race can become a Muslim by making the declaration of faith: "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammad is his Prophet." Criticism of Islam is no more racist than is criticism of any other faith, and is protected by the First Amendment. But it can still get you killed. (See van Gogh, Theo.)

I notice that some folks work really hard and get little done, while others seem to hardly work and get a lot done. Of course, most of us have to plod along working hard to get much done. And some folks are content to live off others hard work, though if they put as much effort and imagination into a career, they'd probably be successful.

When I want to feel really old, I recall that when I was a boy, you could mail a letter for three cents. And we had only one phone in the house. It was black, attached to the wall and several other families used the same party line. We lived at a lake and not only did I ride a bike without a helmet, I had a rowboat I could row to my friend’s house, by myself, without a life jacket. I was in third and fourth grade there.

A friend told me that, “When liberals win, they advance liberalism. When conservatives win, they only postpone liberalism.” I would change it to, “When statists (Nazis, Fascists, Communists, Socialists, Liberals, Progressives) win, the state grows. When individualists win, they slow but don’t reverse the growth of the state, as every government program creates it own vocal and activist constituency.” Since a state, like any organism, can only grow so far, eventually you have totalitarianism, then a Soviet-style collapse. Or worse.

I don’t think things are going to get better, because anyone running on a platform of doing what needs to be done would be soundly defeated by the special interests who would be hurt. “Special interests” includes 100% of the voters. We all belong to some groups that will be hurt or helped by government action. Which is why the bloated government has produced a bloated lobbying effort. And 99% of lobbying is to preserve or expand programs, spending and benefits.

Have you noticed that the folks who don’t want you to have a gun to protect yourself often have bodyguards to protect them?

Looking at the fiscal crisis in Europe, I’ve been saying that we are just Greece twenty years out. But, based on this Gibbon quote, we are perhaps the capital of Greece: “In the end more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.” —Edward Gibbon.

Things are going bad so fast, I’m sure in 20 years no one will give a fig about Global Warming, regardless if it’s hotter or cooler. But they might kill you for that fig.

Politicians are rewarded in the next election, for doing things that sound good but have pernicious economic effects in 10 or 20 years. The seeds of our troubles now were planted—by both parties I might add—in the 1990s.

What the public really wants is more government spending, less taxes and no deficits. Which is why you seldom see a government that isn’t experiencing some sort of fiscal crisis.

I guess it makes me a RINO, but I can’t see how a couple of Gay people getting hitched threatens my marriage. But then, I never was so mad at a woman I gave a thought to dating guys, so those people who think being Gay is a choice must have thought seriously about making that choice. Otherwise, on what evidence?

I can tell what section of the country a person came from and their age group, when they ask me if I ever owned a clothing store. Yes, I can still sing the Robert Hall Clothing Store jingles, albeit off key.

If it wasn’t for micromanagement, some places would have no management at all.

If you think there are no differences between men and women, try to imagine a guy at a formal event saying to his wife, “Honey, we have to leave. That guy over there is wearing the same tux I am.”

If I understand what is happening in Washington, Democrats are angry and frustrated that Republicans are using against President Obama the same kind of tactics they, including then-Senator Obama, used against President Bush. Both sides say, “They started it.” It’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys, almost impossible to stop.

If being in the KKK still had majority support in the country, I think Sen. Byrd would have been buried in a white sheet.

If justice was fair, anyone convicted of perjury would get the same punishment as Bill Clinton—millions on the book and speaking circuit.

I get most of my news by reading, both the Chicago Trib and a lot of on-line news sources. I do watch the local news on TV while getting ready in the morning. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t watch Fox cable news much as people shouting over each other are not much more enlightening there than on MSNBC.

They used to call black folks who didn’t toe the party thought line, “Oreos.” (Black on the outside, white on the inside.) I like the new term “Watermelons” for a lot of the enviro-extremists. You know, green on the outside, red on the inside.

We are all suffragists now, but it’s been little more than 100 years since the majority of men, and no small number of women, opposed giving the vote to women.. We are all Abolitionists now, but it’s only been 170 years or so since a majority of American, North or South, opposed the abolition of slavery and thought that at the least, it was a necessary evil. That’s an eye-blink in history.

Only in Western Civilization did slavery become an issue. In all other cultures it was accepted as the natural order of things. Thomas Sowell has studied the economics of slavery in detail. He reports that over about 300 years, twice as many white Europeans were captured and taken as slaves to Muslim countries as black Africans were sold by fellow Africans to be brought to what became the United States. I wonder if the Saudis will give us reparations?

Trivia question: Who was William Wilberforce? Our civilization is indebted to him.

I’ve never attended a Tea Party protest. I’m far too busy between work, my blog, my on-going education through books, and coping with life to consider it. And I don’t belong to any Tea Party group. But I think using the loaded sexual term “teabaggers” to describe people exercising their First Amendment Rights, mostly peacefully from what I see on TV, is as offensive as using the “N” word to describe the President. Besides, I’ve read that “teabagging” is primarily a gay male sexual practice. Isn’t using that as a pejorative as offensive to gays as using “retarded” as a pejorative, as Rahm Emanuel did, is to people with mental disabilities? (Or, more accurately, offensive to their advocates.)

When did “Press Conferences” start being called “Pressers”? (And aren’t they really “News Conferences,” given that both the print media (the press) and the electronic media attend?) I suppose it’s shorter and sounds cutting edge. I guess the next shortening will be to “P-ers,” which might be more accurate, come to think of it.

I recently heard an economist speak who said the recession was started by banks giving housing loans to folks who couldn’t afford them. Ninja loans, he called them (no job, no income, no assets). He apparently had not heard of the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie or Freddie, at least he didn’t mention them.

If no one is bleeding or about to die, it’s not an emergency.

When people tell me that “everything works out for the best,” I ask them to explain the holocaust.

Recently read books I’d recommend: Money for Nothing, Applied Economics, Race and Culture, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, A Question of Command, Triumph Forsaken, Shakedown, Liberty and Tyranny, Children of Jihad and The Road to Serfdom.

And I read a few years ago, for folks who want to try, repeat try, to understand the Middle East: Sowing the Wind. Great history of the region, easy to read, but hard to track all the players, none, repeat none, with clean hands.

When people use the phrase, “Well, to be honest…” I often interrupt to ask, “Aren’t you always?”

Postponing a problem, as Congress loves to do, if far different from solving a problem. Usually it makes it worse, though often it makes it someone else’s worse problem.

The fact that you are Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, white, black, brown, red or yellow (yes, I know Asians aren’t really yellow and native Americans aren’t really red. I’m hardly snow white, inside or out.), old or young, male or female, American or non-American, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist or other faith, doesn’t mean you are not a jerk or worse. I’ve even met Marines who are jerks, it pains me to say.

I can’t afford to be a big political contributor, but I had a history of sending $25 to a candidate I liked, when I could. I hesitate now. The political fund raising effort of all candidates means they will likely spend $200 in postage, printing and staff time asking me for more.

“Central Planning” of the economy is not only terribly inefficient, but it inevitably leads to tyranny, as the planners have to increasingly coerce people into doing things for “their own good” that they don’t want to do.

Have you noticed that when a candidate or political group sends you a survey, they don’t want your opinion, they think they already know your opinion on the issues and want your money.

And modern fund raising letters all are cut from the same cloth. There’s the emotional appeal on the envelope. “I’m taking on Attila the Hun. Won’t you stand with me?” There’s the short, often one-sentence, bullet-point paragraphs. There’s the donor form, headed, “Yes, I hate Attila too, enclosed is my contribution for…..” “Attila” may be Sarah Palin or Nancy Pelosi, whomever resonates with the targeted donor base at that moment.

We should take bets on how soon after election day the first political fund raising appeal for 2012 will arrive in our mailboxes.

It’s pretty well accepted that Hoover signing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill turned a recession into the great depression, when world trade collapsed in the face of protectionism. But politicians still work to kill free trade, despite the damage to the economy that does, because it’s popular with economically-ignorant voters and unions in the protected industries. And the vast numbers of people who suffer don’t know why, and bless and vote for the perpetrators.

A politician admitting he was wrong is like bleeding in shark-infested waters.

Someone should run for president on the platform of requiring all adult citizens not disqualified by felonies or mental disability to purchase and carry a gun. If requiring people to buy health insurance for their own good is constitutional, so would this be.

Have you noticed that bleeding heart politicians who say they want to help people in developing countries didn’t mean they thought those poor, non-white people should have jobs, just handouts? (And that usually the foreign aid handouts were pocketed by the ruling dictators?)

It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if you aren’t reading widely outside your own field, you are massively ignorant. Those of us who are reading widely are only mildly ignorant.

If you can find a government program that cost only what its supporters predicted when it was passed, it should be covered by the endangered species act. And I wish my life expectancy was as good of that as most temporary government programs.

When Massachusetts lowered its state income tax, by popular vote, about 40% of voters favored keeping it higher. So they left both rates on the form, and you can choose to pay the higher rate. Turns out those voters meant the rates should be higher for other folks, as few select the more expensive rate.

Never mind Iran. Shouldn’t we have sanctions against Mali for that World Cup phony foul call by Koman Coulibaly against the US? Clausewitz said, “War is politics by other means.” (The actual quote is longer.) For many years now, international sports are also politics by other means, however much we wish it wasn’t so. So I saw the replay on the news, but not the game.

I’ve read that the Soviet Union used to cheat at Chess, because of the prestige involved. How, you ask? They had so many Grand Masters in a tournament, that they could instruct many of the lower ranked ones to throw their games to their top guy. Since many games at that level end in a draw, this gave the top Soviet player a lot of extra points. And with a surplus of talent, when their First Board had an adjourned position, a couple of Grand Masters could sit up all night and analyze the position to give him potential lines of play in the morning.

E-mail that is ALL IN CAPS, that you MUST READ and IMMEDIATELY FORWARD TO YOUR ENTIRE ADDRESS BOOK may be safely deleted without opening.

I get patriotic e-mails that say, “I’m not breaking this is I have to forward it 1,000 times> Any one who forwards the same e-mail to friends 1,000 times isn’t patriotic, he’s an idiot. And probably blocked by those former friends after 20 times or so.

If I could have dinner with anyone in the country, It would be with Dr. Thomas Sowell, the brilliant economist, though reading his books always reminds me that I don’t have a first class—or well disciplined—mind. But I fear it would be like having dinner with a recipient of the Medal of Honor and bringing along my Good Conduct Medal to try to impress him.

If Alan West or the other black Republicans running for Congress win, it should liven up the Congressional Black Caucus meetings.

I think Newt Gingrich is the smartest Republican in the field, and would make the best president, not that I agree with him (or, frankly, many people) 100% of the time. But his baggage is so heavy.

I still think The Notebooks of Lazarus Long by the great Science Fiction writer Robert Heinlein beat any philosophy text I read in college. You can find them on line through Google. Very short, but very wise. As Heinlein says, the Game is always fixed, but you should play anyway.

If someone doesn't treat his subordinates well, he's not a good person, regardless of his other contributions to the world.

If you were born in the United States, you have such opportunities for having a good life and high standard of living compared to millions, regardless of your economic status at birth, race, class or ethnicity, it’s like you won the lottery. It’s a shame that so many throw away that lottery ticket by choosing drugs over education, victimization over effort, manipulation to live over developing a career.

At 64, as a middle class American, I have already lived longer and better than 98% of the humans ever born. That doesn’t stop me from shooting for 99%.

In a confrontation with an intruder in my home, I’ll feel more confident of my negotiating skills to convince him of sweet reason if I’m holding a Smith and Wesson 9mm auto loaded with hollow points.

People responding to my blog often very defensively attack the fact that I say I’m a Marine Vietnam veteran. I suspect that Samuel Johnson was right when he said, “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier.” I was hardly a hero, missed a lot of the worst and was mostly with regimental HQ, so for a Marine I had an easy tour. If you aren’t a veteran, it doesn’t make you a bad person, but you wouldn’t understand. If you didn’t serve in Vietnam, you wouldn’t understand and have probably been fed with media myths. And if you aren’t a Marine, you don’t understand how Marines feel. Servings as a Marine was a privilege, not a sacrifice. I owe all my success in life to my three Marine Drill Instructors. And, no, I won’t shut up about it.

And spare me the, “I almost joined the Marines” line. I almost won the lotto this week. I had three numbers out of six, which paid $3. I was almost born good looking, rich and talented. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.


  1. Excellent random thoughts, one and all.

    Semper Fi

  2. I am glad I chose to read this part of your blog. I came here to see if a real person wrote "I'm tired". I did not enjoy that piece much, but I understand some of the distress you were communicating. The above random thoughts seem more thoughtful and reasonable. I appreciate differing opinions that are thoughtful and reasonable. Too many persons disagree without listening and instead try to out shout the other opinion. For what it is worth, I am a proud daughter of a vietnam vet, libritarian?, and have worked since I was 15 (and in school). My best wishes for your health. Tonya

  3. A few random responses:

    - Samuel Johnson was correct. I think poorly of my self for not having served my country. I live with the regret everyday of my life.

    - As I observe the world around me and attempt to plan for my families future, I've made a few important decisions:

    1: My son and daughter will both be masters of modern history by the time they can register to vote (whether they like it or not). It's been said that Americans have a short attention span. But I would argue they're just poorly educated in modern history. As a result, they're unable to make wise social and political decisions, easily swayed by the crowds.

    2: My son, daughter, wife, and myself will learn to be dead-eyes with firearms, and learn to respect (not fear) their usage. The more familiar one becomes with modern history, the more one realizes modern society is fragile.

    3: Family will always come first. Everything and everyone else will always come second.

    - In my struggle to define the core differences between Democrats and Republicans (Liberals and Conservatives), I was tempted to believe that: Democrats give a man a fish, while Republicans teach a man to fish. After further thought, I realized this explanation was incorrect. Closer to the truth was the following: Democrats give a man another man's fish, while Republicans improve their fishing techniques.

    Still though, I find this explanation lacking.

    - If you want to understand how incompetent legislators are, walk into any California gun shop and ask a clerk why this-or-that modification has been added to any particular firearm.

    That's it from me. Keep up the good work. I enjoy your blog immensely.