Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yeah, Let's Take Our Enemies' Word for It

CNN is apparently making a big deal of this. Our troops confronted an Islamist with an AK-47 aimed at them and the troops did him in. The locals are giving conflicting testimony. Yeah, I'd go with the folks who hate us, wouldn't you?

Dubai: Beloved Ally; World Financial Center...

...and friends Of Islamic terrorists.

Dubai cancels New Years celebrations in solidarity with the Islamic Gaza-Hamas terrorists. Egypt did the same. Wouldn't you say the Bush administrations' ill-fated attempt to have Dubai firms safeguard the security of our ports a few years ago was dumb? Wake up, Washington politicians! I can only pray that Obama surprises us.

Keep up the good work, Israel!

The only thing that can explain our coziness with Dubai is their business connections with "corporate America." Those connections will leave us sucking wind. Am I the only one who believes our federal government is a tool and witting accomplice of big business' extravagance, waste, and ill-conceived alliances, and average Joes are being screwed by this fact?

By the way, for those of you who might think I am being mean spirited, Israel endured 200 missle strikes from Islamic Hamas during the week prior to their counter-attack - AND 3,000 SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR. They exercised excessive restraint.

Those who have pity on the Islamic Hamas terrorists in Gaza might very well be of the same cloth as those who had pity on Hitler and Mussolini.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Movie Critics Prove Themselves Jaded

I saw the movie "Marley and Me" this evening after reading the book last year.

I also read the Yahoo Movies movie reviews on this film.

It is interesting to note that the average of the reviews by the 12 professional "Critics" was C+ while the 447 "Yahoo Users" gave it a B+.

I would give this movie no less than a B+ myself.

Comparing the "Critics" ratings to the "Yahoo Users" ratings on movies across the board, the critics ratings are typically lower than the viewers.

I wonder why? The word "jaded" comes to mind.

In fact, many of the reviewers probably need a new line of work because they seem burned out in their movie reviewer jobs. Here are six examples of burned out, jaded movie reviewer comments from among the 12 on "Marley and Me"...

E! Online - Matt Stevens "...has about as much traction as a puppy on a linoleum floor." more... C - Bill Gibron "...this excruciating effort is 90 minutes of mediocrity followed by 10 minutes of the most manipulative, mean-spirited pap ever put into a movie made for families." more... D+

Hollywood Reporter - Kirk Honnycutt "A lovably though misbehaving dog dominates everything in a family film with little drama." more... C-

New York Post - Kyle Smith "The script is dull..." more... C-

Rolling Stone - Peter Travers "Watching the stars try to out-cutesy the mutt is one for the puke bucket." more... D+

USA Today - Claudia Puig "...fairly banal..." more... C

The Rolling Stone reviewer I understand - he's probably still on drugs from the 60's. I can only speculate that all of them have been overexposed to the sensationalism of the gendre - to the sex, the violence, the kinkiness, the irreverance, the exploitation of deviant human behavior, that anything less receives their disdain.

It's time for these folks to look for a new line of work - they have obviously lost touch with human feelings.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The War Against Ideology

I had to look this word up to make sure I wasn't missing some dark meaning behind it:

n. pl. i·de·ol·o·gies
1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.
2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

How many times over the months of the presidential campaign have you heard the complaint that candidates and voters (mainly the Republican or conservative ones) are "too ideolgical", too focused on "ideology."

I heard Michal Bloomberg the other night argue that the best candidates are not "idealogues" but those who can put together a team of folks that can get things done. He used the straw man of "garbage collection" to bolster his argument. I guess he was saying that you don't have to have any good ideas about social needs and aspirations about any part of society to have good garbage collection. You "just do it." Folks with stacks of trash during a sanitation workers strike might have a problem with that assumption.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bloomburg, many local, state, and national issues aren't as simple as trash collection - especially when dealing with national priorities and how to fund them.

If "ideology" is off limits to the electorate of this nation, then what? If "how" to do something (e.g. collect trash) is our only playing field, who exactly decides what to do, the priorities, and how its funded?

It seems to little ol' ideological me that these essentials can not be consistently and effectively carried out without a discussion and consensus on ideology. If ideology is taken off the table, only those who duped us into thinking ideology is not important will set our national agenda. This concept basically sucks.

You've heard the expression "Leaders lead people. Managers manage tasks." Obviously managers need to practice leadership, and leaders need to manage tasks - but in opposite proportions. But without having an ideology - a body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of a group, class, or culture being led - the leader will be aimless and will follow the wind. The group he's leading will, pardon the analogy, be like a ship without a rudder.

Our Scriptures have a spot-on verse to describe this: "That henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..."

Politics without ideology is much like that. You will inherit any idea, any priority, any value without having your own set of values, principles, or ideology, and acting on them when you determine who to vote for.

It seems clear that an increasing number of vocal folks in this country dislike the idea of us "sheeple" having our own ideas - especially if we express them in the polling place. Whoooo...beware the idealogue!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Good Side of the Downturn

I received an e-mail from a friend listing several hundred retail store closings as a warning about the potential for giving or receiving worthless gift cards.

While the long list of store closings may sound foreboding, from the standpoint of sound economics and responsible human behavior, this is great news.

Economists and investment gurus have been complaining for years that personal debt is excessive and the personal saving rate is dismally low. Most recently the complaint has been that excessive credit has been extended to many millions who are not credit-worthy. Based on the unworthy credit, we have been spending and buying "stuff" at unsustainable levels. Retailers, sensing a good (though unsustainable) thing built an excess of stores to satisfy our excess greed.

Our unsustainable orgy of credit and spending lasted so long that its fall is hard and fast. Consider our current economic problems as a too-long deferred market (and behavior) correction. Retailers are adjusting by closing unprofitable stores. This may be just the beginning.

The phenomenon that makes this recession likely to be a long one is another consequence of our greed: Our lack of productivity. Our "value added per buck paid" is not competitive in the world market place that we have been hell-bent to create and participate in. As the promoters of illegal aliens are fond of saying, others are doing the work Americans won't do.

Why did the 1929 depression end in the late 30's through the early 40's? We worked our butts off to win the war. We were motivated. Our personal productivity was high. This "high" carried over into the 50's. In the 60's we saw a new culture emerge...the flower children, the druggies, and the culture of excess consumption. This dysfunction evolved in the 70's through the present with an attitude of entitlement. "You deserve it" is not only the banter of the advertisers, but the expectation of those to whom the attitude of greed is promoted.

We are a consuming society, not a producing society any more. The chickens are coming home to roost. It will take something on the order of WWII or mega-9/11, or a really wicked depression to shake us out of our slouch into Gomorrah, as Bill Bennett so aptly lamented.

If current economic events help us straighten out our personal and national priorities, that is a good thing indeed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Islam: What the West Needs to Know

You have heard that Islam is the "religion of peace", that only a small number of misguided Muslims have "hijacked" that noble religion and made it something it is not.

The truth is, the real, fundamental Islam is being revivived, not by a few hundred "terrorists" but by millions of Muslims worldwide. There is growing evidence that 100's of millions of the over 1.2 billion Muslims concur in the Koranic teachings of world dominance through coercion and deception and are in the process of acting on that belief - because that is what Islams founding documents and historical interpretation teach.

If you are not up to spending several days reading a book about this reality, then spend an hour and a half viewing this video... "Islam: What the West Needs to Know"

Then sit back and ponder what things may be like for your children and grand children.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Government Tolerant of Anarchists

What does a government tolerant of anarchists produce?
Riiight. Anarchy.

Definition of "anarchist": An adult with a teenage mentality.
Definition of "teenage anarchist": The power behind the impotent Greek government.
The Greek government: Enabling, codepenant parents fearful of meting out justice and discipline to their abusive, out of control children. Or is this the definition of the current Greek culture?

I am not up on modern Greek government, nor the current socio-political issues that nation faces. But I am aware of some basic principles of human behavior. There has to be a lesson in the current Greek riots for the rest of us, Greek and non-Greek alike. Let's see, what might it be...

- I have heard that Greeks tend to have an over-the-top codependant relationship with and tolerance of ill-behavior from their little darlings. The chickens run the roost. Not a good idea.

- Letting out schools in response to rioting teenagers is not a smart thing to do. Doncha' think that gives them more time to riot?

- Firing and condemning law enforcement officials (without an investigation) to placate the anarchists certainly seems like it would encourage the anarchists, not to mention the untenable position other law enforcement officials find themselves.

Greece seems to be in a tough spot. It appears, through their excessive tolerance of bad behavior, they have passed the point of no return for civility, law, and order - pretty much the things that anarchists disdain. Anarchism seems to be the political philosophy of choice for a broad segment of their population - the common denominator for a coalition of various political philosophies.

Have the anarchists won? If so, what happens next? This reminds me of the adage of the dog chasing the car. What does he do with it if he catches it? Anarchist don't exactly appreciate government or any entity telling them what to do or not to do - again, the spoiled teen mentality. What kind of order do anarchists live by? No government, no rules, just right - oh I'm sorry, that's Outback. Do they revert to becoming a nation of outlaws? What?

I wonder if the creation of fascist Sharia law of Islam was the extreme reaction to rampant anarchy created after the Byzantine and Roman empires decimated one another creating a vacuum eager to be filled by an emerging ideology? In our two world wars, was anarchism used to help usher in fascism, a handy overreaction to anarchism?

Teens and others are being schooled in anarchism and used by others seeking to disrupt and discredit any legitimate government for their own purposes. Anarchy and anarchism are more a means to an end, and not the end in itself. First, destroy the existing government order, create a law and order vacuum, and fill it with the ideology that is best positioned to win the hearts and minds - by force or otherwise.

Anarchism tends to be left wing - most akin to Communism. Some form of government will fill the vacuum created by the anarchists. What will it be? Communism, social democracy, or facism, the reactionary extreme opposite? Read here for additional causes and effects of Greece's turmoil.

In the meantime, WHERE ARE THE PARENTS? Apparently they don't like rules either.

Calling in "Crappy Employee" Day

For the average business depending on all it's employees pulling their weight during these difficult economic times, "calling in gay" (the gays' twist on calling in sick) is the moral equivalent to the out of control juvenile delinquents rioting in the streets of Greece.

But note the location of this news story. San Francisco, where the majority of workforce is likely to call in gay.

For other places, how to win friends and influence people this is not. Calling in gay is not among the approved events for days off. Consequently the kindest employers should give these misguided souls written reprimands placed in the files. The best bosses will fire their sorry asses - a very appropriate consequence for these mindless protesters exercising perverse and inconsiderate judgement.

Won't the other workers who stayed on the job, understaffed, just ooze with so much appreciation and admiration for those who want to stick it to their co-workers and bosses to demonstrate how irreplaceable they are. On the other hand, a lot of those who were planning on calling in sick that day are likely to remain at work, sick.

It will be a sad day if the courts uphold any discrimination action brought by such gay radicals for being fired for their intent to sabotage and their disdain for the privilege of working.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Going Forward At The End of The Day

Like you know how, like we hear young people overuse the word, like "like." Like, well, adults who, parrot-like, like repeat and overuse a few words and phrases themselves.

As their teen counterparts, many adults have the need to be part of the cool, in-crowd by mimicking their repetitive jargon.

My favorite giveaways to adult professionals with egos way too large and vocabularies way too small for their mission include their overuse (or use) of the phrases:

- Going forward (as opposed to going backwards or standing still?)
- At the end of the day (which day, today? Tomorrow?
- To be sure (Of what?)

Here is an apt short essay by Jim Kershner of "The Spokesman-Review" from November 11, 2007, on the topic of "Going Forward".

Going forward, I am declaring war on the phrase "going forward."

In my capacity as Official Defender of the American-English Language, I have embarked on many lonely crusades. For instance, I have railed against both the proliferation of the word "sucks" and the overuse of the phrase "perfect storm." (In short, I believe it sucks to overuse "perfect storm.")

Yet my campaign against "going forward" is fundamentally different. This phrase is not merely overused. This phrase is completely unnecessary in every single instance.

Yet this useless phrase has become an indispensable part of business, political, and, I am sad to admit, journalistic jargon. Just the other day, I heard it used three times in the space of about an hour, in three different realms:

By a political commentator: "Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy, going forward, will be to focus on …"

By a football announcer: "This team needs to a lay a foundation, going forward, of establishing a running game …

"By a management executive: "Going forward, our plan will be …"

Pardon me if this sounds forward, but isn't "going forward" just slightly moronic? Is it possible, for instance, to have a strategy going backward?

Take out the phrase "going forward" in all three instances, and the meaning remains exactly the same.

To understand why, it helps to understand one basic concept of physics – one that, frankly, is not all that complicated.

Time goes only one direction. It does not go backward, despite what you have read in your comic books. It does not go sideways, except for certain people who choose to stay 39 forever. Time, which rules us all, goes only forward.

Since the phrase refers, 100 percent of the time, to time (as opposed to, say, yardage), we can reach only one logical conclusion: It is never necessary to specify which direction we are going, because we are always going the same direction, at least until such time as the universe suffers a reversal in the time-space continuum.

Hey, that could happen someday. Going forward.

So, you can decide for yourselves. Let me toss out a few common "going forward" constructions and you tell me how necessary they are:

"Going forward into 2008, we need to refocus on our core mission."

"Here's what I propose we do, going forward."

"What exactly, should we be looking for in this industry, going forward?"

"To be or not to be – that is the question going forward" (this, from a philosopher-poet-executive).

Oh, all right, there may be a few occasions when "going forward" might have its uses. I suppose that it can be used to clarify the distinction between "now" and "in the future."

For instance, you might reasonably say, "Right now, we need to hunker down and ride out this storm. But, going forward, we need to invest in some raincoats."

Still, it's nothing that the words "then" and "soon" haven't been able to handle for centuries.

And even though I just said that "going forward" refers to time, 100 percent of the time, I can imagine isolated cases in which it refers to actual distance.

Possibly acceptable usage: "Shaun Alexander needs to gain six inches on this play, going forward."

Always unacceptable usage: "Shaun Alexander needs to get his head into this game, going forward."

As I take a breath here, I realize that I have possibly, just maybe, become a little over-agitated over this essentially harmless phrase. I'm sorry.

This is my own problem. I'll try to get over it. Still, I can't help but worry that the English language is, you know, going backward.

"At the end of day" has similar problems. At the end of which day are they referring? The end of today? At 5pm or midnight? Or maybe at the end of your term of office in 30 days? Or at the end of the period our collective memories still function about how bad we screwed things up with the decision whose results will be known "at the end of the day."

Is this a new twist for "when it's all said and done" or "ultimately" or "in the end?" For the first week or two one hears these terms, they do sound like the speaker is "with it" and quite "avant garde." But man, do these phrases grow old fast. I heard one speaker use the term "going forward" no fewer than 15 times during a three minute speech. I thought the needle was stuck on an old scratched up LP...going forward going forward going forward going. After a minute I couldn't tell if he was coming or going forward.

"To be sure" is another.  To be sure of what?  As opposed to be uncertain and totally clueless?  What!

A national survey was conducted asking executives what were the most annoying phrases or buzzwords they heard recently. Their responses included:

“At the end of the day”
“Thinking outside the box”
“Take it offline”
“Redeployed people”
“On the runway”
“Get on the same page”
“Customer centric”
“Generation X”
“Accountability management”
“Core competency”
"Smell test", ("straight face test" or "laugh test")
"Run it up the flag pole”
"Critical path"
"Low-hanging fruit"
"Brain dump"

Here is the 2008 list of banished words from Lake Superior State Univerity.

New buzz words will be created every day. While they are catchy for awhile, they have a short shelf life (there's another one for ya'). Their coolness turns to irritating pretty fast.

It appears this mindless assimilation and repetition of our jargon is similar to how we mindlessly identify so-called problems and priorities like global warming and "green initiatives". Pandemically, most everyone, like a rapidly spreading virus, declare "the sky is falling". Fortunately there are alway a few unaffected cells remaining who can bring the body back to equilibrium and health.

We too often invent and pass on our newest national priorities as thoughtlessly as we create and repeat our jargon.

But going forward at the end of the day, when you download all your low hanging fruit thinking outside the box, it is what it is.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rice satisfied with Pakistan Blowing Smoke

The headline might just as well have said: "Rice satisfied with Pakistan Pblowing Smoke."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met the President of Pakistan yesterday to mollify India. The USA Today Headline actually reads: "Rice satisfied with Pakistan's anti-terror stance."

President Asif Ali Zardari promised Rice "strong action" will be taken against elements in his country that were involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Then his face flipped around when he said he would not hand over 20 suspects wanted by India and said they would be tried in Pakistan if there was evidence of wrongdoing because his administration would likely face a backlash from Muslim groups and nationalists if it simply handed over the suspects to Pakistan's old foe India.

What we have here is a failure to really want to take action against the terrorists in Pakistan. It just so happens that the "elements in his country involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai" include the same Muslim groups and nationalists from whom he fears a backlash.

Fact one is he would receive the same Muslim backlash whether he sent the scum to India for trial, or he convicted them in Pakistan. Fact two is he doesn't have the political or military will or capital to try and convict them within Pakistan - Pakistan is a Muslim controlled nation. Fact four is Islam desires to destabilize the region so it can broaden its imposition of Sharia law upon other nations. Fact five is the purpose of the publicity from the Rice/Zardari visit is appeasement to neutralize India's outrage of continuing attacks from Islamic-controlled Pakistan.

Bottom line: The west continues to be ignorant of Islams fundamental teachings and ultimate objectives and fearful of upsetting that "peace-loving religion." We prefer to tolerate the sporadic outrage of terrorism rather than take decisive action against it.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Random Thoughts About India, Pakistan, Islam...

Islamic "ambassadors" from Pakistan brought terror to Mumbai, India last week. These ambassadors are reported to have a multi-hundred acre training site inside Pakistan and support from Pakistan's equivalent to our CIA.

Meanwhile, John McCain and Secretary of State Rice visit India and, in effect, tell India not to get excited, declaring that the US will not allow India to strike back at Pakistan. That is like Great Britain telling the US not to strike Afghanistan or Osama bin Laden after 9-11.

At this moment President-elect Obama is vindicating himself vis a vie McCain when he declared yesterday referring to the Pakislami visit to Mumbai, "Sovereign nations obviously have a right to protect themselves."

This is consistent with and reenforces his campaign statement of August 1, 2008, when he declared, concerning Pakistan, "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will". He was criticised by Republicans, of all people, for being trigger happy and irresponsible.

Well, I would like to criticise John McCain for being a namby pamby milktoast who can't clearly express a consistent thought.
...McCain, and Obama.

Would decisive military action by India be impulsive? Hardly. Our own National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell recently expressed that the same group that carried out last week's attack is believed to be behind the 2006 Mumbai train bombings that killed more than 200. Terrorist bombings are an ongoing event in India. I wish we would all get over calling such bombers "suspected militants." What is the common denominator of 99.9% these terrorist acts? We know it's not the Methodists or the League of Women Voters. Hint: Its public relations team calls it "The Religion of Peace." That's about as true a depiction of Islam as Pakistan being called effective at ridding itself of Islamic terror camps.

Ex-Press Secretary Tony Snow (RIP - and I liked the guy) oozed way too much optimism about Pakistans' efforts against Islamist extremists when last year he said "Pakistan was working hard to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban... "At the same time, we recognize the sovereignty of the Pakistani government and realize that they're putting on a serious push ... They're taking the fight to al Qaeda"

Are they really? Sure sounds like a lot more talk than fight. What is the difference between Pakistan promising a "joint investigation" and "a fox in the hen house?" Not much.

The US will make a huge mistake if we discourage India from eliminating any Islamic training camp that is known to exist inside Pakistan. But, unfortunately for the rest of us, we don't even have the will to eliminate Islamic training camps in our own nation. We are peddling insanity with our failure to act in our own defense, never mind India's. We are laisse-faire-ing our own demise - ignoring the cancer within us.

And we want India to do the same with a hostile Islamic cancer at their back door.