Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Political Idiots - the Daily Double

It's not rare to have a breaking story of a politician doing something stupid, even career ending, but today we got a bonus. Two for one!

First up, Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal had to address a story that appeared in the NY Times. The Times points out that Blumenthal has repeatedly referenced his tour in Vietnam and his feelings and state of mind upon returning. The only problem is, he never went to Vietnam. Blumenthal characterized his statements as "mis-speaking". If you had never been in combat in Vietnam, wouldn't you catch that the second it came out of your mouth? Here's what makes this one uber-idiotic. Blumenthal was considered a shoe in for the Democrat nomination and was riding a 70% or so, approval rating. This was such an unnecessary "mis-speaking", it makes you wonder if he's brain dead or a sociopath.

Not to be outdone, Republican Representative from Indiana, Mark Souder, announced his retirement today. The family values candidate was caught having an affair with a staffer; the staffer that regularly drove him to interviews at the Christian radio station. Souder laments that he can't stay in the race due to the "toxic atmosphere" in Washington. Souder has been a full participant in said toxicity, being among the first to call for the ouster of Larry Craig, another lawmaker who had allegedly sought gay sex in a public restroom. Here's a clue for aspiring politicians. The public doesn't want you to stop dogging each other for your outrageous personal behavior. They want you to NOT ENGAGE IN OUTRAGEOUS PERSONAL BEHAVIOR.

The common retort from guys like this and their supporters is "I'm only human" or something like that. As if they just got caught doing something everyone secretly does. Another note to politicians; No we don't all cheat on our spouses. No, we don't all lie about our accomplishments. No, we don't all embezzle, cheat, steal, seduce teen-agers, take bribes or engage in unsolicited tickle fights with our employees. Don't project your personal flaws on the rest of us just to make yourself feel better. If you know you have no self-control, do everyone a favor and find another line of work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Can Hillary save the Democrat Party?

In an interview with CBS for 60 Minutes recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to initiate the political distancing process, perhaps laying a foundation for a presidential bid of her own in 2012.

excerpt from ‘Interview With Scott Pelley of CBS 60 Minutes’, on the State Department website
NARRATOR: Right away she found that America is in a crisis of credibility.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You’ve got countries who are explicitly saying to me in private, “Well, look, we always looked to you because you had this great economy and now look, you’re in the ditch. And you’ve dragged other people into the ditch.”
QUESTION: Larry Summers, the President’s economic advisor asked this question, “How long can the world’s biggest borrower remain the world’s greatest power?” Is America in decline?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, we’re not. But it’s a question that has to be answered and I happen to believe it’s one of the critical challenges before us. Our nation has to be strong fiscally at home in order for us to be strong abroad.

Whether you believe this signals a potential challenge or not, it’s an interestiing ‘what if?’. The difference between the Cintons’ (both of them) approach to politics and governing and the Obama approach is that the Clintons are politicians and Obama is an idealogue.

Idealogues are not necessarily bad. The fact that President Reagan would not budge on a number of issues due to adherence to a few rigid fundamental principals, turned out to be a very good thing for this country and for the world. However, it’s only a positive if you’re on the right track.

Obama has a vision for a new America. He has a specific agenda in mind and making it happen is priority number one. Clinton just wants to drive. If the Obama model doesn’t work, she’d have no problem piloting another one. It’s not a sinister thing. Some people are engineers and some are drivers.

The value, to a political party, of a non-idealogue driver is that he or she keeps the infrastructure that is the party, viable until a suitable idealogue attaches him or herself to your brand. The mandate of this type of governing is simply; do no harm. Gerald Ford is a good example.

President Clinton kept his party viable while the idealoges in Congress of the same party were cutting their own political throats. Clinton eventually went along with the Republican agenda, while strict adherence to the party line sent many Congressional Democrats packing. Clinton not only won reelection, but left office still popular, even after an impeachment.
Americans can forgive having a bad idea. They wont forgive insistence on pursuing a course that’s obviously not working. Most Americans are not idealogues. If you make their situation better, you can call yourself whatever you want. They’re not nearly as interested in your beliefs as in your performance.

If Hillary does decide to mount a challenge, she would do well to focus more on thought process and less on selling specific agenda items or visions of a new society.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ancient Aliens?

Have you caught the show Ancient Aliens on the History Channel? Of course, most folks, including myself would immediately start picking apart the alleged "evidence" and hypotheticals. But, I found it even more fun to run with the premise.

There are those who believe that aliens from another world helped in the construction of the pyramids. In fact, they speculate that the pyramids and many obelisks were actually power generation devices, used to send power to the mother ship, orbiting the Earth. They employed humans to build and maintain these devices, until they had the power they needed, and left.

Suspend your disbelief for a moment and let's just say it's all the absolute truth. Before you get all excited about joining the "brotherhood of planets" consider what that means. Some ship from another planet was traveling in our neighborhood and ran low on fuel. So they stop by the Earth, employ the indigenous hairless apes to produce enough energy for them to top off their tank, and they go on their merry way. Obviously they had no qualms about exposing themselves to the natives, so the fact that they haven't been back can only mean, they see no reason to come back. Even if they did return, they'd soon discover that we didn't even bother to write down any of the great technology they shared, making a third trip to our humble abode even less likely.

So, if the scenario they've laid out is factual, it only proves that among advanced civilizations in the cosmos, we are perhaps the least interesting in the eyes of the rest. But don't fret. The only real valid points made in the documentary were that no one has yet figured out how engineers thousands of years ago could have made the precision cuts and engravings they made and that they haven't found a good explanation for some of the features of the pyramids. It couldn't possibly be that an engineer that lived thousands of years ago might have had some knowledge that today's engineers don't have? Could it? Nah, must have been aliens.