Thursday, January 31, 2008

Incentives, Please

So. Above is a screen shot of an e-mail I received from the Giuliani campaign last evening…click for larger to read. The most interesting bit, of course, is the plea for me to support John McCain. And I probably will after I’ve given this a little more thought. I’m of the opinion we’ll probably know who the presumptive Republican nominee will be after Super-Duper Tuesday’s results are in.

In the mean time note the “This space For Rent” notice in my sidebar… my support IS available. I’d even consider supporting someone other than a Republican, if the incentives were right. For those of you too clue-impaired to read between the lines: Every man has his price and I can be bought. Think: money, drugs, and sex. Preferably all three, and my required incentives aren’t necessarily listed in order of importance. Be creative.

(Note to Hillary: While “every man has his price” is most certainly true, my price would be substantial in your case. The requisite money would far exceed what you have budgeted for advertising in all media, there’s no room for a semi-trailer full of useful substances on my lot, and just don’t go there where the third incentive is concerned. Unless you intend to offer up some nubile staffer, of course. I’ll remain “open minded” on that count, and others, as well. Assuming you can find a safe and accessible place to park that semi-trailer.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hump Day. Yet Again.

An interesting thought posted by Erick at RedState:
Tonight was not a failure of conservatism, but a triumph of military voters who have made their home in the Republican Party because we are the party of a strong national defense.
In both South Carolina and Florida, they won it for McCain. In the grand coalition of the GOP, we've talked about social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. We've all ignored the military voters, except John McCain. And he won them big. His message resonated.
And the man still has an +80% conservative rating. I shed no tears.
That may, in fact, be true. It’s just that a “military vote” isn’t widely discussed, although it is mentioned from time to time. I remember hearing Fox News analysts invoking the fact that SC has the largest numbers of military retirees in the country and the polling (such as it is) indicated they were breaking for McCain. I heard the same sorts of comments about voters in the Tampa area, which also has a large number of military retirees and active-duty types. Not mentioned on any broadcast I saw was the Florida panhandle, which also has a large military and retired military population…think Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, and Destin. BIG military presence. So this could very well be true.
Strange, for a country with so few people who actually serve in the military these days. But, that wasn’t always so and there are a lot of former military folks from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s still around. That and the fact us retirees tend to live a lot longer these days. And we tend to vote Republican, although there are exceptions to each and every rule.
Old Farts are like that. See also Sir Churchill, Winston…False Attributions Dept.
Detroit Red Wings defenceman Brett Lebda lay in a heap on the ice, propelled head-first into the boards by a check from behind delivered by St. Louis Blues winger Ville Nieminen.
The incident occurred late last season and though Nieminen was ejected from the game and later suspended, in old-school fashion, he wasn't forced to answer for his crime within the arena.
In the press box, former Blues tough guy and current team radio analyst Kelly Chase scowled.
"When I played, I didn't have to call (National Hockey League commissioner) Gary Bettman to find out what the punishment was for running a guy from behind in Detroit," Chase said. "The punishment was (Bob) Probert and (Joe) Kocur." According to popular logic, the reason why this form of capital punishment is no longer delivered is the instigator rule.
Bob Probert and Joey Kocur, aka “The Bruise Brothers,” were mythic sports heroes in Detroit back when I became a hockey fan (that would be 1985, Gentle Reader). And “mythic” ain’t hyperbole in the least. Even I considered building an altar in my basement to these guys. I’m only half-kidding. Twenty years on the Bruise Brothers are still revered in Detroit and just across the river in Windsor, Ontario, where Probert lives today. And in certain parts of New Mexico, I should add.
I’ve written about Probert before, and probably should devote a post to Joey, as well. After all, Joey came back to the Red Wings and played on two of three Stanley Cup-winning teams of the recent era, most notably the ‘96 – ‘97 season, when Joey was signed as a free agent just before the play-offs began. Prior to the signing Kocur had been playing hockey in a seniors league in suburban Detroit. A seniors league! How’s that for a comeback, eh?
Today’s Pics: “Why I Love Japan.” Beer. In vending machines. On the street, unattended, 7x24x365. You pays your yen, you makes your choice. Note the Budweiser in the Suntory machine. I’ll have a Kirin, thankyouverymuch. Or I’ll walk down the block and find a Sapporo machine. There’s another beer machine in the second pic, lurking behind that pole on the right.
December, 1991. The Second Mrs. Pennington and I spent Christmas with friends in Japan that year, on our way home from Beijing. This street is near the apartment of TSMP’s girlfriend Junko. That’s the girl TSMP raised Hell with during her senior year in high school, and continued raising Hell with in the years to follow…although Junko became a married lady (with children!) and wasn’t into the Hell-raising biz all that much after becoming a mom. It happens like that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


After tonight I’m thinking I should put a “This Space For Rent” sign in my sidebar where the “Rudy” logo sits at the moment. Speculation is Rudy will drop out before the end of the week and will deliver an endorsement for either McCain or Romney. Rumor has it he’ll endorse McCain. I hope so.

Well, now. I have a fairly tough decision to make. Should I begin drinking heavily, or have just one more and go to bed?

What did you FredHeads do? I won't ask the Ron Paul folks, because their suggestions might prove to be both physically and anatomically impossible. Besides that, they're all “bitter end” sorts and will probably still be campaigning come the second week of November.


On the good news reading front… Blog-buddy Morgan lost a great good friend this past week. But she had a long, happy, and productive life…expiring at exactly the 341,092.4 mile mark. And Morgan was the only man she ever loved. Read the story here. It’s a remarkable tale.

Tuesday's Trivialities

So… I watched Dubya’s final SOTU last night, the Democrat “rebuttal,” and the associated reek that passes for commentary on same. My opinion? A journeyman-like speech… nothing truly impressive, but nothing truly horrible, either. Dubya’s best line of the evening for (heh) my money was his throw-away about the IRS accepting checks and money-orders if you absolutely, positively feel compelled to pay more taxes. (OK, I added the adjectives. He didn’t.)

As for Governor Sebelius, her opening paragraphs gave me hope we would hear something other than the same-ol’, same-ol’ partisan Democrat bromides and general rejection of anything/everything President Bush said. But after promising “an American, rather than a partisan response” she launched into a rather ridiculous “join us, President Bush...” kind of speech that was just what I feared it would be: partisan carping. And a lot of Democrats were less-than-impressed, too.

Ah, well. Plus ça change…


Today’s Quickie…

Saw a billboard that said

'Need help, call Jesus. 1-800-005-3787'

...Out of curiosity I did.

A Mexican showed up with a dump truck.

From a Bud, via e-mail. This reads like Rodney Dangerfield. And it’s just as funny.


I’m not the only one… In “Kamikaze Republicans,” a column published by, Wynton Hall writes:

Some unsatisfied Republican voters, especially conservative ones, have threatened to sit out the Republican primary in protest. Indeed, within GOP circles it is not uncommon that one may hear the refrain, "I'd rather have Hillary or Obama win and start fresh than to vote for a RINO (Republican in Name Only) or some half-committed conservative."

Rants of frustration such as these, while understandable, are baseless. More than that, they belie and betray the Republican and conservative arguments regarding the existential battle of our time-the long term threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism. In a time of war, the temptation toward "Kamikaze Republicanism" is both intellectually and ethically bankrupt. Worse, such sentiments stand to pose grave danger to the 2.4 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who stand ready to do violence on the nation's behalf so that Americans might live freely.

To argue that there is not a "dime's worth of difference" between a President Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama vs. a President McCain, Romney, or Giuliani negates the entire range of national security arguments waged since September 11th. In one rhetorical swipe of tongue, Kamikaze Republicanism reduces the singular security threat of our age to rubble, for implicit in the argument is the notion that presidential leadership is impotent in effectuating military and geopolitical change. But as the enormously successful "surge" in Iraq continues to demonstrate, the strategic and tactical decisions leaders make affects the direction that events will take. Indeed, to suggest that General Petraeus's leadership and counsel would have been equally followed by a president beholden to and political dependent upon groups who smear and denigrate such a patriot with cries of "General Betraeus" is intellectual laziness in the extreme.

Even though my excerpt is long, it’s just the beginning of a wise bit of advice from Mr. Hall. His principal point is the wide gulf that separates the Democrat candidates and the Republicans (with the notable exception of that guy from Texas) pretty much begins and ends with national security. There’s obviously more differences than national security…things like the composition of the Supreme Court, taxes, economic freedom, etc. … but the over-riding issue in this campaign IS national security. Unless you think like a Democrat and don’t believe… never believed… we’re at war. A Democrat administration in peace time is one thing; we’ve survived those debacles in the past, and quite well, thank you. But a Democrat administration in these perilous times, given ALL of the Democrat candidates’ position on The Surge and the war in Iraq generally, is like putting Dr. Kervorkian in charge of the patient. I dunno about you, Gentle Reader, but I’d like a fighting chance. We probably don’t get that chance if Republicans/conservatives stay home on Election Day. History is already against the Republicans holding the White House for another four years…we don’t have to increase the odds against us any more than necessary.

Further in the same vein…John Hawkins of Right Wing News, in a column titled “The Ten Most Annoying Things About the Race for the Presidency,” writes:

The Intra-Party Blood Feud on the Republican Side: I'm all in favor of taking a hard look at the candidates and getting all their flaws out in the open during the primaries. Moreover, if a few sharp elbows get thrown in the process, that's all well and good. Heck, I've even thrown more than a few of those elbows myself.

But, the childish pouting, hysterical tantrums, and bitter carping are starting to get out of control. Conservatives would be a lot better off if they stepped back, breathed deeply, and took Reagan's 80% rule to heart -- "My 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy" -- before they help create rifts that may take the GOP years to heal.

Put another way: Grow Up. Reasonable people can disagree, reasonably. And no one agrees with any one person about everything. That’s a life lesson that’s supposed to be learned somewhere between kindergarten and the fifth grade. Some folks appear to have missed a lot of school.


I missed this last Friday, but as it’s said…Better Late Than Never. Fisking is kinda-sorta out of vogue these days. But…if you’re a guy, and if you’re fed up with all the rules, regulations, stipulations, and tribulations the opposite sex…or more appropriately, the media, ostensibly speaking for the opposite sex… seem to lay on us these days, then you should read “Relax, sugar-tits.” By Rachel Lucas. Let me repeat: that’s RACHEL Lucas… not Raoul Lucas or Robert Lucas. Rachel. (Hint: women just might wanna read this, too.) Here’s a taste:

One of these days I will write an epic about one of my biggest pet peeves, which is how in every commercial on TV that features a couple, the guy is retarded and the woman is sassy, clever, and dismayed with the retard. Really? We’re still doing that cliche?

But for now, kinda along the same lines, this morning I saw this article, 10 Things You Should Never Say To A Woman, that is, if you want not to offend the budding-flower tenderness of the ladies. Maybe I’m messed up in the head, maybe my parents just did something right, but I read stuff like this and I am so glad I’m not a man because being a man would mean being forced to put up with this shit without fighting back because that would make you a sexist pig jerk. So as a woman who isn’t inflicted with The Crazy, I’ll fight back for you guys. Because I am helpful like that.

And I’m helpful about providing entertaining and useful links, even if it’s stuff you may have already read. You’re welcome.

(h/t: Conservative Grapevine)


In the “Wish I’d Said That” Dept…here’s K-LO at The Corner:

It goes on. But I can't. Where's room for parody in the world, when you have liberal feminists?

She’s talking about the National Organization of Women’s (NY chapter) denunciation of Teddy Kennedy (D, Chappaquiddick), in the wake of Teddy’s Barack endorsement. There’s a link to the NOW press release at NRO. And K-Lo’s right. The press release reads like Scott Ott wrote it, but he didn’t.


Today’s Pics: A preview of my next scanning project: illustrating my four-part tale (first installment here) about doing business (and a lot of other things) in the Peoples Republic of China in 1991.

Two of these three pics were taken on the segment of the Great Wall that’s been largely restored for the tourist trade…about 40 miles or so outside of Beijing. It was cold that December day, Gentle Reader. Too cold for the way I was dressed, let me tell ya. But… I left my arctic gear at home, unfortunately. Still and even, the place was simply swarming with tourists, even for a cold late December’s day.

And: I’m a man, in Chinese eyes. Our interpreter told us there’s an ancient Chinese saying that says “one isn’t a man until one has walked the Great Wall.” Or something like that.

The third pic is of TSMP and a very young soldier of the Peoples Liberation Army, taken in Tiananmen Square. The boy was not impressed, was he?

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Strange Sort of Monday

So…didja watch the All-Star game? If you did you might agree that it was one of the better…if not the best…All-Star games in quite some time. You could be forgiven if you watched and decided to move on to something else after the first period was over…coz it looked like the game was gonna be a blow-out kind of snoozer, and blow-outs are always snoozers, right? The East led after the first period, 5-1. But, as they say, things got interesting in the second period when the West narrowed the lead to 5-3. The game turned into an edge-of-your-seat affair throughout the third period, when the West tied it up at 5-5, scoring two goals just a little less than two minutes into the final period. The final 18 minutes of the game saw both sides scoring a total of five goals, culminating with the East’s 8-7 win with just 21 seconds left on the clock in regulation time.

It doesn’t get a lot better than this, Gentle Reader, even considering the game meant nothing (other than lotsa fun for all involved) and not a single penalty was called. As a matter of fact, there hasn’t been a penalty called in an All Star game since 2000. All in all, the game was a fine way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon in January.


We’re having rather strange weather here on The High Plains of New Mexico this morning. It’s relatively warm for a late January morning, but the wind is blowing whatever warmth there is outside to points north and east. But Hey! The folks north and east of us need a lil bit of warmth after getting their butts kicked with all that ice Friday and Saturday last. As for us…we hit 67 degrees yesterday. I considered, oh-so-briefly, uncovering Miss Zukiko and taking her out for a run before the game yesterday afternoon. The wind was all that stopped me.


Is there anything in this country that goes un-analyzed? Anything at all? I ask, Gentle reader, because I think this is just a lil over the top. A quote:

Obama's type is contemporary, fresh, very polished and professional. The serifs are sharp and pointed; clean pen strokes evoke a well-pressed Armani suit. The ever-present rising sun logo has the feeling of a hot new Internet company. His sans serifs conjure up the clean look of Nike or Sony. This typography is young and cool. Clearly not the old standards of years past.

Well. The evocations of “a well-pressed Armani suit” (is there any other kind? Do you normally see guys in rumpled Armani suits?) and “hot new internet company” (again: any other kind?) apply to Obama’s campaign logo. There are other, similarly vapid analyses of the fonts used in all the candidates’ logos…if you’re interested. And you just might be interested… Hell, I was. There was a time, believe it or don’t, when I argued the finer points of serif fonts and other such nonsense. All in the name of “effective communications” and “presentation value.” Arghhh…


I awoke this morning and noticed it’s a Monday…right off the bat. That may sound somewhat strange to those of you who remain in the traces and are slaving away in an office, a cube, or whatever/where ever your place of business may be. The fact it’s Monday isn’t lost on you, I’m sure. But it’s unusual for me, because one day is pretty much the same as the next. That happens when one is retired. What’s even more unusual is I felt a brief twinge of something… something very much like a longing… that I wasn’t heading off to a workplace of some sort this morning. About which… is the first time I can recall feeling that way in a long, long time. What I mean is… how, exactly, does one miss…

  • getting up at oh-dark-thirty (normally between 0400 and 0430 hrs),
  • tossing down a cup (or two) while checking my corporate e-mail to ensure nothing blew up while I was sleeping,
  • hitting the shower,
  • pouring your third cup in a travel cup,
  • getting in the car,
  • driving six miles to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station,
  • riding 45 minutes into The City, while reading most of the WSJ in the process
  • walking three minutes from the Montgomery Street BART station to Starbucks to buy the first of about four cups,
  • riding the elevator eight floors up to “the office,” arriving about 0615 hrs
  • spending anywhere from ten to 11 to 12 hours or so doing “really important stuff” to keep the inter-tubes free for commerce,
  • returning to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station from which you began,
  • driving home, stopping somewhere along the way to pick up dinner,
  • arriving home somewhere around 1930 (or later),
  • eating dinner while doing another two hours (or so) of work you didn’t have time to do while AT work,
  • watching a little teevee,
  • going to bed, and…
  • doing it all over again the next day

Rinse, repeat, for a little over two years. There were variations on this theme. As an example, I lived in Berkeley for the first year I was in SFO… so the BART ride was shorter (much shorter) and I walked from my apartment to BART and back. Same, but different. How, exactly, does one miss this kinda…umm…stuff? Am I crazy? That’s what I felt I was missing this morning, Gentle Reader.


Today’s Pics: Keeping with the theme of “Missing the Working World,” three pics of YrHmblScrb at his place of business. Well, two pics at his place of business, and one where I’m less than 20 minutes removed from the office and enjoying a beer in the rooftop bar of the Mandarin Hotel in Singapore. That bar had a magnificent view of the city, but let's not digress.

Note the difference in corporate cultures… as if you could miss it. The first two photos were taken when EDS was the most buttoned-down of all button-downed companies in America (before they gave in to the “corporate casual” movement sometime around ’96) and the third was taken in my company’s Site Operations Center (SOC). I was the SOC Director.

Wanna guess which company I liked better? You might be surprised at the answer, Gentle Reader.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

At a Loss for Something to Do This Afternoon?

Well, then...there's this. Kicks off in about an hour and 45 minutes on the Versus network, which most cable companies carry. Or so I'm told.

You won't see any fights...but you WILL see a lot of goals, a lot of pretty plays, and the world's BEST hockey players, bar none. Including...
On defense, Red wings blueliner Nicklas Lidstrom, a five-time Norris Trophy winner as the league's best defenseman, will make his 10th All-Star Game appearance. The 37-year-old Lidstrom leads all NHL rearguards with 46 points and is also first in the league amongst all players with a plus-40 rating.
I'll be there with lotsa beer (there's no Labatts in the house, unfortunately... but note the splash screen at the web site. Cool, eh?) and popcorn. One could do a lot worse where Sunday afternoon teevee's concerned.

Me too! Me TOO!

OK, I'm probably the 1,432nd blogger to post this...but it's too good NOT to post!

Heh. I'm sure Bowie is quite proud...
(h/t: Lex)

We Were Soldiers Cowboys Once… And Young

Today’s Pics: Talk about long ago and far away! What I know: these pics were taken in the Sacramento, CA area, most likely in base housing on McClellan AFB (the Christmas pics) and in the house my parents bought somewhere near Mather AFB. What I don’t know: The exact year. I’m probably between four and five years of age in these pics…that’s my best guess.

These five pics were taken on at least two different occasions, but they reflect my very young boyhood obsession: cowboys. Hopalong Cassidy, in particular, but Red Ryder, Wild Bill Hickok, and Roy Rogers were up there on my list of heroes as well. My shirt, pants, and boots are Hopalong Cassidy signature items, as is the small table radio and the camp chair in the Christmas shots. I kept that radio until my teen-age years…the rest of the stuff sorta disappeared, as stuff tends to do when you move every three years or so.

My memories of this time are pretty faint to non-existent. I do remember my mother taking me to the “Kids Matinee” at the base theatre nearly every Saturday. The “show” was free and featured one “B” cowboy movie from the 40s and a few…usually three… “shorts,” that could have been about nearly anything. The moms on our block in the housing area rotated “kid duty” and took a gaggle of small boys on these outings every Saturday morning. That outing was the highlight of my young life at the time.

I also remember that we had one of the first televisions in our sub-division after Dad and Mom bought the house near Mather AFB, which was quite the Big Deal. Sacramento didn’t have a TV station when Dad bought the teevee, and he and his friends erected a 20-foot mast (at least, more than likely taller) and a huge antenna on our house so we could receive broadcasts out of San Francisco…badly. All the kids in the neighborhood and quite a few of their parents would gather to watch teevee in our living room. That was a real social event for the times, even though there wasn’t a whole helluva lot to watch. I also remember getting out of bed in the morning, running into the living room and switching on the teevee to wait for the morning shows to begin…impatiently waiting for the test pattern to disappear and the programming to begin.

Our family stayed in the Sacramento area until 1953, at which time Dad was reassigned to London, England. Dad was the recipient of one of those infamous “short-notice” assignments, and he preceded us in England by several months. My Mom, my sister and I followed about six months later. The trip from Sacramento to London…via Mom’s home in Atlanta, Georgia… was quite an adventure for an eight year-old boy, not to mention Mom… who drove across the US of A with my sister and I all alone. That was quite daring in 1953. I’ve told the tale of the move and subsequent adventures in three installments… here, here, and here… if you’re interested, Gentle Reader.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rippin' Up the "Big Tent"

Some of the more interesting things I read yesterday had to do with Peggy Noonan’s column in the WSJ. Buried, quite literally, at the very bottom of Ms. Noonan’s column was this lil gem:

On the pundit civil wars, Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"

This is absurd. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.

Were there other causes? Yes, of course. But there was an immediate and essential cause.

And this needs saying, because if you don't know what broke the elephant you can't put it together again. The party cannot re-find itself if it can't trace back the moment at which it became lost. It cannot heal an illness whose origin is kept obscure.

Hoo-Boy. Bull. Pasture. Red Flag. (Trying on another metaphor instead of my UCR “Jane, You ignorant slut!”) Captain Ed sez “no, it wasn’t Bush…”

It doesn't mean we don't have trouble, but Noonan's wrong to lay the whole thing on Bush. While it's true that he hasn't provided much in the way of fiscal discipline, he didn't run for office as a Steve Forbes conservative, either. He spoke of compassionate conservatism, a code for big-government approaches for center-right policies, and he delivered. Bush talked about working on bipartisan solutions to national issues, and he pretty much did that before the Iraq war turned sour. Republicans elected Bush knowing what they were going to get, and Noonan can't seriously claim shock over the result.

The seeds of Republican discontent took root in Congress, not the executive. It was the succession of Republican Congresses that refused to cut spending, and instead blew wads of cash on non-defense discretionary spending. Bush led in some of these efforts, but he didn't multiply pork exponentially; that came from House and Senate Republicans. He didn't climb into bed with K Street, either -- that project started before Bush ever arrived at the White House with Tom DeLay and others.

While Billy Hollis at Q&O sez:

And the GOP faithful are still out there attempting to scare folks with "What? Any Republican is better than Hillary! If you small-government types know what's good for you, you'll get behind the GOP nominee, whoever it is. Otherwise, it will be a disaster!"

Well, it will be a disaster - for the political insiders and those whose life revolves around winning. The Democrats already suffered through theirs. In 1994, the entire Democratic political establishment was shell shocked when the GOP took Congress, by a big margin. The GOP has not yet faced their own disaster, mostly because they've been blessed with stupid enemies.

But I think it's coming, sooner or later. Sooner, if McCain or Huckabee are the standard bearer. Later, if the GOP squeezes out one more victory, but just can't internalize the need to stop selling the spending, stop the earmarks, and get serious about their core small-government principles.

As for me, I found James Joyner’s commentary more in alignment with my take on things political:

And, frankly, Reagan’s record — as opposed to his rhetoric — isn’t exactly what those who pine for the Good Ole Days seem to think it was. Reagan did virtually nothing to advance the socially conservative agenda he talked about. He appointed Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, two moderate swing votes, to the Supreme Court to go along with Antonin Scalia, his lone conservative appointee. And he signed the biggest illegal immigrant amnesty bill in the country’s history. He allowed spending to skyrocket under his administration, leaving the country saddled with historic debt.

It’s 2008, not 1980. Most women work outside the home. There hasn’t been a military draft in more than a generation. There are significantly more than three television channels. We’ve completed the shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. Our political climate has, understandably, changed a little. Goodness, there’s a serious chance that a woman or a black man will be our next president; that was the stuff of stand-up comedy routines in Reagan’s day.

The campaigns of Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, Tommy Thompson, and Fred Thompson never got off the ground. If you thought they’d be great presidents, you were virtually alone. Sorry for your loss but it’s time to move on.

The president represents 300 million-odd Americans and is selected through a grueling process that ensures he’s vetted by widely varying constituencies. The primary process runs potential nominees through a gauntlet and then the general election requires appealing to pluralities in enough states to get at least half of the votes in the Electoral College.

Ms. Noonan is fundamentally correct in her brief conclusions about Bush’s record regarding the war, spending, and small government. But Bush’s missteps hardly qualify as “destroying the Republican Party.” I’m more or less inclined to agree with Mr. Morrissey when he lays the blame on Congress for the GOP’s failure in the mid-terms… yet he, too, is off the mark by claiming the seeds of GOP destruction were planted in Congress. Dubya could have exercised more and better leadership in that space…like finding and using his veto pen about five years before he actually did, and engaging in some creative arm-twisting with the GOP congressional leaders.

And then there’s The War, which (IMHO) has been about as badly managed as any of our previous wars, and worse than most. Still… you go to war with the administration you have, not the one you wish you had… to paraphrase some former administration official. Dubya changed course in Iraq at the Eleventh Hour, or perhaps later than that. The War may be out of the headlines now, but Dubya’s lack of success up until May/June of 2007 certainly had a LOT to do with Republican dissatisfaction, and almost everything to do with Democrat angst.

So. Is the GOP falling apart, or what? Yes and no. I’ve seen and heard the term “healthy debate” used a lot this past week to describe the internecine warfare within the GOP, and healthy debate is good…when it’s healthy. I’ve also read a lot of opinion that smacks of “I’ll take my ball and go home if we don’t play by my rules” kind of talk as well. There’s always this sort of talk during an election cycle, and it’s usually just talk. Except in 1992. And you know what happened then. Could 2008 be déja-vu all over again? We DO have some…umm… rather familiar Lefty faces in this year’s race that make me wonder. Especially when I get e-mails like this:

From: Draft Bloomberg Committee,
To: buckpennington01…at…
Date: Jan 15, 2008 4:20 PM

Subject: The Draft Bloomberg Petition

Draft Bloomberg Committee Launches Petition

If you believe Mike Bloomberg should run for president, then now is the time to tell him!

America needs and deserves a president with vision and a proven track record of solving tough problems and delivering real results, a president who can bring America together through true leadership and fine character.

With a recession looming, we believe that Mayor Bloomberg, a proven successful businessman and public servant, is that leader to help us rebuild our country.

Join the Draft Bloomberg Committee on the ground floor by completing two important activities that will help bring Mayor Bloomberg into the presidential race:

1. Sign the petition to draft Mike Bloomberg: Add your name to the list and stay informed about our draft movement. Sign online now!

2. Publish the petition on your blog: The more voices we have shouting Mike's name, the more likely he will be to enter the race. Publish the petition on your blog!

So… either we get it together as a party, or some idiot will decide to jump in and tear it all apart (I appreciate the irony involved in calling a billionaire an idiot, believe me), no matter if it’s Mike “I’m NOT running for President” Bloomberg, Ron “Isolationism is Good!” Paul, or anyone else who thinks a third-party candidacy is viable in the US of A*. But there’s danger for conservatives even in the absence of a third-party candidate, and I’m speaking of the “a pox on BOTH their houses, I’m staying home” crowd. If you fall into the latter category, then I suggest you get ready for another Clinton administration. Or worse.

Another thing: you forfeit your inalienable right to bitch, piss, and moan if you stay home on election day. That should be important to at least some of you. Unless, you know, you lie about not voting... but you wouldn't do that, now, would ya?

In the meantime… Mr. Joyner has it right: let’s discuss our differences and support the guy we prefer. But after all the hootin’ and hollerin’s done in St. Paul come September, let’s get behind our nominee and work to win.

* Unless Nader or someone like him decides to run again, in which case: Yes. It’s all about where the votes come from, eh?


Today’s Pic: A much younger me (a 30-year old me, to be exact) doing what I used to do before Algore invented these here inter-tubes, and doing it in TSMP’s student apartment in Mushashi-Koganei, a borough in metropolitan Tokyo. I think the photo captures my inner geek pretty well, doesn’t it?

Sometime in 1975… I’m thinking it was winter, coz I have my GI long-underwear shirt on. There wasn’t any central heat in that apartment and it could get very cold, as in ice-on-the-inside-of-the-windows cold, see-your-breath cold. The general chilliness, of course, was a damned good excuse for TSMP and I to crawl into her futon and get warm. Kinda. Sorta. As a by-product.

Friday, January 25, 2008

USAF PME, On the O-Side

So. Dunno if I’ve mentioned this or not, but SN1 is off on another boondoggle attending an advanced Professional Military Education (PME) course, this time at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. This particular course’s acronym is AMMOS, which I think stands for Advanced Material Management Officer (Something)... which should tell you I really don’t know what the Hell I'm talking about.

Anyhoo… the course is for guys people in the USAF logistics biz and SN1, being a Maintenance Officer, falls into that category. He sent along this lil vid, which I thought I’d share with you, Gentle Reader. We all need to know what sort of training our troops and their officers must go through in order to defend the country. So, without further ado… here's Captain Pennington operating some of the USAF's state-of-the-art support equipment:

The Good News: USAF has finally taught its ossifers to clean up after themselves.

The Bad News: They required instruction. Further... this event came much too late for me to profit from it.

Further Good News: This new development should result in less wear and tear on the E-side of the USAF house. The development also demonstrates the AF is quite unlike the other armed services. Case in point:

The Marine C.O.'s Morning Briefing:

The Commanding Officer of a Regiment in the U. S. Marine Corps was about to start the morning briefing to his Staff and Battalion and Company Commanders. While waiting for the coffee machine to finish its brewi ng, he decided to pose a question to all assembled. He explained that his wife had been a bit frisky the night before and he failed to get his usual amount of sound sleep. So he posed the question of just how much of sex was 'work' and how much of it was 'pleasure'?

The X.O. chimed in with 75-25% in favor of work.

A Captain said it was 50-50%.

The Colonel's Aide, a Lt., responded with 25-75% in favor of pleasure, depending on his state of inebriation at the time.

There being no consensus, the Colonel turned to the Lance Corporal who was in charge of making the coffee. What was HIS opinion?

With no hesitiation, the young LC responded, "Sir, it has to be 100% pleasure."

The Colonel was surprised and, as you might guess, asked why?

"Well, Sir, began the LC, "if there was any work involved, the officers would have me doing it for them."

The room fell silent. God Bless the enlisted men.

I rest my case.

(h/t for the joke: FHB)

Sadness, An Astute Observation, Not-So-Astute Observations, and My Motto

My God…HOW did I miss this?

Suzanne Pleshette was a lot saltier than Emily Hartley. She’d be the person you’d want to sit next to at a party because you’d be sure to hear some choice comments, delivered with sass.

Pleshette died Saturday at age 70 of respiratory failure. She had been treated for lung cancer two years ago.


Time had given her this way-out-there vitality. With her deep voice, hearty laugh and intense stare, she could have taught the Golden Girls — or female impersonators — a thing or two. You might remember that ribald quality if you ever saw her chatting with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

She wasn’t the glamorous young actress anymore; she was an earthy dame, an Auntie Mame who wasn’t afraid to tell a dirty story.

Aside from being one of the leading comedic actresses of our time, Ms. Pleshette was exquisitely beautiful. And she seemed to embody everything I admire in women…self-assurance, strength, courage, brashness, unabashed sexuality, bawdiness, and beauty. In other words, I was in love with this woman…or as much as one can be “in love” with someone you don’t know. I saw her just last month on a re-run episode of the PBS series “American Masters,” where she was featured prominently in the episode on Bob Newhart. She looked wonderful, and I had no idea she was seriously ill. Then again, I don’t know when the Newhart episode was filmed, either.

I don’t keep up with celebrity news (obviously), but I am deeply saddened by Ms. Pleshette’s passing. She brought joy into my life and convinced me it was possible to find a woman who had all those qualities she projected so effortlessly. I did find that woman and spent 23 years with her. And she was a lot like Ms. Pleshette…or at least very much like Ms. Pleshette’s public persona.

RIP, Suzanne. And thanks.

(photo credit: CBS)


So…last night I was watching the Winter X Games on ESPN…and these guys were doing extreme snowmobile racing (“speed and style”) and…wait for it… back flips… on snowmobiles, no less. Gad. “Only in America” and all that, but it was fairly riveting teevee. You know what caught my ear, though? The commentators, remarking on the aerial derring-do of one of the winning snowmobile guys: “That was something you’d expect to see from the Thunderbirds…not a snowmobiler.” Note he said “Thunderbirds.” He didn’t say “That Other Team,” who…umm…come around every now and then with outstretched hands (or open mouths, kinda like baby birds. You choose.).

There’s a lesson there.


The NYT has come out with their endorsements for New York’s primary and they’re predictable, if nothing else. First: John McCain:

We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president. The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq. They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even now to break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them strongly on what makes a good Supreme Court justice.

Still, there is a choice to be made, and it is an easy one. Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field.

I didn’t quote the Rudy bashing bits, or the general Left-Wing angst that runs through the whole endorsement (I use the term loosely)…which damns McCain with faint praise. But, at least the editors are up-front and open about their biases and discredited theories on the war. (I had to work that “discredited theories” phrase in here, somewhere.) Speaking of discredited… here’s their Democrat endorsement:

The early primaries produced two powerful main contenders: Hillary Clinton, the brilliant if at times harsh-sounding senator from New York; and Barack Obama, the incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois. The remaining long shot, John Edwards, has enlivened the race with his own brand of raw populism.

As Democrats look ahead to the primaries in the biggest states on Feb. 5, The Times’s editorial board strongly recommends that they select Hillary Clinton as their nominee for the 2008 presidential election.

We have enjoyed hearing Mr. Edwards’s fiery oratory, but we cannot support his candidacy. The former senator from North Carolina has repudiated so many of his earlier positions, so many of his Senate votes, that we’re not sure where he stands. We certainly don’t buy the notion that he can hold back the tide of globalization.

By choosing Mrs. Clinton, we are not denying Mr. Obama’s appeal or his gifts. The idea of the first African-American nominee of a major party also is exhilarating, and so is the prospect of the first woman nominee. “Firstness” is not a reason to choose. The times that false choice has been raised, more often by Mrs. Clinton, have tarnished the campaign.

Sounds like the inane sort of comment we get from sportscasters, doesn’t it? As in “it’s too bad one of these teams have to lose…they’re BOTH winners!” or some such fluff. Another interesting thing…the McCain endorsement fits on one NYT page, the Hillary endorsement runs two (web) pages. Because there’s just so much more to say about The Good Guys! Then again, if you took the Bush-bashing out of the Democrat endorsement, you wouldn’t have much left. I think the NYT is really gonna miss Dubya when he goes, along with the NBC, ABC, and…oh Hell… I don’t really need to flog this dead horse yet again.

Pssst! NYT editors! Bush. Is. Not. Running.


Today’s (From The Archives) Pics: A Brit pub sign that could very easily have been my motto back in the day. was my motto.

Somewhere in the UK... sometime between June of 1980 and June 1983.

Update 1/25/2008 1235 hrs.: re: Today's NYT Republican endorsement. The Corner at NRO catches the NYT talking out of both sides of their mouth about Rudy. Good stuff. And a better point... NRO asks the rhetorical question "Which editorial is right?" And delivers an appropriate answer, too.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Well, I Was Gonna Go Do Laundry...

...but I think I'll wait. There's BIG ol' lazy flakes drifting down outside at the moment. It's pretty neat watching this stuff come down and turn the world all white and pretty and clean and such, sitting inside where it's warm and cozy... with a nice hot cup of coffee spiced up with a wee dram of Scotland's Finest.

Looks like it's gonna be a pretty good day, all things considered. The laundry can wait.

A Couple of Milestones...Plus Ruminations on the Past

It’s the eclecticism… Or, yet another reason I listen to RP almost exclusively these days. From RP’s play list this morning:
“Coffee Monkey” kicked off just as I was draining my first cup; I come back to the desk with my second cup and Sinatra’s on. Oh, Yeah! I just don’t have this sort of wide variety in my music collection. Bill and Rebecca do. And they use it, too.
A couple of milestones passed me by this week…milestones that should be noted.
First: to use the military vernacular, SN2 is working for half-pay as of this past Friday, the 18th of January. That means he has over 20 years of service now, for you non-military types. One is eligible to retire at 50% of base pay at 20 years, ergo: working for half-pay. He won’t retire anytime soon, though. But with the passing of this milestone, planning for his post-military life has begun. Transitions, and all that. Not to mention the fact I’m feeling pretty old, yet again. To think I have offspring that could retire…Aiiieee!
Second: Yesterday marked the passing of one full year since I lit my last cigarette. I still miss ‘em, too. Badly. But I ain’t going back…
Long-time readers of EIP know there’s a guy by the name of Dan who hangs around EIP and comments occasionally. Dan and I go back nearly 40 years and he is my oldest friend (speaking of the duration of the relationship and not his age…although he can qualify in that space, too). We met at Wakkanai AS, Japan in 1968 or 1969 and we were both in the same racket, job-wise…which is to say we were both 303X2s, the USAF job code for aircraft control and warning radar technicians. We were also drafted by the Air Force for a “special duty identifier” job that took us out of Air Defense Command’s radar business and into USAFSS’ spook biz, beginning in Wakkanai and leading a couple of years later to Sinop, Turkey. Dan and I worked together, drank together, rode motorcycles together, and raced ‘em all over Hokkaido, too. Here’s a pic of Dan sitting along side of a road somewhere near Wakkanai at some unknown time in ‘69, framed by his Yamaha DT-1 (on the left) and mine… on the right.
Dan and I both loved Wakkanai for a number of reasons, not the least of which was, in retrospect, the nature of the job we did. And the bike racing and associated carousing, of course. We both managed to wrangle second tours at Wakkanai after we rotated back to the US in 1970, and we returned to Wakkanai in 1971. Alas, the Air Force had other plans for Wakkanai and for us. In a strange turn of events, USAF announced Wakkanai would be closing shortly after Dan and I returned there in late 1971. The unusually rapid base closure (lights out by the end of 1972, as it were) meant all personnel would be re-assigned to other bases, and Security Service flew in a team of personnel specialists in to handle the short-notice re-assignment process. Dan and I got the short, dirty end of the re-assignment stick. We had two choices: take an assignment to Sinop, Turkey and remain in USAFSS, or turn down Sinop and “get released to Air Force.” While Sinop wasn’t exactly a garden spot assignment, the possible alternatives that came with being released to Air Force for world-wide assignment were decidedly worse. Much worse…like Alaska. So, we opted for Sinop…returning to the US for a short leave before heading off to Turkey for a one-year remote tour in Beautiful Sinop by the Sea.
After our leaves were up Dan and I met in New York and caught Pan Am’s legendary Flight 002 for Istanbul…with an interim stop in Frankfurt. Dan is pictured below in a shot taken during the short layover in Frankfurt.
After Istanbul we caught a THY Fokker to Samsun, Turkey, and then lucked out and caught the Army’s twin-engined Cessna mail plane to Sinop. I say “lucked out,” because the alternative to the 30-minute mail plane flight was a four-hour bus ride over the tortuous and quite scary mountain road between Samsun and Sinop. Dan and I would make that bus trip a couple of times later on during our tour, but that’s quite another story…and one that won’t be told outside of the bar and amongst good friends. To protect the innocent, of course. Not to mention the guilty…
So. There we were…on the beautiful Turkish Black Sea coast for one long, long year. This is the view of the town of Sinop from The Hill, as the base was known.
The base at Sinop was officially named “Sinop Common Defense Installation (CDI),” which was a euphemism meant to imply the American and Turkish armed forces operated the installation jointly. Which was sorta true, as we had a small Turkish Army garrison collocated with us, but the Turks were separated from the “US side” by high chain link fences, topped with barbed wire. NO ONE got into the US operations compound without some serious security clearances…period. The things we did in there were among the most sensitive of all US intelligence activities at the time. The base itself was run by the US Army Security Agency (ASA) and was otherwise known as TUSLOG Detachment 4. The Air Force was a tenant unit on the base, and had the dual designations of TUSLOG Det. 204 and 6934th Security Squadron…but you never saw the 6934th designation… anywhere… even on base at Sinop. But…that was work. Let’s not go there. Here’s a pic of a small portion of the antenna farm at Sinop, taken near the USAF barracks. That water-tower looking thing is actually a large electronically-scanned antenna array, and was part of the system Dan and I worked on.
And speaking of the barracks…this was our home away from home…
And this is the dorm room Dan and I shared…
So. Our year at Sinop passed rather uneventfully and oh-so-slowly, it seemed…at the time. Now that I’m gifted with hindsight, it was over in the blink of an eye. Dan I went to work, drank a bit lot more than we probably should have, went exploring in the town of Sinop…which has some remarkable ancient ruins and an even more remarkable history. We both hired on to the local closed circuit radio station as volunteers and hosted a late nite rock ‘n’ roll show interlaced with snappy patter and the like. We spent lazy weekend days during the summer on our very own (Army-run) private beach, drinking beer and lusting after what few American women there were in the area. We went down to the Yeni Hotel on the weekends and drank lousy Carlsburg beer while watching European tourists get off the White Boat and walk around Sinop for an hour or two before continuing on their cruise of the Black Sea. And we took that bus ride to Samsun a couple of times for wild nights of raki-fueled debauchery. To quote Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In spades, Gentle Reader, in spades. I may have had better years in my life, but danged few…and none come to my mind at the moment. Such is the nature of nostalgia, eh?
To close…Here’s another good Sinop-related site…best I’ve found, actually… that focuses on the military (albeit Army) side of Sinop. The owner of this site preceded Dan and I by about a year and has written a detailed narrative about life “on The Hill” supplemented with lotsa good pictures.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Forgive me this momentary bout of introspection, Gentle Reader. But since this blog is my de facto journal I’m going to talk a little bit about a strange experience I had last night. From an e-mail I sent The Boys today:

Speaking of dieing... This isn't to alarm either of you, coz I'm fine this morning. But the strangest thing happened last night. I ate late...around 2300. I had nuked one of those Stouffer Flatbreads (steak name only), and had finished two of three slices when I was overcome...very quickly... with this strange "flushing" sensation in both my arms...down to my hands, which quickly spread to my neck and shoulders...on both sides. Then I got a ringing in my ears and became extremely dizzy. I quickly stood up...thinking WTF!??! And almost fell over. So, I sat back down. Then my vision began to blur and I got severe tunnel vision and was unable to focus on anything. All of this in the space of about a minute. I thought I was having a stroke. My vision almost went black, and I thought "Wow. So this is how it ends, eh?" In a rather strange sort of move, I decided it would be best to die lying down, so I moved to the couch and did just that...Laid down, that is.

As soon as I hit the couch I was overcome yet again, this time by a wave of nausea...severe nausea....violent nausea. I got off the couch, staggered to the bathroom as best I could (remember: tunnel vision) and threw up, violently, followed by about five minutes of dry heaves. My vision cleared almost immediately and the flushing sensation went away. I washed up, returned to the couch, laid back down, and immediately fell asleep.

I'm fine this morning. The only thing I can think of is severe, radical food poisoning. I base that theory on the fact everything cleared up after I threw everything up. I had NO pain, and my breathing was normal...aside from being a bit quick, because I was about as frickin' scared as I've ever been.

Weird, eh?

I’ve been thinking about this lil episode off and on all day. A couple of amplifications and clarifications are in order, though. When I said I had a “strange flushing sensation,” I meant flushing as in “warmth.” I got downright hot…which is why I described the feeling as “flushing,” as in being flushed. Second, I wasn’t all that frickin’ scared, in retrospect. I didn’t panic, I didn’t grope for the phone so I could dial 911. I did think exactly what I said to the boys in my note, i.e., “Wow. So this is how it ends, eh?”

And this is where the introspective bits come in. Why didn’t I think to dial 911? Why was I ready to just lie down and die? I’m not being melodramatic in the least, Gentle Reader. This was a serious event…with some serious danged symptoms, especially the progressive, yet quick, loss of vision and hearing. I’ve never had an episode like this in my life…nothing even remotely close. I was rational enough to eliminate the possibility of a heart attack (wrong symptoms), and rational enough to realize something was very, very wrong. Yet the only thing I thought was “so this is how it ends?”

I didn’t think about the event at all last evening after returning from the bathroom and laying down. I was simply glad my vision and hearing had returned, my temperature was back to normal, and the nausea was gone along with my dinner. My brief thoughts before falling asleep, which happened almost immediately, were about food poisoning. And that’s pretty much where I am today.

I got the UCR response from SN1: get thee to a doctor. And I will. I usually have my annual physical in my birthday month, but this weirdness will move that Happy Event up on the schedule. But I’m still perplexed over my reactions last evening.


The Random Firing of Synapses

Apropos of exactly nothing…except for the firing-off of long dormant synapses… Here’s The Lovin’ Spoonful:

And those synapses of mine? Kind of a long story, but here’s the Readers Digest version. I was stationed at Vandenberg AFB back in ’65 when this tune was on the charts. I also entered a “DeeJay for a Day” contest run by the local radio station (whose call letters I’ve long forgotten) at that very same time. And I won that contest… drawing, actually…one of the very few things I’ve “won” in life, to be frank. “Do You Believe in Magic?” was the very first tune I played during that “DeeJay For A Day” outing. Which, to be frank yet again, was one of the most anti-climatic experiences in my life, ever. “DeeJay For 45 Minutes Sitting Alone In An Auxiliary Control Room Back-Announcing Records That I Sorta Got To Choose As Long As They Were On The Oh-So-Abbreviated AM Playlist” would be much more accurate, but I’ll spare you the details. Later on in life I became a real DeeJay at KBOK in Sinop, Turkey. Sorta.

Anyway. You don’t forget things like that.