<![CDATA[OPINIONS UNLIMITED-----Solicited and Unsolicited<br /> - Blog]]>Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:04:28 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[I Was Confused, But I Think I May Have Figured it Out.]]>Thu, 23 Nov 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/i-was-confused-but-i-think-i-may-have-figured-it-out       What with all the talk in the news these last few days about rampant instances of sexual assault by all manner of men against all manner of women, I almost forgot to address myself to the other "sexual assault" story that caught my attention last week.  This was a piece that I saw last Saturday on the "Smerconish" show which airs on CNN.  The story covered the recent revelation that "The Pentagon" (by which I presume the reporters meant DoD) has agreed to pay for what is now called "gender reassignment" surgery for members of the US military.  Apparently this treatment is now being viewed as "...just another form of healthcare...".  The bulk of the air time was devoted to a discussion between the host, Mr. Smerconish, and a female doctor (herself a trans-gender person) and centered around military members who were born male, but now identify as female [a la Chelsea (nee: Bradley) Manning].  The new policy is reported to provide such military members access to a medical procedure called "vaginoplasty"---the purpose of which, given its name, seems to be fairly obvious.   The treatment regimen also seems to include fairly significant hormonal injections, but these non-surgical aspects of patient care were covered only in passing.   And any juxtapositioning of the more obvious man-woman, boy-girl, male-female differences (beards and breasts leap to mind)  and how to obviate them was not addressed at all.

Note: There was no mention made, at least in this case, of girl soldiers who wish to become boys, but I feel certain that that "CNN Special Report" can't be far in the future---probably hosted by Anderson Cooper who we may be sure that, unlike Charlie Rose, will not, in the meantime, have been fired from his job for being accused of sexually assaulting any women.

      Anyway, when I first heard this story I was gob-smacked trying to understand the rationale, if any, for this policy change.  Then it came to me in a flash-----this policy is the result of a War College Staff Study the object of which was to determine how to deal with two of the military's knottiest, but related, problems.  To wit: 
       First, we are in an era where the National Organization of Women (NOW) and the "diversity/inclusion" crowd have succeeded in their effort to insure that women will always be able to serve in the armed forces in any capacity they wish, including combat roles.
        Second, the knock on women in combat has always been that, in general, they lack the upper body strength of their male counterparts.  (Remember, there STILL ARE TWO Physical Training tests!)

        SOLUTION:  Create women soldiers who have upper body strength by starting with a man!  How clever! Why didn't I think of that?
         This policy would also have the probable added benefits of lessening the number of sexual assaults in the military as the "new" soldiers would, since they by definition have upper body strength, just slug their oppressors and it would create  a better "Command Climate" by allowing the Chelsea/ Bradley Mannings of the world feel better about themselves.

                                               IT'S A WIN WIN, BOYS AND GIRLS!!!!   Happy Thanksgiving!

<![CDATA[Allegations, Accusations and Guilt]]>Mon, 13 Nov 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/allegations-accusations-and-guilt        I just got finished watching a couple of the Sunday talk shows and one of the main topics was the accusations made about sexual misconduct some 40 years ago by Judge Roy Moore, the Republican candidate to fill Alabama's vacant Senate seat.  It turns out that almost everyone (Republican and Democrat alike) is calling for Mr. Moore to "step aside" and quit the race because he is "unfit for office".  And as an aside, while reporting this story, Martha Raddatz of ABC News and several of the other commentators seemed to be very hard pressed to hide their glee at the prospect of yet another electoral problem for the GOP following last week's losses in the Gubernatorial races in Jersey and Virginia---which, by the way,  is a topic for a future blog entry. 
          However, notwithstanding that fact nor how you feel about this most recent episode in the rash of sexual abuse cases that is sweeping the country, there is a disturbing trend here.  And that is that an allegation by a news outlet or an accusation by someone claiming to be a victim of such abuse seems, now, to be tantamount to a "Guilty as Charged " verdict.  Moreover, there also seems to be a lack of consistency in this application of this "doctrine of accusations equal guilt" among the commentators and talking heads one sees on TV.   For example, Last week, I noticed that there was great skepticism among many of the "newsies" ( especially those with a Democratic bent) for the accusations made by Donna Brazile, in her new book, concerning Mrs. Clinton and the DNC colluding to  deny Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination for President in the last election.  No, apparently there is no "there, there..." in  these reporters' opinions.  Nor are there calls for Bob Menendez of New Jersey to resign from the U.S. Senate because he is "unfit for office" even though he has not just been accused of wrong doing---he has actually been indicted! 
             And, by the way, if, as is being maintained in the case of Roy Moore, being accused of sexual assault forty years after the fact is a reason to be judged unfit for office, why were there no Democratic calls for Bill Clinton either to quit his run for president based on the accusations of Gennifer Flowers, et. al.  or, indeed, to resign from office following the Monica Lewinsky revelations?
              Now don't get me wrong.  I am not suggesting that Roy Moore is innocent of the allegations made about him any more than I am suggesting that Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman et. al.are guilty of the misconduct of which they have been accused.  All I am saying is that none of us, including the news outlets, knows the truth of these matters, and until we do know more, it is patently unfair to crucify people in public forums based on (so far) unproven assertions.  Please remember the uproar and demonstrations when, in 2006, three Duke Lacross players were accused of rape, had their names dragged through the mud and were subjected to death threats even though the accusations were later proven to be false.  As they say, "you can't unring a bell", so as a society we need to understand the possible unintended consequences of where we are going with this approach and to think twice before we decide to pillory someone in the "public  square" of TV news shows.


<![CDATA[I Don't Want to Seem Hard Hearted, But...]]>Sat, 21 Oct 2017 04:16:16 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/i-dont-want-to-seem-hard-hearted-but       I confess to some mystification over the recent wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over the early October ambush, in Niger, of what appears, based on news reports, to have been a Special Forces A-Team.  This action resulted in several U.S. and Nigerian soldiers being wounded and four of their U.S. comrades being killed.  A tragedy certainly and one which the Army and DoD are rightfully involved in investigating so that any operational weaknesses/failures can be addressed and corrective measures put in place to, hopefully, avoid a recurrence.
         My consternation, though, is based on the reaction in Washington, D.C. which has Senators grilling DoD officials and wanting to issue subpoenas if they don't have their questions regarding the incident answered in a timely manner.  Moreover, some members of Congress are making noises like they were surprised to find that there were U.S. soldiers in Niger.  This makes one wonder what they (The Congress) thought the purpose of AFRICOM was to be when they authorized its formation in 2007. 
          And now, I understand that the FBI is dispatching a team to Niger to conduct its own investigation!  So what are we going to do now?  Every time there is a fire fight involving US Forces, are we going to send an FBI team to isolate the area with that yellow crime scene tape and conduct an investigation/manhunt to find "The Perps" ?
           This is not CSI Miami or NCIS Los Angeles or "Bluebloods", boys and girls.  This is combat.  And, as someone (I think GEN Mattis) pointed out to some idiot reporter the other day, it is dangerous and that is why we send soldiers with guns and don't send The Peace Corps. 
              But also,  as all professional soldiers know, the enemy gets a vote and, although we try as hard as we can to avoid it, sometimes the bad guys win.
<![CDATA[Instead of Erasing History, We Should be Studying It.]]>Sat, 23 Sep 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/instead-of-erasing-history-we-should-be-studying-it      When reading, watching and/or listening to the news these days, one does not know whether to laugh or cry.  For my part, I think the sadness side is on the rise.  Here in Dallas, for example, some of our citizens are heavily involved in what seems to be the country wide phenomenon of tearing down Confederate statuary (both literally and figuratively) as well as making moves to rename ANYTHING that SEEMS to have (whether it actually does or not) a connection to the scourge of slavery or any person associated with the antebellum south. 
      The most recent example of the statuary removal effort here in town was the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee which had been resident (not surprisingly) in "Lee Park".  (I've not heard that renaming the park is currently on the zealot's agenda, but that cannot be far away as soon as they realize their error of omission.)
               Late breaking News Flash!!! As I was listening to the  noon news broadcast yesterday, I found that my prediction has, in fact, come true.  The City of Dallas has temporarily renamed Lee Park to be Oak Lawn Park until a new name that, presumably, avoids ruffling the feathers of those in the city who are offended by Oak Trees and/or Bermuda grass can be agreed to.
        Anyway, back to the Lee statue.  While I have always known in some corner of my mind that General Lee had been offered command of the Union Army in the run up to the Civil War after the attack on Fort Sumter, it had never occurred to me to research the event more fully until the statue removal controversy raised its ugly head.  At that time, I was informed by the local media that the reason for protesting the existence of Lee's statue was that he is believed to be a symbol of support for the institution of slavery.  That claim got me to wondering.  "If", I thought to myself, "Lee was such a proponent of slavery, why would Abraham Lincoln, 'The Great Emancipator', offer him (Lee) command of the Army with which he (Lincoln) planned to take on The Confederacy?"
        To answer my question, I turned to the writings of Lee's greatest historian, Douglas Southall Freeman, author of the three volume study in command : "Lee's Lieutenants".  Freeman's account of the 18 April 1861 meeting at which the offer to command the Union Army was made contains the remembrances of both participants, (then) COL Lee and Frances Preston Blair who was "sounding out" Lee at Lincoln's behest and with the concurrence of Secretary of War Cameron.   The meeting took place over several hours and Lee's recollection, written in his own hand, states "After listening to his (Blair's) remarks, I declined the offer...to take command of the army...stating that, though opposed to secession, and deprecating war, I could take no part in an invasion of the Southern states." 
         Mr. Blair's report of the interview is somewhat more detailed. He says that after the offer of the command was made, "Lee said he was devoted to the Union.  He said...he would do everything in his power to save it, and that if he owned all the [slaves] in the South, he would give them up to save the Union...".  Further, Blair recounts that, "Lee said he did not know how he could draw his sword upon his native state."
        These do not sound to me like the words of a man dedicated, above all else, to keeping black people in chains.  And it should be noted that, while Lee did, in fact, own some slaves he did not buy them---they were inherited and he freed them all in 1862.  By contrast, U. S. Grant also owned slaves but they were not freed until after the passage of the 13th Amendment in December of 1865.
            Kind of makes you wonder about whose statue is coming down next.

<![CDATA[The Truth About Pugs]]>Sat, 02 Sep 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/the-truth-about-pugs              My wife and I have been "dog-sitting" our grand daughter's pug (NOT to be referred to as a "Grand-Dog" by the way) off and on for the last 3 or so weeks at two different locations.  One day, while at our house, I was watching the dog slurp water from her bowl with her breed's characteristically sloppy way of drinking---that is,  the technique seems to be designed to get as much of the kitchen as possible covered with water droplets---and listening to her try to breathe through her obviously constricted nasal passages. During her waking hours, the animal sounds like she belongs in an ad for CPAP devices or some other cure/treatment for  sleep apnea, and worse, when she is asleep, her snoring rattles the windows. 
               Anyway, as I was watching the water drinking episode I remembered that several years ago I had seen a show on PBS about the evolution of dogs from wolves.  Moreover, it was asserted, in this show, that ALL the breeds of dogs in the world (and there are something like 400+ of them) have been developed from wolves, by the process of selective breeding, to have specific characteristics. These characteristic are, of course, the ones selected by the breeders in order to improve the animal's performance at some task or other or, indeed, to enhance its physical attractiveness. However,  the thing that amazed me about this activity was  that the selective breeding took place over a phenomenally short period of time---some "experts" say it could be accomplished in as few as three and, at the high end, up to six generations. 
             But the evolutionary time frame is not what concerned me as I watched "Buttercup" (Yes, that is her name) wet down my kitchen.  Rather, I was wondering, "What kind of person would DELIBERATELY choose to breed a dog who looks like this?"  Now, "Buttercup" has a light tan coat very similar in color to what one sees on a yellow Labrador retriever.  So, in my mind's eye, I could just see some breeder of antiquity getting ready for the next big dog show, looking at a beautiful yellow lab and saying to himself and his colleagues, "This is a pretty dog, but we can make her better.  What we need to go for, in successive breeding sessions, is to make her legs much shorter and her body more stubby.  Then, we should strive for a pushed in  muzzle which, hopefully, will result in her breathing being labored and very audible--always an attractive option.  In addition, we should encourage any tendency toward bugged out eyes so that the animal appears to be being choked while not actually suffering any strangulation.   To top it off, let's work on developing a really irritating bark.  If we do that Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we are a shoe-in for 'Best in Show' !"
                  I'm convinced this is how the pug happened.   I am equally sure that the AKC will take issue with my analysis----but, what do they know about good looking dogs?  This is an outfit that thinks the Shar Pei is cute too.

<![CDATA[Where Will It End?]]>Sat, 19 Aug 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/where-will-it-end               "We topple statues of old heroes and strip their names from the streets, as if they were figments of our imagination."

                 Much as that quote may sound like something you are likely to hear sometime this weekend on the evening news regarding the current rash of vandalizing Confederate Statues in various locales around the country, it is not.  Rather, it is from a novel I am currently reading entitled "A Gentleman in Moscow" and which covers the life of a former member of the Czarist aristocracy and his experiences living under the society created by the Bolsheviks from the time of the Revolution and modified as time moved onward.   Indeed, the quote, above, is uttered by a friend of the main character, who started as a strong supporter of the "new order", but after some infraction, spent a decade in the Gulag only to be released and made to live somewhere called Yavas, forbidden to ever return to Moscow.

                 When I read the line, it gave me pause and not in a good way, because it seemed very similar to what some of our citizens want  to do to statues of soldiers who struggled in an, admittedly, defeated cause and the moves to expunge the names of  selected Presidents from schools and other public buildings because they were slave holders.  Now, I hear on CNN this morning that some people in Georgia want to dynamite Stone Mountain because it has a carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on its face.

                  We can't keep trying to erase history.  You don't have to like what happened but it did and it's past time to learn its lessons rather than refusing to recognize its existence.  Or else---indeed, where will it end?
<![CDATA[Back in the Saddle Again...kind of.]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/back-in-the-saddle-againkind-of       Okay, Okay, Okay.  I realize I have been neglectful of my obligations as a blogger.  But, in my defense, you have to admit that, lately, things political have either been moving at a pace so rapid (e.g. daily, hourly and/or minute by minute tweets from the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that it is impossible to keep up with them) or news stories are so redundantly boring (as in: "...was there, is there, or will there ever be any evidence of a Russian connection/collusion/pay off/hack/voting rights disruption?"), they make your teeth itch.  For those reasons, I have decided that, for my come back blog I will eschew political and/or current event rants and will, instead, relate observations from our recent 4500+ mile road trip.  Therefore this posting is entitled:


  So, in late June, my wife and I headed off to visit children, grandchildren and old friends in Tulsa, Chicago, North Carolina and Delaware (how's that for hopscotching the country?).  In Tulsa, besides drinking wine and sampling local cuisine, we visited a retirement community where we came face to face with the reality of how difficult it would be to downsize 50 years of accumulated "stuff" housed in nearly 4000 square feet to  a cute little 1200 square foot number.  What shall we purge, what shall we purge?  Our decision was: let's talk about that some other time---we have to get on the road.  Off to Chicago.
          We had a really great time in Tulsa as we did with everyone we visited along the way and we  also, as a result of making the trip, had many opportunities to see others of our fellow citizens at work and at play. For example, in the windy city and it's environs, I was introduced to a driving technique which I like to call "The Chicago Merge". This involves another motorist pulling into your lane in such a way that if either auto had had one more coat of paint, a collision would have been  inevitable.  I have previously only observed this sort of behavior in the chaotic melee that passes for a traffic circle around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where the "civilized" French approach dictates that the car whose bumper is 1/8th of an inch in front of yours is assumed to have the right of way, and the horn is the most  overworked accessory  on the car.
       Meanwhile, back to the Chicago story.  While there, we stayed at a Hampton Inn which, it turns out, is popular among the Six Flags crowd.  We were interested in the attire opted for by this bunch when they came to the lobby for the well known and delicious Hampton Inn free breakfast.  Now, you expect recently-roused-from-sleep children to be in their "PJs" at 9AM , but we were caught off guard by their parents' garb which often featured pajama bottoms, stretched out T-shirts and FUZZY SLIPPERS!  What a sight!  And in some cases it was made even better when worn by  women with pastel hair coloring, including but not limited to pink, lavender and chartreuse. A style statement that seems to be currently in vogue among mid-40s to mid-50s Chicago gals.  Another highlight at one of our breakfast sessions was the blurb on a local TV morning show about a fundraiser for some cause or other being held at the Friar's Club and featuring several bands.  One of these was in the studio and, in fact, performed.  It was a trio consisting of an electric mandolin (which, until that minute, I had no idea existed), bongo drums and, in lieu of a vocalist, a short fat guy in lederhosen and wearing a Tyrolean hat and working out with a hula hoop!   This group's name is----wait for it---"MEXICAN WEREWOLF"---not that there's anything wrong with that (no offense meant to Mexicans or Werewolves), but I just wonder what it means and what they were smoking and/or drinking when they chose it.
        We left Chicago in the rear view mirror and headed for North Carolina.  Enroute, we stopped in Batesville, Indiana where, after checking in to  our hotel, we saw a road sign pointing toward a town called "Oldenburg".  Being old Germany hands, we were intrigued by the name and, so, went exploring.   It turns out that Oldenburg which, truth be told, has a very Bavarian look about it, is home to the annual "Freudenfest" where, according to the brochure, "Everyone is German for the Weekend".  So we were excited to try out this new (to us) place and stopped in at the town's "Brau Haus" where we were, in traditional German style, immediately and pleasantly greeted.  But then, in apparent Indiana tradition, we were completely ignored for 20  minutes, so we left and moved on to an establishment billing itself as a "German Pub" so called in all likelihood because I doubt that anyone in town can spell "Gasthaus" or, indeed, knows what they are.  I  make this seemingly harsh judgement because while it is true that when we entered the "pub" and were greeted and served in the spirit of "gemutlichkeit", when I, intending to honor what I thought was the sought after flavor of the town, thanked them in German, I got nothing but blank stares.  So, I asked if anyone in the place spoke German and was told that the only person in town who spoke German was the high school German teacher and he had, since, died.  So, if you want to practice your German in Oldenburg or even thank them "auf deutsch" for a good time at the "fest", you're just out of luck.  They did serve Warsteiner beer, however, so they can be forgiven anything.
              We pressed on to North Carolina where we watch lots of Rugby matches and marveled at the athletic prowess and toughness of the people, both men and women, who indulge in that sport. It is not for the faint of heart nor the out of shape.  Where American football guys are worried about how fast a player can run "The Forty"  (yards that is) on a given snap of the ball, Rugby plays seem never to stop until everyone on the team has run at least 100 yards and only the old guys seem to get tired.  The local rugby players were also quick to point out that since they don't  wear football style helmets, tacklers do not lead with their heads and thus contact is, actually less violent than is often experienced in football.  After returning from the matches, we cooled off and ate a lot of what our grand children call "Naughty Food"and it was wonderful!
                  Next,we headed to Lewes Delaware for the July 4th celebration in anticipation of what we had been told would be great fireworks displays.  Unfortunately, the first sign we saw upon entering the town where our friends live, informed us that, starting this year, the town has outlawed fireworks of any kind because of the danger to the public.  Another case, it seems, of government saving you from yourself.  But, then, it is Joe Biden's home state so a certain amount of liberal mothering is to be expected.  We, ultimately, did get to see fireworks anyway though.  These came on the 5th of July in the form of photos transmitted in a text message from the grand children we had just visited in Chicago showing us how they spent their 4th, and it seemed to be a lot more explosive than ours.  Also while visiting in Delaware, our hostess cooked bacon (an all time favorite of mine) for breakfast one morning.  While drinking my coffee, I had a chance to read the label on the bacon package.  It was full of assurances  to the consumer that the bacon contained no "Genetically Modified Organisms" and "No Preservatives" as well as some of the other BS that you see on all politically correct food packaging these days.  It did, however contain one notification that I had never seen before.  This was a silhouette of a pig with the words: "Humanely Raised".  I took this to mean that they fed the pig organically grown and gluten free food right up until the time they slit it's throat (with all love, I'm sure).  Am I the only one who sees the irony here?  But, no matter---the bacon came out of the oven crisp and delicious and I, for one, felt that we at the breakfast bar were being treated very humanely.  Another highlight in Lewes was a visit to "On The Rocks", a Bar and Grill at the ferry terminal.  This place serves the best hotdogs on the East Coast and was, in fact, the winner of the first leg of our "Great American Hotdog Tour" which was held right after I retired from being a merchant of death back in 2008.
                   Alas, the day after that visit, it was time to head for home. But not before a final stop in downtown Lewes for coffee with yet another set of friends who made my day by giving me a can of SPAM, which I love, to commemorate two birthdays---my 76th and SPAM's 80th.  Then, as we bid farewell to the last of the folks we had traveled all that way to see, we really did reflect on what a wonderful trip it had been and how much we had enjoyed seeing everyone.  Lots of talking, laughing and reminiscing ----and, after all, that was the whole point of the exercise in the first place. Let's do it again sometime----Cheers.

<![CDATA[Hypocrisy and Self Inflicted Wounds are a Bitch!]]>Tue, 11 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/hypocrisy-and-self-inflicted-wounds-are-a-bitch                                                       In Re: Stuart Smalley et al v. Gorsuch. 
           At first blush, it may seem that this blog entry has been overtaken by events given that the full Senate has now voted, Judge Gorsuch has been confirmed and he was sworn in as an Associate Justice on The Supreme Court on Monday.  However, I maintain that at least one more nomination fight is in the offing so the arguments presented in the cited articles and the comments on them are, in my view, still relevant.
          In early April, two op-ed pieces of interest in the area of  Supreme Court nominations appeared in the Washington Post.  In the first, on 3 April, Ruth Marcus implored Democratic Senators to forgo using the filibuster (which advice they did not take) to stop the Gorsuch nomination so that the Republicans would not, then, invoke the so called "nuclear option" changing the Senate rules to allow confirmation by a simple majority of 51 votes.  She went on to plead with Republican Senators to vote against using the "nuclear option" in response to a Democratic filibuster (which advice was also spurned).  Ms. Marcus' arguments to the two groups were: First, that these actions are bad for the Senate; and then to each party---to Democrats---save your powder for the NEXT Republican nomination which will be much more important in terms of the liberal to conservative ratio in the make up of the court;  and, to Republicans---if you go nuclear, you'll be sorry the next time you are in the minority and there is a Democrat in the White House.
            In making her case, however, Ms. Marcus reveals the real problem she and many other liberals seemed to have had with the Gorsuch nomination. To wit: they can't get over their pique about the case of Merrick Garland.  They are full of righteous indignation with Ms. Marcus writing, "The seat was President Barack Obama's to fill and Merrick Garland's to occupy."  She seems to have forgotten that in 1992, the highly regarded Democratic Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, Joe Biden, argued that President George Bush should delay filling a vacancy on The Court, should one arise, until after the presidential election.  And, moreover, if the president did, in fact, put forward a nomination, Mr. Biden said the Senate should refuse to confirm the nominee--the so-called "Biden Rule".  I see no essential difference between that position and the one taken by the Senate Republican leadership regarding Judge Garland.
            Ms. Marcus also addressed the previously mentioned Senate rule change, calling it "...the once unthinkable mechanism of the 'nuclear option' ".  And she's right, of course.  The "nuclear option" was unthinkable until the then Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, first exercised it when the Democrats held the majority in the Senate and wanted to push President Obama's judicial nominees.  Sauce for the goose, my friends, sauce for the goose.
            The second op-ed, on 5 April, was from the pen of the ever popular E.J. Dionne who, while recognizing that advice like Ms. Marcus' had been given to progressives by several other pundits, he, himself counseled the left to mount "tough resistance" to conservatives because "It's past time to have it out."  Mr. Dionne says that time has run out because past "...graciousness and tactical caution have only emboldened the right...as they try to turn the highest court in the land into a cog in their political machine." 
               GRACIOUSNESS???  One wonders if Mr. Dionne remembers the William Rehnquist, Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas nomination hearings where each of the nominees was savaged by Democratic Senators.  In the case of Judge Bork, this treatment was so vicious that in the current lexicon, systematic defamation, vilification and  unfounded character assassination of a candidate is referred to as having been "Borked".  I don't remember Obama nominees Elana Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor being subjected to that sort of treatment, let alone a filibuster, during their confirmation proceedings.  Don't talk to me about "graciousness".
             In another section of his article, Mr. Dionne, apparently in support of his contention that the Republicans are and have been politicizing The Court, goes all the way back to Bush v. Gore and W's subsequent nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice.  He writes, "Roberts, it's worth noting, went to Florida as a volunteer lawyer advising then-Gov. Jeb Bush, who had a rather  large interest in his brother's victory." There you have it---case closed---Bush stole the election and the Chief Justice is a bought and paid for pawn of the right wing.  How ridiculous!  Also, it is interesting to note that absent from Mr. Dionne's argument is the fact that Chief Justice Roberts, through some pretty convoluted reasoning about the  Congress' power to tax, also cast the deciding vote in favor of President Obama's position, thereby allowing the Affordable Care Act to be upheld as constitutional when conservatives wanted to sink it!  Hardly a position expected of a latter day John Bircher.
               I said earlier that I think there will be at least one more controversial nomination to the Court  during the Trump administration.  With Justices Breyer, Kennedy and Bader-Ginsberg at ages 78, 80 and 84, respectively, there could well be more than one. And if there is, we should expect to see at least a renewal of or, more likely, an increase in the vitriol which attended the Gorsuch nomination.

              And if that happens, watch this space for comments---both mine and yours.

<![CDATA[Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean They're Not Out to Get Ya']]>Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/just-because-youre-paranoid-doesnt-mean-theyre-not-out-to-get-ya.      For today's blog title, I chose to paraphrase my favorite line from Joseph Heller's classic "Catch 22".  We used to have a poster emblazoned with that sentiment in the rear entryway of our quarters at Fort Sill back in the day.  I found it amusing at that time and it strikes me now as particularly appropriate for our current President.  
         Now, God and anybody who has read this blog over the past year or so, knows that I am no Trump apologist.   I have taken as many shots at his egocentric, crass and boorish behavior as the next guy (maybe more).  I've pointed to his hair-trigger temper, his intransigence, his propensity to engage his mouth BEFORE engaging his brain and his narcissistic self absorbed approach to everything.  So, I think I have established my "street cred" for not being accused of being on the Trump band wagon.  
            But that is not to say that I am against every proposal, plan or idea the President advocates as seems to be the case with many, if not most, Democrats and much of the press.  To be fair, lots of Republicans had that same "anti" attitude relative to Mr. Obama when he was in the White House and, it seemed, he could do nothing right in their eyes.  But that fact doesn't make the current bevy of anti-Trump, knee jerk negative reactions to anything he says any more valid.   And these complaints are, in my opinion, far more pervasive than any such criticisms ever leveled at his predecessor.  Moreover, the media component was much less vociferous in the case of Mr. Obama.  Indeed, one can see where, at least some, of Mr. Trump's very obvious paranoia may be rooted. Consider, for example, the titles of four of the five Washington Post OP-ED pieces which appeared on my computer screen last Friday, the 17th of March. They were:
        1. "Trump budgets for a dumber, dirtier America"
       2. "Republicans' four-point plan to help the poor get poorer."  Note:   When "clicked on", this article actually morphed into another title which screamed,   "How Republicans plan to hurt American families"  (In this way you get two damning headlines for the price of one.)
        3. "Trump prepares to pass the world leadership baton to China"
       4. " Trump has picked a deeply disturbing hero"  ( To wit: Andrew Jackson).
         So, 80% of the articles on this particular day were con and the remaining piece was not even pro--it was neutral---something about the threat of war in space.  So one can see how the subject of such a group of diatribes might feel himself under attack.
            Anyway, I read all of these opinion pieces and if the titles were not enough to make one paranoid,  then the tone of the content certainly would.  It wasn't just that these authors disagreed with the President at almost every turn, it was that they did so using snarky, condescending language and with an undeniable "holier than thou" attitude.  Take, for example, my personal favorite (number 4, above) where Michael Gerson knocks not only the sitting President for admiring Andrew Jackson but slams Jackson, himself, for being a slave owner and for moving the Cherokees out of Georgia.  He even takes a shot at Jon Meacham, the author of the latest Jackson biography, "American Lion" by saying the book is "brilliant", but then complains that the author has "reverence" for Jackson and, thereby, calls his "brilliance" into question.  Perhaps the reason Meacham is insufficiently (from Gerson's point of view) irritated at Jackson's stance on the slavery and Indian issues is that he recognizes that prior to the Civil War, every southern  president was a slave holder and the Cherokees were moved out of Georgia because they did not want to live as citizens of Georgia and obey its laws.  Rather, they wanted to live under their own government, so Jackson moved them "...beyond the bounds of state governments" where they could do as they wished. 
            Meanwhile, back to the article.  At the start of the piece, after announcing that Mr. Trump, was "sending a message" by laying a wreath at Jackson's grave, and choosing "... a deeply disturbing hero", Gerson goes on to say that it "...is difficult to imagine that this selection was the result of vast reading in presidential history."  How condescending.  Of course this is his attitude because, apparently in his world, no Republican or conservative reads---let alone reads history!  Perhaps it is Mr. Gerson who should read some presidential history.  For, aside from being credited with founding the modern Democratic Party in 1828, Andrew Jackson was also held in high regard by Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.   That puts Mr. Trump in some pretty fast company as regards Jackson admirers. 
              And, by way of explaining my own irritation at Gerson's Op-Ed, I admit that I am a member of the Jackson fan club myself.  I joined these ranks while completing a stint in what the Army calls Advanced Civil Schooling majoring in history .  At that same time, we were expecting our second child and I had just finished reading Marquis James' "Andrew Jackson:  Portrait of a President" and was very heavily influenced by it.  When the new baby arrived, we had a beautiful daughter, but had she been a boy, I swear she would have been named Andrew Jackson and called "A. J." 
               I give you fair warning. We can have political discussions all day long.  You can slam Mr. Trump if you like.   BUT----Don't say anything bad about Andy Jackson---Not in this house!

<![CDATA[I've Been Silent on The First 100 Days...]]>Sun, 12 Mar 2017 18:09:21 GMThttp://opinionsunlimited.us/blog/ive-been-silent-on-the-first-100-days       ...at least so far, and there are good reasons for that.  Principal among them is that, even though we are only a little past half way there, events are and have been moving at such breakneck speed that I can't keep up  with them in my mind.  And, even if I could, I don't type that fast.  But I have given up all hope that the pace will slow down.  And so, I have determined that my best course is just to make my comments on events/ issues as they come up and pique my interest/ire, and to not care a whit if, by the time I get to post them on the blog, they are overtaken by the next  issue, hacking story, Wikileaks release, political appointment or outrageous tweet.
         With that in as background, I was watching the morning talk shows this past Sunday, one of which led with the Trump accusation that Mr. Obama ordered wire taps on the Trump campaign and both of which portrayed (contrary to the President's assertions of harmony) serious disagreements within the GOP over the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.  
         As I finished my sausage and eggs, it occurred to me that I have a great book title if the President ever chooses to write a sequel to "The Art of the Deal".   He should call it, "The Art of the Self-Inflicted Wound".  If, as the chief executive often claims, the main stream press, the Democrats and the left over Obama appointees holding government jobs are all out to get him, why does the man, and his support staff, insist on giving his detractors a seemingly never ending supply of ammunition with which to take shots at him/them?  Virtually every time he speaks off the cuff, transmits one of his famous "tweets", or has one of his minions take to the podium, there are dozens opposition voices pointing out apparent misstatements (like crowd size at the inaugural, and Ms. Conway's "alternative facts) and/or misspellings (e.g. spelling "tap" as "tapp") in the now famous wire tap accusation.  I think a little self control would go a long way toward solving this problem but, unfortunately, I don't believe  Mr. Trump has self control in his bag of tricks.
          And that is a shame because, E. J. Dionne's frequent op-eds to the contrary not withstanding,  the man has, I think, some reasonable ideas (like  lowering the corporate tax rate) to help the economy.  But he can 't (or won't be able to) get on with that issue or deal with the legislative agenda and the serious questions surrounding the election, because he and his guys are constantly pole vaulting over molehills of their own creation.