Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The People Who Cast The Votes Decide Nothing. The People Who Count The Votes Decide Everything"

Like most Americans who are aware of current affairs, OTR knows that communism has its share of sympathizers in the United States. The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) is their organization, but it's official hard-core membership is at best in the low thousands. Still, the broad appeal of much of the party's ideology to the "oppressed" classes makes the CPUSA presence on the national stage far greater than its membership would indicate. That presence makes for some nice linkages.

One of the links in this leftist network is Minnesota's Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie. Ritchie played a significant role in the "election" of Al Franken. Now he's playing the same role in the race for Minnesota's governor. Read more about it here.

It's no wonder that the anti-capitalist George Soros has created and funded organizations to install leftists as secretaries of state across the nation. He has no issue with using any politics in order to establish European style socialism--it's a recognized failure-- in the United States.

Whether we like it or not, the full political spectrum has every right to exist in our republic. The key is making sure that spectrum follows the high moral and ethical standards set forth in our founding documents and perpetuated through our courts. This is a high calling and a difficult one as well, but those who value freedom must be ever vigilant. Anything less charts a perilous course.

Title: Joseph Stalin; from the Soros link found in the link above.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks Holds America Hostage; Obama Fiddles, Carter Smiles

Blogging at Legal Insurrection, William A. Jacobson nails it with a nice assemblage of information on the meaning of the release of over 250,000 State Department cables by the folks at Wikileaks. A sample opinion:

The Wikileaks folks trot the globe with impunity and funnel documents to the press at will, for the purpose of damaging U.S. relations with other countries, our war efforts, and our intelligence capability. And we do almost nothing about it.

Whether or not someone gets killed as a direct result of a Wikileaks disclosure, the damage to our country is deep, as allies and sources among enemies will stop cooperating with us for fear of exposure, our diplomats will be hesitant to speak frankly with headquarters, and our intelligence on al-Qaeda and others will be compromised.

This is a short blog entry, to the point, and featuring several links if you want more information. Worth your time. Read it here.

Tip to the Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CNN's Parker Makes Up American History

OTR really takes umbrage at such blatant ignorance. One would think a national news reporter would have a working knowledge of American history. It was a prerequisite for the national broadcast journalists he grew up with in the 1950s and 1960s. Huntley and Brinkley would have been laughed out of the industry had they made such blunders. That was then, this is now.

So who cares if CNN's Kathleen Parker tells her audience that Alexander Hamilton was an illegal immigrant who wrote the Constitution. Even her co-host, Eliot Spitzer, surely a trustworthy beacon of excellence in journalism, didn't catch the error. With history departments across the country going the way of Latin departments a decade ago, who would know--or care--that her statement is hogwash? OTR knows and cares.

For the record, Hamilton came to the COLONIES "from the British West Indies in 1774." There was no back door because there was no Unites States at that point. Furthermore, Hamilton DID NOT write the Constitution. He did however write a substantial portion of the Federalist Papers that helped convince delegates to ratify the document.

And speaking of ignorance and American history, OTR would love to see Barack Obama's college transcripts. So far, he seems well qualified for an anchor position at a CNN news desk. Indeed, Obama is quite an "anchor" when it come to American history. But why worry, he not a journalist, he's just President of the United States.

Bertoldt Brecht, Mixed Social-Profit Models, And Repossessed Goats

Economics remains a "soft" science, but it is firming up nicely with improvements in data collection and processing. And there could be some astounding outcomes for economics in our future. For example, some thinkers like Edward O. Wilson see economics as the gate way to a unification of knowledge or what he calls consilience. Obviously, we will not see any formula for unity next week, but there are aspects of this line of thinking that affect us today. One of them involves the search for a golden mean between "doing good" and "doing well" in the world of finance. That is, how to provide financial services to a full spectrum of the world population while, at the same time, keeping the bank afloat. You may think this has no effect on your life, but you're sorely wrong. The "generosity" of housing bankers Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac to both customers and employees is the reason the value of your house dropped by a third in the last few years.

In the developing world, something called microfinance also struggles with doing good and doing well. For international banking, microfinance has raised a number of questions involving compatibility and worth. Do small loans to high risk borrowers in India improve society? Is this a world-wide subprime disaster in the making? Is it all a self-deception that gives the Manhattan investment banker a warm feeling as he views the city below from his penthouse balcony?

Read more about it here in a post at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Qantas Airlines A380 And A One In 100 Million Chance

OTR loves to fly. For twenty years before he retired, he took every opportunity to occupy the right seat in his agency's Cessna 340 and fly across the Southeast. In all the many hours of his "copilot" flying, the most serious in-flight incident involved a faulty landing gear light. At the same time he developed tremendous respect for people throughout the aviation industry and the operations they support. That's why today's report about the recent engine failure on a Qantas Airbus A380 flight is raising eyebrows.

Imagine having one of your four engines disintegrate shortly after takeoff accompanied by 54 messages on your visual display identifying system failures or pending failures. Your goal is to analyze the situation and return your aircraft and its 489 souls on board to the safety of the Singapore airport. This is an amazing event reminiscent of the uncontained engine failure on a United Airlines DC-10 over the Midwest in 1989. That anyone survived the United failure was a miracle. That all survived the Qantas failure may well speak to either a miracle of higher order, improved aviation safety systems or a combination of the two. OTR goes with the nice combination.

Johnny Mercer: That Sentimental Gentleman From Georgia

Today marks the 101st birthday of Savannah's favorite son, Johnny Mercer. Readers know that I'm somewhat of an expert on the life and times of this remarkable personality. As a lyricist, composer, performer, businessman, and philanthropist, Mercer shaped much of the American popular music industry for forty years, beginning in the mid 1930s.

Two years ago, I wrote a seven part series on this man whose talent left us with almost 2000 published songs--and a few thousand unfinished pieces-- and a host of images in song that continue to entertain us more than thirty years after his passing in 1976. I can't improve on last year's essays, so will link to them in this post for your convenience and enjoyment. They are:

Day One: Mercer's Early Years
Day Two: Hoagy And Hollywood
Day Three: Sense Of Humor
Day Four: The Bread And Butter Songs
Day Five: On Line And Print References
Day Six: Personal Favorites
Day Seven: Cover Artists And Organizations Keep The Music Alive

Hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. There is a new addition for the Mercer reference shelf: The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer, by Kimball, Day, Kreuger, and Davis. This 500 page hardcover was published last year as the seventh volume in Knopf's Complete Lyrics series. The media shelf is also groaning with a huge number of new issues during Mercer's centennial year. I'll leave it to readers to consult their favorite sources for more information.

"...A Soldier At War Against The United States, But He Was Tried Like A Shoplifter."

News of potentially invasive airport screening by TSA agents is stealing headlines these days, but Americans should be aware of an even greater threat that occurred yesterday in a New York City courtroom. The first "test case" involving a Gitmo-held terrorists was resolved yesterday. The verdict was a victory for terrorism and an indictment of the judicial ineptitude of President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder. This verdict offers nothing but encouragement for future terrorists who, as you read this, are plotting to bring jihad to where you live, work, shop, and worship.

OTR won't bother you with the details. You can read them yourself here in The Washington Post. The verdict also generated plenty of thoughtful commentary in the blogosphere. Check it out here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Thank you to Urgent Agenda for the title.
Photo: Defendant's handiwork at the U.S. Embasay, Kenya, 1998

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Snatching Defeat From Almost Assured Victory

The "master of all trades," William Katz, has another simple and profound observation about four Senate races and four "Tea Party" types who lost them:

It is time to contemplate thoughtfully the quality of some of the candidates the Republicans, especially the tea partiers, placed before the voters in Senate races. Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Ken Buck, Joe Miller. These were all winnable races. Proper vetting of candidates, and good campaign strategies, are critical keys to victory. You can't just run someone is "right" on the ideology, but lacks almost everything else. Losing is very boring.

OTR hopes the conservatives are listening.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Honoring our military veterans, and commemorating the armistice ending World War I at the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th month of 1918.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

American Exceptionalism Is Very Real

Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and social observer, visited the United States in the early 1830s and came away knowing it was a nation unlike any other. His Democracy in America (1835) became a landmark in the study of what has become known as American exceptionalism. Scholars and others have been expanding on Tocqueville's observations for the last 180 years. Late last month OTR brought to his readers' attention the story of Daniel Hannan, the Brit who savors America. Today, William Katz, blogger and skilled master of a diversity of trades, notes another "must read" observation on American exceptionalism. This one is by Jonah Goldberg. The theme:

Leftist mocking those who believe in the greatness of the U.S. is nothing new. But their bizarre insistence that it is an artifact of right-wing jingoism and xenophobia certainly isn't helping Obama.

Readers will also find the comments interesting. And in addition, Katz's succinct commentary at Urgent Agenda should never be ignored.

Illustration: Alexis de Tocqueville, by the artist, Theodore Chasseraiu, 1850.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A "Cornerstone Of Fantastic Cinema"

This Sunday night (11/7) at 8:00 ET, Turner Classic Movies will present the latest--2010-- restoration of Fritz Lange's Metropolis (1927). The film is a dramatic visual feast of interest to film and/or science fiction fans as well as those who enjoy history, politics, economics, art, architecture, and urban studies. This new restoration includes about 25 minutes of film that went undiscovered for 80 years. It also incorporates editorial changes that now bring the film very close to the final print shown in Berlin at its premiere.

If you want to know what you're in for if you choose to invest 150 minutes to watch the film, the Wikipedia entry explains all, but you may want to avoid reading the plot.

OTR loves this film from several points of view. For example, as you watch Metropolis, your will see science fiction film history from Frankenstein (1931) to Blade Runner (1982) to the Terminator franchise. Then there's the influence on film noir, but OTR will leave you to discover that on your own.

Now where did I put that case of microwave popcorn?

Election Fallout

The 2010 election brought a satisfactory feeling to most conservatives. About 70 new right-thinking faces will soon be on Capitol Hill. Beyond the Washington Beltway, there will be more republican governors and almost 700 new state legislators who will influence the reshaping of congressional districts. The Tea Party movement enlivened an already energized election and won many contests of national interest. At the same time, the party ideology, vested in some less than stellar candidates--O'Donnell, Angle, and Buck-- snatched defeat from the hands of easy victory, at least in Delaware and Nevada.

One would expect the socialist-democrat bloodbath on Tuesday to be of some concern at the White House. After all, a brief analysis of the outcome showed a broad rejection of candidates who embraced legislation and policy touted by Barack Obama. That did not seem to register with the president at his Wednesday Presser. Although he looked extremely uncomfortable, Obama danced with the probing questions for almost an hour before admitting that, yes, there could be more to the rejection than the peoples' discontent with the economy. OTR thinks this is very telling, a forecast of what to expect for the next two years as the electorate holds the blame for not recognizing deity when it is manifest.

As for the recent election, the experts will be dissecting it for weeks and readers will be able to enjoy their fruits at every turn. Readers may not be so fortunate seeking guidance of the mind engine at work in the White House. For that story, OTR suggests his readers have another session with Dr. Sanity and her link to a Victor Davis Hanson analysis.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vote Power

OTR wants to encourage everyone who has not yet voted to exercise your right tomorrow. This year's Republican runoff election for governor of Georgia was an object lesson in the significance of every vote. When all the votes were in, the better candidate, Karen Handel, had lost by only 2519 votes out of a total of 579,551 cast statewide. It was a huge disappointment to come so close to victory in such an important race. Here is the story of just how close it was.

Georgia is one of those American states that took advantage of its English roots and rural identity by establishing many counties in its 278 years. The current count is 159. By doing so, it has ensured that local governments and their local citizens would have a large voice in the state's management as well as being near a courthouse. Handel, a metro Atlanta officeholder, ran a good campaign in most of those counties, but there were flaws. One of the biggest was essentially ceding her opponent's rural home county from the outset of the race. That gave Nathan Deal, a "seasoned" politician and former Member of Congress, an extraordinary advantage. If Handel had been able to find seventeen more votes from each county in Georgia, she would have won her race to face off with Roy Barnes, a trial lawyer, rather disliked former governor, and amateur state flag designer. [OTR has no use for Barnes]

Although Nathan Deal could be considered a slightly better opponent in this race, OTR thinks the Handel risk would have been worth it. Now, with her defeat, citizens have lost the opportunity to strike out on a more savory path to responsible government. Surely the people would have responded--especially independents--to her personality and message. This was a hard defeat to accept. And it should be a lesson that voters should never ignore an opportunity to cast a vote for better government. Every vote really does count.

If you think about staying away from the polls this year, think again about the power of those seventeen votes and their impact here in Georgia. Two years from now, we will have another election. In it, your vote could very likely determine whether or not the nation survives as the republic its founding fathers envisioned. Does OTR have your attention yet?