The Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago today. Many people are celebrating that milestone in human history, but Vladimir Putin rues the day as the beginning of greatest human tragedy of the 20th century which ended the horrors of the USSR and its spreading of international communism. As a young lieutenant stationed in Germany in the early 1960s I took a weekend leave with Jo Ann to visit a divided and tense Berlin. Because of my job and security clearances – at the time the S-2 (intelligence officer) of our only STRAC nuclear capability artillery battalion in Europe – we had to travel on the daily diplomatic train from Frankfurt to Berlin. By the Potsdam treaty the train was a rolling piece of US sovereign territory that was sealed before entering East Germany and again unsealed in the western zone of Berlin. The trip across the leading exemplar of communism’s workers’ paradise (the USSR and other places were much worse) was an eye-opener for those who had just read about what communism does to a people. In Berlin we went to the Brandenburg Gate and stood looking across The Wall; the difference between the two sides of the same city was stunning. (It would be another 25 years until from the same spot President Reagan would demand, “Mr Gorbachov, tear down this wall!”) While most visitors to West Berlin were allowed to tour East Berlin on busses; because of my status, I was not. The most chilling part of the visit was Checkpoint Charlie where a platoon of our mainline battle tanks faced their equivalents in the Red Army, separated by about 100 yards with their leveled main guns pointed at each other. WW3 was literally a trigger pull away in those days. It was quite a weekend.
Today President Obama finally admits to a very peculiar responsibility of his administration in the Democrats’ devastating loss last Tuesday. On ‘Face the Nation’ he finally acknowledged that his party had taken a drubbing, and as its leader he was culpable, saying, “… the buck stops right here at my desk.” But the problem for the nation is that the man doesn’t understand that his demonstrated policies were rejected on their substance. Instead he believes it has only been a problem in communicating his “good ideas” to the American people – in other words, he didn’t put enough lipstick on that herd of pigs that he and his let loose on the country.
[update] Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) on Fox News Sunday demonstrated the utter contempt in which Democrats hold their own constituents’ intellectual capacity. Reporting on Friday’s lunch at the White House, Becerra was asked about what topics were discussed around the table. He said that because Speaker Boehner raised the comprehensive immigration issue with regards to Obama’s threatened executive order to end-run of Congress, that there was no time for the President to talk about anything else – Obama took the entire allocated time to talk about immigration reform.
‘Allocated time’??!! Yes, you see according to Becerra their lunch had a time limit because Obama had a scheduled Pentagon presentation by high ranking military officers for right after the lunch. Utter bullshit! When you have the newly and historically elected leaderships of a heretofore multi-year dysfunctional Congress assembled specifically to come together and talk about the way forward for the next two years, the Commander-in-Chief can and should have his row of four-star generals standing at parade rest outside the dining room door with their pocketed powerpoints for as long as it takes – even if the meeting needs to go on until 1AM the next morning. To tell the nation’s Democrat voters – no Republican would be dumb enough to swallow such crap – that this important meeting was time limited because of a previously scheduled military briefing simply boggles any reasonable mind so exposed (which, of course, excludes the sheeple who voted for and continue to worship their messiah).
Given these shaky beginnings, I don’t see anything possible for the next two years except for the Repubs to do everything they can to stop the business-as-usual from the White House as soon as possible.
[10nov14 update] Harvey Silvergate in ‘Liberals Are Killing the Liberal Arts’ brings us up to date on the latest efforts to shut down free speech and discussion of issues in our universities have become little more than conclaves of collectivist thought and socialist propaganda. Silvergate opens with –
On campuses across the country, hostility toward unpopular ideas has become so irrational that many students, and some faculty members, now openly oppose freedom of speech. The hypersensitive consider the mere discussion of the topic of censorship to be potentially traumatic. Those who try to protect academic freedom and the ability of the academy to discuss the world as it is are swimming against the current. In such an atmosphere, liberal-arts education can’t survive.
He then goes into some detail on a truly unbelievable albeit fully documented conference at Smith College named “Challenging the Ideological Echo Chamber: Free Speech, Civil Discourse and the Liberal Arts”. The principal exchanges (including the now de rigueur use of ‘Trigger Warnings’) and their aftermath at both Smith and Holyoke illustrate the long-known ‘freedom and liberty are only one generation deep’, and could have taken place at any of the party educational meetings that workers were required to attend in the USSR. Silvergate concludes –
Hypersensitivity to the trauma allegedly inflicted by listening to controversial ideas approaches a strange form of derangement—a disorder whose lethal spread in academia grows by the day. What should be the object of derision, a focus for satire, is instead the subject of serious faux academic discussion and precautionary warnings. For this disorder there is no effective quarantine. A whole generation of students soon will have imbibed the warped notions of justice and entitlement now handed down as dogma in the universities.
[11nov14 update] Gas prices are down, and guess who wants to assign credit to whom? It's the lamebrained lackeys of the same Messiah who promised to raise energy prices through the roof, worked his tail off to accomplish same, continues to impede developments to lower energy costs, and promises to also transform that part of our economy. But fracking on private lands (government lands are a no-no) has produced a surfeit of gas and oil to the extent that huge tankers now lie at anchor in bays across the world, used as floating storage tanks because the land-based ones are full. Isn't central planning wonderful?
[12nov14 update] Germans land instrumented probe on comet. This is a big deal that has been ten years in the making. Mission controllers in Darmstadt announced that the spacecraft Rosetta, orbiting in formation with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, had successfully launched and now landed its probe Philae on the comet's surface. We are now in great anticipation awaiting the first picture taken by Philae from the comet's surface. As a lifelong worker in the control & estimation field (I am a California professional engineer in the Control Theory field, and a former DoD 'missile scientist'), my hat is off to the engineers who calculated and controlled the very complex sun-orbital maneuvers Rosetta executed during its ten-journey to 'sync up' with the comet, and then precisely aim, release, and control Philae to a soft landing in a 500m diameter area. The last worry is that Philae will land on the edge of a boulder and tip over, thereby screwing up the lander part of the Rosetta mission. Realtime control is not possible since the whole thing is taking place about 26 light-minutes from earth, so the problem is being solved locally by an onboard Bayesian brain. (more here)