Send in the clowns

So, a friend of mine at the Department of Defense shared an excerpt from Congressional testimony regarding pending cuts to the Defense budget and it’s impact on the civilian workforce.  Clearly, the country’s in the best of hands…

FORBES: (Congressman)
Can you tell me any proposal that you’ve seen floating right now that would
suggest that it’s going to be addressed?
VOLLRATH: (DoD Deputy Assistant Secretary)
Personally, I have not.
Who would make the decision within your department to start this analysis?
That — that would have to start with the secretary of defense.
And the secretary of defense has given you no instruction at all to begin that
analysis to date?
I personally do not have that kind of instruction.
But you would know — you would know if that was going to take place based on
your position, would you not?
Not necessarily, because this is a large strategic movement.
So then as the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness and
force management at the Department of Defense, if you wouldn’t know, who would
know above you?
At — at this stage, I would defer to the secretary of defense and to the
president and where they intend to…
Well, the president and the secretary of defense aren’t going to do the actual
planning. They would have to give that instruction. But who would know in the
department if such instructions have been given to begin the planning, if you
wouldn’t know? Could this planning take place if you didn’t know it?
Probably not.
So then you would know it if — if the planning was going to take place?
I am not aware of any planning, but that does not mean that there is no
Well, help me with this. It’s your testimony that if the planning were taking
place, you would know it. Then you said you don’t know it. But then you said the
planning could still be taking place.
If there were any planning taking place that had any specificity to it, I would
anticipate that I would be aware of that.
And today in your testimony, you are not aware of that. Is that your testimony?
That is correct.
Are you aware that anyone has told you not to do the planning?
No one has told me not to do planning.

That’s comedy gold I tell you.  Better than any skit I’ve seen on Saturday Night Live lately…

Sometimes the fingers are faster than the brain

I’m constantly finding typos, bad punctuation, poor grammar, and other various and sundry errors in my writing.  Some of it is old fashioned laziness, sometimes it’s ignorance, but most often it’s a case of not typing what I’m thinking.  Thanks in advance for your indulgence.

Anyway, I came across the poster below and had to laugh because although I am well aware of the appropriate use of those words, I’m frequently dismayed that I’ll type “your” instead of “you’re” or “there” instead of “their”.   Which makes me appear dumber than a smart phone.  Which I suppose I am.


And yes, when I saw this I thought of Kevin Kim.

Ten years of LIFE

So, one of my retirement projects has been to read every issue of LIFE magazine.  Yeah, I definitely have way to much time on my hands.  Anyway, I’ve worked my way through the first ten years, beginning with the November 23, 1936 issue.

It’s actually been a pretty fascinating journey.  The depression era heartaches, the massive government sponsored building projects, the rise of Hitler and Japan as war clouds gathered, the war that really could have gone either way (at least in the beginning when there was very little popular support for American involvement) the politics, and other interesting cultural insights into “the greatest generation.”

What I particularly enjoy is reading about these historical events in real time.  No one of course knew at that time where current events would lead.  But I did, and watching everything unfold, the blunders and mistakes and also the things we got right, is quite an enjoyable exercise.   The “what ifs” of 20th century history still reverberate today.

20-20 hindsight is a gift the leaders of the time did not possess, but it’s still fun to speculate on what might have been.  Hitler’s war aims could have been thwarted with courage and early intervention.  Perhaps war with Japan was inevitable, but with better preparation and foresight (i.e. a stronger defense of the Philippines),  the carnage in the Pacific could certainly have been lessened.  The Soviet Union’s domination of Eastern Europe could have been stopped if we had been willing to take a hard line stance.  Had we better supported the Nationalist army, it is likely China would not be Communist today.  And lord knows in hindsight we would never have allowed the Soviets to occupy Korea north of the arbitrarily drawn 38th parallel.

But I suppose we did the best we could given what was known at the time.  Looking at the past for insights into the future is always fraught with peril.  Nevertheless, as I read about the past I can’t help but overlay those events with what I see taking place in the world today.

Most disturbing to me is the rise of China, which in many ways reminds me of Imperial Japan in the 1930s.  The saber rattling and claims to territorial dominance (as in claims to control of the South China Sea) make me wonder if China might invoke Japan’s idea of a “greater Asia co-prosperity sphere” free of Western influence.

Similarly, in many ways Iran’s attempts to dominate the Middle East, it’s desire to attain nuclear capabilities, and it’s stated intent to destroy Israel, are reminiscent of the goals on Nazi Germany.

I can’t help but wonder how future events will unfold as American power (both economic and military) are waning under the inept leadership of our President and our corrupt political class.  Do we have the will the stand against evil that was demonstrated by our parents and grandparents?

I guess that question will be answered someday by some wag with nothing better to do than read periodicals from the early 21st century.

Doing my part to stimulate the economy

Had to purchase a new refrigerator. Went to HHGregg. Saw one we liked but told the guy I could get it cheaper at Lowe’s. He went online and checked Lowe’s, Sears, Best Buy, and Home Depot. Turns out I could get it cheaper at Sears. So, they beat Sears buy 10 bucks and the deal was done. Delivery tomorrow (on the 4th of July!). Best of all, I took care of Jee Yeun Lee‘s birthday gift!