Friday, July 1, 2011

"X is Hitler"

In this age of hyperbole, it is common to hear this or that politician denounced as "Hitler."
"Bush is Hitler" was one of the great cliches of first decade of this century.
It is an evocative phrase, but one that betrays either a profound ignorance of history or willingness to slander one's opponent at any cost.

For all the cries of "political oppression" during the Bush years, I cannot recall one report of a murdered opponent. In contrast, Hitler ordered the deaths of some 85 individuals during the "Night of the Long Knives" in 1934. The dead included old enemies and older friends. Sadly, that event was only the beginning of Hitler's butchery.

Our current domestic political theater offers many disreputable players, yet I have yet to identify one who comes as close to evil incarnate as did Adolph Hitler.

Thus the cry "X is Hitler" typically does not move me to despise X. It does lead me to question the wisdom, knowledge and honesty of the messenger.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The New Obama Campaign Song

With apologies to Meredith Wilson:

Tax on the merchandise,
Tax on the button hooks
Tax on the cotton goods,
Tax on the hard goods
Tax on the fancy goods
Tax on the noggins and the piggins and the frikins
Tax on the hogshead, cask and demijohn.
Tax on the crackers and the pickels and the flypaper!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dear Barry

Alcatraz Island
Suite B - 181

Dear Barry,

One Chicago boy to another, you really don't understand running an outfit.

That "situation room" photo was a disaster. What was with the scared broad front and center? And your own gang wouldn't let you sit at the table? Are you sure you're the boss? While we're at it, you interrupted your golf game to whack ONE guy? Don't you trust your soldiers? Could I have run Chi if I personally supervised every hit?

About the stiff. "We didn't want to inflame sensibilities" gives new meaning to dumb. They already want to kill you. More importantly, they want to kill my customers. What's to "inflame"? Worse, you've told the world that you don't want to fight this fight, meaning we WILL fight, or die, when they bring the fight to us. A few bodies here and there can be a great deterrent, as you college boys like to say. Ask Bugs Moran.

But there's more to a good message than body count. There's self-interest. This Osama fella put a hit on us; we returned the favor. So why do you have it in for that Col. Gaddahfi? How much have you spent for someone else's oil? Where's OUR profit? Hell of a way to run a business.

Let's not forget the big picture. I know you don't like Jews, even though you say you're in the non discrimination business. I thought Arnold Rothstein was a hell of a guy, but maybe you didn't know him. Anyway, what will you get for selling them out? Aside from enemies who don't fear you and allies who don't trust you?

Don't get me wrong; I can see a real upside to this Sharia law. I made a lot of money off Prohibition and life was good. But do you really want to see your daughters in burkas?

Your friend,

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Just Win, Baby"

Maybe we should let Al Davis command in Libya. Colonel Duck's air forces and air defenses would long ago have been annihilated, the Marines would again be ashore in Tripoli and the Duck would be… out of power. Al, at least, understands winning. Of course, were this struggle merely a football match, Coach Qaddafi might be fired, to make room for someone more effective, aggressive, innovative, ruthless; someone able to rally the team and lead it back next season.

Which illustrates the difference between winning and victory. Victors destroy their enemies or at least the enemys' ability and will threaten them. Hannibal won a series of brilliant battles against Rome, but lost the war. Hitler drove the British into the sea and lost that war. Hannibal could not muster the resources to crush Rome, while Hitler failed to understand the need to secure his Atlantic flank. In contrast, Eisenhower and Stalin crushed the Nazi armies and put the Nazi leaders on trial. There is no question that the coalition against Col. Duck has the resources to obliterate his armed forces. The question is whether the coalition has the will for victory.

Coalition leaders have been disturbingly vague on that point. We have heard much of “humanitarian intervention" while any suggestion of "regime change" has been studiously avoided. The implication seems to be at the Allied intervention would end if the Col. would simply commit to behave himself, or at least forswear slaughtering his opponents. My doctor might call this approach “treating the symptoms, not the problem." It has been tried before. Napoleon was exiled to Elba, only to escape, renew his wars, and cause the deaths of thousands more. In living memory, Saddam Hussein was left in power following the first gulf war, although that coalition encouraged the Iraqis to rebel. Some did, and were annihilated. That coalition lacked the will to victory. It won the war and lost the peace. The Iraqi people are still paying for that lack of vision and determination.

Thus the question: is the coalition committed to removing the Colonel and seeing to it that he is replaced by a stable civil society that respects the rule of law and does not threaten its neighbors (also known as “nation building”) or is this action a mere “punitive expedition,” in the best colonial tradition, intended to impress on the Colonel, and others of his ilk, that the “civilized world” will stomach just so much brutality. But, so long as he doesn't cross that threshold, he is free to do as he pleases. Based on the latest pronouncements, the latter is the case. Dictators will be permitted to continue to brutalize their nations, provided they spout properly anti-American rhetoric and offer a reliable source of supplies upon which the developed nations rely – such as the French dependence upon Libyan oil.

Somewhere Clive and Rhodes and Kitchener, those epic builders of empires, masters of the exploitation of native peoples for the benefit of Western powers are rolling on the floor laughing, for the First Black President has clearly taken up The White Man's Burden.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Now That The Smoke Has Cleared

9/11 has come and gone, this year marred by a number of offensive and disturbing political statements.

The first offense came from the Florida pastor who proposed to mark the day by burning the Koran. While one can make a sound argument that Korans SHOULD be burnt, in this instance the suggestion was but a tasteless publicity stunt.

More offense came from our august Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who described the idea as “disgraceful.” Setting aside the incongruity of Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton condemning any conduct, one must question the propriety of a senior American official denouncing a US citizen for proposing to exercise one of his fundamental rights.

Amongst the disturbing statements was Mr. Obama's utterly predictable lecture to the effect that burning the sacred books of any faith was contrary to the central ideas of America. Curiously, the man who was willing to defend the rights of agent-provocateurs to build a victory mosque at Ground Zero was unwilling to defend the free speech rights of someone with whom he disagrees. It was a startling display of moral cowardice.

But perhaps the most disturbing statement may have come from General Petraeus, who reportedly opposed the burning because it could stir up animosity in Afghanistan and put our troops in danger. Assuming the General did make such a statement, a troubling question arises: Isn't his main mission to defend the right of all of us – of you and I and even that shameless pastor – to speak and act freely, no matter what some foreign extremist might think?

Have our Armed Forces subscribed to Barack Obama's 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Offend A Muslim?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summer Of Recovery – A Post Script

Dear Joe,

I wrote the other day asking for a job. I fear I wasn't terribly specific as to what job. At my age, and with my qualifications (law review, top 10 percent of my class, Firsts at a European university, 20 years of law practice) I can't be picky. Anything that pays well, offers security and doesn't require much initiative would do. Unhappily, all the Cabinet posts are filled, but then in the recent news I found just the ticket: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change needs an executive director, or so the Boston Herald reported on September 5.

I'm your man. I am not a climate scientist, so I have don't have a vested interest in any of the competing theories. Indeed, I am not a scientist at all, but I did spend nearly two years in Nashville, bathed in the influence of Al Gore. How could I not be one of the enlightened?

Frivolity aside, I am schooled in the scientific method. I understand the need for hard data, for test results that can be repeated and for theories that can be falsified.

..............What's that?

I see your point. I might be over-qualified to run the IPCC. Fear not. Pay me enough and I can be as ignorant of sound practice and as blind to facts as you want me to be. Just don't forget the chalet in Gstaad.

Bite me,

Tom Hall
Racine, WI

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Summer of Recovery

Dear Joe,

I need a job. 

As you are in charge of the Summer of Recovery, it seems logical to tap you for help. Although we haven't met, I rely upon your empathy. Like you, I am the grandson of a coal miner. I never met him, but I do have his carbide miner's lamp. My father was a barefoot schoolboy who learned to read by the light of a kerosene lamp. Like your boss, I was law review, although I bailed after one semester. The free beer in the law review offices was nice, but not worth the price - becoming PC.  By the way, could I have a Summer of Recovery pin to go with the "WIN" pin Jerry Ford gave me?

Hope and changed reached me more than a year ago.  I lost a job that I loved. I thought  perhaps it was time for public service. After all, six figure private sector jobs are over rated. The State Department, I thought. A chance to see the world and serve my nation. After all, who really wants to be able to support their elderly parents? I understand that I did not contribute enough to your campaign to qualify for an ambassadorship, but I presumed I could more than handle an administrative post in some remote and unpopular embassy. I passed for Foreign Service exam, and heard nothing more. I wrote to Secretary Clinton as a follow up, and heard nothing. Perhaps she knew more of my health than I did. The heart surgery a year ago certainly took me by surprise. To add insult to injury, the heartless capitalists who formerly employed me bent some rules and opened their purse to ensure that I had health coverage throughout the ordeal. Doubtless ObamaCare will prevent such travesties in the future.

Yet I remain confident of the future. Even though the Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers the weatherization and mortgage assistance programs have all passed us by, I've made many new friends at the flea markets and farmers' markets. Mind you,the competition between unemployed professionals selling craft items and personal effects is getting stiff. By the way, you might tell Michelle that there really is no market for used sneakers, no matter their original price or what famous feet have sweated in them. 

Barack would probably say that we don't need all those things, that we already have too much. Still, it would be nice to to treat my Mrs. to a date night on Broadway now and then, or even the occasional vacation. Mindful of Barack's admonition that we need to learn to do with less, I'd settle for a nice three star resort. After all, a working class product like me probably wouldn't know how to behave in a five star joint. When will you start handing those out and where do I sign up?

In the meantime, where are the jobs? The private sector lacks the customers, capital or confidence to hire, which leaves the government. But no one joins the nomenclatura without a sponsor. Which is where you come in. Looking after the embassy in Mongolia remains attractive, but I have been off work for a year and my mortgage company would like to be paid. Maybe you could shovel some of the stimulus slush my way? Or maybe a job as a Predator Drone pilot. You'd also have to kick in flight training, which would be a bonus for me, although I would never admit it. 

I'm reluctant to ask for a position in the White House proper. As you have doubtless discovered, it is not wise to be smarter than your boss. Still, a tsar-ship is intriguing. Recent events indicate a clear a need for a strong leader to coordinate the work of all the tsars. The tsar of all tsars, you might say. Or, in Chicago-speak, the capo di tutti capi. Can you swing it? Alternatively, we could borrow from the Romans and I could become the person who accompanies Barack everywhere and whispers to him: “Remember, thou art mortal.”

I'm sure you'll need a day or two to finagle the funding and grease the appointment. Around mid-September I'll be expecting word that you've completed this assignment. 

Until then, bite me.