Thursday, February 16, 2017

YOU’RE FIRED

No doubt the most titillating moment in any episode of the popular TV reality show “The Apprentice” came when the host, fabled New York business mogul Donald J. Trump, would look a contestant in the eye, summarize his or her shortcomings and firmly announce, “You’re Fired!”

I suspect that Mr. Trump’s image as a man with sufficient kahoonas to sack an apprentice contributed to the voters’ decision to install him in the White House with a mandate to “Drain the Swamp.”

That said, the President’s request for the resignation of Homeland Security Advisor Michael Flynn, deserves some attention.

Flynn was a very visible supporter of President Trump’s candidacy. Here’s what Wkipedia says about him:

Michael Thomas Flynn (born December 1958)  is a retired United States Army Lieutenant General who was the 18th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and was the 25th National Security Advisor, serving President Donald Trump for 24 days, from January 20 to February 13, 2017, before resigning amid controversy over his contacts with Russian officials. Flynn's tenure as National Security Advisor is the shortest in history.

The gist of Flynn’s misbehavior, as reported in the media, was that he lied to Vice President Pence about a conversation he had with Russian Ambassador,
Sergey Kislyak.”according to current and former American officials.”

A February 9th New York Times article by Matthew Rosenburg and Matt Apuzzo asserts that the “American officials” spoke on condition of anonymity because their information was “classified.”

Pretty obviously, the so called “American officials” are members of the vast network of spies often referred to as “the intelligence community.” That would include, the FBI, the CIA, Homeland Security agents and who knows how many other unidentifiable federal employees who constitute the 2017 version of George Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother.

Nameless, faceless, devoid of actual proof of how they learned what they claim to know, these ‘American officials’ speak to the nation through the mainstream media, which guards their anonymity jealously.

My best guess is that U.S. spies regularly tap the telephones of Russian, and probably most other countries’ diplomats, which would explain why they were listening when Flynn spoke to Ambassador Kislyak.

Which would also explain why acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, claimed that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. She apparently knew about Flynn’s calls to Kislyak and that Flynn had lied to Vice President Pence about what the Kislyak discussion involved.

Frankly, the whole rhubarb about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential campaign is an indictment of the politicization of the federal intelligence community.

The only claim of Russian interference in the 2016 election relates to the Wiki Leaks disclosures about Democratic National Committee favoritism for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

Julian Assuage, founder of Wiki Leaks, insists that his source is not associated with the Russian government.

Big Brother hasn’t told us how he knows that the Kremlin is behind the anti Clinton leaks. Still, the Obama Administration, the mainstream media and the congressional Democrats have accepted the story of Russian interference.

Big surprise, They lost the election. They lost the Electoral College vote. They have lost the confidence of the nation.

But they still have a grip on the intelligence community. Their unsubstantiated “disclosures” will prove to be a festering infection for the next four years.

Perhaps President Trump will have to say “You’re Fired” to some of those anonymous ‘American officials.’


Sunday, February 12, 2017

FOUR ONE ONE

What follows is a transcript of an actual telephone call which took place on Saturday, February 11, 2017:

OPERATOR: AT&T directory assistance. Your AT&T account will only be charged when a listing is provided. Say a city and state like Atlanta, Georgia. You can also say search by phone number.

CALLER: Harbor Springs, Michigan.

OPERATOR: OK, say the name of the business you want. If you don’t know the name of the business, tell me the type of business you are looking for.

CALLER: Residence.

OPERATOR: OK, residence. Say just the person’s first and last name.

CALLER: Joel Dyksterhouse.

OPERATOR: OK, say the name of the business you want. If you don’t know the name of the business, tell me the type of business you are looking for.

CALLER: Residence.

OPERATOR: OK, residence. Say just the person’s first and last name.

CALLER: Joel Dyksterhouse.

OPERATOR: OK, say the name of the business you want. If you don’t know the name of the business, tell me the type of business you are looking for.

CALLER: Residence.

OPERATOR: OK, residence. Say just the person’s first and last name.

CALLER: Joel Dyksterhouse.

OPERATOR: Thank you for calling Directory Assistance. I’m sorry that we were unable to find what you are looking for. If you would another listing, say get another listing.

CALLER: Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.

OERATOR: I’m sorry, we are unable to find what you are looking for. If you would like another listing, say get another listing,

CALLER: Get another listing,

OPERATOR: OK, say the name of the business you want. If you don’t know the name of the business, tell me the type of business you are looking for.

CALLER: Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.

OPERATOR: I’m sorry. I am not finding Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha in Harbor Springs, Michigan.

By then, I was not surprised that the operator could find no humor in Harbor Springs, Michigan. Indeed, I was convinced that she could not find her derriere with both hands.

The answering machine civilization has spawned some interesting reactions. My friend Jim Maiolo used to have a recorded message which just said, “Hello…Hello…Hello. This gahdam telephone.” Then it hung up. Handled robo solicitations really well, but didn’t amuse the Pastor.

Another result of pervasive recorded messages is the rise of BPO – business process outsourcing. You’ve heard the ads from companies who will rent you a real human being to answer the phone.

I decided to do some research. Our local phone company, Charter Communications, still has a real human being on hand to help if the recording doesn’t fulfill your needs.

I was curious and called the local 411 to find out if those human beings are employees of Charter or if they are evidence of BPO – Business Process Outsourcing.

The operator sent me to her supervisor, who transferred me to her superior, who told me I would have to talk to the business office, to which she transferred me. The business office telephone was answered by a recording. Press one if you are interested in purchasing television service. Press two if you are calling about internet service. Press three if you wish to report an outage.

We have become a nation of sheep. We can do only what programmers expect us to do.

I just finished reading George Orwell’s 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty Four. It  describes in chilling detail the lives of a programmed people. It has taken more than twice as long as Orwell predicted, but Big Brother is among us.

Listen carefully, as our options have changed. So have yours. Dial one for English.



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

JUDGE GORSUCH

Neil Gorsuch is a natural successor to Antonin Scalia. He has all the de rigueur qualifications: Columbia undergraduate, Harvard Law, even a Doctor of Philosophy from University College at Oxford.

Gorsuch is legitimately and undeniably conservative, in the sense that he respects the written words of the United States Constitution. His opinions on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals confirm his identity as an originalist just as was Antonin Scalia, whose chair he will take, if and when he is confirmed  by the United States Senate.

I have no doubt that his confirmation will take awhile, and that it may very well become nasty. Strange as that may seem in light of his unanimous, voice vote confirmation for the 10th Circuit seat.

But the fact is that the Tenth Circuit isn’t able to overrule Roe V Wade. That prerogative rests in the United States Supreme Court; the very tribunal which began the abortion revolution in 1973.

And abortion is the hot button issue which will inflame the U. S. Senate when Gorsuch comes up for confirmation. The odds are heavy that Gorsuch will get “Borked.”

Robert Bork was a Court of Appeals Judge in the D.C. Circuit back in the 1980’s, having been nominated by President Reagan and confirmed unanimously by voice vote in the U.S. Senate. One of his colleagues in D.C. was Antonin Scalia. Bork and Scalia were of the same mind on many issues. They were often called ‘social conservatives.’

On July 1, 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to succeed Lewis Powell on the Supreme Court. Within forty-five minutes, Senator Ted Kennedy was on the floor of the Senate decrying the nomination and spewing the most trumped up exaggerations about what Bork would do to civil rights if he were to be confirmed for the post.

The NAACP jumped into the fight. So did the Senate’s Democratic Majority. Joe Biden, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote a scathing report, filled with exaggerated innuendos. The Committee even went so far as to obtain a list of videos Bork had rented. It turned up nothing, but who knows what they were looking for.
The hotly contested nomination stayed on the front pages all summer and into the Autumn of 1987. Negative ads were presented on television, hosted by beloved motion picture actor Gregory Peck, who described Bork as an “extremist.” Ultimately the nomination of Robert Bork was not confirmed.

In the process, gutter politics to oppose a Supreme Court nomination became what you might call, “verbalized.” In fact the use of the the word “bork” as a verb has actually been included in the standard dictionary.

Thus to “bork” someone is to oppose their nomination to public office by every means – fair or foul. Perhaps the most famous use of ‘bork’ as a verb can be attributed to feminist Florynce Kennedy, who regaled a convention of the National Organization of Women with this comment about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas: “We’re going to BORK him. We’re going to kill him politically. This little creep. Where did he come from?”

Certainly the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings were a disgraceful charade and a travesty on our constitutional system.

Every indication is that Gorsuch will be the victim of Borking. Hopefully, a Republican Senate majority will not allow the process to become a repeat of the treatment of Clarence Thomas or to drag on and on as his hearings did.

That said, I pray that Judge Gorsuch will be quickly and painlessly confirmed.

Still, being a realist if not a pessimist, I can’t help noting that Judge Gorsuch is a clone of the elitist cadre that now passes for our highest Constitutional tribunal. They are all from Harvard, Yale and Columbia. Several were clerks in the Court. Gorsuch. himself, clerked for Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.

Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, has distinguished himself as a ‘swing’ vote, by which is meant that he ‘swings’ over to vote with the liberal wing of the Court as often as not.

The Supreme Court is like the crew of a space ship. They live close. In time they tend to smell alike, look alike and think alike. The question is: will Gorsuch swing, or will he  rock the boat?

ELECTRICALLY CHALLENGED


In an effort to forestall the ravages of old age, I have developed the practice of going to the fitness center maintained by the Birchwood Property Owners Association.

Nothing fancy. I just climb aboard the treadmill and mosey along for thirty minutes. The heart rate might get as high as 115, which is about where they wanted me during my last stress test.

The treadmill is equipped with a small television. On the rare occasions when it is functioning, the time passes quite easily and agreeably.

However.

However, I am inexplicably unable to turn it on, or if it is on, to manipulate it to a desired TV station.

I push all the buttons. Nothing happens. Occasionally someone is using the treadmill next to me and they are kind enough to push the buttons for me.

Viola! The TV is on. Viola! It is tuned to Fox News. He or she pushed the same buttons I pushed. I saw it being done.

On those days, I harken back to the last century when Polly and I were building our home on Park Lake Road in East Lansing, Michigan. One of the chores with which we were tasked was to pick out the light fixtures. That involved driving to Detroit, to a large store with a vast show room.

Wandering about, I noticed a very handsome lamp. Despite close examination, I was unable to locate the on-off switch. Intrigued, I asked a saleslady how one was expected to turn it on and off. Was the switch to be located remotely? On the wall perhaps?

Oh no, said she. All you need to do is touch the base on the lamp. She reached out, touched the lamp base and Lo and Behold, the lamp went on. She touched it again and the lamp went off.

Then she invited me to try it. I did. Nothing happened.

So I asked the young lady if there was some trick. Was it necessary to press hard? Or to twist your finger on the surface of the base? Or to touch it with more than just the tip of your finger?

Your finger! Maybe that was it. Which finger did you have to use? Which hand?

None of that mattered, she insisted, giving me demonstrations to prove the point. Indeed, she insisted the lamp would respond to any touch of human skin. Your jaw. Your foot. Your elbow. Your nose.

You could, she insisted, without demonstrating, turn the lamp on or off with a kiss.

I did not contest her assertions, although I did try to turn the lamp on by using my whole hand. Actually both hands. Still, when I touched the lamp and no matter how I did it, nothing happened.

About this time the sales lady caught the eye of the manager and waved him over. “ What seems to be the problem here?” he asked. I think they learn that line in Biz Ad 101.

“I doesn’t work,” said I. He laughed, and touched the base of the lamp. It went on. He touched it again and it went of. He invited me to touch it. I did. Nothing happened.

We picked out our fixtures for the new house. Thankfully, they would all operate from wall switches. But that was the day I learned that I have an inherently, perhaps hereditary, hostile relationship with electricity and electronics.

You can well imagine the confrontations that disability triggers whenever I light up the Mac Book Pro. All I can do is hunt, peck and pray. 

My good friend Chuck Donnelly, the house-calling computer expert, can testify to my frequent frustrations, even when insulated by a keyboard and a mouse.

He has advised me against getting a touch-screen device.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

E PLURIBUS DUO


The women’s march on Washington, with its pink hats and explanatory signage marks a strange and scary development in American politics.

It used to be that Americans were divided between Republicans and Democrats. Or between liberals and conservatives. Or between black and white. Or between young and old. Rich or poor.

In the 1972 movie, “The Candidate” there is a scene in which Robert Redford, weary of repetitious speech making, bursts into a litany of the opposing groups he asks to vote for him. It is truly hilarious.

But pink politics is something new. By dividing the electorate between males and females, it seems that the marchers are demanding that our national sovereignty must be controlled by the female sex.

Admittedly, males have dominated the profession of governance for as long
as history is recorded. It is still true that the vast majority of elected officials in the United States are men.

The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, almost a century ago. In that time, women have asserted themselves at the ballot box and in every facet of society. Many laws which were written to protect women have been scrapped. The so-called glass ceiling has been shattered in the professions, in business, in education and indeed in government.

Socially, the women’s liberation movement, often called feminism, has had a tsunami influence on American culture. Griswold v Connecticut, a U. S. Supreme Court case decided in 1965, declared anti-contraception laws unconstitutional. That was one of the first feminist victories.

As pregnancy became more of an option than the anticipated result of mating, both males and females found themselves ‘liberated’ from the consequence of sexual activity. Women were free to choose a full time business or professional career outside of the home. Men were relieved of responsibility for pregnancy.

The statistics show how the American family has changed through the years.
When Polly and I were married in 1951 there were about 11 marriages and 2.5 divorces for every 1,000 Americans. Today, those numbers are roughly 6.0 and 3.0.

So about half as many people get married, and the divorce rate is higher. The statistics don’t tell the whole story. Marriage has become optional. Men and women pair up and simply live together. Back in our day, that was frowned upon. Now it is just a ‘significant other.’ For many, ‘going together’ is a revolving door. Nobody keeps statistics on all the moving in and moving out that goes on in our cities.

The birth rate reflects the sexual revolution. Like most European countries, the birth rate in the United States is less than the 2.1 required to maintain the population. Only the immigration of people from Mexico has kept our population growing.

The feminist revolution has had deep cultural overtones. Hormonal differences between males and females dictate attitudes, tendencies and preferences, all of which are related to the reproductive role nature has assigned to the sexes.

Because the good Lord has given all human beings free will, we are capable of learning to act as we wish. Despite natural instincts, women can become professional wrestlers and men can learn the profession of manicuring.

The push toward eliminating the differences between sexes, fueled by the mantra of political correctness has given us gay marriage for both sexes, a demand for universal public toilets, and now, a political movement defined by genitalia.

Admittedly, Donald J. Trump is a throw back. But he is not a misogynist. He does not hate women. Quite the contrary, he loves women. Married three of them and bought himself a beauty contest. Hired one to be his campaign manager. If anything, Trump is a sucker for female pulchritude.

There will be a woman President in the United States some day. That is a given which no one denies. I sincerely hope that the day after her inauguration there will not be a mass protest in Washington D.C. attended by men wearing stove pipe phallic symbols on their heads.