Sunday, March 27, 2011

Save My Marriage, Vote For Obama

Recently, to explain his infidelity and the failure of two previous marriages, Newt Gingrich basically said that his patriotism and love for this country caused him to work too hard for his country and not hard enough at maintaining his marriages.

What a novel explanation. What he is basically saying is, I'm so patriotic I was willing to sacrifice my marriages for the good of the country.

If Newt should win the Republican presidential nomination for 2012, do you think the current Mrs. Gingrich will vote for Newt or vote for President Obama and possibly save her marriage?

Chameleon Gingrich

Newt Gingrich has been making conflicting statements about Libya. He was emphatically for a no-fly zone before President Obama decided to support the UN resolution. Once President Obama expressed support for a non-fly zone, Newt was suddenly emphatically against it.

The argument's he uses to defend his flip-flop are tortuous. It is obvious his opinions are purely driven by a simple logic - I don't agree with Obama. A tactic he fully developed years ago when it was - I don't agree with Clinton. He should change his name from Newt to Chameleon. His opinions quickly change to match the current Republican political landscape.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Japan: 50Hz and 60Hz

I heard that Japan has lost 20% of its electrical generating capacity. This would be devastating in any country, but it is even worse in Japan. In the U.S., the electricity in our homes is standardized at 60Hz AC. That is, the polarity of the electricity alternates 60 times every second.

In Japan they use two different systems. In the south/west they use 60Hz. In the north/east (where the failed reactors are located) they use 50Hz. While 60Hz can be converted to 50Hz, Japan has a limited capacity to do this. So surplus energy in the south/west cannot easily be diverted to the north/east.

I've heard predictions that it will be months, possibly years, before full power is restored to Japan. It is sad that such bad public policy will make Japan's disaster even more painful.

There are some lessons to be learned from Japan's disaster that may be very important for the U.S.. There may be some things we should be doing right now to prevent large scale, long term power failures in the United States.

More later.

You didn't know that Japan has such an irrational power system? You aren't listening to National Public Radio! NPR is a national treasure. Don't let politicians damage it.

Why Libya?

I must admit that I wasn't watching the run-up to what seems to be a U.S. led military action against Libya. I think this was partly because the no-fly zone was being pushed by Great Britain and France. The U.S. seemed to be much less interested. China and Russia seemed ready to block any action in the UN. I thought enforcement of a no-fly zone, if it happened, would be led and possibly staffed primarily by other countries. I was surprised when the UN authorized the no fly zone and the U.S. took the lead.

I don't believe it is in the best interests of the U.S. to be participating in such a significant way in Libya. I'm surprised President Obama has allowed us to be drawn in and took the initial lead. I'm disappointed that he hasn't done a better job of explaining why he took these actions and I don't see indications that a successful outcome is likely.

I've always scoffed when opponents of military actions insist about a prediction of how it will end before we start. That's impossible. It is also a political stunt for opponents to insist on some clear statement of exactly why we shouldn't intervene in Bahrain or Syria since we have attacked Libya. Every situation is different.

It would be nice to hear the principles that guided President Obama's decision. I think they've given some: humanitarian support, the Libyan government was threatening mass reprisals against citizens, a chance to get rid of dictator who has caused problems around the world, there was support for action from other governments in the region, there was significant internal dissent and armed resistance, there was military assistance offered by other countries from within the region and outside, international bodies supported intervention and it was militarily feasible with acceptable risks.

I would like to hear, and probably won't, that the analysis for success is high, that there are groups and institutions in Libya ready to form a civil society, that whatever government comes after military success has a reasonable chance to be much better than the current government, that there is a chance for some form of democracy, that human rights and living conditions in the country will eventually improve and that the country will not be destabilizing in the region.

And, why is it in our national interests to remove Khadafi?

I think the President could have done a better job keeping us informed, but the fact is, he has made a decision and he will be responsible for the consequences.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Don't Listen

This morning Fox News Sunday had an interview with Margie Phelps, a member of and attorney for the Westboro Baptist Church. This is the small group that stages those obnoxious demonstrations near the funerals of American service men and women killed in action.

She recently won a Supreme Court case that affirmed the First Amendment rights of the Westboro Baptist Church to express opinions that most people find to be disgusting.

I agree with the Supreme Court, but Ms. Phelps has given us the antidote to her groups hateful speech. She said that the Supreme Court put a megaphone to the mouth of her tiny church. She is wrong. They didn't do that. They only said that governments could not silence them. Her group has a megaphone only if the news media gives them coverage and we listen.

The answer is to not give these people the attention they crave. They are irrational and delusional. Reason is not going to change them and attention only reinforces their delusions. If no one listens, if no one stages counter protests, if we all change the channel when they are given news coverage, then news organizations will stop covering them . This won't mute their hate or cure their ignorance or diminish their delusional view that they speak for God. They just go back to being a nameless group of kooks no one pays any attention to.

The beauty of our system is that our Constitution prevents governments from deciding which speech should be heard and which should be suppressed. It leaves it to people to listen or not listen and make our own decisions.

I've heard what the members of the Westboro Baptist Church believe and totally reject those ideas. From now on I choose not to listen.