Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welcome To the Club

By: Annoyed With Things

It is a day I need to ponder the strangeness of the universe when I find myself in agreement with Spike Lee.  Now I like his movies and consider them entertaining and provocative.  I like that he likes the Knicks – my dad’s team.  The admiration pretty much stops right there.  One of the things I don’t like about Spike Lee and many other supposed voices in the black community is that I am tired of being called a racist just because I don’t agree with a particular political position or I don’t believe in a vast racist conspiracy trying to keep people down.

One of the very best things about the military is that, in my experience anyway, personnel actions – opportunities, promotions, schooling, etc., are primarily based on merit.  If you work harder, study more and go the extra mile, you will be promoted through the ranks faster than your peers and will be offered opportunities not offered to others.  I served under commanding officers and supervisors of every color, male and female.  Some were good, some were great and some just horrible but it had nothing to do with what they looked like or what part of the country they were from.

Now back to my comments.  I am not a racist.  I believe people should be held accountable for their actions.  Opportunities should be based on hard work and merit – but luck impacts us all.  We all have good days and bad days.  So I am glad to finally see that Spike Lee can admit at least some of the people disappointed in President Obama might not be racists (article here).  Can you believe the arrogance and inflexibility inherent in that concept?  To finally admit that people might be motivated by something more than the President’s race as if that was the thing that was driving opposition to his positions in the first place.  Perhaps we are not all racists; perhaps just a bit more than 50% of the voters don’t like the direction the country is going and just do not like the President’s agenda. 

I hope this is the first sign of progress – Spike Lee admitting the possibility that some people who are against President Obama’s vision of America might not be motivated by race but rather by self-interest or a simple difference of opinion.  Welcome to the club, most of us have been saying that all along.  Not all issues are so black and white.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Should the President Care If We Don’t?

By Annoyed With Things

I am not an Obama Basher per se.  I don’t like most of his politics and I think he is mostly an empty suit when it comes to being hawkish with American foreign policy, but I don’t hate him.  Essentially, unless there are blips in the news or he does something particularly annoying, I don’t pay much attention to him at all.  So today when I realized he, as the sitting Commander in Chief of our armed forces, was not in any way, commemorating the anniversary today, June 6th (article on schedule here), I was all set to open fire and let him have it with both metaphoric barrels.  But then I realized that no one seemed to be commemorating the day’s events outside of the military and its veterans, how incredibly sad.  Why Should the President care if the country doesn’t?

I am sure it will get a brief mention on tonight’s news.  They will have some stock footage from the day’s events so long ago, and the obligatory footage of someone laying a wreath at a memorial with TAPS heard in the background, and that will be it, on to the next thing. 

I am not going to tell you what happened on this date, go look it up for yourself and shame on you if you don’t already know.  If you are in the military or you are a veteran you know.  Today across the globe, at every unit large and small, in every service, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, some unit commander or senior enlisted leader will step forward before their comrades in arms and ask them to bow their heads for a moment of silence and remembrance.  Because we swore to never forget, even if everyone else does.  The You Tube video below is probably the best commemoration speech for this event that there ever will be.  Watch it and try not to weep.  If today’s events are going by the boards in just 68 years, after we swore to never forget, I wonder how long a shelf life September 11th will have. – unless of course you’re a military, police, fire or EMS family, then you think about it every day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Honor Them for They Are Us

By Annoyed With Things

I am way beyond annoyed this time.  Why are some people so afraid to honor and respect our servicemen and women - both living and who have died in the service of our country?  There were several incidents over this weekend of remembrance – it’s called Memorial Day for a reason, where people were disrespectful, disruptive or just “uncomfortable” calling our war dead heroes. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What if it Were Your Family

By: Annoyed With Things

Just how dense can the so called smartest people on the country actually be?  Of course I am talking about the morons participating in Harvard’s Class of 1962 reunion who not only failed to vigorously condemn one of their own, convicted murderer and anti-technology terrorist Ted Kaczynski, but actually snidely characterized his recent updates in the class directory as humorous.  (See article here)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stick to Your Guns

I am going to stand up for a union leader and then tell you why.  I can’t stand when people or organizations get involved in some form of public forum and then are not willing to stand up and acknowledge their position or actions without being apologetic after the fact.  Case in point, ABC news is reporting (here) that Donna Dewitt, the outgoing president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, whacked (with some vigor apparently) a piñata with the face of Nikki Haley, the South Carolina Governor and staunch anti-unionist, blazoned across it.  A few of Haley’s publicly stated anti-union sentiments were printed across the bottom, so obviously this was not a personal threat or attack but a political statement.  Provocative, yes, but burning political leaders in effigy, for example, is a long standing form of political dissent – though I imagine these days you would be arrested for not having burn permit, but I digress.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Bloom is Off the Rose – Finally!

By: Annoyed With Things

I consider myself a reasonably well informed citizen, you know, the kind of citizen our founding fathers expected people to be – literate, basically educated (I can read a newspaper and make change for a dollar without too much trouble), aware of some political things but not everything – mostly those things that affect me or the big things that affect the country.  In today’s age being an informed citizen almost invariably means that you have to use “the media” to get your news, and like most people, I skim a web site here and there, watch the local news as I grab my coffee and head out the door in the morning, maybe I listen to a news talk show in my car as I commute way too many hours a day. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Fatal Flaw

By: Annoyed With Things

When I was in high school, I can remember my English teacher talking about character development and how some characters had a fatal flaw - a kind of innate weakness that would always hold them back or in some way cause them to fail in the end.  Elizabeth Warren seems to have shown us her fatal flaw – lack of personal integrity.  To wit: claiming to be a Cherokee and not actually being one; checking the “minority” box to meet others like her and then not participating once in any cultural event; contribution of numerous recipes in the development of a “Native American” cookbook called Pow Wow Chow when Cherokees did not have powwows, way to support authentic Cherokee heritage; and now finally, it is strongly suspected that the ridiculously non-Cherokee recipes submitted by her were actually lifted from another chef (see article here).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spin and the Truth – Mortal Enemies

By: Annoyed By Things

I know I have been harping the Elizabeth Warren’s mistaken (demonstrably so) assertion that she is part Cherokee, but this is not really about that.  Why would anyone change or embellish details of their life history – because it might make a better story.  Or it might place them in a protected or entitled class in the perverse notion that anyone should really care where someone is from or what they look like rather than what they have accomplished.  But let’s face it, if you are trying to make yourself special or take advantage of a good deal available to only a select segment of society, why not spin things in your favor, even if they are a little loose with the facts.

Updates to a Few Things

By: Annoyed With Things

I try to keep an eye on things and to stay current.  So, periodically as new information becomes available, I will provide updates to my posts.  Today we have two such updates.

For my “Like Changing a Short” post regarding Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renouncing his hard won U.S. citizenship ostensibly to align with his work in Asian markets, well there is new info for us to think about. in now reporting (article here) that our ex-American Eduardo will save $67 million dollars in capital gains and other taxes.  That’s 60 Erectile dysfunction grants (see my “Money for This?” Post) or to put it in appreciable terms, that’s one thousand $67K modest family incomes.  So please explain to me again how this was not about the money – even a billionaire isn’t going to throw $67 million out the window when he doesn’t have to.  It all fits together too nicely to not be a primary consideration.  Hey Eduardo, put it all of this negative press to rest and donate the money to a good cause on your way out the door.  As a side note, typical of Congress’ reactionary vice proactive stance on things, they are proposing a revision to the tax code to account for these types of financially motivated moves (see story here).  Cleverly referred to as the ex-PATRIOT Act the pols are outraged at tax dodging mega-rich.  Well if we had a more reasonable tax climate for corporate profits and gains, maybe they wouldn’t need to move offshore in the first place, but that is a post for another day.

In another update to my “Speaking with Forked Tongue - False Heritage Claims Sting MA Pol” post, the Boston Globe reports in two articles on the subject (here and here) that Massachusetts Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren has a two-fold problem. According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society there are no records to substantiate her claim of Cherokee heritage.  But this did not stop her from publicly making such a claim as far back as 1984 where her recipe submissions in a faux historical “Pow Wow Chow” Cookbook were attributed to “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee.”  Aside from not being enrolled into the Cherokee Nation as other legitimate Cherokee nationals are, participation in the cookbook shows a complete lack of understanding of her supposed heritage.  Talk about perpetuating racial stereotypes, with Warren’s “high cheekbones, like all Indians have” comment and references to powwows.  The trouble is, according to Twila Barnes, a Cherokee genealogist, “Cherokees don’t even traditionally have powwows.”  Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it!  What a fraud.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Money For This?

By: Annoyed With Things

You can say I am on fire with annoyance right now!  I have a hard time accepting the whole federal stimulus concept to begin with, so imagine my outrage when I hear this one.  NBC news in San Francisco is reporting (article here) that federal stimulus money in the form of two grants to UCSF and to the tune of $1.5 million dollars, went to study erectile dysfunction in overweight middle-age men.  Seriously!?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No Such Thing as Dirty Money

By: Annoyed With Things

According to (article here), there will be a fund-raiser for President Obama in New York City tonight, hosted by Hamilton E. James.  Who is Mr. James?  He is the president of Blackstone, a large private equity fund.  Now, normally I would not care one bit about who was fund-raising for whom, but in this case the blatant hypocrisy is beyond the pale. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Heavy at the Top

By Annoyed With Things

I am only commenting on this story because it dovetails with my Air Traffic Controller post “Union Culture Run Amok” and helps to illustrate my contention that unions in general are in need of a major overhaul.  In today’s story (, which looks at the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (the IBB), we will see the huge disparity between the union leadership and the rank and file, blatant nepotism and outright fraud.
Some generalizations first -  The basic union mythology goes something like this: management is made up of blood-sucking morally bankrupt greedy capitalist trying to squeeze the last ounce of productivity from the oppressed worker.  Union leaders are the crusaders of the fair deal and the tireless protectors of workers’ rights.  They have the rank and files’ best interest at heart because they are one of them, people of the people.  In broad strokes, it can also be said that many large national trade unions tend to align with and support politicians who are sympathetic to the workers cause.  Look at the teachers union, teamsters and many other large unions and you can see this is generally true through endorsements and donations. 
Ok now let’s start looking at the reality.  According to the article, the Boilermakers union president is a guy named Newton B. Jones; he makes $607,000 some odd dollars in total compensation (plus what gets expensed).  He got the job from his father, Charles W. Jones in 2003 and his brother, sister, son and other relatives all work for the union in some capacity and are making very good salaries..  There were hunting trips, executive jets, lavish “business and networking” trips.  And this is just one family involved with leadership in the IBB.  The Creeden family also seems to be on the inside with several members also working for the union to the tune of $624,000.
So here is my point and major annoyance for today.  What a bunch of hypocrites!  If this was a private company’s CEO the unions would be screaming bloody murder.  I’m not saying some CEOs don’t live lavish life-styles, but they are involved in the business of making money, the unions are supposedly in the business of watching out for their members.  Add to the, shall we say robust executive compensation the fact that these union executives aggregate enormous political power and leverage over our political system through endorsements and donations, and I begin to start wondering who is working for whom.
In the old days, unions were the protectors of the worker and business owners and management were out to make as much money as possible, even at the expense of the workers.  However, we have come a long way from the days of sweatshop labor and railroad work gangs.  There is so much federal regulation at the workplace that companies need full time employees just to ensure compliance.  So tell me again why we need unions with bloated overheads and political activist leaders.  The article also points out that there have been grumblings from the rank and file but it has to be anonymous for fear of retribution.  Now that’s an organization looking out for the welfare of the little guy.  What a bunch of hogwash.  The union system in this country needs a complete overhaul if they want to stay relevant.  Ignore these grumblings and the growing tide of anti-union sentiment and one day the unions will go the way of the horse and buggy – a quaint “olde tyme” anachronism that when seen in today’s modern world makes us all smile and long for the good old days.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Union Culture Run Amok

By Annoyed With Things

This is not an anti-union rant.  I have career teamsters in my family and I wholeheartedly support organizations like the police and fire service unions.  But some unions, or at least some locals hiding behind national union rules, have lost their way and are developing a culture of complacency and fear at the expense of public safety, and that annoys me to no end! is reporting on a regional Air Traffic control center in NY where the union air traffic controllers have completely turned the tables on management and seemingly have been doing it for a long time (  By turn the tables, I mean sleeping on the job, failing to follow FAA procedure, using personal electronics instead of watching the radar scope; all while planes are in the air.  All of this is bad enough when you consider the potential cost of their lackadaisical attitude toward their job – keeping the flying public safe.  But that by itself is not what I want to focus on.  I spent a career in the military, so I know a lot about long, boring and uneventful watches.  And, its not like we never goofed off a little when nothing was going on. 
The fundamental difference between my goofing off and the controllers goofing off is what happened next.  In my case, I was either very informally corrected by a peer who might have said something like, “hey, dumbass get your head out of your butt and pay attention,” or words to that effect.  I also always ran the risk of getting caught by my boss and them the correction was a bit sharper.  If I was fooling around, I was disciplined (usually at a very low level but I got the message), If I made a mistake, I was corrected and provided a training refresher (again low level).  And, if I really screwed up or blatantly disregarded my duties (which I never did), I would have had my qualifications pulled and been in real trouble.  Not so in Ronkonkoma.
At ZNY or New York Center, responsible for one of the busiest air traffic corridors in the world, there was a lacks culture of essentially phoning it in during the slow time.  Which by the way leads to poor performance or deviation from standards during the busy times as noted during the FAA investigation.  Bad enough, but management, the people who are supposed to enforce the standards and ensure overall quality of work, were at best apathetic themselves or at worst intimidated and fearful for their personal safety.  Why, because there was a systemic culture of invulnerability by the union workforce, a “you can’t do nothing to me” attitude.  Over time, this seems to have morphed into a classic hostile workplace situation, with hazing, vandalism, intimidation and retribution the name of the game.  Go along to get along. 
So what does this really have to do with unions?  Where was the shop steward?  Why didn’t the union police itself?  From the article:
“We are concerned when we hear about rare examples that deviate from the high standards we set for ourselves and are determined to work with the FAA to correct any such issues,” Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said in an e-mailed statement today. Safety is the top priority of the union, which represents about 15,000 controllers, and it’s working with the FAA to improve professional standards, Rinaldi said in the statement.“ NATCA condemns any behavior in the control facility that undermines that goal,” he said”
  – oh really.  So we are to believe the union leadership didn’t know anything about these ongoing problems.  Yet is seems everyone else know New York Center had a reputation.  It finally took the FAA to step in, after numerous complaints I might add – so no gold star for the FAA either, to lop off a few heads and clean house.

  It is the apparent unwillingness of unions to police their own that contribute to the bad rap unions get in general.  One of the hardest people to fire is a union civilian worker at a military command, even if they are incompetent, lazy or unsafe.  Short of someone getting killed, it takes about a year of reviews, retraining, opportunities to perform, mentoring and a ton of paperwork to can someone from a civilian federal union job.  So if the official system is hard, where is the informal system of checks and balances provided by the union itself like in my military story above?  Where are the mid-level union leaders who are supposed to care so much?  And it’s not just the air traffic controllers, try and get rid of a bad teacher.

Look, I think unions do serve some good purpose, but they are slitting their own collective throats if they don’t apply some reasonable standards of professional ethics to themselves.  Unions leaders across the country should us this example as an opportunity to conduct a self-review and tighten things up a bit, or run the risk of external review and much more drastic action by regulators.  Think of New York Center next time you take the red-eye back east.  Perhaps it is wiser to take the train, I don’t think that guy is asleep at the switch.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Like Changing Your Shirt

By: Annoyed With Things

I don’t know if I am madder at Eduardo Saverin, billionaire co-founder of Facebook, for renouncing his U.S. citizenship; or all of the politicians who just can’t get their act together enough to reform our overly complex and capital stifling tax code.  We all know Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship for more than one reason, just like we all do things.  But let’s face it, the tax implications certainly didn’t complicate his decision making.  My understanding is that he will pay the equivalent tax as if he sold the stock, but at what value, the IPO price or the market price when it tops out? Aside from just making a lot of money, for which I don’t fault him at all, there is a larger issue here.  The issue and my primary annoyance is the ease with which it seems anyone can renounce their U.S. citizenship.  
The Oath of Allegiance he took to obtain his U.S. citizenship, you know, when he was enjoying the all the freedoms and guarantees provided for under our Constitution and making billions of dollars (sorry , it's hard to not be just a little bitter), is a rather sobering thing not entered into lightly.  The actual oath is as follows:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

What infuriates me is how seemingly difficult it is to obtain U.S. citizenship legally that someone would just decide they have moved on and give it away, like deciding to change their shirt.  Now don’t get me wrong, Saverin has a compelling story for becoming a citizen (see his Wikipedia page) and came here with his family seeking a safer life – the classic immigrant story.  The only reason I would ever conceivably renounce my citizenship would be to save my family as well.   But to give it up just to live elsewhere after you swore to support and defend the Constitution, after America provided a safe refuge for your family, I just don’t understand.  There are plenty of expatriate communities of all types around the world and I think this guy knows how to use the internet to live “globally”, so now tell me it wasn’t the taxes.

I Wish I Could Forget

By Annoyed With Things
Like many of us across America, I wake up and go about my morning routine.  Despite the many things that annoy me, I am cheerful as I think about what I have to do today.  At least for a few seconds, then I remember, like so many of us, I am struggling with a mortgage, have recurring medical bills and have to generally keep the family afloat financially.  So you can imagine my extreme annoyance to hear that the President say, “Sometimes I forget.”  When referring to the magnitude of the recession.  I don’t want someone who can forget.  I want a leader who is working on this problem every day, with every fiber of their being.  I also want to see some leadership in Congress on cost cutting and actually passing a budget but that is another story.
What irks me the most is that President Obama thinks WE forget the impact of the recession.  I don’t forget and I imagine you don’t either.  These comments are similar to so many others about a range of topics that tell me Obama just doesn’t get it.  He is out of touch.  I understand how a President can become insulated, but I expect at least some acknowledgement of my ongoing problems not a constant look back blaming the last administration.  He was trying to be one of the People by saying he sometimes forgets, to empathize with us, to remind us of how bad it was.  You know, when he took over from George Bush.  Well three and a half years in, I think we can forget about George Bush for a while and focus on who bad things are now. 

He spent much of the remainder of the speech trashing Mitt Romney, which I expect and can accept; it was a campaign speech after all.  He spent time touting his achievements and providing vague future options to continue the so called recovery.  What the President seems to also forget is that the economy is still in the tank and that his policies have not worked as well as he would like us to believe.  Ask the person on the street to name the three top domestic problems to be solved and I bet the economy will be one of them.  Perhaps it is time to put a successful CEO and business leader in the White House, someone who has actually accomplished something outside politics.  I know just the guy.
The entire text of President Obama’s speech can be found here:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Blood, New Ideas, Maybe Some Progress

By: Annoyed With Things

Is it possible to be mildly happy and annoyed at the same time?  I think it is, and let me tell you how.  I am mildly happy Senator Dick Luger (R) was beaten so handily by Richard Mourdock (R) in the Indiana Senatorial Republican Primary.  Not because I have any particular issues with soon to be retired Sen. Luger, but rather because I don’t think our founding fathers expected our elected officials to hang around so long.  This would have been Luger’s seventh term – when is enough, enough?
The current system of power within Congress is based a bit on popularity (you do have to get voted into leadership positions) and a lot on seniority.  Committee Chairmanships, where the legislative agenda truly gets set, is based on party loyalty and seniority.  The two go hand in hand because over time, as you develop seniority, you will have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate party loyalty with your voting record.  So everyone along the line from constituents, through the party machinery, to the incumbents themselves all seem to have a vested interest in building a Congressional brand.  For these very same reasons, it seems almost impossible to get a vote across party lines.  The result being that we the People get stuck with a self-supporting system biased towards incumbents party ideology rather than reasonable compromise and forward progress.  We all know it is incredibly hard to oust an incumbent who can keep their pants on or isn’t stuffing money in their bra.  (Google Diane Wilkerson if you don’t know what I’m talking about with the bra reference)

One of the best lines in the 2010 special Senatorial election in Massachusetts came from Scott Brown (R) when the Democratic candidates (and the moderator of a televised debate) referred to the open seat as the “Kennedy Seat” inferring it belonged to the Democratic majority in Massachusetts.  Brown shot back that it was the People’s seat and got a lot of coverage and I imagine a few votes that night.  My point being that career politicians become so entrenched in the system that they become nearly impossible to beat and even become part of the local lexicon.  If you say the words “Lion of the Senate” anywhere in New England, people will know you mean Ted Kennedy.  Look at Barney Frank, another long serving Democrat in Congress from Massachusetts.  He was voted into office in 1980 and hasn’t left since - shame on the electorate for not wanting new blood every once in a while and making it so hard for a challenger to win.
And before people smarmily point out the Scott Brown is a career politician, let me point out that he also served in the Army National Guard for over 30 years rising to the rank of Colonel – no easy task.  I was an active duty person, but I had plenty of Guard and Reserve friends who had to manage what were essentially two full time careers.  And if you don’t think serving in the National Guard or Reserve is like a full time job – go try it.  I’m sure there is a recruiting office near you.  Additionally, if you think Elizabeth Warren, Brown’s current Democrat challenger for the Kennedy Seat, is not an insider you are fooling yourself.  She is the worst kind of political insider, an academic political appointee (teaches at Harvard Law – not exactly free of the taint from the Democratic Party machine, Chairwoman of the TRAP panel, Special assistant to the President for creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).  You don’t get these level appointments by just being good, you also have to be in the game for a long time.

So my annoyance is that the system seems to be set up to resist the infusion of new people into national elected office.  I want concerned citizens, not career professional politicians representing my interests in Congress.  I want people who have done something other than politics to represent me.  I want someone who has run a business, served in the military or was outstanding in some other profession.  This is not just a Massachusetts issue.  Take a look at Nevada’s 1st Congressional District.  It is shaping up to be Dina Titus (D), a career politician with almost twenty years of national and state level political history; against Chris Edwards (R), a former Naval Officer, public administrator and homeland security consultant.  Now Ms. Titus has done many years of teaching at UNLV while she held state office in Nevada, but she taught American and Nevada government – not exactly a stretch for a career politician.  I know, I taught at the graduate level and I can tell you from firsthand experience it is not a huge lift to teach something you are already intimately familiar with.  
So the question is; if you had their resume without party affiliation, who would you be more likely to pick, someone inside the system or outside the system?  Give me the military person every time!
Editorial note:  I thought inserting this many references into the text would be disruptive.  All of my assertions about specific people are supported by the information on these pages.

Not FOR You but WITH You

By Annoyed With Things

The annoyance meter is pegged today for something that most people would not even comment on because it sounds right, but is at its core wrong.  President Obama gave an interview to ABC News regarding his position on gay marriage (, but my annoyance is not about that.  Here is the text of what he said, in part.  See if you can find the belief he espouses that annoys me.

"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,"

Did you catch it?  The military doesn’t fight  “on my behalf” as in personally for the President, it fights, works and grinds things out day after day, year after year for the people of America, for the Constitution, for their buddies.  They fight at the direction of the President not for him.  History has taught us that power should reside with the position not the individual.  While there were many reasons the Roman Republic failed and turned into an Empire after hundreds of years of relative stability, primary among them was because troops became loyal to specific generals and those generals thought of themselves before the Republic.  I am not equating the President with Roman generals, but I am highlighting the pitfall of believing the troops are somehow committed to the person of the President rather than the position.

This small, innocuous comment shows the real beliefs of the President; he thinks it’s about him when really it’s about the objective.  As Commander in Chief, he is part of the team.  If he had said the military was fighting on behalf of the American people or on behalf of all of us, I would not have a problem.  My annoyance is that he said on “my behalf” but earlier this month it was reported that he crafted his directions to Admiral McRaven, the operational commander for the Osama bin Laden raid, to give the himself an out if the operation failed.  You can’t have it both ways.  If they are working on your behalf, you own the outcome. 

This President continually claims credit for the successes and casts aspersions on others for the mistakes.  Speaking of mistakes, I hope he doesn’t make as many as he indicated in the interview, that alone would be grounds for voting for someone else!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It’s Called Law Enforcement for a Reason

By Annoyed With Things

 ABC News is reporting that the Justice Department intends to file a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his department for alleged racial profiling and other civil rights violations.  (  This annoys me because I think the Justice Department has better things to be doing like putting some effort into the backlog of pending ICE deportation cases that need Justice Department review. 

Is Sheriff Joe irascible? Yes.  Is he tough? Yes.  Is he putting the concerns of actual citizens of Maricopa County ahead of those there illegally?  Yes.  Is he taking into account his experience as a law enforcement official with regard who is suspect and who is not? Yes.  All of these affirmative answers do not equate to a civil rights violation.  They equate to aggressive enforcement of the laws already on the books and accountability for people who want a free pass while violating our immigration laws.

Say I was walking my dog in an area known to be a hangout for criminal dog walkers and a police officer rolled up and asked me for my identification – why me – well because I was walking a dog in a known criminal dog walking area and the police have an affirmative obligation to ensure compliance with applicable laws. 

Scenario 1: I could produce a license, credit cards, even a library card with my real name and actual address.  The officer legally detains me while conducting an investigation.  I come up clean and with everything matching, all of which can be done from the patrol car these days.  With no suspicion of committing a crime, the officer hands my license back and says to be careful and have a nice day. 

Scenario 2:  I refuse to show my license or identify myself and sternly demand to know who the heck the officer thinks they are to stop me on a public street.  In Arizona, which has a “Stop and Identify” law ( that requires a person to provide their “true full name”, I could be arrested on the spot.  Faced with this possibility I decide to give “Jonny Law” my name – which comes back clean and directly associated with a singular address.  If not suspected of a crime, I am free to go.

Scenario 3:  I am here illegally and have no documentation and I am using an assumed name.  The officer stops me for walking my dog in known criminal dog walking area, if in Arizona and I refuse to provide a name – I go to jail.  If I give a name that does not match up cleanly with anything in the data base (pssst – because it is not a real name) I will be detained during further investigation.  When my story completely falls apart my immigration status falls into question and off we go to jail.

If you can’t see the fundamental difference between these three scenarios, you are not being intellectually honest.  In all cases I was approached and asked to identify myself because I was in high crime area legally conducting my business but engaging in an activity that could be deemed suspicious because of the very location I was doing it in.  The result of the interaction was totally on me and ranged from a quick check and thank you to me with my hands behind my back in the patrol car.

So now let’s jump to Maricopa County and say I am originally of Mexican descent.  The criminal dog walking area now becomes the few blocks around the Home Depot parking lot known to be a place where illegal immigrant work crews congregate to be picked up for the day’s work.  Dressed in my work clothes and carrying a small cooler, I could be approaching the corner where my buddy is going to pick me up to give me a ride to the job site.  Or I could reasonably be suspected of being an illegal worker approaching the corner where my buddy is going to pick me up to give me a ride to the job site.  Why reasonably – location: a known pick up point for illegal construction crews, appearance: dressed like a worker and yes Hispanic.  

Granted, if I was all a tall, blond, fair skinned person of Norwegian extraction, I would probably not be stopped near the Home Depot.  Is that racist or just the natural outcome of not having an immigration problem with Norway and having one with Mexico?

As far as conditions at the jail go, nobody said it was going to be a picnic.  The goal is to make it miserable while just meeting minimum Constitutional requirements.  Guess what, you don’t like the jail, don’t come back when released.  I am so tired of the “oppressed criminal” crying foul when a tough sheriff holds them accountable for rigidly following the rules.

I am annoyed because the pending suit is clearly an excuse for retaliation because of Sheriff Arpaio’s investigation into irregularities with President Obama’s long form birth certificate and a way for the President to pander to the Hispanic base.  For the record, practical issues with documentation aside, I think President Obama is a U.S. citizen and was duly elected.  What I will not let go by without comment is the systematic undermining of the ICE deportation process, tough enforcement of immigration laws and the focused attack on tough sheriffs like Joe Arpaio.

Speaking with Forked Tongue - False Heritage Claims Sting MA Pol

By: Annoyed With Things

09 May, 2012

In Massachusetts there is an interesting Senate race shaping up.  Elizabeth Warren (D) is running against Scott Brown (R), the incumbent.  Mr. Brown won his seat by special election after Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) passed away.  As the current race progressed, it looked like it would shape up to be a typical Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative affair.  Actually, I would peg Brown as a moderate Republican, but the race is not what annoys me.

What annoys me is the fact that Elizabeth Warren, who comes across to me as an elitist, limousine liberal, extremely rich but pandering to the masses as if she can feel their pain; identified herself as a Native American during the employment review process at Harvard Law school, but clearly is not.  Vigorous investigative reporting has failed to show any clear Native American ancestry and in fact clear documentary evidence indicates a strong likelihood that Elizabeth Warren’s forbearers were not only of European descent but were involved with the Tennessee Militia which forcibly moved the Cherokee people from Tennessee and gave us the Trail of Tears ( 

So we have an organization, Harvard Law School, looking to improve its diversity numbers and we have an employee candidate who has checked the Native American box on the form.  With no apparent due diligence and without a quam of anxiety for making a very weak at best (though I believe it was outright lie) heritage claim, both parties walked away happy, nothing to see here.  The Diversity Gods have been served and our numbers look good.

While I am philosophically against the very notion of affirmative action and would rather decisions on hiring, school acceptance, grants, etc., were based on merit and life experience, I will give Harvard a pass for asking ethnic origin because their colonial era charter ( actually focuses on “English and Indian youths” indicating they have a vested interest in Native American students and by extension faculty.  What I can’t stand and what annoys me to no end, aside from having this diversity based system to begin with; is someone clearly gaming the system to make themselves more appealing as a hire.  Hey, if Elizabeth Warren was of Native American ancestry and was active in the Native American community all of her life (or had actual documentation) or had been active in any meaningful way in the past, then this would not be a story even if she couldn’t “prove” her ancestry.  But the opposite is true; she made this claim to enjoy the perceived benefits of being a so called minority professor and in no other way participated in the cultural heritage of the Native American community – which by the way is active and thriving at Harvard.  

So why should I be annoyed.  Let me tell you.  It is because unscrupulous people like Warren stretch, bend, game and break the system to get ahead when I don’t believe there should be a system in the first place.  If she is qualified for the job at Harvard, and apparently she is, then there should be no need to identify your ethnicity.  Aside from my railing at the system, this incident highlights a fundamental flaw in Elizabeth Warren’s character.  She claims Native American heritage, but when faced with documentary evidence to the contrary, rather than simply admitting she was wrong, she is willing to perpetuate and even defend this myth of Native American heritage.  I would even be willing to accept the notion and give her the benefit of the doubt that this was an innocent mistake based on what she had been told as a child by family members if she would admit it was a mistake.  Instead she deflects questions to the selection board that hired her at Harvard and chastises Scott Brown for politics as usual.  The only thing that is as usual is a liberal democrat got caught gaming the very system of preferential treatment for some that they created and now they don’t want to be called on it.  Answer this question Ms. Warren – are you now or have you ever been a Native American?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Character Always Counts or Why the Memo Matters

CharacterAlways Counts or Why the Memo Matters

By: Annoyed With Things

8 May, 2012

I am referring to the widely reported memo from then CIA Director Leon Panetta to President Obama specifying the very narrow “risk profile” to be used by Admiral McRaven, the Commander of SOCOM, during operations to “get” Osama bin Laden. My annoyance with the memo is that rather than taking the burden of command as Commander in Chief and accepting responsibility for any outcome of the operation, it pre-emptively gives President Obama some wiggle room to deflect responsibility if things go badly. In other words, if things don’t go exactly as briefed Admiral McRaven (the operational commander) during the real time execution of this incredibly complex and dangerous operation, you are to check back with the President for further instruction. How incredibly unrealistic and risk averse is that restriction?

Assuming that the ambiguous direction to “get” OBL was previously defined or at least understood to mean capture or kill him, the memo essentially places all of the responsibility, the “…timing,operational decision making and control…” literally in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The scapegoat would have been McRaven, but the hero of the day is President Obama for having the fortitude to pull the trigger on the operation. Why not have a press conference and not mention yourself at all, express your deep admiration and gratitude to the finest military in the world and leave it at that. Way to step up and cover for your troops, give the commander the authority to run and execute the operation while having an out on hot stand-by to say McRaven deviated from the specific risk profile.

By comparison, Eisenhower, who took personal responsibility for any eventual outcome for the Normandy Invasion, and did so in advance of the outcome and in the most personal of terms. His memo, the text of which is provided below, clearly states that the troops did all they could but the failure was his alone. He was the supreme commander of all allied forces in Europe and the functional multi-national equivalent to our Commander in Chief. You could also add that a lot more people were at risk.

So why is the contrast important? It isimportant because it has to do with a fundamental personality trait –leadership. I was happily surprised when President Obama authorized the use of deadly force to take out the Somali Pirates. As an American, I was proud of my President when I heard about the operation to “get” OBL and I was thankful the operation was executed so well – No Desert One disasters. Frankly, I didn’t think President Obama had the stomach for such decisive action. Despite our fundamental disagreement on domestic policy and the role of government, I was beginning to revise my opinion of our Commander in Chief. Then I heard about the craven “McRaven memo” and all of my disappointments fell back into place. He just couldn’t do it without a safety net and for that he will always be a second tier President. My annoyance remains.

(Editorial note: I don’t know if President Obama personally authorized the use of deadly force against the Somali pirates in the Maersk Alabama/Capt. Phillips rescue, but by extension he is ultimately responsible for the Rules of Engagement, and I can’t believe he wasn’t briefed on the possibility.)

Eisenhower D-Day Failure draft memo of 5 July 1944:

“Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”