Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

September 9, 2004


Filed under: Bunker's Favorites,Society-Culture — Bunker @ 5:57 am

Slatts started my morning reading off on the right foot:

So, a form of Tourette’s Syndrome for leftwing reactionaries kicks in: “Nazi”, “Racist”, “Enemy of Diversity”, they sneer, and inevitably, “Simplistic moron”, because we all know the left occupies the intellectual high ground.

What he’s talking about is the reaction in some political circles to Andrew Bolt’s article.

We need to know the depravity of what was done in Beslan because we need to understand there is now moving in the world an ideology that spurs men to commit horrors beyond even our nightmares.

Some folks simply don’t want to recognize a depraved ideology when they see it. I think it’s important to see just what happened in Beslan. Photos of body bags tell of the horror, Photos of the destroyed buildings gives some perspective.

Danielle Pletka, writing an op-ed in the New York Times, believes the difference in approach to solving our problems in the Middle East, and the final settling of discord is key in this year’s election.

Early last month, John Kerry devoted 11 days to fleshing out his foreign policy priorities. Promoting democracy in the Middle East, he made clear, will not be high on his agenda. Sadly, Mr. Kerry’s decision could not have come at a worse moment. For the first time in half a century, democracy is the talk of the Arab world

August 31, 2004

Eternity Road

Filed under: Bunker's Favorites — Bunker @ 5:33 pm

The Curmudgeon is relocating, and will pick up where Steven left off. Not completely, but in the same illuminating way as always.

Check Francis Poretto’s new site.

August 22, 2004

Can you smell the fear?

Filed under: Bunker's Favorites,Society-Culture — Bunker @ 12:26 pm

Our Constitution’s First Amendment is quite clear:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

For the last 30+ years, the liberal left has attempted to redefine it. They want the first portion to read “Separation of church and state.” They also have some problems with the “abridging the freedom of speech” portion. They are now running scared, and the panic is pretty easy to see. They have been quick to point out that people like Michael Moore and Whoopi Goldberg have a right to speak freely. Yet they do not offer the same freedom to the Swift Boat Vets. The Democratic Party embraces Moore, but tells Dubya he must condemn John O’Neill.

The world is changing before our eyes, my friends. No longer do CBS, ABC, NBC, New York Times, Newsweek, and NPR control the flow of information. And they are very afraid. FoxNews has been subject to demands for their license to be revoked. Walter Cronkite has condemned the internet as a haven for misstated facts. Individual bloggers are attacked. John Hinderaker and his crew at Power Line have taken personal hits from the local “major” media. These guys are pretty smart and up to speed on the facts. Not a smart move, in my humble opinion. They’ve have responded, but their antagonist is in hiding.

You cannot view FoxNews regularly and claim they are right-wing. The only reason you might have for doing so is by relativity. They actually employ some conservative reporters and anchors. Nobody else seems to. But they also have a wide range of perspectives represented.

Even the ones who are conservative, though, are professional enough to keep it outside their work. Brit Hume’s interview with John O’Neill was as tough as they get. He asked the questions that needed to be asked. And he didn’t let anything slide. I’d like to see Katie Couric be as demanding with someone like Michael Moore–ain’t gonna happen.

All this is having an effect. Again, Hindrocket takes the lead and points out that the Presidential race is tightening in the Battleground States.

This freedom of speech stuff is pretty good! Look at me. For a few bucks, a (very) little knowledge of HTML and CSS and PRESTO! I can publish my thoughts! The big difference here in Blogsville, though, is that if I say something that isn’t true, someone will point it out. Try that at the LA Times. The “Blogsville Gazette” kept the Trent Lott story going. It has kept the Swift Boat Vets story going–pretty non-partisan if you ask me.

I think the fear you smell belongs to those you would use the political system to control our society rather than be controlled by it. They are the leftist advocacy groups, the liberal politicians, and the mainstream media–both print and electronic. We who edit the “Blogsville Gazette” have another voice which is being heard more and more each day. And it is replacing the voices of those self-important folks who want to control our thoughts.

Lileks, of course, has a good take on it.

No magazine really reflects the world as I see it. They either magnify an interesting portion beyond its importance, or float off into irrelevance. Which is why I prefer the internet. Every day, a thousand pages. We make it. It

August 12, 2004

Racism, or something else?

Filed under: Bunker's Favorites,Society-Culture — Bunker @ 8:56 am

I believe racism is virtually non-existent in this country in the normal day-to-day activities of our lives.

Pretty bold statement, huh?

I’m just as sure people experience racism in this country. But I also believe that many experiences people have which they attribute to racism are actually something completely different. Conditioning makes them prone to the assumption that they’re being treated differently because of skin color. And it’s a condition pounded into them daily by folks who have an agenda. What people view as racism is, more times than not, based in social and cultural differences rather than racial.

What people perceive as racism is often the difference we see between liberals and conservatives. It is a question of whom you feel comfortable with, and there are many discriminators in play. For example, when I interview someone with ten body piercings and ragged clothing hanging from their body, I have no interest in associating myself with them. I won’t hire them. They are free to dress how they want. I am free to not associate myself with them. The same goes for language skills. If you can’t speak clearly in a way I can easily understand, why would I want to spend any time with you? You may be extremely intelligent and have ideas and opinions worth hearing, but I’ll never get to that point because you feel I need to adapt myself to you. Listen, if you want me to hear you, try adapting yourself to me. Any class you take on public speaking will tell you the first rule is to size up your audience and tailor your presentation to that audience.

I’m no more comfortable with Bubba Redneck than I am with someone like Snoop Dogg. I would enjoy time spent with Dubya, but not with Kerry. Brit Hume would be a welcome guest in my house, but not Pat Robertson. Jesse Jackson would do well to stay away from my door. But Al Sharpton might be an interesting visit. So would J. C. Watts.

I think that’s true for all of us, even if your particular guest list is exactly opposite mine. The charge of racism falls into place often because of these very differences. If most blacks are Democrats, they would view any discrimination they felt at the hands of Republicans as racism rather than a conflict of social perceptions and beliefs. The Democratic Party is more than happy to play on this belief.

Just because you’re black doesn’t mean you have to be a liberal. That’s racist thinking. Not all caucasians are conservative, now, are they?

August 2, 2004

Peaceful Change?

Filed under: Bunker's Favorites,International — Bunker @ 12:39 pm

I’ve had several comments in the past which draw the following conclusions: bin Laden was in Afghanistan, so we had no business going into Iraq; We have increased terrorism and the goal should be to reduce terrorism.

The most unstable area of the world right now is the Asian subcontinent. This includes India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Middle East. This area is unstable because of the disenfranchised populations and fundamentalist Islam. I don’t think there is any argument about that. And the US didn’t cause it. As a nation we’ve done some stupid things, but this one isn’t our fault. And don?t blame our support for Israel. Most of the people in these countries couldn?t find Israel on a map.

But we have to deal with it for our own security. The UN cannot, and would not even if they had the authority and power. They have neither.

Let’s go back to September 10, 2001. We have forces stationed in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, primarily to protect those two nations and preserve free trade in oil. The Saudis don’t much care for us, and the feeling is mutual. But we have the military power to protect them, and they have the largest oil reserves in the world. Kuwait is similar.

If you look at the map, where would be the most logical place to base our forces in the area? I would say that the head of the Persian Gulf is the best strategic location–Kuwait and NE Saudi Arabia. In the past we had applied diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia to end their support of radicals. Like other diplomatic efforts not backed up by power, it failed. We needed a base in the region, so we had little leverage to force any change. We need a base in that area, and we need to break the hold the Saudis have on us because we could not prosecute a war on terrorists with troops in Saudi Arabia.

middle_east_pol_2003 (333K)

Pakistan and India (not really visible in this map) have had a running conflict since Great Britain pulled out of India and Pakistan was created. In all fairness to the British, Pakistan and East Pakistan (Bangladesh) were formed to provide a home for the Muslims separate from the Hindus of India. Of course, there is always a merging of cultures in what becomes a border area, and so it is with Kashmir. India is relatively stable. Pakistan never was. Both have nukes. For the last 20 years I have believed this was where WWIII would begin. Perhaps it has.

Iraq is funding Palestinians who like to blow up Israelis. They also provide safe haven for known terrorists, and (at the minimum) turn a blind eye to terrorist training within their borders.

Syria has occupied Lebanon for two decades. They also harbor Palestinian terror organizations which have open offices in Beirut and Damascus. Syria is also home to the largest Palestinian refugee camps. They do not allow Palestinians to wander freely in the country. These are little more than internment camps which feed the animosity toward Israel.

Jordan sits in the middle. No oil. Little influence.

Dubya is elected in 2000 and takes office in 2001. Bush came into the Presidency with little interest in playing World Leader. He showed no inclination to get involved in anything other than the longest-running peace process ever–Israel and the Palestinians. He had an economy on the decline, and wanted to get his education plans in operation. He went so far as to partner with Ted Kennedy in an attempt to build bridges across the divide. Ted played nice for a week or two.

September 11 changed all that.

The Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden. No surprise. Bush sent in the troops, although not nearly as many as some folks wanted. From Day One, news broadcasts and articles whined about how we didn’t send in a large enough force. There was talk of quagmire and Vietnam and the Soviet failures in Afghanistan. Three weeks later, it was all pretty much over.

I think many Americans expected that to be the end of it all. But Bush had made it quite clear that regimes that supported terrorists were future targets. The four most prominent are Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

We pulled all our forces from Saudi Arabia. This gave us the freedom to operate as we saw fit. We offered Saddam several more chances to disclose his programs as required by the cease-fire accord from 1991, and numerous UN resolutions since. The concern was his support for terrorism might lead him to provide nasty things to the terrorist groups for use against us. And everyone was sure he had them and was willing to use them or provide them to others. Anyone who says otherwise now is lying. The time had come for a reckoning.

“But we took emphasis away from finding bin Laden, and that should be our main goal!” Congratulations. You think just as Saddam did. Surprise!

Osama bin Laden is now a non-entity. He is probably already dead. If not, his publicized death or capture would simply provide his followers with a martyr or subject of kidnappings and murders to gain his release. Whether we ever get him or not is irrelevant in the larger picture. Bush would certainly like to take him out, but Americans would think, once again, that this war is over if that happened.

Iraq is an ideal location for prosecuting the war on terrorists, and Saddam’s removal is a wonderful side benefit.

As Bush 41 ended conflict with Iraq in 1991, many decried our failure to put an end to Saddam at that time. I concur. Unfortunately, the stated goal, and the UN mandate, was to get Iraq forces out of Kuwait and nothing more. In fact, that very fact is one reason we were so successful. Most people, including Saddam, expected US forces to simply try to push Iraqi forces out. They didn’t expect us to sweep around behind through Iraqi territory. Even my cadets at USAFA were surprised when I told them this was how we would do it, then acclaimed me as a military genius when it happened. I wasn’t, but I could read a map.

Had Bush 41 sent troops on to Baghdad, the entire world would have reacted just as they have during this fight. We would have heard about exceeding the mandate, and unilateralism. Nobody else, especially the Saudis, wanted Saddam deposed. They just wanted him spanked. People today who say we need UN approval are many of the same folks who thought we should have taken out Saddam at the time. Right now, it just isn’t convenient for them.

Now take another look at the map. Pakistan has settled down. That government, although not our most ardent supporter, is providing assistance at great peril to its current President. Saudi Arabia has had to revise its domestic policies. Syria is certainly feeling the heat. Iran, which has a large population of young people who are not particularly happy with the current political structure, is facing some tough decisions. And Yassir Arafat is isolated, with nobody interested in helping him except the French.

If only we had a united front here at home, much of the uncertainty in this area would be eliminated. Right now, no change will happen in any of these places as they await the results of our election in November. But that election would mean little to affairs in the region if there were unanimity of purpose here. Iraq is key to the strategy of eliminating supporters of terrorism. We are not looking to reduce terrorism, but to eliminate its supporters and the conditions which cause the philosophy to grow. It is not a three-hour job. It will take time. Not every terrorist must be killed, but the mentality can be.

It never will be as long as there are people in this country willing to berate the President for doing what needs to be done. Afghanistan was the first step. Iraq the second. There will be more whether Bush is reelected or not. The issue is whether we wait to be hit again in hopes that it doesn?t happen, or attack first knowing it will happen eventually if we wait.

And I would rather see things change peacefully. They will, but only if we keep pressure applied, with a unified policy at home.

Jim Powell

Filed under: Bunker's Favorites — Bunker @ 8:09 am

As I changed things on my computer, I came across a graphic I hadn’t seen in a while. It is a scan of one of my uncle’s paintings.

powell2 (24K)

My Uncle Jim was quite a man. He flew B-25s at the tail end of WWII, and was disappointed that the war ended before he got the chance to go fly in combat. He was a physicist, pilot, hunter, fisherman, and artist. I don’t remember ever seeing him in a bad mood. Even when he got mad. He was a friend to all and had the ability to put people at ease. He had a strong faith.

I spent many days at Love Field with him watching planes, and riding with him in Cessnas and Mooneys. The first airplane I ever controlled in flight was a Cessna 310, with Uncle Jim in the left seat. He flew charters with people like Mr. Justin, who gave my uncle a new pair of boots every time he visited.

He had always drawn, but began painting late in life. He eventually quit work (although he never considered flying to be work) to paint full-time. We used to joke that my aunt would lock him in a room until he came out with some painting to sell to put food on the table. He taught watercolor in his garage, and eventually at SMU. The painting above is a watercolor, which was his favorite medium. Mine, too. Every time I visited him I got an art lesson. I never got close to his skill.

He drove between Richardson, Texas, and eastern Washington many times to paint the Indians and culture of the Northwest. Raised in White Settlement, just west of Fort Worth, he was a true Texan who loved the west and the people in it. He used to ask people if they knew the difference between a Fairy Tale and a Texas Tale. “A fairy tale begins, ‘Once upon a time…’ and a Texas tale begins, ‘You sons-a-bitches ain’t gonna believe this…’.”

He passed away more than a decade ago, and I still miss him. I most regret my boys didn’t get to know him well.

July 15, 2004

The Sounds of Golf

Filed under: Bunker's Favorites,Golf — Bunker @ 8:28 am

The least thing upset him on the links. He missed short putts because of the uproar of butterflies in the adjoining meadows.

P.G. Wodehouse identified a problem with many golfers, good and bad. Colin Montgomerie has rabbit ears, and so does Tiger Woods. Which is really odd because Earl Woods always talked about how he taught his son to shut out all sounds. Berle is another.

Oh, you don’t know Berle. He is one of the regulars at my course. Berle is a talker. He goes non-stop. I was playing in his group one morning and we waited at the first tee box for the group ahead to play. Berle was telling us all kinds of tales as that group tried to play. Jabber, jabber, jabber. The foursome managed to tee off without too much damage.

Now, Berle loves to talk, but hates to listen. That same round, as he prepared to hit his drive on the second hole, the three of us carried on a discussion as he stepped to his ball. We then shut up. He backed away from the ball, and one of us finished a sentence. As he returned to his stance, we all got quiet. He backed away again. We continued the conversation until he again took his stance. He stood over the ball for a second or two, then backed off again.

“Look. I don’t ask much but when I’m about to hit I’d appreciate it if you guys quit talking. I’ve had to back away three times, now.” He was quite stern.

It pissed me off, but I kept up a friendly exterior. “Hell, Berle, if you’d hit the damn ball and quit worrying about us we’d be on the green by now. Nobody was talking when you got ready to hit.” He finally did, and we were all very quiet and patient the rest of the round. All of us know him, so nobody bothered to get upset when we hit and he carried on a monologue. But he didn’t say anything more about it, either.

Tiger has problems with cameras. Even when he takes a practice swing. I think it has more to do with endorsement money or photos being sold on the internet, myself.

Focus means a lot on the golf course. Maybe some can’t turn it on and off. Every sport requires it, and good athletes can ignore everything around them when they need to. On the golf course there are always sounds. But what is distracting is the sudden, unexpected noise or action seen out of the corner of your eye. I missed a putt last week because a mosquito decided lunch time began during my stroke and instinct made my body try to react and crush the little bastard just before I hit the ball. I made contact–with ball and mosquito at the same time.

Other sounds on the course are not only less distracting, but pleasureable. Karsten Soldheim named his putter “Ping” because of the sound it made when it struck the ball properly. One of my regular partners has a putter which makes the same sound. I tease him about the “ping-plop” sound he gets when he strokes the ball well. The plop is the ball falling into the hole. Any time I hear the ping, I expect to also hear a plop.

I like the sound of ball contact when I use my persimmon driver. It is the same as a baseball off a wood bat rather than aluminum. Even using a metal driver, you can hear a different sound when the ball is hit well. Iron shots no longer have the distinctive click, but that is because balls are made differently now. Again, there is a different sound when a ball is hit well, but it is no longer as noticeable.

Laughs, cheers, and groans are common sounds on a golf course, and they waft their way across yards of turf and settle around you. They are the essence of golf. They signify the good and the bad in a round. Last weekend we had them all, with long putts made, short putts missed, balls that took an odd bounce to end up in a bunker, and balls that took an odd bounce and ended up in the hole. We had a long approach shot that stopped next to the hole, then fell in before we got to the green, and we had a ball hang up in a mesquite tree. We had missed birdies and made eagles, three-putt bogies and no-putt birdies. Balls hit cart paths and water. Every one evoked a sound.

And we had the sounds of nature. Grackles and mockingbirds vie for food left in a cart, trying to drag away packs of cookies. Mosquitoes buzz. The wind rustles palm trees and the flags on the greens.

And there is friendly conversation about topics which range far and wide. I think golf is as much an aural experience as it is physical. Maybe more.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so tough on Tiger and Berle.

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