A Couple of Things, Both Political…

Hillary Clinton’s server issues were front and center again and, this time, the report suggests that her server was so problematic from a security perspective that the State Department IT people needed to damp down the protective screening of the Department’s own security system in order for Hillary’s e-mails to be able to pass through the protection.  And that only occurred after Hillary’s alter ego, Huma Abedin complained that both her e-mails and Hillary’s e-mails (since Huma used the private server, too) were not being received by the intended State Department employees.

Not only was Hillary’s e-mail server at risk of penetration, but she also now is made out to be the cause of the State Department having to reduce the security of its own servers in order for her e-mails to enter the State Department system.  Can there be any doubt that this home-based server was penetrated by foreign agencies?  And, can there be any doubt that this home-based server may well have exposed the State Department servers to being hacked given the State Department’s need to dumb down its own security to permit Hillary and Huma’s e-mails to gain entry?

This is a story that seems, on its surface, to render Hillary Clinton a non-candidate simply based on her past performance.  But…that is not the case, obviously.  The Clinton mystique, no matter how badly tainted over the years, continues to drive the Democratic Party apparatus, and leadership, using that term rather loosely given the screechifier who heads up that party.

Donald Trump’s speech of yesterday seems as though it could’ve been influenced by my blog of June 21st…in my dreams only, obviously.  He came out using a written teleprompter-supported  speech which he delivered very well; and, the line of reasoning was excellent.  He was not the flamboyant self-aggrandizing person that we have become too accustomed to seeing.  He made a well-conceived statement of fact that damned Hillary Clinton regularly and appropriately.

This is the kind of speech, had it been delivered earlier, that would’ve changed the entire dynamic of his campaign.  He pinned the donkey’s tail firmly on Hillary Clinton without the typically overdone bombast.  He simply delivered a recitation of facts, and those facts were most damning.  This was not only the kind of speech that was far more appealing, but it was also the persona of Donald Trump that is far more appealing.  This Donald Trump could’ve been sitting in the Oval Office delivering this speech; he appeared Presidential and he sounded Presidential.

Trump, in my opinion, redeemed his candidacy yesterday and he scored big points against Hillary Clinton while doing so.  This was the Donald Trump who can win hands down in November painting an accurate picture of the Hillary Clinton who would be a disaster if she won.  If this Donald Trump persona can be the one we see from this point on, I believe he will be in the White House as our next President.  If this Donald Trump persona is the one that will appear against Hillary Clinton in coming debates, which are almost inevitable, he will win those debates, too.

I admit there is a lot of time left in this election race.  I admit this is a Donald Trump of whom we’ve not seen a great deal to date.  But this was the Donald Trump who can beat Hillary Clinton.  I hope he reads this blog, too.  🙂

A Drone In Your Future?

The short answer is: “yes, there will almost certainly be a drone in your future”.  We have seen some use of drones for aerial photographs, some use for inspection of power lines and pipelines, and for limited commercial purposes.  My first experience was at an outdoor concert in Colorado that was being recorded through the use of a drone (which also was useful in locating a lost child at the end of the concert).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has just released its rules, and that is good since it defines what uses can be made of drones and at what altitudes they can be deployed.  The FAA has yet to address the use of drones for package deliveries such as has been discussed as future uses by Amazon and others.  They are setting about that work now.

For now, drones can be operated by people certified by the FAA who are at least 16 years old and who have passed a certification test once every two years showing they can safely pilot a drone.  We now will have FAA-licensed commercial drone operators.  The maximum altitude for these drones is 400 feet, the drones can only be used in the daytime and cannot weigh more than 400 lbs.  We know that this altitude limit has been violated regularly by drones affecting landing patterns for commercial airliners.  Pilots have reported drone sightings at thousands of feet of altitude.

We, of course, have seen military drones used for a long time in combat roles as well as for observation.  NASA is developing an air traffic control system for these low-flying drones.  This is a relatively new industry but the forecasts are for this industry to become an $82 billion industry that will create more than 100,000 new jobs in the next 10 years.  Who made that forecast?  The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, that’s who.  If there is already an ‘international’ association, this must be a big deal.

Along with the good that can come from the use of drones is the other side of the coin.  We know there will be an abuse of privacy; that is simply inevitable with this technology. There will be drone use by policing agencies and that will be challenged in court cases almost certainly.  Criminals will be able to “case the joint” with increased ease making studies of patterns of occupancy and noting the absence of employees in buildings thus making them accessible to crime.

With everything good, it seems the bad side to the technology improvements evolves almost overnight.  Are sunbathers going to be targeted by oglers?   Are exhibitionists going to have access to the use of drones to ‘show their wares’?  Will drone pilots with video cameras mounted ‘steal’ event footage formerly sold by streaming live?

It is difficult to imagine the potential uses for which drones will become regularly employed. We can rest assured that the people with the ideas are already putting their plans into action, and now they can do so within the scope of federal regulations.  We’ll see how many violators we hear of within the next year.  For some, it seems, regulations are made simply to be broken.

New Kind of Campaign or…

Corey Lewandowski, the Trump campaign manager, is out of work.  He got one of those famous, or infamous, “You’re fired!” messages from Donald Trump.  Trump’s camp advised us all this was simply the sign that Trump needed a new kind of campaign.  The real message may well be something quite different; maybe what is needed to get the movement moving again is “a new kind of campaigner“.

Maybe ‘The Donald’ ought to fire the current version of himself and introduce us to a new version, a version that conforms a bit more to that which we think of as a presidential candidate.  Maybe the new and better version of candidate would recognize this is now all about organizing a real campaign that creates enthusiasm, that builds, rather than destroys, relationships with key players all across the Republican party.  This is a campaign that now must involve the ‘big money’ donors and party leaders.  This is a campaign that needs to accept much of the advice given to it by those who have ‘been there and done that’ over and over again.

Maybe this new Donald Trump could tolerate and be thankful for the advice many would like to provide, along with their money since he is not raising anything like what is necessary to mount the campaign necessary between now and election day.  Maybe this new Donald Trump would come to understand the importance of Congress and its members rather than to see them as obstructionists to be demeaned, belittled and then ignored.

The original Donald Trump is risking the greatest humiliation in recent electoral history as he comes up against the Clinton/Democrat machine unless he personally disavows the present version of himself, and presents us with a retooled Donald Trump we can all be excited about supporting; one who will make us eager to go to the polls rather than to begrudgingly cast a ballot given the alternative.  Maybe the new version will also recognize the importance of members of his party who are already elected to national bodies, rather than to simply acknowledge them when it seems necessary and ignore them the balance of the time.

Maybe, Donald Trump could take a long, long look at the likes of a Ronald Reagan and study why that historic figure was so loved.  The difference between allegiance due to love and allegiance due to necessity and obligation is a great and deep chasm.

Maybe it has been so long since he felt the need for a ‘team’ once he became the sole proprietor  to trump all sole proprietors in history.  There is one certainty that Trump needs to embrace, however:

If Donald Trump continues with the current blustering, puffing persona, there is not a campaign manager in this world who can get him elected over the Clinton/Democrat machine.


The Delayed Stroke Penalty…

I watched much of the PGA tournament yesterday and marvelled at the talent on display…even though I am not a golfer.  I don’t even play one on television.  I was amazed, however, at what seemed a truly bumbled approach to the penalty stroke situation involving the eventual winner.

The tape of the incident did not show any contact with the ball.  The club head was grounded some two or more inches behind the ball.  The ball did appear to move.  The player reported this to a PGA official as he was required to do.  The PGA official later indicated that a single stroke penalty might be assessed but that this would not be known for sure until the match was over.  (In reality, the penalty stroke was assessed before the match ended but long after the warning had been issued.)

So, the eventual champion had to compartmentalize this issue beside all the regular issues a pro golfer has to handle and finish the tournament without permitting this warning of a possible penalty stroke to bother him on any or all of the rest of his strokes to the end of the match.

The leader managed his nerves and was the eventual victor and the penalty stroke, which was assessed, did not have a direct bearing on who was victorious.  The golfers chasing the winner were having their own issues and the penalty did not help or hinder anyone.

If the PGA official did what was done because it is the way the PGA says it should be done, that needs to be changed by the PGA.  Such a situation should’ve been handled on the spot with the offending player knowing what the cost to him was to be, and the outcome should’ve been communicated to every golfer yet to finish the round as soon after the penalty had been issued as possible since it might have affected their approach to the match, as well.

Nerves play a huge role in the outcome of this game, especially when this game is played at this level of competence.  Nerves have cost almost every golfer strokes or wins or both. We saw that with the second-place finisher yesterday.  The idea that some may have known while others may not have known is not equal treatment of all players.

In the final analysis, this penalty stroke had no visible impact on the outcome of this match.  It could’ve had an impact by costing the winner a stroke or two on his margin of victory but he still won.  The handling of this situation by the PGA officials leaves a great deal to be desired.  It was handled like a hot potato for minutes, then the prospective penalty was made known but the idea it might not be levied was left with the player.

Professional golfers are people who live with nerves every day they play the game when the game counts for something.  Nerves may well have determined more golfing match outcomes than has golfing skill alone.  There is no room for such “sort of” warnings that could significantly affect outcomes to be a part of a PGA tournament, especially when caused by the way a PGA official handles or doesn’t handle prospective issues during the match.

Happy Fathers’ Day…

I am a dad and will get to be, physically, with part of my family today and psychically with the other part of my family.  My father was born in 1896 and was some 44 years old when I was born, so he was much older than the typical father.  My recollections of childhood are probably quite different from most people my age simply given that I was part of my dad’s second family.

My dad was a strict disciplinarian and I can remember some of the spankings I received since I was a kid who seemed to have a longer learning curve in some ways.  But I did not ever feel like I was unwanted.  I cannot help but think about children who are in such situations and have virtually no hope of that changing.

My father was a man of many accomplishments.  He was a saxophone player in a Saturday night dance band.  He was a professional wrestler until his ankle was badly fractured in a match somewhere in Ohio.  He was a coal miner.  He was an undertaker.  And, he was a cheesemaker.  He was also an amateur pilot who received his pilot’s license at the age of about 54.  He owned a Cessna 120 that lived in a farmers’ field between Viroqua and Westby, WI.  Every once in awhile, the cows would’ve gotten back into that pasture area after we took off, and would have to be ‘buzzed’ to frighten them off enough to permit us to land.  They probably didn’t give much milk in the evening milking after that experience.

He taught me the value of one’s word.  He taught me that nothing much good happened to you if you didn’t work hard to make it happen.  He had some not-so-good habits that made me a better person since I don’t have those habits, at least not to the degree he had them.  He taught me the difference between right and wrong, and sometimes those ‘teachings’ made my little butt sore, but I still remember the lessons.

Too many children today have no father figure in their homes for whatever reason, be it divorce, drugs, jail or early death.  And that lack of a strong father figure shows in our crime statistics, our prison population, the number of drug-using young people, and on and on.

I was fortunate to grow up in a time when there was discipline in the home.  I made that a hallmark in my own home but without ‘the rod’ and more through words that left a memory than being struck.  Our children may have their own recollections about me as a father but I don’t believe those memories will include too many spankings; maybe a swat on the butt to get his or her attention, but there was not a need for anything beyond that.

Children today without a family unit have some really tough learning curves and face difficulties that simply were not part of the world in which I grew to adulthood.  One answer is faith in God, no matter how trite that may sound to some.  Try it; you might find you like it is a phrase that comes to mind.

And Happy Fathers’ Day!

Be Aware & Wary…

We are great at being lulled into a sense of security that may not always be the case.  We have a series of car thefts that are initiated by a bump that causes the driver to stop.  Once stopped, the driver tends not to be wary enough and finds him or herself giving the keys and wallet or purse to the thief which was the thief’s plan from the beginning.

A Wal-Mart was the scene of a theft that then caused an innocent bystander to become part of the situation thus causing police a greater than usual problem as they tried to make the apprehension.  An innocent person ended up injured.

A man receives a telephone call from an unknown person who claims he has the recipient’s mother demanding that the recipient complies with the caller’s instructions in order to get his mother back unharmed.  This man immediately called local police and the matter was satisfactorily concluded.

These things actually occurred in and around my community in the past seven to ten days. Multiply that by all the communities in our state and in our country and we begin to see why such scams are so lucrative to the scammers, and why we need to be aware and on guard all the time.

We must remain observant, keeping a scan of the area around us going all the time.  We must be familiar with the people who are in our vicinity.  We must not become so complacent that we lose sight of the importance of knowing where we might seek shelter in any building we walk into.  We must be aware of our immediate surroundings so that, in our mind’s eye, we can see routes to use if we are threatened

Contrary to what you might think, this is possible without becoming obsessed to the point of paranoia.  A simple scan of the interior that you just stepped into is very common for almost everyone, so your action does not seem out-of-place but simply something everyone else is doing, too.  The difference is that you have memorized the surroundings, any exits that might exist other than the main entry, and have a good idea of who is in your immediate vicinity.  This takes some thought and some memory exercises, but it is quite possible to accomplish.

I may have an edge in that I have participated in a community policing program that emphasized this need and was trained as an observer in the military.  But this is not the proverbial “rocket science” kind of thing.  This simply requires that we be as familiar as possible in every place we find ourselves.  And, it requires that we be aware of everything, around us as much as is humanly possible.  This becomes second nature, or at least it did for me, and I am not especially gifted in any of these areas.

If you are licensed for ‘concealed carry’, and if you feel competent with the weapon you have, go with it.  If you are licensed but not confident in your abilities with the weapon, get some training.  If you are involved in an accident in an area that appears unsafe, immediately call 911 and give your location and the circumstances…and stay in your locked vehicle until the police arrive.

Practice your ability to glance around the interior of a store and know where you would go in case of some kind of emergency.  Be wary if you are approached by a stranger and know what your routes of escape from that person are and obviously, it really helps if you always position yourself so that you have a route by which to get away from the situation.  If something seems wrong to you, step away from it and take another look from a greater distance.

And remember that we usually are willing to be approached by people we don’t know and have never seen before and that this is usually not problematic…but always remember that it is better to have a level of suspicion that can be set aside if it proves to not have been warranted.  Another thing to remember is that not everyone who sees all your personal information on social media is necessarily honest and upstanding.  I am amazed at what some are willing to share with their ‘friends’ even though we have just given potentially valuable information to a person looking for an opportunity to break into a home knowing that no one is home, etc.

We can become our own worst enemies if we are too free with inside information that is available to anyone and everyone.

Be aware and be wary.  You can still be a very friendly person. Just be a bit guarded and be observant as you go through your day.

What Are The Odds?

What are the odds of another terrorist attack on United States soil?

The CIA Director yesterday predicted that we will potentially see more attacks on our soil as the Islamic State group loses ground in Syria and Iraq.  According to the article by the Tribune Washington Bureau’s Brian Bennett in the local newspaper today, intelligence analysts are concerned that the Islamic State may try to send terrorists into Western countries “by hiding them amongst refugees, by using smuggling channels or by finding weaknesses in the security screening of legitimate travelers.”

Against this backdrop, we have the continuing calls for more gun control by our government’s leaders.  We could shut down the manufacturing of guns today and not be able to prevent deranged individuals from finding a source so as to pull off whatever it is they want to do to us.  Might it not be better to stay where we are on gun control, even though it is not a perfect place to be?  Are we so naive as to believe we can avoid terrorist attacks by ridding ourselves of guns?

Our government officials, primarily the President and his supporters, seem to think we are impervious to attack when that could not be further from the truth.  They would, in their ideal world, make the possession of guns illegal. Period!  They would arbitrarily end the production of bullets except for use by law enforcement officers and those people would have a limited number of cartridges available so as to avoid any rounds getting out into the public’s hands.

There is a distinct pattern of this presidency and it is not a pattern of promoting greater freedoms.  It is a pattern of increasing government control over us all, over the flow of news, over what our kids can eat in school lunch programs, and over what medical treatments are made available to older citizens through the control of health care delivery and health insurance coverages (read ObamaCare), where we are beginning to see restrictions, reimbursement changes to make care less affordable to those with coverage, etc.

The government wants more access to encrypted communications.  It wants to remove our individual freedoms in the name of only doing so to protect us…obviously from ourselves. As each step to rein in our personal rights takes place, we move a step closer to being totally controlled by our government.

Unfortunately, those who raise this issue risk being branded as crackpots even though we have watched steps unfold which, barring watchful citizens and elected officials, could be used to deny us one freedom after another.  The rule of the current administration by Executive Orders issued by the White House and by the restrictions it has placed on certain agencies that might fight such changes only fans the flames.

Our elections, even at the local level, certainly at the state level and very much so at the national level are critical…and they grow more critical with each passing year.  We could’ve had an avowed socialist running for President this cycle.  At least he was being honest about where he would lead us, and he is a likable sort of man.  We cannot always count on such honesty.  As it is, the emerging Democrat candidate is not terribly palatable to a conservative, either.

With our freedom comes much responsibility.  We need to be very careful about the bewitching songs too often sung to us by those running for national office, and which we too often simply believe without question.  We are, thankfully, about to emerge from eight years of attempts to make this country less free than it was.  We cannot afford to naively move into another 8 years of such Democratic-driven executive direction uncertainty, of such further rule by Executive Order.

While the choices seem terrible, there are real differences in these two candidates.  One is a proven commodity many times over in her public lifetime; at least there is some hope that the other candidate will be the better choice.

Unless this truly is the living definition of a Hobson’s Choice.