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President’s Day 2014

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that today is President’s Day. Or as he likes to call it, Washington’s Birthday. In the interest of putting something up here… Here is a partial repost of your Maximum Leader’s list of the Greatest US Presidents EVAH!

For what it is worth, the criteria for greatness listed must be restricted to their presidential careers. For example, if you wanted to claim (wrongly) that U.S. Grant was one of the greatest presidents you could not cite his Civil War record as “proof” of greatness. (However, for Grant you could cite the widespread corruption of his administration as a model for future corrupt presidential administrations.) Any reader who sends in a list will have his list published (with possible editorial commentary from your Maximum Leader).

To preview your Maximum Leader’s list, he presents his top five:

1) George Washington. The first president, and the overriding shaper of the office. He set down many of the precedents that still function today. He established the cabinet system, and gave shape to the executive branch. He set down the major goals of US foreign policy (shunning entangling alliances) which held until (arguably) the Second World War. He also flexed (for the first time) federal supremacy over the states by putting down rebellions in Pennsylvania.

2) Abraham Lincoln. He saved the Union.

3) Franklin Roosevelt. Created the modern presidency (characterized by a strong executive). He also created the modern federal government (characterized by not only supreme federal authority but by an all-intrusive federal government).

4) James Knox Polk. Your Maximum Leader has long been a torch bearer for Polk. He has always believed in the greatness of James K. Polk. Polk promised four things would be accomplished during his presidency. 1 - the Indian question in the south would be resolved; 2 - Texas would enter the Union; 3 - California would become part of the US; 4- a northern border with Canada west of the geat lakes would be fixed. Polk said if these four things were not done in his four years, he would not seek another term. During his term he: sent the army in to round up and move the Indians in the south, he faught a war with Mexico and acquired Texas, California, and other western lands. He was (thanks to British/Canadian intransigence) unable to negotiate a northern border with Canada. He refused to run for a second term, and retired. (Your Maximum Leader will also add that he died shortly after leaving office - which your Maximum Leader also thinks is a generally good thing for ex-presidents to do.)

5) Ronald Reagan. He redefined the role of the modern federal government. (If you don’t think so, look at the administration of Bill Clinton and guess again.) And he won the Cold War.

Aside: It is your Maximum Leader’s belief that Ronald Reagan will be the last true ideological president we will elect. With the 24 hour news cycle what it is (and the high level of scrutiny that candidates go through) it is so improbable that any “true believer” of any political stripe will be elected. We will be stuck with left-center, right-center, or center candidates from now on.

There you have it…

Also for what it is worth, your Maximum Leader is very distressed by President Obama trying (and so far being somewhat successful) to bypass Congress and governing by Executive Order. It is dangerous to our system of government. It is dangerous to Liberty. Sadly, this is what happens when people don’t have a concept of liberty…

Carry on.

Google keyword search - local politics edition

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has some Google keyword searches set up. Once a day he gets a message from Google listing all the matches to the various standing searches he has and he’ll peruse the results with varying degrees of interest (based largely on headlines - not the best method but it is was it is). Never once has it occurred to your Maximum Leader that anything he might have written would turn up on someone else’s Google keyword search.

Well… He was wrong…

So, Saturday afternoon your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain were standing inside the garage at the Villainschloss chatting with a friend when he espied two people walking down the cul-de-sac towards the house. Your Maximum Leader did not recognize the two at a distance. As they approached, his friend said, “Oh, that looks like Scott Hirons and Meg Bohmke. They were in my neighborhood earlier today doing some canvassing.” Sure enough, it was Scott Hirons and Meg Bohmke coming to canvass your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain. As it turns out, Scott had a Google keyword search set up for his name and got an alert that my last blog post (immediately below) was published. (NB to Scott: Hello there!) He read my post and started to figure out who Your Maximum Leader might be. Then, after putting the clues together, he figured out your Maximum Leader’s true identity. Then he realized that he’d not canvassed your Maximum Leader’s neighborhood. So he contacted Meg Bohmke and together they walked through the neighborhood.

Your Maximum Leader, Mrs Villain, Scott Hirons and Meg Bohmke had a lovely conversation. It was wide ranging on local issues (but focused quite a bit on education - which along with roads is always the biggest local issue around here). We probably took up too much of the candidate’s time, but it was well worth it. Your Maximum Leader got himself set straight on many items that Meg had done during her time on the school board. Indeed, some of his education came from Mrs Villain who just hadn’t ever spoken about things she knew that Meg had gotten accomplished during her term. All in all, your Maximum Leader feels much more comfortable voting for Meg for supervisor - and Scott already had a strong vote from your Maximum Leader.

Your Maximum Leader is pretty sure that his regular readership doesn’t include many (or really any) of his neighbors (except one (NB to Sue: Hey Sue!)); but for those of you out there who might have a keyword search that leads you to this page, consider this a formal endorsement and even an exhortation - nay a command. Get yourself out there and vote for Meg Bohmke and Scott Hirons. They are both good people who have a vision for Stafford County and where we need to be going. Visit their websites: Scott Hirons (or follow Scott on Twitter @scotthirons), Meg Bohmke (or follow Meg on Twitter @megbohmke).

Get out there and vote on November 5th.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

A quickie

Greetings, loyal minions. You Maximum Leader says something about a rebirth of his blog, and then takes a month off. What a lousy bastard your Maximum Leader can be…

Anyhoo…

Some quick thoughts for those of you who might be stopping in…

As some of you know, this is the year when your Maximum Leader’s home state, the great Commonwealth of Virginia, holds elections for statewide office. In all the years since he’s been eligible to vote, your Maximum Leader has generally been pleased enough (or even downright excited) by the quality of candidates for statewide office. He’s said it here before, all in all, he’s pleased with his state government. Well… The past few years his level of pleasure at his state government has decreased somewhat. But this year he must say without equivocation, the choices he has for statewide office are just terrible. Let him even go further. (Cover your eyes ye of low tolerance for bad language!) The choices he’s got for Governor suck big donkey dicks. Terry McAulliffe, the Democrat and former Clinton hack, is a miserable piece of shit. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican and current Attorney General of VA, is a strident warrior in the culture wars who is a bit too strident for your Maximum Leader. Basically, your Maximum Leader can’t think of a pleasant thing to say about either man running for the chief executive office of his great Commonwealth. So as it is, he’ll be voting for Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for Governor. In the Lt Governor’s race your Maximum Leader will vote for Ralph Northam, a Democratic state senator and doctor, over Earl Jackson, a Republican and minister. Northam is a fairly liberal Democrat with whom your Maximum Leader doesn’t share many political views. Jackson is cut from a similar cloth as Ken Cuccinelli. Your Maximum Leader just can’t vote for him… And then there is the Attorney General’s race. Your Maximum Leader will vote, gladly, for Mark Obenshain, a Republican state senator and scion of a prominent Virginia political family, over Mark Herring, a Democratic state senator. Further down the ticket your Maximum Leader will continue to vote for (as he has in elections past) Bill Howell and Richard Stuart. Both are Republicans who represent your Maximum Leader. Howell is also Speaker of the House of Delegates and a very influential man in state government. Both Howell and Stuart are good people, which helps when casting a ballot. Further down the ticket… Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure for whom he’ll be voting for Supervisor and School Board member. He is leaning towards Meg Bohmke for Supervisor as she has been endorsed by many friends and acquaintances of your Maximum Leader. But endorsements aside, Bohmke has been on the School Board and hasn’t seemed to do too much in that role. So, there is trepidation in your Maximum Leader’s mind on this one. Your Maximum Leader will also vote for Scott Hirons for School Board. Mrs Villain taught the Hirons kids in school and thinks very highly of Scott.

So there it is… All your Maximum Leader’s endorsements for voting in Virginia this year… As if you all care…

In other news…

How about this Government shutdown? Well… A pox on all the Houses (and Senate and President). All share some level of blame for what is a bad situation. Your Maximum Leader firmly believes that there is a proper role for government. He also believes that government is a necessity for civilized society. The primary role of the government is to function and execute it’s role. Now your Maximum Leader takes a view towards very limited government at the federal level. He does believe that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or whatever the hell you want to call it is a bad idea, is poorly executed, and doesn’t make a lot of economic sense. But really… The law was passed. A few elections have occurred since passage. And the Supreme Court of the US has made initial pronouncements in favor of the law as enacted. Basically, that is a lot of “upholding” and not a lot “repealing.” The Tea Party faction of the Republican Caucus needs to get together and think of some other tactic on addressing this law. Shutting down the government isn’t the answer. Failing to raise the debt ceiling is not the answer. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t have high expectations for Congress. Indeed, they are very very low. But he does expect them to do ONE (and precisely 1) thing every year. That is to pass a budget. Even if the budget is “okay we’re just passing last year’s budget again without changes.” It is hard work, but it can be done. If you want a longer screed on this, send your Maximum Leader an email or tweet him (@maximumleader)

In more news…

At Professor Mondo’s suggestion your Maximum Leader has listened to a few episodes of Welcome to Night Vale. Your Maximum Leader can’t decide if he likes it or not. It is clever. But there is a quality to the narrator’s voice that puts off your Maximum Leader… He’ll probably keep listening for a while.

Like Robbo, your Maximum Leader didn’t blog much about his beloved Washington Nationals this year. He had high hopes for the team and did think they would make the playoffs. As we know that didn’t happen. Your Maximum Leader holds out high hopes for next year. He only wants his team to find a good manager and start winning. There is a lot of scuttlebutt about Cal Ripken Jr. being interested in the Nationals manager job. Your Maximum Leader pretty much agrees with Bos on Ripken for Nats manager.

Then there are the Washington Capitals… Your Maximum Leader’s hockey team are going to have a tough row to hoe to get to the playoffs in a newly minted “Metropolitan” Division in the Eastern Conference. He hopes it happens, but he wonders if the core of the team is getting a little old and the competition being a little too tough. He’ll be following closely how the season goes…

And finally… Your Maximum Leader would like to see the Los Angeles Dodger and the Boston Red Sox in the World Series… Then, being a National League guy, he would like to see the Dodgers win. But those Sox will be hard (VERY HARD in fact) to stop…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

More thoughts on Syria

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure if he’s mentioned it here specifically, but he’s been a more observant Catholic over the past few years than he was at the time of this blog’s founding. He will not set he is a “better” Catholic - as that would denote a sort of spiritual accomplishment that he doesn’t feel he’s earned. Let’s just say that your Maximum Leader is doing what he can to walk a better path…

Anyhoo… That wasn’t where he planned on starting out… So let us try this again…

Your Maximum Leader was in church today and although this was a regular ole Sunday in “Ordinary Time” - the 23rd Sunday in fact. But the presiding Priest noted today that by decree of our Bishop at the request of His Holiness, Pope Francis, today was also a Sunday offered up for Peace and Justice in Syria.

Sadly, this announcement caused your Maximum Leader to be a bit distracted during Mass as he thought about what he ought to be praying for in terms of the Syrian situation.

Of course, your Maximum Leader offered up a prayer for peace in Syria. This is sort of a general prayer of hopefulness. Hope that somehow - as if my magic or miracle - the warring parties in Syria will just stop their fighting and decided to sit down and discuss how they can all get along better. Your Maximum Leader offered up this prayer, with others in the congregation, as we followed the guidance of our Priest. Your Maximum Leader contemplated this action. He wonders about being disingenuous by offering up such a prayer. He doesn’t honestly believe that there is a remote possibility of this happening. Indeed, an angel of God could come down and appear before Assad and all the other warring actors and none of them would take the sign - if you asked your Maximum Leader.

So what then… What should he pray for? More practically, what should he hope for from his government and governments around the civilized world?

Well… If your Maximum Leader wasn’t clean in his earlier post; let him clear up his position insofar as it can be made clear. The government of Bashir Assad has committed horrible atrocities against his people (and all humanity by extension) and deserves to be harshly punished for it. What your Maximum Leader can’t figure out is exactly how Assad can be held to account. Let’s list some items that factor into the equation here:
1) President Obama has said that regime change is not a goal. This is probably a good thing. Since we know that Assad has control of Syria’s chemical weapons it would be bad to topple him and not know who might end up with Syria’s chemical weapons. On the other hand, we know that Assad will use those weapons so he can’t be trusted with them.
2) Russia and China will block United Nations action in Syria. By this your Maximum Leader means that they will prevent any real action on Syria by the UN. Of course, the UN is a toothless agency in any event.
3) Since the US has been wailing and gnashing our teeth about what to do in Syria, the chances that we could actually find where the Syrians are hiding chemical weapons are slim. This said, one isn’t sure you would want to blow up caches of chemical weapons for fear of incidentally releasing them while trying to destroy them.
4) Without putting forces on the ground, what action could the US (and or her allies) actually do to punish Assad? About the only thing your Maximum Leader can think of it bombing airfields and fixed military installations. But it is likely that Assad has moved civilian hostages into those fixed positions so we would be guaranteed of killing people we don’t want to kill. (NB: One cannot be sure from listening to the President and his advisers exactly if we want to kill anybody. One gets the feeling that we wish we could destroy their stuff without hurting anyone in particular.)

Your Maximum Leader is just stuck. He can’t figure out what can be done in a situation that does, in fact, require some sort of action. Your Maximum Leader has heard lots of military types telling Congress that the US has “goals” but not once has an actual “means” to achieve a “goal” been articulated. Sure, we all want the Assad regime’s ability to deliver chemical weapons to be degraded or eliminated. But how the hell do you actually do it?

Your Maximum Leader is open to being convinced. But it isn’t happening…

So back to church… Your Maximum Leader was asked (along with the rest of the community in attendance at Mass) to pray for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. Your Maximum Leader offered up such a prayer, but was again distracted by how this could come to be. Since he believes that all sides in Syria would disregard an angel of the Lord asking them to stop fighting; he isn’t sure what he could be praying for to happen. Then an idea came to him. If Russia and China both told Assad to tow the line in some way, then we would see a change. The dictator is only remaining dictator because he has powerful friends to keep his ability to wage war going. This is not to say that Assad would immediately have to stop when Russia and China said so; he could continue. But his ability to grind out the rebels would be reduced. He would be fighting to survive with resources that would not be replenished.

Will your Maximum Leader pray for Russia and China to try and rein in Assad. Sure he will. He’ll pray for it because he doesn’t see anyone on the international stage who could convince those two nations to do otherwise. Obama certainly can’t. Neither can Hollande.

In the meanwhile… Syrians will just keep killing each other.

Carry on.

(Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader)

Fool me once…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been thinking a lot about Syria and our impending march towards some sort of military action against the Syrian regime. Here is some of what he is thinking…

Let him begin by looking backwards before he looks forward… Your Maximum Leader fully supported the actions of the Bush Administration in Afghanistan and Iraq. He went so far as to go back and find some old emails he exchanged with friends at the time in order to confirm what he is about to write was accurate… He supported the Iraq War not because he expected to find weapons of mass destruction, or that there was some imminent threat to the United States. (Although, he did expect to find WMD. He wasn’t sure that Iraq posed an imminent threat to any specific US interest.) He supported the Iraq War because he believed at the time that it was time to try something to “shake up” the Middle East, which has been more or less politically ossified since the 1970s. He reasoned that if Saddam Hussein was overthrown and replaced the region might experience some positive change towards resolving some of the more or less intractable issues that have befouled the area. He believed at the time that Iraq was not ready for full western-style democracy, but might be ready for some sort of constitutional system (he speculated at the time that a monarch might be a suitable moderating influence on a reasonably-democratic Iraq). While he wouldn’t identify himself as a “neocon,” insofar as war in Iraq was concerned; he supported the “neocon” agenda in the run up to war.

While looking through the old emails he referenced a few lines ago, he found one in which he expressed confidence that the Bush Administration had a plan that spelled out our goals, objectives and actions to take once the war started. Your Maximum Leader, at the time, would have bet money (not a lot, but some) that we had a thoughtful plan for the invasion and aftermath of Iraq. Afterall, this was the Department of Defense that had plans that assumed that Canada was going to invade the US. If we had a plan to take out Canada, we surely had a plan for a legitimate possible enemy in Iraq. At the time is wasn’t important that we, the US public, know what the plan was. It was stupid to telegraph our plans to the Iraqis and tip our hand. So back then it wasn’t important to know what the plan was, because we surely had a plan.

Well… Was your Maximum Leader wrong on that count. The Bush Administration didn’t have a plan. Not only that, they dealt poorly with the situation on the ground for far too long. By the time the Bush Administration wised up, the damage was done and we’d screwed the pooch in Iraq.

So… Needless to say… Your Maximum Leader isn’t as sanguine now as he was then when it comes to US intervention in the Middle East.

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring and in light of the ongoing unrest in Egypt, your Maximum Leader is really reticent about putting a US soldier anywhere in the Middle East. Frankly, he’s equally reticent about dropping bombs or shooting missiles into the region.

So we find ourselves faced with the prospect of military action against the Syrian regime.

Here are a few things your Maximum Leader believes about this situation. First, the Assad regime is evil and they are capable of using chemical weapons against their populace. Secondly, he believes that chemical weapons were in fact used on the people of Syria. Third, he does believe that when a regime (or group, or individual) uses chemical weapons they deserve to be punished as harshly as possible by the whole international community.

Let us look a little more at Syria. After the uprisings of the Arab Spring (and after seeing what the US did in Iraq), Bashir Assad probably had a thought. That thought probably went something like this: “Holy shit! Common people are rising up and really screwing over the people that have been screwing them over for decades. Hey! My dad and I have been screwing the people here for decades. Fuuuuuuuuccccckkk. I could be next. Well you know what isn’t going to happen to me? I’m not gonna be overthrown and put in jail like Mubarak. I’m not going to be hanged like Saddam. And sure as shit I’m not going to die in some drainpipe by the side of the road like Gaddafi. I’m gonna hold out to the bitter end and go like Tony Montana if I wind up losing.”

Thus you have a civil war in Syria that has been going on now for years.

Bashir Assad has now gotten in more desperate straits and has used chemical weapons against his internal enemies. He deserves everything (and more) coming to him…

But how do we deliver what should justifiably be coming to Assad and his regime.

Aye. There’s the rub.

According to all your Maximum Leader has read, the goal of the United States would be to punish the Assad regime for using chemical weapons. Our goal is not regime change. Our plan, such as it is, is to drop bombs and missiles on “targets” of some sort to get our message across. And by the way, the Brits aren’t with us. On the other hand the French and Aussies are. (NB: God Bless the Aussies. Your Maximum Leader loves Australia and frankly every Aussie he’s ever met personally.)

So what the hell are we to do? Your Maximum Leader agrees with President Obama in as much as Syria should suffer some severe consequence for using chemical weapons. But unlike President Obama, your Maximum Leader isn’t sure WHAT the US can do that would be effective in any way.

Your Maximum Leader would, ordinarily, be upset at the Obama Administration for telegraphing their lack of a plan to the Syrians. But in light of what he’s learned from the Bush Administration… If you don’t have a legitimate plan for military action, it is probably best not to undertake that action.

If you want you can call your Maximum Leader a partisan hack for supporting a war started by a president he supported; but not supporting one that a president he didn’t support wants to start; he supposes that could be a fair criticism. But, your Maximum Leader really has changed. Look, he was willing to try the untried path once. That wasn’t very conservative of him. But sometimes you can look over the long course of history in a region like the Middle East and realize that major shakeups are the only events that change the region. He figured a major change led by a positive actor like the United States would affect a positive change. Your Maximum Leader was wrong on that. Sadly, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle and we are stuck with the fruits of our ill-conceived adventurism.

In your Maximum Leader’s opinion, there isn’t anything the United States can do right now that would have any positive affect on Syria, the region or the world. He’s open to listening to anyone with a plan. He believes it is possible to convince him to change his mind. But it might be an uphill battle right now. He would be inclined to go back to a Cold War methodology and have our friends and allies take action that we support. But in the Middle East right now we have only one real friend (Israel - of course) and he can’t see a course of action by Israel that would ameliorate the situation in any way.

Basically, the situation is screwed up and there isn’t anything we can to to change that.

One supposes that we can hope that the French take the lead in this and drop some bombs and shoot some missiles that we strongly approve of…

Carry on.
(Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader)

So much to comment upon… So little time

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has noticed that today there is so much happening in the world upon which he wants to comment. And he has so little time to comment upon it. So him go back to the ole tried and true snarky link dump to see what he can do here for your reading pleasure…

The big news of the day comes from the Supreme Court of the United States…

First, SCOTUS rules that a state court must take up the case of an adoptive girl: Your Maximum Leader should get the opinion and read it before he spouts off… but… Your Maximum Leader feels pretty strongly that parents have rights. Having said that, it seems as though the biological father “waived” his rights to parenting during the biological mother’s pregnancy and then had regrets and discovered some Cherokee ancestry under which he could sue for custody. On the one hand, it seems like the biological father is a loser who is (in practice) no more Cherokee than is your Maximum Leader and is using the courts to redress a regret he has. On the other hand, he is the father and your Maximum Leader isn’t sure of the circumstances underwhich the pregnancy proceeded and if the father had a chance to “claim” his paternal rights. Sadly, the biggest loser in this whole case is the poor girl who is going to have “issues” as a result of the discord in which she is being raised.

Okay… That first story wasn’t really the big one…

SCOTUS “guts” the Voting Rights Act: One would think from reading the headlines that the majority in Shelby County vs Holder was a veritable Hannibal Lecter dissecting the hapless Voting Rights Act and feeding it to an unsuspecting party of wealthy political types. Frankly, your Maximum Leader likes this decision. The under-reported part of the decision is that Congress could pass laws to the re-establish the “gutted” portions of the Voting Rights Act; they just can’t use decades old rationale and keep reauthorizing it. Your Maximum Leader, broadly speaking here, thinks that states should be treated equally under the Constitution. If Congress wants the Department of Justice to review and approve redistricting plans (and the like) then they should pass legislation that covers all states; not just those in the South. Frankly, the Federal Government shouldn’t have preapproval power over redistricting plans. If there is a problem with redistricting, duke it out in the courts after it has been passed by the people elected to do these things. And just so you don’t think that your Maximum Leader is focusing on redistricting… He understands that other measure that could restrict someone’s ability to vote could be affected by this ruling. Having said that it seems clear that the Court has not touched parts of the Act that prohibit outright discrimination. Also, the Court has ruled that Federal requirements to be able to vote supersede those of the states. So it seems unlikely that states will rush out to establish literacy tests and other hurdles intended to keep minorities from voting. And so that he is clear, your Maximum Leader has never objected to requirements to provide photo identification to prove that one is who one claims to be in order to vote. He’s always found objections to proving one’s identity before voting to be ridiculous.

In other news…

Harry Reid calls House Republicans Crazy: No doubt many of them are in your Maximum Leader’s estimation. But just because they are crazy doesn’t keep them from being part of the government…

The Pope “snubs” a high-falutin’ concert: Your Maximum Leader is liking this Pope. While your Maximum Leader would be happy to attend a nice performance of Beethoven’s 9th, he likes the message the Pope is sending by missing the concert. Your Maximum Leader is beginning to think that this Pope has the potential to be a big game-changer.

Putin refuses to hand over Snowden: No surprise there. It is just like the Cold War all over again. Only without the Commies and mutually assured destruction. Your Maximum Leader must admit that he is over two minds on Snowden. On the one hand he is somewhat grateful that the spying programs of the NSA have been exposed and people are upset and worried about their privacy. He hopes that Congress will do something to rein in the excessive power that Congress has allowed the intelligence community to gain (through things like the ill-conceived Patriot Act). On the other hand, we need to be able to keep secrets and those who disclose our nation’s secrets need to be punished. If agents were compromised and killed or imprisoned (or foreign assets of our agents killed, imprisoned, tortured or “disappeared”); then Snowden needs to be punished to the fullest extent of our law.

In more fluffy “news”:

Giada De Laurentiis is no Paula Deen: Seems some Deen fans are upset with the lovely Giada because the execs at Food Network decided to supplant Deen’s shows with Giada’s shows. Now your Maximum Leader likes butter, pork and down-home cooking as much as the next guy… But he really likes looking Giada a hell of a lot more than Paula. And Giada’s stuff is probably a little healthier for him… So there is that… But really now… Giada is so hawt!

What is the best movie that flopped at the box office? Your Maximum Leader is a big “John Carter” fan (he must admit). But his also is a big “Serenity” fan as well. There are others that he can’t recall here… But John Carter was the first that popped into his brain.

There you go. A link dump…

Carry on.

Various thoughts on Death

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is trying to make some time to blog. Why you might ask? Well, no reason in particular save that of thinking that he might have something to (virtually) say. There was one specific impetus today to write. He read a blurb on some website he frequents (and cannot recall now) that interviewed some very tech savvy people and asked them what ancient technology they insisted on keeping though it was very much outdated. One person talked about an old touch tone phone at their home they loved. Another talked about an old calendar notebook. But one said a blog.

A blog you say…

Hummm… Your Maximum Leader has one of those. Is this medium truly ancient and dead? Well. If it is it makes your Maximum Leader more resolved to try and keep using it.

So…

Your Maximum Leader has been thinking about death a little bit recently. The thought was first brought on a few weeks ago when Mrs Villain’s grandmother passed away. She was 105 and 3 months. She was, if your Maximum Leader might be forgiven for sounding uncaring, ready to go. And it was her time. Indeed, it was past her time. Probably 3-7 years past her time depending on which event one might want to use as a delineation. (She broke her hip about 7 years back and became mostly immobile at that point. But about 3 years ago her sight and hearing gave out pretty much continually - there were days when she seemed to be able to hear better than others.)

Regardless. She shuffled her mortal coil without excessive suffering or illness. As your Maximum Leader tweeted that night (using a paraphrase of a prayer that jumped into his awareness), the long burden of years was lifted for her.

In some ways, the long burden of her years was lifted for the rest of us as well. Your Maximum Leader doubts that she really remembered who he was for the past few years. There were times when she seemed to recognize Villainette #1. She did always remember Mrs Villain. Your Maximum Leader was amused to himself that she was able to recall Villainette #1. Your Maximum Leader’s eldest did make an impression on “great nannie” as we called her. We took Villainette #1 up to great nannie’s house in Rhode Island a few times before age and the onset of some infirmity required the move to the assisted living facility. Great nannie must have really bonded with Villainette #1 in a way that few did afterwards. Your Maximum Leader was amused that great nannie would remember Villainette #1; but wasn’t too sure about the father of this growing girl.

Great nannie also loved the Wee Villain. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that she always knew that the Wee Villain was her great grandson; but he was always sure that great nannie loved boys. She raised two of her own. She always seemed to prefer the company of men (over the company of “weak women”). Your Maximum Leader thinks that, with her own strong New England personality, she just had little toleration for the public face of women in her age.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure exactly how he should feel about great nannie’s passing. He is a little relieved. He thinks that it is something of a blessing. At some level he might even be happy for her. But he generally isn’t sad. He’s prayed for her (now that your Maximum Leader is trying to be more observant of his Catholic faith). But he isn’t sad. Should he feel some guilt about this? Perhaps. But as far as deaths go, this one is as good as one can get.

After thinking about this peaceful passing, there are other ruminations on death that come into his mind.

Two cases in particular. That of murderer Jodi Arias and kidnapper Ariel Castro.

Allow your Maximum Leader to step back and go over some ground that he’s not trod here in a while. For those of you who might not have been around years ago at the onset of this blog (and if you weren’t your Maximum Leader has to wonder what on earth brought you here more recently), your Maximum Leader has for most of his life favored and supported the death penalty. That effectively changed thanks to a post by our bloggy friend Skippy. The post concerned the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. That post, the links in it (especially to the New Yorker piece on Cameron Todd Willingham) and later the movie Incendiary basically changed the way your Maximum Leader thinks about the death penalty and its application.

(NB: You should read all of those links. And if you get a chance, rent Incendiary. Your Maximum Leader drove from his home in Fredericksburg, VA to downtown DC to see the movie during its limited run at one cinema in the area.)

Basically, the death penalty is over applied in the US. We like to think that we are being tough on crime by prosecuting and convicting in death penalty cases. But really, we are in the end harming our justice system. The harm is caused by a pervasive sense of doubt as to how the death penalty is applied and if it was called for. Was the death penalty sought because the accused was poor? Was black? Was marginally mentally competent? Was the prosecutor up for re-election? Too many questions.

But then just as one’s mind starts to ponder the many questions about the death penalty, as person like Jodi Arias comes around.

Without restating the whole sorrid case allow your Maximum Leader to summarize Jodi Arias thusly: a somewhat cute crazy bitch murdered her sometimes boyfriend. Unlike Skippy your Maximum Leader doesn’t find Jodi Arias all that physically attractive so he doesn’t quite get the national fascination with the story. (We Americans do like to follow capital cases with a hot defendant. Your Maximum Leader is willing to concede that he might have been more interested in the Arias case if a) he had found Arias more physically attractive and b) it hadn’t just gone on and on and on and on.)

Now… In the case of Jodi Arias, the state should go ahead and execute her. This is as clear a proper application of the death penalty as there can be. Crazy woman has wild monkey sex with boyfriend in the shower. He tells her afterwards that he’s not taking her on vacation with him. Crazy woman stabs and shoots him to death and then plays stupid. Jodi Arias should, now having been convicted, be ushered quietly in front of a firing squad and shot. Sadly, only Utah still shoots people - so lethal injection it is.

Unless you are against the application of the death penalty in all cases (and bully to you if you are); your Maximum Leader can’t see any reason why Jodi Arias shouldn’t be executed. (NB to Skippy: Okay there is one reason. To be Skippy’s sex-toy for a period and then be executed.)

So now having stated a case where your Maximum Leader has no trepidation in serving up an execution, let him move on…

At lunch with some respectable men about town the other day your Maximum Leader mentioned off-handedly that Ariel Castro should not be considered for the death penalty.

Just in case you missed it, Ariel Castro is the Cleveland man who kidnapped three young girls. Raped them. Beat them. Induced miscarriages in them. And ultimately fathered a child (of rape) by one of the kidnapped girls. He repeated these crimes over and over on these girls for a period of at least 10 years.

Yet this man shouldn’t, in your Maximum Leader’s estimation, be prosecuted for capital crimes. The most simple reason for this is that none of his victims died. Now, you are thinking to yourself, “Self, what about those miscarriages.” Good point. Although he’s against abortion, it isn’t quite the same. Pregnancies end for many reasons. Even the healthiest and most careful women can miscarry. Though there is a purposeful element to the miscarriages/abortions inflicted by Castro on those poor girls, your Maximum Leader isn’t able to commit to them being murder under the laws of the land. (NB: If it turns out that there is evidence that the babies had reached a stage of development where they might have lived outside the womb if delivered; then your Maximum Leader will reconsider this opinion.) Castro is a terrible waste of a human being. But his victims live. Because of that, the state shouldn’t attempt to kill him.

Your Maximum Leader didn’t realize the shock that this position would cause at the lunch table. One of his friends asked if his opinion would be different if the victim was one of the Villainettes? Of course it would. Your Maximum Leader would seriously advocate for the execution of people who inflicted minor harms on his daughters. But, that is because your Maximum Leader is their father. The law should be applied without that passion. It should be applied rationally and at arms length. Being as objective as possible, Ariel Castro, in your Maximum Leader’s opinion shouldn’t die for his crimes. A lifetime of solitary confinement punctuated by prison shower sodomy? That seems just. But death seems too much.

You may disagree (and frankly you are welcome to). But from what he knows now, that is how your Maximum Leader sees it.

So, there are some thoughts your Maximum Leader has been having about death… And look at that… He’s made a blog post out of them. Perhaps this medium isn’t as moribund as expected.

Carry on.

Some Thursday Randomness

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is grateful for each and every one of you that might still come by the space. He might check his site stats at some point soon to see how many of you there might be…

Anyhooo….

Some random bloggy thoughts for you all this Thursday…

Your Maximum Leader was surprised at Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to abdicate the Throne of St. Peter. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure why people are calling this a retirement (or even worse saying the Pope is quitting). Since the Pope is the autocratic head of a sovereign state it would seem as though this is more an abdication than a retirement. After some reflection your Maximum Leader thinks that Benedict is doing the right thing by stepping aside. The government of the Roman Catholic Church (the Roman Curia as it were) needs reform and a more youthful and vigorous hand to lead it. This isn’t just your Maximum Leader’s take after reading reports all over the interwebs. Anyone with half a brain who’s looked at the Roman Curia at all in the past 30 years can see how it needs to be reformed and revamped. A modern church (that is a church functioning in the modern age - not “modernizing” theology as many would advocate) requires a modern Curia and bureaucracy. The Benedict and JPII were both proclaimers of the Word. The church, for what your Maximum Leader’s opinion is worth (NB: not much), needs to reform how it works very badly.

In fact, your Maximum Leader would entertain speculation that the condition of the Roman Curia and its need for reform is THE primary reason why the Pope is abdicating…

One more thought on the Pope’s abdication… Your Maximum Leader thinks he should go to a quiet monastery for the rest of his life and be known as “Brother Josef.”

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t give a damn about Chuck Hagel and if he is confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Frankly, unless there is some glaring (generally criminal or nearly criminal) action for which a nominee is responsible; the President should get whomever he wants in whatever job he wants the person in. Elections have consequences you know. Hell, your Maximum Leader doesn’t want John Kerry as Secretary of State… But in your Maximum Leader’s opinion being a misguided dickhead in and of itself is not a disqualification for the office.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t like the games both sides are playing with all this sequestration stuff. As your Maximum Leader sees it, the House will be blamed for everything regardless of the veracity of the attribution of blame. The President will say (and be believed in saying) that he tried to work with Congress, but his calls fell on ears deafened by partisanship. Harry Reid will say that the Senate was ready to work with the President and the House and he can’t do anything more. And Speaker Boehner will say he tried too, but no one will believe him. So, your Maximum Leader has come to the conclusion that the House Leadership needs to get whatever support they can from Democrats and Republicans in that chamber and make a deal that can get passed. The continuing rancor and inaction is having too much negative impact on the US (and World) economy that getting a deal done is becoming more and more important. Uncertainty is a core problem now in all things economic. Providing even a little certainty will go a long way. Does your Maximum Leader think that the House should abandon long-term deficit & spending-reduction goals… No. They shouldn’t. But someone has to start doing something or the whole thing will go off the rails a lot faster than expected…

Oh yeah… Things will still go off the rails… But perhaps we can build a little more rail-line to try and work out our spending problems.

Your Maximum Leader needs to write more about Richard III. He has all sorts of thoughts on this whole matter, but just can’t seem to find a way to make time to write about them.

And finally… Your Maximum Leader is getting a whole bunch of pork belly in the next few days… That means he’ll be making bacon. Yum. Perhaps he’ll post some photos of the process… (Such as it is.)

Carry on.

Well, was I wrong.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was wrong. Not wrong wrong; but just wrong. Sure he knew that it was not going to be a good night for Romney when New Hampshire wasn’t close. Your Maximum Leader, optimistically, thought that New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Iowa and Colorado were going to break for Romney. When New Hampshire broke heavy for Obama your Maximum Leader realized that his most optimistic scenario for Romney (which still had Romney losing by the way) was not going to play out. Your Maximum Leader is a little surprised at Virginia going for Obama. Your Maximum Leader had spoken with people who are well connected with both parties and figured that the Commonwealth was going to be close (which it seems to be still) but that it would break for Romney. It didn’t.

Well… There is not much else to do on this one (save the requisite blame game and internecine warfare about who is “pure” enough to win in 2016) except to say, congratulations President Obama. Your Maximum Leader hopes the next four years are better for America than the first. (But he’s not holding his breath.)

In other election thoughts… Gay marriage measures passed everywhere they were on the ballot. That is a good thing. The Federal Government should just drop all objections and road blocks to gay marriage and we should just put this issue to bed. Your Maximum Leader still isn’t sure why the courts haven’t ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act and nullified it completely… But they haven’t.

There is only one place to put the blame for the Republican party not picking up seats in the US Senate. That place is the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party got nominated people who were just unelectable to the majority of people in their states. Your Maximum Leader firmly believes that the American people are, on the balance, of a center-right persuasion in the broadest sense. But, they don’t like extremists of either party. (Some of you out there think that Obama is a left-wing extremist; your Maximum Leader has to respectfully disagree with you and say that his is more left-center than far-left.) An opportunity to win the Senate, while remote to start with, was ruined back in the summer when electable Republicans like Dick Lugar (and Olympia Snowe) were done.

Well… Enough on this one… There will be more to come in the following days and weeks.

Carry on.

Civic Duty Done

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has voted. The line was short and moved at a good clip. The good people at the Stafford County Board of Elections seem to have things well in hand now. He hopes it continues to be so during the day.

Your Maximum Leader believes he’ll turn on the TV about 10 pm tonight and see what is going on at that point. Until then he will stay away from news sources that will do nothing but bloviate nonsense until some of the east coast states start to close…

In other news… As your Maximum Leader tweeted this morning: He is looking forward to seeing ads for breakfast cereal and boner pills reappear on TV beginning tomorrow.

Carry on.

Prediction time!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader supposes that he ought to give some final election predictions on this, the last day before the election. Here you go…

Your Maximum Leader, as he has for a while now, believes that President Obama will win reelection. Mitt Romney has made it close; but the electoral math just breaks the President’s way. Your Maximum Leader isn’t positive that the President will win, but he is 65% certain. Looking at the electoral breakdown, your Maximum Leader has Romney at 267 and Obama at 253 with Ohio undecided - but leaning towards the President. Your Maximum Leader gives VA, NC, NH, FL, IA, and CO to Romney. He gives NV, WI, MI and PA to the President. Your Maximum Leader also thinks that Ohio will break for Obama. That would put the final count at Obama 271 to Romney 267.

It is possible that WI and OH are still too close to call… But your Maximum Leader rather doubts it. He didn’t have these doubts last week. He thought OH was really in play. But then he started to check the early voting numbers and he sees that many more Democrats have been voting early. He has even read some numbers that imply that up to 40% of those who are going to vote in the election have already voted. Those numbers seem, to your Maximum Leader, to favor the President.

Ugh… Not good news all in all…

In Virginia, we are also voting for a US Senator. The race is between George Allen (R - former Senator and former Governor) and Tim Kaine (D - former Governor). Your Maximum Leader has, in years past, voted for George Allen. But recently your Maximum Leader has come to be persuaded that Allen probably has a wide streak of racial prejudice in him that hasn’t been reformed. That sours your Maximum Leader on Allen. Tim Kaine on the other hand seems to be a good man personally; but has supported liberal policies that make your Maximum Leader’s stomach churn. What to do? At the dinner table on Saturday night your Maximum Leader’s family had a debate about which was the better course: voting for the man who advocates policies you support - but might be a bad person; or support the man who’s policies you don’t support because you believe he is a good man. There is no simple or easy answer if you are being pragmatic. If you are judging the contest on the basis of personal ethics, the choice is clear. If you are judging on the basis of pure politics, the choice is also clear.

Your Maximum Leader can honestly say that he hasn’t fully made up his mind on this race. He feels like a turd for saying so, but he probably will not know until he steps into the voting booth. All things being equal, your Maximum Leader is likely going for Allen… Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how this race will turn out. It will all come down to turnout in Northern Virginia. From what your Maximum Leader can tell, both President Obama and Governor Kaine have “given up” on winning Virginia south of your Maximum Leader’s home in Fredericksburg. So it all comes down to turnout in the most densely populated region of the state. If you pressed your Maximum Leader he’d say that Allen wins in a squeaker. But if your Maximum Leader is wrong on Romney winning Virginia and the state goes for Obama, then Kaine will win the Senate seat.

Of course, we in the US are also electing the whole House of Representatives. Your Maximum Leader will vote for his current Congressman, Rob Wittman. He expects that Wittman will be reelected easily.

There are also two State Constitutional Amendments on the ballot. One deals with moving the “veto session” of the General Assembly so that it does not fall on the Jewish Passover holiday. Your Maximum Leader will be voting for it and he can’t imagine why anyone would vote against it. He expects it to pass overwhelmingly.

The second amendment has to do with property rights. After the Kelo v New London decision by the US Supreme Court, many states passed laws that narrowly defined a “public purpose” that permitted the taking of private land under eminent domain. Virginia was one of those states. Many people (and political types) believe that those laws protecting private property are not strong enough in themselves but should be added to the state constitution. This amendment will add property protections to the state constitution. Your Maximum Leader will be voting for this amendment as well. He expects it to pass overwhelmingly.

So there it is.

Carry on.

An open letter to our friend Skippy.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been thinking about this for a while now…

Dear Skippy.

We hope that you know that among all the bloggers of the world, you are among our most favored. Your political insights and commentary so often mirror what we are thinking that often we don’t see the point of writing on a subject after you have discoursed on it. This election year (in the US) has not been different than past election years in that respect. We, like you, have thought from early on that Romney will be the nominee. We have also believed, as you have that President Obama will win re-election. This is not due to his deserving to be re-elected; but due to Romney and the Republicans being so pathetic.

We have read and taken to heart your many exhortations (including the latest one) that we should vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson for President of the United States. After much consideration, we have decided that we could, in good conscience, cast our vote for Governor Johnson. He is a sensible Libertarian, and although we don’t agree with him on all the issues - as if we have ever agreed with every candidate on all the issues, he does have a reasonable plan for addressing the most pressing problems facing the United States today.

This is a big step for us. We normally don’t believe in voting for 3rd party candidates in national elections. We believe that voting for the 3rd party candidate is not a “protest” vote in a meaningful sense but more “throwing one’s vote away.” This year though, the two major party candidates just aren’t doing it for us. So we have thought long and hard about voting for Governor Johnson.

But then a crazy thing happened to our home state of Virginia four years ago. For the first time in our life, Virginia went for a Democrat in a Presidential election. Virginia awarded her electoral votes to Barack Obama in 2008. Now, in 2012 it looks like Virginia is a “swing state.”

We wouldn’t need to see a talking head on some cable news program to tell us we are living in a swing state. We’ve lived it for nearly a year now. You can’t turn on the TV or radio (or often the interwebs) without being bombarded with political ads.

You know, for years we’ve wanted to see all the attack ads and know what it is like to be a contested marketplace. Now we’re wishing we could go back to the days when the only time you saw a political ad was when it was highlighted on the news or when you went looking for it on the interwebs. It has been hell. The ads are maddening in their omnipresence. It is enough to drive a man to drink (much more than he normally does).

So, Virginia is a swing state. For the first time in our lifetime, our vote actually does mean something (Presidentially speaking). Now we find we are faced with a major problem. Do we cast our vote for a deserving man (Gary Johnson) who has no chance of winning or cast our vote for Romney or Obama in hopes that our vote does affect the outcome of the national election.

We know that the press are reporting that (alternately) Virginia is very close or the President is slightly ahead. According to information we’re getting from people who have access to internal polling from the various campaigns, everything is within the margin of error of any poll.

If we thought that Virginia was going solidly for either Romney or Obama, we’d vote for Gary Johnson. But this year it seems to be a more prudent course to use the lesser of the evils approach to casting our vote. Although we don’t think it will help him in the broader Electoral picture, we will likely vote for Romney. He is not our first (or second or probably third - okay he is our second choice actually) choice; but he is a better choice than voting to re-elect President Obama. And just so you know, even using the lesser of two evils approach the choice between Romney and Obama is an unpleasant one. Neither man has a serious plan for directly addressing the most serious problems facing the US. But one man has had nearly four years to work on those problems and has pretty much fucked it up at every opportunity. So, perhaps change is the best course.

We’re actually quite disappointed that it has come to this. But there it is. We’re pretty much screwed no matter how we vote; but it is wiser to do it this way than any other.

Cordially,

Your Maximum Leader

PS - if you are ever down our way, you have an open invitation at the Villainschloss.

So there you have it.

Sad.

Carry on.

Sacrosanct.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sure you didn’t need him to notify you of the assaults on the Embassies of the United States in Egypt and in Libya. During the rocket attack on the Embassy in Libya, our Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, was killed with other Americans.

Like any sensible and patriotic American, your Maximum Leader is angry with Libya and Egypt. He hopes, but holds out little hope, that those who stormed our Embassy in Egypt will be severely punished. He hopes, but again holds out little hope, that those who attacked our Embassy in Libya will be hunted down and killed themselves. He would prefer if this were done through a judicial process by the governments of Libya and Egypt… But he is not hopeful.

Your Maximum Leader is unreformed when it comes to ambassadors and embassies. They are sacrosanct and must be protected at all costs by the host nation. In this he is rather like the Romans and Mongols. Harm our ambassador and we will do severe harm to your nation. Your Maximum Leader seems to recall a story about Genghis Khan going to war with some central asian Kingdom because they killed his ambassador. Genghis actually wanted peace with the kingdom, but felt he had to go to war (and destroy their cities, rape their women, and kill their sons) because of the killing of his envoy.

Now your Maximum Leader is well aware that another war is not what the US needs, wants, can afford, or is inclined to do. (As satisfying as razing Benghazi might be…) But he wouldn’t object to some airstrikes on worthwhile targets. Neither would he oppose the clandestine hunting down and killing of those we can identify as being responsible.

Your Maximum Leader would like more than a little outrage from his President and Secretary of State. But he honestly isn’t sure what they can/will do beyond their statements.

And just so you don’t think that your Maximum Leader is totally irrational in this… He is aware that there are very limited response options given that our long-term interest in these nations is to promote a stable (reasonably) pro-western government…

Carry on.

A few of thoughts

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to forget how to blog if he keeps going on his intermittent rate of updating. Here are some thoughts and tidbits for your reading pleasure.

First off, in keeping with your Maximum Leader’s advocacy of King Richard III of England (per post below); you might be interested in knowing that archeologists believe that they have found the church in which Richard’s remains were buried after the King’s defeat and death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Here is the article: Lost medieval church found beneath parking lot. Here is the first bit of the piece:

The hunt for King Richard III’s grave is heating up, with archaeologists announcing Sept. 5 that they have located the church where the king was buried in 1485.
“The discoveries so far leave us in no doubt that we are on the site of Leicester’s Franciscan Friary, meaning we have crossed the first significant hurdle of the investigation,” Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the dig, said in a statement.
Buckley and his colleagues have been excavating a parking lot in Leicester, England, since Aug. 25. They are searching for Greyfriars church, said to be the final resting place of Richard III, who died in battle during the War of the Roses, an English civil war. A century later, Shakespeare would immortalize Richard III in a play of the same name.
After his death in the Battle of Bosworth Field, Richard III was brought to Leicester and buried at Greyfriars. The location of the grave, and the church itself, was eventually lost to history, though University of Leicester archaeologists traced the likely location to beneath the parking lot for the Leicester City Council offices.

The article continues to say that if the archeologists find Richard’s grave, he will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.

Of course, your Maximum Leader’s readings have all pointed towards Richard’s body (bones mostly) being removed from his grave and thrown into the nearby River Soar during the Tudor dissolution of the monasteries. So it could be that Richard will not be found at all. Your Maximum Leader, for one, really hopes that they find Richard’s grave and are able to give him a proper royal burial.

Your Maximum Leader apparently bought too soon when he purchased Kindle Fires for himself (in June) and Mrs Villain (in August). Now Amazon has revamped and expanded the line of offerings in the Kindle Fire department. Your Maximum Leader is a little intrigued by the prospect of an HD Fire. The other interesting bit is the kid-proofing settings that are coming with the Kindle Fire OS upgrade. Villainette #1 and the Wee Villain frequently “borrow” one of the Kindles in the house. (The former to read books and the latter to watch videos.) It would be nice to put a filter on the items (mostly video content) that we could keep the kids from watching. Anyhooo… Your Maximum Leader should have waited and gotten the second Kindle later in the year when the new HD models were available.

Some commenters on the tablet computer market are writing that Amazon’s new Kindle Fires are game changers in the segment. Your Maximum Leader disagrees with this. He sees the Kindle Fire as an entertainment platform; whereas other tablets are computer surrogates with increased functionality. Perhaps most tablets are entertainment platforms and not computer surrogates to their owners… In which case, the new Fires might actually be game changers…

You might be curious to know your Maximum Leader’s thoughts on the recently completed national party conventions. He doesn’t have many thoughts on them. He didn’t watch anything beyond the recaps on morning newsfotainment programs (mostly ABC’s GMA to be honest). Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how watching would benefit him at all. The candidates and their supporters are not adding anything of substance to national debate (such as it is). They are repeating tropes they’ve been trotting out for the past 18 months at least. Conventions are nothing more than pep rallies for the hardcore supporters. Your Maximum Leader can do without such pep rallies. He’s looking forward, without good reason by the way, to the Obama/Romney and Biden/Ryan debates. He is looking forward to them because there might be some real substance discussed at those events. He must emphasize the “might” in that last sentence. Debates are tightly scripted and rule-bound. That noted, they are live and extemporaneous to a limited extent. It is possible that one or both of the debaters might go off-script and something worthwhile come up. It hasn’t happened too often, but it does happen. So there is that.

So, you might be thinking, if your Maximum Leader wasn’t watching the political conventions; what was he watching. Why he was watching his beloved Washington Nationals baseball club. The Nationals continue to lead the National League East; and are battling it out for the best record in baseball (with the Cincinnati Reds). Your Maximum Leader loves baseball. He has always enjoyed watching the Nationals (in person and on TV). This season has been different. Your Maximum Leader tunes in (or arrives at the park) fully expecting to see the Nationals win a game. This has not been the case in past seasons. It is thrilling spectacle.

One of the things that makes your Maximum Leader so excited to watch the Nationals is the sheer potential of it. By potential he means that he honestly feels this team has no limitations on their ability to advance. Neither are they weighed down by history. Some of you out there might wonder what your Maximum Leader means by being weighed down by history. This is a hotly debated item. To explain further… Your Maximum Leader’s second favorite sport, ice hockey, serves as his example. His beloved Washington Capitals have been a great team for the past 5 years. But, they can’t get to the championship game in the playoffs (Division championship or Stanley Cup). The Caps are great to watch and exciting during the season. They make it to the post-season. Then your Maximum Leader expects them to make it to the second round and be eliminated. It has happened so many time in the team’s history it almost seems like a forgone conclusion. Your Maximum Leader is weighed down by negative expectations. It can be debated that the players (who come and go for the most part) feel this history as well. Players say that they don’t feel the weight of history on them as they are playing. But your Maximum Leader doubts that. The Caps potential seems limited - and will until they make it to a championship game. The Nationals aren’t like that. Baseball’s long history in Washington is punctuated by stretches of baseball’s absence from our city. While it is true that the Washington baseball club hasn’t make the playoffs since 1969 (the year your Maximum Leader was born) and hasn’t won in the playoffs since 1933 (before your Maximum Leader’s parents were born); it must be noted that there was no baseball in Washington from 1971 until 2005. So there really isn’t a history that weighs on the city or the players. This franchise can write its own history. Your Maximum Leader hopes it is great history at that.

Carry on.

Politics! Politics! Politics!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, whilst speaking with friends about this blog recently, was asked why he isn’t writing long political screeds this election year. Well… That is pretty easy. This election is not getting your Maximum Leader’s juices flowing. Allow him to briefly enumerate the reasons.

First, your Maximum Leader doesn’t particularly like either candidate. President Obama has been, in your Maximum Leader’s eyes, the European-style, left-of-center, mildly-socialist leader that he anticipated. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t want to say that he is an out and out socialist (as many on the right would). But he does have that left-wing collectivist bend that so many Democrats do. The President’s health care laws is the greatest example of this. Your Maximum Leader also feels that President Obama and his team are not particularly adept at what they do. Indeed, they don’t seem to have any plans with which to match up to their rhetoric. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think that the President knows exactly what to do now, except get re-elected.

Secondly, Governor Romney is not your Maximum Leader’s favorite either. Your Maximum Leader feels that Romney would be the mirror of Obama. You would get a European-style, right-of-center, mildly-pro-business leader. Of course that would be an improvement; but it isn’t really thrilling either.

Third, your Maximum Leader has long believed that President Obama will win re-election in a squeaker. The bad economy and all of the other signs that point towards the President not winning re-election are not enough to overcome the advantages of incumbency, the polarization of the electorate (which will break slightly for Obama) and the weakness of Romney.

Fourth, neither candidate, party, or commentator is regularly talking about a serious plan to fix what ails our nation. We need to control spending and reduce the debt. In order to do this we need drastic spending cuts, and we need to grow government revenue. That means taxes of one sort or another. We are in a sticky wicket here as your Maximum Leader does feel that making the dramatic changes needed in the midst of an anemic economy will only worsen that economy. But the long-term problem looks to be more severe if you don’t act quickly and immediately. So, your Maximum Leader doesn’t have a plan to address the problems of the nation. He has a host of ideas that would move towards that end. All of the ideas are unpopular and would make your Maximum Leader completely un-electable to any position in the Federal government. Some of the ideas are: letting the “Bush” tax cuts expire; raising the retirement age for Social Security and means-testsing Social Security benefits; repealing Obamacare; drastically changing how Medicare and Medicaid work; drastically changing laws concerning how private health insurers can operate across state lines; and evaluating how we spend our defense dollars. We have to make changes and no one is talking about the areas of the federal budget that really cost money (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) and no one (except the President and he is only talking in half-measures) is talking about revenue/taxes. Basically, anyone with an iota of sense can see the problem; but no one in a position to do anything about the problems has the balls to take the first step.

Finally, there is no civility in talking politics. And where there is no civility in talking politics there is no joy in talking politics. Your Maximum Leader probably will make some pronouncements here between now and the election; but what he’ll say likely will not please anyone. The up-side of this is that his readership is so small now that the few of you who remain will likely not be too offended or too prone to be uncivil in your comments…

By the way… Your Maximum Leader means for you all to read the title of this post and think of Mel Brooks in “History of the World, Part 1.” (And your Maximum Leader still awaits History of the World, Part 2.)

Carry on.

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