A Tough Call

At Windward the other night we were talking about our favorite cartoons characters and mine is a tie between Foghorn Leghorn and Yosemite Sam.

The cartoon below is one of my all time Yosemite Sam favorites when Sam plays a Roman captain of the guards at 2:00. How can one not laugh when you see Sam’s face at 3:14 when Bugs throws saws and an ax to the lions. Plus I love the way Yosemite Sam walks. 

My other favorite is Foghorn Leghorn … I say …. Foghorn Leghorn who was King of the one liners such as “that boy is as suttle as a hand grenade in a barrel of oatmeal, or “that boy is as sharp as a bowling ball”, or “that boy is like a tattoo he gets under my skin” and “he’s a nice boy, but he’s got more nerve than a bum tooth”.

I am kind surprised though when I view some of these old cartoons on YouTube where people can post comments. Seems as though alot of the comments are from younger people who have not seen these characters that were such a big part of our Saturday morning’s when we were younger. It’s too bad because in my opinion these really are classic Americana at it’s finest.

A Hot Topic (Cont.)

I’ve posted before — see here and here — on the e-mails and other information collected as a result of the data breach at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  The Weekly Standard has now published a thorough and carefully considered analysis of the data obtained, the context and meaning of the e-mail exchanges, and their ramifications for climate science specifically and science generally.

I encourage any layman who is interested in trying to piece together the science of global warming and the impact of the data breach to read the attached article.  It raises serious questions about the truth of the claimed “consensus” of scientists with respect to global warming and the validity of the “scientific findings” that are being used to justify the need for massive and crushingly expensive changes to our energy policies and economic structure.  At minimum, the data breach should cause the Obama Administration to hesitate, and revisit the science in a thoughtful, apolitical way, before rushing headlong into agreements and lifestyle changing decisions that are based solely on what may be nothing more than fearmongering and bullying masquerading as legitimate science.

Cheney’s Law

I read Bob’s blog “A Fine Line and a Delicate Balance” and was reminded of a show I saw a few months ago on PBS Frontline called Cheney’s Law.

The show talked about Vice President Dick Cheney’s secretive behind closed doors campaign to give George Bush virtually unlimited wartime power and how the Justice Department and White House made a number of controvesial legal decisions in order to do so.

While viewing the show one is confronted with the question, should the president have the power to do everything and anything including torture, wiretapping and spying without congressional approval or judical review to protect the country ? I’m not smart enough to know the answer, but I have to wonder what the framers of the Constitution would thought ?

This show is definitely worth viewing.

I’m Positive About Positivity

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Well I just recently finished a book titled Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson. I happened to be laying around the pool at my condo in September (one of the perks of being semi-retired) and someone had left a Good Housekeeping magazine in the chair next to mine. The front cover mentioned “Being More Positive and the Good it Does for Us” which caught my eye so I read the brief article which mentioned Dr Fredickson’s book. 

The library had the book, but there was a waiting list so I figured the book was a must read. While waiting for the book I found the trailer below on the internet that got me even more interested. 

I have to say it was a pretty good book. An important point the book makes is that if we try not to be so judgemental, that positivity will change the way we interact with others. That we should think of ourselves as all being one and that by doing so this in turn drives our willingness to help others in need. By acting on our sense of oneness with others and lending our fellow man a hand we can externalize our positivity.

This externalized positivity creates an upward spiral, because when you help someone else, there’s a good chance that you will feel gratified and proud of what you did. If others have witnessed your good deed this will in turn inspire them to want to do good for someone which will add more goodness to the social world. As the cycle continues you are inspired to act on the good feelings you have from your good deed further and repeatedly turning your good feelings into even more good deeds.

 So I have joined the cycle and started being less judgemental and more positive and I feel better for doing so !

A Fine Line And A Delicate Balance

The disturbing “gatecrashing” incident at the White House has resulted in one of those difficult judgment calls that Presidents and their legal counsel inevitably are required to make.  The incident is, quite properly, being investigated by Congress.  Congress no doubt will look at how the security breach occurred, consider how it could have been prevented, and evaluate whether new laws should be enacted to better safeguard the safety of the President and his family and to provide more appropriate punishment for White House trespassers.

The judgment call was presented when Congress asked the White House social secretary, whose office planned the dinner, to testify at the hearing.  She has declined, citing separation of powers issues.  Separation of powers, of course, is the elusive, flexible concept that the three branches of government should stick to their designated constitutional roles and not interfere unduly with the each other’s core activities.  The concept is elusive because the three branches routinely interact.  Congress, with the power of the purse strings and the power to independently investigate, often looks into how the executive branch and the courts function and writes budget and substantive legislation that directly affects the operations of its coordinate branches.

The Constitution doesn’t say a lot about separation of powers.  It is largely a doctrine of judicial creation, developed through a series of cases decided in the centuries since the Constitution was written.  Because it is not well defined, the judgment call comes in deciding when to invoke the concept and when to accede, while reserving all rights, in what seems like a reasonable request by a coordinate branch.  If the President is savvy in waiting to invoke the doctrine until instances where the facts and equities make his case an especially compelling one — say, if Congress sought to force the President’s national security advisor testify about the process the President followed in deciding how to exercise his powers as Commander-in-Chief — then he may create another useful precedent that will expand and strengthen the application of the doctrine.  If, on the other hand, the President repeatedly seeks to avoid any congressional scrutiny through separation of powers arguments, then a judicial challenge may produce a decision that greatly restricts the use of such arguments in the future.  (Of course, there also are political costs to a routine refusal to cooperate in investigations because it looks like the executive branch is stonewalling and overly secretive.)

It is always easy to second-guess judgment calls.  However, I think it is reasonable to question whether the office of the Presidency is well served by refusing to allow the White House social secretary to testify under these circumstances.  Party planning is not a core executive branch function, and Congress’ interest in determining whether the President’s security procedures need to be enhanced is strong.  If the refusal to testify is challenged in court, I am not sure that the equities tip in favor of shielding a social secretary from answering questions about how an uninvited couple that hopes to participate in a reality show was able to get into a high-security state dinner at the White House.