In short, one might conclude that all knowledge, wisdom, and wit are confined to those who inhabit New York City, Washington DC, or Hollywood.
If you study the biographies of print and TV journalists, the majority have never had a "real" job. Scan the biographies of members of Congress and you will find that the majority have never held a "real" job. That is, if you do not count "attorney" as a real job. Many went almost directly from law school into politics. They are, for the most part, career politicians. A quick survey of the C-SPAN 1999 Congressional Directory shows about 40 Senators out of the 100 held real jobs. About seven of the real-job Senators list their previous occupation as "journalist" or "broadcaster." One lists "actor." So, one group is making our laws. The other group is telling us what they think we should know and how we should interpret what we are told. Yet, neither group has spent much time walking in our shoes.
As I creep inexorably toward nearly 70 years of life experience - which was gained in many cities in the U.S. and in about 30 foreign countries, I decided to put down some ongoing thoughts in a series I call "The View From the Outback." That experience has included the U.S. Marines, law school, the ATF, the CIA, Fortune 500 executive, writer, public speaker, educator, editor, and publisher - for openers. For over 20 years, I have written articles off and on for various magazines and newspapers. I've had an enormous number of letters published in major national publications. The Outback is the rural area in Northeast Texas where I have lived for the past 10 years. Each Saturday I will attempt to post a new set of musings from the Outback.
CNN unveiled a new look for Headline News. It is said to be aimed at younger and busy viewers and has several kinds of information onscreen at once. I hope these "younger people" have multi-tasking brains. After a few minutes of watching the new CNN Headline News, I had a headache trying to listen to the anchor, check the stocks, check the weather, and read comments that flesh out the remarks being made by the anchor - all at once. No thanks.
Have you ever wondered who coined the words "male and female plug" when speaking of electrical connectors? The Male plug has a prong or prongs that stick out. The Female plug has a recessed area that accepts the prong of the Male plug. Maybe it was Dr. Sigmund Freud.
The Little League World Series games were a joy to watch. The kids play a lot better than when I played and later coached. President Bush, the first president to attend the series, took in a few innings of the championship game. Instinctively, I rooted against the New York team in the semi-finals, since I have distrusted everything East Coast since I was a Federal agent there. Of course, they lost, and it turned out to be a good thing. It was no surprise that the Bronx team had a 14-year-old wringer on its roster. Now, Little League players will have to be vetted by the FBI before they can play. How sad.
Other than sexual scandals in Washington, there seems to be an inordinate amount of reporting about the possible perils of prescription drugs and the predatory and often illegal marketing practices of the big pharmaceutical companies. That's good. Those people have had the public snowed for decades. I have reported on the illegal tactics often used to keep generic drugs (much cheaper versions of name-band drugs) from coming to the market. Now, the Policemen's Benevolent Association in New York City has filed class action suits charging eight brand name and generic makers with conspiring to keep the cheaper generic versions of several popular drugs off the market. We all need to keep the pressure on.
I got an e-mail from Carly Fiorina, Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, in which she thanked me for my article about her ("Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard - A Truly Inspiring Story," July 7, 2001) and thanked me for being such a good customer. What a nice lady. HP, like much of the technology sector, is going through hard times. Many are calling for Carly's ouster. But, the board of directors recently reaffirmed their support for her. In part they said that she was hired to make some quantum changes in the business model at HP, and that the objectives could not be accomplished in the short term. So, keep on trucking, Carly. There are a lot of us rooting for you and the venerable HP.
Exciting Days at the Office of Personnel Management! Huh?
Don't feel badly. Nobody outside of the beltway in D.C. knows much about the Office of Personnel Management. Those are the Human Resources people for the Federal government. They work on Federal hiring programs, pay scales, promotion practices, and so on.
C-SPAN ran a conference chaired by the new Director of OPM, Kay Coles James. As a veteran of three government agencies, and one who views most of the government's personnel policies with contempt, I could not believe what I saw and heard. Mrs. James sounded more like Carly Fiorina at HP than a Federal bureaucrat. She seemed totally relaxed, confident, excited about her job, and completely open to any new idea anyone had about how the government could better its personnel policies.
Is this a trick? What's going on? Our first M.B.A. president has laid out a plan to OPM to get with the program and to quit living in the past. The idea of promoting on merit instead of strictly on seniority (my pet peeve) is high on the agenda. The president and Mrs. James want to change the perception of being a Civil Servant from something akin to "Mothers don't let your kids grow up to be cowboys (or civil servants)" to making it an attractive job for bright young people who want to make a difference - and be rewarded for their contributions based on accomplishment and merit, not for how many years they can fake it and stay at their desks.
The whole plan is based on a business-style approach. The words "market driven" and "customer satisfaction" were even heard during the program I viewed. In short, President George Bush has given entirely new marching orders to OPM, and he has selected a woman to run the program who appears to me to be the most refreshing and open-minded person I have seen in Washington in many years.
I sent Director James a letter telling her how encouraged I was by what I had witnessed on the C- SPAN program. I enclosed a copy of my article "The Bush Budget - Fighting over 4% Growth Versus 8% Growth Is Nonsense" April 21, 2001. In that article, I was harshly critical of the Civil Service system and government personnel policies in general. But, I suspect that Director James will agree with much of what I wrote. For the liberal PC crowd that is always counting noses, Kay Coles James is black. And appointed by a Republican president.
If you would like to contact this new breed of government manager about your views on Civil Service, your good and bad experiences in dealing with Federal employees, or with suggestions on how to improve things, I am certain she would welcome your thoughts. You are the customer. You have a right to the best service you can get.
Kay Coles James, Director
Office of Personnel Management
1900 E Street NW
Washington, DC 20415
Chipping Away at the Global Warming and Environmental Alarmists
Environmentalists constantly talk about conservation and alternative energy as ways to keep from having to build "polluting" power plants or the "very dangerous" nuclear power plants - or drill for that nasty black oil. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said recently that: "Over the last 20 years in the Department of Energy, we've invested almost $6 billion in current dollar terms in solar, wind and geothermal energy research." The three alternative sources supply less than one percent (1%) of all the energy we generate in the country.
New questions have arisen about the methods used to determine the degree of global warming. In particular, the oceans cover almost three-fourths of the Earth's surface. The evidence is that the archaic and unsystematic way ocean temperatures have been measured has help exaggerate the increase in global warming - possibly by as much as 40 percent.
The "save the forests - no logging" policies of the "tree huggers" has largely been responsible for the dense forests and the amount of deadwood and undergrowth that has fueled the voracious wildfires. Trees absorb Carbon-Dioxide (CO2). So, a large fire reduces the number of trees available as a "CO2 sink." Large fires increase the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. And fires deprive us of trees that could have been used for furniture and new home construction (if logging had been allowed in the first place). Smooth move! President Bush and the Secretary of the Interior are at work on a more realistic plan for management of our forests. The "tree huggers" might now chain themselves to electric high-tension towers (which environmentalists seem to hate so much). One might hope that the chains somehow get twisted in the wires.
By now, most everyone knows the "Klamath Basin" water story. Water from a lake was shut off to farms to protect the Sucker Fish and some other wildlife "citadels" in the area. Crops for this year are ruined. Land values in the area have dropped from about $2500 to $35 an acre. Ironically, on the 200,000 acres of parched farmland, rabbits, ducks, deer, and even bald eagles are either dead or off in search of water. There is no evidence that the Sucker Fish is doing any better. Environmentalists claim farmers should have never settled there in the first place, as they put "undue stress" on the land. Ah, ha! There's your bottom line. Animals are superior to humans and should be given the first choice on any land use.
Many of those enviro-terrorists, who value the Sucker Fish over humans, no doubt come from Los Angeles. If it were not for the water piped into LA, the town would still be a dusty outpost. Let's start a new movement to cut off water to Los Angeles because they are putting "undue stress" on the land. No more idiotic than driving the farmers out of the Klamath Basin. Read some of the history of the "water wars" in the West, including the LA area.
Remember the ozone hole over Antarctica? This environmental boondoggle was largely responsible for the banning of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), such as in spay cans and the Freon that we used in our vehicle and home air-conditioners. Ozone is supposed to protect us from harmful UV radiation from the sun. It cost billions to switch from Freon to other coolants, as one outcome of the ban. Well, the sad news is that the ozone hole is bigger today! Ooops. We guessed wrong about its cause - and maybe about the possible consequences. But it was one of the many doomsday predictions that the liberal media fell in love with, along with "nuclear winter," and now "global warming." What is it with these people? Is it some gene that we could isolate and weed out in future generations?
A letter writer to The Wall Street Journal said that CO2 emissions, the alleged major cause of global warming, are only 4% man made and 96% by Mother Nature. That seems consistent with the research I have seen. We have to stop demonstrating and predicting doom so much and pray more. Pray for less forest fires, fewer volcanic eruptions, and that mankind can find substitutes for food crops and animal husbandry that generate CO2 and methane (CH4).
Of course you know that when a cow emits flatulence, it emits among other things, methane gas, which is one of the so-called greenhouse (global-warming) gases. There are many studies that attempt to answer the question whether cow flatulence is a significant contributor to global warming. This could be yet another argument for those who espouse a vegetarian lifestyle. I like rice and beans. But wait, rice paddys produce methane. Well, we can't have that. We have to shift those pesky Chinese over to some other basic food in their diet. Maybe bamboo shoots. No, can't do that. The Giant Panda subsists largely on bamboo shoots. Back to the dart board.
Next will be the formation of the group BHF (Ban Human Flatulence). The first target will be vegetarians who eat a lot of beans and cabbage. Human flatulence contains five gasses, among them Carbon-Dioxide (CO2) and Methane (Ch4), both of which are "greenhouse" gases. Stiff fines might be enacted for the emission of human flatulence. There will be a new market for sound and odor-absorbing diapers to cover up the heinous crime from the BHF fanatics. The market for room-freshener sprays will take off like a rocket. Invest now.
Some of the foods that are alleged to cause flatulence are: apples, brussel sprouts, eggplant, popcorn, apricots, cabbage, nuts, prunes, beans, carrots, raisins, bran, cauliflower, peaches, soybean, broccoli, dairy products, pears, and tuna. All of these food will have to be banned as not "environmentally friendly." Since on most days I eat as many as nine of the above foods, I will have to spend more time on the back porch near the cows. It will be kind of a flatulence standoff, each eyeing the other suspiciously - with twitching nostrils. Hopefully the BHF fanatics will be too occupied patrolling Mexican restaurants to get out here in the Outback.
Perhaps we could drink Slim Fast for all our meals - as one way to help save the environment. There seems to be no middle ground.
I get upset with people who throw beer cans and bottles along the highways. I love the forests, mountains, streams, and lakes of this country and our abundant wildlife. I'm looking out my window now at a herd of cows grazing and at a nearby pond where people enjoy fishing. Somewhere there is a rational policy that balances the needs of man and nature. But the extremes of the Endangered Species Act and the constant clamor against anything man does that might in the most remote way affect the environment has titled the argument too far - to fanaticism that bears no resemblance to logic. There seems to be a glimmer of hope that the public is catching on.
Forget Liar & Adulterer - Cong. Gary Condit is Simply Stupid
Like most of you, I am very tired of hearing about Shandra Levy and Cong. Gary Condit. It is very sad that the young lady is missing, and presumed dead. But thousands go missing each year and at best show up on a milk carton. The media says that everyone want to know about this case. Maybe, but not 14 hours a day! I have quit watching most cable channel news shows until the woman is found and the case is solved. This media frenzy is worse than for the O.J. trial.
But, the Condit interview by Connie Chung on ABC has finally moved me to pen more than a couple of throw-away lines, as I had previously done. I wrote most of these comments the day after the Chung interview, before the "pundits" spent a week pontificating about what it all meant. I knew what it meant instantly, as did you, no doubt.
Even the amoral Bill Clinton finally admitted in public that he had a sexual relation with Monica Lewinsky. Condit refused several times to answer if he had a sexual relation with Shandra Levy. He talked about how the Levy's had "asked" him not to talk about the details of his relationship with their daughter. They never did. That flight of fantasy was milked by Condit from some comments made by the Levy attorney, Billy Martin on a TV show. What a weasel to falsely invoke the "request" to a right of privacy from the grieving parents.
In passing, I thought that Connie Chung spent too much of the valuable time trying to get him to admit that he had an affair with Chandra. He obviously was not going to answer the question if asked one thousand times. It seems that politicians are framing new definitions for the words "affair," "relationship," and "sexual" - taking their cue from the Great One - who said oral sex was not sex.
In future interviews, journalists (and police) will be forced to ask: "Did you have an intimate relationship? Did you hold hands? Did you kiss on the mouth? Did you ever touch or fondle the genitals of the other person? Did you ever hold or hug each other while either or both of you were naked? Were both of you naked? Did you give or receive oral sex? Did you have sexual intercourse, that is, penetration of the penis into the vagina? Or any orifice of the body?"
Parse those questions if you can, Mr. Condit. Spin those answers, Mr. Glib and Obsequious Attorney Abbe Lowell. Easy for the attorney, "The congressman and I never personally discussed the details of the relationship." Well, discuss them, so you can quit wasting our time on TV with obfuscations and circumlocutions, Mr. Lowell. Is it any wonder lawyers rank with used-car salesmen in public esteem?
Cong. Condits's undoing was his statement that he did not have an affair with the airline hostess Anne Marie Smith! There is a slim-to-none chance that she is lying about her affair with Condit. The draft memo from his lawyer asking her so sign a statement that she did not have an affair with him is the smoking gun. She says he discussed the memo personably with her. Let's see if he ever has to testify under oath about his relationship with Mz. Smith and whether he ever asked her to sign such a memo. Probable perjury! But, why worry? Bill Clinton got away with that kind of perjury.
Condit's assertions that he never had an affair with Anne Marie Smith and that she is trying to cash in on the situation by selling her story to the tabloids is preposterous. Her roommates apparently sold a story or two to the tabloids for money. But, so far there is no concrete evidence that Anne Marie Smith has made a dime from "promoting" her story.
Surely, the people of his district will finally figure out that he is a sociopath, a serial philanderer - and a lying bastard. Maybe even worse - he is stupid! Anybody who would go on national TV and tell so many bald-faced lies is completely mentally disengaged. Do we need any more stupid people in Congress? And on the House Intelligence Committee in particular? Maybe all this does not matter in California politics. It should.
Mr. Condit should resign. If not, the House Ethics committee ought to have him testify in open session under oath. One line of questions: "Did you have a sexual affair with Anne Marie Smith?" And repeat all of the permutations of having a sexual affair that I noted above. If the House can't convince him to resign, then we can only hope that the voters of California will exercise some judgement and vote the man out. But surely he will not have the gall to run again? Don't count on it. He is a captive of his own lies. He really thinks he is the victim in the case.
The C-SPAN Congressional Directory lists Gary Condit's profession (before politics) as Marketing Director. After the job he did trying to market all of his lies, and blaming his problems on people who ostensibly lied about him, who would hire him these days to be a Marketing Director? Maybe he could be the Disaster Director on Titanic II. He would be the first one into the lifeboats and claim that he was hit on the head by a little-old-lady with a metal cane - who was trying to push him out of the way. He fell into the lifeboat by accident. The little old lady? Oh, she drowned.
Suggested Reading From Past Columns
Global warming and environmental debate:
"John Stossel And ABC's 'Tampering With Nature,'" June 29, 2001
"The Kyoto Protocol & Global Warming - A Monumental Scam?" June 16, 2001
"Environmentalism For Dummies," April 7, 2001
"Environmentalism For Dummies - Part II," April 21, 2001
"Public Interest Groups With Sometimes Very Little Public Interest," May 12, 2001
Prescription drugs being advertised on TV - abuses in the pharmaceutical industry - supplements:
"Baycol Cholesterol Drug Withdrawn From the Market," August 18, 2001
"The New Cholesterol Guidelines - Everybody Gets A Pill," July 7, 2001
"Bitter Pills To Swallow," June 2, 2001
"The Drug Companies Continue Their Assault On Your Pocketbook," May 19, 2001
"Herbal Remedies, Supplements, And Alternative Therapies," September 18, 2000
"Prescription for Disaster," September 11, 2000
Computers and Technology:
"LCD Flat Panel Displays & Dual Monitor Video Boards," August 18, 2001
"DishNetwork's Personal Video Recorder Dish Pro 501," July 28, 2001
Interesting Books to Read:
"Body of Secrets," by James Bamford, July 28, 2001 (About NSA)
"Your Body Clock," August 4, 2001
Health - General:
"Trans Fatty Acids - The Hidden Fat," August 4, 2001
"Your Body Clock," August 4, 2001
A case history of horrendous abuse by Federal law enforcement:
"FBI Sniper At Ruby Ridge My Be Tried For Manslaughter," June 9, 2001.
Late Night TV Cruel Humor, et al.:
"David Letterman Grovels For The Colombians," May 19, 2001
"Are Leno And Letterman Using The Same CD-ROM For Constructing Jokes?" May 12, 2001
"Late Night Comedians Struggle To Lampoon Bush," May 5, 2001
"Late-Night TV Sick Humor," August 28, 2000
"Late-Night TV Political Comedy," August 14, 2000
Crime, guns, gun-control:
"Eyewitness Testimony is Suspect," August 18, 2001
"The AMA Is Losing Its Way," June 29 2001
"Government Waste and Fraud," August 18, 2001
"President Bush's Excellent Adventure," June 29, 2001
"The Bush Budget - Fighting Over 4% Growth Versus 8% Growth Is Nonsense," April 21, 2001
"Campaign Finance Reform - A Senatorial Catharsis - And National Snow Job," March 31, 2001
"Florida Secretary Of State Literally Begged Networks Not To Call Election Early," March 24, 2001
"The Ever-Expanding First Amendment," January 26, 2001
"Bush Administration Needs To Review The Mission Of Federal Law Enforcement," January 26, 2001
"New York, What Were You Thinking?" November 13, 2000 (Re: Hillary Clinton)
"Lessons Learned In Election 2000?" November 13, 2000
"How The Federal Government Corrupts The Constitution To Intrude Into Your Life," October 30, 2000
"Telemarketers, Caller-ID, et al," August 4, 2001
"Rid Yourself of Telemarketers," October 23, 2000
COPYRIGHT 2001 Richard C. Rhodes
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