“President Obama” = I’m Proud to Be an American

Posted on November 4th, 2008 in Commentary,Politics by EngineerBoy

President Obama

I’m a 47-year-old, white, male, upper-middle-class Texan.  And tonight I am proud to be an American.  We have lived up to the fundamental precept of this country – all men are created equal.  As a country, we make mistakes, we follow ill-advised paths towards unwarranted goals, we stick our heads in the sand about the large issues while simultaneously wailing and gnashing our teeth about unimportant bullshit.  But we also self-correct.  We blink our eyes, shake our head, stand up, look around, assess, re-evaluate, and take action.  So far in our history it’s been two steps forward for each step back, meaning we keep making progress, even if we get off track for short periods.

I don’t love or hate Barack Obama, I don’t love or hate John McCain.  Neither are angels or devils.  Neither would have been my first choice, but neither were horrific.  I don’t know if Barack Obama will be a good president, and I don’t know if he’ll be a bad one.  But I know he’ll be different, and different is what we need.  We needed to break cleanly and clearly, unequivocally, from the last eight years.  We needed to show the world, and ourselves, that we had enough guts and wisdom to admit our mistakes and change course.

And we did.  Barack Obama will be our next president.  A black man.  The fact that I’ve lived to see the first black US president fills me with pride and emotion.  And patriotism.  And optimism.  I hope to live long enough to also see the first woman, the first gay, the first atheist, the first Jew, the first Muslim, and first of every other wrongly oppressed minority get a chance to occupy the Oval Office, as long as they are qualified patriots.

I look forward to seeing the next phase for America under our new president.  I hope, and actually expect, that we will be able to set aside our petty differences, quibbles, and dogma and come together with President Obama to do less of what we’re doing wrong and do more of what we’re doing right…in order to form a more perfect union.

The New President Should Immediately Double Public School Teachers’ Salaries

Posted on October 19th, 2008 in Commentary,Politics by EngineerBoy

"Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave." -- Henry Peter Broughan

There are many problems that our new president will face on day one of his administration.  The economy.  War in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Terrorism.  Energy policy.  Global climate change.  Etc.  And I, as an American voter, should expect that important issues will be addressed quickly, with the most urgent issues being tackled first.  When I project to the first 100 days of the new president and speculate as to what will be his first, major policy undertaking – the one that will set to tone for his administration – I realize that there is one over-arching, all-important issue that serves as the foundation of solving all other issues.


Education is the only lever we can use to pry ourselves out of our current morass of apathy, stupidity, ineptitude, tomfoolery, flim-flam, and bullshit.  An educated voting public is the one and only way to preserve and refresh our still-great-but-stumbling nation.

Education is the only pathway to break us out of the fool’s game of dogma, partisanship, and illusion.  Skepticism and critical thinking are the only tools that a voter can use to make truly informed choices.  Intellectual curiosity leads one to question each and every candidate on each and every claim and issue, to make truly informed decisions, and to eschew the hegemony of the Idiocracy.

But how do we get to the point where a discerning population of voters makes informed votes to give us effective leadership?


Well, how do we fix education?  There are so many problems in our public educational systems that it’s like handing a lumberjack and ax and telling him to chop down the forest.  Where to start?  How about by announcing that the federal government will immediately match existing public school teachers’ salaries, effectively doubling their income?  Make teaching a competitive career for truly sharp, motivated people.  Back in the day I would have loved to teach, but not enough to sacrifice a lifetime of more than double the salary doing something else that I also love.  And even if I had gone into teaching way back when, I’m sure I’d be out of it now that it has devolved into being minimum security prison guards getting ground down between apathetic parents, idealogical wars, dingbat board members, and impotent administrators.

But if we double teacher salaries, suddenly the best and the brightest might actually consider teaching our children.  Suddenly the existing tiny core of truly effective, talented, and motivated educators would grow by leaps and bounds to include people across the spectrum of industries and avocations, and break the stranglehold that the mediocre have on the teaching profession in America today.

Seriously, when is the last time you met a truly exceptional public school teacher?  Not exceptional when compared to other teachers, but exceptional when compared across the board with other professionals in all industries and career paths.  Personally,

Colin Powell for President

Posted on October 19th, 2008 in Commentary,Politics by EngineerBoy
President Powell.  Has a ring to it, no?

President Powell. Has a ring to it, no?

We just watched Colin Powell on Meet the Press with Tom Brokaw, and I just have to ask, why isn’t he one of our choices for President?  He is the kind of person that we need in the job, but I don’t think our system can deliver him up, because he’s not a power-hungry, megalomaniacal clown.  He’s a smart, wise, thoughtful public servant, and he’s just what we need in the White House.  Someone with experience and respect on both sides of the aisle, and around the world.

I might waste my vote on a write-in for him.

Did John McCain Pick Sarah Palin In Order to Lose?

Posted on October 5th, 2008 in Politics by EngineerBoy

Okey-dokey, thanks...but no thanks.

I have a theory that John McCain picked Sarah Palin with the express purpose of losing the election.  There can be no other explanation.  This is a woman that he had met only once before naming her as his running mate.  Nobody in the lower 48 had ever heard of her, and as we learn more about her the choice by McCain seems more and more insane.

This is a woman who can’t name a Supreme Court decision, or name a newspaper or magazine that she’s read regularly, and I’m beginning to doubt she can see Russia from her house.  She is so unequivocally unqualified to be Vice President that it’s like we’ve entered an alternate dimension where they’re holding a bizarro-election.

There is no way that her selection has helped the McCain campaign or the Republican party.  It smacks of the Bush administration tactic of breaking any and every law of the land with impunity, right out in the open, and not only not hiding it, but flaunting it and claiming that it’s not only not wrong, but it is in fact right.  And that’s the spin they’re putting on her selection – that she speaks to the everyday Americans, the Joe Sixpacks and Hockey Moms out there who need representin’.  And we all know that if there’s one demographic that is near and dear to the heart of the Republican party, it’s the lower middle-class.

There is simply no way the choice of Palin was made for the purposes of winning the election.  The only explanation I am left with is that John McCain does not want to win this election.  That begs the larger question of…why?  Why wouldn’t he want to win?  I’ve found his campaign to be disappointing, because he seems to have eschewed his actual maverick credibility and become a pandering nincompoop.  He does not appear to be the John McCain that I expected in this race.

Well, what if what he’s doing is falling on his sword in order to protect us from another Republican administration?  What if he got into the Republican primaries without any expectation of winning, but only to stir things up and bring his actual true maverick sensibilities to the party platform?  And then, oops, he won – now what?  He may even know, or at least feel, that he’s too old at this point to be President.  If that were the case, he’d need to make sure that his VP selection was someone not only qualified to be the veep, but also qualified to be President, given the increased probability that his age/health will render him incapable of serving his full term.

Did he do that?  No, he did the exact opposite.  He picked someone who doesn’t even appear to be qualified for the job she has, much less qualified enough to leapfrog to a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

In fact, he picked someone who will almost certainly ensure

Idiocracy (***½)

Posted on October 5th, 2008 in Movie Reviews,Politics by EngineerBoy
We Are Not Men

We Are Not Men

Idiocracy is the latest film by Mike Judge, who also created Office Space.  It was released in 2006, playing in only a handful of theaters with no advance publicity of any kind, and it quickly made the jump to DVD.  However, if there is any movie in recent memory that SHOULD have played endlessly at the multiplexes of America, it was Idiocracy.

As we here in the United States drown in a downward spiral of reality TV, processed foods, bombastic advertising, mindlessly large corporations, zombified workforces, and borderline retarded elected leaders, Idiocracy perfectly describes the water with devastatingly funny, sadly accurate satire and wit.

The story revolves around Joe (Luke Wilson), a current-day soldier who is selected, along with Rita (Maya Rudolph), to participate in a year-long human hibernation study.  However, while they are in stasis, the people in charge of the super-secret study are arrested for unrelated reasons, and Joe and Rita are forgotten about – for 500 years.

When they awaken they are greeted with a future where Joe, initially selected for his averageness, is now the smartest person in the world.  You see, as the movie explains, with no natural predators man has not evolved to favor the most intelligent problem solvers, man has instead evolved to favor promiscuity and dumbness, because that combination leads to the most babies, and the absence of poverty, disease, hunger, or hardship means that those offspring continue to survive and reproduce, causing human intelligence levels to decrease with each passing generation until mankind has reached the point where it can no longer maintain the technology of society, and the collapse of civilization is imminent.

One example of this devolution is that a huge company has signed an exclusive agreement to replace the water in the nation’s water supply with their sports-drink, called Brawndo.  So, everywhere you go the water fountains and faucets supply Brawndo instead of water.  Unfortunately, even the portions of the water supply used for agriculture are replaced with Brawndo, and nobody in the dumbass future understands that plants need water to grow, so there is a looming food crisis.  All this is fostered by ubiquitous advertising which claims that Brawndo’s got electrolytes, which is what plants crave.  Joe, of course, is confused by the ubiquity of Brawndo, and the future-doofuses simply mock him for wanting to drink “toilet water”, as apparently the only place water is still used is for flushing. 

It actually takes a while for Joe to figure out how long he’s been frozen.  When he first wakes up he’s confused and doesn’t feel well, so he stumbles into a hospital for help.  After a reasonably revolting medical test, he meets with a doctor who gives him his diagnosis that:  “…it says here on your chart that you’re all fucked up, you talk like a fag, and your shit’s all retarded.”  Indeed.

Also, in the future most people have at least one brand name as

The $700 Billion Financial Bailout Failed – Good!

Posted on September 29th, 2008 in Politics by EngineerBoy

Just Say No

Today, the US House of Representatives voted against the proposed government bailout of US financial institutions.  Good.  We have a mostly free marketplace, and the less government intervention the better.  Yes, the government should set the rules, and perhaps even adjust them every great once in a while.  What the government should NOT be doing is constantly tweaking the rules and then bailing out the losers simply because they happen to be large.

Having the government artifically control the marketplace is…well…communism.  And we all know how well that has worked, historically.  It’s easy to understand why the government feels the need to do something – if they don’t, and the natural market corrections occur, many people will feel a lot of pain.  And most of those people will also be voters, and injured voters tend to react by throwing out whoever is holding the hot potato when the music stops.

And the music is definitely stopping.  After years and years of reckless financial policies, major institutions are finding that their worth is now based on undercapitalized loans to unqualified borrowers on overpriced assets.  Historically, we had regulations that prevented our large financial institutions from leveraging themselves so unwisely, but those regulations have been eroded over the last decade or so, and now the bill has come due.

And the bill must be paid, no doubt about it.  However, the bill should be paid now, by virtue of natural market corrections (with the associated, short-term pain) rather than through government bailout money, which can only lead to a solution that is, at best, inefficient, and, at worst, rigged to benefit the politically powerfully.  Personally, I trust the capitalist marketplace more than I trust the Federal government when it comes to the free market.  The government’s job is to set up a level playing field, but then not interfere in the game.

Can you imagine the outrage if, with four minutes to go in the Super Bowl, the NFL announced a bunch of rule changes, applicable immediately and designed to impact the outcome of the game in progress, simply because the team they preferred wasn’t winning?  Say it was the Dallas Cowboys versus the Baltimore Ravens, and the NFL desperately wanted Dallas to win because it would mean much higher fan interest and revenues for the following seasons, and Dallas is behind with 4 minutes to play.  So, the NFL announces that the Cowboys can immediately gain access to the Ravens full playbook, and listen in on all their called plays and headset communications.  Oh, and the Ravens have to bench their top offensive and defensive players, and their head coach has to spend the last four minutes of the game in a sound-proof isolation booth and can’t communicate with any of his players or coaches.

That would be outrageous.  But that’s what they’re trying to do with this bailout.  Every financial transaction is like a bet, at some level.  Every

CleverDonkey’s Final 2008 Beijing Olympic Power Rankings

Posted on August 24th, 2008 in Commentary,Politics,Sports,Television by EngineerBoy

To see the Power Rankings for the 2012 Games, click here!

Forget medal count – who cares if countries with hundreds of millions (or even billions) of people win a lot of medals?  They should win a lot of medals, right?  The big question is, which country is kicking ass in their weight class?  The answer is in the table below.

This table creates a weighted medal score by giving each country three points for each gold medal, two points for each silver, and one point for each bronze.  The country’s Power Rating is calculated by determining how many weighted medal points each country wins per 10,000,000 in population.  And to factor in economics, the population only includes those living above the poverty level (according to CIA poverty estimates).

As of this final update (Sunday, 8/24/2008, 10:00am CDT), the Jamaicans have maintained their position and taken first place in the Power Rankings – all fruits ripe, mon!  The Bahamians held on for second place, and Iceland snuck into third place in the last day of competition.  Mongolia and Slovenia rounded out the top five.

Congratulations to all, and we’ll see you again in four years!

To see the Power Rankings for the 2012 Games, click here!

CleverDonkey’s Final 2008 Olympic Power Rankings
click column headers to sort up/down

Olympic Power Rank Country Power Rating (Weighted Medals per 10 Million Pop.) Gold Silver Bronze Total Medals Weighted Medals (G*3 + S*2 + B*1) Population (above poverty line)
1 JAM - Jamaica 112.44 6 3 2 11 26 2,312,328
2 BAH - Bahamas 99.93 0 1 1 2 3 300,217
3 ISL - Iceland 63.24 0 1 0 1 2 316,252
4 MGL - Mongolia 59.53 2 2 0 4 10 1,679,931
5 SLO - Slovenia 50.93 1 2 2 5 9 1,767,259
6 BLR - Belarus 45.30 4 5 10 19 32 7,064,010
7 NOR - Norway 43.96 3 5 2 10 21 4,777,000
8 AUS - Australia 41.61 14 15 17 46 89 21,388,000
9 GEO - Georgia 39.57 3 0 3 6 12 3,032,550
10 BRN - Bahrain 39.47 1 0 0 1 3 760,000
11 EST - Estonia 39.26 1 1 0 2 5 1,273,570
12 NZL - New Zealand 37.43 3 1 5 9 16 4,274,400
13 CUB - Cuba 34.61 2 11 11 24 39 11,268,000
14 SVK - Slovakia 32.81 3 2 1 6 14 4,267,580
15 TRI - Trinidad/Tobago 30.01 0 2 0 2 4 1,333,000
16 ARM - Armenia 27.19 0 0 6 6 6 2,206,470
17 LAT - Latvia 26.46 1 1 1 3 6 2,268,000
18 NED - Netherlands 23.78 7 5 4 16 35 14,717,380
19 DEN - Denmark 23.68 2 2 3 7 13 5,489,000
20 HUN - Hungary 22.88 3 5 2 10 21 9,179,302
21 LTU - Lithuania 21.69 0 2 3 5 7 3,226,560
22 ZIM - Zimbabwe 21.07 1 3 0 4 9 4,271,680
23 GBR - Great Britain 18.81 19 13 15 47 98 52,104,820
24 CRO - Croatia 17.27 0 2 3 5 7 4,053,950
25 AZE - Azerbaijan 17.09 1 2 4 7 11 6,434,920
26 KOR - Korea 16.35 13 10 8 31 67 40,990,400
27 UKR - Ukraine 16.03 7 5 15 27 46 28,694,757
28 KAZ - Kazakhstan 15.80 2 4 7 13 21 13,293,764
29 KEN - Kenya 15.43 5 5 4 14 29 18,789,000
30 CZE - Czech Republic 14.42 3 3 0 6 15 10,403,000
31 PAN - Panama 14.24 1 0 0 1 3 2,106,090
32 FIN - Finland 13.17 1 1 2 4 7 5,317,000
33 SUI - Switzerland 13.09 2 0 4 6 10 7,637,000
34 BUL - Bulgaria 12.19 1 1 3 5 8 6,562,760
35 RUS - Russian Fed. 11.63 23 21 28 72 139 119,469,696
36 FRA - France 11.57 7 16 17 40 70 60,475,674
37 GER - Germany 11.34 16 10 15 41 83 73,173,130
38 TJK - Tajikistan 11.13 0 1 1 2 3 2,694,400
40 CAN - Canada 11.09 3 9 6 18 33 29,747,397
41 ROU - Romania 10.57 4 1 3 8 17 16,078,500
42 ESP - Spain 10.29 5 10 3 18 38 36,942,526
43 SWE - Sweden 9.77 0 4 1 5 9 9,215,000
44 IRL - Ireland 9.73 0 1 2 3 4 4,112,460
45 KGZ - Kyrgyzstan 9.40 0 1 1 2 3 3,190,200
46 ITA - Italy 9.06 8 10 10 28 54 59,619,000
47 DOM - Dominican Rep. 8.86 1 1 0 2 5 5,641,280
48 MRI - Mauritius 8.61 0 0 1 1 1 1,161,040
49 USA - United States 8.20 36 38 36 110 220 268,275,040
50 POL - Poland 6.95 3 6 1 10 22 31,636,253
51 BEL - Belgium 5.53 1 1 0 2 5 9,035,440
52 UZB - Uzbekistan 5.45 1 2 3 6 10 18,339,240
53 GRE - Greece 5.38 0 2 2 4 6 11,147,000
54 AUT - Austria 5.10 0 1 2 3 4 7,847,940
55 POR - Portugal 4.71 1 1 0 2 5 10,623,000
56 PRK - DPR Korea 4.62 2 1 3 6 11 23,790,000
57 SIN - Singapore 4.36 0 1 0 1 2 4,588,600
58 SRB - Serbia 4.34 0 1 2 3 4 9,217,230
59 JPN - Japan 3.84 9 6 10 25 49 127,690,000
60 MDA - Rep. of Moldova 3.74 0 0 1 1 1 2,674,770
61 ETH - Ethiopia 3.29 4 1 2 7 16 48,562,473
62 ARG - Argentina 3.24 2 0 4 6 10 30,870,566
63 TUN - Tunisia 3.14 1 0 0 1 3 9,562,802
64 CMR - Cameroon 3.11 1 0 0 1 3 9,645,480
65 TUR - Turkey 2.48 1 4 3 8 14 56,468,800
66 ECU - Ecuador 2.43 0 1 0 1 2 8,231,397
67 TOG - Togo 2.23 0 0 1 1 1 4,477,800
69 BRA - Brazil 1.99 3 4 8 15 25 125,598,870
70 CHN - China 1.83 51 21 28 100 223 1,219,466,440
71 THA - Thailand 1.76 2 2 0 4 10 56,734,200
72 TPE - Chinese Taipei 1.76 0 0 4 4 4 22,771,595
73 ISR - Israel 1.75 0 0 1 1 1 5,725,552
74 CHI - Chile 1.46 0 1 0 1 2 13,712,518
75 COL - Colombia 1.33 0 1 1 2 3 22,612,604
76 ALG - Algeria 1.18 0 1 1 2 3 25,393,500
77 MAR - Morocco 1.13 0 1 1 2 3 26,540,400
78 NGR - Nigeria 1.13 0 1 3 4 5 44,427,900
79 SUD - Sudan 0.86 0 1 0 1 2 23,136,000
80 RSA - South Africa 0.84 0 1 0 1 2 23,925,000
81 AFG - Afghanistan 0.78 0 0 1 1 1 12,758,150
82 MAS - Malaysia 0.78 0 1 0 1 2 25,784,330
83 MEX - Mexico 0.76 2 0 1 3 7 91,959,884
84 IRI - Iran 0.69 1 0 1 2 4 57,805,900
85 VEN - Venezuela 0.58 0 0 1 1 1 17,358,813
86 INA - Indonesia 0.42 1 1 3 5 8 191,219,394
87 VIE - Vietnam 0.27 0 1 0 1 2 74,487,188
88 EGY - Egypt 0.17 0 0 1 1 1 60,036,800
89 IND - India 0.06 1 0 2 3 5 852,498,750

Don’t forget to come back in four years – we’ll be tracking the medal races again!!

Dennis Kucinich Introduces Articles of Impeachment Against President George W. Bush

Posted on June 9th, 2008 in Politics by EngineerBoy

Kucinich Impeaches BushI just got done watching Dennis Kucinich introduce 35 Articles of Impeachment against President George W. Bush live on C-SPAN.  My take is that the Bush administration has run rampant, wielding Executive power as if it were a light saber, cutting and slicing through the Constitution, US Law, international law, valid treaties, common sense, human dignity, logic, reason, and morality.  That makes these Articles long, long overdue, and makes Dennis Kucinich a patriot and a hero (I never thought I’d say that about him!), in addition to being kind of a doink.

After 7 years of this administration, the US is despised around the world, and rightly so.  The good news is that if we act to show the world that this administration did not speak or act for our Republic, but instead acted against what we stand for, then we can take the first steps in the journey of a thousand miles to reclaiming our moral high ground.  We will also send a message to subsequent administrations that the US is not a monarchy, and the President is bound by the rule of law just like the rest of us.

I think the chances are slim that these Articles of Impeachment will result in the removal of Bush or any of his administration from office.  However, they need to be taken seriously by Congress.  Pelosi has stated repeatedly that the House will not attempt to impeach Bush, but I think she needs to rethink that position.  The ONLY way to heal the festering sore that is the Bush administration is to rip off the bandages, examine the wounds, scrub, clean, and disinfect.  Keeping them under wraps will simply turn it into political gangrene, slowly poisoning this great country.

Here is the full list of the Articles of Impeachment:

Article 1:  Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq.

Article 2:  Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article 3:  Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article 4:  Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article 5:  Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article 6:  Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.

Article 7:  Invading Iraq without a declaration of war.

Article 8:  Invading Iraq in violation of the U.N. charter and international law.

Article 9:  Failing to provide troops with body armor and vehicle armor.

Article 10:  Falsifying accounts of US troop deaths.

Article 11:  Establishment of permanent bases in Iraq.

Article 12:  Initiating a war against Iraq for control of that nation’s national resources.

Article 13:  Creating a secret task force to guide our nation’s energy and military policy.

Article 14:  Misuse and exposure of classified

Obama? Really!? Sigh…

Posted on June 3rd, 2008 in Politics by EngineerBoy

President ObamaFirst, a disclaimer:  I am not a true believer for any side, team, party, PAC, religion, or single-issue demographic.  My political and social views include both “Conservative” and “Liberal” policies, I’m not a registered Republican or Democrat, and I have no need for the President to be an older, white male.  I love America, I revere the Constitution, I think our three-branch system of government is the work of genius, and I’ve been around long enough to know that the pendulum always swings one way, then back the other way – all you have to do is wait long enough.

I also think that it’s time for a change, and that the current administration has been arguably the worst in the last 75 years.  Bush came from the oil bidness, Cheney came from the defense contracting world, and after 8 years of Bush/Cheney which two industries have had record, burgeoning profits as a direct result of the actions of this administration?  When these last two terms are studied by future generations they will scarcely believe that we, the people, stood idly by during these deadly, absurdly obvious shenanigans.

But now that era is over.  And while McCain is a reasonably competitive nominee, I don’t think there is any way the American people will put the Republicans back in charge.  So that means that the Democratic nominee will be our next president, barring a major scandal or some other Act of God/Rove.  And as of today, the Associated Press has called the Democratic race for Barack Obama.  This means that as long as he avoids mistakes, he is virtually assured of being the next President of the United States.

Yes, Hillary could continue to fight.  She could run as an Independent, which could put the election in McCain’s hands.  She could take the fight to the convention and end up poisoning the public on the Democrats altogether.  However, as much of a street fighter as she is, I don’t see her going so far as to risk putting the Republicans back in charge in order to win a Pyrrhic victory.

So, it’s going to be President Barack Obama.  And I’m scared.

Why am I scared?  Not because he’s black.  I don’t think he’s a secret Muslim.  I don’t care if he wore a lapel pin or put his hand on his heart.  My issue is that he’s an almost complete unknown, and the things that are known about him seem to be in conflict with the public persona he has created around his campaign, as follows:


His message of “Hope” and “Change”.  Well, hope is what losers have right up until the final out, and change can be good or it can be bad.  It worries me both that he would choose such ephemeral slogans, and also that the American voting public fell for it.  I “hope” the “change” he brings is for the better.
His portrayal as a political outsider.  A big part of Obama’s message is that McCain and Hillary represent the old

Hello, China, Welcome to the Big Leagues

Posted on August 1st, 2007 in Politics by EngineerBoy

As China emerges onto the world stage as a budding economic and political near-superpower, the United States has a great big welcome waiting for them, kind of like this:

For those of you unfamiliar with the original source image above, that’s what happened to 26-year-old Robin Ventura when he charged the mound after the 46-year-old pitching legend Nolan Ryan plonked him. That photo catches one of six straight uppercuts to the head that the veteran Ryan delivered before somebody saved poor Robin Ventura. Ryan had announced his retirement and I’m sure that young, brave Sir Robin thought he’d teach the old man a lesson before he left. Nope, wasn’t gonna happen, kid. Ryan said he had perfected his headlock technique wrassling steers for branding at his ranch. That gave Ryan the kind of experience, poise, and confidence that the younger Ventura just couldn’t bring to the table.

And right now I think the same thing is happening to young, upstart China, courtesy of wiley veteran The United States of America. And the uppercuts are being delivered as problems with Chinese goods. Tainted toothpaste, toys with lead paint, defective tires, deadly pet food – the list seems endless, and it seems to grow monthly. And I don’t know about you, but all of this talk of substandard and dangerous Chinese goods seemed to have started happening fairly recently. Before that China was happily mass-producing crappy goods to fill all the Wal-Mart shelves in the US, with nary a peep about quality or safety.

But now, suddenly, scandal after scandal over defective and dangerous goods. And today a Chinese toy plant owner/manager committed suicide, presumably due to his humiliation over the recent toy recall. And a few weeks ago China executed the head of their FDA-counterpart for taking payoffs for drug approvals. None of this is building US consumer confidence in Chinese goods.

And, if looked at from a particular perspective, these events could be interpreted as a deliberate anti-marketing campaign. I mean, think about it…Chinese products are harming our children, killing our pets, causing car accidents, and poisoning people who clean their teeth. That describes the major points of most Americans’ daily morning routine. You get up, brush your teeth (and get poisoned), feed your dog (and poison him), have the kids put down their toys (off of which they’ve gnawed poisonous lead paint chips), then (if you’ve managed to survive long enough) drive them to school on your ready-to-fail Chinese tires. I predict the next two Chinese product scandals will be over breakfast cereal and coffee, which would give them 100% failure in the American morning routine.
When I apply the sniff test to all of these incidents, they come up smelling like something other than random occurrences. Somebody, somewhere is making these things happen publicly at this point in time. I doubt it’s the Chinese trying to committ some kind of geopolitical

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