Excerpts From Remarks By John McCain At The 2017 Liberty Medal Ceremony

❝ …I’ve had the good fortune to spend sixty years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful…

❝ To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain “the last best hope of earth” for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.

Lots more in the article. Especially for those who may lapse unfortunately, occasionally, into the sophistry of believing the truth must lie only between two extremes. Sometimes the truth is best defined by one of those extremes. Correctly so.

Milestone: Entire management team of the State Department has resigned

From Josh Rogin at the Washington POST

❝ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

❝ Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.

Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations…

❝ In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people…

❝ Several senior foreign service officers in the State Department’s regional bureaus have also left their posts or resigned since the election. But the emptying of leadership in the management bureaus is more disruptive because those offices need to be led by people who know the department and have experience running its complicated bureaucracies. There’s no easy way to replace that via the private sector, said David Wade.

“Resist” comes in many flavors. Civil servants haven’t a lot of choices. Resigning is closest to the honorable definition of boycott.

In fact, this is closer to an expression of honest political clarity than anything I expect from Congress. While there will be a number of principled Congress-critters who will speak out and vote against Trump’s crap appointees, the overall votes will come down to obedient sheep in the Republican Party exercising their diminishing majority.

Euro politicians have time to tell restaurants how to serve olive oil

olive oil

Critics ridiculed European Union bureaucrats on Saturday for taking time off fighting the euro zone’s debt crisis to impose strict new rules on how restaurants serve olive oil.

From January 1, 2014, eateries will be banned from serving oil to diners in small glass jugs or dipping bowls, and forced instead to use pre-sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be disposed of when empty…

…Critics say the rules are a sop to Europe’s olive oil producers, and will only add to the frustration felt by many towards a bloated EU bureaucracy regarded as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Europeans…

The Commission said its proposal was supported by 15 out of 27 EU member governments, including the continent’s main olive oil producers – Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal – which are among the countries worst affected by the euro crisis…

German newspaper Sueddetsche Zeitung described the plan as “the weirdest decision since the legendary curvy cucumber regulation”, referring to now-defunct EU rules on the shape of fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets.

The regulations are based on rules in force in Portugal since 2005, and are part of an EU initiative to help olive oil producers hit by rising operating costs and falling profits in recent years.

But Enzo Sica, owner of Italian restaurant Creche des Artistes close to the EU quarter of Brussels, said the rules would prevent him from buying his extra virgin olive oil direct from a traditional supplier in Italy.

“They say they’re thinking about consumers, but this will increase costs for us and our customers as well. In this time of crisis, surely they should be worrying about other things rather than stupid stuff like this.”

Who says Europeans can’t and won’t learn from Americans. The EU is simply following the examples of social stupidity expressed in reactionary regulations embraced so thoroughly by Republicans and a few other idiots in Congress.

EU hacks understand they’d be thrown out of office if they tried to pass useless laws banning medical care and women’s rights – so, they pick on absurdities which will at least get the support of anachronistic segments of Euro-capitalism.

UPDATE: Olive oil still drives the pols bonkers – but, uproar from citizens stopped this particular bit of stupidity from succeeding.

NYC medical examiner forgets to include baby’s brain for burial

A New York City mother said she was shocked to find out the city medical examiner’s office kept her baby’s brain after an autopsy.

Cindy Bradshaw and her husband received a call from Dr. Rachel Lange, of the medical examiner’s office, on May 4, alerting them that their infant son Gianni’s brain was still at the medical examiner’s office…

The call came in just hours after Gianni’s funeral and four days after his body was picked up from the medical examiner.

“She said, ‘Oh, I forgot to tell you the brain was missing,'” Bradshaw said of her conversation with Lange. “And she said that like she had known me for many years and we were having a casual conversation.”

The brain was returned to Bradshaw and her husband, who had to pay additional costs to have it cremated…

Bradshaw was even more shocked to find out her son was at least the fourth person whose brain had been kept without their families’ knowledge by the medical examiner’s office after an autopsy…

A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said only that “the city shares its greatest sympathy with the family on their loss.”

Har. Not entirely off the subject – but, this reminds me of the classic description of the writer Richard Matheson. Harlan Ellison once said – “”Matheson has the heart of a small child. He keeps it in a jar on his desk.”

There is more to discuss of course. Starting with bureaucratic insensitivity. But, you aren’t surprised by that — are you?

Best Buy trying to be more than a showroom for online sales

Big box retailers such as Best Buy have suffered from “showrooming,” where customers come into a store to find products they want to buy, but then walk out and purchase them for discounted prices at an online retailer, such as Amazon.com.

Now, as part of a new turnaround strategy, Best Buy, the nation’s largest electronics retailer by revenue, is fighting back, and to do so it’s reportedly taking a page out of Apple’s retailing play book.

At a test store near its headquarters in Richfield, Minn., the electronics retailer is offering a Solution Central help desk staffed by its Geek Squad division employees, which is similar to the Genius Bar found at Apple’s retail stores…

Best Buy is adopting other Apple-like retailing strategies, such as letting customers pay for products in several locations in the store rather than forcing them to line up at checkouts, the Journal said, and the recently-opened store is less concerned with displaying every Best Buy product and more with “connecting customers with employees who can answer questions or help program equipment…”

Best Buy’s new store format is just a first step in dealing with the retailer’s long-standing problems, interim Chief Executive Mike Mikan told the paper. But a strategy change at Best Buy is sorely-needed, retail experts say, as the electronics retailer has struggled in recent years in the face of fierce competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com.

It’s a tough problem. Apple, for example, has several things going for it hard for Best Buy and their kin to match. One obvious feature is price control. Another is knowledgeable service. It’s been years since I walked into a Best Buy where I didn’t know more about what I was shopping for than the employees who waited on me. Educated consumers are becoming a pretty standard feature in the world of geek electronics.

Local service can’t be matched by the online vendors. That is a feature that can weigh more heavily than sales tax avoidance. But, normal, sensible brick-and-mortat constraints on inventory are another feature that inhibit the usefulness of a local store.

TSA has no-fly list – restaurant has no-TSA list!

A restaurant near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington State has refused to serve Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees, posting a prominent sign by the door stating they are not welcome. Is this is a good thing…?

First, the action of the restaurant owner is legal. Discrimination against non-protected classes in the United States does not run afoul of the law…

You won’t find the TSA on that list. Refusing to serve TSA employees can be tricky, though. What if a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) in uniform who is black enters the restaurant. Will the owner throw him out? What about a TSO in uniform who is obviously older than 40 years of age. Will the owner throw him out? A female TSO out of costume orders her meal. During the service, the waiter notices the officer’s badge that clearly identifies the officer as a TSA employee. Will the owner discontinue service? Will the owner admonish the female TSO that next time she won’t be served?

I would hope the answer to all those questions would be yes, but if I was running a restaurant I would certainly be uncomfortable turning away a paying customer, especially one who could come back and claim I discriminated on the basis of their age, gender, or race.

Nevertheless, I think the restaurant owner in Seattle is doing the right thing. As long as it made clear that TSOs are refused service because of the organization they represent, I would hope that any lawsuit claiming unlawful discrimination would fail.

Although I do not hold TSA agents in high regard (because they have chosen to aid and abet in eroding civil liberties in the United States), I do not dislike any TSA agents personally. More so than anything, I pity that they must come to work and play a game of charades each day. But I associate the TSA with corruption, incompetence, and un-Americanism. Looking at it through that perspective, I cannot blame the restaurant owner for choosing the course of action he has embarked upon.

Local coppers have aided the restaurant owner – ejecting TSA officers who refused to leave.

Still – as much of my life as I’ve dedicated to open access to public facilities for everyone – I have to appreciate the humor, the sense of turnabout is fair play.

The owl who nearly went to sea on cruise ship golf course

A rare burrowing owl has been rescued from the world’s largest cruise ship, where it had apparently tried to set up home on a miniature golf course.

The “birdie” was spotted on board the Oasis of the Seas just hours before it set sail for the Caribbean from Port Everglades in Florida.

Wildlife protection officers caught the owl and released it into the wild…

A member of the cruise ship’s crew saw the owl near the synthetic grass of the golf course on an upper deck, and called in officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The 360 meter ship has a living park, complete with plants and trees, but the FWC said the owl would not have coped well with the environment.

“Burrowing owls need to be in open, treeless areas where they can dig their burrow,” said FWC biologist Ricardo Zambrano.

“The artificial turf on the ship’s golf course resembles the fields they use for nesting in urban areas; however, it was obviously not suitable habitat for this owl…”

I love burrowing owls. They are a rare sight around my neck of the prairie only because of their nocturnal habits. But, we have beaucoup raptors and the several owl species here are all favorites.

Church ceiling falls on True Believers

A dozen people were taken to the hospital Sunday, some with serious injuries, after the ceiling collapsed on worshipers at a Hickory, NC, church, officials said.

“They were right in the middle of services when part of the ceiling tiles in the back, near the doors, fell,” Adams said. “They collapsed down onto people in the pews.”

The Rev. Antonio Logan, pastor of the church, said he was collecting an offering for the church’s new public address system when the ceiling fell. “I led off with the first offering in the plate,” he said. “When I looked up, the whole ceiling was falling. The people who were sitting there couldn’t even see what hit them. It was horrifying…”

Dust and debris flew over the congregation “like a miniaturized 9-11,” Logan said, and people initially panicked. But he said the worshipers quickly started listening to directions as church leaders moved them to the exits.

Twelve people were taken by ambulance to hospitals around Hickory, fire department officials said. Some were seriously injured, but all were expected to survive. Logan said most of the injured suffered head wounds and cuts.

I guess that signifies something about offending thy God by not putting enough on the collection plate, eh?