Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's It Gonna Be?

I doubt you've noticed but we've got a vote coming up in September to extend the authorization for the Import-Export Bank. The Import-Export Bank you ask, is that like a credit union? No it isn't. The "bank" is an official agency established by FDR that is independent from the executive and it really doesn't loan money. What it does is take on the "risk" that business would otherwise not take so as to facilitate exports. In other words if a business wants to do business in Upper Volta but is afraid the local Generalissimo (who two years ago was a staff sergeant) might spend the national treasury on a villa in Nice then the Import-Export Bank guarantees the business will get paid. In fact they pay the business up front to take the risk (that they didn't take) and if the deal goes ass over tits the business still gets paid (with taxpayer cash). I know, it's complicated but what it really means is the "bank" hands out taxpayer money to companies that big politicians like. For example, about 44% of the cash goes to Boeing (and you wonder why Washington state is so damned leftist!).

Now everybody knows this is just a boondoggle but hey, big business likes it, the politicians like it, the corporate lapdog Chamber of Commerce likes it, and money don't mean shit these days so who are we to complain? Well there are a few malcontents out there such as myself who, I don't know, think that just maybe corporate welfare to connected multi-national companies at the expense of the US taxpayer just ain't right. But I'm just being difficult I guess.

But here's the thing. This is a good litmus test for our Republican politicians. Most to the Tea Party types are of course against this, but Boehner is, as would be expected, foaming at the mouth to vote HELL YES! So keep an eye out, it's going to pass there's just no doubt, but let's see who walks the walk.

Monday, August 25, 2014

History... What History?

Does the date August 24th. jar a nerve in you psyche? Probably not. Look it's no problem, for many of you history started when you got your first car, or first ride (wink wink) or maybe your iPhone (for CW it was his first double-breasted blue blazer from Jos. A. Bank, he was nine). It's ok, you're just an American...now quick, who was Salmon P. Chase? But for all you history illiterates out there the 24th was the day Paris was liberated in World War II. World War II you ask? OK, half of you can stop reading, House Wives of New Jersey just started. For the rest of you what happened was Tom Hanks landed on the beach at Normandy then George C. Scott commanded a bunch of tanks and, well they ended up in Paris somehow. So, yesterday they celebrated the 70th. anniversary of the event and let me tell you, what a hoedown! It's was like Paris Fashion Week with a haute couture military theme.

Now you have to hand it to them, the French are very good at paying tribute to the French. It was a patriotic celebration for Paris' few remaining non-Africans led by French President Francois Gerard Georges Nicolas Hollande (pronounced eh...screw-it, say it any friggin' way you want) honoring the French resistance (the most famous resistance EVER!) and Charles De Gaulle. There was not much mention of the US 4th. Infantry Division, the British, Dutch, Canadians, Polish or Wild Bill Donovan. No it was strictly a Francophilic exercise in national masturbation.

But before you get your panties in a twist I'll remind you of what General De Gaulle said at the time (at least they're consistent).
“Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the support of the armies of France, with the help and support of the whole of France, of the France that fights, of the only France, of the true France, of the eternal France!”
Eternal France my ass, eternally ungrateful dickheads maybe.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dispatch from the Road: San Diego

Returning to the scene of the 1999-2001 crime, San Diego.  Here is where I spent 15 months as XO of a Cruiser--USS PRINCETON (CG 59)--a truly great ship with a truly great crew.  I needed those things, as it turned out that when I set out for my cross country trip to SD to start the tour, a young woman was about to remove my heart from my body and blow-torch it to dust.  That ship and that crew had a lot to do with putting the spring back in my step.

But I never quite got San Diego.  I missed the change of seasons.  I missed the snap of chill in the air come fall.  I lived an idyllic life in Coronado where the temperature is 75 and the sun shines virtually all days of the year, save for two months (May/June) when the marine layer does its cloudy, cool bit.  But I never really took to it.

I think it was the heartbreak.  Without that, I'd probably have eaten this place up.  I posted on Facebook recently that I had not been back here since I left in 2001--but that isn't true.  I simply forgot the time I came here in 2009.

Mine looked just like this.  A magnificent beast.
This time is different though.  I will likely be coming out here regularly on business now, and I am going to have a great attitude about it.  I am staying at this quirky little hotel in Point Loma, a place I am enjoying though there is no coffee maker in my room.  I arrived home from dinner last night to a rocking pool scene and screening of the movie "Point Break" on a large screen above the pool.  The dining options within walking distance are limited, but so what.  I like it.

Had dinner the other night with a friend of long-standing who retired around the same time that I did from the Navy.  He's now an executive at a shipyard out here and doing wonderfully.  Great to see good guys thrive.  During our dinner, another exec from his company came by for drinks...a guy who also happens to be a friend of 27 years.  I have to imagine their company is in good hands, with these two guys running things.

I did not appreciate how beautiful SD was when I lived here.  Driving last night on "the 8" (they say that out here--add a "the" in front of the highway number) west, the hills rising, be-speckled with signs of human life, it is hard not to like it.  If you can afford to live in Southern California, then there are much worse places to live.

As I drove on the highway, I had a crystal clear memory of the Saturday morning that I bought my baby, a brand new 2000 BMW Z3.  Late on a Friday afternoon, I had come home from a day on the ship--I got a phone call.  The voice was familiar, a man from the Navy I knew well.  He was calling to tell me that I had "deep-selected" to the rank of Commander.  I was ecstatic.  It had been a tough, tough year.  So that night, I decided that I would wake the next day and go buy my Z3.  An impulse buy?  Yep.  Responsible?  Nope.  The right thing to do?  Absolutely.  I loved that car, and I am quite certain there is another Z in my future, after I get this other hip swapped out.
The drive back to Coronado from the dealer was an typical San Diego day.  Sunny, low 70's.  I had the top down--mostly left it down--and I was blasting the radio.  Those memories were so clear last night I could taste them.

I've got a full day here in San Diego and then a red-eye back home tonight.  I promise to give San Diego the chance it deserves.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Video on climate change from the Heartland Institute conference

Paul Budline, a professional film-maker friend of mine who spends his free time irritating all the right people, put together a nice video around the Heartland Institute's recent conference on climate change. Paul made some waves last year with a revealing video about the "knockout game," which received millions of views. This effort does not scandalize in quite the same way, but it is a nice peek inside the dissident camp.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Our War and Now Their War

You may know there are two competing organizations who's job it is to get Senators elected on the Republican ticket. One is the National Republican Senatorial Committee (CW's homeys) that routinely back establishment types like Thad Cochran and Lamar Alexander. Then you have Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund which...eh DOESN'T give money to RINOs.
Now guess who heads the SCF? Ding-ding-ding-ding, good for you, that's right, Ken Cuccinelli. Apparently Ken landed on his feet after losing the Virginia gubernatorial race to the corrupt Clinton lackey Terry McAuliffe. But I have to say, I think Ken holds a grudge after getting NO support AT ALL from the national party and of course there's that thing about Eric Cantor's people actually helping the McAuliffe campaign (gee, how's he doing I wonder?).
Anyway, the two groups don't get along that well because, well it seems conservative money DOES have someplace to go other than to the establishment, and the establishment ain't grooving on that fact one little bit!!
Now dig this, the NRSC is bitching up a storm because the SCF won't give money to the NRSC's beloved RINOs (I sound a lot like Big Fred right now, sorry). They're saying stuff like the SCF hasn't spent a dime against Kay Hagan etc. OK, fair enough but the NRSC got the Republican nominee Thom Tillis (Jesus, learn how to spell "Tom" mofo!) through the primary, he's their boy and he's their friggin' problem. If he wins they get the proceeds and the piss-offs. By the way if he does win do you think the Beltway Republicans will give any credit to anyone other than themselves? HELL TO THE NO! Besides, where were the Country Club Republicans when we needed YOU? Not sure? Just ask SCF President Ken Cuccinelli, he knows.

It looks like Bill and Hillary have made their opening move. Hillary has been on Obama's case in the last week or so about the mess in Iraq. She's also hit his economic policy recently and there's more to come. I'm sure you guys have seen this so I won't go into detail, but ain't it great! Politically speaking she really has no choice, she has to distance herself from this idiot but I'm a little surprised by the timing. It would seem to me a better time would be AFTER the mid-terms. Doing it now will only cause some rifts and potentially hurt turnout. But maybe she WANTS a big Republican year. Maybe a Republican controlled Congress gives her more to run against in '16. I'm not sure what the reasoning is but I'm sure they've got something up their sleeve, exactly what I have no idea. But at this stage who give a shit? I'm just loving every minute of it. Kick some Kenyan ass Hillary, we're behind you 50%.

On the Act of Suicide

This one might turn out a little heavy for readers accustomed to my usual breezy style here on the old blog.  If you're bothered by that prospect or by the subject of the post, then by all means, don't read it.  No need to add to your already dyspeptic state.

I write today about suicide, with Robin Williams' recent successful attempt fresh in the news.  I want to get on the record first and foremost that I while I have enjoyed Williams' work immensely and believe him to have been a uniquely talented individual, I do not confuse my one way relationship with his reproduced image on a screen with having been a human relationship of any real sort.  He entertained me, but we were not in any sense of the word, acquainted.  So while I am sad at his death, I am find it interesting the degree to which my fellow Americans have indulged in great flights of mournful fancy at his passing.

Williams' suicide has however, brought forward (once again) the whole concept of suicide and the degree to which those who succeed at it are acting in a profoundly selfish and rational manner.  There have been lots of stories in the press about people who feel this way, and their criticism of the media outpouring of affection for Williams that include the sentiments that he is now "free", that his act in some way represented a positive, empowering act.  The fear of course, is that others will see suicide in the same light and we will then have something of an epidemic…so the logic goes.

My interest in this story comes about as a result of a discussion I had with the Kitten recently--within the last two weeks--about suicide. The Kitten is multi-degreed in the field of psychology and does a good bit of grief counseling through the church.  She knows of what she speaks, and she has no problem taking issue with my variously strongly voiced yet thinly supported pronouncements on issues of mental health.

The subject came up as the result of a suicide in our town, the details of which are not important.  Our discussion centered around my perception of the SELFISHNESS of the act…I referred to suicide as the "ultimate" act of selfishness.  I have heard my very words from this conversation played back to me in the media over the past few days as those who see Williams' act in this light pontificate as I had.

Williams' death, however, has caused me to re-evaluate my position on this issue. I think the primary logical flaw in my worldview all along was that I felt that in the moment of despair, the suicidal person was making a rational, logical, choice to end their pain.  That they had weighed the consequences in a coherent manner, that they fully realized there would be ruin left in the act's wake, and that they chose death anyway.  This is where the selfishness comes in.

For whatever reason, I have been all along able to see depression itself as irrational….that the person suffering from it has a skewed view of the world and their place in it…but then at the moment of greatest despair and depression--I viewed that act as rational. Why I could see the sickness (depression) as irrational but the symptom (suicide) as rational is …in itself…irrational and illogical.  Robin Williams had everything to live for.  He was rich and possessed the means to stay that way.  He was immensely talented.  He was universally loved.  By every rational measure, he was on top of the world.  Yet he ended his own life anyway.  What could possibly be rational about that?

My view of suicide has caused me to be somewhat less than charitable to the memory of those who have died this way.  When the Chief of Naval Operations put a bullet in his own chest in the 1990's, I remember clearly thinking he had acted selfishly.  This view was challenged somewhat when a good friend of mine died by suicide a few years ago, but for whatever reason it wasn't enough to cause me to think differently about his death.  Williams' death--and The Kitten's counsel--have caused me to question my view of suicide at fundamental levels of understanding.

Although I maintain there are still instances of suicide that are acts of selfishness (mostly those that involve escaping punishment for some crime/act), I imagine those are much more rare than I thought.  I have come to believe that at that moment of greatest despair, investing a disconsolate person with the levels of rationality that I had, was simply the wrong thing to do.  I hope to be more understanding of the totality of the act in the future, and to judge less harshly those who die in this manner.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

On the Road This Week

Leaving a little later today for a trip to Newport, RI, where I will undergo three and a half days of grueling indoctrination (heh) designed to make me into a passable "Professor of Joint Maritime Operations".  I will be teaching a class on Thursday nights this year at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, for those "non-resident" students of the Naval War College interested in pursuing their studies.

My usual lodgings in Newport are full-up while I'm there, so I decided that this time I'd stay in Jamestown, just across the bridge.  I have a few friends there, and it is a quaint little place very different from the hubbub of summertime Newport.  Its expense exceeds the sum Uncle Sugar allots for my lodging, so I'll kick in a few sheckels each night to enjoy a little better QoL than I would at the Bates Motel in Newpawt.

I'm looking forward to teaching this class, even if I am somewhat infamous for my dissertations on the evil of excessive "Jointness".  While I am very happy to no longer be in uniform, I do miss the interaction with bright young whippersnappers, and I imagine this will land me squarely back in that briar-patch.  I shall pattern my instruction after Robin Williams' character in "Dead Poet Society"......

That part of the summer is upon us in which the Kitten begins to fret about not having accomplished all she wished, the Kittens are moaning about school, and frenetic activity abounds in an attempt to wring the very last bit of magic from the season.  I have been amazed at how lovely the weather has been, so nice in fact, that the annual series of running gun battles with the Kitten over the use of AC has been rendered moot.  We've kept the house open much of the time, and the week ahead looks like more of the same.  My lawn--which be this time in past summers had begun to turn a brownish grey, is still quite green and full.  All in all, it has been a wonderful summer.

My only regret is that another summer has come and gone without me spending a week on the Outer Banks.  I have a need deep in my bones to get back out there...perhaps next summer...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's on your mind, Champ?  Gonna have to fight again where you told us we were finished?  Ebola got you worried?  Get it off your chest, friend.  Emote!

Weighed in at 187 today, not bad after last weekend's debacle of eating.
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