Friday, December 2, 2016

Dispatch from Westlake Village, CA

It is nearly two in the afternoon, and I am sitting in the lobby of my hotel in Westlake Village, CA on the day before the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Reagan Library. I have come to this event each year since its inception a few years ago, a chance to get out of DC and hobnob with -- well -- mostly a bunch of people from DC. A smattering of folks from the provinces show up, but it really is an annual get together of a tightly knit groups of folks who work national security issues. It has always tried to be down the middle, but it has a bit of a right of center color to it.

Last year, I remember coming with such anticipation, such enthusiasm. My boy (Rubio) was on the campaign trail, doing just fine, with the whole campaign ahead of him. I beleived strongly that the Republican nominee would win the election--as I found Hillary to be a weak candidate--but I did not expect it to be the man who eventually won.

My ride
There is a great program on tap, and things get started a little later today with a cocktail reception. I started off my day with a couple of phone interviews, a nice massage, and lunch at a passable Chinese restaurant I have visited each time I've come here. My ride is a bitching Camaro convertible, and I drove left LAX with the top down last night, with the temperature a reasonable 63 degrees. As I headed north and East into the Santa Monica Mountains, the temperature dropped nearly twenty degrees in ten minutes, making for a frosty last few miles.

Tomorrow will be a long busy day, then up early for the flight back across the country. I won't get home until nearly midnight (after the two hour Dulles/Easton drive), and then it's up and out at 0600 Monday.  I'll write something quick tomorrow night if I have any brushes with fame.  Cheers!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Go West, Young Man!

I am sitting outside Gate D-19 at Dulles Airport, awaiting my flight to San Diego where I'll do a little client work for a few days. Sorry to disappoint, but I am not rigged in my tracksuit and trainer get up, as I have a follow on engagement in LA later in the week that requires me to be in business suit. So I decided to travel in said suit, with blazer carefully folded into the suitcase along with everything else.

I fly to LA on Thursday night, hang around a hotel lazily on Friday, and then attend the annual Reagan National Defense Forum at the Reagan Library. I usually run into a lot of friends from the National Security business there, and the day's events are always top-notch.

I do not like Dulles Airport. No, I do not. You either ride one of those silly buses to your terminal, or you ride a monorail that drops you a half a mile from your terminal and you get to walk the rest of the way. The dining options remain terrible, and the United lounge servicing the "D" terminal is clear at the end of one side of the building, and my gate is at the other. So, I am sitting at the gate sucking up an electrical receptacle powering this laptop up for the flight. I have plenty of work, but I suppose I'll read and watch movies.

I land at 1845 hrs SD time, and since I won't eat on the plane, I'll be ravenous. There is a Ruth's Chris right up the street from my hotel, so I think that will be my dinner choice tonight.

Just a check in today, I'll write tomorrow if I have anything interesting to share.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Castro FINALLY Goes To Hell

I'm going to make this short and sweet: Fidel Castro was a ruthless thug who ran a communist dictatorship that murdered a greater percentage of his people than Stalin, controlled their lives to a greater extent than North Korea and spied on them more efficiently and effectively than East Germany. He was a paranoid killer who's only peers were Stalin, Hitler, Zhou En lai, Mao and Pol Pot. May he rot in hell.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Jeb Bush on the Future of the Republican Party

Jeb Bush has a nice piece up at the Wall Street Journal, and in it he gets fully behind an Article V Convention of the States. To remind, Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides the means for its alteration by future generations, and it says:

"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate."

To explain, if a super-majority (2/3) of both chambers of Congress determine that an amendment is desirable, it is then sent to the States where 38 of the 50 must ratify it for it to amend. The Constitution has been amended using this method for all 27 of the existing amendments.

An alternative method would be for 2/3 (34) State Legislatures to call for a Constitutional Convention of the States in which Amendments could be proposed completely apart from the wishes of the national legislature. Those amendments would then go to the States for their ratification, and again, 38 of the 50 would need to ratify amendments for them to take on the force of law. Such a means of amending the Constitution has never been used.

The Founders specifically insisted on this latter method because of a fear that the Congress might itself become too tyrannical, and that there would need to be a method of amending that could occur utterly outside its authority. Initial discussions at the original Constitutional Convention did not include this "federalist" method of amending, but some who watched the sovereignty of the several states decline in that proceeding insisted on its inclusion.

With Republicans in control of 32 state legislatures, it is time for the Article V movement to switch into high gear. R's should market this as a means to update the Constitution THE RIGHT WAY, rather than having unelected judges legislating from Federal benches. They must remind people that 38 States would STILL have to ratify anything that came out of the Convention. They will need a few States where they don't control the legislatures to pitch in on this effort, so it cannot be seen solely as a way to push a conservative agenda. Attach items issues like term limits to the discussion, things that cross party lines for popularity.

Jeb is right on this.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Ready for The Turkey
It is a little after 8, and I am in the kitchen staring out at the Miles River while the dogs go through their morning rituals. A glass enclosed gas fire is kicked up next to me, and it just became hot enough to excite the small fan which propels its goodness outward. I slept in this morning, until just a few minutes ago really, after bedding down at 9:30. A solid effort on my part.

In about two and a half hours, the cooking will begin. The Kitten has planned a gluttonous repast to celebrate this day of Thanksgiving, and we and the Kittens will be joined by an additional six family members living closeby. This year, we have the added treat of hosting The Kitten's mother-in-law, who is also grandmother to the Kittens and mother to The Kitten's late husband. She is a delightful woman, and she has made me welcome in her world from the moment I entered it. We share a great interest in news events, and the two of us can sometimes bore the rest of the house with our chatter.

The Kittens are both here, and it is renewing to hear the laughter that comes from their scheming upstairs. Not that they are scheming right now; it is far too early for that. This is the 10th Thanksgiving that we have celebrated together--as I woke this morning I gave The Kitten a little squeeze as I rendered thanks for the three of them--properly named Catherine, Hope, and Hannah--for having allowed me into this wonderful family.

The Kitten has a well-thought-out plan, complete with timetables and forethought into how to manage the use of the oven, five cooktop elements, and the grill. Here is today's menu:

Roast Turkey
Grilled Local Duck Wapped in Bacon with a Blackberry and Balsamic Sauce
The Kitten's Famous Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Potatoes
Oyster Casserole
The Kitten's Famous Dressing (or Stuffing)
Brussel Sprout/Broccoli Medly Drizzled with Light Sauce of Balsamic and Honey
Dinner Rolls
Pumpkin Cheese Cake Pie
Pumpkin Pudding Pie
Pumkin Pie
Vanilla Ice Cream

We have a great, well-equipped kitchen, but an undertaking of this magnitude requires forethought into how all the tools are managed, and The Kitten has it down to a science. My contributions include, all things turkey, gravy, and duck. Also, the Brussel sprout dish and the peeling of the numerous potatoes that go into her decadent mashed potatoes. I remember an early Thanksgiving, together, when the little Kittens chatted about their mother's mashed potatoes with reverance. I dismissed it of course, as the hero worship of children for their mother--but when I tasted them, they were confirmed.

We are shooting for Supper at 1700 hrs, which means the long lead item (Turkey) gets started at about 1100 (out of the oven at 1615, in at around 1145). I have a 23 pound fresh Butterball, which I will cook breast side down (as is my recent custom). Doing so results in a bird that is not as pretty as a breast up version, but the breast meet comes out perfect. After the Turkey goes in, I turn to the mind-numbing job of potato peeling, before heading out to the grill to cook the duck, which is then refrigerated until the guests arrive, and is used as an appetizer. In the past, we have had several more appetizers, but this year we concluded that while they were delicious, they made us (me) full before the meal even started.

The house is quiet as I wrap up this post. The dogs have concluded their morning hyperactivity and have settled down for naps. I hear the hot water heater, so someone in the house is up and about besides me. Soon, breakfasters will be all around, and the television will be turned on to the Macy's Parade. Not much TV football watching goes on in this house on Thanksgiving, so I sneak out to the ManCave for quick nips at the games.

To conclude, I want to wish anyone who reads this a Happy Thanksgiving, and I'll share what is rolling around in my mind as the general theme for this evening's Grace with you as a way to extend its blessings.  Be well, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Dear Lord,
We thank you for this day, and for our lives.
We ask that you be with us this evening as we enjoy our family's love and this bountiful meal.
We know that there are many across this country today who do not share in the bounty, and who
are suffering in body, or in spirit.
We ask that you be with them this day, and all days.
We ask that you be with those whose jobs keep them away from home, and to return them to their loved ones safely.
And we ask that we be worthy of all of your blessings each and every day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

NOT Good Policy, NOT Good Politics

I like to think I understand politics, most of the time. Generally speaking I realize making an effort to get along, meeting your opponents halfway and being a magnanimous, all around swell guy can pay great dividends. The election is won, no reason to be vindictive or seek retribution. I get it. 

But Trump's decision to give Hillary a pass confuses and confounds me. Number one the promise Trump made to us that no one is above the law and justice will be done REGARDLESS, still rings in our ears. Hillary flouted the law. She set up a private server to avoid government oversight so as to sell access and favors through the Clinton Foundation. That much is clear as a bell to anyone who cares to look. We know it and the Democrats know it. So what's the problem in pursuing an investigation?

"Well Hammer we have a tradition in American politics where the winner never goes after the loser. It's tradition. We don't want to look like a banana republic dictatorship. Even though the law was broken, just let it go. We'll all be better off." 

Sorry, can't subscribe to that way of thinking. The law is the law and this isn't about the Democrat nominee or partisan politics or Donald Trump. This is about our national security and the RULE OF LAW, prosecutorial discretion does not apply. Mr. Trump upon taking office should have his Justice Department, with Congressional oversight, appoint SEVERAL special prosecutors. One to examine the Clinton Foundation and their role in Hillary's email server, one to ferret out the IRS abuses, one to examine "Fast and Furious" and one to look at the NSA and their spying on the American people. This is just my short list, I could think of others.  

"But Hammer, the animosity this would cause! Do you really want to put the country through all that?" Uh, let me think...HELL YES! The Hammer doctrine has always been good policy makes for good politics. Can you imagine the revelations to come from these investigations? I would argue we have seen only the tip of the iceberg. We have a compliant, corrupt media that refuses to tell us anything detrimental or embarrassing to BHO and his cohorts. We have members of the current administration taking the 5th before Congress. There is a lot there, if we would only look. We could drip drip drip extremely damaging information almost daily for the next four years. At the end of the day these investigations would most likely culminate in prosecution and conviction at the highest levels of the Democrat elite. Either that or we'd have a two hour highlight reel of the Democrats exercising their right against self incrimination. We could break the back of progressivism for a generation. The public would see all the nefarious dealings of this corrupt, vile administration and at the very least, Schumer would be playing nothing but prevent defense for the foreseeable future. Why would we NOT do this?

But let's say we don't. Let's say Trump takes the easy way out. What message does that send? It tells me and his most loyal supporters Trump is full of shit, and everything he's said is now questionable. In other words CW will be proven right. It also sends the message to the leftists that you can do anything you like no matter how heinous or outrageous, and if you do happen to get caught the conservatives will be too scared to take you on. This decision gives them aid, comfort and POWER. 

Jesus H. even the timing is wrong. If Trump wants to give Hillary a pass why would he announce it now? He's just letting BHO off the hook. Why not wait, see how this plays out. Obama could very well pardon Hillary in which case problem solved. The Republicans don't look weak, Hillary's guilt would be acknowledged by the current administration and there would be no backlash for our cowering Republicans to worry about. Waiting just gives Trump more options, and the fact he can't see that is more than a little disturbing. 

Trump should do as Obama with not a care for the feelings, input, council or reputations of his opponents. Elections have consequences. Trump needs to build bridges WHEN IT'S IN OUR INTEREST not to appease the radical left and their corrupt media. We as conservatives need to go on offense and advance our agenda forcefully and vigorously. We won! We won BIG and we need to start acting like it. I see absolutely no need for compromise. Extend the hand of friendship to the #nevertrump-ers, but the progressives get nothing. This is good policy AND good politics.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mattis and Romney

Talk this weekend on The Twitters was of visits to the North Jersey Whitehouse of Mitt Romney and Jim Mattis to call on President Elect Trump. The rumors are that Romney is being considered for the Secretary of State, and Mattis (former Marine four-star and Marvel Comics Action Hero) is being considered for Secretary of Defense.  These would be inspired choices, and there are strong cases for each. But the strongest case in my view is for each man to be in the other job. Here's why.

Jim Mattis used to be called "the Warrior-Monk" while on active duty. There is no doubt, but that he is a tough, Marine. But he's also a deep, deep, strategic thinker. When I think of who I would want looking across the negotiating table with our friends and allies ALIKE, I can think of no one I'd rather have there making our case than Mattis. This is after all, the job of the Secretary of State.

Why Mitt at DoD?  DoD is a huge series of interlocking businesses, and Mitt knows how to run big things.  He will have the gravitas to deal with the generals, admirals, and White House Staff.

I don't expect to be asked about this by the Trump team, but I leave this suggestion here for anyone who might be listening.
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