Friday, July 22, 2016

Solitude

My women have abandoned me for their summer travels, and so I sit here at my kitchen table writing this blog post for the few people who will read it. The ManCave being too dark, I've moved myself here to enjoye the view and the light, although it puts me in the position of being keeper of the dogs, who feel that coming in and out of the house at oddly spaced intervals is their canine right. Another thing, I have dogs who know how to tell time, or at least close to it. The practice around this house is to feed them when we wake in the morning and then again at 5PM. Damn if these dogs don't start getting squirrly at 4:45PM.

I have a colossal amount of work to do, so much that I'll be working tonight, Saturday and Sunday here at my little desk view of paradise. This is is because of two things: 1) I am overextended, as I generally am in the summer for some reason and 2) I am unable to not nip onto Twitter at regular intervals and snark a bit to the masses. Please avail yourelf of the Twitter tool I have at the bottom of my main page if you'd like to see some of my offerings.

This is a big empty house when there are no girlies giggling or sounds coming from the various things the Kitten has playing on her computer while she works. A full week into this tomorrow morning (I was in SD for the first few days of their travels), with 2.5 weeks more to go.

This is my "Staycation" week. It was supposed to be my "Go to Cleveland for the RNC" week, but then, well, you know what happened there. So then I put my foot down and said that while the girls were gone, I'd have a no joke week off here to do as I please. Well, I've had to carry my ass into DC three times this week, and it hasn't made me a happy camper. I have another Staycation on the books for the week ending in Labor Day, and I damn well mean to be ruthless about observing it.

My annual war with the poolside crepe myrtle has begun, a little later this year. I have begged and begged the Kitten to trim it back, but she is a bit of a tree-whisperer and will hear nothing of it. Now I know some of you out there are thinking "hey, she's gone, go ahead and trim it back", but those sort of tactics do not serve me well here. As my friend Fred says, "while initially amusing, ultimately self-destructive".

One of the benefits of my being by myself is eating, although I eat pretty damn well when the crew is here. But I've taken to trying to eat some of the things that have accumulated in our freezer that seem never to make it onto the dinner menu. For some odd reason, I found two lobster tails in there this afternoon (of undetermined age), and so I cooked them up and warmed the bit of ribeye I put aside last night for an ersatz "surf and turf".  Whilst rummaging, I also came across a number of bags of frozen scallops, which could prove tasty. I just need not be too picky on the expiration dates.

It has been a beautiful summer week here, and by the looks of the weather report, we have another week of hot and sunny ahead of us. Of concern looming on the horizon is some rain late in the week. I'm having a few folks over for a cookout a week from now, and would dearly like it to be a nice day.

Ok---I'm rambling--have a great Friday night.


A Letter to a Republican Friend about to Help Team Trump

Over at War on the Rocks, I've written a letter to a friend contemplating going to work for the Trump Campaign.

We've done it, friends. We have nominated a pro-choice, anti-2A, statist, single-payer healthcare loving, eminent domain pushing, twice-divorced, serial adulterer as the GOP nominee.

For years I have argued for a GOP candidate who de-emphasized social issues--well, Donald Trump did exactly that last night. The only problem is that he also de-emphasized everything else that the GOP has been about.

Enjoy the bonfire, folks.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Ted Wedding

Those of you familar with Game of Thrones will understand the reference in that the title of this post makes. It is not original, as I stole it from a popular Twitter hashtag. Essentially, the "Red" Wedding was an episode in which the Lannister Family, acting through its agents The Freys and the Boltons, murders a number of key members of the Stark Family that they had lured to the Frey keep under the pretense of a wedding. The episode is notable for its graphic, grisly, depiction of the carnage.
Robb Stark is murdered by Roose Bolton at the Red Wedding

Ted Cruz did the same thing to the Trump Convention last night that the Lannister Family did to the Starks. He waded right in under the pretense of an invitation to address the gathered Trumpian Faithful, and he committed murder. He murdered the facade of Republican Unity that Reince Preibus and Paul Manfort had so carefully been attempting to stage manage. He murdered ANY suggestion that Donald Trump is a man of the Constitution. He murdered ANY suggestion that Trumpland has anything whatsoever to do with conservatism. And it was an absolute delight to watch.

To the extent that I have been following the convention, I have done so on Twitter. But for Cruz, I got myself up and headed to the big screen TV to watch. I had no idea what Cruz would do. Would he do what Scott Walker and Marco Rubio had done earlier in the same night, which was to foolishly endorse Donald Trump with fulsome language in the pursuit of some nostalgic, 1976-like sense of party unity? If I had to bet, that's exactly what I would have wagered. Instead, he did what Ted Cruz does best. He stuck to his guns, pissed everyone off, and proved once again why he is so difficult to work with (and therefore, valuable). I read excerpts of the speech before it was given, and I could see no endorsement, only congratulations (gentlemanly). But readin the script and watching the speech are two different experiences. The crowd greeted him very warmly--but as the speech went on, it became more and more obvious that he would not endorse. The pro-Trump (majority) there began to react to this, and started to chant various slogans of support for their man. But Cruz was having none of it. He stuck to his guns and in a moment that will go down in convention history, he told America (as he was cannily speaking to the audience on TV and NOT in the hall) to vote our conscience. He was then roundly booed off the stage, as his wife was reportedly escorted by security from her seat.

That a man who spent twenty minutes talking about freedom, and who ended his speech by urging the crowd to vote its conscience, would be booed out of the hall is notable, if only for the suggestion that there may be something bothering the collective conscience of the boo-ers. This is something I have noted in my conversations with Trumpkins--a tendency to overwrought, emotional, sloganeering when presented with case after case of his political perfidy. Because many of these people were once sentient political beings, they recognize the irrefutable political logic of the case against Trump. Deep inside, a dying part of them is prodded like a dental nerve--they recognize the utter hypocrisy of their current support for a man who espouses political views that have been anathema to them for years, if not decades. But they have cast their lot with the Cheetoh Jesus (also not original), and their support comes so overwhelmingly from emotional places that their response tends to be anger. And also, overcompensation. Their defenses are those of someone with a guilty conscience. And as Ted Cruz discussed last night, they will vote their (guilty) consciences.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

In a Rational World...

In a rational world, there would be no beer-can chicken cooking in my oven right now.

In a rational world, I would not be sitting here at my kitchen table typing the blog on Sunday, 17 July.

In a rational world, I would likely be in Cleveland, OH for the Republican National Convention.

In a rational world, I would attend a convention that would be unified, uplifting, and confident in beathing the most beatable Democratic nominee since Mondale.

In a rational world, I would arrive back in my hotel room over the course of the next few nights, exhilirated at hearing the very best of the Republican Party lay out a vision for the future.

In a rational world, I would pay close attention to the up and comers, those whose speeches don't get covered on Television but who electrify the place nonetheless.

In a rational world, former Presidents, and cabinet officers, and conservative thinkers would take to the stage one after another to sing the praises of the Republican nominee.

In a rational world, I would have spent my days this week going from lecture, to panel, to speech, to gathering, rubbing elbows with the right of center illuminati and learning more about the world around me.

In a rational world, I would have been neck deep in helping craft the platform planks calling for a stronger U.S. military, and shouldering the sacrifices necessary to get it.

In a rational world, the nominee's speech to end the convention would be a rousing celebration heralding three and a half months of all our work to close the deal that results in a Republican President, Senate, and House of Representatives.

In a rational world, the nominee would lift the party's chances downballot.

In a rational world, the right would have spent the last two months pointing out Hillary Clinton's flaws, rather than the presumptive GOP nominee's.

In a rational world, the GOP convention would conclude with the nomination of a person who promotes individual freedom, free markets, limited government, private enterprise, and a strong military capable of sustaining and advancing our interests in the world.

But sadly, this is not that world. And so, I must go carve the chicken and think about a better future.





Friday, July 15, 2016

Heading Home

It is warm here in the San Diego United Lounge, largely because heat rises and it is on the second floor of an atrium-like food court below. I have come here to kill a little time before taking on the odyssey that will result in my return tomorrow morning to the farm.

It has been a beautiful few days here, good work during the day, good dinners with great people at night, and a lunch today with a truly special man, CAPT Joe Corsi, my second CO on USS PRINCETION (CG 59) where I was XO. The CO/XO relationship is a crticial one in the good workings of a ship, and I was fortunate to have two great CO's there, Joe coming second. The crew loved him, I loved him, and it was a happy, well-run, ship. I left a little piece of me there when I left in February of 2001...I imagine it is still there.
Joe Corsi--a truly great Cruiser Captain

It is odd to follow a coup d'etat on Twitter, as I am doing this afternoon. I have several good follows in Ankara Tweeting in English. Sorta like listening to old tapes of radio broadcasts from the Blitz.

I have pre-scoped the dinner offerings at SFO, where I'll spend three hours later this afternoon, and found them wanting. There simply aren't enough good steak joints in airports. Newark has one that I quite like. Will likely eat sushi or some other low carb choice.

Sorry, I'm a little distracted--keep hopping over to Twitter to look in on the coup...I'll end this now and come back when you have my full attention.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Case of Political Depression Leads to Political Suicide

The Kitten has a background in psychology, and nine years with her has given me a far better understanding of the various brands of mental illness (no, not hers, illness in general). One thing she has done for me is to describe her understanding of what someone who is deeply depressed goes through when they actually get to the point of taking their own life. I have been casually dismissive (due to ignorance and stubbornness) of the genuine despair people feel when they get to this point, wrongly attributing it to various things, mostly generalized weakness. I don't think this anymore. I have a lot more sympathy for those who are in this state and who reach this final sanction, this decision from which there is no hope of coming back,

A dear friend of many years got me to thinking about this in the past week. He and I were in a correspondence about a subject of some importance to me, and one of his emails, he wrote about our differing views of the state of our nation. Both of us are concerned he wrote, but his impression was that I believed that there was hope for fixing things (this is true), while he doesn't. His utter lack of faith in the institutions of our government and the character of the people running it was notable.

He wrote: "You say you don't like the direction the country is headed, yet your call to action was really, if I have been paying attention correctly, not so much when the left took us dramatically and continually left, it was when voters on the right who voted majorities into the legislature 3 times to stop the madness, got fed up when those they sent to fix things abdicated their significant authorities to check the executive branch's extra-Constituional actions and said, "okay GoP, can you hear me now?" and gave the GoP a resounding FU in the form of Donald Trump. Drastic times, drastic measures indeed.


Now, I considered this paragraph ungenerous, as I have been hammering away at this administration from the moment it came into power. But the key point was the final part--and this is where the comparison to suicide comes in.
This man and voters like him when confronted with a series of experiences came to conclude that the only way to end the pain was to end things altogether. No amount of doing things differently seemed to be producing the results that they sought, and so they pulled the plug. A suicide victim does it to himself and these voters are doing it to an entire party. Standing on the outside looking in, it is easy to see all of this as cosmic irrationality. "How is killing yourself going to solve the problems that you face?" "Won't killing yourself devastate people around you who love you?" Ultimately, these questions become less important, and just ending the pain takes over. The external irrationality is dwarfed by the straightforward rationality of the depressed mind.
"How is electing a statist with a grandiose view of exectutive power going to address your rage at a President executing extra-Constitutional authorities?"  "How is electing a man who has advocated single-payer healthcare for years going to address your rage at the growth of the scope and expanse of government?" "How is electing a man whose entire existence has been about making deals going to address your deep depression that your elected representatives haven't died on the hills of your choosing?"
All of these are rational questions from the external observer. But in the mind of the politically depressed, they simply don't matter. They just want the pain to end and they believe that the choice of Donald Trump is going to accomplish this. And just as suicide often leaves a wake of agony behind, so will this choice. 












Monday, July 4, 2016

Ref (A)


Sunday, July 3, 2016

For GOP #Natsec Community, Going Hillary is a Bad Choice

In the past two weeks, several prominent Republican National Security figures have not only disavowed Donald Trump’s candidacy, but they have also endorsed his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Brent Scowcroft, Richard Armitage, and Kori Schake are among the most well-known, and earlier this week, The Daily Beast posted a story in which a number of GOP foreign and defense policy types joined their numbers. Many on the Right see Trump as a genuine threat to the security, stability, prosperity, and liberty of this nation, and I agree with this assessment. That said, I believe the decision to endorse Hillary Clinton is shortsighted, strategically unwise, and in most cases, entirely unnecessary.

Make no mistake—I believe Donald Trump would make a disastrous President. I was among the many GOP national security hands who signed a letter in early March detailing our judgment that Trump was unfit to lead this great nation, and nothing in the ensuing four months would call for a re-evaluation of that stance.

If anything, he has continued on the path of dangerous rhetorical excess, utter disinterest in international affairs, and unpreparedness to tackle the great challenges that face this country. He has engaged in delusional behavior by accusing a primary opponent’s father of aiding in the assassination of President Kennedy, he compared running the world’s most important nation to renovating a golf course, and he cheered Britain’s exit from the European Union on the basis of its impact on that golf course’s profitability. Additionally, at a time where the future of Europe is threatened by an emboldened, Putinist Russia, Trump threatened to leave NATO if his demands for increased support from member nations are not met. Additionally, his trade speech this week reinforced his dangerous protectionist impulses.

To this day, his campaign is unable to point to more than a handful of national security advisers, few of whom bring significant experience in defense and foreign policy issues to the table. This is however, not unexpected given Trump’s assertion that his primary foreign policy advice comes from himself.

Secretary Clinton, whose national security views have been de-emphasized as she attempted to dispatch a pesky challenge from Bernie Sanders, is generally considered to be closer to the center of mass of Republican national security thinkers than is the isolationist, protectionist, nativist, Trump. I tend to believe this, and it is generally why all things considered, I think she would be a better President. But thinking she would make a BETTER president and endorsing her are two very different things altogether. I cannot endorse or vote for Hillary Clinton, and here is why.

First, she is untrustworthy. She is at best dishonest, and at worst, guilty of criminal offenses. She has consistently dissembled about virtually every aspect of the email system she installed specifically to avoid exposing her correspondence to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and she does so with a straight face. I will not belabor this point or any other evidence of her dishonesty.

Secondly, as much as I tend to prefer her foreign policy stances over Trump’s, one does not pick and choose from among a candidate’s policies like a Chinese menu. When you vote for (or worse, publicly endorse) someone, you own ALL that candidate’s policies, and you will one day have to defend them, whether you agree with them or not. Voting for Hillary Clinton puts you on the side of those who believe a higher minimum wage is an economically sensible idea, that America’s resurgence as a petroleum producer should be stymied, that the student loan debt problem should be solved by increasing the amount of money available for more loans, and that the problem with American business is that it is not taxed highly enough.

Put another way, the Right will not be in the wilderness forever. What you say and do now will live on, and when the time comes in which the Right has once again persuaded the American people to trust it with a strong conservative domestic agenda and a powerful vision of world leadership, those who publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton will face a significant credibility problem. To some extent, those GOP national security thinkers who sign on with Trump will have an easier time rejoining the team, simply because they remained loyal to the Republican Party (assuming the Republican Party survives this election).

What it boils down to for me is that as bad as Trump is, our system and our Constitution are capable of limiting the damage he can do to all but our national reputation. Fear of his Presidency is insufficient grounds for future self-marginalization by jumping ship to the Democratic Party. There are paths other than endorsing Hillary Clinton, to avoid not voting at all (which is after all, a choice in itself), voting for a third-party candidate (there will be no shortage of them on your ballot), or writing in a candidate. I will write in a genuine Republican—Marco Rubio—and then take my place in opposition to whoever wins the election, while working to rebuild a viable Republican national security approach.
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