Thursday, May 5, 2016
When I informed some people of this decision on Facebook yesterday, a few who fiercely guard their independence piped up with huzzahs for my decision, congratulating me on what they perceived as a new sense of ideological freedom I would be afforded, and in some cases, their hopes that this would somehow translate into my application of whatever brains and savvy I have (presumably) to thoughts and policies they support, or perhaps to disputing policies the GOP supports that they find abhorrent. I must admit to finding this reaction somewhat troubling, and the logic behind it more troubling still. And that is, because I do not think as I do because I was a Republican. Rather, I was a Republican because I think as I do.
As a political animal with a multitude of policy positions, as I surveyed the landscape of the modern political system in our country, my views most closely aligned with the center of mass of the GOP. I had many, many disagreements with that center of mass, but the center of mass of the other party was even more disagreeable. For instance, I am as many of you have accused me here, squishy on the 2nd Amendment, having in these pages advocated for a Constitutional Amendment to amend it. Additionally, I have a rather libertarian view of gay marriage, which I consider to be just as ill-advised an intrusion on the sacred and the social by government as I do straight marriage.
Being part of the GOP did not impact my thinking on these and other subjects at all. But being a part of a system which since its inception favored a two-party arrangement, caused me to seek out and align myself with those with whom I am more politically comfortable. It was just that simple. Those who choose to remain outside the two-party system are essentially "unrepresented" more broadly than by their directly elected representatives. I think most of them are just fine with it being that way. Up until now, this was insufficient for me.
All of that said, the center of mass of the GOP has shifted, decidedly. It is far less amenable to free trade. It is far more isolationist. It is far more nativist. It is far more accepting of abrogations of the First Amendment. This doesn't mean that the GOP leadership buys into these policies--but it does mean a huge chunk of their voters do, and the Party's nominee surely does. I have a great deal of respect for most GOP leaders, and I hope that over time, they are able to wade through the flotsam and jetsam that is washed ashore by this tidal wave. The country will be better off if they are able to do so.
And so, I join the ranks of the "Independents", or as we in the People's State of Maryland put it, "unaffiliated". For the longest time, I claimed that I was more "Republican" than I was "Conservative". But when being a Republican means an expectation to support Donald Trump, I demur. Ideology DOES matter, and when I am presented with the opportunity to vote for a Republican who supports Planned Parenthood, single-payer healthcare, protectionist trade policies, an autocratic Russian regime, and retrenchment from our long-standing security arrangements, I realize that I am a Republican no more.
I will not vote for Hillary Clinton in November. I will write in a real Republican, as is my right. That said, if readers want an answer to the hypothetical--if a gun was held to my head, would I vote for Hillary or Donald, the answer is clear. Hillary. Both of them are left of center domestically, so that's a wash while Trump is dangerous to our national security and liberty at home. This one's a no-brainer.
A lot has happened in the two months--my unbroken record of getting Donald Trump wrong continued however, as he just days ago dispatched the rest of his GOP competition on the way to the nomination in Cleveland in July. Some of you know that not only was I raising money for Marco Rubio, but that was also helping on the policy team. I imagine if he had kept going, that team would have been announced, but he lost his homestate a month after the deer in the headlights act on a New Hampshire debate stage. He came back from that as well as anyone could, but I think back to sitting in that ballroom in Manchester with my head in my hands thinking, "oh my God--this whole thing is over."
I then joined the Ted Cruz team of national security folks. Quite different than the Rubio bunch, but very welcoming and accomplished people nonetheless. My enthusiasm for Senator Cruz never approached that for Rubio, but there was a Trump to be stopped, so I grabbed my oar.
Now there is no one left and Cleveland will ready for the circus act that is the Trump convention. I am content.that I fought the good fight, I did a good bit to try and hold back the storm, but it didn't work. My fellow citizens seem to want to have him in the race, and so be it. If he is elected, I will join the loyal opposition. In the meantime, I will continue to think and write and raise awareness of my sense of the man's elemental danger to American security, liberty, and prosperity.
But alas, I will do it here at least, alone. I have removed the permissions from all other bloggers here, and so I will be the only one posting. One of the reasons I took the blog down two months ago was my revulsion at the degree to which it had become a forum for the airing of ideas and support for a man I considered so repellent. I would read those ideas, whether posted or in the comment section, and they would anger me. I thought less of my friends and those who read this blog. Let me make this clear--it is on ME. I was the one not capable of hanging tough in the face of these comments and this tidal wave. Hammer (yes, I'm talking here about Hammer) was only doing what Hammer has done for years here, which was generally something I enjoyed. But his views (and others) were impacting on raw nerves, and so I pulled the plug.
So from here on out for a little while, you'll only get me. Also, I'm going to censor the comments far more closely than in the past. I'm prepared to suffer the consequences of the free market, wherein no one will then read the blog. If that happens, I'm ok with it. It will then be a place for me to catalog my thoughts if only for my own enjoyment.
Speaking of enjoyment, Tigerhawk has set up a new blog that celebrates the wonders of his new hometown, Austin, Texas, among other things. It is called "Blueberry Town", and it is terrific. I urge you to add it to your favorites and your morning scan.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
- cop-on (informal, idiomatic) Common sense.
- cop-out (idiomatic) Avoidance or inadequate performance of a task or duty.
- Q: Why is this happening?
- A: Trade and immigration, immigration and trade.
- Look at the polls, the internals, and you'll see why Trump is winning. These two issues cut across party, ethnic and socio-economic lines. Trump is pulling minority numbers that McCain and Romney only DREAMED about! He is winning with the well educated, the poorly educated, blue collar (what's left) and white collar... plus lots of Democrats.
- As it stands now (10:45 am 3/9/16) Trump is up in Florida 45% to Rubio's 22%. In Ohio Trump 41%, Katich 35%. No attack, no criticism of Trump has worked and if history be our guide nothing will. The powers that be on both sides of the aisle, regardless of what we may call them, have lost the confidence of the American people. Their attacks fall on deaf ears. They are seen as manipulators and liars and their negative ads only reinforce this perception.
- It's time to cop-on, Trump will win. He will win the nomination and he will win the general simply because he promises to do what Americans want done. He may be like Winston Churchill, just the best man for the job at the moment to be discarded in better times. But with eight years of a quasi-authoritarian President and a weak-kneed Congress, Americans believe it will take another quasi-authoritarian President to right the ship. He may or may not follow through and the American people could be making a very poor decision (wouldn't be the first time), but that's the thinking. This is the reality. Deal with it. Make your decisions based on these facts and then prepare to live with the results. But at this stage deluding yourself is just a cop-out.
Monday, March 7, 2016
But such is the general attitude of the day and again, I get it. We are in the midst of a reformation (to put it kindly) and for those being reformed the pain and trauma is real. What I would say to guys like CW, you know if they would take a breath and actually listen, is this is opportunity. Out of chaos comes order and real soon it'll be a musical chairs with jobs being handed out. Being in a policy making position is how one mitigates a Trump win. The base cannot survive without the establishment and now the establishment knows they cannot survive without us (therein lies the pain). But we will get along and work together or we will both go down hard. So get it out of your system, talk your smack, vent all you want but at the end of the day you have to put it all behind you and come home. Otherwise you won't have a home to go to.
I personally am going to give it until March 15th. when I think all will be decided. Let it all hang out and say anything you want. But after that Mardi Gras is over and it's time to heal and get real. If you can't suck it up and support your party's candidate then hit the Goddamn bricks, we don't need you. We've got an election to win and a country to save. You're either part of the problem or part of the solution and if you choose to indulge your self-important fantasies about who is and who ain't a conservative all the while helping Hillary Clinton, then we won't forget. And when I say "we" I mean most of the establishment too because they WILL come home.
Don't be left out over some ridiculous derangement syndrome. This isn't about Trump, or Cruz or Rubio, This is about doing what needs to be done to save the Republic. Your party needs you and more importantly so does your country. Political campaigns are by their nature emotional affairs. Candidates motivate with emotion, it's fundamental. Just keep a little perspective and whatever corner you may have painted yourself into, we're not going to hold you to it. We've had a family quarrel, that's all. Whoever wins let's decide to just get over it. This election is too important.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Two tweets, both from Bernie Sanders, today:
It really is frightening when you have a party controlling the House and Senate saying, "You know what? We reject science."— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 7, 2016
It's unacceptable that Monsanto is more concerned about their own profits than about a consumer's right to know what they are eating.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 6, 2016
This is a political blog (primarily) and there is a good bit of back and forth. I moderate the comments and let 90% of them through. But one thing is sure to get your comment deleted--and that is if I write something--or one of the other bloggers writes something--that is decidedly NOT political, and you use that comment space to advance your agenda--it's gone.
This happened twice in the last day.
I'm simply angry quite a bit these days, and I think a good bit of the anger is fueled by the time I spend reading other people be angry. I don't want to transfer blame here--this is my problem, not theirs. I imagine there are a lot of people for whom that kind of carping is therapeutic and fun--but not me. It tears me down a bit at a time.
That's why the letter I helped put together this week was important. It wasn't anger that led to it--it was a sense of action, a sense that I could contribute, a sense that our collective voices might have some impact on some people who are genuinely confused by the carnival that appears so clear to me. But perhaps the clarity is the fiction, and the confusion is the real story. I don't know. But I thought I might add a little something to the debate.
My man is facing long odds this morning. I think he'll win Puerto Rico--with as many delegates as New Hampshire--but it won't tamp down the growing doubts. I think he'll make a serious run at Florida--and perhaps win (he's closed the gap considerably in the latest polls). But after that, I think we're in for a very unsatisfying election in which all four of these guys stay in, which would take us to a contested convention. You remember those, right? The thing that Ronald Reagan was banking on in 1976?
My determination to see Trump defeated has pulled even with my desire to see Rubio victorious--which I can tell by the degree to which Cruz victories last night were not bothersome.
A Rubio/Cruz, Cruz/Rubio unity ticket would "unify" two thirds of the party coming out of the convention, but I fear no matter how it ends, a third of the party is gone for ever.
All of that said--a few simple changes--getting rid of the incessant buzzing from my phone, reading the paper this morning rather than scouring the internet for my news, and watching last night's Louisville /UVA game without a computer in my hands so that I could read what others watching were saying--are giving me a better outlook today.
So too is a comment I got from Eric to a post from yesterday. I'm not sure who Eric is, but he writes long and thoughtful comments that -- I have to be honest -- have generally turned me off. Don't get me wrong--he's very smart and he has a lot of wisdom (two different things)--but too much of what he was writing was hitting too close to home, and it made me uncomfortable. I deleted this comment from my blog manager this morning, and so couldn't actually post it. But as I sat down today and re-read my emails (which include blog comments), I read his words carefully. Here they are:
That's the dilemma.
When starting from a position of inception and disadvantage, competitive activism that's sufficient to make a difference, i.e., win, for any sizeable cause usually requires a zealous, often all-consuming, often self-sacrificial personal investment. There's a reason that in the 7 Army Values, it's not just "service", the value is "selfless service".
With this task, you've taken on a sizeable cause to say the least. The American nation - the nation in whose defense you've invested the better part of your life and honor - is at a crossroads, with our foreign affairs as much as, and possibly more than, any other area.
Per my advice and your follow-up to your letter, declaring that "[Trump] is a danger, and I cannot support him" is only an opening step. The declaration is not by itself enough to make a difference.
Making a difference, i.e., actually winning, will demand your leadership to compete sufficiently against the Trump phenomenon for the duration. If you accept the lead role that you've already invited for this task, and if you sincerely mean to win this contest for America's future, then you should recognize up front that you will pay a personal price that contradicts your post-Navy life goals and plan accordingly.
This is a tall order. Not sure what I'll do with it just yet, except spend a little time thinking about it.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
I left the Navy eight years ago aiming to "live a bigger life"--that's what I've found here. Also, that's what I DID not live this week.
Life here has civilized me quite a bit--though my women would tell you there is much work still to be done on this front. I put a lot of effort into making big changes in my life in 2015--but I'm beginning to think that I declared victory way too early.
Gonna have me a think on all of this between now and when my girls come home.
His books are all a bit melodramatic, which is probably why I love them so much. His politics were not my cup of tea, but like Paul Theroux, I try and ignore the blatant liberalism and potshots at conservatives in order to get to the good stuff. And with Conroy, the really great stuff was about life in the American South.
Conroy lived a pretty screwed up childhood--as anyone who has read The Great Santini can tell you. You saw flashes of it in Prince of Tides and a number of his other books.
For me, the book I love best is Beach Music. I re-read it every couple of years, and it reminds me of the things I love about the way Conroy used the language. Each time I read it, there are places where I simply cannot keep reading because of the emotion that overcomes me. Last time I read it, The Kitten happened upon me in full on bawling and thought someone had died. Someone had. A Pat Conroy character. And no one can write about a loved one's death like Pat Conroy.
Here now, is a reprise of something I've printed here before, Conroy's eulogy for his father--the Great Santini, Colonel Don Conroy. I've taken the liberty of underlining some of my favorite passages.
The children of fighter pilots tell different stories than other kids do. None of our fathers can write a will or sell a life insurance policy or fill out a prescription or administer a flu shot or explain what a poet meant. We tell of fathers who land on aircraft carriers at pitch-black night with the wind howling out of the China Sea.
"Who's the greatest of them all?"
"You are, O Great Santini, you are."
"Who knows all, sees all, and hears all?"
"You do, O Great Santini, you do."
Semper Fi, DadSemper Fi, O Great Santini.
So CW, I accept your position as your position. I will continue to present mine if you please. But I resolve to respect you and your views, no matter how fuqued up I think they are.
Your friend, The Hammer.
Friday, March 4, 2016
Members of the military take an oath which binds them to supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution recognizes and enshrines the treaty making and treaty considering/passing functions, vesting the former in the President and the latter in the Senate. Those treaties--including ones that cover the conduct of war--are binding law. A President who issues an order that is counter to international law is violating that law. A soldier who carries it out is also transgressing. "I was just following orders" is not a valid defense. We train the lowest buck private and seaman deuce about lawful and unlawful orders.
Now if the President does this--he has the trappings and power of his office to fall back upon, and ultimately paying any penalty for it would be a strict, political process. But the soldier who carries it out? Not protected by the Constitutional process of impeachment. He or she simply goes before the war crimes tribunal and faces the music
Yesterday, I and a number of my friends posted a letter (mentioned in last night's debate) in which we judged Mr. Trump to be a danger and to be unfitted to the office of the President. I spent much of the day dealing with the Press and answering inquiries from around the world, and I repeated what we said there--he is a danger, and I cannot support him. His performance in the debate last night should give ANYONE who has served in the armed services reason to think, and consider how YOU would feel if put in the position to carry out orders you knew to be unlawful This man is a menace.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Have a look. You may recognize a few of the names.
By the way---one of the reactions I've gotten to this effort is that it is too late, and that is a spot on criticism. I recognized early on the danger of Mr. Trump and then publicly--here on this blog--stated that I wasn't going to talk about him any more. until the Primaries began. Friends--good friends-- urged me to speak out more--they saw the danger even more clearly than I. Below is the text of a piece I did for War on the Rocks--the folks who printed the letter above--and submitted on November 27. I did not submit for publication, but for review by the Editor who happens also to be a very wise friend. I shopped it around to a few more friends in the National Security community and there was a "wait and see" kind of attitude--and I weakly went along with that advice. I wish now that I hadn't.
Here below is what I wrote then: