Friday, April 17, 2015

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's got your goat, partner?  Your big overture to the Iranians increasingly looking like a big pile of pooh?  Are your grandparents not the immigrants you say they are?  Share, friends.  Share.

Big day. First time under 170 since October 2009.  I was 169.8 this morning, 29 lbs down since 27 December and about 10 pounds from my goal.  Big day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sic Semper Tyrannis

On this day 150 years ago Abe Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. If you were asked to pick the single most impactful event in American history, you could do a lot worse. As a Southerner I think this was the most tragic outcome imaginable to the most tragic period in American history. Lincoln's death gave free reign and moral justification to Southern "reconstruction" (i.e. retribution). Booth, the drunkard and fool, ensured the South would pay a heavy price for decades to come.

Did Lincoln deserve to die? Was he a tyrant? I can't say what he did or didn't deserve, but I can say if I could jump in the "wayback" machine I'd do EVERYTHING possible to stop Booth and his cohorts. But it can't be denied the man was indeed tyrannical. He threw half of the elected officials in Maryland in prison with no due process at all. He closed down newspapers, arrested editors (even "deporting" an Ohio publisher to the South). He issued an arrest warrant for the Chief Justice Roger Taney (author of the Dred Scott opinion), had federal troops intimidate poll workers (sound familiar), "suspended" Habeas Corpus, shut down courts and locked up every duly elected official in the city of Baltimore and took the town over with the military. He, if not ordered at least tolerated the rape, murder and pillage of defenseless civilians on the order of ISIS in Iraq today. He was, in my opinion a fundamentally evil man. So again, did he deserve to die? Probably, I guess. Would I have wished him dead? HELL NO!

Regardless what is is. History is like politics, perception and lies outweigh the truth as often as not. Lincoln preserved the Union even though it was clearly understood by ALL the States BEFORE the Constitution was ratified that they entered voluntarily and could leave voluntarily. Lincoln freed the slaves, although he could give a damn about slavery and was a unreconstructed racist (had to use that word). His claims of defending liberty and the Constitution all the while subverting both ring hollow even 150 years later. Once again, did he deserve to die? You can answer that yourself. Considering slavery was a dying institution, and considering slavery had been abolished in Britain and South America peacefully without firing a shot, my question would be did the 720,000 people who died as a result of Lincoln's megalomania deserve THEIR fate?  

Monday, April 13, 2015

CW Goes to Washington....

This Wednesday at 2PM I will be give testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee on the role of Surface Navy Forces in Presence, Deterrence, and War.

If you want to watch in person, the hearing is in the Rayburn Building, Room 2212.  If you want to watch on the web, there is a link on this page.

The other witness testifying is Bryan Clark from CSBA, usually known in Washington as "the smart Bryan".

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Brilliance of Obama

If a begrudging way I admire President Obama. He's not a policy expert, he's not a legal expert or Constitutional scholar. He's not a consensus builder. He's not a leader in the sense we think of American leaders. He doesn't inspire. He's not at all popular with other beltway politicians most especially members of his own party. He doesn't like smoozing or working the phones or any of the stuff that made LBJ so good (if that's the word) at getting his agenda passed. But what he is good at, what he does exceptionally well is retail politics. He's exceptionally good on the stump. He picks ruthless and competent professional campaign people. He realizes his fellow Dems don't have to like him because he's the only game in town and their prospects are tied to his. He's not afraid to go after his enemies with tactics Nixon would have found distasteful (and HIGHLY illegal). He understands that his racial circumstance makes him practically invulnerable to most conservative attacks. Therefore he is constantly on the attack with one outrageous policy shift after another illegal Presidential edict after targeting this group and wiretapping that group. There is so much malfeasance and nefarious dealings going on it's hard to keep up. He doesn't give us or the press time to digest (or investigate) one before another crops up. He's the whack-a-mole President.

I admire him because he gets his way. I admire him because in spite of everything, he refuses to back down. You might say that of course he backs down. Look at all those "lines in the sand". Sorry, I disagree. That is PLANNED weakness. That's weakness as a policy goal.

He is unique in that everything about the Obama Presidency is predicated on race, and he understand that. Although he is nearly (I say nearly) invulnerable to conservative attacks, he is absolutely invincible to liberal attacks. Any Democrat who dares oppose him will pay a heavy price (ask Senator New Jersey) and NO Democrat with national aspirations would dare risk pissing off the block vote of all block votes... the BLACK vote.

So say what you will about Obama, he's played the fiddle and made us dance to it. There's been NO talk about tax reform, welfare reform, entitlement reform ANYTHING in spite of two mid-term elections that should have put the fear of God in any clear thinking Democrat. No, we talk about what OBAMA wants to talk about. His policies are the worst. He is by far the worst President of my lifetime, but nobody sells suck like Obama.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's the matter, friend?  Feeling a little down without college hoops?  Disappointed that the guys you think you struck your big deal with keep changing the terms you thought you negotiated?  Share your pain, friends.

Weighed in at 171.2 this week, down 1 lb from last week and 27.6 overall.  I should be happy with the 1 pound loss (because that is exactly what my little diet goal calorie app tells me I am aiming for), but I'm afraid I must pick up the pace a bit to get to 159.9 by 27 June.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Pass the SALT II

Remember SALT l & ll? Probably not...CW was like twelve at the time. Anyway I do. They were the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the old (as opposed to NEW) Soviet Union and the US. As I recall SALT l was ratified by the Senate and SALT ll died a quick and quiet death after the Russkies invaded Afghanistan. No biggie. Arms treaties are made by the weak. Reagan didn't need a treaty when he buried the Soviets and brought down their empire. If the Democrats had been in charge the Soviets would have demanded ECONOMIC concessions along with a favorable treaty (a la North Korea) and we'd probably still be dealing with the Soviets today. Damn, what am I saying? After six years of Obama WE ARE dealing with the Soviets today. Funny how Democrats can be so cutting edge hip and still be the most reactionary, regressive, stuck-in-the-mud losers that they are. But weak is too weak a word to describe John Kerry and Baraq Obama. They couldn't negotiate a deal with a Redneck used car salesman for a '78 Pinto with 300k miles and frame damage. They redefine weak, and the only thing more stupid is the American people who fall for their bullshit time and time again.

Here's the deal. The Iranians are NOT under the gun here. They're just having a little fun fuqing with the Americans. There is no downside for them, the sanctions have already been lifted. Their goal, their reason for being, their whole focus is to attain nuclear weapons so they can do things like put the Persian Gulf in a figure four leg lock half nelson and thereby run up the price of oil so as to get cash to buy and develop arms so as to attack and destroy Israel. Nuclear weapons would neutralize the Americans (and everybody else). It's as simple as that.

The Democrats are painting this as either or, treaty or war. Well I have news for our deluded team of Valley Girls and upper-crust dolts at State. We are at war, a slow grinding war of attrition in places like Yemen and Afghanistan and Iraq. This treaty will just about guarantee a quick war in the not so distant future. America's conventional military forces won't mean much when the Fourth Protocol (if there is such a thing) is breached.

But not to worry, gays will be rolling in pizza and wedding cakes so the Democrats came through! Well done! NOW can we get started on the Carbon Tax and finish destroying capitalism and freedom?

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's got you down, Bub?  Iranian deal making you think Israel and Saudi Arabia just got closer and the world just got a little weirder?  You run out of propane two minutes into grilling your big, thick steak last night?  Share friends, share.

Weighed in at 172.2 this week.  Fourteen weeks into the "150's by 50" diet and I am down 26.6 lbs.  In the remaining 12 weeks, I have to drop 12.3 lbs.  Do-able, but must stay focused.  Good news is I am increasingly more capable of actual exercise. Hip is feeling great.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Indiana, Marriage, and Bakers

If I had an XO (Executive Officer) in my life, this is when he or she would say to me, "Captain, are you sure you want to do this?"  This is of course, the job of a good XO, to keep the Captain from doing stupid things.

But since I am without an XO, I will forge ahead with this piece.  The danger in it is that I don't have incredibly strong feelings about the issues at hand. but those who do on either side are quite passionate, dare I say, emotional about their views.  Also dangerous, is that it will ramble a bit.    I have already rubbed up against this issue's emotion on Facebook, where those on either side have taken to their timelines to post the latest piece of doggerel from whomever it is that supports the view that they hold, irrespective of its internal logic or basis in fact. Both sides of this issue bother me.  The conservative, pro-Indiana view pisses me off because I am a political pragmatist and I am tired of social issues tripping up Republican politicians.  The anti-Indiana view because of the recent embrace of homosexuality as something that deserves not only tolerance and protection--but celebration--and its complete rejection of ancient religious teaching and practice, not to mention Constitutionally enshrined protections of free exercise.

So let's dive into this, shall we?

In a perfect world, buyer and seller would meet in their perfect market, perfect information would exist on both sides of the transaction, and the only issue would be the extent to which each side values what is at stake.  Would that this were our world.  But it is not.

And so what happens is that we begin to look at how we deviate from such a model.  One deviation would be when a buyer decides that they will not purchase a product from a seller based solely on that seller's skin color, or sexual orientation, or some other reason other than price.  I think we could all agree that the law ought not to compel someone to purchase something from another person, no matter how prejudiced or hateful the reason for not purchasing may be.

Moving to the other side of the transaction, the sell side, becomes more complicated.

There was a time in this nation's history in which black people were excluded from restaurants and hotels/motels.  Essentially, the "sellers" were choosing to not sell to black people simply because they were black.  In some cases, these decisions weren't decisions at all, they were the result of state and local laws which required purveyors to deny these services.  Whether it is the government denying these services or individuals denying them, our modern sensitivities are justifiably offended by this history.  It is hard to believe that in the decade before I was born, these practices and laws were in force.  But that was the way it was.  Several centuries of enslavement followed by a hundred years of discrimination had created a climate in which otherwise sensible people did very hateful things.

It is this situation that the current imbroglio is most closely compared to.

I am not a lawyer, and so I will not attempt to interpret the Indiana statute as an artifact of law, only discuss it as a matter of news interest.  It is substantially similar to a federal statute to which it is related, and it is substantially similar to the laws passed in 19 other states.  But it has differences from both the federal statute and those passed in other states, differences that spring largely from court decisions that have interpreted those laws over time, and the desire of the authors of this law to ensure that the protections it seeks are indeed extended.  In my non-lawyer view, those who focus mainly on the differences in this law from other state and federal statutes are doing so primarily to justify their righteous current anger.  Additionally, those who try and make this law out to be exactly what the federal legislature passed in 1993 are also off base, as it clearly tries to tighten its application, even in comparison to other state statutes of a similar nature.

What has the media and many like-minded people angry is that this law would provide a business owner with some level of protection against prosecution by the state or civil action taken by an aggrieved party denied service, if the denial of service springs from a religious practice.  This is the now classic "Christian bakery" decides not to sell a cake to a gay couple for their wedding, because the baker believed that his/her religion proscribed homosexual conduct and certainly did not allow for gay marriage.  The law does not necessarily protect the individual or business, but it provides a standard and a level of protection.  Essentially, the law creates a condition that demands that judges review the merits of the case and how compelling the religious claim, rather than simply rule for the aggrieved party who claims discrimination.  The discriminated party can still win, they just don't get the presumption of advantage.

Again--I'm not a lawyer, and if I have skipped over important parts of the legalities of this issue, I am sorry.  I am sure lawyers who read this and those who play lawyers on TV will help me with my misunderstandings.  But what this comes down to are people who have religious objection to gay marriage believing that their religious rights trump the rights of those who would have the product of their labor.  So, what do I know, and what do I believe?

1.  All things being equal, the denial of a service based on someone's skin color, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic is wrong.

2.  All things being equal, the protection of the free practice of religion in this country has been one of its great strengths, and it is deeply rooted in our Constitution.

3.  American attitudes toward homosexuality in general and toward gay marriage in particular have changed dramatically over the past few decades, and the law has changed to reflect this.

4.  The teaching and practices of many main-line religions in this country do now and have always proscribed homosexual conduct and or any other form of sex outside of marriage, and for them, marriage has always and will always mean between one man or one woman.

5.  Where these forces collide, the law must and should afford great respect to both sides of this issue--the civil rights of those who wish to purchase, and the religious rights of those who wish not to participate in something they believe to be patently sinful.  The law should not privilege one side or the other, but it should set standards that would lead a judge and jury to reach fair and equitable solutions.

6.  I do not know if the Indiana law accomplishes #5, but it appears to me to be trying to.

7.  One line of attack against the Indiana law is to criticize its application to corporations as well as individuals.  Corporations, which are groupings of individuals for the purpose of commerce, ought to enjoy at least as much protection as any of the individuals in the group enjoy.  Waving the bloody "corporations are not people" flag may be great fun at for the anti-Koch crowd, but it simply flies in the face of the way this country has viewed corporations for a good bit of its history.

8.  As a political matter, this law is a long term loser for the Republican Party.  If it were only a political matter, it would be easy to move past it.  But it isn't only political matter, and because it isn't, Republicans will be made to suffer (justifiably) as long as we cannot figure out how to accommodate the changing attitudes of many Americans.

So how about a few scenarios to consider?

1.  A Christian small town baker is approached by the town's most infamous philanderer, a car salesman who has a wife and three small children, but is carrying on an affair with his young secretary that most of the town knows about except the wife.  The car salesman approaches the baker to make a cake for a celebration he is going to throw in honor of the secretary's 21st birthday, and he wants "to my hot, young love" written on it.  Citing his Christian sense of propriety and his respect for the sanctity of marriage, the baker refuses the sale.  Should he be compelled to provide the cake?

2.  The town's rib joint is famous throughout the state for its delicious food at great prices.  Antoine and Jamelle Jackson--an African American couple--have run the restaurant for thirty years.  They are approached one day by James Netherwald, who they know to be the Grand Imperial Wizard of the State Ku, Klux, Klan organization, which is holding a rally outside town on the 25th of the next month--something known throughout the area.  Mr. Netherwald seeks a quote on catering a party for 250 guests on the 25th of the next month.  Should the Jackson's be compelled to cater a party that they can logically assume would be for an organization whose history and mission they find anathema?

Chew on those for a little while.

One final vignette.  A Facebook friend of mine posted a little meme the other day which went something like "Jesus ate with criminals and prostitutes", which inferred that if the Lord and Savior and He about Whom the entire religious tradition is based, could consort with the likes of thieves and prostitutes, surely a baker can bake a cake for a wedding or a florist could provide floral arrangements.  There is a breezy appeal to this incredibly relativistic statement, but it doesn't pass the simple logic test.  Jesus may have eaten with thieves and prostitutes, but he did not participate in the commission of their sin.  He did not drive the getaway oxcart for robberies, and He did not to my knowledge, pimp for prostitutes.  Compelling someone to participate in a meaningful way in something they consider (and which their faith has considered for centuries) to be sinful is a horse of a different color.  The law must offer them some level of protection.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why I Was in Newport Last Week

Here's the video of my little talk.  My part begins at 18:30.

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