Monday, January 26, 2015

Psychotic Ramblings from Redneckistan: The Hammer in Winter

Well...CW has been sending me little tidbits on what once was everybody's Republican Sweetheart (and primo MILF) Representative Renee Ellmers (R-NC). Ellmers has gone off the reservation a bit and gotten a lot of criticism for it. I can't tell whether CW is enjoying all this or not, but anybody who thinks David Brooks is a conservative is a little goofy to start with (see CW/hats and you'll see what I mean). I'm not sure what she's up to but I suspect somebody has given her "the talk". It goes like this.
Now Renee, we know what you ran on but this is Washington not Dunn, North Carolina. A big part of your constituency and a big part of your donor base is farmers. They like cheap immigrant labor. They like price supports and subsidies. Plus they like someone in Washington who will protect their interests. Ok fine, you beat their boy Bobby Etheridge...ONCE. How many times do you think you can maintain that momentum WITHOUT the support of the farming interests in your district? Think on this, if you come along with Boehner and the boys you'll keep your farmers happy plus we'll see that you get the campaign cash from outside the district to pretty much guarantee your seat for as long as you want it, and keep in mind, the Chamber of Commerce LIKES CHEAP IMMIGRANT LABOR just like your farmers. So that's your choice Renee, stick with the Rednecks who put you in office, in which case we'll get together with the left and make a Michelle Bachmann out of you and you'll be hit in every primary and general with well funded candidates (it'll be only a matter of time until you're gone) or go along with us and keep your job. What's it gonna be?
I think we have an answer.

So it looks like CW is getting another Woodrow for Romney. I like Romney. I think he's a good man, a talented administrator and would have been (at least relatively speaking) a GREAT President. I think he is the full package, apart from one thing...HE'S TOO DAMN NICE! You see that's the great thing about RR, he was deceptively tough! Honest Abe (don't make me gag) and RR were somewhat similar in this regard. I've read a good few books on Lincoln (know thy enemy) and the theme that runs through most of them is everyone, and I mean EVERYONE underestimated the man. Most of his cabinet, especially Salmon P. Chase (a real asshole) despised him. A first rate second rate man one of his posse called him. But Lincoln ran rings around those guys (unfortunately) and won the war. If any one of Lincoln's rivals had been President we'd be talking about Jefferson Davis as the Father of Our Country (at least down here). Anyway Reagan had those qualities, and if Romney runs I will of course support him but I will also pray to God Almighty that Romney turns into that kind of man too. If he would have bitch-slapped the porcine Candy Crowley (figuratively speaking) in the debate there wouldn't be any question. Her fat ass needs to be anchoring Eye-Witness News in Sioux City right now (with a Whitman's Sampler just off camera).

I know you haven't seen this but it's big news among some circles here in North Carolina. Mapping the Left is a project by a offshoot of the John Locke Foundation here in Raleigh call the Civitas Institute. An old money family (The Popes) started these organizations and they are hated by the left like no one since the revered Jesse Helms (God Rest His Beloved Soul). For the Left they are the Koch Brothers, RR, Jesse Helms and Lucifer all rolled into one. Naturally I love 'em. Not to drop names but I was acquainted with Claude Pope in college (current chairman of the NCRP) and yeah they're rich kids, but freedom oriented all the way...and that's good enough for me. Anyway the leftist scum outed here are like cockroaches, they do most of their work in the dark and trust me, they are about to have a conniption. Plus I think they're in a state of shock at being found out so easily.
There are a few things we can learn from this, first they're well funded, second they get a lot of their funds from what can only be described as extortion (I'm thinking Wally World ain't paying out of civic duty) and they are well organized. But that's just the lessons of Marxist-Leninist ideology isn't it? Use capitalism to your own ends, organize (infiltrate) like hell and discipline discipline discipline in message and deed! One need only look at their structure to know where these people are headed, or want us to go I should say. Unfortunately one needs a little edjumacation about communists to see the signs, but for a political super-genius like me it's like looking at a flat tire with a nail in it. No need to wonder why or how.

That's all I got. No interest whatever in the Super Bowl or (Lord help us!) Deflate-gate. The guy who gives a shit about all this in standing in three feet of snow about now I'd guess.
C-ya wouldn't wanna be ya!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Romney's Uphill Climb

22 months before the next Presidential election and the Republican field is beginning to congeal, largely due to Jeb Bush's having made clear that he intends to run--which forced Mitt Romney out of hiding.  Marco Rubio may follow soon (though I think he would be well-served to sit this one out), and the rest will begin to throw their hats in accordingly.  Huckabee is sorta in, and there is no real mystery about Christie or Rand Paul.

But this piece is about Mitt, who you may remember that I am already on record as supporting.  The difference between my support this time and my support in 2016 is pretty straightforward.  Then, I looked around in the Spring of 2011 and determined that Mitt would almost certainly be the nominee, and so I climbed onboard early.  It was easy to make that determination, as no one appeared to me to have a prayer of beating him.  I was not then completely familiar with his policies or his record--I simply wanted to ride a winner.

As time went on and I worked harder and harder to elect him, I came to respect and admire the man, and my support turned from largely that of a man who wanted a Republican to win the election to a man who really wanted THAT Republican to win.

This time, there is no process of "getting to know" Mitt for me.  I know all I need to know, and I like what I know.  So with a crowded field of very qualified folks building, my choice this year is as simple as it was in 2011.

This year, I don't have a clue who the nominee is going to be.  There are several folks who could break through...Bush, Romney, Walker, Kasich....among others.  Mitt's chances are significantly lower than they were in 2012--better than 2008, but worse than 2012.  The conservative media have already begun lining up against Mitt's candidacy, and it seems that at least from this report, some of the major donors are shying away too.

Clearly, it isn't 2012 anymore.

But you know what?  I don't care.  I think the tougher field and the lack of a clear favorite is good for Mitt's campaign.  Let's face it, he always did better in 2012 when someone was poking him; he rose to the challenge each time and beat them back.  Lack of money will be an issue, but it will be an issue for ALL of them.  And let us not forget, Mitt has a little bit of his own to fall back on.

So while Mitt's road in 2012 was bloody toward the end as Santorum emerged as a dogged alternative, the REAL struggle in 2016 will be at the beginning.

And I like Mitt's chances.


Big Fat Bryan's Friday Free For All

Aw, what's wrong, chum?  No on listen to your big speech?  Your team get beat by someone with deflated balls?  Better out than in, Grandma used to say--share it!

Weighed in a 186.4 today, down 1 lb from last week.  Things slowed a bit, but then again there's something a-brewin' inside me right now, so this may be artificially high.

UPDATE:  Snuck onto the scale first thing today (Saturday), BOOM 184.8.

Monday, January 19, 2015

CW Movie Review: American Sniper

It really isn't hard to see why much of the liberal elite who control mainstream media haven't warmed to "American Sniper".  Chris Kyle was a patriot.  He was from Texas.  He did not have advanced degrees.  He appeared to (dear God) dip snuff.  He apparently believed in the causes for which he was fighting; he certainly believed in the general goodness and rectitude of his country.  These are not beliefs commonly shared among the liberal elite, and their tepid response to the movie bespeaks their uneasiness with the concept of good men believing in good fights.

The hullabaloo over remarks by Seth Rogen and Michael Moore in the past few days have served to degrade what was for me a reasonable question going into this film:  should a man who shoots at people from concealment be lionized?  I thought a good bit about this, and even had a chat with the Kitten.  The concept of kills numbering in the hundreds was numbing to me, but I felt that if they were in support of combat operations, they were easier to swallow than if they were dominated by assassination style "hits" of unarmed people.  To the extent that the movie dramatized the sniper aspect of his work, it appears his contribution was of the former variety, rather than that latter, and so I can now join in without reservation with those who consider the man a flat-out American hero.

Is this movie pro-war?  Not from where I was sitting.  It was pro Chris Kyle, that's for sure, but it told his story through the lens of a war that was horrific, closely fought, and very, very bloody.  It also showed (aided by Bradley Cooper's superb performance) the toll such a war can take upon its combatants.  And their families.  Kyle's wife (played by Sienna Miller in what SHOULD have been an Oscar nominated performance) was right there with him as he appeared to decline in his ability to return to civilian life after each subsequent tour in Iraq.

I have only two quibbles with the movie.  The first happened when Kyle was at an auto repair shop back home with his son.  He is approached by a man who identifies himself as a former Marine, whose life Kyle saved in Iraq.  Over-scripted and over-acted, this scene ended with the standard "salute in civilian clothes" that we see repeated over, and over, and over again in movies.  For some reason, it bothers me.  The handshake, or the manhug even, work better in real life.

The second is the degree to which SOF operations are dramatized as "on the fly" missions without a lot of planning and intel.  The SEALS and other SOF are famous for their planning, and while clearly some considerations have to be made for movie-making, I wonder how often such "on the fly" missions were actually attempted, and I wonder what actual SEALS think about the way they were portrayed.

At the end of the movie, in a scene I read about being repeated across the country, no one moved. No one said anything.  Lots and lots of sniffles.  This is a powerful, well acted, movie and a gripping story.  Worth the time and money to see.

Two Week Countdown...

Two weeks from right about now, I'll be heading off to La-La Land under the influence of some incredible narcotic, with magic marker writing on my left leg saying "hey you, Dr. Surgeon, it's THIS leg".  A little over an hour later, I'll emerge with another bit of hardware inside me, a new left hip to balance the one I swapped out in the Summer of 2006 on the right side.  At that point, I had dragged my right leg behind me in pain for several years, and the operation was life changing.  This hip really started to bring me down about four years ago, so I guess I had four years in between of relatively smooth sailing.  My hope is that its replacement is equally affirming.

My intent is obviously to make the pain disappear.  Occasionally sharp, it is always present.  A three block walk from the Farragut West Metro to a meeting on 20th St in DC has become a bit of a slog, as I vault my way along the street with a noticeable "hitch in my get-along".  But the operation really means more than just the removal of pain; it is part of a general renewal timed to the occasion of my 50th Birthday this summer.  Some of you are aware of the "150's by 50" campaign, in which I seek to return to the weight class that when I was a 126 pounder, was inhabited by giant men of mythic power and strength.  In my mind, I am still 18 and 126 pounds, so 158 still has an element of immensity to it, even though it is 40.8 pounds less than the weight at which I started this decline.

The operation will remove the pain, the diet will remove the bulk, and then a serious--or at least a methodical--dedication to light exercise and flexibility will follow my rehabilitation.  I am a 49 year old man with the balance of an 80 year old, and I find myself avoiding behaviors and activities that a guy my age should be capable of pulling off.  The sight of me trying to get in a kayak next to our little floating pier resembles that of a freshly caught shark trying to flop its way off the deck of a charter boat.  So too is the comical act of mounting and dismounting a bicycle.  All of this flowing from what has effectively been fourteen years of favoring one side or the other.

Unfortunately, my surgery comes the day after the Super Bowl, and so I hope my surgeon favors neither team.  Actually, I hope he doesn't like football.  And I hope he hates Super Bowl parties.  The Kitten will be off until the night before on the 8th Grade Ski Trip with Kitten #2, and as she is my ride to hospital the next day, I will hope against all hope for no snow to impede their return.

There are a couple of ways of performing the surgery that I am to undergo. While both approaches involve Civil War Battlefield surgical techniques (saws, hammers, spikes, et), the "minimally invasive anterior approach" (which I will have) offers the promise of a quicker rehab because significantly less soft tissue/musculature is molested.  The incision is smaller, and it is made in the upper thight.  The other method "posterior total hip replacement" is what I had last time, and there is a goodly recover period involved. I got a nice 8 inch scar on the side of my right butt cheek out of that one.  Brother Sean had what I'm having last year, and his recovery proceeded at a much quicker pace than what I experienced 8 years ago.

Speaking of 8 years ago, it occurs to me that THAT hip is right around 25-30% of the way toward having to be replaced (again) itself, as these devices are known to wear down and require replacement.

I have begun espying a number of modifications to our bedroom that will enable my recovery.  Mostly easy things such as the removal of trip hazards (coffee tables, rugs), and the selection of the proper "recovery chair" where I will spend a good bit of time between walkered shuffles to and from the one shot Keurig machine I am installing in the bedroom and the john.  I will also set up a modest card table/folding chair setup and perch the laptop there to accommodate whatever work I think myself capable of as time goes on.  By mutual agreement, the Kitten will alight to the upstairs guest room for some period of time while I mend, so these modifications to our mutual space are not greeted with much dissension as I blather on about them.

I expect to be largely planted in my sickroom for the two weeks following the surgery, save for trips to physical therapy and the lab.  Should you happen through Easton, stop by and I will have a coffee with you.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's the matter, Chumley?  Winter got you down?  Well, cheer up!  You're among friends and we all want to hear your latest bitch/rant!

150's By 50:  today's official weigh-in was 187.4, a loss of  3.6 lbs for the week.  Hammer, it's time for you to report your status.  Dean Bean?  Are you listening?  Report it.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

OSU Plucks a Duck

SECond Class Football
Man oh man is Ohio State good or what? Like everybody else I watched the opening drive by Oregon and thought 'here we go', but it was all rope a dope. It's been a long time since I've seen a defense play that well.

If I told you pre-game that OSU would have four turnovers and still win the game you'd have gotten out the butterfly net. But the Quack Attack laid an egg in the redzone time and again. Buckeye running back Zeke Elliott (winner of GQ magazine's most "Well Coiffed" award) ran for about 250 yards and showed the lightening quick quack what speed really looks like. Backup to the backup quarterback Cardale Jones (winner of GQ magazine's "Nicest Ass" award) passed for another 250 yards and his arm keep the safeties honest, his feet the linebackers. Oregon didn't know whether to shit or wind their wristwatch.

My personal assessment of the game is this is what happens when you depend on a gimmick. Oregon, although very VERY good depends on their hurry-up offense. They want the play over and the ball snapped inside of 10 seconds, which of course stresses the hell out of defenses to call their own plays and get set up. Meyer took that away from them, and it was a BIG psychological blow to Oregon. In fact when the Ducks realized they'd have to square off and beat OSU head to head without benefit of this hurry up bullshit, then their confidence was rattled (to say the least). A hurry-up offense(?) why hell yes if it works. But when it doesn't work you had best be able to play smash-mouth football, especially against a team like Ohio State.

Big Ten 1   Everybody else 0

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Eleventh Commandment

From Wikipedia:

The Eleventh Commandment was a phrase used by later President of the United States Ronald Reagan during his 1966 campaign for Governor of California. The Commandment reads:

Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

Up until we have a GOP nominee for 2016, I would like you, the intelligent readers of this blog, to hold me to this commandment, here on the blog.  This does not preclude me from pointing out genuine policy issues or issues of hypocrisy, but it does preclude me from attacks made ad hominem.

In order to police myself, should I slip up and break this commandment, I will make a $100 donation to the charity/cause of choice of the first person to call me on it in the comment section.

Private comments made in confidence do not count.

Of course, I will be the final arbiter.  But I should think by now that you can consider me trustworthy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mitt 2016

During the cocktail party chit-chat Friday evening, someone mentioned to me "Mitt's big announcement" that day, of which I was at that point unaware.  When I got home later that night, I violated the eShabbat to see what it was all about, and saw news like this:  "Romney to GOP Donors: I Want to be President".  Now for the past year or so, Mitt has been pretty coy and has thrown off a lot of signals that he didn't want to run, or at least he wouldn't run because of family opposition.  I always hoped that was BS, or at least a bit of  a smokescreen.  The Presidency is powerful catnip, and it looks like Mitt is still under its sway.
Back to work for Mitt!
And so, I rise today in support of Mitt Romney for President in 2016, and while I'm certain that it was my donation to Jeb Bush's PAC that got Mitt of the fence, I am nonetheless committing myself once again to the job of electing Mitt Romney as President of the United States.  Here's why:

1.  I am a stubborn mule.  I made a decision in 2012 about who was best for the country early in the race.  I stuck with it.  It was a good decision then, it is a good decision now.  The events of the past two years have born out the wisdom of my view.

2.  The structure of the GOP primary season--shortened and restricted to January-March--favors those who are already known and can corner big blocks of money.  As much as I'd like to see the candidacies of John Kasich, Mike Pence, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio flower and take hold, I fear that the structural impediments to their gaining enough support and momentum to win are too great.  I have no view on whether this is a good thing or not.  I only view that as a matter of strategy, there are only five men who can capitalize on this (Romney, Bush, Christie, Paul, and Cruz).

3.  Cruz and Paul are not my cup of tea, nor is Christie.  Paul Ryan is, but I don't think he'll run with Mitt in the race. I am generally positive about Jeb, but my loyalty is to Romney.  I see Jeb and John Kasich of Ohio both as serious VP slot guys.

4.  I cannot conceive of Mitt Romney running again for President and not being MUCH, MUCH better at it than 2012.  He was far better in 12 than in 08, and he'll kill it in 16.

This blog will of course, be open to the views of others, and I look forward to a spirited debate in the coming months.






On the Experience of a Debate

Friday night I debated my friend Dr. Jerry Hendrix on the subject of aircraft carriers at the US Naval Academy.  The good folks (Claude Berube) at the Naval Academy Museum (you MUST visit--superb) convened the debate, and the good folks at the US Naval Institute (Mary Ripley, Pete Daly) handled the live-stream which is now cached as the Youtube file attached to this post.  I write today not to postmortem the substance of the debate--I leave that to your own judgements--but more properly to describe the experience.




Let's face it.  As a naval thinker and advocate, the opportunity to participate in the event Friday night was catnip.  I've written widely about aircraft carriers (here, here, here, here), and within the small and self-important group of people who think and write about such things, I am considered a strong supporter of the continuing role of the carrier.  My opponent in the debate--Jerry Hedrix--is a brilliant advocate of a very different view, and he and I have gone back and forth over carriers several times  across the interwebs and over the telephone.  In fact, he and I had been talking about an event just like what happened Friday night for three or four years, as we both believed a thorough airing of the issues would be worthwhile.  And we are both show-offs.

Needless to say, that while I had some level of knowledge and preparation simply by virtue of the work I've already done, the event demanded a significant amount of study.  This included re-reading everything Jerry has written and taking careful note of what he has said.  It included reading whatever I could find on what other carrier critics have said across decades of criticism.  It included reading the various defenses of the carrier that have been written by others.  It included reading publicly available studies that have already dealt with questions of the carrier's utility.  I began amassing information about a month ago, and began dedicated study on the day after Christmas.

The day before the debate, Jerry called me to tell me that a media figure wanted to interview the two of us on Friday morning (the morning of the debate), and to ask me if I were interested.  I declined, as I had formulated a carefully orchestrated plan for how the 15 hours before the 7:30PM debate were going to be spent.  Driving to DC for an interview was not among them.  It is this kind of inflexibility that drives the Kitten crazy.  It is this level of prioritization/focus that got me a spot in the debate.

The debate was structured thusly:  I began with an 8 minute opening, he followed with an 8 minute opening, each of us then had 4 minutes of rebuttal, then two minutes of quick hits each, then two minutes of closing each.  I prepared an opening statement and a closing statement, which I provided to a number of friends for their review and opinion during my preparation.  Their wise counsel made my words tighter, more straightforward.  About a week ago, I recorded both on my smartphone and listened to them over and over while driving to and fro.  I'd replace the file with a new one when revisions were made.

My goal when I do formal public speaking events is to craft a speech completely, read it a hundred times or so, and the read from the pages in front of me as a guide--usually the first sentence or phrase in each paragraph followed by eye contact with the audience to end sentences and paragraphs.  Watching the video two things are clear from my opener: 1) I didn't read the speech enough, as there were a few stumbles and 2) I made a lot of audience eye contact that rally doesn't show up that well on the video because of the high angle the camera was shooting from and my modest height--so when I looked at the folks in the audience, it still looked like I was looking down at my script.  I videotaped myself doing the speech here in the ManCave several times, making sure that I could get in all I wanted to say in 8 minutes.

Now, I had a lot to say.  The subject is not unknown to me, and Jerry's writing had created a rich source of material from which I could pre-emptively respond.  But the opener could only be 8 minutes long, and I had to make sure that I hit the big, important points in that 8 minutes, and rely on the remainder of the time to be able to get some of the other points I had loaded.

In addition to the prepared scripts for the opener and closer, I created a three column 8 pitch type cheat sheet of major points that I anticipated Jerry would make, along with short word/phrase bursts to job my memory on longer responses to each that I had written in my preparation.  This turned out to have been perhaps the most important time I spent in preparing, as there were a few times where he made points I was quite prepared for during the both the debate and the Q and A.

Prior to the actual debate it self, there was a reception held in the Naval Academy Museum, and truth be told, as I laid out my day, it stuck out as a sore thumb of discontinuity.  I was focusing like a laser beam on this task, and the thought of meandering around making idle chatter when all I really wanted to do was concentrate bothered me.  I told the Kitten that I bet Mitt didn't have to do any cocktail parties right before his debates.  But like many times in my life when I become metaphysically certain of something, I was wrong.  I attended the cocktail party because I felt I owed it to the sponsors, but in retrospect, it was a thoroughly positive experience.  First, because I had a lot of friends there, folks who agreed with me and offered their confidence in my abilities, and those who disagreed with me, but who wished me well anyway.  Second, it took my mind off the task at hand, which turned out to be important.  The one hour I spent in the superb Naval Academy Museum, listening to a fantastic woodwind quartet, chatting with friends and well-wishers....was time well spent--much better than sitting in a quiet room going over notes I had already gone over countless times.  Additionally, the one hour nap I grabbed earlier in the afternoon didn't hurt.
The note I propped up on the debate podium

The setting for the debate could not have been better.  Mahan Auditorium is a beautiful room, cozy, but ornate and beating with importance.  Lining the walls behind the balcony seats behind glass are a series of large, captured battle flags from the War of 1812.  I'm a bit of an emotional sod to begin with, but standing on that stage, looking at those flags, thinking about the men who earned them and the history I have inherited from them--well, it got me a little verklempt.  But there's no crying in debating, and so I sailored on.  Prior to the debate, I stowed my one (insufficient) bottle of water under the surface of the podium (note to self:  remember Marco Rubio)  and arranged my notes for ease of use.  I propped a brief note to myself against the front of the podium, a reminder to me of my tendencies to speak too quickly when nervous and to be a sarcastic and cynical jerk much of the rest of the time.  The Kitten asked me before the debate whether we could prop a few of these around the house as reminders.  She's such a kidder.

The rest of the story is contained in the video.  This is only the second formal debate I've ever done, and I can honestly say I performed a bit better than the first--which leads to the conclusion that one really has to do this a lot to get good at it.  Another conclusion I had was reinforced respect for anyone who does this on truly cosmic stages, like Presidential candidates.  In my little world, this was an important debate and there were people who were counting on me to give our side a good go.  But in the grand scheme, this was minor league compared to the issues and pressures that two Presidential candidates must face when they square off.  I have immense respect for those people.







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