Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Series

I write from the living room of my favorite Democrat, Rob. Rob and I have been friends for 26 years, and we have had season tickets to UVA Football together for many years.

The World Series is on, and I'm watching it--which may come as a surprise to those who know how little regard I have for the game of baseball. Truth is, World Series baseball is very different from regular season (yawn) baseball--and every pitch seems to matter. I've enjoyed the first two games quite a bit.

It's hard to figure out who to pull for. The Phillies are an obvious choice, as I grew up in South Jersey, and they are sort of a home town team. They are also a scrappy hard-working bunch, and there's a lot there to like.

But damn--Derek Jeter looks like he LOVES the game. I don't think I've ever seen anyone appear to have as much fun at work as he does. I'm also a fan of A-Rod--who I'd like to see win a World Series someday. But just not this year.

It's kind of nice to actually enjoy watching baseball again.

Duke 28 UVA 17

Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Two years in a row, we've lost to Duke. I don't want to be ungracious and not recognize that Duke has improved. That said, we suck, and we're getting suckier.

Duke scored 15 unanswered points in the last 10 minutes. Our defensive backfield was a sieve.

Groh must go.

On the positive side of the ledger, I met up with semi-frequent commenter John S and said hello. Good to finally meet him--older brother of a close college buddy that he is.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

My pumpkin may not be as clever as CW's post-frat-party pumpkins last week, but you have to's pretty damn inspirational.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

All Time High (April 1 2009): 192.2
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 167.6
Today: 168.6
Goal: Sub 150

Good Friday, all. As you can see, a challenging week on the diet front, started off by the damage done at the Great Wolf Lodge Buffet....that said, I'm running into a problem with the use of two different scales--the one at the apartment in Arlington (light) and the one here on the farm (heavy). Both are digital, but there is a difference. The good news is, I'm down .6 lbs from the last time I weighed here on the farm scale (10/16/2009).

Enough of that, onto the important stuff. What's on your mind? Anything to get off your chest? Thoughts on NY23?

One favor you can do for me--how do you get to the blog? Do you have it as a favorite? Do you have an RSS feed? Do you get here primarily from queues on Facebook or Twitter? Let me know if you have a chance.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I've Got a New Favorite Rap Tune

Damn if Feels Good To Be a Victim!

Hat Tip: NRO

House Bill To Contain a Public Option

Looks like the Blue Dogs are gonna have a reason to howl (or another reason), as Madame Speaker is getting ready to bring a healthcare bill forward in the House containing a public option. Unlike in the Senate, where Harry Reid has "cloture" and the "filibuster" to blame should he pull the public option out of the bill, the Speaker (and the House's tightly run rules of debate) will force Members to vote up or down on the public option. The Blue Dogs will not appreciate being put in this position. I can only hope that my own favorite Blue Dog (Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-MD1) does the right thing and votes against the measure.

The President Goes to Dover

Story here of a late-night trip to Dover AFB to greet the remains of servicemembers recently killed in Afghanistan and talk with their families. Good decision, Mr. President. Thank you for doing it.

None of us can for even a moment conceive of the pressure under which President Obama operates. While some of us have served in positions in which we ourselves or others we commanded might die in combat, only he can stop it all with one decision--and that may be the wrong decision for the country. This is why Presidents age so while in office.

Continuing to Make Poland Feel Good...

A US Destroyer apparently pumped a few .50 cal rounds into a Polish port warehouse...not good. Since the attack on USS COLE, Navy ships out of homeport are very well armed topside with "crew-served" weapons. As more topside weapons were fielded, there were more and more "accidental discharges". By the time I left command in 2006, the Admirals were so sick of it they no longer used the term "accidental discharge", choosing instead to use the term "negligent discharge"--and you can only guess the atmosphere in which such a decision was made. Don't think the Skipper will get fired, but the fallout won't be pretty.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who Said Politics Isn't Civil?

See if you can tease out the underlying message contained in this Gov. Schwarzenegger veto of legislation championed by Bay Area Democrat Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. Ammiano recently invited the Governor to “kiss my gay ass” at a party fundraiser.

You may have to click on the link to get a better view.

H/T: Protein Wisdom (but no peeking!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd

...and the desperation of one Phillies phan who is offering, ahem, the pleasure of her company for Series tickets as the Fall Classic gets underway tomorrow. She brilliantly ran an ad on craigslist and was busted by an undercover cop.
What do you think, gentlemen, worth giving up your Series tix?

Another Reason to Love Joe Lieberman

Reid doesn't have 60 votes to override the filibuster. Unless one of the Mainers (Collins, Snowe) defects), the Public Option is dead. But I think Reid knew that it would all along--he just needed to bring it up, so that it can die.

Barney is Frank

Watch this short clip of Barney last night, sputtering that 'we are trying on every front to increase the role of government.'

We hadn't noticed.

Separated at Birth?

"Republican" candidate for NY-23 Dede Scozzafava

"Lioness" of the Senate, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Much Ado About NY-23

I've been watching this little dustup in Upstate NY for a bit now, wondering how it was all going to play out. The President--wily operator that he is--enticed the sitting Republican Congressman to take the job of Secretary of the Army (bi-partisanship!), necessitating a special election for the seat. NY Republicans decided to run someone named "Dede Scozzafava"--who is, by any fair measure, not much of a Republican. (pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, fan of government, etc). Much of the Republican establishment is behind her (including Newt), but a good number of Republicans and Conservatives have decided to support Doug Hoffman, currently running under the mantle of the Conservative Party. Hoffman is likely to gather more votes than Scozzafava, and may even win the seat.

This matter is of course, very interesting to the media, as it shows that Republicans are not "unified". For the New York Times, this race is as delicious as the story I recounted earlier in the week of the environmentalist fighting the "bat-killing" wind farm. Critics of the Republican Party and those interested in growing the party by any means necessary have united to criticize Hoffman's candidacy.

But a party has to stand for something. You don't get to call yourself a Republican and then disagree with just about everything the party stands for--without some penalty. The problem with Ms. Scozzafava isn't that she isn't conservative enough--it's that she isn't Republican enough. I'm all for the Republican Party having a pro-choice wing, or a gay-marriage wing, or a big government wing--I've said as much in my suggestions for growing the party. But you don't get to be ALL of those things and still be considered a serious Republican.

A Resignation in Afghanistan

Interesting story here of a State Department Foreign Service Officer who recently resigned his post in protest over the war in Afghanistan. He is touted here as having been the first to do so. With a background as a combat tested Marine (in Iraq), he apparently was well thought-of, and his resignation has sent ripples throughout the Administration as it seeks to define its Afghanistan policy.

George Bush showed great courage--a level for which I will always be thankful--when he ignored the advice of his senior military advisers AND the Iraq Study Group by doubling down and implementing "the surge".

I find myself increasingly believing that Barack Obama ought to do the same thing--no, not doubling down--but ignoring the advice of his senior military advisers who advocate an increase of some 40,000 troops to implement a counterinsurgency strategy. I think the President's current prevarication--while certainly not confidence inspiring--is probably worthwhile as he demands from his advisers more options. The resignation letter of Matthew Hoh seems to contain a good bit of wisdom for a President deciding on the strategic goals of our engagement in Afghanistan. The more I ponder those goals, the more I question them.

Some Numbers Undercut "Immoral" Insurance Company Profits

Here's an interesting look at some real numbers behind the "immoral" (President Obama's term) profits to be found in the health insurance industry.

How's It Feel Out On That Limb, Olympia?

Maine's "courageous" Senator Olympia Snowe--the only Republican to vote in favor of Democratically sponsored healthcare legislation in either chamber so far--is "deeply disturbed" by the Majority Leader's decision to put a public option back into the bill going to the Senate floor. The measure Snowe voted out of committee did not have a public option in it. How does it feel, Olympia?

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Hath Gender Equality Wrought?

Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock on the necessity to change the rules of monogamy.

The Return of Tom de Plume

Frequent poster, curmudgeon, and gadfly (and possibly the single most censored individual on The Conservative Wahoo) Tom de Plume returned yesterday from a trip to Germany and Austria. I thought I'd provide him with this little spot to provide us with some thoughts on modern Europe. TDP, are you listening?

At the Waterpark

So the Kitten, myself, and the two kittens headed down to Williamsburg Friday for the weekend. We had an event at William and Mary on Saturday night involving a lot of friends of the Kitten's, many of whom have children. Someone suggested that making The Great Wolf Lodge our HQ would be a good idea, and that's where we stayed.

The Great Wolf Lodge is a hotel built around an indoor waterpark. It is completely and thoroughly devoted to showering goodness upon children. In addition to the waterpark, there are a ridiculous variety of entertainments, each of which served to create a legion of seriously hopped-up kids running to and fro. Had this been twenty-five years ago, Mom and Dad could have sent the kids down to the waterpark and then done some adult things; but this is not then, and children cannot and must not be unattended, anywhere. So the Kitten and I spent a good bit of time sloshing around in teeming stews of humanity (much of which was a good bit of fun) and surrendering massive sums of money electronically charged to us by these little wrist bracelets we wore which allowed us to simply have a sensor waved in front of it to pay for whatever it is we wanted.

I'm not a huge fan of "vacationing" with a ton of other people--this is why cruises are out for me. I am especially not enamored of spending a lot of time with a ton of other people's children. But all in all, this was a pretty good weekend, and I do recommend it for those with kids under say, 12 or so.

Two last things--first of all, this place is a mint. It appears to print money. I checked into some analyst research for the parent company stock (WOLF) and found Wall Street somewhat unimpressed. I'm no big financial whiz, but the place was packed and people were forking over a lot of money. I'm thinking about a buy....

Secondly, America is a big country. Not geographically, mind you, but fat. You get to see it probably more on display at an indoor waterpark than almost anywhere--but we're a big fat country. This is one aspect of the healthcare debate we don't hear enough about.

UPDATE: My Wall Street buddy says WOLF is over-leveraged. "Barely can afford to pay its interest".

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oh Do Shut Up And Sing

R.E.M front man Michael Stipe has joined a chorus (heh) of other musicians in supporting President Obama’s efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Stipe also criticized the intelligence community for using his colleagues’ music as “torture tactics” on prisoners detained within the compound.

The band released a statement declaring, “we have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace and justice. To now learn that some of our friends' music may have been used as part of the torture tactics without their consent or knowledge is horrific.”

I agree with Stipe. Listening to their 1994 effort Monster damn well makes my ears bleed.

The CIA defended its tactics on grounds of security, explaining that loud music or white noise was often used to prevent communication among detainees.

However, New York’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice disagrees, and adds that far from being a diversion, the music was a way to “humiliate, terrify, punish, disorient and deprive detainees of sleep”, in violation of international law.

Among the Company’s instruments of “terror”: the Meow Mix jingle, the Barney theme song, and an assortment of Sesame Street tunes.

Those heartless bastards.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Swing Voter?

If you're tired of VA election stuff, it'll be over soon. This bumper was spotted in Northern Virginia today.
As they say...priceless.

Washington Post-Hard at Work Protecting their Guy

It's becoming increasingly apparent that unless Bob McDonnell is caught in a compromising position with a billy goat, his victory is a fait accompli in Virginia. And the ever-helpful WaPo is offering up cover for the White House in this piece outlining how they tried to help the hapless Creigh Deeds but he eschewed their advice and took his campaign in a different direction.

It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall at the Post's internal meetings the last few months...they certainly did their best for him, but since even their assistance is not helping Mr. Deeds, they're ensuring Obama doesn't take the hit.

Of course, this could be a brilliant plot by the Post to suppress GOP turnout on Election Day, thinking their guy has it in the bag. If you're in Virginia, please take the time to vote on November 3rd.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

All Time High (April 1 2009): 192.2
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 169.2
Today: 167.6
Goal: Sub 150

Good day, my friends, and welcome to the Big Fat Friday Free For All. What's on your mind? Anything really making you say, "What the hell?" Where is the country going?

Now's your chance to sound off, whatever the topic.

Things might be a little light from me this weekend, as I've got some family travel in front of me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

When does the contempt end?

On my best day, I find Nation editor Katrina Vandenheuvel impossible to stomach. But The Nation has really topped themselves this time, with another book mocking Palin in advance of her book that'll be released next month. Please note the lightning and the clever caption of the Nation's version.
Mocking her is one thing, and is a hobby to the Vandenheuvel set, but to publish an entire book?

Green v. Green

A delicious story from the "Green v. Green" file--a massive windfarm project threatened by an ardent "caver" concerned about the Indiana bat.

First the UK, Now Japan?

News here of a chill in US-Japan relations. The new government in Japan is predictably moving away from the US (they campaigned just so), and public dust-ups are beginning to occur. The relationship with Japan is a critical one, and our senior officials and diplomats are going to have to play this one with some skill (i.e, not like they've managed the relationship with the British). The Japanese government's idea to create an EU-like "Asian Community" is rightfully seen by other nations in the region as a ploy to elbow the US out. It's time for some of that vaunted "Hope and Change" magic to be devoted to the US-Japan relationship. Or is it already?

No Mr. Bond, I Expect You To Die!

Ok, I'm having a little fun at the Secretary's expense. Sebelius recently underwent a procedure to remove a small Basal cell growth from her forehead, but is expected to make a full recovery.

Arrested for Being Naked in His Own Kitchen

Hat Tip--REASON Online.

I'm thinking there may be more to this, but if there isn't, it is surely ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Chicago Way

“You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way!” -- Officer Jim Malone (Sean Connery) The Untouchables, 1987

In November of last year, the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) a trade group representing several major insurers, perhaps sensing change in the air, came out in favor of universal health coverage…with conditions. AHIP agreed to cover all comers, regardless of illness or disability, provided that all Americans would be required to carry health insurance.

The new administration greeted the apparent change of heart with open arms. In fact, AHIP’s CEO Karen Ignagni was invited by President Obama only months ago to speak at a White House event on health care, which many public option wonks declared as a sign that the Forces for Change were in perfect alignment.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Hopeandchange.

They pull a knife…

Earlier this month, AHIP commissioned a report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers that concluded that the health care reform legislation then under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee would actually serve to increase private insurance premiums for individuals, families and business above what their costs would be without any the reform.

He pulls a gun…

Democrats have introduced a measure to strip the insurance industry of antitrust exemptions it has enjoyed since 1945. In commenting on the industry just last week, the President remarked that insurers are earning “profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exemption from our antitrust laws.”

That’s the Chicago way.

Happy Halloween

I Say "Peninsula" You Say "Peninshula"

George Bush the Younger's malapropisms used to enrage me--I can remember watching big speeches just hoping he didn't screw up. I liked what he said, I just didn't like the way he said it. The word "nuclear" always seemed to trip him up, as it did our only nuclear engineer President, Jimmy Carter (who also pronounced it "nuc-u-lar".

That said, GWB used to say "peninshula". Bothered the hell out of me. But not nearly as much as listening to the Canadian professor of The Italian Renaissance use the word CONSTANTLY in my latest Teaching Company course.

So I just looked it up. How bout that. It is an accepted pronunciation. GWB wasn't such a rube after all.

WSJ Looks at Healthcare Cost Projections

Be wary of the Obamacare cost projections; be very wary.

Prison Population Soars Even as Crime Rate Drops.....

Jonah Goldberg of National Review likes to cite headlines like the one on this blog entry as evidence of imbecility in the media. He's usually talking about the annual New York Times story that expresses astonishment that even with a diminishing crime rate, we are incarcerating so many people (as if these were not connected phenomena).

Here's another one from "College: More Expensive Than Ever", in which the story lays out rising tuition costs, even as the amount of grant/aid increases.

Duh. More money available for higher education, higher costs for education. I know I beat this one like a drum, but the system is awash in stupidity, as if rapacious college administrators were sucking more and more from a system gone dry. It hasn't . There's more money available now for higher education than ever---perhaps some of these reporters will put some of it to use with occasional night school economics classes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Read It and Weep

Here is the link to the Senate Finance Committee's ~1500 pages of the "America's Healthy Future Act". I've been unable to get it to open. Perhaps a few other citizens are also attempting to get a look under the hood and it's just a little crowded there for the moment. In the mean time, if you are so inclined, is a link to the "Politics and Government Blog of the [NY] Times" implying that there might be a little bit of the bill dedicated to swine flu.

Wait, sorry, that was just swine, as in pork.

Smoke 'Em If Youg Got 'Em

News today of an administration decision to "de-prioritize" the prosecution of marijuana based cases in states where the medicinal use of marijuana is permitted. I've got mixed feelings on this one.

As a bit of a libertarian, I'd like to see marijuana legalized (but then I diverge from libertarianism, because I'd want it taxed).

But I'm also a law-and-order guy, and I just don't like the idea of an administration basically saying, "we're just not going to be real enthusiastic about enforcing laws".

But I'm probably more in favor of the move than against it.

In Which the WaPost Provides the DNC with Post VA Election Talking Points

Despite the relentlessness of their support for Creigh Deeds, it seems the Washington Post just can't seem to push the old boy over the top in the race--and so, we now see the excuse talking points beginning to be made. Not wanting this election to be seen as any kind of a mandate on the first year of the Obama Administration, the line now is obviously that Deeds is a flawed candidate who just isn't connecting with the voters (you know, the way Mark Warner and Barack Obama do). It's not that Deeds' policies or approach are being repudiated (tie yourself to Gov Kaine and President Obama), it's that he's just not a "Bonhomie". Rubbish.

Why the President Ignored Iranian Street Demonstrators

Very interesting blog post here from Powerline, summarizing a Time Magazine report. According to the Time report, the President was involved in a deeply personal way with the conduct of secret negotiations with the Iranians on the nuclear issue--beginning in June of this year. What else was going down in June? Well, the Iranian election results and the concomitant street demonstrations. Wanna know why the President seemed so unsympathetic to the demonstrators? Well, a reader of Instapundit has made the connection for us:

"Basically, he turned his back on the Iranian people because that whole free election fight of theirs wasn’t nearly as important as the nuclear deal he was working out with Iran’s regime. Too bad the regime couldn’t be trusted to actually live up to its end of the bargain. Big surprise there, that you can’t trust political leaders who believe in silencing their own people..."

But the world will go on loving us anyway, because The One is in office, not George Bush. Worry not about support for Democracy or anything as ephemeral as that, we're all about cold-headed realism, the kind that means you sometimes have to screw those with whom you usually make common-cause--ask Poland and the Czech Republic....

A Sound Approach to Healthcare Reform

Ross Douthat, a New York Times editorialist from the right of center perspective, has a good column up on healthcare. Here's some of it:

"But any lawmakers voting “yes” should have no illusions about what they’re voting for. This version of reform probably won’t make health care more affordable for most Americans, or place the system on firmer footing for the long run. Despite all the talk about a once-in-a-generation opportunity, our political class will have barely finished congratulating itself before rising costs will force everyone back to the negotiating table to consider more radical approaches."

The gist of the piece is a compromise on healthcare, one in which the Feds ultimately act as the guarantor of catastrophic healthcare for all Americans (universal catastrophic coverage) while turning to Republican/Conservative/market based reforms to deal with the costs of everything short of catastrophe. Another key graph:

"Such a system would provide universal catastrophic health insurance, in other words, while creating a free market for non-catastrophic care. In the process, it would marry a central conservative insight — that we’ll never control spending so long as Americans are insulated from the true price of their medical care — to the admirable liberal premise that nobody should go bankrupt paying for life-saving treatment."

I'd like to see this general approach mapped out. I think it has merit.

UPDATE: Here's a tweak on Douthat's approach from the Weekly Standard Blog.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Now Wait A Second; Haven't You Heard of This Obama Fellow?

Apparently missing the memo on the beginning of the new era of international love for the United States ushered in by our collective good judgment in electing Barack Obama President, it seems that terrorist recruiting is going like gangbusters. Well, I guess healing the planet and curing AIDS are going to have to suffice.

My Just-Ordered T-Shirt

Jealous, aren't you?

Ok, here's the link.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do the women without a crown in this photo look happy?

No, because the woman with the sash and crown is Nikole Churchill, the first white homecoming queen at historically black Hampton University.
Miss Churchill was crowned last week, and since then has received a less-than-friendly reception from her fellow students. Seems that her award was unjust as 'she hasn't had to endure the racial intolerance the rest of them have.' Ergo, she can't adequately represent them.
I'm not sure she handled the situation all that well, as her response was to post a letter to the president asking him to come to HU so fellow students can stop focusing on the color of her skin. A 'teaching moment,' perhaps?
No word yet from Al Sharpton.

A Hard-Luck Health Insurance Story, or Why The Rest Of Us Should Pay To Insure A Harvard Law Grad

So I'm doing a little Sunday afternoon internet browsing, and I come across this story in on the Washington Post site. In it, a 51 year-old man in good health, tells us that he is a Republican and did not vote for Barack Obama (I Googled him and yes, his political contributions have been to Republicans). Putting these credentials aside, the writer--a Mr. John Hewko, tells us that he supports the President's health care initiative because of his own particular situation.

By way of introduction, I have included here what I believe to be Mr. Hewko's "Linked-in" resume.

His situation as I understand it, is that he went from being someone enrolled in the Federal Government's Federal Employee Health Plan Benefit Plan (FEHBP) to having to self-finance health insurance as a consequence of having left his job in government. Currently covered by COBRA, that will soon run out.

After leaving government, he has chosen to be an "independent consultant". What this means is that he must self-finance his (and his family's) health care, because he is in effect, a small business owner (a business with one employee). His article largely bemoans that fact that the company through which he was ensured while working for the feds, will not ensure him as an independent under similar monthly premiums. The fact that the federal government was previously paying a large portion of his very nice plan's costs ( for example, the 2010 CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield monthly premium in DC for a Federal Employee and family is $1093.47, of which $814.75 is picked up by Uncle Sugar) seems lost on him now, as he asserts that he would be happy to pay "slightly" higher premiums. But this isn't even the most annoying part of his story.

The annoying part would be the fact that he doesn't seem to have considered any other health plans offered through any other companies other than one who was previously ensuring him. If he had written that he had tried a half-dozen other plans, maybe I'd have some sympathy. But he doesn't write that.

Nor does he indicate what his income is, or what his savings are. As I look at that resume from Linked-in, I see a wholly employable guy who has likely spent the lion's share of the past 20 years in the top 5% of wage earners in this country. Presumably with a resume like that and the international business contacts he's made, he could easily have landed a high paying job in virtually any law firm in DC---which would have come with group health insurance. But--you say--he wanted to be an independent consultant. Fine with me--he made a choice. He chose to be an independent--which means he pays the total cost of his own health care. But let's not cry too much for Mr. Hewko--I mean, he's not subject to the Obama Administration's ridiculous strictures on post-government employment. It is hard to imagine a guy like this not being able to bill at $ 500-800 an hour--but let's assume he's pulling down a paltry $400K. Is it too much to expect that his healthcare and that of his family would consume 9% of his take (he said the premium on the ONE policy CareFirst offered him was $3000 a month)? Should the healthcare and health insurance scheme for the rest of America be messed with on a cosmic scale so that this guy can continue to pay $278.72 month health insurance premiums on a goldplated policy? I don't think that's the kind of reform I'm in favor of, and I don't think many readers will either.

Surprise, Surprise--The Washington Post Endorses Deeds

As if their coverage of the campaign weren't signal enough, the Washington Post Editorial Board has officially endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds for in the 2009 Virginia Governor's race. I'd love to see data, any data, on the last ten years of DC/MD and VA races, to find out the percentage of time that the Post has endorsed the Republican vs. the Democrat. If anyone has this data, please let me know.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More Than Bunny Slippers Keeping Swedes Warm

From the country that brought you innovative ideas in home heating solutions, comes a new use for hossenfeffer:

"The bodies of thousands of rabbits culled every year from the parks in Stockholm’s Kungsholmen neighborhood are being used to fuel a heating plant in central Sweden."

Fine. But just don’t go looking for them in the cave of Kyre Banorg:

You've been warned.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Big Fat Friday Free For All

All Time High (April 1 2009): 192.2
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 169.4
Today: 169.2
Goal: Sub 150

Slow week on the diet front, a little disconcerting as I did quite a bit of running and seemed to eat wisely. I've revised the diet goal down an additional 10 pounds, largely as a concession to The Kitten who has decided to start a diet and exercise program of her own--and wants me along for the ride.

What's on your mind, people? Are you beginning to feel the long march to serfdom that Mudge alludes to so eloquently in his posting from last night? Are you wondering about the future of our country? Talk amongst yourselves...

WaPost Hits Obama on $250 Handout to Seniors

Always nice to see such blatant pandering skewered.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Amerika Inc: A Hostile Take Over

I wrote my congressman and senators again today on health care with a clear message that they will lose my vote (and spur my vigorous campaigning for their defeat) if they vote for "any way, shape or form of a public option" in reforming health care.

I listened to Der Sprecher Pelosi again threaten the citizens of the United States of America who invested their energies, intellects and personal earnings into the 100% legal businesses of providing insurance to their fellow citizens and could not NOT write. After having spent my entire adult life having promised that "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will continue to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution and the Country whose course it directs", it is the very least I can do now that I have satisfied my legal obligation to that oath.

I have no personal financial stake in the insurance industry, other than the obligations I incurred upon freely and knowingly entering into a contractual agreement with my insurance provider because I read what I was asked to sign. I have no family in the insurance industry although I do have a friend in the personal property insurance business (so far not under attack from their elected officials). My core objection to this legislature's and administration's behavior is simply a matter of Constitutional principle. I cannot believe that without purchasing a passport and a plane ticket that I now live in a nation where the government can freely impose debilitating policies and penalties on the pursuits of happiness of its citizens and then swoop in WITH THOSE SAME CITIZENS' TAX DOLLARS to take over their businesses.

In over half a century of living in this once great nation, I have never seen anything so akin to the very governmental behaviors that I spent my adult life having sworn to prevent. And I am at a loss to understand how my fellow Americans can sit idly by, or worse, actually encourage this kind of behavior in their elected officials.

To those countrymen and women who encourage such behavior: Have you any idea of the destination to which this poorly maintained road leads? Look at the graffiti on the rusty, decrepit road signs as they zip by with increasing speed: "the Bolsheviks were here", "Castro was here", "Tito was here", "Chavez IS here". Just because there was a brightly-lit recently repainted sign with "Government will Provide for You--Turn hard left at next intersection" doesn't mean it is true. Why in God's name would we, even the most liberal of us, as individual elements of the global symbol of free people unleashed to create and innovate, ever want to live under the thumb of other men? Who is so great a human being as to warrant his or her authority over our very freedom? The answer of course is, only a human ascendant to "savior" status.

And we apparently believe we have found such a savior.

Forgive us Father, for we know not what we do.

More on the Scarlet "E"

I wrote once about the entitlement mentality in America being one of its weaknesses, calling it The Scarlet E. Here's another example.

The rate of inflation, consumer prices, etc, don't justify giving a cost of living increase to those on Social Security and those receiving Veterans benefits. Seniors have grown mighty fond of automatic increases in their checks over the years, and the lack of one this year has many (and many of those who earn their bread amplifying the views of seniors) of them upset.

Don't worry though, The One may ride to your rescue, with a special $250 check! That's right. Even though we are in a period of stagnant prices, we'll give everyone on Social Security $250 (or a bill of $14B to rich folks) just because it is what you've grown used to!

This is no way to run a railroad.

Dow at 10K

Well, it got here a little earlier than I thought it would, but the Dow's back above 10K--about where it will be for the next three-five years whilst we work our way through excess housing inventory. Companies are valued more appropriately after the correction, and one market segment (financials) isn't either overvaluing or undervaluing the market all by itself anymore.

What does this mean for the US? It means a slow recovery going forward, but a recovery nonetheless. It means high unemployment, higher than we're used to. It means there will be continuing pressure from the Democratic Party for more stimulus, which would be folly as the stimulus already passed has had little impact on the recovery thus far (save for psychological).
It means that savvy investors are going to have to look at the international portions of their portfolios for real growth options--which will be there.

What could change this? On the positive side, an energy technology breakthrough or breakthroughs. Problem is, we've offshored most basic R and D, so something like this is just as likely to develop in India or China. On the downside, foolish attempts at stimulus could snuff out the emerging recovery (as happened early in the Depression), or I could just plain be dead wrong (like my buddy Bill says) and this is nothing but a huge "Sucker's Rally". I don't think that is the case at all. I can make a coherent case for why the market is up since March; I can't make a coherent case for any more upside.

Limbaugh and the NFL

What's going on with this story? Am I missing something important, or is my anti-Limbaugh bias serving me well?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Cultural Icon, Dead.

Captain Lou Albano, dead. The source of his rank is undetermined.

CSIS Global Health Essay Contest

Here's an excellent opportunity for some of the great writers who regularly comment here to put their brains to work in the service of their fellow man.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies is sponsoring an essay contest, with $1000 going to the essay that best answers the question:

"What is the most important thing the U.S. can do to improve global health over the next 15 years?"

Sen. Snowe, The Next Time History Calls, Put Tom Mabe On The Phone

One way to handle a telemarketer:

HT: Patterico's Pontifications

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Surprise! Liberals Want to Raise Taxes

A couple of thinkers from the intellectual powerhouse of the Democratic Party (The Brookings Institute) want to--get ready for this--raise taxes! I know, I know--you're shocked. Here's the problem they're trying to solve:

"Anyone who thinks that health-care reform alone is going to close the massive current -- and even larger projected -- U.S. budget deficit is deluded. President Obama has pledged that health-care reform will not make matters worse. But that isn't good enough. There is no way to restore this nation to fiscal health without higher taxes -- for the middle class as well as for the rich. The only question is when. Those increases should be enacted now, phased in gradually after the recovery is well established, and tied to the increased spending that health-care reform will generate."

No discussion of reducing the size of government, cutting government spending. No discussion on ways to reform healthcare that involve market forces and competition--just "increased spending". Brookings never saw a tax it didn't like.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tom Friedman with Good Advice to the President

Adopting what seems to be an oft heard line from those whose jaws didn't hit the ground after hearing of the Obama Nobel Peace Prize (his selection was "not his fault"), Friedman provides the President with an excellent pre-drafted acceptance speech. Key closing graph:

“So for all these reasons — and so you understand that I will never hesitate to call on American soldiers where necessary to take the field against the enemies of peace, tolerance and liberty — I accept this peace prize on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. military: the world’s most important peacekeepers.”

Wouldn't it be nice.....?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

UVA 44 Indiana 7

Yesterday's game was about as impressive a performance as I've ever seen a UVA Football team give. Everything was clicking (except the kickoffs...really bad kicking). It was a gorgeous fall afternoon in Charlottesville (the rain stopped about an hour before game time) and my favorite place on earth was simply beautiful.

For those who will wonder about my feelings on Al Groh? I still can't stand the man. But if he can sustain this kind of performance, well then I'll just shut up.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Off to Charlottesville....

Heading down to C-ville here in a few minutes (it is 0645) by way of Richmond where I'll be picking up one of my two favorite Democrats in the world for the game (Homecoming) against Indiana today.

Homecoming has a lot less meaning when you are a season ticket holder, that's for sure.

The Hoos showed some life against Carolina (over-rated) last week; some momentum would be nice today.

Bottom line is that unless Mudge, Sally, Robert Thorn and the Ghost pop up today and tomorrow, things will be a little slow here.

The Incomparable Keith Hennessey with Analysis of the Healthcare Bill

You will not find better, more clearly written analysis of the healthcare legislation wending its way through the Congress.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Was the Chicago Olympic Trip a Ruse?

I've been thinking--you know, a little conspiracy theory.

Maybe President Obama didn't really go to Copenhagen for the Chicago Olympic bid. Oh, yeah, of course going and making a pitch provided a good "front"--but maybe General McChrystal wasn't the only "side" meeting he had.

Here's my theory....the Nobel Committee reached its decision, and they knew it would be controversial. So they decided they needed to let the leader of the free world know in person--and talk about the ramifications of his potentially not accepting it.

The Nobel Committee showing up on White House visitor logs would blown the whole caper--but what if they hopped a commuter flight to Copenhagen and had a chat with The One while he was there--made damn sure he knew that he'd won and that he'd accept if awarded it (they would NOT want to deal with a head of state turning the award down).

And they never show up on the logs......

I'm just sayin'......why else would The One risk so much capital on the Chicago bid? Why, for a Nobel Peace Prize, of course!

CWTV--Latest Video--On Obama's Prize

I'm still dumbfounded by this.

Obama, Nobel, Iran, and Israel: Unintended Consequences

I like to think about alternative futures, and how seemingly disconnected events can come to have disastrous impacts on each other. I'm thinking today about the announcement of President Obama's award of the Nobel Peace Prize, and rumored plans by the Israeli's to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. For the purposes of my scenario planning, I assume that the Israelis have not ruled out an attack. I include in each scenario a probability of occurrence:

Scenario 1: The Award of the Nobel Prize has no impact on Israeli planning (85%). These events are simply not linked.

Scenario 2: The Award of the Nobel Prize leads to events that diminish the probability of an attack by the Israelis(1%). I am thinking here of a scenario in which the Nobel is seen by the Iranians as evidence of a President who is simply too popular worldwide for them to blow off anymore, someone who could successfully lead a concert of denial against them in ways that could threaten regime survival. This causes the Mullahs to make genuine concessions on their nuclear program, leading Israel to stand down.

Scenario 3: The Award of the Nobel prize leads to events that increase the probability of an attack by the Israelis (14%). The Israelis already believe that the President does not favor their interests. Now that he is bolstered by the Nobel, the Israelis (don't forget, they've never been thrilled with Yassir Arafat getting the award) come to feel isolated. Additionally, they suspect that the President will feel an even greater weight as a result of his award to lean on them to make concessions (to the Palestinians) they feel are not in their security interests. The pressure of the Iranian nuclear threat and the isolation from their most important patron (the US) forces the hand of Israeli leadership and they conduct the attack.

Note: If I were a betting man, my money would be on the Nobel having no impact on the Israelis (as you can see, I'm six times more confident in this than in the next outcome). But I'm fourteen times more certain that if there is an impact, it will be on the Israelis, and not the Iranians.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

All Time High (April 1 2009): 192.2
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 170.6
Today: 169.4
Goal: Sub 160

Yep. Nobel Prize to the One. I'm a little speechless by this one. Do I have it SO WRONG? Is he really all that? Can it be that I am so completely bereft of good judgment, political acumen, and refined taste that I am rendered unable to appreciate this man?

Nah. Can't be.

Talk amongst yourselves! It's Big Fat Friday Free For All--get it off your chest, share, raise topics worthy of consideration, predict the score of Indiana v. UVA for Homecoming tomorrow.

The Nobel Prize to The One

I would say that this was incomprehensible, except that the Nobel Peace Prize has become a ridiculous platform for world liberalism. Viewed through that lens, this is completely understandable.

Viewed through a lens of accomplishment? Not so much.

Here Comes Another Stimulus!

E.J. Dionne accurately predicts that after the Congress passes a health care bill (it will)--a bill likely to cost upwards of $900B when all is said and done--it will move on to tackling the pesky unemployment rate (now nearly 10%) with a second stimulus bill.

You remember the first stimulus, right? Nearly $800B for a bill that rewarded virtually every constituency that voted for President Obama, and threw a bone to Republicans by providing a tax break largely to people who don't pay taxes anyway? Well, EJ would have us all believe that this recession is just so pesky that the first stimulus just wasn't enough--and by the way, the $70B that went to adjusting the rapacious Alternative Minimum Tax? Well--that is the straw that broke EJ's back! Never mind the nearly $400B that went to non-stimulative initiatives. No, he'll quibble with one that put spending money back in people's pockets--people who EARNED the money in the first place.

Be wary of these people (Democrats) friends. Very wary.

Broder Parrots the Obama Straw Man

I've written in this blog many times before about my irritation with the President's use of straw man arguments--as in "we need health care reform, and we need it now, not like those Republicans who say we shouldn't do anything". Who are these Republicans that want no reform of the health care system? He doesn't identify them. Because no prominent Republican was saying that.

So now we have Bill Frist, Ahhhnold, and Tommy Thompson---Republicans all (well, sort of) --quoted by the President's supporters as being in favor of "health care reform". What form this reform takes is left unspecified, yet Broder assures us that, "...all have urged their party to back reform, rather than settle for the status quo."

Again--no Republican of note wants the status quo. They want market based reforms. They want to end the tie between work and healthcare. They want to bring the patient and doctor back into the healthcare equation. But they don't want to do "nothing".

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dem Healthcare Speechwriter Has No Healthcare; Realizes Much of What She Wrote Was Garbage

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a delicious story. Key graph:

"What makes this a double blow is that my experience contradicts so much of what I wrote for political leaders over the last decade. That's a terrible feeling, too. I typed line after line that said everything Massachusetts did would make health insurance more affordable. If I had a dollar for every time I typed, "universal coverage will lower premiums," I could pay for my own health care at Massachusetts's rates."


Philly’s 3 R’s (Reading, wRiting, and bReakfast)

From a city on the brink of fiscal insolvency comes word that its school district will hold its principals accountable for the number of students eating breakfast in their schools.

All students of the Philadelphia School District, all 165,000 of them, are eligible for free breakfast meals, regardless of income. “Breakfast participation” will be one of the criteria used to rate principals’ performance, along with student attendance, math and reading scores.

Welcome to the nanny state. How do you like your eggs?

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Hotties shooting guns.

Go ahead. Make my day.

The One Speaks, The Heavens Listen...

I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people… I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal… This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation… - Barack Obama, June 2008

Wow, that was quick. The journal Geophysical Research Letters is reporting the ice melt during the Antarctic summer (October-January) of 2008-2009 was the lowest ever recorded in the satellite history.

Mission accomplished. Now let's get to work on the economy, shall we?

HT: Watts Up With That?

General McChrystal Deserves an Apology

....from me. I criticized him on this blog a week or so ago for sending up a report to the President that contained basically two options--do it "my" way or lose. I felt that the President deserved better staff work. Well, now we have the rest of the story.

It appears that when McChrystal headed off to Afghanistan, he did so believing that the decision to implement a counterinsurgency strategy--and by that, he meant the kind that the Army Field Manuals (recently updated) advocate--had already been made. He had his marching orders, and so what he sent back was his plan to carry them out. All of which makes sense now...."my" way was actually what he believed was the President's stated policy as approved by the White House led effort discussed in the linked to story.

So his leaked report should not be read as saying, "Mr. President, do what I say or we'll lose"; it should be more appropriately stated as "Mr. President, here's what I need to do what YOU said, and we need it pretty quickly or we'll lose". These are very different interpretations of the report, and the latter obviously leaves McChystal in much better shape.

But how you ask, did we get to this point? Well, read the story. Read about the spirited debate among the participants. Read about the (in the end) nearly unanimous decision to go forward with a counterinsurgency strategy. Read who the outlier was, and who he represents (for those of you too busy to do so, it was Vice President Biden's National Security Adviser). Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have a good idea who our "Leaker" was--or at least who he represented.

By stealing the march on McChrystal--the VP's office--with its own view of what was right for Afghanistan--successfully made McChrystal into a MacArthur like figure, pilloried in the media (and by me) for his actions--when all he was doing was creating a plan to implement his understanding of the President's wishes.

Biden's been in DC for nearly 40 years. He knows how the game is played under the basket. And I think there's a strong case to be made that his office is responsible for the McChystal leak.

Charlie Rangel in the Hot Seat

Republicans gamely attempted to have Charlie "I Don't Pay No Damn Taxes" Rangel removed from his position as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee yesterday. The process included a reading of the resolution as Charlie sat stone-faced listening to it.

In the end, six Republicans voted to leave Charlie in place. Who are these Republicans? Where are they from? Politico gives us the answer:

"Six Republicans sided with Rangel on Wednesday: Reps. Peter King of New York, Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, Dana Rohrabacher of California, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Don Young of Alaska and Ron Paul of Texas."

Unbelievable. We're not talking about locking a man up, depriving him of liberty. We're talking about the administrative removal of the man charged with leading the committee that writes tax law, law that he himself felt did not apply to him. What more did they need to vote him out?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Herb Brooks is Re-born


H/T Jonah Goldberg, NRO

Cohen Continues to Peck Away at Obama

The friendly fire continues....

When Will the Saudis Learn

It seems that the head of Saudi Arabia's counterterror effort comes from the "hearts and minds" school of counterterrorism. You know, the ones who think that if you treat terrorists with respect, give them jobs, tell them you hear them, etc., they'll turn away from violent Jihad and turn into cabbage farmers.

The Saudi official, one Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, recently agreed to sit down for a chat with the #40 guy on the Saudi's list of 85 top terrorists, Abdullah Assiri, who is presumed (as a measure of respect, of course) to not have been subject to a security search.

At some point in the meeting, a bomb, which is thought to have been nestled in Assiri's rectum, exploded, killing Assiri but leaving the Prince slightly injured.

Perhaps the strategy needs to be appended to "hearts, minds, and a__holes."

Country Mouse, City Mouse, Obama

Interesting story here on President Obama's goals for urban renewal; that is, a strategy focused on revitalizing America's cities. It is interesting because President Obama's election signifies nothing if not the ascendancy of urban life, and it is interesting because of the political dynamic it is setting up which will come home to roost in upcoming elections.

Let's face it, the United States hasn't been much for electing Presidents who hail from "cities" or who refer to cities as their hometowns. Barack Obama is the first "city-dweller" (to the extent that his peripatetic life can be seen as having been lived anywhere) to occupy the White House since JFK--who really wasn't a city dweller (prep school, Hyannis, oh, and some time in Boston) but who came across as urbane, sophisticated, and city-like.

Obama is different; not only is he a "city" guy, he revels in it, as his past as a "community organizer" will attest. America is increasingly urbanizing--that is, people are moving to and toward its major metropolitan areas. This is not a bad thing for Democrats and liberals, as people who live in close proximity to each other tend over time to develop the inability to do very simple things for themselves and then come to rely on government to provide them.

That said, this urbanization is a relatively new trend, one that will bring into sharp relief the already stark electoral maps in which Democratic presidential support was clustered in and around cities. We are moving increasingly toward an even more bifurcated political system, one in which city-dwellers will continue to flex their political muscle to the detriment of rural and suburban populations. The impact on contemporary politics will be substantial.

Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard…

It seems the Obama White House likes to keep a fresh supply of white lab coats handy for Obamacare photo ops.

I mean, how would we be able to tell they were really physicians without them?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mosques as Military Targets

News here of a devastating attack on an exposed joint US/Afghan outpost Saturday, in which 8 US troops were killed.

Tucked into the report was this bit: "The insurgents struck from positions in a mosque, village buildings and hillside positions above the outpost, which is in the Kamdesh area of Nurestan province."

Mosques, like churches, schools, and hospitals, are protected targets under the law of armed conflict. This protection is not absolute; if a mosque is used for military operations and planning, it becomes a legitimate military target. The problem here is the entering argument that a mosque has a higher level of "off-limits" than say, a hardware store. It is time for that distinction to end. It is time for mosques to lose their protected status.

Many Americans believe that Islamic terrorists, insurgents, and fighters of all variety operate out of mosques because they know darn well Americans will go out of their way not to hit the mosque--and in some cases, this is the truth. But it isn't the whole story. The REST of the story is that operations are planned and executed out of the mosque because THAT'S WHERE THAT KIND OF BUSINESS IS SUPPOSED TO BE TRANSACTED. Much of Islam does not recognize the fundamental "church/state" divide that we here in America spend so much time defending. The mosque isn't just a place of worship; it is a place of justice, it is a place of governance, it is a place of civil administration. To grant protected status to mosques isn't a huge leap from claiming protected status for Army forward operating bases; after all, there are chaplains there and they often conduct religious services. But not only would we never make such a claim--the world would never recognize it. But here we (and the rest of the Western world) are, judging the actions of Islam by Western standards, affording their places of worship the status appropriate to places of worship ONLY. When will we learn.

As Dear Old Dad Used to Say....

Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.

White House Stiffs the Dalai Lama

Interesting story here about the extent to which not pissing China off has become an Obama Administration obsession. Apparently, a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama (big hitter, the Lama) has been postponed until after Mr. Obama's summit meeting with Chinese Premier Hu Jintao.

Much of politics is a game of appearances; it is no different with international geo-politics. The cancellation of the land-based missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic gave the impression that the Obama Administration caved to the Russians. Stiffing the Lama gives the impression that they caved to the Chinese.

The President and the Olympics

A lot of chatter out there about the President's attempt to roll into Copenhagen and love the IOC into picking Chicago to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Preceded by Michelle Obama's impassioned, highly personal (what else) presentation, The One did his best to back up Chicago's bid and came away empty-handed. I have a few thoughts on this whole thing.

1. Tony Blair went to the mat for London's 2012 bid, and it appears that there is now an expectation that heads of state will be a part of any bidding city's attempt at suasion. Had the President not gone--and Chicago lost--there'd be plenty of complaining about his absence.

2. There has also been a lot of talk about "loss of prestige", how the President "will suffer from this international embarrassment", etc. I'm prepared to believe that this will be the case, I just haven't seen anyone translate for me HOW this will happen. When the President loses a fight in Congress, it emboldens his political enemies and those friends whose affections are alienable. But the IOC isn't going to vote on any pending legislation. That the games will happen somewhere else is sad for some in Chicago, but it doesn't matter to all that many people anywhere else.

What do I see as the upshot of this? Over-reaction, of course. Any US city that has a serious shot at an Olympic bid in the future--irrespective of the party of the President--is going to have their effort "federalized". Because the President is going to (presumably) have to be involved (so that the IOC fat-cats can feel important), and because no White House wants THIS to happen again, preparations will begin for the presentation months in advance, the White House will effectively co-opt the local organizing committee. There may even be a White House Olympics Czar appointed, who knows?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Boys Weekend on the Chesapeake

I went away this weekend to the other side of the Chesapeake, to a town called Deltaville to meet up with some friends for a weekend sail. Deltaville is purported to be the "Sailing Mecca" of central Virginia, and the Fishing Bay Yacht Club was littered with boats bearing locations of Williamsburg and Richmond.

The weather was phenomenal, and the sailing was great. Most people are pretty taken aback when they learn that a guy with 21 years in the Navy under his belt doesn't know the first thing about sailing--experienced sailors are downright disgusted. The three gents I went out with did their best to hide their disdain, and they provided a great deal of companionship and conversation.

I met these guys through the Kitten, who is herself an accomplished sailor. She and these fellows all worked together in the Caribbean twenty years ago, and they've remained close ever since. But gender is thicker than water, so they had me along for the ride.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Two Minutes With Clarence Thomas

Just a little clip here (H/T Instapundit) featuring Justice Thomas. I really, really like this guy--both his sense of jurisprudence AND the way he comes across in the countless interviews I've seen with him. The kind of guy I'd like to have a beer with, maybe in a lawn chair in front of an RV parked at Wal-Mart.

Some Fresh Thinking on Afghanistan

Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, a former Naval Officer and now a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has put this piece out in order to question some of the prevailing wisdom in DC these days about counterinsurgency operations (COIN) and the applicability of COIN to what is going on in Afghanistan and our goals there.

I'm no COIN expert, and I am way out of my depth when it comes to Afghanistan. But I do have a lot of time in DC, and any time you start to hear the chattering classes begin to parrot Army Field Manuals, it is time to start questioning whether an idea has gone way past ripe. I think Nelson raises that sense here (as a critic, not a member of the chattering class). Every talking head on cable seems to be a COIN expert these days--and I'm not even sure Afghanistan is an insurgency (seems more like a civil war to me).

We went to war in Afghanistan to kill terrorists; if the Taliban had given up Bin Laden, they'd still be in power. Along the way, we vastly up-scoped our war aims, and now we're trying to figure out what to do next. My support for mounting a huge counterinsurgency effort is waning. There is no government, there is no middle class, there is not any history of science, learning and technology. This is not Iraq, and the time is coming for us to figure out how to get out of there.

Hat Tip: Tim Long

Greg Mankiw Gets a Little Feisty on The One

Greg Mankiw was a prominent economist in the Bush Administration, and he's now a Professor of Economics at Harvard. He's one of the most retrained and reasoned writers out there, a master of "no disrespect intended" disrespect. Which makes this blog entry all the more interesting, because he's really turning the rhetorical heat up on the President. More please.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Big Fat Friday Free For All

All Time High (April 1 2009): 192.2
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 169.8
Today: 170.6
Goal: Sub 160

Fat is right. It was a setback week, no doubt about it. Didn't run enough, ate too much. Ate the wrong things. Hoping to do better next week.

But enough self-loathing--it's BIG FAT FRIDAY! What's on your mind? Are you struggling with the fact that you don't want Chicago to get the Olympics just so THE ONE doesn't get to preen more (I am--I know I should want them to come to America--but I just can't take the smugness)? What are your thoughts on Roman Polanski? Emote, people. Emote!

Thank God Willow's Not An Intern...

Letterman admits to trysts with female staffers.

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

“Capitalism did nothing for me.”

But the Yoo-Hoos and Ho-Hos appear to have taken their toll.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Overly Generous Military Benefits

Recent administration woes in getting checks out to the Veterans it is covering under the new GI Bill raises an important question, put rather well in a recent letter to the editor of the Washington Post. In it, Mr. David Robinson of Alexandria (I do not believe we are hearing from the former Naval Academy grad and NBA superstar) reminds those of us who don't follow veterans affairs that the recent Jim Webb-sponsored "update" to the GI Bill is a seriously generous bump--including the provision that servicemembers spouses or children can--under certain circumstances--take advantage of the benefit.

I have mixed feelings on this one. I am absolutely certain that our system of veterans benefits is out of whack--and I am a recipient of those benefits. For instance, because the Navy paid for my college tuition--I was never eligible for the "old" GI Bill. But now that I've retired, and because I served during the Global War on Terrorism--I am eligible for a whole series of fat benefits should I choose to go to law school or med school or an MBA or what have you.

But I also understand--and support--extending benefits to a spouse (not kids). Here's why. I saw lots and lots of guys leave the Navy over the years because their wives wanted them to leave. Not because of the time away from home, but because staying in the Navy hurt her career (moving about). I always thought one way we might retain some of these guys would be to allow their GI Bill benefit to pass to their spouse--so that if she had to leave a job to follow him to a new job--she could at least pick up a degree for her troubles.

I would have been happy if they simply took the old GI bill and said that the benefit could extend to a spouse. Bringing in a whole bunch of new people (like me) into the system was simply one more way that the Democratic Party could show faux support for the military by extending yet another social benefit.

U2 In Concert

For many years, I've shaken my head and scorned the legions of people who would go into a Sufi-like trance whenever they described the experience of seeing U2 in concert (this affliction is also prevalent in Bruce Springsteen fans). After a while (probably about 1990), I decided that I would simply sit this band out.

Well, 19 years later, I folded, like a cheap suit. I took the Kitten to see U2 at Fedex Field on Tuesday night. My rationale was this--Bono and I aren't getting any younger, and one of us was going to be more likely to sit concerts out as we got older. In point of fact, this could very well turn out to be the last real opportunity I had to catch the Zeitgeist that most folks my age long ago experienced.

I did this with some trepidation, having gone to see The Police two years ago and come away a wee bit disappointed that I was not 20 anymore, and that Sting seemed to phone the appearance in from his villa in St. Tropez. Then, the warmup band performed frighteningly screechy examples of their seemly endless rendition of the same song, which caused the Kitten to sit with her fingers in her ears throughout their performance (for those of you worried about my declining aural health, I turned off my hearing aids so as not to ruin them).

So by the time U2 took the stage, I was ready to be underwhelmed. What a mistake. Bono and the boys are simply amazing. Their energy was endless, their musical skills manifest, and their showmanship top-notch. Yes, we had to put up with Bono's endless moralizing....but it seemed a small price to pay for being thoroughly entertained by a songbook that has been consistently added to by great music for the past nearly 30 years. That these guys started playing together in high school and have kept it together--no, improved it--for nearly 30 years is a wonderful thing.

I'm glad I went, because now I understand the hype. Sorta wish I had gone earlier in my life....
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