Sunday, February 28, 2010
There is still time.
This bit of ridiculosity from the first paragraph: "What is interesting about Graham is that he has been willing — courageously in my view — to depart from the prevailing G.O.P. consensus that the only energy policy we need is “drill, baby, drill.”
This is what passes for insight from a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist in America's "Newspaper of Record?" Does Friedman really believe that Republican energy policy is nothing more than "drill, baby, drill"? Didn't the President just recently make hay in his State of the Union Speech by offering support for New Nuclear Power as an olive branch to Republicans? Because Republicans largely are in opposition to the President's Cap and Trade initiative (which offered plenty of goodies for friends and industries favored by the administration and other Dems), does Friedman really believe that Republicans simply want to burn oil until its gone and then figure out the problem?
Friedman has been a leading thinker on matters dealing with the Middle East and with Islam--with good reason. That he has moved into adjacent markets to become seen as some kind of green-energy sage just doesn't hold water. He's a mouthpiece for the secular religion of Greenism and a reliable amplifier for whatever ideas rattle around Manhattan, Georgetown and Davos salons.
I am not saying that today's Republicans are a bunch of Wallace clones. Or that everything Wallace did or said was wrong, or that Republicans should shun all of his themes just because he used them. I am saying three things.
First, with the important exception of race, not one of Wallace's central themes, from his bristling nationalism and his court-bashing to his anti-intellectualism and his aggressive provincialism, would seem out of place at any major Republican gathering today.
Second, and again leaving race aside, any Republican politician who publicly renounced the Wallace playbook would be finished as a national leader.
Third, by becoming George Wallace's party, the GOP is abandoning rather than embracing conservatism, and it is thereby mortgaging both its integrity and its political future. Wallaceism was not sufficiently mainstream or coherent to sustain a national party in 1968, and the same is true today.
Conservatism is wary of extremism and rage and anti-intellectualism, of demagoguery and incoherent revolutionary rhetoric. Wallace was a right-wing populist, not a conservative. The rise of his brand of pseudo-conservatism in Republican circles should alarm anyone who cares about the genuine article.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Well the hunt is over and neither human nor canine was in any way hazarded--though we did put a hurtin' on a few birds, pictured in breathless repose on the fence.
We went two rounds on a hunting preserve about twenty minutes from where I live in Easton, the first with John's dog Cappy (pictured) (a superbly trained Spinone) and the second with Hugh's dog Ollie--a beautiful little black lab. It was a big, beautiful farm ringed with woods and a few nice border-making tree-lines.
The Spinone is a pointer--he'd get on the scent of a bird and go into a point beautifully. John or Hugh would walk toward where the bird was, and then it would either start running out of the brush or immediately take to flight. Once he/she was up in the air and a safe line of fire was established, Eric and I were the shooters--depending on which side of the brush/tree line that bird exited.
I missed my first four shots (two birds, using an over/under Baretta). Eric on the other hand, was hot early, hitting five birds in a row. I improved as the day wore on, and eventually bagged five or so myself.
Contrasted with deer hunting from a stand, the hunting we did today is downright social. No one seemed terribly concerned about being loud or spooking the game, though obviously we got serious when one of the dogs got "birdy". The Lab, Ollie, was a bit younger and less experienced than Cappy, and he "flushed" the birds rather than pointed them. This was a problem every now and then, as he'd get a bit in front of us and flush birds at too great a distance for a good shot--though the birds were often downright accommodating and would fly back toward us, as if offering themselves for our shooting/eating pleasure (I've got quite a bit of breasted pheasant and a few chuckers to enjoy...).
Always great to be in Mudge's company, truly one of the most simpatico gentlemen I know. Hugh's a long-time Easton/Eastern Shore resident, and he told wonderful stories of how the area used to be. John put the trip all together and proved an able and amiable host. All in all, a superb day. Thanks to all involved.
Adding also to the unlikelihood that anything will be killed is the fact that Mudge is joining in the fun, driving up from Virginia's sliver of the Eastern Shore. Mudge "hunts" regularly, but based reporting (his and others) he rarely "kills" anything. Kinda like what they call a "cooler" in the gambling business, the guy who sidles up to your blackjack table and kills the run.
I'll try and bring a digital camera along to capture some of the carnage.
Boy, was he right. Katie Couric and Jan Crawford of CBS News have been covering the story of a pedophile in Lewes, Delaware who used the cover of his childhood pediatrics practice to indulge his horrific crimes, likely over the course of nearly 20 years. Complaints to State Authorities during that time by concerned parents resulted in little action including one from THE DOCTOR'S SISTER. Even after he came under intense scrutiny from state law enforcement, he continued his depredations, including reports of one assault the day before his arrest.
Beau Biden made protecting children his signature issue in campaigning for Attorney General, and he cited the work as part of the reason he wasn't going to run for the Senate. I'll go him one step further. Biden knew that once this story got big, that once it broke on the national scene (which last week's 471 count indictment has done), the glare of media attention would eventually turn itself on him, his office, and Delaware Law Enforcement--handing an opponent a superb campaign issue highlighting Biden's incompetence as AG. I've yet to see such a report in the BAPF (Bought and Paid For) media, but I will give it some time.
Friday, February 26, 2010
"The next time someone tells you that donations are “legalized bribery,” ask them why Obama took $18 million from Wall Street and gave them in return endless abuse and hostile legislation.
Quid pro quo, indeed."
Researchers at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia studied the brain scans of fourteen young men following viewing of nude pictures of women pre and post cosmetic surgery. The surgery was performed to redistribute fat from the women's waist to the buttocks to give them more of an hourglass figure. The operations did not reduce the weight, but merely redistributed it.
Scans of the study subjects revealed that viewing the post-surgery photographs stimulated the same regions of the brain that were activated by rewards, drugs and alcohol.
Steven Platek, an evolutionary cognitive neuroscientist (I didn't make that up), said the research may help to explain such social phenomena as sexual harassment and whistling at curvaceous women in the street.
Good to know that science is on the case.
The incomparable Keith Hennessey looks at bi-partisanship in the Bush (you remember him--failure, my way or the highway, most divisive figure in American politics) White House and contrasts it with what we've seen so far from the Obama team. The comparison does not reflect well upon The One.
I've said it before and I'll say it again--historians will (in future years) look back on the Bush Presidency in a more positive light than journalists did. What's the word for how Bush got things done? "Strategery!"
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 172.6 (2/12/10)
Goal: Sub 150
Sub 150's looking dim these days--I seem to have hit an equilibrium point. Well, that's not exactly true--I didn't eat/exercise as well the past two weeks as I did the week ending 2/12. Back to work, another opportunity to excel.
Enough of that already--what are you thinking about these days? Any topics you want to talk about on the radio show? How'd the GOP do in the healthcare summit yesterday? I haven't seen any video, but I read that my man Paul Ryan did a fine job. Sick of winter yet? I said to the Kitten last night that I'd never been more excited for Spring.
Share, people. Share.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I am committed that day--and I'm sick about it. Had I not other tasking, I'd lead the counter-demonstration.
John S--can you take this one on?
A STATEWIDE (for starters) ANIMAL ABUSERS REGISTRY.
You know, like the National Sex Offender Registry, only different.
Some context: Californians recently legislated certain "rights" to food such as pre-butchered pork, chicken and beef. The NYT reports:
"Last fall, California became the first state to outlaw so-called tail-docking of dairy cows, where the tail is partly amputated to ease milking. In 2008, voters in the state passed Proposition 2, which gave hens, calves and pigs more room in their crates or cages. That law has upset many in the California egg industry and prompted some agriculturally-minded residents to even talk about seceding from the state."I've got nothing against people treating animals humanely. I've got nothing against holding people accountable for torturing animals that don't wear beards and turbans and shout 'Allah Akbhar' as a prefix to killing other humans. But I've got EVERYTHING against extending "rights" to animals. Especially when the very people who plea the loudest for elevating them to human (and beyond) status are the same ones who so willingly deny unborn humans any such rights or who seem so willing to elect governments that would, given the opportunity, dismantle the Bill of Rights.
Make no mistake, those of you who are thinking, "Well, why shouldn't we publicly shame people like Michael Vick and those who viciously abuse those poor defenseless animals", this is just the next step along a very slippery slope that the likes of PETA, ALF and others have been greasing for a long time. And there's an enormous difference in the commerically-driven shaming of someone like Vick and the government using citizens' resources to lead the shaming. Any of you out there own a...excuse me...have an animal friend/partner/companion/whatever the BS PC term du jour is for "pet", that has a docked tail? Pinched ears? Clipped wings? De-clawed paws? Kept in a cage? Kennel? Tied to a post? Neutered? Spayed? Otherwise denied being "free range"?
Any of you ready to see your food bills rise dramatically as farmers and processors contend with more costs and less production? If you answer yes, then you can pay more right now to get what you want. In fact, that is pretty much my point here. If you want to change the way food is produced in this country, you can do that by voting with your purse/wallet. It's precisely why there is an industry that is growing rapidly to fulfill this increased demand. But to have the government step in and impede citizens in their pursuit of happiness or by taking or limiting their personal property by superceding those rights with animal "rights" is dangerous.
And it isn't a very long putt to see where all this heads with hunting.
I'm reminded of something I think maybe George Carlin once said about animal rights, "You know, if you asked a bear how he feels about animal rights, you know what he'd say? NOTHING, HE'S A FREAKING BEAR!"
California can't really be blamed. It's what happens when a whole nation starts leaning too far left. All the nuts and fruits roll to that end. They can stay there for all I care. But so can their "laws."
Anyway, Sea World officials initially tried to substitute an entirely different (and false) version of the incident to counter the reports of audience members who were interviewed by the press that the trainer was pulled in from her platform and thrashed about by the AKW until she died. To their quite minimal credit, they finally did concede that the audience reports were correct. BUT, in one last feeble attempt to make everything okay again, they claim that the cause of this abberation in Orca behavior (really? check out video below--warning: cute-furry-animal-gets-eaten alert) was, are you ready for this?--
BECAUSE THE TRAINER HAD A PONY TAIL.
I might have bought it had it been a mullet, but seriously, I am not making this up. And thank God they've warned all of us who might try to ride our ponies along the shoreline where Orcas feed. I am not an expert on Orcas, to be certain, but I can tell when someone's been washing a hog and this is that.
Cut to 2010, and former VP Dick Cheney has suffered his fifth heart attack. Joy Behar (who apparently has something to do with television) is interviewing Bill Maher (ditto). "I just find it interesting that he doesn't get any sympathy from people...people around me, anyway."
You want to follow a superb thinker who is also funny? That's Jonah Goldberg. Some of his stuff is hilarious--Mark Steyn funny even. But it is all very well-thought-out, including this discussion of the Left's fascination with the way other countries do things. Seemingly no authoritarian society worldwide has escaped the Left's fascination and praise, wistful longings for the kind of centralized power available to the truly autocratic government.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Many of you know I live on a farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The farm has a long lane extending up from the street, a lane presumably comprised of gravel. In the summer, the lane is a dusty mess, instantly turning even the cleanest car into a filthy shadow of its former self. Time and inattention has rendered the lane less gravelly and more dusty than it ought to be (the care of the lane is not the Kitten's responsibility nor mine). The incessant snow of this winter, in addition to aggressive plows, has also taken its toll.
We are now left with a lane that is almost totally mud. This includes the once gravel circular drive in front of our house. There is no place for one to park without instantly stepping into several inches of gooey icky mud. It is demoralizing, especially when one has recently purchased a new automobile. The tires are muddy, the wheelwells are muddy, there is mud along the length of the car and there is mud all over the ridiculously expensive rubber mats I purchased to cover the ridiculously expensive plush carpet underneath. I find myself having to aggressively maneuver the car simply to make it through the accumulated muck without getting stuck.
There is, on our farm, an inherited aversion to blacktopped farm lanes. I won't mention any names, but I happen to be one of the very few full-time inhabitants of any of the dwellings on our little peninsula who would like the lane to be blacktop. Some of the others think blacktop is "for
Washington people", those who have gobbled up the old family estates along the water here for their weekend entertainment, much to the chagrin of the locals. One might even speculate that clinging to gravel is a way of clinging to a past long gone by. I don't know why blacktop has such a bad rap here, but I'm all for it.
I've developed a rewarding relationship with a local carwash. Rewarding for the owners of the carwash, at least. For the low, low price of $26.00, I can have a squad of dubiously credentialed "guest workers" (ahem) descend upon my beautiful, but muddy automobile, and in a matter of minutes, she is returned to showroom glory--chrome gleaming, tires Armor-alled, the faint odor of new car smell once again wafting through the cabin. I am made whole by the Wet Dog Car Wash, at least until my next trip down the lane.
"We've never had women on submarines" you say? PSHAW!
Allow me to refresh your memory with THESE pioneer "Ladies of the Deep":
Jamie Lee Curtis (1997)
Yvonne Wilder (1997)
Melinda Naud (1997)
Bond Gideon (1997)
Lauren Holly (1996)
Dorrie Thomson (1977)
Cat Futch (1975)
Joan O'Brien (1959)
Dina Merrill (1959)
Virginia Gregg (1959)
Madlyn Rhue (1959)
Marion Ross (1959)
The women who will, Congress permitting, one day serve in submarines again, owe these trail-blazers a debt of gratitude.
This post is a parody. The views of its author do not represent the views of the CW nor its affiliate broadcasting stations (CW Live tonight at 8pm) or its advertisers from which contributing writers receive no proceeds. Any dissenting views or opinion may be addressed online to http://www.NOW.org
Ok. Lets do a little history major math, shall we?
Total budget: $442 million.
Total number of students: 20,268
Average spending per student: approx $21,8oo per student
Number of states nationwide with an average per-pupil expenditure in excess of Arlington: 0
To paraphrase Eva Peron, "Don't cry for me, Arlington".
But let us not forget--we have been fighting a war in Afghanistan for 8 and a half years--and while the deaths of 1000 are lamentable, we cannot but be grateful for the technology, training, and leadership our Armed Forces have. These factors have been critical in keeping war dead to under 125 a year there.
Perspective: 58,000 dead in Vietnam. 53000 dead in Korea. 300,000 dead in WWII.
Though I am grateful for the deaths of so few, I wonder whether we have created an expectation in ourselves of the capacity for deathless war (at least on our side), an expectation that at some point could result in the loss of true perspective about cost and benefit in the waging of war. Time will tell.
Topics for discussion tonight include:
• Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and the role of firebrands in the modern Republican Party
• Mossad hit in Dubai?
• Scott Brown’s vote on the jobs bill
• Healthcare Summit tomorrow
• Tiger Woods’ Apology fallout
• Women on Submarines
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Yet the ongoing attempt by the Holder Justice Department to point to cases in which terrorists are successfully prosecuted/handled by the civilian court system simply defies logic. The underwear bomber was not a citizen or resident of the US. He had not passed through customs. Mirandizing him and offering the protections of our system was a dumb move and continuing to shroud it in legitimacy through the rear-view mirror of cases like the Zazi case is ridiculous.
Zazi was a legal resident of the US and had been since 1999. He was living and working in the US when his trail was picked up. That he was treated with in the civilian justice system makes a heck of a lot more sense than doing so with the Underwear Bomber, and continuing to compare these situations simply amplifies the charge of the Obama Administration's softness on terrorism and their inability to treat it as a national security threat.
Brown's big problem politically is that the more he comes (over time--remember, this is one vote) to vote like a Democrat, the greater will be the argument to replace him with one.
Monday, February 22, 2010
I particularly liked her shot at the First Lady's "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country" comment. I also liked her comment about...well, read the article. I actually liked them all. Even the likely-to-make-the-left-cry-foul comment about Ted Kennedy.
Like her or not, she's unabashed about skewering the left when the left has left reason out of the debate...so she's a pretty busy skewerer these days.
Can't you just picture the Botox-filled prune face of Mme Speaker as she attempts to stammer a response before Coulter is already on to the next slashing witticism?
Cue the band: "Dre-e-e-e-eam, Dream Dream Dre-e-e-eam, Dre-e-e-e-eam..."
Sunday, February 21, 2010
-- Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Before the House of Commons, in the days before the Battle of Britain, June 1940)
In what is unlikely to supplant that historic moment as Britain's "finest hour," an ongoing political brouhaha between PM Gordon Brown and a fools gallery of staff and sympathizers (who could not possibly share a single chromosome of DNA with the Britons of WWII) must have Sir Winston spinning in his grave.
It appears that the British, get this, "National Bullying Hotline" received three or four calls from, get THIS, members of the PM's STAFF! That would be ADULT members of the PM's Staff.
So now, in addition to having to step up to the plate to be the single voice of sanity in defending democratic principles around the globe while the guy who was supposed to do that is practicing bowing in 30 languages, AND while trying to keep his nation's economy from collapsing, the incumbent in the job Winston Churchill has now got the founder of this ridiculous hotline on his ass and she's stirring up a whole nest of like-minded numb-minded non-minds who think that the PM should practice hugging, instead of yelling. ("C'mon now Mr. Prime Minister...it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown")
All this appears to have come to a head when Mr. Brown attempted to replace one appropriately-named Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, with a much better-named, Ed Balls, someone apparently more loyal to the PM. Now there is a tell all book, the opposition (unfortunately, the Conservatives) are rallying that there is a government cover-up conspiracy and this nutcase who runs the hotline is claiming that the PM may be in violation of labor laws:
[The Hotline Director] told The Daily Telegraph that by dismissing the reports of bullying, No 10 could be breaching employment law. "If an employer receives any allegation that there is a culture of bullying or stress, they have a legal obligation to investigate, a duty of care to employees. It appears that due process is not being followed here," she explained.
Look, I'm not a particularly big fan of Brown. I didn't like the way he left Tony Blair hanging out in the breeze. I also don't think people need to scream at people to get jobs done nor do I think it particularly good form for a Prime Minister of a country that prides itself on sophisticated decorum to lose his temper so significantly that this even rises to the level of distraction that it has. But even more, I worry that this is just a portent of things to come in our society as we march down this path of turning a job into a right and as we legislate more and more job killing requirements in the name of coddling workers.
And please, Alistair, buddy, I know your name is "Darling" but really, was the first time you became aware of balls when Brown tried to replace you with Ed? If so, call Maggie Thatcher. She just might loan you hers.
Lots of bad language and sexual innuendo. And funny as hell.
You gotta sign up for a Hulu.com account because it is adult content.
Ahh, the joy of trying to keep up with the features of modern technology. Here we have an unsuspecting high school student who took his school-issued MacBook laptop home with him to do his school work (a legal act on the part of the student). However, according to the lawsuit his parents have filed, these MacBooks have a feature installed whereby the school could (and did) activate the computer's built in camera to see whatever was in front of the lens on the laptop.
Officials of the Lower Merion School District in Ardmore, Pa (about 30 minutes from CW's boyhood stomping grounds) argued that this technology is necessary in the event the computer is reported stolen (it was not) or missing (it was not). The student in question learned of this unauthorized cyber-peeping when his Assistant Principal called him in and accused him of using drugs at his computer in his home. When he denied using drugs, the Asst P showed him an image of him popping pill-like items at his desk (which, if they are jelly beans or M&Ms, is also not illegal). In any case, it sure looks as if this kid's parents will be getting a nice little economic stimulus of their own. I wonder if they will buy their son a PC or a Mac.
Either way, Microsoft should have a heyday with this little episode:
"Hi, I'm a PC. And I'm a Ma...whoa! what are you wearing? I like your tatoo. Looking for your cell phone to call 911? Oh, you left it over on your bedstand just before you went to take your shower..."
They should corner the female market easily with that tactic.
I have never considered it a mark of the advance of our civilization that we have enabled women to participate in the slaughter of war, either as practitioners or victims.
If we as a society have determined that gender equality demands the presence of women in the armed forces (including increasingly, combat), then it seems logical to assume that some of those women will become mothers. It seems to me that such a decision on their part (to become a mother) should not create a situation in which that female service member could not return to her pre-motherhood responsibilities after some appropriate length of time. If the service member cannot do so for whatever reason, she should be removed from service expeditiously under prejudicial terms (to include loss of benefits).
But there is in fact, an additional nuance to this discussion, and that is Ms. Eberstadt's failure to address the status of "fathers" serving in the military, including combat (except for a throwaway line in the last paragraph). It seems to me that if a special distinction is made to accommodate the service of "mothers", we begin a free-falling trip down the slippery slope to such accommodations for fathers. This occurs right about the same time that we decide to become a second rate power.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
What's on your mind, people? Tired of every lunatic who flies his plane into buildings being instantaneously attributed to the conservative movement? Wondering what Tiger's going to say today? Thoughts on the Olympic Games?
Unburden yourselves! Let the world know what's on your mind and use the CW as your amplifier!
As you may understand from the following comments I am neither conservative, nor in fact American. I hope you'll allow me the privilege of commenting from an outside perspective.
In the UK the closest document we have is the Magna Carta which sought to establish the rights of the aristocracy relative to those of the crown. We no longer use this as a basis for government (it was written in 1215).
The Mt Vernon Statement reads very much like an originalist text and I suspect is intended to be somewhat originalist. Here I have a problem. I suspect none of the signatories, nor any of us, are sufficently educated in British, American and socio-political history, to properly interpret the founding principals of the United States in a truly originalist manner (i.e. one that seeks to follow the intentions of the founding fathers and understand their influences).
Here is the problem: we are incredibly detached from the situation in circa 1776. None of us are slave holders (freedom of man?), the USA is no longer a collection of semi-independent (ex-)colonies but rather a well integrated behemoth, the US military is no longer a militia established to protect the property and liberty of the citizens. Now, I'll concede the better educated and more eloquent men than me could probably counter all these points. But I would remind you of one thing: we do not try to live within a literal interpretation of the Bible for good reason (it uses metaphors and allegory and countenances horrible punishments for what are today relatively trivial practices).
One country that tries to live within a framework of a founding historical document and an originalist approach to that document is Iran. Does America want to be in that situation in a thousand years?
As for Paul Ryan's proposal: read the latest economist for a critque.
I hope no one is offended by my comments.
Here is my response:
Ian--many thanks for your thoughtful comments from a perspective (both geographically and politically) we don't get enough of here on the CW.
The Mount Vernon Statement is indeed, a restatement of what you might call "originalist" views; that is, they are restatements of the founding principles discussed broadly in our Declaration of Independence and then codified as a system of government in the Constitution.
A comparison with the Magna Carta works partially with the Declaration of Independence--which was also a statement asserting rights (and in this case, accusing King George III as having trampled upon them).
A comparison with our Constitution is however, problematic, as would then suppositions be about a document's relevance centuries after its drafting. We operate a bit differently here, in that we have a written Constitution--which includes in its provisions several means for its update and renewal should such changes be considered important by the populace (something the populace has done 27 times).
The themes touched on by the drafters of Mount Vernon Statement (limited government, federalism, republican self-government) have as of the writing of this blog post, not been repudiated, amended, or abandoned by the population of the US--and therefore, they remain the law of the land. Some believe that these basic threads in the fabric of our system of government are fraying under the pressure of a political assault by those who would wish a different basic relationship between the government and the governed.
So yes, the times have changed since the founders of the US drafted the Constitution. In that time, the document has been updated 27 times to reflect great national consensus. It is this process of consensus based renewal that--basic to the text of the document--that gives it its present-day strength. You don't like it? Change it. But if you don't like it, and your change isn't persuasive enough, well then, you'll just have to see if you convince a few more of your friends.
So while we cannot exactly adduce what it is those wise men meant or thought in 1787, we have their words as written, and we have methods of overturning their provisions.
Which brings me to some of the other points you made, namely comparisons to the Bible, and to Iran.
Let's start with the Bible. You state that we do not try to live within a literal interpretation of the Bible "with good reason". Well, some would dispute that (though I won't)--but more importantly, even the most liberal biblical scholar would have a hard time finding mechanisms within the Bible that provide for its alteration or amendment. It's just not that kind of document. Were our Constitution more like the Bible in that regard, this comparison would be apt. As it is, it is ineffective.
As for the comparison with Iran, it seems you're simply restating the Biblical problem and misstating the way things are done in the US. By missing/ignoring that our Constitution and our way of governing ourselves is subject to change by a determined majority, it doesn't surprise me that you might make an Iranian comparison. It just doesn't hold water.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I was a student at the Joint Forces Staff College in the Summer of 2006, about the time the COIN cabal began their ascendancy. After a day-long symposium on the subject in which no fewer than five separate speakers parroted the "hearts and minds" line, I stood up in the Blue Bedroom (the main auditorium, so named because of its color and the propensity of the lighting/atmosphere to put students to sleep) and asked the unlucky lecturer a simple question:
"Has an insurgency ever been broken through a policy of fear, terror and murder?"
His answer was a very quick "yes", and as if to prove his credentials as a COIN expert, he named a half dozen or so. I then asked, "How come we don't study those?"
He was aghast. His answer was basically, "Because that kind of fighting is inconsistent with American values and ideals."
I then went on. "But we firebombed Japanese and German cities night after night, killing tens of thousands of civilians at time. We dropped two atomic weapons on an opponent who was obviously losing the war. Is it a question of from how far away the fear, and terror and murder is delivered? Is that the prime determinant of whether something is "consistent" with our values?"
My point is this: winning the hearts and minds of a population is a proven strategy for breaking an insurgency--because it has been proven to work. But it hasn't always worked. Shouldn't our forces then also at least discuss other methods of breaking insurgencies? Or is it the discussion of such distasteful methods that is actually inconsistent with our values and ideals, rather than the conduct?
I'm all in favor of the "hearts and minds" approach being the default, textbook US method of addressing COIN. I'm not in favor of ignoring history.
"Populism has had as many incarnations as it has had provocations, but its constant ingredient has been resentment, and hence whininess. Populism does not wax in tranquil times; it is a cathartic response to serious problems. But it always wanes because it never seems serious as a solution."
A couple of quick thoughts:
1. It is mercifully short--well written--and pitch perfect in tone.
2. It seeks to resurrect our hallowed documents, the very basis for our Republic. Its language is the language of the founding, the language of liberty--the language of a Conservative revolution.
3. It is basically bereft of divisive social criticism, but chock full of positive statements of support--for family, community, etc.
4. While I like it very much, it doesn't occur to me that it will be particularly effective in doing anything---unlike the 1994 Contract with America, it doesn't have a "roadmap" for action. Long on inspiring rhetoric, short on action.
We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.
Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.
Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?
The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.
The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.
- It applies the principle of limited government based on the
rule of law to every proposal.
- It honors the central place of individual liberty in American
politics and life.
- It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and
economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
- It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom
and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that
- It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood,
community, and faith.
If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.
We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.
February 17, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Here's sorta kinda the outline for tonight, though if we get a lot of callers, we'll focus on what you want to talk about.
Conservative Wahoo Live!
17 February 2010
• Evan “Bye” Bayh
o Principled move
o Sick of the Senate
§ Probably has something already to move onto
§ $13M in the bank—probably would have won
o Presidential contender
§ Though saw the Clinton/Obama machines coming in 2008 and decided not to run
o Raises the chances of Repubs taking the Senate
• Biden/Cheney Throwdown
o Dueling Sunday appearances
o Obamaians want it both ways
§ Want to say they do things differently
§ While they continue to do things the same
o Point to Shoe bomber as evidence for how Bush team did things
§ Shoe bomber three months after 9-11
§ No commissions existed
§ Of course they mirandized him!
§ Would never have happened as time went on
• Winter Olympics
o Feminization of sport?
§ Ridiculous mandolin playing gauzy human interest stories
§ Contrast competition vs. human interest stories in coverage 30 years ago vs today
§ Doc Milnamo brought this up on the blog
§ What do you think? Is it all about bringing more female viewers? Or is it what America wants?
o Melting Himalayas?
o Fudged data?
o Has there been so much damage done to the science of climate change as to make it irrelevant?
• Assault on Marja (Afghanistan)
o Great week for the Marines, for coalition forces
o Interesting tactic—told the enemy we’d be coming
§ Gave them a chance to bug out
§ What do you think of this tactic?
§ Strict ROE slowing the pace of things?
• Tension of wanting to fight and kill the enemy with the reality of winning hearts and minds.
o I am in support of the President’s Afghanistan policy---thought he took a bit long to get there, but do not begrudge him the deliberation.
• Discussion with the Kitten
o I was lucky because I don’t have biological children
o I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the world left to my children—because I don’t have any
§ My response: True enough—no children. But I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about most things.
§ My hope, my enthusiasm, my confidence in this country and its ability to persevere is boundless
• We have a system of government more closely aligned with the strivings of the human heart than any other system yet devised by man.
• It is imperfect, but it is the best yet.
• We will face enormous challenges….but we will overcome them because the US IS a special place—we are exceptional.
• So no, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying—but then again, if I had children, I wouldn’t do much worrying either.
I've responded to Professor Dominic Boyer's post on that site, but I think it the response is undergoing review. And though it appears likely that Professor Boyer and I aren't likely to agree on much (Gadzooks--the man seems proud to be a "Marxian") , I am grateful to him for the citation and for the generally fair treatment of what I wrote.
That said, a couple of questions are worth pondering:
1. Will this gentleman be Mirandized, afforded a lawyer, and then transferred to a federal prison? Or will we do the right thing (which is what the Bush folks would have done), and leave him with the Paks who will likely extract a bevy of fine intelligence under their own regime of "persuasion"? I think the latter, no? Yet this Administration continues to try and tell us why it is they are better on the War on Terror than the previous one. Truth is, they are Bush III when it comes to these matters--mostly.
2. I wonder why it is we feel the need to broadcast things like this? Why not wait a few weeks--interrogate the BeJesus out of this guy WITHOUT ALL HIS HOMIES KNOWING THAT HE IS IN CUSTODY. Wouldn't that be smarter? Wouldn't we have a better chance of closing in on his cohorts if they aren't "spooked" that he's ratting them out?
Any talk of my candidacy for that Senate seat is premature, even if I'm the only one doing it.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Here we have evidence of Richard Cohen's slip into the disease. When the disease strikes a liberal, it renders the sufferer incapable of understanding the Governor's obvious appeal as a public figure. There are reflexive, jerking, references to obscure 20th century French populists (of course) and thinly-veiled exhaustion with the vapidity of the American Public.
For conservatives, PDS is particularly pernicious, in that it tends to greatly distort what are otherwise natural and useful political instincts. One classic symptom of PDS is a condition manifesting itself as "RCS" (Reagan Comparison Syndrome), in which Mrs. Palin is glowingly compared to President Reagan for her cheerfulness and her ability to connect with everyday Americans. While a comparison to Reagan may be apt, it would likely be best to compare her to the Reagan of the 1950's, stumping for GE and creating his conservative ideological baseline, than it would be to compare her to the finished product--a conservative Colossus standing astride the social and fiscal conservative wings of the Republican Party.
Sarah Palin is an interesting political phenomenon, tailor-made for the media age. She is not the potential undoing of the Republic, and she is not the savior of modern Conservatism. Palin Derangement Syndrome is an equal opportunity brain-cell killer, and we must continue to watch for signs of it in our loved ones.
Monday, February 15, 2010
But why? Is a military dictatorship any worse than a religious dictatorship? Or the farcical "democracy" over which the mullahs preside now?
Two things strike me from this story--the first is that military dictatorship per se isn't a bad thing for Iran--but a military dictatorship presided over by the Revolutionary Guards, is. But say for instance, a group of military officers got together and overthrew the mullahs and drove the Revolutionary Guards out of power--would THIS necessarily be bad because it was a military putsch? I don't think so.
Secondly, I think the Administration is undertaking a not so subtle program of trying to instill doubt in the regime--they are trying to get inside Ahmadinejad's head (sorry if I spelled it wrong--I don't care enough to do so correctly). And to that extent, I think it's worth the effort.
So now it seems that DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has hired a retired one-star general as the Chief Operating Officer of the DC Public Schools--the guy who makes the trains run on time. Anthony Tata answers only to Rhee, and she takes the political heat for the two of them. In exchange, he gets to wade into the morass that is the cronyism, incompetence, overcapacity and under-performance of our nation's capital's education system. That job would make me wake up every day excited about slaying dragons.
Good luck General--and if you need a Chief of Staff---call me.
What evidence is there of this? Well--the fact that the legislative agenda hasn't passed, of course. After all, it is self-evident that cap and trade, health care and more stimulus (aka "jobs" bills) are the answer to what ails us--and since the votes haven't been there (for these necessary and oh-so-reasonable programs) and since these policies are dying in the polls (remember--these are the RIGHT policies PEOPLE!), it must be a lack of communication or poor communication. Because if the American people ONLY UNDERSTOOD these policies better, they'd OF COURSE support them. More cowbell.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Read this little Wikipedia piece on Baxter, and tell me if it isn't simply way cool. The guy took looking at common problems from an uncommon viewpoint to a new level. He sure did look out of place at the event last night--but people talked about him like he was a Rock Star--and not because he is a Rock Star. Hat's off to Skunk Baxter.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
We talked at length about the Tea Partiers on the Radio Show earlier this week. Give a listen here for the details.
Bottom line: they will have influence, but it will be within the Republican Party--they are ineffective as a third party movement.
1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one that shows great courageSo it is a pretty broad brush with which we might paint one another as "hero".
2 a : the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b : the central figure in an event, period, or movement
3 : an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol.
Still, absent a better word, I choose to reserve my use of the word to a far narrower definition: "one who shows great courage, especially in the face of signficant personal risk to life and limb, while engaged in service to others."
For an example of such heroism, read this article from The Cincinnati Enquirer, covering Ohio Governor Ted Strickland awarding the Silver Star to Ohio National Guard Sergeant First Class Mark Wanner last week for lifesaving gallantry and competence under fire in eastern Afghanistan. The Silver Star, being the third highest decoration our Armed Forces have for valor, is not an easy bar to clear. But if there be any doubt as to whether SFC Wanner cleared it, all you need to do is listen to the testimony of one of his fellow Soldiers, SFC Sean Clifton [standing beside SFC Wanner in photo below], who had a particularly intimate view of the events (as recounted in the Enquirer article and Defense.Gov News):
Fighting back tears, Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Clifton recounted the day he almost lost his life after being shot multiple times during a raid on a Taliban compound in eastern Afghanistan.
The previous week, Clifton and his team had received word that a known Taliban leader soon would be meeting with about a half dozen Taliban fighters in a nearby village.
After waiting for five days with what Wanner referred to as “tactical patience,” the team received word that their target was in position. It had been training with their Afghan counterparts for nearly five months, and the plan was to allow the Afghans to take the lead and for the U.S. soldiers to follow closely behind.
But when the team approached the village, the Afghans already were in trouble, and the situation was deteriorating quickly. They had expected five or six Taliban fighters, but there were at least 30. They reacted immediately. “I led some guys into a doorway, and that just happened to be the room that had 80 percent of the threat,” Clifton said. “I knew something wasn’t quite right. Then I got hit.” Clifton had taken at least four rounds. The first entered his pelvis just below his body armor, the second hit the chest plate of his body armor, the third shattered his left forearm, and the last round hit his helmet, knocking off his night-vision goggles.
When he saw his injured arm and realized his rifle had dropped in front of him, Clifton knew he was in trouble.
Bullets [had] hit him in the wrist, head, chest and stomach. His helmet and chest armor deflected two shots. The other two bullets did extensive damage. His wrist bone was shattered. His insides were shredded.
[SFC Clifton] turned to Wanner.
Before collapsing, he said two words: "Save me."
And Wanner did.
He treated wounds. He used his body as a shield. He helped carry a man taller and heavier than his five-feet, nine-inches and 170 pounds to safety. He saved a life while bullets zinged around his head and danced at his feet.
“I’m standing here today, alive, because of the heroic and competent actions Mark performed on the night of May 31, 2009 -- Memorial Day,” Clifton said.
You know, I (Mudge) have never done anything approaching heroic in my entire life. And there is a darned good chance I never will. But I still get teary-eyed when I learn of the deeds of such men as SFC Wanner who saved, in my opinion, one of his fellow heroes while serving with a whole mess of heroes who daily protect non-heroes like me. And believe me when I tell you this is just the tip of the hero iceberg and, regrettably, like a real iceberg, most of that which comprises it will forever remain unexposed.
The Administration is counting this as a "pro-business" tax cut. Nonsense. Cut the corporate income tax rate if you'd really like to do something pro-business and pro-growth.
A good overview of the situation here.
Friday, February 12, 2010
So now, we have a no-load soldier (I'm sorry to have to use that term--she's not a soldier) who just decided not to go. She's a "cause celebre" and the Huffington Post uses the Bush term "Single Mom" to help us frame the story--because she's really not a no-load getting over on the system, being paid to serve her country while she instead decides to grow her family without necessary support--she's a "single mom"!
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 176.6
Goal: Sub 150
Now that's a little more like it. Being snowed in helped quite a bit (shoveling burns lots of calories, and the treadmill sits right here next to me in the mancave), as did the daily calorie tracking on the MyPlate feature of the Livestrong.com site.
So what's on your mind, America? Had enough of Old Man Winter? Had enough of Old Man Barack? Get it off your chest! Take a little time to tell us all about what's bothering you. Try it. You'll like it.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
For all his faults, I still admire this man's ability to overcome setbacks, albeit often self-imposed. He always looks like he's just having a great time. And for someone who is married to our current Secretary of State, that must require a heck of a lot of "happy thoughts" to get through the day in such fashion.
Apparently, he is resting comfortably under the care of his personal nurse.
In any case, I hope he gets well soon and is back on his feet doing the good deeds that former US Presidents often do.
Arrive at the grave safely
In a well-preserved body,
But rather to skid in sideways,
Totally used up and worn out, shouting '..man,what a ride!"
Two men who many might describe as "men's men" passed away while the rest of us complained of being snowed in and having sore backs rendering us little more, in comparison, than a colloquial term for...uhm...yeah, that's it, cats.
First was former Representative ["Good Time"] Charlie Wilson, recently immortalized with a typically fine performance by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Charlie Wilson's War". He was everything I often rail against in our politicians: corrupt, womanizing, drunk more than sober, Democrat. He used his office to avoid accountability for countless indiscretions and even alledged (and probable) felonies. But man oh man, did I like him.
Granted, the movie didn't hurt, but I really learned a lot more about him from a less Hollywoodified documentary for one of the cable channels. What I admired, perhaps in the way liberals who can't stand men who use women as sexual objects (or who leave them underwater in their cars) yet still admired Ted Kennedy, is the way he let absolutely nothing stand in the way of that in which he believed. NOTHING. And he was unapologetic about how he chose to live his life, especially when so many made it clear they were looking for just such an apology. The Washington Post does a much better job recounting this man's contributions (and foibles) to (and in) society and if you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it (get the kiddies out of the room for the opening scenes--better still, put them to bed then watch it). BTW, no doubt his finest accomplishment in life was to graduate, barely, from the US Naval Academy and to serve as a Naval Officer.
The second man's man to pass was Captain Phil Harris, of The Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch". I've experienced a fair share of harrowing moments at sea, a few of them in command of a ship and its crew. These are times when, with but a few "controllable forces", you are pretty much at the mercy of a far more powerful set of "uncontrollable forces" wrought upon you courtesy of the winds and seas. In the few fleeting moments of reflection such circumstances allow you, you feel the gut-punch reminder that you, and you alone, are responsible for the lives of the crew counting on you to make the right decisions at the right time. Now keep in mind, these moments were relatively rare compared to what we got to witness with nearly every episode of "Deadliest Catch". Captain Harris probably felt that gut-punch pretty darned regularly given that he made a point of frequently going out into one of the worst weather places on earth and doing so in a much smaller vessel than anything I ever sailed in. Oh, and while I would have ordered all my crew into the far safer refuge of the ship's hull and superstructure, he ordered them out on deck to work deadly equipment, hauling tons of destabilizing weight aboard so he could pay them when (if) they made it back to port. He rarely slept, he smoked like a cheap diesel and I'm guessing he tipped more than a few when he made it back to port. But again, I admired this guy. He was smart, courageous, a master of his trade. He would have sooner put on a skirt and walked out in public before he would have complained about having to shovel some snow like I and others sometimes do. Hell, he didn't complain when he started coughing up significant amounts of blood while underway one season. Tough, like you read about.
When we lose men like these, I can't help but wonder whether our kinder-gentler, struggle-avoidance society is going to be able to replace them. Some would say "thank goodness, NO!" but I value having such men's men as examples of how to face challenge, make the tough decisions and live life always with the wind in their hair.
Fair winds, men.
Reid's attempted attack occurred a little more than 90 days after the terrible events of 9-11--the country, the Administration, the courts, the military--everyone was still largely groping their way forward in determining how to prosecute this war against Islamic extremism. In fact, there were NO military commissions empaneled to deal with such a situation--though there soon would be.
Any suggestion that 8 years later--after all we've learned and all we've done--a "Bush" team would have Mirandized the underwear bomber--enabling him to "lawyer up"--is just loony. The team in there now just reflexively looks at these events as law enforcement issues, not acts of war worthy of intelligence exploitation.
More on the arrest of the Shoe Bomber.
Sorry you were feeling poorly Hammer, hoping you're up and about by our next show.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Paulson's book is a readable, diary form overview of his actions, decisions and insights throughout the crisis. Seeing the fall of Bear Stearns from the viewpoint of Bear insiders (House of Cards), and now seeing Paulson's side--I was gratified to see that pretty much everyone seemed to believe that there were legitimate, no joke systemic crises underway. Folks inside industry and the government were fearful for a worldwide calamity--and it was this perception that drove Paulson (and President Bush) to pursue TARP--which as I've said before--is the ONLY THING government has done since this crisis started that has actually made things better.
Paulson is to be congratulated for his service to the country. He, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner (then President of the NY Fed) worked like field hands for months at a time to try and put this country back on firm footing. The maturity of those at the top was gratifying.
Paulson cites Barney Frank as being particularly effective and helpful during the crisis--something that I must honestly admit to being astonished about. I never doubted Frank's intellect, just his ability to transcend ideological blinders--and from Paulson's view, he can.
You know, it's an opportunity cost of - we put a rough ballpark on this of about $100 million.First of all, this was from a story yesterday so the DOPM's estimate may have only been for two days, thus making today's "lost opportunity cost" more like $150M. Second, I thought it worthwhile to get a definition of "opportunity cost" and found this one from "The Economist" (seems that they might have at least a ballpark idea of it):
The true cost of something is what you give up to get it. This includes not only the money spent in buying (or doing) the something, but also the economic benefits (UTILITY) that you did without because you bought (or did) that particular something and thus can no longer buy (or do) something else. For example, the opportunity cost of choosing to train as a lawyer is not merely the tuition fees, PRICE of books, and so on, but also the fact that you are no longer able to spend your time holding down a salaried job or developing your skills as a footballer. These lost opportunities may represent a significant loss of utility. Going for a walk may appear to cost nothing, until you consider the opportunity forgone to use that time earning money. Everything you do has an opportunity cost. ECONOMICS is primarily about the efficient use of scarce resources, and the notion of opportunity cost plays a crucial part in ensuring that resources are indeed being used efficiently.
Okay, so now knowing enough about that to be dangerous, one might ask, "Well, then, what did the USG give up, in deciding to shut down most of its snow-covered area of operations?"
A lot of people are fond of saying that the US Government produces NOTHING. That is patently untrue. What the US Government has been producing extremely well for many, many years is staggering debt. And it is clearly undergoing a major reorganization to ramp up that production dramatically under the current Administration.
So taking the numbers from Office of Management and Budget's copy of the FY10 Budget, we see a predicted Debt Held by the Public of $9.882T (or $9,882,000,000,000) which was an increase of $1.351T from the year before). Because we are talking about spending FY10 dollars, let us just suppose then that the US Government this year is producing $1.351T of Debt Held by the Public while executing this budget. That equates to somewhere around $3.701B of Debt Held by the Public produced by the US Government each day (that gave credit to the government for working on weekends which they generally do not).
Now, it wouldn't be fair, or accurate, to assess that the government has been shut down 100%, so production continues, but to a lesser degree than normal. For example, the cost of the government continues (that is always paid for right off the top--self preservation) and, the relative handful of "essential" government employees are still reporting to work. And of course, the entire USG doesn't reside under two feet or more of snow at the moment. So let's conservatively, since we are largely conservatives here, assess the contribution of the shutdown USG offices to the production of publicly-held debt to be on the order of 2%. That drops the production of three days worth of shutdown to $74M/day X 3 days = $222M.
So would I be incorrect to suggest to DOPM that maybe the real "opportunity cost" of shutting down the Government for 3 days has been more like $150M - $222M = -$72M? And that the opportunity cost continues to decrease (or increase in the negative direction) with each day the contribution of the DC Metro area Feds stop producing debt?
Sounds like a White Christmas came early to us taxpaying debtholders this year.