It's common knowledge that Barack Obama wants to be a "transformational" President: A historic world changing figure who not only changes the trajectory of the country, but of the World. It's been said that Barry much admires Ronald Reagan. Not his policies of course, but the way he shifted gears and lead American in a totally different direction. And who knows, with the help of the Democratic establishment, the media etc. hell he may just do it. One thing that can be said about Obama, the man does not lack confidence or decisiveness. But it's the confidence of the high school kid who has been steeped in the "positive self-esteem" of modern "education" but can't conjugate a verb or read above a sixth grade level. The confidence of someone who has never been burned, never suffered the consequences of foolish errors. It's the confidence of never having performed without a net.
Today we got the fourth quarter GDP numbers and lo and behold the economy shrunk (after growing 3% in the third quarter just before the election don't you know). That's right friends SHRUNK. Now don't panic, you won't be hearing the "R" word anytime soon. The media will ignore this as much as they can and when they can't, spin it with every pie chart in their graphics department.
Here's the difference between Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Reagan believed in freedom. Reagan set the economy on a sustainable course of prosperity that lasted nearly 30 long years. Reagan's policies helped the American people create wealth on a scale unknown in world history, and with that wealth we brought down one of the most heinous, evil regimes in world history. And we did it without firing a shot. Reagan's policies were just and right and good, and if we followed the Reagan model we (and the world to a lesser degree) would still be enjoying peace, prosperity and freedom. Barack Obama believes in equality, evidently by whatever means necessary. And his record speaks for itself.
"Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias.
For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and
when one prevails the other dies. To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed,
as in Russia after 1917. Even when repressed, inequality grows; only
the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality."
Everybody and their brother has written a column in the last day or two about how Hilary mopped the floor with Senate Republicans in last week's hearing (she did) and how stupid and ill prepared our guys were (they are and they were). What exactly I wonder, were they expecting?
They have screwed this thing up from the beginning, and I'm referring to both sides. We've got an Ambassador killed along with several others in a war torn Arab country on Sept. 11th. and we ain't getting answers, or at least answers that aren't so asinine and absurd as to embarrass a tenth grader (but obviously not a Democrat). Now, if you're a Republican and for some strange reason you think the American people are entitled to the facts (and if a few Democrat scalps come with the deal that's ok too) then what is to be done? Think about it. As a prosecutor the first thing you do is bring in the suspects and get them on record, as in immediately! Then as the case develops and the facts become known you can see who is full of merde. Hilary knows this all too well, that's why she has ducked and dodged for four long months not because she bumped her head (bullshit!), or solely because of the election (that was part of it but not necessarily her priority) but because HER ass was hanging out. Get nailed with something like this and her presidential ticket is punched before she gets on the train. From her perspective there is no way she can go before the Senate and tell the truth, that being State screwed up royally and got an Ambassador killed. So it was vitally important to buy a little time to see how things shake out so her story is THE story. Now, she can control the intelligence people and the American press easily enough, but you never know if some foreign journalist might investigate and actually find out what happened. Or, even the locals could rat you out just for fun, so time was needed to go in and maybe spread some hush money around. Yep, best to wait a while, get things under control and then when you're sure some Republican isn't going to pull a rabbit out of a hat and catch you in a lie, then and only then go in and brass your way through; which is exactly what she did.
This is an excellent strategy (with Bill's fingerprints all over it) especially considering Hilary is an experienced, accomplished liar (having learned from the best). But that still doesn't explain the astounding ineptitude displayed by the Republicans. They asked the wrong questions and they asked them in a foolish way. For example, to my knowledge nobody ever asked what Stevens was doing in Benghazi to start with. Why was he there? Why on September 11th.? Why no security? When did you realize there was a problem in Benghazi? Why wasn't help forthcoming? Who made the decision not to send in help? Who said it was the video, and what evidence do you have to support that assertion?
And what really stood out to me was how they conducted the hearing. Allowing Hilary to wave her arms around and shout for the cameras is not the way to go. Any idiot could have seen that coming a mile away. They needed to keep her under control and act like lawyers with a hostile witness. Don't get ahead of yourself. Ask one question at a time and don't allow Hilary to pontificate and filibuster. No two part, three part or five and six part questions. You're just giving Hilary carte blanche to ramble and talk about what she wants to talk about. One question at a time, get an answer or beat her brains out until you do get an answer. Then move on to the next question. Lead her to where you want to go not where she wants to take you.
This is just fundamental lawyer stuff and I swear, I feel like Casey Stengel in 1962 "Doesn't anybody know how to play this game?!" I'm at a loss, I don't know if these guys are stupid, intimidated or what? But I know this, this was an opportunity to bring Hilary down and get a little payback to boot, and once again our guys blew it.
The trip I undertake today is not a short one--up and out of Easton at 0630 and I will eventually land in Honolulu at nearly 0100 EST tomorrow time. At the moment, I find myself at Newark's "Liberty" Airport waiting on the long leg West with few moments to spend with you whilst I wait on my lunch.
Let's start with lunch. Actually lets start with airports. I really do love this place. It is large, spacious, full of good shops and chock full o' restaurants. My lunch today will be taken at "Gallagher's Steakhouse" in the C 120-139 terminal. How wonderful it is to eat in a legitimate steakhouse in an airport, rather than grabbing one of those foul Wolfgang Puck sandwiches from the kiosk manned by the indifferent soul assigned there. No--instead, I will eat like a titan prior to my 10.5 hour flight. (For the record, yesterday's weigh in was 188.8). Perhaps this lunch will be sufficient to carry me the whole way, offering the promise of eating healthy and well. I am breaking with tradition, in that I have ordered the roasted half-chicken, rather than one of the tempting mammalian quadruped offerings. I'm sure it will be wonderful--maybe I'll have steak when I get to Hawaii at the end of a long day...
What a great name for an airport, no? "Liberty". Pure and simple. Not some paean to a dead politician, just a simple statement of a democratic virtue. Nicely done, New Jersey. Nicely done.
I will be in Hawaii through Wednesday evening, at which time I will red-eye back to the states in time to see the Kitten/Kittens off on the eighth grade ski-trip. None of us are skiers, by the way. In fact, the Kitten stated positively the other day that she "hates" skiing. But the elder Kitten would not be denied this right of passage, and a parent must be present. I will find myself one again solo at the homestead, but this time only for two nights. I look forward to the red-eye, unless of course it is populated by 15 year olds at the height of their pubescent tittering like one was last year from California to BWI. No, in general, I can put the mask on and the earplugs in and wake up in time for breakfast and landing. Usually, well rested.
Hawaii beckons as a result of some work I'm currently undertaking. Again, it will be work all day...though this time I hope to remain healthy and at least go out and have a couple of nice dinners. By this time in the last visit, I had all the tell-tale signs of the oncoming ague that would befall me. Fingers crossed, I feel fit as a fiddle.
For those interested, I have again adorned myself in standard traveling attire: UVA ballcap, long-sleeve Tshirt, blue blazer, adidas track pants and sneakers. Very comfy, and it keeps the blazer from becoming a wrinkly mess. I fancy myself as resembling a tennis star in transit, minus the tennis rackets, any hint of a tennis game or athleticism, and 8 inches of height.
My plane arrives at 7:41 local in Hawaii tonight--which gives me one hour and twenty minutes to get in front of a TV to watch Downton Abbey. For those of you who haven't taken up the habit, I highly recommend it. Maggie Smith plays the Dowager Countess, and she gives two or three classic lines each show.
The chicken was superb, as was the sauteed baby spinach. Now this is travel.
I read a lot of Paul Theroux while I travel, a great novelist and travel writer. He hates plane trips, and I have to agree with him--calls it "transit" rather than "travel". He prefers the train (as do I) but find it difficult to make a transpacific voyage by locomotive. Theroux is a marvelous writer--but a bit of a lefty, and annoyingly so. Reading his travelogues in the 80's, he never misses a chance to take a swipe at Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher.
Ok, that's all for now. I need to settle up with the good folks who provided such a wonderful meal.
I, like most folks have a family doctor (or primary care physician if you want to be hoity-toity about it). The Hammer household has been going to Dr. B for years. He's gotten us through an appendectomy, hip surgery, scarlet fever and who knows how many colds, fevers and flu. He started his practice about twenty years ago and through hard work, attention to detail and genuine empathy for his patients built a very good and profitable practice. His office was very professionally run but with person touches like antique sideboards and cabinets in the rooms. His staff was friendly and called us by our first names, as we did them. They were nearly as family.
As it happens Dr. B is a good conservative and we talked often about Obamacare and the effects it may have on American health care in general and his practice in particular. He said the Obama Administration was hostile to doctors like him and much preferred to deal with huge medical networks. He confided in me that independent physicians would likely be driven from medicine due to the God awful amount of regulations, requirements, mandates etc. imposed by Obamacare. And sure enough it came to pass. He sold his practice to Duke University Health System a month or so ago and is now just an employee.
Now, I was scheduled today for a six month follow up to my yearly physical in August. I got a call yesterday not from a real human but an automated message saying something like this is Duke Medical blah blah blah reminding you blah blah. So I go in today and all the staff had been replaced with all new faces. The new people were courteous but somehow perfunctory and disengaged. In addition the clientele didn't look like Dr. B patients and the antiques were gone. The place had all the atmosphere of a Philadelphia methadone clinic, and I felt like a cog in the great Obamacare government regulated machine.
I guess I shouldn't complain, in a couple of years I'll probably look back on this as the good old days. But even still, the times are a-changin (to quote Bob Dyan) and I'm sad for Dr. B. and I'm also sad and afraid for the country. I'm afraid we may well have screwed up the greatest health care system in the world and I know we screwed up at least one family owned, family practice.
Here's a decent article on the Romney transition, known as the Romney Readiness Project. Yep, I was one of the 300 folks toiling away so that we could be ready. The work was fascinating and we moved forward as if victory were certain--which is what I hope you would have wanted from us. It was always cool to go to HQ and run into policy big-wigs that wonks like me follow.
If the campaign were run as effectively as the transition team, well, maybe today would have turned out a little differently, with Kid Rock singing rather than Beyonce.
Here's a great post by Walter Russell Mead on how the bastion of "Blue" ness in the country's university system is responding to the requirement under Obamacare to provide healthcare to any employee working over 30 hours a week. Remembering of course, the overwhelming support that the nation's academic community provided the President in his healthcare fight-and the virtual lock that Dems have over the faculty lounge, it is notable that Universities are choosing to cut adjunct professor hours to a maximum of 29 (which often means a cut in pay) just as these same people will become responsible for paying their own healthcare or pay a fine tax.
I cannot contain my satisfaction. I suppose we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it.
I am reliably informed by the snippets of press coverage I allow myself during this weekend hiatus of solitude, that in several hours, President Obama will be sworn in to his second term, thereby at least giving us all the hope that the nightmare is half-way over. Snippets of press coverage because this weekend more than any other, I am restricting my access to information, protecting my fragile and slowly recovering psyche from the trauma that afflicted it on Election Day. In all honesty, I would likely have been clinically diagnosed as a bit depressed for the weeks after the Election, with the magic of Christmas, the love of a wonderful family, and the support of friends serving as the tonics to revive my wounded spirit. My Democratic friends were truly superstars, as not a one did a touchdown dance (at least in my presence--they deservedly did so in other media) and all were suitably grave whilst attending to my hollowed out shell.
I believe I've returned to fighting trim but realize the power of the imagery surrounding this public event to bring on a case of the darks. And so I will absent myself from it.
I won't engage in some of the popular talk criticizing the Administration for the conduct of this event. Inaugurations are to me, very much like weddings. Preposterously expensive, completely unnecessary, and jealously protected. I've always found the conduct of second inaugurals somewhat silly, as if the Administration is throwing a "welcome to us" party for itself. I felt this way eight years ago when GWB had his, and I felt this way in 1997 when Bill Clinton had his. But bread and circuses are what the people want, and they shall have it. I am somewhat heartened by the decline in enthusiasm for this year's version, as the doe-eyed wonder of Hope and Change has been replaced by the modern brand of Chicago mafiosi politics. I take some measure of small-minded solace from the fact that so many of Mr. Obama's zombie-supporters have spent so much of their time explaining why it is they support him in spite of his having been so disappointing on so many fronts.
The political landscape is now much like that which faced the combatants in WWI after The Somme. Both are dug it for the long haul, and very little progress in either direction is likely. They will hack and maul each other for the next 45.5 months, with another Presidential election then offering the next hope for any real strategic changes. The power brokers on both sides--Messers Obama, Biden, Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, and Reid, along with Madame Pelosi--have lost the ability to work with each other on anything substantial, and each side is reliant upon congressional caucuses with no real incentive to move foreword. The only way this logjam breaks is for one Party to become dominant, and my fear is that we are in the early stages of a move in that direction as the Republican party follows the Whig Party checklist for ascension to power.
Such is the lot of the Party out of power, in which the leadership of one man or woman of transcendent capability is absent and is instead supplanted by the din of twenty dozen free agents each charting his or own course. Republicans have faced this before in many of our lifetimes, and the prescription seems to be to find that transcendent voice. First it was Reagan, then it was Gingrich. Much as I liked him, I didn't see George W. Bush as that kind of guy, so much as I saw him as a metaphorical shower that the nation took after some of the ethical lapses of the Clinton bunch.
The problem we face though, is in finding that voice. That one man or woman who believes enough basic, ideological truths to cobble together an electoral majority without driving others from the cause. This person must be in his or her heart, ready and willing to compromise on much, while remaining completely and unshakably rigid on little. But--that "little" will invariably comprise the political soul of that individual, and the movement they start.
We must emerge from our WWI trenches and jump to the next war--our wartime approach should be the WWII island hopping campaign in the Pacific--MacArthur's version--in which we simply skipped over certain islands where the fighting would be murderous in order to attack the Japanese where they were weak and from where we could gain further momentum. In the meantime, we must carefully vet the crop of up-and comers--Walker, Rubio, Ryan, Martinez, Perry, and yes--even Christie--to find that person who can pull it all together. In my bones, I hate this approach. I despise the need for a political messiah, the "one who can save us". But ultimately, that is what wins elections, this is what starts movements. People pull the lever ultimately for the person they like and trust more than the other person to do a good job and keep us safe.
Here's a good bit of advice from Charles Krauthammer to GOP leadership. You can't govern from one chamber of Congress, so why even try? Instead, make things difficult, put the other guys in a pickle, win little tactical victories rather than lose the grand strategic ones.
I like Charles' idea here--give the Dems a short term debt limit expansion with only one string--the Senate has to pass a budget (which it hasn't done in years). This will make Senators vote on actual spending levels and policy preferences, which will be important in the 2014 election when there are a few vulnerable D's up for re-election.
In observance of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, local schools are closed on Monday, including the one the Kittens attend. Never one to miss out on a good opportunity, their mother only minutes ago left to pick them up from school and whisk them off to warmer climes for a weekend with their Grandmother on Florida's Gulf Coast. Presumably they will make up tomorrow's lost work some other time, but I digress.
I share this with you as I am left home alone here on the homestead for four continuous days, something that has not happened during the time I have lived here (nearing five years). The Kitten did go to Machu Picchu a few years ago, but the Kittens were only a few hundred feet away at their other grandmother's house and they came home quite a bit, including for meals.
This time--splendid isolation, well, except for the dog and the two cats. Don't get me wrong--I will miss the ladies while they are gone, and if past dynamics apply, I'll wind up calling to talk with them rather than vice versa. That said, there is a part of me that is absolutely giddy at the prospect of solitude. Here's why.
First, I may be the most introverted extrovert you'll ever meet. I love being surrounded by people, just as long as I've chosen who they are. Otherwise, I'd rather be by myself, with internet access, cable TV and a shelf full of unread books. Ask Tom de Plume, he'll tell you.
Next, the Kitten and I are on different internal schedules. I rise early and go to bed early. She does neither. Additionally, when I get horizontal, there is not a great window for conversation and whatnot before I fall asleep. So invariably, I stay up far longer than I want to each night. Not for the next four nights! I may even go to bed at 9PM. Decadent.
Third, I don't get to the movies as often as I'd like. Up until a few minutes ago, I was going to go and see Lincoln later this evening--but I just saw that yesterday was its last day here. So I'll go see "Zero Dark Thirty" instead, a movie that wild horses could not drag the Kitten to.
Fourth, the NFL Playoffs. Sunday afternoon and evening will have one and only one activity, and that is sprawling on the couch watching the NFL. I usually watch games in the ManCave or on the kitchen TV while I cook. This time? In the bedroom!
Fifth, only food that I like will be prepared, and it will be warmly received by everyone to whom it is served.
Sixth, I find it highly likely that I will stake out one of the Blue-Ray DVD's in the house and play the Lord of the Rings Blue-Ray back to back to back--without interruption. For about the twentieth time.
Seventh, Sunday church. I will go if I want to, and I will skip it if I want to. No one pressures me to go now, mind you, but when they all get dressed up in their Sunday best I feel a little slothful hanging around in my bunny slippers.
Eighth and finally, I don't have to care about who sees me walking around in my boxers.
I was watching the tube last evening and Fox contributor Jeanine Pirro was giving her views on the recent publishing of the names and addresses of gun permit holders (along with an interactive map of their houses) by the Journal News in NY State. Now, she was an assistant DA, District Attorney and judge in Westchester County, so she knows the area. But one thing she said really struck me: She said she had participated one way or another in the prosecution of 40,000 gun crimes in her thirty years of service, and in all that time she saw one murder case in which a LEGAL gun was used. One in thirty years! And this arrogant, self-important rag of a newspaper had the gonads to invade the privacy of law abiding citizens and potentially put their lives and property at risk? This is an outrage and every effort should be made to prosecute these people. The law states that F.O.I.A. requests cannot be used for commercial purposes and/or financial gain. This was an obvious attempt to garner attention and increase circulation for a dying newspaper. Let's hope the present DA will do the right thing (http://www.westchesterda.net/).
Recognize this? Of course you do. The E.P.A. has been pushing the compact fluorescent (CFL) for years. My house is full of them. As you know the traditional incandescent bulb uses most of its energy for heat rather than light, so it's very inefficient. CFLs and LEDs use much less energy (that's why I got 'em, I'm a cheap bastard). But LEDs are very expensive and CFLs have a very nasty heavy metal called mercury. In fact, it's so nasty when these things die we are supposed to bring them to a recycling center rather than just tossing them in the garbage. So, if I understand this correctly, the EPA mandates that we can't have but x parts per billion of mercury in our drinking water and air, at a cost of billions upon billions to taxpayers and industry, but it's ok to have enough of this deadly neuro-toxin in your home, in a fragile glass tube, around your children, family and friends to make you a Depends® coupon clipper for life. And this is good regulation?
There's an excellent piece in the Irish Examiner Rush Limbo mentioned yesterday I think is worth a look. The author talks about the "low information voter" and Republican's inability to reach this (and it kills me to say this) very important voting bloc. When I read it I swear she described to a T a guy I know. He's an otherwise intelligent human being but doesn't like politics, big into sports, watches John Stewart regularly to tell him what to think, and votes Democrat religiously. If I try to engage him on politics he shuts down immediately and says "you believe what you want to believe and leave me alone". How does one connect with people like this? These are not morons, they're disengaged and therefore vulnerable to class warfare arguments and most of the other bullshit the Democrats throw against the wall. I'm at a loss. As the saying goes, they know just enough to be dangerous AND THEY VOTE!
This is a cross-post from something I posted at the Navy site I write for. I think it belongs here too. "Raymond" in the first paragraph is the blogmaster in the first paragraph.
Raymond summoned the spirit of James Joyner from the Atlantic in this piece on the Hagel nomination the other day, and Joyner has responded.
In a piece entitled "No Longer the Party of Eisenhower and Reagan",
Joyner makes the case that the Hagel nomination could signal an
inflection point for a moribund Republican foreign policy that seems no
longer to be able to digest the likes of Hagel, Huntsman, and Scowcroft
(and presumably, Joyner). It is a good piece, well argued and with some
very good points. It deserves some discussion.
First, I cannot agree strongly enough with the rising chorus of
observers--some in the Republican Party and some on the outside--that
Republican national security policy is adrift. When I think about the
wistful longing for Eisenhower that Joyner and others evoke, I too am
transported back--back to a time when an American President truly
understood strategy and then made strategic choices. This
component of national security thinking is what is MOST lacking in the
Republican Party I hold dear. I don't hear major standard bearers
standing up and saying "we spend too much on our national defense
because we do not think hard enough, we do not make choices, and we pay
the penalty for our laziness in excessive defense budgets". Were party
leaders to begin talking and thinking like this, the "new" Republican
Party would respond.
2. I cannot accept the view of
those who see the rejection of Hagel, Huntsman et al as a sign of the
foreign policy decline of the Party. It is politics, pure and simple;
you don't get to openly support Democrats and still be looked to as a
grandee in the Republican Party. Republican national security thinking
is in decline for a lot of reasons, but not because some have decided
criticize those who stake out the "every Democrat's favorite
3. A new Republican Foreign
Policy should also go back and review George H.W. Bush's approach, which
Scowcroft and others were responsible for. It made no bones about
American leadership and primacy (from a strategic communications
standpoint), but in action took a selective engagement approach with
respect for international organizations in which the US exercised
outsized weight. Not only have many Republicans failed to understand
the necessity to make strategic choices about what our nation invests in
(in terms of its military), we (as a Party) have too many leaders who
seem to be ready to jump into whatever mudpit we can find without a
serious discussion of national interest. This activist wing of the
Party all too often finds succor with the "Responsibility to Protect"
crowd on the other side of the political spectrum, which seems only to
be able to bring itself to commit American power when there is NO vested
interest at stake.
4. The other marriage of
convenience I reject (which the Obama/Hagel condominium represents) is
that of those who wish to reduce America's influence as a policy matter
derived of a sense of American over-reach (Obama) with those who wish to
reduce America's influence as a policy matter derived of a sense of
Allied under-reach (the Offshore Balancing/Hagel Crowd). It matters not
HOW it gets there, but the result will be a smaller, less capable, and
less influential military less capable of global operations. While I
applaud Joyner for reprinting some views of Hagel from 20004, his more
recent views seem to place him squarely in the Offshore Balancing
crowd--an approach I find unsuitable to the issue of a rising peer
competitor (and which Hagel was clearly not addressing in 2004).
what is to be done? What are the potential elements of a Republican
National Security Policy? How about these (I could use a foreign policy
doppelganger to strengthen this).
1. The United
States position in the world is unique and it is in the interests of the
American people to advance and sustain it. We are the world's
indispensable nation, and our national security policy will reflect it.
While other nations are growing in terms of economic power, no other
nation combines American economic, military and political power, and no
other nation can or will fill America's role in the world for decades to
come. The world needs a powerful and influential America, and this
position redounds to the benefit of the American people.
The United States will not shrink from its interests, and those
interests are best served through a combination of forward deployed
military strength, active participation in regional forums, close and
mutually beneficial diplomatic relations, and free-and-open trade.
While it is comforting to consider shrinking from the world and getting
others to "pay their share", it is an invitation to instability and
conflict, both of which threaten our security and our prosperity. It is
in America's interest to pay the price required to lead the world, as
our position of leadership works to the benefit of every American.
Our strong, central, and positive role in the world is not boundless.
We will resource the world's strongest military, but we must make
critical strategic choices about how that military is comprised. We
will favor mobile, flexible, forward deployed combat power suitable to
protecting and sustaining our peacetime interests and our national
security, while retaining the capability to mobilize for general war
from a garrisoned base. Naval and aerospace power will be favored over
land power. We will upgrade and reduce our strategic nuclear arsenal.
The nuclear triad served us well during the Cold War, but three separate
methods of destroying the world is wasteful. To this end, we will
continue to operate our fleet of ballistic missile submarines until the
end of their service lives, but they will not be replaced.
We will be active leaders in world and regional forums. We will work
hard with friends, allies and others to reach consensus approaches to
conflict. We do not relinquish the right to act unilaterally in
protecting our national interests, but our preference will always be for
coalition action. We will work with our friends and allies to increase
their contributions to their own security, especially in increasing
those capabilities that our strategic choices de-emphasize. We will
lead a strong team--on the field--not on the sidelines.
We seek a strong military at a reasonable price. We reject the notion
that such a military deprives the nation of resources that should be
applied elsewhere; rather, we believe that such a military creates the
conditions for the prosperity that drives our economy forward. Said
another way, we cannot look first to cutting the defense budget to fund
other domestic priorities; we should look there last. Such a view
demands that resources allocated to defense be spent wisely, and we as a
party have not done this well in the recent past, preferring to
overspend rather than make tough choices. We will make those choices
now. We support a consistent base level of defense spending, and we
believe it should be proportional to the extent of our global interests
as measured in gross domestic product. Protecting and sustaining our
enduring vital interests is what creates the minimum investment in
national security, while the response to growing or actual threats
creates additional requirements. We propose to spend a minimum of 3.75%
of GDP on national defense on an annual basis, and we recognize that if
GDP declines, so should defense spending.
We assert that Democracy is the political system most consistent with
human nature, and we will favor those nations where it is practiced. We
cannot however, create it where it does not exist, and we will not
attempt to impose it where it is nascent. The tide of history has
turned, democracy and free markets have prevailed. Our role now is to
be stewards of this evolution, not guarantors.
It has been a pretty good week--moderate exercise and a decidedly low carb/sugar eating regimen. Having sushi with a good friend for lunch today, so no hit there.
What's on your minds, friends? Staring at that first paycheck of the year and wondering where it went? Thinking about where to hide your guns when the man comes to take them? Wondering about when the mainstream media and the liberals will hold their President accountable for his actions?
CW's favorite pundit David Brooks has a good column speculating on why El Presidente chose the Republican Chuck Hagel for Defense. According to the Gieves & Hawkes wearing Mr. Brooks, Obama plans to gradually gut defense so as to pay for his social spending, and having a Republican as Secretary provides cover.
This is completely plausible and expected. That is the very nature of welfare states. When you get a society that depends on government handouts, people become like zoo animals unable to fend for themselves. Many of us now are no more than caged beasts being looked after until it's in the zoo-keeper's interest to put us down. As Ronald Reagan said, we are only one generation away from losing our freedom and it's clear to me that our 18-30 year olds are that generation.
Welfare states inevitably implode because people want more and more while doing less and less. And as we all know it's all about productivity. If wealth isn't being produced then existing wealth must be confiscated to continue the never ending process of feeding the monkey. First borrowing, then cutbacks in legitimate government functions (but never the bureaucracy), then tax increases and new tax schemes, slowly at first then gradually expanding and evolving until Bill Gates will be chopping wood to heat that 30,000 sq. ft. mansion of his (see British aristocracy in the 60's and 70's). Eventually and inevitably the system will have a heart attack and nobody will get a check. When the seed corn is eaten there is no corn left and no way to get any. When that happens we won't be like animals, we will be animals.
It looks like Brent Musburger has been caught in the crossfire of pc politics, radical feminists and cowardly network executives. Old Brent made a comment about the Alabama quarterback's girlfriend while the camera was panning over the current Miss Alabama (and Auburn grad) during Monday night's national championship game. The comment was something about how quarterbacks get all the good looking women. ESPN flipped the hell out and issued an immediate apology due I guess to the tweets flying around about how Musburger was an old perv etc. Well, this is disturbing because the guy was making a lighthearted compliment that was in no way lewd or disrespectful. I blame this on radical feminism, which has been occasionally described as a movement by and for ugly women. So I guess his comment made fat, frumpy, pig-frigging ugly heifers feel uncomfortable in their hideousness, as if they were watching anyway. And if some 73 years old sportscaster is stupid enough to say something as outrageous as the quarterback's girlfriend is beautiful, then his ass is going down to the ground. ESPN makes France look good.
What's up with this? Big Al Gore just sold Current TV to Al Jazeera for, well they're not saying but from what I gather it would be like somebody giving you 50 grand for your wife's 2001 Accord with 200k on the clock. The catch is the wife comes with the deal, and so it goes with Al. I've always viewed this guy as a rich kid with no scruples or values, and I think this pretty much proves it. He's the face of global warming, the enemy of fossil fuels, a Nobel Prize winner and the biggest dick in the environmentalist locker-room: AND HE SOLD OUT TO BIG OIL! The left hasn't felt this betrayed since Molotov and Von Ribbentrop got all chummy back in '39.
Hey Brandi, do you take EBT cards? So anyway the NY Post did an investigation (remember when newspapers used to investigate stuff?) and found that a whole bunch of welfare recipients were withdrawing cash with their EBT card from various strip joints, bars and a place in the Village called the Blue Door Video Shop (I'm trying not to imagine what they sell there). Of course the card is intended for food, rent, milk for the screaming anchor baby; things like that. But apparently Candi Cox and her cohorts are getting their share. I just can't believe they would do something like this, how 'bout you?
Last night was more than simply the BCS Championship game; it represents the end of the college football season and the official beginning of the college hoops season. I will not--as a rule--watch college basketball until college football has ended.
For a few weeks, we have college hoops and pro football. Then, we're down to just college hoops.
The pro basketball season will go on for most of the year without generating much interest from me, and I find it regrettable that the NHL settled their strike, as I had come to enjoy not even hearing about a sport I do not follow.
Very nice to see a little chatter in the MSM about the President nominating two white men for senior administration posts at Defense and CIA. A predictable development given the President's election strategy.
Sitting here in the A terminal of BWI awaiting my now 1hr late plane to Tampa for two morning meetings and a flight back home. I'll spend a good bit of time in airports this month, so we'll probably have a few of these. A few thoughts?
Returning to Tampa--scene of the GOP convention which I attended--will surely bring back some memories, and will surely dredge up the bad taste still in my mouth from the election. Not that the past few days doesn't fill that bill well enough already.
I am a devotee of airport massages, even though clearly, the varsity of massage therapists do not practice there. I usually grab a 20 minute rubdown, and here at BWI, the chances are the therapist is very young. Today's looked like he lived a serious thug-life, but he did a fine job and earned a nice tip. This is one of the many benefits of always arriving two hours early at the airport. Which today means three hours.
Speaking of tips...along with all kinds of diet/exercise/behavioral goals for 2013, I have decided to finally get a handle on where my money goes. I seem to make enough of it, and while I know where the big muscle movements send it, I have a feeling that my breezy acceptance of valet parking, lunches out, and the random purchase of gifts actually adds up.
The airport is not at all crowded, and there were a ton of parking places in the garage. In fact, there were several hundred open on each level--yet creature of habit that I am, I drove up five levels to park my car on the familiar 6th level. Some would call that anal.
I cannot begin to tell you how mad Obama bumper stickers still make me. Saw a few on the drive up here. Uuuuurrrrrggggghhhhhh.
Here we have a distinguished Constitutional Law professor at Georgetown telling us in a New York Times op-ed how silly we are to remain faithful to the Constitution. It brings us nothing but trouble. Besides, the founders weren't that smart. They were "white guys", and we all know where white guys have gotten us. How could they possibly know what we're going through now? How could they, with their slave-holder, 18th. century mentality understand the modern nation-state? Their concept of "rights" is outdated and irrelevant. We wouldn't limit our science and engineering to what was known in 1789 why should we limit our understanding of politics? Why do we bind our hands in the work we know must be done? It's time to relegate the Constitution to the dustbin of history.
I won't even bother to offer a point by point rebuttal to this drivel. The man is an all too typical, over-educated, out of touch egghead. But I would also point out he is woefully undereducated in the ways of the world. The Constitution is not an academic exercise. It is a very practical document designed to protect the rights of free individuals from the evil of bad men with bad intentions and good men with good intentions. It has saved us from ourselves more than once. The passions of man, the foolishness even the best and brightest among us display everyday, our almost limitless capacity for evil: These are the things the Constitution protects us from.
What the good professor doesn't understand (among other things) is that there are things such as universal truths. There are principles which are timeless. We read Plato's Republic not to imagine what the world was like in ancient Greece, but because Socrates, Gloucon and Hemorrhoidus (what that his name?) are conveying logic and reasoning, and yes truth. Until man changes, these truths will not change. And to presuppose that man is not what he is, that he can be changed and molded into something that will comport himself well when there are no restraints on his power over other men, that he will act justly at all times, well this is just arrogance and narcissism.
Well, that was unsatisfying. The President gets his tax increase "on the rich", the Bush tax rates--derided for a decade by Democrats--are confirmed for over 98% of the public without so much as a "thank you" to the Republicans who made that happen, and the "fiscal cliff" does nary a thing about runaway spending or entitlement reform. I was disappointed to see Paul Ryan vote for the measure, but happy to see Marco Rubio vote against it. I have a feeling this fact will come up again someday.
The GOP is in disarray, there is no doubt about it. I am mad as hell at the Tea Party faction for their tactical near-sightedness, scuttling Plan B (only to get a much worse deal in the end). I am however, left with the sense that the Tea Party positions on government spending and taxes are where the Republican Party needs to go. These positions are the reason Republicans gained the majority in the first place, and in the long run, they are electoral winners.
Don't misunderstand me, friends. I know Barack Obama won the election. He did not however, win the election because of a preference for anti-Tea Party ideas. He won the election because he cobbled together a meticulously planned electoral majority that capitalized on many issues, not the least of which were social issues that do not work to the favor of Republicans.
The Tea Party came to ascendance advocating for smaller government, constitutionalism, and the restraint of spending. What I admired most about them was the relative silence on abortion and gay rights. They realized that both of these questions were incidental to the great problem of our age, which is debt. Republicans went awry in the last election not by adhering to Tea Party ideology, but by deviating from it and swimming out into the cesspool of social issues.
Republicans must be seen as the Party of making bad government smaller and good government better. Republicans must be seen as the Party of Growth, the Party of Business (not the Party of Finance), and the Party of Success---putting forward a positive message of real opportunity.
I believe John Boehner is damaged goods, and he needs to go. Even though he cast an unwise vote on this deal, Paul Ryan should be the new Speaker of the House. Obama owned Boehner in this negotiation, and Obama played the press better than Boehner. The House GOP needs new and better leadership.
We just got a tax hike. But if Jay Leno does his "Jaywalking" segment tonight most folks will say we got a tax cut, except for the rich who were asked to "pay a little more". Nevermind that middle-class rates remain exactly the same as the Bush tax cuts which were demagogued as "unaffordable" and were responsible for "unpatriotic exploding deficits" and were part of "what got us into trouble to start with". Nevermind that they just kicked the can down the road for a couple of months. Nevermind that spending was hardly addressed at all. Nevermind all that. We mustn't mention that. This was about "fairness".
Oh well, as they say, if it happened it was necessary. But I believe what a Mr. E. A. Blair once said "... we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time; the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality". So we've got tax hikes with tiny, miniscule spending cuts which will impact the debt and deficit not one iota. And the foolish Republicans participated in this Kabuki dance to the delight of the Democrats and the media.
Did you ever see that Tom Cruise movie in which the protagonist's teenage buddy, in an effort to get the kid to raise a little hell while the parents are out of town tells him -and please, pardon the language- "Sometimes you gotta say what the fuck, make your move"? Well that's what Boehner and McConnell should have done. They should have said no deal, and here's why.
•No matter how this all plays out the Republicans will be blamed short term but Obama will be blamed (or praised) long term. There are no quick fixes to this mess, and one high profile negotiation will make no difference politically or economically.
•Right now we're at a disadvantage, wait awhile until the debt ceiling debate can be thrown into the mix. Let American feel the sting of Obama's policies. When the Dems start squawking run ads showing them vehemently and vocally opposing Bush's tax cuts. Feed them their own words until they choke.
•We need more time to crank up the pressure and make our case. Get the word out, be aggressive. Spending is out of control, it is unsustainable, we'll crash and burn etc.
• Then, if at the end of the day, after you're sure the American people have the facts and they still prefer the Democrat approach then that's fine. The Republicans should make a statement of principle, speak with once voice and say we realize the American people have chosen the President's policies over ours, we strongly disagree but we won't stand in the way. We will do everything within our power to make them work, but a square wheel is a square wheel and we're not optimistic. Just remember, this is the President and the Democrat's doing with the full knowledge and approval of a majority of the American people. We disagree but let the chips fall where they may.
This way we make sure whatever happens, the Democrats own the outcome. But for Republicans to just play the game, vote against their principles, kowtowing to media threats and acting like cowards is different from acquiescing to political reality. The only thing Republicans will get out of this deal is the blame when it all goes ass over tits. The Republicans have given Obama everything he could possibly hope to get, including political cover.
The Blog: A compendium of thoughts on politics, world affairs, economics, pop culture and social issues, from the center right perspective of me--Bryan McGrath--a University of Virginia graduate who spent a career in the world's greatest Navy keeping my mouth shut about politics and social issues (ok, publicly keeping it shut). Those days are over! I've also invited a few friends to join in, so pull up a chair and chime in where you will. Keep it clean, civil, concise and relevant.
The Fish: The fish is a "coat of arms" for the blog, symbolizing three formative influences in the life of the blog founder. The first is his experience at the University of Virginia--symbolized most importantly by the fish itself, or a caricature of a "Wahoo", the fish we have acquired as an informal nickname. Additionally there is the sword, the sword of a Cavalier. It is not wielded in a threatening manner, as this is a civil blog. But it is there, should it be needed. Thirdly, there is the influence of 21 years in the Navy--symbolized by the anchor on the Wahoo's fin (and again, the sword) . Finally, there is the bowler, tuxedo, and monocle, symbols of a refined, intellectual conservatism, or what I seek to encourage here.
The Policy: I take FULL responsibility ONLY for what I write. I do not take responsibility, nor will I be held responsible, for what my guest bloggers write or for what those who offer comments write. I will occasionally exercise my right to edit/delete both blog posts and comments if they do not meet my view of what clean, civil, concise and relevant mean.