Saturday, February 27, 2016

When The Kitten is Away

The Kitten and Kittens have alighted to Florida for Spring Break, leaving me here to hold down the fort while they frolic. At some point, I may take their late planning year in and year out as some kind of conspiracy to exclude me. But I digress.

I have been master of my domain for three hours now and have made good use of the time, to include a thorough pruning of the refrigerator's dubious bounty. I have thus far been unsuccessful in locating my Director's Cut box set of the Lord of the Rings series (which I watch every time they leave me for an extended period)--so if I lent it to you, please remind me.

UVA plays UNC at 1830, which is always something to get my Irish up. The good news is the game is at home--where we seem to have some competence, Our road record this year is crappy.

There is a YUGE ribeye thawing in the kitchen, and I'll throw down some lovely eggplant on the side.

I don't want you to think that I enjoy being left alone for over a week, because well, after a few days of it, I begin to miss them.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Dispatch from the Road: Newark Airport

The United Club in Terminal C at Newark is one of the better offerings in the United system---well laid out, bright, a fine is unfortunately, not well "wired" as we say, with electrical outlets. After searching about for a good spot, comfy chair, good light, with an outlet, I settled upon a cozy nook just above Gate C80, and just across a startlingly good looking woman wearing leather pants. While I would not normally shy from claiming to have chosen this seat due solely to her presence, I must confess it was the outlet, and thoughts of communicating with you via this blog that brought me to this place. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

I am here awaiting a flight to San Diego, after having alighted from BWI earlier today. With a three hour break here in Newark, I have already 1) eaten lunch 2) procured a new computer bag and 3) had a 20 minute chair massage (delightful). I'll need to split in about an hour, which should be plenty of time for me to bring you up to speed.

Usually, I fly directly from Dulles to San Diego--but for some reason, that flight wasn't available and so I grabbed a twoleg from BWI--less driving, but more traveling. On the way home, it is twoleg via San Francisco. The biggest problem though is that my scheduler (me) did not take into account that there would be a debate on Thursday night, so I believe my viewing will be spotty at best.

I'm headed to San Diego for my monthly trip to visit with a client and hopefully catch up with a ton of homies the Navy continues to stock for my entertainment while there. For those wondering, I am in standard travel rig--trainers, Adidas track pants, white T-shirt, UVA pullover, and blue blazer (to keep it from wrinkling). A woman at the shuttle bus at BWI this morning gave me the once over and said, "that's a great travel look---a little formal, a little relaxed." I thanked her for her good taste (take that, Tigerhawk!)

The day started with a trip to the gym, which gives me an additional 375 calories to consume...and since I skipped breakfast, I just had a nice lunch (yep--in the Newark Airport) of chicken wings and lamb meatballs. I'm hoping to catch a little shuteye on the plane, though heading west in the daytime is generally not conducive to cutting z's.  I have the latest Foreign Affairs with me, and a 2002 biography of Ben Franklin that is moving along ploddingly. I am unsure of what the viewing fare is onboard,

Goodness--the woman just stood up to leave and demonstrated a full set of qualifications for the wearing of leather pants. Farewell, dear girl.

That's all for now--I hope to check in now and again.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

On Campaign Finance

I had a discussion the other day with a good friend of mine who is a heavy hitter in the "centrist" Democrat realm, an official at a moderate, left of center think tank. We had this chat over lunch, and at one point, we began talking about campaign finance, mostly on the Presidential level. I repeated my standard, "unlimited contributions from individuals, with 100% transparency." In what in retrospect, I now see as a potentially brilliant codicil to this approach, he said, "sure--but every penny raised in a State has to be spent in that State".  I asked him to elaborate on this and here's what he said:

1.  It reinforces federalism, something the framers drove into the Constitution but which has been chipped away at over the past two centuries. That this would come from a committed Democrat was mind-bending and reassuring.

2.  He acknowledged the "free-speech" problems with this approach, but then offered that ALL campaign finance law abridges free speech in some ways, but this way does so less than others (at least in theory"

3.  His answer to the "rich guys buying elections" charge boils down to this: take whatever party's big dollar donor evil doer that you want--they get to spend the hell out of themselves--on activities in ONE STATE.  At most, they "buy" two Senators and one state for a President--if that's the way you want this to be viewed.  This means the Koch Brothers essentially could buy....Kansas.

There is much to be considered here.  What do you think about this?  I am really intrigued by it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why the Senate Should Not Confirm A Scalia Replacement

Antonin Scalia's death yesterday has thrown kerosene onto an already raging political fire associated with the ongoing Presidential nomination processes. Justice Scalia had barely begun repose before opinions began to fly about his replacement and or whether the Republican Senate would advance an Obama nomination.  I am of the opinion that both branches of government involved in this process should do their jobs. And by that, I mean the President should nominate a replacement when he has arrived at a suitable choice, and then the Senate should take up the nomination and consider it. That consideration certainly does not mean that Obama's choice should be confirmed. Nor does it mean that Obama's choice should even get a vote. It means that the Senate should do its job and consider the nomination.

There is all manner of discussion on the web about precedent for and against nominating and confirming. I urge you to read these discussions and reach your own decisions on whether they bear on the questions at hand. I personally give little weight to them, as I--like Scalia--am a bit of an originalist when it comes to the Constitution, and so it is here that I will look for my cues. So let us have a look at Article II, Section 2 Clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States of America:

"The President] shall nominate, and, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments."

There are at least two important aspects to this clause. The first is that the clause specifically cites the process for replacing Supreme Court "judges"--in that the President "shall" nominate and "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate" they will be placed in office.  The second important aspect of this clause is that the framers clearly understood that there would be inferior "Officers" "as they think proper" that the President, the Courts of Law, or the Heads of Departments can appoint without Senate approval.

Why would they do this? They did this because they recognized that there was a matter of relative importance between and among the various officials that would be appointed by a President, and they placed Supreme Court vacancies in the category that created the highest burden, one of nomination AND confirmation.  I cite this as a method of indicating my sense that the framers considered these nominations to be of utmost importance.

Additionally, keep in mind that the framers chose that the "advice and consent" duty be assigned to the Senate, not the House. They saw the Senate as a place of deliberation, where the passions of the people as expressed in their representatives in the House would be cooled. The relative size of the bodies is immaterial in this choice; what was important was their view that the Senate (which was then made up of people appointed by the legislatures of the several states) would act in a manner so as to tamp down political passion in the hopes that better governance would result.

And so we find ourselves today with yet another example of the genius of our Founding Fathers. We are in the midst of a particularly passionate Presidential election, in which both parties are split and insurgent forces within each are threatening to bring forward candidates who dramatically challenge the status quo. Into this volatile mix enters the death of the single most important conservative jurist in our nation's history, with the responsibility of his replacement's nomination belonging to a decidedly non-conservative President. Additionally, 18 months ago, the American people dealt that President's power and authority a stunning blow by turning over control of the Senate to the nation's conservative leaning party. The court that the replacement will join is one that has been involved in ever-increasing political turmoil in the recent past.

If ever there were a time for the cooling, deliberate, consideration of the Senate, this is it. Clearly the Framers believed Supreme Court Nominees to be important enough for Congressional review. Clearly the Framers believed that Congressional review would be best accomplished in its more deliberative body, the Senate. And clearly--and this must not be forgotten--the Framers did not understand that review to be a rubber stamp--especially where explosive political issues are at stake.

A liberal President nominating to fill the vacancy of a conservative justice in the midst of an increasingly harsh political dynamic associated with a Presidential election--wherein the balance of the court that has existed to this point would be dramatically upended AS A POLITICAL MATTER--rises to the occasion of the kind of situation that calls for the deliberate political branch to exert its power and authority. And by this, I mean that if it as a body, believes that it is better to give the President's nominee a hearing and confirm this person, it should do that. If it believes that it is better to give the President's nominee a hearing and decline it, it should do that. And if it believes that it is better not to give the President's nominee a hearing at all, it should do that.

My guess is that the governing party in the Senate will not give the President's nominee a hearing, and that is ok. Additionally, if the President wishes to make a "recess appointment" to the Supreme Court--a highly controversial measure in and of itself--I would have no issue with this. Such a nominee would serve for a year and then would be replaced by a nominee of the next President.

We can spend all our time relitigating the past where judicial nominees of both parties were held up for extended periods of time in the Senate. Or we can relitigate instances in our history where circumstances resembling what we have today arise. In neither case will one be satisfied, because there are sins enough on both sides for which to be accounted.

Or we can do as I suggest...let the process play out as our Framers intended. What they did not intend was rubber stamping in the name of political expedience.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Day After

When I went to sleep last night, I was in a foul temper, and I hoped that I would wake in the morning with less of it. This was a vain hope. I am sitting with Craig in his living room surveying the damage from Marco Rubio's performance last night, and it isn't pretty.

There were three really horrible things about his exchange with Christie. First, was the substance. What he said was absolutely correct. Barack Obama's actions as President are not born of his "inexperience"--they are born of his irresponsible desire to remake America. But the way he put it was too subtle, too nuanced, to unclear.  The second thing wrong with it was the repetition, as if repeating the same damn thing multiple times was going to clear it up. Finally--the repetition completely and utterly confirmed the charge that was being made against him in the first place, that he repeated talking points.

Such a missed opportunity. Rubio could have made his point more clearly. Then, he could have said, "Chris, how many times are we going to hear about you being a prosecutor? How many times are we going to hear your 9-11 tale? How many times are we going to hear your theory of Governors vs. Senators? Your entire line of attack here is a repetition of what you've been saying all week on the campaign trail--surprise, surprise, politicians repeat important messages."

So, I'm calling an audible today. I'm going to spend the day reading reaction and watching how Marco Rubio handles all of this. It is indisputable that he got his act together on the stage last night--his performance in the final 2/3 of the debate was up to his usual standards.  But today, I need to see him under pressure--how he reacts to a setback.  This is his Romney tax return 2012 moment--his Obama 2008 guns and clingers moment--I need to see how his campaign find a way to communicate their reaction.

Here is what I want to hear: "It clearly wasn't my finest moment. Chris is a skilled prosecutor--and someone I'd love to see as Attorney General. I knew the attack was coming and I simply overthought it. But the essential truth of what I was trying to say remains the same---our country is in the shape it is not because Barack Obama was inexperienced, but because he was successful in getting terrible policies passed in Congress and when he couldn't, through his unconstitutional use of Presidential Power. I hope the good people of New Hampshire will look past a regrettably human moment."

We'll see how it goes.

On Drafting Our Daughters

There is a good bit of chatter this morning about the question posed to Marco Rubio (and then several other candidates) as to whether registering for the draft should be something required of our 18 year old daughters as well as our sons. Apparently, much of conservative-world doesn't like the idea. My question however is, what would you have them say?

For much of the past ten years, most military occupations were open to women. In the Obama Administration, every single job has been opened. There are of course, official pronouncements of standards being protected, but just as predictable are the "studies" that attend this conversation with findings that the standards are somehow misaligned with the needs of the modern battlefield, etc. etc.

So...we have a military in which all jobs are open to both men and women. It is an all-volunteer force, but it is a gender neutral all volunteer force, primarily as a result of the pressure of interest groups to knock down barriers. Ok. They won. The barriers are gone.

So now what? We have a selective service system that enables a draft. It is not itself, a draft. It is a way of keeping track of those people eligible to serve in the military in time of great national emergency. As bad as things are, we are not now in a great national emergency. But if such a time comes--why wouldn't women be required to serve? Just because someone might not WANT to serve is insufficient reason to exclude them.

In order for a candidate to be consistent on the issue, he would have had to say "I think we have made a grave mistake in opening the combat arms to women. I think that the national security of the United States is diminished by this act. We should reverse it and return to the status quo ante, with women excluded from the combat arms." And while this may be an attractive proposition to some conservatives, it is electoral death. You simply cannot--as a political matter--put the toothpaste back in the tube without coming off as decidedly "anti-woman".

All of the candidates need to work on their answer to this question. They need to reassure Americans that the draft is a sign of intense trouble, and that we would all need to do our part--while simultaneously using the opportunity to reinforce the importance of the all volunteer force AND our great obligation to provide it with the best training and equipment in the world. Then, move on.

Friday, February 5, 2016

New Hampshire Bound!

I am sitting at the Southwest Terminal at BWI forty five minutes before boarding the plane to Manchester, NH. It looks like a relatively short flight, and the East Coast weather seems to be cooperating.

I arrive around 1145, will pick up my rental 4WD SUV, grab a bite of lunch and then head over to Rubio HQ to check in with the volunteer coordinators and get my assignment for the day.

I anticipate one of the following: call center duty, door to door canvassing, or general firefighting. I make this prediction based on zero real experience in this sort of thing. Four years ago, I helped out at Romney HQ in Des Moines, but he wasn't there, it wasn't a primary (the straw poll had just happened) and it wasn't all that interesting.

I figured that there would be some media folks and or other political types here in the the departure lounge, but I don't see anyone I recognize. There are a few hyped up college kids about, who I suspect are feeling the Bern.

This trip is a double pleasure, for in addition to the volunteering, I am bunking with my oldest Navy friend from actual active duty service. Craig was the First LT on my very first ship, and he had a year's experience on me--which at that point in a career, was the same as twenty. I knew nothing...he knew everything. His Boatswain's Mates idolized him, as did the other JO's. He opened up his home in Virginia Beach to me (he and his two roomies, who are to this day my second and third oldest friends in the Navy!

The schedule is very fluid--I'll slip out of HQ sometime later today to join Craig and his family for dinner, work all day Saturday and then do a National Review Party/Debate Watching event, and then work Sunday until the Super Bowl. Snow rolls in Monday and Tuesday, which is why I rented the beast of a vehicle that I did--perhaps I will be of more use once the weather comes.

Tuesday is game day, Tuesday night is the victory celebration, and then I fly home Wednesday afternoon. I will do my damnest to keep you--dear readers--well informed as to my thoughts and meandering travels.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Marcomentum! Donate to the CW Rubio for President Campaign

Friends--as you can see from the returns in Iowa last night--Marco Rubio's message of American greatness, core conservative values, and economic growth is resonating!  Things are going to get hot now as The Donald wakes to the Rubio challenge, while Jeb's superPac continues to pour good money after bad to try and take Marco down.

Please consider a donation to the Rubio for President Campaign!  Double click the Marco Rubio flier on the right side of the blog page and it will take you directly to where you can make an online donation.

It's time, folks!  Let's work hard to earn this nomination and then get onto the business of winning in November!

UPDATE: Well folks, we've raised $13,407 so far, way ahead of our Romney 2012 effort--and there's talk of a primary max donor out there ready to stroke a check. Remember, anything you can do helps!

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