Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Pre-emptive Pardons

The Washington Post Editorial Board rises today in opposition to rumored Bush Administration plans to offer a blanket pardon to those persons involved in the conduct of the war on terror's more questionable tactics. I rise today in opposition to the Washington Post's opposition.

President Bush and his team have kept this country safe through seven years of onslaught. Perhaps PEBO should recall that his spirit totem president (Lincoln) suspended the writ of habeas corpus during a portion of the civil war, an act that today would likely result in the impeachment of a president. Years of investigations and show trials would create exactly the heightened political animosity that the Post believes the pardons would create. Additionally, relying on the judgment of the all-knowing and all-wise Obama to pardon the truly deserving ignores the lives ruined and personal expense accumulated by those who would be called upon to defend themselves against an aggravated Democratic Star Chamber.

The Economics of a Cartel

Nice little look into the mouth of the beast this morning. Crude oil is currently selling at around $55 a barrel, and we've heard some noise out of OPEC lately that they believe a "fair price" is around $80. What does this mean? Well, it means a price in which they can continue to extort undue influence over the world economy by cooperatively fixing prices.

I'm of a mixed mind on this subject, though. Reading that Canadian industry is slowing their oil shale extraction method because of the cheap price of crude reinforces for me the value of high prices in changing consumptive behavior. The only way we'll put these petro-thug terrorists out of business is to consume less and to find other ways to power our economy. I doubt whether the free market alone can deal adequately with a pricing and supply situation in which an entire world is dependent upon a diminishing single source of power.

Portrait of a Rising Republican Star

The Washington Post has a nice story about Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana today. I've heard about Jindal for over ten years, first when he cleaned up the State Health system in Louisiana. He's a natural politician, and I mean that in a very positive way. I love the line in the story about siding with "the people" during an emergency. "You can always apologize to the bureaucrats". Great line.

As excited as I was about the possibilities associated with a rising Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal doesn't appear to have a down-side. He's a man of the people without being a populist, and he's a plain spoken good old boy who can talk your pants off on policy. Definitely more my kind of candidate than Sarah Palin--but maybe a good team in 2012!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Va Tech 17 UVA 14

Inexcusable. Absolutely inexcusable. Virginia ends the season at 5-7 and Al Groh is now 1-8 vs. Va Tech. Exciting to see Vic Hall light things up a bit, but it wasn't enough. What a bad, disappointing season. And basketball is going to be even worse.

This Story Makes Me Angry

Wal-Mart employee trampled to death. What the hell?

A Friendly Oyster Roast

I attended an oyster roast last night just across the farm at the home of a recently acquired friend of mine. He's a private wealth manager in DC, and he and his family bought a house on the farm and renovated it. It's a really beautiful place, and they are great people.

He's a soft Republican; very laid back on social issues, but heavy on smart tax policy. She's another of a growing class of person that I find flocked to the Obama Campaign, and that is the person with so much money that everyday pocketbook issues don't really apply to them, whose understanding of political issues does not go deeper than their "feelings" about a candidate, and who voted for "change" though not aware what sort of change they were voting for. I addressed these two in an earlier posting, in which I recounted skewering her for not knowing how badly PEBO's tax policies were going to hurt their family.

Also present was a delightful couple who live near my friends back in civilization. They apparently met while working on Capitol Hill, both for serious Dems. They are both very political, and very liberal. Great family, three good kids, etc. She has transitioned into a personal training business (looks great, by the by) catering to the pampered Montgomery County set (country club, private schools, vacation homes, vote Democrat). He recently left 15 years of service on Senate staffs to take on a major lobbying role for a major investment house...working primarily on climate change issues. I really liked these folks...but I could not get over the stirring contradictions.

Here were two true believers....credentials as long as your arm in the great social justice war of the Democrat party....who send their kids to private school, who play tennis and golf at the local country club (probably $75K upfront to join), and who bleed Obama blue. The woman was one point she unknowingly made a point in conversation that she thought was a positive that I've always considered a negative. She held that " was nice to be in a position that there was enough money coming in that they could be really active and dedicated to a lot of liberal positions." Honestly, she thought this was a positive. Because I didn't want to get into a big political discussion with new friends, I kept my rhetorical pistol in my holster. But what about the people who don't have the money you have? What about the people for whom the added tax burden will actually BE a burden? Is that what liberalism is all about--you get yours and then you have the largess to worry about others?

Oil and Gas Leases Pose No Problem for Obama

News that the Bush Administration is going forward with the sale and lease of public lands in Utah for oil and gas exploration has the predictable cast of characters manning the ramparts. Seemingly clueless to the energy needs of this county (even under the most aggressive of alternative energy scenarios, we're married to oil for decades), the environmentalists are of course, in a tizzy.

The thing to be remembered here (and I don't think it is forgotten by savvy members of the Obama transition) is that it is GOOD that the Bush folks are closing these deals on the way out the door. This way, PEBO can claim that the cost of getting out of the deals is excessive in a time of fiscal crisis, and they can "blame" the increase in energy exploration on the Bush Administration. This one works perfectly for what appears to be a pretty pragmatic bunch in Chicago.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Larry Lindsey with a Great Idea for the Mortgage Crisis

Take a good read of this article, and see what you think. I believe the incentives for people who wish to STAY in their homes (rather than speculators) and the cost neutral aspects of this idea make it a winner. What do you think?

Steyn on Islamism

The incomparable Mark Steyn on what Bombay means in the broader context.

Brooks, Krugman on the Financial Situation

I can't stand Paul Krugman as a political columnist. As an economist, he's on much surer footing, and his column today springs from that part of his brain worth listening to. David Brooks' column contains some interesting thoughts on how PEBO should structure his anticipated stimulus packages. Good ideas for a slow day.

Bombay Terror

Indian authorities have quite a situation on their hands. The more I read and understand what happened, the more I come to believe that this is not a home-grown Indian Islamist group, but more likely a Pakistani group. There are reports of the gunmen having been transported by sea in a vessel whose last-known port was Pakistan. This is not going to have a positive impact on Pakistani-Indian relations, and it appears to signify a possible uptick in the training/capability of Pakistani Islamists, perhaps as a result of increased concentrations of more sophisticated Islamist groups taking up refuge there (i.e. AQ). Whatever is happening here, Pakistan is an open-sewer and its continuing status as the terror capital of the world must be challenged.

UPDATE: Goldwater's Ghost with some thoughts.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Someone Please Verify This is Real

Brother Tom sent this link to me, and it is amazingly ridiculous. I've tried to verify it as being real, but can't come up with an air tight audit trail. Anyone have any info on this?

Those Randy Mid-Westerners!

News here of a couple nabbed during the Iowa-Minnesota football game for bumping uglies in a handicapped stall of the men's room. Apparently, the crowd that gathered to urge them on was a tip for security.

Best line in the story? The woman had to be identified by her husband. Classic.

Update: Great stuff here!

Things for Which I Am Thankful

Rick Brookhiser's entry on The Corner this morning inspired me to compile this (probably not inclusive) list of things for which I am grateful.

1. I am grateful for my life and my health
2. I am grateful for the blessings I enjoy as a citizen of the United States
3. I am grateful for those who toil every day to protect those blessings, be they in our armed forces, our intelligence community, police, fire, rescue, or civil service.
4. I am grateful for the health and lucidity of my mother and father, from whom all that I am or will be emanates.
5. I am grateful for the love and friendship of four brothers and a sister.
6. I am grateful that beautiful sweet Catherine invited me into her life, and that Hope and Hannah are learning to happily accept that fact.
7. I am grateful for 21 years of service to our country, and I am grateful that such service is over...for now.
8. I am grateful to a couple of inspiring men who saw in me some potential and asked me to join their team in private industry, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be compensated commensurate with my contribution and talent.
9. I am grateful for the time and energy to write this blog, and even more grateful that there are intelligent, insightful people who read it and comment about it.
10. I am grateful for a handful of close friends whose esteem and affection mean the world to me.
11. I am grateful for a political process that resulted in the election of a fine man as our next president, and I am grateful for a Constitution that will protect and encourage my opposition to him where appropriate.
12. I am grateful for the service of George Bush, a man who has worked tirelessly to protect this country from another major terrorist attack.
13. I am grateful to a loving God for having given me so much, and I am grateful to that God for being so patient with me.

There is oh so much to be thankful for, but for now, I'll just ask you...what are you thankful for?

Bombings in Bombay

I'm following the situation in Bombay, but I'm waiting until there's a better sense of who is behind it to hazard much of an opinion. India's had its own homegrown Hindu/Muslim problem for oh, I don't know, five hundred years, so this could be just a part of that. Or it could be AQ inspired. Or it could be AQ planned.

But we just don't know right now, so I'll just be quiet until we have some better information.

UPDATE: for good in-stream coverage, out this site.

A Bit of Ayn Rand on Thanksgiving

Very few conservatives worth their salt are unfamiliar with the work of Ayn Rand, and many of us went through some serious flirtation with objectivism as our primary political philosophy. I can remember reading Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead in the summer of 1987 and seeing them as a revelation. Howard Roark and Hank Reardon were the kind of guys I wanted to be, and she created them skillfully.

As time went on and I read more and more of the sort of zany cult following that attended to Ayn Rand in her life (not to mention an interesting personal life), I tended to keep my admiration of the woman a little more in the background. I re-read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in the Summer of 2007 and concluded that my original enthusiasm for objectivism remained strong.

Here are two interviews Mike Wallace did with Ayn Rand in 1959, each is about ten minutes long (Part I and Part II). I'd never heard her voice before, but the heavy Russian accent is a little jarring (sorta like Boris' girl on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons). The constantly shifting little eyes are also disquieting, but the words are powerful.

Check out also the early TV special effects and Mike Wallace just lighting one up right in the middle of the interview. Classic.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On Obama Keeping Gates

Well, I have to say I'm surprised by the reports that have surfaced today saying that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will stay on a bit through the transition (even though many in the media and AuH2O's Ghost called it). I figured Gates really didn't want the job to begin with, he's tired, and he wants to retire to upstate Washington. Matter of fact, I predicted to Gigs' investor's group just yesterday morning that he wouldn't take it (though I left myself an out by saying that if he did, he'd be there a year or less).

What do I think of it? I think it is great for the country, great for the military, and great for the new President. Robert Gates is a fine American and a talented SecDef. He has put the Rumsfeld years behind us and he's run the Pentagon with a deft hand.

I continue to be impressed with the adults that PEBO is picking for his team.

Goldwater's Ghost Now a Blogger!

I'm happy to announce that frequent contributor and guest blogger on this site Goldwater's Ghost has struck out on his own and created a blog, "Postcards From the Backbench". Those of you who criticize me for taking up your day...well, don't click this link. If you do, you'll have yet another site that takes up your time. GG is intelligent and insightful, and his site is a hit!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NYC--Mission Accomplished

I'm writing from the commuter terminal at Laguardia, waiting for my flight back to Charm City. Today was a real professional highlight, as I spent a great day with some fine professionals talking about all manner of things. Gigs was a wonderful host, and I really enjoyed the folks at his firm. Some very insightful questions, and some great information passed back and forth in both directions.

The view from Gigs office is stunning; he overlooks Bryant(?) Park and has a great view of the skyline.

I could work in one point, I thought I would. Don't think anyone's hiring these days though....

I am a Sexist Pig

As some of you may know, I host an annual Christmas Party, and it is an event in which I take great pride. I have absentmindedly forgotten/misplaced my bartender's name/email/phone, and it is killing me. She's cute, blonde, and incredibly helpful--the perfect bartender in all ways.

So I've put an ad on Craigslist for a bartender for the event. I just went through 121 separate answers, and I instantly deleted every single one submitted by a male, or anyone whose name even remotely sounded male. Terrible, huh? That's how I roll.

In the Big City

Writing this morning from the 28th floor of a great looking building in Manhattan, where I've come to sit down with a group of investors and analysts who work with one of our frequent contributors, Gigs. Gigs asked me to come up and talk about defense related issues that might impact the financial industry, and a bit on my thoughts with respect to defense and the Obama Administration.

This is a wonderful opportunity, combining a couple of my favorite things. I definitely enjoy talking about politics and geo-strategy, I thoroughly enjoy New York, and I definitely have an interest in the financial world.

I stayed the night at Gigs' house in Connecticut, and when I met him this morning in his home office, he informed me that two of his friends in London had been sacked. More and more folks who do what he does are finding themselves on the short end of the stick.

This will pass, but the system is likely to have changed. Hopefully for the better.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Boy Am I Glad I'm Not in School Anymore!

....or I'd wind up on a police blotter......

An Interesting Week in Grapevine, Texas

I gotta give this guy Pastor Ed Young credit---he sure did come up with a marketable strategy for getting his name and his church's (Fellowship) out there. It seems the good pastor challenged his flock to take to the connubial bed with gusto this week, asking that married couples couple each day for a week as a way of re-establishing intimacy and understanding. Seeing sex in marriage as a gift from God, Pastor Young has energized his mega-church and caused a bit of a sensation in the process. Pointing to children as one of the main causes of sexual alienation between husbands and wives (KIDS--keeping intimacy at a distance successfully), the folks at Fellowship have been urged to lock the door, turn up the radio and get busy. I'm not a big fan of mega-churches, and I'm definitely not taken with charismatic Christianity (the Catholic church lost me when they started holding hands during the Lord's Prayer and then raising them in unison....thought I was gonna hear people speaking in tongues), but this church sounds pretty interesting.

First African-American......

Stop the presses ladies and gentlemen, we have yet another "first" for the African-American community. It seems the Obamas have decided to extend to one "Desiree Rogers" the coveted post of "White House Social Secretary", position in which she would be the "first African-American".

Can we get over this crap PLEASE! The country hired an African-American as President. Can we assume that all African-American appointments to lesser posts are no longer noteworthy? Please?

Obama Making Good Moves with Economic Team

Reports are that President-elect Barack Obama (henceforth PEBO) will nominate Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers as his Treasury Secretary and Director of the National Economic Council, respectively. Summers had the Treasury job at the end of the Clinton Administration and then went on to Harvard where he managed to offend much of the female world by suggesting that women might not be biologically pre-disposed to the math and science disciplines. Geithner's been the NY Fed President, and has gotten high marks for his conduct during this fiscal crisis. Two good picks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is Proposition 8 Un-American?

I received a private email the other day asking the following:

"…I’m not a really deep thinker in the mold of you, and (Goldwater's Ghost). But, every now and then the old noggin does make an attempt to makes sense of certain things. That latest “thing” is the recent vote in California on Proposition 8.
It finally hit me as to why I was against its passage. My reasoning is that it is quite “un-American”. How’s that? Well, as you are well aware, the US is a republic and not a democracy. In a republic, the minority viewpoint is considered such that we can’t have a vote in which 51% of the people vote in favor of enslaving the other 49%. I believe this is the classic example always put forth for this argument.
Well, in the state of CA, we just had a vote in which 52% voted to “enslave” the other 48%. Yes, this is an example of the mob rule of a direct democracy. It is quite “un-American”!
Your thoughts?"

This is a very good question on a number of levels, and so I'll take it on in little bite sized chunks. Bottom line up front: what the people of California did was not just NOT un-American, it was entirely American.

1. Let's start with my view of gay marriage in general. As I've said in the past, I'm not in favor of straight marriage, so my opposition to gay marriage is entirely consistent. What do I mean by this? I mean state sanction of marriage. I think marriage is a wonderful social/cultural/religious institution and it ought to be just that. Take the state out of it and I'd be all for both gay and straight marriage. Leave existing contract law to cover the relationship between the parties and we have our winner. Now that that is out of the way, on to the specifics of this issue.

2. "The US is a republic and not a democracy. In a republic, the minority viewpoint is considered such that we can’t have a vote in which 51% of the people vote in favor of enslaving the other 49%" There’s a lot here to deconstruct so let’s get started.

  • This view of what a republic is and mine are different. My view of a republic is one in which people vote for other people who then represent their interests--rather than in straight out democracy in which people vote directly for themselves. Being a republic is in no way an impediment to a majority enslaving a minority.
  • The Bill of Rights is definitely an impediment to the majority voting a majority out of its rights, rights thought to be so essential to liberty as to require codification in the Constitution. As such, it is often seen as the chief enforcer of the “no enslavement” stuff within our system of government.
  • There is a really romantic notion afoot that our system is designed to protect the rights of the minority. This is true, but only to a point. Let us never forget that our Constitution has provisions for its alteration. A determined majority could remove any and all rights from a minority. It would just be very, very difficult to do so.

3. So now, let’s talk about some of the specifics of the California issue, and whether it was “un-American”

  • Is defining marriage as between a man and a woman “enslavement” of a minority? No, not by a long shot. We have laws on the books that prohibit teens from drinking, we have laws on the books that allow businesses to charge different prices to seniors. Whole classes of people are impacted by these laws, yet they are not enslavement. It is especially important to remember that California’s domestic partnership laws extend all the goodness of marriage to domestic partners without the term “marriage”.
  • Let’s review what happened here. The California Legislature, exercising that power of representative democracy that was their due, passed a statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman. In a case brought to them that caused judicial review of the law, the California State Supreme Court struck down the law as being inconsistent with the Constitution of the State of California, and hence unconstitutional. Exercising provisions for altering the Constitution of the State of California (contained within and explicitly stated there) the people of the State of California voted to amend their Constitution in a manner in which a state regulatory function (that is, the granting of marriage licenses) was determined to be applicable only to unions of a man and a woman (incidentally, who also must be of the age of consent).

I would have voted for Prop 8, largely because I think the State Supreme Court overstepped its bounds. If the people of California put forward an amendment to take the state out of marriage altogether, I’d support that too.

But there was NOTHING un-American about what went on there. In our system, the will of a determined majority is unlikely to be stymied.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Clemson 13 UVA 3

Just back from a long trip to Charlottesville and back to watch the thoroughly feckless Wahoos stink up the field. They were joined in the effort by the Clemson Tigers who also played listlessly. Poor execution (interceptions, receivers not knowing where the first down marker is) and horrible play calling sealed our fate. And so ends another season of UVA home games. See you all next year boys....

A View of Our Soldiers from a French Soldier

Passed along to me by my brother....this is really a wonderful ode to the greatest fighting force in the world.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Remembering a Really Cool Day

One of my crewmembers in USS BULKELEY (DDG 84) posted this photo on his Facebook page, and it brought back great memories of an awesome day. I was CO of #84, and we raced the destroyer next to us (USS COLE) and the Cruiser from whom this picture was taken (USS PHILIPPINE SEA--who nipped us by a nose). The CO of the Cruiser was a guy named Gene Moran, who is an amazing guy and a great friend. He retired from the Navy shortly after I did, and we run across each other quite a bit in DC these days.


Ok everyone, let her rip! What's on your mind? What would you like to see teed up as a subject for discussion?

Obama Team Leaking

Oh my, you mean it? Are the fabulously disciplined Obamamaniacs now beginning to get liquored up on the fun of being able to talk with the press and be considered a "source"? Maybe. But an even more likely explanation is that now that the campaign is over, the Chicago kitchen cabinet has to be extended, and folks who aren't quite as loyal to the new President are in the game. Self-interest is a huge motivator in the Washington power game, and there are a lot of folks out there whose interests are served by these leaks. This is also--by the way--the leading edge of the inevitable splintering of the Democratic Party that will occur as frenzied Dems begin to realize that they are not really a party of ideas or ideology--they are a loose confederation of special interests whose agendas are advanced by banding together where necessary.

Obama Team Lowers Expectations

News here of efforts by the Obama Team to lower the expectations of the American Public as to what they might accomplish. I wonder where these expectations came from? Could it be here? Could it be the rhetoric of healing the world? Could it be promise after promise over the course of a campaign begun less than two years after earning his seat as a Senator?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Life of an Expat

I happened upon this article tonight as I was slogging through what appears to be a slow news day (dow under 8000? Yawn.) It is about a city in the middle of Mexico (San Miguel de Allende) that has a healthy American retiree/expat community. Nestled in the mountains at about 6800 feet, this city apparently has all the modern conveniences and temperatures in the 60's and 70's year round.

As I read the story, I wrestled with my own longstanding desire to live--for some period of time--as an American expat. I've never really thought hard about where it would be--but I've always thought it would be warm and near the ocean. One of the biggest advantages to putting in 21 with the USN is that I have the freedom to walk away from everything--and I mean everything--and go rent an apartment on some boulevard, rue, plaza, piazze, or strasse--if the spirit moved me.

I have this very romantic sense of what life would be like in such a place. I'd live simply, spend most of my time writing and drinking espresso, and smoke a lot of cigars. I'd eat pretty well, as I would likely want to pick a place where my greenbacks went pretty far. I'd probably not own a car, but I would own a bike. I'd do my very best to learn the local language, and I'd take on a very Hemmingway-esque approach to life. I'd probably start drinking again, and I'd do it well.

Now of course, I could also live the expat life with the Kitten, though it would be a very different life (say goodbye to the cigars, for instance). It would be a good less Bohemian, but also a good less lonely. I'd probably not write as much, but I would have more fun.

Maybe that's where I'm headed someday---work a few years, get the Kitten's kittens off to school, then head to Malaysia or Mozambique and try our luck.

Bad News in the House

I don't like John Dingell, but I like Henry Waxman even less. The Dems voted today to replace Dingell as Chairman (not Chair, not Chairperson) of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Dingell is a hard-core unionist lefty, but he could always be counted on to weigh the impact of runaway environmental legislation on jobs and the economy. Waxman is a hard core lefty...and a preening bantam cock of a fellow. Few members of Congress get me more worked up than Waxman. His ascendence is a sign that Pelosi may be more powerful than I'd hoped.

Using the Marines to Solve a Problem

Good read here in the NY Post, basically saying all the things I said about piracy yesterday. Kicking some ass and establishing order in Somalia is right in the USMC wheelhouse, and I'd like to think planners are cooking up a whole lot of pain for these folks right now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Education Sinkhole

Here's a story of a $6B program--an unholy spawn of No Child Left Behind--to improve reading skills among first graders. Guess what? It doesn't work. What's most disturbing are the remarks of the Department of Education researcher who did the study--who like most in the modern liberal redoubt of elementary education--believes that the program needs to be "improved". No, the program needs to be canceled.

Modern Day Piracy

Hampton Park Fan asked me to talk a bit about the Somali pirate story, and while it is covered much better elsewhere on the blogosphere, I will add a few comments of my own.

1. Maritime Piracy is a land-based problem at its heart. That is, the pirates are paid by folks operating on land, they take orders from folks operating on land and they are tied to land-based logistics. These guys aren't like the pirates of old, who'd find an island and stash their treasure; in fact, the pirates today have little interest in gaining wealth from the cargo. The money in piracy goes to the guys ashore who shake-down the shipping companies. The pirates don't see much of that, but what they do see is quite a bit more than they would make from lawful activities.

2. As a land-based problem, modern piracy exists where legitimate government does not. Off the horn of Africa, Somalia is the culprit. In Southeast Asia, parts of Malaysia and the Philippines are the culprits. Where legitimate government does not exercise authority, maritime banditry is allowed to flourish.

3. The single biggest problem in more aggressively tackling piracy, whether on our own or in concert with others is what to do with the pirates. Once you've taken them down and have them in custody, they are yours to keep Mr Ship Captain--as maritime nations are not stepping up to take responsibility for their turnover and trial.

Ok--so far I've made two broad points...the first is that to tackle piracy, we need to kill its roots ashore. Secondly, in the short term we need to figure out what to do with the pirates.

But there's more.....

4. Piracy is simply not that big of an issue....yet. I covered a piracy story on the blog once before, and I think there were something like 65 piracy events off the Horn of Africa last year--but there were nearly 22000 large ship voyages though those waters (numbers aren't exact, but they are close). This is not an epidemic. Shippers have to a large extent priced in this risk, and the ransoms paid are a chip-shot compared to the profits they pull in. But as we've seen in the financial crisis, facts are not always persuasive. If the markets begin to feel that that the flow of goods is threatened, it will begin to do zany things that no one will like.

5. This issue is a test case for modern cooperative maritime relationships. While Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen and Djibouti don't have big navies or coast guards, Germany, UK, Italy, Russia and the Saudis do. In fact, these nations and others are chomping at the bit to take this threat on, largely because it is exactly the kind of mission that their navies are good at. The US can do this all by itself--but shouldn't. It would require us to take our eye off of Iran (as our warships that would interdict pirates are the same one who would conduct land attack, anti-submarine warfare and anti-ship missile defense against Iran) a job ONLY we can really do. The problem with putting together an effective coalition revolves around two issues, with the first being what to do with the pirates (as we've discussed). The second involves an effective UN mandate, something most militaries in the world need in order to have a Friday afternoon parade.

6. No one should confuse this current issue with a lack of capability, resolve, or the desire of maritime nations to cooperate. This is a logistics issue. Get the UN to give a clear set of guidelines (I know, I know) including dispositional authority with respect to captured pirates, and there would be little left of the East African pirate story.

What should the US do?

7. Leave the actual anti-piracy (afloat) mission largely to others. We may need a ship or two as catalysts for action, but this is a bite sized job for bite-sized navies.

8. In conjunction with our friends in the USMC, we should begin to aggressively target the shorebased logistics and command/control of these operations. This sort of activity is very well-suited to what our Navy/Marine Corps team can do.

What is keeping us from doing this?

9. An effective UN mandate

10. The fact that our naval infantry (otherwise known as the Marines) is largely tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Interesting Electoral Map

From A Connecticut Republican.

Joe Lieberman to Attend Re-education Camp; Will Be Rehabilitated

I love the tone of this story...makes me think of the glory days of Stalinism. I'd almost expect to see Lieberman "disappeared" and brought back again after an appropriate public statement of contrition.

The Current Economic Crisis

I watched our President-elect the other night, and I heard him do a good job of making sure people knew that we were not in the same level of difficulty that the country faced in the Great Depression. We're not even close. Where he erred however, is in his statement that this was the most difficult time SINCE then. Again, he's not even close.

Does anyone remember the dark, early days of the Reagan Presidency? Does anyone remember double digit inflation? Double digit unemployment? Double digit interest rates? ALL AT THE SAME TIME? Where are we now? Unemployment at half what it was at its height then. Interest rates are still low. Inflation is under control.

Yes--our stock market has lost value and our financial system is under siege. But great minds on both sides of the aisle (and all over the world) are on the job working to figure this out. I remain bullish on America and her future.

One more thing. I am who I am today because of that earlier period of economic turmoil. Those dark economic times just happened to be when I was in high school. As I looked around at the lay of the land---a father working hard to keep his business afloat while putting two older children through college (and two more to go after me)--I realized that I had a responsibility to pitch in. I went from being certain I'd attend some oppressive little liberal arts school at top dollar (Haverford, Swarthmore) en route medical school, to having Uncle Sam pick up the tab at a state university in exchange for a four year indenture. That four year indenture turned into 21 years of joy, and I am all the better for it. I know I sound like some old fogey hearkening back to the Depression as if it were a good thing for America...I'm hardly saying that. I'm saying there is opportunity in adversity. We all need to keep looking for it.

George Will on the Auto Bailout

I thought George Will had lost his mind when he came out so full-throatedly in favor of the Giuliani candidacy, but the evidence I see lately is that the master is still at work. This little ditty on the auto bailout is a must read.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

President-Elect Obama on 60 Minutes

Well folks, we could be in for a long eight years. This guy is good. And likable.

President Obama Should NOT Foreswear Executive Privilege

Radley Balko is normally a pretty clear-thinking guy, but his advice to the President-elect is not smart. The President is unto himself, a separate and equal part of the government. The President cannot make demands on either of the other two branches, and they should not be able to make them of his. While fore swearing Executive privilege sounds great, it would be a show--when the stuff hits the fan, protecting the INSTITUTION of the Presidency from the encroachment of the other branches is a duty each President owes to his successors.

Besides, I'd LOVE for anyone in Congress to "open" his or her office up, so that the advice he or she receives from staff is just as open as that they would seek from the President. Are you aware that all those "save your email" requirements levied on the office of the President do not apply to the Congress?

Another Instance of NYT Silliness

Read here about poor Sallie Krawchek, recently let-go from her $15M Citigroup job and literally wasting away (she lost 7 pounds after her firing, poor thing) as a result.

I don't know where to begin with this one. Is it the obvious "girl-power" relationship at work with the author of the story? Is it the stupidity of wasting this much space on the firing of someone who has little to worry about in terms of life from here on out?

This used to be America's greatest newspaper.

The Most Ridiculous Babble I've Seen in Quite a Long Time

Take a look at this editorial in this morning's Post. Go back and write for the style section, Joel. You're way out of your league when you tackle finance--high or personal. Surely there are periods in American history that can be pointed to wherein an investment in a passbook savings account exceeds the return gained in the stock market. We're living through that. But over the long haul? That's called "opportunity cost". And let's make a distinction here between the magical "appearance" of a bicycle and the purchase of a McMansion at ten times annual salary. The bicycle appeared, along with the other "objects of desire" BECAUSE wifey's mother was living within her means.

Ridiculous tripe.

DC Schools Look to Buck the Union

There is a wonderfully delicious battle brewing between the City of Washington DC, its innovative and energetic schools chief, and its powerfully obstructionist teachers union. It seems Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty want to get the Congress to declare the city's school system in a "state of emergency", an action that would effectively grant them the ability to set up non-union schools and thoroughly marginalize the teachers union. Who you ask? The teachers union? Weren't they the lead dogs in the Obama sled? Yes indeed! So here you have it--a big city Democratic mayor and his schools chief believe the chief obstruction to quality education is the organization that supported the new Democratic president from the get-go. Oh how I look forward to watching this play out....I do realize though that the students in the district are the ones who will ultimately pay the price--as Fenty and Rhee are voices in a very hostile wilderness. The Democratic Congress, soaked as it is with union money and beholden as it is to their shake-down tactics, is never going to support this kind of necessary innovation.

George Will at His Best

Fantastic column by George Will this morning. Think about how you reacted as you read it. Were you nodding with approval? Were you thinking "yes, this makes sense" and "tell it like it is"? Did you find yourself thinking that you wished there were more politicians who thought that way?

Now go back and re-read it. Where were the stinging rebukes to the pro-choice movement? Where was the full-throated defense of traditional marriage?

They weren't there....yet you nodded approvingly anyway. The winning Republican combination for the future is economic conservatism and social libertarianism.

Detroit is an Addict

The Big Three carmakers are like the cousin who is on the juice--comes to you for a loan, telling you he's in treatment. Give him the loan and you know he's going to buy more junk. I repeat--bankruptcy is better than bailout for the American people. If nothing else, it will reset wage rates that had spun out of control over the years at the point of a UAW wielded gun.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Second Life Affair Ends in Divorce

I try to keep up on the latest technology, and I try to be understanding about things I, well, quite frankly don't understand. This whole Second Life things falls into that category. Here's what I know about it. People take on a computer generated personality (known as an Avatar), and they actually interact with others in a totally virtual world. There are real estate deals, contractual agreements, and according to this story, there are even affairs with prostitutes that end up causing real life divorce.

Ok, where do I begin. Let's start with a criticism of the whole concept of having a "second" virtual life. Is this a statement on the emptiness of the first? I'm not sure--I don't want to jump on that bandwagon too fast, as I am a member of Facebook which sorta kinda resembles a virtual world---except that people there are actually depicting themselves.

I find myself thinking that while Second Life may not be for me, I can see why a lot of other people might enjoy it. What I can't see is crossing that bright line from fantasy to reality. In the story cited above, the woman came upon her man (I mean, she found him) engaged in an online sexual act with another woman; not him really, and not a woman really, but two computer generated avatars depicting these two humans as they want to be depicted. No harm no foul, right? I mean, if fantasizing about having sex with someone else were all that was needed to cause divorce.....And who says the prostitute was even a woman? Perhaps it was some fat, pasty Brit named Cyril who lives with his mother and writes adverts for a gardening magazine.

But no....this real life relationship (born apparently, online) will now end because of virtual infidelity. This is all really very silly--but it is where our society is going.

The Press, the Wars, and the Obama Administration

Very sorry for not having a Free for All Friday; just totally slipped my mind, plus the Hedge Fund Manager posting was rattling around my head, and it pushed everything else out.

Frequent contributor Dan offered the following via email in lieu of FFAF...

"Something a couple of us have discussed, especially as folks prep to deploy next year. It concerns media coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan. How will the media treat the war in Iraq and Afghanistan under an Obama administration?
Media coverage of the Iraq and Afghan wars has been hopelessly biased against reporting anything positive. As Dana Priest told us at the National War College (when asked about why the media refused to give equal coverage to reconstruction and other positive activities ongoing in Iraq), her answer was words to the effect of, "We're not out there looking to report the positive, because the war is not a positive experience due to the administration's handling of it." Bottom line -- Bush started the war, the media hates Bush, therefore the media would grant no credit to Bush for anything positive gained in Iraq or Afghanistan. Think about it -- how many pictures, sound bites, or interviews did you see of folks who were putting in power grids, building schools, or starting businesses back-up? Not many. Shoot, the media even denigrated the elections -- one of the most positive outcomes.
Fast forward to now. As President Obama begins to implement his Iraq and Afghanistan strategy, how will the media treat it? Real progress is being made. Read Barry McCaffrey's latest report -- it details that we have set the stage to start withdrawing and handing over more responsibility to the Iraqis. But this is progress made under the current administration, using a surge that Obama was against.
Fast forward 16 months. President Obama will schedule a withdrawal, which will go relatively peacefully (heck, the bad guys will be more than happy to see us go away, so why make waves?), and President Obama will be hailed in the media and later awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize. And the Army and USMC? We'll still be over there, with a much reduced presence, conducting Training Team missions with our 12-man teams, but with no real combat power to keep beating back the bad guys. So our 12-man teams will start to get pounded. Could set the stage for a repeat of scenario similar to Les Aspin's denial of heavy armor in Somalia. But because Obama will have so masterfully orchestrated a withdrawal of forces, the media will find fault with the military for the follow-on failures, not of Obama's strategy.
I hope I am wrong."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Economically conservative social liberals?

Great, and I mean truly great, column from Jonah Goldberg today, analyzing the great question of our time (or at least for this month), what to do with the Republican Party?

The comparison of economically conservative social liberals to "Jackelopes" is an apt one. I have heard people describe themselves as this, but usually when the string is pulled, they are either A) not fiscally conservative at all or B) not necessarily social liberals, but more properly considered, they are social libertarians. This forms the basis of my deviation from Goldberg's analysis.

Economic conservatism and social liberalism forms what nuclear physicists call an "unstable isotope". A being cannot remain long in this state. Either one comes to realize their liberalism is unaffordable, or they chuck the economic conservatism in favor of being just plain liberal. Economic conservatism and social libertarianism IS however, a very stable isotope, and this is where the party ought to be aiming.

Social libertarianism basically says that the same government we seek to limit in the spheres of the economy and the market ought be limited in the social also. While morally repellent, abortion is a choice made by many women--and a social libertarian would say the government ought to stay out of it. A social libertarian does not surrender the right to criticize the conduct of another, and they do not surrender their right to be morally repulsed by the actions of another. A social libertarian sees the need for helmets on children bicycling, sees the need for seat belt use, and sees the need for car seats for children--they simply cringe at the thought of the government FORCING these behaviors on people. A social libertarian might not buy lottery tickets, but the thought that lotteries should be abolished because they entrap predominately poor people strikes them as loony. A point of clarification libertarians are not strict libertarians. In the case of the lottery, a libertarian might say the government has no right or role in sponsoring lotteries. The social libertarian sees them as features of modern life and holds no real objection to them. A social libertarian would suggest that it probably is not a bad thing that the US government sought ways to make home loans more widely available to promote ownership--but they would also think that the government swooping in to save people from themselves is also wrong.

Let me know if you think I'm onto something here.

David Brooks on the Auto Bailout

Redeeming his faltering credibility as a voice of reason within the conservative movement, David Brooks puts forward a fine summary of why the American auto industry should be allowed to fail. The notion that if one or all of them declares bankruptcy, the whole industry will fail, is flawed. Bankruptcy may be the ONLY way to save these companies from themselves. With bankruptcy will come protection from creditors, the freedom to break labor contracts, and best of all, new management.

Tell Congress to "Kiss My Ass" Mr. Hedge Fund Manager

I ask your forgiveness for linking to a Dana Milbank piece, but it offers a teachable moment. Yesterday, an officious House Committee hauled a few hedge fund managers up before them to put them on the griddle about many things, mostly how much money they make and the horror of the fact that their compensation comes at a rate substantially below some in the middle class (the benefit of taking one's compensation largely in capital gains rather than regular income--or what we know here as the "Warren Buffet Plan").

Just once...just once I tell ya, I'd like to see one of these guys say to the self-important preeners attempting to belittle them, the following:

"Yes, I make a lot of money. No--to say it is a lot of money is probably an understatement. I make a whole lot of money. I make a lot of money because the decisions I make in the open market create wealth for those who trust me with their investments. When they win, I win. I don't do this for free, so yes, I even win a little when they lose. I do so, however, within the laws of this nation as properly understood, laws that are created and modified within this room and others like it in this city. I do so under the watchful eye of regulators that this body chooses to create--or not create. I pay taxes under a system of rates that is controlled by this body. Everything I do is legal and above board. If you wish to tax me at a higher rate, it is your job to do so. If you wish to tax capital at the rate of regular income, this is your decision. I would tend to disagree, as I believe that such a scheme has shown in the past its negative impact on investment and growth. But my disagreement is not relevant here. This is your place, where your opinions hold sway, where your decisions ultimately find purchase. But if it is your desire to haul me up here for some kind of public humiliation ceremony fueled by class warfare and envy, you will do so next time only under the pain of a subpoena. Quite frankly, I am tired of being a part of this elaborate show in which you strike a moral pose by questioning publicly my success in entirely legal conduct. The irony of this body striking a moral pose on ANYTHING is not lost on me, and I hope some of your more insightful observers. Moral conduct for me is to go to work every single day and make as much money as I possibly can; this means that those who trust me with their money are going to make as much money as they can. It is really a simple arrangement, a moral one."

Yep. That's what I'd like to see. Maybe some hedge fund will hire me.....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My First Hunting Trip

In just a little under a month, I will don the togs of a mighty hunter, and in the company of great men I will hunt ducks, geese, and then deer. Outside of the pump action pellet gun my Dad kept next to the sliding door in the kitchen (to shoot varmints like squirrels) I have never shot a weapon at another living thing. Well, that's not exactly true either. When I commanded a ship, I used to have the gunners mates bring up a 9mm every now and then to shoot at flying fish or sea birds. But I digress.

My mentor in this new world is Mudge, a friend of some 18 years standing. Mudge and I both retired from the Navy within months of each other, and we both live on the Eastern Shore (he's really remote, way down in the little sliver of the ES that belongs to the Old Dominion). We'll be joined on our hunt by two other wonderful fellows--all of us connected by our friendship with Mudge.

I haven't looked forward to a weekend this much for a long, long time. Mudge is hoping i get up there a bit early so that we can shoot a little skeet....I think his good judgment is serving him well here, as we are trying to avoid any Wyoming Dick C incidents.

I'll bring a camera and post photos here, as long as the other guys don't mind. Any tips from regular hunters would be much appreciated.

A Conservative Manfiesto By PJ O'Rourke

I'd heard about this piece, mostly by reading the Corner on NRO and seeing others talk about it. I only just now found it myself. I must say, PJ's got it right. For those of you unfamiliar with PJ O'Rourke, he's a slightly libertarian contributing editor at The Weekly Standard, published author and one of the funniest men of letters in America.

This view is primarily about how we (Conservatives) blew there aren't a lot of positive policy recommendations. That said, policy recommendations can be discerned from his work. He's advocating a fiscally responsible culture of life, one in which immigrants are not automatically suspect and one in which we recognize that for good or bad, the country just is not going to give up on abortion.

His defense of Wall Street is logical and straightforward and his evisceration of modern farming is spot on.

To Not Vote is to Vote

A very funny article here by a very funny man, Matt Labash. Labash writes for the Weekly Standard, a magazine I like much better than the National Review, but whose website does not compare. Labash makes a spirited defense for "non-voting". I actually also considered not voting for President while I stood over the little touchscreen, but then I realized that I'd never be able to look Sally in the eye if I did that.

How Much Longer Will the Press Give Obama?

This is unsatisfactory. After all, the man's been President-elect for eight days now and we don't have a SINGLE cabinet officer named! This could be a sign of internal strife. Or it could be a sign of indecisiveness. Or it could be a sign of a chaotic atmosphere. Or it could be a sign of an inability to attract desired talent.......

Or it could be that the new President is taking his time, looking to pick the right people for the right jobs.

The press will not give him much more time....

Woman Pregnant with Second Baby

What? Doesn't sound worthy of inclusion in the CW? Well, you're right! But this isn't just any woman! It is a woman who sorta pretends to be a man!

It absolutely drives me nuts when this story is reported as a "man" being pregnant. This is a chemically altered woman who retains (obviously) all the appropriate equipment for carrying babies to term.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Navy Victory in the Supreme Court

I was asked earlier today if I were going to blog about the Navy's victory in the Supreme Court today. I thought about it, then realized that Information Dissemination would be on the job. The coverage of this case is simply unmatched.

Obama Out to Get Osama

News from the yet to take office Obama Administration that they are going to "ratchet" up the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Now, the Obama Campaign was not famous for its humility, but this one really gets me. What do they think the CIA, NSA, and the US Special Operations Command have been doing for the past seven years? Is hope and change going to get him?

I wish them luck, but a little humility on this one would be appreciated.

Strategy Smategy--Here are Some Tactics for Republicans....

Here's a really smart set of actions/recommendations on how Republicans ought to move forward while folks like David Brooks, Goldwater's Ghost and I debate whether to move in the direction of reformists or traditionalists.

500 Posts!

Hey, look at that. I went over 500 posts this morning. How bout that?

Stem Cell Compromise

Here's an interesting proposal by a clear fan of embryonic stem cell research. Recognizing that advances have been made in the non-stem cell area, he nonetheless asserts that it is important to continue with embryonic research (federally funded,that is). While the reasons he gives for not concentrating solely on non-fetal cells seem straightforward, it occurs to me that there is no accompanying discussion of what some of the downsides of fetal cell research have been.

That said, this train is leaving the station. The President-elect and a good bit of the Congress are in favor of plowing ahead with fetal research, so some kind of compromise must be had if foes of stem-cell research are to not be completely marginalized. His proposal to allow couples to "donate" their reproductively produced embryos (as opposed to embryos produced in order to be destroyed) to scientific research strikes me as a common-sense approach.

His equating this donation to organ donation however, strikes me as indefensible. We should not forget what is going on here...the destruction of nascent life for research ends. Dumbing it down morally to a decision to donate your eyes when dead is simply a way to make us feel better.

New Energy in Alaska

News this morning of an important find in the form of considerable natural gas reserves under Alaska's North Slope. Predictable reactions from the environmental community ensue, including the required statement of the absolute necessity to retain the area in its pristine state, yada yada yada.

No amount of conservation is going to solve the energy problem. No one source of energy is going to solve the energy problem. The energy problem will not be solved without some trade-offs.

The final paragraph of this article is also one of my pet peeves...the almost reflexive impulse that reporters have in attempting to undercut the efficacy of energy solutions by pointing to how long it will take to bring that reserve to market. So what? The existence of the field in and of itself has an impact on the market.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Veterans Day Special--Pat Conroy's Eulogy of the Great Santini

Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors. I've read BEACH MUSIC probably five times and get choked up in the same places even though I know what's coming. One of his more famous works is THE GREAT SANTINI, based on his own father. A few years back, Colonel Donald Conroy, USMC, died, and his son Pat eulogized him beautifully.

My favorite description of Don Conroy from the eulogy:

"He did not know what moderation was or where you'd go to look for it. Donald Conroy is the only person I have ever known whose self-esteem was absolutely unassailable. There was not one thing about himself that my father did not like, nor was there one thing about himself that he would change. He simply adored the man he was and walked with perfect confidence through every encounter in his life. Dad wished everyone could be just like him."

I've always wanted to be that guy.

The Sound of War

A haunting recording made just before the armistice that ended the Great War. Click the link down toward the bottom of the story--you'll hear the sounds of a Royal Artillery Garrison conducting a chemical attack. This was recorded on the theory that this would be the end of war. Would that it were.

Thanks to NRO

On Veterans Day

For the longest time, one of my brothers would call me on Veterans Day, usually first thing in the morning, to thank me for my service. I came to look forward to that call over the years, even though I knew well that I wasn't technically a Veteran. To be honest, he usually called me on Memorial Day too, and I clearly wasn't qualified for that call.

Now I am a Veteran--but no call. Not upset about it; I talk to him virtually every day anyway.

But I did have a co-worker stop by my office today and thank me for my service. It was much appreciated.

Thank You

At the risk of overstepping my bounds as occasional contributor to the CW, I would like to take the opportunity on this Veterans Day to thank Bryan and all of the veterans both past and present who have served our country with dignity and honor. - G.G.

The following is the text of President George W. Bush's 2008 Veterans Day Proclamation:

On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the men and women who in defense of our freedom have bravely worn the uniform of the United States.

From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, brave patriots have protected our Nation's ideals, rescued millions from tyranny, and helped spread freedom around the globe. America's veterans answered the call when asked to protect our Nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless tyrants, terrorists, and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our Nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have answered a high calling to serve and have helped secure America at every turn.

Our country is forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom's defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. On Veterans Day, we remember these heroes for their valor, their loyalty, and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor America's veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2008, as Veterans Day and urge all Americans to observe November 9 through November 15, 2008, as National Veterans Awareness Week. I encourage all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans through ceremonies and prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to support and participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I invite civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, businesses, unions, and the media to support this national observance with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Class of the Bush Administration

The President and his team are garnering a significant amount of praise for the thought and effort they are putting into the transition. I am grateful to the President for setting that tone, and I urge the Obama Team to approach this with gratitude and humility. A good bit of repair to frazzled relationships can be done with a smooth and friendly turnover.

What Will President Obama Do?

The Obama Administration is going to have a lot to think about when it moves into the White House on January 20. This article lays out some of the basic.

Here's a little free advice for the new President, on the off-chance that one or two of his advisers read this blog. Health care, education, the environment, global warming, cap and trade...all were nice things to talk about on the trail and they were good things to talk about to build your electoral base. But you were hired to fix the economy. I am likely to agree with little you decide to do, but you should not dilute your mandate chasing after a bunch of policy goals that don't have an immediate, stimulative impact on the economy. Get some wins under your belt, build some momentum, and then go tilt at the other windmills.

Keep in mind readers....I don't think we should do ANY more to stimulate the economy. I think we should let the system settle out and see what is working. I know however, that the Obama Team will want to DO THINGS..I'm simply saying only do THESE things.

The Plans of One Small Business Owner

Had this forwarded to me this morning. While I don't agree with the methodology chosen, I do understand the sentiment.

"Dear Fellow Business Owner:

As a business owner who employs 30 people, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barack Obama's presidency will cause my taxes and fees to increase a BIG way.

To compensate for these increases, I figure that our customers will have to see an increase in my fees of about 8%. I will also have to lay off six of my employees. This really bothered me as I believe we are family here and didn't know how to choose who will have to go. So, this is what I did. I strolled thru the parking lot and found eight Obama bumper stickers on my employees' cars. I have decided these folks will be the first to be laid off.

I can't think of more fair way to approach this problem. If you have a better idea, let me know.

I am sending this letter to all business owners that I know.


Russian Sub Accident Kills 20

News of a horrible accident in the Sea of Japan in which the installed firefighting system on an AKULA Class Russian attack boat discharged, killing 20 people and injuring an equal number. What a terrible thing.

These installed systems contain freon or halon or some other heavier than air inert gas, and when activated (either manually or automatically by fire sensors) dump into the space and displace oxygen. Death is by asphyxiation. A horrible way to go.

Mariners all over the world will pause and think of these people today. I hope you will too.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Very Funny Video from The Onion

Check this out. We all know people like this.

What Are Fannie and Freddie For?

News this morning of an upcoming drop in the maximum loan Fannie and Freddie will buy. The high end used to be $729,950, and now it will be $625,500.

Let's remember...these agencies were started to help create a mortgage market that would enable more people to buy homes, presumably more people at the middle and lower economic slices of our economy. It is hard to understand why these quasi-federal agencies would involve themselves in any transaction above say, $300,000. Move out of that range, and their are plenty of pigs ready to suckle.

The Russian Testosteracracy

It is increasingly likely that our new President will get to count on an old foe to provided some of his most important and difficult early foreign policy challenges. The Putin/Medvedev team appears to be practicing Chicago-style politics on an international scale, so perhaps President-elect Obama will have a leg up on them.

Apparently, the latest irritant in Russia's eye is our land-based missile defense system, with interceptors planned for Poland and a radar system for the Czech Republic. Mr. Medvedev announced earlier this week that Russia would station short range ballistic missiles on the Russian border with Poland, presumably in a strategy to overwhelm any realistic ballistic missile defense. "New Europe"--that is, nations formerly under the Soviet boot--appear comfortable with missile defenses, less comfortable with Mr. Putin, and much more likely to see the US as a force for stability and power. "Old Europe" appears to see no threat from Russia and wishes only to receive a continuous flow of oil and gas from the resource rich kleptocracy.

President-elect Obama will have to walk a judicious line here. No fan of missile defense (though I believe he always qualified it as "unproven missile defense" leaving open the possibility of support for proven systems), Mr. Obama runs the risk of alienating a whole new group of European nations for whom he has to do little or no work to repair the US reputation. Leaders in Poland and the Czech Republic spent a lot of political capital to support the US, and walking away from these systems would send a terrible signal to these allies.

Bush Should Call Hoyer's Bluff

News yesterday of the Obama Economic Team's deliberations in Chicago included discussions of yet another stimulus package. The President-elect would like it of course, if the lame duck Congress and President signed this thing before he was inaugurated. House Majority leader Steny Hoyer has threatened to not even hold the Lame Duck session unless the President signals his desire to sign another stimulus. Hoyer believes the President's desire to complete a free-trade agreement with Colombia is important enough that it can be held over his head. The President should walk away from this. A free-trade agreement with Colombia is important, but not as important as standing in the way of bad economics.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blog Status

Well, I've been at this for almost 4 1/2 months, and I think we've got what the business world calls a "going concern". Fourteen hundred and seventy four different people in 48 states (Vermont and Montana are the holdouts) and 58 countries have stopped in to see what we're talking about.

We had a particularly good day on the day after the election, one in which 242 folks visited the site, 144 of whom had never visited before.

Would love it if all of you took some time to click onto the ads; you see, the more you click, the more money I get! After 4.5 months, I've accumulated $22.93 in my google account which works out to about $.04 per post. Not that I'm doing this for the money...but clicking doesn't cost you anything and it sure does help me!

Which Way Will Conservatism Go?

From Goldwater's Ghost in the Friday Free For All:

"Following Tuesday's craptacular performance by the GOP, two factions within conservatism are poised to slug it out over the soul of the movement - on one side, moderates armed with polling data indicating an alarming shift in demographics toward the democrat party with potentially long-term and irrevocable results; who feel that the only way to survive is to adapt and modernize - and the other, the hardliners, who feel conservative principles have been diluted by eight years of executive mismanagement, and believe salvation will come through heel digging and adherence to core tenets.

Any thoughts as to the eventual outcome?"


Let it rip, my friends, let it rip!

Taxes and Patriotism--An Interesting Proposal

Received the following in the morning email traffic. What do you think?

"One of my liberal friends pointed out the need for tax increases to pay the costs of the Bush "family crusade". Funny, they just don't realize that it's Obama's idea to raise our taxes not to fight a war, but to "spread the wealth around" that many oppose.

But I would like to propose an idea that would allow Obama supporters to start contributing their share this year, before he raises taxes or allows the Bush tax cuts to expire.

Most of your liberal friends, especially those with household incomes over $90,000/year (top 20% of earners, also known as "the rich") probably itemize their deductions when they do their taxes each year rather than taking the standard deduction. Writing off their $30k mortgage interest and the $12k property taxes on the McMansion makes a lot more sense economically than taking the standard deduction of $10,900. Bottom line, by itemizing they are avoiding paying taxes on a huge chunk of money.

So in order to be "patriotic", President-elect Obama should call on his supporters to figure out their taxes this year both ways; itemizing and using the standard deduction. The choice that provides the government with the most money is the one they should select."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reading the President's Daily Briefing

What it must have been like today in Chicago.....President-elect Obama receives his very first PDB from the Director of National Intelligence. Reportedly the exact brief the President got this morning, I wonder what went through Senator Obama's mind as he laid his eyes on the document? Did he think it would have been worse? Was it sobering? Back in the day when I got to look at really classified stuff---but still way down the pecking order from the PDB--I would shake my head and pray that we continued to have enough smart men and women out there making sure these threats didn't come to pass. I hope our new President wasn't too surprised by the things he saw. It's a dangerous world out there, and the goodwill that he seems to enjoy won't extend to everyone.

The Decline of the Old Dominion

Virginia should just propose to merge with Maryland. After all, they're pretty much the same place now. Both have Dem Governors, both have two Dem Senators, both went for BHO in the election. I made this point to a friend (Dem, UVA, Richmond resident) on the phone the other night, and he immediately pointed to Virginia's lower taxes.....not for long, friend.

The Obama Team

Ok, here are some predictions:

State--Anne-Marie Slaughter--Dean at Princeton IR school; smart, really smart.
Defense--Richard Danzig. A of the best.
AG--Eric Holder. Over-rated.
Treasury--Lawrence Summers. A genius, but he can't keep his mouth shut.
Commerce--Tim Kaine. Early support of BHO, delivered VA for Jim Webb and BHO.
National Security Advisor--Jim Steinberg. Deputy NSA under Clinton...another Pro.

California and Prop 8

I was pretty surprised to see California pass a constitutional amendment (via plebiscite) restricting marriage to one man and one woman. I read somewhere that marriage laws and amendments are now 30 for 30 on the states that have brought them forward, a real sign of the country's position on this issue.

Many of you know how I feel about gay marriage; I am against it. But I am also against straight marriage. I have a straightforward libertarian position here, which states that government has little interest in regulating marriage. Marriage should be a religious and cultural issue, and contract law should cover the interests of the state. Take marriage out of the legal code and I don't care if you marry your toaster.

Of interest in California was the heavy black turnout (in support of Barack Obama)--which went 70-30 for the amendment. Talk about the law of unintended consequences!

Where Will The New President Send His Kids to School?

I realize this is a little petty, but it is not without importance. This fluffy little story raises and then airily dismisses the question of where the Obama's will send their children to school. The incoming President, paragon of support to the teachers unions and defender of public education, is almost certain to send his kids to she-she private schools in DC. While I applaud the choice, I do find it highly inconsistent. Maybe others will too.

The Transition Begins

Given the Obama Campaign's admiral efficiency and operational acumen, I imagine the transition will also go smoothly. Good. It is a difficult time, one that has to be well-managed. The current President, whose transition period was marred by the whole Florida fiasco, managed to keep a disciplined eye on the importance of having a strong team in place...and he did just that.

The likely choice of Rahm Emanuael as White House Chief of Staff is an interesting one, and I have mixed thoughts about it. Emanuel is a hard charging, personally dynamic guy with a penchant for the politics of intimidation. You need a disciplined guy to run the White House, and Emanuel could be an inspired choice. He is also not close with Nancy Pelosi, something that lends hope to Conservatives fearing greater influence from the Speaker.

But Emanuel is also considered quite a harsh taskmaster. There are a lot of big egos in DC, and those big egos come attached to the big names President-elect Obama will want to have on his WH Staff and in his Cabinet. These kinds of folks (Lawrence Summers, Robert Rubin, Laura Tyson, etc) won't take Emanuel's crap. If he has matured since his bad boy days with the Clintons, he'll work out fine. If he hasn't, just wait for the fun leaks to come screaming out of the White House.

A Sign of Things to Come With Emboldened Dems?

One of the big brothers sends this along, a story of a hearing held three weeks before the election before a subcommittee of Ways and Means in which a professor from the New School of Social Design advocated eliminating the Tax Advantage gained from IRA's and setting up a national pension system administered by -- you guessed it -- the government (social security in this case). All workers would be "required" to pay 5 per cent in, and the gubment would invest it in low yield bonds paying 3% after inflation. Here's why I don't like this plan:

1. Grows government--by definition, I don't like that.
2. Takes something that has had a long-term record of accomplishment--investing for retirement in the market--and replaces largely because of the present volatility. It is what I call "opportunistic socialism".
3. Opportunity cost--when the market is doing well, my 5% won't be working for me.

George Miller and Jim McDermott are card carrying members of the Wing-nut Caucus of the Democratic Party, but this is the kind of stuff that they are talking about on Ways and Means.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After

It is a glorious morning. The country I love with an almost manic devotion renewed itself last night as required by our Founders. Two incredible examples of the American spirit--one, a brave, bent survivor of the gulag and the other a brilliant, young self-made man--gave everything they could to lead an often ungrateful citizenry. We are most-favored here, to have had these two men rise to the top of their parties so that they might present in stark terms, a menu of choices for the American people. And they have chosen.

To believe that last night's victory was anything but a ringing mandate is to ignore reality. President-elect Obama has earned the right to govern as he has indicated. Debates about whether this is a center-left or center-right country are interesting but irrelevant; it is a country in which the policies of President-elect Obama have priority over everything else, and it is as it should be. Elections matter, and this one will have great consequence.

I may disappoint some of my more committed Conservative readers when I say with all sincerity that I am open to having my mind changed. I would surrender my qualifications as a sentient being were I to reflexively oppose everything President Obama proposes, simply because I opposed his election. His ideas have prevailed, so it is time now to see if they will work. If taxing the investment class at a higher rate makes this country more productive, I will say so. If the federal government taking on even more of the share of the nation's medical system turns out to be effective and efficient, I will say so. If sitting down with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, et al increases our position of power in the world, I will say so. If tuition tax credits actually make college educations more affordable, I will say so. If the appointment of judges who see the Constitution as a "living document" results in a freer and fairer America, I will say so. If the removal of our troops from Iraq in 16 months or less leaves Iraq more stable than it is now, I will say so. If the price of calm in the restive Middle East is a diminished commitment to Israel, I will say so.

I am prepared to have my mind changed, and I ardently hope that it will be. I am energized by the election of this man, energized to question beliefs I've held deeply for years and energized to defend them if necessary. I am energized also by the symbolism of his election and the chapter that it clearly closes. The merchants of victimhood must find other employment, and those who would lay this victory at the feet of our nation's African-American community must account for the fact that Obama out-earned both Kerry and Gore in white votes. The playing field is level, let there be no mistake about that.

I will be called upon by this Administration to part with more of my income than I do now, and I will do so without rancor. My fellow citizens gathered yesterday and determined that I and others like me should sacrifice so that the nation as a whole will prosper. I will not overplay the degree of my sacrifice; we are talking dollars here, not blood. But there is an element of the experimental in this whole proposition, and I am willing to participate.

I am hopeful, and I am enthusiastic. I look for great things from President Obama, because like any incoming Captain under whom I served in the Navy, he does not have to earn my trust and confidence. It is his to lose.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Maryland First Congressional District

I'm watching this race closely, as it is my Congressional District. It's been reliably Republican for quite a while, but it looks like it may go Dem this time. What's going on here? Well, the District encompasses a large part of Maryland's Eastern Shore....and a sliver wending its way to Baltimore.
The Dem--Kratovil--is an Eastern Shore Boy. The Repub...Andy Harris....isn't. That's about all it takes on the Eastern shore.

To the Loyal Opposition With Us!

Well, CW'ers, we're going to find ourselves in the loyal opposition. Guess what--from a blog/entertainment perspective, I expect it to be great fun, and very, very interesting. Now of course, the country has to suffer the pain of the Obama Administration/Pelosi/Reid....but I'm going to have a hoot with this blog. Are you with me?


What did you see today? Lines? Breakdowns? Joy? Sorrow? Report from the field!!!!

Let's live blog the election tonight, right here on the site. I'll check in around 7PM Eastern and stay until it is decided....or until I decide to go to bed.

Hold On Now...No One Told Me Barack Would Do This....

If I'd only known, maybe I would have supported him....

The Stock Market and the Economy

Let's see; the auto makers are tanking, unemployment is up, durable goods orders are down, we have one quarter of negative growth (of the two needed to call a recession).....but the market seems to have stabilized. What's going on here?

Well, it looks to me like once again, the predictive power of markets in action. The market saw all this coming and priced it in. A 1/3 drop in the Dow was Wall Street's way of telling the rest of us trouble was coming (and of course, it was Wall Street's way to tell us THEY had been caught with their hands in the cookie jar).

But I think if you watch closely, you'll begin to see the market begin to predict the rise out of this. need two consecutive quarters of negative growth to call a recession; therefore, you're six months into one before the economists will call it one. Works about the same in reverse...the recession will have been over for months before the economists will call it. The market will reach that decision much earlier.

Colonel John Ripley, USMC (Ret.) RIP

News yesterday of the death of an authentic American hero, Colonel Ripley. Colonel Ripley's exploits are known far and wide, and he has become for many in the Marine Corps the very model of what a Marine should be in service and in retirement.

Colonel Ripley's exploits at Dong Ha earned him the Navy Cross (#2 behind the Medal of Honor). One wonders what more he could have done that day that would have merited the MOH.

I went to college with Ripley's son Steve. To you Steve, and your family, your Dad was the best of the best. Semper Fi.

A Deal with Pakistan?

David Ignatius writes this morning approvingly of what he perceives as a deal made between Pakistan's new government and the US, one that allows the US a greater hand in prosecuting the effort against the Taliban and AQ into Pakistan. Ignatius sees the deal as having been made when Pakistan's new leader visited in September, but I see its genesis as coming earlier, when the US quietly stood by and let Musharraf twist in the wind. I feel pretty sure that we had reached an accord with Zadari--one that secured his ascent to power, protected Musharraf's life and liberty, and gave us the freedom we need to go after terrorists in Waziristan. Looks like a pretty good deal to me.
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