Friday, March 29, 2013

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's the matter, friend?  Is your basketball conference a disgrace?  Are you afraid of losing that "we're not allowed to get married" excuse in order to continue your fabulous life?  Share with people who care!  Get it off your chest.

Weight Progress
Diet Start (19 March): 196.4
Last Friday: 195.2
Today:  192.8

Good news?  Solid steady weight loss over time.  Bad news?  SIX CONSECUTIVE DAILY WEIGH INS AT THE SAME WEIGHT (192.8). I realize that plateaus are a part of the game, but this one is particularly nasty.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I'm for Equality...And I'm Not Interested in Facts!

    Yesterday the US Supreme Court heard arguments on California's Proposition 8 passed in 2008 which added a state constitutional ban on marriage between anything other than a man and a woman. Prop 8 was in response to the California Supreme Court striking down California state law banning same sex marriage. In California a ballot proposition is a mandatory referendum, the "people's veto" if you will, and takes precedence over common law, regulatory law, statutory law or legal judgements by state courts. The people are the final arbiter of what is and isn't allowed under the law; at least that's the way it's supposed to work.
    As you can probably guess the legal challenges started immediately, and surprisingly the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8 (Rose Bird is spinning in her grave no doubt). But a US District Court Judge (a Bush appointee no less) struck it down and the US 9th. Circuit upheld. So now we're at the Supremes. It's clear to me how they should rule based on California law but God only knows.
    So that's the legal outline, but what is good law in this case? Are gays so injured that we as a society should overturn traditions and institutions that have served us well from time immemorial? I don't think so. But this case illustrates the dangers of an ill-informed "low information" voter. All they hear is EQUALITY! Everyone equal, everyone treated the same, none above others or as a FB friend said "Lets get together folks. Post my profile pic as yours if you think that equal rights for all should be the law of the land." Well it's not that simple.
    To begin with we are not all equal in the eyes of the law. We should be, but we aren't. We have set asides, special laws for this group, special laws for that. I find it ironic that the advocates for gay marriage are using the equal protection clause of the Constitution to advance their agenda but will turn around and argue for "hate crime" legislation which are no more than targeted laws for a particular class in direct violation of the 14th. Amendment.
    The bottom line is if we allow marriage to be redefined then sooner or later it will become irrelevant. If I redefine the reasonable speed limit on I-95 as being 200 mph, then what good is it? And let's be clear, marriage is not so much under attack as the family unit of which marriage is part and parcel. And this isn't the first time the family has be attacked, the federal government has been doing it since 1965 the results of which can be seen in Detroit and Compton and the South Side of Chicago. So go ahead, wash your hands of the whole thing and declare that government shouldn't be in the marriage business anyway. Or stand up for equality because by Golly it's the right thing to do. But you and I and everyone in this country will suffer for it. And your hollier-than-thou, self-righteous platitudes won't change that reality.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How We Doing So Far?

    Not great. This year's tournament has been not so much "upset city babeee!" as "what the hell!?" Florida Gulf Coast (which I had never heard of) beats an established Big East program like Georgetown by 10 points!? Pussy-ass Harvard whips a third seed New Mexico (coached by Bobby Knight's boy Steve Alford) which if you noticed all the talking heads were obviously picking as a break out team? As we say down South, something ain't right, there's been a field hand on the woodpile somewhere.
    Now don't get me wrong, I haven't seen FGCU or Harvard play all year and maybe they're the friggin' bomb, I wouldn't know. But this just goes to show I don't care who you are you had better be ready to play. Most of the "smaller" teams like the aforementioned only have one game in 'em, and you're gonna see it the first game. And most of these "big time" coaches (whether they admit it or not) are pacing their teams for the whole tournament, so they aren't quite as emotionally involved let's say, as the smaller teams. So regardless of how or why, there is a lot of egg on a lot of faces.
    So who's looking good? From where I'm sitting Marquette looks VERY dangerous. They've got a hot-shooting guard who can hit in the clutch, good inside play and most importantly they know how to win down the stretch. To beat this team you're gonna have to BEAT this team. They can come from behind and they don't get rattled. Look out for these guys.
    Oregon has an ax to grind. This team won the Pac-12 and were seeded 12th? I don't think they were amused. But apart from a bad stretch in January this is an outstanding team. They wore Ok State's ass clean out and spanked a pretty good St. Louis team. If they can get past Louisville (admittedly a tough proposition) then Katie bar the door.
   Now a personal note. I'm sorry I didn't get the pool off the ground. It was kinda dumped in my lap at the last moment (CW is a real asshole sometimes) otherwise I would have promoted it a bit more. Plus the host (CBS Sports) is a little difficult to maneuver. Or it could be I am universally hated as being a loudmouthed, inbred, stump-jumping Redneck no civilized person would have anything to do with so screw The Hammer and his pool. To which I say...I haven't stump-jumped in years.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Sorry things seem to be going so poorly for you chum.  I know, you went 10-6 in the first night of the NCAA's, not a great showing.  Any your bank account in Cyprus is being raided to pay the national bills.  I get it.  But wouldn't it be better just to get it off your chest?

Bitch, friends.  Bitch.

Last weigh in: 196.4 (19 March)
Today:  195.2

Yes, I am grand once again.  It seems the Kitten's absence helped fuel me to a carb-filled, gluttonous binge that brought me once again, to tie my all time high. 

I bought a "Essential Yoga for Inflexible People" DVD and have done some of it this week.  I cannot explain clearly enough how uncomfortable some of even the simplest poses are.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Hat 2013

Don't hate me 'cause I'm fly.

Conservative Wahoo Hoops Challenge

Ok boys and girls, it's NC double A Tournament time. CW asked me to set this up for reasons yet unknown (but I suspect he's gettin' busy with his feline femme a l'amour what with her being out of town these many weeks). And WTF, it's not like I've got stuff to do or anything, you know, what with me being retired and getting a fat gubment check every month...NOT! Anyway, that's his bidnez, this is ours.

The rules are as follows:
Scoring: Second Round: The weight for each correct pick is 1. There is no bonus applied.
Third Round: The weight for each correct pick is 2. There is no bonus applied.
Sweet 16 ® : The weight for each correct pick is 4. There is no bonus applied.
Elite 8 ® : The weight for each correct pick is 8. There is no bonus applied.
Final Four ® : The weight for each correct pick is 16. There is no bonus applied.
Championship: The weight for each correct pick is 32. There is no bonus applied.
Tiebreaker: The total score of the Championship game.

home page: • group password: cwhoops

Now, the preceding are CBS Sports rules, here are mine. Everyone is invited to participate. The winner will receive either an all expenses paid vacation at Half Moon Bay Golf Resort in Montego Bay Jamaica (Robert Trent Jones designed course, it's really nice) or a set of steak knives from Sam's Club, (the awards committee is still deciding). But if you "take the piss" (as my Irish wife says) and "act the bollocks" (as my Irish wife says) or otherwise try to do the troll thing, then rest assured, I will put some NCSU computer geek on your ass and when we get through with you you'll be on Homeland security's drone target list.

So, there you have it. Good luck and Go Pack!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ohio Senator Supports Gay Marriage

Ohio Senator--and superstar Republican--Rob Portman has publicly announced his support for gay marriage, a policy position that he previously did not hold.  When a politician of standing changes his position--actually repudiates it--on anything, it is big news.  This switch is getting that kind of play, predictably in the gay-marriage friendly Bought and Paid For Media.

Senator Portman's conversion on the matter requires some consideration, though.  Fifty-seven years into life, much of which has been spent in public service, Portman now believes gay marriage should be legalized.  Not because he believes that marriage is--as Jonah Goldberg is fond of saying--conservatizing; not because Portman is troubled by 14th Amendment issues of equal protection; not because he woke up one morning and all of a sudden said, "this is just plain unfair".  He arrived at his decision only after his son came to him and told him that he was gay, and his love as a father for his son drove him to realize that he wanted nothing to stand in the way of his son's happiness.  Good for Mr. Portman; I suppose this is as good a reason as any.

But I would ask Republican legislators throughout the country to now begin to ask themselves two questions:

1.  Would my position on the matter change if my son/daughter came to me (as Portman's did) and told me that they were gay?  If the answer is yes or maybe, then NOW is the time to change you position and get this over with, not after the Republican Party bleeds for a few more years over its stance against something that an increasing number of Americans support and which isn't really all that important in the grand scheme of things.

2.  The second question I would ask them to consider is "why does the federal government have ANY position on marriage at all?"  That is, we have mostly (the Defense of Marriage Act notwithstanding) considered marriage to be an institution regulated by state law.  To the extent that I have ANY support for a government role in marriage, this is about as far as I can go.  If you're interested in extending marriage to gay people as an act of fairness, why would you then penalize people (through the tax code, etc) who are not married?  What is fair about that?

Yes folks, I'm using this post to once again push my most libertarian view, and that is that the state--in ANY form--should be out of marriage.  That marriage should be a social and religious institution only, and not a legal construct--certainly not one which conveys rights to certain people while restricting them from others.

Do I support gay marriage?  No.  But I don't support straight marriage either, at least not marriage mediated by the State.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's got you blue, D'artagnan?  Lose your shirt in the Pope-pool?  Not going to The Big Dance this year?  Can't get a White House tour?

Share it with the world--we want to hear you BITCH!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam!

Pope Francis I
Raised as I was in the Catholic Church, the Papacy has always had a bit of a mythical air to it for me.  And though I have worshiped primarily in Protestant churches of one stripe or another for most of the last twenty years, in my heart, I remain--and always will be--a Roman Catholic.

Catholicism for me goes like this:  1.  Here are The Rules.  We believe them to be The Truth.  2.  Belief is your choice--that is what free will is all about. 3.  We will not change The Rules because man is sinful.  4.  Take it or leave it.

I've always liked that.  I have lived a life that falls far short of Catholic teaching, and I disregard some of the Faith's most dearly held tenets.  This is not however, because there is something wrong with the Church--it is because there is something wrong with ME.  I am the sinner.  I do not confuse my sin with righteous conduct, while pointing fingers back at a Church that must "reform". The Church teaches The Truth.  I disregard it, I take my chance with eternal life or eternal damnation.

That this Faith is headed by a man whose every day is dedicated to praying for all the rest of us is just icing on the cake.

Viva il Papa!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Peggy Noonan on Obama

I may never completely forgive Peggy Noonan for her fawning over Obama in 2008, but her recent work on Obama absolutely kills it.  Maybe it's because it is so laced with disappointment and regret.  Whatever the cause, it is well worth reading. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Let's Get This Straight Pal...

    Ok, I'm gonna talk a little sports so if you ain't into sports (specifically b-ball), hit the road. We Americans are into lists, top ten lists, greatest this or that list. And why? Simple, we're a competitive people. A French lady once told me America was great because of our competing ethnic/cultural groups; Italians vs. the Irish, Poles vs. Germans, Rednecks vs. Yankees, Eastern NC chopped BBQ vs. that ketchup covered shit they make around Lexington, NC. Well that may or may not be true but what is absolutely true (with a nod to George C. Scott in Patton) is "All REAL Americans hate to lose!"
    So, that brings me to my point. Question: What is the greatest upset in NCAA Final Four history? Look I'm aware this is sports bar stuff but if it's important to me then by God it's IMPORTANT! And we're just talking basketball, I don't want to talk about the '69 Jets or Mets or the the USA Olympic team (granted, the greatest upset since Caesar beat Pompey Magnus, I forget the score). It's basketball season so let's just stick with hoops.

First let me give a tip of the hat to the runners up.

1964 UCLA Bruins 98-83 over the Duke Blue Devils. Duke had flown through the regionals led by All-American Jeff Mullins and future NBAers Jack Marin and Jay Buckley. They beat UConn in the East Regional final 101-54 and Cazzie Russell's Michigan by 11 points! This was arguably Coach Vic Bubas' (NCSU '51) greatest team, but the Bruins proved too quick for the much bigger Dukies. This was the first of Coach Wooden's string of NCAA titles and probably his favorite team. UCLA's All-American guard Walt Hazzard, Gail Goodrich and Keith Erickson all went on to have outstanding NBA careers.

1985 Villanova Wildcats 86, the Georgetown Hoyas 84. This is the game most often mentioned as the greatest upset in Final Four history (HBO did a documentary on the game, gimme a break). All I can say is BULLSHIT! To begin with, these were both outstanding teams deserving of a championship. They were both loaded with talent, Georgetown having Pat Ewing, Broadnax, Jackson, David Wingate, Reggie Williams. Hell any one of these kids could be an All-America if not all on the same team. Villanova was nearly as good on paper with Dwayne McClain, Ed Pinckney and Harold Pressley, but they just could never beat the Hoyas. So they meet in the finals and the Wildcats played a near perfect game shooting about 80% from the field with a freshman (Jensen) not missing a shot until the next Wednesday. But here's the deal, these teams had played each other A LOT! Villanova knew what it took to beat this team, but just hadn't done it yet. So even though this was a big upset, this was basically a rivalry game between conference opponents who knew each other very well. For that reason alone any disinterested observer cannot objectively say this is the greatest upset and ESPN (right in the middle of Big East country I might add) can go to Hell. Plus the 'Nova guard Gary McLain admitted he played coked up. Isn't there a rule against that?

1997 Arizona 84, Kentucky 79 (OT), Wildcat vs. Wildcat. This is one Rick Pitino would like to forget. Kentucky won in '96 and later in '98 with what is unquestionably one of the greatest college basketball teams ever. During this three year run they averaged winning by 22 points! And it was a TEAM. There were no Lew Alcindors or Fab Fives, these guys were ALL good! But they ran into a well coached (Lute Olsen) talented Arizona squad that got hot at the right time. In fact, Arizona defeated three of the four number one seeds in the tournament, so it's not like they stole one. Mike Bibby (son of former NBA and UCLA All-American Henry Bibby) had an outstanding finals scoring 20 points and is one of only three father-son NCAA basketball champions.

So here we are, we have finally arrived at the greatest, most stupendous, most earth-shattering upset in the history of college basketball....(drum roll please)...

The North Carolina State Wolfpack 54, the Houston Cougars 52. (What did you expect?)

There can be no question this is one of the greatest upsets in American sports history, and certainly THE greatest in the history of college basketball. The Houston Cougars were an NBA caliber team, I know you hear that a lot but in this case it's true. They won the old SWC regular season title, the SWC tournament and were ranked #1 throughout much of the year in both the Coach's and AP polls (oh my, Ralph Sampson's Virginia was pre-season #1). Six were drafted by the pros with Clyde "The Glide" Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon (both All-Americans) being named by the NBA to the "Greatest 50 Players in NBA History" list (again with the lists). But the team was more than that with Benny Anders, Larry Michaux, Michael Young and a deep bench the best of which was hot shooting swingman Reid Gettys. They flew through the tournament beating one of Lefty Driesell's better Maryland teams by 10, Villanova by 18 and destroying Louisville by 13 with a running game that was like watching the carpet bombing of Hamburg. You know, Louisville could be beaten, but with the McCray brothers and Milt Wagner, nobody, and I mean NOBODY ran them off the court. But Houston did!

The 82-83 Wolfpack basketball team was a good team, but certainly not a great team (unlike the '74 NCAA Champions). They finished #16 in the AP polls (after winning the ACC Tournament) with a record of 26-10 (8-6 ACC). Respectable, but certainly not championship material. But Houston's advantage in talent was offset by State's advantage at coach. You've all heard the cliches about how this coach can win with good players, bad players or your players. Houston's Guy Lewis couldn't win with The Dream Team of '92. This guy was so inept, made so many mistakes with strategy and live game coaching that I'm surprised he wasn't run out of town.
There were exactly three dunks in this game, two by State to open the scoring and end the scoring, and ONE by Houston. This by a team that ran Denny Crum's #2 Louisville Cardinals into the ground! Jim Valvano played a ball control, half-court game that cranked up the pressure on Houston and frustrated the Cougars to distraction. Phi Slamma Jamma wanted to win, look pretty and fly high while doing it, but it was not to be. Therefore, this game is not only one of the most entertaining and exciting games in the history of this great sport, it is also without a shadow of a doubt the GREATEST UPSET IN FINAL FOUR HISTORY.

Addendum: It's been pointed out to me that due to my appalling bigotry towards all things UNC, I did not include the North Carolina Tar Heels triple overtime victory over the Kansas Jayhawks (and Wilt Chamberlain) in the 1957 finals. This allegation is patently false. Although the game was played in Kansas City, the Jayhawks were only a 3 point favorite. North Carolina triple-teamed Wilt most of the game because Kansas notoriously couldn't hit dick from the field (they routinely shot about 30%). The fact is Kansas was a one man show, they were not a good basketball team and this was NOT an upset.

Day 5 of the Abandonment

The Kittens have by this time, finished their visit to Barcelona and have moved on to Marrakesh, the bulk of their trip.  I know this from the trip planner The Kitten left me with that shows their movements throughout their journey--not from any real communication come my way.  She and I are different like that; I'm quite sure that if this trip were three months, I'd hear from her every couple of weeks with a text message or a short email.  She's got more computing power with her than an Apollo mission, mind you, but little notes and updates aren't her style.  And the concept of talking about it on a blog would blow her mind.

I have moved my all-in-one to the kitchen from the Mancave, to take advantage of the awesome views up the river and the delights of the kitchen fireplace.  I have a ton of work to do today (Saturday) after a day wasted chasing business in DC yesterday.  Wound up having lunch with a good friend though, which is always a bonus.

On the way back to Easton, I got a phone call that nearly broke my heart.  The Kitten is childhood friends with a genuine, grade A heiress, a woman of about our age, with a kabillion dollars.  Among her comforts are a luxury motor yacht, which has been docked throughout the winter in nearby St. Michaels.  The Captain of the yacht also happens to be a good friend of the Kitten's and through her, I have become acquainted with him.  Well, he called and asked if I wanted to crew out with him next Wednesday for the run down to the Caribbean, a five-day journey with great food, great people and on a beautiful yacht.  But there's no way I can do it, with a big work project on the burner and the home here with the menagerie.  I did manage to wangle an invitation to crew it back up from the Caribbean to Maine in July--so we'll see how that works out.

Being around the dog all day makes me realize the wisdom of getting another one.  Oh, haven't I told you?  Yes, we're getting another black lab puppy, next month I believe.  To keep this one company and to have someone to run around and play with.  Only trouble is, we seem to have run out of good Jungle Book names, especially for a female (as this one is destined to be). Baloo's a good dog, but he's only 1.5 and he's got a lot of energy---I took him to Yappy Hour the other day (may do it again today) and that seems to do the trick in terms of making him happy and tiring him out.  

Ok for now--have a good day.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's got you down, friend?  Your White House tour get canceled?  Some kid hog the Senate floor for 13 hours while you were tying to dine with the President?  Your team can't win on the road?

Share your pain--we're here for you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lindsey Graham Just Guaranteed Himself a Primary

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of Barack Obama's favorite Republicans, has virtually guaranteed himself a Republican challenger in his 2014 race by his sometimes uneven advocacy of Conservative principles.  But with the statement below, I think he has guaranteed a primary.  The clip is ostensibly about Senator Rand Paul's 13 hour filibuster yesterday, over the simple question of whether or not the President believed he had the authority to attack/kill an American citizen on American soil using a drone strike and whatever non-due process procedure the Administration uses to guide these decisions when made overseas.  Graham's statement comes near the end of the short clip:

Yes, Senator Graham, the idea that we’re going to use a drone to attack a citizen in a cafe in America is ridiculous.  And unconstitutional.  Which is why Rand Paul's asking of the question and the Administration's prevarications in answering it, are so important.  If the notion is so ridiculous, then the President could easily say, "I do not have that authority and such an act would be unconstitutional".  Game over.  But he (through his Attorney General) did NOT say that.  By my reading of General Holder's answer, he CAN foresee extreme situations in which the President COULD execute this authority.  I'm not sure I disagree with General Holder, either.  But clearly Senator Paul does, and the asking of the question gets at a fundamental issue of Constitutional due process. 

Senator Graham's full throated support for the drone program overseas makes sense--Senator Paul also supports it.  That Mr. Graham cannot be bothered to wonder about a domestic instantiation of the program is troubling, and I'm sure the voters of South Carolina will agree.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


This being Spring Break season, and the Kitten being imbued with an historic wanderlust, my women have decamped for twelve days on travels to North Africa and Europe.  I, my faithful dog, and the two cats are charged with holding down the fort against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  We shall muddle through.

Muddling through operations began last night with a poker game.  One of the pillars of our community has a monthly poker game, to which I am faithfully invited but at which I rarely appear.  Generally this is due to either my travel schedule or being late in DC and not being able to make the start.  But last night, all the cosmic tumblers clicked into place and I was able to join in.  A great group of fellows and a fine time.  Because of the weather, we were indoors, so no cigars.  There is talk that next month's game is likely to be out of doors.

Our first challenge is the Snowquester storm, which appears to be dumping snow on parts west of Washington DC but leaving us here on the Eastern Shore just wet and windy.  I stocked up on essential provisions last night (sourdough pretzels, potato chips, trail mix, tortilla chips) to fortify myself in the event I am cut off from the world.

Although I am of course, bereft when the women-folk leave me, there are certain upsides.  For instance, the refrigerator gets a thorough field-day, hastening the removal of half-eaten Panera sandwiches, pizza boxes,  "well seasoned" avocados, past their prime grapefruits, various fast-food salad dressing conveyances, and other items likely to escape the eagle eyes of others who might have an interest in the contents of our chill box.  Order has returned, though I was sure not to throw away things I believe without merit (cashew butter?) but which are close to the heart of my Kitten. 

Of great interest to me and faithful Baloo is something I discovered whilst picking up cat food yesterday at the vet (delicate renal systems, these cats).  Every day from noon to three PM is "Yappy Hour" in the large, fenced yard at the vets!  Oh my.  Baloo will not know his good fortune when I pile him into the Jag tomorrow for the ride there and his date with new four-legged friends.  There is little in the universe more joyful than watching Baloo gambol with other dogs.  And it is a particularly effective way to tire the hell out of him.

I've decamped from the ManCave to the kitchen for today, for while I love the ManCave, it is indeed a bit cave-like in its lighting.  The kitchen is bright and airy, and so the laptop set atop the kitchen table enables productivity and beauty as I watch the whitecaps whip up on the Miles River in my backyard. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

and once again...

5) Americans are the most pig ignorant people in the developed world. I'm not referring to the "educated" folk mind you, broadly speaking we're as schooled in the arts and sciences as anybody (I count myself among the intelligentsia even though I didn't go to a "public ivy" like some jumped up, high-minded, pretentious, social climbing...well never mind). No, I'm referring to our lower and (I'm ashamed to say) increasingly our middle classes. A few years ago my own sister was telling us about a Mediterranean cruise her friend was considering and described the itinerary as "They'll  go all around the Med with stops in Italy and France and Venezuela." My wife looked at me and said "Do you think she means Valencia?" And several years ago my wife was speaking to a guy who was doing some work for us and he commented on her accent. She related that she was from Ireland. The man replied that he had been through there when he was a teenager, on his way to California.
I wish I could say this incomprehensible level of cluelessness was uncommon, but sadly it is not. We Americans are already derided by the rest of the world (well Europeans) for our near total linguistic incompetence (we barely speak English), and I count myself in that group (apart from a little GI German, enough French to get my face slapped and once upon a time a functional knowledge of Italian).
The fact is there are so many problems in education, so many compromises, that we are so in the dark we don't even know we don't know. We are blissful in our ignorance. We're like the Chris Rock bit, we're "keeping it real... REAL DUMB"!  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Confession Soothes the Soul continued....

4) Americans are too tolerant, WAY TOO TOLERANT. In fact we are so tolerant the fringe elements of society are not satisfied with tolerance, they want unqualified acceptance (I'm into women's shoes myself, but only Prada pumps and only red). It's not enough we put up with their ludicrous behaviors and lifestyles, we should be made to like it. Now I'm not an authoritarian, I'm a live and let live kinda guy, and as long as someone pays their taxes, obeys the laws and doesn't try to subvert the joint, I'm cool. But as with so many things in life there's a line there. I can't tell you where it is but I know when you've crossed it and if you want to overturn traditions like marriage, something that is an important part of every society in the recorded history of mankind, then you better have a better reason than I feel discriminated against. Equal protection under the law is what we strive for, but the law is based in part on tradition, and that tradition must be respected otherwise the law becomes ad hoc and meaningless.
We are also way too tolerant of other cultures. It upsets me no end when people from an ancient, feudal, authoritarian shithole come to my country and attempt to transform it into the ancient, feudal, authoritarian shithole they just left. I'm not a xenophobe but if I had my way foreigners would of course be accepted into America, immigration would be allowed in a controlled way, but no child would automatically gain American citizenship by accident of birth. That is a ridiculous interpretation of the 14th. Amendment and everybody knows it. And one more thing, foreigners legally here may participate in all that America has to offer, but no person born on foreign soil should be allowed to participate in our internal politics in any way shape form or fashion. Mexico (another country of immigrants) and other countries have this law and I think it makes perfect sense. At least I haven't seen any George Soros types hanging around Cancun lately.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Confession Soothes the Soul

I'm not a Catholic, but I married one. I'm pro-religion but not particularly religious myself. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ but pray everyday he has a sense of humor.
So, to borrow from the Catholic Church I shall now make a confession: I hate Americans. Yes it's true, Americans have become an insufferable pain in the ass. Not to say I necessarily like non-Americans, I don't, but Americans take the cake. Let me tell you why.

1) Americans are the worst drivers I personally have ever encountered. They either drive too slow (GET OFF YOUR ASS!) or too fast (MANIAC!). They have stupid traffic laws, which they either obey to an absurd degree or universally ignore. They either hate cars or obsess over them. They do things behind the wheel most intelligent people would not even think of, much less consider doing themselves. Things like texting, sexting, eating, and drinking. They drive drunk, high, senile and handicapped. They think it's great fun to get a BJ off some slapper on the way home from a bar where they've had 14 pints and 3 shots of Jagermeister. They strap their children in car seats like they on the Space Shuttle but then they'll throw a Kegerator in an open trunk that proceeds to fly out on I-95 in front of a semi that's carrying 40,000 cans of peaches. Most American shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a car.
2) Americans have taken complaining to a new level. We are now a country of the moaningest, groaningest, whineingest most bellyacheing bunch of malcontented snivelers in the history of sniveling.  All we do is bitch. Look, I'm always up for a good fight, and I believe there are things worth fighting over, but Americans complain about EVERYTHING. They never shut up. "I don't like the cherry McDonalds put on their milkshake". "Why can't they have a drive-thru for garden supplies?" "What, I have a co-pay?" "You have too much, I have too little." "Your tits are bigger than mine"... and on and on it goes. Listen up you dope, we were given a great gift in America. Great men gave us a system that provided a blueprint for peace and prosperity for all time, all we had to do was stick with it. Was it perfect, hell no, but what is? Our bitching and complaining and jealousy is destroying us.
3) Americans think they have all the answers. Well guess what? We don't. I too want the world to be just, and prosperous and healthy. But if Cubans want a Castro or Venezuela wants a Chavez, hell it suits me. I think most of the countries in the world are insane but that doesn't mean I want to change them. And it certainly doesn't mean I want to see Americans die or that we should empty our treasury to change them into whatever the hell we think we can change them in to. Let's try something different, let's mind our own damn business for a change. Then maybe the world will solve their own problems at their own expense. It's worth a try.

Well those are my top three, and since I'm doing this on my deck while smoking a Partagas Black Label and freezing my gonads off, I shall end this post. But I have a lot more, so stay tuned.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Why the GOP is Sticking to Its Guns on Sequestration

Former George W. Bush speechwriter and current slightly-right-of-center pundit/gadfly David Frum posted a Tweet a few hours ago that referenced his article "American Hawks: Behaving Badly" in Canada's National Post.  It caught my attention, as I have recently been deluged by questions from those on the left of the seeming hypocrisy of the GOP, claiming to be pro-defense while at the same time participating in a process that will so clearly weaken the military.  Seeing David Frum pick up this line of argument is not surprising to me, as he appears these days to make his bread from a continuous string of articles and appearances that can best be summed up as saying "Republicans would be much better off if they thought and acted like Democrats". 

That said, Frum (and others) raises a good point, one that has to be addressed. Why would GOP legislators be prepared to allow the sequester to continue and accelerate the ongoing hollowing of the U.S. military?

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) Answer:  Because the new breed of  "Defense Hawks" see the path the country is on as a greater threat to our national security than myriad traditional threats previously addressed by the decades-long national security consensus--that appears to have disappeared.  These Republicans are still very much "pro-defense", they are simply prioritizing other threats while assuming additional short term risk. 

Stipulated: The current situation is ludicrous, irresponsible, and under virtually any set of sane circumstances, inadvisable.  The sequester WILL make our military less ready and it WILL increase risk virtually across the board.

Stipulated:   No political party has a monopoly on patriotism.  Most politicians of both parties are very patriotic and have the advancement of the interests of the American public squarely in mind as they form their views.  Where differences occur is in the identification of those interests, and that process is invariably at least partially a function of ideology.


So here we are, in a situation in which the sequester has been ordered, a process that will invariably lead (at least in the short term) to an increase and acceleration of the hollowing of the military.   Where Mr. Frum and my Democratic friends have erred is in their understanding of the 21st century national security consensus, contemporary American politics and especially, the Republican Party.

Dr. Dan Goure of the Lexington Institute and I recently had a conversation in which he put forward the following notion:  that the broad, bi-partisan national security consensus that has dominated American politics for seven-plus decades, is dead.   I don't know if he has written more extensively on this subject, so I won't attempt to lay out his argument here (in case he is writing something on the subject).  I will simply accept that it is true, or perhaps refining the metaphor a bit, state that it is on life support, waiting on the Death Panel to administer the final blow.

In my view, what made that consensus viable was 1) the presence of an existential threat and in its absence, 2) broad agreement on the role of the United States in the world 3) an economy that could support an array of domestic social programs and strong, expeditionary Armed Forces and 4) processes and customs in the legislative branch that contributed to compromise and consensus.  None of these conditions exists today in anything like the degree to which they did in past decades.  And the consensus has diminished as a result.  With the loss of the consensus, politics and ideology have grown more powerful in policy influence. 

Moving from the decline of the guiding national security consensus, one then considers the state of contemporary American politics and the role the Republican Party plays in it.

Whether or not President Obama and the Democratic Party are actually trying to alter the relationship between the government and the governed while increasing the scope of the welfare-state, a broad cross-section of voting Americans believe they are--and this group tends to vote for the modern Republican Party.   They have sent a group of legislators to Washington to represent their interests, and at a high level of abstraction, these people have told their legislators the following:

 "The present state of our economy and the trajectory we are on with respect to government spending but especially entitlement spending, represents the most important threat to our long-term national security.  We understand the requirements of citizenship and that taxes are the price we pay for a civil society, but we are increasingly uncomfortable with the growth of what government does and provides with the money we give it.  We are the Party of a strong and rational national defense, and to that end, we have prioritized the threat.  The threat is fiscal insolvency, and it must be addressed.  We must retain a strong military, but not at the cost of a weakened country."

And to these people, the "cost" cited in the previous sentence is at the heart of the grand bargain the President is using the sequester to leverage--and that is, higher taxes and more spending designed to alter the relationship between the government and the governed while increasing the scope of the welfare state.  

Therefore, this Republican Party is for the time being, willing to assume more risk in virtually all other threats to US national interests in order to address the one that they prioritize.  There is no hypocrisy here--these are "defense hawks" as Frum would term them, but they have chosen to re-define and prioritize against that which they seek to defend. 

Throughout most of the life of the former national security consensus, voices such as these on Capitol Hill could have been marginalized, leveraged into submission by the existence of nearly dictatorial Committee Chairmen and the carrot and stick attractions of earmarks.  Congressional reforms of decades past and Party driven term-limits have down-sized the power and authority of the Committee Chairmen, and the much over-done evil of earmarks removed an effective tool for intra-and inter-party-compromise.

And so we find ourselves in the time of the super-empowered Capitol Hill individual, where there is always a camera and a microphone to amplify one's views, and where the only responsibility a legislator has is to his/her conscience and constituents.  Loyalty to party leadership is a nice to have, and probably makes one's life on the Hill easier, but it is not required for job security nor for popularity with the folks back home.

Keep in mind--these conditions apply equally to liberals and Democrats.  And because both sides have diminished payoff from compromise and cooperation, less of it happens.

Which brings us back to the sequester.

We are where we are because the consensus has failed and because the ways of obtaining and sustaining consensus are more rare.  No longer do some Republicans see external enemies or capabilities as the most likely and imminent threat to our safety and security. 

Many commentators fail to grasp that the magnitude of the sequester is not nearly so injurious as its implementation scheme.  Had the various departments any real flexibility in how to arrive at the cut levels, this would be little more than a bogey drill--a difficult and meaningful bogey drill, but a bogey drill nonetheless, one that would in virtually all cases make the impact of the cuts less onerous.  Because the cuts are horizontal across virtually all accounts, there is little ability to prioritize and almost no ability to reprogram.  For instance, those who criticize the Navy for decisions to curtail current operations simply don't understand the degree to which the Service's hands are tied in being able to move money from one account to another. 

But complaining about the mindlessness of implementation won't get anything done, so there have been moves in both chambers to address the problem of flexibility, while maintaining the magnitude of the sequester.  There have also been moves to remove DoD from the sequester entirely.

Republicans--those Mr. Frum sees as acting against their own interests--have championed these initiatives, in both cases acting according to their interests and hopefully, Mr. Frum's understanding of those interests.  In both cases, however, the President has declined their offer.  In doing so, he has reinforced for many Republicans the wisdom of going through with the sequester.  That is, the President has played directly into the logic of their intractability.  Whereas they have come forward with plans that would alleviate some of the pain of the sequester in ways that would impact military readiness less while cutting spending more, the President insists on hewing to the path that results in MORE pain in order to gain political leverage designed to pursue policies (taxing, spending) that Republicans already see as a greater threat than a diminished military.

So when Frum and others wonder aloud where the Defense Hawks have gone, they're right there in front of their noses, in the Republican caucus.  Their desire to defend the country is no less than before--they simply see new threats.

UPDATE:  Welcome Ace of Spades and thank you for the link!

Cross-posted at Information Dissemination

Time For a Red Card

    There's a saying in European football that goes like this: "The referee was wearing 'Liverpool' underwear" (you pick the team). What this means is one team received a lot of favorable calls and the officials are either corrupt or stupid. Well in America the officials are wearing Democrat underwear. The reasons are the reasons and they're moot at this point, but don't think this is entirely the Democrats doing. To the contrary my Allen-Edmonds wearing friend, in large measure it's the Republican's fault.
    Ok, we as conservatives have a problem, we've got a corrupt media, NOT a biased media but a CORRUPT media (as I and everyone else have said many times ad nauseam). This isn't a new situation, they've been strongly biased for decades now. But what's different now is the Soros money has them organized and focused, with no tolerance for dissent (look how they've gone after Bob Woodward).
    Here in banjo country we have a couple of very illustrative scandals going on that could be devastating for North Carolina Democrats, but I'm sure won't be. First we've got the Chairman of the State Board of Elections (as was, a Mr. Gary Bartlett) who's job was to ensure the integrity of elections (but perhaps thought he was Obama's NC campaign manager) cooperating extensively with a far left, Soros funded advocacy group called Democracy NC. They shared strategy and emails detailing internal meetings at the NCSBE, they coordinated attacks on Republican legislators...minor stuff like that. Plus Mr. Bartlett knowingly and with forethought broke North Carolina election law. I quote the Civitas Institute (a local conservative think-tank)...
In a blatantly partisan move, the staff of the North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBE) successfully subverted state law to facilitate online voter registration in North Carolina by the 2012 Barack Obama campaign. In doing so they coordinated with partisans behind closed doors, lied about the NC Attorney General’s Office concurring with the SBE staff on the issue, and dodged oversight by their own board and the legislature. The end result was to add thousands of people to the North Carolina voter rolls illegally.    
Will Bartlett go to jail? I doubt it. He's since resigned but currently the Chairman and Secretary of the SBE are Democrats along with two more Democrat members and two Republicans. So someone will spill coffee on the computer and that will be that.
    The other scandal involves a hardleft, Soros funded (funny how his name keeps cropping up) "charitable organization" Blueprint NC that issued an internal memo (that leaked) which stated they intended to "eviscerate, mitigate, litigate, cogitate and agitate" the newly elected Republican legislature and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Hmmm, has the I.R.S. expanded the parameters for charitable organizations because this sounds a lot like A.C.O.R.N. to me? Of course after initially admitting authoring and distributing the memo now they deny it (apparently they 'misunderstood' the question from the reporter). But not to worry, they'll be out of the news real soon as the big NC papers have no interest and WRAL's owner, well known limousine liberal Jim Goodman is a damn contributor to these pack of thugs.
    The point is the media and the Democrats are one and the same. Until we develop a strategy for addressing this problem we will continue to lose. The problem is not policy (that's the Democrat's problem), the problem is messaging and our ability to relate our message coherently to the voters without going through the liberal sieve. We either crack this nut or the Republicans (and conservatives) are done.

Friday, March 1, 2013

On the Storming of Courts, Etc.

Last night whilst I was comfortably jetting across the country from Dallas, the Wahoos beat Duke.  Yes Duke.  #3 in the country Duke.  Duke--4 time national champion Duke.  The team (Duke) that beat UVA every single time we played during my four years at UVA.  That Duke.  I followed the last two minutes of the game on my Blackberry savoring every second.

After the win, Wahoo fans stormed the court, as you can see in this video.  Coach K (I refuse to try and spell the name) had some thoughts after the game about the safety/security of players and coaches in the midst of such bedlam.  I'm sure he's tired of these things, as every time Duke loses, it is the game of the season for the other side.

I have some thoughts of my own on the subject.

I am quite positive that if we had beaten Duke even one time while I was in college, I would have been right there with my fellow Wahoos.  You can't even begin to understand the height of my envy of the success of their team, and my frustration with their mastery of our team.  Duke was The Yankees, General Motors, and Apple all rolled into one. 

But this is not that time.  Duke is good, but they are not great.  The "one and gun" rule in college basketball--in which players come in for a freshman year and the great ones leave for the NBA--has created parity in the game to a degree I have never seen, while simultaneously diminishing the quality of play.  These developments have to some degree, benefited UVA Basketball.

Beating Duke is a big deal, a huge accomplishment.  But it should no longer be a "court rushing" event.  As a matter of fact, I don't think ANY ACC opponent should merit that honor.  My new rule is that the only acceptable court rushing is when you 1) beat a #1 ranked team and 2) they are an out of conference opponent.  Like the Hammer says, make it seem like you've done it before, that beating Duke isn't such a big deal.  Maybe then, it will begin not to be.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's got you so glum, Chester?  Upset that your carrier isn't deploying?  Pissed that there will be one less person standing around doing nothing at the airport security screen?  Get it off your chest--better out than in!

A question for readers--is anyone going to the bottom of the blog and checking out my Twitter  posts? 
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