Sunday, March 30, 2014

Indiscriminate Ramblings From Tobacco Road

Well, the Virginia Cavaliers are mortal after all. Poor CW, the man couldn't be more bummed if Jos. A. Bank announced no more "This Week Only" sales. Cheer up CW, there's always next year.
Now, let's talk about what happened. Tom Izzo is what happened. I think Virginia was actually the better team (marginally...ever so slightly) and I also think Tony Bennett is a fantastic coach (even though he looks like the big brother in a 50's sitcom). But Izzo has been there before, he knows the pressures and what it takes to win these kinds of games. His coaching was worth at least 5 points.
I really like this Virginia team and Joe Harris brings to mind Lee Raker, Jeff Lamp, Rick Carlyle, Jim Miller; all those great UVA B-ballers from the past. I hope Bennett can keep this team together because they got a lot more in 'em.

Hey, did you see Mitch McConnell's Duke ad? Anyway it's a pretty good spot but towards the end it shows a bunch of guys celebrating on the basketball court who presumably are Kentucky players, turns out it's (OMG!!!) Duke. WELL, if you've ever been to Kentucky (I have), and ever talked basketball with Kentucky folks (I have) then you know there are not many Duke fans hanging around. In fact, even after all these years just the mention of Christian Laettner's name will typically provoke an emotional response that when coupled with the consumption of adult beverages (a very popular Kentucky avocation) could easily turn into a major civil disturbance. Add that to the fact that Senator McConnell is a Louisville graduate and we've got a situation. What an idiot! Doesn't anybody in his organization vet these ads?

On a personal note I'm having trouble paying my light bill, are there any Democrats out there who would like to contribute? Here's the deal, a couple of years ago Duke Energy thought it would be a great idea to take over Progress Energy (the two power companies serving North Carolina). Progress Energy had a good reputation and did a pretty good job I thought, and Duke's reputation was a little shady to say the least. But Duke's Chairman was a guy named Jim Rogers, and he was a BIG Obama supporter, in fact so big he bankrolled the Dem convention is Charlotte: As co-chair the Charlotte Host Committee, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers was in some ways a face of the Democratic National Convention. He also arranged Duke's $10 million line of credit and gave $10,000 to Barack Obama's campaign.

Of course when Duke was trying to merge they still had to get the OK from the State, and even though at the time we had a Democrat Governor and legislature, they were still a little hesitant due to Rogers' political activities (an Obama butt-boy through and through). Not to worry said Rogers, as soon as the merger is completed I'll step down, retire. Well after the papers were signed whatta ya know, Rogers has a change of heart and decided to stay on, and considering he was tapped in to national politics nobody said a word.
Well fast forward and things ain't looking that great. The company is poorly managed and there's been environmental problems etc., and it looks like Duke got screwed by the DNC for the convention (huge surprise to some but I think the plan all along). So I guess now Duke's customers will just have to foot the bill, AND LIKE IT!
What does this mean you ask? For me it means a near doubling of my electric bill. So again I appeal to our Democratic friends for a small contribution, after all, I contributed money to you.

To carry on with our Duke theme today did you see that Mike Nifong is back in the news? He's featured in a book by some Duke asswipe and judging from what I've read it's full of lies and you might expect. Christal Mangum "suffered a trauma" that night: Lord give me a break!. Yeah, sure she did. They pulled enough DNA out of her pink parts to repopulate Biafra but not one squirming spermozoa wore a Duke jersey. But you gotta hand it to the liberal establishment, they don't take no crap from nobody. We, the consumers of news as well as the defendants themselves have yet to receive an apology from the New & Observer, WRAL, the NY Times or the faculty and President of Duke University all of whom threw these kids under the bus with the relish only a good liberal could muster. They loved every damn minute of it, just a shame it turned out to be absolute BULLSHIT!

Friday, March 28, 2014

On Unionizing College Sports

As an ideologue, I generally come down on the side of Unions acting as a thumb on the free-market scale, inflating wages to a point where supply and demand forces would not go.  But such is life that unions are a part of it.  There was a time when collusion within capital acted as a similar thumb, keeping wages well-below their free-market point while encouraging unsafe conditions. 

We have moved beyond those days.  Almost.  The news this week of the Northwestern Football Team's case before the National Labor Relations Board is an interesting one, with opinions flying every which way and wanna-be labor lawyers stepping up to offer their thoughts.  I choose to join them.

In my view, the relationship between capital (the NCAA, Conferences, Universities) and labor (players, a.k.a "student athletes") is supremely unbalanced.  Unions and collective bargaining have their greatest POSITIVE impact in situations such as this.  You can say all you want about some of the athletes getting "free educations", but there is a fascistic restraint of trade at work in major college sports that screams for unionization.

Unintended consequences is the law, and this case shows promise creating many of them.  At the heart of Northwestern's case was that the players are--in essence--employees--due the protections that employees are afforded under modern labor law.  The NLRB seems to have agreed, and while those who have advocated paying college players and increasing their "rights" are now joyous at what will follow, I can see several really interesting developments on the horizon.

1.  The death of college sports as we know them.  Certainly the death of the NCAA in the guise that it currently is. Let's face it; if tuition, room, board, meals and books are factored into a total compensation figure--even if there is a (taxable) stipend added, many, many college athletes would be unable to "pay the piper"--that is, Uncle Sam.

2.  Decrease in (economic) diversity at elite universities.  Let's face some cases, sports are a ticket to elite universities where tuition alone is greater than what an average family of 4 makes these days.  Poor, lower, and middle class students of all races ofter are able to attend these powerhouses of economic mobility BECAUSE they were on scholarship or grant.  The "employeeization" of sports would certainly create economic situations which "price out" those who cannot afford these educations.  You wanna bitch about income inequality?  Sports has been one way inequality has been chipped away at, providing a chance at the brass ring for folks who otherwise would not have had it.

3.  "Minor League" basketball and football.  Possibly "loosely" associated with universities, but without and sense that the people on the team attend that school.

I honestly don't know what happens to the non-revenue sports.

But I do know this:  we have no idea where this is going, and I don't believe we (the viewing, cheering public) are going to like where it lands.

Fareed Zakaria is Wrong, Again

My Facebook Timeline this morning included a link to this editorial from Fareed
Zakaria, extolled by a man whose judgment I normally trust.  In this case, they both have it wrong. 

Zakaria's point here is that Obama is playing a subtle and sophisticated game, while Putin glories in some replay of 19th century Realpolitik.  Ever ready to dazzle us with his research (or someone's for that matter), Zakaria goes through an impressive accounting designed to show exactly why what Putin is up to is not in keeping with modern niceties.  By characterizing Putin's actions as "19th Century", they are de-legitimized in the eyes of the elite, and President Obama is shown as a modern, wise man of statecraft applying the new thinking of the new order to this retrograde problem.

At no point does Zakaria stumble onto the obvious answer as to why there was such a precipitous decline in border changing conflicts.  He just accepts it as the way it is, sort of a by-product of modernity.  Not proved.

The security arrangements of the Cold War, with two world powers exercising considerable control over their respective blocs, are what kept these forces in check, forces which had dominated geopolitics and warfare for centuries.  Upon the fall of the Soviet Union, US world leadership as the "hyperpower" served to similarly frustrate these never far from the surface historical tendencies.   The Balkan crises in the 90's though, should stand as firm testament to the fact that such conflict had NOT been eradicated and was not somehow ahistorical.

Zakaria's has one quote that tees my point up nicely:  "This is not an academic debate. The best way to deal with Russia’s aggression in Crimea is not to present it as routine and national interest-based foreign policy that will be countered by Washington in a contest between two great powers. It is to point out, as Obama did eloquently this week in Brussels, that Russia is grossly endangering a global order that has benefited the entire world. (my emphasis)".  What Zakaria, and Secretary Kerry, and President Obama keep missing is that America's choice to decline is also grossly endangering the global order.  We cannot separate out from the statistics Zakaria cites the direct, lasting, and essential impact that a globally engaged and powerful United States of America had on producing them.  American weakness--whether that shown by the Bush Administration as the economy collapsed around it in 2008 re: Russia v. Georgia--or that which has been a central feature of the Obama Administration since it took office--must also share in the blame.

The center-left tendency these days to laud the President for his actions since Putin began his mischief fails to account for the impact of his policies and leadership in the years before. 

No, Putin is not a man of the 19th Century.  This is a misreading.  History took a break after World War II, and we make a great mistake if we believe that the sixty years since represent anything else. 

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's on your mind, Chum?  Still smarting from your inglorious exit from the field of 64?  Wondering whether you'll reach your 6 million enrolls? 

Share your thoughts...we're an accepting group.

Weight: 184.4
Last Weigh In: 187.7 (Feb 28)
Diet Start: 198 (Aug 11, 2013)

Monday, March 24, 2014

CW March Madness Standings

Here are the standings in the CW March Madness Bracket.  Jeffrey "Chicken and Noodles" Stewart is in the lead Rob Ganus Close behind.

The Michigan State/Virginia  and Louisville/Kentucky games are going to be awesome.

RankTeam NameScoreCorrectBest ScoreBest CorrectChampion
1Jeff Stewart453416948Virginia (124)
2Rob Ganus423315445Virginia (138)
3Meaghan McGrath413211339Arizona (142)
4Greg Dail403213242Michigan St. (165)
5 Bryan McGrath372914540Virginia (116)
5Dean Hackemer373011738Virginia (107)
5Sean McGrath372914940Louisville (177)

Obama Hunts Osama bin Kony

Our most pressing foreign policy issue--Kony
News this morning of a redoubled effort on the part of the Obama Administration to bring Ugandan Warlord "Kony" to justice.  Let's face it, Kony is nasty stuff, and he would look great facing the music in an international tribunal, or on a cold slab somewhere.  But this is not a compelling U.S. interest.  It is a sideshow, driven by activists with megaphones, T-shirts and social media sites.  The President is looking to bottle lightning again, with a sexy special forces raid, book deals and Academy Award winning film to follow.

Seeking a small-ball victory, the Administration appears to be loosing our special forces to take out America's #1 Strategic Issue, a Central African Warlord operating in the former colonies of our European friends.  

This is what passes for foreign policy in this moribund Administration.  Time and again, we find ourselves powerless to impact important events because we have chosen to be powerless.  Our esteem is slipping worldwide, we are not respected because we are not feared, and this appears to be just fine with the President.  His job is to remake the relationship between the governed and the government, not to extend and sustain America's pre-eminence in the world.  Oh--did you not know that?  Perhaps you should have thought about it before you voted for him. Twice.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's got you down, Shipmate?  Your bracket busted after the first game of the tournament?  Your team forget to shoot free-throws?  Your diet get torpedoed by a trip to the American South?  Your country's First Lady taking a trip to China on the public's dime, yet no press is allowed?

Let it out, friend.  Let it out....

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thanks to Obamacare I Can Keep My Lexus

This is Retta Riordan, an "Obamacare Success Story" according to the headline. Apparently Ms. Riordan has a preexisting condition (dodgy knee) which precludes her purchasing health insurance on the open market (is there a health insurance open market?). So the Affordable Care Act stepped in to save the day. Thank you President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the entire Democratic Party establishment who are constantly vigilant in their protection of the disadvantaged.
Oh, but what's this? Retta IS the Democratic Party establishment. What's that about? Well heck, I guess that's ok, she qualified for the subsidy so at least for the time being thems the rules. What's that? She what? She lives in a 400k+ home? WTF!!? Hmmmmm...wonder what's going on here?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Conservative Wahoo Bracketology

Come one, come all and join in the Conservative Wahoo 2014 Bracket Challenge. 

You are invited to join my Bracket Manager group! To accept this invitation and join the group, click the link below (or cut and paste the link into your browser's address bar). You'll be asked to enter the group password before you can join, so it is posted below.

Our Group password is: wahoo

Joining is as easy as:

1) Sign In to or create a new account
2) Enter your Bracket Group password when prompted
3) You're in!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wager Among Yourselves

As you can see CW asked me to run this years NCAA B-Ball pool as Bourbon Street and strippers proved too much of a distraction for our worldly, well traveled, "super-genius". However I'm just too busy at the moment with my mundane, boring, stay at home life, especially since the first game is tonight.
Sorry CW, we left it too late but maybe this is a good omen. You don't want to be picking UVA, too emotionally involving (you'd know that if your team had been to three final fours and won two of them). So
good luck kids and may your favorite ok.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dispatch from The Road: Bentonville, Arkansas

Seated at Gate A-6 of the Northwest Arkansas Airport, I find myself with a bit of time before my flight to New Orleans via Houston.  The snow is falling here, kind of hard, and it presages what the East Coast should expect later today and tomorrow.  The reports are that 13 days of school were canceled in Bentonville this year due to the hard winter and modest means to combat it.  Such is the life of a Southern town.

This is however, quite unlike any other Southern Town, as it is the Worldwide Headquarters of the world's largest retailer--Walmart--along with Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Trucking.  It really is quite remarkable, what has grown here in Northwest Arkansas along the 540 corridor. 

I am here because my friend asked me to come.  He's a VP at Walmart and he asked me to talk to a group of managers on his team about leadership and the like, the sort of things one accumulates in a 21 year career in the military.  Some of it translates over to business, some not so much.  I concentrated my remarks on the former.  Walmart HQ reflects the culture created by its founder--no frills.  If you want to know how Walmart is able to keep its prices as low as it does, a walk around corporate HQ will help.  Don't get me wrong, it is a pleasant, serviceable atmosphere where people are happy and work hard within a well-defined corporate culture. But there are no frills here, no wasted energy.  Shareholders should be happy.

My friend was lucky enough to have the Navy buy him a Harvard MBA a few years ago, back when the Navy thought it wise to keep its rising talent by doing such things.  I remember thinking then that there will be dubious return on investment in the program, and I think that has come to pass.  This guy worked for me on the ship I commanded, and he was the star among stars.  Shortly before I left, he told me he was going to leave the Navy.  I think he thought I would be really disappointed in him, but I wasn't.  I was very happy for him and his family, and I knew that the sky would be the limit for them going forward.  It has been, and he has done very well for himself, putting the same drive and intelligence that I enjoyed to work trying to advance the interests of Walmart.

The talk I gave went really well, and the managers had awesome questions...there were a lot of issues particular to their business that they sought my thoughts on, and I did my best to keep up.  They were a great bunch.  Yesterday morning, we went to the monthly Saturday Morning Meeting at HQ, which is a ritual going back to the Sam Walton days.  Then it was more of a management meeting, now it serves as a great way to drive out corporate messaging throughout the business and to get alignment.  They also invite guest speakers, and yesterday's was (coincidentally) Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense.  He did a great job and was very well-received.

After the meeting, we went to Crystal Bridges Art Museum, an unbelievably beautiful Walton Family funded oasis of great art in Northwest AR.  The buildings were stunning, their beauty exceeded only by the priceless treasures within.  After a bit of cultural exposure, we wallowed in local culture by hitting a famous BBQ Joint.  After a quiet night in, I am now headed to New Orleans for a bit if bidness tomorrow followed by dinner with another Navy stalwart in the French Quarter.

I will return to an empty house, save for the dogs and cats who've been looked after by a dutiful house sitter.  The Kittens are luxuriating in the Caribbean on a friend's luxe catamaran, and we'll all be back together next Saturday night.  I'll be on my own Tuesday through Saturday, and I hope to muddle through. 

Random Hate Speech from Redneckistan

Lord what is Renee Ellmers up to? Have a look for yourself, Laura Ingraham absolutely destroyed her with the "non-establishment", conservative,  (RR) Real Republican argument. As you probably know last election I voted for Ellmers and even gave her a little lunch money from time to time. What I didn't vote for (I thought) was a Boehner-bot or a tool for local farm interests (her predecessor's primary function). Sadly she's been a big disappointment. She's intelligent, personable, telegenic and could have been a rising star, but at this stage I'd say she has only one more election to change her sinful ways. Oh she'll get re-elected in '14 easy enough, it's '16 she has to worry about. The rule is simple, dance with the one that brung ya. Betrayal is a bad campaign theme.

Did you see that Tony Benn went toes up? Never heard of the guy(?) well Google him. Anyway I liked Tony Benn, not his Marxism of course but his honesty. Benn was a true blue leftist, and certainly NOT a liberal. He made no attempt to hide his beliefs and he fought like a cornered rat to advance them. Benn and British nationalist Enoch Powell had some famous and very entertaining dustups you might want to research. He was a big noise from the hard left in the Labour Party for a while during Thatcher's run (with very little success) but didn't have a home when the more pragmatic Tony Blair and his bunch took over. Benn was the kind of guy that might show up on a Sunday at Marble Arch and debate the issues with anyone who dared, and if you wanted to act the bollox and play rough he wasn't opposed to kicking a little arse. See if this quote reminds you of anyone: "The crisis that we inherit when we come to power will be the occasion for fundamental change and not the excuse for postponing it" Labour Party Conference 1973.

...and in sports the University of Virginia squares off against the Duke Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament Finals today. CW has been very quiet of late especially considering the outstanding season the Wahoos have had (#5 national ranking), trying not to queer his luck I'd guess. It should be an interesting contest and as I don't have a dog in this fight I will be hoping they both lose. Duke is Duke, and although I appreciate and admire Coach K's abilities and success, I am certainly NOT a fan of the school, their politics or the snotty little Yankee bastards who attend. Plus their porn stars are terrible (knockers WAY too small!). Carolina has it all over Duke in this regard, heck their's was a Morehead Scholar. Take that Duke!

That's it, c-ya, wouldn't wanna be ya!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

This Woman Makes Me Feel Like a Coward

Brenda Lenard
At the CPAC Dinner on Friday night, I was seated at a table with a group of strangers, including the woman pictured, Brenda Lenard.  I was introduced to her by another woman at our table as "Brenda Lenard, candidate for Senate in the State of Tennessee."  The other woman was her campaign manager, it turns out.

Knowing a little bit about politics, I remembered that Tennessee is having a Senate election in 2014 in which Senator Lamar Alexander is defending his seat--if he wins, it will be his third term.  He is also a former two-term Governor of the State of Tennessee and a former Secretary of Education.  Since Ms. Lenard was attending CPAC, I figured she was likely not a Democrat.  So I asked her directly:

"Are you primarying Lamar Alexander?"

And she answered "Yes I am". 

"Gonna be a tough race", I opined.  "Why are you doing it?"

"Because someone's got to act", she answered.

In those few words, this flawed candidate with an interesting history and what amounts to an infinitesimal chance of winning her election, reduced me to the status of coward, first class.  I honestly believe that she has almost no chance of winning--yet she is running anyway.  She isn't worried about the money.  About the career gap.  About losing.  She thinks this is what she should be doing.

Someday I want to have that kind of courage. 

CPAC Wrap Up: "Act Worthy of Yourselves!"

Before I get on to my wrap up--please watch the video above.  One of the best conservatives in the world (can I designate that) Daniel Hannan of the UK reminds us of our place, and our responsibilities. I assure you, I was on my feet several times during this speech, cheering unabashedly. 

And so it is now Sunday morning, and I am warmly snug in the ManCave.  I left CPAC yesterday at mid-day and went home, but not before watching that magnificent speech above.  In fact, I stayed Friday night specifically for Hannan's speech, and it was the right decision.

Some random thoughts to close out this account, so that Captain Todd won't get on my butt for "leaving him hanging".

First, I am glad that I went to CPAC.  It was a good opportunity to hear the Presidential contenders in person, and while I'm really no closer to knowing who will eventually be the nominee, I am much closer to a sense of what that person is going to have to do to win the election.  See my review of Rick Santorum's speech the other day for insight.  Santorum's not the man, but he has provided the message.

Second, I have a hard time with CPAC offering the stage to Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.  I watched Trump's speech as one would watch the Tattooed Lady at the circus...with mix of amusement and revulsion.  I did not stay for Palin, who closed the convention for some unknown reason.  Listen--I don't want to get into Palin bashing, as it is something I've generally avoided.  And in August 2008, I was genuinely happy that she was chosen as the VP nom.  But in the meantime, she has done little to establish herself as a serious political thinker, and she quit her Governorship long before it was done which I find inexcusable.

Third, it wasn't until I attended CPAC that I got a real understanding of the history of the conservative movement in the US as a political force and how that history has been somewhat mangled and projected into a narrative that it simply does not sustain.  There is within CPAC and its governing body, the American Conservative Union, a narrative not unlike Mao's long march.  There is Buckley at Yale, the Sharon Statement, the rebuilding after Goldwater's crushing defeat, the slow buildup of the conservative movement in the 60's and 70's guided always by the titanic presence of Ronald Reagan, the insurgency of 1976 in which Reagan nearly defeated Ford, and then the consummation of their efforts with the election of Reagan in 1980 and his re-election in 1984.    So here I was, somewhat familiar with the general flow of that history but not its context, listening to movement conservatives talk about how "establishment" Republicans always lose, etc, and that when the Party nominates a true conservative, it wins.  And this is simply not true.  In fact, there has been only one "movement" conservative who has ever been the Republican nominee, and that was Reagan.  And while the conservative movement can rightly lay claim to his rise and election, they have were not successful before him or since, in electing a movement conservative to the White House.  No other movement conservative has even been NOMINATED as the standard bearer of the Republican Party.  Which leads me to conclude (and I am certainly not the first) that Reagan won NOT because he was a movement conservative, or because he was the most conservative guy running....but because he most effectively UNITED the Party's social, economic and national security conservatives AND he promoted a positive vision of the future to a nation desperately in need of one.  The path to the Presidency is NOT to be the most doctrinaire conservative--rather it is to bring together all the elements of the Republican Party under an effective message tuned to the times. 

I guess that's all for now.  If you have an opportunity, a trip to CPAC would be well worth your while. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

CPAC Day 2: Friday Afternoon

The big annual dinner (the Reagan Dinner, natch) is this evening, and while I think I'd rather meander off by myself and grab some chow in one of the little restaurants in the vicinity, I paid an awful lot of money to be there tonight and so I will likely go.  Got a good workout in this afternoon after the speakers were done, as I a skipped the break-out sessions in favor of a little work, and a workout.

I enjoyed the events today, and got to hear Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul up close.  I managed to snag seats just outside the roped off section wherein the "Premier" attendees sat, close to the stage and using a special entrance and exit that enabled them to escape the giant, slow moving exodus from the main hall that occurs at each major break.  Someone tweeted that it was exactly the thing that killed Mufasa in The Lion King, which I found hilarious.

I sat with a group of middle aged women for much of the day, women my brother Tom would refer to as "Yentas".  My goodness, but they were rapid Tea Party Conservatives!  I'm glad they are on my side!  Wonderful women, pleasant as hell, but when the speakers started to speak, I felt like I was in a Southern Baptist church with all the call and response that was going on.  I

The standing ovation comes cheaply at events such as this, but I refuse to get caught up in it.  The ladies were serious spring-butts, up and down with each talking point.  I mostly remained seated, standing only when I felt a point was important and particularly well delivered. 

Before we get round to the main speakers, I want to bitch a little about conservatism, or at least what passes for it these days.  There is a lot of beating up on President Obama going on here for cutting the military and weakening our security.  I am all for that.  What there really isn't much of is any serious soul-searching within the conservative movement--especially among those elected to the House in 2010 with Libertarian leanings--about the degree to which WE are complicit in this weakening.  Let's face it--there is a not insignificant number of conservatives in the House who look at defense spending as just another domestic spending program to cut, rather than a sacred Constitutional duty.  They made common cause with the President and his friends in the Democratic Party, and they don't appear to be in any hurry to reverse the damage they've done.  Every one of them prays at the altar of St. Ronald of California, but they seem to forget that there was one account, one part of government, that he unabashedly spent on to grow--and that was defense. 

Happily, former Congressman Allen West was here, and he had a room to talk in this morning (not the main hall), ostensibly a "veterans welcome" event.  As a veteran (you're damn right--got a huge discount), I attended to hear a man I find very interesting speak.  He didn't get straight to it as directly as I did in the previous paragraph--but he made the point nonetheless.  We--conservatives--need to stop looking at defense the way we look at every other spending program.  We must demand economy and effectiveness, but we cannot accept decline.  He makes quite an impression. 

Now, onto the possible Presidential candidates.

Rick Perry--Rick Perry was on fire here.  He gave a great speech, full of ideas, full of hope, full of red meat, and full of enthusiasm--and he has been actively courting the kingmakers here.  He sat on a panel after his speech on reform in the criminal justice system, and he was great on an issue where there are a lot of great conservative ideas coming forward.  Of all the people who have spoken thus far, he did the most to help himself. 

Mike Huckabee--I don't think Huckabee will run, but if he does, I should cover his talk.  It was classic Huckabee, well delivered and interesting.  All his speeches sound like good sermons, and the audience was stocked with social conservatives who lap it up like kittens and milk.  Heavy on applause lines and light on ideas.

Rick Santorum--As many of you remember, I don't like Rick Santorum.  And I still don't.  But that doesn't mean that I can't appreciate the fact that he gave the most important speech thus far in this convention.  Rick Santorum's message of economic populism and connection with the common man is going to HAVE to be part of whomever the Republican Party nominates in 2016.  It must be.  It is a great, straightforward message--one that says while we must make sure we get out of the way of "job creators", most folks just want to put in an eight hour day and then go coach baseball.  Not everyone is an entrepreneur, not everyone is a titan of industry.  We need to connect conservative policies and initiatives with people who work and pay bills.  I love the message, I think it is essential, I just think he's the wrong guy to convey it.

Rand Paul--I wanted to like Rand Paul's speech, I really did.  There was extra energy in the packed house of teenagers that seem to accompany any politician in the Paul family, and Rand really is pretty "cool" as politicians go.  His speech quoted Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and Montesquieu.  He wore jeans with his coat and tie.  But he spent his entire speech talking about NSA and privacy and personal liberty.  Now we all know this is his sweetspot, but he had a chance here--a chance to connect more broadly--and he blew it. He'll win the straw poll, but you can consider it meaningless.  If he adopts Santorum's message though, watch out--this guy could be a force of nature.

Daniel Hannan of the Eurpoean Parliament will speak in the morning, and then I'll probably leave around lunchtime.  As I'll be observing the eSabbath, don't expect any wrap up until Sunday, if even then. 

Big Fat Friday Free For All

No weigh in this week as I am away from home--but I had an "unofficial" weigh yesterday and am down 3 from last week.

What's on your minds, friends?  Disturbed that great powers have started acting like great powers again?  Wondering just what power the President does NOT have to interfere with legislation that the Congress passed?

Let it out. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

CPAC Day 1: Thursday Night

I am perched atop one of the two beds provided for me in my hotel room here at the Gaylord National, site of CPAC2014, laptop fired up and ready to report on the day's events.  The Gaylord sits on the Maryland side of the Potomac, near the terminus of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  It can be fantastically onerous to get to from either the Pentagon or downtown DC, but once you're here, it's not a bad place to be.  Dubbed "National Harbor", there are a few hotels, some restaurants and shops, and a marina all quite closely packed.  Lots of big events happen here now due to the twin benefits of a lot of space and lower overhead than doing it in DC.  But once you're here, you're sorta stuck here.

The only thing like this I've ever attended was the 2012 RNC Convention, which is a truly huge event.  This is smaller, but I'm told it gets bigger as the Presidential election gets closer.  There is a main room where all the big speakers and panels happen, there are breakout rooms where lesser panels happen, there is a floor show, where all manner of conservative interest organizations have set up shop, and there is a "radio row" where you can stroll up and down and look at semi-famous people who have radio shows or who regularly appear on them. I spend the vast majority of my time today in the big room listening to the name brand speakers, slipping out now and again to do some work, to eat a fine Chinese lunch, and to people watch.  But I heard the big names, the ones that are likely to run for President.  I'm candidate shopping this week, and many of the most prominent names will be speaking--though it doesn't appear that Scott Walker or Jeb Bush will, both of whom I'd like to see.

Before giving you my views of the speeches, a few observations about other things.

--This place is awash with College Republicans, who are on the whole, a fine looking bunch.  I found myself at one point wondering why I hadn't been a CR, as those heady Reagan era CPAC's were probably a huge party. Another great opportunity lost.
--I complained mightily about the choices of filler music at RNC 2012.  Not here.  These folks have stepped up the game, and hopefully the Establishment Types (my people) who run RNC2016 will get the message.  RNC is currently conducting a beauty contest about where 2016 will be held, with three cities in Ohio, Vegas, Denver and KC all up for grabs.  I'm hoping for Vegas or Denver.
--This is by the way, not a Republican affair, it is a conservative affair.  There is a difference, as I 'splained to a young lovely at the gym this afternoon who asked me what all the Republicans were doing there.  Lots of Libertarians, too.  I think Rand Paul will kill it here when he speaks (tomorrow, I think), and I predict he'll win the straw poll on Saturday.  I voted for Paul Ryan today.
--The crowd is very upbeat, and very positive.  I expected Chris Christie to get savaged, but he was very well received, and even Mitch McConnell was politely received.
--Lots of speakers keep hitting a theme Jeb Bush peddled last year--we can't just be against them, we have to be for something....and lo and behold, we are!  I am very much enjoying hearing about and learning more about a number of very interesting conservative policy initiatives.  Conservatism has always been about ideas, and it appears that we're back in the idea business.
--Saw Christine O'Donnell here, she of the Delaware race in which she primaried an establishment Republican and beat him with Tea Party support (and $250 from me). Then she got slaughtered int he general.   She's a handsome woman.  Probably why I gave her the money in the first place--which happened very early in her run at a house party in Arlington.   Had I known how badly she'd combust later, I'd have kept my money.  But she is easy on the eyes.  

Ok, now onto the speakers.

Ted Cruz--I remember seeing Cruz in Tampa in 2012 and being put off by him.  He walks around the stage without notes and delivers his speech flawlessly...but I can't get "televangelist" out of my mind.  Everything is just too rehearsed, too polished, too trite.  He's a better speaker than Obama by far, and his messages were very well received by the crowd.  I just don't like him very much. 

Paul Ryan--Love this guy.  Really love him.  But he's just not a ball o' fire on the stump.  He's the brain of the Republican Party and he'll be a great VP or Secretary of the Treasury someday.  Maybe even President.  But not this time--even though I voted for him in the Straw Poll.

Chris Christie--I think he gave the strongest, most polished Presidential Candidate address of the day.  He burnished his conservative credentials (I didn't realize he was so unabashedly pro-life), he hit the President hard, and was uncharacteristically effusive in his praise for others--other Republican Governors. 

Bobby Jindal--Home run speech.  He's got a great speaking voice and a wonderful little Southern drawl thing, neither of which seems particularly well-synched to his SouthWest Asian physical presence--but it all works.  He's as policy savvy as Paul Ryan, and I think he may be a better politician.  Great VP prospect.

Marco Rubio--Solid.  Really got me interested by talking a great deal about foreign policy, something that is noticeably, under-represented here.  He's a likable guy, but he seemed somehow smaller on stage than Jindal did, which was surprising to me.

Donald Trump--I don't think he'll be a candidate, but he is damn entertaining.  It looks to me like he pulls out an index card on the helo and writes a few thoughts down and then wings it.  But it works.  As comedy.  But not as politics. 

In order of finish (speaking, that is): Christie, Jindal, Rubio, Cruz, Ryan--but they were all pretty damn good

I don't believe Scott Walker of Wisconsin is speaking here this year, which is unfortunate.  I'd like to have heard him.  He was mentioned several times today, and the audience responded very positively.  Clearly a favorite of the movement.

That's all for now, friends.  Back tomorrow!

12 years a Slave, 5 Years of Obama and the Crimea is Back in Town

Have you seen 12 Years a Slave? I was really impressed with this movie, their teeth were beautiful! I've got pretty good teeth (only ever had one cavity) but they're kinda yellow now (too many H. Upmanns) but even still, they were NEVER this nice. Maybe this slavery/Obamacare stuff ain't half bad, they obviously had a good dental plan. 

Does this look like the kinda guy who can be bluffed or bullshitted? No, not to me either. I guess maybe the old Soviet system was better than ours, at least in the way they produced their leaders. If a guy could claw his way to the top of the Russian hierarchy then you could figure two things: 1) He's a tough son of a bitch and 2) He ain't no dummy. God bless Obama but there isn't any affirmative action when it comes to geopolitics. It's a shark tank and if you show weakness somebody is gonna take a bite out of your ass. My guess is Obama and Kerry are too stupid to know they've been bitten, but we'll see. All this talk of economic sanctions etc. is just that, talk. The Europeans won't go along because they can't afford to upset the Ruskies least their energy spigot be turned off (when your grandma get old you can't let her get cold... PROPANE). This one is in the books, Russians win. 

Did you see Elijah Cummings yesterday? Issa brought IRS hit-bitch Lois Lerner back before the House Committee on Out of Control Government Bureaucrats in the Back Pocket of Obama, and SURPRISE SURPRISE, she took the fifth once again. So Issa adjourns and Rep. Cummings (who reminds us he is a sitting member of Congress and represents 700k constituents) grabs the mic and start ranting. It reminded me of the Robert Duvall scene in Godfather II "SENATOR, THIS COMMITTEE OWNS AN APOLOGY"!!
Nice move it was because now the headline is "Black Congressman Silenced by Whitey" as opposed to "Lying Authoritarian Hag Takes Fifth". Of course it's easy to pull off stuff like this when you own the media. If a Republican had tried this with a black chairman...well, you know.

Have you been following the Duke porn star mini-scandal? Well let me fill you in (poor choice of words). There's a Duke freshman who moonlights as a porn actress to earn the 60k yearly tuition. It's Duke's fault (according to Belle Knox, her stage name) because she hasn't been given the financial aid one might expect and is entitled to, so what's a girl to do? Nevermind that she was offered a free ride (poor choice of words) at Vanderbilt, the limelight calls. Of course she's going on with the usual rationalizations about empowerment and how we shouldn't be ashamed of our bodies when we all know she's just got a bad case of Fonda (Fonda-Penis I think is the medical term). Anyway Duke is not favorably impressed so look for her to matriculate that ass of her's to UC Davis or somewhere. Plus it doesn't help that she looks like she could be Coach K's daughter!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CPAC 2014

Well friends, I'm taking the plunge tomorrow and wading into the star-studded political hoe-down that is the "Conservative Political Action Conference".  It goes tomorrow through Saturday evening, though I'll be departing on Saturday noonish.

I am going for lots of reasons, but being a more loyal conservative than Hammer is chief among them.

That said, I want to get immersed in conservative and Republican politics for a couple of days, do a little business here and there, and give the Presidential contenders (most of whom are speaking) the once over.  There are a lot of interesting seminars to attend, so I'll swing by some of them.

I'll be sure to pop a blog post up now and again, so stay tuned to this channel!

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