Friday, December 29, 2017

UVA v. Navy--The Annapolis Massacre

Like much of the fanbase of UVA football, I was somewhat surprised when the team reached a record of 6-3 earlier in the season. I thought this was a max four win season, and was pleasantly surprised that they won enough games to be Bowl Eligible. I remember sitting at that game (the one where we became Bowl Eligible) telling my friend Rob two things: first, that I was afraid we'd wind up in a bowl against Navy, another team that runs the triple-option offense (we had just dispatched Georgia Tech, although they scored a ton of points on us). Second, I offered that we could easily lose the remaining three games of the regular season.  Both predictions came true. And most of you know how bad I am about predictions.

I attended yesterday's "Military Bowl" game at Navy and Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, the home field of Navy. There was some grousing on the Virginia side yesterday about a bowl game being a home game for one of the participants, but I think this was lame--UVA is the flagship university of the STATE NEXT DOOR and it appeared to me that there were as many UVA fans there as Navy--which is the way a bowl ought to be.

The stadium is beautiful, and a great place to walk around reading history captured on plaques. My only complaint (aside from the ineptitude of the team for which I was rooting) was the cosmically ridiculous traffic management leaving the stadium. Half the UVA side left before the 4th quarter, my party scooted out before the game ended to enjoy some beef stew at the home of friends quite near the stadium, and it still took a butt-ton of time just to get to the main highway. I feel sorry for folks who put up with that every Navy home game--at least UVA does that much better.

Now for the apology. I spent some time on social media before the game talking a good bit of smack. Although I knew damn well UVA would have a tough time with Navy's offense, I decided to smack away as if this game were a foregone conclusion on the road to UVA's continuing rise to football prominence. The plain truth though, is that Navy (and Army, and Air Force) have legitimately good Division 1 football programs, full of players that could play for the lion's share of the teams they play against. It was not always so, but it is now. It is also true that UVA's team just wasn't very good this year--and that if they played Navy ten times, they'd lose nine.

The game started positively, with UVA running back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. And then Navy ran all over us for four quarters to win 49-7. This was the worst performance of a UVA team that I have witnessed since the 1984 team opened with a 55-0 loss vs. Clemson. Navy beat us in every single part of the game. We missed a field goal (which we shouldn't have tried). We fumbled a punt. We could not run against them (although we haven't run against really anyone this year), our defense was Swiss cheese, and our passing offense was ridiculously bad. On the rare occasion where our quarterback got the ball in the general vicinity of a receiver, they tended to drop it. UVA's offensive and defensive lines were manhandled.

Don't get me wrong--we were better this year than last, and better than I expected. But there is a long, long way to go, and the shared arrogance among the UVA supporters surprised to get beat-up by Navy is simply not supported by the teams' play. The loss was a horror, exceeded only by the (well-deserved) payback I've received from Naval Academy grads. I can take most of it with equanimity, but that coming from USNA grads of whom I am CERTAIN that less than ten minutes of football watching has occurred in the past three years (I'm talking to you, Gorenflo) is particularly galling.

Did I mention that it is basketball season?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

On the Day after Christmas

It is 1030 on Boxing Day, and my stomach is growling, a tribute I think to the distended condition in which it found itself upon retiring on Christmas night. One of the kittens is awake, as is the Kitten, and as far as I know, no one has any real goals for the day except to respire and to eat.

Christmas was a wonderful mix of family, gluttony, and conspicuous consumption. Everyone seemed happy with their treasure, and I was able to provide "the woman who has it all" with a few surprises that seemed to delight her. Of note--I received a "Merry Christmas" text message from the Hammer--which I did not read until late in the day and which I have yet to acknowledge and return--and so I take on that job with this note. Merry Christmas, Hammer.

My beloved Virginia Cavaliers take on the evil, hated Midshippuppies of the Naval Academy in a Bowl Game Thursday, the formal name of which escapes me. There has been some confusion as to which team would have my loyalties, and so I'll 'splain it. The Naval Academy is a vocational/technical school whose sole function is the production of naval officers to the USN and USMC. The fortunes of this VoTech's sports teams are of no interest to me, save for one day a year in which they take the field against another VoTech's team in a purely symbolic contest. That's it. There is no affection, no loyalty, no support for the Naval Academy flowing from my service to the nation in the ACTUAL Navy. All of my collegiate loyalties are to the University of Virginia, and if God came down and said to me, "Bryan, I have to wipe your mind of all memories except one set--choose", the one I would wish to retain is of the four years I spent in Charlottesville and the friends I made (and retain) from those days. I hope there will be no further question about where my loyalties reside.

The forecast for the game Thursday is bone-chilling--the high for the day is projected to be 27 degrees -- colder even than the Packers game I attended in November.

I have to admit...the day after Christmas is a bit of a letdown. After nearly eight weeks of buildup, the thought of ten months without Christmas is a bit of a downer. I am buoyed at the prospect of reclining on my fat ass on New Year's day and gorging on football -- like the old days. The moving of the two college playoff games to New Year's Day is a wrong righted.

Be well.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Trump's New National Security Strategy

The President has released his Congressionally-mandated National Security Strategy, and it can be found here.  I urge you to read it. Not just some of you, all of you. This is our government's statement on how it sees where America fits in the world and what its role is.  Almost nothing is more important.

I was asked to write specifically about the Strategy's implications for American Seapower--and you can find that piece here, nestled among a number of other views of the document.

Timed with the release of the strategy, my colleague Seth Cropsey and I at the Hudson Institute Center for American Seapower released a monograph entitled "Maritime Strategy for a New Age of Great Power Competition" that suggests what the President's NSS could have been. 

As for a balanced and logical assessment of the strategy, there are quite a few, but the best I've found is here--I definitely recommend readers spend some time with it.

The bottom line for me: there are a number of adults at work in the Trump Administration, and they wrote a National Security Strategy that is appropriate, coherent, and I think mostly positive. Like others who have commented, there is a not insignificant chasm between the words of the document and the statements of the President. While this is unconcerning to some, it is notable to others.

Social Media Blackout Progress

Some of you know that I endeavored to go dark and quiet between Thanksgiving and Christmas on Twitter and Facebook. Results as we near the end of the period in question are mixed. I have utterly failed to "blackout", but the spirit of the exercise remains.

Really the only way for me to have totally blacked out on them would have been to remove the ability to access them. Essentially, this means no internet (due to my own lack of self-control, mainly). This isn't really practical.

For the first couple of weeks, I did well, using Facebook only to post Christmas carol videos (which were never on the blackout list) and Twitter not at all.

Then came the first quandary; while my desire to move away from social media was centered largely around my approach to Twitter (show-offy, sarcastic, snarky, douchey), I failed to recognize how important Twitter is to my professional life. I write a lot of stuff besides this spectacular blog--stuff I get paid for and stuff that helps me get paid for other stuff. Twitter is a remarkably efficient mechanism for getting that stuff out there to the people I most want to read it.

As this blackout was entirely self-imposed, I needed only to convince myself that there was room for a waiver for professional matters. Except of course, that to some extent, my exile was also a presentation to the Kitten/Kittens that I could actually manage to push away. So I brought it up to the Kitten one day, basically saying "I'd not considered the impact on my professional writing...." to which she quite sensibly said, "Well that's dumb. You should use the tool for positive things."

And so, the door was cracked open. I had sanction to Tweet or post about professional matters. I have used it sparingly, to publicize my own work. But I've slipped up. I've cheated now and then.

I've also begun to lurk on both Twitter and Facebook in a passive mode, reading what is going on and finding myself thinking "were I not on blackout, I'd respond to that" or more healthily, saying "when the blackout is over, this is the kind of thing I'll avoid doing that I once relished".

The thing I've missed most about this exercise? Tweeting along with UVA basketball games. The Hoos are 11-1 and approaching top Ten status in most polls...are MUCH deeper, more offensive-minded, and faster than I think anyone really anticipated this year. Tweeting and watching is a poor substitute for the live experience of communal support--but when no one else in the house will watch games with you, it helps connect with others.

So--to summarize--thus far it's been a positive experience, but not nearly as disciplined as I would have hoped.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Big Day for the President, A Big Day for Ryan/McConnell, A Big Day for the GOP Establishment

Today is a truly great day for the President, the GOP leadership, and America. Putting aside for a moment my conservative concerns about adding $1.5T to the national debt, this bill is a solid, establishment GOP approach to cutting taxes (there is little in the way of reform here---too hard), and the fact that 80% of Americans will see their taxes fall is a good thing. A very good thing.  A couple of more thoughts?

It has been amusing to watch the histrionics on the left about this bill.  My favorites are those who are all of a sudden concerned with the national debt. You know, the ones who cheered as President Obama added $7.9 Trillion to it. It seems that when debt is added to fuel spending, it is good, but when debt is added to allow you to keep more of your money, it is bad.

It is also amusing to watch the preening of TrumpNation. This is--as I said earlier--a generic, GOPe, Paul Ryan-envisioned tax cut. To the extent that the President is enjoying any success, it is when he governs as an establishment Republican--you remember those people, right? The ones Trumpkins carried the pitchforks for in 2016?

Although the average person won't see the full benefit of the tax cut until they file their 2018 return in the spring of 2019, there will likely be an almost immediate decrease in withholding after the turn of the new year. It is difficult to see the growth impact of the corporate tax cut doing much in 2018 (as I think it is already priced into the market), but the extra dollars in pockets are going to be noticed. At least the GOP prays that it is noticed.

Because things are looking very, very, grim for Republicans. If this difference in the generic ballot is any indication of the future, the GOP will lose both chambers in November. Those of us on the right had one very important trend to hang our hats on during the Obama era--and that was, that his Administration was devoted solely to his success, and that its policy choices created a slow wave that resulted in the the GOP in control of two-thirds of the governorships, the White House, Congress, and 69/99 state legislative bodies.

Could we be seeing the "equal and opposite reaction" that the laws of thermodynamics dictate? Will D's in four years look longingly on the Trump years as the time the nation turned on the Republican Party, like many in the GOP now do vis-a-vis the Obama years?

Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Difference Between Anti-Trump and Being a Democrat

It is no secret that I have little regard for the President. I think he is unfit, and I would like him to be replaced as soon as our system will allow.

It is also no secret that there are a good many things about what the Trump Administration is doing that I agree with. They have generally been good on judges, and most of their political appointees have been men and women of character and capability. White House Staff is another matter altogether. The emphasis on de-regulation is excellent. The tax bill that will soon pass is a solid, Republican effort. Stating unequivocally that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is excellent. Questioning the Iran deal and potentially walking away from it -- I'm ok with.

You see, just because I have no respect for Donald Trump, my views on effective policy and political ideology have not changed. When Trump does something I like, I continue to like it. When he says something I agree with, I continue to agree with him.

Trump Derangement Syndrome--which I have been accused of--is something different than the malady I suffer from. My sickness is "Trump Distaste Syndrome". I continue to be able to rationally evaluate policy, even as I rationally evaluate character. But this does not describe everyone on the Anti-Trump Train.

While there are plenty of formerly principled conservatives who have walked away from those principles in order to make peace with their new party leadership, there are other formerly principled conservatives who have walked away from those principles because they are so blinded by their hatred of the President. In doing so, they have reversed themselves on positions they previously held SIMPLY BECAUSE the President holds them. This is insane.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post is a particularly interesting sufferer of Trump Derangement Syndrome, and Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review has properly called her on it. Cooke and fellow National Review writer Kevin Williamson host a wonderful podcast known as "Mad Dogs and Englismen" (Cooke is a subject of the Crown who is in the late stages of obtaining American citizenship), in which they look at the news of the week and comment on it from their consistently conservative perspectives. Both believe Trump unfit to hold the office. Both criticize him for many of his behavioral tics. And both are able to give Trump his due when he deserves it--and moreso, they have been for a while now talking about Rubin's about faces on major issues simply because of Trump having come around to her position.

This is a good conversation to be having. Loss of principles is a terrible thing, whether in service to MAGA or in opposition.

All of us ought to be calling balls and strikes. 

Monday, December 18, 2017


Feast your eyes on this poll, folks.

You read it right. Even men and seniors favor the D's in the generic Congressional question.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mattis on Russian Election Interference

So the President tells us that Russian meddling in the election is "Fake News", his supporters lap it up, and they tell us to move on. They also tell us to be thankful for all the great apppointees in the administration, like Secretary of Defense Mattis.

Mattis, who possesses both a brain and character, was asked a direct question about Russian interference in the election, and he gave a direct answer. The same answer--by the way--that THEN ENTIRE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY gives to the same question.

There is simply no persuasive or informed argument that counters this. A hostile government attempted to interfere in our Presidential election. This fact alone should animate a significant and sustained response across the spectrum of national power. Instead, we have a President who objects to tough measures against Russia, and who seems emotionally dependent on his authoritarian buddy for validation.

Now--Russian interference does not mean collusion with the Trump campaign. This must be a very difficult concept to understand for Trumpkins, as whenever the interference is brought up, they immediately move to "no evidence of collusion".  There is certainly plenty of evidence of contact between Russians and campaign personnel, but it remains to be seen if there were actual cooperation.

That said--the Russians messed around in our democracy. Don't let anyone tell you different.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Oh My.....When You're Losing Fox News Viewers....

It appears the President's popularity is slipping even with those who choose state-run media.  Heavens. 

The Trumpies Just Don't Get It

As many of you know, I am a globalist, FRINO (former Republican in name only), cuck who adhere's to the dying ideology of Kirk and Burke. Jonah Goldberg is also part of my tribe, although he is far more famous and well-read than I am. I've taken a few Tweet exchanges that he had this morning as a means to illustrate conversations that I find myself in more frequently these days, with my few remaining Trumpy correspondents.


By way of nuancing "Jason Colonge" a bit, I do believe Trump is doing a good job on ISIS (but his approach is not terribly different in form from what Obama was doing, nor is it much different than what we could have expected from any of the other major Republicans running in 2016). I do believe he has appointed some excellent judges -- but again -- his judicial picks are--get ready for it--establishment Republican favorites with the exception of some of the lesser lights he has nominated. For an example, feast your eyes on this video. Yes, it is tweeted by a liberal, Democratic Senator--but the QUESTIONS are posed by a conservative, Republican Senator:

And yes, I believe the economy is doing great--in no small part because Wall Street has priced in an (wait--here it comes again) establishment GOP tax cut, and also because Wall Street has priced in the sense that really very little damaging is going to occur from the gridlock we now see (if nothing happens, nothing bad happens). Had Jeb, Ted, Marco, or Ben won the nomination and the election, the economy would be---here it comes--right where it is today.

At the heart of Mr. Colange's (and my other correspondents') arguments is the classic "the ends justify the means". Or, what is actually happening in this Presidency is aligned with your political preferences, so why are you so dead-set against it?  The answer is of course, the ends do not justify the means. Because I like an active deregulation approach does not mean I approve of the constant stream of untruths spewing from the President and his toadies. Because I like some judicial (and other) appointments does not mean I approve of the reckless manner in which the President offends our friends and allies in the world. Because I am fattened by a growing economy does not mean I all of a sudden elevate the conduct of a schoolyard bully to that of a wise statesman. 

In other words--policy and politics are NOT ALL THERE IS. There are also norms of behavior and civil conduct that guide the way we interact with other human beings. These are being daily whittled away. And just because Trump is carrying out policies I generally like does not mean I should just ignore the other important parts of what make up a civil society.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Christmas Carol

As I write this, I am abed at the Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square in Washington, enjoying a bit of the morning before heading off the Mines of Moria. I am here as a result of one of my (usually) annual Christmas traditions of attending "A Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theater. You all know the story--but there is something about it being staged professionally in a cozy theater that heightens the experience. As usual, the production was superb, and I left the theater elevated and full of the Christmas Spirit.

Scrooge and Marley

Before the show, I tried a place new to me, Central Michel Richard, quite nearby the theater. I had the French Onion Soup (very good), the sauteed calamari (exceptionally good) and the Michel's Fried Chicken (to die for). I cannot recommend this place more highly the next time you are in DC. 

Moore Goes Down

Last night was a first for me. I went to bed delighted to see a Democrat win. Doug Jones' victory over troglodyte Roy Moore is being attributed to many things, but nothing is more responsible for his election than the fact that good people--Republicans and conservatives alike--stayed home, voted for Jones, or wrote in Nick Saban. Republican after Republican have trounced their opponents in this state, and Republican voter registration dwarfs that of Democrats. There is simply no combination of "get out the vote" or "appeals to the base" that creates this win for Jones, contrary to what a number of ridiculous Democrats are trying to say. This is wholly on R's who showed the moral fiber the party once featured, and refused to vote for a man so profoundly unqualified even BEFORE his predilection for little girls came to light. I'd like to think that Moore will now disappear from the public square, but I fear he'll be a Fox News consultant within the fortnight.

Jones will serve out the remainder of Jeff Sessions term and then likely run for a term of his own. It is my fervent hope that a suitable, ethical, ideological conservative who actually understands the rule of law will run against him and soundly drub him. But that is in the future.

Wait--this just in--footage of the candidate creation process at Breitbart Consulting.....

Moore's loss is a profound defeat for the forces of Trumpism/Bannonism, and hopefully puts a little lead in the pencils of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Pass the tax bill and then cut the President and his band of merry pranksters loose. Trump never had a single bit of loyalty to the Republican Party, and he and his followers have none now. If there is to be a political schism in the Party, bring it on now rather than wait for it to overwhelm you. The clock is ticking.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Milton Friedman: Free to Choose

Here's part 1 of Milton Friedman's 10 part series "Free to Choose". If you have time, give it a watch. If you have lots of time, watch all ten. You'll hear all kinds of scurrilous talk about immigration, free markets and the dangers of protectionism, and the heavy hand of government. You know, the stuff Republicans used to believe, before they decided that Know-Nothingism was the direction for their party to go.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Conservative Case Against Roy Moore

Let's utterly buy into the opioid-induced haze of the Trumpenproletariat, and assume that every single woman accusing Roy Moore of sexual misconduct is a liar colluding with the mainstream media.

He still is unfit for the Senate.

David French of National Review tells us why.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Potpourri

We had a wonderful day here on the farm yesterday enjoying the first snowfall of the year. We had expected it to start overnight Friday, but it really didn't begin until late in the morning Saturday. Weekend snow--in manageable amounts--is the best snow of all. If you aren't planning on going anywhere to begin with, you don't have to worry about driving in it, and all things considered, it is likely to not be an issue anymore on Monday morning. And so, I just enjoyed watching it all day, except of course when I laid down to nap through a chunk of it.

The Kitten had a stroke of genius and suggested we have one of her specialties for dinner, a concoction that essentially mixes instant rice, fresh mushrooms, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup, and chicken thighs into a large pan. One dish, easy-peasy. I consider this approach to chicken to be among the best "comfort food" approaches known to man, although the carbs bound up in the rice is definitely a drawback. Sacrifices must be made however.

Hero status was attained Friday when the Kitten asked me to join her at a local antiques purveyor to look at a table for our combination library/dining room. We've had a small round table in it for a few years, but special occasion dinners around it are invariably crowded affairs. She showed me photos the table on Thursday night and I basically said, "you have the style and taste of this partnership, if you think it is right, get it." But she wanted me to be in on the deal, so I met her Friday afternoon. It was instantly apparent that the table was perfect for the space, and I told her so. She asked, "should we get it?" and I said yes. So she looked at the guy running the place and said, "we'll take it"--and I said "Merry Christmas" and paid for it. She was ecstatic, as was I. My present buying for her year in and year out is lame, so getting something she was really excited about caused me a great deal of happiness.

It is a working Sunday (save of course, for the fooling around I do like writing blog posts), and I'm in the ManCave banging away on a lot of important stuff. Unlike many people, my December and January are always jam-packed, and the pace quickens considerably. There are a stack of as-yet unwritten Christmas cards staring me in the face, but I hope to have them on the way by the end of the week.

I see in the news this morning that Secretary Tillerson is saying that the US Embassy in Israel will not move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018. Shocking, huh? Although I am a big fan of the President's full throated endorsement of the move, we've seen this kind of bait and switch from him before--where he attempts to leverage the goodness of a policy move without actually making the policy move. We'll have to wait and see whether this promise goes into the file with "the Wall" and DACA. There are important reasons that the actual Embassy could take a while to move, but the Embassy maintains consular offices in Jerusalem into which the Ambassador and several staff could move easily if this were really a priority.

Interesting kerfuffle in the news yesterday, in which Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel posted a Tweet reported to show crowd scenes at President Trump's rally on Friday night, making the point that they were a good bit less than the President had been crowing about. Weigel's Tweet however, used photos from earlier in the evening, when the crowd had not yet fully entered the venue. Trump called him on it, Weigel then deleted the Tweet and apologized. This of course, was not enough for the President who then called for Weigel's firing.

Weigel and Trump fighting is a lot like the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980's. It's too bad both can't lose. Weigel is a reliable lefty whose true leanings were outed in the "Journolist" pro-Obama throne-sniffing story of 2010,  And of course, Trump is the pathological liar we elected President. It is clear to me that much of the press has it out for the President, and they are ready to move more quickly than usual with stories or opinions if they make the President look bad. When they make mistakes, it not only makes the press look bad, but it feeds into the President's "fake news" narrative that nourishes the habits of his followers like the oxycontin on their nightstands.

It boggles my mind that the press isn't more careful--the Weigel story coming quickly on the heels of the Brian Ross fiasco of earlier in the week--but what REALLY boggles my mind is the notion that the Press is held to a standard of truth-telling perfection (which as a standard, I am fine with), but that the President of the United States and his band of taxpayer compensated sycophants--can lie with impunity night in and night out. In other words, our elected President--who we all know is a serial liar--gets a pass. But the press? They must be perfect. This is insanity. Both must be held to the highest standards, but high standards and consistency in their application isn't a big strength of Republicans these days.

On a lighter note, here is "Good King Wenceslas"

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

On Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Kudos, hosannas, and praise be unto President Trump for his announcement today that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. It is long past time that this recognition occurs.

For the moment, the American Embassy remains in Tel Aviv. The President has directed "...the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem", which could in actuality, mean a slow roll with respect to actually implementing this change. Which would of course, be quite Trumpian.

It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. I have a feeling it is going to be a bloody Christmas in the Holy Land. I don't think this will (in the short run) be a good thing for the Middle East. But in the long run, buttressing support for our closest ally in the region (Israel) could have the impact of convincing recalcitrant parties in regional peace talks that they won't be able to run out the clock on the US/Israel relationship, and that the Jews are in Jerusalem for the distance.

Trump, Moore, Bannon, Romney and the Death of the GOP

The eventual destruction of the GOP was set in motion on the day Donald Trump locked up the nomination. Had he lost the general election, there would have been an all-out political civil war in the party. But he did not lose, and so the death of the GOP is now an inside job, perpetrated by a man nominally at its head (Trump), who has never had any loyalty to it and who unabashedly threatened to destroy it himself. 

This political suicide is on display everywhere, but no more so than in the State of Alabama, where yet another creature from under a rock (Roy Moore)  is rising to political prominence on the strength of immoral evangelicals for whom child molestation is now a trifle, and Trumpists who revel in the agitation of their political enemies. Alabama voters may elect a man to the Senate who may more properly be denied the vote, had his felonious behavior been unearthed earlier, in order to support "the President's agenda" which included a tax cut that will benefit those voters very little if at all, while offering great bennies to those fat-cats they claim to disdain.

Homeless man in Alabama 

No stranger to sexual assault and moral turpitude, the President has come out in full-throated support of the Dirty Old Man of Alabama, and he has loosed the Grima Wormtongue of the Alt-Right (Steve Bannon) to whip the Trumpenproletariat into a solid frenzy before next week's election. Bannon delivered what the masses wanted, a stemwinder in favor of Moore that had the doubly illogical (and so therefore perfect for Trump Nation) effect of favorably comparing the "honor and integrity" of a child molester to Mitt F*****G Romney, while attacking Romney on religious grounds, saying "You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity."  Apparently, the low-information voters cheering Bannon on were unaware of Bannon's liege-lord's four Vietnam deferments for "bone spurs in the foot", but never mind that, we're Making America Great Again.

The Trump Fan Club President from Ticbite, N.C. writes in, asking "Why? Why is this happening? Why is lawlessness being tolerated? The obvious answer is Trump, but has he been that bad? Forget the Tweets for a second (I like the Tweets myself, direct pipeline to America don't you know). What policies can a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Trumper, that claims to be a REAL conservative, what policies can one point to that suggests Trump is unfit? What has he done that any good Bushy Republican finds so egregious?" 

It is unclear which lawlessness this reader references--is it the child molestation of the GOP senatorial candidate from Alabama? Or the admission of sexual assault by the GOP presidential candidate from New York? Or is it the admissions of guilt by several officials of the Trump Campaign and Administration? Oh wait--it is the lawlessness of a broken and dispatched has-been politician who lost the Presidential election. Never mind that there is an active investigation into the unprecedented degree of coziness between the Trump team and Russia, including figures from Russian organized crime and Russian intelligence (but I repeat myself). No, we should forget about that and spend our time worrying about prosecuting a private citizen who is no longer a political threat to anyone.

The GOP was once a party that stood for something. It was once a conservative party. Conservatism--properly understood, has no place for the moral and ethical flexibility of this bunch. Have a read here from a column Jonah Goldberg wrote a couple of years ago, if you want to understand what being a conservative means--or at least means to me.

What my correspondent from Ticbite doesn't get, is that to the extent that Trump has had ANYTHING even remotely resembling policy victories, they were on straight stick greatest hits of the conservative movement, delivered to him by the very "cucks" that they excoriate. If he or any Trumpkin believe that Donald Trump is uniquely about conservative judges, deregulation, or tax cuts--they are even lower information than I thought. I have no argument with these things, and I repeat this fact here and elsewhere for all to hear. It is the man, his behavior, his immaturity, his lack of character, the damage he is doing to our country--that I argue with and for which I find him unfit. We could have had these policy victories without the embarrassing daily shitshow of the Trump Administration, and we could have had these policy victories without the destruction of the Republican Party. But America wanted its temper tantrum, and we now will reap the whirlwind.

Virginia Basketball Screed

Last night left me boiling mad. The #15 UVA Men's Basketball team went to Morgantown to play the #18 WVU Mountaineers. Virginia lost 68-61. I broke my Twitter blackout and monitored the game while watching it on television. I did not Tweet any of my own thoughts, as that violates the spirit of the blackout--and so I have a thousand things I need to get off my chest.

First, UVA has had remarkable success under Coach Tony Bennett, and I am glad that he is there. But man, does he make me sometimes. Mad you say? How can the most mild-mannered coach in college basketball make you mad, Bryan? Is this a personal issue?

He makes me mad because everyone in the known universe knew that West Virginia was going to full-court press us last night. Everyone. Why? Because that's what West Virginia does. To everyone. And Virginia simply wasn't ready for it. UVA's guards -- Kyle Guy and especially Ty Jerome -- simply could not handle the pressure. But this is not out of the ordinary--the most effective way to beat a Tony Bennett coached team historically -- even the very good ones -- is to press them. The unbelievable fold in the Elite 8 a few years ago to Syracuse is the bleeding sore of this type of game, but last night was right up there. As was last year's loss to WVU in Charlottesville. And two losses in the tournament to Michigan State.

Ty Jerome is not a point guard. He is a spot up shooter, just not as good of one as Kyle Guy. Jerome's ball handling is sloppy, and his passing is lazy. Maybe he'll improve, but he's simply not a floor general.

I'm not at all sure what Jack Salt is doing on the floor. I keep hearing that his defense justifies his utter lack of any offensive output, but I just don't buy it. Diakate should be starting, and Jay Huff needs to get some minutes--especially when offense is needed. The word on Huff is that his defense is suspect, but my God, we need some scoring.

But here's the thing that has me maddest. I follow a lot of folks interested in UVA Basketball in my Twitter feed, and an overwhelming majority of them seem to treat the team and its players like they are a bunch of adolescents who must be coddled. Many hide behind a veil of anonymity, yet STILL comment like they are part of the obsequious press corps that covers the team. Listen to a UVA post-game someday, and you'll hear little in the way of tough questions for the Coach, mostly it seems out of a fear that he'll cut off access if they get too uppity. That this applies to FANS boggles my mind. There is this silly code of Omerta among the UVA followers that you can't criticize the team or the coach, that these are "kids", that all will always work out fine, that every loss is a learning experience, yada, yada, yada. Bullshit. This is pro-basketball's farm system, and pointing out obvious criticisms is not disloyal.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ode to Joy

I have recovered from the grievous lip wound suffered before Thanksgiving and express my joy here accordingly.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday Potpourri

It is Sunday morning in beautiful Southern California and I am to spend my day in airborne metal tubes. This was a poorly planned trip, as I should have booked a redeye last night, and instead, I paid for another night's lodging a will burn all day in the air.

Readership of the blog has plummeted since I dropped off Twitter and Facebook for the second half of the Christmas Season (Thanksgiving through Christmas). I use those two platforms to point people here, and without them, a small band of dedicated readers soldier on. I thank you for it.  When I eventually return to social media, I think it will be on a more limited basis, but definitely will use it to flack this site.

I've discovered something much of America has already known about, and that is the Netflix series "Stranger Things".  I took in season 1 over the past few days, and began season 2 last night. Set in the early 80's, the series is centered around the activities of four 11 or 12 year old boys. Not that this is a kid's series--it's just that the kids are the discovery vehicles used to enter this incredible world of horror and the paranormal. Additionally, the kids are damn likable. I recommend adding it to your holiday binge watching plans.

I attended the Reagan National Defense Forum yesterday, and came away more convinced than ever that the great military buildup promised by candidate Trump was then a fiction, and remains one today. Essentially a wallow of the right of center national security community, there was the constant refrain that the sequester was evil and that more needs to be spent on defense. A dose of reality was added by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) who essentially put it this way---there is broad consensus that we (Americans) want lower taxes, a stronger military and no cuts to programs we like. This is simply an unworkable situation, and without leadership, nothing will get done. Now that tax reform is done, you're going to start to see a lot more about the coming government shut-down. And it is coming--the question will be how long it goes for. The Trumpenproletariat assures us their Lord and Master was elected to make great deals AND that he won't give in to the Democrats. In our system of government, pulling something like this off is a neat trick, and virtually impossible.

Speaking of tax reform, the Senate passed its version late Friday night and now the two bills will go to conference. It seems almost certain that there will be tax reform/cuts before the year's end, and I am pleased with it. I am also pleased with the fact that once again, Donald Trump has to bow to globalist, cuck, eGOP, establishment RINOs like Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan for any credit he gets here. Both have come under withering criticism from the Staatsmedien including Fox News and Breitbart, and collectively were put forward as the poster boys for the failure of the GOP to deliver on promises in the past. Never mind that there was a Democrat President for 8 years--civics not being a particular interest of TrumpNation--but there is an uncomfortable truth to the fact that the only two things Trump has accomplished of lasting note were directly attributable to the skill of Mitch McConnell (judges and taxes). But go ahead, tell me again how Trump is the answer to all our problems.

Perhaps a little more later, but for now, I have to get myself off to the airport. Be well. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

On the Road Again

It is 0625 in the morning here in Westlake Village, CA, and despite my best efforts, my body clings to Eastern time. When I woke with a start two hours ago, I tried to roll over and carry on, but ten thousand thoughts crept into my mind ("hey, you've really fallen behind on the blogging") and so I've been up and working.

I am here as I have been three years previously around this time to attend the Reagan National Defense Forum held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It is worth it to click the link and check out the agenda to get a sense of how interesting this event promises to be. At tonight's reception and tomorrow's event, the glittering stars of wonky defense Washington come here and drink each other's bath water. Last year I attended--like most others--in somewhat of a state of shock at what had happened in the election, and this (generally) right of center group met without a clue in the world at what lay ahead for the country. Trump administration folks litter the attendee and speaker list for this event, and it will be nice to finally put faces with names of people who I had generally never heard of before their nominations to office.

I flew out here on Southwest through Phoenix, with both flights on time, and full. I continue to believe there is rampant abuse of wheelchair-conveyed early boarding privileges, but of course, exposing it would be worse than the crime. And so on a flight of less than 130 seats, I watched 9 people pushed down the runway and early seated. What I found interesting was that when I exited the plane, their immobility had generally not impeded their early EXIT from the therefrom. Astonishing.

My self-imposed exile from Twitter and Facebook between Thanksgiving and Christmas continues. When I read my feed on Twitter-fed Nuzzel (which delivers to me the things people I follow link to--so I get the news/features I want without all the opinion/silliness--and when multiple people link to the same thing, they are simply aggregated under the same link--rather than a new story being posted) I often find myself impulsively thinking about a snarky or clever response, but then realize I am prohibited from doing so.

This new method of getting news created interesting fallout the other day. As I read my Nuzzel feed, I saw a story (with lots of people having tweeted about it) that said at a White House event honoring the Navajo Code-Talkers, the President had referred again to Senator Warren as "Pocahontas" . I read the story and thought to myself two things. First, that this man is such a tool. Second, that it is still pretty funny. That's it. I heard and processed the news. I rendered an internal opinion, and then I moved on to the next story. Had I been active on Twitter that day, I would have read hundreds of tweets echoing and magnifying and amplifying every side of this event. I would have read those who mocked the mocking. I would have read those who thought Warren deserves it. I would have read those who believe the President is an idiot. I would have read those who think he is a genius. But essentially--I would have gained zero additional useful information or news. I had an epiphany at that moment. This is how normal people (those not Twitter addicted) live their lives. They watch the news on TV or they read content on the web, they form an opinion on it, and then they go walk the dog. I need to be more of a normal person. This Twitter exile is helping with that.

Republicans Inch Closer to a Tax Deal

As a conservative and a former Republican, tax reform and tax cuts are close to my heart, and the sight of the GOP "Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight" inching their way toward a bill that cuts taxes and (modestly) reforms them is a good thing. Let's be honest--if a GOP Congress couldn't get a tax cut done, it might as well fold. Reforming the tax code is harder than cutting taxes, but there is a little of that here too.

There is a lot to like in this bill. Lowering corporate rates is a pro-growth initiative. Eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes appeals to me as a limited government man (although it will likely hurt my bottom line); perhaps because the true costs of lavish government spending in blue states will now be known to the taxpayer, there will be some downward pressure on them.

Limiting/restricting the mortgage interest deduction also strikes me as common sense. I am however, not sure there has been sufficient attention paid to what the double whammy of eliminating property tax deductions and limiting the mortgage deduction will have on the real estate market. The financial crisis of 2008 was mainly a crisis caused in the housing market--and one wonders what will happen to a market like the one in California as a result of these changes.

What is this tax reform NOT? It is not aimed in any way, shape, or form at making the lives of the famous "Trump Voters" better. Are we really to believe that the temper tantrum voters of PA/OH/MI/WI peering at the news over their Millers are rising in praise of the corporate tax cut from 35% to 20%? When those with a few children realize that the doubling of the standard deduction is essentially zeroed out by the elimination of personal exemptions--and their taxes rise as a result--who will they then turn to?

Globalist cuck Marco Rubio tried to address the pro-business/anti-family nature of the bill with an amendment that reorders priorities in this bill be cutting the corporate tax rate to 22% (from 35% instead of down to 20%), and then doubling the child credit to $2000.  "Rubio's amendment(s) makes the credit more defensibly refundable by tying it to the payroll tax, removing the marriage penalty in the credit's phaseout, and indexing the credit to inflation".   The previous quote comes from a Forbes hit piece on the amendment that looks like it was written by the two rich brothers in "Trading Places". The President is apparently fixated on the 20% number and is unwilling to budge, creating a situation in which an already gigantic decrease in corporate taxes rises as a priority over a REAL tax cut for middle class working families.

Finally--the GOP has been in power in both political branches for nearly a year--and their signature achievement if it comes to pass--will be to add $1.5T to the national debt. Where is ANY talk of cutting spending in this White House and this Congress?  No one should be surprised that a guy who milked the credit markets through four bankruptcies as a private citizen is unconcerned with running up the credit card bill in office.

Bottom line here: these initiatives are better than nothing, and good in some places. But for this bill to be in any way worthy of the disruption, chaos, and embarrassment of the election of Donald Trump as President, it should have at the very least addressed the dinner table issues of the people whose uncontrolled anger put him in office. It does not do this.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

What Ornament Got Left Off the Tree This Year?

Why this one, of course.

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Dip of the Toe in the Black Friday Phenomenon

There has been little more worthy of scorn than the disgusting phenomenon of Black Friday shopping. The scenes of riotous flatscreen hopefuls grabbing at each other's entrails in hopes of an additional 30% off have served to inoculate me from the madness. Additionally, I tend to view those who do join these mobs with circumspection, even beloved family members. As of today, I have joined their ranks. Here is my story.

I woke early today, about 0645, wide awake and jonesing for a cup of coffee. I  fed the beasts and sat down with my smartphone by the fire, a device newly shorn of the Twitter and Facebook apps in support of my plan to back away from them for the rest of the Christmas season. The problem in doing so, is that my main source of news--Twitter--is now not available. Now I know, Twitter is a forum for showing off, but it is also an incredibly efficient source of news. I follow a ton of news organizations and political commentators, and they link to numerous interesting news stories and analysis. Without Twitter, I have to use other ways to get news--major news websites (NYT, WaPost), commentary sites (NR, Weekly Standard, commentary) and headlines (AP)--all of which do a good job, but a hell of a lot less efficiently than Twitter.

Enter "Nuzzel". Nuzzel is a fascinating app that links to your Twitter account, and then mines the feeds of everyone you follow, pulling out what THEY have linked to, and then supplying only the linked to stories to you (me) prioritized by how many of them have tweeted about the story or linked to it. Essentially, you get a curated news service courtesy of the people you follow on Twitter. Said another way, you get the good, non-addictive part of twitter (News) without the showing off and the bullshit.

So there I was this morning in front of the fire at 0745, having thoroughly updated myself on the news of the world overnight, with everyone else in my house asleep, for hours at least. I determined yesterday that I would not do any "real" work today, I have prohibited myself from social media (which I could then spend hours wasting time on), and I wasn't all that thrilled to go read the book I'm halfway through on.

I opened an email from Joseph A. Banks telling me about their Black Friday Sale. And then I saw that Joe opened at 0800. And there is a Joe Banks here in Easton. And I want a new suit (Blue windowpane, flat-front trousers, cuffed). And this is how I joined the Black Friday madness.

Driving there, I steeled myself for the experience. Insufficient staff. Lines. Rudeness. Lines. Maybe bait and switch. Lines.

I arrived at 0815, and there was a single employee in the store. I was the sole customer. I left in less than thirty minutes with two pairs of pants and a suit (ordered). 

How bout that?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from the Conservative Wahoo

It is quiet here in the kitchen this Thanksgiving morning. I sit next to the (gas) fire with two sleeping, black labs at my feet and a rowdy kitten leaping from place to place. The Kitten popped in a few minutes ago requesting a cup of coffee for her bath, which was duly provided. The Kittens are abed. I gaze out the back windows toward the beginnings of the Miles River and see only a dock on one side of the river and a late 18th century Mansion farther downstream. Were I sitting on this spot in 1790, I would have the same view.

We will have a group of twelve today, the standard crowd. The victuals provided are the makings of perditious gluttony. I am in charge of the grilled goose breast appetizer (grilled yesterday, chilling), the goose breast sauce (blackberry currant jam, water, balsamic boiled, reduced), the turkey gravy (I cheat magnificently here, using powdered poultry gravy to which I add goosebits and pan drippings in endgame--to the delight of all), and the turkey (21.84 lbs of fresh bird). I also say the blessing--to which I attempt to bring the twin oratorical virtues of hope and brevity.

The Kitten is the maestro of this orchestra, and I (famous rule-follower) take orders well. She has a Time Phased Force Deployment Document (TPFDD) that lays out when each part of the dinner is to be begun and finished--which allows for the most efficient and effective use of the five burners on the stove, the toaster oven, the microwave, the oven itself, and if necessary--my grill. When she breaks this document out annually, on Thanksgiving Eve to go over it with me, I get tears of pride in my eyes. It is one of the many reasons I love her.

There are two new dishes on this years gustatory bacchanal; a broccoli/cheese/onion casserole and a corn pudding. The star of the meal each year is The Kitten's famous mashed potatoes, which start with my peeling and dicing while watching the Macy's parade. I have been well-trained to leave plenty of skin, which is (I believe) the second most important contribution to the well-earned fame of this dish. The most important is of course, butter, and plenty of it.

After the peeling and dicing, I retrieve the turkey from the basement reefer and let it sit for a bit before massaging it with oil, salt, and pepper. I go back and forth each year between cooking it breast side down and allowing gravity to work its magic on breast moistness, and breast side up to produce the Currier and Ives photo. I think I'm going with breast side up, but this is a game-time decision. The reason I have such wide latitude is that The Kitten does not like turkey that much and so does not care how it is cooked.

After the bird goes into the oven, I shower and dress and then return to assist in the side dishes as necessary. This part of the meal is really where the Kitten's virtuosity comes into play, and I mainly just try to stay out of the way. Each year, she and I have the same discussion--in which I say, "hey, you need to go get dressed, guests will be here soon", and each year she puts me off, such that she is annually dressing while people arrive and I meet them/provide libation and appetizers.

I am semi-famous for my love of Christmas, and haters always point to this sense that it diminishes the importance of Thanksgiving. This is a pernicious lie. Thanksgiving is one of the MOST IMPORTANT events of the Christmas Season, a ritualistic cleansing if you will, in which we offer to God our greatest of thanks for all of the great blessings we enjoy. At least that's how I see it. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from Bryan, Catherine, Hope, Hannah, Baloo, ZuZu, Bagherra, and Miss Moppet. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

On Travels in Wisconsin

The blog has been quiet since last week because I have been traveling, and the winter weather clothing requirements of my destination meant I had to leave the laptop behind (while still meeting carry-on standards).

FLASH: Hey--wouldn't it be better if airlines made CHECKING bags free and made you PAY for carry-ons? Sure would make getting on and off the plane a lot faster.

Back to the post. I traveled to Wisconsin with General Dan, a reprise of a trip first covered here on the blog two years ago in "Dispatch from the Road: Wisconsin Wonderland".  I've decided not to re-read that post so that it doesn't shape what I write about this one. But I'm sure there will be commonalities.

I flew to Wisconsin on United through Chicago (O'Hare). My God, O'Hare is a big airport. We seemed to taxi on the ground there for twice the length of the flight to Milwaukee. General Dan picked me up at the airport in his land-yacht of a pick-em-up-truck (full, cavernous, heated backseat) and then drove to Dan's hometown of Hartland. That's right. Hartland. Can this be any more stereotypical?

With Joan at her coffee shop
In Hartland, we stopped in at Joan Curnane Folvag's coffee shop, a repeat of our trip here last time. Joan and I went to high school together, and she is a Hartland hero for having brought the first real coffeeshop to town. She's decided to sell it now and relax a bit--I don't blame her. Her oldest son popped in for a visit--strapping senior in H.S. headed to the University of Minnesota next year--where he'll join the Golden Gopher Marching Band (trombone). Ten minutes with him had me far less worried about America's future.

We then moved on to our destination for the night, the house Dan's father (Tim) shares with his wife Linda. Dan's mom died ten years ago or so, and from what I've been able to discern over the years, she was a force of nature. Having myself joined the family of a deceased legend, I feel a kinship with Linda. She and Tim have built a great life together, living in her house in Wisconsin for most of the year, and his condo in Florida over the rough winter months.  Both of them are salt of the earth--kind, conversational, and warm.

With Steve Hampton.
The Hampton's, Representing
Late Friday afternoon, I posted an update in Facebook that was read by my old Navy boss Steve Hampton--who actually lives in Hartland these days. Steve called, and I asked permission of my hosts to bag out for 90 minutes to go have a drink with Steve--who came and picked me up soon thereafter. We alighted to Palmers in downtown Hartland where a fetching bar-tendress served us an afternoon libation. It is always great to be with Steve. I worked for him in the early 90's on USS THOMAS S GATES (CG 51), which was perhaps the most talent laden ship of the twentieth century Navy. He taught me everything I know about killing missiles and airplanes (well, he and Mudge did) , and we've been good friends ever since. After a bit, Steve took me back to his house, where his knockout wife Terry met us in his beautiful house. Hampton's marriage to Terry is a tribute to the possibility that some women really DO seek out a sense of humor, because if she were trying to maximize looks, Hambone would not come close. I keed, I keed.

Steve and Terry have two grown daughters and live in what appears to me to be Bruce Wayne's mansion. We went for a tour, and I swear, I figured there would be a bat cave. Perfectly decorated--both in general and for Christmas--it struck me as a wonderful place to kick your feet up.

General Dan, with an Old Fashioned
Having overstayed my welcome, I asked Steve to drive me to dinner at the Hartland Inn.  Here, two of Dan's sisters met up with Tim, Linda, Dan and I--along with one sister (Liz) husband (Steve). This dinner is their way of really turning on the Wisconsin charm--and it is a request of mine. The Hartland Inn is a legit Wisconsin Supper Club, which has to be experienced to be understood. I absolutely love this place. Everyone seems to know each other there, and I swear, walking into the bar is like walking back fifty years in time.  I didn't even open the menu, because I found what I wanted to eat on the "specials" menu appended thereunto. I ordered a New England Clam Chowder and Beef Stroganoff--both of which went down smooth. The only problem was that during the pre-dinner bar time, I ate somewhere on the order of  3,000 small pretzels, and I finished up the evening uncomfortably full and very heart-burny.

I decided on this trip to throw dietary caution to the wind, and I sincerely regret it. I ate whatever I wanted in whatever quantities I wanted, and laid in bed each night enormous and dyspeptic. I went back to Tim and Linda's house to hit the sack, but the General stayed in town and hit a watering hole to receive the adulation of the townspeople.
My Legitimacy

A little of the White Stuff
With the Karbler Siblings
Saturday morning brought a dusting of snow (lovely) and a festive lunch with all three of Dan's sisters. I was granted special dispensation to attend this "Sibling Lunch", to include actual paperwork. One thing I noted earlier in the morning was General Dan being a little short with his Dad about when we would leave for Green Bay (2 hrs away). Dan doesn't get short much. This wasn't a full on jerk kind of short, but a little chippy. So when Dan and I split from lunch with the ladies to go grab Dan's Dad, I asked him what the hurry was to get to Green Bay. "Ok. I'll spoil the surprise. We're getting a guided tour of the Packers facilities along with the pilots who will do the F-15 flyover the next day.  And we get pregame field VIP passes for Sunday."  Ok. Now I understand the chippiness.

Aaron Rodgers Locker, extreme right
We made the trip up and were met at Lambeau by "T-Bone" who is both an equipment manager and the team's military liaison. His office was a shrine of stuff that military units have given him- very cool, and he loves the military. We saw everything. The training facilities. The weight room. The locker room. The shoe room. The indoor practice field. It was a behind the scenes look that really gives one an appreciation into what goes into pulling off a professional football game.
T-Bone and the General

Dinner that night was a feast--each of us got the ribeye at The Black and Tan Grille. My primary dietary foul here was the lobster mac and cheese, which was everything a boy hopes for in his lobster mac and cheese. We then waddled back to our hotel where I passed another uncomfortable night of gastro-intestinal distress.

The game (Packers v. Ravens) started at 12, and the wind chill was 17 degrees. This is not--as Lambeau goes--very cold. But it is very cold to me. So I brought along a good deal of extra layers etc, and was well equipped for the elements. Besides a little toe cold, everything else was toasty.

Tim and Dan in The Shoe Room
The Packers got beat. I feel bad for Green Bay fans, because they suffer from a severe case of cognitive dissonance. When Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, the entire country--except Packers fans--wrote this team off. And the whole country was right. The drop-off between an all world QB and the second string guy is huge--and they just couldn't get it done. I was impressed with how well the Ravens traveled, as there were a TON of Ravens fans there. I was also impressed with how nice the Green Bay folks were to them. They kill you with kindness there.

We dined Sunday night at a regrettable spot called "Hagermeister Park". Tim loved his wings, but there was little else ordered that night worth discussion. And since I was in the land of nice people, I'll be nice and not say anything more mean about the place.

On Monday morning, we hopped over the airport in Green Bay to meet up with our new F-15 pilot buddies to walk the flight line and learn about the planes. Then we headed back down to Milwaukee to drop me at the airport to continue my travels home. Dan was to drop his Dad off back in Hartland and then continue driving to his home outside Omaha.

One odd thing to report. I did not see a single cow in the four days I was there. I think some kind of clever ruse is being pulled on the American people, and all the cows are really in Minnesota.

Another odd thing; on the drive from Green Bay to Milwaukee, I saw a number of advertisements for "adult" establishments. Video, dancing, clothing, etc. Who knew these people were so randy? I guess you've got to find some way to pass the long winter....

All in all, a fantastic trip among wonderful people. Many thanks to General Dan, Tim, Linda, Liz, Steve Carol, Steve, and Terry for making this a great trip.

Going Dark for Christmas

Social media plays a big part in my life. I have this blog. I have a decent Twitter following. I am active on Facebook. I don't have any hobbies to speak of, so I suppose social media may in fact count as one. The problem is, I fear it plays TOO big a part in my life. I don't read as much as I used to. If I had a camera on me throughout the day, I'd be head down in my stupid phone on Twitter. Twitter is really my obsession, because of the instant feedback. I like writing pithy things (hence, a blog). On Twitter, I get instant feedback. Some like what I say, some don't. When I say something particularly important or insightful, I watch the number of followers rise. It is addictive. I am likely, addicted.

Facebook is a little different. I used to use Facebook like I use Twitter--posting all manner of political and policy oriented stuff--but what I realize is that most of the people on Facebook aren't really interested in that sort of stuff. It's more of a "here's what my kids and grandkids are up to" kind of platform--which I think is a bad thing for its future, as the kids and grandkids just aren't on Facebook. That said, plenty of other people still use Facebook to air their political views, and so I get exposed to them there. I don't answer them anymore, but they still sometimes get a rise out of me.

As I was traveling this weekend, I was thinking about Christmas, as is my habit, and how I actually celebrate the season. I thought about how people really are a little nicer to each other when there is Christmas music playing in the background. And I thought about the kind of person I want to be for the people I love. And then I got involved in a frothy little Twitter debate on my phone. In the middle of it, I realized how incompatible the tweeting was with the rosy, homey thoughts I had prior to it. And it was then that I decided that if I were going to be a real, committed Christmas freak, I needed to put down the phone.

So here's the plan. From the time I got to bed tonight to the morning after Christmas, I will not participate in Twitter, and I will not post or read Facebook--with the sole exception of my Facebook Christmas Carol posting which is after all, a huge part of many people's Christmas cheer.  I'll keep doing this blog, but the others will go away.

I'm hoping to harvest the time I waste on social media and dedicate it to my family--to being more helpful, to decorating with abandon, to cooking holiday meals, to watching wonderful holiday TV shows--to fully immerse myself in the season.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tax Reform Moves Forward

Very good news today as the House just passed its tax reform bill--with no Democrat support. Thirteen R's voted against it, primarily from states with high state income taxes which would (under the House plan) be treated far differently under the plan. NYT has a good summary here, with the key graph below:

"The House tax bill, which passed in the Ways and Means Committee last week, would cut taxes more than $1.4 trillion over 10 years. It cuts the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, collapses the number of tax brackets to four from seven, switches the United States to an international tax system that is more in line with the rest of the world, and eliminates or scales back many popular deductions, including one for state and local taxes paid."

I honestly don't know how I will make out under this new approach--I pay a goodly bit of State and Local income taxes that I won't be able to deduct anymore, but I also run a sole proprietorship which may mean I get taxed at the Corporate rate--something I'll have to check.

What is really important here--for the future of the GOP in ANY form--is that they get this done, and by "this", I mean tax reform/cuts. The Senate has a somewhat different bill they are working on, and with their tiny margins, each Republican Senator's ability to fudge the deal rises dramatically (as we saw with health insurance). I have no idea how this will all turn out, but I think the neither the House bill nor the Senate's will be passed in its current form. I give SOME reform a 50/50 shot. But if it fails, the likely 2018 GOP Bloodbath becomes a lock.

Let's face it; if the GOP can't pass tax reform owning both chambers and the White House, then the reform they are trying to achieve is simply not possible. It isn't a sign of incompetence, but it will be taken as one. I'd love to see them work their assess off to do a solid bill that could bring a few D's along--but which would CERTAINLY lock up their own caucus. But it seems they are under the gun in terms of timing, because of how ineffective they and the President have been in getting anything done in this Congress.

Touch and Go

I landed this morning at Dulles and had to take a cab to BWI to get my car, as my flights got screwed up on the West Coast last night and I needed to be back for a 0900 event at Kitten 1's school. I landed, got in the cab, drove to BWI, got my car and drove to her school (including stopping for gas) and got there at 0901.  I love it when a plan comes together.

On the way home from the event, I stopped at Giant and grabbed a 21.84 lb fresh Butterball Turkey. This should stand our group of 12 on Turkey Day in good stead. I read an interesting article on Thanksgiving yesterday which essentially made the case that the only thing necessary to be cooked ON Thanksgiving is the Turkey. I'll have to consult with the Domestic CEO to see if she wants to buy into such a plan.

I had time a little while ago to do another carol to help move you along in the Christmas spirit.

Tomorrow early, I hop on another plane and make my way to Milwaukee to meet up with General Dan (Karbler), who many on the blog know well. Dan and I hit a Packers game two years ago and it was a wonderful time--so we decided to do it again this year. We didn't know that Aaron Rogers would go down, but those are the breaks.

I don't suspect I'll bring the laptop with me, so there won't be any posts until I get home Monday night at the earliest.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Potpourri

I spend a lot of time criticizing the President, and all too little time thinking about how we made such an utter mistake in electing him. I had a brief moment of how it happened last night. For some odd reason, NBC has decided to resurrect a show called "Will and Grace" from its graveyard of past shows. Here is a description of the show I pulled from the Google:

"In the original eight-season run of this groundbreaking sitcom, best friends Will, a meticulous corporate lawyer, and Grace, a neurotic interior decorator, share a New York apartment after Grace leaves her fiancé at the altar. Will and Grace, along with their pals Karen, an outspoken socialite, and Jack, a free-spirited actor, face the highs and lows of life in Manhattan together. From sex, dating and divorce to cutting cultural commentary, nothing's off limits -- and all is fair game -- in this Emmy-winning comedy."

The show went off the air 12 years ago, without my ever having watched a minute of it. NBC has brought it back this year, and The Kitten seems to enjoy it, which means I sometimes watch it alongside.  Last night's episode featured a situation in which the above mentioned "free-spirited actor" Jack (in reality, about as stereotyped a gay character as one could imagine) was confronted with his 10 year old never-before-met grandson. The boy's father--Jack's son--was the product of a sperm donation, and Jack and his son were estranged.

The point of this whole thing is that the boy believed he was gay, and his parents (stereotyped Texans) were taking him to a deprogramming camp of some sort--in which the two main camp counselors were played by well-known lesbian and gay B-listers dutifully repressing their natures and lampooning/caricaturing the very notion of such a camp.

Now--here's the part you really need to pay attention to--I don't have an opinion to share with you about the notion of a camp that parents would send their kids to in order to convince them that they were not gay. I'm not going to argue with anyone about whether that kind of camp is "right" or whether homosexuality is "wrong". That's not what this blog post is about.

It is about the manner in which the popular culture portrayed the people who for some odd reason, do not celebrate the gay lifestyle. They were benighted druids, with the only point at which the boy's father was portrayed positively was when he rejected his wife's rejection of their son's (and the boy's grandfather's) homosexuality. One could not be fully human until one put away the notion that homosexuality was wrong.

The thing is, LOTS of people think homosexuality is wrong. They pay taxes. They have jobs. They send their kids to school. And they are mercilessly lampooned in the popular culture.

There's news this morning of Saturday Night Live doing a bit last night on Judge Roy Moore--who deserves everything he's getting. Take the easy shot at the culturally deprived target--but leave Harvey Weinstein alone? Where has that bit been?

It seems to me that there part of what we've seen politically is the back-lash to what we've seen culturally. I'm clearly not the first to make this point, but it cannot be made enough. Until Trump--the GOP had a HAMMERLOCK on politics in this country and the left had a hammerlock on the culture. Trump's voters got tired of how they're treated in pop culture (and presumably, much of the time in this blog), and they acted out. So now we have Trump, and the right will now begin to lose even the political arguments.

So--while I am foursquare of the opinion that Trump voters made a tantrum-induced mistake that will ultimately deprive them of the very things they sought, every now and then I get a glimpse of what brought on the tantrum.


In other news, the UVA football team stunk up the field in Louisville, and fact powerful Miami next week. Not getting any easier.


One of the charms of living on Maryland's Eastern Shore is the annual Easton Waterfowl Festival--right here in my hometown. This is a great event--art, music, food etc--and my favorite feature--exhibitions of hunting dog prowess. I have two black labs who are the best most loving dogs in the world. But they are horribly trained. I see these people walking with their calm and lovely labs down the street at Waterfowl, and I am instantly envious. They I go watch the retriever exhibition, and my heart breaks, as my two just don't seem to have that gene.  Anyway, it was a great day.

A Waterfowl Festival Street Scene

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Perhaps I Made a Mistake--In Which I Review My Decision Not to Run for Senate

As some of you know, I toyed with the idea of running against Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) in the 2018 Maryland U.S. Senate race. In the summer of 2016, I began a process of figuring out whether or not to do so. I thought deeply about it; I gathered friends and wise people to discuss it; I began planning, I wrote a monthly newsletter, I started to work on my public speaking, and I generally obsessed with what could only have been considered quixotic exercise.

Maryland is deeply, deeply Democratic state. There hasn't been a Republican Senator in over thirty years. The last time it voted for a Republican for President was I believe, Reagan in 84.  There have been a few Republican governors, including Larry Hogan, our present Governor, and one of the most popular governors in the country. He is also up for re-election in 2018.

What I'm trying to say is that winning a statewide race in Maryland as a Republican is -- under the best of conditions -- a long-shot.

But at the time--I saw two things that made the long shot a little less long. First was the presence of the Governor on the ballot. Larry Hogan is as I said, very popular, and he had done a good job of showing snowflakey Maryland voters that a Republican doesn't have to be scary. And at the time, I was not a very scary Republican.  Second was that I thought Hillary Clinton would win the November 2016 election (I think I can be excused this mistake, as mostly everyone else did too) and there would be an inevitable backlash against her administration in the 2018 Congressional elections. Taken together, these two contributors lowered the barriers to a Republican winning--but still not by much.

Because I needed to have a rational decision-making process as I approached this, I had a series of "go/no-go" points along the way, the first of which was the Presidential election. Simply put, although I saw his chances of winning as minimal, I believed that if Donald Trump DID win, my brand of GOP politics would be so far out of favor with the Maryland electorate that I would not have a prayer in the primary. So--it was the first "no go" point. On the morning after the election, I realized I had reached that point, and I told Catherine and everyone else following my decision that I would not go any farther.

A year later, I am second-guessing myself. Not the decision, per se, but the logic behind it. A year after the election of Donald Trump, he is singularly unpopular. His support even in the Republican Party, is slowly declining, and his support nationwide reflects his position as a deeply polarizing figure. My guess is though, that among a goodly number of Republicans likely to vote in a Maryland GOP Primary (closed primary), he is still quite popular. But that popularity seems to me, to offer the interesting new angle.

If you go back and look at the GOP Senate primaries in the past few go-rounds, you see one theme repeated--there are a number of hopefuls, and they divide up the vote with the winner managing only a plurality. So, cut ahead to the 2018 primary. Let's say six people were running. My gut tells me that most--if not all--would be falling over themselves to be seen by the Trump friendly GOP primary electorate as "Pro-Trump". Which means that if one of them were to run as the explicitly conservative, old school GOP "Anti-Trump" guy--he or she could gain traction with that portion of the GOP electorate who is not on the "Trump Train".  Stay with me now.

If someone running for Senate in the State of Maryland GOP Primary--were to run as a loud and proud you think the Washington DC media would be able to leave that person alone? Or do you think they would get a BUTT TON of free media. Remember--to win the Senate race, you first have to be nominated. Getting nominated in a multi-horse race means you've got to have name recognition. Someone who mounts a campaign like the one I've described could gain a good deal of it--perhaps enough to gain 20-30% of the vote in a GOP primary--which could be enough to win. Additionally, someone running a campaign like this would have to appeal to "unaffiliated" voters to register GOP and vote for him/her in the primary. The ability to register a vote AGAINST Trump in a GOP primary would be CATNIP to some voters. 

Clearly, what I've described is an odd way to look at things, but then again, anyone running as a Republican in Maryland is somewhat odd to begin with. That said, I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun I would have with this kind of campaign, how wonderful it would be to travel the State talking about the buffoon in the Oval Office and more importantly--how he lied to his supporters and how he is leaving them behind.

Would I win? Could I win? Doubtful. But man--it would be a hoot.
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