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.

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