Hannibal Lecter Would Choke On A Piece Of My Mind

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A Little Peek At The Crystal Ball

 

…because it’s shiny, and I have nothing else to do.  Also, this post will be written to the sweet, sweet strains of the Halo 3 soundtrack.  Leah, I know you read this, so go look it up.  Marty O’Donnell is a really cool modern composer.

Okay, let’s start with the basics.  In 2008, we had an electorate that was SO COMPLETELY SICK of George W. Bush.  We had a GOP candidate whose most effective campaign tactic seemed to be the Clint Eastwood Stare.

We also owned 23 of the 35 seats up for election in the Senate.  Ordinarily, that translates to an advantage, because incumbency is not necessarily a bad thing in an election.  Furthermore, sitting Senators have a built-in fundraising advantage, because they’ve proven they can win.  People don’t like to back potential losers; and incumbency is a powerful motivator for the mega-donors.

However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Maverick, from Top Gun, would call this a “target-rich environment.”  When you have too many incumbents, there is only so much money that can be raised — and since they’re all good fundraisers, they tend to suck the money out of each other.  Survival instinct guides most of these people, so the competition for campaign funds can be brutal, to say the least.

Now, when you combine that with the inevitable money-crunch when wealthy donors bail for the opposition (because it looks like they’re gonna win…), you wind up with a lot of incumbents who can’t raise enough money.  That was the case for some of the losers in 2008, but not many.  The person with the biggest fundraising problems?

John McCain.

We had 23 highly effective fundraisers and the RNC, all working their minds out to fundraise a war-chest in record time, against the headwinds of a shifting electorate and a terrible candidate, and it simply could not be done.

Now.

In 2012, Democrats own 23 of 33 Senate seats up for re-election.  The dynamics are sure to change between now and then — whether it becomes better or worse for Democrats will be of great interest to me.  Political science says it should swing back toward the Democrats — but then, political science said that the electorate should have swung back after 2006 as well.  The fact that it did not, suggests that waves are built in this fashion — a preparatory wave, of sorts, and then a titanic wave in which sure-fire winners are taken out with the tide (see Stevens, Ted).

If this is a building wave, and the 23 Senators up for election prove to be a liability, the incumbent President will be competing with them for cash.  Now he is a much better campaigner than McCain.  But for the first time in his career, he will be limited by his record.  For all his vaunted salesmanship, he hasn’t ever been forced to sell something other than himself.  This is a weakness that I am not sure he can overcome in two years.

And here are the senators who will prove to be a liability:

  • Bill Nelson, Florida
  • Claire McCaskill, Missouri
  • Ben Nelson, Nebraska
  • Kent Conrad, North Dakota
  • Bob Casey Jr., Pennsylvania
  • And if he runs at all, Boots Webb of Virginia.

Okay, to be fair, there are some Republican senators unlikely to win re-election as well.

  • Scott Brown, of Massganistan.

And of the Republican incumbents, there are several that are sure to receive primary challenges:

  • John Ensign, because he’s weak
  • Bob Corker, because he’s a porker
  • Olympia Snowe, ’nuff said
  • And my own personal target, Kay Bailey Hutchinson.  More on this race in a different post; let’s just start calling her the Charlie Crist of 2012.  And yes, there is a Rubio figure to vanquish the undesirable.

All of the above aside, try being a Democrat and winning without Florida and Pennsylvania.  Just try.  I’ll even spot you Ohio.  The math doesn’t work, and especially not after redistricting.  Speaking of which, Republicans are due for another 20 pickups, just from redistricting.  That’s without any changes at all, this map, this electorate, 20 more seats in the House.  For doing nothing.

Again, that’s another blog post entirely, but it’s worth noting here.

Republicans are going to play their part to the hilt.  Soon-to-be Speaker Boehner is going to force the House to vote on destroying/dismantling/defunding Obamacare, in an attempt to make the next election a referendum on that legislation (and others, but mostly that).  This kicks the ball to the Senate, where if Mitch McConnell has a brain and the means to use it, he will use parliamentary procedure and the virtually invincible arch-conservative Jim DeMint to force votes on that legislation.  This will force the Senate Democrats (especially those up for re-election) to choose between their own electoral fortunes, and protecting the President from having to veto legislation that most of America wants passed.

In a political equation where a politician must choose between himself and anything else, a politician will almost always choose himself.  This means that either Harry Reid is going to take it on the chin (meaning split his caucus, rendering himself an ineffective Majority Leader), or actually force the President to make unpopular vetoes.

Or, in the Liberal Armageddon scenario, the President will actually sign this legislation.  That will depress his base even further than it already is, and only God or the Kennedys can help him then.

And we’re all out of Kennedys.

Of course, real victory for the conservatives depends entirely on whether we nominate a serious candidate.  That, mi amici, is where this whole story arc is headed.  So here’s the menu for my next few blog posts:

  1. Kay Bailey Hutchincrist, and why she should be smoked in the primary (and by whom!)
  2. How conservatives can take 20 more House seats through redistricting (lots of links from smarter people on this one)
  3. Presidential candidates, through the long lens.  And I mean, really long lens.

It’s gonna be more fun than a zombie-clown shooting gallery.  I leave you with this, as foreshadowing of my next post.  He wears bow-ties, Dad.  You’ll love this guy.

Well It Certainly Has Been A While…

…since I posted anything here.  Sorry, life has been nuts.

Since today is Veteran’s Day, and I’m one of that bunch now, I thought I’d write something on the subject.  I’ve been reading a lot of stuff today about different men (and even a few women, hooah) who have gone beyond the limits of prudence and sanity to protect me.  And that got me thinking of just how good we have it.

See, most days, I notice the little freedoms that I don’t have anymore.  I’m a politics junkie, but I can’t (or won’t allow myself to) say bad things about my Commander-in-Chief.  At times (many, many times) I disagree with him — but I’m not going to call him a moron, or disagree with his specific opinion publicly (I attribute my disagreements to that amorphous entity called the White House)…because he’s my boss.  Period.

I can’t choose the clothes I wear every day.  On Mondays, we wear blues.  On other days, we wear ABUs.   So shall it be written, so shall it be done — and I have no choice in the matter.  Even if it’s cold out, and I want to wear a sweatshirt, I can’t; because I have to be in the Uniform of the Day.

I can’t choose the food I’m going to eat.  Sure, there are choices within the DFAC, but dude…it’s all Army food.  We call it UFUs — Unidentified Food Units.  Now I know that they’re feeding us on roughly eight bucks a day…but can we at least not pretend that the potatoes are potatoes?  It’s rehydrated elf dandruff with butter flavoring.

The roast beef is pretty good though.  It’s not mom’s Sunday brisket, but it’s undeniably beef.  And that’s gotta count for something.

I am subject to the whims of megamind bureaucrats who outrank me by ten million miles, who haven’t had to look at an A1C since the last time they took a three hour tour through Lackland AFB.  They determine what time I get up in the morning, PT standards and evaluations, how fast I must learn the hardest language for an English speaker to learn (Chinese; go away Koreans, your grammar patterns come with an alphabet), what constitutes acceptable socks, whether or not I may leave base on a particular day…every waking moment of my life is planned for me.  I am not free.

But I give it all willingly.

You see, out there tonight are people who want to rule over you.  They want to kill me, but that’s my job.  What they intend for you is, at least in my opinion, worse than death.  Not only will these people force you to eat a specific diet, dress a specific way, and speak a specific language; they will also force you to buy specific items, sell only during prescribed hours and in specified places, and finally punish your disobedience according to a law you cannot influence or change.

And no, I’m not talking about Democrats or liberals.  I’m talking about terrorist Muslims.

These people kill Americans as a means to an end — and that end is the same end as any other totalitarian doctrine.  It assumes that people are too weak, too stupid, or too morally fallible to rule themselves; and thus, must be ruled by a strong, smart, moral leader.  Such are the delusions of a tyrant.

It is worse to live without freedom than to die to protect it — for yourself, or for others.  Patrick Henry was right when he asked for a stark decision: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”  This is my fight, to protect those who cannot protect themselves against the tyrannical impulses of lesser men.

But, I can’t protect you from all tyranny.  You see, I am part of the federal government.  Creeping tyranny through legislation certainly takes longer, but it is no less dangerous.  And I’d really like some freedom to come home to, once the foreign threats are taken care of.  So while I’m away, keep the idea of America safe.  Keep freedom in your heads, and in your hearts — and never let anyone tell you that you’re too weak, dumb, or too anything else, to rule yourselves.

This is America — we’ve been ruling ourselves for over 200 years without the help of a king.  And I’m pretty sure we’ve done all right for ourselves in that time.

Cynical Libertarians Made Me Think…

…and that’s unusual, because they normally are so busy spouting nihilistic nonsense, they forget to make an actual argument.

So I’m surfing Facebook on a Friday night because the DD program starts at 10…and I don’t have a woman to distract me.  (Hooray for being single, by the way…)  A friend of mine from college posted something along the lines of:

Politics isn’t about things that matter.  Politics is about IF YOU VOTE FOR THE OTHER GUY, YOUR GRANDMOTHER COULD DIE!!!!!11!!1!

Here’s why this libertarian is useless.

Politics is about things that matter, because it’s a two-way street.  It’s not about lies and the lying liars who tell them (a rare good line from Al Franken).  It’s about lies, the lying liars who tell them, and the willing saps who allow themselves to be lied to.

Campaign rhetoric has not changed appreciably since the early seventies.  That’s forty years, roughly, of the same crap being poured on the heads of the populace like a bowl of pureed baby barf.  But what is to stop us from taking an umbrella?

People know, roughly, what the political parties stand for.  Start with the basics: Economics.  The two parties are, with the exception of the Bush presidency, wildly divergent.  Republicans are the party of smaller government, with an emphasis on lower spending.  The idea is to grow the economy faster than the budget, which gives relatively greater economic freedom to all who participate in the economy.

Democrats, on the other hand, want to use the power of government to plan society in the way that seems best to them — and to do this, they must grow the power of government.  When government power grows, economic freedom is slowly strangled.  The idea is to grow the budget faster than the economy, giving the government a greater percentage share of the market — and therefore, control over winners and losers in the economy.

We know these things.

We know that Republicans in general appoint strict constructionist judges to the courts — and that this interpretation of the Constitution limits the power of the federal government.  It distributes the power to lower branches of government, allowing for greater control of governance by the people themselves.  On the other hand, we know that Democrats appoint judges who fly under an array of flags, all meaning the same thing: Written law is whatever I say it is.  For the only unelected branch of government to do such a thing can only be described as tyranny — and it enables the legislative branch to impose laws which are destructive to freedom, without the check of the Constitution.

We know these things.

The choice is not between moral people and immoral, or between pro-choice and pro-life, pro-gun and anti-gun, strong military versus weak, or even between keeping your grandmother alive or not.  The choice is between freedom and slavery.

Freedom is not only being able to start a small business.  It is being able to take that small business, and grow it into a global conglomerate.  If you can only start a small business if you keep it small, that’s not a business.  It’s a Rubik’s Cube — a plaything, a minor distraction to keep your thoughts away from the freedom you could have.

It is possible to know what individuals will largely do once they’re in office.  But cynical libertarians are too busy complaining about being lied to, to make a choice between the two sides that are, no matter what they’re saying.  It takes two for a lie to be successful — first, a liar to tell the lie, and then a person gullible enough to believe it.  Cynical libertarians have all the tools to blow away the lie and make a choice between the two sides, and refuse to use those tools on “principle.”

What tools.

Yes, it sucks being lied to constantly.  But if the lie doesn’t work, they’ll stop telling it.  So calm down, look past the smoke screen, and make a choice.  It’s not always a good choice, but it’s a choice that can lead to good.  So quit whining and make a difference, or play a different game where you’re allowed to cry.

A Worthy Man

I’m not going to provide any context for this.  Just watch.

Somewhere around a year ago, a friend of mine gave me my first impression of Rubio.  It was the video of his farewell speech to the Florida legislature, just before he retired from that position due to term limits.  In this speech — oh what the heck, I’ll just post it.  I can’t do it justice.

The thing that has impressed me the most about this man is that, when he was not running for any office, he said the same things that he has said while running for office.  His message has been consistent whether he was running for the United States Senate, or nothing at all.  When a man will not change his tune, though he has everything to gain and lose…that’s integrity.

Also, a brief reminder of what exactly this guy has done:  He entered a Senate race, believing that he was the only man willing — only to face the most formidable candidate ever constructed in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.  Charlie Crist was  — rightfully — a fundraising legend.  He was a leviathan in Florida politics, a stone-cold lead-pipe lock for the nomination and the general election win.  He was going to cruise.  Except a conservative son of Cuban exiles, who quoted the last speech that JFK ever wrote, was just getting started.

And now, that upstart 39-year-old is about to become the next Senator from the state of Florida.

That first video is the best campaign ad I’ve ever seen — simple, but with the ring of history in it.  If this man has the will to try, and depending on what happens in 2012, I wouldn’t mind seeing him run for a bigger office.  There are echoes of greatness here, and it has been almost my entire lifetime since a man held the Oval Office who was worthy of my vote.  I don’t want Rubio running in 2012 (I argued too hard against inexperienced legislators last time, and it appears I was right), but 2016 or 2020?

Yeah.  Let’s roll.

Fit To Lead

Nothing is quite so annoying as a person who is arrogant without cause.

I understand being arrogant if you’re massively accomplished.  If you, for example, are a major-league baseball player — that’s an accomplishment.  The hardest thing in the world to do is be able to hit a five ounce, three-inch-diameter horsehide sphere moving at some speed between 55 mph (Tim Wakefield) and 105 mph (that reliever who plays for the Reds, whose arm has got to be a ticking time bomb) with an end-heavy stick made of ash or maple lumber.  Oh, and by the way, those balls don’t usually go in a straight line.  And then there’s the optical illusion that goes with it….

I digress.  Point is, that’s very difficult.  So is graduating from West Point, or so I hear.  I know, though not as well as the West Point grads, that it’s difficult to lead people in a combat situation.  I know, because I’m told by those who have, having never done that myself.  So imagine my surprise, when the heir to the Murkowski dynasty of Alaska deemed a combat-decorated (most notably, a Bronze Star for leadership), West Point graduated (with honors, no less), U.S. Army Captain tank-platoon-leader-in-Desert-Storm…unfit to lead.

That’s a quote, by the way.  “Unfit to lead.”

After graduating from West Point and stomping a mudhole in the Iraqi Republican Guard, Joe Miller graduated from Yale Law School, worked in the legal sector in Alaska for a while, started his own law practice, and ran for state office (lost as a Republican in the eighth district, Fairbanks, like most Republicans do).  And oh, just to round things out, in 2009, he earned a Masters degree in economics.

But he’s not fit to lead, according to Princess Lisa.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin.  Lisa Murkowski was first appointed to that seat in the Senate.

By her dad.

To that point, she had only been a member of the State House.  State legislator rocketing to vague and unearned stardom, does that sound a tad familiar?  Earlier on, Murkowski graduated (sans honors) from Georgetown University, and earned a law degree from Willamette University College of Law.  And promptly failed the bar exam four straight times.

Fifth time’s the charm, though; and she probably worked hard from there.  But nowhere in her record do I find anything as compelling as a single bronze star pinned to the chest of a person who successfully led men into the teeth of a war, and out again.  As far as I can tell, Murkie’s credentials for leadership consist of having a daddy who happens to be governor when you start dabbling in politics.

Bottom line is this:  The major quality I want in a leader is someone who earns my devotion.  As far as I can tell, Murkie hasn’t earned jack.  And Miller?  He’s earned every ounce of the respect that any man gives him.  That alone makes him fit to lead — and proves that Murkowski wouldn’t recognize leadership if it mugged her on the Metro.

And Now, For Something Completely Depressing

No, really.  If you’re emotionally unstable, or have any problem with the thought of death or someone dying, do not read any further.  Also, if you’re a minor, don’t read any further.  Really.  I had a tough day today.

*************************************************

Today, I watched a man die.

You’d think that a guy in the Air Force, in Monterey, California, far away from Oakland or any other war zone, wouldn’t see a lot of that sort of thing.  Like, ever.  But people die, and tonight I saw it happen.

It was the first time I’ve seen that happen to a living person.  You hear all of the things about how it’s terrible to see, and how it sticks with you…after.  You hear people saying that dying is just another part of living; that when the time comes, there’s nothing you can do but go with grace.

There is not a single graceful thing about it.  It’s brutal, or at least looks that way.  It is a human soul being torn from its body with a silent violence that you can only see in the other person’s eyes — and that, in the instant before their eyes go dark.  I think it would be better if there were a battle going on around us…instead of that deafening silence.

I didn’t know this man.  I mean, he was a food server at the dining facility — I barely ever saw the guy.  And now, I can’t stop thinking about him.  You see, I’ve been here for 120 days, at two-thirty tomorrow morning.  The most I’ve ever said to him was “potatoes and gravy, please.”  Most haunting of all, though, is what I didn’t say to him.

I never, not one time, told him about Jesus.

And now, I’m afraid.  I’m really scared that I may have condemned that man to burn forever in flames fanned by the wrath of an almighty God.  I know I didn’t kill him in this life.  But I may have been an accessory to the murder of his soul.

So tomorrow, I’m going to talk to my chain of command about setting up a system of getting Airmen like me CPR certified.  I’m going to offer to run the program, if they’ll let me; this guy died, surrounded by the top 1% of IQs in America.  There is absolutely no reason, no excuse, for none of us to be CPR certified. But tonight, I’m going to beg God to forgive me for watching a man die twice, and allowing him to be utterly unprepared.  I know he already forgave me…but at the moment, I’m not quite up to forgiving myself.

God be merciful to me, a man who was too lazy to tell a dying man that there was such a thing as mercy.

The Difference Between Guys And Girls

…is that girls have magic tears.

This is going to take some explaining.

I have three sisters.  Also one brother, but he (like me) does not have magic tears.  One of my sisters has a stubborn streak, the other has a humble streak (and the rest of her is gloriously opinionated), and the last has magic tears.  The other two have magic tears to some extent, but not to the extend that Abbie has them.  In a nutshell, when she cries, she gets what she wants.

Always.  Really.  And it’s not that my dad means to be soft, it really is just those magic tears.

When I was sixteen/seventeen and boneheaded, I disappeared with my cousin for roughly five and one-half hours.  When I came back from racing go-karts, my dad had the Virginia State Police out looking for me.  I’d like to say I never did anything like that again, but…well…let’s just say I grew out of sixteen or seventeen years old before I grew out of my boneheadedness.

I’m still growing out of it.  But I digress.

I disappeared between Front Royal, VA, and Suffolk, VA, in the town we now know and love as FredVegas.  My cousin and I raced go-karts for about four hours, and then meandered on home.  We weren’t out till three in the morning.  We weren’t drunk when we arrived.  We didn’t smell like smoke, and hadn’t been chasing women.  We JUST. RACED. GO-KARTS.  And my dad had a statewide law-enforcement agency out hunting my car.

Now, back to Magic Tears.

Little Sister Leah is a grad student.  Abbie is in undergrad still.  Abbie calls Dad, begs, pleads, and finally obtains permission to visit Leah at her school.  She leaves Friday, arrives later that night at Leah’s school.  No doubt she called home, told mom she was safe and happy, and proceeded to stay up far too late yacking with Sister Leah.

So Dad, being the dad that he is, calls up Sister Abbie the next day, and demands to hear the Magic Tears.  That, apparently, will make him feel better about his weakening resolve.  Anyhoo, Dad gets around to asking her what she and Sister Leah are doing about that time.

Sister Abbie: Uh…didn’t you get my voicemail?

Dad: Uh…no.

Sister Abbie: We’re about halfway to Sister Deb’s house.

For those of you who might not know, Deb lives in Tennessee.  A THIRD OF THE WAY ACROSS THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT.

But does she get in trouble? Law Enforcement out kicking the weeds to find her?  ALL OUT, PREDATOR-STYLE GET-TO-THE-CHOPPAA!!! reaction from the parentals?  Nooooooo.

Abbie has Magic Tears.

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