Friday, November 28, 2008

This guy is usually right

And I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to commentor Bill Barker, who started (finally) his own blog Usually Right.

Good luck Bill!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When Black Friday Comes!

Driving around tonight, we actually saw people lined up at the big mega mall, hoping to get into Best Buy when it opens.


I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. Christmas has become an excuse for commercialism. Easter has become a holiday about rabbits. Some people decorate more for Halloween than other holidays.

But Thanksgiving can remain pure. Sure, the story of the first Thanksgiving is more myth than history, but this allows people to focus in on what is important in life. And maybe we overeat a little today, but once in a while that is fine.

No, Thanksgiving is what holidays should be.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008





ABC is reporting that Gates is staying at defense for at least a year .

Yes, I voted for McCain, but none of this really surprises me.

Obama is left wing in background and probably in sentiment. Yet his national security and economic team choices so far are ones I generally can support. Even Eric Holder, while he needs to answer a bit for the pardon issue, is someone I can support.

Then again, I am not Obama's base. There are going to be a lot of people who feel that Obama sold them a wagon of CHANGE! goods that are not being delivered. But then again, that does not surprise me either. Obama sold his coolness. He was in essence an empty slate on which lots of folks projected what they wanted. (He even admitted as such in one of his autobiographies).

My guy lost. The people I supported gave up on their principles and rightly lost the support and trust of the people. (To the point I no longer consider myself a Republican -- when the GOP loses people like me, you know they are in trouble). And if Obama is the socialist, why is George Bush the one nationalizing everything?

It is now Obama's turn.

I wish him luck and good will because my personal safety and prosperity rely on what that one man does. (It relies too much on one person in my philosophy, but that is another discussion for another day). I promise not to act like the unhinged left acted the last 4 years, though I reserve the right as an American to disagree with him responsibly and to chuckle at "change."

Catching up!

It has been a week since my last post. Sometimes life intrudes. Work, relatives visiting, birthday parties (Alex is 5!) and trips to the emergency room (having two sons will require lots of those) can keep you from doing other things.

Oh well, I am back!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Quote for Today

"Everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings." Thornton Wilder, "Our Town".

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our Town

I watched Paul Newman's version of "Our Town" tonight. This has been one of my favorite plays. I remember as a child watching it on PBS staring Robbie Benson. In junior high school, I was in the hospital and the tutor assigned the play for me to read.

It is funny how a play sticks with you. All these years, it seems that the characters occasionally perform parts of the play inside my head. Why should this play more than others have that effect?

It is a strange play in many ways. Scenery is a bare minimum and there are hardly any props. The characters pretend to eat or string beans or throw baseballs. The Fourth Wall is constantly broken, and characters even shout out questions from the audience. In lesser hands, this play could have degenerated into farce, as so much of modern experimental theater often does.

And yet, the play is rightly considered a triumph of American drama.

By stripping the scenery and props, Wilder forces us to concentrate on the themes of the story. The story itself and the characters are quite ordinary. It is mentioned that one minor character, a newsboy, later graduates MIT with honors but dies in France during World War I. As for the rest of the characters, they are typical New England townsfolk. And the play begins with those typical townsfolk doing what typical townsfolk do. A doctor comes home from a house call. Mothers make breakfast for their families. The milkman goes about his deliveries. Nothing earth shaking, quite boring really.

But in many ways, that is the point. Life is really best lived by appreciating the little things, by taking time to occasionally stop and look at each other. Life, love, marriage, birth and death, gain and loss, all are parts of life to be treasured. Wilder was a Congregationalist, and while I do not know his real attitude toward religion, the play does try, in the words of the Stage Manager, to grasp the eternal.

You can argue that plays such as this are no longer relevant, but I would argue that Our Town is even more relevant today than when it was written. The world has sped up, do we ever really stop and take time to remember what is important, who is important. Does anyone stop and look, really look, at their spouses, children, friends, family? Shouldn't we?

When the movie ended, I walked into my children's room and looked at them as they were sleeping. Can I really appreciate this time with them? They grow up so fast, have I really noticed?

US Removes Last Nuclear Weapons from the UK

For some time I have been advocating that our government remove our last nuclear weapons from Europe. One problem though is that it is difficult to determine exactly how many US weapons remain on the continent.

I recently came across this on the blog of the Federation of American Scientists. It is a blog post from July noting that the last US nuclear warheads in the UK have been removed. However, the post notes that the US is doing much of this in secrecy. With those weapons removed, the question now is how many remain? Why the secrecy? As noted by the commenters, NATO is missing a big opening to engage the Russians. And if engaging the Russians is not enough, why not make a big deal about the reductions for PR purposes?

T^he remaining number of US nuclear weapons in Europe is somewhat small and many seem to be housed on allied bases. I assume that those weapons are stationed under the Cold War era agreement between the US and our allies to have nuclear weapons available for them in case of war with Russia. That concern is obsolete, so why keep them there, especially as nuclear weapons require upkeep and security, money that can better be spent addressing other security concerns.

The author of the FAS article wonders if part of the problem is that the US thinks everything involving nuclear weapons must be secret. Yet, with enough digging, he was able from public sources to, with much difficulty, determine the fate of the weapons. I wonder if the real issue is that European governments fear the US is "leaving" Europe. Yes, there are old emotional, military and economic ties between the US and Europe, but since the end of the Cold War, those ties have been fraying. As the United States becomes more Latino and Asian and the history of European immigration becomes a distant memory, I think the US will look to the south and the Pacific, not the Atlantic. And once US forces leave Europe, I doubt they will ever go back there again. For Europeans, that cannot be a good result, as that means they will have to spend more on their security.

Granted, I think it is time we removed the last of our troops there — given that the USSR is no more. I do not see Russia as a threat to the United States, unless we make her one. NATO policy made sense in that the USSR was a threat to the US. It was, however, primarily an ideological treat, so it made sense to say to Europe we have so many troops here that if the Soviets attack, we are in it from the beginning, I have trouble seeing that relevant today.

I hope this will be something the Obama administration will address. He can start by removing the last US warheads from the continent.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Elliot "Profumo" Spitzer

Elliot Spitzer now has an op ed describing how to end the financial crisis. Professor Bainbridge called BS on the former governor, not only for the substance of his op-ed but also for the fact that in the old days, someone disgraced as much as he was would quietly disappear. Instead, he writes op-eds for the Washington Post. (HT- Instapundit).

After John Profumo resigned in disgrace following revelations of his sexual peccadillos, he did not write a book or try to move back into politics. Rather, he volunteered to clean toilets at a settlement home in London, eventually becoming the home's chief fundraiser. He was rehabilitated back into society, winning a knighthood in 1975 and died a respected member of English society.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Strange Comments

I have gotten two strange comments over the past few days (no Rodak and Bill, it was not you). The first was a comment from an Indian blogger (which I have kept on). The second, was in Chinese in response to my post on SVU's increasing preachiness. That has been deleted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Law and Order: SVU

Is it just me or is SVU getting very preachy of late?

Another Thought for Armistice Day


The Kings of the earth are men of might,
And cities are burned for their delight,
And the skies rain death in the silent night,
And the hills belch death all day!

But the King of Heaven, Who made them all,
Is fair and gentle, and very small;
He lies in the straw, by the oxen's stall —
Let them think of Him to-day!

Joyce Kilmer was very American and very Catholic. A member of the famous NY 69th Infanty (the "Fighting 69th"), he was killed in action in 1918 on the Western Front

Armistice Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What is Obama's stance on Missile Defense in Europe?

What exactly is President-Elect Obama's stance on missile defense. Back in 2007, when he was still a long shot, he made the following video for Think Progress where he states he will cut funding in missile defense.

Yet, on his website and in the debates, he says that he supports missile defense.

Last week, after a discussion with the Polish President, Obama would not say whether he would continue building the proposed missile defense system in Eastern Europe. This has lead to charges among the right blogosphere that Obama has "surrendered" to Russia. He did nothing of the sort.

Strong supporter of missile defense that I am, I hope that Obama cancels this installation and further changes our policy toward Russia. Russia is no threat to the United States. It is not the threat the Soviet Union was. The Soviet threat was primarily ideological, but Russia has no ideological loyalty from anyone other than some silly Serbs. Rather, Russia is merely acting like past European powers acted, trying to dominate her neighbors. The European Union in both population and economy is larger than Russia.

I admit that Russia's complaints about the missile system are silly. 10 interceptors in Poland would have no impact on the Russian missile force. Yes, the system is faced against Iran, but the cost of relations with Russia is too much. In any event, I think NATO has outlived its usefulness and it is time to make the Europeans pay for thei own defense.

If you are concerned about Georgia and Ukraine, the real way to protect them is to reintegrate Russia into Europe and the West.

President Elect Obama can start by stating unequivocally where he stands on the European missile defense program.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What do we do now? Part 2

There will be initially the urge to act in opposition the way many on the left did with Bush. Namely, throw a tantrum and oppose every action.

This is wrongheaded for several reasons.

First, the closeness of the 2000 election, the fact that Bush lost the popular vote, and the seemingly endless recounts gave rise to the feeling on the left that Bush was "illegitimate." There is no such situation here. While we can argue if this was a landslide and what was the size of any "mandate", Obama won convincingly. His legitimacy to be president is beyond question.

Second, the press is obviously behind Obama and will play up the smallest of items into huge tempests. As much as we complain about the media, whining does not help. We need to have a better PR game, all the while trying to develop our own Internet based alternative media.

Third, I am an adult. You are all adults. Lets act like adults.

So what should we do?

Be responsible, intelligent, and most of all adult in our opposition. If President Obama does something I think wrongheaded, I will oppose and look for alternatives. If he supports something I support, I will support him. If he governs as the far left wing community organizer and legislator he was, oppose him and suggest alternatives. If he governs as the centrist Democrat he presented himself as during the general election, great. I will support those policies I support and try try and push him to the center right.

And if he governs as a vacuous but cool, post-modernist poster child having his way with a fawning press, well, that is what I am expecting right now. Then we shout that the emperor has no clothes.

In the old days, that would all sound silly. But thanks to the Internet, we can organize easier. “YES WE CAN!” But let's be adult and responsible about it.

What do we do now? Part 1

We lost. No doubt about it. As I sit in Newark Airport right now, siting next to me, there is a 20 something who looks like he has not slept in weeks wearing a tee shirt that says Planetarians for Obama.

Don't ask, I have no idea.

So, after an extremely disappointing night, what does a conservative do?



Pack his or her bags and move to Turks & Caicos?

Let's begin with some perspective -- the sun rose this morning.

There will be lots of post mortems on the election. But we can start with this. John McCain thought this was going to be an election about national security. Barrack Obama got his initial excitement going by calling for a withdrawal from Iraq.

In the end, did anyone really talk about Iraq or national security at all? Not really. It was "THE ECONOMY STUPID" come back from 1992. Senator McCain was completely unprepared to address it. Senator Obama, surrounded by bobos, was. And when McCain finally was forced to address the economy, he fumbled badly. It was not his fault really. No one really expected it and for conservatives, we tend , in theory, to think the government should be as light on the economy as possible. I say in theory because it is under a supposedly conservative president that the banks have been de facto nationalized.

So perhaps the first thing we get out of this is that people really care about bread and butter issues. And if we give up on core principles and try to buy popularity, we should expect losing. Given the chose between someone whose actions go against their theoretical principals, and someone who comes out and says the government will give you everything you need, the voter is going to go with the genuine article. If we play "me tooism" we will lose.

Bobos in Power

I have often said that President Elect Obama was never the "black" candidate, he was really the "liberal yuppie candidate." His election was driven by the new upper classes of education and money that feel they have been kept from power since the early 1960s, when their parents and grandparents supported JFK. Perhaps the term "yuppie" is the wrong one though. For many of the new class are not necessarily young. I wonder if a good term might not be "bobos" ("bourgeois bohemian"). David Brooks seems to have first developed this term, to refer to the new urban upper class and I have decided to adopt it as my term from now on.. has an article today about the triumph of the "creative class." (HT: Instapundit) The rise to power of this class may be the real shift of the 2008 election.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

That looks to be about it

I guess that is it. I will call it early and say congratulations President Elect Obama.

EDITED to add -- it is true that it is a historic moment that the US elected a black president. I knew and hoped it would happen someday, though I hoped the president would be named Powell, Watts or Steele. But it is a moment.

Election Coverage

I have been watching the coverage on CNN and ABC. George Will is on ABC but most of the people they have on the panels are political types.

I wish we could have coverage like the Vidal -- Buckley battles in 1968.

Election Day

Well, I finally was able to vote. I snuck out of work about 5:15 and when I got to the polling place, there was no line. My sons wanted to help me vote, so my wife met me there. I quickly voted, then headed out for Italian food and wine.

Now watching the returns, I agree with Megan McArdle -- never again can someone say that a black man cannot get elected president.

Will the election crash the internet?

Elections are the type of thing the Internet was made for. It allows everyone to be a pundit or a reporter and get their ideas out there. Of course, it seems that quite a few sites are getting hammered by heavy traffic.

This site unfortunately is not one of them!

With all the complaints about media bias, I tell my fellows on the Right to deal with it. Do not be a general fighting the last war. The Internet can overcome your complaints. Look, we can see anyone with a camera interview people, report on issues, and babble on about whatever they find important.

So even if the Fairness Doctrine comes back or ACORN is given control over t.v. licensing, do not fight it. Fight instead to keep the Internet as free as possible from regulation.

A little political humor

Now for some political humor.

Back during the Illinois primary, I said to my wife I would go vote and take my older son to preschool. My younger son though I said I was going to "the boat" and he wanted to come to. After voting, my older son got an "I voted" sticker and told everyone on the street while heading to preschool that "I Voted". It being Chicago, no one noted it was strange that a 4 year old voted.

A few days ago, walking around Times Square, a homeless guy was sitting there with an Obama poster saying "I am like Obama, I just want change"

I also saw a guy on the subway wearing this shirt:

Needless to say, I think I was the only one to get the joke (vie le Brooklyn resistance!).

The Difficulties of Trying to Vote in Brooklyn

I went off to vote this morning and had to bail -- I had an early meeting and the line was very long. Not that it matters much. Park Slope is one of the deepest blue sections of one of the deepest blue counties in one of the deepest blue cities in one of the deepest blue states in the country.

So I plan to sneak out early and vote this afternoon. My older son asked to come along, as he says he needs to help me vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

So what do I believe?

So, on the night before a presidential election in which I expect my preferred candidate to lose badly, what do I believe? Sometimes, only tongue partially in cheek, I describe my personal politics as being "three martinis away from anarchism." And by anarchism, I mean the individualist anarchism of Spooner, Tucker and Nock, not the blag flag folks running through the streets trashing Starbucks to protest corporate globalism.

Thanks to the fusioniss whereby National Review back in the 1950s brought together traditional conservatives and libertarians, American conservatism is very different from conservatism elsewhere in the world. To begin with, American conservatism grew mostly out of Whig roots. It is no accident that Russell Kirk began his book "The Conservative Mind" with Edmund Burke, England's great Whig political philosopher. The Tory roots of English conservatism hold some influence, but are overwhelmed by the Whig roots. The more authoritarian strains of continental conservatism are thankfully generally subsumed by Whiggery.

The second great influence on American conservatism is of course libertarianism. Libertarianism has as a root the individual anarchist of the 19th Century. It is ironic of course because in theory, conservatism is the opposite of anarchy. My cousin, who probably could have been considered a Marxist in her youth, was surprised that I mentioned Spooner in conversation, she thought Spooner was only a hero to the left.

So where does that leave me, a conservative libertarian the day before Election Day, 2008? I think the words of President Reagan, turned the Winthrop's "city on a hill" to a "shinning city":

I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how
I saw it and see it still.

So that is how I see it. I believe in the ingenuity and commerce of the American people. I believe that yes the city has walls, but also gates, and that those gates remain open. Reagan supported amnesty for illegal aliens, and while he believed in defending America, he never wanted to shut it out from those who sought her out. He believed in trade but most of all, in believed in the American people.

That is what I believe.

Sometimes Politics Takes a Back Seat

Madelyn Dunham, grandmother of Senator Obama and the person who raised him, has died. As I said previously, there are times when we all must remember that politics is not war, that the other party is not the enemy, that politics is not everything, and that we are all humans.

Ms. Dunham lived an amazing life, rising in banking, which was then very much a man's world. Not much was seen of her during the campaign, she obviously was not doing well. But she must have been very proud of her grandson. This must take some of the shine off his success the past few weeks.

I am not a supporter of Senator Obama, but I wish him and his family the best.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Can McCain win it?

I have been getting e-mails from friends noting a Zoby poll yesterday stating that McCain is now ahead. I do not buy it. For one, it is a Zogby poll and secondly, I think that poll has been reversed (there are so many polls and analysis out there, it is impossible to keep up).

Granted, while I think I will wake up on Wednesday (or more likely, go to sleep on Tuesday) hearing the words "President Elect Obama", it is not outside the realm of fantasy that McCain would win. This has been a very difficult race to poll. And while I absolutely hate the presence of the "Bradley Effect" you can understand where it comes from. Add to that "Shy Tory Factor," given the way Republicans and conservatives are portrayed in the media and movies, etc, I can see that some people may be less willing to admit voting for one.

So if McCain wins this, I will not be entirely surprised. But I really doubt it.

Is Obama a Socialist?

This is a question that has been hoovering around Obama since the start of the campaign. It gained new traction following Senator Obama's remarks to "Joe the Plumber." So is he?

I doubt Obama is a socialist in the traditional Marxist nationalizations context. Granted, President Bush, by effectively nationalizing the banks, insurance and automobile industries has got the ball rolling should President Obama consider further nationalizations.

Rather, Obama strikes me as a "managerial state" type. James Burnham developed the concept, which has become mostly popular in "paleoconservative" circles as a criticism of modern society. (Of course, the positive spin you could place on Obama's beliefs could be that he is a "Galbraitian" and a believer in the idea of a "new class" to guide society.) I am no paleo, but I think the concept holds some validity.

I think an Obama administration will be very interventionist and regulatory, i.e., very "managing" but not instituting direct state ownership or control. Is there a difference? To some extent yes. But I worry that it will stifle innovation and increase our reliance on the state.

The Pope Meets Stephen Hawking

Pope Benedict met briefly with Stephen Hawking at a Church sponsored conference on faith and science. The Pope spoke briefly, noting that "There is no opposition between faith's understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences."

Accepting God and evolution pose no problem for me. I have never really understood the issue. Creation just is, accept it as it is. God's message is one of redemption, not the Bible as a science book.