Saturday, September 24, 2005


I just signed my oldest daughter's driver's license learner permit.

Old age is creeping up on me.

Saturday's Coffee

I am winterizing the Team's sprawling compound this weekend. Swamp cooler, firewood, replenishing the water storage, washing blankets and such.

I saw this over at Captain's Quarters during my morning coffee break:

"Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist faces a serious investigation into his finances after apparently directing the sale of stock while his assets supposedly remained in a blind trust -- and dumping family-business stock just before the bottom dropped out."

The Captain's post raises some interesting questions. Commenter larwyn provides a link to Tigerhawk's blog that contains what may well be exculpatory information in Frist's favor. I don't know, and will wait for things to shake out over the next few days and weeks.

This is what I put up about the Honorable Senator Frist (and by extension the Republican majority):

"I've had it with Frist, and whether or not this story will develop legs or not is neither here nor there.

The Republican caucus has shown the fiscal discipline of a sailor hitting Subic Bay with three months pay (edit: burning a hole in their jumpers), and there's no end in sight due to the current leadership vacuum that seems to define the top tiers of the caucus.

Republicans. They win running as conservatives then govern like Democrats.

I've gotten tired of supporting Republicans who can't seem to understand what "majority" means.

If Bush fails to (a) nominate a strong constitutionalist jurist for O'Connor's seat and (b) is incapable of leading the Rep caucus in REAL spending cuts to counterbalance the Katrina/Rita PorkFest, then its time to start looking hard at other options for 2006 and 2008.

That the Democrats are patently, spectacularly, unfit for public service even as dogcatchers is no excuse for the behaviour of the Republicans the last five years. None. Asking for my support based soley on the fact that Democrats are even worse is a losing proposition.

Another Perot figure could well rise out of the discontent spreading among conservatives; I doubt whoever it might be could win, but even a ten percent draw could deliver the White House back to the Dems.

Two years is a long time. There's still time to change directions but without new leadership in both houses I just don't see any improvement at all.

I'm getting a little concerned about 2006. And by 2008 there may well be enough dissatisfied conservatives that sit out the election to really screw things up.

The Republicans have no one to blame but themselves.

UPDATE: Fixed the link to Captain's Quarters

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Trust But Verify

It's late on Sunday, and I'm not sure if I believe this or not.

"The North "promised to drop all nuclear weapons and current nuclear programs and to get back to the (Nuclear) Nonproliferation Treaty as soon as possible and to accept inspections" by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to the agreement by the six countries at the talks."

If the agreement includes sufficient transparency, via nothing less than unrestricted inspections, this is good news.

And if the Norks have agreed to such a regimen, well, that's pretty good work on the part of McChimpyBushitler, ain't it?

The Norks haven't gotten around to mentioning any agreements yet. Maybe they are waiting on advice on how to phrase the press release.

(Via Drudge)

UPDATE 2115 19 September: The Norks never change.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Points Of Perception

I listen to thePacifica Radio Network on my way home. Our local speak-truth-to-power station is KRCL out of Salt Lake. If I get to the end of my day and it hasn't been as crappy as it could have been I make sure to tune in for "Democracy Now". Just the thing to make a happy man slit his wrists on a fine autumn afternoon.

In the run-up to their recap of the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing for Judge Roberts, Amy Goodman and some guy whose name I didn't get maundered on about Dem primary politics in New York City and then moved on (no pun intended) to discuss statements made today by Michael Brown, who recently resigned as head of FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

I will not paraphrase their conversation; I couldn't afford to pay that much attention to them. A trip to the corner store in Provo traffic is a life or death matter when BYU is in session. If you can imagine the witch scene from Macbeth, except there's only two witches and one of them is a querulous guy with a Brooklyn accent and the other one is the lady who shouts at you in the grocery line when you don't stack your cans separately from your refrigerated items, you know what I was listening to.

I got the impression that Mr. Brown had damned the Feds in general and the administration in detail.

(Disclosure: Anyone here who has listened to Pacifica knows that the threshold for coverage IS damning the (Republican) Feds in general, and the administration in detail. No news here...)

I got home and whipped my time card off to the other members of my team and then rang up Instapundit and found this post that in general confirms my general take on the response to Katrina. I checked Drudge next, and saw this article covering the statements Mr. Brown made today.

please read the whole thing. I make it a point to run through any Times product verbatim once, then go back and read it again, ignoring the editorial content presented as news.

Some graphs that jumped out at me:

"In his first extensive interview since resigning as FEMA director on Monday under intense criticism, Mr. Brown declined to blame President Bush or the White House for his removal or for the flawed response.

"I truly believed the White House was not at fault here," he said.

Where did Goodman find any indictment on the part of Brown?

"The account also suggests that responsibility for the failure may go well beyond Mr. Brown, who has been widely pilloried as an inexperienced manager who previously oversaw horse show judges."

That one is for people who didn't want to read the entire article. This is editorializing combined with a puerile cheap shot from where I stand. To me Brown's story seems to illustrate more his dilemma as a bureaucrat caught between a wholly ineffective local political infrastructure and his higher headquarters at DHS and the administration who, in my opinion, were caught flatfooted by the total lack of competence at the state and local levels.

You have to read all the way to the bottom of the page for the best stuff, though:

"Mr. Brown acknowledged that he had been criticized for not ordering a complete evacuation or calling in federal troops sooner. But he said the storm made it hard to communicate and assess the situation."

I'd dearly love to find a transcript of the press conference or interview this article was based on. Mr. Brown doesn't have the authority to order evacuations, nor does FEMA appear in any chain of command for deploying troops.

I believe that if fault for failure is ever fairly assigned, the onus can only land in Louisiana. The federal response was just that - a RESPONSE conforming to the requests (or lack thereof) that should have come in timely fashion from the state.

All the bullshit about the Army Corps of Engineers blowing up levees, Bush hating black folks, and the Feds/FEMA in some way being responsible for New Orleans and Louisiana chucking their emergency response plans doesn't even rise above the background noise of Left politics any more, for me. Recovery response in this case meant getting hundreds of thousands of displaced persons rescued or relocated, moving in tons of supplies and personnel into a flattened, flooded area slightly larger than the UK, and then wading through the moonbats and their media folks anxious to find the next cross on which to hang GW. It was never going to happen overnight, and has so far played out better than I expected.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Live By The Moonbat, Die By The Moonbat

Looks like one of my least-favorite senators has a PR problem.

If Diane Feinstein isn't left enough for the the base, what's left of the national Democratic party?

I predict the winner of the 2008 Dem primaries will be the one who wears a kheffiya for the debates.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

This Day

Fall is here. We no longer sleep with all the windows open at night. It is still and cool outside, with the bright light falling on leaves that have just begun to dry and fade. Last night my daughter got home from her first Homecoming dance after midnight, so the Team slept in this morning. Mom and Dad didn't really wait up, of course; we just happened to have good books to read.

She was beautiful in her midnight blue satin dress. She wore a silver filigree band over the crown of her head, and strand of fine silver beads were woven through her jet black hair. I'm sure there's a fashion term for the effect, but it wasn't a tiara and I'm certainly no Mr. Blackwell to pull the right word out of the bag. Her date was one of the neighbor kids - one of my former scouts even, from back in the day when our LDS ward drafted me for assistant scoutmaster duties with the twelve year olds.

Talk about "in my wildest dreams"...

She's making pancakes now. It's Sunday and that's what she always does. Last night was a rite of passage, and she said as much this morning while thanking us for the dress and recounting the experiences of pictures and dancing and the silly or embarrassing things that happened to her or around her.

But now it's time for pancakes. Because that is what we do on a Sunday.

Four years ago today was also a brilliantly clear and cool morning. On that Tuesday we were involved in last minute packing for a cross country trip to say a final goodbye to my wife's mother. Services were to be held Thursday in the family church in Burlington, Vermont, and then we'd all go up to the most beautiful hillside in that most beautiful northeastern state and lay her ashes to rest among the plots containing her neighbors and ancestors going back almost three hundred years.

The kids and mom were in the living room putting the last items in their carry-on bags. The TV at the end of the coffee table was probably tuned to Nick or Disney; I don't know.

I was on our bed contemplating a cat nap when my wife literally dragged me to my feet. I was coming out of my doze quickly but still spinning up when I began to understand what she was asking me.

"What kind of bomb did that? What happened?"

I came through the kitchen into the living room. The TV sat on the entertainment center, framed between the still heads of my daughters. The Twin Towers filled the screen - the one on the right scarred by a smoking hole near the top third of the building.

I'm a surveyor. I've staked out a dozen or so commercial buildings, plus bridges, dams, and highways. Nothing on the scale of a genuine skyscraper of course, but I knew just enough about the design of the WTC to confuse the hell out of myself in those first few seconds. The WTC was built with the mass of the structural support in the walls of the building - soaring vertical steel columns spaced narrowly and then tied to floor pans for rigidity. The gaping wound in that building traversed four or five floors - which meant that whatever kind of bomb had been used must have been massive to have punched through so many floors. I wondered why there were any windows left on the floor where the bomb had to have been. The spaces inside the floors were huge and open; what office walls did exist were aesthetic, not structural. The majority of the spaces in there had to be cube farms. Were there multiple bombs? Maybe smuggled in as copiers or computers or office supplies? Blast follows least resistance... so why one big hole and intact windows on each side? The noise from the TV was just that - noise. The commentators were reporting an explosion and ad libbing while they tried to catch up.

"What kind of bomb? What kind of bomb?" My daughters hadn't moved since I came into the room.

Then the second 767 flashed into view, in a skidding bank to port, and disappeared behind the other tower. A blink of awful silent stillness and then the eruption of smoke, flame, and glass filled the screen.

I told my wife "We are at war". And then I cried with my family.

There were other awful moments in that awful day. My girls figured out where the airplanes had come from in less than an hour - and that some had been hijacked from Boston, which was to have been one of our connections. The urge to fight back - to reject the terrorists' goals - drove both my wife and I to head into work shortly after noon. I was on the way to a construction site in my work truck when the President's second statement was broadcast.

The thought struck me that had things gone differently, I could just have well been listening to Al Gore.

I pulled over and threw up.

I've always known that I live in an embarrassment of riches. Random chance placing me here in America has been the greatest blessing a person could ever hope for. Those that feel differently are free to do so. "Free" as in so shielded from the potential of their convictions that they can embrace agendas tantamount to suicide if they should ever be fulfilled.

What a country, eh?

I will continue to do those things that a citizen must do to support and defend our nation, and hope that enough of my fellow citizens do the same. Lincoln was right when he predicted that if we ever fell it would be a failure from within and not the result of some foreign attack.

Jihadis can only kill us. Should we ever lose our liberty, it will be by our own hand and no other's.

It's time for pancakes. Y'all have a fine day.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Current Events

I posted this comment on American Digest:

I watched the increasingly insane statements emanating from the party of reality coalesce into a full court press of blinding hate by mid-last week. I didn't figure out exactly what the driving PR objective was until Bill Whittle published "Tribes".

Remember that four or five week period right after 9/11? Establishment Democrats and liberals waited with dread the demand of a unified American public for retribution on those responsible for the attacks on our cities... and accountability from those who allowed the primary individual behind those attacks to have run free after so many ignored opportunities to apprehend or simply kill him.

We were one people there for a brief shining moment - excepting creatures like Sontag, Chomsky, Moore, McKinney, et al - and the potential for political backlash was so great that Patriot, DHS, and a land war in Afghanistan shot through both sides of congress without a blink.

By the time we actually got into the meat of removing the Taliban, we lost that unity of purpose. Media sniping, the realization that the core of the Democrat base is closer to al Qaeda than Al the union plumber in affection for democracy and defense of the country made it imperative for those who like DC jobs to say what that base wanted to hear.

With Katrina we had a chance to pull together again - but with a weather event there is no one behind the tragedy to seek vengeance on, to focus on, but rather only the prospect of hard work and expensive effort ahead, as with all other historical natural disasters we have experienced as a nation.

We could dig in and do the right thing, and it would be good, and it would be a moment to be proud of. What's Left of the left still owns most of the cameras and barrels of ink, and that shit just wasn't going to be allowed to happen again.

Now our public view into the efforts to help the victims eerily parallels the coverage of the war in Iraq. Turn on any channel, read any column, and you'll wade through vicious second guessing tempered with editorial opinion purveyed as hard news long, long before you get any hard data on tons of supplies, numbers of rescuers, or restoration of services. Thank goodness for Blogs is all I can say.

A great city is on the cusp of destruction and many other smaller communities have been damaged or wiped out entirely. Hundreds of thousands of our citizens are displaced or are yet marooned and awaiting relief. Now is the time to get the job done as best we can, yet the focus of the left remains zeroed on destroying one man, regardless of the cost to the fabric of our society, to the victims on our Gulf shore, the lives of our troops engaged against the veil of evil that is fundamentalist Islam, or the fate of the mere chance of representative democracy rising from the barbarism that is the at rest state of most of the Muslim arc of nations.

I heard mentioned a Gallup poll today that noted that only 13% of the sample blamed bush for the disaster. Had to search out the report and read all the way to the bottom to find that stat, though.

I think thirteen percent would probably be the number for people who think the CIA piloted the 9/11 aircraft, too.

I hope the news cycle rolls over pretty quick; their best effort doesn't seem to be selling the product. Again. Still.

Have mistakes been made, opportunities squandered, and chances missed over the last week? Yes. Hell yes, and there are individuals and agencies that should be held to account for their performance or lack thereof. We who follow the news too closely are uncomfortably aware of shortcomings in planning, failures in execution, and stark incompetence on display in any direction we care to look.

That still doesn't change the fact that a storm blew in from the Gulf, like a thousand times before, and we have a huge task ahead of us.

How much harder is the Left willing to make this? They've turned this tragedy into an aberration that Jerry Springer wouldn't air.

Oprah Winfrey stood in the middle of a domed stadium three hundred miles away from the disaster, surrounded by people resting on cots, trying on clothes, eating hot food, being checked by doctors... people who were abandoned by their local elected officials, people who were rescued and transported by complete strangers (many volunteers), and Oprah advised them to ask for an apology from the nation.

To Hell with you, ma'am. And all the other bottom feeders trying to play this out as a political game.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I Couldn't Find A Cathedral

So I pinned this to Dennis's door:

Dennis -

I have been working like a slave (well paid, though) for the last six months and have almost ceased blogging or commenting on the blogs of others. I still spend an hour or more a day staying up to speed..but as time has gone on the question "to what end?" keeps coming up.

An arena of ideas requires arguments and principled positions that can be debated and judged on merit. Healthy representative democracy should always benefit from debate; what has evolved over the last decade or so is less a debate than a battle of the bands. National discourse (and the bulk of that is still firmly in hands of MSM, make no mistake) is retrenchment by the left to feigned outrage and slogans.

Bush Derangement Syndrome has been accepted as the foundational philosophy of the Left.

The rise of the web has diluted the power of legacy media and political activists to manage public opinion. It has put source materials like the whole texts of speeches, public records, and accounts of individual experts or eyewitnesses to events in the hands of the people who actually decide public policy - voters.

The trend toward conservative majorities is no accident. It's the manifestation of a market responding to better data. And by "conservative" I don't nearly mean the hyperbolic label defined by what's left of the Left - I mean people who vote in their own self interest before any larger agenda.

We are trained by a lifetime of public relations campaigns to guage propriety as being that which is applauded publicly. The rise of blogs - especially on the Right - strikes me as a case of water findng its own level.

The Left is losing elections, and has been for most of my adult life. But since the MSM is invested in the pursuit of big government, antireligious, social engineering, race pimping, populist interests they find themselves adrift when what they write or televise doesn't result in the political landscape they consider "normal".

They still equate volume with relevance: so too do a lot of people on the Right. So we end up with a grundle of self-publishing individuals who invest tremendous amounts of time and effort in following the narrative and getting their opinions into the mix on a daily basis. Yes, there is a vital need to deny injection of falsity into debate, and for that the blogosphere's "fact checking" function is an undeniable factor... but when is enough enough?

I can't blog on politics any more. In truth I had little enough hope that debate was a productive pursuit with the Other Side long before 9/11. Commenting and blogging was exhilirating at first... but truly I think too many of us take ourselves too seriously. Now we have arrived at a point in time where the remnants of the other national party and the entire weight of their media and intelligentsia exist only to destroy one single political opponent who isn't even an election threat anymore. This driving obsession denies any peripheral consideration such as war, natural disasters, looming collapse of social programs, and lately has brought the inflaming of racial, regional, and economic divisions to a new low... and most importantly, they have emphatically abandoned any pretense at the necessity of a political party to provide reasons for voters to support them.

As long as they fail to apreciate that it's elections that count much more than the opinions of the NYT editorial board, my political broadsides will probably be confined to choices on a ballot.

I doubt I'll lack good company, and lots of it.