Saturday, August 28, 2010

An Evening with the Governor

I had the opportunity to attend the Town Hall style meeting in Fredericksburg with Governor McDonnell on Tuesday evening. Full disclosure – I voted for the Governor and I am delighted that Virginians in record numbers did as well. My purpose for attending was to express to the Governor that Americans have never been burdened with government as large, as intrusive, and as costly as the government we have now – at every level (Federal, State, and County). It turns out that our good Governor shares that concern. You can see the PowerPoint presentation that he used at:

One principle topic Tuesday was the privatization of the ABC stores which appears to be a classic no-brainer. Having the Commonwealth sell liquor is a stealth tax on everyone who likes an occasional glass of Scotch, Bourbon, or Rum. Since no other issue has enjoyed such widespread bi-Partisan support – for it to be opposed now could only be for the most blatant political stunt.

However the thing that impressed me the most about the exchange with the Governor was his willingness to spread the credit and his dogged determination not to snipe at Democrats. It exhibited an exceptionally mature and accommodating stance given the hyper-partisan climate at the National level. The governor even credited Tim Kaine with a portion of the cuts that helped balance Virginia’s budget. Even though a couple of questioners provided the opportunity to blame Democrats or our spend-thrift Senators for the National problems they have caused, Governor McDonnell refused to engage in partisan attacks. McDonnell said that he had just spoken with Senator Warner and that the out of control spending was Warner’s “principle concern.” “He doesn’t vote that way!” came a shout from the audience. But the Governor restated the point.

If only the President was as mature and gracious as our Governor. But then again, that just doesn’t appear possible.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Job Not Worth Saving

If Joe Biden is still saving jobs, he should stop saving one for Patrick J. Fitzgerald.  While I am sure he is a nice and earnest man, he is a horrible prosecutor.  He first came to my attention with the Valerie Plame Affair – we say “affair” because there was no crime committed before Fitzgerald came on the scene.  There were a number of people to include Fitzgerald who knew this early on, but he persisted until he tripped up the hapless Scooter Libby.  Though Libby had nothing to do with the “affair” he nevertheless was convicted of lying to Fitzgerald about a crime that didn’t happen.  That took two years and several million dollars to reach a conclusion. 
Next Fitzgerald addressed the case of the one man in the United States that virtually everyone but Geraldo Rivera thought was guilty.  That is until Fitzgerald turned the case over to the jury.  Had Fitzgerald given Rod Blagojevich just a little more time Blago might have implicated all of Chicago, half of Illinois, and the lion’s share of the Obama administration in his money making schemes.  However it appears now that Blago will only have to pay for lying to Fitzgerald.  Hmm – that appears to be dangerous.  We aren’t getting much “bang” for our several millions of dollars. 
I think it is time for Patrick J. Fitzgerald to find another line of work.  If Joe Biden does ever create a job, let him give it to Fitzgerald – that is unless I am ever indicted for something.  In that event I want my prosecutor to be Patrick J. Fitzgerald.  
If you think I'm being harsh - read what Fitzgerald did to Karl Rove. 

Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Sarah Palin an Idiot?

My neighbor is a “sunshine Republican.”  Happy to associate himself with Reagan but caught up in the hatred stirred up against Bush he tilted to the left.  Though his politics probably mirror John McCain’s he was unsettled by Sarah Palin and I think he voted for Barack Obama.  Like so many he now has serious buyer’s remorse.  Yesterday he commented that Republicans lacked leadership and needed to get a face out front to rally the party.  As he prepared to drive away he added for emphasis “That Sarah Palin is an idiot!” 
That’s an interesting opinion given what we have been through in the last two years.  Let’s pretend for a few delicious moments that one third of American voters hadn’t stayed home in 2008 and John McCain had been elected President.  What would the result have been had McCain been incapacitated and a Palin administration squared off against the Pelosi-Reid Congress?
Can you imagine Palin signing the abusive and wasteful Stimulus package that created a National left-wing slush fund?  Absurd.  She would have vetoed the Omnibus atrocity that followed as well.  The result would have been that States and localities would have had to realistically deal with their spending problems rather than punt them into the next fiscal year.  How about Health Care?  With the Nation reeling with 7.2% unemployment on Inauguration Day – can you imagine President Palin focusing on Health Care?  Please. 
Palin would have nixed appointing 37 Czars and actually created a jobs task force.  Unlike gaff-a-minute Joe Biden, Sarah Palin at least knows that “J-O-B-S” is a four letter word.  Further unlike the entire Obama administration, Sarah Palin has the executive and business experience to have come up with credible solutions to create jobs instead of making unemployment worse.  Part of Palin’s charm is that she hasn’t set foot in either Harvard or Yale.  Though she doesn’t have an Ivy League vocabulary; she actually has the gift of common sense unsullied by liberal academics.       
In your wildest dreams can you imagine that little North Korean toad torpedoing a South Korean naval vessel with a Palin administration in the White House?  Iran’s Achmadinejad - any thoughts as to what President Palin would have said that smarmy fascist? 
Who would be greeted more warmly in Iraq and Afghanistan by our troops?  President Obama only began loving our troops when he became their Commander-in-Chief.  Sarah Palin might use a poorly chosen word from time-to-time but she is honest and genuine unlike the current office holder.  Our troops would adore a President Palin. 
How about the Gulf oil spill?  As Barack Obama is learning, the office of President is no place for on-the-job training.  On her worst day Sarah Palin would deal more effectively with everyone from British Petroleum to the Coast Guard to State and local governments who were battling the environmental damage.  While it is popular to demonize Palin for trivial things, don’t forget that she was the Nation’s most popular governor in 2008.  She had dealt effectively with both government bureaucrats and oil companies in Alaska.  Unlike Barack Obama, Sarah Palin knew exactly what Bobby Jindal needed and she would have provided.  Palin really would have been able to help on “day one.” 
Would Sarah Palin have tried to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility?  She might have asked advisors “What are you going to do with those vicious barbarians?”  No one apparently had the presence of mind to ask Obama that question.  No doubt the terrorists of 9/11 would have had a first class military trial followed by a first class hanging with a new rope long ago under Palin.  The New Black Panthers who intimidated voters in Pennsylvania would be in jail under Palin’s Attorney General.  A Palin administration wouldn’t have stopped work on the border fence which might have prevented a crisis in Arizona.  But even if Palin had fumbled that ball, can you imagine her administration attacking the sovereign State of Arizona? A Palin Justice Department might actually be concerning itself with justice.
Would Todd Palin be jet-setting around the world hemorrhaging American tax dollars on vacations and entertainment?  Can you see Todd insisting that we fall in love with arugula and broccoli?
Given what we might have expected under a Palin administration I don’t see a down side.  Given how Barack Obama has savaged the country and our economy how could we have possibly been worse off with Sarah Palin in charge?    By now even Barack Obama must wonder on occasion if winning was such a good idea for America or for him.  Perhaps he will write a third book from somewhere in Jimmy Carter-land in 2013 and we’ll find out. 
If Sarah Palin is an idiot, what exactly does that make Barack Obama?
Going Rogue: An American Life 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Expectations for Iraqi and Afghan Armed Forces

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down the angst over the quality and abilities of the Iraqi and Afghan armed services will increase.  Witness two recent articles in The Washington Times “Iraqi Forces Lacking” on Thursday and “An Afghan army struggling” on Friday.  Over the past eight years we have had high expectations for building foreign militaries without completely understanding what is involved. 

Our Armed Forces are the envy of the modern world and have been for nearly a century.  Our young men and women enter into that tradition when they don the uniform.  The majority of nations have no such tradition and as a result their Armed Forces are little more than uniformed mobs.  Even so called "modern" nations cannot compete with the military that America can field.  Man-for-man (or woman-for-woman) we can whip any outfit in the world. 

American fighting men and women are blessed with a tradition that stemmed from the superpower of the age, the English.  Our traditions are Americanized English traditions with a smattering of other largely European traditions thrown in.  Indeed some peg the red piping on Marine enlisted uniforms as a left over from when uniform poor Continental Marines stole the red uniforms of vanquished (often dead) British Marines.  When turned inside out, the blue lining became the outer part of the uniform while the red showed at all the seams. 

Our Nation is based on the rule of law and the subordination of the Armed Forces to the civilian government for good or ill.  As long as the current administration remains within the bounds of the Constitution, they have nothing to fear from the American Armed Forces who are sworn to uphold our Constitution against all enemies foreign or domestic.  In many nations, the ruler is always looking over his shoulder at his military – not so America.  Our Armed Forces are a cross section of the nation.  These magnificent men and women come from all races, religions, and regions of the country.  They are not bound to any person, region, tribe, or religion, but rather to the Nation as defined by the Constitution. 

It takes time to create a viable military unit.  The privates who populate an infantry battalion might only have been in the service for 6 months, but the rest of the unit has a lifetime of experience.  The backbone of any military organization is its non-commissioned officers.  You can’t make a sergeant in a year or two.  It takes years that include formal and informal schooling, practice, and supervised experience.  His or her actions are monitored and evaluated by their seniors so that their performance is constantly critiqued and improved. 

The First Sergeant who is the enlisted leader in every Marine infantry company is the product of nearly two decades of such training, feedback, improvement, and experience.  Those that can’t meet the lofty expectations of a Marine First Sergeant have gravitated to other lives or vocations.  When mobile training teams start training the fledgling armed forces of emerging nations like Iraq or Afghanistan, there may be old guys around, but they aren’t steeped in the traditions of their service.  You can’t just “make” or even “train” a First Sergeant, you need to start with a superior person and put them through the entire infrastructure of traditions, schools, experience, practice, and leadership to “make” a First Sergeant. 

The Lieutenant that stands in front of an infantry platoon may have only entered the service eight months before, but he is a product of either the military (rose through the ranks) or society where he or she came through a college or military institution.  Those people self selected themselves for a life of service, difficulty, and danger primarily for their love of country.  They don’t receive a position due to class, clan, or religion, they earn it.  That young lieutenant who stands in front of a forty man infantry platoon at the age of twenty-two may in 16-18 years stand in front of a one thousand man infantry battalion.  He will succeed not because of his daddy’s name, his church, or political affiliation, but because he has proven himself over and over again.  He will command an infantry battalion because he also commands the trust and confidence of his seniors and his peers.  You can’t make such a man overnight. 

To be sure Afghanis are war-like.  Alexander the Great was shocked by their ferocity as were troops of the defunct Soviet Union.  Iraq has been the center of many militaristic empires; Assyrians and Babylonians.  However, it is yet to be seen whether they can be molded into an effective armed force that can support and defend their nations against all enemies both foreign and domestic.  By my calendar, they are eight to ten years from having a First Sergeant or adequately prepared Lieutenant Colonel.  Being trained by the finest military on the face of the planet is a pretty fine start though.  

The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy        Talons of the Eagle: Latin America, the United States, and the World