March 17, 2011

A Few Quick Comments on Some of the Issues of the Day

Not having much time to blog these days, I won't be able to do my usual in depth analysis of the issues of the day. It's a terrible confluence of events; I get involved in some big projects just as the world goes nuts. On the other hand, while it bugged me greatly for a while to be away from the blog, pretty soon you get used to it. About three of four years ago I decided to just up TV entirely because it was just taking up too much time. For a few weeks I missed my shows, but now I can't imagine going back to it.

The Japanese Nuclear Crisis

Yes the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is serious. Let's also recall that it was hit by not only an earthquake that registered a whopping 9 on the Richter scale, but a tsunami as well. This is not Three Mile Island... which oh by the way didn't kill anyone.

The bigger question is what the effect will be on nuclear power as a source of electricity. One can only despair after looking at the news, which is in full meltdown over the situation. The extreme environmentalists are licking their chops, figuring that (finally!) they can stop new plants from being built and shut down existing ones.

Amazingly, over 50 percent of Americans still think that nuclear power is generally safe. Unfortunately, another poll shows that half of all voters see Obama as being serious about reducing the deficit, so I guess we shouldn't put too much faith in either polls or the intelligence of the American people, take your pick.

The bottom line is that there is no energy source that is free of pitfalls. Nuclear plants run the risk of meltdown. Coal, oil, and natural gas emit greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide, which the enviros now tell us is a pollutant (who would have guessed?). There are no more locations for hydrodynamic dams, and solar and wind are a joke. Biofuels based on sugar products, grass, or waste hold some promise, but only barely. Only nuclear and fossil fuels can produce enough electricity to matter, and of course the enviros are against both.

Yes let's make nuclear plants safer. Yes let's learn from this and make sure that if they're in earthquake zones they are more survivable. But we either need them as a power source or the enviros need to stop complaining about fossil fuels.

And yes I would be perfectly fine if they built a nuclear power plant in my neighborhood.

The Libyan Revolution

The unrest started on Feb 15, and within a week or two it was clear that a revolution was under way. Unlike his Egyptian neighbor Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi has decided to stay and fight it out. No doubt the Mubarak left because he lost the support of the army, whereas Ghaddafi has cobbled enough of a force from mercenaries and his own army to put up a good fight. In fact, some say he's winning.

"The world," has mostly told Ghaddafi that shooting his own civilians isn't so good, which is kind of ironic since the government in most of those nations would do the same thing if they felt their rule threatened.

On March 10 France even went so far as to recognize the rebel National Transitional Council as the legitimate government.

Most recently, the UN Security Council has approved a no-fly zone over Libya. "The world" seems to see that something needs to be done. Unlike, that is, our own president. But more on that below.

Gasoline Prices

Gas is about $3.50 a gallon where I live. From what I can see there are two general reasons for the rise; the crisis in the Middle East and our own refusal to exploit our own reserves.

Yes we risk spills if we drill. And no it won't solve all our problems. But if you don't like drilling then come up with your own energy source... and please don't embarrass yourself by talking about electric cars, wind, or solar.

I hear Obama and his advisers want to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Big mistake. One, the reserve was meant for a true crisis, and we're not near that. Two, it's only a short-term solution.

The Federal Budget Standoff

Democrats want to spend, Republicans want to make a few tepid cuts. The entire federal budget is about $3.8 trillion. Republicans want to cut a measly $61 billion, and the Dems a pathetic $6 billion.

Put in context, the Republicans want to cut 61 cents of a budget of 380 dollars, and the Dems 6 cents on the same.

Guess what? The Dems tell us the world will come to an end if we cut any more than $6 billion.

Oh and the deficit is about $1.5 trillion, and by his own projections Obama will have doubled the national debt. But no one aside from those crazy Tea Party types seems to want to do anything about it.

Wisconsin

Chris Christie is getting some competition for status most admired governors among conservatives. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has rode the storm in his state admirably and refused to back down in the face of an unprecedented level of threats and intimidation from union thugs. He kept his party together, and as a result they have achieved the unthinkable; a serious rollback of union abuses.

You don't have to believe everything muckrackers like Upton Sinclair wrote to know that abuses in the workplace were horrendous a hundred or so years ago. I would have been a union organizer myself in the 19th and early 20th centuries. When it comes to coal mines I'm still sympathetic to unions.

But today over 50 percent of union members are white collar workers. The only reason unions were or are needed is to ensure workplace safety and obtain more than starvation wages. There is no reason for labor unions in most work environments today, let alone in white collar environments.

Public sector unions are especially odious, especially so if they have collective bargaining power. The reason is pretty straightforward: The people elect legislators to determine the salaries of public employees. When public sector unions put forth a special representative to bargain with these legislators, they've effectively elected their own special legislator. Worse, they're doing it all with our tax dollars.

This is an usurpation of democracy. The "seat at the table" for public sector employees is and must be only through normally elected legislators. They don't get another seat, or a special representative. If they don't like their salaries they need to work to elect different legislators.

As if this wasn't bad enough, the incredible thuggish behavior of the unions in Wisconsin foretold of what will happen around the country if we do not get a handle on this situation now. As mentioned earlier, while union membership is declining among blue-collar workers it is increasing among public-sector white-collar workers. While workers everywhere should have the right to form an organization (provided they do it on their own time and not at the workplace), the absolutely must not have collective bargaining power.

In the old days there was an implicit agreement in the trade-off of benefits between private and public sector employment. You got higher wages in the private sector, but your job was always somewhat at risk. Public sector employees made less, but had more job security, to the point where in some professions such as teaching you basically have a guaranteed job for life.

Public sector employees now want it all. They want wages equal to or greater than their counterparts in the private sector. The latest rationale is that public sector employees are supposedly more talented and thus deserve more. Besides being arrogant and condescending, such an argument ignores the fact that public sector employment enjoys better job security.

The NPR Scandal

That a few big shots at NPR have whacko leftist views and are willing to take money from the world's biggest Jihadist-terrorist organization is in a way not news. Conservatives have known this for years.

If the big media - "mainstream media" - did their jobs NPR would have been exposed long ago and their funding eliminated. As it is they don't care because with the exception of Fox News and a few other conservative outlets they are only different by degree, not by kind.

The NPR scandal comes on the heals of other citizen-journalist pieces by James O'Keefe and Lila Rose exposing ACORN and Planned Parenthood. What's amazing, and irritating at the same time, is that all three of these; NPR, ACORN, and Planned Parenthood, were ripe targets just waiting to be picked. Everyone who is not drinking the liberal cool-aide knows they're corrupt. And it was so easy to trip them up. If a few ordinary young folks could do it with cheap store-bought equipment, why can't the big media with their millions of dollars in resources?

Instead of introspection on such questions, though, we are treated to idiotic pieces about how "There is no ethical canon or tradition that would excuse such deception on the part of a professional journalist." Yeah that's the important part.

What's scary is what the liberal media must have gotten away with in the days before the internet.

Where's Obama?

So where's our president? Dithering, of course. Playing golf. Going to fundraisers. Consulting with Michelle over this year's vegetable garden. Having fun being president, I guess, but whatever he's up to the issues of the day don't seem to concern him.

His supposedly pro-nuclear power secretary of energy is mostly silent on nuclear power.

He doesn't seem to care a whit about Libya. He and his SecState are always "consulting," but this is a process, not a policy. We have no policy. The UN can pass any resolution it wants about no-fly zones, but we all know that only the US can enforce it.

Worse, he seems to treat foreign policy problems as annoyances, not concerns that should be at the front and center for any president. The only thing that seems to bother him are Israeli "settlements" on the West Bank.

Union thugs? He's behind them. Some on the right say it's all about the money and donations to the Democrat Party, but it's more than that. Public sector unions are integral to his plan to bring European-style socialism to this country.

Before the election Obama told us that "under my plan... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." If that's his plan for electricity, why should he think any differently for gasoline?

And the budget? He's AWOL on that too, letting the Dems in Congress do the negotiating for him.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 21, 2010

The Shirley Sherrod Affair and "Outrage of the Day" Posts

See update with video at bottom: In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sherrod says that Andrew Breitbart wants blacks to be slaves again.

Quite simply, the Shirley Sherrod affair is why I don't do "outrage of the day" posts; it's too easy to jump to conclusions based on initial snippets of information. Both sides do it, and both sides often come out looking bad.

I started blogging in April of 2004, and it took me awhile to figure out what type of blogger I wanted to be. I fooled around with "outrage of the day" posts, and quickly discovered that in order to make it work you had to do a lot of research very quickly. If you didn't poke around you only got half the story, and often that first half omitted important information. It took time, which i don't always have. I eventually settled on a (hopefully) more academic style that costs readers but spares me embarrassment.

I don't have a lot of time now, but two excellent posts over at NRO's The Corner summarize my thoughts on the Shirley Sherrod affair just about perfectly:

Shirley Sherrod Re-revisited: Shannen Coffin

The Sherrod episode is appalling from all sorts of angles. First, there's the kneejerk reaction of the administration to demand her resignation -- by her account, she was asked to pull over to the side of the road to resign by cellphone by a USDA official, who claimed pressure from the White House. This shows a despicable lack of respect for due process: Surely Sherrod was entitled to at least defend herself -- to produce the full text of her remarks in order to show her broader point.

Second, as I understand it, her remarks related to her conduct as a non-governmental official more than 20 years ago. She did not claim to have denied government benefits on the basis of race, which would have been a violation of the applicant's constitutional rights, but rather recounted a story of her time in, as I understand it, a non-profit organization. And it turns out that her story was merely a description of how she came to have more enlightened views on issues of race and poverty. If the government is going to fire everyone who has held conflicted views on race at some point in their lives -- unconnected from government service -- then we can thin the ranks of government employees relatively quickly. It is not surprising that a black woman growing up in the deep South might harbor some suspicions of her white brethren; it is reassuring that Sherrod was able to overcome those preconceptions, and it is refreshing that she could admit to having had them -- an honest admission that certainly doesn't cast her in the most flattering light, until you listen to her whole story.

Finally, the conservative media has some 'splaining to do. It is dangerous to run with a story based on a snippet -- and our colleagues on the right have as much of an obligation to investigate before rolling out an expose on someone (especially someone as obscure as Sherrod) as do those on the left (e.g., Dan Rather). Sherrod was a low-level bureaucrat, apparently appointed to the position of Georgia director of rural development by Tom Vilsack; it is a stretch to attribute the views of such a low-ranking functionary to President Obama.

An accusation of racism is serious business, one which neither white nor black should throw around willy-nilly. (I'll note that Sherrod herself has been willing to use those accusations to her benefit in the past. According to this website, she was at least indirectly part of the plaintiff class of black farmers in the Pigford litigation, which dealt with claims of racial discrimination against black farmers. She personally received $150,000 in a settlement for her pain and suffering associated with denial of loans.) But in this particular episode, it would appear that Sherrod is owed an apology.

And from one of my favorite authors;

Shirley Sherrod -- My Take: Jonah Goldberg

I think she should get her job back. I think she's owed apologies from pretty much everyone, including my good friend Andrew Breitbart. I generally think Andrew is on the side of the angels and a great champion of the cause. He says he received the video in its edited form and I believe him. But the relevant question is, Would he have done the same thing over again if he had seen the full video from the outset? I'd like to think he wouldn't have. Because to knowingly turn this woman into a racist in order to fight fire with fire with the NAACP is unacceptable. When it seemed that Sherrod was a racist who abused her power, exposing her and the NAACP's hypocrisy was perfectly fair game. But now that we have the benefit of knowing the facts, the equation is completely different.

In one of the recent Journolist belches we saw how creatures like Spencer Ackerman see nothing wrong with randomly charging innocent conservatives with racism in order to send a message. This is a deplorable tactic conservatives regularly and rightly deplore when used by liberals (we usually have less proof than we have in Ackerman's confession). I see no reason to emulate this tactic and I very much doubt that was Andrew's intent. Some emailers on the other hand seem to come close to making the case for this kind of thing. As I've argued countless times before, this sort of politics is almost always counter-productive and quite often grotesque. Embracing the tactics you condemn in others requires, at minimum, that you stop condemning it in others. It also has the potential to sell your soul on layaway.

Meanwhile, as a matter of politics, I think this episode demonstrates that this White House is a much more tightly wound outfit than it lets on in public. The rapid-response firing suggests a level of fear over Glenn Beck and Fox that speaks volumes.

Update

As Sister Toldjah points out, although Sherrod's been wronged and is owed apologies my many, she's no saint. She's taken a page from the liberal playbook and called Andrew Breitbart, Fox News,and Republicans in general racists. Well, what did we expect.

Update II

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sherrod says that Andrew Breitbart wants blacks to be slaves again. Start watching 1:55 into the segment:

How pathetic.

Posted by Tom at 9:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 16, 2010

Earthquake in Washington DC!

My mom called me a few minutes ago and asked "did you feel the earthquake last night?"

Then I remembered. "So that's what that was. This morning I thought maybe it was a dream"

At 5:04 this morning an earthquake registering 3.6 hit the D.C. area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.

I remember waking slightly and hearing and feeling shaking. "This sounds and feels like an earthquake," I thought as I lay there only half awake. "Nah, not here. We don't get those things around here. Must be blasting."

A few years ago they were doing some blasting a few miles away during road construction, and when they first started it was somewhat disconcerting to hear a bang and feel the rattle. Of course, this happened in the middle of the day, and the idea that anyone would do blasting at 5am was absurd. But these are the thoughts one has when you're drifting in and out of sleep.

At 3.6 it was a pretty minor affair as earthquakes go, and various news reports confirm that there were no reports of damage. It was interesting for me, though, because of the perceptions and thoughts one has while half asleep. My intuition told me it was an earthquake, but my logic dismissed it as not being possible. Intuition isn't always right, but if I had been fully awake, and it had been some sort of genuine emergency, would I have hesitated because my mind said "this can't really be happening?" This, I think, is often why people don't do the right thing in emergencies, not because they don't care or aren't brave, or whatever. When you can plan out your actions ahead of time you always do the right thing. Life doesn't work that way, of course. Perhaps, then, even a 3.6 earthquake can teach a lesson.

Posted by Tom at 8:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 20, 2009

House and Senate Democrats Diss Both Obama and Liberal Bloggers

Both the House and Senate have passed resolutions regarding the situation in Iran. The House version is much stronger than anything said by President Obama thus far. The text of the Senate resolution is not available yet.

House Resolution 560

Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

The resolution passed 401-1, the only opposing vote being cast by...Ron Paul. Sigh.

On Friday the Senate passed Senate Resolution 193, but as of this writing the text is not available. I'll post it as soon as it is.

What's interesting is that this places House and Senate Democrats squarely in opposition to President Obama...not to mention many liberal bloggers.

Although President Obama's spokesman Gibbs tried to say that the House resolution "echoes Obama's message," I don't see it. Nowhere has the President used the word "condemn" to describe what the Iranian government has done, nor has anything he has said been nearly as strong (see here and here). We do know that he worked to tone down the original resolution, so we know that he's still "sensitive" to offending the mullahs. Wouldn't want to upset his quest for negotiations. But judge for yourself.

Democratic congressman Howard Berman (CA-28) had this to say on the House floor during debate:

Mr. Speaker, every day since Iran's election, the streets of Tehran have been filled with demonstrators, and each day this past week, the number seems to be growing.

Even state-run media in Iran has put the number of demonstrators in Tehran at "hundreds of thousands." One British newspaper reports that there were a million demonstrators in Tehran yesterday.

What do these demonstrators want? Are they simply in favor of the candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi? Or are they making a more profound statement about the Iranian regime?

Nobody knows exactly. We do know one thing, though: The demonstrators feel their intelligence was insulted and their dignity assaulted by the high-handed manner in which the results of the June 12 election were handled. They want justice - this morning, the Supreme Leader offered none.

It is not for us to decide who should run Iran, much less determine the real winner of the June 12th election.

But we must reaffirm our strong belief that the Iranian people have a fundamental right to express their views about the future of their country freely, and without intimidation.

The Iranian regime is clearly embarrassed by the demonstrations and has not shrunk from using violence to stop them. At least eight demonstrators - and quite likely, a number more - have been killed and hundreds have been injured.

The Regime has also tried to ban media coverage of the demonstrations. Foreign journalists are consigned to their homes and offices; several have been expelled from the country.

Cell-phone coverage has been frequently blocked in order to limit communication among the protestors. And the regime has interfered with the Internet and taken down many opposition Web sites.

We cannot stand silent in the face of this assault on human freedom and dignity.

I repeat that we have no interest in interfering in Iran's internal affairs. That era has ended.

This resolution "affirms the universality of individual rights," as well as "the importance of democratic and fair elections." Beyond that, it simply expresses its solidarity with "Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law."

I don't know how many of the demonstrators fall into that category, but I do know that many of them do.

This resolution also condemns the bloody suppression of freedom.

It is not a judgment on who won the Iranian elections. It is an acknowledgement that we cannot remain silent when cherished, universal principles are under attack.

Mr. Speaker, I want to just offer my appreciation to our ranking member and to the gentleman from Indiana for working together on a resolution which puts the House of Representatives on the side of the people of Iran. And with that, I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution.

If you think we shouldn't conduct clandestine operations against the mullahs like Reagan did against the communists in support of Solidarity in Poland, fine. But surely we can agree that we shouldn't be silent, or only say that we are "troubled by the violence," or are "monitoring the situation." Surely we can at least condemn what is going on.

Finally, these resolutions would seem to put many liberal bloggers at odds with Democrats in Congress at well. You don't have to go far on the Internet to see quite hysterical reactions to any suggestion that President Obama is not handling this exactly right. It'll be interesting to see how they spin this.

Posted by Tom at 2:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 6, 2009

Comment Policy and Thoughts on Commenting

Unless you have been specifically directed to read this policy you don't need to. You can go back to the blog.

In other words, if you agree with me comment away and have fun.

But if you have been directed to read this, you should, because you've violated the policy and I'm close to deleting your comments or have already done so.

If you disagree with me, fine, but know that I have a limit to what I tolerate and reserve the right to delete your comments and ban you from the blog.

Our First Amendment gives you the right to speak, but it doesn't give you the right to be heard. You do not have a right to comment on this or any other blog. To make the point I'm shutting off comments on this post. Let's not, then, have any silly talk about restricting democracy or free speech.

If you can't deal with that then go away. .

On most blogs anything goes, while a few go to great lengths to maintain decorum. I fall somewhere in between the two.

I've been blogging since April of 2005, have written well over a thousand posts, and have received thousands of comments. Throughout that time I've banned less than 4 commenters and deleted less than a dozen comments. That's pretty tolerant, I think.

In fact, if you have time to wade through a few posts, you'll see that I have regular commenters who regularly disagree with me. Study their technique, emulate it, and you'll be fine.

My blog is not your playground, and I reserve the right to delete a specific comment or ban you entirely.

Things that will get your comments deleted include, but are not limited to, foul language, troll-like drive-by behavior, attempts to bait me with questions, and a condescending attitude.

If you make an an actual argument as to why I'm wrong, and use Dale Carnegie techniques while doing so, I'll likely respond. Please also stick to the subject of the post, and don't obsess on tangential issues.

That said, know that while I will respond to most disagreements I don't have time for long-winded never-ending debates. I also like to give commenters the last word. If you want to entertain yourself with the notion that if I don't answer your questions it's because you've stumped me, or if I don't respond to all of your points it's an admission that I'm wrong, just go away right now. I've got a million other things to do in life and it's amazing i get as much posted as I do.

If you have a question or want to discuss this further please contact me by email

Thank you for visiting.

Posted by Tom at 8:32 PM

August 18, 2008

I'll be back

I'm taking a bit of a break on the blogging but I'll be back at it next week. I had to put my last cat, Athena, to sleep this past Saturday and though there's a lot to write about I'm just not up to it.

Stay tuned, though, because my next post will be on the books of James Herriot.

Posted by Tom at 8:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

Comments and Trackbacks

If you leave a comment or trackback and receive a "server error" message, please do not post your comment again, because it will show up, I just have to approve it. I realize I'm having a problem with the blog and am in the process of trying to get it fixed. My apologies for the problem.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

Need a Moveable Type Developer / Web Expert

I am currently experiencing trouble with this blog, and get all sorts of errors when attempting to post or do much of anything in the management tool.

I'm not sure whether the problem is at hosting company or the MT software, or some combination. I have put in tickets with both and they have been providing suggestions. Unfortunately it is all over my head, and so I am at the point where I will pay someone who has expertise in these matters, to help resolve the issue.

If you know Moveable Type, or can recommend someone (or a web development company) who does, please leave a comment or send me an email. In the meantime I'll be shopping companies myself to see what I can come up with.

All this means that I will not be posting here for awhile. However, I will be posting at Conserva-Puppies and Love America First. Links to those sites are at right.

Posted by Tom at 9:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 22, 2006

Calling all Washington DC Area Bloggers

Sunday evening I went out for a beer with the author of Rule308, a popular blog that concentrates on, well a lot of things, from the War on Terror to daily news events.

As you might imagine we had a great time discussing everything from the War in Iraq to the fickleness of our Republican congress.

Other than the people I meet every Friday or so outside of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I think he's the only blogger I've actually met.

But since I have to think that many of us live in the Washington DC area, maybe we can arrange some sort of after-work get-together once in a while. If you're in the area and interested, send me an email. Whether you're a blogger, like to comment, or just like reading blogs doesn't really matter.

Posted by Tom at 9:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 8, 2006

Tagged by Landry Fan

I'm it. Landry Fan has tagged me. It's a list of fours, and here are mine (none of the answers are necessarily in order)

1 Jobs I Have Held In My Life

1. Sales
2. Public School Teacheer
3. Corporate Trainer
4. Consumer Electronics data classification

2 Places I Have Lived:

1. Virginia
2. Missouri
3. Virginia again
4. Kansas

3 TV Shows I Love To Watch:

1. Whatever is on the History Channel
2. Whatever is on any of the Discovery Channels
3. Whatever is on Fox News
4. Uh...whatever else looks interesting when I channel scan. My TV watching can be measured in minutes per week, actually.

4 Places I Have Been On Vacation:

1. Orlando
2. Ireland
3. Greece
4. Russia

5 Websites I Visit Daily:

1. Free Republic
2. Strategy Page
3. Belmont Club
4. National Review

6 Favorite Foods:

1. Fruit
2. Vegetables
3. Cheeze and crackers
4. dunno....granola bars?

Ok! OK! I admit it, I'm one of those fitness and health nuts.

7 Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

1. Home works for me
2. Walter Reed
3. Counter-protesting lefties anywhere
4. Vacation in Europe or some exotic location

Posted by Tom at 8:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

Trackback Seems to be working now

Well what do you know. A few minutes ago I sent myself a trackback and it worked. The weird thing is that I haven't made any changes recently. The gremlins must be asleap now.

However, please send me an email if you send me a trackback and it gets rejected. My sincere thanks to those who have done so these past few days.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 AM

January 11, 2006

"Person of the Year...."

Over at Down East Blog, Michael has awarded his Person of the Year award to...

The American Soldier.

To me the Most Outstanding Person Of 2005 is still The American Soldier, whether Army or USMC. I don’t doubt the professionalism and courage of airmen and sailors alike, but I think it is clear that in this conflict the foot soldier bears the brunt of the fighting.

Did I tell you Michael is Belgiun?

Perhaps being from Europe gives him perspective that some Americans do not have. All too many nowadays want to quit Iraq since things didn't turn out all rosy immediately. Michael, however, knows that democracy doesn't take root easily. After pointing out that Iraq has not only never known a pluralistic form of government but just emerged from fifty years of Ba'athist hell, he asks us not to lose heart:

Therefore I would urge our American readers, who are all too aware of the blood, sweat and tears shed by your troops and their relatives, not to lose heart. For rule of law and democratic representation to take hold and blossom is in fact a very quaint and tough, if not unlikely event.

Iraq is difficult, yes, and much hard work remains to be done. Success is not assured, either.

But, as he reminds us, success in post-war Germany was not seen as a sure thing at the time, either. Headlines of the day warned of failure.

Yet Americans believed. With what now seems sheer improbable good will and vast amounts of that unique American "can-do" spirit, they took to the task of implementing democratic rule in Germany, when in 1946 nearby Czechoslowakia passed the so-called Benes-Decree, named after its president, which effectively ruled the deportation of a couple of million ethnic Germans, and which was thought of by the free world as a non-issue, or rather as something deserved.

Yet Americans believed.

Thank you, Michael. Despite the naysayers that get all of the news, most Americans do still believe.

Go read the whole thing.

Posted by Tom at 8:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 3, 2006

Cat Blogging

My cats are over at Landry's Life. Check them out.

BTW, they are happy with the photos and consider Landry-fan a friend for life. That Lanry-fan is a fellow participant at our regular pro-troops anti-Code Pink rallies outside Walter Reed every Friday night makes all of us happy.

Posted by Tom at 9:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 9, 2005

Bloggers in the Senate

Bill Roggio, author of the must-read war blog The Fourth Rail, has an excellent article today - posted on National Review! Congratulations, Bill.

In addition, Senator Rick Santorum hosted four bloggers in a press conference this morning, one of them Bill Roggio:

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, will hold a press conference to highlight the individual efforts of our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq. Four independent civilian military bloggers will share firsthand accounts of the efforts of our Armed Forces in fighting the Global War on Terror and protecting the homeland.

Senator Santorum will also give a brief presentation of unique Senate features available on the Senate Republican Conference’s website http://src.senate.gov that will highlight stories and narratives of our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq.


WHO: Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Michael Yon, independent civilian military blogger,

Bill Roggio, independent civilian military blogger,

Steve Schippert, independent civilian military blogger,

Andi Carol, independent civilian military blogger,

WHAT: Press Conference

WHERE: SC-4, U.S. Capitol

WHEN: TOMORROW – Wednesday, November 9, 2005 -- 9:45 a.m.

Congratulations, all! BTY, Andi is a regular at our weekly pro-troops rally outside Walter Reed. Her husband is in the military on deployment, so you can believe she's not thrilled with the antics of Code Pink.

I'm familiar with all of the bloggers except for Steve Schippert. Either way, I'm sure all of them will have accounts of the press conference on their sites.

Posted by Tom at 10:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 30, 2005

A Line in the Sand

What am amazing and busy week I have had. Sorry for the lack of posting but as you read this I think you'll understand.

This past Thursday evening I was honored to host Chris Missick, author of the A Line in the Sand blog, and two of his friends; Kyle Rodgers and Ryan Albaugh. Ryan served with Chris in Iraq, while Kyle is acting as videographer and technical advisor (they're live-blogging the tour, as well as recording much of it).

Chris served in Iraq from March 2004-March 2005 as part of 319th Signal Battalion. While in-theater, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and was the "2004 Soldier of the Year". Now in the reserves, he starts law school next month. He is, I believe, 24 years old or thereabouts.

Chris set up a special website, Web of Support, where you can follow the tour day-by-day. From the site:

Returning home in March of 2005, I have set my heart on beginning an extensive road-trip through our country to personally thank the individuals I formed the deepest relationships with through the blog. The supporters I have selected offer a broad regional and demographic sample, and offer unique insight and stories that will prove to be inspiring and insightful. In a drastically new approach to a soldier’s memoir, Web of Support: How A Soldier’s Blog Connected Him With American Patriots opens a window into the life of a deployed American soldier who blogged his experiences. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides an inspiring look at what some individuals around the country are doing to display their patriotism in a time of war. This book will be a link between the experiences of what soldier blogs broadcast on their websites and the personal impacts blogging has on a soldier while they are at war and when they return home. It will blend the elements of a soldier memoir with the emotional impacts of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Chris is an amazing guy, as you'll soon discover. I felt quite honored to meet him. The Web of Support tour has generated no small amount of media attention as well. Check out the Web of Support site (click on Media info) for the full list, but the latest is a mention by Oliver North in his most recent editorial. Ollie starts out by blasting Jane Fonda for her announcement that she's going on an "anti-war" bus tour of the US, and concludes:

Hopefully at some point during your Jihadist journey, you will bump into Sgt. Christopher Missick of the 319th Signal Battalion. While in Iraq, Missick met hundreds of good Americans through his blog, "A Line in the Sand." Home now, he and a fellow veteran are driving around the country -- fueled by conventional gasoline -- to meet some of the patriots -- his "web of support" -- who sent letters, packages and prayers. He wants to personally thank them and "meet the heart of America."

That's the kind of support the troops appreciate, not your caravan of craven critics.

Exactly right.

Chris was also one of the "Milbloggers" profiled in the most recent edition of Wired Magazine. You can read the story when it appears in their on-line edition August 4 here. Right now you can pick up the hard-copy at a magazine or news stand.

Of all the the people Chris met through the Internet while serving in Iraq, I am honored that I am one of the few dozen that he and his buddies were able to stop by and visit.

As I mentioned, they are taking a cross-country tour, starting in Carson City NV and ending in Sacramento CA. They've already put over 4,500 miles on their vehicle, and my guess is that will be doubled by the time they're done.

But despite the seeming inefficiency, it really is the best way to see America. Certainly when one does business travel, flying is the way to go. When I was a kid, every summer my folks piled everyone into the family station wagon for the annual trek to see the relatives in Kansas and Colorado. From where we live in the Washington DC suburbs to there is a good 2 - 3 day car ride. On one level it seems like a hopeless time waster, and of course at the time I did not appreciate the lengths my mother went to in preventing all-out war between myself, my brother, and sister.

But the fact remains that if you really want to see this great country of ours, you've just got to do it by car, and take your time at that. On each trip we would stop at one or another sites along the way; the great Arch in St Louis to the Truman Library and Museum, to Mark Twain's birthplace are some of the places that I remember. There are so many things to see along the way; the birthplace of an important person, a museum, a natural beauty, whatever you care for, this country has it.

After they arrived I took them out to dinner, as I figured it was the least I could to to treat them at one of Leesburg's finest. Later we ended the evening on my deck in what turned out to be beautiful weather. The Washington DC area can be hot and incredibly humid during the summer, and we've had some pretty bad weather of late (you out west only think you know what humidity is). But providence smiled on us this past Thursday, with a light cloud cover to shield the sun, and relatively low temps and humidity.

At some point after dinner, Chris got a call from one of his friends that the new issue of Wired Magazine was on the stands, and that he was profiled in one of the stories. We hurried out to the local Rite-Aid and picked up several copies.

Over the course of the evening the four of us talked about everything, politices, the war, history, our personal lives, and, of course, blogging, for that is what brought us together in the first place.

As you may imagine there was plenty to discuss. Besides his military experience, Chris has been involved in politics since (and during) his college days. During the 2000 presidential campaign, he was Director for Youth Outreach for Northern California for the Bush-Cheney effort, and in early June of 2000, was promoted to Deputy Director for the Northern California campaign. He even got to go to the Republican National Convention.

Photos

Here's Chris and me, I'm the guy on the left. Chris is holding the copy of Wired Magazine opened to the article in which he and other Milbloggers were profiled.

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Chris, me, and Kyle in my Townhouse

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Ryan, Chris, and Kyle at the restaurant

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The travelers are posting photos from each of their stops on the Web of Support website, so be sure and check those out too.

A Line in the Sand

If you've never read any of the Milblogs, start. Estimates are that there are maybe two hundred, but of course nobody really knows. If you're not familiar with any of them, The Mudville Gazette is a good place to start, as it links to many of the milblogs.

Chris posted his experiences in Iraq on the "Old War Blog" section of A Line in the Sand Like me, I think you'll be impressed by the quality of writing and depth of thought.

Helping the Troops: No Effort is Too Small

One point Chris made about helping the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere (let's not forget about the ones in Bosnia) is that you shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He said that he'd found that sometimes people thought that if they didn't get involved in some big support program, nothing was worth doing. Or, because not everyone has the time to commit themselves to a full blown pen pal program that involves a committment to writing a letter a week, they didn't think that anything was worth doing, or just never got around to it.

Troops, Chris said, appreciate anything and everything. Many of you probably know this already because you've read it on a web site or another, but I think it a point worth stressing again. On my sidebar are links to a number of organizations the provide opportunities to help troops. Most, such as Adopt-a-Platoon, offer a number of ways, from adopting a full platoon of soldiers or marines, to one-time packages or letters. And, of course, there are dozens of such organizations, as a quick look at other blogs will reveal.

I wish them well on their journey across this great country of ours, and am honored that I was able to meet them.

Posted by Tom at 3:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 10, 2005

Love America First

"Love America First"

A lovely name for a blog, don't you think? It seems entirely appropriate, given our current war.

It's also the name of my latest blog site, where I'll be contributing articles from time to time. I just posted my first, and it seemed only appropriate to reprint "A Cold Warrior", which you can find here under "If You're Curious" on the sidebar. My addition will make fourteen contributors to Love America First.

So take a look. You'll find excellent writing and sharp analysis.

Posted by Tom at 9:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wretchard's Revelation

As most of you probably know by now, "Wretchard", author of the Belmont Club blog, has revealed who he is, and where "Wretchard" and "Belmont Club" come from.

I won't give it away, so if you haven't seen go there and read it. All I'll say is that he has the personality of house cats nailed. I've got two of them, so I should know.

Wretchard, whose specialty is the War on Terror and all related aspects, is one of the best and most influential writers around. His blog puts the major media to shame. If it's not on your "must read" list, put it there.

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June 7, 2005

We've Lost a Fellow Blogger

Bunker Mulligan passed away suddenly last Friday from a heart attack.

Michael James Reed, 1953-2005

Mike and the Reed family are in my prayers. You will be sorely missed.

Posted by Tom at 8:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 6, 2005

Who is The Redhunter?

"Who is the Redhunter?" first appeared on Warm n'Fuzzy Conserva-Puppies, which is my other blog site. As I've moved to a new website, it seemed appropriate to repost it.

A Cold Warrior

I remember the exact moment it happened. I believe I was a junior in high school, which would place the event in the 1976/77 school year. Our English classes were set up so that just as in college, students had a series of classes to choose from each quarter. As I recall, most of the classes were literature. The class I chose for that fateful class was centered on totalitarianism. We read two or three books that quarter, but there was one that made a profound impact on me.

That book was "1984" by George Orwell. To this day I remember how profoundly I was struck by this work. Like everyone else who reads it, I was rooting for Winston Smith throughout the book. When he was utterly defeated by the overpowering might of the totalitarian state, I was devastated. It was not just that they had imprisoned him, or tortured him, that hit me. It was the success of their effort at mind control. By the end, Smith is not merely forced to cooperate, he willingly converts to the belief that Big Brother is good. He becomes a total convert to Ingsoc, the state ideology. It was this, then, that hit me the hardest.

As I said, I remember the exact moment that I finished the book. Before this event, politics, and especially the Cold War struggle against the Soviet Union, were abstractions. No more. "The Soviet Union must be destroyed" went through my mind again and again.

I was never taken in by those leftists who insist on seeing Orwell's work as an attack on the west, and in particular the United States. To be sure, we can see "Orwellian" speech in our daily lives, and we sometimes say that "Big Brother" is doing this or that in our country. But there was never any doubt in my mind that Orwell's masterpiece was primarily an attack on the totalitarian mind-control ideologies of his day; Soviet communism and German Nazism. We had defeated the latter, but the former remained a significant threat.

This began a life-long study of the world around me. Over the past twenty-five or so years I have read dozens if not hundreds of books on a variety of subjects. Initially my primary reading centered around military history and totalitarian ideologies, and indeed books on these subjects still make up the majority of my library.

It always seemed natural for me to be a political conservative. My parents were Republicans, and not being a rebellious type it was natural for me to follow in their footsteps. This, coupled with my anti-Soviet crusade, led me to the right.

I suppose if I had been born twenty years earlier the chances of my going to either party were about equal. Up until the late '60s the Democrats were as anti-Soviet as the Republicans. The sea change that occurred at the end of the Vietnam war squelched any chance of my becoming a Democrat.

My beliefs have not changed that much over the years. If anything, perhaps I have become more libertarian. As I have grown more as a Christian, I have been less impressed by the "religious right"; something of a paradox, perhaps.

I then grew up as a dedicated Cold Warrior. If you check out my personal blog, you'll see that it's got a Cold War name. The story there is simple; when thinking of a title, I started looking at my book collection for inspiration. I came across William F Buckley's The Redhunter. This book tells the story of Senator Joe McCarthy in novel form. Buckley's theme is that while McCarthy and his minon Roy Cohn were scoundrels, the cause of anti-communism is noble and just. It is a theme with which I agree wholeheartedly. I therefore chose it as the title of my blog.

I therefore see our current war against the Islamofascists as in the same mold as the great twentieth-century struggles against Nazism and Communism. Different in many ways, but also quite similar. Whether we win or seek accommodation depends on our willpower. Despite occasional missteps, we prevailed against the old totalitarians. We can do so again.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 3, 2005

Redhunter Update

If you're reading this then you've found my new website. Thank you very much for visiting. I know I've been talking about this for a few weeks, and it took longer than expected to set this up and migrate from blogger.

Thank you to Marvin Hutchins of Little Red Blog, for his invaluable assistance in explaining the mysteries of Moveable Type to me. Please also take a minute and visit his site. He did most of the work in getting this site set up and migrating the old blogger files, so my hat's off to him. I've always been a hardware guy so software doesn't come naturally. But I'm actually catching on to this.

I've been rather busy of late, and between this and working on getting Threats Watch ready for launch, posts have been light recently. Oh, and that day job thing keeps getting in the way too. Not to mention my part-time job, but I'll be cutting back on that after next week.

I'm going to keep the blogger site as an emergency backup, so if in future this site doesn't seem to work go there for an explanation.

In short, I apologize for the lack of posts these past few weeks. But that will change shortly, so stay tuned.

You'll also want to check back periodically because shortly I'll post a launch date for Threats Watch. I think you'll rather like it. You can go there now to view the beta site, and as it is it's full of information and links that I think will be very helpful to anyone doing research on countries such as China, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc. Three of us are editors, and every day we go through news sites and find articles about the threats our country faces. We link to them in the relevant sections of Threats Watch. We've also got links to other informational sites. Go take a look and let me know what you think.

Posted by Tom at 9:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2005

Redhunter update

Note: This update post will stay at the top until my new site is completed. New posts on this blog will continue to be posted below

I'm working on two projects, so blogging will be light for a short bit.

One is moving to a new hosting provider. I'm working on the template and when it's done and I'm comfortable with the software I'll make the switch. Thank you to Marvin Hutchins for his invaluable technical help with this project.

The second is called Threats Watch. This is a collaborative project between Marvin, Bill Rice, and myself. It is not completely done yet but the basic outline is up. If you have a minute take a look and let us know what you think.

May 11 Update
(Original post May 4)

Not to worry, I'm still here, just working hard on Threats Watch and the new Redhunter sites. Take a look over at Conserva-puppies for my post on "Neutrality vs Objectivity in News Reporting" and let me know what you think.

Posted by Tom at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 14, 2005

One Year Blogging Anniversary (almost, anyway), and

Thoughts on Blogging

This week's Homespun Bloggers Symposium question comes from patterico:

How has blogging affected your life?

By an accident of timing this question comes almost exactly one year after I started blogging. My first post was April 28, 2004. I started out hoping I would be able to stick with it, which in retrospect should have been the least of my concerns. I've been planning a one-year anniversary post anyway, so I may as well use patterico's question as my lead.

The short answer to patterico's question is that I have become almost completely addicted to it. So much so, in fact, that I am now in the process of moving off of Blogger, a free service to a paid service.

A bit of background

I started blogging with a few objectives in mind:

  • To help me organize and consolidate my thoughts on the issues of the day
  • To make me a better writer. For years I've read books by the cartload, and had innumerable discussions with people. But it's one thing to toss an idea around in your head, and quite another to put it down on paper.
  • I wanted to receive feedback and critique, which in turn would give me an opportunity to reevaluate my ideas.
  • It forces me to think things through and, hopefully, make sure that my arguments are logical.
  • Writing makes me a better debater. By that I don't necessarily mean "argue", although sometimes it comes down to that. Rather I've noticed that when engaged in discussion I can explain an idea better now that I've written about it.
All of these objectives have been met and exceeded. But more occured that I did not forsee.

If you're like me then you don't go around talking politics to everyone you meet. Certainly at work, where it seems we spend so much of our lives, I don't talk politics except perhaps with a - very - few trusted associates. And in daily life it's not something that get's discussed much, and when I do it's not in depth. Politics being as divisive as it is, and myself being so passionate about it, the last thing I want to do is to create unnecessary divisions and hard feelings.

Oh sure, there is always the occasional exception. But in general my intellectual experience has been confined to reading books and talking about them only occasionally with a few people.

With my family it's an entirely different matter. We talk politics almost everytime we meet. Everyone is a conservative, so any disagreement is usually over things like "how great a danger is Hillary?" or something like that. We're a pretty loud bunch, with everyone talking at once, kids running around, the whole bit. But we don't get together but once every month or so.

I've Found Them

So I don't talk politics or history with most people, but intellectually I know they're out there. After all, someone else must subscribe to National Review. Someone else must be buying Tom Sowell's books.

Sure, I read the Internet magazines like National Review Online and Frontpagemag. But when you can't really interact with the authors, it's all...distant. I don't want to say it's not real, but it's certainly not personal.

Blogging has allowed this interaction in a way I did not forsee when I started this project. The only blog I read when I started this was Andrew Sullivan and National Review's The Corner. Neither of these post comments, although you can send the author email. The level of interaction between bloggers and other people who simply comment was something that I did not anticipate at all and is the most rewarding part of the entire experience.

Finally, I've been able to meet people who share my beliefs - or most of them anyway - and interact with them in a way that I've long hoped for but was never able to realize. I've "met" some very interesting and smart people, and am much the better for it. I won't list names for fear of exclusion, but you know who you are.

My biggest problem now is finding time to do everything on the Internet that I want to do. I even co-blog on another site, Warm 'n Fuzzy Conserva-Puppies. I've accepted an invitation from Marvin Hutchens to co-author a "Threat Assessment" index in which we rank, track, and provide information about threats to our country.

I'd also be dishonest if I didn't just come right out and say that I'm darn proud of the work that I have done on my site. This thing has grown and changed in ways that I hoped it would and in ways I did not ancipate, but all of it has been good. I know it's not the best writing or analysis out there, but it's more than I've ever done before, and if I may say, some of it is pretty good. So there.

Thank you

Lastly, I want to thank all of you who are reading this now, and those of you who are regular readers. Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again.

Posted by Tom at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 13, 2004

A Cold Warrior

Ever wonder about the title of this blog? Or about the political journey of it's author? Wonder no more.

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