Thursday, November 19, 2009

Messy Desk

Whenever I finish a major writing project, at work or at home, I have a ginormous mess of papers to clean up. Some of them are normally related to whatever I'm working on, but other stuff is usually totally unrelated, and usually pertains to (1) possible blog projects; (2) weird historical/political material I like to read; (3) correspondence; or, (4) just misc. kaka.
Here's a sampling of today's gleanings. As will be apparent, I tend to print hard copies of virtually everything. I also probably have serious ADD. . .
(1) Collective Bargaining Agreement between. . . (parties omitted).
(2) measurements for a home shelving project.
(3) notes on opposing party's brief in (case names omitted).
(4) article: Ballistic Tests on the IJN Shinano's Turret Face Armor, by Nathan Okun, 31 Aug. 1999.
(5) article from the New Republic "The Reinvention of Robert Gates" by Michael Crowley, 9 Nov. 2009.
(6) Memorandum for File concerning conversation with . . .(business, never mind).
(7) Article from "Twenty Years after the Fall" [of the Berlin Wall], by George Friedman, 9 Nov. 09.
(8) Personal e-mail letter from X to moi, dated 25 Mar. 09.
(9) Print-out of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure No. 56.
(10) Article from Mysteries of the Imperial Japanese Navy: "Death of Battleship Hiei: Sunk by Gunfire or Air Attack?" by Anthony P. Tully, 1997.
(11) Article from Wall Street Journal Online "The KSM Trial Will be an Intelligence Bonanza for al Qaeda" by John Yoo.
(12) Print-out of Texas Property Code § 209.006.
(13) Photocopies of 10 pages from Elkouri & Elkouri's How Arbitration Works.
(14) Old receipt from Tony's Mexican Restaurant.
(15) "List of H.M. Ships operating in the English Channel, May 1805" (printout, 3 pages, source unknown).
(16) Friend's Christmas letter from December 2008.
(17) Annotated copy of page from O'Connor's Texas Rules * Civil Trial (2009).
(18) Article from the American Interest "Pillars of the Next American Century" print-out dated 26 Oct. 2009.
(19) Article from National Affairs "Who Killed California?" by Troy Senek (print-out dated 2 October 2009).
(20) A random copy of a page from Black's Law Dictionary with, among other definitions "Nomographer."
What's on your desk?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why is the President Bowing?

Who in Hell does Obama think he is, in his capacity as the President of the United States, to bow before the Emperor of Japan?
A proper respect for crowned heads is appropriate, but a well-mannered greeting in the name of the United States, is quite enough. Ostentatious deference to a monarch by a sitting President is at best an idiot's breach of protocol and at worst a cavalier act of disrespect for both his own office and the people who elected him.
The United States submits to no earthly power. The President is the elected representative of the republic, and appears in the name of the United States before foreign heads of state and governments. He has no right to bow to anyone in the name of the United States.
(Hat tip: Power Line Blog).
UPDATE (16 Nov. 09) Check this most interesting You Tube video, which speaks for itself.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day, 2009

When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today.
Inscription, British War Memorial, Kohima, India.(attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds, Times Literary Supplement[London], 4 July 1918)

As our soldiers, sailors and aviators serve and struggle for us throughout the world, particularly today in Iraq and Afghanistan, pause in your business for a moment, and think of them, and of our veterans who have already served. Remember those who are not with us today, because they made the ultimate sacrifice. The terrible events of the past week at Fort Hood make it especially important for us to reflect gratefully on all they have given.

In particular, I am remembering in my own prayers today three casualties of the Battle of Midway (4 June 1942). Wesley F. Osmus, Ensign USNR, (USS Yorktown), Frank W. O’Flaherty, Ensign USNR (USS Enterprise), and Bruno P. Gaido (Aviation Machinist's Mate (1st Class) -- O'Flaherty's gunner). All were aviators shot down and captured during the attacks on the Japanese fleet, and murdered by their captors. They faced their fates alone, but they are never forgotten.

Went the day well ?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill, Freedom, we died for you

John Maxwell Edmonds, Times [London], 6 February 1918.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Marine Corps!

On 10 November 1775, before the United States was yet a country, the Continental Congress created what became the United States Marine Corps, the resolution of that date providing for the raising of two battalions of Marines. Legend has it that the first Marine recruiting post was in a bar (most say Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, although the precise identity of the hostelry is in dispute). Recruiting had produced five weak companies 300 strong by December 1775, and in March of 1776 the Marines found themselves on ships headed for the Caribbean for the first of their many amphibious expeditions (a raid on the Bahamas). The Corps has been carrying our flags around the globe ever since, participating with distinction in every American war (even in the Civil War – both sides had Marines). Today, the Marines are 200,000 strong.

It is altogether typical that on their Corps’ 234th birthday, America’s Marines are carrying the fight to the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as their fathers and brothers did before them in Kuwait, Grenada, at Hue City, the Chosun Reservoir, Iwo Jima, Peleliu, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Corregidor, Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Peking, Nicaragua, Mexico City, Tripoli and a million other places. Semper Fi guys, and thank you. May God be with all of you every day, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hello Mr. President?

So what's with a Commander-in-Chief making a speech following the news of the shootings at Fort Hood, and not even mentioning it till just under two minutes into the light preliminary banter of a totally unrelated speech?
Obama's remarks -- when they got to the subject -- were appropriate. But the coolness, the detachment, the disconnect between our glacially calm President, the plight of the soldiers of which he is the commander, and the shock of much of the rest of the country was profoundly unsettling.
Couldn't the introduction to his (no doubt) deeply important speech to something called the "Tribal Nations Conference" hosted by the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian affairs (yawn) have waited for just a minute? Why does the President get to the important matter -- a crime that concerns the whole country -- two minutes into his talk; when the speech is getting TV coverage, and much of the country tuned in precisely because it's seeking reassurance and information from the President?
Who is advising Obama? Why did the speech go forward? What makes Obama tick?
Who is this man?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Election 2009

A day shy of a year from the Great Disaster of 2008, America went to the polls again. For Republicans and conservatives, accustomed to an almost uninterrupted diet of political disaster since November 2004; the election of 2009 was the first good news in a long, long time. El Jefe has some very general observations.

1). A very good night for Republicans, better, actually, than if they had won the much-watched race in New York Congressional District 23. Had Mr. Hoffman prevailed there, extreme conservatives would have taken this as a hunting license with which to harass Republican Party moderates. Ideological purity is well and good, for purposes of arguments, but elections are about assembling coalitions (difficult even under the best of conditions). It is helpful to be reminded of the need to make converts, not to simply preach to the choir.

2). New Jersey was a good win, but despite Obama’s appearances there, and his apparent investment in the campaign, much of the reason for the Democratic loss here was Jon Corzine and his baggage. Not to detract from Governor-elect Christie’s victory, but New Jersey was mostly a nice surprise, a one-off, produced by a confluence of very favorable circumstances, and a very well-run Republican campaign.

3). Virginia is the real bad news for Democrats (in particular, as Karl Rove points out, the suburban vote-swing). Obama carried Virginia in 2008 with 53 percent of the vote. The Democratic candidate for governor could manage only 41 percent of the vote this last Tuesday. Democratic Senators and Representatives elected from Red States (many of the so-called “Blue Dogs”) will have to think very carefully about the likely consequences of supporting Obama’s health care and environmental schemes.

3a). While thinking on the election results, the Blue Dogs would do well to reflect on the posture of their own Congressional leadership, which is dominated by the Democratic Party left. The party leadership would certainly like their votes for Obamacare and for cap and tax, but would probably not be displeased to see many of them lose in 2010 – thus eliminating more conservative voices from Democratic Party councils. At any rate, there might well be rich seams of divergent interests available to be mined between Blue Dogs and Lefties; Senate and House; White House and Congress and any other combination Republicans can think up. Hey Republicans, how's it going with Lieberman these days?

4). Thinking of the Democratic Party leadership, positively the most stupid reaction to Tuesday’s results was Comrade Pelosi’s declaration yesterday that “we won last night.” No report yet saying that the Speaker of the House has been arrested for smoking crack.

5). The Republicans have gotten off the deck, and found a bit of a voice, but they have work to do. We know what Republicans are against: the expansion of government by Obama and the Democrats; the administration’s reckless spending and feckless foreign policy. But what do Republicans support?

6). While developing a more affirmative program, the Republicans must keep fighting. Dick Morris should be correct in asserting that Tuesday’s returns constitute Obamacare’s death certificate. There is a chance not only to block the public option, but to stop the legislation entirely, and probably the cap and tax environmental scheme as well. The key will be finding ways to fracture Democratic Party discipline – and given the problems Tuesday shows the Blue Dogs might have in 2010, this is now within reach. A bill is going to come out of the House soon but Senate Majority Leader Reid is now saying that there may be no bill on his side till 2010. If this is so, time is very short: if matters are spun-out much past March, we will be too deep into the 2010 election cycle for the production of meaningful legislation.

7). There is now the interesting question of what Obama will do? Barring a foreign policy crisis (which will change all calculations) he has, essentially, two choices:
(a) Doubling Down – mobilizing all the liberal lobbies and interest to arm-twist the Blue Dogs to secure the legislation he wants by Valentines Day. Don’t know enough about the liberal set-up to know if this can work. I think he needs the complete support of the unions to do it, and unless card check’s coming, that might be tough.
(b) The Bill Clinton Three-Step – essentially, this involves pulling back some – giving up the public option on health care, ensuring environmental legislation is harmless to small business interests; and focusing instead on jobs and employment. This would perhaps cause the Chamber of Commerce and the business lobby to demobilize somewhat, and would probably produce a modest recovery in independent support – thus, better poll numbers. If Obama triangulated a la Bill Clinton, the Left would be furious, but Lefties have nowhere to go. The Right would be flat-footed by losing its most potent rhetorical talking points.
8). As a narrowly political matter, the smart move for the Democrats (in the short term), and probably the best move for the country (period) would be Plan B. Set against this though, the Democrats have to consider that whatever 2010 looks like, the historical probabilities indicate that the Republicans, as the completely out of power party, have no place to go but up; and that in all likelihood, Republicans will gain congressional seats. Put another way, the Democrats will never be as strong as today, and now might be the time to use their votes, before they lose them.