"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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Republican Senators could block any US Supreme Court appointment not to their liking, not only from lame duck President Obama but from a possible President Hillary. That’s the kind of thing the Democrats, knowing the Republicans would deal eventually, have done.
What if the Republican-controlled Senate held out indefinitely? Five-to-four decisions favoring the Democrats would become impossible. But so would five-to-four decisions favoring the Republicans. Unless something changed there might be deadlock on partisan issues, which probably wouldn’t be a bad thing. But eventually things would change. President Hillary could appoint someone more moderate. The Republicans could lose control of the Senate. Additional justices could die or retire.
OTOH, a demonstration of firmness, even irrational firmness, by Congressional Republicans might pay dividends in the long run. Reagan gained considerable, perhaps decisive, advantage in foreign affairs by firing the striking air controllers.
OTOH, Reagan was an individual and the Republican Senatorial delegation is a coalition. It’s relatively easy to weaken a coalition by bribing or pressuring marginal members to drop out. The prevailing incentives do not favor Republican institutional backbone.
The Tea Party movement — which you also failed to understand, and thus mostly despised — was a bourgeois, well-mannered effort (remember how Tea Party protests left the Mall cleaner than before they arrived?) to fix America. It was treated with contempt, smeared as racist, and blocked by a bipartisan coalition of business-as-usual elites. So now you have Trump, who’s not so well-mannered, and his followers, who are not so well-mannered, and you don’t like it.
Finally, I make this last point with some trepidation. It will strike some as ad hominem. But it is not meant to be so. It is put forward only to clarify the issues. The position that a President has a duty to put forward a Supreme Court nominee is narrowly elitist and overtly judicial-centric. Nothing distinguishes the President in his role here in regard to nominating Supreme Court nominees from (1) his role in regard to nominating other judicial nominees and (2) his coordinate role in regard to nominating persons for any and every other office (however humble) within the President’s orbit. If the President fails to nominate a person to one of these less prominent offices who would say that the President failed in his constitutional duty? I think few, and perhaps no commentators would make such an argument. And if you will not make that argument for each and every one of the less prominent positions subject to presidential nomination, I think there is no good reasoned basis for making it for Supreme Court vacancies—except that the great & good all think the Supreme Court was, is, and must be the center of our attention and political life. In other words, this Supreme Court-centered view is exactly the position that AS fought tooth-and-nail. He was right to do so.
What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.
With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30y of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, microeconomic papers wrong 40% of the time, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating only 1/5th of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers with a better track record than these policymaking goons.
Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats wanting to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. I have shown that most of what Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types call “rational” or “irrational” comes from misunderstanding of probability theory.
Posted by Mrs. Davis on 13th March 2016 (All posts by Mrs. Davis)
Allowing a stupid person to demonstrate their stupidity by asking them a hard question does not confer responsibility for their stupidity upon the questioner.
By choosing to hold a rally at UIC, Trump knew that he could get his enemy to demonstrate who they are and what tactics they prefer. It does not make him responsible for what they chose to do. And what he ultimately chose to do was prevent violence, not promote it.
Trump was pushing a negative so hard it became a positive and allowed him to ridicule his opposition. BLM, OWS and SJWs are being turned into the Bull Connor of the 21st century by their own actions. Trump is just giving them the opportunity to reveal themselves. Then he makes them live by their own rules. On Hardball:
MATTHEWS: When you set up rally in Chicago where it’s mostly Hispanic and blacks, you knew there would be a lot of people that have the time to come out and protest your situation. It was no surprise here, was there in what happened? Given the venue of your event,
TRUMP: It shouldn’t matter. You’re the first one to say it. It shouldn’t matter whether it was whoever lives in the city. It shouldn’t make a difference. Whether it’s white, black, Hispanic, it shouldn’t matter.
MATTHEWS: They don’t like what you’re saying. They don’t like what you’re saying.
TRUMP: We shouldn’t be restricted from having rally here because of ethnic make up or anything like that. I’m somebody that feels strongly it shouldn’t make any difference. You usually feel that too. I’m surprised you’re bringing this up because it shouldn’t matter,
Do you believe those were spontaneous responses? You can almost see Trump restraining him self from saying, “Alinsky…You magnificent bastard. I read your book.”
Look at Alinsky’s rules and recall how many of them have been observed by Trump thus far. Trump stopped the War on Women by applying Rules 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 12 to Hillary through Bill Clinton, with a big assist from Bill Cosby. He froze his 16 Republican competitors to the point where none of them could effectively respond to him.
Cruz is still my preference, but should Trump win the nomination he will give a master class to whom ever the Establishment grants the Democrat nomination in the tactics they have used to dominate the national debate for the last 30 years. And should Cruz prevail, he would do well to learn from Trump’s demonstration of Alinskyite tactics.
* RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”
* RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
* RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
* RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules
* RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
* RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
* RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
* RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”
* RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
* RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.”
* RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
* RULE 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Posted by Mrs. Davis on 6th March 2016 (All posts by Mrs. Davis)
We let the Saturday/Sunday WSJ opinion pages remain unopened as we have errands to do and our local paper has dispensed with its Sunday edition to deliver its scant weekend advertising edition on Saturday. So this morning I ate my eggs accompanied by a whimpering Peggy Noonan.
She sounds like an out of phase boomer crying “Has anybody here seen my old friend Jeb?” because her Republican party is shattering in her mind. So long has she lived in the comfort of her subservient cocoon that she cannot imagine that the shattering of the chrysalis will allow the emergence of the beautiful and powerful butterfly instead of the inert pupa to which she had become accustomed. Instead the agent of that shattering, Donald Trump, is seen to be destroying the comfort to which she had looked forward in her old age.
I also saw the returns for yesterday’s contests where Cruz won two and narrowed The Donald’s margins in two others while leaving Rubio and Kasich far behind, clutching for straws. We now have the two man race. Bad news for the Donald because he now faces the candidate most likely to reveal the true emptiness of the man behind the curtain. And the candidate most likely to present a clear choice for voters in November.
And on the other side, the Bern won 2 of 3 which will force Hillary to rededicate herself to leftism past which she will, if still free, be forced to defend in the autumn against Cruz painting the future in bold colors.
Who ever became president in 2008 was doomed to preside over 8 terrible economic years. The withdrawal of the boomers from economic productivity into dependent consumerism was inevitably about to begin, our financial institutions were in disarray, and a vibrant China was eating our lunch as had the Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s.
The next president, whoever it is, will face far less difficult prospects. Boomers will continue their decline into consumption, but they will begin to abandon the jobs to which they have so bitterly clung to the X’ers and Millenials who so desperately need them. Our financial institutions, while still unreformed, are stronger than any others in the world. China faces interesting times, and our adversaries in Russia, Arabia and Persia will struggle with the onslaught created by one of the 20th century’s greatest unsung heroes, George P. Mitchell, father of fracking. Who knows, there may be enough wealth to cover Social Security, if not Medicare.
What remains unstated in all of Noonan’s and others’ commentary is that this election has the opportunity to be a revolutionary generational transfer of power. The Donald, having done the prophetic work of Jeremiah, has paved the way for Cruz, the new Josiah, to rediscover the law of old and restore it to guide a new age. An age in which Republicans have an embarrassment of talents and the Democrats none. Should Cruz gain power there is greater than normal reason to expect his redirection of the nation could be sustained simply because of the lack of opposition talent and the gift of fracking. After the last 30 years, we can at least pray for it.
No one can know the future, and there are some reasons why this may not be it, but for this afternoon, I can at least try to remember where I left those sunglasses.
Posted by Ginny on 5th March 2016 (All posts by Ginny)
Yesterday, clicking through an Instapundit post, you would find here the source for their “quote of the day,”
A couple of years ago, [socialist Venezuela’s] then-minister of education admitted that the aim of the regime’s policies was ‘not to take the people out of poverty so they become middle class and then turn into escuálidos’ (a derogatory term to denote opposition members). In other words, the government wanted grateful, dependent voters, not prosperous Venezuelans.”
Not surprisingly this was followed by the ever useful Reynolds’ reference to the Rainmakers: “They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please.
Anyone who listens to Sanders arguing medical service is a right hasn’t thought twice about Perry’s argument – that access is far more important than insurance and far more likely to produce good medicine. And Hillary’s arguments are more of the same, of course, but she’s already in the doddering, grasping, authoritarian stage of the Castros. Sanders hasn’t had the power before – we just suspect what he will do with it; we know what she will.
What I’m feeling for the GOP is a kind of disinterested sympathy, punctuated with schadenfreude, the disinterest arising from never having been a Republican, the sympathy from the GOP identification of a plurality of my close friends – uniformly horrified by what is happening – and the schadenfreude from the abrupt collapse of three-plus decades of pharisaical social conservatism. Turns out that eventually enough of the electorate whose resentment you’ve been stoking figures out that it’s a waste of time and fastens on to something else, something that matches their actual resentments a lot more closely. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Kevin Villani on 2nd March 2016 (All posts by Kevin Villani)
The G20 leaders recently called upon the leaders of the developed nations to employ more massive amounts of debt financed government spending to ward off the current economic stagnation and in some instances the early stages of recession. That fits Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result”. The pursuit of so-called “macroeconomic (fiscal and monetary) policies” has produced a quarter century of economic stagnation in Japan, a $30 trillion debt bubble in China with little to show, and stagnation and looming recession in Europe and increasingly in the US.
Einstein was a genius who remains relevant today. Just within the last few weeks evidence was reported of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein almost a century ago. Proving Einstein’s theories has been the focus of physics during the past century, but he maintained that had he been able to get an academic appointment instead of a position at the Swiss patent office he never would have been able to develop and publish his new path-breaking theories.
In his recently released biography The Courage to Act (2015), former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke describes how, initially failing physics, he turned to macroeconomics as an outlet for his mathematical skills. This was auspicious. In physics, when your equations don’t fit the reality it is the equations that must be changed unless there is new evidence to change the understanding of reality. Einstein’s biggest error was rather than waiting for better data when his equations predicted an expanding universe, he fudged the equation (introducing the Max Planck constant) to fit the current understanding of a stagnant universe, then disagreed for most of his lifetime with the next generation of quantum physicists who proved he had gotten it right in the first place. Einstein’s one mistake is the modus operandi of modern macroeconomists.
I took an Economics class in college in 1957 and it changed me to a Republican. My first vote was for Richard Nixon in 1960. My family was furious as they thought we were related to the Boston Kennedys and they had always been Democrats. I wonder if an Economics class would have that effect today?
And that political economy and my assessment of it has changed over a career spanning more than half a century. Here are five developments I would emphasize:
I agree with his appraisal.
1. Diminishing returns to research. A core economic principle is the Law of Diminishing Returns. If you add more resources, such as labor, to fixed quantities of another resource, such as land, output eventually rises by smaller and smaller amounts. That applies—with a vengeance—to academic research. Teaching loads have fallen dramatically (although the Education Department, which probably can tell you how many Hispanic female anthropologists there are teaching in Arkansas, does not publish regular teaching-load statistics), ostensibly to allow more research. But the 50th paper on a topic seldom adds as much understanding as the first or second.
This has been characteristic of Medicine, as well as other academic subjects.
Emory University’s Mark Bauerlein once showed that scholarly papers on Shakespeare averaged about 1,000 a year—three a day. Who reads them? How much does a typical paper add at the margin to the insights that Shakespeare gave us 400 years ago?
The attitude touches the President’s favorite pastime. Tevi Troy reported in Commentary how much Obama enjoys television, particularly SportsCenter and the middlebrow series Homeland and Mad Men. The New York Times added Breaking Bad and The Wire in its article “Obama’s TV Picks: Anything Edgy, with Hints of Reality,” and while it warned of the foolishness of “psychoanalyzing” a president based on “the books he reads or the music he listens to or the television shows he watches,” the story mentions not a single book. One would expect Marxists, feminists, queer theorists, post-colonialists, anti-imperialists, and media theorists to chide Obama for his bourgeois, masculinist taste, but as far as I know they have remained silent.
Due to the fact that I live in Illinois which has been carved into districts to ensure Democratic majorities, my vote is mostly useless or a protest vote at best. I wrote about gerrymandering here and the fact that perhaps I live in the most ruthlessly gerrymandered district in the nation (and that is no small feat), the fifth Illinois house district, with our current representative, Ken Dunkin.
Recently I have been receiving a series of mailings for Ken Dunkin’s re-election, which is hotly contested. Currently in Illinois, the Democrats technically have a super-majority, meaning that they can unilaterally issue a budget (more or less) and raise taxes. However, not every Democrat “falls into line” with Mike Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois house, who is the true leader of the Democratic party in Illinois. Rauner is looking for Democrats who might listen to his message of reform or for some reason or another be amenable to working constructively with him (don’t want to speculate too long on why this might be, but you can probably jump to your own conclusion). Dunkin refused to show up for a vote that Madigan thought was crucial in September and conspiracy theories have him aligned with Rauner.
More than $2 million, an unprecedented sum for a legislative primary contest, could be spent between Dunkin, who has allied himself with Rauner against Madigan, and Stratton, who is backed by organized labor.
This is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a primary race for a house seat for the Illinois legislature. Given the Democratic machines’ hold on this part of the city, it is accepted as a “given” that the Democratic candidate will win so all of the efforts go into the primary.
Thus my vote is now a precious commodity. Seemingly every day I get a giant, colorful, nearly insane flyer in the mail with the two candidates attacking each other. Here is a flyer stating that Ken Dunkin was convicted of abusing women and is unfit for office.
Posted by Mrs. Davis on 27th February 2016 (All posts by Mrs. Davis)
The government is asking Apple to give it the password to Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone and iCloud account. Apple is refusing to do so based on its First Amendment rights. This seems to me to be a very weak argument. Just ask Judith Miller. And there really is very little difference. Apple will have to spend $100,000 to comply and all Judith Miller needed to do was name a source. But Apple’s case involves a national security threat to each and every American whereas Judith Miller’s involved only an implausible threat to Valerie Plame who chose to garner all kinds of media attention thereafter. If there were a safe deposit box the government wanted opened, it would go to a court and get an order for the bank to drill the locks out so that the box could be removed. The bank would comply. Apple will lose.
And if Apple does not lose, the matter will go, as its pleading requests and as it may, even if it loses, now that Apple has made such a ruckus, from the fairly rational precincts of the judiciary to the fully irrational floor of the Congress. Let’s suppose that before legislation is completed there is another domestic terror incident in the US and the terrorist used an Apple iPhone. What kind of legislation would Apple get after that? While not yet widely known, Apple has likely put a back door into every Chinese iPhone via a Chinese designed chip added to the iPhone at China’s insistence for phones sold in the PRC. If this is confirmed, Congress would go even more non-linear.
And what other things might the government do if Apple were to prevail? Well, in the extreme it could ask GCHQ or some other foreign service to crack the iPhone in general. No device is uncrackable. It could also signal the Chinese that it would not be aggressive in pursuing IP violations by China in the case of Apple products. Apple is refusing to cooperate with its government in the first responsibility of that government, to protect its citizens. There would be consequences. Is it really good legal advice to let your client take such risks?
Apple should have quietly cut a deal with the government that would offer its customers the maximum security and quietly complied with court orders until a truly offensive order was received. Barring that, Apple would have a far better argument saying that ordering it to break its phones would lower their value to customers, lowering Apple’s revenues, and lowering Apple’s market cap. This would constitute an uncompensated taking by the Federal government of enormous monetary value from every Apple shareholder for which Apple should be compensated.
With existing technology, you have no privacy. Products are in development that will allow retailers to know how long you look at an item on a shelf, if you pick it up, if you return it to the shelf, how long you look at it and if you buy it. And if you wear an iWatch or other wearable, it will know how much your pulse and bp increased at each step of engagement. If you use gmail, as almost everyone seems to, Google knows the content of every email you send and receive. Who is more likely to release or resell your email, Google or the FBI? The Silicon Valley forces lining up against the government are the most probable threat to what you think is your privacy. It’s been almost 20 years since Scott McNealy said “You’ve got no privacy. Get over it.”
Apple will be made out to be protecting the ability of terrorists to communicate in secret. We are at war with these terrorists. They will kill any of us where ever they can. Article III, section 3 of the Constitution states,”Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” That sounds a lot like what Apple is seeking to do under protection of the first amendment’s emanations and penumbras.
Tim Cook is engaging in the same kind of magical thinking that has dominated the boomer elite and led to so many tragedies for the last 24 years. Losing wars has consequences.
“This illustrates, in a mild way, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse so suddenly. (Click here for a more complex analysis of this and related
issues). Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it – but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.
But in my experience any nonpolitical person on the street, when asked who will win, not only knows but gets a look as if you’re teasing him. Trump, they say.
I had such a conversation again Tuesday with a friend who repairs shoes in a shop on Lexington Avenue. Jimmy asked me, conversationally, what was going to happen. I deflected and asked who he thinks is going to win. “Troomp!” He’s a very nice man, an elderly, old-school Italian-American, but I saw impatience flick across his face: Aren’t you supposed to know these things?
In America now only normal people are capable of seeing the obvious.
But despite all the opportunistic campaign rhetoric, the newly elected President Eisenhower more or less followed Truman’s policies. By July 1953 he had achieved an armistice. And by keeping sizable U.S. deployments of peacekeepers in place, he also ensured what would become a long evolution to democracy in South Korea and the country’s current dynamic economy. Had Eisenhower, in Obama-like worry over his 1956 reelection bid, yanked out all U.S. peacekeepers in December 1955, and blamed the resulting debacle on his Democratic predecessor (“Truman’s War”), while writing off the North Korean aggressors as jayvees, we can imagine a quick North Korean absorption of the South, with the sort of death and chaos we are now seeing in Iraq.
[. . .]
We can surely argue about Iraq, but we must not airbrush away facts. The mystery of the current Iraq fantasy is not that a prevaricating Donald Trump misrepresents the war in the fashion of Democratic senators and liberal pundits who once eagerly supported it, but that his Republican opponents so easily let him do it.
Actually it’s not a mystery. The Republican candidates opposing Trump must have discovered that the dishonest “Bush lied” narrative about Iraq polls better than the truth. (None of the remaining Republican candidates seems qualified to be President. Unfortunately, the Democratic candidates are even worse.)
In 2009 news stories reported that fewer Americans had been killed in Iraq the previous year than were murdered in Chicago. Iraq had an imperfect but functioning democratic government. The war was essentially won.
In 2016 Iraq has largely fallen apart. ISIS, Iran and Russia dominate much of Iraq and Syria. ISIS controls territory in North Africa. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are hanging by threads. Turkey and Russia have skirmished. Israel no longer has regional air superiority, perhaps not even air superiority in all of its own territory. Talk of regional and even world war is in the air.
The principal differences between 2008 and 2016 are Obama’s terrible decisions to withdraw US forces from Iraq and then to stop defending our other Middle Eastern interests. Bush had nothing to do with it except to the extent he was inept at promoting his case at home. Many if not most Americans neither understand why we invaded Iraq nor remember the bi-partisan, international consensus for invasion that existed in 2002 and 2003.
In a recent comment here Andrew Garland referred to a 2009 comment by Chicago Boyz contributor Michael Kennedy, quoting Michael Crichton. It is worth re-posting the Crichton quote in full:
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
I thought about this because I have been having an email exchange with a left-wing acquaintance of mine. My acquaintance thinks highly of Obama’s performance in office. Like many of us, my acquaintance has noticed an increase in racial animosity over the seven years of Obama’s presidency. My acquaintance attributes this increased racial tension to racists, presumably white, who “are driven practically insane at the thought of having a black president”.
I am sure that there are such people. A quick tour of the Internet reveals plenty of racism to go around. And yet none of the many anti-Obama arguments I’ve read or heard has been based on race; conservative media are full of substantive arguments against Obama and his policies. Meanwhile Obama and his political allies have gone out of their way to racialize political controversies. And yet most of the Obama partisans I’ve met have been confident that white racism is the cause of most opposition to Obama. Apparently there are many people out there who believe that wet streets cause rain.
“I know the Marines are the best fighting force in the world, but haven’t you had enough of building nations in the middle of the desert? You’re called Marines for a reason. Shouldn’t the future should be closer to the shore?” (sic)
I’ll take the sentiment kindly. Marines usually do fine when compared to other forces. I hesitate to call ourselves the “best” or “finest.” But the Marines are probably as good as any force out there.
Still, it takes a lot to believe that Donald Trump could win more electoral-college votes than Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders and that his Supreme Court appointments would have Justice Scalia’s respect for the lives of his voters. Mr. Trump’s nominations for anything sit as a mystery.
Before Justice Scalia’s death, some might have said the Trump option was a risk worth running. The risk now has become too high.
I’ve posted on Chicago Boyz and other blogs before, but it was a long time ago. Most of it was my work on the Clausewitz Roundtable. I’ve commented here and there, too. I’m happy to count Zen Pundit and Lexington Green as close blog-friends of many years.
I’m back. Some has changed, but not much. I’m still an active-duty US Marine Corps Officer. I’m a major now, not a captain. I’ve been to the sand box a few more times since I last posted an actual blog here. I’ve deployed more than most for my time in service, but less than some. I’m not complaining, just saying.
One thing did happen on my last deployment, in the end of 2014. Toward the end of deployments it’s not uncommon for things to slow down–lots of waiting for things to happen. So you have time to think. In that thinking I started to really question what the hell it is that I’m doing. Why am I fighting? What is it for? I suppose it’s connected to the fact that I was rounding out my fourth deployment to Afghanistan, and doing my small part to assist the Marine Corps with the turnover of Helmand Province to the Afghan National Army 215th Corps. I had deployed to Afghanistan in 2004, 2010, 2012-2013, and then 2014. Throw in an Iraq deployment, some time at sea with the Navy, and some other exercises, and you start to see the makings of a military career in early 21st century America. In any case, I was leading a unit and had a good amount of responsibility. But why? Why had the US come here, made the decisions it did, and why was it now trying to leave? And likewise, why was my Marine Corps doing the same thing? And me? Why was I a part of that?
I have no real regrets about the service rendered for my country. The cost has certainly been steep, personally, though. The family, with each deployment, goes through a great deal of stress, and after about three such deployments, they get harder, not easier, for the family and the soldier to handle. I’ve also lost more friends than I care to count (I can count them out for you, I just don’t want to). There are other costs which are borne, too. But the remuneration has been decent, I suppose. We always managed to be somewhat comfortable. Maybe that was the problem…the comfort?
Part of the expression of gratitude the country has for its military is the pay. For an officer, especially, the pay is quite good. I’m not going to tell you the amount of pay and allowances–that’s publicly available elsewhere. But suffice to say that the military has been quite shielded from the fears and losses of the great recession. Enlisted men and women do well, too, and can occasionally do very well when it comes times for reenlistment in specific occupational fields. Expenses have always been reasonably less than income, on average. There’s been no pressure from the economic environment to really think about my family’s financial situation today, let along 10 or 20 years from now. Yet something just wasn’t right. I didn’t feel out of control, but I didn’t feel like I was in charge, either. I had a bit of a feeling of being adrift. The military side of things was very much in control of the situation–I always knew precisely how many people were under my charge, their individual strengths and weaknesses, their state of training and discipline, and their morale. I knew the capabilities of my equipment. I always strove to understand the mission, to lead with vigor, and to “own” my position. I was good at that. But personally and financially? I barely had a financial or a personal life. That had to change.
So I decided to get a handle on things. I started to track every penny–even the pennies I don’t see because they’re “pre-tax” and given to the government for safe keeping until I claim my share back at tax time. I located all of my accounts. I found all of the debts, the interest rates, the amount of interest I was paying. I started tracking expenses, and then cutting them. I’ll be honest–the wife wasn’t exactly thrilled by me looking at things with such magnification. I started to read up on personal finance, investing, and life-planning in general. I read blogs and books, listened to podcasts, and talked with others about how to really order finances these days. And I began to radically alter our financial course. We paid all our debts, we bought a house (so, in actuality, we have one mortgage now). We’ve rented out our basement to a tenant. And we now save about 40% of all our pre-tax income. We’re not where I want to be yet, but we’re getting there. I’m not leaving anything to chance any longer, unless it’s a calculated chance intentionally taken. Every expense is now deliberately taken.
I also decided to look for some hobbies. Being a military man has a way of becoming an all-encompassing experience. Your friends are basically military colleagues. Your work is military work. Military people know about “mandatory fun”–those obligatory nights spent with comrades and often with superiors. Your wardrobe is decided for you. Where you live is decided. My task was to carve out a bit of this life and make it mine. I had to get new friends and do new things with different groups of people. That would add richness to my life. I’ve done that, and I’m still doing that.
I’ve been working on the above things–redirecting our financial life and reordering how I spend time–for a bit over a year now. The changes have been pretty dramatic. Looking back, I realize that up until I took command of my life I was living in a bit of a fog. With all of the turmoil of military life, the American people do much to make finances reasonably tranquil. This financial tranquility is both a blessing and a curse. You’re never really forced to grapple with the default decisions the consumerist economy makes for you. Nor are you forced to grapple with the reality that politics is not really national. It’s local. Your political power begins with you and those you immediately affect. You need to reclaim that power for yourself. Take charge of the fruits of your labor. Own your day to the extent you can. If you want to descend into the cesspool of national politics, fine–but do it intentionally. In fact, live your life intentionally. A life, intentionally lived, taken to the logical extreme, is the very definition of freedom. That is why I fight, happily, for my country.
I’ll be blogging about my financial journey here, as well as on other things as I see fit.
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 15th February 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
Maureen Dowd, FEB. 13, 2016:
“Seeing Albright, the first female secretary of state, give cover to President Clinton was a low point in women’s rights. As was the New York Times op-ed by Steinem, arguing that Lewinsky’s will was not violated, so no feminist principles were violated. What about Clinton humiliating his wife and daughter and female cabinet members? What about a president taking advantage of a gargantuan power imbalance with a 22-year-old intern? What about imperiling his party with reckless behavior that put their feminist agenda at risk?
It rang hollow after the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings. When it was politically beneficial, the feminists went after Thomas for bad behavior and painted Hill as a victim. And later, when it was politically beneficial, they defended Bill’s bad behavior and stayed mute as Clinton allies mauled his dalliances as trailer trash and stalkers.
The same feminists who were outraged at the portrayal of Hill by David Brock — then a Clinton foe but now bizarrely head of one of her “super PACs” — as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” hypocritically went along when Hillary and other defenders of Bill used that same aspersion against Lewinsky.
Hillary knew that she could count on the complicity of feminist leaders and Democratic women in Congress who liked Bill’s progressive policies on women. And that’s always the ugly Faustian bargain with the Clintons, not only on the sex cover-ups but the money grabs: You can have our bright public service side as long as you accept our dark sketchy side.
Young women today, though, are playing by a different set of rules. And they don’t like the Clintons setting themselves above the rules.”
First, let me say I’m stunned I read this call-out of the Clinton’s hypocrisy in the NYT of all places from none other than Maureen Dowd. This is tectonic and tells us the ground has just shifted on the left. That says a few things:
The NYT in general and Maureen Dowd in particular no longer fear the Clinton’s power nor feel they will be punished for disloyalty by a Hillary Clinton administration. Because…
The NYT in general and Maureen Dowd in particular no longer see a Hillary Clinton administration as a probability. They know the Hillary campaign is in flames and will only get worse.
Maureen is aware that something fundamental has changed regarding the siren song of feminism. Once upon a time, Hillary could press the button that lit the overhead sign saying, “I deserve your vote because I’m a woman and it’s time we had a woman president!” and get applause and support across the board. It’s not working anymore. Hillary keeps pressing the button, women see the sign, but it’s having no effect. Young women in particular are flocking to, of all people, Bernie Sanders, who offers free college and more free stuff where that came from. Which brings me to the next stunning thing…
Maureen writes, “Bernie has a clear, concise “we” message, even if it’s pie-in-the-sky.” She knows this is a fairy tale. She’s worked and paid bills and seen the NYT teeter on the edge of bankruptcy and knows things need to paid for, and a plan for taxing ‘speculators’ is economically ignorant at best. If you’re realistically going to discuss providing free college tuition, you also need to discuss what you’re going to give up to get that, especially when you’re $19 trillion in debt already.
That young women are rejecting a pavlovian response to ‘I have a vagina, vote for me!’ is a positive development. That they aren’t asking rational economic questions about Bernie’s promises and appear to know nothing of the long failed history of socialism or even think to ask questions as basic as how much does this cost and how does it get paid for is not a positive reflection on our unionized, increasingly radicalized, government bureaucrat staffed educational system*. But it does show self serving design on their part, coincidentally enough.
(*) I haven’t got the slightest doubt that there are people in that system who genuinely want to provide a good education. However, those desires are overwhelmed by the social-political-bureaucratic tidal wave that imposes the conditions and the curriculum.
So Maureen knows things are looking grim for the Democrats. The vile Clinton syndicate is collapsing as we watch and she knows that while children and the government dependent might vote for Bernie, it’s going to be a hard sell to everyone else. Reading this op-ed in the NYT is like reading a critique of Brezhnev in Pravda. When one of the primary party organs has turned on you, change is afoot.
In January 2000, President Bill Clinton boldly promised China’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization (WTO) “is a good deal for America. Our products will gain better access to China’s market, and every sector from agriculture, to telecommunications, to automobiles. But China gains no new market access to the United States.” None of what President Clinton promised came true. Since China joined the WTO, Americans have witnessed the closure of more than 50,000 factories and the loss of tens of millions of jobs. It was not a good deal for America then and it’s a bad deal now. It is a typical example of how politicians in Washington have failed our country.
Central Planning: Central planning, central planning. The history of the abject failure the Soviet Union’s five-year plans should tell you everything. Command and control economies that report to one man (in a nation of 1.3 billion people) are doomed from the start. Top down economic decisions often look bold and start out highly stimulative, but then degenerate into inefficiency, waste, politics and fraud.
Political Corruption: As the command and control economy generates liquidity, the demand and direction of the distributed capital becomes a political tussle. Decisions on how much steel, cement, coal, glass solar panels, high speed trains and shopping malls—in short everything—are not done in China as a cost benefit analysis by risk capital, a job difficult enough in itself. (Witness the capitalist economies’ booms and busts.) In China, this liquidity was allocated by political muscle, massive bribery and kickbacks, rather than economic justifications.
Basic Gangsterism: Counterfeiting, knockoffs, copyright infringement, theft of intellectual property – these were a part of the booster rockets of China’s economic rise. It was all supposed to go away after China joined the WTO in 2001. It didn’t. It just became more institutionalized. Foreign companies needed Chinese “partners” in auto production, healthcare and technology. These “partners” crippled the potential productivity of the investments and led to frequent disputes and even more corruption… as in the GlaxoSmithKline scandals.
There are a total of nine reasons, many addressed in Trump’s piece above.