Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The phoenix arises (I hope!)

For the few diehards that still visit from time to time, I am going to start posting again. I got very busy with my job and I was on the road quite a bit. Shore duty is supposed to be easy but Ive been busier than a one legged man in butt kicking contest. Stay tuned and I promise to do my best to deliver a good product.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Why Bush Gets My Vote

Choosing Bush for my vote wasn't a hard choice. There are myriad reasons why, no matter whether you are voting based on national security or domestic issues. Bush gets my vote for three simple reasons. The first reason has her mother's hair and eyes. She faces every day with the bright eyed and unbridled enthusiasm that every child enjoys. She sends me off with a hug every day and greets me with the same when I get home. Reason number two has red hair and bright blue eyes. She was born while I was flying missions over Afghanistan. I am proud to serve my country but there will always be a part of me that rues the fact I wasn't there. She is a little more introspective than reason number one, but her affection is without bounds. Reason number three is still mostly concerned with getting a proper feeding and being held when the new world threatens to overwhelm her.

I consider myself the stereotypical type A personality that tends to pervade my chosen profession. Tough, stiff upper lip, all that jazz. I dont scare easily but I had nightmares after the massacre at Beslan. The thought of that happening in our country is enough to bring me to my knees. I firmly believe that President Bush has the necessary vision and conviction to ensure my nightmares dont become reality. He understands the nature of the beast and what it takes to defeat it. This issue trumps all other.

I dont think Senator Kerry is a bad man or doesnt care about America. I imagine if I sat down and talked with him I'd come away thinking he was a pretty decent guy. But his thinking and views are hopelessly mired in the 9/10 world. He twists and sways in the political winds. His unrelenting focus on what is wrong, instead of what is right, gives me no confidence in his ability to lead this country. I dont see that shining city on the hill when Senator Kerry speaks.

This post was written for Hugh Hewitt's virtual symposium. Please check out the rest of his blog, it is well worth your time.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The evolution of a conservative

To the elite few who read this blog, I have finally readjusted to adding member number three to the family. Thanks for all the well wishes. Expect regular posting once again. Now on to the show.

A quote that I like has a line in it that says "a conservative is a liberal who got mugged." While my current political outlook evolved somewhat less dramatically, you could say I got mugged by reality.

I grew up in a single parent home, raised by a mother who was pretty liberal. I grew up accepting the ideology of the Democratic party without much question or reflection. In fact I considered my life growing the epitome of the liberal dream. As I said, I was raised by my mother. She worked two jobs most of my young life and at the same time was finishing her Bachelor's degree. We were financially challenged to put it in politically correct vernacluar. Buying gasoline a dollar at a time with change scrounged from the couch cushions was commonplace and we received food stamps and government food.

Although I did well in high school I made a decision to enlist for military service. I applied to the Naval Academy as well. I was accepted and entered with the class of 94. In my sophomore year I had a roommate who was very conservative and we used to butt heads all the time. To me, he was the epitome of what the Republican party represented. His family was very wealthy and I saw him as typical spoiled rich brat who didnt know what hard work was or how the real world worked. I used to get spitting mad after one of our little "discussions." I didnt question why this was at first, but as I thought more about it, I realized that my notions were being challenged by rationale that made sense. Well doggonnit, thats just not fair. Nonetheless my perceptions had begun to shift.

The next major ratcheting in my beliefs came about when I chose my major. I wont go into the boring details of how I made my decision, but I decided that Economics was the right choice. That's right folks, the dismal science! One thing I learned early on is the value of critical thinking in economics, and it transferred neatly into my outlook on life in general. I began to realize the folly of the myriad of programs that existed to help the downtrodden in America.

The point that you could say my views clicked firmly into the conservative side of things occurred one day not long before I finally graduated. I was reflecting on my life up to that point and I had a moment of clarity. My life experiences up to that point had nothing to do with the liberal dream. It had everything to do with the conservative dream! I had taken advantage of the opportunities given to me. I worked hard and succeeded, not because society guaranteed me an equal outcome, but because society guaranteed me equal opportunity. Now to many out there, that may seem like an obvious point. But in 22 years of life I had grasped it for the first time. And it didnt just apply to me either. Because my mother, through the virtue of hard work and sacrifice, did the same. I am proud to say that I wasnt the first person in my family to graduate with a college degree. More importantly, because my mother never neglected my moral development and thus ingrained in me a sense of the importance of family, the value of making hard choices, and in general how to be a decent human being.

It's funny how things come full circle. Like I said, my mother was a fairly liberal person. She wasnt particularly comfortable with my decision to join the military. You'd never know if you were on the outside looking in. She was and is my most ardent supporter other than my wife. But I knew it was something that she wasn't sure about. During the times leading up the President's decision to invade Iraq, she told me that she supported the President's decision to do so. She had her eyes opened to the evil in the world, and unlike many Americans, she didnt put the blinders back on. In fact, she made one of the most shocking statements I ever heard from her. It was in reference to the Abu Ghraib scandal and to paraphrase, she said she didn't see what the big deal was! When it began to appear that we werent going to find stockpiles of WMD, she began to waver in her newfound convictions. But we had a long talk about why that wasn't the central issue and in the end she stuck to her newfound guns. I think Florida might have just found another vote for Bush. Thank God for muggings.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Some Gave All

September 11, 2001.

I was a wet behind the ears Naval Flight Officer, eagerly anticipating my first extended at-sea period as a carrier aviator. I slept in late, because as junior officers (especially junior aviators) are wont to do, I spent the previous night celebrating my last night on dry land for the next six weeks, with exceeding and determined vigor. I peeled my carcass off the Navy issue wafer thin mattress and switched the TV on. A curious clip was playing on CNN, showing a commerical airliner slamming into a building that appeared to be one of the duo that made up the World Trade Center. My immediate thought was that it was some sort of training video showing a what if scenario. Surely it couldnt be real..As my brain continued to mull over the plausibility of the scenario, I headed off to the shower. As I traversed the labyrinthtine metal corridors of the aircraft carrier, I couldn't help but notice the sober atmosphere, people with somber looks on their face, tension you could cut with a knife. It began to occur to me that maybe the proverbial excrement had indeed struck the fan. I hurried through my shower, tossed my flight suit on and hustled down to our squadron ready room. As I walked through the door, I saw my squadron mates watching the TV intently. My brusque, "Is this for real?", was answered with head nods and terse affirmations. My heart finished it tortuous crawl into my throat with a sickening plunge into my stomach.

Instead of turning south and heading for the Puerto Rican operating area we spent a week guarding the East coast. Our squadron's planes were still ashore, as they had no role in air defense. My buddies in the strike fighter squadrons were flying Combat Air Patrols within spitting distance of the East coast, a scenario that even the most pessimistic of us could hardly have predicted. One of those friends, a nugget (first cruise aviator) like me, was launched with orders to intercept a commerical airliner. Can you imagine being on your first cruise, being ordered to intercept a commercial airliner, knowing what horrific service you might be ordered to perform for your country?

Five months later I was flying combat missions over Afghanistan. I spent anywhere from 6-8 hours in the cockpit at a stretch. We were supporting the heroes on the ground as the mercilessly ground down the Taliban troops and then began to extract the terrorist snakes from their holes in the mountains. Words can not do justice to the pride I took in being able to help those brave soldiers.

September 10, 2004.

I have come full circle. I now have over 800 flight hours, with over 100 of that in combat. I have two cruises under my belt, am a designated tactics instructor, and left my squadron with excellent fitness reports and most importantly, the respect of those men and women I had the honor to do two combat deployments among. Now that I am on shore duty, I help train operational squadrons as they prepare to deploy. Although I would prefer to still be flying missions over Iraq, I still take pride in the fact that I am helping prepare those heading to the front lines.

My third daughter was born yesterday. As I held her for the first time, tears came to my eyes as my thoughts turned to all those fathers who would never hold their daughters again, to the mothers in Russia whose children were brutally murdered by sadistic and cowardly terrorists, to the men that continue to patrol the streets of Baghdad to help secure a promise of a brighter future for Iraq. I thought about my Naval Academy classmate who was killed in the Pentagon attack, whose older brother died years earlier in a training accident during flight school. I can't help but think of that famous quote, "All gave some, some gave all." So many have given all in our struggle against an enemy who desires nothing less than the total destruction of our way of life and all that we stand for.

Call me melodramatic if you will, but I see this struggle against terrorism as nothing less than a war for our survival. What else can you call a war against enemies with their goals and methods? If anyone thinks this should not be the central issue of this Presidential election, they need to take their head out of the sand and survey the horizon to see the coming storm.

Tomorrow we remember a day that has become my generation's Pearl Harbor day. Who can't remember what they were doing, where they were, how they felt? In light of that, I offer the following amazingly inadequate words of thanks. To my brothers in arms who stand the watch while I enjoy my time with my new daughter, I salute you, your bravery and dedication are an inspiration. To those men and women that gave all, my greatest respect and admiration goes to them and I offer my deepest sympathy to their families, who most certainly gave all. To the families of those innocents who died on that day 3 years ago, I offer my prayers and a shared hope for a better tomorrow. God bless.

A Star is Born

I added a new member to my family day. That makes it daughter number 3 and I am seriously outnumbered. Mom and baby are doing great!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Putting the AWOL baby to bed

Like Frankenstein's monster, the Bush was AWOL cries have been resurrected by the Lefties. Today's cry came with the news that the Pentagon has discovered more of Bush's missing records.

Out of an abundance of caution," the government "searched a file that had been preserved in spite of this policy" and found the Bush records, the letter said. "The Department of Defense (news - web sites) regrets this oversight during the previous search efforts
I can already hear the Lefties screaming about how suspicious this is. What they fail to realize is that the Dept. of Defense is a massive bureaucracy with tons, literally, of old records that are semi-organized at best. The fact that they find bits and pieces of 30 year old records here and there is quite plausible. I have often thought if our ordnance reserves got low we could just bundle up many of these old papers and drop them in a pinch.

The spectacularly neutral and unbiased team from the Boston Globe weighs in:
He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show.
I beg to differ. So does Byron York in his article in the National Review. In this article, he quotes retired Brigadier General William Turnipseed on a variety of points. Here is something that I think is particularly ignored, on both sides of this debate quite frankly.
Turnipseed, the former head of the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group of the Alabama Air National Guard, was widely quoted as saying he never saw Bush in Alabama in 1972, and if the future president had been there, he would remember. In fact, Turnipseed says, he doesn't recall whether Bush was there or not; the young flier, then a complete unknown in Alabama, was never part of the 900-man 187th, so Turnipseed wouldn't have had much reason to notice him. But most reporters haven't been interested in Turnipseed's best recollection. "They don't understand the Guard, they don't want to understand the Guard, and they hate Bush," he says. "So when I say, ‘There's a good possibility that Bush showed up,' why would they put that in their articles?"

This is an extremely relevant point. People who have never served in the military don't understand how Guard service works. Its not a day to day job. You just have to meet certain points requirements to fulfill your obligation. If your unit is satisfied that you met your requirements, that is the bottom line. Commanding officers have enormus latitude in the administration of their units, which is another point people don't realize.
The Globe article also says:
Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty

Unfortunately these letters are not unique. I can guarantee you that every man in Bush's unit had one of these letters in their records. The point of that letter is twofold. One is to make sure that if the member shirks his commitment and is prosecuted, he cant use the "well I didnt know the ramifications" defense. Secondly it is to make sure the member understands the possible outcomes of missing service. The critics have tried to paint this routine piece of paperwork as some sort of threat to Bush because of unsatisfactory performance. If you read the actual paperwork, it specifically words the consequences that "may" happen. Again, the unit CO has discretion.
The Globe article goes on to say:
Since the Globe first reported Bush's spotty attendance record in May 2000, no one has come forward with any credible recollection of having witnessed Bush performing guard service in Alabama or after he returned to Houston in 1973
No one except for:
...retired Lt. Col. John “Bill” Calhoun, unit's flight safety officer who told the Associated Press in February that he saw Bush “every drill period” ; Joe LeFevers, another member of the 187th, who told The Birmingham News that he remembered seeing Bush on base and remembered Bush because of his political job at the time on a U.S. Senate campaign; Joe Holcombe, who worked with Bush on the Blount campaign and told a local paper that he remembers Bush missing at least one campaign meeting because of his National Guard drills; James Anderson, who was a physician for the Montgomery-based 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, who recalls performing a routine examination on Bush at Dannelly Air National Guard base in 1972; and Emily Marks Curtis, who dated Bush while he worked on the 1972 Senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount, and who told a local paper that Bush had talked of going to Guard duty on the weekends
as pointed out by Jim Geraghty at the National Review.

The Globe wunderkind Globe Spotlight Team would have you believe that Bush committed some egregious violation of the ANG regulations by not signing up with a unit in Boston in the waning months of his commitment. But in their own article they quote retired Colonel Albert C. Lloyd, Jr who said:
Bush ''took a chance that he could be called up for active duty. But the war was winding down, and he probably knew that the Air Force was not enforcing the penalty."
But Lloyd said that singling out Bush for criticism is unfair. ''There were hundreds of guys like him who did the same thing," he said.

Colonel Lloyd also has this to say in York's National review article:
The record clearly shows that First Lieutenant George W. Bush has satisfactory years for both '72-'73 and '73-'74, which proves that he completed his military obligation in a satisfactory manner."
Retired Colonel William Campenni, who flew with Bush in Texas, said:
"In 1972, there was an enormous glut of pilots," says Campenni. "The Vietnam War was winding down, and the Air Force was putting pilots in desk jobs. In '72 or '73, if you were a pilot, active or Guard, and you had an obligation and wanted to get out, no problem. In fact, you were helping them solve their problem.

One more point that must be addressed is that of Bush being grounded for missing a flight physical. Again, the Lefties grossly misrepresent the seriousness of this event. I can almost hear them in whispering in conspiratorial little whispers, "Did you know Bushitler missed a medical exam and got grounded?".

The fact of the matter is that is SOP for any military aviator. If you miss your yearly flight physical, you are automatically not in flight status anymore until you have that exam. You may have to explain to your CO why you missed your exam, especially if it causes you to miss training time, but beyond that, it is minor.

Finally, McQ over at QandO points out:
All that to say that techinically Bush could never have been charged with either AWOL or desertion under the UCMJ since when the alleged occurrances took place, he wasn't serving the federal authority and thus wasn't even subject to the UCMJ.
Before I finish, let me point one more thing out. The team from the Boston Globe werent the only ones weighing in. Predictably, we have a member of NYT's team follow the Globe's lead, except Mr. Kristof feels since he is writing an editorial, journalistic rules of integrity dont apply and he can write
Does this disqualify Mr. Bush from being commander in chief? No. But it should disqualify the Bush campaign from sliming the military service of a rival who still carries shrapnel from Vietnam in his thigh.
I have half a mind to email Mr Kristof and lay down a $100 dollar wager on his ability to find a statement from the Bush Campaign sliming Kerry' military service. The fact is that Bush and his team has studiously avoided smearing his military service. Too bad the Kerry campaign and company don't have the same compunctions about sliming someone's military service.

I thought Kerry and his acolytes wanted to talk about the issues. I find this hard to believe, given the constant reiteration of what is clearly a non-issue.

Kling explores the Fear Factor

Arnold Kling, one of my favorite economic writers on the Web, has a great article called Government and the Fear Factor. In it Mr. Kling talks about how the political issues are created by exploiting the fears of the electorate. This is the theme I touch on tangentially in some of my other posts. Please check out his other work at EconLog and his personal page here.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Patriot Act: For and Against, in One Answer!

The AP puts out their latest "Bush, Kerry: On the Issues" piece, asking, "Should the Patriot Act be changed to strengthen anti-terrorism protections, civil liberties or both? If so, how?"

It would seem from reading the Kerry answer, he would be mostly in favor of the Patriot Act, other than some tweaking of various provisions. Seems like a fairly reasonable answer right?

Lets hop in the wayback machine and take a look at Kerry thus far with regard to the Patriot Act.

When the Patriot Act was on the Senate Floor, Kerry had this to say about it (link here and search for page S11027 in the 2001 volume):

I am pleased at the compromise we have reached on the antiterrorism legislation, as a whole, which includes the sunset provision on the wiretapping and electronic surveillance component. It has been a source of considerable concern for people, and I think the sunset provision provides Congress a chance to come back and measure the record appropriately, and that is appropriate

Kerry also said:

Passage of this legislation is going to make it a lot more difficult for new terrorist organizations to develop.

Lets take a look at this as well.

But Kerry then had this to say.

So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time

Note: I am still searching for the link to the above quote

So lets get this straight people. Repeat after me: I was for the Patriot Act before I was against the Patriot Act, before I was mostly for the Patriot Act. Yet another bizarre episode of Kerry vs. Kerry.

[UPDATE] I have found references to the quote above. However if you try to link it here then you find that speech is no longer on Kerry's site. Go figure.

[UPDATE 2] Check out another great Kerry vs Kerry by McQ over at my favorite blog, QandO.

The Outsourcing Boogie Man

Well once again Kerry attempts to play on people's fears about the economy with an attack on Bush and outsourcing. As I wrote about in my Economic Chicken Littles entry, the American electorate is vulnerable to rhetoric like this because of the general electorate's ignorance of basic economic principles.

Lets take a look shall we?

John Kerry (news - web sites) is promising North Carolina workers he will fight the forces sending U.S. jobs overseas, a timely topic in a state losing jobs to the manufacturing slump and international competition.

Thats right folks, John Kerry is going to take measures to inhibit free trade and market forces (in other words, inhibit the economy), while at the same time accusing Bush of inhibiting the US economy.

"Because of George Bush (news - web sites)'s wrong choices, this country is continuing to ship good jobs overseas — jobs with good wages and good benefits," Kerry said in remarks prepared for delivery at town hall meeting Tuesday. "All across America, companies have shut their doors, putting hardworking people out of a job, leaving entire communities without help or hope."

About week into a basic economics course, I think most students would realize this micro effect of outsourcing must take a back seat to the macro effect. Outsourcing enables companies to produce more efficiently which provides a net positive gain to the economy.

Let me mention a few things that Kerry conveniently forgets to mention.

  • Steady growth in manufacturing jobs (one of the "victims" of the Outsourcing Boogie Man.)

  • Bush supports retraining efforts. While you can argue the economic merits of this sort of government intervention, Bush is certainly not unsympathetic.

Unforunately, this will probably be a line a Kerry will continue to be able to take because people just dont know better. I think the Bush campaign is doing their best to combat it. But the Left has always been the master of playing on people's fears.

Monday, September 06, 2004

TrackBack implemented courtesy of Haloscan

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Economic Chicken Littles

Am I the only one that has had enough enough sky is falling rhetoric from the Left? When they arent busy defending Kerry's patriotism, they usually take a casual swat at the current state of the economy and how Bush is responsible for all sorts of ecnomic woes. For a great example of this, read along as the Q and O guys fact check the NYT and show what sort of doublespeak the Left likes to hide behind.

In my eyes, there is a more glaring problem than this. The average American is susceptible to these sorts of stories because they dont understand basic economic principles. I have to digress for a moment and explain that I am an economics geek. It was what I got my B.S. in and even though I don't get many opportunities to employ my knowledge while I am flying along at 420 knots, I love keeping up with it and it definitely helps enhance my understanding of the political landscape. Back to the story though. Here is one of my favorite economic fables: "Deficits are bad for the American economy". I can't begin to describe how many times I have heard this. It takes about 60 seconds of explanation to help people understand the problem with that statement.

Here are some books and links for those who A) want a better understanding of basic economics or B) want to help a friend do so.

  1. Naked Economics is a book I just recently read. Even though its obvious the author has some liberal leanings, he presents an intellectually honest and easy to understand primer on economics.
  2. Economics in One Lesson is a classic. Though slightly outdated, it still demands a read.
  3. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis are great links for raw data

There are many more resources than these, please check my links for more. The point here is that Americans are being force fed this chicken little nonsense when in fact the sky is firmly in place. Lets put chicken little back in his cage by educating people about economic reality in America.


Thanks for visiting the flight deck

For those of you that somehow found this blog, you are probably wondering why you should waste time on it. There are lots out there, many very good. Well I hope that my views on politics (and other issues) in America, might be interesting coming from someone who is often on the business end of foreign policy.

As for that job, I am a Naval Flight Officer. Think Goose from Top Gun, only I don't fly F14s. I have flown missions over Iraq and Afghanistan and in the course of my deployments have seen a small sliver of the world, mostly in the Middle East.

My political views could be best described as somewhere right between traditional conservativism and libertarianism.

Thanks for visiting and I hope to keep you coming back.