Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Defense of Defense

Of course it is salutary to review carefully all Pentagon expenditures, and to make sure we are not purchasing assets or fielding forces that we do not need, or that are not in line with our strategic goals and responsibilities. But we should also remember that near the end of the Cold War, in 1988, income taxes were lower (28 percent on top brackets), budget deficits were smaller (3 percent of GDP), and defense expenditures were proportionally greater (5.8 percent of GDP) than they are now — reminding us that the present budget meltdown reflects particular policies and priorities that transcend both tax rates and defense spending.

In the end, the problem of national security in a time of budget restraint is not so much about defense spending per se; instead, it lies in two other areas. First, we must establish our global responsibilities in the context of our fiscal limitations, and fund our military to fulfill the ensuing obligations. At present, defense spending is increasingly not synchronized with a clear and understandable strategic mission. Second, we must grow the economy. Our defense capability improved radically in the last 30 years without a great leap in expenditures as a percentage of GDP, simply because GDP grew at such a rapid clip. But unless we continue to expand the pie, there will be fights over the size of the slices. A healthy economy is the best national-security measure of all.

Nutty NorKs with Nukes?

An artillery barrage is not the way to win friends. Shelling a fishing village isn't either.

I have no idea what is going on over there, and the North Koreans aren't talking.

But things are starting to get real tense, real quick.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Twisted Virginians

For those with twisted senses of humor - like me - check these license plates out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Few Brief - And Timeless - Words

On November 19, 1863, a portion of the five month-old battlefield at Gettysburg was formally dedicated as the Soldiers National Cemetery.

President Abraham Lincoln delivered a brief speech, which had been written during his trip up from Washington. His remarks were quickly derided by political critics as a national embarrassment.

History has proven kinder.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


Every so often, you need a little Bono.

Friday, November 12, 2010


"Sundown" by Gordon Lightfoot, in keeping with the Lightfoot theme...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Eleventh Day

Originally conceived as a commemoration of the end of the Great War, Armistice Day became Veterans' Day in America and Remembrance Day in the UK, Canada, and elsewhere after the Second World War. Since then, more Americans and members of the Commonwealth have answered the call, many to the sacrifice of their own lives.

For the freedoms that I am able to enjoy, thank you. All I can do is thank you, and remember.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Mighty Fitz In Happier Days

The Wreck of The Edmund Fitgerald

"Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," video by Joseph Fulton, song by Gordon Lightfoot.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Monday, November 08, 2010

Not Taking The Little Changes

Back from the Inland Empire - Spokane, not SoCal - and rather wishing I hadn't. Rain turning to snow here; of course, that's happening up there too.


James Lileks has a interesting Bleat today; one of pushing back against the annoying little changes in life, changes that aren't always for the better. So you make your own changes.

The washes always end the same: the crew chief looks over the work, gives a thumbs-up. I give a two-finger salute. Which I did. Hail and farewell. Won’t be back, because your sticker will be right below my field of vision and I have no idea if it will come off without leaving residue and there are other places whose locales don’t carry nineteen tons of personal luggage that make me feel old and sad and astonished at the things that come and go, and seem inestimably precious in recollection.

Also, your typefaces suck.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

White Hurricane

Starting November 7th, 1913, two weather systems converged over the Great Lakes to produce a horrendous storm.

Five days later, the storm would have moved on, but only after claiming over 250 lives, sinking or stranding 38 ships, and sending millions of tons of cargo to the bottom of the Lakes.

The book White Hurricane tells of the storm and the ordeal out on the Great Lakes during the storm. I highly recommend it; special attention should be paid to the appendices in back.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Schadenfreude. Just A Little.

[Awesome graphic stolen from Instapundit.]

Yeah, the mid-terms were a little ugly for the Prez and the Dems. And Pelosi's going to be mad; she lost her rights to her own Big Jet. (Heh heh heh. Bwahah hah hah!) [REDACTED: Additional ten minutes of gleeful laughter.]

But $200 million a day? That can't be right, can it?

It's be cheaper to send a carrier battle group...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hey, The Polls Are Open!

What are you waiting for? Get out there and vote!