Revealing Moments

We don't want him...

We don’t want him…

So MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough has a book about how Republicans can win again.

Like many, I’ve seen enough of Morning Joe. He makes me sick. He takes a paycheck for standing by while legions of lefties assault everything he’s supposed to stand for. Has he stood up and called for the firing of Martin Bashir?

Uh, apparently it doesn’t matter to National Review’s Jim Geraghty or Hotair’s Ed Morrissey. I won’t reproduce their twaddle in support of his book, but I’ll give you the links.

Jim Geraghty at National Review

Ed Morrissey at Hotair

What I will say is that such promotions of an unscrupulous turncoat are useful. The only explanations are 1) you want him to promote your book on MSNBC when the time comes, 2) you guys are all just playing a game in which your supposed differences matter less than the income you get from TV, conferences, and so-called new (but oldtime corrupt) media, or 3) uh, both.

What you don’t get is that all of us in the unwashed are paying attention. We hold Scarborough in utter contempt. As you hold his hand, we withdraw our credulity and respect for what you say.

By the way, everyone, the most important part of the links above is the Comments. Read them all.

ObamaCare IS a Death Panel

Quote

image

It’s time to do some math. No, not dollars and cents or electoral polls but casualty projections.

A good way to frame the argument can be found in a post last week by longtime blogger and law professor Ann Althouse, who did an excellent takedown of the popular new meme that ObamaCare is Obama’s Katrina. (The comments are educational too.)

November 15, 2013

The NYT acknowledges Obama’s in trouble by reminding us that Bush was really, really bad. Remember?!!

At the website front page the teaser headline — which is also the headline in the paper version — is: “As Troubles Pile Up, a Crisis of Confidence for Obama.” But if you click to the article, the headline becomes “Health Law Rollout’s Stumbles Draw Parallels to Bush’s Hurricane Response.”

I can think of a whole bunch of non-parallels:

1. Bush’s political party didn’t design and enact Hurricane Katrina.

2. Bush didn’t have 5 years to craft his response to the hurricane.

3. Bush didn’t have the power to redesign the hurricane as he designed his response to it.

4. The Republican Bush believed he could not simply bully past the Democratic Mayor of New Orleans and the Democratic Governor of Louisiana and impose a federal solution, but the Democrat Obama and his party in Congress aggressively and voluntarily took over an area of policy that might have been left to the states.

5. The media were ready to slam Bush long and hard for everything — making big scandals out of things that, done by Obama, would have been forgotten a week later (what are the Valerie Plame-level screwups of Obama’s?) — but the media have bent over backwards for years to help make Obama look good and to bury or never even uncover all of his lies and misdeeds.

6. If Bush experienced a disaster like the rollout of Obamacare, the NYT wouldn’t use its front page to remind us of something Bill Clinton did that looked bad.

All of this is true, but it unfortunately also tends to orient the argument around the inside the beltway perspective that the most important thing about the ObamaCare debacle is what it threatens to do to the remainder of Obama’s presidency and second term agenda.

Even the harshest critics insist on communicating in euphemisms. People, they say, won’t get the healthcare they need because they won’t be able to enroll or afford the new policies. Worse, they won’t be able to keep their doctor or access to the better hospitals. The critics toss around millions in their discussions of cancelled policies because millions are the measure of critical mass in the electorate. Obama could, gasp, lose the senate.

Which leads to idiocies like Christie scolding Republicans for beating up too much on Obama because it will reduce his effectiveness at governance.

Well, I have a Katrina-Obamacare nonparallel that makes all such blather ridiculous. ObamaCare is a man-made disaster that is almost certain to result in at least four times more deaths in the next calendar year than Hurricane Katrina did in total.

Take a look at this article on the subject of preventable medical errors. Here’s the key graphic.

image

These are just the top ten causes of death per year, mind. (There are others, including 20,000+ due to murder, as in drive-by shootings of children…) The point is, what is the human life and death cost of chaos in a system as complex as the American health care industry?

What happens if you toss a powerful bomb into the intricately interrelated relationships of doctors, patients, hospitals, emergency services, pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, insurance companies, and employers of every size?

What happens if doctors retire or opt out of Medicare and Medicaid, if patient deductibles and co-pays are so high they don’t seek medical treatment they need or can’t afford their prescriptions, if hospitals cut back on their technology investments, if people suddenly deprived of their insurance increase the load on emergency rooms, if the uninsured for whom ObamaCare was supposedly designed don’t have the hardware or the computer savvy to sign up in the world’s most complicated (and spectacularly ill conceived) IT interface?

How hard is it to imagine that the number of deaths in each of the top ten (excluding preventable medical error, for obvious reasons) will increase by One Percent? Subtract Accidents and Alzheimer’s if you want. The number is still huge compared to Katrina.

18,000 would die if fatal medical errors (or omissions) increase by just 1 percent in each of the remaining categories.

The highest estimate of Katrina deaths I have found is here, but note what the majority of casualties in this estimate are attributed to:

My official death toll of 1,723, representing deaths due to immediate and direct effects of the storm, has not changed since August 22, 2006. However, we now have a fascinating document that comes from testimony delivered to Congress, which has caused me to raise the total deaths from Katrina due to direct and immediate plus delayed effects to 4,081…

Of particular interest in terms of the Katrina death toll was the testimony given by a physician, Dr. Kevin Stephens, Sr., Director pf the New Orleans Health Department.

In his testimony (pdf), Stephens points out that New Orleans already had serious public health problems before the hurricane, including large numbers of poor and uninsured people. The number of doctors has been reduced by 70% and the number of hospital beds in Orleans Parish has been reduced by 75%…

Although the population of New Orleans is only 1/2 what it was prior to the storm, the obituaries covered not only New Orleans but also included many of the refugees tossed about to various parts of the country.

Based on this new information, we can add the previous toll of 1,723 to the new post-Katrina figure of 2,358 to posit a new unofficial death toll of 4,081. Possible causes of the excess deaths in 2006 include stress, suicide, pollution, contamination, impoverishment and the devastation of the health sector after Katrina. For instance, the suicide rate tripled in the first 10 months after Katrina.

In other words, institutional failures caused by blowing up a system produce deaths of their own, including deaths that are attributed — by a presumed liberal — to stress, suicide, impoverishment, and deterioration of the functionality of existing health care operations. All of which can be side effects in varying degrees to the rollout of ObamaCare.

Why I think Republicans are once again missing the point. They talk about this catastrophe in economic and quality of life terms, not in preservation of life terms. Their new strategy is, apparently, “Let it Burn.

The pundits reporting on this don’t seem to get what it means.

This is a smart move, albeit grounded in a couple of political realities. First, Senate Democrats aren’t going to get bullied by Republicans into defunding ObamaCare, as the first shutdown proved. Second, an attempt by Capitol Hill Republicans to force that outcome initially distracted from the unfolding disaster of ObamaCare. That’s the last thing Republicans want now, with a full-blown feeding frenzy on the ACA. Why step in front of Democrats and give the media that kind of distraction?

Because people are going to die in greater numbers than in any other “man-caused disaster,” aka domestic terror attack.

What if my conservative one percent speculation turns out in reality to be more like five percent? That’s 90,000 dead American souls, a population invisible to all the know-it-alls dominating the public discourse.

Where are the mathematical probability mavens, the statisticians and actuaries? Don’t tell me no numbers more predictive than mine can be calculated and introduced into the media discussion.

God damn all the euphemisms on both sides.

At a bare minimum, all ye learned pundits and careful talk show hosts, quit distancing yourselves from Sarah Palin’s death panel locution. Why do the libs hate her SO much? Because she speaks truth in unforgettable sound bites. Which trump liberal lies every time.

P.S. There’s a further possibility. One I don’t like to think of. A recent branch of physics called Chaos Theory, which deals with the turbulence of the 98 percent of physical events whose behavior is not described by classical equations, argues that systems (and people) can handle incremental additional stress incrementally — hence my one to five percent speculation — but that there is indeed a scientific counterpart to the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” The one next item of complication too many causes turbulence, meaning utter collapse of order. Observably, there is a next grain of sand that falls and precipitates an avalanche. Think of the juggler who’s fine with five, six, seven balls. The eighth makes him drop them all. If that is the effect of the combination of the massive overrreach and incompetence of Obamacare, we could be facing a humanitarian disaster of crushing proportions.

Does anyone in politics know anything about math, physics, or systems theory?

Raebert’s Upset

He's on my lap. The round thing at the upper left is my knee. He weighs a ton.

He’s on my lap. The round thing at the upper left is my knee. He weighs a ton.

We’re worried. And I feel guilty. He’s been having anxiety attacks. Suddenly starts shaking. The only thing that calms him down is the clarinet and oboe movement of Mozart’s Concerto for Clarinet in A Major. That makes him sleep like a baby. But it’s only seven and a half minutes long.

Doesn’t seem right, does it?

Why I feel guilty. Obviously, Raebert doesn’t know or give a fig about ObamaCare. But I do. He has adopted a one foot rule. Either he’s got his head on me or he’s on the floor below me, not to be rousted or otherwise interfered with. He has no appetite. He has to be tricked into going outside. No one in the deerhound community has ever heard of anything like this. We’ve made an appointment with the vet. Friday.

What to do? You can’t exactly explain that there’s no need for him to worry about ObamaCare since he never knew what it was in the first place. I can’t tell him not to worry about the state of a nation that’s nosediving into the abyss because he doesn’t know what a nation is, or what an abyss is, for that matter.

But he seems to be expressing what I am, in some respects, denying in myself. A debilitating sorrow, a fear that is not personal but somehow universal.

I’d settle for him eating the juiced-up breakfast he has disdained all day — his usual pricey kibble mixed with the soft food we got for our aging greyhound, topped off with an ounce of yoghurt and the dregs of a bag of cheddar Goldfish. Doesn’t that sound heavenly? But he hasn’t even glanced at it.

How can I tell him it’s okay, not his problem to worry about? My wife says I should ask myself the same question. But what do women know? I mean, really.

Unintended Consequences

Missa Luba. First heard the album in 1968. Adored it. A Catholic mass rendered by the voices of the Congo. Spontaneous, improvisational, beautiful, alive, and full of love.

Sadly, it took me minutes to recall the name, which I suddenly desperately needed after encountering this quartet of comments from crybabies who should know better.

On the November 14 addition of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser discussed LA Clipper player Matt Barnes recent trouble related to a Twitter outburst that included the “N-word.” The Tweet (since deleted) read:

“I love my teammates like family, but I’m DONE standing up for these N—–s! All this s–t does is cost me money.”

Kornheiser asked Wilbon about the public use of the racial slur. Wilbon, an African-American said, “People can be upset with me if they want, I, like a whole lot of people, use the N-word all day, every day, my whole life.”

Kornheiser suggested that NBA Comissioner David Stern, and his counterparts at the NFL and MLB, would have to prohibit players from using the word in public. Wilbon bristled and said, “I have a problem with… white people framing the discussion for the use of the N-word.” He also likened the commissioners to plantation owners dictating whether African-Americans could use a word that had been thrust upon them.

Charles Barkley agreed with Wilbon.

“White America don’t get to dictate how me and Shaq talk to each other,” Barkley said, referencing comments made by ESPN reporter Michael Wilbon earlier today. “And they have been trying to infiltrate themselves saying, ‘Well, you guys use it. It’s in rap music’. No, no, no, no, no. That’s not the same. As I tell my white friends, who I love like brothers…They’ve asked me, ‘Well, when is it appropriate (for white people to use the N-word)?’ I said, ‘Well, if you use it around the wrong brotha, the next thing you gone hear is a Glock side your damn head. That’s when it’s inappropriate Earnie.”

The athlete who inspired the ruckus made a semantic distinction.

“(Y)ou guys have to get used to it. This is a new day and age. I think when you put an ‘er’ at the end, that could make people cringe, but if you put an ‘a,’ that’s like saying ‘bro.’ That is how we talk.”

But Oprah told the BBC what everything’s all about regarding Obama’s string of failures and scandals.

“There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says but everybody’s thinking it.”

Laughable. These are all people who are among the American rich. Celebrities. Doormen hold doors for them and limo drivers drive them around. Which is probably how they escape the fact that their obsessions, semantics, and rationalizations are not important or insightful. They’re just boring and annoying.

If you want to be treated like an adult, act like an adult. Don’t tell me you hate wifebeaters if you beat your wife. Don’t tell me you’re all about equality if you can’t endure any criticism based on actual performance. Don’t tell me you’re a Christian if you still regard the whole world as an us against them proposition, with different rules for both.

Why I’m listening to the Kyrie and Sanctus of Missa Luba instead of the silver spoon fat boy from Northwestern.

The term 'asshole' is not racial. It's more basic than that.

The term ‘asshole’ is not racial. It’s more basic than that.

The unintended consequence? The ones you want to convert, cow, or confuse simply stop giving a shit. Except for the ones who still remember what so many have obviously forgotten.

Quantum Life Eternal

Not Linear.

Not Linear.

From the Mail Online:

Quantum physics proves that there IS an afterlife, claims scientist.

Robert Lanza claims the theory of biocentrism says death is an illusion.

He said life creates the universe, and not the other way round.

This means space and time don’t exist in the linear fashion we think it does.

He uses the famous double-split experiment to illustrate his point.

And if space and time aren’t linear, then death can’t exist in ‘any real sense’ either.

I only direct your attention to it because I reached the same conclusion about 35 years ago, based on pretty much the same evidence.

The article, predictably, tells us this is just science. But it’s more than that. If the precondition for matter is consciousness, then you do the math.

But that’s been the dirty secret of quantum physics since the early 1900s. It doesn’t make sense without consciousness.

I’d quote from the article, but why bother? The ones who are dumber than high school physics will scoff. The ones who are smarter than God will scoff harder.

Besides, the article requires thinking about. Who needs that? It’s also not especially well written. Because journalists don’t understand anything about physics. Aw shucks.

Let me boil it down this far for you. In quantum land, time, location, and distance don’t really seem to exist. Which means the universe is governed by laws we used to call magical and unscientific. Everything happens at once and in the same place, which is actually everywhere and all at once. Giving rise to the possibility there’s no before or after, no here, no there, only a unity that gives the illusion of being separated, dispersed, and causal or sequential.

The implications for religion are, of course, profound. The illusion of cause is a universal classroom. But the death of death is an inevitable by-product of seeing the classroom for what it is.

Talk if you want. Proclaim your atheism, which is so much more satisfying. Or remember Christ and think again about his defeat of death. Or forget all of it and think about living life as a plucked moment of an eternally present singing string in which it’s all here all the time and you’re choosing, just like the photon who is both point and wave, to be both point and wave, pierced by the present point and swept up in the wave of time from where you think you were to where you think you’ll go.

A Bright Spot

Recently we had a disagreement here between us and commenter Joe about Mark Steyn. I defended Steyn, and I also cited a number of National Review scribes who both write and argue well. I think I may have left one out, or if I didn’t, I did him less than justice.

Charles C.W. Cooke is his name. I know. Another Brit. Hadn’t realized that before I saw him on Gretchen Carlson’s show. Unlike Steyn, he doesn’t tell us all the time that he wasn’t born here. I only started noticing him in the past few weeks when he was covering ObamaCare with meticulous research and outstandingly correct — no, make that talented — writing and reporting.

Okay. For the record. Yes, he’s An Oxford grad. As I looked further into his résumé, I realized that Joe has a point. Compared to Cooke, who is all of 29, Steyn does seem at times callow. As if, and though I hate to put words in anyone’s mouth, I will, Steyn seems to be saying, “I plighted my troth with the USA, but you’re not quite up to it, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, though thank goodness I still have my mordant wit for protection from ultimate heartbreak. As do you.”

Charles Cooke strikes me as substantively different. I can usually detect Brit writing. I didn’t detect his. He is writing as an American journalist, not as an inside/outsider doing us the favor of his insight. My initial take was that he was a serious reporter and a highly competent wordsmith, but I had no guess about his background beyond confidence in what was obviously an excellent education. I’ve come increasingly to rely on his updates about the politics and pratfalls of ObamaCare. He has an editorial opinion but it remains focused on facts.

Then I encountered this essay, written in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 presidential election. I’ll give you representative teaser quotes, but if you don’t read the whole thing, please don’t comment.

Why I Despair

Once upon a time, when civic society flourished in Britain, it was uncontroversial to observe that to demur at government involvement in the achievement of an end was not necessarily to consider that end undesirable. Under Leviathan, such distinctions draw blank stares. In 2010, on the BBC’s Question Time — a British current-affairs show on which the guests trip over one other to display the appropriate degree of fealty to whichever orthodoxy is in the news that week whilst the audience tries to be as clever as one can be without doing any reading — the question of impending government spending cuts was raised. One audience member stood up and, waving her hands around, asked who would mow her elderly mother’s lawn if the government no longer did it. The audience clapped. The host looked serious. Not a single person on the panel said, “You!” Neither of the putatively Conservative guests even raised an eyebrow. A particularly oleaginous MP proceeded to tell her that it was a “good question.” I threw a coffee cup at my television…

I quite earnestly believe in all of the stuff that I’m not supposed to. I believe that America is exceptional; that it is an objectively better nation than any other that has ever existed; and that it is, as it was explicitly designed always to be, the last, best hope for mankind. As Winthrop’s sermon poetically put it, America is the “Shining City upon a Hill,” there so that men without liberty have somewhere to turn and a light that they might follow. I followed that light — 3,500 miles from my friends and my family — because I believed that my life would be better here, because I wanted to be free, and because I felt that under American liberty I would be able to be myself more honestly and more fully. There is nowhere else I could have gone…

The president has an ample library of ideas from which to choose, and yet he raids the Old World. Compare Barack Obama’s entire oeuvre to a single line from Thomas Jefferson or Emma Lazarus or Frederick Douglass — or even Ronald Reagan. Does it stand up? Only in a society that has lost touch with the ancient and is reflexively in love with the new could such a man be considered to be an inspiration.

And yet, he has now won twice. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to elect such a man once may be regarded as a misfortune, but to elect him twice looks like carelessness. (Or, rather, criminal negligence.) This year, certainly, was not the perfect storm of 2008. Then, novelty and redemption played a role; this time, an insipid bore ran on an openly statist platform and won the day in a country that is supposed to be “center right.” Maybe it no longer is. In 1980, when faced with a set of policies that demonstrably hadn’t worked and a president who wanted to take America leftward, America chose a different path; in 2012, it doubled down. That says a lot about a people. The central problem, then, is not that Obama will be president for the next few years, but that the American people — knowing him — chose to reelect him. Even if this is put down to a failure of Romney’s turnout operation or Hurricane Sandy or Obama’s brilliant targeting, it does not say much for their commitment to classical liberalism that a significant group of Americans stayed away from the fight because they didn’t like Mitt Romney. That this was not a clear-cut repudiation of the president should sound the alarm.

Yes, this whole essay sounds very English. It’s a voice, I suspect, that only emerges when he is speaking from the soul.

And I see here a kindred soul. He fears it’s all over. I feel exactly the same way. But he’s still not giving up. He knows this is the last stand on earth, and he’s resolved to be here and fight to the bitter end, doing the best job he can.

Not so bad if we can receive an infusion of passion from overseas. I know I welcome it. Maybe you will too. You should. A day may come when we’re all manning the last barricade together. And for such occasions Brits always have that cool little half pint silver hip flask full of 12 year old scotch.

Here’s his archive at National Review.

P.S. Yeah, upon review, I should have known he was a Brit. In page after page after page, I can’t find a syntax error, a grammatical error, a usage error, or even a prepositional or comma error. (Well, there was a typo in one of his posts the other day… but it was more of a shock than a proof.) Frankly, I didn’t know they still had those guys. You know. People who really are as accomplished in the niceties as Benedict Cumberbatch sounds. I’d bet the farm he doesn’t even talk about the problems between “you and I,” which the Laborites have embraced along with Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Something about how often a broken clock is right…

What is it? Twice a day? Nah? Twice a year? Nah. Twice a term? We can only hope.

What is it? Twice a day? Nah. Twice a year? Nah. Twice a term? We can only hope.

In the president’s own words, from the New York Times transcript, health insurance is complicated. Who knew?

One thing that we’ve discovered, though, that I think is — is worth noting, a lot of focus has been on the website and the technology, and that’s partly because that’s how we initially identified it; you know, these are glitches. What we’re discovering is that part of the problem has been technology, hardware and software, and that’s being upgraded. But even if we get the — the hardware and software working exactly the way it’s supposed to with relatively minor glitches, what we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy. And another mistake that we made, I think, was underestimating the difficulties of people purchasing insurance online and shopping for a lot of options with a lot of costs and lot of different benefits and plans and — and somehow expecting that that would be very smooth, and then they’ve also got to try to apply for tax credits on the website.

Just discovering NOW? uh, okay. If you say so. And who was it who thought that the best way to reach to reach the chronically uninsured was to give them a laptop app they could access between managing their online stock portfolios and competing in multi-dimensional Star Wars chess tournaments? Rahm and Ezekiel figured they’d be intrigued by the challenge of fighting through the world’s most impenetrable software to inure themselves against the medical bills associated with drive-by shootings?

And everybody knew that the Feds don’t do information technology well. Didn’t they? Well, apparently the president knew. Just not the MSM.

What is true is that, as I said before, our IT systems, how we purchase technology in the federal government is cumbersome, complicated and outdated. And so this isn’t a situation where — on my campaign, I could simply say, who are the best folks out there, let’s get them around a table, let’s figure out what we’re doing and we’re just going to continue to improve it and refine it and work on our goals.

If you’re doing it at the federal government level, you know, you’re going through, you know, 40 pages of specs and this and that and the other and there’s all kinds of law involved. And it makes it more difficult — it’s part of the reason why chronically federal IT programs are overbudget, behind schedule.

And one of the — you know, when I do some Monday morning quarterbacking on myself, one of the things that I do recognize is since I know that the federal government has not been good at this stuff in the past, two years ago as we were thinking about this, you know, we might have done more to make sure that we were breaking the mold on how we were going to be setting this up. But that doesn’t help us now. We got to move forward.

Thank you, Mr. President. For two campaign ads that will be replayed verbatim in dozens of 2014 congressional races.

Tick tick tick.

P.S. Sorry. Burr in the saddle time. Thing I couldn’t get out from under. Forty pages of specs. Forty? For a site like Healthcare.gov, the specs should have been more like 240 pages or twice that. Security considerations alone should have racked up the requirements. In IT, efficiency is about knowing what you need to do before you do it. It’s not like passing a bill in congress that promises everything to everybody and gives the control for making it work to 240 different new agencies. It’s not done by Foghorn Leghorn legalese. It’s done by professionals.

NFL Cat Fight

Orange cats tend to win.

Orange cats tend to win. Turquoise cats are all David Caruso CSI Miami poseurs. Er, maybe I’m wrong. What with me always winning though, again and again, constantly, there’s no chance I am wrong.

What a gush of coverage. Millions of words on ESPN and the NFL Channel, not to mention all the other networks. One was offended, another was shocked to discover that offense had been taken. Hmmm. Somehow, somebody somewhere was outraged by the fact that one NFL player told another that “I want to cum in your mouth,” and we think the whole thing is about bullying. Bullying? Or racism. Racism? How about gayness? Or is it gayitude? But no. We all have to pretend it’s about something, anything, else. What a bunch of easily led sheep we are.

Time out. We all believe in gay marriage now and that if the Redskins could just change their name we’d all be fine. Right? Right.

Anybody else think this whole orgy of discussion is kind of an NFL death wish?

No? Get a room.

Can't get Raebert interest on this one. He has an unusual interest in naked women. All of them. Perhaps a subject for another day...

Can’t get Raebert interested in mammal fish. Dolphins have no boobs. He has an unusual interest in naked women. All of them. He’s not even incognito about it. He wants to see it all. Perhaps a subject for another day…

Rae, no. Raebert, stop it! Quit hitting my iPad hand!

Damn. He doesn’t have to look so pleased with himself.

I really love the triangle things.

I really love the triangle things.

OK. He is. Pleased with himself.

But then he could take most of the NFL in a moment. Ray Lewis wouldn’t last 30 seconds. As a league, the NFL can’t go a single week anymore without humiliating itself. Rae is always Rae.

You know. Triangles.

You know. Triangles.

ADDENDUM:

Had an email exchange with a friend while this post was unfolding. (How retro. I know.) But here’s some of what I said:

If I were not the old old man I am, I’d do it all differently. I wouldn’t slice myself to pieces by insisting that I had to impoverish myself for my kids’ education, as if that were some sort of divine duty. I’d put myself in a community with good Catholic schools, which are costly but not brutally extortionate. I’d involve myself intimately in their choice of college — not for name or prestige but for curriculum, something they actually like. And cost effective as possible. Not to save your Volvo but to preserve their own sense of starting without a huge debt burden

We’re in a new age. People don’t care about Yale and Harvard anymore because Yale and Harvard have become frauds. What people want are workers, people who can write and think and show up on time and not snark when the Keurig isn’t working. It used to be the case that the super successful were half Ivy types and half Southeastern Missouri Agricultural Seminary graduates. Not kidding. Smart is smart. Only difference? Ivy types keep trying to find decent opera in Iowa City. The smart ones sit in the front row in Memphis watching miracles of slide guitar. Who had the edge?

Now it’s all blown up. Are you starting to get it?

Opportunity is not lost. Truth is, opportunity is greater for those who know the competitive criteria that lead to success. Not reputation. Not a legacy of prosperity. Not glossy credentials. Just ability, smarts, ambition, determination, and a moral center.

Have I given up? No. I fight. As must all of you. Each in your own inspired individual way. What does this have to do with an NFL cat fight? Everything. All news stories are distraction or propaganda. Don’t let them soften your focus on your own line of attack. For Raebert it’s triangles. For us it should be saving our loved ones and the nation they were born into.

Slide guitar is the Nike swoosh of God.

Ry Cooder is one more redneck son of the Almighty.

Veterans Day 2013

Reminds me of the movie Death Race.

Reminds me of the movie Death Race.

I’ve been blogging for ten years and then some. I’ve never tried and come up completely empty on something to say about the occasion. This year I did.

I can’t get past the question, Is this what they were willing to fight and bleed and die for? My answer is no.

What I’m reminded of in the rhetoric of the day is what high school lotharios tell dumb cheerleaders they want to take advantage of. I admire you, your character is inspiring, and I will definitely respect you in the morning.

Crap. All of it.

Our president despises the military, knows nothing of it. His background is so dim that even as Commander in Chief he made reference to the Marine Corpse.

Celebrities and advertisers for nominally good causes produce hundreds of supposedly estimable “charity” spots designed to make us think that all veterans come home from war with two missing limbs, a bullet in the brain, a ruined face, or crippling mental illness.

The media rhetoric, the yellow ribbon (yellow for hostage?) appliqués on SUVs and ESPN anchors, the over the top pageantry at NFL games are all about proclaiming veterans as heroes. The subtext is all about depicting veterans as victims, fools, idiots, and gun-toting killers.

Ironically, it’s possible that the one guy out of step this year was Kevin Blackistone, who suddenly denounced — in the context of Northwestern’s bleeding flag Veterans Day uniforms — the close association between football and the military, going so far as to condemn the singing of the National Anthem before games as the ritual repetition of a “war anthem.”

Why ironic? Because Kevin Blackistone is not just a sports reporter with a bug up his ass about the National Anthem. He’s also a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, a college professor of journalism at U. Maryland, and a very political guy. Like a significant number of his other ESPN colleagues, including Michael Wilbon, Rich Eisen, J.D. Adando, Mike Greenberg, and numerous sports reporters at media outlets like the New York Times.

Back in the Sixties, the radical mantra was that “everything is political.” And so it has become. And is.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, whether the blood streaked Northwestern uniforms were ever intended as a tribute, except to the willing dupes. Maybe they were always meant as an act of provocation, an excuse for raising the alarm.

I know I’ve had it with the football field sized flags, the saccharine celebration of veterans by lefty sportscasters who never acknowledged anything military during the bloodiest days of the Iraq War. George W. Bush was president then. The current Cirque du Soleil style military glamour in American stadiums began with Obama’s election. And I think the intent is to end it there too. The smart ones will step forward to tell us they are tired of celebrating killers and the lame and the halt which are all the military ever bequeaths us.

Problem, though. Veterans aren’t all heroes, and they aren’t all victims. They’re not a thing apart, a peculiar subset of an, uh, more civilized population that we must constantly thank for their service, applaud at airports, and dutifully tear up over when they return from duty to surprise their kids in a rabbit costume at school. Even though we know they’re trained killers.

What we’re being subtly asked to accept is that they’re a strange, complicated, superior/inferior thing much like the NFL itself. Which is one more lie. They’re just US.

A few truths the libs don’t like. The overwhelming majority of veterans aren’t combat troops. They’re clerks, technicians, MPs, cooks, mechanics, engineers, and skilled and unskilled labor. We owe them not because they did it all for some selfless ideal of liberty but because they answered a call, voluntarily or via the draft, to serve their country. Which they did.

The word we should be remembering today because it is in such peril is discipline. Veterans live under an onerous regime of orders, assigned and frequently boring tasks, sometimes horrifyingly frightening missions, which they accept because they have, or acquire, the character to do what needs to be done, whether anyone in the population at large appreciates it or not.

It’s not all or even mostly about peril. It’s about a sense of duty, which leads to loftier virtues. Those who haven’t forgotten everything, or never knew anything, will recall MacArthur’s valedictory at West Point, titled “Duty, Honor, Country.”

“Duty, Honor, Country” — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.

The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

But these are some of the things they do.º They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.

They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future, yet never neglect the past; to be serious, yet never take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

Yes, it’s an ideal. Not one everyone attains, not even every veteran. But no one ever gets there without demanding of himself more than he thinks he can achieve.

However slowly or reluctantly, our veterans have accepted the challenge of this demanding ideal. Many fail, many are broken, many are killed, and many are maimed. But they are still US. They’re the ones among us who saw that personal dignity meant believing as much in one’s self as in the system that commanded obedience. They grew from the experience.

Now we confront a new day, one that demands obedience with no regard for personal dignity. Soldiers at the front are not nearly victims as much as those who are content to be cattle branded with government labels, categories, forms, and executive orders.

I can’t believe that this day, Obama’s day, is what they were fighting for — or even peeling potatoes for. They never consented to be nothing but statistics in a phony narrative of social justice, historical vengeance, and hope-crushing egalitarianism.

Pardon me, but I’m thinking all the way back to 1999, the year my father died. He told me, days before his death, that everything he had fought for in World War II was gone. He hadn’t been fighting for the government or the state. He’d been fighting for the life he hoped for the people he knew and grew up with. He didn’t want to be remembered as a fighter pilot. He wanted to be remembered as a good man.

So forget the camo. Forget the emblems and the salutes. Veterans are Americans, the people next door. Some more deeply affected than the rest of us. But still us.

Have I got any of this wrong, George? If so, tell me.

There’s a Raebert Gallery now.

Nobody can carry the whole weight of the world. I worry about the Boss.

Nobody can carry the whole weight of the world. I worry about the Boss.

Lake has no time to spare, but he assembled a gallery of Raebert pics. When he gets more time, I’m just hoping that he goes less for funny and more for beautiful. Because frequently that’s what Raebert, stunningly and overwhelmingly, is.