Thoughts on the Passing of Joseph Cropsey

I hope I’m not doing a disservice by writing these brief remarks as late as I am; however, the passing of Professor Joseph Cropsey warranted some small mention of appreciation from one of the many people Dr. Cropsey influenced. ?Dr. Cropsey was introduced to me when my college professor thrust History of Political Philosophy into my hands and said, “If you truly appreciate political philosophy, get this. ?It is the ‘bible.’” ?My copy (third edition; still looking to grab one of the earlier ones as well) sits beside my laptop as I type. ?It is a thick tome. ?The thoughts and writings inside, edited by Drs. Strauss and Cropsey, even thicker; requiring concentration and thought as you read, and re-read, and underline, and read once more.

News of Dr. Cropsey’s passing immediately spurred thoughts of Goethe’s passing in my mind. ?Goethe was on his deathbed with his daughter-in-law sitting by his side. ?Wanting another shutter in his room opened by one of the servants, Goethe is said to have called, ?more light! before his ties to this world were severed by Father Time’s scythe.

“More light!”

Allan Bloom said, “Education is the movement from darkness into light.” ?Joseph Cropsey spent his life helping pilgrims on their way from darkness into light. ?He started out much more economically-minded by writing at lengths about Adam Smith and Karl Marx. ?His writings on Plato, however, are considerable food for thought. ?Very, very rich food. ?Some people can stomach it, others might prefer something lighter. ?Nevertheless, one of the subjects Cropsey looks at is the human condition, as Peter Lawler stated in his comments on Postmodern Conservative, “our wondering and our wondering” in Plato’s World: Man’s Place in the Cosmos.??Here’s to hoping that his departure gave him what all philosophers long for: ?More Light!

 

-rj

Secretary Gates and the Facepalm

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had this to say in a recent article by the Daily Mail:

‘If we start adding additional objectives then I think we create a problem in that respect,’ he said. ‘I also think it is unwise to set as specific goals things that you may or may not be able to achieve.’

The first sentence is completely understandable, as analysts from all walks of life have raised concerns over the possibility of “mission creep,” or what is considered an “expansion of a project beyond its original goals.”  The Obama administration has looked to avoid that by failing to establish any goals, whatsoever.  Well that was easily handled.

The second sentence is a bit more perplexing (and vexing to anyone with common sense).  It is unwise to set as specific goals things that you may or may not be able to achieve. I am fairly certain that Secretary Gates just used the definition of a goal as his reason why he does not want to set goals.  You are not sure if you will or will not achieve a goal, but it is a goal, something to strive for… that’s what makes it a goal!  (Take soccer as a prime example: you can watch soccer for 90+ minutes and never see a damn goal, but they still have those goals there to try for.)

My friend (I am not sure if she wants to be mentioned in a conservative blog or not) told me that someone on NPR said ambiguity was the best policy for the Libyan strike, so as not to mislead the public.  The military has to have goals, because without goals you cannot develop and change war plans or strategy.

-rj

Operation Odyssey Dawn: Obama Green Lights Air Strikes

President Obama has issued orders to allow the United States military to strike Lybian integrated air-defense systems while the French launched their own air-strikes earlier in the day.  The Pentagon is briefing the media now.  We will update here at TheLobbyist accordingly… stay tuned…

-rj

The Pentagon says that the point of the strikes with both older Tomahawk Cruise missiles and the newer-generation Tomahawks which have the ability to “loiter” in a given area while commanders decide on a target via internal cameras, was to create an atmosphere to establish a no-fly zone over the city of Benghazi to support of the Lybian rebels under assault from Qhaddafi’s forces.

The American Tomahawks were launched after the French launched their air-strikes against Qhaddafi’s forces earlier Saturday morning.  The United States does NOT have troops on the ground guiding missiles, and the US does NOT have planes in the air enforcing a no-fly zone at this time.

Reperesentative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) announced via Twitter:

Jason Chaffetz
@jasoninthehouseJason Chaffetz   I disagree with the use of US force in Libya.
General from the Pentagon says, “we are in the first phase of a multi-phase operation.”
Jake Tapper
@jaketapper Jake Tapper  112 Tomahawks launched from mix of US subs and surface ships + 1 UK sub. Over 20 Libyan air defense targets.
The United States Navy is reporting:
US Navy
@USNavyUS Navy  110-112 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles launched by USNavy at Air Defense and Communication Nodes in Libya to set stage for No-Fly Zone

President Obama Needs to Remind Us Why We Are There

“If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight – our country – these people are lying to themselves. . . . More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.”

Those were the words of Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps, who is Secretary Gates’ senior military assistant.  He went on to point out that less than one percent of the population serves in the armed forces currently, and there is a growing concern within the military community regarding their isolation in the America they are defending.  Not only are our men and women facing isolation at home, they are being left on the battlefield with little support by their countrymen stateside.

A recent poll was released by ABC News and Washington Post shows that a paltry 34% of Americans find the war in Afghanistan worth fighting.  Sadly, this poll came out the same day General Patraeus gave his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee asking his audience, Senators and informed Americans alike, to “remember why we are there in the first place.”

These statistics must be detrimental to anyone who has sent a family member or friend overseas; however, these statistics must be even more harmful for those serving overseas themselves.  America was founded with the military, but philosophically, as a commercial republic.  The two founders who shared the greatest vitriol were Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.  Despite their differences, they agreed on founding a republic that was commercial in nature so as to avoid war.  Thomas Jefferson was the friend of the yeoman farmer, stating that “those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God…”  Hamilton hoped this commercial republic would “soften the manners of men, and [to] extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled into wars…”  Until what can be considered fairly recently in the grand scheme of History, America never had a standing Army, opting to draft people when the occasion called for such measures instead.  Nevertheless, we find ourselves in a war at the present moment, but we also find ourselves regimented into thinking that a battlefield is where football is played, or where ideas clash in a boardroom, or where politicians vie for votes in an important election.  Even our professional athletes forget the difference between what they are, and what a true United States Soldier (or Marine) is.

America has faced large battles, and won.  What is the difference this time?

Marc Thiessen has a post over at The Enterprise Blog where he lays the blame at President Obama’s feet when he points out that public support for the war has plummeted since President Obama came into office.

“When Obama took office, a majority still said the war in Afghanistan was worth it. He lost majority support in July 2009, then regained it briefly when he announced the surge in December 2009, and then lost it again with a precipitous decline throughout 2010.”

Mr. Thiessen continues by addressing what he believes to be the crux of the problem, which is the failure of the President to defend his policies in Afghanistan.  Why hasn’t President Obama defended his endeavors overseas with the same zeal he defended his ill-conceived and unpopular health care legislation?  Mr. Thiessen does not go far enough, however, in condemning the commander-in-chief for abdicating his duties as the leader of our armed forces and making sure that the American public that is entirely separated from this war and its ramifications remembers why our men and women are over there in the first place.

Let us get something straight: President Obama never addressed the war in Afghanistan with the attention it deserved, and when he did, it was with a flaccidity that would excite an Urologist.  President Obama marched into the Oval Office with a view towards “slow[ing] things down” with regard to the military.  The military asking a sitting president for the tools necessary to defeat an enemy abroad was seen as a problem to be solved, but not the war itself.  As a matter of fact, most people have already forgotten that the president spoke with General McChrystal just once during the general’s first 70 days as commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and that was a via video teleconference.  Finally, in October of 2009, President Obama met with then-General McChrystal in Copenhagen while the president was lobbying to have the Olympics held in Chicago.  He met the then-general of coalition forces in Afghanistan for twenty-five minutes in the front of Air Force Once.

Finally, it got to the point where President Obama had to act on the general’s recommendation for extra troops.  As the Guardian reported, “Obama agreed to deploy an extra 30,000 troops but only after months of dithering that many in the military found frustrating.”

To claim the president displayed some sort of ambivalence regarding the war in Afghanistan is an understatement.  The one most powerful weapon at his disposal (or what used to be) was his rhetorical ability, and even then he chooses not to rally the troops around the Afghan cause.  In December of 2009, President Obama gave a lukewarm speech to West Pointers that earned him considerable scorn from the right.  Even during this year’s State of the Union, the president dedicated six sentences to a war costing the United States $100+ billion and hundreds of American lives a year.  Those six sentences gave way to 25 seconds of applause, the same length of time it took the president to deliver those sentences.

How can we expect our fellow countrymen to continue supporting an endeavor that our own president seems to treat as a mere thorn in his political side?  This recent poll can be reversed if President Obama dedicated more of his time keeping Americans in the loop about what we are doing over there, why we are there in the first place, and using some of his famous rhetorical gifts to re-energize our commitment to those who are so committed to our country that they continue to fight even though 60% of Americans are not standing behind them.

As Peter Wehner said, “this is not ‘Obama’s War,’ this is ‘OUR war.’”

-rj

Balancing Act: The Debt, The Senator, and The Constitution

Ken Blackwell posted on his Facebook fan page a column by his friend, and the Republican Senator from Utah, Mike Lee. Senator Lee wants a balanced-budget amendment, and five other Senators on the Judiciary Committee agree.

This week, 58 senators – including all 47 Republicans, 10 Democrats and Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent – recognized this urgent need and expressed support for a balanced-budget requirement. I have put forward a proposal that would require a balanced budget every fiscal year; limit federal spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product; and require a two-thirds vote in Congress to increase taxes, raise the debt limit or run a specific deficit.

I made the comment, “We never would have been able to have supply-side economics during Reagan if we had a balanced-budget amendment.” Nobody responded.

Unfortunately, the nation’s debt has sky-rocketed to levels high enough to be mistaken for a Ron Paul supporter at a Phish concert (I kid). Now we are at the point where even the people who say, “deficits don’t matter” are thinking, “holy hell, this deficit is out of control.” In fairness to Vice President Cheney, he was saying that deficits don’t matter in the short-term because he was responding to the naysayers from all sides of the aisle that have never been fond of supply-side economics. It might behoove us to remember that then-Chief of Staff Dick Cheney was on the ground floor of the supply-side revolution when, according to legend, Arthur Laffer drew an inverted U-shaped curve on a napkin at lunch. The Laffer Curve was used to articulate how lower tax rates might produce higher tax revenues.

In the 1970s and early-1980s it was a party of the Right Fight Club (the rule is to never speak of Party of the Right Fight Club) with the supply-siders arguing that the deficit will work itself out with the tax cuts (as it started to do) while the old guard was arguing that balancing the budget was the way to go, hands down. Irving Kristol and the Neoconservatives argued that the traditional right’s fetish with balancing the budget meant a deep-recession in the 1980s, and a pessimistic vision that would even make John Derbyshire, the king of conservative pessimism, balk.

Our current condition is one that should cause considerable alarm. However, I am not of the opinion that a balanced budget amendment is the solution to our woes. Ronald Reagan’s magic would not have been exercised had a balanced budget amendment been instituted (well, not his economic magic, if that is your thing) while he was in office. Balancing the budget is a good goal, and a deficit as large as the one we are facing is potentially devastating to our country. Yet we survived as a Republic without a balanced budget myriad times before, without considerable harm to ourselves. There may be times where we need to do so again, and I cannot say that I have enough faith in 2/3rds of the legislator being able to agree on a time when the government is allowed to carry such a debt (as would be the rule, according to Senator Lee). I know the Senator uses the time following the 9/11 attacks as anecdotal evidence of the Congress coming together, but I think it is far fetched to believe that Congress could do so barring another horrendous attack, which will hopefully never happen again.

-rj

BREAKING: 4 American Hostages Executed Off Somali Coast

Lost in the confusion of recent events in the middle east, around one week ago a yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia.  The yacht was said to have four American citizens on board, and was being trailed by the US Navy as the pirates steered toward Somalia.  US Central Command reported this as of 0925 today:

“At approximately 1 a.m. EST today, while negotiations were ongoing to secure the release of four American hostages, U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the pirated vessel (S/V) Quest. As they responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds.”

Two pirates were killed, and thirteen were captured by naval forces.

-rj

Republicans 47 Democrats 46

…That is what the most recent USA Today/Gallup would read like if politics were a sporting event.  This score does not really provide us with anything substantive, so we need to break down the game-time statistics instead.  For this, I decided to go to The Huffington Post.  Keep your friends close, your enemies non-friends closer (in the spirit of civility and the censoring of Huckleberry Finn).  This is the equivalent of reading the Washington Post to see how the Cowboys played… nevertheless, I am certain that we can gleam some valuable insight by considering HuffPo’s point-of-view.  Here’s how it starts out:

Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they had a favorable view of the GOP, while 43 percent said they had an unfavorable view. Since late in 2005, Gallup has rarely found the party with an unfavorable rating below 50 percent

Now, I am no professional writer.  However, I am a graduate of Montgomery County’s public schools, and remember being taught that if you are going to write numbers stick to writing them out or writing the number (forty-seven or 47), but do not mix.

The article points out that Republicans have a 47% Favorable rating, and a 43% Unfavorable rating.  Not overly impressive, except when it is mentioned that Republicans carried out a November landslide with worse favorable numbers.  The Democrats have a 46% Favorable rating, and 47% Unfavorable one.  This isn’t very good for the party that tends to enjoy high favorable marks because, let’s face it, they come across as the bleeding-heart caring type.  Everyone is more favorable of the parent that says ‘yes’ all of the time, and never punishes, and is the push-over; while the other parent is the one that really molds your disciplined being.  That is what Americans need, they need the disciplinarian.

Despite all of the wonderful information that can be taken from this poll, and all of the analysis that can be done, Huffington Post chooses to live in the past:

As the Gallup poll’s trend data shows, public views of the parties can shift quickly. As recently as May of last year, Gallup found that only 36 percent of Americans had a positive view of the Republican Party while 58 percent had a negative view, for a net rating of -16.

…Really…?  Who’s living in the past now?  By the way, this was how the article was closed-out.  Brava HuffPo!

-rj

It’s Back RAHM!

Rahm Emanuel was placed back on the ballot by the Illinois Supreme Court, despite the fact that he was renting his house in Chicago out to someone else while he stayed in DC.  His lawyers argued that he was serving his country and always planned on returning to the Chicago area.  The Washington Post has a full report here.  So, we are pretty much looking at the future Mayor of Chicago… at least, according to the most recent polls:

Front-runner has 44%

Braun next with 21%

…..Thanks a lot, Nick.

-rj

Mitt Romney Wins NH Straw Poll: Duh…

A poll sponsored by ABC News and WMUR was released yesterday showing Former Governor Mitt Romney with a commanding lead over all of the other Republican Presidential candidates for 2012.  Our friends over at Race42012 posted the numbers:

Mitt Romney 35%
Ron Paul 11%
Tim Pawlenty 8%
Sarah Palin 7%
Michele Bachmann 5%
Jim DeMint 5%
Herman Cain 34%
Chris Christie 3%
Rick Santorum 3%
Mitch Daniels 3%
Newt Gingrich 3%
Mike Huckabee 3%
Mike Pence 3%
Rudy Giuliani 2%
Judd Gregg 2%
Gary Johnson 2%
Other 2%
Donald Trump 1%
Haley Barbour 1%
Jon Huntsman 0%
John Thune 0%

There are 169 comments over at Race42012 about this poll.  I don’t think anyone can really be surprised that Mitt Romney did so well;  he was Governor of Massachusetts and this is New Hampshire that we are talking about.  Perhaps we can get our resident New Hampshire…ian? to shed some light on what he takes out of these numbers.  I for one know I am asking the question on everyone’s mind… where was Liz Cheney?

-rj

Hey Hey Hey, Good-bye!

Last night, one could not help but feel a subtle vibration as the Earth jolted from the collective jumping with  glee by conservatives around the country.  Keith Olbermann is shutting down Countdown.

Of course, we at TheLobbyist celebrated a little as well.

It sounds to me that the problem was working with Olbermann.  His ratings, while trailing behind nearly every Fox News program, were better than any “news” program at either MSNBC or CNN according to Drudge:

NEWS RACE
THURS. JAN. 20, 2011

FOXNEWS O'REILLY 2,918,000
FOXNEWS HANNITY 2,079,000
FOXNEWS BAIER 1,940,000
FOXNEWS SHEP 1,786,000
FOXNEWS BECK 1,780,000
FOXNEWS GRETA 1,460,000
MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,106,000
CNN PIERS 1,025,000
MSNBC MADDOW 976,000
MSNBC O'DONNELL 855,000
MSNBC SCHULTZ 760,000
CNN COOPER 740,000
MSNBC HARDBALL 700,000

TMZ reports, “Sources connected with the network tell us … Comcast honchos did not like Keith’s defiance and the way he played in the sandbox.”  Sounds to me like he was just as painful to work with as he was to watch.

In the end, at least we know who we can blame for the era of Olbermann… damn you Pat Sajak!

-rj

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