Contributor Post Created with Sketch. POTUS in Pacific Heights


President Obama made two stops in my town tonight to fundraise for Barbara Boxer’s reelection campaign. Here’s an excerpt of the President’s remarks, as shown on San Francisco’s local KTVU Ten O’Clock News:

Here you got folks driving a car in a ditch, and then we’re out there in the mud pulling the car out of the ditch. And they’re sittin’ there, comfortable, drinkin’ on a slurpee or somethin’, sayin’, “Uh…you’re not pulling the car out of the ditch fast enough!” Then we finally get the car out of the ditch, and they want the keys back! I say, “You can’t have the keys! You don’t know how to drive!”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Setting my preferences….


The first thing you do when you get a new gadget — a computer, a camera, a smartphone — is you go through it, and you set your preferences. You set it up the way you like.

On Facebook, on Twitter, it’s all about you — your photos, your friends, information the way you like it. Hundreds of millions of users, all uploading and linking and connecting data, somehow get sorted right and served by these really popular services. And don’t get me started on YouTube.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Arlington Snub


Driving down I-65 in Kentucky this morning, I heard the news that President Obama will forgo the traditional Memorial Day observance at Arlington’s Tomb of the Unknowns in favor of a short vacation in Chicago. My first reaction was disbelief, but that was soon replaced by fury. Recall please the reaction when George W. Bush decided that as long as our troops were fighting a war, he would cease with the Presidential golf games. He was roundly mocked and denounced. Keith Olberman got his boxers in a bunch and raged that we had brave troops giving everything on the battlefield and all Bush could sacrifice was his golf game. Last year, Obama left Arlington and went straightway to the golf course and not a peep of indignation was heard from the left, the stimulus evidently having funded enough starch to keep their boxers unbunched. And now that the President has turned his back on Arlington, I distinctly hear the sound not of protest from Olberman, Matthews, et al, but of silence. Silence from the left, and of course the silence of our war dead, who gave their lives so that we could use our voices for good.

I can’t presume to speak for all veterans, but I can speak for myself and the few vets I’ve talked with this morning. As you read these words, the very best that this country has to offer is thousands of miles away wearing a flak vest, kevlar helmet, and enough extraneous gear to hobble a mule, fighting for you. They know that all it takes is one sniper’s bullet, one I.E.D, one command by the little gargoyle in North Korea, and they go from Veteran’s Day to Memorial Day. Their families will bury them, their children will suffer immeasurably, and they will be dead. The reality for our people in harm’s way is that they must deploy, but they don’t have to come home. For those that are killed, we set aside one day a year to grieve and honor their selfless devotion to us, and our Commander in Chief will not deign to set foot in Arlington.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Enumerated Powers Act


Arizona Representative John Shadegg has been trying for lo these many years to convince Congress to pass the Enumerated Powers Act into law. Simply put, the measure would require that all bills brought before the House contain a statement citing which specific part of the Constitution authorizes the legislation. For a group of people, each of whom swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, you would think Shadegg’s idea would be a no brainer. Instead, the idea hasn’t gotten enough co-sponsors to give it a plausible chance.

It might be interesting if congressional candidates were asked about their support for the bill during the course of this summer’s town hall meetings and campaign rallies.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Member Post


Air Force One on the tarmac at SFO right now. Must be a fundraiser someplace tonight. Either that or a big oil spill in the Pacific that I’ve yet to hear about. Apologies for the low-res photo, but I forgot my memory card reader so had to resort to the crummy camera on my mighty […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. More re: Mark Steyn, Call Your Office


What Mark proclaimed to the world in his 2006 book, America Alone–namely that Europe is suffering demographic collapse and civilizational exhaustion–the New York Times, I noted the other day, has finally gotten around to confirming. To which James Poulos in effect replied, aw, cheer up:

[S]urely some among Europe’s rising generations will revolt against the notion that exhaustion and failure are their only birthright….We’d better prepare ourselves now, I wager, for a few inspiring surprises in Europe.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Sebastian Junger, Serious Man


Just finished taping an episode of Uncommon Knowledge with Sebastian Junger on his new book, War. Based on five extended trips to the American outposts in the Korengal Valley, the location that saw more combat than any other in the Afghan theater, War is beautifully written and full of acute, vivid portraiture–incomparably the best extended reporting on actual combat in Afghanistan that I’ve encountered.

Before we sat down, though, I’d developed the suspicion that Junger might simply want to discuss the experience of war, limiting himself to description and narrative while avoiding the larger questions. In the book itself, after all, he takes pains to demonstrate how irrelevant all the big think seems to the young men doing the fighting.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Behind enemy lines


Greetings from Park Slope, Brooklyn:

The good news is that there’s a thriving two-party system in Park Slope. The bad news is that it’s Democrats vs. Greens (seriously, the Greens outpoll the GOP in local elections). But it’s a beautiful neighborhood, so I put up with the ACLU petition drives, the militant locavores, and the eye-rolls I get when I say “why yes, I would like a plastic bag.”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. In Defense Of Los Angeles


An easy city to hate, perhaps. But there’s something about L.A. that keeps me coming back. And back. At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf rises to the defense against Bernard Henri Levy’s very old world attack on the City of Angels. A representative gripe:

[…] what must be true for a city to be legible?


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. More for those “hungry alcoholics”


What? Oh. Wait, wrong tweetering….


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A mensch. Or, as we Episcopalians pronounce it, a mense.


Over at Contentions, John Podhoretz has written a very kind welcome to Ricochet. I’m a huge fan of his, and of what he’s created over there.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Norks making trouble


Interesting, and troubling, that something seems to be up in North Korea. First they torpedo a patrol boat — now confirmed by South Korean MOD — now talk of Nork military alerts. Seoul remains under the gun of a lot of NKorean artillery. One itchy trigger… This could be POTUS’ next foreign policy headache. As usual the PRC is being less than helpful. After all, a crisis on the Korean pennisula might interfere with iPod production…


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. At South Africa’s World Cup, VVIPs Are Very Very Important Polyamorists


Wearying news making the rounds about the 2010 World Cup:

Zuma himself has announced that he is bringing his three wives and his fiancée, while ex-presidents Mandela, Mbeki and their partners are expected to attend and to be placed next to the presidents of Mexico and Fifa.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Taking The War Out Of The Drug War


Remember this?

Things being as they are, and people as they are, there is no way to prevent somebody, somewhere, from concluding that “NATIONAL REVIEW favors drugs.” We don’t; we deplore their use; we urge the stiffest feasible sentences against anyone convicted of selling a drug to a minor. But that said, it is our judgment that the war on drugs has failed, that it is diverting intelligent energy away from how to deal with the problem of addiction, that it is wasting our resources, and that it is encouraging civil, judicial, and penal procedures associated with police states. We all agree on movement toward legalization, even though we may differ on just how far.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Musical Yes & No


Yes: the new New Pornographers single “Crash Years.” Dreary band name, but there’s a sweet and subtle hook in the chorus, an Americana twist on the Wilco-ish alt-pop of Belgian band dEUS at its best (1999’s The Ideal Crash). Quite a step away from the jittery, yippy clip of earlier songs like “Twin Cinema,” but this soft parade ain’t no soft rock.

No: the Great New Sound of ’10, Treats by Sleigh Bells. Cute voice? Check. Advanced minimalist guitar heroics? Check. Trendiest hip hop beats, seemingly effortlessly appropriated and repackaged for ultra-indie eardrums? Check. So what’s the problem? There’s everything to like, but nothing to love. Like certain pieces of conceptual art, one glance is all it takes to ‘get it’. After that, there’s nothing to get.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Minor Confusion


Sitting in a quaint mom and pop truck stop in I-dunno-the-name-of-this-town, IL, I felt bad about not eating well last night and so assuaged my guilt tonight with hot apple pie and ice cream. After some thought, I remembered which state I slept in last night, but I couldn’t tell you about the previous nights. That’s one of oddities of this line of work; the days become a blur of activity where places and faces merge together in a constant stream. Averaging around 2,700 miles per week, certain events are etched in my memory, but I can’t always tell you where they happened. I’ve awakened in the morning and been unsure of which state I’m in, other than the state of confusion, I mean.

But even in that fog of highways, cities, country side, I know one thing for certain. I know that I did not serve in Vietnam, which sends any political aspirations I might have had in Connecticut down in flames. In fact, looking at the headlines today (the President’s approval numbers tanking even as Gov Deval Patrick says that those who disagree with Obama are coming close to sedition, while Patrick Kennedy says that Arizona’s attempt to secure its own border violates the spirit of the Constitution), suddenly my own confusion seems minor. In fact, compared with the general confusion many of our politicians display, even Chicago traffic makes sense! Back to the apple pie…


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Stalked By Census Maniac


OMG as they say in LA. I am being HOUNDED by a census taker! I mailed in my forms late, and so they decided someone had to come to my door and count me. Well, it wasn’t a convenient time since I was on the phone with some VITAL Terrell Owens bizniz, so I made an appt for Saturday at 1pm. They showed up at 6pm and I thought – you know what? (curse words here YOU). I mailed in my forms. I did my duty albeit late. Now they have Dog The Census Hunter on my case! He comes 3 and 4 times a day. I refuse to answer my door and answer his stupid questions. Sunday, I locked my gate and he climbed over it!!! And just now he tried to TRICK me! He rang the doorbell, the dogs barked. Oh…. it seems he left. But no! He was still there! He rang again and then KICKED MY DOOR! BOOM! Hahahaha. I am probably going to be arrested before this whole thing is over. But I have enjoyed writing here, I love you all. And I will be posting from the Gray Bar Hotel next!


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. California politics


Hi All, let’s get down to business. We had Carly Fiorina over to our house the other day. We spoke for over an hour. She seems like a reasonable choice for Ca. Senator. We have to get rid of Barbara Boxer. Carly took the lead in the polls recently, what do you think?


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Wishing I was in Turkey with Claire


So far this morning, I’ve slipped on crayons while holding a dirty diaper, watched “Little Bill” four times, and drawn Elmo ten times. The last Elmo portrait, below, has elements of a self-portrait:


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. New York Times Appreciation Day


I know a lot of people will be outraged by The New York Times‘ revelation today that the United States is expanding its clandestine military activity to disrupt militant groups in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. But I say all the outrage is misplaced. If you read the article closely, you’ll see that they’ve revealed nothing that isn’t absolutely obvious. I mean, if we’re not doing that, someone should be fired, yesterday. In fact, that has to be one of the top-ten most boring leaks of secret military information I’ve ever read.

I was a lot more surprised by the Souping up Spring Vegetables article. Did you all know that soup’s not just a winter food? Bravo to the Times for publishing that weird recipe involving asparagus, green garlic and eggs. All too easy to dismiss the sound of that one as simultaneously effete and nasty, so give them credit for bravery. It can’t have been an easy call in the newsroom.