Tuesday, September 12, 2006

yes, THEY believe in equality!

So today I accidentally watched segments of "the View". It was on (Mrs. News watches it from time to time), I was here at the computer in the same room, and out of frightened curiousity from time-to-time I glanced towards the TV.

Guest: Jeff Probst, host of "Survivor". Topic: "Survivor" (big shock there)

This year, in case you didn't know, the Survivors are going to be separated according to their race.

Now Survivor has done separations before (the men vs. women season a couple years ago comes to mind) And separations of a certain sort are not uncommon to the reality TV genre (Trump separated contestants according to education completed a couple years ago). But this season on Survivor is going to be a little different.

Probst has been on "the circuit" lately, essentially defending the decision to do the show this way. Undoubtedly he has encountered a lot of the following criticism, launched at him from host Joy Behar, to the effect of (my take on her words, NOT a direct quote) "all these years we've fought so hard for integration, and now we'll have segregation right there on the TV."

Probst, to his credit, was very calm. Saying that he understands the root of such criticisms, he asked people not to judge the show before they'd seen it. And that seems pretty fair to me.

My least favorite question, also launched towards Probst from Behar (and again, not a perfect quote): so if you're like Halle Berry, with a black parent and a white parent, who do you root for? The clear implication was that viewers should be "rooting" for the race that they belong to/identify with (this implication was enforced with the follow-on questions).

I practically launched myself into the TV. WHY CAN'T HALLE BERRY ROOT FOR WHOEVER SHE DAMN PLEASES? Why does it have to be the white team or the black team? Why can't it be the the Asian team or the Hispanic team? What if she actually knows somebody on the show--is it okay for her to root for them?

Or how about this: let's leave open the possibility that somebody might actually look at the PERSONALITIES on the show and then root accordingly?

If it had been Elizabeth Hasselbeck that made that comment, she would have been shredded. And rightfully so.

People: prejudice is what makes segregation tough to stomach. If you look at a show and see 4 black folks separated from 4 white folks, who are separated from 4 hispanic folks, who are likewise separated from 4 Asians folks, and none of those groups is being treated any differently from the rest, why does it have to be sinister?

Doesn't that assessment reflect more on the viewer than on the viewed?

Prejudice isn't a poison in the pigment --or lack thereof --of your skin. It is a poison of the mind. When ANYBODY assumes that race is the controlling factor to another's decision matrix, they are showing prejudice. In this case, Behar displayed without pause a prejudice that supposedly her fellow liberals are champions of opposing. And the fact that Rosie (who doesn't keep her liberal opinions to herself in any forum) held silent while the question was aired and answered means that she didn't get the prejudice that was just put on display either. That's quite a glaring omission from one of the leading mouths of the left, isn't it?

PLEASE NOTE: the above article is not a defense of "separate but equal", which rightfully was struck down in Brown v Board of Education. The truth is, separate facilities cannot be equal (or are, in the exact words of the decision, "inherently unequal"). But that decision applied to "the field of public education", not television shows.

Week 1 is in the books

Coach John here, head of the Mile High High Fantasy Football team. I am proud to announce that we started the season off on a winning note, beating the much-improved Prairie View A&M 95-77. Although there were no spectacular individual performances, there was solid participation by Tom Brady (17 points), Fred Taylor (17 points), Drew Bennett (12 points) and the Seahawks Defense (13 points). HOWEVER, week one MVP goes to Ronnie Brown, who, with his two touchdowns on Thursday night, got the ball rolling well from the start with an 18-point performance.

And non-High MVP goes to the Denver Broncos defense, who despite not being on my team, limited two key options on my opponents team to a combined 23 points. Also sharing some credit should be the San Diego Chargers, whose disposal of the pathetic Raiders limited Lamont Jordan's impact in what could have been close game. Thank you, Denver D!

From a coaching standpoint, I give myself high marks! I left 13 points on the bench, but I can live with my deicision to use Tom Brady against the Bills rather than using Charlie Batch against the Dolphins. The award for best coaching performance in week one goes to Punishment (I hate to say it), who left zero points on the bench.

From an overall team standpoint, my 95 points represents the 3rd highest tally for the week (The evil Punishment team got a league-high 98; the Jackass team scored 96). When you get into "total possible points" (if a manager had chosen the players that would have maximized team performance), then my team tied for third. Using TPP as a guideline for relative team strength, then team Jackass and my first-week opponent A&M look to have a solid team this year.

Next week's opponent: the Broadway Bank & Trust fund of Team Demaso, who are 0-1 and in the bottom third of the league in TPP.

Let's get High!!!

Remembering 9/11

I haven't written about 9/11 because I felt I didn't really have much to add to the narrative. And then I realized that I was in a really "interesting" place that day, and I've never written about it before. In the end, you might find it to be less than interesting--but I'll share it anyhow:

September 11th, 2001, and there I was: in the middle of a large North Atlantic Naval exercise. Based out of Keflavik, Iceland (where I was stationed at the time), our staff was playing host and organizer for KEFTACEX, a combined air-sub-surface exercise that took place annually in the waters off of Iceland.

I was in the planning cell that afternoon (keep in mind that Kef is 4 hours ahead of New York)--but just like New York, it was a beautiful day. Also with me in that planning cell were members of navies from Denmark, the UK, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Germany. (I think that was all the players--I can't remember for sure now). When I say "cell", please don't think prison; rather, it was just a big office that we had all kind of settled into to do our planning.

The exercise had been going well. We were probably 4 operational days from completing the 2-week exercise, and once we had the initial logistics settled (the base at Kef just wasn't meant to handle that many visitors at once--especially back then, when there was still quite a joint active-duty presence on that base) we found the operational stuff both fun and interesting. I can't recall the specific problem we were working on that morning (I'm sure it had to do with getting a sub from point A to point B in time for it to both finish an early session and begin a later session--these are the kinds of issues that the planning cell tackles), but over lunch with my Danish and Canadian counterparts I recall hearing that the problem had been resolved. It looked to be an easy afternoon because of that resolution: write the ATO (air tasking order) for the next day and work into the following day, which would be September 13th. By that stage, we'd be ramping up for the final day's exercise, where the sub was going to really play "hard to get" with the air and surface units. That final day was why we always had such a strong international presence at KEFTACEX--"time on top" a real USW (undersea warfare) target was not easy to come by at that time.

I don't remember the specifics, but there was a TV in the cell. It had been on the Kef weather channel for most of the exercise because the weather in that area could wreak havoc on our schedule. I guess that the forecast looked good for the next couple days because the channel had wandered off of the weather channel. Something to note: we didn't get "cable" or anything similar to that in Kef. The base had an office that controlled the television that was available on the base. So instead of channel 4 always being NBC,for example, channel 4 would instead always be news (sometimes NBC, sometimes CNN headline, sometimes ABC's Meet the Press,etc); channel 6 would always be sports; channel 7 would always be sitcoms--stuff like that. The TV had settled on the news channel, and the story on at the time we returned from lunch was the one building of the WTC that was on fire. Some of the folks in the room (most of them were back by now) were looking at the screen from various locations in the room, while others had their head to the desk, working on whatever task they had at hand. I was one of those looking at the TV from my desk. . .

And then we saw that plane hit the other tower.

A few "oh my God"s were uttered, and then everybody was looking at the TV.

A few seconds after that, someone (who obviously hadn't been looking at the TV at the moment that plane hit it) asked what had happened. His countryman responded to him in the native tongue, and I remember looking at the guy who had asked the question and watching the color disappear from his face.

I have often wondered what words that responder said to his friend. . .did he say, factually, that a big plane had crashed into the second tower? Or did he reply "America is under attack"? Did the responder understand what was going on? Or was it the guy who had his question answered who quickly connected the dots?

I remember the replay showing on the TV. I don't know how much time had passed between the "live" shot and the replay, but I do know that there had been practically no conversation in the room (except for that Q&A above).

Minutes passed. . .yet still most of the room was riveted to the TV. But not everyone. The one guy I specifically remember NOT looking at the TV was one of my American brethren. He was regarded as extraordinarily intelligent but not very wise; a detail guy who just didn't see the big picture. And it showed on this day more than any. Still in his own world, he stood up and asked some question about the ATO for the next day. And I gotta tell you, his voice on a good day was like fingernails on a chalkboard, but at this particular instance it was possibly the most annoying thing imaginable.

He was responded to by the "liaison" for the Danes (this guy was seriously junior to the rest of the Danish contingent, but due to his good rapport with our staff and his thorough understanding of the exercise, the rest of the Danes--and the entire cell--relied heaviliy on his input): "there isn't going to be an ATO tomorrow".

Probably not even 5 minutes after the plane hit the second tower, and this guy "got it". In spades.

He proved to be prophetic, of course. The silence in the cell didn't last long--phone calls were both made and received. The remainder of the exercise was cancelled; the foreign crews were asked to leave the island as soon as possible. There were no questions about this decision; just nodding heads and the look shared among military professionals that know the future is going to involve combat. People had died, and it was likely that more people would die. You literally look at each other as if you want to say "Goodbye" (and yes, that's a big "G" intentionally, if you get my drift) but know that it just isn't the right thing to say or the right time to say it. I wonder if there ever is a right time to say it. . .

I remember being at an intel briefing in the weeks after 9/11 and watching the island's admiral, a hard man who had worn the colors in more ways than I can imagine, getting visually worked up--to the point of being unable to speak--while he was being briefed on the incident, etc. There was rage in his demeanor. . .and this from a man who had made a career out of measured responses to life-threatening situations. The admiral had friends at the Pentagon--heck, I think we all had friends at the Pentagon. He wanted answers.

Too bad they hadn't been there on 9/10. Or 9/9. Or even early in the morning on 9/11.

Remembering is good--cathartic I think is a good way to describe it.

But remembering without learning is just plain dumb. How does the old saying go: "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it"?

9/11 is not just a time to reflect on what we lost, but also on what we LEARNED. We learned that America is not an impenetrable fortress. We learned that killers can kill by the scores with no tools other than a box cutter and an ignorant enemy. We learned that there is real HATRED in the world--and not the kind that can be psychoanalyzed to an "unloving father" and a "transient home life as a kid". There are just some people who hate life--so much, in fact, that they willingly sacrifice their own.

Such are the lessons of 9/11. When we remember the victims of that tragedy, let's also remember that what they died for was bigger than just "being in the wrong place at the wrong time"; they died so that we could learn and understand the world that surrounds us better.

So learn. Understand. And ask yourself: how do I keep this from happening again?

Because I'm sure that none of us--NONE OF US--want to see something like that happen again.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Not EXACTLY the whole story--UPDATED

In Sunday's Washington Post, the top-of-the-page headline is as follows:

Millions to Go to DIgging Up Dirt on Democrats

And I think to myself: great, now the GOP is taking the lower rung on the public debate ladder.

But I know that headlines are meant to mislead, so I read on. . .

The hope is that a vigorous effort to "define" opponents, in the parlance of GOP operatives, can help Republicans shift the midterm debate away from Iraq and limit losses this fall. The first round of attacks includes an ad that labeled a Democratic candidate in Wisconsin "Dr. Millionaire" and noted that he has sued 80 patients.

And again, I think to myself, what are these guys doing? That paragraph above makes it sound like there's some team of GOP-supporting Special Forces guys--these "operatives" that use this neat "parlance"--that are looking to do character assassinations on every aspect of these Dems' lives: their family, their dog, even their childhood friends. How much more sinister can you get than that?

ALAS. . .it really isn't that bad. In the 12th paragraph you find a little more clarity:

Republicans plan to attack Democratic candidates over their voting records, business dealings, and legal tussles, the GOP officials said.

Okay, now we get it. These "operatives" are going to have the audacity to point out the opposition candidates' voting records--really, the NERVE! Advertising about how a politician actually practices his/her politics, with information that would be readily available on the public record--truly, that's going too low.

And these attacks on business dealings and legal tussles. . .well, if I'm not mistaken, the "culture of corruption" theme is one that the Dems created, thinking that it would be a major point for their people. IF there are questionable business games with unacceptable business players and shady legal issues in a candidate's background, it's the Dems who paved the way for those things to see the light. I, personally, only care about the truly egregious lapses in personal judgement or the continued over-exercise of privelege--but that's just me. I do, however, agree with one old adage: you can tell a lot about a person by who they call their friends. Pointing out that a candidate has close PROFESSIONAL ties with Jack Abramoff AND THAT THOSE TIES LED TO QUESTIONABLE DEALS BENEFICIAL TO BOTH PARTIES, for example, would be a totally legitimate bit of information for EITHER side to put in the public debate.

SO it really isn't all that the headline makes it to read. The GOP is going to put the Dems' words in that Dems' mouth--and that seems just about fair to me.

NOW the one specific story they highlight, this "Dr. Millionaire" guy from Wisconsin's 8th district, seems like a real "who cares" to me. The article describes it thusly:

Wisonsin's 8th District offers an example. Earlier this summer, the NRCC sent a young staff member to the district for one week to look through court records, government and medical documents, and local newspapers to find embarrassing information about physician Steve Kagen, one of the the leading Democratic candidates in an important swing district, and NRCC aide said. The researcher discovered that Kagen's allergy clinic has sued more than 80 patients, mostly for failing to pay their bills.

A new NRCC ad airing in the Green Bay area, the didstrict's main media market, warns: "What Dr. Millionaire doesn't want you to know is his clinic left more than 80 paitients behind -- suing them. That's right, suing more than 80 patients."

Again, AT FIRST GLANCE, this looks rather childish. Kagen's business sued patients in order to collect on the bills for services rendered--that seems fairly above-board to me. And I'm not a fan of attaching monickers to any politicians--it just doesn't add to the level of discourse. But Kagen can easily defend these actions: his campaign puts out the public record on these lawsuits, with all the beautiful information like "client was XX number of months behind on payment", etc. It clears Kagen's record, and rightly makes the GOP look like bottom-dwellers for telling only half of a not-very-important story.

And let me get this straight: this young staffer went to Wisconsin to delve all available information about this guy and all the staffer came up with was a (seemingly) legitimate business pursuit? Kagen sounds pretty darn respectable to me, then. . .as a businessman. Heck, Kagen couldn't have made me respect him more AS A BUSINESSMAN if he tried!

How about sending that same staffer to delve all the available "quotes" and "policy papers" that Kagen has issued in his candidacy, eh? THAT would be a truly worthwhile enterprise for the RNCC's staffers to entertain.

UPDATE: I didn't realize Hugh Hewitt had posted on the same article. His writing, of course, is much better.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Would you like that scrambled or over-easy?

IT'S FINALLY HERE!!! The off-season is over; today, on a full-scale, the NFL season kicked off.

And my team, in case you've forgotten, is the Denver Broncos.

And today, in their first game of the season, they laid a big, fat egg!

Quarterback Jake Plummer threw 3 interceptions and never got the Denver offense consistently moving the ball. The receivers couldn't get separated from their coverage, and the offensive line couldn't give the Snake a comfortable look down the field.

On the plus side are two things. For starters, the defense did play well. They held the vaunted Rams offense to nothing but field goals--and a good number of those were coming off turnovers (of both the fumble/interception AND the loss of possession change varieties). Obviously there's still work to be done, but all told I think the defense represented itself well today.

The other "positive"--and that's a strong word to describe it--is that this was the first game of the season. Of course I would've preferred a win--it would have made my whole weekend! But there's plenty of time to recover from this. And if you want to look at track records, you need go no further than last year, when they looked like total crud against Miami in week one--and then went on to have a 13-3 season. I don't think this team is as solid as that version of the B-men. . .but then again, I never thought last year's team was that good until around Thanksgiving.

SO buck up, Broncos faithful--there's a lot of football left.

Of course, if we keep turning the ball over 5 times a game. . .there's WAAAY TOO MUCH football left!

Friday, September 08, 2006

You know, if you read certain places in the internet, you would think that a Democratic sweep into the positions of majority in both houses of Congress is a foregone conclusion. And I'm not just talking about the left-leaning part of the 'net, either--more than a few conservative bloggers have looked with gloom at the prospects of the upcoming mid-term election.

Now I'm kind of new to this political game, so my opinion doesn't really mean squat. But for what it's worth, I'm not too worried.

Although the "direction" of the country hasn't been as conservative as I hoped when W won a second term and the GOP ushered in a solid majority in both houses, there is one thing that has happened: the differences between the GOP leadership and the Democrat leadership in both houses is clear for all to see.

And I not only WANT to believe, but I HAVE to believe that the American people understand all the things that the Democrats stand for: obstruction of all domestic legislation for the next two years, a full-scale retreat from the principle battlefield in the war against radical Islam, a further reliance on the feckless United Nations' form of world leadership, and, yes, even a desire to squelch the airing of contrary opinions here in our own country.

The GOP should run on these issues and these issues alone. Hang the Dems with their own words and actions, and watch as the "sweep" of November puts the GOP in better standing than they already have.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

more than just an inept political observer

That's how I fancy myself, at least--much more than the bumbling idiot that takes 5 hours to "perfect" a 2,000 word article--which, ultimately, was why I stopped blogging in the first place.

But I'm back now, and I'm branching out!

One of the reasons I love this time of year is because of the return of the pigskin to national prominence.

I love football. I love playing football--although I am particularly unskilled at the endeavor. I love watching football. I love talking football.

And nowadays, I love managing football--fantasy football, that is.

(Click here to see what kind of a man that makes me)--thank you Bud Light! (With a shout out to Survivor, too--there's the 80's tie-in that I'm always looking for!))

And tonight starts my season--and I am EAGER! Last year, I made it all the way to the finals of my league before getting trounced by the resident bad guy. He's not really a bad guy, of course--just a skilled manager who doesn't mind doing the grunt work necessary to have a successful fantasy league team. But that's a story for another day--or more appropriately, another week.

TODAY I'm going to talk about my team. It's important to note that my league consists of 12 teams, and when we did our live draft 2 weeks ago, I was saddled with the 12th pick. (I also got the 13th pick, though--I suppose in the end it works out approximately even. Although I sure would have loved to get Peyton Manning for a 3rd year!) So keep that in mind when I talk about the team below:

My QB is Tom Brady of New England. He's a consistent scorer, and in some games he's totally amazing. He was my first pick in the draft, and I'm pretty confident that he'll hold up as a solid choice.

My backup QB is Ben Rothelisberger--who obviously is getting benched this week. The nice thing about this league is that if your starting QB goes down, you automatically get his real-life backup. SO if I wanted to, I could use Charlie Batch for my quarterback this week. But I don't want to. . .not against that Dolphin D.

My backs are slightly above-average, if I do say so myself. I've got Miami's Ronnie Brown, Atlanta's Warrick Dunn, and Jacksonville's Fred Taylor. I'm playing Brown and Taylor this week (I figure Brown will benefit from Rothlisberger's absence, and when Taylor plays he's always very good--probably doubly so this year with Greg Jones injured). On a week-in, week-out basis, this figures to be the most difficult position for me to choose properly.

My receivers are Miami's Chris Chambers (supposedly he's due for a monster year), Denver's Rod Smith (how can you go against Mr. Consistency?), Tennessee's Drew Bennett (I've always liked him--when healthy, he puts up some decent numbers), and Jacksonville's Ernest Wilford (a "flyer", to use a fantasy league term--we'll see if he can put up any good numbers this year). This is not a super-deep group, but there is potential there. Chambers could be off the charts this year; Smith will give me about 1000 yards and 7-9 touchdowns, and IF Volek is up to the task in TN, I could see Bennett being a worthwhile member.

My tight ends have always been awful (I think all of last year I scored less than 30 points with my TEs), but this year I'm hopeful that Alge Crumpler (from Atlanta) can give me some scoring. He's not a good choice for this week, playing at Carolina against a stout defense--but since my back-up, the Bucs' Alex Smith, is ALSO a bad choice, I'll go with my horse.

I have two defenses: the Seahawks and the Vikings. I like the turnover-creating potential of both those teams--but they'll also play in a few shootouts. Hopefully they will complement each other well this year. I'm going with Seattle this weekend--I think they ought to have a lot of fun against Detroit.

The kicker is Ryan Longwell, who plays for Minnesota this year. Hopefully the dome will be helpful for his stats this year.

So that's my team. And since it is a "team" game, victory is all about beating the other team. This weekend I face my good friend Wayne, proud owner of Prairie View A&M. His team is named that because for 2 years now they have been the doormat of the league. It's not Wayne's fault--he's had some seriously bad luck. For example, he's a huge Vikings fan, and last year with his first pick he chose Daunte Culpepper, who was coming off an absolutely monster year. Well, as you may know, last year Culpepper wasn't very good. . .I mean he was REALLY not very good. And Wayne suffered.

This year, however, I think A&M is poised to make a resurgence. He's got key elements of the potent Rams offense (both the QB and the RB), the best TE in the game (Gates, from San Diego) and one of the best WRs (Boldin from AZ). Throw into the mix some wildcards--like Denver's Javon Walker, Philly's recently-acquired Donte Stallworth and Oakland's Lamont Jordan--and you can see that this is not Wayne's regular patsy of a team. In fact, I see big things for him this year. . .I just hope not this week.

Now if you'll pardon me, I gotta go find an imaginary box seat from which to watch my imaginary game.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I think my hand would stay down, too

Influence: Dean Barnett posting at Hugh Hewitt's website. He is a GREAT addition to that site, by the way!

Blogger/author Glenn Greenwald set out to debunk Mark Steyn on his website the other day. In the midst of his article he writes:

"The ironies of this disturbed war dance are virtually infinite, the most obvious one being that the Steyn Warriors can never point to any sacrifices they make or risks they incur. But the most striking irony is this. [sic] So much of the neoconservative warrior cries are built on an ethos of deep fear, of exactly the desperate desire to be protected and saved which Steyn and company claim is the hallmark of the girlish, soul-less West. As they strike the warrior pose, they are desperately willing, even eager, to fundamentally change the character and principles of our republic and to sacrifice the core liberties which define it because they are scared and want, more than anything else, to be protected."

All right, how about this in response: everyone who DOESN'T want --more than anything else--protection from threats to your life and the lives of your loved ones, raise your hand.

Anybody?? Bueller?????

I didn't think so.

Talk about your non-sequitors. (I've ALWAYS wanted to use that term! Did I use it correctly?)

My favorite part is the "[s]o much of the neoconservative warrior cries are built on an ethos of deep fear, of exactly the desperate desire to be protected and saved which Steyn and company claim is the hallmark of the girlish, soul-less West" line. Well, if he's writing about protection and "being saved" from physical harm, then I daresay that most conservatives would probably tell you that the "girlish, soul-less West" (I'm assuming from the context that he is describing how the right refers to liberals--although these are new words to me) DOESN'T have an interest in being protected or saved--or at least not at the expense of being seen as "unenlightened" or "boorish". I can assure you that I, for one, would never describe "protection" from physical harm as a hallmark of liberal thought.

Greenwald goes on to point out the number of people (intellectual lightweights, you'd assume from how they are highlighted in his piece) who have noted that civil liberties don't mean much when you're dead. Granted, the verbiage used by the highlighted mouthpieces may not be the height of stimulating intellectual debate on the conservative side. But what these supposed simpletons are likely trying to describe, however clumsily, is the relation between the government's job of protecting the rights of the citizens and its job of protecting the lives of the citizens. The quoted subjects in Greenwald's piece are stressing the belief that the rights granted by a government to a citizenry mean little if the government is unable to protect the lives of those citizens. And that's a point that considers more than a brief consideration, regardless of the wording used to get the point across.

I remember hearing somewhere--maybe even somewhere famous, in a document written by the most enlightened people of the time or something like that-- that the purpose of government is to secure the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And maybe I'm being crazy, but I have to believe that the authors listed them in that order for a reason.

You see, there was a time when authors were actually articulate and were able to express precisely the thoughts that they wanted to convey to the audience.

Life before Liberty--that isn't an accident, folks.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It seems to me. . .

Enough with the break--it's time to talk!!!

The motivation from this piece is from several sources, not the least of which is Sec. Rumsfeld's remarks from last week.

So yesterday I was watching Fox News (a day off from work--gotta love Federal holidays!), and Major Garrett was doing a live piece from up in Detroit. He was asked about campaign strategies for the two major parties, and he noted how the GOP seems to be putting all their eggs in the "National Security" basket again while the Dems are hammering away with domestic themes. He made it sound so one-dimensional for the GOP that I almost started yelling at the TV.

"What about Social Security?", I would have said aloud had I been slightly more devoted to the TV at the time. That topic had, after all, been a major part of a critical debate between Senate candidates in Pennsylvania just the day before.

"What about the economy?" are also words that might have escaped my lips. THAT topic, after all, was the overriding theme of the President's Labor Day activities. 4.7 % unemployment. . .fuel prices dropping ahead of the typical post-summer schedule. . .some good news on that front that every GOP candidate should be touting 'til the cows come home.

But then as I sat watching the FSU-Miami football game (Go 'Noles!), it hit me: actually, it IS all about national security. ALL of it.

While smart men and women from all walks of life can debate the best economic policies to pursue in the future, there's one thing that would NOT continue our economic boost: a terror attack. Tax cuts, fuel prices, unemployment numbers--these issues all become "beyond argument" in a post-terrorist attack landscape. The economy would suffer--period. To even debate about the different possible solutions for economic issues you need to assume a "peaceful" workplace across the board--and that just wouldn't exist in the wake of another successful attack.

Is your blood boiling about the morality-based issues of same-sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights? The loss of innocent life that would accompany a successful terrorist attack in this country would push these issues to the margin of mainstream America's conscience. Some would argue to take the fight to the enemy, some would argue to open a dialogue and to try to understand the attackers--but NOBODY (well, nobody serious at least) would tell you that the REAL threat to America is the morality police/immorality ushers. Or at least they wouldn't try to make that argument again for a long long time. . .

I can see some "issues" sharing a teensy-weensy bit of limelight with a successful terrorist attack as a backdrop: the courts (the battle over "executive power" with a line drawn between the supporters of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor on one side and those favoring a more Executive-friendly interpretation of the Constitution on the other), the war in Iraq (well, that wouldn't be teensy-weensy; one of the most compelling reasons the troops are over there, after all, is to keep us from having numerous attacks staged here in America. It's worked at least once, by the way) and border security (ESPECIALLY if it is shown that the attackers had any benefit to their planning and/or execution from porous national borders) to name a few. And the economy would be a hot hot HOT topic soon after the attacks. . .but with much more of a "stop the bleeding and recover" tone than what our current economy requires.

But really, the importance of every issue OTHER THAN national security assumes that our country and our institutions continue to operate as they have been for the last many many many years. A country under attack (and it doesn't have to be PHYSICAL attack, by the way) has to make some exceptions to "business as usual". Sometimes those exceptions are small; sometimes they are noticeable and inconvenient. (I'd actually put the long security lines at airports in the former category, and those are both noticeable AND inconvenient--but in the grand scheme of things it's actually quite insignificant) Keeping us away from being attacked--so that we can even have debates about such vital things as illegal-but-not-prosecuted (aliens) and dying-but-not-dead (social security)--is truly the issue of our time. And it will continue to be the issue of our time as long as there are people out there that not only hate America, but have such a hatred of Americans that they are willing to kill themselves in order to bloody some of us in the process.

SO while I totally disagree with Major Garrett's assertion that the GOP is putting all of it's eggs in the same basket again, I do believe that if you had to choose a basket in which to put all of your eggs, the GOP couldn't have chose better.

And to be sure, I'm willing to listen to any Dem's ideas of how to better this country. But those ideas best include a hearty helping of solid ideas about protecting our citizens. I'll even give you an entering argument: you can't fight hate with reason. There are many tools in our arsenal to fight hatred, but I am convinced that reason is not one of them--so don't even try to tell me that new rhetoric is going to make a difference to our enemies.

I hate it when people try to make it sound so simple!