Wartime leadership…

If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes and watch Ukrainian President Zelensky address members of the US Congress. The man displays more leadership in ten minutes than the Congress has shown in the last ten years.


Blood and treasure…

I went to work as a very small cog in our uncle’s great green machine in January 2003. America’s war in Afghanistan was already more than a year old by then. I worked every day from then until now as part of an organization “at war,” even if the rest of the country wasn’t. Even on days when it didn’t seem to be, Afghanistan was always in the background of everything.

I’m not a grand strategist and don’t intend to pass myself off as anything other than someone who has done some reading and existed, tangentially, on the far extremity of the fight for the last two decades. There are too many people whose real world experience and voices should be rightly amplified as we come to terms with the debacle that ends our benighted involvement in Afghanistan.

Having grown up seeing the grainy images of the fall of Saigon – taken three years before I was born – I never imagined I’d see an echo of that moment played out live on the weekend news. How we could so badly bungle this “final act” of the long war, how we could have squandered so much blood and treasure, and how it went to shit so very quickly can and should haunt this generation of bureaucrats, soldiers, and statesmen as an example of what happens when we get it exactly wrong.

These last couple of days have got me feeling some kind of way. I don’t recommend it.

Don’t ask, don’t tell… Don’t care…

After seeing the media has gone it’s usual level of overboard spinning up the talking heads on today’s repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, I just can’t resist the temptation to wade into the issue just this once. One of the reasons I’ve so often parted company with my Republican brethren is that as a rule I tend to be just a hair to the right of hopelessly liberal on most social issues (at least the ones that don’t involve throwing good money after bad). Some people will tell you repealing don’t ask, don’t tell is a matter of social justice. Maybe it is, but since I’m not a social justice theorist, that argument is pretty much academic to me… fun to argue, but mostly an abstraction.

As a conservative (and I mean old school, personal liberty loving conservatism here), I believe in the maximum amount of individual freedom consistant with maintaining public order. The government that can tell a lesbian she can’t fly a helicopter is just as capable of telling me that I can’t do my job for no other reason than I happen to like women too. I’ve always felt common cause with the lesbian community that way. As I’ve admitted before, government does a few things really well, but it’s got a piss poor track record at legislating it’s own particular version of morality. If I don’t want Uncle to make decisions for me about who I can like, love, or fornicate with, that means I’ve got a duty to keep him from making those decisions for anyone else. That’s just the way the social contract works, gang. An assault on freedom anywhere is an assault on freedom everywhere.

Personally, I think this is all a good sign that we’re getting over our collective puritanical hangups about sex. It’s only taken 400 years. Don’t ask, don’t tell is history… But I wonder why anyone cared in the first place.