Another Perspective

Another Perspective

An Airborne Hunt for Red October?

By 3.18.14

Is Zaharie Ahmad Shah a real-life Marko Ramius? Is the mystery of Malaysia flight 370 lifted straight from a famous bestselling thriller-turned-Hollywood-blockbuster? Recall: A brand new high tech Soviet nuclear submarine vanishes with officers and full crew aboard. A frantic search begins, though the alarmed Kremlin is silent about the fact that it has been notified by the captain that he intends to defect and hand the sub over to the Americans. The officers — but not the crew — are in on the plan.

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Why I Attend Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By 3.17.14

In the nearly 14 years I have lived in Boston, one of things I have come to enjoy the most is the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade which takes place the Sunday before the formal celebration of Ireland’s best known patron saint. I have just returned from my 12th St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

People who know me might be surprised by my regular attendance at this gathering. The first thing people associate with St. Patrick’s Day is copious consumption of alcohol. I don’t touch the stuff. In fact, I have been a teetotaler for more than 20 years. But from where I stand the St. Patrick’s Day means more than a pint of Guinness.

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Ukraine: What Would Reagan Do?

By and 3.17.14

The Russian takeover of the Crimea, as well as many of our problems in the Middle East, was funded by high oil prices. Since there is no military solution to the Crimea conflict, President Obama should look closely at the successful pages of the Reagan playbook.

Before the Reagan and Gorbachev Summits could begin, Reagan needed to rebuild our defenses to bring the Soviets back to the bargaining table. The Kremlin was pressured to end the Cold War on America’s terms because of President Reagan’s policies of supporting the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, deploying Pershing cruise missiles in Western Europe (to counter Soviet SS-20s), advocating the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and doubling the defense budget.

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Call a Constitutional Convention, Already!

By 3.14.14

We've talked endlessly about using a Constitutional convention to wrest the reins of government from entrenched interests and put them back in the hands of the people. Enough talk: It's time to put the theory into action.

To recap, the Constitution may be amended in two ways: by a two-thirds vote of Congress, or by a convention called by two-thirds (34) of the (50) state legislatures. All amendments to date have arisen through the first mechanism, although conservatives and libertarians increasingly are calling for state lawmakers to pursue the second. If 34 states pass convention measures, Congress must convene a convention to discuss amending the constitution. In the words of James Madison, who was instrumental to the drafting of Article V, "If two thirds of the States make application, Congress cannot refuse to call one." Even the centralizer Alexander Hamilton conceded that the wording of Article V leaves " the discretion of Congress."

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Where Was the Debate?

By 3.10.14

Usually a debate involves an exchange of opposing views.

But not at CPAC.

On Saturday, pundits Ann Coulter and Mickey Kaus debated immigration reform.

Except that it wasn’t a debate.

Yes, both Coulter and Kaus offered their opinions with conviction and energy. Yet their alignment was omnipresent.

Both oppose the prospect of amnesty, both oppose bipartisan immigration reform, and both believe that either option would lead America to a very dark place. Or, in Coulterspeak, a very brown place.

Still, the real issue with this discussion wasn’t Coulter’s opinions. Rather, it was how Coulter encapsulated CPAC more generally — illustrating how serious policy discussions remain an uncomfortable paradigm in conservative-conservative dialogue.

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A Drinking Fan’s Lenten Notes

By 3.7.14

Lent started early. On December 7 — a day that shall live in infamy — I embarked on an alcohol hiatus. At the three-month mark, I close-in on the sobriety record by people with the surname “Flynn,” which I set twenty years ago at seven months and 29 days. It’s not in the Guinness Book of World Records, but that’s only because Guinness doesn’t seek to encourage competition among Flynns here. It would be catastrophic for the bottom line.

I glimpsed an inspirational cliché that essentially said that how you live in your forties will determine how, and whether, you’ll live in your eighties. Not wanting to suffer from dementia when I grow up, I thought it wise to cease drinking to temporary senility. Forty will have that effect on a man. One can’t help but notice that people who drink excessively eventually exhibit drunken brains even once they stop drinking. The real hangover comes later.

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Hillary and The Cult of ‘Best and Brightest’

By 3.6.14

Two women: Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. The first is relentlessly mocked and derided by liberals and the media. The second is still regarded as a paragon of wisdom, despite the fact that her much ballyhooed “reset” of relations with Russia was a total failure, that she misread Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a "reformer," that she botched health care reform as first lady, and that she blamed her husband's troubles on a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

What explains the mismatch? Our cult of "The Best and The Brightest."

But first: Somebody owes Sarah Palin an apology. Back in 2008, when Palin was the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, she said that electing an inexperienced president like Barack Obama could result in an international crisis. What kind of crisis, you ask? Well, for one thing Russia might invade Ukraine. 

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Why Ukraine Vindicates the NSA

By 3.5.14

“Sometimes we have to do a thing in order to find out the reason for it. Sometimes our actions are questions, not answers.”
A Perfect Spy, John le Carré

Most people believe that intelligence gathering is about finding out what someone else is going to do.

It isn’t.

Instead, it’s about finding out what someone else is thinking. After all, saying something does not necessarily mean doing something. Just look at President Obama’s policy on Syria.

Correspondingly, intelligence gathering seeks to allow a policymaker to explore the contemplations of those that sit across the table. Or those on the other side of the phone. The intention — to enable America’s leaders to navigate the diplomatic fog more effectively.

Yet, as Snowden has proved, effective intelligence collection must balance the needs of secrecy and trust with the need for understanding. When the balance fails — when a source or method is compromised — the diplomatic and political fallout can be tremendous. Just ask Angela Merkel.

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I Write to Bury the Arizona Bill, Not to Praise It

By 3.3.14

The Arizona bill (SB1062/HB2153) was vetoed, killed, by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on February 26, playing the role of Brutus. Dear readers, fellow Americans, I write to bury it, not to praise it.

In her statement vetoing the bill, Governor Brewer said that the bill was, in effect, too ambitious since it did it not address any “specific and present concern” in the state of Arizona, and she is an honorable woman. I might suggest, however, that it is entirely appropriate for a governor and legislature, to anticipate litigation, to anticipate violations of liberty — based on violations and allegations of violations made in other states on issues where a state, like Arizona, is not immune. See Paul Kengor’s list that appeared on this page on February 28.

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The Libertarian Populism of The Lego Movie

By 2.27.14

As the parent of small kids, it was inevitable that I would see The Lego Movie, but I was totally unprepared for the reaction I had to it. I have conservative friends who have actually suggested boycotts due to the "anti-business" message of the film. So at best, I expected a typical kids movie. At worst, I expected more liberal indoctrination in the form of children's entertainment.

Instead, I found a classroom lesson in the ideals of populist libertarianism.

For those who are unfamiliar, and hopefully without revealing any spoilers, the movie tells the story of an unexceptional construction worker living and working in Bricksburg, a megatropolis that mirrors our own reality, with interchangeable pop bands, overpriced franchise coffee bars, and TV shows that appeal to the lowest possible denominator. Emmet, our reluctant blue hero, falls down a hole, discovers the "Piece of Resistance," and finds himself anointed "The Special"—the citizen who will fulfill a prophecy to bring down Lord/President Business.

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