Monday, April 27, 2009
"You have to go out there and try.
After all, you can't get hit by the bus unless you throw yourself in front of it."
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I have read with interest some of your back columns. They compel me to withdraw the offer of appointment I made to you.
Not because you seem to express contrary beliefs to suit your purpose. It might be risky to have someone on staff who can assert both
Bush remarked that "if you're interested in avoiding World War III . . . you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." ...This is lunacy in action.
the war in Iraq is a dangerous distraction from other pressing threats to U.S. security, such as nuclear proliferation and the rise of militant Islam worldwide.
But you are an opinion columnist, and any stick was good enough to hit President Bush.
But we can stand that. You have, your entire professional life, been a critic. You have, with the benefit of hindsight, told responsible people where they erred and how they ought to do things in the future. When you have been wrong, you have maybe caused the LA Times to lose a few subscribers.
What bothers me is the column of April 9. I may or may not agree with the ideas you mention about journalism. But I am very concerned about other comments- particularly
"Some might say I have a "new job," but because I'll be escaping a dying industry -- and your tax dollars will shortly be paying my salary -- I prefer to think of it as my personal government bailout."
"Of course, I'm not taking a government job only because I feel lucky to parachute out before some cost-cutter eliminates every last column. At this moment in history, I can't imagine anything more rewarding than being part of the new team that's shaping U.S. policy."
First, because I fear you will have serious problems committing to courses of conduct that go against your previously expressed opinions. It has become obvious to me since I came to DOD that there are things in the world of which I was ignorant. I have had to modify more than a few views I had which were based on that ignorance. I would hate for you to find yourself in a position where you had to, for example, make decisions about dealing with terror suspects in light of your columns. I would hope that you would be able to disregard your own advice in a proper case- but it would be difficult.
Secondly, what we do at the Department of Defense is really outside your experience.
We don't just say "you shouldn't have", and make suggestions. We actually do things.
I wonder what you would have said in December 2001 about an adviser to the undersecretary of defense for policy if she had written in, say, June that Al Quaeda was “an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull.” But I don't have to wonder very hard, do I?
As an adviser to the undersecretary of defense for policy, “Rosa Brooks” goes on recommendations of real policies, before the results happen. I used to mock that "I'm the decider" comment too- but it's not so funny now. No more working in a vacuum, no more costless mistakes. Everyone gets to be a critic now but you.
And most importantly, the comments I quoted reveal a basic confusion about what the things we do are.
Quoting an old boss of mine, I told you that here’s only one rule here- don’t f#*k up.
Because this is the Department of Defense. Our tool kit is destruction- explosives, fire, steel, and radioactive material.
Which means that every mistake, even the smallest, makes corpses, cripples, widows, and orphans.
Old corpses, baby cripples, innocent widows and orphans. You would probably know some of them before you end or shatter their lives. You would definitely attend some of their funerals.
That’s right, suffering YOU MADE will now exist. People will kill, on your recommendation. It’s not like losing a little market share.
Even when you are right, people will kill and die and suffer. But you'll never know if you WERE right, even when you are. There just isn't any way to know.
This isn't a job. It's not about rewarding you. And it certainly is not a bailout of any kind.
You see, here at DOD we have people who actually DO parachute. Over at the Air Force, "bailout" isn't such a giggle. And those Rangers and SEALs don't hit the ripcord to avoid poverty- they jump OUT of the safe place, and INTO danger. Real danger, not the tragedy of having to wait another year to be able to buy a new car.
When we last met, I told you that your words were mine now, and to not put me in the position of defending an opinion I don't even have.
I have to account for what you say, Ms. Brooks. And the next time I go to Walter Reed, I don't think I can honestly tell those people that you understand how serious real life is.
When I offered you this appointment, I said "Welcome to the sheepdog kennel, Ms. Brooks".
On reflection, I don't believe you belong here.
Good luck in your future efforts elsewhere.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I, being the narrow minded small c conservative that I am, see only (good) differences in degree between old media and new. Plus, it's much less regulated! (By government, experts who know what's best for us, and economic barriers to participation.)
I'm constantly saying that the web is just faster and cheaper than the newspaper. For example-
Staghounds: "Why don't you look on ebay for those jeans you like?"
Sciencegirl: "No way. I don't know who those people are, they are far away. What if they just keep my money? What if they send the wrong size?"
"But you were raised on LL Bean, and Talbots, and Squire's Choice."
"I know them."
So today, she told me about the "CraigsList Killer".
"See, I told you it was dangerous."
"It could just as easily have been a newspaper classified."
"No it couldn't, they find out who you are with newspaper adverts."
"That's silly, of course they don't. I could order an advert in your name, pay with cash or a postal money order, and be entirely anonymous."
"Well, it's still different."
"How? You're a scientist, don't just assert. How is being found on Craigslist different from them doing it in the Post twenty years ago, or in the telephone book when Taft was President?"
You have me there.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I've been waiting to stumble on something not pleasant about my dam's death, other than practical things, and I found one.
In court, actually- at a hearing on a State child. This boy had truly horrid parents and was protected from them by state custody when he was very small, like four.
He'd bounced around as they do- orphanages, group homes, foster placements, a little delinquency. Every change had to be court approved, by this same judge. Also, as with every child it commits, the court had reviews every six months or so to see how he was doing.
He had turned eighteen, and this was his last review. The judge told him he was no longer in state custody as of his birthday next week, chatted with him about his prospects, and wished him luck.
As he got up to leave, he started to cry. Really cry, those hitching sobs of bereavement. The judge asked him what was wrong- his life was just beginning, he never had to come back to account for anything. He was free now, for the first time , he owned himself. What was wrong?
"But judge- now there won't be anybody who's known me all my life."
Mi casa su casa, Demetrius.
It's strange that I can remember when I first met everyone who is still in my own life. Senior to everyone I know.
Ugh. Oldest living means next dead.
(Not the child's real name of course.)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
"Attorney General Eric Holder said this past week that the Justice Department had not seen a case of piracy against a U.S. ship in hundreds of years."
First, we'll take Piracy to mean the old fashioned maritime kind, not the RIAA nonsense, or Aircraft Piracy, which the DOJ has prosecuted vigorously MUCH more recently than that, as even General Holder knows.
Let’s see, “Hundreds” would be 1809 at the latest.
The DOJ prosecuted Shi Lei, who was convicted of piracy in 2005.
People were being convicted, and hanged, by US District Courts in the 1830s. The last Federal execution for piracy was in 1862 for engaging in the slave trade, a thing forbidden by the US piracy act of 1820 as amended.
And since the Department of Justice was founded in 1870, it’s only 139 and has yet to do anything “hundreds of years” ago.
(Took me 7 minutes to find all that on the web.)
I HATE sloppy talk, it is a symptom of sloppy thinking.
I’d fire a lawyer who was that careless if he worked in my office, and this eejit represents ME in court!!
Monday, April 06, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
At which I was the sole and only person in crispy twill trousers, polished leather paddock shoes, and starched white Oxford button down shirt. My usual "shoot me first" attire.
Plenty of interesting things to gawk at and play with, including a brand new condition Colt Monitor, a couple of Belgian Rattlesnakes, and one of the new Gardner copies.
When all those things crank up under that tin shed, they are loud. But it doesn't "sound like a war", as I heard more than once. Just one long roar, and no chattering of one's own teeth. Sheesh.
It was worth stopping by on the way, but I'm glad I didn't drive more than 15 minutes out of the way.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
I know that hunting people are supposed to hate these pretty flowers. Not because they are the symbol of one of the great beasts of history,
but since they arrive at the spring, when hunting ends.
MFH AM once said that hunting just sort of ends itself, and he's right. With the local difficulties of this season, I'm not so sorry that yesterday was our last day of wildlife annoyance. Time to knock off until the autumn.
BUT, I'll write up some hunts through the summer, with pictures, and post some hunting rants too.
So long, coyotes! Au revoir, Sanglier! Until we meet again, Red Deer!
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
"...for at least the past decade."
I don't care who you are, that is funny right there.
It translates well, too-
"I haven't raped any eight year olds for at least the past decade".
"Murder? No, not for at least the past decade".
"Steal from the company during my 23 years as comptroller, Boss? No way, for at least the past decade".