Fallen Warrior

When I’m scanning local media I keep an eye out for announcements about local members of the military who are wounded or killed in action. A few days ago I came across the announcement that Master Sgt. Benjamin Stevenson of Canyon Lake, Texas was killed on July 21 in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. Master Sgt. Stevenson was a member of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and was on his tenth overseas deployment. He was part of a U.S. and Afghan force that attacked a Haqqanni network camp used as an assembly and training point for foreign fighters. He was the only allied casualty in a two day battle that killed more than 50 of the enemy. Master Sgt. Stevenson had a distinguished career, and was awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medals, and the Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor Device. His funeral was held today in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of Fort Bragg. He is survived by his wife, two sons, his parents, a brother, and a sister.

Special operations soldiers venture into very dark places to battle our enemies. When one falls I’m sick at heart because I can’t thank him for his courage and his service to protect me. Master Sgt. Stevenson’s family asked that memorials be made to the Special Operation Warrior Foundation, which I’ve done. It was the least I could do. Rest in peace, Ben. And thank you.

The Tea Party v. the Conservative Establishment

It has been instructive to witness the divide between conservative factions over strategy and tactics in the debt ceiling fight. On one side is the Establishment: the Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Dr. Charles Krauthammer, Dr. Thomas Sowell, and the GOP leadership, particularly John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. On the other side are the Tea Party supporters (or, as the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board calls them, the Hobbits): Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Sarah Palin, Mark Steyn, Erick Erickson, Jim Jordan, Tom Graves, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul. As I was thinking about the perspectives that separate these factions, I found this article by Andrew McCarthy on National Review Online (or, as Rush now labels it, Krauthammer Review Online). Mr. McCarthy does a much better job articulating the Tea Party point of view than I can. First, on the courage of your convictions, standing up for the right thing, and winning the argument:

Even our best minds [Dr. Thomas Sowell] assume that a principled stand taken for the right reasons is a loser. Standing in the midst of what is already a catastrophe, even our best minds are content to pretend that the “disruption” is something from which we can be spared.

None less than the Dr. Sowell, as fine a mind as there is, warning that we can’t do the right thing because we’ll be wrongly blamed for the consequences. None less than the eminent Charles Krauthammer spouting the lamest of GOP talking points: Because Republicans only control one-half of one-third of the government, it is constitutionally problematic for House conservatives to continue demanding deeper spending cuts, to refuse to allow the nation to be driven trillions deeper in debt, and to treat an existential threat to our country as an existential threat to our country.

Our system is premised on the conviction that the right side can always win—that the strength of its arguments can turn the political tide and force even committed ideologues like Barack Obama to yield. And I believe the system works. If it didn’t, Guantanamo Bay would now be closed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would now be in the seventh month of his civilian trial, and the president would be toasting Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the advent of single-payer health care.

Second, we’re in deep economic trouble, it’s rapidly worsening, and we need bold action:

With due respect to Dr. Sowell and the Republican establishment that breathlessly cites him, there is no chance of sparing the country. The major economic disruption is already happening, and it stands to get far worse.

The pass we are at is not an avoidable disruption. It is a disaster that has already begun to unfold, reversal of which cries out for bold action. The Boehner plan, or any other scheme that balks at forthrightly dealing with our financial straits, merely makes it more likely that our nation cannot survive as we have known it. In the shorter term, the Boehner plan ensures that, when serious steps are finally taken, the metastasizing debt disease will be trillions worse, if not terminal.

Third, not everything is political calculus:

The main lesson that should have been learned but hasn’t been is this: While every issue has political overtones and consequences, that does not make every issue political in its essence. The debt-ceiling controversy is not, as Republican leadership and its cheerleaders maintain, about politics. It is not a matter of, “If we don’t handle this correctly, if we push this too far, if Americans think we’re too extreme, President Obama will be reelected.” The debt ceiling is about the debt, not about how politicians can optimally position themselves to evade accountability for the inevitable consequences of the debt.

Senator Rant-n-Bray

John McCain unleashed a rant on the Senate floor today, taking aim at conservative Senators who oppose John Boehner’s latest debt ceiling bill because it doesn’t require an immediate vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. McCain labeled this position as “bizarre” and “foolish.” If anyone is foolish it’s Arizona’s voters, who keep re-electing this man to the Senate despite a well-established pattern where he campaigns in Arizona as a conservative but operates in Washington like a ruling class liberal. This ad from his last campaign was a complete howler if you follow national politics–the John McCain portrayed here bears no resemblance whatsoever to the fool braying on the Senate floor today:

Amazing Story of a 23 Week Preemie

LifeNews.com published an amazing story of a 23 week U.K. preemie who survived after his twin sister died in the womb of an infection at 21 weeks. A mid-1990s EPICure study put the survival rate of 23 week preemies at less than 20%, while a 2009 Swedish study put it at 53%. Preemie boys have a lower survival rate than girls. Regardless of the statistics, it’s amazing that this 23 week preemie went home with only supplemental oxygen after everything he’s been through.

The U.K. allows abortions through week 24.

Update: Here’s another story of a British boy born at 23 weeks who survived. His mother is calling for the U.K.’s 24 week limit on abortion to be lowered.

Focus on Democrat Senators

John Boehner’s decision to walk away from negotiations with President Obama, together with the subsequent dueling news conferences, is garnering lots of attention from the mainstream media, but conservatives need to focus on influencing Democrat Senators from red and purple states. They fell in line behind Harry Reid this morning, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay there, particularly since Jim DeMint says he’ll bring Cut, Cap, and Balance back for a vote. RedState published a DeMint email listing these Senators to pressure:

I’ll be sending emails to these Senators this weekend.

Hennessey on the Gang of Six Plan

Keith Hennessey posted his analysis of the “Gang of Six” deficit reduction plan. He’s planning a second post that offers his opinion of the plan. My impression is that it’s inside-the-beltway business as usual, featuring budgetary sleight of hand, constraints that future Congresses will likely ignore, and the proverbial “kick the can down the road” approach to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. It’s the sort of thing Senator Kent Conrad would write, which, apparently, he did. Hopefully the House GOP’s “Gang of 234” will stand in opposition to the “Gang of Six” plan.

Update: Here is Hennessey’s opinion of the “Gang of Six” plan. His sixth of seventeen reasons to oppose the plan does it for me:

6. It trades a permanent tax increase for only a temporary respite on spending.

We’ve been down that road before.

Paul Ryan on Obama’s Fiscal Record

Congressman Paul Ryan posted “A Brief History of President Obama’s Fiscal Record.” The entry for April 29, 2009 (“Congressional Democrats Pass FY2010 Budget”) is particularly interesting:

Of note: this is the last time Congressional Democrats will bother budgeting.

Yes, it’s been 810 days (nearly two and a quarter years) since Congress passed a budget.