Friday, November 13, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Looking for Vets from the "War on Christmas"

Happy Friday, folks.  Let’s get to it.
1. Starbucks ‘removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus,’ Christian says in viral Facebook video (Washington Post)
Some say Jesus Christ healed the sick and died to redeem humankind. Little is said about his views on the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Still, secular coffee maker Starbucks has come under fire from some Christians who say the company isn’t repping hard enough for Jesus on its recent understated holiday cups.
Shots fired!  It’s a War on Christmas!!!

Backlash from #ItsJustACup
“I went in,” he said in the video. “I asked for my coffee. They asked for my name. And I told them my name is ‘Merry Christmas.'”
The result?
“Guess what, Starbucks?” Feuerstein said. “I tricked you into putting ‘Merry Christmas’ on your cup.”
As long as you paid, I’m sure nobody at Starbucks actually cared.
2. Why “Need A Mom” Is the Next Chapter of the Outsourced Self (Slate)
Need a Mom started as an informal freebie, or what a less commercial age would call “talking to acquaintances.” Keneally and her husband, a stagehand on the Book of Mormon, moved to Bushwick two years ago after raising two sons in suburban Connecticut. Over time the twentysomethings surrounding her at yoga classes or volunteer projects began confiding in her, no doubt seeing her as a stand-in for Mom—she was, after all, the oldest person in the room.
After talking several of them through job losses and bad breakups, it occurred to Keneally—who worked for a number of years as a substance abuse counselor—that maybe there was a business model lurking in these new relationships. “There are people who have a mentor in their professional lives; now I am doing that in their personal lives,” she told me. Her clients need help with, for example, “writing an intelligent letter to a landlord to get a rent deposit back.”
I guess “Need a Dad” would be the guy you call to come fix your sink and tell your boyfriend to get a haircut?
3.  The United States Doesn’t Spend Enough on Its Military (Slate)
At Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee, Rand Paul railed against Marco Rubio for calling for increases to the military budget: “How is it conservative to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures? You can not be a conservative if you’re going to keep promoting programs that you’re not paying for.” Rubio replied by arguing that “we can’t even have an economy if we’re not safe,” and that “the world is a safer place when America is the strongest military power in the world.”  This brief exchange captures a debate that’s been dividing America's political class for years. Paul is standing in for those, on the left and the right, who believe that the time has come for the U.S. to stop pretending it can be the world’s policeman, and to start shifting money from our military to needs closer to home. Rubio speaks for those in both parties who see U.S. global leadership as more important than ever, and who worry about the erosion of U.S. military power.
Defense spending clipart!
This article is well worth reading for a variety of reasons.  The most important and amazing of them is that it appears in Slate, a decidedly liberal rag if ever there was one.  I love Slate, but the site has a decided point-of-view, and yet here they are, laying out a coherent case for increased military spending.  
It’s totally amazing.
To summarize: the U.S. military needs to be able to defend the homeland, defend its overseas allies in NATO and other alliances, and guarantee freedom of the seas and other global “common” areas.  Beyond this, Americans expect their military to be able to defend American interests in third party nations, but it must be admitted that this is where we’ve gotten into trouble since at least 1993, the year that the U.S. invaded Somalia for the purpose of preventing a famine that was being imposed by warlords with no overt interests in the U.S.
Personally, I find it hard to accept that we need to spend more.  However, it seems manifestly obvious that we need to spend differently, that at a minimum, some of the procurement procedures are badly outdated and wasteful.  However, the military-industrial complex is an entrenched bureaucracy within an entrenched bureaucracy, so if you ask me if change is possible, I would have to say no.  We live in a country that can’t even decide to pay the bills it already owes with any long-term regularity.  The idea that this nation’s elected leaders are going to somehow force change on a system that they dislike and often do not understand is another example of the very worst of American wishful thinking.
It’s worth noting, though, that America’s political fault lines have changed dramatically over the past eight years.  As things stand now, the military no longer has a friend in the GOP, as we saw in the debate earlier this week.  Sure, there are some Republicans who want to increase spending, but this is by no means the party’s universal view.  Similarly, Hillary Clinton favors at least as much global engagement as the current administration, which is a lot more than, say, Bernie Sanders--or even the current President’s view when he was running for office.
4.  G.O.P. Fight Now a Battle Over What Defines a Conservative (NY Times)
For months, the Republican presidential race has been animated by the party’s inchoate anger about the state of the country and an equally undefined hope that a candidate would emerge who could usher in an era of civic renewal. But the debate here and its aftermath marked an abrupt transition from vague promises about making America “great again,” in Donald J. Trump’s phrase, to a new season of the campaign shaped more by the glaring policy fissures that are dividing Republicans over what exactly to do about the nation’s problems...
Years’ worth of arguments conducted at issues forums and in the pages of policy journals and newspapers are now coming to life. The Republican hopefuls are sparring over such high-fiber fare as tax policy: whether to adhere strictly to the party’s supply-side creed or move at least modestly toward policies aimed at bolstering lesser earners. They are clashing over the role America plays in the world, and whether fiscal conservatism is compatible with a drastically enlarged military.
Well.  I wasn’t planning to do anything like this much policy this week, but what can you do?  This, finally, is the debate that we actually need within the Republican Party.  It’s the reason why a Republican majority in Congress hasn’t been able to do anything; the party doesn’t know what it wants.  
Personally, I’m a little pessimistic that the argument is going to go my way when all’s said and done, but what we have now is so unworkable as to be completely useless.  First and foremost, the GOP has to be an actual party, a group of leaders with a shared vision of the future, or it will lose even when it wins.
5.  3 airplanes flying into Dallas airport hit by laser, FAA says (Fox News)
Three airplanes were hit by a laser coming from the same direction as they were inbound to a Dallas airport, the FAA said on Wednesday.
In which the U.S. Navy fights the navy of Japan.
I blame Tom Clancy.  He wrote this into the book Debt of Honor, and now people think they can use it to cause mass chaos.
That’s all I’ve got.
Go Army!  Beat Tulane!!!

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