When Did It Get So Late?

I knew it was getting late. I was leaving work, walking to my car, when I got a text message. My nephew scored two tickets to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.I texted my son, Patrick, to see if he was home. I planned to fly home, put on my Blues sweater, grab Patrick, and fly down to the Scot. But Patrick didn't need a ride or a ticket. He was already on his way to the game with a friend. He bought his own ticket and drove his own car.

Time flies.


May 24, 1993, was a cold, gray day in New London, Connecticut. The winter had been mild but damp, as had the previous summer.

My wife had an appointment with the OB/GYN at 9 am. I don't remember if it was a routine exam or if she'd asked to see him. I assume the latter, because I stayed home to go with her. I was on shore duty, so getting a few hours off wasn't the hassle it had been when I was attached to a submarine.

"It's time," the doctor said.

That day was long. Someone was watching our other three--Amie, Jack, and Benjamin. Probably Patty Fellows or the Emblidges. I wasn't concerned about that.

The other kids had been born in shiny new hospitals, but Lawrence and Memorial Hospital was old, like the older parts of St. Mary's where my mom used to work. Compared to those modern hospitals, this one had more wood and marble, less metal and carpet. The walls of the delivery room were hospital green, the floors institutional marble. The ceilings were high--probably twelve feet. Heavy oak framed the lone window.

The television looked out of place in this ancient room. It was a hulking Zenith from about 1979, mounted high in a corner of the room where everyone could see. Everyone except the patient, my wife. Well, she could were she in a condition to twist her body to the right and hang off the side. But not on this day.

As my wife sucked on ice chips, I looked through the window at the nondescript afternoon. Though summer was right around the corner and the school year was almost over, everything about the day looked like a winter scene in a Dickens novel. I looked down, expecting to see men in stovepipe hats and bridge coats pushing carts of coal up the cobblestone street, dodging horse dung on their way. Instead, I saw Toyota Camrys and Dodge Omnis cruising down smooth asphalt.

Another difference between this birth and the others: all the doctors were men. The OB/GYN, the anesthesiologist, the nurse assistants. Maybe one woman came into the room the whole day, but that was it. And they didn't stay long.

Thinking back on that day, time flew. Probably not for the woman in labor. But I remember glancing at my watch and finding it was already 6:00. Julie was stuck at seven centimeters. The anesthesiologist, who looked like Dick Butkus, was administering an epidural to ease the pain in hopes of accelerating dilation and delivery. And I hadn't eaten since breakfast.

Since my wife was semi-conscious between medication, epidural, pain, and endorphins, the doctors and I decided hockey would be the best diversion to relieve some of the tension in the room. The New York Islanders vs. Montreal Canadiens in game 5 of the Wales Conference finals. I was pulling for the Canadiens, but I kept that on the down low.

After the epidural, Julie fell asleep. A nurse sat by the bed monitoring the machine that goes BEEP. The doctors and I huddled in the corner under the TV so we could hear with the volume set low. Late in the second period with the Habs pulling away, Julie woke up and the nurse beckoned us back to the bedside. The baby was on his way.

Patrick Conor Hennessy was born during the second intermission. He was big, remarkably healthy, and seemed to be happy. His mom was out like a light shortly after Patrick was born. So after he was cleaned up, APGARed, and dressed, the nurse handed him to me to hold. To bond.

I knew he'd want to watch the end of the hockey game. So I carried him over to the TV. His eyes were closed--mostly--but I knew he was listening as the Canadiens scored two goals in six seconds to ice the game and the series.

Later, as the teams shook hands after the game, Julie woke up and asked to hold the baby. I transferred the bundle. And missed him for the first time.


How, Lord, could Patrick be a man already? Is it possible that he's driving himself to hockey games? He's my baby.Patrick-Birthday

Then again, his brother Jack is a Petty Officer Second Class in the Navy,closing in on the age I was when Jack was born.

And Ben just got a new job. I'm so proud that he's getting his bearings.

But the youngest. Damn.

Getting older doesn't scare me. Seeing my hockey buddy on the verge of striking off on his own does.Our children depend on us for so much for so long that we miss the moment when we become dependent on them.

And the regret. I can't tell you how many times I left them. "If I make more money," I thought, "I can afford to take them all over and buy them all kinds of things."  "If I don't help save the country," I rationalized, "they won't have an opportunity."

So fast. Those evenings I chose to work instead of reading to them. The nights I went out with friends instead of watching the game with them. They never complained, of course.

They just got in their cars and drove themselves.

It's not fair, I know, to whine like this. We have to let them go. Let them go so they can keep making us proud as they do better than us. Jack made Second fast than I did. And we're so happy when we do the math and realize they've outdone us in every way. We cheer when they finally beat us at one-on-one hoops.

But when we realize that the last one is a man or woman ready to leave our home and start their own, it's not mortality we feel cloying at our souls--its loneliness. A loneliness no friend or spouse can fill. They're not our kids. When they come into the world, we don't know how we'll find the room for another one. When they go, we don't know what to do with the space.

Happy Birthday, Tiger. I love you. And thank you for being my friend. You're a fine man.

http://youtu.be/2oTYlyrS-cU

Don't Miss Your Chance to Celebrate Jim Hoft's Recovery on February 22 **Free Tickets Are Limited**

St. Louis's number one political blogger is better, and he's having a party to celebrate. Jim Hoft Live

Jim went through a frightening, life-threatening, and debilitating illness last year. But he's back and blogging on TheGatewayPundit.com.

JIm Hoft and Me

To celebrate his recovery, Jim's throwing a party.

Jim Hoft LIVE! Free Tickets!

Holiday Inn St Louis Sw - Route 66 10709 Watson Rd St Louis, MO 63127

Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM (CST)

Go get your ticket now, before it's too late. Mark your calendar. Tell your friends. Tweet about it, post it on Facebook, and be there!

 More Details

Help celebrate Jim's miraculous recovery and recognize those who helped him along his journey, including doctors, family, friends and fans of Gateway Pundit.

The event will include:

  • Cash bar
  • Appetizers
  • Presentations by family and friends
  • Live music

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

 FAQs

Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?

  • Must be 21 or older to attend

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

  • Printed tickets must be presented at the door

What is the dress code for the event?

  • Casual attire

Obama's Loathsome War on WWII Vets Deserves Our Scorn and Fury

I'm sure you've all see the reports. WWII Veterans asked the White House for permission to visit the World War II Memorial in case of a shutdown. The veterans are part of the Honor Flights program that helps aging veterans visit the WWII Memorial.

Even though there's no cost involved, the White House chose to dishonor the veterans' request. It send forth "goons," in Senator Paul's works, to erect barricades around the memorial. The White House posted armed guards to keep the veterans at bay.

A Republican member of the House of Representatives went out and removed a barricade. The veterans flooded in. Some in wheelchairs.

Only a contemptible, loathsome snake of a man would use WWII veterans--in their late 80s and 90s--as political pawns in his game of dictator.

This is a man who brags of being a "Constitutional Scholar," then tells the American people that Congress is not allowed to choose what it funds. He knows better; he's lying.

This is a man who brags of being a "Constitutional Scholar," but insists that laws upheld by the Supreme Court can never be altered or abolished. He knows better; he's lying.

Loathsome. Despicable.

Democrats should realize they can reject Obama's reptilian ways without leaving their party. They can, for once, put human decency before party loyalty.

And Republicans should take note. When a leader of our party exposes himself as a poisonous snake, run away.

UPDATE: WWII Veterans from Toledo, OH, were told they'd be arrested if they attempted to approach the WWII Memorial.

The White House is playing with fire, now. And its lost the PR battle.

Tomorrow, Andrea Plunkett of Kansas City will escort 90 Missouri WWII Veterans on an Honor Flight to the Memorial. Stay tuned . . .

This Is What It’s Like To Take Ownership Of Your Own Life

Imagine that you’re in a large field. Dust swirls around your ankles. Only an occasional weed interrupts the rocks and sands. Every step threatens to sprain your ankle. Rocky hills surround you on three sides. And these hills have eyes.

You slowly look around the desert and white shards of light catch your eye. Reflections of the sun off lenses of cameras mounted on poles about every every 30 degrees around the perimeter of the field.

You’re being watched.

rocky-field

They gave you vague instructions. Not guidance or tips for travel, but warnings. “Don’t leave the safe zone.”  “Stay in the perimeter.”  They told you what not to do, but you have no idea what’s expected of you.

You feel smothered.

Before you is a creek. On the other side of the creek, the terrain is completely different. Green prairie grasses and wildflowers cover the ground. Lush trees dot the landscape. Birds float above the field, and squirrel chatter in the trees.

When you look across the creek into the field, you feel . . . freedom.

You start to walk toward the creek, but after only a dozen paces, a flash hits your eye. It’s the cameras. They’re watching you.

You stop for a moment and look around. No one. Nothing but rocks, dirt, and electric eyeballs.

You start again. You can hear your heartbeat. And your breathing. You feel sweat beads forming on your forehead and across the bridge of your nose.

You walk toward the water. Those vague warnings—those prohibitions—run over and over in your mind. Every step you take feels awkward and uncertain, as if the dusty, rocky ground my give way and leave you face to face with the entity that monitors those electric eyes.

But you keep going.

Your pace picks up a bit, because nothing’s happened. Yet.

The voice in your head subsides as get closer to the creek.

Thirty yards.

Twenty.

Fifteen.

The water gurgles over rocks. You can see the water and the creek bed now. You can smell the fresh air from the field.

loosestrife2

You’re jogging. You reach the edge of the creek and your heart sinks. The water is wider than you thought, and deeper. And faster. Very fast.

Crossing the creek will be risky. You’re not a bad swimmer, but it’s been awhile since you’ve forded a creek like this.

The warnings come back to mind. “It’s deeper than it looks.”  “You’ll be washed away.”  “The under tow will get you.”  “Don’t swim after a meal.”

You turn around and look at the hills. The cameras seem closer to you now—as if the poles uprooted themselves and followed you while you focused on the creek.

But the birds sound so sweet. The water looks so refreshing and cool. The field so inviting.

What do you do?

You know you belong in the field, free from the spying eyes on the hill. They said the cameras protect you, but now they feel menacing.

You kneel to touch the water. It feels like ice.

You turn around and look at the cameras—closer still, and bigger than before. Or so they seem.

Your heart bangs away. You’re panting. Freedom is thirty yards away—if you make it.

You stand and take a deep breath. At once you smell wildflowers and dust.

“This is why I came,” you say, and step into the ice-cold water.

You hear a click behind, but you don’t look back. You step into the stream with high, careful steps and begin your escape from the protective custody of the barren, watchful field.

In a moment, you’ll be free.

If you make it, you'll own your own life.

Why Being Wrong Can Be The Best Policy

I think I coined a phrase a couple of years ago: affinity bubbles. idiocydemotivator

(Image clipped from http://www.despair.com/idiocy.html. I love their stuff.)

Affinity bubbles are the cocoons we build to protect us from challenges to our beliefs. They’re confirmation bias on steroids. And search engines and social networks help us build them.

Sure, the sounds of our echo chambers give us the of a mother’s heartbeat to an infant. But what if you’re all wrong?

Realizing You’ve Been Wrong All Along Is Better Than Being Wrong And Denying It

Don Peppers is one of the smartest men alive because he actively challenges his own beliefs.

He recently reviewed a book that discusses the importance of accepting that you might be wrong. The book is Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz.

While there’s much to love about the book, I want to stress one point: you might be wrong. In fact, to some degree, you are wrong about some aspect of everything you believe.

That doesn’t mean we should simply dismiss all of our beliefs. It means we should challenge all of our beliefs. It also means that we can become better advocates for our causes if we spend more time reading and thinking outside of those causes. (I’ve blogged about this before. And here.)

The need to be right can lead us down dangerous alleys. Todd Akin needed to be right about fighting his Senate race to the bitter end. Here's a summary of what goes wrong when he insist on holding  beliefs that conflict with reality:

In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain. Executive functions that help us with advanced thought processes like strategy, trust building, and compassion shut down. And the amygdala, our instinctive brain, takes over. The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself — in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong — and as a result is unable to regulate its emotions or handle the gaps between expectations and reality. So we default to one of four responses: fight (keep arguing the point), flight (revert to, and hide behind, group consensus), freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up) or appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him).

Each of these ends up in a bad outcome, especially when we finally realize we were wrong all along.

Success depends on finding out we're wrong sooner, before we've staked our claim and fortune and reputation on being right.

Here’s How To Break Out Of Affinity And Strengthen Valid Beliefs

To break out of your affinity bubbles, do this exercise. (It won’t take long.)

1. Make a list of your 5 most important core beliefs that are absolutely, positively certain of.

2. For each of 10 unshakeable beliefs, spend 3 minutes contemplating this question: “What if this isn’t true?”  Think broadly about this. How would the world be different if that one core belief were wrong? What would you have to change about yourself?

3.  Find one intelligent blog, article, research paper, or book that challenges your belief and read it with an open mind.

4. If you find your belief is still valid, circle it in red.  If, however, you are less certain of your belief, keep reading about it.

Make this an annual exercise. It will keep your mind broadening.  And you’ll probably find yourself far more open to ideas beyond your affinity bubbles. The more frightening this exercise seems, the more you need to do it.

If you need some help getting started, write down three specific things you were wrong about. Most of us can start with the 2012 election.

Please write about your experience in the comments.

How We Fool Ourselves With Numbers

Often, the best outcome seems less satisfying than alternatives.

gas-guzzler

Daniel Kahneman  is a psychologist who won a Nobel in economics for Prospect Theory, more commonly called Behavioral Economics. In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman describes a cognitive bias that leads people to make the wrong choice on automobiles. But the bias might actually keep gasoline consumption high by fooling people with number.

Say you’re concerned with the amount of gasoline you use. You have a Ford Focus that gets 30 MPG, and a Hummer that gets 12 MPG. You need a huge SUV, but you want to minimize your environmental footprint.

Do you

a) trade in your 30 MPG Focus for a Prius that gets 40 MPG, or

b) trade in your 12 MPG Hummer for an H3 that gets 14 MPG?

(Circle you choice)

Chances are, it feels better to jump up to the 40 MPG Prius. In fact, it looks like a no-brainer. Both the government and environmentalists push us toward 40 MPG choice. But let’s do the math.

First, we have to convert miles per gallon to gallons per mile. The formula is simple: 1/MPG. Then, assume we drive each vehicle 10,000 miles a year. Here’s how the numbers work out:

 

Hummer: 1/12 = 0.0833 GPM * 10,000 = 833.33 Gallons per Year
H3: 1/14 = 0.0714 GPM * 10,000 = 714.28 Gallons per Year
Savings: 119.05 Gallons per Year

Focus: 1/30 = 0.0333 GPM * 10,000 = 333.33 Gallons per Year
Prius: 1/14 = 0.0.25 GPM * 10,000 = 250.00 Gallons per Year
Savings: 83.33 Gallons per Year

If your goal is to reduce gasoline consumption as much as possible, trade in the Hummer for the H3. But it still won’t feel right. Going from a Hummer to a Prius, of course, would be the biggest possible savings of 583 gallons per year, or $1954 at $3.35 per gallon. But people resist drastic changes. You’re more likely to entice a Hummer driver to make the switch to brand new H3.

It might sound counterintuitive, but just because gas prices are high doesn't mean it's the right time to trade in that SUV for a high-mpg vehicle, Wiesenfelder says. When fuel costs are high, the demand and price for efficient vehicles goes up. Conversely, demand for gas-guzzling SUVs goes down, and their trade-in values fall.

"It's a romantic notion to drop your SUV for a Prius, but you've got to do the math," says Wiesenfelder. [source]

Advocates count on people to be lazy and take the obvious choice.  As we’ve seen here, though, the obvious choice isn’t always the best choice. Remember this whenever you hear the government talk about obvious, no-brainer choices. Chances are, it’s a lie.

This Is Why I Feel Sorry For Millennials

Doctor Viktor Frankl was a neurologist and psychologist psychiatrist in Vienna, Austria. He founded the third branch of Viennese psychological therapies, logotherapy. But his life changed drastically when Austria capitulated to the National Socialists. Viktor-Frankl

The Nazis interned Frankl. He spent time in four concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau. For three years, his captors made him dig ditches for railroads and water pipes, and fed him a slice of bread an ounce or so of soup a day. The Nazis destroyed the only copy of a manuscript he’d worked on for years. The Nazis killed his mother, his father, his brother, and his beloved wife Tilly. They beat him repeatedly. They forced him to sleep on a bed of boards six feet by eight feet with nine other prisoners and only two blankets.

To any reasonable person, Frankl lost everything but his life. He lived at the whim of evil people bent on exhausting his usefulness before feeding him to an oven. Frankl, though, didn’t see it that way.

He refused to concede that others controlled him. Sure, they limited his physical movement, they deprived him of his property, they killed his family, they dictated his activity. But he retained the most important aspects of humanness.

Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.

Viktor E. Frankl. Man's Search for Meaning (Kindle Locations 28-29). Kindle Edition.

Viktor Frankl survived the death camps by miracles and attitude. He went on to become one of the most acclaimed psychiatrists and humanitarians of the 20th century. His story and his teachings inspired millions of people around the world to turn their lives around.

What did Viktor Frankl have that America’s young people today lack?

It wasn’t intelligence or opportunity or caring parents or great schools. It wasn’t physical strength or stamina or great networks of powerful people.

What Frankl understood that young Americans don’t is something far more important than any of those things.

Frankl had a powerful internal locus of control. He believed that, no matter what cards life dealt him, he was responsible for his attitude and actions. Not someone else, him.

A 2004 study shows that Americans have lost their internal locus of control, and that’s sad. It’s depressing. And it’s part of the reason young people vote for authoritarian government.

The study by Jean Twinge, Liqing Zhang, and Charles Im found that American college students of 2002 had more external locus of control than 80% of their 1960 counterparts. The authors describe locus of control this way:

People who believe they are in control of their destinies have an internal locus of control (“internals”). Those who believe that luck and powerful others determine their fate have an external locus of control (“externals”) (Twinge, et al, 2004).

Believing that luck and powerful others determine your life has a terrible effect. According to the study:

The results are consistent with an alienation model positing increases in cynicism, individualism, and the self-serving bias. The implications are almost uniformly negative, as externality is correlated with poor school achievement, helplessness, ineffective stress management, decreased self-control, and depression [emphasis added].

Externality ultimately leads to a feeling or belief that one’s life has no meaning. It’s nihilism run amok. It leads to suicide of the mind, soul, and body.

When people ask “how could the German people give into Hitler’s maniacal schemes?” they get answers about the Treaty of Versailles, hyperinflation, and German culture. Those aren’t the right answers. The answer is, at least in part, Germans in the 1930s had a powerful external locus of control. They’d been told and believed that their plight was not a result of their doing but the work of “powerful others.”

Logically, the Germans looked around to find who these “others” were. And they found the Jews. They also found a “powerful other” named Adolf Hitler who promised to punish their tormentors and unite the scattered tribes of Germany into a master race that would rule the world forever.

What the world needs—what young people, in particular, need—is a dose of Frankl’s logotherapy. The whole of America needs that. I need it. I read Frankl’s short masterpiece, Man's Search for Meaning three times in the past week. It’s a very quick read—you can read it in a day.

Pick up a copy . Read it. Buy three copies, and give two away.

If America is to survive, it will need a cultural attitude shift. That begins with you. And the attitude must be forward, not backward, looking. It must involve action—positive action toward that which gives you meaning.

Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

Viktor E. Frankl. Man's Search for Meaning (Kindle Locations 854-855). Kindle Edition.

How do we shift this locus of control from the outside to the inside? How do we help young people accept that they, not “powerful others," decide who they will become?

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the wrong answer. If you feel compelled to simply blame teachers and schools, government and RINOs, Democrats and television, then you’re lost in an external locus of control.

Frankl exhorted Americans to balance the Statue of Liberty on the east coast with a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast. We who sit around blaming others might be correct in assigning blame, but we’re only reinforcing the deleterious attitude that we are powerless to change our lives and, thereby, our world. It’s irresponsible to point to others and expect them to fix it for us.

That’s a sobering revelation for some, but it should also be an inspiring thought. YOU HAVE THE POWER. It’s all within us.

Here’s the link to the 2004 study by Twinge, et al.

This Is How To Spend Election Day

Conservatives take great pride in working, and for good reason. Work gives shape to life. Work is the poles of a tent, the bones of a body, the beams in the ceiling.

Romney-Ryan

But work isn’t why we live. We live to pursue happiness.

For some, the pursuit of happiness involves acquiring property. Land, clothes, cars, plastic surgery. All examples of the pursuit of happiness.

Voting is another pursuit. People vote for minor candidates representing strange parties who have no chance of winning. It makes some voters happy.

People vote for totalitarians who will jeopardize their lives and liberty, and restrict their future pursuit of happiness. This makes the voter happy in the short run but miserable in the long run

I’m spending my election day 2012 pursuing my political happiness. Liberty. It’s a long-run strategy.

It may not pay off. There’s no guarantee of realizing happiness in this life. That makes the pursuit interesting.

For Election Day 2012, I’m voting early, putting out signs (“Vote for America: Retire Obama”)  Then I’m having breakfast with my brain trust. Then, it’s last minute GOTV of people who vote right but not often. Then a watch party.

To be honest, I have not  always been a fan of watch parties. I’d rather sit at home with complete control of my remote, my laptop on my lap, my iPhone and iPad fired up. I’d rather tweet and blog and scream at the TV. But I made a long-term commitment to the Tea Party movement in 2009, and that comes first. And at home I can’t enjoy the special gift of being among peers in the battle of our future.

If you have vacation on the books, use it today. Play hooky.  Watch the polls and the election returns.

America’s most precious natural resources is its free people. Its greatest obstacle is government. On election days, the former can constrain the latter. The other 1,455 days in the cycle, government constrains you.

Vote wisely.

Happy Birthday, Jack Hennessy

  I don’t get into town to visit my dad often enough. That’s my loss.

JackHennessySTLPDJack Hennessy, my dad, epitomizes what we call The Greatest Generation.

He helped raise his younger brothers and sister after their mother passed away. Jack was ten. His youngest sibling, my uncle Jim, was a newborn.

Jack Hennessy answered the call of World War II. He was a Machinist’s Mate in the Navy. He answered, again, when North Korea crossed the 34th Parallel.

After service in two wars, Jack continued his life of service and protection on the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department.  Later, he retired from Sunnen Products Company in Maplewood.

My dad is one of the wittiest men I’ve ever known. Of course, I didn’t always appreciate that wit. Like many  young men, I often wondered what all the other people found so funny. When my college buddies started asking if my dad could come out to the bars with us, I began to worry about my friends’ mental health.

On leave from my own stint in the Navy, though, I began to see what I’d been missing. God gave me the great privilege of living the first 21 years of my life in the home of a great man, one who devoted his life to his kids and their happiness. He’d served community and country proudly, selflessly, and honorably. He’s a devoted grandfather and husband surrounded by loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren, still in St. Louis City where he’s lived his whole life.

Today, Jack Hennessy does what he can to service the country and community he loves. He has his yard signs and bumper stickers, and he’s itching to vote “that bum” out of office.

I wish him a very happy birthday, and hope you will to. He doesn’t ask for much, but I know something he would love: a big win for Romney, Akin, and, especially, his friend Ed Martin Jr. And your No vote on Proposition A wouldn’t hurt, either.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

 

In Search of Loyalty

  **Long**

To what and whom do we owe loyalty, and how should we express it?

Generational historians William Strauss and Neil Howe describe a generation of "nomads" in their prophetic book The Fourth Turning.

"The 13th Generation (Nomad, born 1961-1981) survived a hurried childhood of divorce, latchkeys, open classrooms, devil-child movies, and a shift from G to R ratings. They came of age curtailing the earlier rise in youth crime and fall in test scores—yet heard themselves denounced as so wild and stupid as to put The Nation at Risk. As young adults, maneuvering through a sexual battlescape of AIDS and blighted courtship rituals, they date and marry cautiously."

Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 2810-2812). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

While Strauss and Howe avoid the word "disloyal," their description hints at a generation of individuals loyal almost exclusively to themselves.

"In jobs, they embrace risk and prefer free agency over loyal corporatism. From grunge to hip-hop, their splintery culture reveals a hardened edge. Politically, they lean toward pragmatism and nonaffiliation and would rather volunteer than vote. Widely criticized as Xers or slackers, they inhabit a Reality Bites economy of declining young-adult living standards [emphasis added]."

I am among the oldest of the current generation of "nomads" in America: Generation X. I bear many tell-tale signs of the generation sandwiched between the idealism of our Boomer brothers and sisters and the "get along" camaraderie of our Millennial children. I have seen loyalty from both sides, now, and the idea still confused me.

I think I recognize disloyalty when I see it, but I lack a ready touchstone for its opposite. Worse, I'm not sure that disloyalty is always wrong or loyalty always right. I stammer over cases where loyalties lie in opposition: a friend to principle; an allegiance to an organization. Politics compounds my confusion.

I believe that government which governs least governs best, that local government is a better guardian of our rights than distant government, and that government has no legitimate powers but for those expressly and narrowly delegated by the people.

Nothing new there. Problem is, others who would stand and lend full-throated, passionate support for the principles expressed in the last paragraph will disagree with me completely on any number of specific cases. When they do, they're not being disengenuous, I don't believe; they're being loyal to the competing principle of pragmatism.

A development tax credit is one example. Credits involve providing private business with taxpayer funding to encourage economic development. Pragmatically, tax credits sound great. In practice, they destroy economies and communities while failing to return the promised benefit for the taxpayers' dollars. Tax credits boil the blood of small government people like me. Loyalty to my principles means fierce opposition to tax credits, always and everywhere (more or less).

Supporting credits are many politicians to whom I feel a very strong personal loyalty. They have defended me, my friends, and our cause with little hope of a political ROI for themselves. In some cases, their support for me risked years of bridge-building to particular communities of voters. In other words, they've helped me when I could do nothing for them.

So when personal loyalties conflict with principles, which should win? Before you answer, consider this.

To the Generation X nomads, loyalty may be of little value. We're fierce individualists. But somewhere in our species and in our culture lies an appreciation for loyalty, not to principles, but to people. In fact, I think the concept of loyalty applies first to people, then to ideas. Loyalty buttresses trust, and without trust, no two people can work effectively for a higher purpose.

Loyalty to people, then, must be a noble principle itself. So how do we resolve the conflict between loyalty to people and loyalty to principle?

I think people can reach different answers. Xers might say that principles trump people because, without firm loyalty to principles, no one will ever know where we stand. Besides, people can forgive, but principles can't. And true friends would never let you abandon your principles for them.

Millennials, and their GI Generation ancestors, would probably answer the opposite. When the chips are down, you need human allies, because principles can't really protect you. Plus, loyalty to people lets you continue to champion your principles, but once you've cast aside friends over principle, there's no going back.

So how do we choose between two candidates, one whose political principles mirror our own but has shown no personal loyalty, and another who sometimes strays from our strict political principles but has been a fierce and public defender?

I have played this moral dilemma both ways at different times, to be honest. Sometimes, I've risked friendships to advance a higher principle. Other times, I've let the principle of personal loyalty triumph. Neither choice felt completely right or completely wrong. I felt dissatisfied with both. I still do.

The best answer I can find, for now, provides no more satisfaction. I will try to be loyal to people and true to principle by broadening the field of principles involved. And I'll try to be understanding of those who disagree. I'll try to be honest with those who undoubtedly feel betrayed when people choose between competing loyalties.

The specific cases that inspired this post involve various primaries in Missouri. In several of the races, the candidates who have been great champions of causes important to me and to the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition are running against candidates whose approach to government more closely resembles our own.

Friends have taken strong positions on some of these races. Some demand fidelity to the most philosophically perfect candidate. Others demand loyalty to those who've stood by us. All the candidates are capable of winning the general election, so electability is no answer. I can't just say, "I'll vote Smitherton, since Applebaum doesn't have a chance in November." And none of the candidates is so far out of sync or so unscrupulous as to be disqualified.

I have weighed the possibility that past support for me and my friends resulted from a cold political calculation. I believe political calculation was involved sometimes, but in other cases, only a handful knew.

Still, I struggle between loyalty to ideological purity and loyalty to people who've proven loyal to me.

Why am I telling you this? Because I'd like to hear your thoughts about loyalty, people, and principles. Specifically, do you consider loyalty to people a principle?

 

RIP, Andrew Breitbart **UPDATE**

Business Insider has picked up a Big Journalism story that Andrew Breitbart died last night.  (Big Journalism is one of Breitbart’s web sites.) If this is true, then we’ve lost a gallant warrior in the battle to preserve and advance freedom and liberty.

Of course, the lefties will flood the internet with hate and bile.  So maybe the obit is a plot to draw the lefties out and reveal them for who and what they really are. I hope it’s that.

**UPDATE: 8:58 am Central** Ben Howe tweets that he has independent confirmation.  As has Daily Caller, via LA Coroner’s office

Thoughts

Last time I was in Andrew’s company was last June?  He was in St. Louis for Smart Girls Politics convention with his son. Had drinks at Mike Shannon’s after the event.  Andrew was excited (as he always is) that I might be spending lots of time in LA county. (Or maybe he was just being polite.  Either way, his enthusiasm made me feel good.)

I keep thinking “irreplaceable.”  That’s because Andrew’s flaws were as vital as his strengths.  The fact that he never took himself seriously enough, that he picked fights that didn’t need to be picked, and that he continued fight them after they were already decided.

Were those flaws? Or did Andrew just have tougher guts and stronger instincts than the rest of us?

He designed (in the broader sense of the word) Huffington Post. With that, Breitbart.com, and the Bigs, he transformed the internet and, thereby, politics.  He withstood campaigns of lies orchestrated in the Obama White House and executed by CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, New York Times, Washington Post, and Media Matters.

Andrew was something of the figure I’d hoped to become growing up: the next William F. Buckley.  What I mean by that is he defined movement conservatism for  generation.

But his reign was aborted.  So soon. So, so too soon.

I pray for his soul, for his family, and for our country.  We’ve lost a general in the war for liberty.  Each of us, now must carry a heavier load.

Prayer

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine on him. May he rest in peace. And may God have mercy on us all.