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Channeling VADM Stockdale: "Who Am I? And What am I Doing Here?"

Sometimes, you are going to stand out! Embrace it!

One thing is going to be very clear as you read through my posts; I’m not your usual Babble Voice.  So I wanted to take this opportunity to let you get to know me a little before I start posting.  After all, if I’m dismissed as a right wing nutjob before the post is ever even read, then neither you nor I have a chance to learn something.  And that would be a waste.

For those of you who don’t get the reference, Vice Admiral James Stockdale ran as Vice President during Ross Perot’s first campaign for the Presidency.  Initially selected as an interim candidate, he wound up participating in the Vice Presidential debate along with Al Gore and Dan Quayle.  When asked for his opening statement, he gave the quote above, jokingly referring to his relative anonymity compared to his two opponents.  The audience appreciated his sense of humor, but the press pilloried him as a confused, doddering old man.  Come to think of it, the press has done the same to Clint Eastwood in this election cycle.

If you remember VADM Stockdale today, you very likely remember Phil Hartman playing him as a total buffoon on Saturday Night Live.  You probably don’t remember that he was a POW for 1965 to 1973, and that during that time, he was tortured by his captors, including them breaking both legs, his back, and dislocating both shoulders repeatedly.  During this time, he continued to resist his captors, refusing to disclose information or make PR appearances.  He was kept in solitary confinement for most of that time, chained in leg irons every night.  For his gallantry and courage, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. After he was released in 1973, he wrote several books, and was President of the Naval War College for two years, and The Citadel for another two.  A soldier, scholar, leader, and survivor, yet all we will remember of this man is a three minute sketch on SNL and a 10 second sound bite.

Which is why I am here.

I thought about calling this blog “A Fish Out of Water,” because, like Stockdale, I’m about the last person you would expect to be writing for Babble.

First of all, I’m a guy. Parent blogging is a field dominated by mom bloggers. Dad bloggers are in the distinct minority. Second, I’m a Biblical Christian. I don’t use the term fundamentalist for two reasons. One, it’s got some strong negative connotations, and two, there are groups of fundamentalists out there that seem to want to pick and choose which parts of the Bible they’ll be fundamental about and which they will ignore. Westboro Baptist springs to mind. I don’t use the term evangelical because evangelism is a gift, and I don’t have it. I’m a good teacher, and I believe I have a strong grasp of some areas of my faith, but I am not driven to share that with every person I meet, although I do strive to let that knowledge drive my actions. Third, I am politically conservative. I don’t believe that the federal government has a duty to put a band aid on every boo-boo, and that excessive government aid is corrosive to independence.

So yeah, taking that all together, I’m pretty much out of place here.

Which is why I am here.

I thought about calling this blog “The Yang Deficit.” Babble has cornered the market on yin; we have yin coming out of our ears. We are suffused with the very essence of yin. Even some of the male bloggers here are more yin than yang. Now I am not anti-yin I like yin; yin is a good thing. The world would be a desolate place without yin. I’m not saying that yin is wrong, or somehow less worthy than yang; far from it. In the yin-yang framework, neither is evil; evil arises when the yin and yang are out of balance. Balance between the two brings constructive energy; imbalance brings destructive energy.

Which is why I am here; to bring balance to the yin.

Of course, that didn’t work out too well for the Jedi, did it? I may need to rethink that comparison…

Anyway, I finally decided to call this blog “A Complementary Angle.” For those of you who are math geeks, like me, you remember that a complementary angle is one that, with another angle, adds up to 90 degrees. For example, the complementary angle for 30 degrees is 60 degrees. The complementary angle for 15 degrees is 75 degrees, and so on. The word complementary comes from the same Latin root as the word complete. The two angles complete one another, like Jerry and Dorothy. (Yeah, I’m a movie trivia geek as well.) My purpose here is to provide another perspective on things, one that is not fully represented here at Babble. I want to make sure that both sides of the story get told, so we remember the real James Stockton, not just the media caricature of him.
My main focus will be on politics, writing from a conservative perspective, and how what is happening in Washington affects how we parent, but I will branch out into other areas as they come up.  Katie Granju let me know about the opportunity here because, in her words,

Sometimes mom/dad blogs can begin to sound a bit like an echo chamber with all of us high fiving each other and agreeing on this issue or that one so it’s a healthy and energizing thing when fresh perspectives and voices join the dialogue. Validation is great, but sometimes a little pushback can raise the level of discourse for everyone bloggers and readers alike. That’s especially important in an election year.

And that is the perspective that I am coming from, not that I’m right and you’re wrong; that’s self-evident! *grin* But that the two views complement each other to form a whole.

To use a final movie analogy, consider the two heroines from Gone With the Wind, Melanie and Scarlett. Melanie is all heart, all feelings, and almost no brain. She doesn’t think, she feels. Her love for people blinds her to Ashley’s weakness of character, and lust for Scarlett, as well as Scarlett’s heartless machinations. Scarlett, on the other hand, is all schemes and no heart. She has little or no compassion, but places her own desires above all considerations of morality. In the end, both women lose. Melanie dies without ever knowing Ashley’s true devotion, and Scarlett is left weeping on the stairs as the one person in her life that she finally comes to love walks away. It is a common conceit to say that liberals are all heart and no brain, while conservative are all brain and no heart.  While not strictly true, like all generalizations, there is a grain of truth to it. If we can give the Scarletts of the world a little of Melanie’s heart, and give the Melanies enough spine to see when they are being walked on, then both will be better for it.

My goal is to shift the balance to a more level playing field, where the heartfelt desire to DO SOMETHING! is balanced by a rational evaluation to determine what that something should be.

And now you know a bit about who I am, and what I am doing here.

So let’s have some fun!

Read more of Rich Hailey’s writing about everything at Shotsacrossthebow.com

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