I spent the last two days in the great state of Alabama, giving a talk on the financial crisis and national security at the Air War College's National Security Forum. The audience consists of Air Force colonels and community leaders.
In theory, I was there to impart wisdom, but I always find that I learn more from these experiences than my audience. Now, most of what happens in Alabama stays in Alabama, but I can say I learned the following four things:
1) The rooms at the Air Force Inn on Maxwell Air Force Base are charming -- and they come equipped with clubs and golf balls for guests to practice putting.
2) It's a really big ego rush when you walk into the lecture hall and everyone stands at attention for your entrance -- until, of course, you realize that they're not standing for you, they're standing for the base commandant.
3) I would describe my audience as somewhat right of center -- so it was surprising to me that, when I gently suggested that the War on Drugs might be the most counterproductive policy in existence, there was some robust support from the audience.
4) It's going to take a lot longer for the public's anger at the financial sector to dissipate than anyone in either Washington or New York realizes.