Well, the wife & I are outta here for a few days. Off to relax, camp, and “fly the rim.” This is like our seventh consecutuve year, so you gotta know how much we enjoy it.
Back sometime Monday.
Well, the wife & I are outta here for a few days. Off to relax, camp, and “fly the rim.” This is like our seventh consecutuve year, so you gotta know how much we enjoy it.
Back sometime Monday.
George W. Bush is an asshole, isn’t he?
That’s lefty Tom Junod, who gets half his brain transplanted and writes about it in Esquire Magazine.
Here’s some telling excerpts:
What if he’s right?
As easy as it is to say that we can’t abide the president because of the gulf between what he espouses and what he actually does, what haunts me is the possibility that we can’t abide him because of us–because of the gulf between his will and our willingness. What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion.
The people who dislike George W. Bush have convinced themselves that opposition to his presidency is the most compelling moral issue of the day. Well, it’s not. The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he’s not saying it’s gay marriage. The reason he will be difficult to unseat in November–no matter what his approval ratings are in the summer–is that his opponents operate out of the moral certainty that he is the bad guy and needs to be replaced, while he operates out of the moral certainty that terrorists are the bad guys and need to be defeated. The first will always sound merely convenient when compared with the second. Worse, the gulf between the two kinds of certainty lends credence to the conservative notion that liberals have settled for the conviction that Bush is distasteful as a substitute for conviction–because it’s easier than conviction.
“Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’ ”
Today, of course, those words, along with Lincoln’s appeal to the better angels of our nature, are chiseled into the wall of his memorial, on the Mall in Washington. And yet if George Bush were to speak anything like them today, we would accuse him of pandering to his evangelical base. We would accuse him of invoking divine authority for a war of his choosing, and Maureen Dowd would find a way to read his text in light of the cancellation of some Buffy spin-off. Believe me: I am not comparing George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln. The latter was his own lawyer as well as his own writer, and he was alive to the possibilities of tragedy and comedy—he was human —in a way that our president doesn’t seem to be. Neither am I looking to justify Bush’s forays into shady constitutional ground by invoking Lincoln’s precedents with the same; I’m not a lawyer. I am, however, asking if the crisis currently facing the country—the crisis, that is, that announced itself on the morning of September 11, 2001, in New York and Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia—is as compelling a justification for the havoc and sacrifice of war as the crisis that became irrevocable on April 12, 1861, in South Carolina, or, for that matter, the crisis that emerged from the blue Hawaiian sky on December 7, 1941. I, for one, believe it is and feel somewhat ashamed having to say so: having to aver that 9/11/01 was a horror sufficient to supply Bush with a genuine moral cause rather than, as some would have it, a mere excuse for his adventurism.
We were attacked three years ago, without warning or predicate event. The attack was not a gesture of heroic resistance nor the offshoot of some bright utopian resolve, but the very flower of a movement that delights in the potential for martyrdom expressed in the squalls of the newly born. It is a movement that is about death—that honors death, that loves death, that fetishizes death, that worships death, that seeks to accomplish death wherever it can, on a scale both intimate and global—and if it does not warrant the expenditure of what the self-important have taken to calling “blood and treasure,” then what does? Slavery? Fascism? Genocide? Let’s not flatter ourselves: If we do not find it within ourselves to identify the terrorism inspired by radical Islam as an unequivocal evil—and to pronounce ourselves morally superior to it—then we have lost the ability to identify any evil at all, and our democracy is not only diminished, it dissolves into the meaninglessness of privilege.
As it turned out, though, his appeal succeeded all too well. We’ve found the courage to go shopping. We’ve welcomed the restoration of the rule of celebrity. For all our avowals that nothing would ever be the same, the only thing that really changed is our taste in entertainment, which has forsaken the frivolity of the sitcom for the grit on display in The Apprentice . The immediacy of the threat was replaced by the inexplicability of the threat level. A universal war—the war on terror—was succeeded by a narrow one, an elective one, a personal one, in Iraq. Eventually, the president made it easy to believe that the threat from within was as great as the threat from without. That those at home who declared American moral primacy were as dangerous as those abroad who declared our moral degeneracy. That our national security was not worth the risk to our soul. That Abu Ghraib disproved the rightness of our cause and so represented the symbolic end of the war that began on 9/11. And that the very worst thing that could happen to this country would be four more years of George W. Bush. In a nation that loves fairy tales, the president seemed so damned eager to cry wolf that we decided he was just trying to keep us scared and that maybe he was just as big a villain as the wolf he insisted on telling us about. That’s the whole point of the story, isn’t it? The boy cries wolf for his own ends, and after a while people stop believing in the reality of the threat.
I know how this story ends, because I’ve told it many times myself. I’ve told it so many times, in fact, that I’m always surprised when the wolf turns out to be real, and shows up hungry at the door, long after the boy is gone.
(Link to this article, and excerpts, stolen from Greg Swann.)
For those of the left out there who pretty much get their news from the major networks, the morning paper, and one or more of the popular news weeklies, this is all going to be complete news to you (which, alas, is not news).
Here’s a pretty comprehensive report on 59 “deceits” (I’d call most outright intentional lies, but why split hairs over that?) in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 that even the left-winger Charles Hitchens hated, as I linked to here.
There’s also a much shorter summary of those 59 lies, here.
I hope the readers aren’t suggesting that unless God exists, anything goes. Why would that be? Why can’t morality be concerned with human well-being, fairness, or respect for persons? Why must there be a supernatural dimension to it?
That’s Keith Burgess-Jackson (again), with a post on the ties between religion and morality. Interesting.
At one level, there’s a parallel in that excerpt to arguments I hear for the necessity of government. God and government, or we’re to hell in a handbasket. Curious though, isn’t it? In broadcasting such a warning, isn’t one really saying that their motivation for believing in God and government is as a hedge against immorality and predation? If so, then are their alternatives to both that might work as well, or better?
The central point here is that God is not the source of morality and the State is not the source of security. The source of both is to be found in the nature of the human animal. He’s just created God and the State in order to cope the two most profound issues of his life. Someday, the human animal will grow to learn that he needs neither fantasy in order to ensure his happiness and well-being.
Its all he has. If America were to really judge John Kerry’s record, the real record, the one that makes a difference, his Senate record, they’d most likely reject him outright. But now, even his Vietnam record appears to be something other than he claims.
Bruce McQuain, in a thorough analysis of this.
Don’t fall for liberal propaganda. A rational person evaluates actions in terms of both costs and benefits. A rational person understands that there are costs to inaction as well as to action, and that one is as responsible for what one allows as for what one does. Liberals make it seem as though the war in Iraq has only costs and that not waging war there would have been costless. Both propositions are patently false. That doesn’t matter to liberals. They have an agenda. They are ruthless true believers.
Keith Burgess-Jackson, talking about the insincerity he perceives in the left’s wringing of hands over the Iraq war. Don’t lefties know that only a complete idiot would not have seen through such a facade from the first instant, or, is that the whole point of it?
Of course that is 4 months more than you or I have spent in a combat zone…………………and certainly 4 more months than GW.
From an email. Well, no, no bullets were flying, but let me provide a few highlights of my service as a US Navy officer in the same surface warfare officer (SWO) corps as John Kerry:
I patrolled the Persian Gulf in warships both before (USS REEVES (CG-24)) and after (FNS COLBERT (C611)) the USS STARK (FFG-31) was hit with two Exocet missiles fired from an Iraqi F-1 Mirage fighter (both supplied by the French). 37 killed, 21 wounded.
While aboard USS REEVES (CG-24), I also patrolled 12 nautical miles from the USSR military seaport and airbase of Vladivostok for about 2 months. We were alone, asserting our claim that international waters extend to within 12 nautical miles of any territory regardless of claims of territorial waters that extend past that. We were shadowed the whole time by Soviet warships and aircraft with guns pointed our direction.
I was the US SEVENTH FLEET officer of the watch the night the USS VINCENNES (CG-49) shot down the Iranian Airbus (thinking, and reporting to us that they had taken out one of the F-14s the US had supplied the Shaw years earlier). Suddenly, I get a call to the “spook booth” and the intel officer on watch there tells me that the Iranians aren’t looking for an F-14, but for an Airbus. We were the very first to know. I called to inform the Admiral, and hours later, it broke in the media.
I was aboard ship in the Persian Gulf after Iraq invaded Kuwait, during the buildup to the first Gulf War.
All in all, 10 years of service; 2 as a midshipman and 8 as an officer. In all my service, I was never stationed on US soil except for brief training periods.
So, what does that mean? Well, I wasn’t in Vietnam, so I have no firsthand knowledge of Kerry’s service. But I’ve been around servicemen, both enlisted and officers. I know the kind of officer who commands the respect of both his peers and his men. I was one of those and my FITREPS, all heads and shoulders above Kerry’s, prove it. I also know the kind of officer that has the respect of either some officers or some enlisted, but not both. Then there are officers who command the respect of virtually no one.
Kerry has seemingly asked us to focus on his 4 months in Vietnam more than 30 years ago, and not on his 20-year career as a US Senator. So be it. Of course, we’re not going to simply examine what he has to show us. We’re going to examine what others have to show us as well. A good place to start is with those he served. Switftvests.com is a good place to start. You can also see their recently released TV ad. It seems that numbered amongst the very few who knew Kerry in Vietnam and now honor and endorse him are the communist curators of the “war crimes” (read: our “war crimes” against the communist Vietnamese) museum in Saigon.
I knew guys like him in the Navy. I know the kind of guy, very well, that does not have the respect of his fellow officers or men, and I have never witnessed an officer so disrespected amongst fellow officers than Kerry. That says more to me than you can even imagine. Basically, it says that other officers fear that the guy is either going to fuck up, panic, or just be generally incompetent when things get serious, and you can’t trust him with your back.
This is the kind of guy you want to stay far, far away from. I guarantee it.
There’s another aspect to this as well. We used to have a saying: “surface warfare officers eat their young.” Whereas, in the aviation and submarine communities, there’s a great deal of camaraderie that amounts to a helping hand to get started; for some reason, in the SWO community, you’re either in or you’re out, and this determination is made within about 2 weeks of you reporting to your first ship. Once you’re out, you’re fucked and your career as a SWO is over, permanently. The others will make sure you fail and are put off the ship to a desk job on shore ASAP. How do I know this? Because I actively and enthusiastically participated in it. Two guys reported to my first ship the same week as I. I shared a stateroom with one of them and the other was a 4.0 GPA physics grad from some fancy college and cruised through SWO school (we were in the same class in San Diego).
They were both driving desks on land within about a year, and I, along with everyone else, helped make that a reality. No mercy. They were both nice guys, but just didn’t have what it takes to run a division of men and equipment 24/7 at sea, all while enduring a 3-section watch rotation. What’s more, we reveled in and celebrated their failure, and mocked their incompetence at the thing we were good at. I went on to become the single top-ranked junior officer on REEVES, and as an O-3 Lieutentant on departure, went to an O-5 staff duty billet.
The above, that we could revel in the failure of others, is shocking only to those who’ve never shouldered serious responsibility in the military. In my first job, I was the assistant missiles officer, and I oversaw about 20 GMMs (gunners mate-missiles). I also shared responsibility for the maintenance and security of the 8 BTNs we carried (Terrier surface to air missiles with a nuclear warhead).
I don’t expect everyone to understand or accept this, but I’m telling you straight. I have never known a single military officer of any reasonable degree of competence whom I believe would, for one second, consider besmirching the reputation of any genuine military hero who has ever served. Just as equally, I’ve never known an officer of distinction who would grant distinction to another without good reason. The military can be life & death, and as such, we took it very seriously. That’s just the way it was.
Bruce McQuain has up a very good post dealing with a lot of this same thing.
Well, it happened. Someone finally called me a “Bushie.”
Do I prefer Bush over Kerry in this election? Absolutely. I’ve made no bones about it. Am I a fan of Bush? In general, absolutely not. In the narrow context of the war, yes. It’s really all about the lesser of two evils, for me. Bush is just as much of a disaster on the domestic front as any democrat, spending like a drunken sailor. I’ve never once equivocated about this fact.
What of the charges of deceit and lying? Well, it pretty much goes with this territory, i.e., this particular context. I think it was strategically critical to take Iraq, and so did they. I also think that laying out all the real reasons for doing so would never fly politically. Pragmatism over principle? Yes, to a degree, but people running planes into buildings and swearing an allegiance to kill you if they get the chance constitutes an emergency situation where conventional morality does not always apply.*
The war against Islamism is the only reason I back Bush. Still, I will not be wasting my time voting.
What of the charges of horrible blundering? Has anyone stopped to realize that we invaded and took over two complete countries on the other side of the world and suffered less total casualties (1,037 total, so far) than in a few days in Viet Nam, and a few hours during WWII?
Revolutionary War (25,324)
Civil War (620,000)
World War I (116,708)
World War II (407,316)
Korean War (54,246)
Vietnam War (58,655)
Gulf War (293)
Try adjusting the Revolutionary War and Civil War for population growth, and see what real horror is. The Civil War lost us 2% of our population at the time. That would be like losing 5.5 million people today.
Oh, I realize there are some generals out there second-guessing everything. They get to be on TV, and they certainly aren’t going to be on TV by saying that the Administration is doing an unbelievably superb and competent job. Having participated in countless complex military exercises, both at ground (sea) level and at staff level, I literally find the casualty rate unbelievable. This is why over 90% of all military personnel are solidly behind Bush.
I’m a single-issue guy right now. Plainly stated, kill as many Islamic nutcases as quickly as possible. I’m dead serious.
This is a religious and cultural war, and it’s not going to go away until a lot more people die. Don’t believe me? Witness the 10 Christian churches bombed in Iraq on Sunday. This is coming, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. It’s critically important that it be dealt with before they get their hands on a nuke or bio weapons, if they haven’t already.
They want to see you and your children dead. What does that mean to you?
Let’s just hope that Bush can keep the fight contained over there, where we’re killing thousands of would-be terrorists—people who could easily walk into any shopping mall in America any day of the week and blow themselves up, along with a lot of others. Just wait until that happens the first time, and it will.
I find the nitpicking—for naked political gain—on the very competent job Bush has done in prosecuting this war to be contemptible at every level.
* (Breaking into a cabin in the woods for food and shelter when you’re cold and starving does not carry the same moral status as breaking into your neighbor’s house when you have no emergency need of doing so. Moreover, a moral person will make good on any damage—just as we are now attempting to do in Iraq by rebuilding and stabilizing it.)
So, I get this, by email from a brother-in-law just as I’m sitting down for lunch. No indication of its source. Don’t know whether it’s contrived, or an actual speech or letter. Nevertheless, it got me to thinking.
Thanks. This turned out to be very enjoyable reading on my Blackberry during lunch. A quick search upon my return to the office yields that this letter was written by some retired attorney to his sons.
About the only real quibble I have with it is that I think our support of Israel is right up there on our list of why we’re hated and attacked. No matter; no sane person can review the footage of 9/11 and not take seriously the threat. That we should continue to pansy-ass our way, in harmony with an ineffectual and corrupt United Nations (as Kerry would have us do) and weasels like France, Germany, and now Spain is unconscionable, to me.
It’s remarkable to me how hatred of GWB can actually motivate sane people to overlook this sort of threat; and thinking Kerry can do any better is just unfounded, and probably totally wrong.
You want to know how shallowly nearly everyone sees all this? How about Iraq? How many times have you heard anyone name the principle value of taking Iraq vis-à-vis the overall war on terror? Nobody. Why?; because they don’t think strategically. Iraq sits right between Syria and Iran, both far harder to take than Iraq. All these months, we have been staging gear in Iraq in case it ever becomes necessary to take Syria or Iran, the two largest sponsors of Terrorism. Moreover, Iran now sits right between Iraq and Afghanistan. We can take them from both sides (like we wanted to do in Iraq, had we had Turkey’s cooperation). They know and understand this. The world public does not. It will not be until many years later when historians speculate that the biggest value of taking Iraq was that it kept Iran and Syria in check and convinced them that fighting terrorists was the best long-term move, just like Libya has recently decided. Moreover, it served as a magnet for terrorists all over the region who came into Iraq and were killed by the thousands (better to have the battlefield there than here). Why there and not here, when here would cause so much more terror? Logistics; I don’t believe it’s any more complicated than that. Remember, these nutcases believe that if they’re martyred, they’re going to place in the sky with a white man in a robe and chair, and 70 virgins–so why not make it easier. Even martyrs can be self-interested martyrs. It’s so much easier for them to operate over there, to have shelter, cover, logistical and moral support over there.
Of course, you hear none of the above from the Administration because they are not going to talk about their overall geo-political game plan. For them to come out and say, publicly, “now we can take Iran or Syria when/if we need to,” would be very destabilizing.