Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Politico quoted an insider:
"When they put out that deadline, people realized that we were going to lose," said an aide to an anti-war lawmaker. "Everything after that seemed like posturing."
James Taranto, of the OpinionJournal's Best of the Web column comments:
This gives away the game, doesn't it? The "antiwar" people understand what it means to set a deadline — and they seek to do so because they want America to lose.
Taranto is right. These people are not stupid; they know what they're doing and what the probable effects of their actions are.

This strongly suggests that "They're not anti-war. They're just on the other side." The alternative is that they care only about their own political fortunes, and don't care about the effects of their actions for the country.

Culture of Corruption

From Powerline:

House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, who has falsely denied the existence of earmarks, now has decreed that earmarks in his bills will not be revealed until a measure passes both the House and the Senate. [emphasis added]
So Obey has already lied to us all, and now he wants to hide his dishonesty and malfeasance — at least until no one can do anything about it.

Seems to me the current Congressional (Democrat) leadership has a lot of brass trying to call the Republicans corrupt.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Reflecting on You Are Not Alone

Bill Whittle has another of his too-infrequent essays out. This one is You Are Not Alone, and in it he takes you through his analysis to demonstrate the conditions under which becoming a barbarian is the rational choice. His examples include explanation of why the "broken windows syndrome" works and effective means of destroying respect for law by convincing the society that laws are for chumps. Along the way he notes that

Everything the West has achieved — all the science, prosperity, security and freedom — is based upon the free exchange of ideas. We tolerate offensive ideas so that this free exchange of information may continue. Disagreement is the crucible of wisdom. The price we pay for this cooperation is the daily offense we suffer at the exposure to ideas we find distasteful.
There's a critical insight here. Look back over history and, to the degree you can, see where the societies had more freedom (particularly freedom of expression) and where they made more progress and created more prosperity. Such a review may be skewed by the fact that, across the distance of history, we are more able to see ideological ferment than ideological freedom, though the latter does not imply the former. But even with that limitation, the correlation is striking. Freedom of speech is not just an important freedom — it is mankind's most important freedom. That's probably why that is the freedom most constantly under attack (as this exemplifies) around the world by all those who want to be in control.

One fascinating thought that appears at points in the essay is that a key, critical difference between a society that we would call modern & civilized and one that we would call backward & barbarian is one that is not easily apparent. It is simply whether the society's dominant viewpoint is short-term or long-term. If the society takes a short-term view, it will follow strategies for immediate gains even if the gains they produce are small, and even if those strategies prevent long-term success. That is not a fault — given those societies' conditions, it is the rational choice. To make larger (and faster) progress the society has to cross a threshold, achieve a critical mass, so that it has the luxury of (and can see the value of) taking a long-term viewpoint. As a result, we make things with greater permanence. Bridges are engineered rather than just built, and last many years instead of a season or two. (This is Whittle's example, from The Bridge Over the River Kwai.) Architects plan every detail of buildings before construction begins. (Think of the World Trade Center. This process sometimes becomes somewhat iterative, as seems to have been the case with the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona.) And we're now applying that same sort of architecture and planning process to computer software development, now that we're coming to expect longer-term software performance.

Some of these examples suggest the transition from short-term to long-term viewpoints does not necessarily affect an entire society. We are told, for example, that most of Egyptian society was functioning at a near-subsistence level in the time of the pharoahs, yet that society built the pyramids and temples Egypt is so famous for. Same thing for medieval Europe and its cathedrals. It may be said, though, that these are the societies that showed the way — the ones that had made enough progress to enable some groups of people the luxury of longer-range thinking, and the necessary supporting luxury of not having to spend most of one's time working at getting the next meal. Even so, it still seems the quantum leap necessary for a society to begin making exponential progress is the shift from short-range to long-range thinking by the society as a whole. Or, as Bill Whittle puts it,

nice, forgiving and non-envious [arising from a long-range viewpoint] are advanced strategies that require a topsoil of general goodwill, trust, and respect for the rule of law.

Societies that embrace these qualities will always out-compete those that don’t.

And all that is just the set-up for the rest of Bill Whittle's essay. The best I can say about that is go read the whole thing. And think about it.

For explanatory purposes here, though, let me continue on with a related thing or two. If you take Bill Whittle's essay and put names to the active proponents of the short-term and long-term strategies in today's world, and flesh out the concepts with current world events, you get something like Melanie Phillips' essay Liberalism vs. Islamism. To avoid misunderstandings, here are the definitions she uses:

  • Islamism - "the politicised version of Islam which mandates jihad, or holy war against the infidel and conquest of the non-Islamic world for Islam."
  • Liberalism - "the commitment to a free society ... from which follow the concepts of equal respect for all people, freedom of conscience, tolerance and the rule of law."
On the first definition, she says "I’m well aware of the argument that there’s no difference between Islamism and Islam: that’s a theological argument for others to have." On the second, I woud note that her definition is what others have called classic liberalism.

Phillips sees Liberalism and Islamism, so defined, as being in a death struggle — though many twist their logic into pretzels trying to deny it. And so she asks and answers a key question:

Why is a liberal society so reluctant to defend its own most cherished values of freedom and tolerance? The answer, I suggest, lies both in the intrinsic nature of liberalism — and also in what I would call our dominant culture of corrupted liberalism, in which true liberal values have actually been turned on their heads.
Essentially, she is saying we have been changing from a liberal society to a "liberal" one, to a society that still has the right words but has lost (or is losing) their substance. That is the same issue Bill Whittle was writing about in his essay — and the same one that (with Whittle's essays for inspiration) has made me write this one.

Is this a problem? Definitely. Can we recover? Absolutely. The only question is how and when (and under what conditions) we choose to do so. That is what You Are Not Alone is really all about. And that's another reason why I remain optimistic. I agree with Bill Whittle:

My friends, Western Civilization is not on its last legs.
Western Civilization is going to the stars. Count on it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Iraqi "Insurgents"

It's an article of faith on the Left that nearly all the "insurgents" in Iraq are home-grown. Thus, the Left asserts these individuals and their attacks are part of the "civil war" in Iraq and not part of the Global War on Terror. Just as an example, I myself heard Alan Colmes on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes show yesterday evening stating as fact that "at least 95%" of the insurgents are home-grown and not foreigners.

An inconvenient truth, for this viewpoint, has been published frequently — and ignored as frequently. It is that the substantial majority of the insurgents are, in fact, imported fighters. The latest is from Gateway Pundit who reports that more than 2/3 of the insurgents — currently 70% — are foreigners imported into Iraq through Syria using forged passports and travel documents provided by Syria.

This is part of a broader issue, which is the reason the Left is so adamant in claiming foreigners are a trivial part of the attacks and attackers. The Left (aside from those who want to pretend the Global War on Terror doesn't exist) wants with all its heart to believe Iraq is a diversion from the Global War on Terror. They need to believe the attacks in Iraq are part of a civil (rather than proxy) war, and that al Qaeda has little or nothing to do with Iraq. Too bad (for them) the facts on the ground tell a different story.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


In his Impromptus column on Tuesday, Jay Nordlinger notes that “All of us who are conservative, or classically liberal, have had to be called fascist.” He also notes, correctly, that

“Fascist” is an epithet used by mean or stupid people against those they dislike who are perceived to be “on the right.” One result is that, when a real fascist comes along, there is no word left for him.
The people calling others fascists or nazis almost never have any conception of the real meaning of the words. Followers of Jefferson, Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt, JFK, and Reagan are not nazis and fascists.

Perhaps we can help these poor ignorant people. We can follow the example of one of Nordlinger’s friends — instead of using the terms ‘nazi’ or ‘fascist’, we can use the more specific correct term ‘national socialist’. And that may help them understand that these were parties of the left, not the right.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Two Outstanding Marines

New Mexico has a long history of providing men of valor to the U.S. military. Troops from New Mexico rode up San Juan Hill with Colonel Theodore Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War. New Mexico's National Guard (coastal artillery units) were at Bataan and in the Death March at the start of World War II, with many members remaining in Japanese Prisoner of War camps throughout the war. The famous Code Talkers were drawn from the Navajo Reservation of New Mexico and Arizona. Many others from New Mexico, whether in New Mexico by birth or assignment, have served with honor and valor in U.S. military actions from territorial days to the present.

From among New Mexico's more recently valorous men, allow me to bring two particularly outstanding men to your attention. One is from November of 2004 when Falluja was one of the most violent and dangerous places in Iraq. Private First Class Christopher Adlesperger was with one of the teams that moved in to pacify that city on November 10. His squad encountered a well-prepared machine gun position in one of the houses, which turned out to be an enemy command and control position. Adlesperger's response was to attack. He pinned down those at the gun position while he helped his wounded comrades up a stairway he cleared to a rooftop area from which they could be evacuated. From there, though wounded, he was able to use a grenade launcher to make holes in the building wall so he could fire on and destroy the enemy gun position. In doing so, he destroyed the last strongpoint in Fallujah's Jolan District. For this action, Adlesperger was awarded the Navy Cross and has been nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was subsequently promoted to Lance Corporal. LCPL Christopher Adlesperger was killed while leading a clearing mission on December 2, 2004. His Navy Cross was presented to his family on April 13, 2007. Chris Adlesperger graduated from Albuquerque's El Dorado High School.

In the same district of the same city a few months earlier, Captain Douglas Zembiec climbed up on a tank while under fire to guide it to where his men were pinned down. He coordinated the actions of his Marines from atop the tank while bullets and rocket-propelled grenades impacted all around him. He was already badly wounded before climbing onto the tank. And that wasn't the only time. Those who served with him call him a warrior without peer, not much different from those who led the Spartans into combat. He commanded incredible respect from his men, always leading from the front. That action was on April 26, the last day of major fighting before the Marines pulled out of the city under the terms of a cease-fire worked out by politicians and diplomats — a cease-fire that created the conditions under which PFC Adlesperger's unit would have to reenter the city six months later. Since that day in Fallujah, Zembiec has been promoted to Major and given more responsibility. MAJ Douglas Zembiec was reported killed last week in Iraq. As of yesterday, the Defense Department has not yet confirmed his death or provided information on its circumstances. Based on his history, I think we may assume he was taking the fight to the enemy, creating what he called "menacing delimmas for the enemy," when he died. Doug Zembiec graduated from Albuquerque's La Cueva High School where, as a junior, he brought the school its first ever state wrestling title. (He won again as a senior.) MAJ Zembiec was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and a veteran of combat in Kosovo and the Middle East.

The stories of men and women like these are usually not easily available or widely published. Stories on Major Zembiec and Lance Corporal Adlesperger were printed on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal only because they were from Albuquerque. I suspect some of the papers near Camp Pendleton were the only others to print them. The stories of their heroism apparently were not printed before their deaths. These stories can be found, but they commonly have to be explicitly sought out (as Blackfive frequently does).

And then there is the larger question: Where do we find such men? How do we grow or create them? I don't know the answer, and sometimes think the answer may be unknowable. But I do know we can all be very grateful for men and women like these — and many thousands of others. And we need to do better in telling their stories.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I saw several reports and interviews on the television while at the gym this afternoon. And some of them were really nuts.

First was a report on Al Sharpton's attack on presidential candidate (former Massachusetts governor) Mitt Romney. What Sharpton said was “As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don’t worry about that, that’s a temporary – that’s a temporary situation.” (See also reports here and here.)

Sharpton denies ever saying that. He also claims he was talking about Christopher Hitchens, the atheist he was debating at the time he made the statement. But I — along with much of the country — have heard the audio on both radio and TV. There's no question of what he said.

Sharpton's apologists admit that's what he said, but claim it's not what he meant. They claim he made clear what he really meant to say later in the debate. If that's so, Sharpton should apologize for what he said and make clear that it wasn't what he meant. The fact that he won't do so indicates it really was what he meant, and that he's the same race-baiting bigot he's always been.

Then there's John Kerry. A report on the National Journal web site says he responded to a question about Building 7 at the World Trade Center on 9/11 by saying “I do know that that wall, I remember, was in danger and I think they made the decision based on the danger that it had in destroying other things, that they did it in a controlled fashion.” It was not clear from the video clip I heard if he was really talking about WTC Building 7, though that was what people like Webster Tarpley asserted very firmly. If Kerry meant what he seems to have said, his connection to reality is much more tenuous that I'd previously thought.

And who is Webster Tarpley? On his web site (no, I'm not going to provide a link) he identifies himself as "Intelligence Expert, Activist, Historian" and author of 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA. I saw him interviewed this afternoon, too. He claims World Trade Center Building 7 was effectively undamaged, and was brought down by a controlled demolition. He says placing the explosives to do that would require several days of work by experts. (No suggestion was made as to how that was accomplished without anyone noticing.) He says Arabs do not have the capability to carry off such a task, and asserts it was an "inside job" carried out by rogue elements within the Bush Administration. Of course, this also means the attack on the World Trade Center's twin towers (and the Pentagon) was also carried out by Bush Administration elements. (He says the destruction of the twin towers was also by controlled demolition with explosives that took days of work by experts to place.) Tarpley does not deny the existence of Al Qaeda, but says it's a sham — "the CIA's Arab legion." He said, too, that there are several Osama bin Ladens, all actors on the CIA payroll.

Listening to Tarpley, I couldn't help wondering what color the sky is in his world. He gives moonbat a whole new level of meaning.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Col. Repya Is Tired

I don't like to reprint things whole — I'd much rather quote them, and point to them. But I'm making an exception for this piece. It's too good not to reproduce in full.

Two weeks ago, as I was starting my sixth month of duty in Iraq, I was forced to return to the USA for surgery for an injury I sustained prior to my deployment. With luck, I'll return to Iraq to finish my tour.

I left Baghdad and a war that has every indication that we are winning, to return to a demoralized country much like the one I returned to in 1971 after my tour in Vietnam. Maybe it's because I'll turn 60 years old in just four months, but I'm tired:

I'm tired of spineless politicians, both Democrat and Republican who lack the courage, fortitude, and character to see these difficult tasks through.

I'm tired of the hypocrisy of politicians who want to rewrite history when the going gets tough.

I'm tired of the disingenuous clamor from those that claim they 'Support the Troops' by wanting them to 'Cut and Run' before victory is achieved.

I'm tired of a mainstream media that can only focus on car bombs and casualty reports because they are too afraid to leave the safety of their hotels to report on the courage and success our brave men and women are having on the battlefield.

I'm tired that so many Americans think you can rebuild a dictatorship into a democracy over night.

I'm tired that so many ignore the bravery of the Iraqi people to go to the voting booth and freely elect a Constitution and soon a permanent Parliament.

I'm tired of the so called 'Elite Left' that prolongs this war by giving aid and comfort to our enemy, just as they did during the Vietnam War.

I'm tired of antiwar protesters showing up at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. A family who's loved ones gave their life in a just and noble cause, only to be cruelly tormented on the funeral day by cowardly protesters is beyond shameful.

I'm tired that my generation, the Baby Boom -- Vietnam generation, who have such a weak backbone that they can't stomach seeing the difficult tasks through to victory.

I'm tired that some are more concerned about the treatment of captives than they are the slaughter and beheading of our citizens and allies.

I'm tired that when we find mass graves it is seldom reported by the press, but mistreat a prisoner and it is front page news.

Mostly, I'm tired that the people of this great nation didn't learn from history that there is no substitute for Victory.

Joe Repya,
Lieutenant Colonel, U. S. Army
101st Airborne Division

The line about those who claim they 'support the troops' particularly struck me. In part, that was because I am also frustrated by the apparent disingenuousness of it. But I have also run across Jay Tea's commentary on The Support Trap, which has brought up the possibility that the Left's self-deception is the only deception involved.