Reducing patriotism to a sleazy roll in the hay

Mr. Bookworm is catching up with the Jon Stewart episodes he missed while we were away. One particular segment, which starts at the 2 minute mark, caught my eye. In it, Perry talks about love for country, clearly distinguishing himself from Obama, who hasn’t shown such love, either explicitly or implicitly. Take a look at what Stewart, a very bright, and periodically honest, dyed-in-the-wool Progressive, does with Perry’s simple statement of patriotism:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 – Michele Bachmann Fever & Rick Perry’s America
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I was disgusted, not just because I’m not a fan of coarseness as a substitute for humor, but because I think this is the perfect example of what the Left has done to patriotism. It’s reduced it from love of country to a sleazy roll in the hay, something embarrassing, wrong and deserving of no respect. You, my readers, get this. A whole generation of young people, however, raised on 30 years of Progressive education, no doubt feels that this little “comedy” segment is the perfect epitaph for that embarrassing animal known as American patriotism.

That same Leftist embarrassment with patriotism is manifest in the White House’s approach to 9/11.  Stated simply, on September 11, 2001, shortly before 9 a.m. E.S.T., nineteen men, all of whom were foreign nationals and Al Qaeda members, hijacked four jets.  They flew two into the World Trade Center towers, one into the Pentagon, and one crash landed in a field in Pennsylvania, a crash that almost certainly averted a direct hit on the Capitol or the White House.  Almost 3,000 people, most of them Americans, died that day.  Or more briefly, ten years ago, foreign nationals, acting on American soil, slaughtered almost 3,000 Americans.

Even more briefly:  This was an American tragedy.  Is that how the Obama Administration is framing it, though?  You tell me (emphasis mine):

The guidelines list what themes to underscore — and, just as important, what tone to set. Officials are instructed to memorialize those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and thank those in the military, law enforcement, intelligence or homeland security for their contributions since.

A chief goal of our communications is to present a positive, forward-looking narrative,” the foreign guidelines state.

Copies of the internal documents were provided to The New York Times by officials in several agencies involved in planning the anniversary commemorations. “The important theme is to show the world how much we realize that 9/11 — the attacks themselves and violent extremism writ large — is not ‘just about us,’ ” said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal White House planning.

I don’t know about you, but I think the tenth anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies in American history is an appropriate time for looking backwards and mourning, rather than a time to engage in feel-good cheer.  Contrary to that official’s blithe assurance, it was just about us.  The attack took place on American shores, against American symbols, and killed American citizens.  Sure, there’s a larger narrative — Islam against the West –  but our current government is as steadfast in its refusal to acknowledge that larger narrative as it is to acknowledge an American tragedy.

What we’re left with is a government that won’t acknowledge that 9/11 was an attack against us, nor will it acknowledge that it’s a subset of a larger existential war.  If our government fails to acknowledge those vital facts, what’s left?

The box the government has locked itself into, one that sees it commemorating a transformative national event for a nation it doesn’t love and an event, moreover, that was a battlefield in a war our government refuses to acknowledge, effectively exposes the nihilism underlying Stewart’s sordid attack on simple patriotism.  The Left has left itself with nothing.  Sadly, as is typical for all degraded movements, it tries to take everyone else down with it.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

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Obama’s effort to preempt the upcoming Republican debate

By now you’ve heard that the President, who’s been sitting on his jobs speech for days, if not weeks (or maybe years), has suddenly announced that he’s going to give it on the same night as a Republican presidential candidate debate that’s been schedule for months.  It’s a tacky gesture, at best (and at worst, come to think of it).  To the extent that Obama wants to address Congress, many are advising Boehner to say, “Sorry, no can do.  Save it for another night.”

Anchoress has a better idea:  given that the President’s speeches haven’t been very inspiring of late, delay the debate for an hour or two, so that it falls immediately after the President’s inevitably divisive, soporific and platitudinous speech.

I think Boehner should say, “by all means, Mr. President; we’re so anxious to hear your jobs plan that we’ll be glad to put off our debate by a few hours. Our candidates should have a chance to hear your ideas, so they can include them within the context of their own ideas about job creation. We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate our stark distinctions.”

That sort of response disarms Obama, who then won’t be able to crow “they don’t care about jobs” and it arms the debate participants, who will be able to go into their debate with Obama’s plans ripe for deconstruction.

This would be an especially good tactic for Perry and Bachmann, both of whom are dynamic speakers.  It will also be good for Romney who, tho’ not dynamic, can speak about economic issues with tremendous authority.  Obama will come off looking not only petty, divisive, soporific and platitudinous, he’ll also look ill-informed, unimaginative and, basically, small.  (I do love my adjectives.)

Ace has an equally good idea, which is to have Boehner say, essentially, “If this is such an important issue, Mr. President, don’t wait.  Give us your speech immediately!”

The one thing the Republicans shouldn’t do is play this squirrely game by Obama’s rules.  As Anchoress says, rightly, “What the GOP needs to remember is that the Democrats no longer govern; they just maneuver, and they do it brilliantly. The GOP needs to learn how to do it.”

Really, when you think about it, it’s kind of a shame that my favorite pundits aren’t Republican tactical advisers.  We can only hope that the Republicans are paying attention to them, even if they’re not paying them for their advice.

The media to Americans: Who are you going to believe — us or your lying eyes?

A couple of years ago, I wrote that, when it came to the media love affair with the Obamas, the scales fell from my Mom’s eyes when Time had a cover touting Michelle Obama as the most beautiful, stylish woman since Jackie O.  My Mom refused to accept this as an objective statement of fact.  It started a thought cascade.  If Time was pushing the truth envelope about Michelle, then everything else might be untrue as well.  The wall, once it started crumbling, crumbled hard and fast.

I thought of my Mom’s epiphany when I looked back at the media swoon about Obama’s “gutsy” bin Laden call:

Ordinary Americans have long recognized that, while it was a smart thing to send in the incredibly competent SEALS to take out bin Laden, it wasn’t that gutsy a call.  I mean, this is what Commanders in Chief are supposed to do during times of war (or in chess):  Kill the enemy’s king.  For Obama, sitting in the White House with reasonably solid intelligence at hand to announce, “Yeah, you, uh, should, uh, kill, uh, bin Laden,” doesn’t strike anyone as being an unusually onerous task for a wartime president.

By constantly emphasizing Obama’s gutsiness, the media harmed him and themselves.  They harmed him by appearing surprised that he had the courage to make a responsible decision in his capacity as Commander in Chief, and they harmed themselves by exposing their credibility problem to the American people.

(And yes, I know this is old news, but the “gutsy” video just came to my attention recently, so it seemed as good a time as any to post on the subject.)


An amusing mistake from the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal is a well edited newspaper, and it usually offers little in the way of “corrections” amusement, at least not when compared to The New York Times.  Even Caesar slips up occasionally, as you will see when you examine the two pictures illustrating this review of a book about Jane Fonda:



As the master (mistress?) of typos, I have to admit to enjoying it way too much when other publications, better written and edited than mine, make the same mistakes I do.  It’s not exactly schadenfreude, but a sense of shared humanity, I think (and hope).

The Left still shapes the debate

One of the big issues heating up for the election is “science.”  I noted the other day that Krugman has thrown down the gauntlet, saying that the Republicans are returning us to a flat earth world, and, many, including Roger L. Simon, have picked it up, pointing out that Krugman and others have totally abandoned scientific method in order to support their ever-more-dubious claims. Rich Lowry continues in the Simon vein, elaborating on the way in which Leftists use science as a political and social bludgeon, instead of a method of rigorous analysis.

Jonah Goldberg, however, makes the best point of all, which is to challenge the way in which the Left still determines which science matters:

Rich: I liked your column today. But you only struck a glancing blow at my biggest peeve about the whole anti-science thing: Why does the Left get to pick which issues are the benchmarks for “science”? Why can’t the measure of being pro-science be the question of heritability of intelligence? Or the existence of fetal pain? Or the distribution of cognitive abilities among the sexes at the extreme right tail of the bell curve? Or if that’s too upsetting, how about dividing the line between those who are pro- and anti-science along the lines of support for geoengineering? Or — coming soon — the role cosmic rays play in cloud formation? Why not make it about support for nuclear power? Or Yucca Mountain? Why not deride the idiots who oppose genetically modified crops, even when they might prevent blindness in children?

Goldberg has focused upon a small subset of a much larger issue:  not only does the Left still control the dissemination of information (so that its decision to be silent about Obama’s history with Rev. Wright meant most people didn’t hear about it), it also decides what topics are worthy and what aren’t.  Using it’s still bullyish pulpit, it dictates that Republican candidates deserve to have their colons examined, while Democrat candidates get kudos.

During the Bush era, the media focused obsessively on battle deaths, but during the Obama era, that tragic information is all but ignored, even if it takes a more startling or extreme form than it did under Bush’s watch.  It takes the Army to tell us what the MSM ignores.  (Proving, definitely I think, that the focus on deaths was never out of respect for the dead but was always intended to make Bush look like the man murdering, en masse, American youth.)

I am reminded of George Orwell’s point in Newspeak:  if the vocabulary is killed, the ability to think the thoughts dies too.  The media, which has a weakened, but still strangling, hold on American discourse, is trying to place some ideas in our minds (Perry is a stupid, anti-scientific troglodyte) while utterly erasing others (anything bad about Obama).  Since it frames the debate, and sets the rules, it’s going to win or, at the very least, have an disproportionate advantage.

This media framing may be why the guy who picked winners in the last seven elections thinks Obama will win the next one.  Obama fits the majority of Lichtman’s 13 “keys” to election or, in Obama’s case, re-election.  Most interestingly, he counts ObamaCare and the stimulus in Obama’s favor (“major domestic-policy changes in his first term”).  Allahpundit rightly points out that these are deeply unpopular measures, so they shouldn’t count:

[S]urreally, he’s counting the stimulus, which the public reviles, and ObamaCare, about which the public is deeply suspicious, as a point in Obama’s favor because they are, after all, major “changes” to American domestic policy. By that standard, even the dumbest, most hated piece of legislation should be treated as an asset to a presidential campaign so long as it’s significant enough to constitute “major change.” If you flip that Key to the GOP, then you’ve got six for the Republicans — enough to take the White House by Lichtman’s own metrics.

What Allahpundit isn’t considering, though, is that the media, which will shape the prism through which the election plays out, will constantly sell both the stimulus and ObamaCare to the public as “good things.”  The question is whether the public is going to believe the media or its lying eyes.  Past elections, sadly, have shown that, to paraphrase Mencken, you can never go broke underestimating the analytical abilities of the American public.  (Although Ace wonders if even the public can be that dumb.)

Can’t talk now — I’m busy thinking

The post title is a bit misleading.  I actually mean that I can’t blog now, as opposed to talk now, but it is true that I’m very, very busy with deep thoughts.  I’m working on a new project, having tons of fun, learning lots, and my mind is bubbling with ideas.  This afternoon, when the ferment settles a bit, I’ll start blogging again.

Also, I’m not blogging now because of that expression holding that, “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Anything I would say right now would be precisely the same as something I’ve said before — no fresh facts, no fresh spin, no new insights.  You deserve better than stale blogging.  By this afternoon, I hope to have disposed of the ideas that are past their “sell by” date and have my mind restocked with new exciting new mental product.

Within days, or weeks, I also hope to augment my political and domestic posts with descriptions of me, once again exercising my Second Amendment rights.  We’ll see how NavyOne’s imaginative and generous idea plays out.

Everything about the man is fake *UPDATED*

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Thank goodness for DQ. He went back AJ Strata’s original post, and discovered that, since first writing it up, AJ thinks the whole story may be a fake. My apologies to the President and to you for relaying this fable. The one thing that disappoints me is that my very first pun was for naught. What a waste!

AJ Strata is the first to bring to my attention the fact that Barack Obama didn’t ride in that Canadian made bus, whether sitting in the front or back.  Well, that’s not true.  He rode on it for a few minutes at a time.  As for the rest of the time . . . well, you have to read this to appreciate it.

I’ve heard of ghost writing (which Obama has also used), but now, apparently, we have ghost riding.  (The previous pun was inspired by Sadie, whose bad good influence is rubbing off on me.)

Steve Schippert gave me the perfect musical link to back up my pun:

Feminism in a nutshell

Sometimes a post just nails things at every level and explains so much.  That’s the case with a Front Page Magazine article about feminism and Marxism.  I especially loved this:

Phyllis Schlafly​, who has spent a lifetime pointing out liberal hypocrisy on issues of gender, says that it’s no wonder liberal women think men are pigs: Their men are pigs.

Well, yes, absolutely.  There are no greater sexists than liberal men who pay lip service to women’s equality because they’ve figured out that it’s an easy way to get extra labor and easy sex.  At a very fundamental level, too many liberal men don’t seem to like women very much or to respect them at all.

Years ago, when I first started blogging, I commented on the fact that conservative men, especially Christian conservative men, genuinely seem to like their wives.  That struck me as odd, because it’s not something I see moving in liberal circles.  Sure there are love matches around me but, for the most part, the men and women in my world resent each other more than they respect each other.  Even if the conservative men are lying about their feelings towards their wives, at least they subscribe to the notion that you ought to love and respect your spouse.  Liberals no longer seem to make the effort.

I think a lot of it has to do with competitive martyrdom.  When the man in a marriage served his wife by making money, and the wife in a marriage served her husband by having children and keeping the house, they weren’t competing.  Instead, they were both contributing.  Even in my parents’ marriage, when my mother had to work because there was no money, my Dad felt terrible that she had to make the sacrifice.  He deeply appreciated the work she did on the family’s behalf and therefore helped out around the house as much as possible to offset the fact that he wasn’t earning enough so that she could play her role and only her role in the marriage.

In modern liberal marriages, though, both partners are expected to bring in money.  This works right up until the children come along.  Then, the woman’s at-home workload skyrockets exponentially.  The men, contrary to their feminist mouthings, do not help out as much.  Aside from the fact that the children want Mommy, the men aren’t going to cook or do laundry or do anything but the basics.  (I know exceptions, but this is the rule in my world.)  The women become terribly resentful that, suddenly, they have two full time jobs.  After terrible fights, the women cut back on work or quit it entirely — at which time the men become terribly resentful that they have to go into the office, while the women get to lollygag around the house with the children.  Of course, both parties have hard jobs, but neither can admit that, for fear of falling into a one-down position in the martyrdom competition.  This is not a recipe for happy relationships.

Roger Simon cleans Paul Krugman’s clock

Paul Krugman, aided by more than 500 commenters, launched a hysterical rant about the Republican war on science, all of which is embodied in Perry’s skepticism about anthropogenic global warming.  Krugman and his acolytes are unanimous in their opinion:  Republicans are anti-scientific, book burning, people burning, Galileo hating, troglodytes.  (Neither he nor his groupies are as elegant or eloquent as I in saying so.)

There’s only one little problem:  in his rant, Krugman kind of forgot, just a little bit, er, science.  Roger Simon explains it to him, using simple words that even Paulie could probably understand.  Here’s a taste:

But wait a minute. I don’t want to be unfair to Paul. He may not be up to speed on the latest findings, but he knows how you prove things scientifically. He tell us “…the scientific consensus about man-made global warming — which includes 97 percent to 98 percent of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences — is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.”

I get it. The more people that believe something, the more it is true…. Oh, no. Sorry, Paul. I have to tell you you just flunked seventh grade general science. Or you forgot it. The number of people who believe something is irrelevant. What proves something to be true is that it can be replicated by experiment.


Colin Powell — backstabber (and frontstabber)

I’ve never liked Colin Powell.  I always viewed him as a political hack, despite his military chops.  My dislike for him increased exponentially when I read one of Bob Woodward’s hatchet jobs on George W. Bush and quickly realized that Powell was Woodward’s main source.  Although Woodward didn’t say that, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that all the passages lambasting Bush and highlighting Powell’s brilliance and prescience came from Powell himself.  He’s a sneaky bastard, and I don’t say that as a backhanded compliment.

Powell’s sneaky bastardness continues unabated in his current attack on Cheney.  Aside from being a full frontal attack, it turns out, as Jennifer Rubin explains, that it’s predicated entirely on lies and, worse, on lies that are meant to obscure Powell’s own reprehensible behavior.

Obama, unaided by ghost writers, writes as he speaks *UPDATED*

I’ve been saying for years that Obama, off teleprompter, is a terrible speaker.  Not just boring, but structurally awful.  Turns out that, as it is now, so was it always.  Nothing has changed.  Without an editor at his side, Obama is not the luminous prose poet who wrote Dreams.  He’s a typical Leftist hack writer:  turgid, ungrammatical, unfocused, and undisciplined.

UPDATE:  Here’s a perfect companion piece about the lost art of oratory, with Obama leading the pack of losers.

Migraine open thread

Sorry to have vanished completely.  I got a migraine that knocked me off my feet.  I’m heading back to real life now (to the point where I’ve actually turned my computer on), but my brain is not functioning fully.  Of course, some might say that’s a good thing….

I’ll try to post today, but I’m not optimistic.  Until then, enjoy another Open Thread.

Slogans for 2012

At Ricochet, Patrick Gibbs is thinking about the 2012 election and the need for good slogans.  Since you guys are the best, I thought you’d like to pitch in here or, if you’re Ricochet members, over at Gibbs’ post.  You already know my contribution:

“Barack Obama:  Why we pay double for quality chocolate products.”

I’m still buying my Guittard chips, but what about people who don’t have my financial cushion?  Forget the price of gas.  It’s all about chocolate.

European surrender

I noted when I was in London that the City was filled with obvious Muslims (by which I mean burqa-ed and hijab-ed women, and their male escorts).  London, though, still felt like a modern western city.  Not so other cities in Europe.  Andrew McCarthy explains why, and warns us that the Obama administration is trying to take us down the same ideological road that led to sharia-only enclaves dotting Europe.

The hyped hurricane

I predicted that the much vaunted hurricane would be a media event, and it was.  JJ was right to comment that officials need to yell to get the message through to dunderheads who won’t listen, but we also need to recognize that the media gets locked into narratives and can’t get out, making me think of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ads.  Our media has fallen, fallen into a state of hysterical confabulation, and it’s doubtful whether it can ever get up again.

Results are in at the Watcher’s Council

As always, it was a good week, with Council members recognizing their fellow members’ worth (and with a lot of ties, showing just how hard it is too separate really good from very good):

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Risk benefit analyses for vaccinations

In Marin, a surprisingly large number of kids do not get vaccinated.  This is because a lot of the yuppies here have hippie inclinations.  They want everything natural.  They spend a fortune on organic foods, think raw is always good, and consider vaccinations to be an unnatural and therefore dangerous activity.  “Natural” is their God.  They are unresponsive to gentle sarcasm (“You know, arsenic is a naturally occurring substance.”).  I get that.  Not everyone is subtle.

The problem is that these same parents are also unresponsive to facts.  Point out to them that unpasteurized milk carries heinous bacteria of that type that once contributed to the pre-Pasteur 50% child mortality rate and they’ll earnestly explain that they get milk from “clean” cows.  That’s an interesting notion.  I’ve visited an organic dairy with those “clean” cows.  The cows’ udders trail in the muck beneath their feet, muck composed in equal parts of urine, feces, bugs and generic dirt.  The automatic milking machines aren’t always so friendly to the cows teats, which means that the milking process can be a mildly bloody experience.  When I visited the farm, the fact that the farm workers cursorily wipe the cows udders with a disinfectant before milking them didn’t really allay my concerns about bacteria.  Pasteurizing, however, does set those fears to rest.

The same “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” mentality governs when it comes to vaccinating children.  The current generation of parents has never seen a polio epidemic.  They’ve never gotten reports that their school mates died, or seen them months later, dragging around in braces — or worse, visited them once they were confined in a giant iron lung for life.  These parents have never seen a child struggle to breath through diphtheria, or held that same child in their arms moments after it died.  And of course, they’ve never watched a child fade away slowly from the heart damage inflicted by scarlet or rheumatic fever.

I haven’t experienced these pre-vaccination tragedies either.  But unlike these Marin parents, I have a vast repository of historic knowledge ferreted away in my brain.  I know the statistics.  I’ve read the letters parents wrote in the wake of their children’s death.  Since I’m an older mom, and the child of older parents, my folks grew up in a mostly pre-vaccination era (worsened, in my dad’s case, by extreme poverty).  My mother almost died from diphtheria and my dad from scarlet fever.  I knew men rendered sterile by mumps and people who limped through life, permanently damaged by polio.

Yes, vaccinations have risks.  If your child is the one in ten thousand, or even one in one hundred thousand, who has a seriously bad response to a vaccination, resulting in death or permanent disability, that risk, in retrospect, was too high.  But for the the 9,999 kids or the 99,999 kids who responded just fine to the vaccination — well, you’ve saved them from death or permanent disability, and at much higher rates.  Polio, for example, was a terrible early- to mid-20th century scourge for both adults and children:

Spinal polio is rarely fatal.[33] Without respiratory support, consequences of poliomyelitis with respiratory involvement include suffocation or pneumonia from aspiration of secretions.[56] Overall, 5–10% of patients with paralytic polio die due to the paralysis of muscles used for breathing. The mortality rate varies by age: 2–5% of children and up to 15–30% of adults die.[4] Bulbar polio often causes death if respiratory support is not provided;[39] with support, its mortality rate ranges from 25 to 75%, depending on the age of the patient.[4][60] When positive pressure ventilators are available, the mortality can be reduced to 15%.[61]

In the Third World, the unvaccinated world, kids with  measles or diphtheria or polio die in horrible numbers.

And yet . . . .

Affluent Americans, blind to the world around them, still resist vaccinations.  So on a regular basis, scientific organizations, clinging to their threads of respectability (I think science squandered a lot of its reputation on global warming scares), issue reminders that vaccinations aren’t really so bad.  The latest comes from the National Academy of Sciences, which again reminds us that, in a risk benefit analysis, the risks of vaccinations are much, much lower than the benefit they confer.  In other words, stop worrying about polar bears, melting ice caps and rising seas.  Just vaccinate your children.


Last night I said to Mr. Bookworm, “I bet this Irene story is hype.”  I knew that there was a hurricane heading towards land, but I didn’t believe the stories.  As it turned out, I was probably right.  Irene will bring a ton of water and some wind, and there will be destruction, but it won’t be the “storm of the century.”

I’m not prescient.  I’m not more insightful than others.  What I am, to a worrying degree, is cynical about the media.  It’s come to the point where I no longer trust anything the media says.

The MSM has cried wolf once too often.  Between the nature of the 24 hour medium, which encourages non-stop hysteria, and the bias of its members, who lean so far to the Left I’m surprised my TV is still upright after watching a news show, I ignore what the media says.  When it’s forced on my attention, I tone it down in my own mind.  If the talking head is screaming “rivers of blood,” my brain whispers “trickles, if that much.”

You’ll note that I said “to a worrying degree.”  The media does still convey facts that a functional human being ought to know.  If I had the time and the energy, I would bend my efforts to separating wheat from chaff, rather than dismissing everything I hear.  My concern is that, one day, there’ll be a real story there and I’ll miss it.  Aesop knew that was a risk.  As you recall from his fable, one day a real wolf showed up and the villagers ignored the boy’s cries, having heard them once too often.  In Aesop’s telling, only the boy gets eaten.  I’m worried, though, that one day a real wolf will show up and eat us all.

I’ve got friends in high places

This is quite the Saturday.  Not one BUT TWO of my friends have been published today at American Thinker.

Navy One, who blogs at The Mellow Jihadi, and has for years been a Bookworm Room visitor, has a great piece there, a rumination (and book review) about Navy life, non-Navy life, and dogs.  In keeping with his other writing, it’s a gentle reverie that makes some excellent points.

Sally Zelikovsky, who started Bay Area Patriots, writes about the way in which our culture encourages young women to engage in dangerous behavior that gets them killed.  It’s not a blame the victim article, it’s a blame the culture article.  Every parent should read it, as should every young woman.

Bad seeds and total war

Rick, at Brutally Honest, struggles with an agonizing question that always faces moral nations when they embark on a war:  What about the enemy’s civilian population?  Is there ever a justification for targeting women and children, as was done at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  He links to an equally thoughtful Joe Carter post on the subject.

Before I get to the larger issue of whether there is ever a justification for attacking civilians directly, let me touch upon the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.  When I was growing up, it was fashionable to say that the only reason America dropped the bomb was to show to Joe Stalin that America had the bomb.

The first challenge I ever met to this prevailing Leftist academic dogma came from Paul Fussell, in his book Thank God for the Atom Bomb.  In the eponymous first essay, Fussell argued that Truman’s advisers told him that, while the Americans would inevitably win against Japan, continuing traditional warfare would mean invading the Japanese mainland, and facing a citizen army of women and children.  The advisers estimated another 30,000-40,000 American military dead, plus Japanese dead in the hundreds of thousands.  That calculation made a couple of bombs seem like a reasonable alternative.  One would end up with the same number of Japanese deaths either way, but still save American lives.

As my mom was a POW in a Japanese concentration camp, and Truman’s decision did save her life, I’ve always been comfortable with that decision.  Incidentally, recently released records from 1945 show that it was Fussell, not the revisionists, who correctly nailed the 1945 analysis that led to the bomb.  (That is, we now know that (a) the Japanese were prepared to fight to the last infant and (b) that’s precisely what Truman’s advisers told him.)

The above is a pragmatic discussion, a numbers game, if you will.  I have a slightly different point to make, which is the bad seed theory.  It’s a theory that gets a lot of play in my house, because my young son (who hopes to enter the military one day) struggles with the notion of fighting people who embrace a bad idea because they don’t know any better.  He fully understands that your average Taliban fighter (not the Western-educated elites, but the guys on the ground) has never been exposed to ideas other than the virtue of sharia and worldwide Islamic domination.  His world view is a one way street.  My son therefore struggles with moral relativism as it plays out on the field of battle.

The problem for my son, as for all generations of fighters, is that the battle doesn’t always play out on the field.  Or sometimes, as the Civil War showed, the battle cannot be won efficaciously on the field.  It wasn’t until Sherman marched through Georgia, demoralizing the civilians, that the war finally ended.  As with the war against the Japanese, the North would have inevitably won, but at a much greater cost to the North, and a potentially greater cost to the South.  It seems that, in war as in love, sometimes you’ve gotta be cruel to be kind.

What we do know is that wars over values, as opposed to wars over borders, are always the most viciously fought.  One can compromise over a river bed.  One cannot compromise over people’s most deeply held beliefs.  Your beliefs are either right or they’re wrong.  God is on your side or he isn’t.  Once the battle has gone existential, there is no middle ground.

Also, even as we’re struggling with the morality of our own actions, they’re still trying to kill us.  The Underwear Bomber who tried to blow up an airplane full of people is busily arguing that he didn’t commit a criminal act, because, had he been successful, the slaughter would have fallen under the heading of religiously justifiable homicide.  The Koran is his book, and the Koran authorizes infidel killing.  It’s that simple.  Nor is this killing a subject of anguish and morality.  For those who embrace Islamism, it’s a sport — fun and totally reasonable because authorized by Allah.

It’s the young ‘uns that matter.  Yes, they are the future.  But the future they create will be determined by the values they embrace.  Sometimes, one has to demonstrate to that generation, resoundingly, that their God has failed.  Sadly, depending on the rot that’s corrupted the next generation — the bad seeds — the battle for hearts and minds cannot be won as long as they see a smidgen of hope.  The only way to prevail is to show that their God has failed, and then to educate them up again, as we did in the post-WWII era with Japan and Germany.

Having said all that, I’m opposed to targeting civilians as a general principle of war.  One fights the military.  Civilians become potential targets only when it becomes clear that there is no other way to destroy a much greater evil.  And of course, one of the hallmarks of a greater evil is a nation or ideology that deliberately puts its children in the path of war.

UPDATE:  By the way, the Left knows that it’s the young ‘uns that matter.  As I wrote years ago, sex is a powerful factor in Leftist control, something that Zombie points out in telling of the latest Leftist sexual outrages against young children.

Learning curves, intelligence and Rick Perry *UPDATED*

Although Obama’s grades are still a state secret, we know that the MSM is going to make hay of the fact that Rick Perry had a 2.22 GPA at Texas A&M.  There’s no escaping the fact that he wasn’t much of an academic.  I have a few thoughts on that subject.  They start with a picture making the rounds on the internet, showing a 22 year Perry and a 20 something Obama:

Ignore the Obama image.  Aside from misstating his age, it’s old hat.  We know, because he confessed, that when he was younger, he was a punk:  doing drugs, hanging out, being bad.

Much more interesting to me is the Perry photo.  Perry was a pilot in the United States Air Force, and attained the rank of captain.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I know diddley squat about flying, but I know this much:  the United States military does not entrust its fancy jets to idiots.  Indeed, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that, in order to be a military flyer, you have to demonstrate, repeatedly, that you’re intelligent, responsible, cool under pressure and . . . here I’m getting to my real point … you have a good learning curve.

I’ve been thinking about learning curves a lot lately, especially on Fridays.  You see, Friday is the day my pool guy comes to clean our shabby old swimming pool.  That means that, every Friday, I have to roll up the solar cover we use to heat the pool.  This is not an easy task.  Pool covers have a mind of their own.  None are designed perfectly, so their balance is skewed.  Add to that the drag of the water and the imbalance caused by pool walls that have moved out of alignment over the years, and you have a cover that doesn’t want to roll nicely.  To make things just a little more difficult, every two or three years we have to replace our covers, as they fall victim to too much sun, too much chlorine and too many people, other than me, opening them.

You see, I’m the only one who can open the pool cover correctly, without it ripping, twisting, catching or crumpling.  My husband abandoned the effort years ago.  The kids willingly open it so that they can swim, but they do so in such a higgledy-piggledy way that they’re responsible for all the aforementioned ripping, twisting, catching and crumpling.

I sound like a pool cover savant, don’t I?  I’m the genius of pool covers, the person with a knack, the one whose life calling is dragging plastic solar cells across water.  All of that is untrue.  What I am is someone who pays attention to errors and then corrects them.  If the cover pulled left the last time I opened it, I need to think of a way to compensate for that pull.  If it didn’t roll tightly enough the last time, I analyze the ways in which I can force a tighter roll on it.  After a couple of weeks with a new cover, I’ve got the technique down pat, and am good to go until the next cover comes along.  In other words, I have a learning curve.

That are a few things you need for a learning curve:  you need some native intelligence, you need awareness, you need analytical abilities, you need the willingness to learn, and you need a sufficiently open mind that you can break free of past behaviors to figure out new ways to perform.  Maturity and broad life experience are also excellent learning curve accelerators, as they allow one to flip through a mental data base of previously acquired information to look for quick fixes to a current problem.

As I said, if you’re a pilot, you’re a good learning curve person.  You have to be.  Flying is not a mindlessly repetitive task.  It requires complex multitasking, all the while responding to ever changing external factors.  If you can’t adapt and learn, you’re going to be grounded quickly.  Perry may have been, as he said, a “free spirit” during his school years, but his subsequent career, in the military, in business and in politics shows that, whether you like him or hate him, he’s got native intelligence, adaptability, an inquiring mind, and the maturity that comes with a life broadly lived.  Frankly, I think those are assets in a president.  (Romney probably has them too, but the Obamabots aren’t going to challenge Romney’s brains so I won’t make the argument on his behalf.)

Barack Obama, incidentally, doesn’t seem to have learning curve abilities.  Because he’s convinced of his rightness (and righteousness), he’s incapable of examining failure objectively and changing his behavior.  As his recent speeches show, he’s invested in his ideology, and any failures that occur on his watch are everyone else’s fault.  He doesn’t seem to realize that, when one examines all the failures of the past 2.5 years, his policies are the only common denominator.  A person with a flexible intelligence would figure that out, analyze his behavior and change it.  A rigid narcissist, however, just keeps pointing the finger of blame, while repeatedly engaging in the same behavior.

Rick Perry may not be a scholar, but he’s a smart man, and anyone who fails to understand that is seriously “misunderestimating” him.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land, available in e-format for the new low price of $2.99 at Amazon, Smashwords or through your iBook app.

UPDATE:  While we’re on the subject of learning curves, I found amusing the bumper sticker on the far right of this Prius’ back end.  Someone is refusing to be discouraged by Obama’s dismal record: