Friday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI got to thinking about the fact that D-Day troops were conscripts, while modern troops are volunteers. In theory, a Bowe Bergdahl should have been more likely in 1943 than in 2009. I therefore wonder if the military’s relentless emphasis on how nice it is — kind of a big charity that does a little fighting on the side — makes it too enticing to lost souls.

Yes, that’s a random observation and I obviously haven’t thought it through. I’m just throwing it out there. What do you think?

While you’re pondering that question, I have things you might enjoy:

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You want to know just how weird Obama’s America has become? I agree with Noam Chomsky (at least on this one thing). It feels like some Biblical prophecy that Obama is successfully making allies out of enemies.

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Okay, it’s Bowe Bergdahl time:

Stephen F. Hayes has an absolutely splendid chronology of the unraveling that’s taken place in the White House since Obama first announced the “Gitmo 5 for Bowe” exchange.

It’s funny, but Bowe’s former platoon members don’t look like psychopaths. They do, however, look like clean-shaven, calm, responsible, stable “pissed-off-opaths.”

Obama and Co., who have been more hostile to Israel than any cohort in America’s history since Israel’s founding, keep claiming that Israel is a great example of these kind of exchanges. No, she’s not.

Obama has found that faux emotion, outrage, and condescension aren’t working when it comes to his 5 for 1 deal. He’s now trying his tried-and-true tactic of waging aggressive war against straw men. It’s not just a rhetorical thing. I think there’s a real touch of paranoia going on there.

Mark Steyn also believes that Bob Bergdahl, Sr., has some answering to do for learning that his son was cracking and, instead of seeking help from him, exhorting him to “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE.” One can’t escape the icky feeling that Bergdahl, Sr., approved highly of Bowe’s shifting allegiances.

America does leave its troops behind

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I already did my D-Day post, but there are other things regarding D-Day that I’d like to bring to your attention:

A real time account, based upon first-hand recollections, of the first wave at Omaha Beach. It is painful and riveting.

Susan D. Harris did something I haven’t seen before: she looks at the home front on that pivotal day. It helps us peel back the veil of time and understand that mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and wives were all realizing that their loved ones were fighting on that foreign shore.

Bernard Jordan must have been something when he was a 19-year-old. Only someone with a firing burning brightly within him would, at age 89, think to himself “bugger that” when his old age home told him he couldn’t attend a D-Day reunion in Normandy. Jordan, who was living in a care facility in England, hid his medals under his raincoat and went the good kind of AWOL: He managed to get himself to Ouistreham for a reunion with his comrades in arms. Good for him! Being old doesn’t mean being infantile, and it was his risk to take.

Winston Churchill had a lot of faults, not the least of which was his profligacy with the lives under his command. Nevertheless, it was he who stood alone against Hitler and, once he became Prime Minister, it was he who inspired the British to stand with him. The years after 1939 might have been much different but for his stalwart faith in western liberties.

Is the takeaway lesson from D-Day and WWII that we can avoid future conflagrations if we rediscover core values first enunciated in the Enlightenment? I’d say yes, provided that rediscovering those values means defeating the Left’s kumbiya moral relativism (not to mention its overall anti-Enlightenment attitudes). We are not enlightened if we say that it’s perfectly okay for Islamists to use fire and sword to achieve their goals, including the subjugation of women and Christians, and the genocide of Jews, gays, and other Muslims.

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Maybe there’s a reason that Morgan Freeman always plays God in the movies:

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Buried treasures are everywhere. The latest is the discovery that a whale lurks beneath a mid-17th century Dutch oil painting of people standing on a beach. Everyone thought they were staring at the Ocean. They weren’t.

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Hillary Clinton boasts that she refused to attack Sarah Palin in 2008, showing female solidarity. That may be (I honestly don’t remember), but she certainly didn’t temper the misogynistic venom heaped on Palin back in 2008. More than that, Hillary’s “female solidarity” shtick is a reminder that Democrats attack categories and labels (and the people representative of those categories and labels), while Republicans challenge and, in many cases, denigrate ideas.  (I made this same point yesterday apropos Joni Ernst’s success in the Iowa primaries.)

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Philip Klein makes a compelling case that the real Obama is emerging in his second term, and it’s not pretty.

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Paul Caron, the Tax Professor, has kept a laser-like focus on the IRS scandal, both what’s been happening and what’s been (to the administration’s relief) lying fallow. Today, he asks just how close Chuck Schumer was to the IRS’s decidedly unconstitutional partisan attack on conservatives in a presidential election year.

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One of the good things about the Obama administration is that it’s given the academic Left the confidence to reveal its inner self — and that’s just as ugly as the inner Obama.  It’s interesting how, once you remove the sophisticated gloss of academia, you end up with students and teachers who represent a foul intersection between berzerkers and lunatics. Even the reliably Left Los Angeles Times is taken aback by “trigger warnings,” which is the academic Left’s latest cause.

Incidentally, the National Association of Scholars has picked winners in its Twitter “trigger warning” contest, and you won’t be disappointed with the results.

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Selwyn Duke argues (credibly) that our society’s and, especially, our media’s efforts to downplay the role minorities play in America’s gun crimes warps the debate and threatens the Second Amendment.

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Sharon Osbourne not only deeply regrets her abortion, she’s very open about acknowledging its negative effect on her life. Indeed, she says something quite profound: “In life, whatever it is, you pay somewhere down the line. You have to be accountable.” Accountable? Really? That’s an old-fashioned concept, isn’t it?

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And I’ll end with a bit of fun. First, a video that purports to prove that Frank Marshall Davis is Obama’s biological father (which, if true, would put to rest the whole thing about Obama being a Kenyan). And then a couple of pictures:

Texas cat

Vegetables into Bacon

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Comments

  1. says

    My focus in 2007 was on the Left, not on Hussein. The “Real” Hussein is merely the Avatar of the Left’s death cult. Even if you got rid of Hussein, that does not mean you got rid of the Left.

  2. jj says

    A lot went on in the European war from D-Day until April 1945.  What isn’t taught, (for the most part), in history class is that Europe in those years was full of Bergdahls.  There were close to 100,000 US soldiers wandering around aimlessly between and behind the lines in Europe doing what they could to avoid the whole thing.  They weren’t all “officially” deserters in Army terms – but 40,000 of them were.  That’s 2+ divisions.  That’s a lot of guys, members of the “greatest generation” who weren’t so great.   (The Army had a pretty strict definition of an actual “deserter.”  It charged them with the serious offense of “desertion before the enemy” – running off during or immediately prior to combat.  This did not include guys who got drunk and overslept; guys who got lost as replacements trying to find their unit [there was a time limit on that, though:  you could wander around for about six weeks before they said "okay, he's a deserter - or maybe dead in a ditch somewhere," because guys got lost all the time in Europe]; guys who overstayed leave; guys who went out on training missions and disappeared; etc.  You had to really be a deserter to be charged with desertion, and there were, as noted 40,000 of them.
     
    They were mostly tried by lesser courts (as opposed to having a general court-martial, wherein the punishment for desertion is very bad news) where they usually ended up confined in the disciplinary training centers, or discharged.  2,864 were tried by general courts, and received sentences ranging from twenty years to death.  Of the hundreds of death sentences decreed by the general courts, only 49 were approved by what the Army liked to call the “convening authority,” and only one guy was executed.  Probably it wouldn’t have been Bergdahl, though the guy they did execute didn’t do any more than he evidently did – and may have done less when we know Bergdahl’s whole story.  (With all the actual criminals in Europe, in January 1945 Eisenhower, for reasons best known only to himself, executed a dork.  He was incidentally a conscript, as were every one of the thirteen [twelve privates, a sergeant in command] men on the firing squad that killed him.)
     
    98% of what hit the beaches on D-Day were conscripts.  In 1939 the US had the 17th largest army on the planet: fewer than 200,000 guys.  Those were the “professionals:” guys who enlisted in the Army because they liked it, and wanted to be in the Army.  In September of 1940 Roosevelt finally noticed the world was turning to shit (pardon me), and authorized the draft, but even then the military was to be held to fewer than a million bodies.  Still, that was, for US purposes, pretty early in the game: Pearl Harbor was still 15 months away.  (Europe had already been fighting for a year: the Battle of Britain was already over; France, Belgium, Holland, Norway and Denmark were gone; Hitler was touring the Louvre – and America was going: “Hah?  What…?”)
     
    So Bergdahl’s unique now, but he wouldn’t have been in the least unique in the European Theater.  (Far fewer problems in the Pacific Theater: it’s goddamed hard to desert from a troop transport a thousand miles from land in all directions, though plenty of guys managed to miss the ships at departure time from San Francisco, Seattle, or LA.)
     
    Of the 98% conscripts who hit the beaches in Normandy, a lot of them had been drafted in ’42-’43, and they weren’t, often enough, the best.  (This is why military leaders no longer want a draft.)  When America mobilized, one youth out of every eight was excused from military service.  (These were not boys with bad hearts, flat feet, etc.  These were the ones with bad minds: the temperamentally unstable, the maladjusted, the sexually perverted, the overly nervous, and the outright psychopaths.  There were,unbelievably enough, 1,532,500 of them.)
     
    (Brief diversion: think about that for a second.  One eighth of the physically fit products of our not-very-demanding society turned out to be mentally unfit to assume any responsibility whatsoever in the business of killing the enemy.  Back then!)
     
    Once past that initial winnowing out the manpower divided, roughly, along the following lines.  (Remember, the “professional” military was tiny, and entirely incapable of staging a D-Day without a hell of a lot of help.  It isn’t known how many enthusiasts volunteered in the wake of Pearl Harbor, but best estimates say around 300,000.)  At the top were the men with a wide range of choice: the professional men, educated men, etc., usually commissioned straight from private life.  Just below them were the preferred services: the Navy and Air Force.  (They got a large share of the cream, because they’re technically-based and require live brain cells.  They may or may not be safer, but they’re a whole lot more comfortable and clean.)  The Army had the “professional” group already in place, plus the National Guard, and the college programs (ROTC) – and these guys became the commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
     
    It was to a great extent a technical war, and the technicians were grabbed off: the Seabees, the Army Engineers, the Air Force Engineers all competed to round up those with skilled hands: carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, etc., etc.  These guys were not wading ashore under fire, thanks: they were too valuable to the overall effort.
     
    Of the unskilled kids, the Marines got first pick,and they went looking for a million of the ones that had that undefinable “thing.”  The ones who were chiefly worried that the war would be over before they could eviscerate some bad guy.
     
    So – who’s left for foot-sloggers?  Who’s left for the standard-issue, down in the mud, wade-ashore-under-withering-fire infantry soldier?  Those who had no choice.  Even those the Army hadn’t previously wanted – the guy who was executed had been 4F for the first three years of the war.  The Army knew what he was and didn’t want him.  But by what turned out to be the last year of the war, he was needed: the barrel was being scraped.  And for the most part, never let it be forgot, even these guys fought magnificently, when well-led.  (That’s a whole other story.)
     
    This obviously differs hugely from today’s circumstances.  We are not scraping the barrel, we are not contemplating the possibility of a million casualties invading Japan, we are not contemplating requiring millions of young men to fight on every continent in all climes.  We are not sucking in anyone who can demonstrably remain upright.  We have, in fact, rather high standards, and as it turns out the military is across the board rather better educated than their civilian cohort.
     
    Different universe, and I agree with you: it is weird that Bergdahl showed up today.  But don’t think he didn’t show up then, too: he did.  Lots of him.  And I also agree with you in part, that the military sells itself wrongly.  As Norman Schwarkopf said: “The Army exists to kill people and break things.”  That’s what it’s for.  It isn’t training you for a future career, it isn’t there to pay for your college (though it will), and it isn’t there to provide air conditioned comfort in the middle of Arabia Deserta.  It’s not a three-year vacation, while you think about what you want to do with the rest of your life.  If it continues to sell itself as a vehicle for “finding yourself,” or some such hooey, it’s going to throw out the occasional Bergdahl.  The “kill people and break things” part should never be allowed to be hidden, ignored, or forgotten – and it all too often is. 

  3. says

    The US military has quotas. Around the time Berg joined, the draw down due to US Democrat fund siphoning would have meant that US recruits were insufficient for some areas with a quota. Thus, Berg might have been an easy fill. He may have joined to get away from his crazy father. Turned out, that didn’t work.

  4. Ron19 says

    On trigger warnings:
     
    The professors would excuse students from those classes, with no points deducted
     
    To solve the dilemma of how to grade those student, why not excuse all the students by not covering the offensive material at all?

  5. says

    Hussein’s problem with the US patriots isn’t due to Kenya. If the birth certificate shows that so and so was born from Frank Marshall…
     
    That would be the same as Hollywood directors, like the Santa Rog killer’s father, who posted nude butt photos of his second wife. Domineering, sex obsessed, atrociously psychopathic producing families, that’s what feminists gave up tradition for, right?

  6. Mike Devx says

    Open Thread…  I’m going to be very interested in the Iowa Senate race (for retiring Tom Harkin’s seat).   Jodi Ernst is a combative and clear-speaking conservative and right now she is pretty much tied with the Democrat.  Iowa is a battleground state, rather evenly split.  It’s going to be interesting to see how a principled conservative who stands tall and proud for those principles fares.
     
    They – the monolithic Left, including the press – will try to demonize her and trap her, a la Sarah Palin.  But I have high hopes for Jodi Ernst.  I’m going to be watching.  And cheering.  Hoping to not be disappointed.
     

  7. Danny Lemieux says

    Book – “I therefore wonder if the military’s relentless emphasis on how nice it is — kind of a big charity that does a little fighting on the side — makes it too enticing to lost souls.”
     
    Here is one anecdotal piece of evidence: my U.S. army son is thinking of switching to the Marines at the end of his enlistment, for precisely the reason that you mentioned.

  8. Mike Devx says

    Just ran across this, on McChrystal, a prominent potential Secretary of Defense under Her Majesty, Queen Hillary:
     
    McChrystal left the door open to the possibility that Bergdahl behaved inappropriately in walking away from his camp, though he did not take sides on the issue nor discuss any of the evidence that has surfaced in light of Bergdahl’s return. The debate around the trade of five high-level Taliban leaders for Bergdahl, he noted, “raises the great issue that we should talk about – and that is responsibility and service.” There was potential that Bergdahl behaved inappropriately, he said, and authorities “should review that and see whether we met responsibilities.”
     
    What kind of mush-mouthed, gobbledy-gook chicken-speak is that?   That’s the kind of stuff emanating from the mouth of a soldier???  At the top echelons, our military surely is in the best of hands.
     

    • says

      http://usmilitary.about.com/library/weekly/aa103000d.htm
       
      Which branch is McChrystal in or was in?
       
      Which branch was Berg in?
       
      Most military lawyers and officers would know about this clause which is normally why they can’t say anything in public or private about the case, one way or another. It’s also called, in civilian terms, jury nullification or jury bias vis a vis prosecution comments. There, they may just change the venue because the prosecution or defense poisoned the climate one way or another. In the US military, there is no “venue” per say, so the entire case is thrown out more or less.
       
      UCI may in theory reduce Berg’s sentencing from death to a few months in jail. Consider that for a moment, and ask why people kept speaking out in Berg’s favor. The Left is already planning 5 moves ahead in this game.

  9. Gringo says

    Different universe, and I agree with you: it is weird that Bergdahl showed up today.  But don’t think he didn’t show up then, too: he did.  Lots of him.
    It depends by what you mean by “Lots of him.” If  Bergdahl was  a run of the mil maladjusted non-political sort, you would be correct. However, I suspect that Bergdahl  had political reasons for  enlisting; Just listen to his father. Bergdahl  reminds me of Howard Zinn, who served in the Armed Forces in WWII, but who most likely was already far leftist. If so, there were not “lots of him” during WWII.
     
    http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2010/01/original-zinn-hillel/index.shtml

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