Schools and parents who teach children to become chum for bullies

School-bully-001
One of my pet peeves is bullying.  I’m not talking about bullying amongst students, although I certainly don’t like that.  I’m talking about the bullying from school districts and Progressive parents who work overtime to ensure that children are brainwashed into fearing self-defense so much that they would rather be led as lambs to the slaughter than stand up for themselves.  The schools are dividing students into two classes:  the bullies and their institutionally created helpless victims.

I’m fulminating about this because of a story I found in the San Jose Mercury News.  There really was bullying going on — students attacked a 15-year-old classmate — but what makes me crazy is the fact that the mother ordered her child to take a beating, while the child celebrated the fact that it was better to get beaten up than to have problems with the school administrators (emphasis mine):

Ann Benediktsson, a 15-year-old Dougherty Valley High School student, was walking home on Thursday when a classmate approached her to say she would soon face a peer in a fight.

Ann’s mother, on the phone with her at the time, told her two things: Run home, and if a fight happens, do not fight back.

“It was the hardest thing I have ever had to say in my life,” Kate Benediktsson recalled. “I felt useless.”

[snip]

Minutes after speaking to her mother, Ann ran into her peer in a park along with over two dozen other students, waiting to witness the event. While Ann attempted to keep her attacker from pulling her hair and socking her jaw, the bystanders pulled out their phones and filmed. In a video Benediktsson obtained of the fight that she later posted to YouTube, students can be heard egging on the fight, sometimes cheering when Ann’s attacker made contact.

Ann never threw a punch.

“I am proud of how I handled it,” Ann said. “I’m glad I didn’t hit back because the principal and teachers would have just said it was a spat between teenagers.”

I cannot believe that a mother told her child to be a punching bag for bullies.  Moreover, I cannot believe that a mother told this to her girl child. One of the primary lessons women learn in every self-defense class is this:  if you fight back against someone who is assaulting you, you are likely to suffer physical injuries, but you are also much less likely than the passive victim to be raped or killed.

In the African savannah, when lions stalk wildebeests or gazelles, the lions do not like to have to work hard for their meal.  They want the lame and the weak stragglers, not the vigorous animals that put up a fight.  Human predators are the same.  A women who walks with an upright, energetic step, and who is aware of her surroundings, simply isn’t as appealing as the gal shuffling along with her head down.  And if that shuffling gal, when attacked, suddenly finds some gumption and fights back, the predator will often back off in any event and look for an easier victim.  (For more on the psychology of self-defense, I highly recommend Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence.)

The mother in the above news story essentially taught her daughter to be shark chum.  Moreover, while the mother ordered the “principled” stand, it was her daughter who ended up taking a beating.  The daughter was certainly an obedient child, but I do rather wonder if the mother would have stood there that passively if it was she, rather than her child, being attacked.

I wasn’t the only one thinking it’s a bad article that celebrates the next generation of victims.  Although the article garnered only eight comments, one of them was right on the mark as far as I was concerned:

ghosthunter007

sorry but I rather take a suspension and stand my ground than to be hit upon, that is the problem with parents these days oh don’t fight back, I taught my son how to defend himself and in doing so he is respected because those who tried to fight him lost. I hate bullies. Everyone should know how to defend themselves.

Ever since my kids hit school, I’ve given them a single message:  Never be the one to start a fight but, if someone else starts the fight, you make sure to end it.  And don’t worry about the school’s subsequent response.  If you had to use physical force to defend yourself, and if the school attempts to punish you, I will take the school on if I have to go all the way to the Supreme Court.  I’ve never had to make good on this promise, since no one has ever physically attacked my kids.  I suspect that, with my instruction ringing in their ears, they don’t walk around like shark bait.

By the way, I always back up this instruction to my kids by telling them that, had Jews not been conditioned by centuries of oppression to avoid arms, put their heads down, and try to appease authorities, its likely that the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened.  Please understand that I’m not blaming those victims.  First, no one could ever have imagined what the Germans intended to do.  Second, the Jews’ behavior wasn’t a conscious decision.  It was the result of a thousand years of conditioning.  Israel, thankfully, while not blaming the victims, nevertheless learned the lesson.  Like my children, Israel won’t start a fight, but she will finish it.

Incidentally, reading this news report about a school district’s institutional hostility to self-defense effectively bullying a child into victimhood, a behavior the child’s mother reinforced, reminded me of a post that America’s Sgt. Major wrote a couple of years ago at Castra Praetoria, explaining how to deal with bullies.  I highly recommend it, because it’s both enjoyable and instructive.

Naomi Wolf, by castigating Katy Perry for her “shameless” Marine music video, shows that you can be the smartest person in the room and still be stupid.

Two people sent me a link to stories about Naomi Wolf castigating singer Katy Perry for making a “shameless” piece of video “propaganda” celebrating the U.S. Marines.  One sent me the link because he knows that, I went to school with Naomi.  The other sent me the link because he knows that I like the Marines.  Before I got to my opinion about this, both as someone who celebrates the Marines and who doesn’t celebrate Naomi, a little background about this story.  Let’s start with Katy’s video:

Me, personally?  I think it’s nice.  Perry’s not a major talent by any means, but she’s a rock-solid pop singer.  This is a catchy, generic pop song, presented as a genuinely respectful look at Marines and their training.  It’s good for the Marines to have this out there. My only complaint is that Katy turns the Marines into the American version of the French Foreign Legion.  (For those who find this reference obscure, the French Foreign Legion used to be known as a place for men who were either escaping from a shady past or a broken heart.)  I hate to see the Marines painted as a sort of Lonely Hearts Club.

And now the Naomi Wolf interlude:

Feminist Naomi Wolf, author of “The Beauty Myth,” is calling Katy Perry’s new video a propaganda piece for the Marine Corps and has suggested her fans boycott the singer.

More specifically, Naomi said:

It’s a total piece of propaganda for the Marines . . . I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it . . . it is truly shameful.  I would suggest a boycott of this singer whom I really liked — if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am.

(As an aside, Naomi’s writing is execrable.  She seems to have abandoned entirely the basic grammar we learned with such effort in high school.  Our English teachers, who were quite good back in the day, would be horrified.)

Before I dive too deeply into this, you have to know that I’m not personally fond of Naomi.  At school, she hung with the “artsy intellectual” crowd and made a point of letting people know that she functioned on a higher intellectual plane than they did. I’ve since learned, from her own writing in fact, that she was a deeply unhappy young woman.  With hindsight, I realize that, typically for an unhappy person, she was trying to make herself feel better by spreading her unhappiness around.  I can now view her with some degree of compassion, but it doesn’t make me like her any better.

Okay, that was my full disclosure.  Back to more substantive issues.

Naomi’s statement about Katy Perry’s video shows that you can be the smartest person in the room (and Naomi is undoubtedly intelligent on the IQ scale) and still be stupid.  Katy Perry is a private citizen and is free to make any type of video she wants, including one that praises the U.S. Marines.  There’s no doubt that the Marines supported Perry’s effort — they did, after all, give her access to Camp Pendleton and forty of the women who live and train there — but there’s no indication whatsoever that they paid for Perry’s services.  Absent that proof, to call a private citizen’s homage to the United States Marine’s a piece of “shameless” “propaganda” is just embittered foolishness.

Wolf’s manifest hostility to the Marines (a hostility that exists despite her later attempts to say that she really admires them for being pathetic cannon fodder) demonstrates how divorced Naomi is from reality.  Naomi enjoys her fame, wealth, and free speech platform because of Marines, men and women both, who are willing to do the dirty work.

In war after war, the United States Marines have willingly, and at great cost, protected America’s national security.  Without the Marines, we might be living in a world with a powerful Bushido Japan controlling the Pacific.  Alternatively, Japan’s control over the Pacific might have been displaced by the Chinese Communists who would have overrun the Pacific Rim in the 1950s and 1960s.  Today, by engaging the Islamists in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Marines (and, of course, America’s other military forces) have kept the battle on the battlefield and away from the home front.

For Naomi to pitch a hissy-fit because an American pop singer lauds an America institution (one that pre-dates America itself) is just so . . . Naomi:  arrogant, foolish, and deeply unhappy, with the kind of unhappiness that just has to spread itself around.

(As another aside, I find it amusing that Perry did this video, because I seem to recall that her soon-to-be ex-husband Russell Brand was famed for spouting anti-American nonsense. To the extent that this is a highly patriotic video, I wonder if it isn’t meant as a slap at him.)

With a friend in the White House, the anti-war movement takes off the mask

There was another anti-war rally in San Francisco, but the gloss of all Americanism with which the movement covered itself during the early years of the Iraq War is gone.  With that gloss ripped away, the truth comes out:

The glory days of the 21st-century anti-war movement were in 2003 and 2004, when tens of thousands of naive “average Americans” would show up at each anti-war event. Then, as I documented extensively over the years at zombietime, far-left and extremist groups quickly seized control of the movement and tried to lead the middle-of-the-road protesters leftward politically. But as the radicalism escalated with each successive protest, the sane people all stopped coming, the rallies started getting smaller and smaller, and from 2004 onward it’s been a continuous downward slide.

The bottom line is revealed:  these protesters, the ones who are Obama’s base, even as they are dismayed by his pragmatic decision to stick it out a little longer in Iraq and Afghanistan, hate America.

Please visit Zombie’s photo essay.  It will give you a good chance to see the ugliness that was always festering underneath the more middle class anti-war movement.

A writer who understands how the Left operates

I’m reading a very enjoyable novel right now that is completely tuned in to the way in which the Left operates, especially when it comes to the media and academia.

The writer is completely tuned into the name calling that substitutes for informed debate. For example, when the book’s protagonist, Paul, learns that Leftists starting submitted articles to a magazine that contained misstatements of facts in an effort to shift political sentiment (a la Climategate, although this book predates that effort), the following dialog ensues between Paul and Bill Weider, the magazine’s editor:

“But – Bill, why don’t you publish the story you told me? Just as you’ve told it to me? Let your readers know. Let the public see what is happening.”

Weidler’s frown came back. “You know what will happen? There will be a campaign against us. We’ll be called fascists, war-mongers, American imperialists, witch-hunters.”

“You’ve forgotten to add ‘hysteria-inciters,’” Paul said, smiling. “Strange how often they’ve been using hysteria recently – almost hysterically, in fact.”

On the subject of claims about hysteria, my sister, much impressed, sent me this Glenn Greenwald article deriding American hysteria about the Flaming Panties bomber.  I wrote her back that Americans would be less inclined to be hysterical if the Administration would identify and focus upon an enemy – that would be radical Islam, by the way. As long as the Administration (and this goes for the past Administration too) refuses to identify the enemy, all Americans are suspect, and all must be exposed to searches, stupid restrictions, and other limitations on civil liberties.

In a charming aside, the book tackles the root cause question. When the book’s heroine, Rona, and her sister, Peggy, talk about an unpleasant acquaintance, they have this to say:

“She isn’t a friend of yours, is she?” Peggy was now very much the elder sister.

“Not particularly,” Rona said, which was a miracle of understatement. “Scott says she’s a product of her environment,” she added.

“Strange how we never use that phrase when we are describing pleasant people,” Peggy said….

Do I need to remind you that one of the first things Obama did after the Flaming Panties bombing was to emphasize the poverty in Yemen? Yes, it’s true that poor, corrupt countries are great hosts for radical Islamists, but there is no doubt but that the bombers, whether they’re the fabulously wealthy founder of Al Qaeda, young dilettantes flying airplanes into the World Trade Center, ordinary Yorkshire youths blowing up British subways, educated psychiatrists shooting soldiers at Fort Hood, or fabulously wealthy Nigerians setting their underwear on fire are products of only one environment, one that the Left never dares to acknowledge: Islam.

Using a conversation between Paul and his friend, Jon, a professor, the writer has a long riff on the way in which the Left deliberately targets universities and newspapers – indeed, all media of mass communication – as a way in which to manipulate the public:

“You’re in education, Jon. Do you think propaganda is a powerful force? Could it be dangerous? Supposing an enemy of this country had its sympathizers carefully planted here? Supposing these propagandists were trying to infiltrate such businesses and professions as radio, the press, films, schools and colleges, the theater, publishing?”

“That’s a damned silly question,” Jon said almost angrily. “You ask how dangerous it might be?” He looked at Paul, unbelievingly, but Paul kept silent. “This is the twentieth century, with communication easier and more powerful than it’s ever been. The trouble with those who see no danger, who think we are perfectly safe if only we invent more hideous bombs is that they are still living with a nineteenth century idea of peace. Wars haven’t changed much except in bigger and better holocausts. But peace, as we are going to see it in this century, is something quite altered. A lot of new dangers are going to stay with us permanently just because we’ve invented a lot of peacetime conveniences that make life so interesting. It isn’t only armies we have to fear today: it’s words, words abused and corrupted and twisted.”

Still Paul said nothing.

“You see,” Jon went on patiently, “a hundred years ago, fewer people could read, fewer people were educated, and fewer people thought they could argue about international conditions. Also, in those days, propaganda spread more slowly and less widely. But now we’ve got a vast public who read their papers, discuss books and articles, go to the movies and the theater, listen to their radio, watch television, and send their children to schools and colleges.”

“And a public,” Paul interposed, “who have enough to do with arranging their own lives without analyzing all the things they read or hear. They’ve got to trust the honesty of those men who deal with the written or spoken word. Just as the journalist, or the movie director, or the teacher, has got to trust the honesty of the businessmen and workers whenever he buys a refrigerator or a car or a shirt. Isn’t that right?”

The above was written before the 2008 election – before the media completely abandoned its role of reporting and became an institution devoted to advocating a single party in an election. And, as Paul predicted, the public bought it hook, line and sinker, trusting as they did in the honesty of the written and spoken word pouring out over the airwaves. Nowadays, big lies get promulgated with warp speed, in myriad media, and they live forever, corrupting political discourse.

The author recognizes the way in which the Left is hostile to any wars that might conceivably advance American interests. In speaking of a college campus, she says:

“The colleges and universities were full of pickets with placards saying it was all an imperialist war. The students and faculties were deluged with leaflets denouncing war-mongers and reactionaries. Speakers were appearing on the campus, haranguing us all not to fight.”

There’s a universality to that description, since it aptly describes the Left’s anti-War tactics in 1940, 1968, 1991, 2003, and today. To the Left, the possibility of a good war, a war to maintain the line against totalitarianism and preserve freedom, is always impossible to imagine – and the easiest targets for that failure of imagination are colleges students, since it is they who must be convinced that they are fighting for something worth defending.

Speaking of fighting for something worth defending, the writer has no truck with the Leftist habit of moral relativism. Here are Rona and her boyfriend Scott having a debate about a guest at a party who Rona believes has a tiresome habit of painting everything in Left of center politics:

“His line is so old! Two years ago, or three, he could manage to get away with it. But not now.”

“What do you mean?” Scott looked across the room.

“Just that he wasn’t the least little bit the original talker he likes to imagine he is. He only succeeded in annoying most of our guests.”

“Because he thinks differently from them? Se we must all talk the same way, think the same things?”

“No, darling!” She rose and came over to him. “I don’t believe two of us in the room echoed any point of view, except in a general way – well, of believing that right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“That’s all relative,” Scott said. “Depends on each man’s frame of reference.”

“I don’t believe that,” she said, “except for the small things in life. You can find them as relative as you like. But in the big things, you’ve got to decide what is right, what is wrong. Or else you’ve no moral judgment, at all. Like Murray. He’s just a parrot, that’s all he is.”

Moral relativism, of course, is a chronic talking point for the Left, and a chronic problem for those educated and controlled by the Left. In the War against Islamists, for example, moral relativism is tightly entwined with the whole “root cause” that both the author and I mentioned above. After all, as Michael Moore said, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The Left never seems to understand that, while the act of fighting may be the same, the reason one fights determines whether one is morally right or wrong. Fighting for individual liberty is a good reason to fight; fighting to subjugate the world to a misogynist, homophobic, antisemitic, anti-Christian, completely totalitarian religion – well, not so good.

In the last section of the book from which I’ll quote, the writer also tackles the Left’s habit of targeting individuals by appealing to their sense of victim hood. Multiculturalism isn’t a means of preserving what’s special about a group’s ethnicity. Instead, it’s a political tool aimed at dividing Americans from each other, and making them dependent on the Left as their only savior.

While today’s victims are mostly blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, women (when it’s still useful), Muslims, etc., in the book, the man targeted to be a victim who can be saved only by the Left is a Jew:

“I’ve a battle on my hands right now. They want us to keep different, and I’m telling them the hell with that, we’re Americans. That’s what we are. Stop building a wall around us, stop emphasizing differences, that’s what I keep trying to tell them. And they look at me as if I were some kind of traitor.” He looked at Jon Tyson. “But I’m building no wall, and no one is going to persuade me to do it.”

Obviously, I’ve been playing coy with you, keeping secret the book’s author, title and date of publication. Those of you who know my weakness for Helen MacInnes’ Cold War novels might already have figured out that I’m quoting from one of her books. The book in question is Neither Five Nor Three, published in 1951. It focuses on the Left’s infiltration of the media world and college campuses.

This was the beginning of the Cold War, of course, so Helen MacInnes couldn’t look ahead and realize how that infiltration would be completely successful. While we were challenging the Soviet Union abroad, it was taking over our institutions at home. And now, as Leftist Professor Ward Churchill would say, “The chickens have come home to roost.” All of the nascent tactics MacInnes described then – the moral relativism, the victim-based multiculturalism, the name-calling, the anti-Americanism – have become permanently entrenched in America’s media and education cultures. In those days, people saw these things and remarked upon them. In these days, people believe in the message and approve of the messengers.

Neither Five Nor Three Cover

When violence is the answer

I love my dojo.  The teachers are, without exception, top quality and, also without exception, they are just about the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Oh, one other thing:  without exception, they’re pro-Obama and anti-War.

What this means is that you have people who dedicate their lives to teaching fighting, and who believe passionately in personal self-defense, but who are ideologically completely opposed to the notion of national self-defense.  They believe that, at the personal level, if one can’t defuse a hostile opponent quickly, one should subdue that opponent with swift and overwhelming (although not necessarily deadly) force.  However, they believe that, at the national level, there is never any justification for a nation to go to war.  War is evil.  Bush was an evil war-monger.  Obama is good because he is the bringer of peace.

(And no, I haven’t talked to them about Obama’s decision to conduct a temporary, mini-Surge in Iran Afghanistan.  [Editor's note:  Was that a Freudian slip, or what?]  Indeed, I never talk politics with them at all.  I just listen to their conversations and read their bumperstickers.  I’ve learned that, when it comes to politics in Marin, direct confrontation is never as effective as small asides that cause people to think.)

I always wonder when the cognitive dissonance between my teachers’ personal passions and their politics will finally become overwhelming.  They’d probably be helped if they ever saw this Steve Crowder video:

Media continues to give new meaning to old ideas

There’s yet another movie coming out about the way in which the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq destroy lives and turn young men into pathetic losers:

There is a grim timeliness to the release of “Brothers,” Jim Sheridan’s movie about the effects of war on the family of a Marine serving in Afghanistan. Whatever the other consequences of President Obama’s revised strategy in that country, we can be sure that it will yield more stories like the one told in this film. And it is sobering, eight years into the war, to reflect that in 2004, the first time this movie was made — by the Danish director Susanne Bier — it was just as topical and urgent.

The review is written in terms of high art — which I translate as boring and pompous — but I gather that the brother who goes to war suffers terribly, and that his sufferings transfer to the family, and that they all suffer and are destroyed together. War is hell, people.

The above is the usual we expect from Hollywood.  What’s so funny is the way in which the New York Times‘ movie reviewer, A.O. Scott, assures us that the movie is completely apolitical:

But this “Brothers,” like its predecessor, is in some ways less a movie about war than a movie that uses war as a scaffolding for domestic melodrama. It also follows the template of American movies about Iraq and Afghanistan in being resolutely somber and systematically apolitical: you can witness any kind of combat heroism or atrocity, and see unflinching portrayals of grief, trauma and healing. But you almost never hear an argument about the war itself, or glimpse the larger global and national context in which these intimate dramas take shape.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Scott that a movie that paints war as an evil thing that destroys, not just the enemy, but the warriors at home and, by extension, their families too, is pretty anti-war.  And that if it’s anti-war, it isn’t apolitical.  Instead, it’s standing firmly on the side of those liberals who believe that all wars, regardless of the goals, are inherently evil and destructive.  It also stands firmly on the side of those liberals who do not believe that there is a warrior class that finds fulfillment in serving, and that despite the fact that war — even a just war — can indeed be hell.

As an antidote to the liberal establishment’s firm belief that military service inevitably destroys human beings, let me replay this great video of Congressional candidate Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, which I already added to my affirmative action post:

Even Obama couldn’t placate his extreme base

Despite giving the generals almost 75% fewer troops than the 80,000 they really wanted (and even significantly less than the 40,000 they sort of wanted), and despite telling the Taliban and Al Qaeda exactly when the field is theirs, and despite dwelling morbidly on death in front of the men and women at West Point who will be going to the field of battle, Obama still couldn’t placate everyone on his side of the political spectrum.  A couple of hundred gathered in S.F. to make their protests known — and Protest Shooter was there to capture them on film (or on digital images, I guess).

Why not victory

Bruce Kesler sent around an email asking whether we thought victory was possible in Afghanistan.  My reply was that I don’t think the Democrats can conceive of victory as a possible outcome.  As I wrote to him, I’m the child of parents who fought in WWII and the Israeli War of Independence.  Although they were bone-deep Dems and loathed Goldwater, they too understood that the only way to fight a war is to win.  Otherwise, you’re just sacrificing your own troops needlessly in an endless slow bleed.

I don’t think the Democrats are capable of conceiving an outcome to a war that is tantamount to “victory.”  To them, all wars are failures because they are . . . wars.  This means that there are no strategic goals that the Democrats can contemplate that will justify continuing to fight a war.  They will therefore approach war in a half-hearted way, waiting, not to win, but to withdraw.

Obama’s support for the war in Afghanistan has never been a committed belief in the necessity of destroying the Taliban there and protecting Pakistan.  It has always been a political move to distinguish himself from Bush:  “Bush never focused on the real war.  That’s why I focus on that war.”  Obama, though, is a Democrat and believes that all wars are unwinnable, so he’s doing the Democratic thing.  He’s throwing in bodies, but actively supporting cutting costs and appeasing the enemy.

Taking own his practical experience in Vietnam, and his breadth and depth of knowledge, Bruce came up with a post that intelligently develops my own instinctive feeling that, with war, as with pregnancy, you can’t just be “a little bit” engaged in that situation.  It’s an all or nothing proposition.  I urge you to check out Bruce’s post and cast your vote on the side of true victory in Afghanistan.

All violence is equal, but some violence is more equal than others

Movie review one:

The movie is a viscerally exciting, adrenaline-soaked tour de force of suspense and surprise, full of explosions and hectic scenes of combat, but it blows a hole in the condescending assumption that such effects are just empty spectacle or mindless noise.

[snip]

Ms. Bigelow, practicing a kind of hyperbolic realism, distills the psychological essence and moral complications of modern warfare into a series of brilliant, agonizing set pieces.

[snip]

It has intense, horrific violence and appropriately profane reactions to the prospect of same.

Let me sum that up: This is an incredibly violent movie, with really gross stuff, but we love it.

Movie review two:

[This movie] thoroughly blurs the line between high-minded outrage and lurid torture-porn.

[snip]

Not since “The Passion of the Christ” has a film depicted a public execution in such graphic detail. In the approximately 20 minutes during which the killing unfolds, the camera repeatedly returns to study the battered face and body of the title character (Mozhan Marno) as she is stoned to death.

[snip]

In one of the film’s sickeningly exploitative touches, Ali, wearing a triumphal grin, examines his wife’s crumpled, blood-drenched body to make sure she is dead and discovers signs of life in a rolled-up eye. The stoning is promptly resumed.

[snip]

Mr. Negahban’s Ali, who resembles a younger, bearded Philip Roth, suggests an Islamic fundamentalist equivalent of a Nazi anti-Semitic caricature. With his malevolent smirk and eyes aflame with arrogance and hatred, he is as satanic as any horror-movie apparition.

[snip]

As “The Passion of the Christ” showed, the stimulation of blood lust in the guise of moral righteousness has its appeal.

Again, let me sum things up: This is an incredibly violent movie, with really gross stuff, and we were deeply offended.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, the second movie is The Stoning of Soraya M. It depicts true events in an Iranian village that is subject to the worst kind of sharia law, misogyny, and power run amok.  The movie does not shy away from showing what it looks like for someone to be stoned to death, nor the evil that motivates that kind of action.  And lest you think the violence is exaggerated, just think of the beheading tapes the jihadis like to release, in which they are in an ecstasy of bloodlust.  Bottom line:  showing the true horror of a religious, misogynistic act is really tacky, and it’s downright cruel to force New York Times reviewers to have to watch it.

The first movie may not be one you’ve heard of.  It’s called The Hurt Locker — and is a critic’s pick.  Set during 2004 in Iraq, it shows a squad dedicated to disarming (or blowing up) IEDs.  The only really problem, in the critic’s eyes, is that the film isn’t more antiwar.  Thus, he lauds the fact that “you will . . . be thinking” but complains that the film did not go further:

[You will . . . be thinking] Not necessarily about the causes and consequences of the Iraq war, mind you. The filmmakers’ insistence on zooming in on and staying close to the moment-to-moment experiences of soldiers in the field is admirable in its way but a little evasive as well.

It is in this context that the reviewer thinks all that bloody, graphic, horrifying violence is just about the most thrilling thing he’s seen in, God, who knows how long.  Bottom line:  showing American military people and Iraqi citizens being blown up in graphic detail is incredibly exciting, because it reminds us that Bush lied and people died.

As I said, all violence is equal, but some violence is definitely more exciting and rewarding than others.

Does this sound like treason to you? *UPDATED*

Treason is a pretty simple concept.  Here are a few choice definitions:

A violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.

Violation of allegiance toward one’s country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one’s country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.

1. a crime that undermines the offender’s government
2. disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior
3. an act of deliberate betrayal

Have you got all those definitions firmly in mind?  Now read this, from Amir Taheri, reporting in the New York Post:

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops – and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its “state of weakness and political confusion.”

When I was a young adult, one of the absolute worst charges Reagan’s political opponents leveled at him was the claim that, while he was running for President against Jimmy Carter, he reached an agreement with the Iranian revolutionaries that they would not release the American hostages until after the presidential election — something that would reinforce the American voter’s impression that Carter was weak and inept.

In the 1990s, both the House and the Senate investigated these charges and found nothing.  Nevertheless, amongst Democrats and those further to the Left, mention Reagan’s name and this charge comes up as yet another example of the Left’s ability to believe simultaneously that conservatives/Republicans are yokels with two-digit IQs and evil manipulators whose savvy enables them constantly to double-cross naive Democrats.

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama grew up knowing about this charge against Reagan, and saw  it as yet another example of Reagan’s and the Republicans’ myriad calumnies.  Heck, I don’t even doubt that Obama dismisses the official debunking and believes it’s completely true that Reagan engaged in this heinous act.  Or, let’s put it another way — an act that was heinous when a Republican committed it against a Democrat.

I also have absolutely no doubt that Obama used Reagan’s alleged negotiations with the hostages as an inspiration for his undermining the American government, not during a “crisis,” but during an actual war.  Nobody in the Justice Department is going to do anything about it, of course.  Nevertheless, we can at least call ‘em like we see ‘em — if the Iraqi Foreign Minister spoke the truth (and this is not merely an inchoate conspiracy theory, but something straight from a possibly reliable horse’s mouth), Obama committed treason, plain and simple.

And this is the man that approximately half of the country wants to see as Commander in Chief?  Someone who will betray his own country and keep American troops at risk for an enterprise he believes is unnecessary simply for his own personal aggrandizement?  If we needed any further evidence that Obama is unfit to walk through the door of the White House, this is it.

Others blogging:

Wizbang
Instapundit
Hot Air
Lucianne
Brutally Honest
The Anchoress

UPDATE: Charlie from Colorado made such a good point in the comments that I think his point and my response need to be moved up here, to the post:

Charlie (Colorado):

Bookie, this is the one case where the definition of a crime is established in the Constitution:

Article III Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

I think it would be pretty hard to claim this was an overt act of levying war or of adhering to the enemies of the USA.

Now, if you wanted to suggest it was a violation of the Logan Act I’d be right there with you.

Bookworm:

Interesting point, Charlie. Did Obama give aid and comfort to the enemy? From his own point of view, I think he did.

My take on the War — and this particular time in the War — is that our troops our in Iraq trouncing the bad guys. Obama’s point of view is now, and certainly was back in July, when he made these statements — that the war is a failure, and that our troops are there as target practice for some amorphous “insurgents.” (I say amorphous because the Democrats keep denying that these are Al Qaeda people and they’ve assured us that Islam is a religion of peace.)

Because Obama’s view is/was that our troops our in the equivalent of a turkey shoot, with them being the turkeys, when he specifically requested that those same American troops be left to the depredations of those amorphously identified insurgents, Obama provided aid and comfort to the enemy. More American turkeys for them to shoot could only be a good thing from their point of view. (Mind you, I’m looking at the Iraq theater through the Obama prism.)

Likewise, by bad mouthing our administration abroad and implying that it is ineffectual, Obama is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Certainly, we’ve taken heart from captured communications between Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers in which the writers speak badly of their own command and troops.

And you’re right, of course — Obama’s also violating the Logan Act.

Best analysis I’ve seen of Obama’s myriad failures re Iraq

Before today, I hadn’t heard of Frank Turek.  After today, I’m going to keep an eye out for his articles.  He’s written a really splendid article explaining how deeply, terribly wrong Obama’s every position is regarding Iraq.  Frankly, for those who are well-informed, there’s nothing in this article you haven’t seen before.  I’m just impressed by how well and elegantly he pulls it together — to the point where’d I say that, if you have to send one article to a liberal friend supporting McCain on Iraq, and opposing Obama, I’d make it this one.

For example (emphasis in original):

Barack Obama’s recent op-ed in the New York Times declares, “It’s time to end this war.” (You remember that Senator McCain tried to respond, but the Times apparently wanted to give McCain his opinion rather than allow him to express his own.   Every day I read the New York Times and the Bible just to see what both sides are doing.)

Is Obama right?  Is it time to end this war?  Maybe it is time to begin drawing down our forces and handing-off more responsibility for security to Iraqi forces.  This idea is gaining favor in Bagdad and Washington.

The problem for Obama is that withdrawal, not victory, has always been his goal.  Obama wanted to “end this war” when it would have meant an American defeat.  The only reason a slow withdrawal is possible now is because President Bush made the unpopular but wise decision to increase our efforts while Obama and the Democrat party tried to get us to cut and run.

This raises a larger question about Obama’s fitness for the presidency.  Obama has four positions related to the war which, in my view, disqualify him for the presidency.

First, how can a serious candidate for President of the United States have a long-standing goal to end the war rather than win it?  Great presidents don’t end wars—they win them. The only way the American military can be defeated is when American leaders forfeit the fight for them.  And that’s exactly what Obama has wanted to do for years.

Phone messages from crazy people

I was out this morning getting my oil changed — and learning that it will cost almost $2,000 to fix my car from its recent run-in with a low post.  When I got home, I found an interesting message on my answering machine.

It’s the recorded voice of Dennis Kucinich begging me to “Press 1 now” on my phone to be added to the “growing list” of people calling for George Bush’s impeachment.  I don’t know how to tell Kucinich this, but George Bush is leaving office, with or without impeachment, in six months.

Impeachment is, in any event, a dumb idea.  Even though Clinton used the White House as his own private cat house, committed perjury himself, and encouraged others to lie as well, I thought the impeachment against him was vindictive politics that would backfire.  I think the same holds true in this tit-for-tat attempt to dislodge Bush, or just to humiliate him, with the end of his presidency drawing near.

It’s also unusually stupid — and this is saying a lot even for Kucinich — considering the potential fall-out here.  Clinton’s crimes were his own.  In this case, however, any Democrat calling for impeachment should consider the number of Congress people (Democrats included) who had possession of precisely the same information as George Bush, and who were as gung-ho for war as he was.  Any attack on Bush is necessarily going to create a wide-ranging defense that attacks a whole bunch of Congress people as well.  (You know, thinking about it, that’s not such a bad thing, is it?)

Quick! Someone tell the American voters about this news from Iraq.

The story is amazing and the source — the normally anti-American Spiegel (a German magazine) — is equally amazing.  According to this story, things in Baghdad are going really well, and the citizens have a renewed sense of well-being and purpose:

There is an unexpected air of normalcy prevailing in Baghdad these days, with consumption flourishing and confidence in the government growing. The progress is astonishing, but can it last?

Pork is available in Baghdad once again. Not just in the Green Zone, where US diplomats can enjoy their spare ribs and Parma ham, but also across the Tigris River, in the real Baghdad, at “Al-Warda” on Karada Street. Bassim Dencha, 32, one of the few Christians remaining in Iraq and the co-owner of Baghdad’s finest supermarket, has developed a supply line from Syria. As a result, he now has frozen pork chops and bratwurst arranged in his freezers, next to boxes of frozen French fries and German Black Forest Cakes. And the customers are buying.

For four years, selling pork or alcohol in Baghdad was a security risk. But the acts of terror committed by Islamist fundamentalists, who once punished such violations of their interpretation of the Koran with attacks on businesses and their owners, have gradually subsided. The supply of imported goods is also relatively secure today, now that roads through the Sunni Triangle are significantly safer than they were only a few months ago.

“It’s worth it again,” says businessman Bassim Dencha. “All we need now is enough electricity to reopen our refrigerated warehouse.”

And on and on, with details of progress and optimism.  The story (of course) points to the fragility of this renewal, and has doom and gloom statements about its sustainability, but the story’s general tenor is cautious optimism.

Do you think Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama have read this?  Do you think they care?  How about the New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Newsweek, Time, etc., ad nauseum?  I doubt any of them want to see stories like this published in America between now and November.  It will be devastating to their oft repeated message that the Iraq War is unwinnable (since this report allows for the possibility that we won), and that Bush was a horrible, malevolent idiot, whose wrongful conduct taints all Republicans, practically mandating an Obama victory.

Please go to the Spiegel story and email it to your friends.  More people should read it and see what they’re missing when they open America’s papers and magazines, or turn on the news channels.

We have met the enemy and it is us *UPDATED*

I mentioned the famous Walt Kelly phrase (“we have met the enemy and it is us”) the other day in connection with a post I did about Sweden’s national suicide pact.  My point then was that, if a culture is determined to self-destruct, that suicidal urge becomes the most powerful weapon possible in its enemies hands.  When it comes to Europe, the Islamists don’t need airplanes and bombs — they just need to keep the Europeans doing what they’re doing.  If you stop having children and you hate yourself, your cultural demise is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

At Scott’s Conservative News and Commentary, we get a reminder that some people are more active in the cultural and national self-destruct mode than others.  Get a load of this incredible picture of Code Pink protestors.  Don’t just glanced at it.  Really read the sign.  You then have two choices:  crawl into a corner and cry or fight back in this war of ideas.  [UPDATE:  I have it on good authority that the photo is a fake.  While Code Pink has real signs with similar sentiments, someone mocked this one up to make a point.  I think this post still stands, though, even if the photo isn't real.  What do you think?]

Incidentally, you can read a bit more background information Code Pink’s latest initiative at Butch Morgan’s site.

A moment of sanity in Marin

Town Councils are supposed to be involved with town business: fire departments, police departments, flood plans, earthquake plans, local zoning ordinances, etc. They are not supposed to be involved with national politics. Residents have their national political representatives in the form of their elected congress people. That didn’t stop the always idiotic Lynn Woolsey from attempting to coerce local town councils into weighing in on the Iraq War. Fortunately, in Mill Valley, California, sanity prevailed:

Despite the pleas of a vocal audience Monday night, the Mill Valley City Council chose not to weigh in on the Iraq war.The council voted 4-0, with Garry Lion absent, against changing city policy and considering an anti-war resolution. Instead, the council asked the city staff to investigate the possibility of an open forum with higher elected officials.

“We need to be able to be able to agree to disagree,” said Mayor Shawn Marshall. “We tried to find a middle ground here.”

You can read the rest here. I can assure you that if my town council decides to wade into international political waters, I will work hard to unseat every incumbent in the next election. As it is, my local town council is doing a good job with local politics, and it should stick to what it knows.

Prescient versus naive? stupid? ideologically blind?

Frederick Kagan has a fascinating comparison of the specific Iraq policy plans McCain and Obama advanced before the Surge.  McCain actually envisioned a surge-like event, and described all the positive benefits that would flow from it — and his predictions proved to be completely accurate.  Obama, of course, demanded retreat and defeat.  Given the success of the plan McCain envisioned, it is not unreasonable to assume that Obama’s opposite plan might have had a very opposite outcome.  I love Kagan’s conclusion:

For any voter trying to choose between the two candidates for commander in chief, there is no better test than this: When American strategy in a critical theater was up for grabs, John McCain proposed a highly unpopular and risky path, which he accurately predicted could lead to success. Barack Obama proposed a popular and politically safe route that would have led to an unnecessary and debilitating American defeat at the hands of al Qaeda.

The two men brought different backgrounds to the test, of course. In January 2007, McCain had been a senator for 20 years and had served in the military for 23 years. Obama had been a senator for 2 years and before that was a state legislator, lawyer, and community organizer. But neither presidential candidates nor the commander in chief gets to choose the tests that history brings. Once in office, the one elected must perform.

WaPo editor finally figures out that the Left lied, not Bush

There is an absolutely staggering editorial in today’s Washington Post — it admits that, John Rockefeller’s “official” indictment to the contrary, Bush did not lie. If anything, Rockefeller, in his official Senate Intelligence Committee report is lying by reaching conclusions at odds with his own evidence:

Search the Internet for “Bush Lied” products, and you will find sites that offer more than a thousand designs. The basic “Bush Lied, People Died” bumper sticker is only the beginning.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, set out to provide the official foundation for what has become not only a thriving business but, more important, an article of faith among millions of Americans. And in releasing a committee report Thursday, he claimed to have accomplished his mission, though he did not use the L-word.

“In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent,” he said.

There’s no question that the administration, and particularly Vice President Cheney, spoke with too much certainty at times and failed to anticipate or prepare the American people for the enormous undertaking in Iraq.

But dive into Rockefeller’s report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.

On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.”

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president’s statements “were substantiated by intelligence information.”

On chemical weapons, then? “Substantiated by intelligence information.”

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.” Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? “Generally substantiated by available intelligence.” Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.”

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you’ve mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda “were substantiated by the intelligence assessments,” and statements regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” The report is left to complain about “implications” and statements that “left the impression” that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.

In the report’s final section, the committee takes issue with Bush’s statements about Saddam Hussein’s intentions and what the future might have held. But was that really a question of misrepresenting intelligence, or was it a question of judgment that politicians are expected to make?

There’s more in the same vein. I suspect we should make multiple copies and start handing them out whenever we hear someone start to say “Bush lied….”

Others blogging this one: The Anchoress, Brutally Honest, Cheat-Seeking Missiles, Hot Air

Steve Schippert, writing at The Tank on National Review, has a nice parallel post which discusses what a rarity the above editorial is by focusing on an ABC news story that desperately tries to spin the success in Iraq to Obama’s benefit (“This is not the Iraq War I thought I knew.”)

Everything old is new again

I am a huge Georgette Heyer fan. I consider her one of the most amusing, sophisticated novel writers ever, and think it’s a shame that she got labeled as a pure romance writer, a genre that puts her in the “I browse that section wearing sunglasses and a scarf” category of books at any Barnes & Noble. In fact, her historical novels, written about the years between 1775 (or so) and 1820 (or so) are examples of meticulous historical research. In her own times, she was recognized as one of the people in England most knowledgeable about the Regency period and, by extension, about the Napoleonic wars that served as a 22 year background to that era.

A side note here: Although the historical distance makes it a bit hard to tell, England’s stand against Napoleon was incredibly important, not just for England’s control of trade and Empire building (which was a selfish reason for England to stay in the world), but for Europe’s freedom. While Napoleon definitely had good points (he broke open the ghettos that confined European Jews), he was also a megalomaniac who was trying to establish a new Napoleon-controlled Empire stretching from Spain to Russia. It would have been a police state as surely as any other “empire by conquest” and his defeat was, overall, a good thing. Now back to Georgette Heyer….

One of Heyer’s books, A Civil Contract, is a romance that has as its backdrop England during the last year of the Napoleonic war, from his imprisonment at Elba to his ultimate defeat at Waterloo.  As the book nears its end, Heyer discusses the Duke of Wellington’s campaign against Napoleon in the weeks immediately before Waterloo, and, more interestingly, the attitudes prevailing in London at the time amongst high society, the politicos (with both the liberal Whig views and the conservative Tory views on display), and the mercantile class.  Even then, it seems, liberals were anti-War!

Read this lengthy passage about the fatigue and disinterest that set in amongst large swaths of the population during a long war, as well as the anti-War party’s longing for defeat at any cost, and see if it doesn’t ring a bell.  (Adam is the book’s lead male character, and he is an ex-Army officer who had fought under Wellington in earlier campaigns.):

[H]is brief sojourn in London had made him realize that between the soldier and the civilian there was a gulf too wide to be bridged.  It had been no hardship to cut his visit [to London] short.  The [social] season was in full swing; the looming struggle across the Channel seemed to be of no more importance to the ton [England's high society] than a threatened scandal, and was less discussed.  To a man who had spent nearly all his adult life in hard campaigning it was incomprehensible that people should care so little that they could go on dancing, flirting, and planning entertainments to eclipse those given by their social rivals when the fate of Europe was in the balance.  But England had been at war for twenty-two years, and the English had grown accustomed to this state, accepting it in much the same spirit as they accepted a London fog, or a wet summer.  In political circles and in the City [the merchant class] a different and more serious point of view might be taken, but amongst the vast majority of the population only such families as had a son or a brother in the Army regarded the renewal of hostilities as anything more than an inevitable and foreseeable bore.  Except that Napoleon had not abdicated in March of 1802, it was the Peace of Amiens all over again.  It was disagreeable, because taxes would remain high, and one would once more be unable to enjoy foreign travel; but it was not disastrous, because whatever he might do on the Continent Napoleon would not overrun Great Britain.  Life would go on, in fact, just as it had for as long as most people could remember.

To Adam, who, until so recently, had had no other real object than to defeat Napoleon’s troops, such apathy was as nauseating as it was extraordinary.

I don’t know why, but having just read Heyer’s words, the following comment at the Commentary Blog (h/t Danny Lemieux) put me in mind of the above passage about European malaise when it comes to self-preservation.  The two things are not the same, of course, since the Commentary post, by Peter Wehner, focuses, not on England during the Napoleonic era, but on the European and Leftist attitude about Bush’s failed multilateralism (even when evidence shows she’s been multilateral), or their complaints that she’s insisting on help, rather than functioning unilaterally.  There’s something about the damned if you do, damned if you don’t tone, the carping, and the general inability to recognize real danger, however, that seem sunchanged after two centuries:

Last week I was in London attending a Global Leadership Forum, sponsored by the Royal United Services Institute, the Princeton Project on National Security, Newsweek International, and Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP. The attendees–from both the United States and Europe–included academics, scholars, journalists, diplomatic advisers and others who inhabit the foreign policy world. The event was well-organized, the conversations wide-ranging, and there was a genuine effort to hear from a diversity of voices (hence my invitation). But there is no question that the dominant outlook of most of those in attendance was left-leaning, which itself made the trip illuminating.

I came away from the gathering (portions of which I missed) with several broad impressions. One was that multilateralism has become virtually an end in itself. What matters to many Europeans and liberal-leaning Americans is the process rather than the results. What almost never gets discussed is what happens when one’s desire for multilateralism collides with achieving a worthy end (for example, trying to stop genocide in Darfur or prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb). The child-like faith in multilateralism as the solution to all that ails the world would be touchingly innocent if it weren’t so terribly dangerous.

There were the predictable assertions made about how the United States, under George W. Bush, was “unilateralist” and that, in the words of one former Clinton Administration official, “multilateralism was a dirty word” in the Bush Administration. This charge is simplistic and demonstrably untrue–and one could cite as evidence everything from the lead up to the Iraq war (in which the United States went to the UN not once but twice, and gained unanimous approval of Resolution 1441); the war itself (which included support from the governments of Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Norway, El Salvador and many other nations); the E3; the Quartet; the Six Party Talks; the Proliferation Security Initiative; a slew of free trade agreements; and more. In fact the Bush Administration was criticized by Democrats for being too multilateralist in their dealings with North Korea; it was said by John Kerry, among other liberals, that we should engage in bilateral talks with North Korea rather than rely on the Six Party Talks.

Another impression I had was that many (if not most) Europeans and American foreign policy experts are caught in a time warp, acting as if we are still in 2006. They simply want to wash their hands of Iraq. They hate the war, are seemingly impervious to the security and political progress we have seen in Iraq since last summer, and they want the next Administration to downplay Iraq as an issue, which they believe has “obsessed” the Bush presidency. What they don’t seem to understand is that ending U.S. involvement in the war won’t end the war. In fact, if Obama or Clinton follow up on their stated commitments, it is likely to trigger mass death and possibly genocide, revitalize al Qaeda, strengthen Iran, and further destabilize the region. The irony would be that the plans laid out by Democrats, if followed, would increase, not decrease, Iraq’s dominance of American foreign policy. An Iraq that is cracking up and caught in a death spiral is not something that even a President Obama or Clinton could ignore.

You can read the rest here.  I know the analogies aren’t at all perfect, but the miasma of defeatism and hostility seems to transcend time.

Beating up thugs

The news story was the beating the Iranian thugs and terrorists took in Basra. But there was another type of thuggery going on, too, and Ralph Peters attacks it with a righteous zeal:

LIKE many Americans, I get angry at biased “reporting” about Iraq and the spin from dishonest pundits. Usually, I get over it quickly, since my expectations of the media are pretty low.But sometimes a Big Lie just won’t let go. And the lefty lie that the Iraqi military is a hopeless failure must be answered.

Yes, we all know that left-wing media outlets, such as the dying New York Times, need Iraq to fail to redeem their credibility. They’ll do all they can to dismiss any sign of progress.

But the perverted gloating over recent Iraqi military operations in Basra combines willful ignorance of military affairs with a shameless manipulation of the facts. Yes, some local Iraqi police and new military recruits ran away. But that was all that the media reported.

Where was the coverage of the 95 percent of the Iraqi security forces who did their duty? Some fought superbly. The Iranian-backed gangs and militias took a beating.

Muqtada al Sadr – not the central government – asked for a cease-fire. The Iraqi military remains in Basra, still pushing (and freeing the occasional kidnapped journalist). The government now has a presence where lawlessness prevailed – and it took control of Basra’s vital port facilities, the country’s economic lifeline.

But all we continue to hear about is the one Iraqi cop or soldier in 20 who ran away.

Read the rest here.

We’re winning, if only Congress would realize it

Michael Yon, who appropriately boasts that he is probably the most experienced reporter in Iraq, reminds us that Congress must stop obsessing about the past in Iraq and must approach Iraq as a winnable situation. He begins by detailing the enormous strides — both practical and “hearts and mind” stuff — that Americans have accomplished in Iraq:

It is said that generals always fight the last war. But when David Petraeus came to town it was senators – on both sides of the aisle – who battled over the Iraq war of 2004-2006. That war has little in common with the war we are fighting today.

I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.

The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers. Yes, young Iraqi boys know about “GoArmy.com.”

The problem as he sees it (and I agree, as I’ve said before), isn’t what’s on the ground in Iraq, it’s what’s going on in Congress. There, the Democrats are determined to destroy George Bush, even if it means taking the whole US down with him, and the Republicans are desperate to pander to anyone with a shrill complaint. The result, of course, is that they’re legislating as if it’s 2005, not 2008:

Soldiers everywhere are paid, and good generals know it is dangerous to mess with a soldier’s money. The shoeless heroes who froze at Valley Forge were paid, and when their pay did not come they threatened to leave – and some did. Soldiers have families and will not fight for a nation that allows their families to starve. But to say that the tribes who fight with us are “rented” is perhaps as vile a slander as to say that George Washington’s men would have left him if the British offered a better deal.

Equally misguided were some senators’ attempts to use Gen. Petraeus’s statement, that there could be no purely military solution in Iraq, to dismiss our soldiers’ achievements as “merely” military. In a successful counterinsurgency it is impossible to separate military and political success. The Sunni “awakening” was not primarily a military event any more than it was “bribery.” It was a political event with enormous military benefits.

The huge drop in roadside bombings is also a political success – because the bombings were political events. It is not possible to bury a tank-busting 1,500-pound bomb in a neighborhood street without the neighbors noticing. Since the military cannot watch every road during every hour of the day (that would be a purely military solution), whether the bomb kills soldiers depends on whether the neighbors warn the soldiers or cover for the terrorists. Once they mostly stood silent; today they tend to pick up their cell phones and call the Americans. Even in big “kinetic” military operations like the taking of Baqubah in June 2007, politics was crucial. Casualties were a fraction of what we expected because, block-by-block, the citizens told our guys where to find the bad guys. I was there; I saw it.

The Iraqi central government is unsatisfactory at best. But the grass-roots political progress of the past year has been extraordinary – and is directly measurable in the drop in casualties.

This leads us to the most out-of-date aspect of the Senate debate: the argument about the pace of troop withdrawals. Precisely because we have made so much political progress in the past year, rather than talking about force reduction, Congress should be figuring ways and means to increase troop levels. For all our successes, we still do not have enough troops. This makes the fight longer and more lethal for the troops who are fighting. To give one example, I just returned this week from Nineveh province, where I have spent probably eight months between 2005 to 2008, and it is clear that we remain stretched very thin from the Syrian border and through Mosul. Vast swaths of Nineveh are patrolled mostly by occasional overflights.

We know now that we can pull off a successful counterinsurgency in Iraq. We know that we are working with an increasingly willing citizenry. But counterinsurgency, like community policing, requires lots of boots on the ground. You can’t do it from inside a jet or a tank.

As for me, I’ve sent this article to my Senators and my Representative. They’re all radical Democrats, so I doubt it will change their rigid, hate-filled little minds one bit, but it can’t hurt and there’s a smidgen of a chance that it might open their minds to the facts on the ground.

By the way, if you want a sense of how far the “lose at any cost” Left is willing to go, check out this American Thinker post about the attacks on General Petraeus for wearing tacky medals.  And Representative Jackie Speier, armed with an almost complete absence of useful information, didn’t even wait until her new seat was warmed up to leap into the lunatic anti-War sphere.  It must be interesting living in a factual vacuum.  I wonder if, eventually, your head explodes.

Obama hangs with the rich folk

Obama bills himself as a man of the people, who will beat down big business (although some of the more disingenuous in big business have already figured out a way to profit from these so-called populist policies). Indeed, his “man of the people” credentials may run a lot deeper than he’s admitted, since it turns out that the father on whom he admittedly modeled his political ideals was an extremist, dyed-in-the-wool communist. Given his populist stance, Obama’s recent trip to the Bay Area, during which he hobnobbed only with the richest and most famous, is amusing, since it either presents a man with no discernible principles or it presents a bunch of rich people who are allowing themselves to be led like lambs to the slaughter.

Zombie was around when Obama visited the ultimate Plutocrats, the Gettys. And the Marin Independent Journal was around when Obama hit the rich spots in Marin County, itself one of the richest places in America:

The presidential hopeful stopped by an exclusive Kentfield estate on Sunday for a fundraising reception that drew more than 300 supporters with guests paying $2,300 each.

[snip]

The 46-year-old Democratic senator started the day in Atherton [really rich people], made his way to Marin [really rich people] and then was due in at the Getty [plutocrats] mansion in San Francisco for another event.

Actually, the political pandering from Obama, on the one hand, and the stupid fawning from the rich, on the other hand, wasn’t what I found so irritating about the IJ article. Politics in America is, after all, mostly about power, and Obama looks as if he will have the power and these people think that they can buy access. End of story.

Nope. What irritated me was the way in which a career member of the military ended up inadvertently being used as Obama’s campaign pawn:

A U.S. soldier in Iraq will have a special message from Sen. Barack Obama awaiting him when he returns to Marin.”Ronan, thank you for your service,” Obama wrote Sunday on the bill of a canvas hat that belonged to Capt. Ronan Kennedy, of Kentfield.

[snip]

“I’ve got my knickers in a knot,” Noreen Kennedy said. “Just the fact that he took the time to talk to me, it was unbelievable. That man is simply amazing. You could just feel his presence.”

“He asked me how long had my son been in Iraq,” Kennedy said. “I told him this was his second tour of duty. He just shook his head. You could see he could feel your pain. I feel like I just met the Pope.”

Ronan Kennedy, 27, grew up in Kentfield, attended Kentfield schools and graduated from Redwood High School in 1999. He was redeployed to Iraq last September and his tour won’t be up until January of next year.

“I asked him if he could help bring my son home,” Kennedy said. “He said, ‘We’re working on it.’”

I appreciate that a Mom wishes her son to be safe, but I do wonder how much Capt. Kennedy appreciates being used for political purposes by a man who plans to undo everything for which Capt. Kennedy has fought.

Also, one has to wonder about the tense dynamics in the Kennedy house, where the son is career military, and the Mom is a peace activist. Those must be some Thanksgiving dinners there!

UPDATE:  Welcome, Zombietime readers.  I dislike Obama a great deal, and waste way too much of my time blogging about him.  If you’d like to see more of my Obama posts, you’ll find a listing here.

And Zombie, if you check back here, I just wanted to say that I think you are a brilliant photojournalist and I very much appreciate your nod in my direction.

The horrors of battle

A couple of nights ago, I watched a Frontline show entitled Bad Voodoo’s War, which followed a platoon of National Guard soldiers who were deployed to Iraq at the beginning of the Surge in 2007.  The show’s editor/producer did not go to war with the men.  Instead, she gave them video cameras, and they recorded their thoughts and activities and mailed the footage to her for editing.

As the narrator acknowledged at the beginning of the show, the unit, which named itself Bad Voodoo, was not the usual National Guard unit of men and women who are mostly civilians but have a military background.  Instead, the men (I didn’t see women) in this unit were already seasoned combat veterans.

In many ways, it was a fine show, since it really did give viewers a day-in-life style view of a National Guard unit.  The two men who got all the camera time were interesting men, who were intelligent, highly motivated, and deeply committed to their team.

One could tell from the way in which the editor tried to build tension that she wanted viewers to see the horrors of the war into which our troops were flung to support Bush’s madcap surge.  The problem was that this wasn’t what happened at all.  Instead, the unit was given the job of escorting convoys through Iraq, and keeping an eye out for IEDs and drive by shooters and crashers.

Theirs was clearly a stressful job, but the men’s main complaint was that they weren’t in battle.  Contrary to the Progressive view of hapless lambs being forced to the slaughter in Iraq by a Halliburton driven government, these men lamented their passive role and wanted to be “boots on the ground.”  They felt wasted as escorts.

During the six months that they filmed themselves for the show (which was the duration of the main part of the Surge), the unit’s convoy managed to run into two IEDs, neither of which even wounded anyone.  Each took out the back of a truck, but the main damage was time, with the men waiting hours on the roadside for the necessary aid.

The supreme irony was that the main type of injury this seasoned unit suffered during the height of the surge was — bladder infections.  Yup, because of the extreme heat, the guys drank and drank and drank.  But the nature of their job meant that they couldn’t always relieve themselves when necessary and they got backed up.

I’m sure the Frontline people were disappointed to lose the dramatic storyline, as well as the properly stereotyped storyline.  As for me, though, if the worst my troops are suffering in a battle torn country is bladder infections, I say Hallelujah!

Liberals and Iraq

While I worked on an appellate brief last night, Mr. Bookworm watched Frontline’s Bush’s War. I was not surprised to learn that it characterized the Bush administration as not only profoundly stupid, but also deviously Machiavellian, with Bush in charge, except that he’s so stupid that he is actually manipulated by the evil Cheney.  At least, that’s what Mr. Bookworm told me.  The bottom line, as my very upset husband said, was that the “worst presidency in history” used all its fatal flaws to get us into Iraq.

I didn’t feel like debating the merits. First, I hadn’t watched the show. Second, it was impossible for me to amass all the necessary facts. I would have also gotten stuck in the morass of conceding that the Bush administration definitely made mistakes.  This concession would have led into an extended discussion about the fact that, in all wars, the good, winning side makes devastatingly bad mistakes because in war you use the information you have, not the information you will have when the dust clears.

Instead, I put the matter differently: “Accepting everything as true, what would you do now? For good or bad, we’re in Iraq now.” Interestingly, Mr. Bookworm refused to engage, falling back on harping on the evils of the Bush administration and its bad decision making. “Yes,” I said. “But that’s the past. We’re in Iraq now. Bush and his whole team are leaving office in January 2009. What would you do?” The only answer I got back was “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Mr. Bookworm’s preference for wallowing in the past and his unwillingness to deal with present realities is hardly surprising. In his world — the New York Times, the New Yorker, NPR, PBS — only the past gets discussed. To the extent that there is an Iraq plan, it can be summarized in one phrase: “Get out.” Of course, smart liberals, and my husband is very smart, know that “Get out” is neither an operational plan, nor a good one.

Equally unsurprising is the fact that Barack Obama, a man who is rather strikingly uninformed about foreign affairs given the fact that he has voluntarily plunged into the center of political life during time of war, has exactly the same attitude. He too never looks beyond the liberal media world and, while perfectly ready to spell out the Bush administration’s past failures, is incapable of dealing with the current reality, which is that we’re in war in Iraq. The best he can do is misrepresent John McCain’s statement that American interests are best protected by a continuing American presence in Iraq, just as we have a continuing American presence in former hot spots such as Germany, Japan and Korea.

John Fund highlights only the most recent example of Obama’s almost frightening lack of vision and knowledge when it comes to foreign policy:

This week, Mr. Obama stumbled again after he declared he wants to withdraw from Iraq but “leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy.”

John McCain quickly leaped on the notion of keeping a “strike force” in Iraq and noted it was in direct contradiction to previous Obama statements that he would fully withdraw almost all troops. Mr. McCain had a series of questions: “I think it might be appropriate to describe exactly what that means. Does that mean 100,000 troops? Where are they based? What is their mission?”

Given that the Progressives seem irrevocably tied to the past, whether it’s endlessly rehashing the Vietnam War or Bush’s mistakes in this War, this is not going to be the only time that Obama stumbles and tumbles into a debate with McCain that he can’t win. McCain may be the Old Dude, so old that he actually served in Vietnam, but when it comes to this War McCain resolutely faces the future. He’s actually thought about what’s going on now, and what America needs to do to best protect her troops and her national interests. As Fund says:

Look for an ongoing debate between the two men over just what presence in Iraq Mr. Obama envisions should he win the White House. Present evidence would indicate that both men see a substantial U.S. role in the country, but that Mr. McCain’s stated goal is to achieve victory and Mr. Obama has a far more muddled outcome in mind.

The Presidential campaign is going to prove that, when it comes to the Iraq War, you can run to the past, but you can’t hide there.  Unless Obama comes up with a real plan, recognizing the actual on-the-ground realities in Iraq, I suspect significant numbers of Americans are going to worry that, not only are the Democrats obsessed with the Vietnam War, they’re planning on repeating all of its worst mistakes.