People see Syria through their own prisms, and they still don’t like it

Yesterday, I put up an image that tied together the significant differences between Obama’s response to a direct attack on America and Americans in Libya, versus a mass civilian murder in a country that’s already killed more than 100,000 of its, and created millions of refugees.  I think its worth repeating here:

The red lines Obama chose to ignore

Early this morning, I came across another poster that sounds the same theme, this time raising suspicions about the Obama government’s fact-finding regarding Syria, versus its fact-finding regarding Benghazi (h/t Bluebird of Bitterness):
barry-kerry
This is the prism through which many conservatives who oppose the war view Obama’s sudden desire to marching America into the black hole of a killer nation’s civil war.

What fascinates me is that so many Leftists who oppose Obama’s proposed invasion view the whole thing through a completely different filter. Exhibit A for today is the non-GMO movement’s opposition to the war:Obama should bomb Monsanto

We are all united in our opposition to having the United States engage in Syria.  It’s just that we are completely divided when it comes to the reasons for our opposition.

And of course, if you’re MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, you have to listen to the dog whistle of racism to make sure that, God Forbid, you don’t end up in the same bed as your former political opponents.  Watching Schultz’s contortions, which see him agreeing Republicans regarding their anti-War stance, while simultaneously ascribing them to an unexpressed racism (that’s the old dog-whistle) is actually amusing.  (Warning:  video plays when you load the page.)

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:

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?)

Sleight of hand in the Obama campaign

Obama campaign is clearly a masterful example of the illusionist’s art.  As you may recall, he managed to get the press to tout one of his rallies as one of the largest political rallies ever, although it subsequently emerged that it was mostly a big rock band event.  He’s also barred women in Islamic veils from standing too close to him.  It’s likely that he has professional fainters on hand to enhance his aura, too.

And now he’s done it again.  The lastest example of Obama’s image manipulation occurred when he made a big speech about the War to an invitation only event, a speech that was intended to establish his bona fides to lead the American military.  One might think that he’d actually make this speech to members of the military whose trust he needs to earn.  Instead, he packed the event with an extreme anti-War veterans group.  The press reported that he spoke to veterans but, of course, neglected to mention that these are vets who have taken a far Left stance at odds with the average service person’s political views.  I suspect that, when all is said and done, Obama will have run the most dishonest campaign in American history.

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.

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.

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.

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!

I believe them, but….

Here’s the story:

Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The three anti-war Democrats made the trip in October 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to persuade Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. While traveling, they called for a diplomatic solution.

Prosecutors say that trip was arranged by Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a Michigan charity official, who was charged Wednesday with setting up the junket at the behest of Saddam’s regime. Iraqi intelligence officials allegedly paid for the trip through an intermediary and rewarded Al-Hanooti with 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.

The lawmakers are not named in the indictment but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. None was charged and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said investigators “have no information whatsoever” any of them knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.

“Obviously, we didn’t know it at the time,” McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare said Wednesday. “The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That’s the only reason we went.”

Both McDermott and Thompson are popular among liberal voters in their reliably Democratic districts for their anti-war views. Bonior is no longer in Congress.

Thompson released a statement Wednesday saying the trip was approved by the State Department.

“Obviously, had there been any question at all regarding the sponsor of the trip or the funding, I would not have participated,” he said.

During the trip, the lawmakers expressed skepticism about the Bush administration’s claims that Saddam was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Though such weapons ultimately were never found, the lawmakers drew criticism for their trip at the time.

I actually believe Thompson and McDermott when they say that they didn’t know that Saddam was the direct backer of their trip.  Given the run-up to the war, I don’t think even anti-War Dems would have been foolish enough to take money from Saddam and go on an official Iraqi sponsored trip.  At the very least, they’d have known that to have done so would have cast doubts on any findings they made, just as no one believes reports that come back from official visitors to North Korea.

What makes the story interesting isn’t that three Congressmen got snookered.  What makes it interesting is that Saddam Hussein was using local affiliates to affect the American political process.  Only the most naive would believe that this was a unique incident, or that Saddam Hussein was/is the only one doing it.  The covert aspects of this story are disturbing, and have a distinct Cold War odor in the middle of the hot war that’s currently preoccupying us.  As those of us who lived through the Cold War know, disinformation is as potent a weapon as a bomb, and the ease with which Hussein manipulated American politicians is disturbing.

Pictures of protests

As the SF Chron noted, the anti-War protests yesterday were pathetic shadows of their former selves:

In the morning, a crowd of about 500 people snaked its way through the Financial District, periodically prompting police to shut down intersections and city blocks and Muni officials to reroute buses.

Yet, despite the often creative costumes and messages, the protests were a far cry from the large and dramatic protests that marked the buildup to the war as well as the conflict’s early months. Tens of thousands came to San Francisco in those days, making it an epicenter of the anti-war movement. Roughly 2,150 protesters were arrested during the first three days of the war, Mar. 19-21, 2003. The city’s hotels were crammed, and mobs tried to shut down the Bay Bridge.

One of those present at the protests, armed with a camera and a delightfully snarky attitude, was ProtestShooter.  It’s very helpful to see that the protesters are not mainstream people or, at least, they’re not presenting as mainstream.  This is the American left wing fringe.  You can see precisely the same at Zombie’s photo journal of March 16 “peace event”, another fount of snarky commentary and great photos.

Recruiting in Marin

Our local paper, the Marin Independent Journal, has a surprisingly nice, fact-filled article about the uphill work of being an Army recruiter in Marin County.  There’s a small amount of harassment, but mostly there’s just a huge lack of interest — which is sad, since Marin, as one of America’s most affluent areas, is at the same time an area that has benefited the most from everything that America has to offer.  Marin-ites, who worship JFK, live the reverse of his reminder that they should “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Anyway, here are a few paragraphs from the article, which should pique your interest to read the rest:

Staff Sgt. Jason Eck has been flipped off, cussed at and told to get out of Marin County for doing his job. The abuse hasn’t deterred the two-time Iraq war veteran from donning his uniform, sliding behind the wheel of his government-issued Chevy Malibu and hitting the road almost daily in search of new soldiers.

Still, as a recruiter, he faces a daunting task.

Almost nowhere in the nation is it harder to find willing and able enlistees than in the Bay Area. The region’s nine counties have the lowest enlistment rate of any large metropolitan area other than in and around New York.

Among Bay Area counties, nowhere is it harder to find enlistees than Marin, where Eck and two other Army recruiters try to do it.

“We’re fighting to give the Army a good name in Marin County,” said Eck, a 27-year-old Brooklyn native. “It’s really tough.”

Just 53 Marin County residents enlisted in the armed forces in 2006, giving the county of 249,000 people the lowest enlistment rate of any county its size in the nation. For that matter, it had the lowest rate of any county with more than 50,000 residents.

[snip]

In the North Bay, when the academic year began last fall, Eck braced for little to come of his recruiting efforts at the two Marin County high schools in his territory.

After all, he said, none of last year’s seniors had expressed even the slightest interest in enlisting. Many teachers and administrators at best had seemed to tolerate his presence on campus, he said.

Elsewhere around the county, Eck had received “tons of dirty looks” while driving or walking. One passerby yelled “get the hell out of here” and punched Eck’s car on a downtown San Rafael street.

“A lot of people just don’t believe in the (Iraq) war,” Eck said. “So, they pretty much are going to try to avoid a recruiter – like I have leprosy or something.”

Eck enlisted no one for several months last year. Then he enlisted eight people between November and February.

He credited the turnaround to spending more time on campus getting to know students, career counselors, teachers and administrators.

Barbara McCune, college and career counselor at Sir Francis Drake High School, said Eck showed that he’s not a pushy recruiter. “He’s just here to answer questions and talk about careers. He’s not out there to make numbers.”

If you’d like to get more of an idea of what Staff Sgt. Eck is up against, you can read here about Marin’s anti-war rally, held yesterday.

Times certainly have changed.  My Dad enlisted in the Royal Air Force the day after the War began.  He was, of course, a member of the Israeli Defense Forces, although I don’t know if he was drafted or enlisted.  He certainly fought in the War of Independence, playing a somewhat important role.  He was proud of his service in both of these military institutions.

Lying about military service

In the wake of past wars (pre-Vietnam), noncombatant men used to lie about having served as a way to increase their status: even though one of these confabulators might have spent the war as a sidings salesmen in Paducah, he could increase his standing amongst the credulous by claiming to have fought his way out of fire fights, to have taken down hordes of Huns, or Nazis, or Commies single-handled, or just to have seen the world.

All that changed in 1971, when things suddenly flipped on their heads: depending on the circles in which you traveled, you impressed the ladies when you could boast, loudly, frequently, in graphic detail, and falsely about having beheaded innocent old ladies, raped small children, and strangled parakeets with your bare hands. You’d passed the Kipling-esque threshold of becoming “a man, my son.”

That trend continues in full force with the Iraq War, as media whores, some of whom didn’t serve of at, and some of whom had minimal service, have come forward with increasingly bizarre stories that must sure originate in the same internet warehouse that generates stories in which men boast of unimaginable sexual prowess. Sadly, these sick lunatics, people who aggrandize themselves by spinning sick fantasies that manage to degrade our military and place it in danger, are being embraced by a media that, at least in the early 1970s, still regarded them warily. For example, check out this New York Sunday Times Magazine cover at LGF, which enshrines one of these losers.

Fortunately, since a credulous, compliant media has abandoned any pretense of actually fact-checking these stories (now there’s a concept for a reporter, huh?), bloggers are filling that void. One of the more amusing, on-point examples of that fact is at Vets for Freedom, which examines just a handful of the false stories of military atrocities, and the atrocious people who tell them. Kyle-Anne Shiver also exposes the falsity behind the old Winter Soldiers and the equal mendacity of the new crop, and reminds us not to be stupid enough to be fooled a second time.

Then and now in Berkeley

Yesterday morning, in Berkeley, they were saying this:

Murder, rape, torture, war. That’s what the Marines are for.”

and this:

“These are very dangerous people. They’re lying to their children, talking them into becoming killers.”

I noted that the mask had slipped, revealing that the “we support the troops, but not the war” line was simply a charade, aimed at hiding the Left’s true agenda.  Yesterday, as you can see above, the charade stopped.  Fear not, though, ’cause it’s back:

After a day of enraged confrontation outside Berkeley City Hall between anti-war and pro-military demonstrators, the City Council appeared ready late Tuesday night to rescind its controversial decision to tell the U.S. Marines they are “unwelcome intruders” for operating a downtown recruiting center.

A majority of the nine-member council also leaned toward issuing a statement declaring that it is opposed to the war in Iraq but supports U.S. troops.  (Emphasis mine.)

Clearly,  the “Progressives” believe that you can fool all of the people all of the time and, with a complicit media, they may almost be right.

The ProtestShooter was there

If you’re interested in up close pictures and eye-witness reporting from the goings-on in Berkeley, check out ProtestShooter. The pictures are from early in the day, so I can’t wait to see the next installment. My favorite photo was one that really didn’t have to do too much with the protest at all, but that looks at the kind of people out there protesting:

This is basically behind the anti-Marine side. Note a tent – many of them spent the night and they didn’t bother to take them down which is why they have so little space. Also notice the “reproductive” sign – these guys recycle signs since they go to so many protests.

It pretty much tells you way more than you need to know about these people, doesn’t it? They’re professional agitators. They have no lives. This is what they do.

UPDATE: You’ll find more ProtestShooter photos here, showing what went on in the afternoon.

UPDATE IIZombie has got photos up too.

The mask is off *UPDATED*

Since the Iraq War began, the Left has attempted to disassociate itself from the ugliness of 1960s anti-War protests by repeating, over and over, “We love the troops. It’s just the War we hate.” That line always had a stilted quality, especial since we have a volunteer army, and our troops are willing to serve in this war. This little charade may well be over now, since the hoo-ha in Berkeley has peeled away any attempts amongst the radical Leftists to praise the troops while criticizing the war.

The charade’s end first became apparent when the Berkeley City Council voted to send a letter to the Marines telling them they are unwelcome, a statement coupled with a permanent parking permit for Code Pink, right in front of the Marine Recruiting Center in Berkeley. Because of the outcry, the City Council is reconsidering that move tonight, so it’s defenders have . . . well, they’ve rushed it its defense. The newspapers have been eavesdropping on what they have to say and, aside from the peaceniks’ physical aggression, what they have to say is even worse than the Council’s comparatively innocuous “we don’t want you here.”

But around noon, things heated up as more than three dozen police with batons and riot gear formed a line to separate the two sides. The police intervention occurred after several dozen demonstrators who want the recruiting center to leave town crossed the street and engaged in a 15-minute shouting match with a group supporting the Marines. There were no arrests.

Protesters on both sides of the police line amplified their messages: Recruiting opponents, using megaphones, chanted: “Murder, rape, torture, war. That’s what the Marines are for,” while military backers played the Marines’ Hymn over loudspeakers. (Emphasis mine.)

[snip]

“I’m here to thank the city council for dis-inviting the Marines,” said Berkeley resident Tim Modok, who was attending with his schnauzer, Susie. “I’d rather have a porn (outlet) two blocks from an elementary school and a high school than I would a Marines recruiter; they’re telling kids lies to get them into this war. These are very dangerous people. They’re lying to their children, talking them into becoming killers.” (Emphasis mine.)

Linci Comy of Oakland said she was there for future generations.

“I don’t want my kids and grandkids to go to another war of occupation,” she said. “We have to set a standard, we have to tell the world that military recruitment is no longer acceptable. (Emphasis mine.)

These sentiments have absolutely nothing to do with the War in Iraq. It is a wholesale rejection of the military on the grounds that it is inherently brutal and debased and, as such, should be offensive to all who do support the military in America, irrespective of their views about the wisdom of this War.

I found that last emphasized statement especially interesting: “military recruitment is no longer acceptable.” Aside from disliking the military, these people would very much like to leave America without any military at all. They espouse what might be called the Blanche duBois school of national security, because they’d like America to be dependent on the kindness of strangers — strangers such as Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who came up with the idea of 9/11, and boasts, not only about 9/11, but about having personally beheaded Daniel Pearl), Mahmoud Ahmadinijad, Hafez al-Assad, Kim Jong-il, Vladimir Putin, and many other of the worlds’ most powerful, devious or dangerous (or all of the above) psychopaths.

By the way, what do you bet that these same anti-military people have no problems with warriors if they are Palestinians, or Cuban soldiers, or Chavez’s troops or qualify in some other way as oppressed or anti-capitalist? The really dirty truth here is that, while these speakers insult American troops in the most vile terms, what they really hate is American power. And since they recognize that the troops are an inevitable and necessary part of that power, they see destroying the military, not just as an anti-War move, but as the first grand move in the total destruction of the United States.

As for me, I’m with George Orwell: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” To all you rough men (and women), my eternal thanks.

UPDATE:  I haven’t figured out yet how to upload videos at this new site, but I think this gloriously harmonized Abba song (and, yes, I like Abba) is a great tribute to our troops, since it’s a reminder that soldiers do what they have to do, moving forward in battle serving as an inspiration to the rest of us in good times and bad.