I have a friend who went to college on a ROTC scholarship and has been an active duty officer for the past thirty-three years. When we last spoke, he told me that, while the new generation of enlistees has great potential, basic training has changed substantially. I forget his exact words, but they were something along the line of “we have to handle them with kid gloves, or we get in trouble.” This funny video would seem to support his sense of a drastically changed military:
Everything that’s wrong with the Left in one website. At City Journal, Oren Cass has written a short article that looks at modern Progressivism through the filter of Hillary’s campaign website. In some ways, the article says something we all know, which is that the modern Democrat party is not concerned about America’s well-being but, instead, is concerned only about its only survival, something it achieves by getting special interest groups to vote for it:
Framing issues as who instead of what leads to a governing model that would divide society by race, gender, sexuality, profession, and location, targeting policies to each defined demographic. A divide-and-conquer strategy may achieve electoral success, but it is toxic to good government. When politicians treat elections as exercises in log-rolling, each policy becomes tailored toward the special interest that cares about it most. Thus Clinton’s crime policy emphasizes a friendlier attitude toward criminals. Her immigration policy concerns itself primarily with helping those who have violated immigration law. Her education policy explicitly endorses the status quo for most students but promises to “listen to teachers.”
In a world of fixed resources, such a model inevitably undermines the idea of equal protection under the law, pits groups against one another, and leaves some explicitly favored by government as winners. It also normalizes subjective standards for government action. Clinton promises to extend President Obama’s executive actions on immigration to “additional persons with sympathetic cases.” Whatever one thinks of our immigration policies, tilting them toward “persons with sympathetic cases” does not suggest rigorous application of the law.
When it comes to blacks, which are the group most harmed by the Progressives’ “divide and control” strategy, Thomas Sowell has the right of it:
Black votes matter to many politicians — more so than black lives. That is why such politicians must try to keep black voters fearful, angry, and resentful. Racial harmony would be a political disaster for such politicians.
Racial polarization makes both the black population and the white population worse off, but it makes politicians who depend on black votes better off.
Hillary Clinton desperately needs black votes in this year’s close election. Promoting fear, anger, and resentment among blacks — and, if possible, paranoia — serves her political interest. Barack Obama has mastered the art of keeping black voters aroused while keeping white voters soothed — thanks in part to the gullibility of much of the public, who mistake geniality and glib rhetoric for honesty and good will.
Blacks and Muslims should be angry at their criminal cohorts, not at us. In the context of an article about political correctness, Andrew Klavan said something I’ve been struggling to say for some time. He acknowledges that blacks are on the receiving end of much more police activity, something frustrating and insulting to law-abiding blacks, but that’s because the black community’s bad eggs commit a disproportionate amount of American crime. Likewise, because children have big mouths, perfectly nice Muslim kids in school find themselves being called terrorists, reflecting the fact that acts of mass violence all over the world come primarily from their co-religionists. That’s certainly not nice, but Klavan says that law-abiding blacks and Muslims are putting blame in the wrong place:
It seems to me if you are an innocent black person being troubled by the cops, if you are an innocent Muslim under suspicion from your neighbors, the people you should be angry at, the people to blame, are not the people acting on rational suspicion. The people at fault are the bad guys who have drawn that suspicion unfairly onto you.
A black man targeted by the police shouldn’t be angry at the police. He should be angry at the thugs and criminals who look like him and make his race a target. And before Muslims blame non-Muslims for the prejudice against them, maybe they ought to look to — and openly condemn — those Muslims who have given their religion a very bad name indeed.
The problem is prejudice, yes. But it’s the tribal prejudice that says we should blame others before we blame “our own.” “Our own” are the good guys, no matter what race or religion we are.
Someone should read those words out loud at the Republican Party Convention. They’re very important.
When my teenage son realized that Monday isn’t just a school holiday but is, in fact, a national holiday honoring the men and women who have died serving our country, he made an interesting comment about those who died. “It’s hard to appreciate that they’re real people because you never know who they are.”
Think about that: Despite the fact that our country has been actively at war for three-quarters of his life, my son has never known someone who died while fighting on America’s behalf, nor has he ever met someone who lost a loved one to war. For so many in America — and this is true whether they support or oppose the war against fanatic Islamism — this multi-front war is an abstract thing. Thanks to our all-volunteer, professional, and efficient military, while our taxes help fund the war, most of us are utterly disconnected from it.
No wonder that for Americans young and old, Memorial Day is just understood as the excuse for another three-day weekend in the list of American holidays. To the extent people think about it, many confuse it with Veterans’ Day, believing that it’s a day to honor the troops, not to remember and honor the dead. And if you’re celebrating the troops, most of whom, thankfully, survive battle to come home and live out their natural lives . . . well, heck, a pool party and barbecue is a great way to do it.
Focusing on the dead — or the “honored dead” as they rightfully said during the Civil War — one realizes that my son is right that the sheer numbers make it hard to get a handle on each individual loss. The sad fact is that Americans have lost many men to battle throughout our history. According to a Wikipedia post documenting fatalities in every single American war, from skirmishes to Civil and World wars, the total of American dead in combat is somewhere above 664,440, with another 673,929 deaths from things other than combat (presumably disease, imprisonment, training accidents, etc.). That’s a grand total of at least 1,354,664 war related deaths
[A little interjection, which is that as I’m writing these words, my Spotify playlist, which is randomized, came up with one of the saddest Civil War songs I know:
It’s a particularly apropos song because it involves a young woman trying to separate her brother from the unknown dead and wounded in the bloodiest war in American history.]
Back to the main point, I realized that my son had accidentally stumbled upon precisely the formulation attributed to Stalin: A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths are a statistic.
How does one bring the young to realize that, if you’re fortunate enough to live in a free country that values the individual over the collective, each number is a person? Those who died were children who left grieving parents, parents who left grieving spouses and lost children, brothers or sisters whose siblings will now age alone, or friends whose loss is a never-ending hole.
I started the process of giving the dead names by showing my son a picture that I found on a friend’s Google+ feed. As you can see, it’s an iconic picture, but one with a difference — every person in the photo is identified. They’re not icons at all. They’re real young men who fought — and most of whom died — defending America’s security and bringing freedom to parts of the world most Americans never had seen and never would see:
The transformation in my son when he realized that these were young men just like himself — young men who played sports, flirted with girls, went to dances, and just enjoyed their lives — was surprising. He was suddenly awed and saddened. They weren’t historic curiosities; they could have been him or his friends.
As war becomes a pocket industry for a small subsection of society, those of us insulated from its reach have an obligation to make others aware that we are, and long have been, the beneficiaries of those who, willingly or not, fought for America. And while a few of our wars were misbegotten or foolish, the vast majority have seen Americans shed blood to bring freedom, whether at home or abroad.
Those who gave their lives truly are the honored dead and it behooves us to remember that none were statistics — all were individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for liberty. I recommend a visit to Honor the Fallen, which puts a face to every person who has died in the last 13 years defending Americans against the Islamic fascism that has been the bloodiest, most genocidal force in the history of the world. Also, if you’d like to remember the dogs who served so well, many of whom died protecting American troops, go here.
UPDATE: Mike Rowe made much the same point, only with more focus.
Some of my harder-Left friends on Facebook are going crazy with posters again, so I thought this would be a good time to deconstruct a few of them. Let’s start with this one, which requires its own post. (Incidentally, the fact that it takes just one sentence to spin out a series of lies and a sadly long post to deconstruct all these lies explains why Progressives get away with so many lies: Everyone will read a short poster; few will read a long post.)
In the above poster, Occupy Democrats takes on the contention that President Obama has weakened America (a claim made by all Republican candidates, not just Trump). To challenge this assertion, OD contends that Obama’s list of accomplishments includes “tripling the stock market, cutting the unemployment and uninsured rates in half, cutting the Bush deficit by three-fifths, saving the auto industry, ending two wars, and getting bin Laden.” Let me take these claimed accomplishments one at a time:
Bush didn’t, Obama wouldn’t, but the next president should: Call into the Oval Office the leaders of Muslim communities throughout America to say, “Because of the First Amendment, the fact that you and the people in your community practice Islam is irrelevant to us in America. Your faith is your business. What is relevant to me as leader of this nation is whether you support America or not. When all of you leave this office, you need to carry a single message to your communities: ‘You are either supportive of America or working to undermine America. If you’re in the latter category, you are on notice here and now that my administration will use every constitutional means available to track you, capture you, prosecute you, and imprison or deport you.’ End of story. Thank you for coming. Goodbye.”
Having got that off my chest, I’m about to engage in a speed round-up, because I’ve got about 40 articles — really good articles — to share with you.
A Cruz convert explains why. The most interesting point is that Trump started with something no other Republican has had since Reagan — vast name recognition.
Slowly catching on to the fact that Trump is the Republican Obama. I’ve been saying from Day 1 that Trump is a white Obama. He promises hope and change by using government power to shape America to his will. And let me say, that is my sole problem with Trump: That he’s all about big government, precisely as Obama is. I find that unacceptable. Jonathan Tobin is another one who’s finally figured out the whole Obama Doppelgänger thing.
Trump is a special interest candidate. And that special interest is Donald Trump.
Is the media sitting on big Trump stories? Ted Cruz thinks that there are some horrible stories to be told about Trump, which wouldn’t surprise me given his sordid personal life and . . . ah . . . colorful business life. Once Trump is the candidate, says Cruz, the media will “suddenly” discover stories that make Trump unelectable. I think Cruz is right because we all know the media, don’t we?
Trump’s enemy list makes me like him. George Soros has given money to 187 different special interest groups that are attacking Trump. (To be honest, a lot of them are attacking Cruz too. Indeed, on Sunday, I heard a New Yorker news hour on NPR during which the speakers agreed that Cruz is the more dangerous of the two leading Republican candidates because he actually believes in the Constitution.) In other words, here’s a list of 187 Soros-funded organizations that try to destroy anything conservative.
Will Trump win the nomination? Scott Elliott, an extremely astute election watcher and a man with a history of accurate election predictions, is not a Trump fan. He’s therefore created the “Stop-Trump-O-Meter,” which tracks the outcomes of state primaries and projects the outcome at the convention. Even if you’re a Trump fan, you’ll like Scott’s meter, because, if you ignore the name, it tells in a clear way where the candidates stand in the Republican primary.
If you destroy the polite people, you create room for the impolite ones. Glenn Reynolds points out that the GOP, RINOS, and the Leftist media establishment did everything possible to destroy the happy, tidy, law-abiding Tea Party. Now they’re horrified that destroying the Tea Party left rage in its place.
USA Today editors question Hillary’s fitness for office. USA Today, in its quest to be “America’s newspaper,” the one read in more hotel lobbies than any other paper, is careful about taking strong partisan stands. That’s why it’s impressive that the editors see Hillary’s penchant for secrecy, and the security-evading steps she took in pursuit of her paranoia, as a serious impediment to the presidency.
Trump could destroy conservativism in America for decades. I think Charles Krauthammer hits the ball out of the park on this one (not to mention hitting the nail on the head):
The threat to the GOP posed by the Trump insurgency is not that he’s anti-establishment. It’s that he’s not conservative. Trump’s winning the nomination would convulse the Republican party, fracture the conservative movement and undermine the GOP’s identity and role as the country’s conservative party.
There’s nothing wrong with challenging the so-called establishment. Parties, like other institutions, can grow fat and soft and corrupt. If by establishment you mean the careerists, the lobbyists, and the sold-out cynics, a good poke, even a major purge, is well-deserved.
That’s not the problem with Trump. The problem is his, shall we say, eclectic populism. Cruz may be anti-establishment but he’s a principled conservative, while Trump has no coherent political philosophy, no core beliefs, at all. Trump offers barstool eruptions and whatever contradictory “idea” pops into his head at the time, such as “humane” mass deportation, followed by mass amnesty when the immigrants are returned to the United States.
Turning our military into a vast climate change boondoggle. The worst news this week was the announcement that, as Islamic jihad gets more aggressive around the world, climate change will become the military’s top priority. Only old-fashioned war-mongering fascists will cling to the outdated notion that the military’s top priority is defending America against foreign enemies.
A couple of comments. First, I’ve already seen this pivot to climate change in action during Fleet Week in San Francisco. The Navy ships I’ve visited, rather than boasting about their military capacity, boast about their carbon footprint (or lack thereof).
Second, this will turn the military budget into the greatest, and most corrupt, slush fund ever in the history of American government. The only good thing will be that, once the military is a giant green machine that can’t fight, but does use little batteries to power its tanks, we’ll stop hearing from inane Leftists horrified by the thought that their children, who enjoy the benefits of a nation under the protection of the greatest military in the world (and one, moreover, subject to constitutional control), might actually view our military as a blessing, rather than a curse.
As my children and their friends have grown older, I’ve witnessed an interesting phenomenon: some of the sons are going into the military. Maybe if you live in the South, this is ordinary, but here in Marin it’s extraordinary. Polite post-9/11 lip service aside, most Marinites, if asked to dig deep in their soul to say what they think about the military would echo John Kerry or Stephen King, which is to say that they believe the American military is for illiterate losers.
The boys who have chosen the military are all pretty much the same: they’re fundamentally decent kids, average students, and don’t know what to do with themselves. They’ve all tried junior college and found it lacking. They were also all old enough to enlist without parental permission but, because they have good relationships with their parents, parental approval mattered.
In each case, the boys have thrived in the military. No matter how Obama tries to feminize it, the military is still the last bastion of traditional manhood in America. No longer are the boys trapped in English classes where they have to talk about their feelings, or forced to listen to their feminist classmates insult them as male chauvinist pigs (even as the boys understand that to respond in kind is a way-one ticket to suspension). Instead, the boys are physically fit, proud, accomplished, and living with the type of camaraderie that transcends race, color, creed, and sex.
I’ve been going through my emails, with 200 down, 300 or so yet to go. Even though I’m only less than halfway through, I’ve discovered marvelous articles hiding in my email box thanks to friends from all over.
Did Merkel unilaterally doom Europe?
We no longer subscribe to the great man or great woman school of history. We’ve also abandoned the notion of high tragedy arising from the hubris of said great men or women. Perhaps, though, it’s time for us to revive that genre.
Daniel Greenfield convincingly argues that Germany’s Angela Merkel, with her mad plan to replace her country’s shrinking, aging population with Muslim refugees, will have single-handedly done to Europe what generations of Muslim conquerors have tried to do, which is to turn it into a part of the global Caliphate:
I know this is going to surprise those of you used to my usual output of posts, but I’m suffering from writer’s block. The last few weeks have been so chaotic, my opportunities to write so random and infrequent, and the news of the world so overwhelming that, now that I finally have time to sit down and write, I’m frozen. After sitting her for a while, I decided that the best thing to do would be to clear my spindle. I know some of the contents are outdated, but they may still be of interest, and getting through the backlog may help spark my dormant (I hope, rather than extinct) yen to write.
Obama fiddles with Iran while the Middle East burns and Israel is forced to go it alone
All eyes may be on Obama and his desperation to get a deal with Iran (despite the fact that, in a sane world, the smaller, weaker, poorer Iran would be desperate to get a deal with Obama), but the fact is that the entire Middle East is a flaming disaster thanks to Obama’s habit of alternately meddling in and abandoning Middle Eastern affairs.
Bret Stephens explains that, thanks to Obama’s policies, it is now impossible for Israel to walk back the way in which he’s abandoned and isolated it:
This is it — the ultimate round-up, consisting of more than 20 links that I’ve collected over the past couple of days and wanted to share with you. Nothing works better at squeezing a nice long blog post than a series of legal pleadings I really don’t want to write. By the way, these squiblets aren’t in any particular order, so you never know what gems you might not find as you scroll down.
The weakening of the Leftist mind
In an earlier post, I wrote about the fact that our younger generation has turned into a passive, sheeple generation, meekly towing the Leftist party line. Astute readers pointed out that, aside from the 1960s children, who were spoon-fed their rebellion by communist spies, past Americans generations also weren’t given to a rebellion. That’s true — but at least past generations were taught analytical and reasoning skills. If they desired, they could analyze and challenge their era’s zeitgeist. Our current generation can’t.
And how do I know I’m correct in reaching that conclusion? Because my reasoning coincidences with Daniel Greenfield’s. In a post about the closing of the liberal mind, Greenfield explains how so-called “liberals” have reduced themselves to this state:
When you vote for an incumbent you are perpetuating our government as it is now. Nothing will change.
These three, short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:
1.) We are advised NOT to judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics.
Funny how that works. And here’s another one worth considering.
2.) Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money.
How come we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What’s interesting is the first group “worked for” their money, but the second didn’t.
Think about it….. Last but not least:
3.) Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting our army to a level lower than before WWII, but we are not stopping payments to illegal aliens such as monthly payments for each child, money for housing, food stamps, free education including college and also the right to vote?
Am I the only one missing something?