Wednesday mid-day round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesHang on to your hats, because this round-up’s a big one (and quite interesting too, I hope).

Reading through my own posts, I have a sense of a world rushing unstoppably towards something catastrophic. I think many feel this way, which is why they’re so terribly aware of the 100th anniversary of WWI’s onset, when a series of seemingly small events triggered the first of the 20th century’s blood baths.

Rather than think of current events as the beginning of the end, I’m trying to think of them as the building crisis that becomes before one can lance a boil. Lance too soon, and things only get worse. But if you let that boil come to a head, and lance it at the right moment, you kill the boil, not the patient.

It’s an ugly, graphic analogy, I know, but I often remind myself that, less than 100 years ago, shortly after WWI started, Rupert Brooke died after the battle of Gallipoli, not from a wound, but from an infected mosquito bite. It’s better if infections don’t start but, once they do, you have only a small window of time within which to defeat them.

As for Brooke, in the first heady days of WWI, when well-raised boys just out of school still viewed the war through a romantic, chivalric lens, and before the full horrors of trench warfare wiped out entirely Victorian innocence, he wrote this famous poem:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

** 1 **

While we’re acknowledging the past, I’m sorry to report that another great member of the greatest generation has passed: Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving member of the crew of the Enola Gay, died at aged 93. Paul Tibbets, the plane’s pilot, speaking of VanKirk, who was his navigator, and Paul Ferebee, his bombardier, described them once as “the best qualified airmen in the outfit.” VanKirk, especially, had an uncanny knack for getting the plane precisely over the designated target.  Tibbets, VanKirk, and Ferebee, saw themselves as the Three Musketeers.

VanKirk never regretted his role in dropping the first atomic bomb:

“I honestly believe the use of the atomic bomb saved lives in the long run,” VanKirk told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview. “There were a lot of lives saved. Most of the lives saved were Japanese.”

He’s right, too. We now know that, had the war continued using traditional methods, while Japan would eventually have surrendered, it would only have done so after hundreds of thousands of civilians died on mainland Honshu. Moreover, 60,000 – 100,000 more Americans would have died. With those numbers, the atomic bomb was a no-brainer.

Dutch VanKirk, I salute you! Godspeed.

The crew of the Enola Gay viewed themselves as the "Three Musketeers" -- the pilot, the bombardier, and the navigator.

The crew of the Enola Gay viewed themselves as the “Three Musketeers” — the pilot, the bombardier, and the navigator.

** 2 **

PJ Media has put together a compendium of the way in which Hamas uses children, women, and animals — i.e., living beings within the society who have no free will — to carry out their dastardly double aims of killing Jews and manipulating world opinion.

** 3 **

Dan Gordon’s encomium to the heroes in the IDF left me in tears.

** 4 **

A black Jewish woman cries “Shame!” at those American blacks (the majority) who support Hamas against Israel. She begins by reminding them that it was the Muslims who drove the slave trade in Africa, and then goes on from there.

** 5 **

Seth Mandel claims that Hamas’s tactics show that it’s losing the ground war. No wonder Obama is doing is best, vis-a-vis Israel, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

** 6 **

And please ignore anyone who says that anti-zionism is different from anti-Semitism. Greg cleanly kills that fallacious argument.

** 7 **

Is Israel ignoring Obama, not just because he’s a useless, pustular excrescence on the world’s body politic, but also because they’re hoping to run out the clock on Hamas’s welcome amongst the Palestinians themselves?

** 8 **

The Israeli media has hurt the State Department’s feelings — and the State Department appears incapable of understanding that Israel, like America, has a free press. This means, of course, that the media’s statements are independent of the Israeli government. The State Department, however, is acting as if the Israeli media is like Pravda, or like any of the drive-by media outlets here at home, which robotically parrot the administration’s party line.

** 9 **

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but a lot of DemProgs are just plain stupid. A blog called The Delaware Liberal has put forward its plan to end the war between Israel and Hamas. The premise, of course, is that the combatants are morally equivalent. The DL therefore proposes that there be an externally-imposed one-state solution.

This is a typical Leftist trope, with its biggest proponent being Samantha Powers. That’s the kind of stupid we already know. What makes this specific proposal a new and wonderful stupid is this paragraph:

An international intervention, first offered voluntarily and if denied, forced on the two parties…probably with the UN as a peacekeeping force but with major trusted groups from both sides providing the reorganization: ie: the Arab League, UN and maybe NATO.

Yes, because the Arab League, the UN, and NATO have been such impartial, objective friends to Israel. For anyone who lives in Reality World, all of the objective evidence currently available indicates that the UN is actively complicit in advancing Hamas’s military and genocidal goals. No wonder Roger Simon says it must be stopped. (Not that it will be stopped, especially because it’s putting into practice what America’s foreign policy leader — that would be Obama — supports in theory.)

** 10 **

Richard Fernandez wrote a great post about the denial that characterizes Washington’s view of Islamists. In a way, what’s even better than the post itself, is a comment Wretchard left to that post:

There’s an unconscious soft bigotry in the press coverage of the region. Nobody wants to accept that these exotically caparisoned militants are serious. They’re not out to ‘end the cycle of hatred’ or to ‘promote reconciliation’ or to ‘seek justice’. They are out for conquest. They are out for blood. They are determined to grind their heel into the enemy’s face and carry off everything he owns. Or, as one Iranian general put it: they are out to hunt the Jews house to house.

Yet even when they say it, we insist on misunderstanding them, as if they were retarded children, which they are not. “Surely you don’t mean that? Don’t you want a ceasefire? Of course you do. Can’t we all stand on a mountaintop and share a Coke?”

If we could only listen to ourselves we would conclude that we were loco in the coco.

The only thing that distinguishes Israel is they, alone of all the countries in the region, are the only ones willing to humor us. To put up with this crazy talk. Obama is Napoleon, in the sense that inmates in the funny farm are convinced they are the former Emperor of France. Sure boss, sure you’re Napoleon. Anybody can see that.

The Middle East is mentally at war. And the West is mentally on the happy ranch.

** 11 **

Using the Halbig decision as his starting point, Robert Tracinski has penned a mournful elegy for America’s once robust and intelligent approach to drafting laws.

** 12 **

For your convenience, fellow Watcher’s Council member Tom White (at VA Right) has put together a compendium of all the Gruber statements supporting the fact that, despite generally not knowing what was in the Obamacare bill, the Democrats in Congress definitely meant to limit subsidies to state exchanges:

** 13 **

“I was for Obamacare before I was against it.” That could be a quotation from the mouth of any college professor who thought Obamacare was a great idea (and propagandized to his students about it), but has now discovered that, when actually put into play, Obamacare is a bad deal for college professors.  I’d be laughing myself sick if they were the only ones suffering from this legislative travesty.

** 14 **

Things are starting to emerge about Lois Lerner, and I’m not talking about evidence regarding her professional capacity as the leader of an IRS program to destroy use the IRS’s incredible power to silence pro-Israel, anti-Obama voices by denying them the tax-free status awarded to DemProgs. Instead, we’re learning about Lois Lerner, the person.

For example, we now know she’s Lois Lerner the conservative hater (they’re “a**holes”):

Lois Lerner conservative hater

We’ve also learned that she’s Lois Lerner the class snob and spelling idiot (sneering at the “hoi paloi”):

Lois Lerner snob

It’s all well and good to sneer right back at Lerner, but it’s worth remember that she is part of a Democrat elite class that runs the administrative branch of this country and that, thanks to public sector unions, has made itself virtually untouchable.

** 15 **

And really, in what sane universe is anyone okay with the IRS interfering with American foreign policy?

** 16 **

So, Jesse Ventura managed to win a $1.8 million judgment against Chris Kyle’s’ widow. The responses at Twitchy express how I feel.

** 17 **

I’m not much for Twitter (its enforced brevity doesn’t work well with my loquacity), but even I’d noticed that AP’s tweets have become semi-literate and manifestly biased. A once somewhat decent news agency has utterly debased itself.

** 18 **

In her logical, kind, impartial way, Megan McArdle completely destroys Mary Mapes, the gal who produced the “news” segment that led to Rathergate. McArdles article isn’t just interesting on its own terms.  I also think every young lawyer should read it as a primer about how to use evidence for advocacy.

** 19 **

Was Mika tired? Did she have a stroke? Or was her DemProg brain overwhelmed by the logic she’d heard from Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer? We’ll never know, but we do know that she made an embarrassing verbal mistake as she sent the Morning Joe Show over to commercial:

**20 **

Obama will act with impunity on immigration and amnesty, because he knows he can — there’s nothing Republicans will do to stop him. He knows that, as the first black president, he is immune to consequences. Moreover — and this has nothing to do with Obama — Congressional Republicans are spineless weasels and sell-outs, who are willing to put the party and the country on a suicide watch in order to garner the short-term benefit of Chamber of Commerce cash.

Perhaps given the fatal taint in the original Constitution (that it accepted slavery), there’s a divine justice in the fact that our nation’s freedoms are being destroyed by a sort-of black man. The irony would be more perfect if he were the descendant of slaves, but I guess irony isn’t picky about the instruments it uses.

The illegal aliens, incidentally, are not grateful:

 

We will shoot more police

** 21 **

A lot of Marin’s young people tend to go off to exotic locales to do volunteer work. It’s nice that they recognize their good fortune, but I often think there’s an unwholesome element of “white man’s burden” to these journeys. After all, there’s poverty and despair in America too. One of these volunteers has finally realized that her “voluntourism” is, at best, an ineffective way to help people, because it harnesses skills she lacks while ignoring those that she has.

** 22 **

Kevin Gallagher takes a humorless, pedantic stand against what he claims is Weird Al Yankovic’s humorless pedantry in “Word Crimes.” I, of course, found Word Crimes completely delightful. Anyway, as a lawyer, I incline to grammatic pedantry because I would guess that 80% of my commercial law cases involved problems arising from ambiguous language. Punctuation and grammar matter if clarity matters.

In any event, you don’t have to read Gallagher’s entire article, which oozes pedantic high dudgeon. Instead, enjoy the comments.

** 23 **

The science is in, and vegetarians are less healthy than meat eaters. Don’t get too excited, though, fellow carnivores. As Earl (who sent me this link) added, one has to consider that many people embrace vegetarianism because they are sick. Thus, Bill Clinton, a heart-attack-waiting to happen, embraced vegetarianism as a way to turn his health around. He would have entered the cohort ill and skewed the statistics.

Still, I don’t doubt that those who refuse meat are missing out on essential nutrients. We’re meant to be meat-eaters. (On that subject, I highly recommend Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.)

** 24 **

The Left likes that it’s a party of “intellectuals” — witness all the university professors and their poor, brainwashed students who support the Democrat Progressive movement. In a post about geekdom’s new trendiness, Charles C. W. Cooke explains what I laboriously figured out after leaving school, which is that being academically-oriented is not same as actually being smart, let alone functional.

** 25 **

Fool me three times

A country without borders

Use some restraint

Liberal logic about terrorism

VA left in the dust

Can't build a fence

Getting Obama to a security meeting

Not much of a head

** 26 **

As always, my thanks to Earl, Caped Crusader, and Sadie, who were instrumental in helping me find the articles and images described here.

Engaging in a little time travel

My daughter and I visited my mother today.  While I helped my Mom with a few things, my daughter ferreted around in my Mom’s bookshelves, and discovered something I didn’t know existed — a book in which my grandmother’s friends at her finishing school in Lausanne, Switzerland, wrote her farewell letters when she graduated and moved back to Belgium in 1913.

As befitted a young woman of her class back in the day before WWI began, my grandmother was multilingual, so the messages in her book were in French, German, Dutch, and English.  The young ladies all included their home addresses — in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, America, Scotland, England, Wales, Romania, and Persia (Tehran).  Each inscription was written in beautiful copperplate and the girls all drew exquisite little flags reflecting each girl’s country of origin.

Since I, unlike my grandmother (and my parents), am not multilingual, I was able to read only the inscriptions from my grandmother’s English-speaking friends.  I have no word for how charming these little missives were.  An American girl wrote about the irony that she and my grandmother hated each other at first sight, only to become close friends by the end of their time together.  An English girl wrote about the “jolly good times” they had going to concerts with “modern” music consisting of one note, played so low no one could hear it.  Another girl wrote about the disappointment of endless dinners consisting of macaroni and disappointingly watery “chocolate creme.”

The book would have been delightful no matter when it was written, but there was a special poignancy to the fact that these young women were recording the last year before the Great War forever ended the innocence of the 19th century and began the 20th century’s battle with and slide into socialism.  One can so easily imagine them heading out for the day in Lausanne, carrying delicate parasols, wearing their hair plaited and curled under lacy, feathered or flowered hats, and clad in dresses that ended demurely just above their ankles.  For all but the young woman from Persia, the next five years would see their familiar worlds destroyed.  Their brothers, cousins, fathers, husbands, and boyfriends would have marched off to war and, if they returned, they would have carried scars, some visible, some buried deep within.

My grandmother had a hard time of it during WWI, as her German father was sent to prison in Belgium for the duration of the war.  Thankfully, he was a man of so much charm and rectitude that, at war’s end, the stigma attached to imprisonment vanished, and he was quickly able to resume his career as a very wealthy banker. The Belgian Army also conscripted the family’s beloved German Shepherd, Fricki.  When he left, he was a darling dog, who every day delivered to his master the newspaper and a pair of slippers.  When Fricki returned at war’s end, he had been so brutalized by his experiences on the front line that he had to be put down. Humans aren’t the only casualties of war.

I don’t have any pictures of my grandmother at this time, as my mother cherishes them and won’t release them.  Having seen the pictures, though, I can tell you that she my grandmother and her friends would have looked something like this in 1913:

Women's fashions 1913

Our diversity minded administration marks the end of the Iraq war in its own peculiar fashion

One of the most iconic British World War I recruiting posters had as its goal shaming slackers into enlisting by reminding them that, at some future time, their children would want to look up to them for their war service:

The Obama administration has just added a whole new twist to the concept of what constitutes memorable, boast-worthy service during war time.  The administration is putting together a special dinner party to mark the war’s end.  Since it obviously can’t invite every one of the men and women who have served over the past nine years, it’s put together a checklist for qualities the putative dinner guests should meet.

Now, if I were putting together this checklist, I might look at such things as bravery in battle, contributions to moral, dedication, etc.  Apparently, though, I’m stuck in the wrong war, in the wrong century.  Blackfive sets me right:

The military was always the place for people to succeed in ways that they may not have had the chance to in civilian society.  Whether grunt, medic or quartermaster, the military was a place where you succeeded based on the merits of your ability, your hard work.

That’s why I get really really pissed at the Obama Administration when I see things like this – this posting at the Daily Beast POLITICO via This Ain’t Hell about the guest list of enlisted military members for a dinner party to mark the end of the Iraq war (OIF):

The list is being assembled by the senior enlisted representative for the five service chiefs, and the goal is a mix that is racially diverse, old and young, gay and straight.

What the hell?!

Hey, congrations Master Chief, you’ve been selected to dine with the President because you’re the oldest Sailor in DC area who served in Iraq?!

Hey, Gunney, because you’re gay and worked at Balad, you get to meet the President?!

(Read the rest here, both ’cause it’s really good and because it suggests a much more appropriate guest list.)

Can you imagine the hysterical laughter and disbelief in the British War Office during WWI if the correct answer to the child’s question (“Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?”) was “I was gay” or “I was the oldest person in my unit” or “I had a Hispanic surname.”  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with being gay or old or Hispanic, but they are not the primary indicia of noble service to ones country — except, of course, in Obamaland.

I’m sorry to say this, but our Commander in Chief is a joke — a very bad joke.  I’m pretty sure, though, that this is one joke that would not make Martin Luther King laugh.  I believe it was he who thought the best criterion for judging a person wasn’t by looking at the color of his skin (or his sexual preferences or his age), but by examining the content of his character.  That sure goes double and triple for those who have served and who, unlike most of us, have been given the rare opportunity to learn about and put to use the best part of their characters.

Our very literate military

One of my favorite books ever is Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory. (Just as a “by the way,” another wonderful Fussell book is Thank God for the Atom Bomb.)  In The Great War and Modern Memory, Fussell examines how the literary British upper-class men who participated in the British war wrote about it, from the unadulterated patriotism of Rupert Brookes (who saw so little fighting and died of an infected mosquito bite at Gallipoli) to the tortured trauma of Siegfried Sassoon, who spent too many years on the Western Front.  Fussell gracefully weaves military history, literary history, and literary analysis into one seamless, tragic whole.  It is an epic work.

Helping to write a letter 1917

Fussell’s book also makes one aware that there are always two wars going on:  the war on the ground, and what I call “the war as perceived.”  Only the troops know the war on the ground but, if one has a literate military, everyone can experience the war second-hand.  Although not as excessively literary as the British, who were steeped in Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, etc., American troops did a fine job of bringing the war home, at least through the end of WWII.  They wrote home from the front during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and World War II.  Not just that, but during all those wars, a critical percentage of the American male population was engaged in the fight, meaning that, not only were troops writing, a critical percentage of the people at home were reading what the troops wrote.

Things changed after World War II.  We still fought wars and American troops still wrote home, but the audience was shrinking.  Fewer and fewer families had someone on the front.  Americans who did not have a friend or family member in the war lost sight of the “war as perceived.”  Into that vacuum stepped the Leftist propagandists.  They vigorously filled this informational void, most notably with John Kerry’s despicable Winter Soldier lies.  With Vietnam, on the home front, the “war as perceived” began to have a great deal to do with hostile sources — our home-grown communist fifth party — and nothing to do with the military’s own experience.

British chaplain helping WWI soldier write home.

The internet has changed all this.  In the ordinary course of things, between my environment (blue, blue Bay Area) and demographics (I’m too old to have friends who fight and my children are too young to be part of the fighting generation), “the war as perceived” would have passed me by.  Or, to the extent I did learn something about it, that knowledge would have come from the MSM filter, which is alternately maudlin or hostile when it comes to our fighting troops.

But with the internet  . . . well, that’s a different thing entirely.  We get front line reports, not from reporters, enemies, and propagandists, but from the troops themselves.  We also get “back line reports” (for want of a better phrase).  We don’t just learn from the troops about the blood and smoke.  We hear, first hand, about the camaraderie, the training, the boredom, the skill sets, the loss, and the foolish fun.

This first person war reporting is incredibly important.  It’s one of the reasons why, all efforts notwithstanding, the Lefties have been unable to turn Americans against the troops.  Because of the blogs, we know the troops, unfiltered.  They’re young men and young women who train, fight, play, dream, love and hate.  They are us.  We cannot pretend that they are some alien killer beings because the troops themselves won’t let that pretense exist.

The U.S. Army stays connected.

The other thing milblogging teaches us is that so many of those who serve in our military our excellent writers and thinkers.  They are well-informed, thoughtful, funny, intelligent and generally people with whom it’s nice to spend time.  When I read my favorite milblogs, I always think to myself “Gosh, I’d like to have lunch with that writer.”  (To my favorite milbloggers, that’s a hint.  If you’re going in be in town, drop me a line.)

I’d therefore like to introduce you to a few of my favorite milbloggers.  I’d also like it if you’d use the comments section to introduce me (and everyone else) to a few of your favorite milbloggers:

The Mellow Jihadi

Castra Praetoria

Neptunus Lex

CDR Salamander

Blackfive

And a newbie, a female Marine:  Tin and Phoenix

Why can’t we fight to the finish this time, so we’ll never have to do it again?

A friend sent me a link to an editorial bemoaning the fact that, by abruptly pulling out from Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan, the Obama administration is ensuring that we’re leaving a job undone — something that invariably means one has to do it again.  If history is going to keep repeating itself, why can’t we just repeat the good parts?

World War I ended with a definitive American victory, but a dangerous, un-managed peace, one that pretty much made World War II inevitable.  By 1942, my favorite songwriter, Irving Berlin, pretty much summed up the WWII mindset, which was “do it right this time.”

[Verse:]
‘Twas not so long ago we sailed to meet the foe
And thought our fighting days were done
We thought ’twas over then but now we’re in again
To win the war that wasn’t won

[Refrain:]
This time, we will all make certain
That this time is the last time

This time, we will not say “Curtain”
Till we ring it down in their own home town

For this time, we are out to finish
The job we started then

Clean it up for all time this time
So we won’t have to do it again

Dressed up to win
We’re dressed up to win
Dressed up for victory
We are just beginning
And we won’t stop winning
Till the world is free

[Coda:]
We’ll fight to the finish this time
And we’ll never have to do it again

Trust old Irving to hit the nail on the head. And, in fact, that’s what the Allies did.  First, they destroyed entirely the totalitarian states in Germany, Japan and Italy.  Then, in those regions over which they had control (as to those the Soviets held), the Americans carefully rebuilt the nations into democratic allies.  It was a tough, long-haul job, but it prevented post-war massacres and ensured that (so far) we haven’t had to “do it again” with Germany, Italy or Japan.

Clearly, we’re a whole lot dumber now than we were in the mid-20th century. In 1991 we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq (which is one of the reasons I’ve never liked Colin Powell, whom I’ve always blamed, fairly or not, for being the architect of that foolish retreat). Now, with Obama’s help, we’re doing it all over again, only worse. Does any nation get a third chance to remedy its chronic stupidity? I doubt we will, especially because Obama is also choosing to repeat the disarmament mistakes of the 20s and 30s. Ain’t those fancy Ivy League educations grand? They go in smart and come out stupid.

I’m an armchair warrior (aka a chicken hawk) and I’m disgusted and frustrated. I can only imagine how the troops — the ones who sweated and bled — feel as they watch their Commander in Chief dismantling all of their good work.