The Republican primary debate — open thread

Republican debateI watched about 30 minutes of the debate.  I missed the beginning because I was taking care of business, and I tuned out after 30 minutes because my feed broke down.  What little I did watch still left me with a few impressions about the field.

Before I begin, let me recommend to you an article from Breitbart that is really a predicate to deciding which of the Republican candidates you like best: “A Stark Choice: Ted Cruz’s Jacksonian Americanism vs. Marco Rubio’s Wilsonian Internationalism.

The article boils the foreign policy issue (which the Constitution gives to the president) down to two world views: The Wilson world view is that we have to intervene all over the world to make it a better place, and that it’s shameful to win wars; instead we have to make peace.  The Jackson view is that we shouldn’t fight a war that doesn’t directly benefit us, but when we fight, we fight to win. Wilsonians would say a safer world indirectly benefits us, making intervention wars worthwhile. Jacksonians would say that too many of our wars have not only failed to give us any benefit, they’ve been very bad for us, especially because — as Obama exemplifies — we shouldn’t win.

Given ISIS’s role in the world, it’s useful to get a handle on the candidates’ fundamental foreign policy orientation.

(The rest of what I’m going to say is un-researched stream-of-consciousness stuff, based solely on my own often faulty memory.  If I’ve made mistakes (and I’m sure I have), feel free to correct me.  I only ask that you be kind when you do.)

I tried to use this Jackson/Wilson divide as a filter by which to view 20th century wars and found it a little confusing, to say the least. America automatically sided with England against Germany because America had her roots in England. In fact, though, from the standpoint of America’s interests, there really was little to choose between England and Germany. If it weren’t for German perfidy, as revealed in the Zimmerman telegram, it’s entirely likely that Wilson really would have kept his pledge to keep America out of the continental war.

As it was, once Wilson got a taste of American military power, he began to believe that it was America’s manifest destiny to bring goodness and light to the whole world — without any actual benefit to America, something that would have been just too, too crass and self-interested. Ironically enough, given Wilson’s “world peace” vision, it was because America tilted the war in Britain’s favor that Germany not only lost, it ended up so destabilized that the anarchic 1920s created the perfect power vacuum for the rise of the Nazis.

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The Bookworm Beat 11-5-15 — Guy Fawkes edition, Part 2

Woman-writing-300x265I’ve still got a few more things I want to share with you tonight, so consider this Part 2 for the day (with Part 1 here).

The coming (and inevitable) Leftist implosion

Every time I read a Kevin Williamson article, I like his writing and thinking just a little bit more. In one of his latest outings, about the inevitable fissures on the Left (as exemplified by (1) the way Black Lives Matters activists are attacking old, white Bernie and Hillary, and (2) the way the black/Hispanic majority in very Leftist Houston nevertheless voted down men in women’s restrooms), Williams has the following wonderful lines:

The challenge for the Left is that while the Republican party is mainly a coalition of ideologies, the Democratic party is mainly a coalition of interest groups, and the current model of Democratic politics — poor and largely non-white people providing the muscle and rich white liberals calling the shots — is unsustainable. The social attitudes of non-white voters are pretty plainly not those of white liberals, and, at the same time — and probably more significant — the economic interests of white liberals are pulling away from those of the people in whose interest they purport to act. Hispanic immigrants and urban blacks make below-average wages; public-school administrators and other government employees make wages that are well above average. There aren’t a lot of people in Cleveland’s Glenville who give a fat furry rat’s patootie how much interest Caitlyn from Bryn Mawr is paying on the student loans that financed her women’s-studies degree. If you’re wondering why Democrats lean so deeply into the racial rhetoric — Joe Biden’s shameful “They want to put y’all back in chains!” etc. — that’s a big part of your answer.

Rich Lowry’s article nails why I don’t trust Rubio

Marco Rubio is bright, articulate, focused, conservative, and telegenic. I ought to like him . . . but I just don’t. I’ve been pfumphering around for a while trying to put my finger on my problem with him and I think it really does boil down to his support for amnesty:

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The Bookworm Beat 12/14/14 — Sunday round-up and Open Thread

Woman writingI’ve been going through my email, as well as through my “real me” Facebook today, and I find some interesting — and surprising — things. Here goes:

The Islamic hostage crisis in Sydney

My thoughts and prayers are with the hostages trapped in the Lindt Cafe in Sydney, Australia’s historic Martin Place. The main indication that the siege is Islamic in nature is the fact that the hostage taker has forced the hostages to hold in the window the Islamic Shahada statements, which contains the Koranic verse asserting Allah’s and Mohammed’s preeminence: “There is no god but Allah, Mohammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

Despite the Shahada’s centrality to Islam (merely saying this credo is all that’s necessary to convert to Islam), Australia’s Muslims are professing complete bewilderment at the way in which some people around the world are saying that, given the Shahada’s role in the hostage crisis, the crisis is probably tied to Islam in some way:

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The Democrats have a long-strategy when it comes to losing against ISIS

We'll never again see the type of victory parade that happened in Paris in 1944

We’ll never again see the type of victory parade that happened in Paris in 1944

A friend emailed me a comment:

Bill Clinton just said in an interview that America has proven we can’t win a land war in Iraq. Too bad he omitted: “Because we won’t let our military win it.”

I agree with my friend, and I want to examine a little further what he said, and I’ll do so via a series of links.

Charles Krauthammer argues convincingly that ISIS is yanking at America’s tail right now, because it knows that Obama will not fight the war to win.  It needs to prove itself regionally, and there is no better way to do so than to watch America retreat.

We can tell that Obama doesn’t want to win the war because he can’t even get himself to call it a war.  We’re assured that it’s a not-war, or maybe a not not-war.  Whatever it is, no matter how many kill shots Obama personally orders, there is no war, except when there’s not a not-not war.

Jon Gabriel says that the reason behind Obama’s reluctance to go to war is grounded in his jaundiced view of America.  If we say ISIS is terrible and that we’re going to protect the world from ISIS, the implication is that we’re the good guys.  Except that Obama cannot have America be good.  Therefore, America cannot fight a war against evil.

I agree with Gabriel, but I want to go back to what my friend said, about our refusal ever to let the military win a war.  That wasn’t always the case, even when Democrats were president.  American won WWI under a Democrat and repeated that feat with WWII.  It was only after WWII that America became embarrassed to win wars.  (For one theory behind that embarrassment, check out this history of the UN.)  It’s only a short step from “has not won a war in 60+ years” to “cannot ever win a war.”

Whenever I go to my mother’s place, I see a car with a Bush-ear bumper sticker, stating that “War is not the answer.” And every time I see it, I say to myself, “That depends what the question is.” For example, if you start talking to people about Nazis and other seriously bad actors, many of them will start agreeing with you that war can indeed be an answer. If you’re the anti-war type, you don’t people’s thoughts to head in that direction. How much better, then, to have a bumper sticker saying “Wars cannot be won,” or “There is no victory with war”?

Average Americans are so ignorant that, if the Democrats lose just a few more wars, voters won’t remember that victory is possible, and that it only matters that the right person or party should be in charge. Instead, they’ll just remember that wars cannot be won . . . ever!

“Let’s remember Pearl Harbor!”

Burning ships at Pearl Harbor

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because of the 2,402 Americans killed there.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because it catapulted us into an incredibly bloody war for dominance over the Pacific.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because, within a few days, Hitler also declared war on America, so that America found herself a combatant in the biggest war in the world’s history.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America’s participation in the European theater was the main thing that beat back Hitler’s genocidal bid for world domination (Britain had done her best, but couldn’t do it alone).

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America’s participation in the Pacific theater was the  main thing that beat back Japan’s genocidal bid for domination over the Pacific.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because America, after utterly destroying Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II, stuck around to build them up again as peaceful, economically successful republican democracies that have been our allies, not our enemies.

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor because, pretty much until Obama quit doing the job, it marked the beginning of America’s role as the world’s policeman, protecting as many people as possible from the “peaceful graveyard” that is communism as well has our efforts to protect as many people as possible from sharia’s murderous hands.

Basil Fawlty’s insanity almost becomes Bank of England policy

I do believe that one of the funniest things ever shown on TV is the episode of Fawlty Towers (a show that ran from 1975-1979) in which Basil Fawlty welcomes four German guests to his seaside hotel.  He’s told not to mention the war, lest he offend the Germans, but he cannot help himself:

As is happening way too often lately, life in the 21st century has gone from amusing satire to dysfunctional seriousness.  This is the news out of England today:

Bank of England bosses thought twice about putting Sir Winston Churchill on the new £5 note – because they didn’t want to upset the Germans.

Officials warned Sir Mervyn King, then Governor of the Bank of England, that Churchill’s wartime record might make him highly controversial, documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday show.

[snip]

In a memo dated April 11, 2012, Sir Mervyn was advised Churchill will be a popular choice because of his ‘broad name recognition’ and the public’s ‘very affectionate view’ of him as a wartime leader. But officials also warned him that ‘the recentness of World War II is a living memory for many here and on the Continent’.

[snip]

Officials also warned Sir Mervyn of Churchill’s ‘disastrous’ decision to return Britain to the gold standard in the 1920s. Churchill’s critics at the time claimed the move, with the backing of the Bank of England, produced the mass unemployment, deflation and industrial strife of the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Bank staff who conducted ‘considerable research’ into Churchill’s role in the debacle noted: ‘If academics do pick up on the move to the gold standard it is likely they will refer to the role of the Bank and Churchill’s own criticism of the Bank.’

We shouldn’t be surprised by this thinking, though. The same government body was worried about using Jane Austen’s image on a bank note in case something shady emerged about her private life.  (For those who are not fanatic Austen fans, she lived her whole life with her family; never married; wrote exquisite social comedies that were also strong morality stories; and left virtually nothing of herself behind other than her work, since her beloved sister Cassandra destroyed almost all of her letters.)

It’s not too late to honor the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The August 6 anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima has come and gone, but it’s not too late to watch Bill Whittle’s beyond brilliant deconstruction of Leftist moral idiocy regarding that bombing — in this case, moral idiocy as displayed by Jon Stewart, the intellectual light for too many leftists.

Longtime readers know that I routinely thank God for the Atom bomb.  My mother, interned in a Japanese concentration camp, had reached the point of starvation that saw her lose interest in food.  Death was days away.  Instead, because of that bomb, this is a picture of my mother five months after Hiroshima:

Mom photo

As a P.S., it’s worth recalling that Japanese concentration camps were no picnic, especially for the Western men caught up in Japan’s Bushido madness.

Friday’s “tame the inbox,” Part 2

I’m back with more.

Did you know that Afghanistan was declared a gun-free zone?  Well, if you didn’t, you’re right.  But this is a great satire anyway.

Have you heard of a site called Patriotic Voices?  (I do seem to be full of questions, don’t I?)  It’s a forum for conservatives.  It’s got very attractive formatting and interesting content.  If you look at the main page, there are new posts, although people don’t seem to be commenting. However, if you go to the forum page, it’s quite busy.  Check it out and, if you feel so inclined, come back here and let us know what you think.

Although blacks, sadly, suffer the greatest number of gun homicides, their voices are surprisingly quiet when it comes to the Second Amendment debate.  Digital Publius, however, did weigh in and I like what he had to say.

And now, below the fold, some wonderful WWII posters.  Looking at them is a reminder that part of why we were unable to come to a satisfying conclusion with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is the fact that our government never fought the war at home.  I’m certainly not saying it should have silenced the opposition, which would have made a travesty of what America is all about.  However, Bush’s government never advocated for the war either.  The Bush administration, which was afraid to speak the enemy’s name, never educated Americans about why we fought and never made Americans feels that they had a vested interest in see us win.

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Remembering D-Day, 68 years later

Many people forget, or never knew, that the war in Europe was virtually non-existent before June 6, 1944.  Until that time, the Nazi’s had successfully repulsed Allied efforts to bring the war to European soil.  The Nazis owned the land in Europe.  Sure, there were aerial bombing raids, spies, in-country resistance movements, etc., but that didn’t stop Nazi dominance.  What stopped it was good, old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground warfare — and that warfare began with the first wave on D-Day.

I have never, never, never been able to imagine the feelings of the men in the first wave, seasick, cold, wet, rushing into sure death.  My brain just doesn’t take me there.  All I know is that the free world owes these men, and the waves of them who followed them to such places as Bastogne and Berlin, their undying gratitude.

To each of those men, I can only say, I salute you, sir!

[Photo deleted, because it was a film shot — I knew it was too well-framed to be true….]

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.

Hospital bedside blogging, with my thoughts turning to evil

Mom’s in the hospital again and suffering greatly, not in body, but in mind. She’s mildly delusional, and very paranoid, angry and anxious. I can’t imagine how grim it is to live in her head.

I slipped away for an hour and had lunch with Don Quixote. Our conversation turned to evil. I believe evil exists. Don Quixote pointed out, correctly, that many people who commit evil believe in their own heads that they’re doing a good thing.  They believe in their revolution or their God, and believe that they are serving that revolution or God (and, therefore, the greater good) by torturing or murdering mass numbers people who “get in the way.”

I’m going for moral absolutism here:  I believe that my system, which is predicated on maximum individual freedom within a framework of stable laws, is the best.  If two systems, mine and another that is more repressive, find themselves clashing over physical or mental control of people, I believe my system must win, and the other system must be defeated, even if that battle spills blood and causes the death of innocents.  I justify these deaths on the ground that, over the long run, my system will provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people, while any other system (e.g., Communism or radical Islam) will force great suffering on people for an indefinite amount of time.

At this point in my thinking, I don’t care that the Islamist or the Communist thinks I’m the evil and he’s the good.  If I lie down right now and refuse to do battle, he wins, and I will have perpetuated what is, in my absolutist universe, the greatest wrong of all, which is to allow evil — admitted evil as I define it — to flourish.

What do you say?  Does evil exist?  Am I evil for taking an absolutist position and being willing to fight and kill to defend it?  (Or more accurately, given my armchair warrior status, sending others to fight and kill to defend it?)

I am very interested in what you have to say on the subject.

Incidentally, it’s worth thinking in this regard that part of my Mom’s continuing mental anguish is that she spent WWII interned in a Japanese concentration camp in a war the Japanese started and that she spent the Israeli War of Independence getting shot at by Arabs who refused to recognize the Jewish state.  Those events created a lifelong anxiety that kept her alive during war, but that is slowly and depressingly killing her in old age.