18. February 2007 · Comments Off on Doing That Thing You Do · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, General, GWOT, Mordor, Pajama Game

So, yeah, my heart hasn’t really been in this blogging thing for a while… no, no nonono, I am not working up to pulling the plug, it’s just that I have been diverted by another mission. As I said in a post a couple of months ago, I’m just laying down to bleed a while, then up and fight again… but I know how Timmer feels. There’s a lot of stuff going on, which in days of yore I would have been perfectly at home, piling on with the rest of us. Some of it is just the usual blogger shit-fit: Marcotte who? At where? Ummm. OK… this is the blogger-face you want with your campaign? It’s always a bad sign when you piss off more than you make friends with. Didn’t anyone actually read hers and that other blog before taking them on board officially? Apparently not. Smooth move, Ex-Lax, as we used to say in junior high.

Anna Nicole Smith, news coverage of, 24-7. Umm, OK. Clear demonstration that the major legacy media are not serving us well, although the Princess Di-like coverage fairly well illustrates the adage about first time tragedy, second time farce. We’re kinda over served in the farce department here, although the astronaut Lisa whats-er-fern is probably grateful for it.

Britney Spears, bald. Sorry, I’m not stooping to the obvious here. (Although the remembrance of a cartoon entitled “Her First Masked Ball” keeps popping up in my mind. I think it was in National Lampoon in about 1979. You google for it, you pervert.) Girl, the trailer park is calling. It is your destiny!

Talk about flashbacks to the 1970s, though… watching our major political parties and politicians maneuver over the last couple of days. Tragedy and farce, tragedy and farce, people. Only this time it’s going to be a tragedy and a tragedy again. Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. It’s been like watching a blindfolded person walk over a cliff; for the purposes of scoring domestic political points, just go ahead and kiss off and abandon our allies (yes, we do have some, here and there, although you wouldn’t know it from your abject flunkies in the legacy media) and pull our forces out of Iraq in 90 days or whatever other timeline you have pulled out of your ass which will look good in the polls. Yeah. Sure. Whatever.

Sell out our national credibility and commitment to a long and difficult mission for a mess of pottage and polls. Do whatever it takes to keep you in that nice little office you have scored for yourself. Just keep thinking of your short-term interest. Just keep hoping that all that jihadist narsty stuff in the woodshed will all go away, when George Bush exits the White House. Yep, just keep hoping. Get your friends and mouthpieces in the legacy media to help you out with that. Everybody will love us once again, once the Bushhitlertyrant is gone, and our betters are in control. Take a nice long drink of the Koolaid, comrade, you will feel so much better.

Me, I am trying to take the long view. With luck the blogosphere will circumvent the “flee-all-is-lost-in Iraq” meme, as best we can. No more kindly and authoritative Uncle Walty declaring without opposition after the Tet Offensive , that “all is lost in Vietnam! Flee, flee for your lives!” And also there is a means of fighting the “our troops are bloodthirsty baby-killers and war-criminals” meme. Here’s hoping we can scotch that one, right at the starting post, although given that the so-called military expert for the Washington Post is singing that little ditty like his hope of heaven depends on it doesn’t necessary ensure that that particular meme will go down without a fight. It’s going to be a bumpy ride in the next two years: fasten your metaphorical seatbelt, and prepare to weather the shitstorm

Me… I have the feeling that bad stuff is going to happen. And that I can do my best part now by going back to our stories, or recollections of who we are, and what we had to overcome. We have had hard times, bad times, times when we might have given it all up. We have to remember these stories. Our past, those stories that some of us know, and that some of us have yet to be reminded of, we will need them, very soon. Things will start happening, in the next months or years. Events will overtake the best intentions of us all, and so we need to be reminded of our history, our stories and our heroes and heroines.

They are a talisman, our hope, our light in the dark when every other light has gone out.

07. February 2007 · Comments Off on Memo: When at the Bottom of a Hole · Categories: General, GWOT, Home Front, Media Matters Not, Military, Rant, sarcasm

To: Wm. Arkin, “Military Expert”*
From: Sgt Mom
Re: Stop Digging

1. I take pen in hand, metaphorically speaking after reading your latest apologetic non-apology, to offer some kindly advice: Put down the shovel, step away from the hole and for the love of mike, stop digging. Possibly your editor or kindly-intentioned friends have already told you this. I encourage you to listen to them, as they presumably have your better interests at heart.

2. It is not clear in my mind why you pull down a substantial paycheck and are bylined as a “military expert” *. A single term of enlistment in the early 1970ies is pretty thin qualification, unless there is something more substantial to account for this miracle, since to put it kindly, nothing you have written ever since would lead anyone to confuse you with Ernie Pyle. Or Austin Bay. Or David Hackworth.

3. Try and wrap your mind around this basic contradiction: ever since the war in Afghanistan and Iraq began, those who have generally thought it a good idea and said so have been slammed with the chicken-hawk argument by those who do not see it as a good idea. That is to say “You have no right to support the war unless you are wearing a uniform and/or stationed in the war zone”. So a couple of young troops who are unmistakably wearing a uniform and verifiably serving in Iraq speak up and support the war effort there and you are (as teenagers say) all about saying “Shut up! We pay your salary so we own you, and you don’t have any rights to speak out about the war!” The contradiction is, to say the least, rather amusing, since it suggests that you don’t wish to hear their opinions unless they happen to agree with yours. This can be somewhat of a handicap for a reporter, actually.

4. I am also amused by the air of hurt astonishment which you display upon being confronted by the anger and outrage of those who have taken offense at your deeply insulting terms used to disparage the serving military. A so-called “military expert”* should expect a certain amount of flack in response to using such words as “mercenary”, and telling members of the service that they are lucky they to not treated like war criminals by the public at large. Do you recollect the phrase “Suck it up, hard charger” from your time of service? Apparently not. How about the one about people who can dish it out, but can’t take it?

5. Finally, I think you should take up another by-line, other than “military expert”. You remind me at this point of a veterinarian who despises animals and can’t quite figure out why they keep chomping great chunks of flesh out of him.

6. As always, the * denotes viciously skeptical quote marks.

Sgt Mom

PS – Can I byline myself as a military expert? I’ve been retired for a bit, but at least I can write about the military without pissing them off, and I’ll work for less, also. Think about it. Have your people call my people, or something.

(Cross-posted at Blogger News Network)

02. February 2007 · Comments Off on Unneccessary Snark · Categories: Fun and Games, General, GWOT, Media Matters Not, sarcasm

While practically everyone in the mil-blogosphere, and the blogosphere in general is lining up and taking turns to thwack the “Piniata o’ The Month”, one William Arkin who is represented to be (admittedly on very thin grounds) the “military expert” for a couple of legacy media outlets who should have known better….
Oh, one of them was the L.A. Times. Never mind. Anyway, I thought the Washington Post might have known better. It’s just that it looks like this doofus’s claim to be a military expert is based on a four-year Army enlistment in the 70ies. According to Hugh Hewitt in this article ‘many of his bylines from the past two decades described him as a “military intelligence analyst” ‘

“Military Intelligence” — Wasn’t that one of those things which was always being sarcastically desribed as a contradiction in terms? Honestly, sometimes these things just write themselves.
More piniata-whacking here, if you have the strength.

30. January 2007 · Comments Off on “Stop the BS and Let’s Get it Done” · Categories: GWOT, My Head Hurts

They say that NCOs aren’t happy unless we’re bitching.  This guy over at Blackfive is absolutely ecstatic!!

 Things that I am tired of in this war:

I am tired of Democrats saying they are patriotic and then insulting my commander in chief and the way he goes about his job.

I am tired of Democrats who tell me they support me, the soldier on the ground, and then tell me the best plan to win this war is with a “phased redeployment” (liberal-speak for retreat) out of the combat zone to someplace like Okinawa.

I am tired of the Democrats whining for months on T.V., in the New York Times, and in the House and Senate that we need more troops to win the war in Iraq, and then when my Commander in Chief plans to do just that, they say that is the wrong plan, it won’t work, and we need a “new direction.”

I am tired of every Battalion Sergeant Major and Command Sergeant Major I see over here being more concerned about whether or not I am wearing my uniform in the “spot on,” most garrison-like manner; instead of asking me whether or not I am getting the equipment I need to win the fight, the support I need from my chain of command, or if the chow tastes good.

I am tired of junior and senior officers continually doubting the technical expertise of junior enlisted soldiers who are trained far better to do the jobs they are trained for than these officers believe.

I am tired of senior officers and commanders who fight this war with more of an eye on the media than on the enemy, who desperately needs killing.

I am tired of the decisions of Sergeants and Privates made in the heat of battle being scrutinized by lawyers who were not there and will never really know the state of mind of the young soldiers who were there and what is asked of them in order to survive.

I am tired of CNN claiming that they are showing “news,” with videotape sent to them by terrorists, of my comrades being shot at by snipers, but refusing to show what happens when we build a school, pave a road, hand out food and water to children, or open a water treatment plant.

I am tired of following the enemy with drones that have cameras, and then dropping bombs that sometimes kill civilians; because we could do a better job of killing the right people by sending a man with a high powered rifle instead.

I am tired of Democrats who tell me they support me, the soldier on the ground, and then tell me the best plan to win this war is with a “phased redeployment” (liberal-speak for retreat) out of the combat zone to someplace like Okinawa.

I am tired of the Democrats whining for months on T.V., in the New York Times, and in the House and Senate that we need more troops to win the war in Iraq, and then when my Commander in Chief plans to do just that, they say that is the wrong plan, it won’t work, and we need a “new direction.”

I am tired of every Battalion Sergeant Major and Command Sergeant Major I see over here being more concerned about whether or not I am wearing my uniform in the “spot on,” most garrison-like manner; instead of asking me whether or not I am getting the equipment I need to win the fight, the support I need from my chain of command, or if the chow tastes good.

I am tired of junior and senior officers continually doubting the technical expertise of junior enlisted soldiers who are trained far better to do the jobs they are trained for than these officers believe.

I am tired of senior officers and commanders who fight this war with more of an eye on the media than on the enemy, who desperately needs killing.

I am tired of the decisions of Sergeants and Privates made in the heat of battle being scrutinized by lawyers who were not there and will never really know the state of mind of the young soldiers who were there and what is asked of them in order to survive.

And there you have a good chunk of what’s wrong with the Global War on Terror.  When I first heard that we were “starting” to target Iranians causing shit in Iraq my first thought was, “Are you fucking shitting me?!!!”  We’re just STARTING to mess with these motherfuckers? 

I swear to Christ I need to either stop reading the news or start drinking heavily.


26. January 2007 · Comments Off on State of Denial · Categories: European Disunion, Fun With Islam, General, GWOT, World

Another interesting essay, here. (Found courtesy of Rantburg, from whence cometh all sorts of odd tidbits and free-flowing springs of sarcasm)

01. January 2007 · Comments Off on OK, now this bothers me… · Categories: A Href, General, GWOT

From the Telegraph:

Britons flying to America could have their credit card and email accounts inspected by the United States authorities following a deal struck by Brussels and Washington.

By using a credit card to book a flight, passengers face having other transactions on the card inspected by the American authorities. Providing an email address to an airline could also lead to scrutiny of other messages sent or received on that account.

The extent of the demands were disclosed in “undertakings” given by the US Department of Homeland Security to the European Union and published by the Department for Transport after a Freedom of Information request.

About four million Britons travel to America each year and the released document shows that the US has demanded access to far more data than previously realised.

Not only will such material be available when combating terrorism but the Americans have asserted the right to the same information when dealing with other serious crimes.

This is apparently something we/ve been trying to get since just after 9/11, and up until now our requests have run afoul of European data protection legislation. But a recent agreement between Brussels and DC has cleared the way.

Are we asking too much? At what point do we say “Enough!” and stop invading privacy? While there is no reciprocity in the current agreement, is it only a matter of time before European countries demand the same data access for Americans flying to their countries?

What is the benefit of this information? Do we really even have a right to be demanding it?

I honestly don’t know the answers, nor do I know what I think on this one. It strikes me as overkill, but that might be because I’m not aware of all that it involves, just what I read in the Telegraph article.

Does anyone have more info on this?

h/t: Cap’n Ed

19. November 2006 · Comments Off on Where’s Plan B? · Categories: GWOT, Iraq: The Bad, Politics, Rant

Now the Republicans are comparing Iraq to Viet Nam. Their argument is, just like Viet Nam, if we pull out we’ll be defeated, demoralized, and the troops that have died so far would have died for nothing.

Okay, I see that. I even agree with it to a point.

What I don’t see, from either side of the spectrum, Democrat or Republican, is a way to secure Iraq, turn it back over to the Iraqi people, and pull out without turning it into some sort of modern replay of the fall of Saigon. We don’t have enough boots on the ground. It’s actually going to take more blood and more treasure to secure Iraq and it’s going to take a LOT of time. Perhaps a decade or four. Is America willing to do that? Personally, I don’t think so. I mean it sounded great four years ago. Secure Iraq, train up their forces, turn it back over. Great plan. However, we never secured Iraq, and the Iraqis seem to have no interest in getting trained up. We need a new plan. Anyone seen Plan B? You mean to tell me we did this without a Plan B? No one goes into something like this without a Plan B. It must be secret.

Now I’ve heard some of the pundits try to make the case that if we pull out and Iraq falls apart, that’s an Iraqi failure, not an American failure. Right. If you believe that, I’ve got a bar outside the gate at Osan for ya…cheap. And don’t worry about the paperwork, it’s a snap.

There’s a balance here. At some point, and we’re getting there, the American people are going to turn on the current course of action. They’re going to say enough is enough. Then the 2000s are going to make the 1960s look like the 1950s. The same knee-jerk anger that was used to go after Saddam will get turned around on the government and the military and once again the government and the military will be “the bad guys” in the minds of the regular folks. Hippies will be cool again. Cats and dogs living together…you get the picture.

So…we need to see Plan B, and soon. Otherwise “Run away.” is going to be the only logical plan. And we won’t feel good about ourselves for it, but when it’s the only alternative to our blood and money being thrown into a smelly, stinking hole, it’s going to start looking good.

11. November 2006 · Comments Off on For The Veterans of This Day · Categories: General, GWOT, Home Front, Military, War

Arizona Flag

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep,
Its own appointed limits keep.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Eternal Father, lend Thy grace To
those with wings who fly thro’ space,
Thro wind and storm, thro’ sun and rain,
Oh bring them safely home again.

Oh Father, hear an humble prayer,
For those in peril in the air!

Oh Trinity of love and pow’r,
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour,
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them where so e’er they go.

Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea!

05. November 2006 · Comments Off on Memo: See More, Harshly · Categories: General, GWOT, Iraq, Media Matters Not, Rant

To: New Yorker Magazine
From: Sgt. Mom
Re: Seymour Hersh’s Lecture Circuit

1. For nearly as long as I have been paying attention to news in general, Mr. Hersh has been represented to the public at large as a fearless and principled investigative reporter, with connections and sources in the corridors of power that lesser mortals can only dream of, and gnash their teeth in helpless envy to contemplate. After all, he won ( insert portentous drum-roll here) a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of the My Lai Massacre – never mind that a veteran and minor journalist named Ron Ridenhour had already done much of the legwork, tracking down the source of ugly rumors that he had heard as a GI, locating and interviewing many key witnesses.

2. Mr. Hersh has since gone on from strength to strength in his journalistic endeavors, culminating in his employment at your hallowed establishment. Funny thing, though: none of his more current journalistic scoops are usually cited when he is introduced, perhaps because of the suspicion that his “sources” over the years are feeding him questionable data for their own purposes. Or that his journalistic crystal ball sees but murkily these last few decades; he has proposed for example that the US was deeply involved in the Soviet shoot-down of KAL Flight 007, and that the war in Afghanistan was toppling into the deep abyss of failure-quagmire-gloom-despair-and-misery. This last magisterial judgment had the ill-luck to be published just before Taliban rule collapsed like a wet paper bag, inspiring at least one wit to comment that Mr. Hersh was an invaluable source for knowing what was really going on— in that in hindsight, he was invariably wrong.

3. Over the last five years, Mr. Hersh has chosen to spread the blessings of his special insights to a wider and more uncritical audience on the lecture circuit. Like some unsavory chunk of solid waste, he has popped to the surface of the slightly-less-than-mainstream-media-sewer in the same week that John Kerry clumsily maligned the education and intelligence of those currently serving in Iraq and by extension in today’s military. Senator Kerry has been savagely mocked for appearing to forget that there is no draft any more and the military today is for damn sure not the military that he condescended to grace with his presence forty years ago. Mr. Hersh, who appears to also be stuck in a similar meme and time, is currently improving the idle hour by lecturing receptive audiences on the endless series of ghastly atrocities being perpetrated by American forces in Iraq, describing in loving detail, assorted crimes of massacre, rape, sodomy and torture .

4. Strangely, for a hard-charging investigative journalist, he is a little short on the actual specific details of these incidents, or any of those described in other lectures – say, a specific time, place, unit or other disinterested witnesses. Corroborative information is a little thin on the ground; a curious omission, considering the numbers of personnel who have rotated in and out of country and the military, NGO busy-bodies, other media outlets and other investigative reporters desirous of winning a Pulitzer. But Mr. Hersh insists that he has listened to tapes, taken phone calls, seen the documents – but of course, he can’t share these with the audience, for some reason, can’t publish the specifics and most certainly has not shared what he knows with those who would be rightfully charged with investigating such crimes. How very convenient – and recalls Senator Joe McCarthy, with his so-called incriminating and ever-changing little list which he kept in his pocket and waved around when he needed to intimidate the doubters.

5. This particular story quoted him indirectly saying that if Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans. Well since so many of the so-called Vietnam atrocity stories turned out to be fraudulent and related by equally fake veterans, I wish Mr. Hersh and the rest of the legacy media the best of luck getting that to happen. In these days of google searches, internet access, e-mail and mil-blogs, we can fact-check all kinds of fakes now: fake veterans, fake atrocities – even fake investigative reporters, in a way that we couldn’t forty years ago. Jesse McBeth, anyone?

6. Seriously, have you ever considered suggesting a career change to Mr. Hersh, since the actual investigative reporting thing may be played out? Walmart greeter, perhaps? Just a thought.

Sgt Mom

(Previous Memo regarding Mr. Hersh here)

24. October 2006 · Comments Off on Sgt. Hook Wants You… · Categories: A Href, General, GWOT

… to send up prayers, warm thoughts, white light… whatever your preferred methodology… for a missing US Soldier, presumed kidnapped in Iraq.

The Army has not identified the soldier, who works as a translator.

22. October 2006 · Comments Off on Memo: CNN Broadcast Standards · Categories: General, GWOT, Iraq, Media Matters Not

To: CNN News Director
From: Sgt. Mom
Re: Jihadi Sniper Video Broadcast

1. I am resisting the impulse to install viciously skeptical quote marks around the “Broadcast Standards” portion of the title to this post, mostly as it screws up the formatting and ability to post comments. So, consider them installed, as an indicator of my own viciously skeptical attitude towards your “broadcast standards” in airing selected portions of the snuff video provided to your news department through undeniably murky channels.

2. And good job on bringing jihadi death porn to a greater audience. Carrying the bag for propagandists is in the finest journalistic tradition of a Walter Duranty, and exactly what we have come to expect of an organization that kept quiet about Saddam Hussein’s regime rather than lose the CNN bureau in Baghdad.

3. Congratulations also on continuing in the fine “journalistic” tradition established by Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace in that long-ago broadcast of “Ethics in America” where in the immortal words of James Fallows: “Wallace seemed unembarrassed about feeling no connection to the soldiers in his country’s army or considering their deaths before his eyes “simply a story.”

4. Enlighten us: Is it more, less, or equally scummy to imbed one of your own reporters with the enemy and video American soldiers being ambushed and gunned down… or just to buy the video from the Al-Quaeda camera jockeys?

5. Realizing that CNN is engaged with the wider world audience, as opposed to merely and only us hopelessly tacky and déclassé Americans, I can only suppose whoever authorized airing the jihadi sniper video spent a whole three or four seconds considering the feelings of the families of those service personnel, and their comrades who are shown being targeted. That delicacy on your part is much appreciated. However, the next CNN crew to visit an US military base in pursuit of a story may receive a somewhat frosty reception.

Sgt Mom

19. October 2006 · Comments Off on Question of the Day (061019) · Categories: GWOT

So what exactly should we do in Iraq?

‘Cuz folks, this shit is starting to piss me right the hell off. Bad enough we’re fighting Iran in Iraq with the rest of the world perfectly okay with that. We’re losing a lot of good people and I’m not hearing an overwhelming barrage of good reasons for it. I’m also not hearing an overwhelming good alternative to the way we’re doing things other than, “Run awayyyyy.” Not the answer. But what is?

Me? I’m of the Schwatzkopf/Powell school. Hit them. Hit them hard. Control the battlespace completely. Then let the locals take over bit by bit.

But that costs LOTS o’ money and we’re all about war on the cheap.

Sorry, the casualties are really starting to my pinch my nipples…and no…that doesn’t turn me on.

And DON’T EVEN get me started on CNN and their coverage of insurgent snipers. Miserable excuses for human beings all of them.

06. October 2006 · Comments Off on Why he wants it · Categories: General, GWOT, Home Front, Military, War

There is a program in the Army called the 09L Translator Aide Program. The point of 09L is to address a critical shortage of people who can speak Middle Eastern languages in the Army. If an applicant can speak one of about two dozen Middle Eastern languages they’re able to enlist for 09L regardless of their qualifications in several other areas such as education level and aptitude. It’s a wonderful program for the Army since it attracts people who posses a critical skill and who would otherwise be unable to serve in the military. And it’s also a valuable program for the first generation immigrants from the Middle East in that it allows them to serve their new home, possibly earn their citizenship while serving, and basically allowing those who pursue the program to become a bit more integrated into the nation. In a time when many immigrants from that part of the world refuse to assimilate into their new homes such integration may prove important years down the road. Or it may not.

This year I managed to find myself a member of the Afghan refugee community here in Phoenix who was interested in serving as a translator. He actually wanted to be a clerk but he didn’t qualify for that job so we went with the program for which he qualified. Because of my occasionally useful recruiting skills I was able to use my original applicant as a source for several of his friend who would later join. I’m currently working with one such indiviual.

This applicant is actually from Iraq, he knew my Afghan enlistee through school, and he bears some scars of his time in Iraq. I’ve been working with him for a while now, he’s a big guy and has been making slow progress in losing the excess weight. I enjoy working with him because, well, he’s someone who’s history makes me in getting him into the service. One day after having him run some stairs at the local stadium we talked and what he said was the sort of thing gets a recruiter’s heart motivated.

I’ll admit to cross posting this from my normal stomping grounds, but it was the sort of thing that never gets mention in the stories about people joining the military. I edited what he wrote for me to remove identifying info. Where I editted is marked with (DR:).

You asked me why I wanted to join the Army. It is simple. I want to join because it is the right thing to do. This country (DR: America) has taken my family in and did everything it could for us. We live in a nice house in a safe neighborhood. We have jobs and money and cars and we don’t worry about what we do. Me joining the Army is not a popular choice for some people in the refugees. They tell me I’m going to be harming my own country (DR: Iraq). They are wrong. I’ll be a translator. Americans are very smart, but they don’t understand our language like they do Spanish. They (DR: Soldiers in Iraq) are getting attacked and attacking because they don’t know who to talk to or how to talk to them. I can do that. I will be helping America and helping Iraq.

My father was a wanted man in Iraq. It’s why we left. He said things about Saddam and he was wanted. We came here with nothing and we were taken care of. My father has gone back to Iraq and has said things are 100% better. (DR: The town they’re from) is very safe and the people are happy now. Things work. There is electricity and markets and my father even bought a house for us for when we can go back. The only people who made this happen were America. Saddam was taken out by America when no one else would do it.

People in my community tell me I should not be in the Army because I will get killed. I tell them “So what?” (DR: Punctuation added) if I do. I will have died doing something good and my family will understand and they will thank me and know I was doing something I wanted to do. But I don’t think I will be killed. I will be with the Army and not just someone who isn’t in the Army. I don’t know if I will want to go back to Iraq if my family does. I like it in America. I want to get my citizenship and go to school. But I think I should be in the Army because if I don’t I will get all this without earning it.

This applicant is someone who I very much want to have in uniform. Not just because it’s my job as a recruiter to do so, but because he’s one of that percentage of recruits who really wants it. With luck he’ll be swearing in shortly and serving as a Soldier soon. Sooner the better.

02. October 2006 · Comments Off on ROP, Part 2 · Categories: General, Good God, GWOT, History, Pajama Game

So, what is it with Islam, these days; Is it really thriving like the green bay tree? Or might the Islamic faith militant, exemplified by Bin Laden and his merry chums, sympathizers and apologists be ridden by a secret terror of their own – that Islam is not growing, powerful, and omnipotent, but flawed at the root, and dying by degrees – a dangerous-looking but essentially hollow show, like the pufferfish? Is it a hollow faith, crumbling by insidious degrees, as it’s commonly assumed tenents are being examined in the spirit of skeptical scholarship? The ferocious reaction to any departure from orthodoxy suggests that the most fanatical believers may fear so, very deeply. Even the scholar of linguistics, Christoph Luxemberg, in his study of influences of the Aramaic language on the Koran must publish under a pseudonym – for his suggestion that translations of the Koran must consider the Aramaic in teasing out exact meanings is as explosive as what devotees of the Prophet strap about themselves, or pack into automobiles as their response to the insults of another extant belief system. And again, the violent response suggests that something more is going on here, something deep and dangerous – but the very violence of the response is enough to make a curious person wonder why? Why so touchy?

Last week on NPR they ran another one of those poor-mouthing stories about the sad plight of Hispanic female converts to Islam and how they must cope with family disapproval, and—horrors! How people look at them funny when they wear a headscarf! NPR seems to love this sort of story, they bang on (and on, and on and on!) about the Poor Muslim having to Cope In Heartlessly Hostile America about as often as they do about the Poor Palestinians Having to Cope with the Brutal Israeli Occupation, demanding our sympathies as if their listening audience were some sort of psychic ATM; swipe the story-card through the slot, here’s another twenty bucks worth of Sympathy for the Chosen Victim Class. I’d love to hear a story, for once, about Amish or Mennonite women having to cope with people giving them the eye-brow lifted look because of their somewhat distinctive and defiantly old-fashioned dress-sense, but that’s just me. And I am also left to wonder – what about converts from Islam? I googled that, this weekend “Islam+converts+from” and got a couple of stories and a query “Do you mean ‘Converts to Islam?'”

Well, no, I meant exactly what I typed in – but considering that conversion from Islam means a death sentence as an apostate – talk about a story that most major news media don’t want to touch with a ten foot pole, and a subject which converts would also prefer to remain untouched. Since exposure as a convert means the death penalty for apostasy, one can hardly blame converts from Islam for being extremely circumspect. Missionaries and ministers to converts also must feel the same need for a similarly subterranean profile but there are still a trickle of accounts and witnesses, mostly from religious organizations. One story which intrigued me when I first read it some years ago was about conversions to Christianity among the Berbers of Algeria – that very quietly, many local Berbers were rejecting Islam as a horrific death cult; in fact, reclaiming their heritage as Christians, which they had been up until the Muslim conquests of the 8th century. (St. Augustine’s mother, St. Monica was a Berber Christian.)

There was the briefly famous Afghan convert, and a handful of others, leaving one to wonder how many other converts there are in the shadows, seeking no notice of themselves for fear of being murdered. One also wonders how many outwardly conforming Muslims have quietly declared apostasy in their hearts, going through the outward motions for the sake of their families and a bit of peace and quiet, or have moved to another city, or country and just let the whole thing lapse. There’s probably no way to work out the numbers, but it is food for thought.

Especially since life under a strict Wahabi Islamic rule seems desperately unappealing: Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban and Iran under the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors looked more like sort of religious concentration camp, with every pleasure in life, small and large being banned, constrained and forced underground. No wonder that only those who are allowed to exercise power over their fellows seem to look on it with any affection.

This is only a speculation, a working out of various themes and memes in my own mind. But it is different way to look at the whole structure of Islam, and a way to account for the hostility on display every time the followers of the Prophet feel disregarded and to have been offended. It could be that the disproportionate reactions are those of frightened men who feel power trickling out of their fingers, like grains of a handful of sand.

02. October 2006 · Comments Off on Shakin’ My Head in Wonder · Categories: GWOT, My Head Hurts, Rant

No, I didn’t miss the fact that our Senate has given The President and Secretary of Defense unprecedented powers that basically trash our bill of rights, I’m just still in a state of absolute shock that it happened so easily.

Military: You there, terrorist, get in the car.

Citizen: What? Who are you? What are you… I want a lawyer.

Military: THUNK.

Military 2: Terrorists, they’re so cute when they try to hide behind our freedoms.

Military: Freedoms…hehehe.

Military 2: Shaddup, he’ll get his tribunal…eventually…after he’s questioned.

Padme was wrong, freedom didn’t die amidst the cheers of a crowd, it died because America is still quaking in fear, five years later.

Even the most enlightened leader, the best guy/gal in the world, will be tempted to use this act in some way that’s abusive.

Again, I’m worried for the soul of America. Who are we becoming that we allow this to happen without so much as a blink?

Yeah, I know, the terrorists are bad guys, but what happens if “they” decide “you’re” a terrorist?

“First they came for the Jews, and I did nothing, because I am not a Jew.”

This is not who we are.


30. September 2006 · Comments Off on ROP · Categories: General, Good God, GWOT, Pajama Game

(part 1 of 2)
The pufferfish is an odd little creature with mostly poisonous flesh, which has developed as a primary defense, the ability to inflate itself in order to appear larger to predators. In addition, the spiny pufferfish is covered all over it’s body with short bony barbs. In full defense mode, it looks like nothing so much as a small spiky ball, a sort of aquatic porcupine, attempting to look larger and more combative, more dangerous than it actually is. I was reminded of these qualities this week when I read something apropos of the latest Muslim hissy-fit over Pope Benedicts’ mildly stated observation as regards violence and Islam. I am not quite sure where I read it, or anything but the general thrust of the suggestion, which was in a way, revolutionary.

What if Islam is not a strong, vibrant and attractive faith, growing like some sort of theological kudzu, sweeping all before it? What if it is actually a hollow construct, under stress from a number of directions, seeming strong but in reality fragile, riven throughout with tiny cracks, and teetering on the edge of implosion? What if the frequent explosions of violence at the slightest of critical voices were not a demonstration of power and strength, but of tamped-down fear – fear that if the orthodoxy is questioned or defied, then the whole construct will come crashing down in ruins? What if the whole structure of Islam is actually shivering on its foundations, and the whole bloody-handed constellation of imams and ayatollahs, of shaheeds and jihadists know and fear that, down in the pit of their souls? That the whole thing is a sham, based on the maunderings of a desert bandit, pulled from bits of this or that, for his own aggrandizement? What if the whole jihad against the West is the last spectacular lashing out of those who know in their hearts that if the roots of Islam are ever questioned, then doubt will set in, and the whole edifice come crashing down – and that quietly, here and there, the faithful are slipping away, and ever more would join them but for the threat of death for apostasy.

This is an interesting train of thought; as Eric Hoffer pointed out decades ago in his study of fanatical belief, The True Believer – a certain sort of fanatic is driven by secret doubts of his or her own abilities or qualities. The most violently inclined towards homosexuals, for example, may be someone who may in their deepest and most private part of the mind feel homosexual urges, and is then shamed and horrified by them. The most virulent advocate of racial superiority, for example, may be the one who at heart has doubts about himself – and reacts with special brutality against a member of what is supposed to view as a lesser race who yet exemplifies more superior qualities than himself. For myself, I have always observed that someone who was entirely comfortable in themselves and in their deeply-held beliefs was not threatened by someone who did not share them – and certainly not threatened enough to erupt in threats and violence.

Ages ago, I read Bernard Lewis – The Roots of Muslim Rage, when it first was published in Atlantic Magazine. I made a total pest of myself to my friends, because I ran around with my tattered copy (this was at about the start of the first Gulf War) saying “See! this is what makes them so angry with us!!!” It seemed only the sensible, empathetic way of looking at it then, and still does now: that the Islamic world, once so powerful, glorious, famed for tolerance, scholarship and culture, was diminished and shattered. That men who had been told all their lives that they were the righteous and blessed, should look around and see that their world was diminished, powerless and ridden by disease and ignorance, and should at once seek for a reason that this should be the way of things, that there should be a reason for this. And of course, it is always easier to find a reason – that the rich and powerful should be so because they had cheated, or were empowered by Satan. There could not possibly be any fault in Islam or in those who followed the faith most perfectly for they were chosen and favored by God, in being submissive to him. It was entirely understandable to me, with a great deal of sympathy and regret, that of course, those who thought themselves so chosen must be looking around and observing that most of the lands where Islam ruled were plagued with poverty, disease, ignorance and autocrats. Even those in the Middle East who sat on a lot of oil reserves were not in all that much better a shape. Only so much can be imported and paid for with oil money.

Being carefully raised in the Lutheran tradition and somewhat of a history nut as well, I had been schooled in the history of the Protestant Reformation. I knew very well how the great unified fortress of the medieval Catholic Church began fracturing once the Bible began to be translated from Latin into the various vernaculars spoken across Europe. It was revolutionary not just because ordinary people could read it for themselves, without the intercession of a priestly authority – but because a great many clever people had to sit down and work out for themselves exactly what each word, each phrase, each sentence actually meant. Ambiguities had to be resolved, alternate versions of varying antiquity had to be consulted – there’s nothing like a translation for thrashing out meaning from a text. The authority and power of one holy, catholic and apostolic church shattered on the rock of textual analysis – something that is just now beginning to happen with the Koran. Again in The Atlantic, I found a fascinating article about the work of various scholars, just beginning to analyze the Koran with the same attention and care long given to the Old and New Testaments. (link to article here)

But the Koran may not be translated, examined, analyzed – merely accepted whole and entire, memorized and recited. For what dangerous heresies and doubts might emerge then?

(to be continued)

*Original Atlantic link is for subscribers only

25. September 2006 · Comments Off on An Obit · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, GWOT, History, Military, War

One of the original military female “old breed”. Wish I had known her, but I didn’t. A Reservist. Exactly my age. A “first” in a lot of respects, according to this.

Link courtesy of “Rantburg“.

25. September 2006 · Comments Off on Ye Choose and Ye Do Not Choose · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Good God, GWOT, Pajama Game

Well, watching the all-Islamic spazz-out as regards Pope Benedict’s recent suggestion that violent coercion had no place in leading the individual towards a particular religious belief has afforded me a number of opportunities for cynical amusement: the indignant demand that the Pope be fired for his disregard for Moslem sensibilities was one, and the demand from a group of Pakistani clerics (very obviously not the sharpest scimitars in the drawer) that the Pope Benedict formally debate a collection of Moslem scholars, and snappily upon being defeated by logic and reason, himself convert to Islam was just another item in a rich banquet of shadenfreude.

It’s almost as comic as President Ahmedinajad demanding that President Bush convert to Islam himself… in hopes probably, that the entire US would follow after. Ah, the frustration of those who are just bloody-mindedly sure that they are right, and it is only perversity and ignorance that prevents everyone else from seeing it… but enough about the far-left of the Democratic Party, I was talking about those representatives of the “Religion of Peace” who seem to be all over the headlines of late. (Enable extreme sarcasm mode) That 98% of whom it is said, give all the others a bad name. (End extreme sarcasm mode)

The sheer gall and towering ignorance combined and on display is such a dense confection that it probably pulls light into itself and wanders through the universe as a nascent black hole. One can easily understand how a barely literate imam from the wilds of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia can achieve such a such a monumental mass of misunderstanding about the West’s religious beliefs, or supposed lack thereof. But when Sayd Qtub, supposedly one of Islam’s great modern political thinkers managed to see every sort of licentiousness and depravity in a church sock-hop in teetotal Greeley, Colorado in the late 1940ies, one is not inclined to expect too much out of Qtub’s intellectual heirs or their powers of observation. Alas, large chunks of Western media and intellectuals, to include our own very dear bi-coastal types, also manage to comprehensively miss or misinterpret the religious mores of heartland America, so I don’t suppose I can expect much from the Seething Islamic Street ™.

So, here we go, one more time, for the benefit of those who have, perhaps supped too deeply of the BBC and it’s ilk: Yes, America is religious, to a greater extent than the cultured and secular types consider seemly. But please, please stop with the old game of picking out some congregation of freaks like Fred Phelps, or any other assortment of fundamentalist nutjobs, Elmer Gantry-ish televangelists begging for dollars from their mega-church’s cable TV station, or some credulous hick who sees the Virgin Mary’s face in an oil slick, or a pancake or some other bit of ephemera… and implying that they are just typical of all devout Americans. They are not… they are, in fact, atypical, and we have been pointing our fingers and snickering at them for decades.

By the way, just to demolish another sweaty intellectual fantasy, there is no way on earth that a single bread-and-butter fundamentalist sect could ever take over the US, a la “Handmaids’ Tale”, other than in Margaret Atwood’s feverish dreams. There are just too many other sects, synods, denominations, congregations, or whatever, most of whom rather cherish their own particular idiosyncrasies, and many of which have, in the past, fought like cats in a sack. Look, you can describe both the Amish and the Mormons as being rather conservative and old-fashioned, but aside from the fact that they both have large numbers of adherents living in the US, that’s about all they have in common. Even the Lutherans have two opposing synods, both of whom view each other with deep suspicion. Frankly, the only way that Americans would ever conform to a single, over-arching religious belief would be at gunpoint, and very possibly not even then. Most of us, though, are unostentatious in our beliefs, or lack of them, and are somewhat suspicious of those who are not. Our houses of worship will probably never attract the attention of a BBC producer… nothing to titillate or tut-tut.

A church community of some kind or other has been the mainstay of American life since before the beginning of the Republic. Most of them came to these shores as refugees from religious orthodoxy in the places they originated; and while some of them were not averse to imposing their own orthodoxy, most did not care for having orthodoxy imposed upon them by others. This may yet be the hard rock upon which the wave of Islam breaks, that Qutb and Bin Laden and their ilk do not see, because they were too busy looking at the flashy vulgarity of popular American or Western culture, and never saw the bedrock underneath.

So let them bluster, demand away, stamp their feet in Peshawar, or Mecca, or Qom, and expect the arrival of the 12th Imam, and demand submission; in the meantime, we are watching.

“Look well, O Wolves! What have the Free People to do with the orders of any save the Free People? Look well!”

25. September 2006 · Comments Off on The Clinton Interview with Chris Wallace · Categories: GWOT, My Head Hurts

Is here.

I see the right and the left are going completely batshit about this.

My take?

It’s 2006, you got nuthin’ better ta do?

21. September 2006 · Comments Off on All Apologies · Categories: Fun and Games, General, Good God, GWOT, sarcasm

So, Pope Benedict’s apology for having the temerity to point out that Islam is kinda, sorta, just a tad bit on the violent and coercive side, and that such coercion is something that Christians do not find logically defensible is not acceptable?

Well, since it was one of those “I’m sorry you were offended by what I said” sort of apologies, yeah, I can see that you have the right to seeth and whine, and burn churches and shoot elderly nuns in the back. So, how about a real apology… (Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!)

I am so sorry that you lunkheads wouldn’t know a logical theological disputation if it up and bit you on the butt.

I am sorry that large numbers of you are so illiterate that you believe any old load of old shoes that the imam tells you in the Friday sermon.

I am sorry that most of you have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, and an underdeveloped sense of logic, technological skills, and smell.

I am sorry that a fair number of you want to turn Western Europe right back into the disease ridden, violence plagued, and autocratically ruled hellholes that you crawled out of.

I am sorry that your much-vaunted Caliphate was built, and maintained by a reliance on treachery, war, plunder, and the brutal oppression and economic skinning of various conquered peoples, and that when what had been conquered was squeezed dry, and the march of Islamic armies towards new sources of plunder was halted, it still took a couple of hundred years for it to rot from the inside.

I am sorry that your standing armies can’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag, and that a nation and people you despise hand your own asses to you on a silver platter, every damn time. That must be so depressing for you… try valium.

I am sorry that all you have is a lot of oil, and limitless reserves of resentment. Wait until the oil runs out, my little desert chickadees, and there is no more money to buy western technology, medical treatments, and all those pretty baubles that you can’t build yourself because the education of your best minds (such as they are) is focused on memorizing the Koran!

I am sorry that I have to open the internet pages and read about Australians being blown up in Bali, teachers in Thailand being beheaded, the rape of Scandinavian school girls, the burning of cars in Paris suburbs, Afghan and Iraqi children blown up by car bombs, Spanish and English commuters exploded by bombs in backpacks left on trains, ad nauseum.

I am sorry you can’t just stay in the 7th century and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

OK, is that better, as apologies go? You’re welcome. I live to serve.

(Ok, so I am betting on Timmer or Paul recognizing the inspiration for this rant within 3 seconds reading it….)

Also posted at Blogger News Network

(Re-posted and re-titled… something about the title wouldn’t allow comments)

18. September 2006 · Comments Off on Hey Rosie! · Categories: GWOT

Ya wanna know the difference between Fundamental Islamic Whack-Jobs and Christians?

Sister Leonella, 65, muttered the words ‘I forgive, I forgive’ in Italian after being targeted by gunmen in an apparent execution-style killing, father Maloba Wesonga told The Associated Press at the nun’s memorial mass in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Monday.

I have no words to express my outrage at this attrocity. This woman obviously spent her life dedicated to helping others less fortunate than herself and because the whack jobs got their little feelings hurt, they killed her.

Tell me again that Islam is a religion of peace. I dare you.

Crossposted at Enlisted Swine.

15. September 2006 · Comments Off on Say, How About a Nice Car-B-Que? · Categories: General, Good God, GWOT, Rant

Oh, dear, the fabled Islamic Street is seething ….Again

Considering the sort of venomous and spiteful abuse of Christians and Jews that mosques and the more spittle-flecked imams dish out every Friday, reactions from the Islamic world on Pope Benedict’s remarks are… I don’t know, a little unbalanced?

Talk about being able to dish it out, but not be the least able to take it… when it comes to disputation of theological issues, the Religion of Peace has the greatest glass jaw of all time.

The funniest thing about the Affair of the Danish Cartoons? Aside from the manner in which most of the western press retreated at speed and in Keystone Cops disorganization, from defending the sacred principle of the “Freedom of the Press” and “The People Have a Right to Know”… well, that would have been the mildness of the cartoons themselves. Swear to my wholly orthodox and Lutheran Church version of the Deity, I’ve seen stuff with more bite in last week’s “Family Circle” comic. We’re talking mild, folks. Skim milk mild.

So now, the Pontiff of the Catholic Church has some… well, considering some of the things they called Martin Luther, back in the day… rather mildly phrased criticism of Mohammed, and the Islamic street goes ballistic? It seems like everything, real or imagined makes the Islamic street go ballistic, but never mind. Grow some skin, guys. Seriously. Realize that this toleration thing is two-way. You want some serious respect for your beliefs? Try reciprocating a little. Maybe plant a synagogue in Saudi, and gag some of the really rabble-rousing Friday sermons from the Friendly Neighborhood Imam with the old Protocols of the Elders of Zion playbook. At the very least, knock off the shouts of “Islam is a religion of peace… and if you don’t agree with is, we’ll kill you!”

And you can knock off the “carbecues”, any time now. Think of what all those burning cars to for that global warming thingy…

(also posted at “Blogger News Network“)

11. September 2006 · Comments Off on Has Islam Become the Enemy? · Categories: Good God, GWOT

The idea that Islam, as a religion, is the enemy is growing here in the United States.

Is this a radical idea that’s drifted into the mainstream or is it a matter of the constant sound of silence from the “moderate Muslim world” when radical Islam rears its head time and time again wearing thin on the American psyche? Is it something else entirely?

Bonus Question:
Is not appeasing the same as antagonizing?

11. September 2006 · Comments Off on Not ready to let go · Categories: GWOT, Rant, War

Cross-posted at DragonLady’s World.

For the most part, today has been just another day. I wasn’t going to do much more today than a “Never Forget” photo from 9/11, but Timmer’s post has been nagging at me. I was just going to comment, but it’s a lengthy enough comment that I am just going to post it. Timmer didn’t make me angry, and I understand and respect his desire to get over it. But I don’t want to get over it. I don’t want to heal. Not yet.

As long as our enemy lives and remains undefeated, I want to continue to feel the pain. I want to continue to mourn our innocent dead. As long as I do, I will remain angry. I want to remain angry until the bastards who attacked us, and continue trying to attack us, are soundly and undeniably defeated.

I think the reason our parents’ generation didn’t continue reliving Dec 7 is because they defeated the enemy who caused it. They had that closure that we do not and should not yet have. We need that wound to remain open. We need to relive it. We need to remember who did it to us and defeat them, soundly and unquestionably. Then, and only then, should we allow ourselves to heal. I will go one unpolitically-correct step forward and call the enemy Islam, and Islam will remain the enemy until one of two things happen. 1) Islam ceases to exist. 2) Islam sheds its culture of violence and intolerance. Religion of peace my ass!

So, Timmer, I really do hope you can successfully move on, but I can’t. Not yet.

11. September 2006 · Comments Off on The Towers of Remembrance · Categories: General, GWOT, History

It has been a beautiful day, here in South Texas, fair and a little warmer than most people favor for autumn days, but there you are. We do things differently here. Five years, half a decade, hardly any time at all in one sense – but a child born just after that shattering day is now old enough to go to school this fall, and a child old enough to be aware of what had happened is well into middle school or junior high school, and to them it is something that happened a long, long time ago.

The towers have never really been, for them, and for the rest of us, five years is long enough to grow accustomed to living in that other country. We are reminded of the WTC towers thought, almost ritually this time of year – and even when the reminders cease, they will continue to haunt September for many of us, most likely for the rest of our lives, unless superseded by some greater horror. Every once in a while, the towers appear unexpectedly, serendipitiously , and we can look back over the great gash across our days, and marvel at the time when they were just a part of the cityscape, the backdrop to hundreds of movies: the final scene of the animated feature Antz, and again and again in Men in Black, and Sleepless in Seattle – to mention just a few.

There was a great to-do in some circles, about removing them electronically from movies in which they featured, which were released or re-released after 9/11, which I think is kind of foolish. They were there once, and so were the lives of those people lost in them, and at the Pentagon, and on the four aircraft, and now they are gone. Might we have reached the point where we are better served by those little, fleeting glimpses and private memories, rather than a great clunky over-developed monument of bureaucratic taste genuflecting to political expediency and the whims of trendy architects? Not up to me, fortunately. But I wrote this, two years ago, and think it even more relevant now�
More »

09. September 2006 · Comments Off on At the Point of a Gun · Categories: General, GWOT, Media Matters Not, Pajama Game, World

I know that I am leaping into this very late – after all, it was so like whatever – last weeks’ tempest du blog, the kerfuffle as regards the two journalists kidnapped at gunpoint in Gaza, and forced to win their release by being videoed avowing their conversion to the Islamic faith – at gunpoint. But I have been spending this week, buried in the 19th Century, in a snow camp in the Sierras, writing about imminent starvation, and perils that – well, to me this week, were a little more present in my mind. I’m focused on the next book, ‘kay? Being that I grew up in a world that was more than half convinced that Omigawd! the dirty Commies would rain down nuclear annihilation on us all , and now residing in one where even less-well-adjusted parties are freely brandishing a nuclear threat – well being stuck in the Sierra Nevada with dwindling food supplies and no rescue in sight seemed to have the charm of the unusual, as well as being – well, somewhat more manageable. In the 19th Century, one seems mostly to have had a little more time to consider the news cycle, as it were, and to proceed thoughtfully and deliberately down whatever paths of thought were presented to one. I am still buried in a mind-set which took a written letter a whole year to move from Monterey or Los Angeles, to the Middle West. I assure you, the 19th Century has certain discreet charms, once you adjust to a slower pace.

The resulting kerfuffle with representative opposing parties sounding forth, here (David Warren) and here (Captain Ed) seems to devolve around not so much the actual conversion, but the reluctance of the parties involved, to make clear they had been under duress, and/or denounce their treatment. Depending on whom you take sides with, it was either an understandable ruse to gain their freedom and lives – or the most horrible of capitulations, with serious of ramifications imaginable in the much-storied Seething Moslem Street – and then there are people like me, in the middle of the road, like the storied yellow stripes and dead armadillos, saying “But yes, to save their lives – but on the other hand, doesn’t that send some sort of signal – do you think? And what happens, next time – and what about -? –

Because, you see, it’s all about what you’ll give up, when someone points a gun at you. And as to what you’ll do in that circumstance, the truth of it is no one really knows what they would do. All we know is that other people have done, in some analogous situation. And some of those people have been most amazingly brave, have exhibited a degree of heroism and moral clarity that approaches – well something beyond what we have come to think of as merely human. And some people have been craven, and most of the rest of us have muddled through, and the great unifying principal of this kind of moral score-keeping is that one really never knows for sure, until one has actually faced the experience.

A story, from the Warsaw Ghetto, c1942-43: a party of German soldiers, SS or Gestapo, or whatever, amuse themselves by going into the Ghetto and make sport with the Jewish prisoners in it (and they were prisoners by the time of this story) by going to a coffee-shop next to a synagogue, rounding up the patrons and holding them at gun-point, while they ransack the synagogue and bring out the Torah. One by one and at gunpoint, they order each of the coffee-shop patrons to desecrate the Torah. One by one, each of them does: old-fashioned devout Jew, or modern and secular intellectual, young or old, each of the coffee-shop patrons does what they are bidden to do by the men who are holding guns at their heads, who have given every indication that they will shoot any Jew who refuses. Shamed, unthinking, embarrassed or otherwise, the coffee shop patrons do as they are bidden by the men who hold guns at their heads. Until they get to the one man, who is neither devout, nor intellectual – but he is modern, in that he is a notorious gangster, and has been for most of his life. A bad hat, a criminal, a dissolute menace, a frequent and enthusiastic violator of the laws of man and God – and when in his turn he is ordered to desecrate the Torah, he looks at them calmly and says, “I’ve done many things in my life – but I won’t do that.” He is immediately executed, at point-blank range. Alone of all the cafe patrons, he had an idea of what he wouldn’t do – and something innate led him to refuse, absolutely.

So, what would any of us give up at the point of a gun? Wallet, or handbag – absolutely. PIN? For sure. We’ve been told over and over, those are only things. You notify the bank and put a stop on the cards, get a replacement drivers’ license. All that stuff, sure, they can be replaced. Car keys? Jewelry ? Yeah, those too. That’s what insurance is for.

Slightly tougher question: They point a gun at you and say – “Give us the kid.” Or maybe “I’m taking the woman.” Or maybe, if you are a women, the person with the gun ties your hands and says “Don’t make a fuss.” Do you give them the kid, or the woman, or come along without making a fuss?

Now, the big question: what intangibles would you give up, under threat of violence, civil, nuclear or whatever?

We’ve already seen how swiftly most of our legacy media, newspapers and television stations quickly redefined intellectual freedom, in the wake of the Affair of the Danish Cartoons. The swiftness with which they capitulated to threats of violence if the cartoons were published , after decades of posing as fearless champions of the public’s right to know at any price was revealing. And cause for some dismay, for we are left to wonder what other concessions might be extorted in future by a nuclear threat – and that some of our most cherished traditions, principals, laws and allies would be yielded up with dispiriting speed by those whom we had expected to show a little more spine.

08. September 2006 · Comments Off on Questions of the Day (060908) · Categories: GWOT

Let’s flip the coin now.

Our enemies want us dead or converted to Islam. That is their goal. Just do a google search on “Quotes by Osama” and you’ll find enough to make you shudder.

These people believe it’s their duty to destroy us.

Are we being too nice in fighting the war on terror? Should we be more vicious than the enemy? If we’re fighting for our very survival, and I believe we are, what should we be doing better?