Vice President Biden Gets It

Vice President Joseph Biden  at Chattanooga memorial services for slain soldiers Jason Davis/Getty Images

Vice President Joseph Biden at Chattanooga memorial services for slain soldiers
Jason Davis/Getty Images

President Obama has been firm with concept that America’s heavy footprint in the Middle East is partially responsible for stoking the intense violence of the region and that our withdrawal will reduce the nidus for the conflict.  He has been adament that the descriptiion of the violence as a premeditated goal of a radicalized Islam is our contribution to the seeds of that violence, and has no place in American thinking.  His view has led to the conceptualization of the Major Hassan as “workplace violence”, the Tsarnaev Boston bombing as “lone wolf” actions, and the recent Chattanooga recruiting station attack as a problem of “mental illness”.

Specific to the Chattanooga attack of July 16th, 2015, five unarmed military personnel were murdered by a Palestinian American named Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez, whose parents left the middle east in 1996, and accepted American citizenship, but never left their fundamental Islamist beliefs behind.   Abdulazeez, pummeled by a life of drug abuse, poor personal discipline costing him stable employment, and consumed by the internal rage of arab youth felt denied their position as the superior race, attained an AK 47 automatic assault rifle and unloaded 100 rounds into people who could not defend themselves, until he was  put down by police fire.

On August 15th, 2015, the military finally secured a combined service for the five servicemen and their families, a month past the point where the rest of the country has already put the event behind them and moved on to other things.  In a country anxious to avert its eyes to the growing threat of radicalized Islam, assisted by the Averter in Chief, the individual loss of soldiers does not take hold.  After all, the country lives through assaults every week in its major cities as part of routine urban violence and does nothing but salute the occasional thug that determined to strike back against the police.  The shared sacrifice idealization of a soldier defending their country no longer secures an emotional response among a population where the great majority of the population no longer serves, or knows someone who has.

The Vice President of this country is thankfully different, and eloquently expressed what is rarely expressed anymore by those in power.  Vice President Biden has reason to connect with loss of loved ones; in 1972 he lost his daughter and wife in a car accident in which his two sons, Beau and Hunter were seriously injured.  This summer he lost his son Beau, Delaware’s attorney general, to brain cancer.  Beau, the Biden hope for the future, a major in the Army Reserve who served in Iraq, and assumed next governor of Delaware, was taken from the Vice President with a vicious cancer  that has clearly and deeply affected the Vice President’s views on life, sacrifice, and loss.  There is likely no loss as personal as a child to a parent, and places Biden in direct sympathy with those military families who must face their overwhelming loss in silence from a country that prefers not to know.

Vice Presidents do funerals, and perform eulogies.  But there was something very special about the eulogy Vice President Biden gave yesterday.  Something so heartfelt and direct, only someone who has lost, could understand.  With his eulogy, Biden showed great clarity in what it means to serve and defend the ramparts, what it means to sacrifice, and what it means to be an American.  Sometimes the most unpredictable events elevate a person and make them worthy of our attention.  In an election season where the presumptive republican front runner clowns his way through policy discussion, and the presumptive democratic front runner has shown herself to be laden with corruption and indiscipline, Vice President Biden may have just set himself apart, and shown the world that there is still a place for someone who gets it.

Watch the speech in its entirety, and you will get it, too.

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Averting a Train Wreck

Donald Trump at the republican presidential debate

Donald Trump at the republican presidential debate

On Thursday evening, August 6th,2015, an estimated 24 million Americans tuned in to watch the national broadcast of a debate of republican presidential aspirants. With such an audience, the standard was set for the highest rated non sports related telecast in cable network history.  I’m fairly confident this huge audience didn’t tune in to see Rand Paul articulate libertarianism, judge what Megyn Kelly was wearing, or query whether Jeb Bush would respond to the name Jeb Bush.  No, the great majority tuned in, I believe, to be potential witnesses to a real time train wreck.  On June 16th, the Donald Trump train left the station with his announcement that he was running for the Presidency, and has been teetering on the rails ever since.  A nation’s audience reveled in the chance he just might in front of everybody swerve completely off the rails and self destruct.

Donald Trump is the triumphant example of the progressive superficial vacuousness that has overcome the nation’s political discourse.  The Trump agenda for the country is essentially bluster.  Were it not for bluster, he would have no program at all.  But to Trump, what ails the country is not the lack of formative ideas to solve the nation’s challenges, it is the lack of politicians  being willing to lay it on the line, and tell it like it is.  Or at least tell it as Trump think it is to be told.   He sees the world not in layers of complex historical trends, intellectual assessments, and strategic insights, only as groups of winners and losers.  If you win you are “wonderful”.  If you fail, you are “terrible” and a “loser”.  In 1987, Donald Trump burst upon the national consciousness authoring a best seller called “Art of the Deal”, in which he relayed his recipe for success.  Among its breakthrough concepts, Think Big and Get the Word Out.  As Trump tells it, ” I like to think big. If you going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.”  The Donald starred in his own television show in which he identified “losers” and “fired” them.  He states he would bringing this cutting edge management style to the executive branch of the nation’s government.

Is it feasible that 25% of the nation’s voting public, as currently reflected in the polls, sees Trump’s  political core thought as innovative and worthy of the nation’s highest office?  I suspect not, but there has been a progressive tendency to look for leaders that elicit emotional reaction, rather than measured thought.  Its seen in the tendency to want to look to elect the “first” of something – the “first African American”, the “first Woman”, the “first Other”.   Leaders that stoke victimization seem more caring about individual problems and concerns, rather than promoting challenging processes that might actually solve them.  Politicians also seek to identify the “villains” – the “Rich”, the “Gun Owner”, or the “Christian zealot”.  Trump nestles into the psyche of the average voter that is not entirely willing to investigate why problems exist, but fairly certain they are being at least impersonally screwed by the establishment.  Since Trump sees himself as never being duped, he aligns himself with the voters, who see him as protecting them against unseen forces.

As he is the deliverer of emotional retorts, Trump is under no pressure to secure is the logic or the consistency of his statements.  He has been able to make outrageous and contradictory statements,  because to him, the outrage is not his lack of facts, it is everyone else’s lack of outrage.  As Kevin Williamson in National Review articulates:

Asked to provide evidence for his daft conspiracy theory that our illegal-immigration crisis is a result of the Mexican government’s intentionally flooding the United States with platoons of rapists, Trump’s answer was, essentially, “I heard it from a guy.” Challenged on his support for a Canadian-style single-payer health-care system, Trump described the system of his dreams in one word: “better.” As though nobody had ever thought: “What we need is better policies instead of worse policies.” Trump’s mind is so full of Trump that there isn’t any room for ideas, or even basic knowledge.

Logic like that used to be recognized in American politics as a form of satire.  Pat Paulson, a sketch comedian on the Smothers Brothers television show ran for the Presidency in 1968 and five times thereafter on the Straight Talking American Government(STAG) party

Pat Paulsen, Presidential candidate 1968,1972,1980,1988,1992,1996

Pat Paulsen, Presidential candidate 1968,1972,1980,1988,1992,1996

platform, with the healthy comedic cynicism of an observer of body politics’ inherent hypocrisies.  Paulsen, freely willing to be a flip  flopper and double talker regarding  his policy statements, when caught in his incoherence, always responded with the catch phrase “picky, picky, picky!”  His presidential campaign slogan was “I upped my standards, now, up yours!”  Paulsen always secured a certain protest vote, but everybody knew he was in on the joke.

 

In 1992, H Ross Perot, a Texas businessman with a particular hatred for the sitting President George Herbert Walker Bush, set himself as a Trumpian candidate,  and his form of satire was certainly less funny and somewhat more ominous in its success.  He was quoted as saying obtuse policy statements such as, “ If someone as blessed as I am not willing to clean out the barn, who will?”  and  “If you can’t stand a little sacrifice and you can’t  stand a trip across the desert with limited water, we’re never going to straighten this country out.”  Whatever potential policies Perot felt such remarks would evolve into, he never let on, but he translated it into 19% of the national vote in 1992, and although he didn’t win a single state’s electoral vote, Perot managed to take down a sitting President and give us Bill Clinton.

H Ross Perot Presidential candidate 1992

H Ross Perot
Presidential candidate 1992

 

Perot’s success set the stage for the current “businessman savior” Trump, who feels his supposed dominance  in the business world would translate into the more arcane and compromise filled world of politics.  Of course such talents never need to show their skill level running for any lower office – the Chief Executive office of the country is fundamentally just big enough for their egos.

The 2016 republican field was felt to be one of the most talented in recent history, with multiple vetted and articulate candidates with willingness to confront one of the more challenging political environments in years.  Into this maelstrom comes the distortion of Trump, who looks to steal the energy and attention of the moment to pump his own ego and potentially upset the applecart.  Trump, the runaway train, threatens to take his circus “Independent” and achieve the same notoriety that propelled Perot, and likely bring another Clinton into the office.  It would suit Trump fine as he believes the office holders are meant to be “managed” for favors, and their policies consumer items for purchase.  It certainly wouldn’t phase him as to which party would be in power, as power comes from the Art of the Deal.   Is the country so gone that it can no longer participate in a real battle of ideas and help mold its destiny?  My gut sense is that the country has had its flirtation with the superficial (see current administration) and will trade it for some serious adults, not the theater of the absurd.  If so, Trump’s train will soon be passenger-less, and its conductor once again reduced to running beauty pageants, wrestling events, and roulette wheels.  I suspect after a period of time in the klieg lights, that will suit the conductor of the crazy train just fine.

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The Lion in Winter

WOODROW

WOODROW

This week was one of the more difficult weeks in my life.  My great companion of thirteen years, my dog Woodrow, succumbed to a nasty cancer of his spleen, that like a thief in the night, stole without warning our living bond.  Clinically the event was perpetrated as the result of a spontaneous rupture of a malignant hemangiosarcoma, but it presented as internal bleeding,spontaneous deterioration, and the acute need to make a rapid and very,very painful decision.  Like the warrior king he always was, Woodrow fought the vicious foe tenaciously for several hours.  He would not let his warrior heart give in…

I had to do it for him, to end his suffering.  The battle lost, the warrior king was at rest for the ages. His best companion’s deep suffering continues.

Above is the king at the height of his powers. An exotic mix of Golden Retriever and Chow, he carried the dual personality characteristics of beauty and beast.  Rescued in his youth from a kill shelter in Idaho, he maintained always the frontier spirit of the West in his soul.  He was a throwback. Self sufficient. A hunter. A loner.  He liked being outside in the elements when other wussified dogs of the suburbs to which  his rescue delivered him headed in doors at the first weather.  He would go on vision quests, long walks which irritated the neighbors and brought him in a precarious love hate relationship with the local constabulary. He did not suffer fools, neither dogs nor humans.  If a stray coyote sought to take over the territory, Woodrow made sure there would be none of that.

He brought an intense bond with his owners in that it was easy to see there was nothing to own, only life to share.  He did not whine, and he took care of his own wounds – the occasional untoward moments in life. A missing canine.  Facial scars from raccoons. The stiff gait of many a battle.

He also let you know he was your wing man.  Always by your side. He deeply enjoyed human contact, and showed real gratefulness for the comfortable life he ended up achieving through rescue, released from the wild, difficult, unknown world of his youth and the harrowing experience of the shelter.

He was strong and beautiful, but as life does to us all, he was slowly and insidiously drawn  down by the ravages of age.  The hips stiffened, and the massive shoulder muscles weakened.  He no longer could run, and progressively getting up and down became a daily challenge.  He had become the Lion in Winter.  In his last year, he would still guard his territory from the porch, surveying his domain from his padded bed – weakened, but still not suffering fools such as the UPS man.  The body began to deteriorate before the final insult, but the warrior heart remained strong and the deep eyes always burned with the fires of the ancient eternal soul within.

The night of nights came for Woodrow, as it must inevitably for all of us.  The stark rupture from the bonds of life to the vagaries of death is the essential moment that reminds us of the precious gift that is life.  In this same week, we are confronted with our modern culture’s confusion with the gift.  We note society’s faux outrage with a hunter’s kill of a somewhat domesticated lion in the country of Zimbabwe that dominates people’s emotions internationally.  The people of Zimbabwe are confused as to the intensity of the emotion of people for a lion they did not know, in a country where lions kill people every year, and other animals every day. In the same week, we are exposed to moral emptiness of a bureaucratic  human extermination process run by Planned Parenthood, exposed by video to be actively selling late term aborted fetus body parts for profit, taking care not to damage the “crop”.  The latest video identifies the horrifying reality that in some cases, the execution is not fast enough, and the fetus escapes the womb fully formed and viable – what used to be universally recognized as a human baby.  No matter. The baby is “harvested” anyway.  Society, unable any longer to sustain a soul, unable to understand the life creation process stands mute.  As the Nazi monster physician Joseph Mengele ominously and presciently was quoted,

” The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it.”

We have progressively lost our wonder of the miracle of creation, God sent, with natural order of things a struggle to be mastered and the awesome beauty and diversity of life to be celebrated. To live in a world where humans become divisible consumer products and animals strange objects of worship demeans the entire constellation of the sacred gift of life.  The universe has balanced it all, the joy and tragedy, struggle and triumph, wonder and loss that makes the idea of living on a fulfilling one.  We can only hope to be worthy of the miracle and live a life totally respectful of it.

 

Norse legend suggests that for Woodrow , as one of God’s creatures, his time on Earth done, a lush meadow awaits him between this world and the next, where he can be young and strong again, body  restored to its majesty.  There he can wait, until one day he notes a familiar scent, lifts his eyes forward, and leaves the pack behind. And comes running to me, joy thus restored and the universe now healed… and from that point, together,  we cross the rainbow bridge, to our shared eternal destiny.

Were it to be that the universe indeed worked that way, that would be all right with me.

 

 

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People We Should Know #27 – Tom Cotton

1st Lieutenant Tom Cotton in Iraq      theatlantic.com

1st Lieutenant Tom Cotton in Iraq with the 101st Airborne             theatlantic.com

In Frank Capra’s 1939 film Mr. Smith goes to Washington, an American everyman Jimmy Stewart goes to Washington as an obscure replacement Senator from an insignificant Western state.  At a critical moment in the film, the inexperienced Senator Smith, under pressure from the corrupt establishment and facing personal damage to his reputation, mrsmith.3determines to fight them all and stand up for the principles of democracy, and the people who he represented.  He gives it all up to filibuster a corrupt bill and, in the end, wins the day for all that is good and fair in America.  The establishment, so blinded by the way Washington works, sees ultimately in Senator Smith the essentials of America they left behind so very long ago, and there is a epiphany of sorts.  Well, on January 6th, 2015, another Western everyman was sworn in to the United States Senate and this everyman has done everything to set the current establishment on its heels.  From his first day he has stood athwart the efforts of the establishment to accede to the authoritarians of Iran in their relentless drive to obtain nuclear weapon capacity and threaten the world.  The new saga might be called Mr. Tom Cotton Goes to Washington, and this senator is rapidly becoming one of Ramparts People We Should Know.

Tom Cotton, like the fictional Jimmy Stewart, came out of small town America, born in the  small Arkansas town of Dardanelle, population 4745.  His parents were good Arkansas democrats and supporters of Governor Clinton.  Son Thomas however was a contrarian from the start, absorbing on his own the conservative wave effecting the South.  Small town or not, young Cotton was a unique intellectual talent, and his future course one of one achievement after another.  He was an outstanding high school student, and was accepted to Harvard in 1995.   He graduated  from Harvard and was admitted to the Claremont Institute for graduate studies, determining to return to Harvard after a year when he was accepted into Harvard Law School.  Graduating in 2002,  he clerked at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, then entered into practice of law with a prestigious  law firm.  By 2004, the very different nature of this individual to respond to his internal sense of purpose led him to quit the firm and join the Army, at the very height of instability in Iraq.  He not only joined, but decided not to take the obvious administrative officer route of attaining a captaincy in the Judge Advocate Corps his law education positioned him for, but instead decided on a combat route, starting as a Corporal, and entering the US Army’s Officer Candidate School, earning a 2nd Lieutenant commission.  He then attended both US Army Airborne School and Ranger School, and was assigned to the 101st Airborne as a platoon leader in Iraq in 2004.  In 2006, Cotton became a 1st Lieutenant and was re-assigned state-side to Arlington National Cemetery as a member of the Old Guard Unit.  The restless Cotton pined to return to the front lines and was re-assigned in 2008 to Lagham Province in Afghanistan where he completed another tour. Having completed two combat tours, Cotton was honorably discharged in 2009, rejoining the US Army Reserves in 2010 and finally discharged as a Captain in 2013.

Tom Cotton by age 35 had achieved a lifetime of accomplishment.  Graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law. Two combat tours in the US Army. Airborne School, Ranger School and honorable discharge as a US Army Captain.  But Tom Cotton has only just gotten started.  His political persona and the unique personality that couples a formidable intellect with the willingness to speak his mind on principle regardless of the risk, first presented on his initial combat tour in Iraq.  In 2006, the New Times proudly published classified material exposing the government’s secret program monitoring terrorist’s finances.  An obscure combat Lieutenant in Iraq named Tom Cotton read the article and determined to let the world know that to front line soldiers, what the New York Times had done risked American lives and bordered on treasonous.  He wrote an open letter, a technique he would use in the future, to go around the establishment and get his opinion out directly to the public.  The letter struck a cord and was an internet sensation.  This obscure lieutenant became overnight an international figure, and an almost immediate thorn in the side to his superiors.  The need to speak his mind risked court marshal and given the political sensitivities of army hierarchy, the potential destruction of his career.  It might have been the first time that a letter on the internet required a decision by the Army Chief of Staff, but luckily for Cotton,  General Peter Schoomacher backed his right to state his opinion.

The legend of Cotton was born at that moment in conservative circles, and he became a future star to be nurtured.  When a House of Representative seat opened up in 2012, Cotton’s political career began with a run for the seat, and he was elected to Arkansas’s 4th Congressional District in 2012, defeating his opponent 59% to 37%.   With the Cotton resume now in national focus, he was immediately appreciated for his intellectual and rhetorical skills on the House floor, and his reputation grew well beyond typical freshman status.  By 2014, a vulnerable democrat Senator Mark Pryor was in Cotton’s sights, and a similar electoral wuppin’ took place, with the ever more popular and skilled Cotton defeating Pryor 56.5% to 39.5%.

Now Senator, Tom Cotton has focused his attention with laser beam focus on the Obama’s administration’s focus on overturning thirty years of American policy toward the theocrat dictators of Iran and their desire for nuclear weaponry.  In typical Cotton focus, where the rest of the establishment political crowd has passively stood by as Obama. determined to get an agreement at any cost,  has given in on one critical issue after another to Iran, Cotton has singlehandedly manned the rhetorical and constitutional Ramparts against the administration’s appeasement.  Using his now famous Open Letter technique, Cotton published a letter to the Ayatollah countersigned by 47 other senators, that any executive agreement presented by President Obama designed to subvert the constitutional treaty process mandated in the Constitution would not have the obligations of a treaty:

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

Like Cotton’s previous letter, this brought faux outrage from opponents, and particular disdain from the President, who has sought extra-constitutional actions as his modus operandi again and again.  Despite the enormous pressures applied from all directions, Cotton as usual remained non-plussed. Cotton has been the direct visible opponent of each  Obama appeasement to Iran – from sanction removal to anywhere anytime site inspection to centrifuge research to release of a monster cache of frozen funds to, the final outrage, the furtherance of Iran’s ballistic missile systems, thus improving Iran’s capacity to threaten the world with weapon deliverance, once they have nuclear weapon capacity. Throwing aside President Obama’s usual deceptive tactic of stating the opposite of the obvious to a superficially attentive population and media,  Cotton has become a pillar of strength in the effort to protect the world against the Iranian threat.  He has proven he can hold his principled opinion even under the challenge of hostile media.  Cotton did not rest when the President and the Secretary of State attempted to present the agreement as a fait accompli.  He has led to organizing of the Senate to review document in its entirety, including side deals with Iran the administration had purposefully obscured from public notice as they ran contrary to the narrative of a “tough” deal.

Senator Tom Cotton is 38 years old, the youngest Senator in the US Senate, and already is the stiff backed principled opposition to the idea the  United States is a has been power that must except its decline, and subject itself to decline as a punishment for the “wrong” it has done as a superpower. Harvard Law graduate. Combat Veteran. Captain in the Army.  US Representative. US Senator.  Lion in the defense of America and her unique constitutional design promoting limited government and individual freedom.  At 38, the future sky’s the limit for Senator Tom Cotton.  Resoundingly, Tom Cotton is Ramparts People We Should Know #27 .  If Frank Capra,were to make the movie now, Mr. Tom Cotton Goes to Washington very likely would have an even more impressive sequel to come.

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The Age of the Globians

Globian in Chief

Globian in Chief

It is such a stressful time for those traditionalists among us that have considered the 2600 years since the Greeks brought forth the birth of western man as a rational and contemplative individual a journey of great achievement.  The tract of progress that in the proceeding thousands of years has been fitful and at times violent, but ever forward. Schools of philosophy and logic. Concepts of democracy and republicanism.  Rights of property and the rule of law.  Principles of free speech and freedom of faith.   Objectivity of learning , and the method and rigor of science. Obligations and privileges of citizenship. From the 6th century BC onward, the concepts have been at times celebrated and at other times attacked, but the ramparts of civilization have held fast against the multiple threats of hedonism, anarchy, and revanchism by totalitarian tides.

Unfortunately, our current age is under attack, and this time the enemy is from within.  It is possible that the maturation of western ideals is now in its progressively senile old age, and the practitioners of modern western thought are suffering under a form of cognitive dementia.  The syndrome is rudderless globalism, and the advocates a new ethnic group I am coining the descriptor,  Globians.

What is a Globian?  You might recognize the Globian in Chief referenced above, but this time, a thousand words speaks a picture.  In this progressively post western world that the Globian aspires to, nothing less than the total transformation of civilization from the focus on the individual, to the comfort of the collective is desired. The Globian strives for the re-ordering of what was once considered unalienable, and the process to get there moves on many fronts.

History      The Globian works to detach society from the chronological connection to its past. The concept of history is not to be about understanding what happened, but defining how it is to be remembered. Ask a globalist regarding the dates of the American or French Revolution, the first man on the moon, or the Civil War and you are likely to get a bizarre answer.  Years have no meaning to the Globian because past history is seen as imperial, hegemonic, and racist.  The connection of one event to another chronologically has no meaning because the history of man until recently has been seen as elevating the individual while denying classes of people.  History is remembered only as it fits the narrative. For instance, take President Obama’s insistence that the inspiration of the civil rights march of Reverend King across the bridge in Selma Alabama was the stimulus for his parents getting together and conceiving Barack Obama – except that the birth of Obama was in 1961 and the march at Selma in 1965.  Or that Texas has been a difficult state for the President, because as Obama stated, “Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, for, you know, historic reasons.” This would be a pretty big shock to the 150 years of democrat domination of Texas, from Sam Houston to Sam Rayburn through Lyndon Johnson and Ann Richards. The Globian narrative holds no event above another as they were all events of force or oppression  and therefore no need for clarity as to their relationship to each other.  History is parallel, and to the Globian the historical perspective of the Maori as important as the nation state.

Values    The Globian sees a value tradition as representative of societal prejudice.  The Globian is therefore entirely comfortable in the West throwing out the concept of marriage as being between a man and woman as reactionary and prejudicial, while being equally comfortable with an islamic radicalist throwing off the roof any individual believing otherwise.  Values of property and ownership seem archaic as they imply unfair advantage between peoples.  In the Global village, resources and production are cohabited – if you own that, you certainly didn’t build that.  The victim in a crime event may actually be the criminal, as his or her environment may have been such that they were drawn to violence or theft, and the victim instead the criminal, for owning the unfair advantage of wealth, skin-tone, or oppressive ancestors. Cultural values have to be leveled – splotches of paint thrown against canvas in anger reflect the same cultural value as carefully tendered art; hip hop poets measured against Shakespeare.  Religious standards are arbitrary – Jesus can be immersed in urine or lain upon a hammer and sickle, but Mohammed can not even be drawn.

Borders   The Globian is offended by arbitrary borders.  Borders seek to maintain for one people the bounty against another people, not the marker for a common set of principles or aspirational beliefs.  The nation state was founded to separate intermingling and diversity and must be progressively done away with to produce a universal equality.  Therefore concepts of citizenship are arbitrary.  Legal and illegal immigrants are assigned the same rights and privileges of citizenship.  A nation’s borders are turnstiles for migration, but the migrant may accept the bounties of the society without needing to accept any of its laws as binding.  The dissolution of borders progressively create one global village.

Rule of Law    The Globian sees laws as organic processes, not principles agreed upon.  The Constitution is a “living” document to be interpreted like any other time limited expression, requiring accountability and constant adjustment if it proves limiting.  Laws are inherently flawed in they require agreement through legislation.  The Globian prefers extra- legal regulation, as regulations can be extended far beyond the limitations of agreed upon laws, and changed as necessary to fit the “sense” of the law, rather than its precise delineated meaning.  Regulations additionally can provide universal control over individual pursuits, as these are antithetical to the global need to have a common uniformity of opinion.  Laws that don’t fit the narrative need to be overturned, a laborious process.  Regulations can be applied infinitely and without consent of the governed.  Globians see government as the answer for the needs of the governed, and regulations as the universal tool of governing.

Humans    The thought of humanity as having been ordained divinely with dominance over the earth is abhorrent to the Globian.  To the Globian, inanimate and animate objects hold equal sway.  Humans therefore need to respect the snail darter, and their damage to Mother Ghia borders on sacrilege.  Fresh water is not to be dammed or reservoired as water is meant to flow to the sea.  Modern humanity is driven to  kill the earth, plundering its resources and unfairly dominating its other species.  Humans gouge the surface of the Earth with mines, and scar Her viscera with fracking and drilling, for no other purpose then to produce the energy for humanity’s artificial comfort and the earth’s climatic demise.  Man as Lord over Nature is intolerable and unsustainable, and as its expression is so poorly distributed, must be stopped.

Science   the Globian needs to science to be “settled” where it fits a narrative, and be rejected where its does not. Science, since the Enlightenment,  the unprejudiced objective means by which man has been able to question the known and discover the unknown does not work for the Globian.  Science’s job as expressed by the Globian is to codify the Globian narrative, not to question it.  What good is uniform regulation of climate if people continually question the “science” behind it?  Why should the humanness of a fetus be questioned, if the discovery of its humanity would lead to questioning of the right of society  to ignore its personhood?  The Globian needs Wind power to be good, and Carbon to be bad, sexual education for toddlers to be good, and vaccinations to be bad.  The Globian wants science to regulate not illuminate and makes sure that contrary voices are labelled heretics.

The Globian in short, lives in a world of hypocrisy in my mind.  They are coddled in their modernity, but reject it for others. Being post modern hypocrites, they can fly private jets to give speeches to other globians to demand humans walk or ride mass transit.  They can decry racial intolerance while excusing the most extreme examples.  They insist others are held accountable to laws while ignoring those same laws themselves when it moves them.  They celebrate diversity, while driving people more and more into a generic uniformity that looks to squash all creative resilience.  In short, they want a global communal village, but one that suppresses the best impulses of thousands of years of developmental human rational thought, and they want it for everyone else.

The Globian age has momentum. What it doesn’t have is -integrity. Hopefully, at some point our unique need to be ourselves, will provide a more rigorous resistance. After all, throwing out 2700 years of progress for a few decades of loose values hardly seems to be a good trade.

 

 

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The War for the Future

terracotta-warriors_juha_leino

In the second century BC, the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang,  realized that in order to preserve his status and his great achievements, constant vigilance would be required, even after he was gone from this mortal coil.  When you are in it for the long haul, one can’t allow the ramparts to go unguarded, or the miscreants will inevitably look to erode your position.  Greatness, and great ideas, are unlikely to be gotten easily, and one must be a ferocious warrior for their defense.  So Emperor Qin Shi Huang made sure no one would threaten his position, even in the afterlife.  He assembled in his capital city of Xi’an an army of over 8000 warriors, led by generals, and armed to the teeth, accompanied by a full cavalry of chariots and horses.  The army was there to eternally defend his position, his power, and his greatness.  If some usurper wanted to war with his immortality, it was war they would get.

Well, its long past time we who man the Ramparts of Civilization assembled some warriors.  If you are a consistent reader of this blog, you are likely aware of what has been the gathering storm over the last twenty years, and the storm has descended upon us in full fury, and become a war for the future.  It shouldn’t have caught us unawares, but admittedly, we are ill prepared, as we felt our defenses were essentially insurmountable and inviolate. We were wrong, and the barbarians are at the gates.

Since the 1960s, a generation of attacks on the formidable fortress of liberties and rule of law that is the Constitution of the United States has progressively eroded its foundations.  What once seemed eternal and impenetrable, has now found itself with massive holes in its edifice and its very future is in peril.  If you think that civilization should be ruled by deliberative law and not by decree and the whims of the elites, you better pay some damn close attention.

The Supreme Court of the United States, considered since the founding, the apolitical arbiter of the law based on constitutionality and precedence, has joined the ranks of the barbarians.  In three major decisions this week, the court found that a law passed by the legislative body is defined by its intent and not its specific meaning, that democratic processes do not move fast enough whenever the state has determined that a “fundamental” right exists even when it was not apparent it existed before, and that the state could determine the makeup of communities based on its vision of fairness. The thought of the framers that the third branch stood to thwart, to check, the other two branches deviation from the constitution, was pounded to sand.

The specific”laws” and “rights” upheld were not of issue.  What was of issue was the checks and balances system that made this particular democracy a citadel for freedom, individual rights, and limited government.  The Constitution held that if the wording of a law or its expression was unconstitutional, the law was to be rescinded, and the deliberative process to be again undertaken to secure a constitutional law.  By policing the law’s specifics, the rights of individuals to vote for representatives who would uphold their individual rights and hold them accountable by the laws they developed would be secure.  According to the Supreme Court, a law is now only established by its intent, and its specifics can be adjusted in any way the state determines efficacious.  How does one make sure one is in compliance with such metastasizing  laws? Who can now determine whether any of the expressed rights of the Constitution are secure, or they all exposed to the  interpretation of the currents and personalities of the current day?  Justice Scalia – the last of the Mohicans – expressed better than any in his dissent the fundamental principles that have been sacrificed to the altar of “fairness”:

Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

[W]hat really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. They see what lesser legal minds—minds like Thomas Cooley, John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly—could not.

Each of the decisions should be read in their entirety. The war is being fought now on every front.  The government of the founders, the government that was declared as emanating from We the People, is under full assault.  It is a government that can rule you by regulatory decree.  It can determine whether your exercise of religion will be infringed by those that would have you submit to their versions of correct behavior, regardless of how it  humiliates or degrades your view. It can force you to pay for the sloth of others, and can force you to ignore their misfortune.  It can drive your education and your facts. It can declare science settled, and victories defeat. It’s your father, your mother, your cradle, and your grave.

The war has been fought for some time, and those that would make the founders vision unrecognizable have always been sensitive to your weakness in naively believing these fundamental beliefs were important to all.  When you go to that voting booth, and it is at the voting booth that the armies of change are fundamentally engaged, you better stop voting Republican or Democrat, as they are two birds of a feather.  It is time you seek those who are warriors for the founders principles, and those who are barbarians of change.  Find such warriors, and put your money, and your vote, where your future might have just a breath of a chance.  If you don’t, you will find our freedoms forever buried, like the terra cotta warriors of Xi’an, a museum exhibit to a past greatness long gone and buried.

 

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And Then…There’s Europe

Fighting at the Donetsk International Airport

Fighting at the Donetsk International Airport

One has to feel a little sorry for President Obama.  Here he is, trying his best to achieve a socialist utopia in the United States and try as he might to withdraw from the rest of the world – it keeps pulling him back in.

If one can recall 2009-2010, the President put in place the wheels for an eventual total withdrawal of American influence in the Middle East to allow the region to heal itself without further suffering caused by the obviously overbearing and malign American presence. Assuming a stable Iraq, he determined to fully withdraw from the Status of Forces Agreement that kept American boots on the ground.  He announced the timing of American withdrawal from Afghanistan at the same time he announced a temporary surge of troops, thereby laying the ground work to force the Afghan government to parlay with the opposition Taliban.  Most profoundly, when faced with an Iranian government teetering on the edge of collapse under the pressure of the millions of Iranian citizens pushing for change in the Green Revolution, he determined to stay disengaged with events so that he could get in the good graces with the mullahs and devise a long term agreement of cooperation that would “open” Iran to the rest of the world. Then there was that “red line” in Syria that wasn’t.  And the Libyan over throw of Qaddafi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood election  that was supposed to be part of the “Arab Spring”.

Okay, the Middle East thing has been pretty much a disaster, but at least the President could rely on smart diplomacy and a prosperous and stable Europe to achieve lasting stability after an appropriate reset with Russia.  Despite the tensions of the cold war and the never ending hostility of the various hateful tribes of the Balkan peninsula, Europe had managed to go 70 some years without armed conflict, building itself into the democratic statist and socialist utopia Obama could only dream about for America, and securing an economic and diplomatic weight that could balance off more of that infamous overbearing and malign American influence, this time on the European continent.

Don’t look now, Mr. President, but a progressively unstable Europe may not have your back after all.

For a continent that has not known tank and artillery fighting since World War II, tank and artillery fighting have come to Europe. President Putin of Russia, sensing hesitation and weakness  like a hawk senses a wounded field mouse, followed up his blatant territory grab of the Crimea from Ukraine with further land grabs in eastern Ukraine under the proxy of the self declared Donetsk People’s Republic.  For some reason, the government of Ukraine took personally Putin’s attempt to swallow a third of sovereign Ukrainian territory and has fought back.  For the first time since World War II, there is conflict in Europe that has already caused the deaths of thousands.  Spiegel Online reports the absurdities of the new European border at Donetsk, and the progressively desperate situation for those caught on the wrong side of the line. The attitudes on both sides are hardening as the bodies pile up. European bodies.  Putin’s escapades have not been limited to Ukraine.  Similar land grab experiments following the model that a majority Russian speaking population in a portion of a sovereign country is reason enough to bring Russian military forces to assist in “Russianizing” – a pattern repeated in both Georgia and Moldova.  Now the New York Times reports that for the first time since the cold war the US is pre-positioning heavy weaponry in eastern Europe.  This time it is to support erstwhile NATO allies in the Baltics, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, who fear Putin is about to “Russianize” parts of their territory laden with heavily Russian speaking minorities. The possibilities for dangerous and untoward events are numerous.

Additionally, the Germans are beginning  to express how “tired” they are for what seems like the twentieth time, the never ending requirements to underwrite countries in the European Union that can not pay their way as part of the Euro economy. Greece, 17% of whose GDP goes to pensions, is unwilling to undertake the severe austerity required to maintain the Euro against such social compacts, and instead asks for more German economic support and debt they can not pay back.  To the Greeks, the Germans owe it to them.  The Germans have been willing to suppress their natural position as Europe’s biggest continental power, given their history, but they are not about to give in to the Greeks forever.  A “Greexit” is in the cards, i.e., Greece leaving the Euro, and the domino effect on other Euro countries in similar straights to Greece, could see the Euro implode.  Germany would left holding the economic detritus, and their reactions could bring some long suppressed European tensions back from long forgotten to oh so hotten.

War with thousands of dead Europeans. Russian and American/NATO tanks facing each other.  Europe in economic crisis.  Germany once again having to look out for its own interests.  And a dollop of islamic radical infestation from a collapsing Libya to stir the pot. The President has a transformation on his hands that has the potential to supersede all his other transformations.  The mother of all transformations, as it were.  Taking the overbearing and malign American influence out of the world may not have been all it was cracked up to be.

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Right and Wrong

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The New York Times, in its role as public advocate, is making sure to vet candidates for President to make sure their darker edges are known to all.  This week’s target, Marco Rubio.  We learn the distinct disdain Rubio and his wife supposedly have for the law. It turns out presumptive President Rubio has, over twenty years, had at least four run-ins with the law. Three speeding tickets and running a red light.  Certainly, if you won’t stop for a red light, what will keep you from ignoring the Constitution?

We are progressively engaged in a cultural revolution redesigning the age old tenets of right and wrong as a judgement of a person’s character.  The traditional structure was clean, declarative and unambiguous.  The Ten Commandments.  The Way, the Truth, and the Life.  To follow these declared life directions was to be secure of a place in heaven. Right and wrong had ultimate moral clarity. Thou shalt not kill.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The seminal concept was personhood. A person’s acts and the way he or she acted defined them as a person of rectitude or not.

Then things became more complicated with the concept of ownership. In a world where no one owned anything, and the mass of the accumulated wealth and property was assumed the divine right of kings, one didn’t need much in the way of secular laws.  Things began to change however when individuals questioned the right of kings.  We look to our British brothers for impulse for laws that govern our lives.  The Magna Carta, the document signed between King John and British land barons at Runnymede 800 years ago this year secured the concept the kings needed to work within a framework of respect for the rights of individual free men – the securing of separation of church and state affairs , protections against illegal imprisonment, and agreement about the form and extent of taxation.  The Levellers emerged in the 17th century during the English Civil War championing the rights of the non-landed individuals to achieve suffrage, equality before the law, and the right to own property.  John Locke, the philosopher, developed the Leveller concepts into a comprehensive understanding of individual rights and rights to property that became one of the most important underlying principles driving the American Revolution.  To prosper, you needed people to respect your achievements, a government that could not take the bounty of your labors without your willing consent. Laws no longer about right and wrong, but rights and limitation of rights required nuanced laws and continuous adjustment.  Such adjustments needed careful adjudication and a proliferation of law specialists, lawyers, became critical to separate out competing claims.

So far, so good.  The original intent of limited government and precise declarations, however, began to spiral out of control as the extent and diversity of ownership and mercantile transactions created the environment for expansion of bureaucracies. The Magna Carta fit on a page.  The Constitution of the United States fit on three pages. By 1887, the Interstate Commerce Act signed by President Grover Cleveland required 24 sections and 9 pages – long, but readable in a single session and still a guide for all.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 brought a small book of nine title chapters and 1,106 sections, by which the expression of individual right protections, and equally importantly, the determination as to whether someone was technically following the law, was becoming progressively more laborious. It began to be rationalized that one needed laws to define laws – in essence a set of regulations to provide the detail that the increasingly more expanded and opaque laws could not provide. Thus forward through the formation of Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Tax Code, and the behemoth of behemoths, the Affordable Care Act of 2010, coming in at 955 pages, 10602 Sections and thousands of attachments driving the creation of over 90,000 regulations thus far.  To know if you were right or wrong in your desire to follow the law, you had to pass the bill to find out what’s in it, according to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House in 2010.  Its fairly certain no individual can feel confident they are compliant with laws such as these.

Right and wrong has become a technicality. You can be right, and be technically wrong.  You can be in the wrong and technically right.  As the sign above indicates, it depends on who is regulating and who is enforcing. The society has become a dysfunctional mess, where the Secretary of the Treasury in 2008 was incarcerating people for not technically paying sufficient taxes by his understanding of the law, while he was not paying his own taxes. We have a former Vice President flying around in a monstrously carbon guzzling private jet exclaiming that it is righteous to tax people for clinging to their mode of transportation, cars, to an intolerable limit, to affect their wrong way behavior.  We have a presumptive presidential candidate and her former President husband that see nothing wrong in the technical right to run a charitable organization as their private bank, with tens of millions of dollars of tax free funds pouring in to support personal lifestyle and minuscule amounts reverting to the charitable intent.   In an equally dark vein, we have the horrid story of a murder victim in New Jersey, who attempted to abide by the law to legally obtain a firearm, guaranteed to her by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, to protect herself only after the state of New Jersey secured her a permit, find herself waiting months only to have the ex-boyfriend find her and kill her.  The victim and the state were technically right to have followed an intolerable law, and now she is most certainly untechnically dead as a result.

We are living in a time where no one is on any level clear as to their responsibility before the law, or equality, clarity or fairness by which the law will be enforced.  Millions of unknowable regulatory laws put every single American in the wrong for something, whether they are aware of it or not.  It only requires an overriding bureaucratic government to determine the arbitrary enforcement of it. Try to live a righteous life, and on some level I assure you , you are getting it wrong.

Marco Rubio wants to be President.  His wife was ticketed in the Rubio family vehicle for driving 23 miles and hour in a 15 mile an hour school zone.  The fine was 185.00.  They were in the wrong.  They paid the fine. They knew the difference  between right and wrong and made it up to society. Nothing arbitrary about it.   That’s enough for me.  Now, if only the New York Times would focus its attentions on the crimes of the century being transferred as we speak to our nation’s children as we as a society refuse to admit our wrong of letting our government buy us stuff we don’t need with money we don’t have. Maybe Marco Rubio, who pays his fines, is just the man for the job.

 

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You Did Build That – That Was You

Fleeing for their lives, Syrian Refugees pour into Kurdistan

Fleeing for their lives, Syrian Refugees pour into Kurdistan

President Obama is proud of delivering the socialist mantra to entrepreneurs that their success in life was fashioned not through their own hard work, but ultimately through the critical contribution of infrastructure and faceless laborers who are owed the redistribution of the success. “You didn’t build that- someone else made that happen!”, the quote by which his admonition to capitalists and personal economic philosophic view was revealed.  Well, when it comes to the current unfolding multiply layered international calamity that has transpired since President Obama took office in January, 2009, the verdict of history is already clear.  You did build that, President Obama- That was you, and you alone.

President Obama made the mistake of confusing the potentially appropriate foreign policy argument that the international role the United States was playing had grown beyond its perceived national interests, with the argument that the United States role as global world leader in the twentieth century had nothing to do with world stability.  In other words he had taken the socialist domestic argument and extended it to the international arena.  The United States had not built world stability.  Its very presence had exasperated natural regional aspirations and allowed the United States to “take advantage” of the rest of the world and reap undeserved benefits. The United States needed to recognize its role of being only one of many nations, and accept its consignment to “improve” the world through fairer redistribution of resources through participation in climate change and World Banking and Justice initiatives.

On the domestic front, the philosophic vision of the President has led to predictable economic stagnation, worsening of conditions for the most vulnerable, and progressive mountains of debt.  On the international front, the vision is leading ominously to something substantially more serious.

It was quoted recently that the only two countries that it could be suggested under the Obama Doctrine to have developed improved relationships with the United States are communist Cuba and the leading supporter of international terrorism, the theocratic dictatorship of Iran.  The rest of the world, sensing the effects of the vacuum left behind by the withdrawal of the steadying presence of US influence, has disintegrated into an appalling mess.  China, noting the weakness of American resolve, has expanded its prosperity sphere into the international waters of the South China Sea and is militarily pressing against the sovereign lands of Japan and Vietnam, and looking to bully the Philippines and Australia.  Russia, having reversed its attempt to create a modern diversified economy and having stamped out the nascent elements of democracy, now feels free to use its time honored hegemonistic tactics against its surrounding states of Georgia and Ukraine, and soon, the Baltics, risking seventy years of relative peace in Europe.  The carefully tendered relationships the United States built up with Europe and the Pacific Rim countries, based on the fundamental trust they felt in being able to count upon the US at a moment of crisis has dissolved.

Nothing compares to the affect the Obama Doctrine has had on the Middle East and North Africa.  The fundamental belief by all the players in the region that the United States would work as a stabilizing force and not leave allies exposed has dissolved in a pit of calamity.  The US acted to demolish the tyrant Qaddafi in Libya without any plan to secure a stable outcome post removal.  The country is now a warlord paradise threatened with the ultimate warlord ISIS being positioned to gain all of Libya’s oil resources, and with it, the enormous strategic position of a dagger to the underbelly of Europe.  Egypt, the epicenter of the arab nation, and long time stabilizer under American support, is positioned as a pariah by Obama for throwing out the Muslim Brotherhood, and progressively finds itself under threat from the region’s instability.  Syria, the crossroads of ancient civilizations, is thrown into chaos by the Obama Doctrine dithering on support, then rejection, then support, and finally rejection of both the hated Assad regime and it’s equally despicable Islamist radical opponents, particularly ISIS.  Caught in the middle are the Syrian people, now approaching 500,000 dead and millions upon millions of refugees pushing into the few remaining stable havens in the region for protection and survival.  Hell has come to Syria.  Next door Iraq, declared by the Obama Administration as recently as 2011 as one of its greatest foreign policy successes, has crumbled to the brink of non-existence, and has potential to make the hell in Syria look like child’s play as Iraq degenerates into the front line of a massive Sunni-Shia fault line. With ISIS now at the gates of Baghdad, having brutally overrun one-third of the sovereign country, the government of Iraq, progressively a Quisling government of Iran, no longer counts on the US for any tactical considerations, only materials.  The many Iraqis who trusted the word of the United States, that if they took the risk of supporting a modern culturally diversified state, they could count on US protection, have discovered the ugly reality. A must read.

And finally, the sublimation of American regional interests to Iranian ones with the decision to subvert the strong control that sanctions had on the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions.  The pending agreement with Iran has reversed the policy of constraint, offered Iran economic freedom to pursue its aims in the region, and placed the remaining two American allies in the region, the world’s greatest supplier of oil, Saudi Arabia, and the region’s only stable democracy, Israel, in the Iranian cross-hairs. A conflict between these three behemoths wouldn’t stay regional for even an eye-blink.

It turns out, President Obama built this mess, and it’s the President’s legacy for the ages.  When the next President is sworn in on January, 2017, he or she is going to have an ungodly mess to deal with, and will likely have to make the brutally painfully decisions that this President has carelessly tendered upon the next.  The loss of American resolve, the loss of integrity of a nation’s word, the willingness to let the bullies win and destroy hundreds of years of human progress.  Now that is one heck of a legacy.

 

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Remembering

Gunnery Sergeant Ryan Shane shot while trying to rescue a wounded Marine in the Second Battle of Fallujah- 2004 photo by Cpl Joel Chaverri US Marine Corps

Gunnery Sergeant Ryan Shane shot while trying to rescue a wounded Marine in the Second Battle of Fallujah- 2004
photo by Cpl. Joel Chaverri US Marine Corps

One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
                                                                                                                                                 Joan of Arc

As this Memorial Day descends upon us, the tendency to forget the core of the day, and celebrate instead its release from the weekly grind is strong.  In a democracy, however, in which the request to serve the nation and potentially give one’s limb or life for whatever dedicated purpose the nation’s leadership purports worth sacrificing for is a voluntary decision, the need to feel the day viscerally is critical to the nation’s existence.  Each individual sacrifice is unredeemable loss.  The important question is- is the national purpose worthy of the accumulated sacrifice?  Without the belief that the nation’s goals are purposeful and just, can anyone expect to continue to maintain the level of profound dedication and quality of those who have served at the ramparts of  this nation for over 200 years?

We live in dangerous times. But the determination by the nation’s leaders as to the need to confront dangers has been present since inception.  Some times requiring sacrifice have been heroically worthy, others in retrospect, less than heroic, but to the individual asked to sacrifice, the belief in and love for comrades, brought dignity to the sacrifice, no matter how difficult it was to recognize the logic of the action.  The military of the United States has been asked to sacrifice almost continuously from the nation’s birth to the present day:

  • American revolutionary War                    1775-1783                           25,000
  •  Northwest Indian War                               1785-1795                               1056
  •  U.S. European Quasi-War                         798-1800                                 514
  •  War of 1812                                                  1812-1815                           20,000
  • 1st Seminole War                                        1817-1818                                   36
  • Black Hawk War                                                   1832                                 305
  •  2nd Seminole War                                     1835-1842                               1,535
  • Mexican-American War                           1846-1848                             13,283
  • 3rd Seminole War                                     1855-1858                                    26
  • American Civil War                                  1861-1865                           625,000
  •  Indian Wars                                               1865-1898                                  920
  • Great Sioux War                                        1875-1877                                   314
  • Spanish-American War                            1898                                          2,446
  • Phillippine Insurrection                          1898 -1913                               4,196
  • Boxer Rebellion                                        1900-1901                                    131
  • Mexican Revolution                                1914-1919                                       35
  • Haiti Occupation                                     1915-1934                                     148
  • World War I                                             1917-1918                               116,516
  • American Campaign/ Russia               1918-1920                                     752
  • Nicaragua  Occupation                          1927-1933                                       48
  • World War II                                           1941-1945                              405,399
  • Korean War                                             1950-1953                                36,516
  • Vietnam War                                           1955-1975                                58,209
  • El Salvador Civil War                            1980-1982                                       37
  • Lebanon/Beirut                                      1982-1984                                     266
  • Grenada                                                              1983                                        19
  • Panama                                                              1989                                        40
  • Persian Gulf War Desert Storm          1990-1991                                      258
  • Kurdish Defense                                    1991-1996                                        19
  • Somalia Intervention                           1992-1995                                        43
  • Bosnia                                                     1995-2004                                       12
  • NATO Campaign Yugoslavia                        1999                                        20
  • Afghanistan                                           2001-2015                                   2,356
  • Iraq                                                         2003-2013                                  4,489
  • Cold War                                               1948 – present                     Undocumented
  • CIA Wars                                              1943- present                Undocumented                                      attrib./ militaryfactory.com

Over 1.2 million Americans have died in action since the nation’s inception.  Millions more have been injured and maimed, their lives changed forever.  To the individual serving his or her country, the purposeful sacrifice was no less heroic in the questionable principles or merits of the actions of the Great Sioux War or Philippine Insurrection as it would be in the visible threat and evil in World War II.  Ultimately a country is judged by both the priniciples underlying an action and in the ultimate success of that action.  To the families left behind, the loss is assuaged faintly ,but perceptively, if the loss was not “in vain” or “for a good cause.”  To note that the individual did their job to the ultimate, but the nation’s leadership failed theirs, adds only pain to the already tremendous burden accompanying sacrifice.  More and more, it seems the nation’s leaders are struggling to indicate the value principles of actions, and to see them through to the completion of the goals, assuring the sacrifices required might be worthy of their request.

A prime example of the detachment of leadership from the need to understand what the sacrifices have engendered are the brutal and now thrown away sacrifices of Fallujah.  The harrowing photo above captures one small but seminal event in the horrific Second Battle of Fallujah fought by US Marine and Army forces against Al Qaeda in November,2004.  The progressive crumbling and mismanagement of the supposed American “victory” over the Iraq army of Saddam Hussein in 2003 became clear in the Anbar Province city of Fallujah. The peace was ruptured and a challenge to the American assumptions regarding Iraq was placed,  with the Al Qaeda calling card of 4 burnt and hung American contractor corpses on a Fallujah bridge for all to see.  The First Battle of Fallujah in April, 2004, by the Marine Corps rousted out the initial Al Qaeda forces only to turn over the local policing of the city to a Sunni division of the ‘new’ Iraqi army, the Fallujah Brigade,  led by a former Baathist general Latif.  Ignorant of the long standing hostility of the Sunni locals to the now Shia overloads in Baghdad, the Fallujah Brigade ‘defended” the city by allowing thousands of Al Qaeda insurgents to nest and take over the city under the leadership of Musab Al Zarqawi, a vicious terrorist warlord whose goal was the expulsion of Americans and the slaughter of the Shia and Kurd Iraqi segments of Iraq.  The city became a place of horror to the subjugated, full of fascist Chechians, Somalis, and Syrians imposing their will and looking forward to Armageddon with the Americans.  The need to destroy the new fortress of the growing Al Qaeda threat led to the second battle of Fallujah.

The Second Battle of Fallujah is considered some of the most difficult and violent urban warfare American troops have faced.  The six months in between American intervention had been used by Al Qaeda to turn Fallujah into a deathtrap.  The narrow alleyways of the ancient city were full of explosive devices.  The stair wells of buildings were bricked to create dead ends were American troops could be slaughtered by hidden machine guns. The Al Qaeda troops were allowed drugs to stimulate aggression and super human strength to buttress their courage and sense of sacrifice. The battle was fought door to door, alley to alley, hand to hand in a gruesome dance to the death.  The brave forces that faced the killing machine in Fallujah, lost 107 dead and 613 wounded to take back in brutal combat what they had given away just six months before.  The two month action has been felt to rival the battle for Hue in Vietnam or the Pacific campaigns of World War II in ferocity.  The Second Battle of Fallujah is a story of sacrifice – the picture above relates the purest form, a soldier under direct fire risking all and coming back for his wounded comrade, only to fall himself under the same torrent of enemy fire.

And what is it all for, such sacrifice?  Fallujah, now stabilized in 2004 through such heroics, required more sacrifice in a Third Battle of Fallujah in 2007 with the Surge, before finally achieving with the rest of Iraq a measured and sustainable peace.  But peace did come, and the sacrifices by so many could at least be measured in victory – until it was thrown away by American political leadership in 2011. Eager to prove the politics of American presence in the Middle East wrong, the Obama administration was willing to withdraw Americans and the risk the hard won gains of Fallujah and so many other Iraqi conflict sites  for their own political satisfaction.  The result is almost complete nullification of the 4,489 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq, and the tens of thousands more scarred forever by their efforts.

Memorial Day is for remembrance.  It is for taking a moment to demand that sacrifice not be asked of individuals when the national leadership is not up to securing those sacrifices for the long term.  Those mighty warriors of Fallujah and so many other battlefields around the world had some measure of confidence that the nation shared their beliefs and would stand by their sacrifice to the end.  As Joan of Ark said, to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief,  that is a fate worse than dying.  That’s true for nations as well as individuals.  A nation without the strength of its belief in its guiding principle, is already as dead as the brave people it asked to sacrifice for it.  The walking dead political class of Washington better take notice.

On this Memorial Day, a special thank you for all that have given so much  and selflessly served their country, in particular my own father, who served his country in both the army and navy, denying only the skies above  the contributions of his courage and patriotism.

 

 

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