A Case For War

I come not to debate the case of going to war in Syria but to rant about “liberal” – in the rather corrupt form the term is applied to right now –might as well call them defrocked communists – ideas of when force is needed and how opposite (not to say suicidal) they are to history and historical necessity.

No, it’s not what I wanted to talk about today – note how late I am in posting – but it is what I can talk about today.

I think it was in the run up to the war in Iraq — when I belonged to an international fandom group and had to enlighten people getting their news canned-by-Europeans how useless and counterproductive it was for Bush to go to the UN hat in hand – that I first fully realized the craziness of the leftist case for war.

Okay, I should have got it with Clinton’s Balkan adventures (mea culpa mea maxima culpa) but I was actually distracted by the fact that Clinton was trying to do handwavium to keep us from noticing the intern under his desk.  (Spare me the “private” and the “impinging on his sex life” – a) if he’s being paid from my taxes, he has no private, certainly not in the people’s office.  B) If he were working for any company or corporation, he’d not only have been fired for abuse of power, he’d also have probably gone to jail if they could cram it under “undue influence” and call it rape.  Yes, I know that successful men have always bedded hotties who work for them.  But since Clinton and his ilk are the ones who made it a capital crime: Live by the PC, die by the PC, I say.)

I might even have got it before, if I’d lived in the US earlier, or studied US history.  I didn’t.  One of my friends swears that we went into Vietnam because Kennedy wanted to design uniforms.  (I think there were probably other reasons.  Heinlein quoted treaties.)  And of course I know adventurism abroad is a thing of democrat administrations (no, seriously.)

But I only realized the full on dysfunction when they started opposing the Iraq war before it started – and the Afghanistan campaign too – because we HAD been attacked.  That is, we were going to war to defend our interests.  Apparently this is bad, bad, bad, in the vile prog mind.

Why is it bad?  I don’t know.  I assume it’s uncouth, like defending your own race, your own species, or chewing with your mouth open.

I hang out with enough of them to have this idea they don’t have principles or reasons, they have good manners – things you say and do to “fit in” with your peer group.  And these are things they started learning very early from their parents, their teachers and other figures of authority and they never once thought about them.

Because if they thought about them, they would realize that while there is virtue in not attacking other groups sight unseen, there is no virtue in letting the group you belong to be attacked just because.  Of course there is no virtue in my defending any group (except maybe the Chinese) considering the salad in my DNA.  (Have I mentioned Asian guys are hot?  What? Deal.)

No, I confess I never heard a pre-school teacher say “we don’t have the right to defend our group, our nation or ourselves” – but I think it’s an extension from “you can’t defend yourself, because then you’re being as bad as the other guy.”  That they do say.  They say it all the time along with “Violence never solved anything.”  I found out older son was reading Starship Troopers when in a conference, in front of me, he growled back “Tell it to the city fathers of Carthage.”  (So proud.)

But I think that’s it.  It’s this internalized good manner stuff.  (And those on the right, stop preening.  You don’t use it against foreign aggressors, but you use it in internal political fights.  I’ve heard more than one of you reply, in response to an even mildly satirical and exaggerated take down of the left “we can’t lower ourselves to their level.”  PFUI.  Playing by the Marquess de Queensberry rules just gets your *ss handed to you.)

And that’s what I realized in the run up to the Iraq (and Afghanistan) war.  It’s apparently the thing of uncouth barbarians to actually defend ourselves and our country (no?  Iraq might not have been directly involved in 9/11 but in a region where half of it is inspiration and bravado, they were definite enablers.)

Now, we’re seeing the reverse of this coin, foreshadowed by Clinton’s Balkan adventurism.  War is good and just when we have absolutely no interests of our own to defend.  Hence, Libya.  Hence us actually collaborating with Al Quaeda groups.  Hence our not avenging the clear casus belli that was the murder of our ambassador. (A colleague of mine, in pre-history, in Techniques of Translation, when finding casus belli in the middle of an English document translated it as “the case for bells” – ask not for whom the bell tolls.)

And now we’ll go into Syria for the same ill-defined reasons.  And probably cack it because this president has the mierdas touch.  Everything he touches turns to sh*t.

The problem here is that the left claims to be against war, but they love some of the aspects of war.  Remember the whole kindergarten thing?  Yep.  The aspects they love about war come straight out of there.

They love the uniforms, and having everyone do the same at the same time.  They think of war as a sort of synchronized dance.  And, you know, war causes support for the president to surge at home, and there’s national unity which they love.  (Except they hated it after nine eleven, and a week in they were complaining about all the flags. They also missed that those are the circumstances under which fervor arises spontaneously.  When we’ve been attacked.  When our president is trying to do good abroad and appear manly? Not so much.)

They long for that imaginary time in WWII when the nation as one sacrificed and worked for victory.  If they could they would have a war with rationing “so we’re all equal.”  They have the bizarre idea that it was that unity, (and not the fact that most of the world except us was rubble afterwards)  that caused the boom afterwards.

Again, war is sort of a synchronized dance crossed with the do-goodism of a particularly blinkered boy-scout troop.

So, is there anything we can do?

No.  We’re going to war.  That’s that.  And it’s going to be run with crazy ROE and it’s going to be bad for everything, from our standing abroad to our interests in the world.  Because that’s what’s considered an acceptable war by the vile progs.

So what can we do?  We can teach our children well.  I know it’s not being done in the schools, but our household at least reads and discusses history books, and has for years.  (Starting at levels the kids could digest when very young.)

Note to the kids – and this might involve subsiding your own training – that nations are not moral entities.  Nations are entities of self interest.  Yeah, okay, the communists dressed the self interest as “liberating” other people.  So did Napoleon.  But in the end, they invaded other countries, not to overthrow oppressors but because communism in the world stage is like the ancient empires.  The only way it can survive is by stealing.  It fails to produce even enough to keep people in meager rations.  So, like Napoleon, dealing with a devastated France, they make war to survive.  The ideology just prettifies it.

I’m not saying the US hasn’t been moral abroad.  We can all debate WWI till we’re blue in the face, and yes, it’s quite possible that FDR entered WWII so as to eliminate a rival for world domination – but it’s hard to deny that at least intervention in WWII was benign. The aftermath, including keeping the communists in power and supplied with wheat is something else again.  BUT that was one good thing.  And there have been other good interventions, yes, including the ones to support allies.

However, the vile progs love to beat up on the fact that we also do things for self interest – like keep dictators in power – as though it were a sin for a nation to look after its own interests.

It’s time to drum back that it isn’t.  It’s only a sin if you believe in “the brotherhood of man” something communists (and French revolutionaries) preached as they filled mass graves.  A nation is not a moral entity but a grouping for survival.  The purpose of war is to ensure that the group survives.

A group that forgets this, doesn’t.

And our children will need to know this basic truth, because what is going on right now will make their survival and the survival of their children difficult enough.  They’ll have to wake up.

Let the wakening start now.

Teach your children well.

War is not synchronized dancing.  War is dirty, horror-filled and painful to innocents.  It should be.  And it should be engaged in only when your survival as a nation is at stake (though that often involves going in ahead of the enemy at your door.)  And then it should be engaged in with full force, with gusto and with no holds barred.

So it doesn’t have to happen again.  Or not with the same people.  And so you live, to fight another day.

UPDATE: Different post over at Mad Genius Club.

346 thoughts on “A Case For War

    1. Hmm. On a tangent, I think you might appreciate this line:

      Every time I write about Wal-Mart (or McDonald’s, or [insert store here]), several people will e-mail, or tweet, or come into the comments to say they’d be happy to pay 25 percent more for their Big Mac or their Wal-Mart goods if it means that the workers are well paid. I have taken to asking them how often they go to Wal-Mart or McDonald’s. So far, no one has reported going as often as once a week; the modal answer is a sudden disappearance from the conversation.

      (From here:

    2. ‘cus the Christ of the Christians never had anything He cared enough to defend with physical violence, throwing tables and taking swings with a weapon…. *glances at the temple with the money changers*

      1. The “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” of the liberal Christians would never do that. Though he might knit them a sweater or something, out of the kindness of his heart.

        And he certainly would never tell his disciples to sell their extra shirts to buy swords.

        1. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”

          1. “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

      2. Foxfier | August 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm
        > *glances at the temple with the money changers*

        Funny how often people forget that one — hell, I’m an atheist, and *I* know someone was standing there saying, “Congratulations, guys — you just Pissed Off The Prince Of Peace….” >:)

    3. We can thank the US engagement in WW2 in part to a British Intelligence operation that set honeypot traps in order to blackmail Isolationist politicians, like the fella after whom my hometown’s Federal building is named.

      1. Nobody blackmailed Rep. Jeannette Rankin, the only person to vote against declaring war in both WWI and WWII. (Though she lived in Montana and was an avowed pacifist, so there was no need of a spoiler warning there.) She must have done a good job for her home state, though, because they kept voting for her, even back when Senate jobs were usually a matter of a term or two. I might not agree, but I can respect that one.

        She was a Republican, btw. One of those facts that never get mentioned.

          1. Which was pretty inane really, given the subterfuge that FDR was involved in, there was good reason to be opposed to his illegal and unconstitutional actions leading up to December ’41.

      2. Given that, had we not gotten involved in World War II, either Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union would almost certainly have wound up controlling all Europe; and either Imperial Japan or the Soviet Union all China, I can’t bring myself to feel too bad about our involvement in that conflict. In either case a probable future enemy of the United States herself would have become incredibly powerful, possibly more powerful than ourselves. The 20th century might have turned out hideously different, and far bloodier even than what actually happened.

        1. again, there’s also the small and personal but inevitable thought that the chances of my being alive at all (or given mom’s state of mouthiness and disregard for authority and that I was born when she was 28) or existing at all under that scenario are small to none. So, I owe my life to that intervention. May I say the aftermath could have been better navigated though, by anyone but FDR?

    1. That was Robert E. Lee? I have heard that quote attributed to several generals, all of a newer vintage than Lee however, so it is likely they were repeating him. Learn something new every day. 🙂

  1. “Violence never solved anything.”

    Tell that to somebody whose relatives didn’t disappear into der Fuhrer’s Nacht und Nebel, you antisemitic bastard.

    1. There is that too. As I said WWII for however corrupt a reason FDR pursued it, did good — the aftermath was cacked, but hey… it stopped the long war of Europe, for a time at least.

      1. Yes – where FDR really messed up on foreign policy was his failure to realize that Stalin was still fundamentally-hostile to the West, and had only accepted Western aid out of utter desperation. And he failed to realize this despite the fact that Churchill kept warning him — he believed that Churchill was just trying to hold onto the British Empire by fomenting discord between America and Russia. Likewise, FDR carelessly allowed many Communists into his Administration, a mess which he left to Truman.

          1. I don’t think FDR was a deep thinker or particularly ideological. He pretty much advocated whatever seemed (to him) to be a good idea for helping the country out of the Depression and securing his own personal power. The fact that the policies he chose mostly deepened the Depression is not proof that he intended this result: the reasons why they deepened the Depression are counter-intuitive unless one has a good handle on classical economics.

            1. Although Justice Holmes said it of the first President Roosevelt, there are numerous reasons the “first-class temperament but a second class intellect” evaluation came to be associated with FDR.

          2. Primarily, FDR didn’t believe in anything other than FDR. He was just a con man writ large. However, the fascist inspired economic policies, setting up price fixing boards etc., appealed to his innate belief that everyone should do what he wanted.

    2. There’s the added irony that it’s most frequently stated by people who get a government paycheck (i.e. paid through the threat of violence).

    3. Alternatively (and this only really works for guys built like John Wayne or Larry Correia):
      “Violence never solved anything.”

      “Shut up!” (Knocks twit down.)
      (Repeat as necessary to demonstrate that violence does indeed solve some things. If twit attempts to fight back, remind twit that “Violence never solved anything” until twit concedes the point.)

      (CAUTION: use of this rhetorical technique can result in severe scraping of knuckles.)

      1. My favorite version of “Bad Company” is a metal version I first saw put together to video clips of marines in action and historic USMC images. The version was done by Five Finger Death Punch, and the album was called “War is the Answer”.

        I’m blocked from teh original interview where I am now, but “why” boiled down to “life is struggle.”

    4. You have to state it in a form that most public union members would appreciate: “Violence did save Glorious Mother Russia from the evil hordes of Hitlerite invaders!”

    5. Except for ending slavery, defeating the Nazis, saving the Jews, and preventing North Korean dictatorship from putting an entire country into re-education camps, war has never solved a thing.

      1. I would either leave out the “saving the Jews” bit or phrase it as “saving the Jews, Romani and Gays” — most of the idiots spouting that nonsense would say the Jews deserved it, would shrug about the Romani but would agree that Hitler’s “Pink Triangles” were blasphemous.

        1. Don’t bet on it. The frequency with which lefties use accusations of homosexuality as an ATTACK suggests their publicly expressed opinion of it is, shall we say, not honest?

          1. Three is sufficient to make the point, and whenever you try to list everybody you will inevitably overlook somebody and then you get accused of bias.

            1. I was merely trying to point out that about which most were already familiar. Given most folks’ shallow level of knowledge about history, most would only be able to understand the way I phrased it. Not mean as a slight in any way.

        2. If they say the Jews deserved it then it gives you an excuse punch them in the throat.

          Literally or figuratively, whatever you feel would be most useful.

  2. I am really upset at the way the President is going about this. The administration is announcing what we will hit, how much force we will use, where the strike force is. They likely announce the date and time. It is a sham. If you use force you should hit suddenly and hard. The U.S. will not gain any respect form this, but contempt.

    1. President Cojones is not going to war to win, he’s going to war to show that he has testicles. Since he believes that it is unwinnable and his strongest supporters believe ti to be undesireable to win, he will make sure that no winning is possible.
      Yea us.

            1. It would, but that doesn’t seem to be a consideration. In fact, it might even be a desired effect. This man thinks of himself as the reincarnation of FDR. FDR didn’t surround himself with nitwits.

            2. I don’t think so. I think the most likely case would be his Secret Service detail arrests him. In the worst-case scenario the Marine Corps Band does it.

    2. There are actually valid military reasons for telegraphing some moves, such as large strikes against infrastructure. War not being solely a physical conflict, letting the enemy know where, when and how can be an effective move when there’s nothing they can do to prevent it. It’s particularly applicable when there’s a large disparity of force.

      All that being said, I don’t believe the President, Secretaries of State or Defense nor any of the political advisers understand those subtleties. Thus they’re just as likely to continue telegraphing ’cause they like how stern they look on the TV. And that will boil my blood.

      1. Indeed. IIRC, some of the run-up to WW1 was, in hindsight, perhaps just posturing.

        That said, I agree that there’s a purpose to telegraphing .. but that the usual purpose involves setting the opponent up for a hit he *didn’t* expect.

        I further agree that the community-organizer-in-chief doesn’t seem to *get* that.

        Best recent example of “hit he didn’t see coming” would be the part of the Gulf Wars announced to the U.S. by Bush 1.0 .. from the deck of his fishing boat.

        Best recent example of “telegraphing” would be the part of the Gulf Wars where Bush 2.0 kept talking and talking and talking .. I get that he had to play games with Congress, but .. it was embarrassing.

        My concern, today, is that Obama will follow Bush 2.0’s model yet again.


    3. This was the thing that peeved me the most about Bush and invading Iraq. Instead of going in hot and hard, and getting authority from Congress afterward (he has 60 days after beginning something like that, IIRC), he talked about it, went to the UN, then talked some more, and finally went in, giving Hussein plenty of time to skip town, spread out his supporters, and send embarrassing weapons out of the country.

        1. I think the two of you missed the entire point of what Bush was in the middle of. Had he unilaterally done what you’re now saying he should have, then Congress would have likely turned on him. Everything he did at the UN was in an attempt to placate the same assholes who didn’t even blink at Libya, and who are now going to do the precise same thing with regards to Syria.

          Bush did not operate in this same “free from Congressional oversight” environment that Obama does. He HAD to go through the motions of going to the UN, and “seeking unity with the allies”, in order to avoid having the media and Congress turn on him. Which, of course, they did anyway, in very passive-aggressive ways.

          Even if actual results had been different in a hypothetical reality where he didn’t bother with the consultations with the allies, and the BS at the UN, he still had to calculate that they would have. The track record for the media and Congress being all understanding about things like invading Iraq when a Republican president does it is not good.

          The other point that y’all are missing is that the forces to do the invasion itself were not in position, nor was the diplomatic situation “set” for success. As it was, the Turks screwed us and the Iraqi people right up until the last few days before the invasion. The 4th ID had its equipment in boats in the Mediterranean, waiting for a Turkish approval for use of Turkish ports that never came. Had there been a two-front invasion of Iraq, much of the aftermath would have been very different, in terms of what went on. In all likelihood, there would have been no opportunity for the regime forces to dissolve into the northwest of Iraq, and set the stages for the insurgent campaign.

          Much of the invasion’s delay was due to this factor, and that the Turks acted in bad faith as our supposed “allies” is hardly Bush’s fault. Right up until the final decision in the Turkish parliament, we were getting signals that it was all a sham, and that we’d be able to use the Turkish route into Iraq to shorten the war and get things fixed as rapidly as possible. As it was, the Turks kept us out, and then turned around and used their land communications to control a lot of what happened in Iraq, and to profit from it massively. Civilians simply don’t “get” the issues that we had with all the logistics issues faced by the US–Trying to rebuild Iraq with only the ports in Kuwait as transportation hubs? We had to have Turkey, and getting them on board with everything was key and essential to the plan. Turkey’s failure to support us initially cost God only knows what, in terms of initial success.

          Bush was not a perfect president, but he was damn sure better than what we deserved, and he’s unfortunately taken the blame for a lot of things that were beyond his control, and which were in fact the results of actions by his opponents, domestic and foreign.

          1. It may have made a difference to get Congressional approval first, but he did NOT have to go to the UN. He also went too far trying to justify it. Iraq violated terms of the 1991 cease-fire. WMDs did not have to be brought up. Firing on our planes, building rockets that were outside the agreement, corruption of the Oil For Food program and UN involvement in that, plus paying the families of suicide bombers is all that he should have brought up.

            He also needed to sack up and give hard-hitting speeches, written by an unapologetic patriot, rather than the lukewarm things he did give. He gave one or two good ones, but he needed to bring the correct message to the American people, so they would get up in arms if Congress didn’t respond appropriately. But that wasn’t who he was. He’s a lukewarm pseudo-conservative who was merely hundreds of miles better than the alternative.

            1. Look, his speeches were better than anything else we could have gotten. Steve Forbes was my man in that election, but I cringe at the thought of him as president on 9-11 and that’s the truth. But yah, “War on terrorism” was ridiculous.
              That said, I voted libertarian in 2000 (young and stupid, okay?) and the recount circus convinced me never to do that again. I worked for Bush in 04 both in call center and online under a deep-dark nom de blog. I worked for Sarah and whasshisname in 08 though I hate his guts because I didn’t want to elect a man who hated the country. And I did what I could for Romney because the alternative was appalling. Doesn’t mean I have to approve of the things the “least of two evils” does. I might be shooting at the moon, but I still think blue glass would have been better.

              1. National Review published a bound collection of his speeches in the year after 9/11 and they were surprisingly excellent. I say surprisingly because the MSM badly misreported them when they didn’t ignore them altogether — or cherry pick one phrase uttered less than ringingly.

                That said, whenever I heard the phrase “War on Terror” my mental autocomplete would add “-ists and those who love them.”

                1. I wonder what the Thirty Years’ War was called while people were actually fighting it. Because that’s what we’re in right now, it’s just in Arabic this time around.

                  That’s the reason behind the awkward phrasing for the GWOT. It doesn’t really fit into our traditional nation-state formulation, so it doesn’t lend itself to easy naming.

                  1. From what I’ve read: The Hapsburgs considered it a series of rebellions (the ongoing Dutch rebellion, the Protestants [mostly Calvinists, whom nobody recognized but the Durch], the Czechs). Gustav Wasa (Gustavus Adolphus) called it a fight to free the Protestants and to regain his patrimony (Poland. Typical messy story). Tilly, Wallenstein, Monticucolli, Vaubaun and a few others called it an opportunity to make lots of money. To the average person trapped between the Atlantic and the Danube, it was an intermittent disaster interrupted by famine-inducing cold and floods, and quite likely not suitable for quotation in this blog.

              2. John McCain does not hate this country. He hates all of those annoying people that live in it, sure, but not the country. If it was filled with quiet little nobodies that did what their betters told them, he’d love it a lot more its true.

            2. Did you miss that he wouldn’t have gotten Congressional approval without having gone to the UN? That was a requirement set on him by the Democrats he had to court in Congress, in order to get their approval for what he had to do. Just like they played hardball with the budget: “Don’t give us what we want in the budget? You won’t get our backing on the war…”. Which, of course, led to the huge deficits we ran during the war, and were used by those same traitorous Democrats to bash him later on in his administration.

              When you get down to it, the Democrats have always, always negotiated in bad faith with their opponents. Bush I had the same issue, with that whole “…no new taxes…” meme. He gets blackmailed by the Democrats, negotiates with them for what he has to have, and then when he does that, they then turn around and use it against him to win the election for his second term.

              When you get down to it, the Democrats are Lucy in Peanuts, constantly pulling the football away from a trusting, naive, and very stupid Republican Charlie Brown. They never negotiate in good faith, and are utterly untrustworthy. I’d sympathize with the Republicans, but when you realize that they constantly keep going for the same rigged football, you start to understand why they’re nicknamed the Stupid Party. That’s a well-earned nickname, I’m afraid.

              After the BS in Florida where the Democrats tried to disenfranchise the military voters, I refuse to vote for a Democrat for anything until the last of that ilk is dead and buried. That doesn’t mean I’m happy voting for the Republican “lesser of two evils”, however.

              I’d really love to purge both parties from the Republic. The Republicans may be reformable, but I keep remembering what a Democrat acquaintance of mine once told me, back during the Clinton years. He’d been active in the local party structure, and got to go back East for some big confabulation after the ’94 elections. I saw him after that, and he’d withdrawn from a lot of what he was doing in the party, and when I asked him why, he just mumbled a bunch of stuff about what he’d seen back east. He did make one very pained statement, in reference to the Democratic party as a whole–Something to the effect that “They’re going to hunt us through the streets like dogs, if those bastards keep going the way they are…”.

              I was never too sure what the hell set him against the people running the party back then, but I got the strong impression that it was the general lack of ethics, integrity, and patriotism he saw among the people running things. His exposure to the higher-ups shattered a lot of his illusions, I think.

              1. I think it’s what soured Heinlein on the party. It got taken over by Stalinists. They want to bring about a new feudalism. What I have against the Republicans is that they’d rather lose than be mean or have the press yell at them.

                1. If the Democrats were taken over by Stalinists, it happened sometime before the birth of Stalin. They’ve been like this going back to their founding from the remnants of the old Democratic-Republican party in the early 1800s.

                  They’ve always been what they are, and denying that is simple historical revisionism. You go back and look, and they’ve been on the wrong/evil side on nearly every issue going back to before the Civil War.

                  I don’t like the Republicans, but I can tolerate them. I find that the most positive thing I can say about the Democrats is that they are consistently evil.

                  After all, the Democrats are the party of Kennedy, who essentially acquiesced to the assassination of Diem a few weeks before his own, the party of LBJ who escalated our involvement in Vietnam, and then the final penultimate perversion, the party of Teddy Kennedy who led the betrayal of our commitments to the South Vietnamese people and government.

                  You have to be a totally amoral and utterly evil person to even consider voting for a Democrat, I’m afraid.

                  1. One of the big favorites of the Democrats is Andrew Jackson (US President 1829–1837) the “populist” who, to me, more closely resembles the current WH resident than Abraham Lincoln.

                    From Wikipedia – “He was a wealthy slaveholder. He fought politically against what he denounced as a closed, undemocratic aristocracy, adding to his appeal to common citizens. He expanded the spoils system during his presidency to strengthen his political base.” O is wealthy and privileged but denounces wealth and privilege. He certainly has expanded his supporters in the federal government to do his bidding.

                    “Historians acknowledge his protection of popular democracy and individual liberty for United States citizens, but criticize him for his support for slavery and for his role in Indian removal.” O is praised for his supposed defenses of democracy, illegal immigration, etc. while he really supports the suppression of opponents considering his rhetoric.

                    1. Andrew Jackson was a jerk, but he wasn’t anywhere near like Obama.

                      1. If you could get him to make you a promise, he would keep it to a ridiculous point. He didn’t feel obliged to keep other people’s or administration’s promises, but he kept his own.

                      2. He never shoved his own friends or family under the bus. He also had a tendency to adopt other people into his friends and family, if they seemed friendless and helpless. (For example, his adopted son, a orphaned baby Creek whom he kept alive on campaign, brought home to Rachel, and raised to be a practicing lawyer.)

                      3. He actually knew how to run things, he actually practiced law, he actually fought battles, he actually ran farms.

                      4. Andrew Jackson loved the United States of America with all his heart.

                    2. Jackson and Obama may be the only two presidents to openly diss the Supreme Court (although FDR’s efforts at court packing suggest he wasn’t above it, and Teddy Roosevelt had said of Justice Holmes that “I could carve out of a banana a judge with a stronger spine than him” — but those would be personal criticisms of individual Justices.)

                      Obama, of course, had his infamous denunciation of the Citizens United decision. Jackson famously rejected a SCOTUS ruling, declaring “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

                    3. Very true suburban, Jackson had plenty of faults, and he was abrasive and rubbed those in people’s faces. That is very like Obama, Jackson however also had some good qualities and was patriotic to an extreme, Obama hates America and has no good qualities (other than to the best of my knowledge being faithful to his wife.)

                  2. Oh, there have been a few Democrats I could endorse. Sen. Lieberman wasn’t completely awful, and Zell Miller was about as good as they get in the South. Ben Nighthorse Campbell wasn’t so bad, but given his quick switch to the GOP he was probably only a Democrat because the alternative was being shut out completely. Dan’l Moynihan had his better moments.

                    Grover Cleveland was actually a pretty good president, especially in contrast to the time period.

                    There are probably one or two more who are not totally terrible, but I’d need a few days and some research materials to come up with them. How are we to count Democrats like Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Reagan who switched parties?

                    Mostly, the best thing that can be said for Republicans is they aren’t such snakes as to be Democrats.

                    1. Notice that many of those you mention, like Lieberman, Campbell, Kirkpatrick, and Reagan found they couldn’t stomach the company they had to keep in the Democratic party. They left, either to become Republican or as Lieberman did went Independent.

                  3. IIRC, from reading The Patriots’ History of the United States the Dems were set up under Van Buren as a vehicle to protect the institution of slavery by stifling any discussion about slavery, and specifically done by regularly voting in a westerner or northerner with southern sympathies who would not bring up or allow any debate about slavery. They had two major techniques, one by promising more jobs than the Whigs, and through the spoils system. Both required a growth of the Federal government and the increased meddling in the economy and banking system, which was problematical since a powerful federal government could also do something about state slavery should it fall into the hands of the anti-slave party. The only thing that would assure a crisis would have been a president with strong anti-slave beliefs.
                    So, a party that is for subjugation of a section of the population, using the techniques of giving away goodies to their supporters and squelching all discussion against them by using their position as gatekeepers and enforcers.
                    I think the Progs are just the latest iteration of this, and the techniques for control have become the goal, not the tools.

                    1. The Democrats stifled discussion of slavery very directly. Aside from physically attacking Abolitionists, they also interfered with the Federal mails in order to prevent the dissemination of Abolitionist literature. In the process, they crippled the South’s nascent system of higher education, and thus helped ensure its later defeat in the Civil War.

              2. I’m saying that if he had the right speechwriter (and delivered the right speech, which he was not going to do), then he would have gotten Congressional approval. It’s the same problem that the Republicans have had for 30 years – they won’t hammer the Democrats when it’s needed. They hem and haw, and make deals, and don’t learn from history. Had he come out with a fire and brimstone speech (and maybe it would have taken more than one), shaming the Democrats for holding the war effort hostage, it would have worked. At least then. Later, perhaps not, but right then it would have.

                1. Your faith in the mumble of the Democrats in Congress and vile progs in media is endearing. Shaming them is impossible — Monica Lewinski proved that.

                  1. I didn’t really mean that it would directly change the minds of the members of Congress. I meant that there would be enough people up in arms about it that they would change their minds out of survival instinct.

                    1. Remember, they ultimately did demand a vote in order to get their support for defending America on the record. Didn’t stop them from undermining the war effort at their earliest opportunity.

                      Keep in mind that most of the fooling around with the UN and Congress was simply theatre while positioning assets for the invasion. I don’t recall any delays in deployment resulting from all the hand wringing.

                2. Bush may well have been the worst communicator/speech maker to ever hold office as president in this country. I can’t argue that, at all.

                  However, he also had to deal with the worst and most biased press and media any president had to deal with. Ever.

                  No matter what he did, no matter how he did it, they would have done their best to make him look bad. I could lay out example after example where they did that, from the whole “Mission Accomplished” banner incident to the so-called “plastic turkey” controversy. No president in history has had to deal with that kind of crap delivered so uniformly across all media. Lincoln at least had a couple of major papers on his side. Bush had nobody in the major media that would present his side of things fairly.

                  That he just chucked the whole idea of trying to work with and through the media? I can’t say that I blame him, one little bit. If I’d been in his shoes, I think I’d have been tempted to follow Mencken’s idea, hoisted the Jolly Roger, and then put the lot of them into prison for sedition. And, when the complaints came? I’d have pointed at Woodrow Wilson and the sainted FDR for precedent.

                  With George Bush, we had an essentially, fundamentally decent man as president. He may not have been the best person to do the job, but he was the one we had, and he did his best. I didn’t expect much from him when he was elected, I wouldn’t have selected him to run, but I was pleasantly surprised after 9/11 to see how well he performed in a wartime leadership role. Domestically, I’m not so happy with his work, but given the distractions and needs he had to meet for the war, I’m not surprised he didn’t do better.

                  It’d be an interesting thing to know what his presidency would have looked like, absent 9/11. Probably a lot more statist do-gooding, but who knows.

                  1. I too think that he is fundamentally a decent man, but I think he was both an introvert (which makes communication difficult. I live with #2 son and the miscommunication is damaging even with BOTH parties trying to understand the other.) and a well… someone who thinks the president should do good. Not as bad as his father on that, of course, but too soft for the times he faced. Then again, anyone might have been too soft. I think the problem is that the dems thought they had their system of fraud in place in 2000. They didn’t. Bush won and they never forgave him. Of course, now they have the system in place.

                    1. it is telling that folks one would think would certainly hate GWB (Bono, and Bob Geldolf) are being ignored when the tell stories of meeting the man, and although they were prepared to hate him, found him intelligent, engaging, exceedingly likeable, and both admit he did more for their causes than any other president (and still say this after a term + of 0bama)

                  2. He was a terrible speaker with a prepared speech, he got up there and read it like a high school student forced to read a paper in front of the class. His off-the-cuff speeches with no preparation were much better (the media had to actually work to make them appear terrible) while still not an awe-inspiring orator, a fair comparision to Obama’s off-the-cuff speeches would make him appear so.

                    1. iirc GWB is slightly dyslexic. This explains the poor reading of speaches (and I can identify as I too am very slightly dyslexic, and reading is fine (I’m fairly fast) but reading and speaking is horrid (he had to work on being as good as he was, be happy he wasn’t as bad as I am.) so with him we get the opposite of 0bama (a good reader but off the cuff? um … ahh … uh … ) who is painful to listen to off ‘promter.

                    2. He sounds exactly like younger son, who says the most appalling things, particularly when in public. Like, you know “when I die, I want to be crucified” instead of cremated. People who don’t know anyone like that think it means stupidity. Actually it’s the equivalent of my typos. I type very fast, but my mind is already miles ahead, doing the next page because I think in words, and no one can type as fast as they think. Left to their own devices my fingers get phonetic and often bizarre. Some of my typos have no explanation or at least none that doesn’t require forensic psychology.

                    3. I wasn’t dyslexic. According to family lore, when I was seven (six? eight?) during a family vacation to Detroit on which we stayed at a hotel called The Executive Inn, my youthful tongue persisted in calling the hotel The Executioner Inn.

                      I think I knew what an executioner was but doubt I had any idea what an executive would be (looks askance at recent presidencies) and in fact am still not entirely clear.

                    4. My wife is mildly dyslexic, and some of the things GWB said sounded a lot like things she would write when she was tired. What’s more, consider that GWB was President, which meant that many verbal mistakes he made were made in front of the press — and he had a hostile media, who eagerly seized upon every mistake.

                      Compare with Obama, who made major mistakes of fact, again and again and again, and was rarely called on them.

                  3. The other thing his Presidency revealed is how little the President matters when the bureaucracy is fundamentally opposed to him.

                    A key component of any reform effort in this country will be returning control of the Executive to the President. Right now, there are no real penalties for sabotage, and the shenanigans we saw out of the State Department, et al, prove it.

          2. Thanks – this is the point I wanted to make, but life intruded in my attempt to compose the argument, and I doubt I would have composed so eloquent an argument even without distraction.

            Part of the reason for fooling around at UN was that we needed that time to position our forces anyway, so the UN dance was a way of distracting the talking heads in Media and Congress.

          3. We can argue history all day, of course, but I think Bush 2.0 sucked.

            Not nearly as much as Clinton or JFK, certainly less than Obama, but .. seriously? Bush 1.0 launched part of the gulf war from his yacht.

            Bush 2.0 was a good man, I’ll argue that all day, but he was not terribly good at the job he found himself in, in part because he was a lousy communicator and – unlike Reagan – *couldn’t* close the sale with the american people, and in part because he’d planned on being a *domestic agenda* guy .. and after 9/11 his unpreparedness and inability showed. Badly.

            History may be more kind, although that depends on who gets to write it.


            1. “but .. seriously? Bush 1.0 launched part of the gulf war from his yacht”

              But seriously, who cares if he did it from his tricycle? What kind of bizarre class warfare horse manure thinking like that does it take for you to believe intelligent people pay attention to?

              1. Swing and a miss there.

                The message wasnt *for me*. It was a deliberate slight – and I’ll wager understood as such – to the opponents.

                “You are not important enough for me to give up my vacation.”

                Someone with your handle ought to catch the nuance in how one deals with barbarians, eh?


          4. 1. The Republicans controlled the House for the first six years of Bush’s Presidency and they controlled the Senate for his four middle years. They would have narrowly held the Senate during Bush’s first two years had not some of his tough-guy subordinates decided to show VT RINO Jim Jeffords who was boss, whereupon he went independent and caucused with the Democrats.

            2. As I posted recently, Bush’s strutting under the Mission Accomplished banner was reckless bravado, intentional or not: especially given the political overpromising which squandered the military victory in Vietnam.

            3. Back in the day, when I raised concerns about the direction the Bush administration was going, I was told that Karl Rove’s giant brain was leading us to a Permanent Republican Majority and I didn’t understand strategery gah-yuk gah-yuk gah-yuk.

            Remember the Permanent Republican Majority?

            4. Now I gather that…oh, forget it, just read proBush apologetics. Maybe the day will come when the GOP—the whole political class, for that matter—is something more than a wellspring of gallows humor, but today is not that day.

                1. …how many of them are saying “remember this phrase”?

                  I ask because it’s something I see a lot– “everyone remembers” something, but the only mainstream stuff I can find about it is responding to a general “everyone knows” statement.

                  1. 1. It’s attributed to Karl Rove, who disavows it, saying he worked for a “durable” Republican majority.

                    It probably sticks in my mind because of the smug arrogance which greeted my concerns about our Warrior President, American Churchill, and Apostle of Liberty to the Mussulmen. In any case, 200K Google hits, from all over the political spectrum.

                    2. An awful lot of the Reagan legacy had been wasted by the time Bush got elected in Y2K. Afaic Rove used the last of it getting Bush reelected in 2004.

                    1. My opinion of Karl Rove is about on the same level as my opinion of John McCain. I have never understood why so many conservatives think highly of him.

      1. I strongly suspect

        a) blame Colin Powell (and yes, blame the guy who hired him, but also blame the political culture that made such hiring seem a good idea) — blame Powell as well for screwing the entry of our armor through Turkey and

        b) blame the back-stabbers in Congress and the Media who had to be brought in line before the start of hostilities and who couldn’t wait to turn on the war and

        c) blame President Bush because it is his desk where the buck stops.

        1. Colin Powell may well be a political hack, and one that shouldn’t have been put where he was, but blaming him for Turkish intransigence is like blaming the poor bastard who was running Poland when the Germans invaded for the invasion.

          The Turkish military was telling us that we were going to be allowed use of those ports, and that the shenanigans in Turkish parliament were just to placate the Islamists that put Ergogan into power. Things didn’t quite work out that way, and if you read between the lines, the Turkish military got played itself by some very astute work on the part of their enemies. Most of those Turkish generals who were telling us this later wound up being prosecuted for planning a coup against the Islamists, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Erdogan had those guys marked for the noose from the beginning, and he parlayed that prosecution into a wholesale pogrom against his opposition in the media and the military itself.

          Turkey was and is a mess. There’s no telling where the end state is going to wind up, but the fact remains that there was no amount of diplomacy that would have made things turn out any different. Aside from encouraging a military coup, that is, and I suspect that had we done that as a corollary to the invasion of Iraq, things would have gone even worse than they did.

          1. I blame Powell not for the Turkish betrayal but for leaving his back door open to be betrayed. He was a general with sufficient experience to have known the problem was possible and to have prepared a Plan B (and C and D and E) to meet that contingency.

            1. What plans could you have made to bypass Turkey for access? Invade via Iran? There were no other options, period. Logistically, we needed those Turkish ports, and we needed access to the Turkish highways and rail networks. No other lines of communications were available.

              The only real option, as I said, would have been for us to call in our markers with the Turkish military, OK their actions, and had them conduct a coup against Erdogan and his political allies. Short of that, which would have been highly inadvisable, in that we needed Turkish cooperation to make things work, what was a potential Plan “B” to consist of?

              You can’t make war on fantasy, which was what the idiots wanted us to do to intervene in Rwanda during the Clinton Administration. There, there was absolutely no physical way possible to get the necessary forces moved to where they were needed, and then support them. All that they could have done would have been to drop a few thousand American troops into the chaos, and watch them die.

              Logistics trumps all, in war. Whether you have it or not informs your politics before the war, during the war, and after. You can’t just wave a hand and say “There was a better way to do it…”.

              1. If we’re going to engage in fantasy, punch across Syria and take down two birds with one stone.


              2. My understanding is the Turks, both civil-political and military-political, were actually net-net balanced right on the fence, but all of them really REALLY didn’t like that the US was so friendly with their universally most hated enemy, the Kurds, to the point that the US had effectively created the long-dreaded Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. And so the price of the Turkish pass-through, and of the use of NATO bases in Turkey for air support, was in the end a degree of abandonment of the Kurds, to which the US didn’t geek, so that was it.

                In the end the airborne drop from Italy into the Kurdish areas was good enough militarily, but the fact that the Turks had been publically asked and said No was a real wedge driven into the political relationship, and it undermined everyone who was against the Erdogan side in the military. Lots of those Generals were later purged – forcibly retired and some thrown in jail, and Erdogan’s side only got stronger.

                Powell, as the Secretary of State, was the guy in charge of that sort of diplomatic positioning, and he should never have let the US publically ask for the passage of troops if he didn’t already know that the answer was absolutely guaranteed to be “Yes”. If there was any question, he should have publically stated we didn’t need it, and continued non-public negotiations in case something could be worked out, especially re the use of the air bases, since that was if anything more impactful than the missing armor in the north.

                So I too would blame Powell on that bit.

          1. Pardon me, but .. that’s an incorrect use of the past tense.

            “And the press *continues* to lie about it” is correct, as they still do.


        1. Oh, make no mistake, I believe (based on the reports that the scientists were lying to Hussein) that most of those “Pesticides” we found WERE part of the Chemical Weapons arsenal.

          Otherwise, why would he have had enough pesticides to depopulate the Earth of insects about 10 times over?

          1. The difference between a “pesticide” and nerve gas is leaving out one chemical. Most pesticides (and many herbicides) can be readily converted to chemical agents. It’s so easy you can do it in your kitchen — once.

            1. Don’t get me started on the Yellowcake, and the way those “Seventeen words” were routinely misquoted so they could be falsified by the left.

    4. Nah, we’re the greatest military power that every was.

      If I were President, and was going to launch a strike on fixed targets in Syria or Iran *I* would give them 48 hours warning and tell them exactly what course my fighters would be coming in on.

      And if my Air Force Generals and Navy Admirals tell me they can’t do that, they’re getting retired *now*, and the search for competence will start.

    5. … especially since Obama hasn’t mentioned a single legitimate reason for our involvement (they exist, but Obama’s silent on them), is mentioning fairly illegitimate ones (the desire to intervene in a civil war) and is supporting the Al-Qaeda affiliate!!!

  3. From twitter feed of CSGV ( a gun control group ) Aug 19th:
    “We don’t think anyone has a “right” to take another human being’s life, even when doing so IS necessary to save another.”
    (Emphasis in original)

    1. Well, that’s flat-out immoral. If you’re not willing to use deadly force against someone hellbent on killing the innocent, you’re an accessory.

      1. Apparently not if yo mean well. Think of a recent case where the facts were disputed, but a murder charge was based solely on the feelings and opinions of the defendant.

      2. I can, sad to say, sort of get that way of thinking. Most killings which happen here are cases of something like two drunk guys getting into an argument, one pulls out a knife, goes from there… and usually they will seem pretty similar to outsiders. I think people who say something like that ‘it’s not right to kill even to save a life’ are mostly thinking in those terms, due to the way they have learned to think. They hear that and they do not imagine a child being threatened by a member of the Gestapo, they see two white men fighting over something insignificant because those white adult rednecks are the most likely to behave like that, in their imagination, and when it’s like that it doesn’t matter which one dies, right, since they are both really the same… or else they see something like a drug addict trying to rob one of those rednecks, and the drug addict is a good boy gone wrong because of a horrible life, but he can still be saved if he doesn’t get killed by that worthless redneck. And a right thinking individual would have rather sacrificed their life in order to save that poor misguided drug addict than risk killing him, except that probably wouldn’t have happened since even if the addict had that knife he was most likely in a such bad shape he would have been unable to actually kill anyone anyway.

        (And that ‘poor drug addict’ is a real example of a hypothetical scenario I have seen used in some Finnish comments portion of some news article – the writer was arguing against the use of guns for self-defense. Shouldn’t do because it’s so easy to kill with one, you know, and since most likely attackers would be people like that poor addict much better not to have anything you might kill him with since most of such attackers would really never be able to kill anyone even if they tried…)

        They do not really think about those slogans, what they do have are these example scenarios to represent the slogan, and they have the hardest time to get past that preferred scenario. So you get all kinds of twisting if you try, and mostly they boil down to the idea that yes, maybe there could be some exemptions, sometimes, but they are so very rare in today’s world… we are not going to, ever again, get something like the Nazis after all, we are too civilized now, and we have learned from the history anyway (nazis use swastikas and practice goosestepping, so as long as you wont let anybody to use swastikas or goosestep we are safe).

        1. Too many people take civilization for granted, as if it were the natural order of things. There was a recent kerfuffle in the Brit press over a celebrity defending his wife’s honor after some jerk pinched her bum (metaphorically — it was a few days ago and I merely skimmed the reportage), complete with columnists saying that it is demeaning for men to defend women, women need to be allowed to defend themselves.

          As if a 5’1″ 7.5 stone gal has much chance of impressing a 6’4″ 18 stone oaf.

          Why women don’t want men to punch the bum-pinchers
          After Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace allegedly punched a man ‘defending his girlfriend’s honour’, Isabelle Kerr, a student at Bristol University, explains why women today don’t want their men to be ‘heroic’.

          1. I went and read that article. The whole thing is so wishfully oblivious of human dynamics it’s mind-crushing.

            Men “defending women’s honor” are not protecting women, not from the societal perspective. They are enforcing social standards on their peers. They are using a physicality women, in general, cannot match to maintain social discipline.

            That she goes on in her ‘lessons’ to blithely recount a visit to Cyprus clubs “disproportionately filled with men” and how she and her compatriots handled it merely underscores her disconnection.
            “…we would confront any rogue males and tell them straight out to leave us alone. It was a win-win situation: ironically they would end up being humiliated, whilst we would feel satisfied and liberated in defending ourselves.”

            The only safety they had in those male dominated clubs while humiliating men they found bothersome was the social pressure of the other men present. Humiliating an aggressor is not a defense.

            Tying it back in upthread, so many in society see their ability to behave with impunity and freedom to be reflective of themselves. They completely fail to see that they are simultaneously relying on the restraint of those they confront and the constraining influence of others.

            1. “We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.”

              Commonly misattributed to George Orwell without citation. Sometimes also misattributed to Winston Churchill without citation.

              Actual source: Quote Investigator found the earliest known appearance in a 1993 Washington Times essay by Richard Grenier: “As George Orwell pointed out, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” The absence of quotation marks indicates Grenier was using his own words to convey his interpretation of Orwell’s opinion, as seen in citations below.

              In his 1945 “Notes on Nationalism”, Orwell wrote that it was “grossly obvious” that “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.” (“Notes on Nationalism”)

              In an essay on Rudyard Kipling, Orwell cited Kipling’s phrase “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep” (Kipling, Tommy), and further noted that Kipling’s “grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can be highly civilized only while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.” (1942)

              1. Indeed. And I think that misunderstanding is at the heart of the Democrat’s military adventurism noted by our host.

                But I think the bigger one that crawls under my skin at the moment, and certainly with reference to your original linked article, is that they can behave aggressively, push buttons, ‘front’ in the parlance and believe the fact that they walk away from these confrontations is owing solely to their own qualities. They don’t even have the questionable nobility of having abjured violence. They practice it and crow about their success while denouncing, not only the rough men, but ANYONE who would hold the line.

                This gave me some trouble when I came home, once upon a time. An inherent social tradition of physical confrontation when walking about the mall or a crowded street, or such. Forcefully bumping people while walking, refusing to yield space, etc. I had been walking around places where such as that was cause for an extreme and punitive response. They walked on in self-congratulation while my instincts screamed and I reinforced my restraint brick by brick.

                Anyroad, to curve the tangent back, I think militant posturing in Syria by the political class falls under the same blindness. They act at a remove, believing they’ll have clean hands and they’ll get away with it because no one has stopped them before. Until another power decides it’s in their interest to put boots on the ground in opposition to our posturing. Then the rough men have to go spill more blood.

                1. “They walked on in self-congratulation while my instincts screamed and I reinforced my restraint brick by brick.”

                  Your comment brought up an interesting thought. One of the biggest lessons the concealed carry class I took, and from speaking with others it’s in ALL concealed carry classes, is “first of all, do everything you can to avoid a conflict”. And the maxim about “an armed society is a polite society” is interpreted by concealed weapons carriers as “when you’re armed, be as polite and as forgiving as possible”. I’ve seen it myself — comments I’d make about others drivers’ habits get swallowed when I’m carrying, for example.

                  The thugs, though, are in-your-face about the threat of violence, for the least reason. For “dissing”. For being in “their” neighborhood.

                  Which of the two gets demonized and which gets accommodated by the political class? The anti-gun, anti-self-defense rhetoric is filled with hatred towards one group, and ignores the other.

                  It’s terrifying when people with so much power as our political class operate in such apparently willful ignorance.

                  1. Yes, CC permit-holders have an idea of where confrontation will go, having thought about it, planned for it, and taken steps to avoid it. And they are, fundamentally, functioning within an agreed upon social structure. The thugs are flaunting that structure. And you’re right, it’s terrifying that the political class favors the wrong side, from a societal perspective.

                    For me, I take the “armed society…” quote a bit further than many of the concealed carry classes seem to. Much of the focus in class appears to be on the trouble and consequence of a confrontation to the permit holder (and that’s relevant). I tend to focus on the devastation that can be brought about when violence is introduced into the middle of civilized society. A competent person can wreak phenomenal havoc unopposed.

                    So, the armed society is polite, because dangerous people look to each other and acknowledge the threat they embody and agree to restraint. We could prove it and tear this whole thing down around us, but then nobody wins. The disarmed society loses this polite restraint because the inherent threat sits at some remove and the inevitable thug believes they’re the only dangerous thing walking around. The end result may be the same, but it takes longer.

                    With regards to lobbing missiles at Syria in a punitive action, we can expect the same failure to understand because the violence comes at some remove. And the ones on the receiving end will hunker down and take it and resent it. And when the cop walks the other way they’ll be back to doing their thing. Without boots on the ground, and hard-eyed individuals looking the opposition in the face and making clear we WILL tear this whole thing down…it’s all empty violence.

                2. There is an image coming to mind, one which it frustrates me I cannot place. It seems to come from a cartoon, but it might be an old movie.

                  The MC faces down a horde of bullies, lecturing them on proper behaviour and cowing them, all the time wholly unaware that standing behind him is a terrifyingly intimidating bruiser of a friend, and that the friend is the real reason the horde backed down.

                  Comic, but with a deeper meaning I hadn’t pondered ere now. It might have been a Western; certainly it reflects the fundamental truth Ford was expressing in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, although Wayne, Marvin and Stewart didn’t play it for comedy.

                  1. Now you’ve planted a brain-worm. I have the impression of seeing it in several different contexts, something of a popular trope usually played for laughs. But, like you, I can’t point at any single one… Argh.

                    On the broader point, yes. A concise reflection of our conversation.

            2. Exactly. That kind of “let’s shame the aggressor” only works if the aggressor either a) has some sense of shame, or b) there’s someone else with some muscle there to enforce the standard. That approach would be shockingly dangerous where those two factors were absent. Say, Tahrir square.

              1. Yep. But in reading RES’s linked article the three lessons the author outlines clearly illuminate her complete failure to recognize reality. Each one is ‘we don’t need you’ and ‘you detract attention from us (our victimhood)’ and ‘we can handle it without you.’ Stunning.

                Not to mention that odd contradiction of ‘we’re strong and empowered, let us handle it’ and ‘you’re detracting from our victimhood spotlight.’ Um…

          2. “After Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace allegedly punched a man ‘defending his girlfriend’s honour’, Isabelle Kerr, a student at Bristol University, explains why women today don’t want their men to be ‘heroic’.”

            She didn’t happen to ask Gregg Wallace’s girlfriend what she thought about her boyfriend being heroic, did she?

            1. Why would she want the opinion of a gender traitor when she already knows the correct answer thanks to her magical vajayjay?

    2. I can parse that so it’s sane– you don’t have a right to end their life, but you have a right to defend and in some cases ending their life is a side effect of doing so. Where that line falls is strongly dependent on the situation, prudential judgement, etc.

      I don’t believe that’s what they meant, though.

  4. The vileprog argument against war that always leaves me looking like a confused Jack Russel (head tipped to the side, ears flopped, eyebrows up) is: “We can’t fight back because our economic system made them attack us for having better things than they have.” Usually followed by, all in one breath, “If we didn’t travel the world and have only 5% of the population while using 99% of the resources people wouldn’t hate us so we can’t fight back because it’s our fault they attacked us for making them look bad and we deserve it. Have you made a donation to the women’s shelter yet?”

    When I was at Flat State U, some people had “No War with Iran” signs in their yards in ’03, and ’05, and again in ’07 (IIRC). I never did learn if they were advertising for the sign manufacturer or if they had Ultra-Super-Duper-Beyond-Top-Sekret insider information.

  5. My head spins at the cosmic irony of John Kerry and Barack Obama agitating for a war in the Mideast based on chemical weapons. I can’t imagine how some on the Left must be feeling (well, those who don’t obediently fall into lockstep with whatever the Truth of the Moment is, of course).

          1. The anti-war movement is a joke… I am taking a certain enjoyment in shoving my opposition to this war – as there’s no *point* to it that I can see – in certain of my more Dem-centric contacts’ faces.


            1. They didn’t protest Russia’s invasion of South Ossetia, or the war in Libya, I notice.

    1. What makes things even funnier is that Assad’s chemical weapons may well have originated from the arsenal that Saddam Hussein had before 2003. You know — the one that the Democrats decided, starting in 2004, had never existed?

      1. I’ve seen it in the Ace of Spades comments a couple times. But it’s such a deft twist on “the Midas touch” that it deserves more widespread use.

  6. Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston:
    “Therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

    And, because I found it en route to that quoted above, and for the sheer glorious smackdownedness of it:
    “The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) asks, “What is our interest in this war?” and he also asked me to explain the meaning of the expression “the balance of power.” Now, the hon. Member for Manchester and I differ so much upon almost every question involving great principles that I am afraid I shall be unable to gratify him by complying with his request to explain the meaning of the expression “the balance of power.” I think, however, that a man of his unquestioned ability, of his extensive knowledge, who has arrived at the age which he has attained, and who has not by his intuitive perception acquired a knowledge of the meaning of the words “balance of power,” is not likely to be greatly enlightened by any humble effort of mine. Why, Sir. call it what you like—”balance of power,” or any other expression—it is one which has been familiar to the minds of all mankind from the earliest ages in all parts of the globe. “Balance of power” means only this—that a number of weaker States may unite to prevent a stronger one from acquiring a power which should be dangerous to them, and which should overthrow their independence, their liberty, and their freedom of action. It is the doctrine of self-preservation. It is the doctrine of self-defence, with the simple qualification that it is combined with sagacity and with forethought, and an endeavour to prevent imminent danger before it comes thundering at your doors. Now, Sir, I know that the hon. Member for Manchester is so attached to his principles—very properly and very sincerely so—that he thinks that peace is, of all things, the best, and that war is, of all things, the worst. Now, Sir, I happen to be of opinion that there are things for which peace may be advantageously sacrificed, and that there are calamities which a nation may endure which are far worse than war. This has been the opinion of men in all ages whose conduct has been admired by their contemporaries, and has obtained for them the approbation of posterity. The hon. Member, however, reduces everything to the question of pounds, shillings, and pence, and I verily believe that if this country were threatened with an immediate invasion likely to end in its conquest, the hon. Member would sit down, take a piece of paper, and would put on one side of the account the contributions which his Government would require from him for the defence of the liberty and independence of the country, and be would put on the other the probable contributions which the general of the invading army might levy upon Manchester, and if he found that, on balancing the account, it would be cheaper to be conquered than to be laid under contribution for defence, he would give his vote against going to war for the liberties and independence of the country, rather than bear his share in the expenditure which it would entail.”

    1. We’ve been living in “interesting times” since about 1897, I believe. We’ve just had short breaks every now and then. If one were a truly strong student of history, that date could be pushed back to before the rise of Alexander. The 1897 date is the rise of the current “progressive” movement, and the willful destruction of our Constitution. Syria is just the last in a long line of steps being taken to accomplish that goal.

      Yes, we live in “interesting” times.

  7. In my misspent youth, I did some odd things.
    One of those provides me with a memory that the USA considers, by doctrine, all WMD to be equivalent to nukes, and to be responded to with nukes. As in, you use chemical or bio weapons on the USA, we use nukes back.
    Has that doctrine changed? I remember when Pres. Bush changed second strike to first strike (as in, you nuke us, we nuke you back, changing to we will nuke before you do).
    Is there some reason why, if we are counting the Syrian rebel forces as allies, we are not responding with what we consider equal force?

      1. Per Wiki, (I know, consider the source)
        Under the United States policy of Proportional Response, an attack upon the United States or its Allies would trigger a force-equivalent counter-attack. Since the United States only maintains nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction, it is the stated policy that the United States will regard all WMD attacks (Biological, Chemical, or Nuclear) as a nuclear attack and will respond to any WMD attack with a nuclear strike

        But at Mary notes, having the will to do so is uncertain.

        Consider Major Hassan’s trial in Fort Hood. If anyone fullfilled the constitutional requirements for treason, he has.

        Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

        But instead he is charged with “work place violence”
        Again, It’s a matter of being willing to follow through.

          1. Jury sentenced him to death today.

            I think that they avoided the treason charge as part of the PC meme that Hasan’s actions were just your ordinary workplace violence … you know … like he was a mail carrier.

            1. Now the sentence needs to be confirmed by the President. (There may be a judicial appeal first; I don’t know the process.) Care to guess whether Obama will confirm this or commute it to a life sentence?

              1. Does Obama have the option to commute it?

                Obama sure seems to think he’s the reincarnation of Suharto, but .. at some point some of the Dems in congress have to realize that letting the executive run *too* far amok cuts into *their* power .. right?


                1. Thou shalt not Question the One, thy God.

                  I think rational calculation has long since been abandoned when it comes to Obama.

                  1. I am an american citizen and shall question whatever the hell I like.

                    I don’t believe there is a god, but if there were, he or she’d have far more brains, awareness, and stones than that sorry, useless sack of .. nevermind, must stay pg-13.

                    The point I was after, jabrwok, is that Obama is doing quite a lot “by decree”, as was done in the country he was formed in. Note – formed, not conceived.


                    1. I was trying to be snarky, but that doesn’t always come across well in print. My “quote” was intended to portray the thinking, or lack thereof, on the part of the Democrats who should be considering the consequences to their own political power and status that will result from the Golfer’s policies.

                      I agree with you that he’s undermining the Rule of Law and governing by decree, and that the consequences of such precedent are unlikely to be good.

                      Hopefully those consequences will be worse for his worshipers than for the rest of us.

                    2. I am an american citizen and shall question whatever the hell I like.

                      That’s supposed to be a capital A there boss.

                      It may be a dying country, but it deserves some respect for what it tried to be.

                2. Wrong question. Properly you should ask: if he commutes it on the grounds Major Hassan is nuts, what options would there be? Think you the GOP would have the cojones to challenge the commutation, and if they did, how would they proceed?

                  This president has already amply demonstrated a readiness to ignore the law if he is confident nobody has standing to challenge him. And the MSM would love to paint Republicans as hell-bent on vengeance (what a nice distraction from mishandling a war!)

                  1. I suggest the reply is very simple. “Okay, so jihad is a mental illness. We can work with that”.


                    1. Indeed, the argument could be made that it is a mental illness: it leads people to irrational and suicidal aggression against those who have done them no harm. If we treat jihad as a mental illness, we can put captured jihadists in mental institutions under heavy medication, without trial, for the rest of their natural lives. We can also take away the children from families who expose them to jihadist propaganda.

                      We should be wary of doing this, though: this is exactly how the (later) Soviet Union treated dissent. (The earlier Soviet Union just killed the dissenters).

                    2. Absolutely, any time we infringe liberties, we need to be careful – and by “careful” I mean “regularly review the process and those affected by it”.

                      As per original goals, better to let ten criminals walk than to put one innocent man behind bars, eh?

                      All that said, it’s rather moot as we don’t seem to want to have a serious discussion about mental illness.

                      We dumped the loony bins onto the streets under Carter, and rather than getting the Sandy Hook and Aurora CO shooters some help, we let them go on escalating. Note – this is a MENTAL HEALTH issue, NOT a 2A issue! (if it had been bombs, knives, or gas, it would have been “where were the mental health pros?”)

                      So anyway .. yeah. We’re not going to treat jihad as a mental illness, but .. it’s something we could – and should – look at.


                3. ” at some point some of the Dems in congress have to realize that letting the executive run *too* far amok cuts into *their* power .. right?”

                  Find a Congresscritter who thinks their career ends in Congress, first.

                  (An obvious exception being McCain, who apparently thinks playing suck-up will get him a few bones from the tyrant’s table.)

                4. Article 2, Section 2, Paragraph 1 seems to say that he does.

                  Whether even Obama’s that brazen? I doubt it.

          2. This leads to a theory about the choice of charges filed: The prosecutors are concerned Obama won’t confirm the death sentence, so they’re saving the charge of treason until he leaves office.

            I won’t be a bit surprised if the appeals process is deliberately stretched out by the government until after the 2016 election.

          3. Jerry Pournelle thinks trying Hasan for treason in addition to “workplace violence” would be a violation of Double Jeopardy; see ‹jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/?p=15177›, third letter from the top.

            I could try to make a case that the charges and offenses were sufficiently different (the first shot, even if it didn’t hit anyone, was an “overt act” of “levying war against [the United States]”), but my legal instincts come from the Talmudic tradition, not Common or Civil Laws; I’m perhaps over-trained in finding loopholes and subtle distinctions in meaning.

            1. You know they want to retry George Z. for T. Martin’s killing under child neglect or something similar… so double jeopardy? huh! I am beginning to see them use the law in ways it wasn’t intended, but we have to play it straight. *sigh

        1. Indeed. He was a serving US military officer in wartime, and he publicly stated both at the time of his crime and afterward that he was choosing to fight for the enemy. Oh, and at both times, did so before a crowd. That meets every formal definition of treason, adhering to both the letter and the spirit of the act. That Hasan committed his treason in a “workplace” makes it no less “treason” than intentionally killing your wife in your home makes it “just a domestic dispute” instead of “murder.”

    1. IF someone were to use chemical or biological weapons against the United States, we very well may use nuclear weapons against them, but it’s not “tit for tat” so much as responding with sufficient force to ensure another attack doesn’t take place.

      I spent 26 years in the Air Force. During that time, chemical/biological training went from virtually nothing to “oh, my God, we’re all gonna die if we don’t do this EXACTLY RIGHT”. You can get a pretty good glimpse of Hell by wearing one of those things for six or eight hours in the summer in Sumter, South Carolina. At the same time, nuclear weapons response went from the same “we’re all gonna die” to almost nothing. We didn’t even train to test for radiological contamination. We trained incessantly in testing for chemical, and certain biological, contamination. The message was, it was far more likely that we’d be attacked by chemical and biological weapons than nukes.

      There is NO good case for going to war in Syria — not even a “limited kinetic strike”. There is nothing we can do that won’t be used against us. There is NO “good guy” to support. They ALL hate us — not because of anything we do, but for what we are — NOT Muslim. Any attack will AT BEST provide us a bit of breathing room, The problem is, if we support the rebels, those include Al Qaeda. The other side includes another lifelong enemy of the United States, the Muslim Brotherhood. There’s also the probability that anything we do will bring Iran openly into the war. That would put Iraq in a VERY difficult spot — not that our current president cares.

      I will refrain from speaking about Vietnam and other “wars” I’ve had a direct or peripheral role in.

      1. There’s one good case for war in Syria. Syria let guerillas base and transit from their territory to fight against America and Iraq during the occupation. That’s a clear act of war against the United States of America. Unfortunately, Obama is for some incomprehensible reason not even MENTIONING this!

  8. Compounding what you enumerated above, I believe they will kick this thing off with the belief that they can have a clean, pure military conflict because they will do it remotely. Guided missile destroyers in the Med, some high altitude air strikes, lots of posturing and tough talk from Kerry and Obama. Maybe we’ll unpack some drones, yeah? But, we won’t be doing that dirty, nasty, on the ground, killing people you can see stuff. That’s just barbaric. A certain elitist mindset believes remote war is acceptable, but getting your hands dirty is a step too far.

    Perhaps I’m wrong. I say this because so far I’ve found no indication that the strikes that may begin as early as Thursday are preparation for anything. They’re being touted as action in and of themselves. Anybody heard different?

    1. Yep, and that REALLY ticks me off – it’s like they’re playing a video game or something and have no concept of how these things really work. And then our military gets hit back with things like the USS Cole or the Beirut bombings. But in their heads, real people don’t die because it’s “clean” and “surgical.”

          1. Prrrrreee-cisley. Or the old “pedestrian points” game we used to play in High School, but taken to a whole ‘nother level.

          2. Yep. They like the abstract and are quite comfortable with violence by remote. That they believe this absolves them has always baffled me.

                1. Four points. The first is that the Administration has been playing political games with our military, driving out competent officers in favor of yes-men. As a longtime student of military history, I recognize this as a recipe for disaster. The use of our technological superiority to achieve nearly-bloodless (from our POV) victories, from which we have benefited since the 1980’s (thank you, Ronald Reagan), presupposes a high degree of applied military competence. All the wonderful naval air defense systems in the world do one little good if one disposes one’s fleet poorly.

                  The second is that Obama imagines himself to be some sort of polymath super-genius, and he doesn’t listen to knowledgeable advisers. (I laugh when anyone says that Obama is merely a puppet: if he really were a “puppet,” he would have avoided half of his mistakes — you know, the ones which weren’t policy). Obama is abysmally ignorant of history and military strategy, and yet he’s the man ultimately cutting the orders to his yes-man military officers — who are the sort of people to fear his displeasure more than they do enemy forces, and care little for the lives of their men. This is bad news for any military.

                  The third is that Bashir Assad is an independent human being, and his strategies and tactics (and the strategies and tactics of the men under him) are not controlled by the Pentagon. Bashir wants to win, and he (reasonably) figures that hurting American forces is a good way to win, and there are some obvious things he could do if he wants to hurt American forces. They won’t work very well, given our technological superiority if we dispose our forces correctly, but if we leave an opening, we cannot assume that they will avoid taking advantage of it. Yes, the Syrian military is incompetent by Western standards, but sometimes even an incompetent military has a brilliant officer. See Brusilov, or Kemal Ataturk, or Charles De Gaulle, for examples from the World Wars.

                  Finally, Russia is the great unknown here. Now, the Russians presumably do not want war with America. But Putin has proven himself to be reckless, and Obama has proven himself to be feckless. It is quite possible that Putin will launch a limited attack on our flank while we’re attacking the Syrians, under the assumption that Obama is too much of a wuss to do anything about it. And then what do we do?

                  I’m afraid I have very little confidence in the competence of Barack Hussein Obama to handle this well.

                  1. Oh dear. Now I wants me one of those facebook posters, merging pictures of Obama and Wile E Coyote and captioned “Barack Hussein Obama, Super Genius.”

                    Except, of course, that the coyote being an animal and brown I must assuredly be attempting to dehumanize the president and that would expose me as raaaaacist.

                  2. I’m afraid I have NO confidence in the competence of BHO to handle this at ALL.

                    Your four points are spot on. But the larger point is that he believes he is playing a political game. High stakes, sure. But still part of the posturing and maneuvering of politics. And gosh, he’s just steeped in all that!

                    On the ground in Syria, they’re not playing that political game. It’s not metaphorical war, like American culture is so blithely familiar with. It’s actual mud and blood and guts combat with winner take all. Or at least all of this piece of dirt, right now. There’s very little interest in his posturing in the midst of that.

                    And I’m afraid that it really doesn’t matter how effectively we dispose our forces if all we’re prepared to pursue is a punitive political statement.

                    He’ll tarnish our international reputation (will anyone notice more tarnish?) and likely see a few Americans in uniform dead and at best he’ll be baffled. For a moment, then he’ll start planning his moving oration on sacrifice.

      1. Have you ever read Terry Pratchett’s Only You Can Save Mankind? It’s set during the Iraq War, actually, though in Great Britain. (It’s his best work.)

      1. From the Washington Post:
        ‘Christopher Harmer, a former Navy planner who is an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said a quick military campaign that is not accompanied by a clear end goal is a terrible idea.

        “Conducting a punitive attack that does not fundamentally alter the balance of power is in my opinion worse than doing nothing,” said Harmer…’ – http://www.washingtonpost.com “Imminent U.S. Strike on Syria could draw nation into civil war”

        Doesn’t sound encouraging.

    2. We’ve all acknowledged that our President is a few bricks shy of a full load, but I’m surprised the Defense Department hasn’t stepped up and spoken. This isn’t Iraq we’re about to get involved with. Syria has ALWAYS been the recipient of Russia’s most impressive weaponry, including some rather sophisticated radar and air defense weaponry. Russia CANNOT step back and let the US do ANYTHING in Syria, or they’ll lose the port of Latakia — essential to their maintaining a Russian Fleet in the Med. Some of the weapons systems in Syria may even be manned by Russians. Obumble isn’t bright, but I didn’t know he was insane! We may not have to worry about cleaning up Washington — the Russians may do it for us. Unfortunately, they may destroy more than half the rest of the country at the same time.

      1. After 5 years they know what they are dealing with. They know that they are not nearly as smart, as competent, far sighted, as sexy and as manly as the President, so it is very likely that they said “this won’t work” and went straight to planning *exactly* what the president requested.

      2. Indeed, Obama is astonishingly clueless, convinced of his own innate superiority in all things and impervious to advice.

        Those are very bad characteristics in a President.

    1. Squirrels. I’ve been trying to write a funny squirrel post for a week — but SOMETHING wants me to be serious. Travis Lee Clark calls it being “G-d’s sock puppet.” At least I hope that’s the side I’m working for, right?

      1. We try as much as we can to be on His side, as opposed to claiming He is on ours.

        Which requires a bit of self-reflection, consideration, and maybe a little healthy doubt in our own motives?

        (Doubt I have in spades. What I seem to be in need of right now is a lot more faith. Unfortunately, one tends to eat the other.)

      2. When you do get around to the funny squirrel post, I will regale you with the totally true story of the Flaming Death Squirrel that brought down the Wisconsin Synchrotron during my time there. (I don’t know why squirrels don’t like particle physics facilities. One also Did Things at CERN.)

        1. Squirrels like chewing on wires. And they loooove optical fiber. The number one cause of optical fiber line malfunctions is Mr. Squirrel, in the woods, with a toothy mouth.

          1. Our little mountain village went dark one night (We lived in Manitou Springs.) Two squirrels thought that the transformer box was the ideal place to make little squirrels. It was an electrifying experience. The next day the utility people removed two charred corpses…

    1. I think so, yes. See their mythology is that if it all descends to chaos, the people will WANT a communist state. This is not true, but it’s what they believe and they drink their own ink.

  9. I don’t know about ya’ll, but saying we’re going to conduct a military campaign at a level “just muscular enough to not get mocked” fills me with… with…

    Oh, yeah. “Dread”. That’s the word I was looking for.

      1. My fear is that in a few years we’ll be looking at the future in DREAD and saying: “You know, that doesn’t look so bad.”

  10. I think it was best put by a character on West Wing: “Republicans want a huge military, that never goes anywhere. Democrats want a tiny military, that goes _everywhere_.” 🙂

    The Vietnam war has been over almost exactly as long as I’ve been alive. Yet it seems we _still_ haven’t learned the most fundamental lesson: don’t get into fights you’re not willing to win.

    In every case since WW2 where the United States has taken on a military mission lasting longer than _days_, we’ve managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I expect Syria will be no different.

    That’s what happens when you take a military organization, unilaterally forbid them to be effective at the only things that military organizations are surpassingly good at (killing people and breaking stuff), and then send them out all over the world with nebulously-defined (where they’re defined at all) missions consisting largely of things they’re not good at.

    If we’re not fighting to _win_, we shouldn’t be fighting _at all_. Even leftist icons like FDR understood _that_. But then, unlike the modern left, I believe that even as profoundly _wrong_ as he was, he and his didn’t actually _hate_ America.

    If you remember that they hate America and Americans, their willingness to spend unlimited quantities of American taxpayers’ money and American soldiers’ blood on anything at all _except_ genuine American interests makes perfect sense.

    1. There’s a more important lesson that needs to be learned: Don’t narrow your focus. When you’re a global power all actions, especially military ones, need to be looked at from a global perspective.

      There is no such thing as the Vietnam War. It, like the conflict in Korea, the Berlin airlift, Cuban missile crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, etc., were simply parts of the greater war between the US and USSR. Saying we lost the Vietnam War is like saying the British lost the First France War in 1940.

      Likewise, the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t separate wars. They are different battlegrounds in the same conflict. Libya, Egypt, and Syria are also battlefields in this war, which has been going on for decades.

      I think we should be fighting in Syria. What would our objective be? To keep the fighting going on as long as possible. The more that Arab fascists and Islamic fascists make each other bleed the better off the world will be in the long term.

        1. I wouldn’t mind that, oddly enough, under two circumstances.

          1) We end up standing behind AQ when the dust settles.

          2) We remind them that we have a long memory .. and take the shot.

          Sadly, neither are likely, especially with this bunch of community organizing fools in charge.


        2. I’ve got no problem with supporting Al Queda. As long as we remove that support when it makes them fall the hardest. We shouldn’t help them win, just keep everyone from losing.

      1. They’re doing the “keep fighting each other forever” thing pretty well already without our help. I say we’d be better off finding a crew of left-handed Jewish lesbians to air-drop a ton of porcine excrement on the Kaaba, and then making an announcement to the Muslim world something along the lines of “mess with us again, and the next flight will be carrying nukes”.

      2. What would our objective be? To keep the fighting going on as long as possible.

        And those are the deniable, sneaky, underhanded jobs we pay the CIA operations-side and special ops folks to do.

        The fact that they are supposedly not doing these jobs in Syria now, and were not doing them in Iran back when the Iranians were running their own teams across the border and actually killing American troops in Iraq, and later during the urban uprisings in Iran, is really embarrassing.

        Of course I am certainly in the “under informed” category on this, not being in any way “in the know,” but one would have thought there would have been results visible by now had something along these lines been going on – at minimum the Syrian rebels would have been doing better at this point, vs. getting rolled over everywhere the way they are now.

        1. Mike, they’re not getting rolled over everywhere. They’re being beaten by the Syrian Army, aided by the Iranian Army of Lebanon (Hezbollah)
          and probably a few thousand “volunteers” from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. There’s also a lot of in-fighting between the various factions aligned against Assad, which isn’t helping. Some of that “in-fighting” is Al-Qaeda getting set to take over the instant it thinks it can. It’s the last place in the world we need to be, in any way, shape, or form.

          1. It seems my phraseology was not clear – The opposition, having held their own for several years, is now outgunned, outgeneraled, and out maneuvered, and they are generally conforming to the “crunchies” stereotype held by armored soldiers. Rolled over, in that sense, pretty much coincides with your definition of “beaten.”

            If we were going to help them (for whatever values of “them” that do not include AQ), they needed help two years ago, to include recruited Sunni friends of ours from our time in the west of Iraq, US SF dudes in mufti, and lots of arms shipments over the various porous borders, that in addition to the funding the Saudi’s have been sending in for the last several years (much more indiscriminately, alas – I think the house of Saud has always been overly optimistic that they could control the fanatics they fund).

            On the other hand, if we were right to stay hands off (for given values of “hands off” – cough[Benghazi]cough) for the past two years, then we should continue to do so now no matter what they use on each other, red lines or no. Gen. Powell did get one thing right in the lessons he drew from Vietnam: Either an action is in our national interest, or it’s not, and as a country we should never engage in an action that is not in our national interest.

  11. Mary and retro, In a previous life when we were talking about weapons of mass destruction, one of the deep thinkers called chemical arms “the poor man’s nuclear weapon” and consensus of others was if the enemy used the poor man’s nuclear weapon, they would get hit back with the rich man’s nuclear weapon. I don’t think the current president would ever use even if the homeland was attacked by a real power with real nucs.

    1. Part of the reason for the US rhetoric about using nuclear weapons in reaction to chemical weapons is historical. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed a very elaborate doctrine of using chemical weapons in support of conventional operations. They spent a lot of money – to arguable effectiveness – in developing, manufacturing, and storing chemical weapons for use in a Warsaw Pact / NATO conflict. Which NATO had no intention of matching. We maintained a barely symbolic amount of chemical weapons ourselves for awhile but eventually shelved them because of cost and the general scariness in the West of storing them. The Soviet Union spent a lot of time outlining their own theory about escalation that justified this to themselves, proposing that there were levels of escalation and that chemical weapons could be used without reaching nuclear weapon thresholds of escalation. They even proposed different levels of nuclear weapon escalation – from battlefield tactical nuclear weapons as an intermediate step – that I always thought was wishful thinking.

      The US rhetoric was to counter that theory and to enable us to justify our decision to mothball our chemical weapons.

      No one really knows whether or not the NATO/US would have actually launched nuclear weapons in the event of a conventional war with chemical use by the Soviet Union.

      1. No one really knows whether or not the NATO/US would have actually launched nuclear weapons in the event of a conventional war with chemical use by the Soviet Union.

        That uncertain was significant strategic device. It was a feature and not a bug.

        Like “K” said to “J”

        “I like to keep my enemies confused.”

        “We’re all confused.”

        1. I well recall the Reagan era when the Democrats were demanding a specifically enunciated doctrine of response to Soviet provocation, while Reagan & Kirkpatrick preferred to employ strategic ambiguity.

          To quote Blazing Saddles — He’s just crazy enough he might do it!

      2. No one really knows whether or not the NATO/US would have actually launched nuclear weapons in the event of a conventional war with chemical use by the Soviet Union.
        I recall reading studies contending that the effects on the European environment of a conventional+chemical exchange between NATO and the WP would have been worse long term than a theater nuclear exchange.

      3. No one really knows whether or not the NATO/US would have actually launched nuclear weapons in the event of a conventional war with chemical use by the Soviet Union.

        We certainly EXERCISED as if we would, including how we would try to survive a counter-nuclear attack.

  12. You did not mention it, except obliquely mentioning rationing, but War gives the government an excuse to Mobilize. Hence the war on drugs, the war on cancer, the war on poverty. Normal peacetime freedoms must be set aside in the all out effort to defeat Eastasia, or Oceana, or Eurasia.

      1. And, one of these days, the left will actually get the thing they asked for, once upon a time: “What if they held a war, and nobody showed up for it?”.

        I know one thing for damn sure: With everything they’ve done lately, the military is rapidly becoming a place that’s not attractive to serve in for most patriotic people. They’re going after the religious, and driving out the conservative with the social engineering. Whatever end point they’re going for, an ineffective military is a way-station on the way there.

  13. It’s a sad day. I hope none of you have family in harms way.
    Beyond the general harm’s way we are all in from our resident commies, of course.

  14. Not too long ago, a Prog smugly quoted Asimov at me; “Volence is the last refuge of the incompetent”

    I fear I shocked him somewhat when I replied “That is because the competent use it earlier, when it might do some good.”

    1. Notice that as Larry Niven said about idiot as a technical term the usage in the Foundation books need not represent the author’s informed belief though I believe in that book and in reality Dr. Asimov believed the response as frex Hari Seldon was setting up directed violence himself – see e.g. the line and when they build statues they will build none of me which may not represent the author’s informed belief either but in any event makes a pretty good case for violence in its place. Dr. Asimov of course supported WWII with his personal efforts.

      1. Notice that the statues line is an exchange between an activist and a pacifist from a short and not from the Foundation series. Wasn’t until I reread the post that I saw some room for confusion. Maybe everybody knows Asimov well.

    2. H. Beam Piper might not have originated it, but the story “A Slave is a Slave” has the following quote.

      “Count Erskyll was opposed to the use of force. Force, he believed, was the last resort of incompetence; he had said so frequently enough since this operation had begun. Of course, he was absolutely right, though not in the way he meant. Only the incompetent wait until the last extremity to use force, and by then, it is usually too late to use anything, even prayer.

      But, at the same time, he was opposed to authoritarianism, except, of course, when necessary for the real good of the people. And he did not like rulers who called themselves Lords-Master. Good democratic rulers called themselves Servants of the People. “

        1. I was surprised to find HBP’s Space Vikings in one of the free libraries in kindle format (as the copyright has apparently passed on to that place where copyrights pass on to), and aside from an ending that came along too quickly I was happy to be able to read it again.

            1. A lot of Phil Dick too. There’s something odd with copyrights of shorts.
              BTW, finally read Flatland. Lord, it sucks. My husband loves it. Perhaps because it’s cool math. It’s JUST NOT A STORY.

              1. I believe the Copyright law makes it crystal clear that anything copyrighted before Mickey Mouse is in the Public Domain. Anything after that gets a little fuzzy, because Disney has purchased several copyright laws in the meantime. Some works published under some laws had to have their copyrights renewed else the rights would lapse. When an author sold shorts to a magazine the rights would… mumble… uh, become odd. H. Beam Piper died tragically believing his debts far exceeded the value of his assets. This made the rights to his works… mumble… uh, become odd.

                This is a blessing to us, because we get all of his works for free on ebooks. And the lack of copyrights enable fellas like Mr. Scalzi to perpetrate politically correct rewrites like Fuzzy Nation where fuzzies don’t learn to smoke and nuclear bombs aren’t used in mining. I’ll let the reader decide whether this is a good or a bad thing.

                  1. Don’t your neighbors complain about the smell (from the excrement), or the noise and danger (from the periodic provision of additional bullet holes)?


                    1. That is me. I’m the only one not scared of him, because my cat Miranda is scarier, particularly at three am, on top of my chest, fugging the air with tuna breath and screaming “PEEEEEET MEEEE” in my face.

                    1. They annoyed me, especially Mayhar’s rewriting of the first contact plot, but somehow didn’t feel like the vandalism that was Scalzi’s.

                    2. I enjoyed both (IMO Tuning was the better of the two) but IMO the difference from Scalzi’s monstrosity was that Tuning and Mayhar were attempting to work in Piper’s world. Scalzi apparently decided that Piper’s world “wasn’t good enough” and that he could do better. For better or worse Tuning and Mayhar tried to add to Piper’s work. Scalzi tried to “replace” Piper’s work.

                1. Actually, Scalzi wrote the thing on his own, for fun, and sought permission from the Piper estate before publishing even though he didn’t have to.

                  I rather like Mr. Scalzi. He tries to do the right thing. (He is also responsible for publishing the only thing I have published, so I do rather have a soft spot for that as well.)

                    1. C’mon, you two — ain’t nobody here goin’ ter kick a guy for being grateful to the pro who first said the guy’s writing was worth money, and said it in the sincerest possible way.

                      As for permission from Piper’s estate, if he shared the take for his crime or only helps stir up interest in the property that more than they had. His take on the Fussy mythos is better than what the cinema did to Starship Troopers or many another SF property, and what he is doing to SFWA is nor more than what his supporters elected him to do.

                    2. CARTOON?!?!?


                      Animated Series. Cartoons are things drawn on cels with bright colors. Roughnecks was not a cartoon.

                      Anyway, I enjoyed working on it. 😀

                  1. Just so long as we distinguish between trying to do the right thing and actually doing the right thing. It is the job of us all to persuade others as to what the right thing is (tip: it rarely involves selling out people’s inalienable rights, not that anyone is suggesting Scalzi would do a thing like that.)

            2. But notice that in some cases these are available because they are the as serialized in a dead pulp version (and so not renewed) rather than the as first published in book form and there renewed. Considering the manner of his death I might call these guilty pleasures.

          1. A quirk of the renewal requirement of the previous Copyright Act, the sloppy practices of fiction magazine publishers, coupled with poor administration of his literary estate.

            1. The legend is that Piper deliberately didn’t renew certain shorts, because he didn’t want his ex-wife to get any money from them. I don’t know the truth of that.

              Shrug. Don’t know. It does seem that public domain and the Internet has been kinder to his literary reputation and popular reach than anything else.

            2. This leads to an interesting dispute as to the legal status of, say, Conan stories. Which may be settled now, since I see a BUNCH of them being reprinted by multiple people. Or they could just be scofflaws.

    3. Frankly, I’ve never found any wisdom in Asimov. I admire the man’s productivity, but always thought his fiction was overrated.

    1. 0 miles: it was miserably humid and the calculation wouldn’t let me sleep last night. Ran in circles with it all day but hopefully I see my way clear for tomorrow. If not, I’d have to calculate the passage to the simple limiting case I chose; that would be a matter of weeks to months instead of days to weeks & I’d have to rethink.

    2. 6 miles and 300 antiwords, 100 words.

      Note that is 6 miles from getting up the morning to going to bed. (Pedometers are wonderful.)

  15. Yes, I know that successful men have always bedded hotties who work for them.

    At risk of being boorish, I have a minor disagreement with the application of this premise: Miss Lewinsky was certainly many things, but I would not include “a hottie” anywhere in that list.

    Just sayin’.

    And while Mr. Bill may very well have been availing himself of the attentions of any number of very attractive women while occupying that office, the fact that he included the attentions of Miss Lewinsky in that list calls into question the man’s judgment and cognitive abilities at a very fundamental level.

    1. Technically, I think the term for Ms Lewinski would have been a “plushie” — physically and emotionally.

      In defense of Billy Jeff’s judgement, he was just availing himself of available provender, if you will. The food on the buffet may not be particularly good but it is convenient and satisfactory. In further defense of BJ Clinton, I believe he was answering truthfully when he declared he had “never had sexual relations with that woman” — because sexual relations contains the implication of an interest in your partner’s sexual gratification, something which I do not believe was any concern to Hillary’s husband.

      I was neither so cynical nor so crass before his term of office.

    2. I’m just thankful that Clinton mistook a cigar for a sex toy than the other way around.

      As for Bill’s taste in women. Look at Hillary. Sorry to make you do that.

      1. Most of the women that Clinton was involved with, or whom he attempted to involve with him (consenting or no), were full-figured women; I think that was his primary concern. I don’t really want to inquire any further.

  16. Back when I was young and foolish I thought that we had to go off and fight the rotten Commies wherever they were. Korea, Vietnam, then various other “bad guys”. As I’ve gotten older and hopefully a tad smarter if not wiser, I’ve come to the conclusion that if someone isn’t messing with us whatever they do isn’t our problem. The USSR would have collapsed under the weight of its own incompetence.

    Going off to save Syrians might be all noble and such, but there are Coptic Christians being slaughtered willy-nilly in Egypt and Glorious Leader mentions them not. The Founding Fathers may have been rich white guys, but they were about ten times as smart as the current crop, and they said mind your own business. Good enough for them, good enough for me.

    Have a strong military so that anyone who thinks to mess with us will decide not to, but keep them at home and let Europe and Asia worry about itself. Si vis pacem, para bellum.

  17. I need to write a book on this — _Everything I Need To Know About Foreign Policy, I Learned From _JAWS__:

    “A simple trick question: ‘Why does the shark have to die?’ It’s only doing what Nature tells it to do. And therein lies the trick of the question: The shark has to die *precisely* *because* it is doing what Nature has told it to do. ‘What we have here is a perfect engine — a machine; and all that machine does is Swim, and Eat, and Make Little Sharks.’ Its very nature makes it too dangerous to be allowed to exist alongside humanity; thus, it must be destroyed, without hesitation, without mercy — in short, the same way it would destroy us given the chance.”

    (Mayor Vaughn, of course, represents the Vile Progs — “I’m willing to sacrifice some people in order to make sure I keep my job; and I might get lucky, and the losses will only be among the Tourists”. Then his own son almost turns into a hot lunch….)

  18. ” Yes, I know that successful men have always bedded hotties who work for them.”

    If I was the ‘most powerful man in the world’ and was wanting to fool around on my wife I hope I could find a hottie a little better looking than Monica Lewinsky.

    “Have I mentioned Asian guys are hot? What? Deal.”

    Now if you had said Asian gals are hot I might have agreed with you.

    “They say it all the time along with “Violence never solved anything.” I found out older son was reading Starship Troopers when in a conference, in front of me, he growled back “Tell it to the city fathers of Carthage.”

    Or L’amour, both him and Heinlein used that line, I’m sure stolen from someone else, just not sure who that someone was.

    ” I’ve heard more than one of you reply, in response to an even mildly satirical and exaggerated take down of the left “we can’t lower ourselves to their level.” PFUI. Playing by the Marquess de Queensberry rules just gets your *ss handed to you.)”

    If your in the ring play by the rules, if your in an alley don’t even bother to read the rules. When you knock’em down put the boots to’em and make sure they don’t get up. Politics anymore is a backalley brawl, if you stand there and wait for them to get up they’re going to grab that tire iron and kneecap you with it.

    “Except they hated it after nine eleven, and a week in they were complaining about all the flags.”

    You don’t want to see American flags flying? Move to France, or possibly Iran, I hear the climate is great and you don’t have to listen to all those patriots spout off about their freedoms all the time.

    “We’re going to war. That’s that. And it’s going to be run with crazy ROE and it’s going to be bad for everything, from our standing abroad to our interests in the world. Because that’s what’s considered an acceptable war by the vile progs.”

    Everybody (and I do mean every single one) that I personally know who served in Afghanistan got out of the service when their time was up, because of the ridiculous ROE’s. They were specifically designed to make our armed forces as ineffective as possible.

    ” Yeah, okay, the communists dressed the self interest as “liberating” other people. So did Napoleon.”

    That is why we got involved in Egypt, and the rest of the ‘Arab Spring’, the only difference is unlike the communists or empire building countries we got NO benefits from it.

    ” War is dirty, horror-filled and painful to innocents. It should be. And it should be engaged in only when your survival as a nation is at stake (though that often involves going in ahead of the enemy at your door.) And then it should be engaged in with full force, with gusto and with no holds barred.”

    Yes, war should be waged like a street fight, when you knock’em down make sure they can’t get back up. If you are brutal and efficient enough everybody else will think twice about picking a fight with you, also.

  19. Doreen Tovey (an English writer from the Fifties or so) wrote a funny book about her pet squirrel, but her book Cats in the Belfry was far funnier. (I think that is the only book that makes me laugh aloud no matter how many times I read it.)

  20. The one good argument for war against Syria — namely, that Syria attacked Iraq and American forces in Iraq in the latter stages of the American occupation, by allowing guerilla forces to transit Syria into Iraq — is notably not being made by this Administration. This fits your model of progressives only favoring wars if the nation launching the war has absolutely no legitimate interests or has suffered no provocation. Which is, of course, the classic example of a situation in which it would be insane to launch a war!

    1. That is not an argument for the war, that is an excuse for the war. An argument for the war would reference how we would be better off for going to war.

      1. That would be a valid causis belli, a just reason for war. We would be better off without the Assad regime in power, because the Assad regime has levied war against the US and her allies before, and will probably do it again. However …

        … Obama’s screwed the pooch by holding off until the dominant faction of the rebels is Al Qaeda. As things stand right now, unless we plan to occupy Syria and restore order, we would find ourselves almost immediately at war with the new Syrian regime.

        I’m ok with this — Syria has been a bad actor on the international scene for at least the last four and a half decades, doing things like basing Palestinian terror groups and allying with Iran. The Syrian people deeply deserve the hell of war visited on them again and again and again, because this is exactly what Syria’s done to Lebanon and Iraq. However …

        I see no sign that Obama or anyone else in his Administration is going in with this understanding, so I suspect that they won’t be ready for the coming to power of a hostile regime after Assad. So they probably won’t be ready to fight that regime.

  21. To Clinton’s credit, U.S. military action did stop the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo.

  22. Well, the Bosnian Muslims and the Croation Catholics really started the ethnic cleansing. (I am very reluctant to mention that the Catholics in this part of the Balkans were Nazi bad guys in WWII, Catholics are being persecuted and lied about around the world, so we owe them one.) They just didn’t have the muscle the Serbs did. And the Serbs were our allies during WWII. They are very, very bitter about this. Our backing the sons of the Nazi collaborators. And about the US bombing of factories and radio stations manned by hundreds of workers because the owners backed the Serbian government. Clinton ordered a massive, randomly chosen number of targets and the US Air Force soon ran out of military targets. Croation and Bosnian Muslims poured into Afghanistan to join Al Qaida as soon as the US entered. While we were saving their butts during the first Balkan incursion, the French Foreign Legion saved our troops from at least one major terrorist attack planned by our Bosnian and Croation “allies.” Very much like the attack on the Marine barracks during the Reagan administration, we saved them and the murder of our ambassadors and hundreds of US Marines was there way of saying, thanks, we can take care of ourselves from now on.
    I don’t think there is any proof the government of Syria did the gassing, it does not look like a staged attack, more like a fighterbomber-dropped bomb accidentally hit SOMEBODY’s cache of nerve gas, probably one owned by the rebels.

  23. With repect to the former Yugoslavia, no one emerges with any honor. But the precipatating factor that caused the dissolution was Slobodan Milosevic and those who supported him, who wanted to enlarge Serbian power and territory at the expense of other groups in Yugoslavia.

    The NATO military action was prompted by the genocidal killing of ~7,400 at Srebrenica and a renewed shelling of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serbs, and it succeeded in stopping Serb attacks and the Dayton Accords were later signed in 1995 which put an end to the Bosnian War.

  24. News this evening is that the British Parliament voted “include us out.”

    Shocking ingratitude after the way Teh One so graciously returned their Churchill bust and those extremely thoughtful gifts we gave their Queen and all those DVDs we gave that loser, Brown. We should absolutely reconsider giving a gift* to His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

    *Extensive Googling did not reveal an announcement of an actual gift to the “royal baby” although according to reports he “is in for a special gift from President Obama and the First Lady.” As of July 24 “sources confirmed to CNN today that a gift for His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge is imminent” although searching turned up no reports of the gift being sent. But we have been assured that “the Obamas are known to be quite thoughtful in their gift giving,”

    1. Gee, maybe it’s unwise to be obnoxious to one’s allies and spend all one’s time sucking up to one’s enemies, as Obama has been doing for the last five years? I’m not surprised that the British have gotten sick of carrying water for him and being treated with contempt.

  25. Something that occurs to me, something which I don’t believe I’ve seen or heard discussed, is the question of whether any attack by US forces on Assad’s regime would constitute an unprovoked act of war.

    I am no apologist for Assad and think the world would be better in his absence. I think he has provided aid to our enemies during the Iraq war and deserves our enmity. I believe it likely he has used Chemical Weapons against his own people and deserves to be punished for that.

    I also believe that a failure for the US to act against Assad would constitute serious damage to the credibility of the United States’ willingness to employ military force and embolden our enemies in Iran, Russia, China, South America and elsewhere.

    But I do not believe the War Powers Act or the powers of the Presidency permit use of our forces in “kinetic military action,” “police action” or open warfare without Congressional authorization. Because Assad has not directly threatened US citizens or officials (not that this administration deems that actionable) and has not threatened US interests (except in retaliation for a possible US attack) any — ANY — attack by our military would be an unprovoked act of war and is beyond the legitimate authority of the president (as if that matters to the White House.)

    Such an act without Congress voting to authorize it would be a modern crossing of the Rubicon and irrevocably damage our system of government in a way that could only be repaired by impeachment. (Oops — I think I added a seventy-third item to that list.)

    To be quite clear: I do not oppose firing on Assad’s regime. I oppose doing it without getting the lick-spittle toadies in the Congress to vote for it.

  26. Thunk of this one:

    “Peace is normally a great good, and normally it coincides with righteousness, but it is righteousness and not peace which should bind the conscience of a nation as it should bind the conscience of an individual; and neither a nation nor an individual can surrender conscience to another’s keeping.” — Theodore Roosevelt

    1. It can be a challenge to hold in mind that there are two TRs — the one that was and the one that he became. I like the one that was plenty, not so much the one he became. I think the loss of his son, Quentin, in WWI disturbed him.

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