Right or Wrong

So yesterday, for those who haven’t dug through the comments, we suffered an infestation of the troll who speaks in single sentences, doesn’t make much sense, avoids answering questions, misreads everything you said, and responds with unearned superiority.  Oh, yeah, and hails from Boston.  I know, until that last you thought it was a normal troll.  But it’s not.  He distills the essence of trolldom to such an art form it’s like playing chess with a pigeon.

He’s now gone, but his opening gambit was actually interesting.  Should you compromise your principles to stand with your homeland when it is at war?

Now, that’s not how he put it, or what he meant, and when he said he’s loyal to “principles” not a country, it makes me wish very much he’d immigrate to Venezuela already, where his principles are in obvious display.

But are we loyal to the USA or the constitution?  For which would you fight?  Does the land mean anything.


Different order problems.  Yes, I’m a constitutionalist and the Earth and Sky shall pass away before they dim a single letter or punctuation mark of that immortal document.

And of course I will fight for the Constitution.  I took an oath and meant it, and I do keep it.  Part of what this blog and the inevitable hit on my career are all about.  I fight for constitutional principles where it matters: in the land that is already supposed to be devoted to it.

Even there I compromise — more on that later — because politics and culture is not a “I shout the truth and you believe it” but a give and take, a slow turning.  It’s more akin to sailing in a storm than to a race to the finish.

But once you bring in “war against another country” you are in a wholly different territory.

I’ve told you before, and it’s my perennial fear, our internal divisions which are amplified by the fifth column press might encourage a foreign power to attack us.  And that’s a problem.  If it were just us in the world, sure a civil war might be a fine idea to clear forever some of the crud that has crept into the national gears.  (It’s not a fine idea, but never mind that, it might be DOABLE and the result better than worse.)  But the problem is that a continent-sized nation though we are, we are not alone in the world.  If we start going at each other, other nations will start going at us, breaking us up, partitioning us off, and the end result is more likely to be the disappearance of anything vaguely “USA-like” or even capable of bringing back the constitution.  For centuries.

But surely, you say, if our internal regime is utterly despicable, it still behooves us to work for the enemy, right?

I don’t know.  Note the best known case of resistance to the Nazis was not internal, but a country that had been OCCUPIED by another country, and even there I have read that the only effective parts of the resistance were the communists, who were effectively working for yet another foreign power.

BTW if you read first hand accounts in occupied France the “dance with the devil” aspects of survival become very stark, from those who saw the occupation as a means of advancement to those willing to do the most soul crushing things just to keep their loved ones alive another day.

And in the end, whether to support your country “right or wrong” boils down to that.  Those of us who read history know what happens to occupied countries.  It’s not a fate we want for our relatives, friends, or even, frankly, casual acquaintances.

In the US add to that “which polity can I possibly bring about to the founding principles after the storm passes.”

So, say Hillary had won.  By now we’d probably be thinking of Obama’s years as that golden age of respect for civil liberties.  Now imagine that her normal fine-tuned sense of politics got Russia or China to attack.  Nuke a few cities.  Perhaps land troops or get cat’s paws to.

Would you fight for the US in those circumstances?

Look, it’s not even a question.  Hillary as a leader would be utterly despicable, and her rule would probably destroy what remains of the constitution.  But the enemy is equally despicable.  And besides, it would be coming in as a victor.

Okay, okay, so what about if the enemy was semi decent?  Posit a weird universe in which we’re invaded by England.

Uh… still no question.  We won’t go into the fact that the things we object to in the US are more so with boots on in England, from restrictions on free speech to the disarming of the populace.  Instead, let’s just keep in mind even decent nations behave very badly as victors.  And most of us have people we care for, whom we’d not see killed or worse.  Also, most of us want the US kept as a territory where the constitution can be brought back.

So the order of business would be: fight for my country, THEN reform it.  Because trying to reform it in the middle of an existential struggle would be death for the nation, and bringing a nation back from the dead — in the only case we know — takes thousands of years.

But Sarah, you’ll say, this started out as being over Von Braun’s decision to fight for Germany even though his father at least loathed Hitler.  Surely a regime under which they fed people a paste made of cellulose and old clothes as a way to test what people could live from (and killed 98% of the people fed this) not to mention a regime that killed six million of its citizens cannot be something you fight for AGAINST ANYONE.

Uh… True on the regime, except that amid the allies was good old uncle Joe — and talk about making a deal with the devil there — who went on to kill 40 million of his people and whose engineered famine engendered families swapping children FOR EATING in the 20th century.  I’ll note here in passing that Von Braun’s family land was in the East, the part everyone pretty much knew would go to the USSR’s sphere of influence if not outright occupation.

And then there’s being there, at that time, and not having the advantage of hindsight.  One thing it’s obvious from his correspondence was that Von Braun was half in love with America from reading YA adventure stories about it.  But if you’re in the middle of a war and you know your side is despicable, no matter how inclined you are to believe/welcome the invaders, when you realize these countries you THOUGHT you liked, like the US and England, are allied with the horror that is the USSR which is as bad as the regime in your country, but foreign and disposed to hate you (particularly if you’re a nobleman) well… how are you going to fall?

Again, I’m not defending Von Braun’s choices.  I’m not sure he, himself, would, in later life.  I’m just saying his choices were all too human and necessitate neither a grand plot or psychopathy to explain.

Which brings me to what I said above about fighting to bring the constitution back but compromising, even when you hate to.

Look, you’re never given a choice of cake or death.  Choices in life tend to be more “small pox or black plague” particularly in the political realm, for a libertarian.

And then you go “Small pox might not be easily curable, and it might spread from me to the entire area.  Black plague, if they put you on an IV drip is trivial to beat.”

Or as I said “this is how I ended up attending a demonstration in support of the socialists in Portugal.”  I knew what the socialists were.  “On the way to communism” seemed to be their motto “just slower” and I was not under the illusion their leader was anything but a power hungry moron.  HOWEVER they were the most freedom-minded party available while the state was dominated by straight up Maoists.  It was a matter of “surviving to fight another day.”

Which must stand as my excuse for voting for the loathsome McCain.  Because I knew the disaster Obama would be.  (And for those who say he wasn’t, I”ll be surprised if his so called foreign policy doesn’t get us bombed, and I suspect most of us will die of his messing with the health system because it’s so embuggred that no rationality can be restored for decades.)

Sometimes it’s all about preserving as much of the republic as we can, while we fight the culture war and try to bring our country back to the constitution.

Do those choices stain the soul?  Possibly.  I’m just hoping we’re graded on a curve, otherwise which of us will escape a whipping?

While I would prefer the choice between cake and death, because it’s easy, that is not how life works.

And while I would prefer to fight for our principles in splendid isolation, that’s not how the WORLD works.

In the end, all the other sides get a vote, and sometimes the best we can do is fight a rearguard action and not give way.

And sometimes, it’s enough.



292 thoughts on “Right or Wrong

        1. I can Ctl-Alt-Delete you so quietly you’ll never know until it’s too late.

  1. An interesting case study is provided by Hans Oster, who was one of the earliest and most effective German military opponents of the Nazi regime. He fought for country and Kaiser in WWI, and if you had been a British or French or American soldier in his sights, he would have shot you and probably not felt too bad about it. But Naziism was for him a bridge too far.

    In late 1939, Oster began to pass military information about Germany’s plans for an invasion of Western Europe to his friend Bert Sas, who was the Dutch military attache. Sas assured him that this information would be passed to his Belgian opposite number, and Oster surely expected that the information would also reach the French and the British.

    The decision to pass detailed military information to an enemy state was extremely painful to Oster, despite his loathing of Naziism–he knew that if the Allies acted effectively on the information he was giving them, it would likely mean the deaths of tens of thousands of German soldiers, among them many of his friends. Nevertheless, he did it. After one session with Sas, Oster unburdened himself to a friend:

    “It’s much easier to take a pistol and shoot someone down, it’s much easier to storm a machine-gun emplacement, than to do what I have decided to do. And if I should die, I beg you to remain my friend after my death–a friend who knew the circumstances under which I took this decision, and what drove me to do things which perhaps others will never understand, or at least would never have done themselves.”

    In my view, it does credit to Oster BOTH that he did what he did, and that he found it very painful to do so.

    (Oster’s information about the impending German attack was passed to his contact on May 9 of 1940, but was ignored by higher Allied authority)

    1. Granted. All honor to him. An exceptional man. BUT note even his mad effort meant nothing because idiots wouldn’t act on it.
      Again — in these situations we can’t judge unless we were in them.

      1. My vague recollection is that the Allies had a ridiculous number of hints indicating exactly what the Germans were going to do. One of these incidents even involved a German officer with plans tied to the invasion accidentally flying out of Germany and landing at an Allied airfield (Hitler was livid, needless to say, particularly since he had expressly forbid ANYONE with documents relating to the invasion from flying specifically to avoid this exact situation!).

        The Allies ignored every last hint.

        1. A German did crash in Belgium with a set of the original plans for the invasion of France- which happened to be a reworked version of the Von Schliffen plan (aim for Paris).
          This triggered a need to change, and the result was the Von Manstein plan, which sent forces through the Ardannes, and aimed to bypass and cut the Allies off.
          The Allies charged into Belgium (what Manstein called “a willing favor”), which would have worked perfectly against the original German plan.

  2. You’re a little unfair in your assessment of the French Resistance. Many, many of those would have joined it were instead in the Free French forces – Armee de Terre to the strength of several Divisions, Navy and Air Force too. My own father died on his way to join them in October 1940 after spending five months in the Resistance helping escapes and evaders get out of France safely. His brother was swept up by the Nazis and taken to Germany for forced labour – not much chance of being an effective Resistant for him either. And it wasn’t the Communist Resistance that was effective fighting alongside Allied troops after D-Day but the Gaullists. Maybe you’re seen too many episodes of Allo, Allo and been misled by that show’s version of the Communist resistance?

    1. IIRC, per Chung and Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story, the Nationalists were most strongly opposing the Japanese, and the Maoists were most near to collaborating with the Japanese, and acting as rear security against the Nationalists. After the Maoists took over, they changed the narrative to be the other way around.

      Who did what in France would legitimately be a challenging field of historical study even without the communist interest in wanting the ‘facts’ to reflect what is useful for them. With the occupation sliding pretty much directly into the cold war, it’d be a surprise if the information, especially in English, were not full of traps for even the wary non-specialist.

      1. How do we measure effectiveness? I had the pleasure of meeting a charming elderly lady who was a former member of the Italian Resistance. Most of what she talked about involved getting Allied pilots out of Italy. Was she and her group effective? To those they smuggled out they were.

      2. My impression — admittedly not informed by research nor hampered by knowledge — has been that the Nationalists were corrupt and venal and incompetent, too busy with infighting to unite tha nation against mao.

        Of course, from our standpoint the Maoists were corrupt, venal and incompetent, but in a far more focused manner.

    2. The French WWII museum in Cannes is very, very equivocal about how effective any resistance to the Nazis was, including the Free French. Perhaps the French-language signs were different, but the English tended to emphasize survival. The one I especially remembered was “We were all collaborators. We were all the Resistance.” That’s an odd sentiment.

      Actually, the entire museum was odd. The only flat-out military section was a special exhibit about D-day, in honor of one of the major anniversaries.

      1. It seems to be a French thing. In college French class, one of our “readers” tried to imply that the Gothic churches were a communal art form. -We all built them,-as it were. Maybe it’s their attempt to justify their take on socialism, I don’t know.

      2. There is a phrase I read somewhere (paraphrased).

        To begin with, the resistance was only comprised of communists, then communists and criminals, then communists and criminals and crazies, and finally, every one was in the resistance.

        1. The French Resistance was initially a lot of people, while the Communists were allied with the USSR – which at the time of the invasion of France was allied with Germany.

          The Communists only started raising Resistance groups after Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941. So you can see that they were hardly “first.”

          Everywhere there were Communist resistance groups — seriously, in every country — the Communists kept killing off the other anti-Nazi resistance groups outright, or they let the Nazis do it by betraying them to the Germans. The Communist groups were also notorious for stealing supplies that were supposed to be shared. The only times they managed to work together were when personal friendship was involved, and Communist groups were often under pressure by their controllers higher up. (Or the Communist leader with too many friends got killed himself, by his own side.)

    3. It is, indeed no wonder if representation leans to this side.
      On the other eyestalk, it seems to be a more general rule that the guerrillas achieve anything noteworthy beyond survival only when supplied from the outside.

  3. Honestly I don’t know which side of the fence I would fall in given the conditions offered. What I will say though is that I will do the utmost to preserve my family. Is that a bad thing? Depends on what happens. Ask me after the action how I feel though if I survived….

    1. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “Just how close to the surface is my personal monster?” Doing evil is easy. Doing good is hard, which is probably one of the simpler reasons why we value good over evil.

        1. Nice piece. I may have to pick up one of his stories during the next couple weeks of vacation.

        1. “I may be on the side of the angels but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.” – Sherlock Holmes

  4. It’s standard triage. Ignore the problems that are too small to matter and the problems that are too big for you to fix and focus on those problems where you can actually make a difference.

  5. Re occupied France, there’s an outstanding TV series called ‘A French Village’ which ran for 6 seasons on French TV and is available with English subtitles.

    The central character, Daniel Larcher is a physician who also serves as deputy mayor, a largely honorary position. When the regular mayor disappears after the German invasion, Daniel finds himself mayor for real.

    Daniel’s brother Marcel is a Communist. The series accurately reflects the historical fact that the European Communist parties did not at this stage view the outcome of the war as important–it was only “the Berlin bankers versus the London bankers”…but this is a viewpoint that Marcel has a hard time accepting.

    An exceptional piece of work, one of the best television series I have ever seen. Available on MHZ Networks and from Amazon.

    1. *makes quiet note to look up that series*
      I had an interest in the various WWII Resistance movements when in college – I was scribbling a novel set in that time then, and one of the things that came clear, especially early in the occupation of France was how very, very small the Resistance really was, early on. It appeared that most people with something to lose just kept their heads down and avoided the appearance of collaboration with the Germans as much as they could. Later on in the war, I began to think that as Resistance activities became more organized, there were a lot of ordinary citizens who did their part by deliberately ignoring things going on around them – and not reporting their suspicions to the Germans. Like strangely fit, slightly odd-behaving young men staying briefly in a certain house down the road. A neighbor coming and going at odd times of the day, or being absent for days at a stretch.

      I was told a story by a man who had been a crewman on a B-17 shot down in late 1943 just over the border of France, returning from the Schweinfurt “Black Thursday” raid. He and another survivor were fortunately picked up by local Resistants, who operated an escape line, smuggling shot-down aircrew into Switzerland. At one point, he and another American were on a train, escorted by an elderly woman and a teenage boy – both of them Resistants. They had French clothes and fake papers, but spoke no French. The man said he was quite sure that everyone else in the train carriage took one look at them and knew what they were. But then a pair of German soldiers came through the open carriage, looking at everyone’s papers; He said that spontaneously, everyone in the carriage began shifting in their seats and going into their luggage, talking loudly, asking questions of the Germans and otherwise deliberately doing small things to distract the Germans from the two shot-down airmen. The only two people in the carriage who knew for certain were their escorts, the elderly lady and the teenage boy – but everyone else KNEW and took a hand in distracting the attention of the German soldiers from them.
      So there may not have been all that many active Resistants – but a lot of people who knew when there was something going on, and kept their mouths shut about it.

      1. Also recall that Vichy South France was not occupied by the Germans for years – The Vichy Pétain government was run by Frenchmen in charge of sovereign southern France and French North Africa, and technically all the overseas possessions, from just after the surrender in July 1940 until November 1942 when the Germans occupied all of France after the allied landings in French North Africa.

        And there was a French Army, retained under the armistice terms in Southern France, and thus not counting the colonial troops overseas and in North Africa,l that was authorized at a strength of just short of 95K troops, plus 60K Gendarmerie and 10K antiaircraft troops. And there was a Navy and Air Force as well.

        The Vichy French had to scramble to try and get enough volunteers to fill those slots, especially given the reduction in the available manpower pool, given the Germans kept two million French POWs back in Germany proper doing slave labor and acting as hostages. And the Germans never let Pétain institute a draft.

        So for those ~2 1/2 years, at least in the unoccupied zone in the south, there was a patriotic government approved-and-promoted route for young men who wanted to serve their country – the French l’ Armee de l’ Armistice.

        I’m not finding anything that says what Vichy actually did with those troops, and the entire l’ Armee de l’ Armistice was disbanded at the German occupation of all of France. But for a fair chunk of WWII there was a socially acceptable route for serving France, if the volunteers could stomach what Vichy France got up to.

        1. At one point, the Vichy troops got into a shooting match with the Free French Army. I’ve only got the briefest details on what happened, but what I can relate is this –

          Syria was part of Vichy France. Palestine and Iraq were part of the British Commonwealth. There was a pro-Axis coup attempt in Iraq, and the Vichy officials gave permission for German aircraft to stage out of Syria in support of the coup. Obviously, the British couldn’t allow this to stand and launched an invasion of Syria.

          The defenders, of course, were Vichy French troops. But the invasion forces included Free French troops. There was some reluctance on both sides to actual start shooting at fellow countrymen (particularly among the Free French troops), but it did happen at certain times during the campaign.

    2. It’s very likely that right after Dunkirk, most of the French would logically think it was just a matter of time before England surrendered, and the war would end. In that case, better to go along to get along, lest the Germans make the post-war conditions worse.
      Even after the invasion of the Soviet Union, it would be a bit of a tossup who would win the conflict.
      But once America entered, and Stalingrad was lost, you do see more resistance activity. Especially when it became clear that the second front was no longer a matter of “if”, but “when”.

      1. When the Nazis started a draft in which every ablebodied Frenchman had to participate (including old guys and teenage boys), and they started sending the lucky winners off to forced labor camps, suddenly a lot of men and boys ran off to join the Resistance.

        Before then, the trick was to disable Nazi stuff without them noticing that it was sabotage. (Because if you did stuff outright, the Nazis would kill off X many French civilians.)

  6. I’m just saying his choices were all too human and necessitate neither a grand plot or psychopathy to explain.
    This is the key. We stand for principles. Sometimes we die for them. And we should judge against the principles – because they are what we strive for. But, when looking back, temper that judgment with knowledge of the depravity of man and the corruption of creation. Von Braun made choices – I can criticize those choices as being non-perfect. But I should be careful to condemn the man – because we are all non-perfect, living in a very gray world.

      1. There is newsreel footage of a British “Bobby” in iconic helmet and uniform, opening the car door and saluting a German officer in occupied Britain (The Chanel Islands).

        The Germans were very good at this. Imagine yourself, as police detective in a country suddenly occupied by Nazi Germany. The Gestapo officer arrives at your headquarters and offers you a position.

        “Look” he says, “I understand your feelings, but look at it this way, like it or not, we have won and you are occupied. In your position, I would be bitter too,and likely to resign, but consider; your local Skels are still out there. You know them better than we do. Criminals will still be criminals, even under our occupation, even more so, since now there are opportunities like providing prostitutes for our forces and black marketeering.

        Better you continue doing your job. It would really be in the best interests of you, and your fellow countrymen. Besides, if we had to do it, we would use our methods, which are much more a blunt instrument, and we would likely hurt the innocent, as well as the guilty. You are past 40, with a wife and children and a mortgage. If you resign on principle, you loose your income, and what work would you be likely to get at your age under our occupation, not least that you would lose your pension….”

        What choice would you make under the circumstances…..

  7. “…sometimes the best we can do is fight a rearguard action and not give way.
    And sometimes, it’s enough.”

    to which I’d have to respond, in the (remembered) words of others:

    Returning soldier: “But all we did is survive!”
    Blind man with newspapers: “That’s enough.”
    — from “Dunkirk” written by Christopher Nolan

    “Jackson is dead.
    Junaluska is dead.
    We are still here.”
    — a modern Eastern Band Cherokee, on The Removal
    (from the book “Jacksonland”)

    Sometimes the long view is the only valid one.
    (And boy, do I hope that’s *not* true now.)

    1. And sometimes, it’s enough.
      Keep in mind that the freedoms enjoyed in this country – though gifted us by the Creator – are the aberration in history, not the norm. What we see around us now is NOT a new war, but simply all of history rising up to try and claim us, erasing that aberration. The entire history of man is one of pride, idolatry, and assorted sins that lead to bloodshed and tyranny. (Or, sometimes, *start* at bloodshed and tyranny and go downhill from there.)

      The freedoms we fight for, we don’t fight against merely the present socialist or the future fascist. We fight against all of mankind – “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Enough is pretty significant, if we can retain our freedoms, at all. Hell, “enough” is pretty damn good if we can keep our honor while history re-enslaves us.

      (Not aimed at either our hostess or a-e-m. But, sparked by that statement.)

      1. Having said that, I’ll quote a famous general:
        You don’t win a war by dying for your country. You win by making the other poor b* die for his country!
        I’m certainly not giving up.

        1. Patton was SOOOOO right.
          I suppose it would have been easy to hate his guts if you were working under him. But I doubt there was any question about what he expected from you.

          1. Good generals usually get a certain amount of grudging respect from the troops. They know that the general will feed them to the meatgrinder if he feels it necessary. But they also know that the general does so because he’s going to make the war end faster.

            Case in point – how the Army of the Potomac viewed Grant vs how they viewed McClellan.

          2. From relatives who served in WWII, all but an officer had a low opinion of officers in general – and the one who was an officer put on coveralls, (circa 1950s), went into the enlisted men’s mess when they had steak (he was on a restricted diet at the time), and cursed officers, too.

            It was so ingrained that when my father heard of someone who was offered a spot at West Point, he had a look of horror, and gave a very colorful opinion of butter bars.

            As it happens, I knew someone who was in the 3rd Army at the time, but his opinion of officers was no different from any other enlisted man of that era.

  8. What it ultimately comes down to is those trying to oppress you trump those trying to kill you. That’s about as basic as it gets. Von Braun was defending his country against attack.

    The Vichy French who fired on Allied troops, though, are a different matter.

  9. I fight for constitutional principles where it matters: in the land that is already supposed to be devoted to it.

    Constitutional principles do not really come naturally. Unless a goodly number of each and every generation accepts the challenge of living by constitutional principles it isn’t going to survive.

    The Constitution and its history need to be taught, something we have been failing to do well, if at all. We also need to teach people the necessary moral underpinnings to accept responsibility for and to govern themselves. Freedom is hard work to build and maintain. Unless you understand and value the Constitution and its principles the siren’s songs of comfort and provision can become mighty enticing.

    1. This.

      I remember being shocked when a discussion with a Blue Stater and the subject turned to one of the things he wanted. I objected that the Constitution clearly does not allow that. His response was that he didn’t care. He stated forthrightly that the power of government comes from the consent of the governed, and whatever agreement my ancestors had hashed out was moot. He did not consent to it, and did not consider himself bound by it.

      1. One of the key differences between Left and Right in North America

        Right: “Ok, this is against the rules, but there are provisions within the rules to change them”

        Left: “We have the POWER. DO IT NOW!!!”

      2. Ask him if it’s ok if you don’t consider yourself bound by archaic rules agreed to by previous generations. Like ones against assault and battery?

      3. Then you need to invite him to remove himself from this country, which is bound by it. Professor Randy Barnett covered the whole issue of consent of the governed after the initial approval of the Constitution in one of his books, “Restoring the Lost Constitution,” I think. It turns out that such consent can be assumed to have been given, philosophically. I’ll have to get out the book when I get home to find the complete line of reasoning.

      4. This is addressed in the portion of the Sedar reading of The Hagaddah covering the four sons:
        The Torah refers to four sons: One wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask a question. What does the wise son say? “What are the testimonials, statutes and laws Hashem our G-d commanded you?” You should tell him about the laws of Pesach, that one may eat no dessert after eating the Pesach offering.

        What does the wicked son say? “What does this drudgery mean to you?” To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should blunt his teeth by saying to him: “It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt. For me and not for him. If he was there he would not have been redeemed.”

        What does the simple son say? “What’s this?” You should say to him “With a strong hand Hashem took me out of Egypt, from the house of servitude.”

        And the one who does not know how to ask, you start for him, as the Torah says: “And you should tell your son on that day, saying ‘It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt.'”
        When one such as your cited Blue Stater follows the wicked son’s mode, the answer is that we maintain certain inalienable rights and that it is for the protection of these rights that governments are legitimately formed and maintained. When any government become hostile to these rights it forsakes its legitimacy and should be opposed. Consent of the governed does not void these inalienable rights, and does not license enslavement of any for the benefit of others.

          1. Hey, there are those of us here who appreciate snark. The more snark the better! Turn up the snark and let your snark flag fly!

        1. Or my statement of the essential differences between a republic and a democracy. If current consent is all, what protects your rights when you are a political minority?

          1. There’s a tendency (on both sides of the aisle, mind you…) to forget that political fortunes can flip rather dramatically in the next election. The voters have *finally* come around to the right way of seeing things! Surely they wouldn’t be so utterly and completely stupid as to vote against that in the next election?

      5. I would ask if he’s read Federalist 10, about the Tyranny of the Majority, but there’s a good chance he’d be all “the what about the who now?”.

        1. “Tyranny of the Majority” is OK when “you” are (or believe “you” are) in the Majority. 😦

          1. To pervert the old legal saying, “if the law is on your side, argue the law. If moral principles are on your side, argue the moral principles. If neither is on your side, riot and protest and throw a fit.”

            1. If you are an SJW, talk constantly about underprivileged minorities, and simultaneously insist that we need to abolish the electoral college because straight-up majority rules is democracy, right?

        2. Most progressives are NOT orientalists (in fact, they are usually quite the opposite). Using the Federalist papers as source material for an argument with a progressive is like quoting the Bible to an avowed Athiest. It will usually get you nowhere.

          Hasn’t stopped me from trying though. The last time (to my surprise) my progressive antagonist actually knew what the Federalist papers were… and he shouted “SO WHAT?!! THE FEDERALIST PAPERS AREN’T THE LAW!” As if that excused his behavior.

          1. he shouted ‘SO WHAT?!! THE FEDERALIST PAPERS AREN’T THE LAW!’

            As if a Progressive cares what the law might be.

  10. “I, Geoffrey Leigh Withnell do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” I had to look to make sure my memory of an event some decades in the past was correct. The oath joining the armed forces does not have one swear to defend the United states, but the Constitution of the United States. The soul is given primacy over the body. If push came to shove, I would have to go with the action that I felt would best defend the principles of the Constitution – that pesky “true faith and allegiance” thing. And it does say all enemies foreign and domestic.

    1. Bingo. And the day I realized that I could no longer obey to orders of the President of the United States, or the orders of the officers appointed over me, I put in my papers. Of course that was when Clinton was in office, Billy Dale’s wife was working for me, my OIC decided the NCO she was sleeping with would jump me in the queue for the Senior NCO Academy, and the Commander decided to send me to fill a buck sergeant position in the Middle East to get me to shut up about it.

      Needless to say, I doubt they got the moral of that situation. Never send someone you’re planning on screwing over to a Steven Covey course on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

    2. Yes it does. But sometimes you need to fight the assholes outside before you can kick the assholes at the top down the stairs.
      I too, sir, took that oath and mean it. But again, it’s more often maneuvering a perilous boat through the storm than a race to the finish. What can I or you for that matter do to rein in abuses that started fifty years before we were born? Other than fight the culture war, raise the next generation and slowly tack back to true course?

      1. “The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. He is my enemy’s enemy. No more. And no less.” This does not mean you cannot work with him. You might be able to. Or you might not. But never mistake having a common enemy for being friends.

        I have been saying words to that effect since long before I’d ever heard of Howard Taylor and his maxims. It would apply to a “domestic enemy” vs. a foreign enemy as well as any other enemy. If some foreign power tried to invade the US, that would be the worse, more immediate, enemy to take down first.

        Which, of course, is why we have always been at war with Eastasia.

  11. It’s a mistake to think that the “big picture” is all that matters. Things like nation-states, ethnicities, and all that stuff are actually only intellectual constructs that we all apparently need, in order to make our way through life.

    Nationalism and patriotism do not, in the end, actually motivate people to do things like land on the beaches of Normandy, or stand before the firestorm as you march with Pickett’s men at Gettysburg. What does do that is the little stuff, the bonds between individuals and within small groups. You don’t, in actuality, fight for nation and honor. You fight for your friends and family. The “isms” are magical meta-concepts that don’t really exist, except in your mind. The guys you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with? The ones who bail you out of jail, after an all-night bender because your girl wrote you a letter saying she was leaving you? Those are who you actually fight for, and what motivates you more than anything else is the desire not to let them down or betray them.

    Totalitarian regimes understand this, and this is why they all attempt to break down these small groups and families, substituting an embiggened “national identity”. In general, these attempts go down to defeat, because the artificially created national bond between state and individual is a thing of vapor and fog: Hitler and his cronies ain’t coming back for you, as you lay wounded on the steppe; your fellow landser probably will, not wanting to leave you behind for the Soviets. Why? Because, for whatever meta-reason that might exist, they need to do that for their own self-respect, and to ensure that someone else comes back for them. The massive edifices we construct around the nation-state cannot, and will not do that. Which is why, in the end, they all fail. Even our own.

    Put not your faith in vast, impersonal institutions or ideologies. They don’t care about you, in the least. They have no honor, no conscience. Put your faith in your fellow man, your comrade, your family. And, be certain to be faithful to them, though the heavens fall.

    1. And i feel the need to specifically disagree with you here. These are the kinds of things we keep getting told, *especially* by storytellers who haven’t been there and done that- usually people who can’t see themselves doing those things for those reasons and thus give themselves new and different reasons for it- but that doesn’t mean that it is the totality of what is actually going on.

      1. I’ve both been there and done that, and I’ll tell you bluntly that there ain’t nobody going in harms way for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. That may get you to the recruiting station, and the paycheck may keep you in the forces, but the ultimate motivator for what you do and sacrifice? That ain’t some nebulous abstract like “The Nation”. You do it for your fellow soldiers, the lives that were entrusted to you, and because you want to ensure that your kith and kin are protected.

        You go ahead and rely on building things based on the idea of loyalty to some vast, impersonal abstract, and when the push comes to the shove, you’re gonna find that there isn’t enough there in terms of motivational factors for anyone to do anything more than pay lip service to the conceptual bullshit they’ve been fed. Few men are really willing to die for their abstract ideals; what they are willing to die for are those things they see as protecting and benefiting those they are close to, friends and family.

        If the Constitution mandated rape camps and perversity enforced on all, would any seek to defend it? If it were perceived as inimical to your friends and family, would you die for it?

        People that equate the national identity and things like the Constitution with motivational things that men and women are willing to die for are mistaking the flash and the bang for the blast. We hold to the Constitution not because of the abstraction it represents, but because of its benefits to those we care about, and our own. In the end, nobody cries out for the Supreme Court, the Congress, or the Executive Branch when bleeding out on the battlefield. They cry out for their mothers, their fathers, and their friends. Period.

        The Constitution is a wise agreement some very smart men came up with, many years ago. It may indeed be a model for such things, if sometimes flawed in execution. But, to think that it’s more than an abstract representation of the community which made it, signed it, and then lived under its principles? You’re flatly nuts. People go into battle not for that abstraction, but for the community that made it. And, they don’t really give a damn for much of that community, when you get down to it–Just the parts of it that they’re closest to.

        One thing I will agree on is that the Constitution enables a certain “spreading of the wealth”, in terms of how far that community spreads. Within the umbrella provided by it, people are willing to sacrifice for strangers they’ve never met–So long as they perceive that the extended community represented by that is also willing to extend help to those close to them who are in need.

        The principle may be illustrated by the exigencies of military service. If I see others in my same uniform, I will do what is reasonable to assist them, and protect them. Seeing them die from enemy fire before me will disturb me, and make me seek revenge on the enemy, but I’m not likely to do things that will likely kill me to make that happen. My own troops, though? Men I knew, served with, trained? Yeah; that probably means I’m gonna be doing something profoundly stupid, in terms of survival potential.

        That’s the difference, and it’s the one between the chicken and the pig at a ham and egg breakfast: The chicken is involved; the pig is committed. I’m involved in the affairs and fate of fellow citizens adhering to the compact we know as the Constitution; I’m really committed only to those I know and love. Allow the community of ideals and laws we are really referring to when we talk about the Constitution to reach a state where it no longer protects and benefits those I care about, and I care not one whit for the damn thing.

        Based on what I’ve observed over the course of my life, I think this is pretty much a universal truism for all of us.

        1. i don’t think you ‘get’ what constitution Sarah is talking about believing in. If it mandated rape camps it would NOT be the same constitution. Stop being arbitrary.

            1. Oh, I do, but you’re insisting its never about your beliefs or your country, that its all about your buddy and your neighbor and your girlfriend, and never about your core beliefs or your nation, and i’m saying that I disagree with that belief and it is usually presented by people who don’t believe in those things and cant imagine that others do.

              1. There’s a word for people who kill and die for abstract “ideals” alone. That word is “fanatic”. You can meet many of them down at your local Communist Party headquarters, mosque, or Democratic Party office. It sounds like you might be more comfortable with that sort of person, to be quite honest.

                The Constitution is meaningless without a living community of actual people to go along with it, people who have signed on with that community, and agreed to live under that set of rules and obligations. Without those very real people, the Constitution is utterly valueless and of no more than mere intellectual interest.

                I took an oath to support and uphold the Constitution. I take that very seriously, but I’m also cognizant that what I really took an oath to support and defend was the community of my fellow Americans who also support and defend that agreement. I do so cognizant of the benefits to me and mine by joining with those, my fellow citizens. And, in the final analysis, I’m not “supporting and defending” the abstract symbolized by the written words on parchment paper we have on display in Washington, DC, I’m doing it all for the community of people I know and love.

                The paperwork is bullshit, mere words in ink on vellum. What underlies it is not, and what lies beneath it all is the root reason we came here and committed to the values it represents–And, that’s what is more important than the abstract edifice.

                You don’t jump on a grenade for universal suffrage and a flag; you throw yourself between your friends and sudden death out of love for them, and that love alone, ill-defined as it is in our language, is actually what motivates men and women to sacrifice all that they hold dear, and even their lives.

                Ideals get you to the fight; love of others keeps you there, through the deepest shit you can imagine, and convinces you that you absolutely must make that final sacrificial throw of the dice when the grenade comes bouncing into your truck.

                1. First you insist that they don’t exist; then you insist they’re fanatics and communists.

                  What next, they’re not a true scotsman?

                2. It sounds like you might be more comfortable with that sort of person, to be quite honest.

                  That’s pushing into ad hominem assault on somebody who’s been Hunning longer than you, and might be taken as a sign you’ve invested too much of the wrong capital in this particular effort.

                  A pause for reflection seems advisable.

                  1. Don’t start none, won’t be none.

                    I don’t take well to people insinuating that I am a “…storyteller(s) who has(ve)n’t been there and done that…”, particularly in this context.

                    I’ve actually been there and done that, to a degree far past the need for me to tolerate someone telling me I’m a “storyteller” who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Don’t expect me not to take umbrage if it is deliberately offered, or not to return it in kind.

                    It’s funny how I’m making an “ad hominem” attack, and that breezed right past you, isn’t it? Or, are there only certain, specific people who have a right to take offense at provocation?

                    1. I wasn’t. But that’s where a lot of people get that image. You interpreted it as an ad hominem attack, when it wasn’t. That was all in how you interpreted what I said. I was honestly taking a shot at the TV and feature film writers (and, as a film school student i can say MANY wannabe TV and feature film writers) who seem to use that as a fallback constantly when trying to give a soldier motivations instead of thinking it may be influenced by their base beliefs.

                    2. As Draven asserts, and as a careful re-reading of his comment supports, you might want to consider two things:

                      Whether you’re being overly ready to don a shoe and declare it fitting.

                      Whether you think your arguments are made more credible by engaging in ad hominem responses.

                      “Yeah? So’s your Momma” generally isn’t even persuasive in second grade.

                    3. Don’t start none, won’t be none.

                      Oh, bullshit.

                      The same mind-reading powers that make you think you know the motives of everyone around you make it so you see offenses when there are none, and failure to understand when there is actually disagreement.

                3. There’s a word for people who kill and die for abstract “ideals” alone. That word is “fanatic”.

                  And there’s a word for people who kill and doe without those things. The word is “thug.” You can find them down at your local street gang. Or if that’s too much trouble, check your local maximum security prison looking particularly for violent offenders.

                  1. So… You would risk your life to defend yourself, your family, your friends against evil that comes against you out of sheer unadulterated and impersonal idealism, eh?


                    You do it because you love them, and put their lives and well-being above your own. And, you likely prioritize on them over those you don’t know, as is perfectly natural.

                    Most of us would run into a burning building in order to try to save a loved one, and count the horror of being immolated with them as a worthy risk. A few of us would do the same for a random stranger, but the majority are only going to go to the edge of the flames, and if we see that we’re about to get badly injured, we will likely pull back. Kids or the helpless in the fire will change that calculation for a lot of us, but I fear not for the majority.

                    Actual interpersonal relationships are what drives most human behavior, not abstractions.

                    1. So, basically, your viewpoint is that our armed forces is nothing but a street gang writ large. They fight for personal aggrandizement and for their “brothers”.

                      You may have no cause or beliefs for which you are willing to risk all including your life, but don’t project your lack of that…spark onto others.

                      The simple truth is, we do get you. It’s not a complex idea you are expounding on. It’s an idea well known to every criminal gang out there.

                      It’s you who do not get us.

                    2. It’s a telling thing that you equate what I’m saying with street gangs and personal aggrandizement–As if that’s the only thing you think could exist outside the strictures of ideology.

                      People with “causes” and “beliefs” they are willing to kill and die for are the dangerous ones, because they have abandoned their basic humanity for abstract belief systems. Anything becomes fair game, in the name of the “cause”, including the abandonment of family and friends to their fates under the new enlightened regime the “cause” will bring forth.

                      Your statements are entirely of a piece with the people running concentration camps and gulags, who choose to support regimes of horror in the name of “causes” due to their “beliefs” that other people are vermin to be exterminated in the name of the cause. You might want to think about your chances of being identified as one of the unapproved, when the revolution comes. And, it comes to all sides–Today’s loyal and true subject of the Crown becomes tomorrow’s despised “Loyalist” to the true believer, and then has their property confiscated and run out of town. It wasn’t pretty when “we” did it to them, and it won’t be pretty when the next mob does it to us, either.

                      That being the case, I guess I’ll stick to my street gangs. I’m far less likely to have them decide to kill me and mine because some damn fool convinced them I was a member of the wrong group or had the wrong ideas.

                    3. Bullshit.
                      Well, I’m going to call slander on that one. And yes, I’ve “been there, done that”.

                      But, let me toss in a couple of pennies that might help this kerfuffle:
                      In the immediate thick of battle, when the bullets are flying, the soldier is NOT thinking of the Constitution and “truth, justice, and the American way”. He’s thinking of his buddies, his team. He’s fighting for the guys with which he has bonded – through training and through previous battles.
                      He will also be thinking of the orders he was given. He has a job to do, and he is well-trained to do that job, regardless of obstacles – sometimes even at the cost of his buddies. (This is where I find your argument lacking, along with your lack of scope regarding the following.)

                      However, the soldier signing up at the recruiter’s office, the recruit going through Boot, the cadet pulling all-nighters, are NOT thinking of their buddies. They are thinking of high ideals or mercenary concerns. (Yes, some people do join for the benefits, or because they want to be a pilot, regardless of Country and Constitution.)
                      When they go to war – carrying their duffle and standing in lines to get on the train/plane/ship/truck – they are thinking at least partly of Duty and of their Calling. They are NOT thinking “We’re going to war so I can protect my buddy!” Because they aren’t that sort of crazy. They might be thinking “We’re going to war so I can protect kith and kin.” And they might be thinking “We’re going to war to protect the ideal that is America.” More likely they’re thinking the more Wilsonian thought, “We’re going to war to free some people somewhere so they can be like America.” (That might be thought a foolish notion for many reasons, but it is well-inculcated in our culture after a century.)

                      So, yes, soldiers can and do fight for ideals. And, they will fight for their objective (which is a sort of ideal – that you don’t want to fail in your mission, because it is your mission). And they will fight for their buddies, because it’s extremely hard to see far past that when you’re under fire.

                      I think you discount ideals and principles too much (you’ve done it in other threads, as well). Your pov excludes heroism, and I find that impossible to reconcile with my experiences.

                    4. People with “causes” and “beliefs” they are willing to kill and die for are the dangerous ones, because they have abandoned their basic humanity for abstract belief systems.
                      This is your other problem. (Actually, it seems to be your underlying ideology, leading to your other fallacies.) You seem to have no concept of “good ideas” versus “bad ideas”. You equate all “ideas” with “bad ideas”. This is profoundly ignorant or willfully obtuse – I’m not sure which in your case.
                      There are very definitely “good ideas”, and those ideas are definitely worth fighting for. Heck, the best ones are even worth dying for, in many people’s opinion. Or, losing your home and family to the enemy.

                      The reason for the “street gang” comments is because you claim to advocate nothing that would guide that allegiance to a group, other than … allegiance to the group. Which is actually much closer to your “willing to follow any leader that comes along” than the ideologically driven folks.

                      I think you have confused your arguments as you responded to people here. (I see, upon re-reading, that you actually admit people will sign up for the ideals, but they won’t go beyond that for those ideals.)
                      Yes, it is true that a great many people will not support anything beyond their family and friends if that support puts those people at risk. Yes, a great many people in the world have nothing more important than their own personal lives (however far out that circle goes).
                      But, there are a number of people who live otherwise. And most of them are not mindless twits, following whatever ideology comes their way. (In actuality, most of the mindless twit followers are in that other group, and would run and hide if they thought there was any real risk of consequences to their actions.) Oh yes, some of them have been successfully indoctrinated. But many have come to their conclusions by reason and faith, weighing the different paths before them, and concluding that freedom is an ideal worth giving their last measure of full devotion for. Even if that means their family and friends.

                      I’m a very cynical person – by nature and by life experience. But I retain my ideals, because they’re the only reason worth making the relationships for which I will fight tooth and nail. I will defend those ideals with words, with arms, and with my very life.

                  2. In fairness, street gangs use that because it’s a basic, natural human urge– tribalism. Which isn’t awesome, but it’s a step above “only I am real.”

                4. You don’t jump on a grenade for universal suffrage and a flag

                  But it is likely that “universal suffrage and a flag” put you into the position that got that grenade tossed in front of you.

                  You two are arguing about whether a Reese’s Cup is peanut butter treat or a chocolate candy.

                    1. With respect, going to one demonstration where you were unexpectedly shot at by your government is neither qualitatively or quantitatively even remotely similar to strapping into, say, a B-17 for your twentieth trip over the Reich, knowing full well that the odds of making it to the twenty-fifth mission were slim. Nor is it the same as the kid getting into his Buffalo for the hundredth time on this second tour, to go out looking for IEDs ahead of the convoys.

                      Ideology will get you to that demonstration. The main thing taking you to that second enlistment and tour in Afghanistan to go out looking for IEDs ahead of your fellow soldiers is something that nothing to do with ideology, especially when you do it knowing full well that the country you serve elected someone like Obama, and that the mission you’re undertaking is almost certainly a lost cause.

                      I could have retired in November of 2002, never having seen war. Instead, I stuck around until they made me retire, and even jumped through hoops to make the second trip over, because that put me past my retention control point for my pay grade. Why did I do that, for an essentially oblivious and mostly ungrateful country, that I subconsciously knew was probably going to piss everything away the way they did the sacrifices of a previous generation in Vietnam?

                      It sure as hell wasn’t Truth, Justice, and the American Way ™, because I had long since lost any faith in any of that crap thanks to the path most of my fellow citizens chose to tread and/or tolerate.

                      No, what kept me in uniform and took me to war twice after I could have retired with full benefits at 20 years was almost solely the fact that I felt I owed my troops the benefit of my experience, and that in some small way, I might be able to help some of them stay alive. Past that? LOL… This country left me a long damn time ago, and I’m a citizen of a place that probably only ever actually existed in my imagination. That fact gets rubbed in my face every time I’m asked by some dipshit why I stayed in past the mandatory twenty…

                      Whatever ideological underpinnings to my service there were had pretty much evaporated over the eight years of watching the Clintons piss away the Cold War victory we handed them. And, I’m ever so grateful to my fellow citizens who made that possible, just like I am to the ones who made Obama President to do ten times worse.

                      Frankly, after the majority of the country went for Bill Clinton and then Obama? The portion that voted for them can kiss my ass, and had I known what was coming back in 1981 when I enlisted…?

                      If I could only speak solely to those people who voted those assclowns into office, I’d point at what’s going on at West Point right now, laugh hysterically, and say “See? That’s what you get with all this social justice BS… Good luck with it all, ‘cos you’re gonna need it…”.

                      It’s an unfortunate thing that there’s really nowhere else to go, from here and now. Because, believe me, if there were…? I’d be on the first thing smoking away from the mess these people have willfully created. The things being described in the letter from LTC Heffington are symptomatic of an institutional rot that I honestly doubt can be recovered from. You want to fix West Point, you’d better plan on blowing it up and starting over. I doubt we have the will, or the wisdom to identify the necessity, which means that the rest of the military institutions will likely decay in similar fashion. There aren’t enough people who care, or truly ken the dire need.

                      I read that letter from LTC Heffington, and I wanted to vomit–Because I recognize what the implications truly are. Most won’t.

                      Am I bitter? Don’t make me laugh; the path these morons have set us on may well be irrecoverable, and if it is, then I wasted every day I wore a uniform. Of course I’m bitter, watching the things and institutions I believed in and trusted self-destruct under the weight of willful ignorance and perfidy coming from a huge swathe of my fellow citizens. One of these days, at the rate this country is going, people are going to wake up and find out that their professional military class actively loathes the majority of the population, and if that ever happens, well… Look here for the antecedents as to “why”. We have our reasons. Keep inflicting parvenus like LBJ, Clinton, and Obama on us, and pissing away the lives we’ve offered up as sacrifice to the benefit of the nation? Let alone, those who we’ve killed on your behalf, in the futile causes to which you sent us forth, with no intent to actually accomplish something worthwhile? Oh, yeah… That will work out ever so well.

                      Want to know why I say what I say about ideology vs. love for others? It’s because I’ve lived it from the inside, and know it personally. At this point, you tell me I need to go forth to kill and die once more for the good old USA and its Constitution alone, I’m going to tell you to go piss up a rope.

                      Tell me I need to go join my brothers and sisters of the oath once more? I’m going to mutter darkly, tie my boots, and set forth one more damn time under the ruck and rifle. And, it won’t be for anyone but them. They’ve earned that–Most of the rest of this country hasn’t, and I’m not the one who broke the faith or the social contract I once believed in so strongly.

                    2. Jesus. I wasn’t saying it’s equivalent. I was saying the motivation was still ideals.
                      And btw people were being bombed and shot repeatedly at that time. It wasn’t unexpected.

                    3. Why did I do that
                      You’re generalizing from your experience to the experience of all others. That’s a bad fallacy upon which to support your worldview.

                    4. I am not generalizing from my experience. I’m saying Kirk’s argument is not universal. He’s been known to do this kind of insanity here every so often maybe when his medications fail. “Everyone is this way, always.”

                    5. Sorry, Sarah, that was in reply to Kirk’s comment (12:20) – but there aren’t any more “Reply” bits to click, so I backed up a level. (I assumed that was the way everyone else was doing it.)

                      I apologize for the confusion.

                    6. When a string of posts has “hit the wall” there are two three ways to continue to contribute.

                      1. Scroll down and start the thread anew, with clear reference to the thread being addressed.

                      2. Reply by use of the “Reply” links in emailed versions of comments.

                      3. Create a “Reply” post by copying and editing a “Reply” link from elsewhere that page.

                      a) Hover cursor over any “Reply” link, use “copy link” function to copy the URL.

                      b) Paste “Reply” URL to editing arena, such as notepad, Word or browser address bar.

                      c) Hover cursor over date/time stamp of comment to which you wish to reply, note the six-digit unique identifier

                      d) Exit the “Reply” URL to eliminate the original six-digit identifier and replace it with the six-digit identifier of the comment you prefer

                      e) Enter that edited “Reply” URL in browser address bar

                      f) Type your reply. It will appear below the comment to which you’re responding.

                    7. You are very welcome. Describing the “Forced Link” process is a bit tedious but as this seems a slow day I thought I’d give it a go. Apparently I was not too obtuse in my description.

                    8. STOP THE PRESSES, RES was not being too obtuse! Next we’ll have chaos! Anarchy! Cats and dogs living together!

                  1. No, we are not. There is a fundamental difference here, that you are not grasping.

                    You put someone into a set of different yet similar situations, what are they going to do?

                    You’re walking down a street in Mosul, let us say. First scenario, you are a neutral, simply there among strangers. You see a man wearing a suicide vest yelling “Allahu Akbar…”, running out of an alley past you towards a group of people you don’t know… You see that you can stop him by tackling him, but then he’ll likely detonate the vest killing you both.

                    This is just a bad thing happening to strangers, who may actually even be your enemies. Do you make the sacrifice?

                    And, yes, while there are those saints among us who wouldn’t pause, they’re called saints and held up as exemplars because they’re actually pretty damn rare in the human species.

                    On the other hand, shift the scenario slightly, and that suicide bomber is running towards a group of your close friends, who you’ve known for years and who have perhaps even saved your life themselves on numerous occasions… What calculus, then? Will you do it? Are you more likely to, in all honesty?

                    What do your instincts urge you to do, when the victims are people you know and care about…?

                    Some among us will die for strangers, whether out of fanaticism or a more positive idealism. It’s a behavior that I’m honestly ambivalent about, because the guys who are willing to kill and be killed for an idea or ideal are the kind of person I’m very leery of hanging around, having observed how much damage they can do to those around them.

                    The majority of us, though…? There has to be a personal connection, someone we’re willing to sacrifice for, or we simply won’t do more than bow along with the crowd and pay lip service to it all. To my mind, that’s a bit more understandable, and sane. The extremists scare the shit out of me, because the cause takes precedence over all, including family. Thankfully, though, they are relatively rare.

                    For now, at least. Certain trends in society around me make me wonder if there are not factions who are actively attempting to make more of these sorts of people.

                    1. You’ve shifted the goalposts, Kirk. Originally the subject of discussion was what prompted people to fight for and defend their homeland, now you’ve relocated us to Mosul. A more honest postulate might set it in Las Vegas when that psycho opened fire and some people acted selflessly to pull others to safety and some hid under whatever was handy.

                      You seem to think that understanding your argument can only bring agreement, and any disagreement is from failure to grasp your point. Kind of a fanatical position to take and one to which you might want to give deeper thought.

                      It isn’t that we don’t understand your argument, it isn’t even that we do not agree that the bonds of brotherhood are a powerful component off esprit d’corps. Yet there remains the fact that we often see Americans risk their own lives for strangers, people who run into burning buildings knowing they know nobody inside.

                    2. RES, I haven’t shifted anything, let alone goalposts. The basis of what we’re talking about here isn’t the ideology, because that’s basically crap.

                      You point out that the people in Vegas were doing things for strangers they didn’t know, and that somehow refutes the point that I’m making about the ideology being essentially irrelevant–Which is nuts, because nobody in Vegas was going “I’m going to help this wounded person get to the hospital because America…”. They were, instead, reacting on an instinctive need to help their fellow human. Zero ideology there, in terms of them thinking about the issue in those terms. Ask them why, in the aftermath…? Maybe you’ll hear some ideology in their response, but they will be mostly trying to rationalize some things they did against clear self-interest, and likely, a little trying to please their interviewer.

                      People just don’t do things like this solely for ideological reasons like an abstract belief in the Constitution. They’re reacting to a primal need to reach out to help others, and because they have formed a primary group with those individuals they’ve encountered in extremis. You don’t stop to help at a car wreck because you’re an American, you stop to help because you want someone else to stop and help you when you need it, and because you want to think well of yourself. Ideology has an underpinning role in making you the person that thinks that way, but it’s not the sole motivator, now is it?

                      The issue I have with all this is that when you start framing this stuff as all coming out of the Truth, Justice, and the American Way ™ source, you’re going to really f**k up your organization for doing really important things, like making war. Ideology alone is a really poor motivator, and trying to rely on it as the only thing going? It is to laugh, honestly.

                      The Nazis were really bad people with really bad ideology, much like the people running Venezuela, right now. Unfortunately, they were really bad people with access to a really good military that knew and understood all this stuff I’m talking about. The veneer of Nazi propaganda overlaying the whole shitshow that was WWII-era Germany is what we all remember, but what made the German Wehrmacht so effective was that they had figured out a lot of this stuff about how to build strong and effective units way better than we did. A German Landser knew propaganda, and he was probably one of the more thoroughly indoctrinated soldiers in history, but (and, this is the important point, here…) he was also the product of a system that knew and built on the non-ideological needs of the human being at war.

                      Most German units did not treat their manpower as interchangeable parts, the way we did. For most of the war, the German soldier was taken in from a contiguous geographical area, and kept within units formed from that region. You weren’t put into a mob of strangers, and if you were, the Wehrmacht went to extreme lengths to make sure you weren’t strangers to each other before going into battle. The Germans paid a lot of attention to all this crap, and for good reason: It builds cohesion, real cohesion that won’t break down during hard times under fire. You had cases where German units broke under fire, but they usually withstood a hell of a lot more than the Allied units they were fighting did before doing so. And, that happened because we went to war with the blithe assurance that our guys would fight gloriously for the cause, without us needing to pay attention to the details of whether or not the guys out in the rifle squads knew and trusted the guys on their left and right flanks. Instead, we treated men like cogs in a machine, and got the mediocre results we got. I am convinced that there is a high percentage of dead GIs that we can attribute to our rather poor personnel management techniques.

                      You can pump the propaganda and the ideology into the troops all you like, but what you’d better be paying attention to is the formation, management, and preservation of the primary groups those troops rely on to give them motivation and support in combat. The ideology is irrelevant, whether you emphasize it or ignore it–The important thing is, do those young men and women have people they’re willing to fight and die for. Fail to form these bonds, and all the ideology in the world won’t get them to fight effectively.

                      Ever wonder why so many Arab armies are shitshows, when it comes to modern warfare? It’s just this problem; they’ve got a great, strong ideology in Islam, that everyone believes in vehemently, but… They can’t get their shit together. And, why? They are shit at forming primary groups, and getting leaders to actually care about the troops and/or take care of them. Possession of a strong, over-arcing ideology does squat to motivate those troops, because they feel nothing but isolation, anomie, and disassociation from their fellow soldiers and leadership. Which is precisely why the Iraqi Army units at Mosul and Tikrit fell apart the way they did, when ISIS came calling–No cohesion. Plenty of Islamic ideology, though…

                      It’s all too damn easy to make the same sort of mistake from within our culture and standpoint. We’ve done it before, and we’ll likely do it again. Hell, in some regards, we’re doing it right now, and that’s what I’m trying to get across to people with this. Whether you like it or not, this is important to the well-being and effectiveness of the nation.

                    3. People just don’t do things like this solely for ideological reasons

                      Emphasis added.

                      You are misrepresenting the arguments made against you, as nobody has claimed it was solely for “God & Country” that people fight. Until you stop flailing at this straw man and recognise the arguments actually being made you are not likely to persuade me or anybody else of the rectitude of your position.

                      As we’re running against the Right Hand Margin and I’ve yet to see you recognize the arguments being expressed, I decline to pursue this further. I’ve made my arguments, you’ve made yours and neither of us seems to have been convinced by the other. Ponder the Tao of the Reese’s Cup and consider what were the actual claims made.

                    4. Idealists are dangerous.

                      They’re hard to manipulate if you don’t already know their buttons.

                      Grats, you just explained why Odds rub folks wrong.

                    5. For now, at least. Certain trends in society around me make me wonder if there are not factions who are actively attempting to make more of these sorts of people.

                      It’s a long-lasting conspiracy. The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

                      It’s what one is dedicated to that matters.

                      Rather like any other strength–a gun can mow down a crowd, yes. It can also allow a tiny woman with a horde of kids to go shopping without having to think twice about every larger stranger she meets.

                5. I’d say in the heat of the moment, it’s the brother, or sister, on your left and right that you kill and die for; but it’s the ideals that motivate you to be on the line before you reach the heat of the moment, and how you justify the sacrifices made after the moment is over.

              2. I suspect it is a bit more complex than either/or. People enlist for the ideals and the nation, so that is the first step. They remain and fight and risk their lives for their comrades, so that is the second. But both are required.

                Taking it a step further, I doubt Kirk is throwing himself oonto a grenade to save the lives of comrades who hold and espouse the ideals of the typical ISIS jihadi, nor the fellow who constantly calls him “Comrade!” and lovingly describes the paradise of the socialist utopia to come (it is always “to come” — I would make a vulgar joke about that proving socialism is feminine but that would distract from my thesis.)

                So, again, the ideals, philosophy and love of nation enable the bonding required to fight for the unit. The zebra is both white with black striping and black with white stripes.

                1. Actually, it’s a bit… Different…

                  I had a guy working for me, once, who was, indeed, a guy whose ideals and (some) behaviors pretty much disgusted me on a pretty visceral level. Reciprocal feelings existed. But… He was my guy. And, I was his.

                  I went to the figurative and literal wall for him on more than one occasion, and he did the same for me. There was a personal tie there, that transcended ideology and background. We were in a love/hate relationship, in a way, but at the root of it all was a very non-erotic and non-sexual love and actual trust in the other person. I considered him a sonuvabitch, and he likely considered me in similar terms–But, and this is important, he was my sonuvabitch, and I was his. We argued and fought like cats and dogs much of the time we worked together, but the few times some fool stuck their noses in, they suffered from both of us turning on them.

                  English doesn’t have a good word for it, at all. It’s unfortunate that the word we have has such a sexual connotation and overtone to it, but there it is: It’s love.

                  Would I have jumped in front of a bullet for him? Never had to find out, but judging from the other ill-judged stuff I did on his behalf, probably.

                  For the majority, interpersonal relationships trump ideologies and backgrounds. I think that’s a healthy thing, to be quite honest. Healthier than the sorts who abandon family in favor of some idealized set of thought-constructs.

                  I once heard it put “Your dog loves you; the government don’t…”.

                    1. @suburbanbanshee – yeah, and didn’t necessarily translate to ‘I want to have sexual relations with that person.’

                      One of the things that has consistently annoyed me is the concept that ‘love = you desire to have sex with that person.’

        2. The American Way, a study in reciprocal altruism.

          And I’ve never seen, read, or heard of a communist or socialist organization that practiced reciprocal altruism. It’s always a pig in a poke; except when the pigs are in charge.

          1. It is noteworthy that many Soviet soldiers fought fiercely until the end against Hiter’s armies. Only a cynic would observe that their non-coms fought behind their troops and that charging forward was less predictably fatal than falling back.

            1. Well, I’m not saying that the Russian NCOs (and the Political Officers) weren’t a factor but the Nazis gave the Russian Troops good reasons to got after German troops. 😉

            2. Not necessarily a good argument to make, RES.

              How many of those Soviet troops fighting the Nazis so desperately were motivated by what they knew would happen to their families if they didn’t…?

              As the phrase went, it took a very brave man not to fight hard against the Nazis…

              1. The Nazis also didn’t endear themselves with the locals, where they were initially welcomed as liberators (Ukraine?). Then the Nazis blew it. While I don’t doubt there may have been motivators with rifles in the rear, they really hated the Nazis.

              2. The argument about Soviet encouragement of their troops only matters with regard to Western soldiers if you deem the bonding encouraged by both systems equivalent. There has been considerable written — most notably, recently, by Victor Davis Hanson — about democratic governments having significant advantages in such regard.

          2. Pretty much the major aspect of what I’m getting at, with that phrase, “Reciprocal altruism”. It’s a good construct, that.

            The gist of what I’m getting at here is, well… Apparently hard for me to get across.

            You’ve got your abstract idealism, and then you’ve got your “OK, I’m going to die/kill because…” sort of thing. The first is a relatively intellectual kind of thing, something you’ve thought about abstractedly, and decided to sign on with.

            The second…? Visceral, and something you only get in connection with those you genuinely love in a non-romantic sense. The English language, being created and used mostly by a bunch of emotionally repressed types, doesn’t possess the terminology to properly discuss these things, but love it is.

            I will merely fight because I agree with and support the things in the Constitution and the Declaration on an intellectual level. I am willing to die for them not because of their abstract attributes, but because I want the benefits of living under that compact to extend to my close fellows, my kin, and my children.

            Now do you get what I’m trying to get across to you?

            As I said, nobody dies with FDR’s name on their lips, like he’s the God-Emperor of Imperial Japan. The names they call out for, in the end, at the final extremity, are those they truly “did it for”: Their families and their comrades.

            Hell, even for the Imperial Japanese who died “for the Emperor!!”, most of them were truly not giving their lives for Hirohito and the Imperial Way, but using his name and the idea as a handy shorthand for the things and people closest to them that they were really dying for.

            And, understand that I’m not talking about the mentally aberrant fanatic types, who are all too prevalent across the species we call human, but the general run of the mill everyday person. The fanatics for the abstract, of whatever stripe, scare the shit out of me because they generally don’t care about people of any kind, whatsoever–The idea is all, and the idea is what they’re killing for. For examples of these disconnected loose cannon, see any left-wing political organization, paying particular attention to the ones like the Communists and Maoists.

            1. What it all comes down to in the end is in group/out-group, and how big each is.

              The reason the west is successful (relatively speaking), is that we have a much larger in-group than most.

              Most Americans are Americans first. An American of German extraction in either World War was an American first, whereas most Yugoslavs, in their heart of hearts, were Serb or Bosnian or Croat or Macedonian first, and Yugoslavs second.

              The larger you can make your in-group, the better.

              1. Precisely so. And, in this, you can observe what the left is trying to make happen, and discern an outline for why…

                The ideology creates a framework, a structure to enable the creation of the bonds between individuals and sub-groups within the nation. It doesn’t actually create those bonds, so much as it enables and encourages them. What does the actual creation? Individuals, and those individuals forming bonds within and between sub-groups.

                In the end, however? The only thing that matters, particularly when it comes to motivating self-sacrifice and suffering, are those bonds. Break them, or prevent their formation, and you’re well on your way to breaking the nation. Look to the fall of Rome for examples, where the nobility started “thumbing” their sons, so as to prevent them from being taken up as Legionaries.

  12. You’ve caused my Node of Perversity to spit up this scenario:

    What if the Constitution were constitutionally changed to render all prior clauses null and void, and itself thereafter forever unchangeable?

    1. Well, for it to be so changed, 3/4s of the state legislatures would have to agree to that amendment, which would basically mean that the country had committed unforced suicide.

      1. And the remaining 1/4 would likely be the place to move to. If you hadn’t read the tea leaves and already done so.

        1. Well, 3/4s is the lower limit. It could be more… At any rate, I don’t think it would be possible to get even 3/4s to agree to end the United States.

      2. An evil scientist develops a device which lets her make small changes in the time stream, such as revising the Constitution in minor ways, a.g., “all men are created equal but some are more equal than others.”

        A hardy band of defenders who had committed the Constitution to memory are unaffected and must fight to reestablish the unaltered original.

    2. For some odd reason, reading that caused the phrase, ” Saddle up, lock and load, stack ’em like cordwood,” to immediately spring to mind.

    3. As I’ve told people in the past, if an amendment were proposed and passed through all the hoops and stated: “All the previous provisions of this Constitution are null and void and henceforth the United States shall be a Satanic Empire ruled by the Dark One”. it would be valid and lawful replacement for the Constitution.

      Doesn’t mean you’d be wrong joining the fight to overturn it afterwards…

    4. Reading this made me remember when Hugo’s buddy in Honduras tried to end-round changes to their constitution and all the kerfluffle after that. Basically, after noticing the COTUS could be “fully changed” procedurally to negate itself, they decided to add a few lines in a few places, preventing that in their constitution. Honduras added the “These cannot be changed at all” portions to theirs, then made it the duty of certain portions of gov’t to take care of the situation.
      So, when he tried to change the term limit to “Until not elected again” he butted up against the “Any President trying to change this will immediately not be president and is to be arrested,” portion of the law he was trying to change, and if the people who were being condemned for arresting him hadn’t, the law enabled anyone below them to do so and add them to the cell as well. That bit was fully ignored by most of the leftoids and poopoohed by the few who were familiar. They felt if he could get enough votes (anything over 50% in favor) he aughta be able to do what he wanted, constitution be damned. What could go wrong?
      Pointing out the ballots confiscated as well after being printed up in Caracas (being illegal to print in Honduras) were already filled in (the actual empty ones hadn’t been printed out yet) did little to sway them as he was Hugo’s buddy! It’s what was needed to make the place as nice as Venezuela.

  13. Your basic question “Would you fight for the Constitution or the country?” bothered me although it took me a while to figure out why.
    If the Constitution means anything, it means that the government must defend the country. Thus, in the case of any war that does or could result in an invasion of the USA, fighting for the country is fighting for the Constitution, even if the federal government is Obamas and Hillarys top to bottom. Mind you, in that case a few cases of friendly fire would not be amiss.

    1. The real question is, when does fighting for the Constitution entail fighting against a no-longer-ignorably-unconstitutional government?

        1. If it comes to that, you’re not shattering the Constitution, you’re shattering the Union. Not the same thing at all. “Against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” after all.

        2. You only shatter the Constitution if you become a tyrant* in your pursuit of shattering or re-binding the Union. You don’t have to be a rebel to do that.

          (* Destroying free speech, religious rights, due process, etc.)

          1. The only way that I see not to do that is to be a outlaw that never seeks to become the government as in “Unintended Consequences”. This precludes a large organization as someone would say “Why shouldn’t we?” and act on it. This probably precludes success.

            1. I think it’s very possible to shatter or re-bind the Union without shattering the Constitution. Especially when the enemy is already that tyrant.
              The questions is: which principle do you hold dearer? Life, Liberty, or Country?

      1. We have the best precedent in the world for the answer to that question. When the misdeeds of the government equal or exceed those enumerated by the Declaration of Independence. Under those conditions, the U.S. Constitution is no longer in effect and can not be restored within its own framework.

        If I remember correctly, a couple of folks here are lawyers or have a legal background. Was your law school one that teaches that the Declaration is one of the founding documents of this country or not?

        1. And there’s been a growing consensus that we’ve exceeded that standard since 2000. Why do you think you got the Tea Party followed by Trump?

          1. Yeah, we probably have. But since most of us are decent people, we’re trying really hard not to go down that road.

            1. Well, for certain values of “decent”. Kitty Genovese had “decent” neighbors by some definitions.

                  1. So, you hear shouts in the middle of the night, you stagger out of bed, you look out the window. You see a man standing over a woman lying in the street. He walks off, gets into a car, drives off. She gets up and walks toward the building. What, exactly, is unspeakable about staying inside at that point?

                    (They didn’t hear the second attack. The forensic evidence shows she was unable to scream during it. Also, they couldn’t have seen it, there was a nice solid obstacle to that.)

              1. Another fake news story– in real life, a neighbor heard the first attack and yelled at the goon to leave “the girl” alone; two others used their phones to summon help. The bad guy ran away once, the injured but not dying lady went inside. Bad guy snuck around a different route where he wasn’t observed, attacked her again, sexually assaulting her and mortally wounding her.

                When the emergency services got there, she was still alive, being held in the arms of a neighbor who came out even though she had no way to defend herself.

                Only two people fit the story that writer wanted to tell; of those, one worked on the other side of the street, and the other while a neighbor was (it seems to me) not entirely sane.


                  1. I can’t think of a single reason not to take as gospel the adjusted recollections of people who’ve had 30 – 40 years to realize what they didn’t do and what the result was, versus the accounts closer to the actual events.

                    Was the sarcasm obvious enough? I can’t always tell.

                    1. *eyeroll*

                      Thank you for showing you didn’t bother to read the articles, which mentioned that PRIMARY SOURCES didn’t agree with the SECONDARY SOURCE of the news reports.

                      But hey, that’s the story he wanted to tell, so why the hell not if it’s useful?

                    2. IIRC, the original reporting was in the NY Times, so you can be sure it was soundly sourced, well-verified and accurate.

        2. But the problem is – Who do you shoot?

          There is some time between when you realize that Nothing done by the ballot box will change the path BUT it is not to the point that you can JUSTIFY killing people, or decide that THOSE PEOPLE need killing.

          We don’t want to go down that path, we don’t want to start it, we know that once that starts the outcome can never be known and can be much worse than we imagine. Also that untold numbers will be killed.

          So we wait and WORK, HOPE and PRAY that we can turn it around before we get to the point where we MUST ACT.

          It happened in the Revolution that created America. The British came for our GUNS.

          Will the same trigger cause the 2ed Civil War? Or will it be something else? OR hopefully there will be no trigger and we will muddle through.
          But the Progressives don’t seem to have a clue and keep pushing.

          Trump was a surprising thing, the Ballot Box helped, and MAY work.
          And proved that the Ballot Box still can change things for now.

          1. “Trump was a surprising thing, the Ballot Box helped, and MAY work.
            And proved that the Ballot Box still can change things for now.”

            Only because he was up against the most incompetent candidate possible. Had she concentrated the resources in some other states rather than CA, we would have had more New Hampshires.


            “A new report shows that more than 6,500 people using out-of-state driver’s licenses registered on Election Day 2016 to vote in New Hampshire, but since then hardly any of them got a state license or registered a motor vehicle.
            The closest major election was the contest between incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte and challenger Maggie Hassan (D). Hassan won the election by a razor-thin margin of 1,017 votes. Those 5,313 fraudulent votes were more than enough to swing the election. If 59.2% or more of them went for Hassan, then the election was stolen through voter fraud. That’s likely, since the surrounding states are Democrat strongholds.

            It’s also possible that New Hampshire’s four electoral college votes were swung to Hillary Clinton through illegal voting by nonresidents. Clinton won New Hampshire by only 2,732 votes. If 74.8% of the 5,513 fraudulent votes were cast for Clinton, then the presidential election in New Hampshire was tipped as well.”

            And even now, blue states, cities, etc. are obstructing any attempt to investigate.

            Sleep tight.

  14. Look, you’re never given a choice of cake or death.

    As I am on a medically-mandated low-carb diet, even that would not be a choice. Besides, the cake is a lie, offering moist tasty deliciousness but delivering flat, spongy meh-ness.

    “My country, right or wrong,” has been mocked as equivalent to “My mother, drunk or sober” — but that is a very apt comparison. When it is sober I revere my nation as protector of my liberties, as provider of my freedom. When my nation is drunk I owe the duty of taking away the keys, protecting the breakables and doing my utmost to get it to bed with minimal harm all around. I do not disown her, nor cast her out, nor imagine that denouncing her reflects at all well on me!

    This nation has been inadvertently sipping from the electric kool-aid punch-bowl of Socialism and it is the duty of those of us who love it to watch over and protect her until she sobers up.

    1. I remember (I don’t know from where) this expansion on the toast:

      My country, right or wrong: when right, stand by her, when wrong, correct her, but my country, right or wrong!

      1. Very close to Stephen Decatur’s toast. I believe that his rhymed — something like “When right, to defend her; when wrong, to amend her.” But it may have been something like “When wrong, to make right.”

  15. I came to post this whether or not it was on-topic, and then found out that it’s not totally off-topic for this discussion. But regardless: can any of the Huns and Hoydens with military background (of whom there are many) shed any light on this letter that someone linked in the comments section of Instapundit? It purports to be an open letter from LTC Heffington, a member of the West Point faculty, to West Point graduates, talking about how bad the standards at West Point had gotten during his time on the faculty. If this letter really is from LTC Heffington, then it’s accurate — and it explains just about everything about how an avowed communist like Rapone managed to graduate from West Point.

    Here’s a copy of the letter so you can read it for yourself. Please remove any breakable objects from within reach before clicking, unless you were planning on breaking them anyway, as you may find yourself throwing things at the wall. And if you’re prone to high blood pressure, please make sure you’ve taken your most recent dose of blood pressure mediation before reading:

    View at Medium.com

    Does this letter sound like it’s real? Does it square with experiences you have had?

    1. I only saw the first iteration taking place under Clinton, but things were sliding fast. With Obama’s wide-scale political purges of the upper ranks and the observed actions of those perfumed princes still in place (women in combat, ranger school, shemales, etc.) I find it very believable.

    2. I had a hint of this at my school, during my years there. A political drive to graduate 1,000 cadets in a year meant that a lot of folk who shouldn’t have graduated, did. The number of people who argued about fairly clear-cut honor cases was way too many.
      It was nowhere as bad as what this letter claims. But, it has been ~30 years since I graduated.

      (Full disclosure: I was not at the top of my class.)

    3. Interesting. Probably true. It squares with what my step-brother-in-law tells me (He’s a retired Army officer, formerly Airborne(sp?)

      Rather distressing that you have administrators too cowardly to enforce the standards in an academic environment. Doesn’t bode well for actual courage in the face of a real enemy.

      1. Rather distressing that you have administrators too cowardly to enforce the standards in an academic environment.

        Looks around at reports of Campus Free Speech status, at reactions within academia to arguments advocating “Bourgeois Values,” defending “Colonialism” and supporting Due Process rights of the accused.

        It seems to be a job requirement.

      2. 1. Officers are inherently political, and get their commissions from the President. Obama may have decided it served his political ends to ensure that no standards were enforced. If this is the case, what of the other academies? 2. In theory, Trump could remedy this and withdraw the commissions of the officers graduated from West Point over that time frame. As a Layman, I expect in practice this would also have pretty severe consequences for the Army, and for Trump’s ability to get things done within the Army. If Mattis did it, it would hurt him. Frankly, Academy students tend to have Legislative sponsors, and that makes fixing things a huge ball of wax. 3. West Point has an engineering curriculum. When was the last time ABET accredited it, and what does this imply for the integrity of ABET accreditation. 4. Fuck. 5. It once again looks like everyone that Obama appointed needs to be fired.

            1. It can probably be repeated here without trouble. Or rather, the executive summary can be repeated. The editorial commentary likely addresses details which do not need repeating.

        1. It once again looks like everyone that Obama appointed needs to be fired.

          Preferably from a small bore cannon.

        2. The only firings I have non-news knowledge of were pretty basic “make a fall guy” things where someone got caught feathering a nest and had people ready to be hung out.

        3. Heffington’s article on the subject puts the start to at least ten years back, which would actually be just before Obama, during the second Bush administration. I’m not sure why things like this would start while Bush was in office, though. The only thing that remotely makes any sense is if the leadership at the academy came under pressure to graduate larger numbers of cadets (who could then serve as newbie Lts in Iraq and Afghanistan).

          1. Or if he is rounding in order to avoid explicitly placing the blame on that Administration.

            Standards have slipped dangerously sounds like a bipartisan need for addressing, and makes it harder for Democrats to argue against.

            The Democrats screwed it up with their PC bullshit and Obama’s malignant incompetence is easy for Democrats to paint as a partisan witch-hunt.

          2. Ten years back would put it at about the time the Democrats, decrying a “Culture of Corruption” (meaning: they weren’t in control of distributing goodies) took control of Congress and, with it, patronage and appointment decisions. George W Bush had already made significant concessions to “maintain” Democrat support for the troops, so there might have been consequences at the military academies.

            How are instructors, curriculum and administrative personnel chosen?

            1. “George W Bush had already made significant concessions to “maintain” Democrat support for the troops, so there might have been consequences at the military academies.”

              This was a major factor from the beginning? Why did we get the TSA? Not because Bush wanted it. Duck Duck Go “To professionalize you must Federalize”, and you’ll find the Democrats wanting more Fewderal employees and holding up 9/11 response until they got it.

          3. Could it be the Congress, which has to recommend for West Point and confirm promotions to general rank, was taken over by Democrats in 2006??

          4. I’m not sure Bush had much to do with it. The Academies had been trending toward more civilian professors for decades. And that means more progressive influence.
            As to the military leadership, that influence has also been slowly eroding for a long while. I’m not sure how much a President influences that, as opposed to the Permanent Bureaucracy and our Culture in general.

    4. Not a WPer, but an Army officer and given what I saw in IPAP (the joint services Interservice Physician Assistant Program) and in BOLC, absolutely all of it meshes with what I ave seen happening over the last decade. I have no reason to doubt the professor in any way whatsoever.

  16. “I suspect most of us will die of his messing with the health system because it’s so embuggred that no rationality can be restored for decades.”
    Maybe not. Turns out there was already a law in place that can be used to largely bypass the ACA by modifying a few regulations (not laws). I don’t know who figured that out but Trump just signed an E.O. to start the process. The idea is like the Medi-Share model but able to be used by any affinity group, employer, service organization, etc.
    Certainly not a full solution to the problem but finally a step towards real choice.

  17. I enlisted during BJ’s first term, after Ruby Ridge and Waco, while his administration was actively seeking to crush my community’s way of life.
    I think I’m on record.

    My first response is “how is this even a question?”
    My second is the quote poetry. I’m going to skip over Horatio’s famous lines and go with this, instead:

    Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
    Who never to himself hath said,
    This is my own, my native land!
    Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
    As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
    From wandering on a foreign strand!
    If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
    For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
    High though his titles, proud his name,
    Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
    Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
    The wretch, concentred all in self,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And, doubly dying, shall go down
    To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
    Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.
    –Sir Walter Scott

    1. > my native land!

      But I’m one of the Displaced Persons. My “native land” isn’t there any more; in its place is some kind of SJW-Socialist-Communist whine-ocracy.

      “Where y’all from?”


      1. “Where you from, boy?”
        “I’m from that mythological land, the United States of America.”
        “You mean you’re from here. We’re not mythological.”
        “You are mistaken, sir. Same space-time, yes; but entirely different universe.”

  18. I think – I HOPE – that the Progressivist twits have just about run out their possession of the ball. I see local changes of power in the Republican Party, too. I don’t think the likes if Shrllary and Babwa Strident are going to be with us much monger.

    That said, I am by no means certain that what will replace them will be better in the long run. The Islamotwits haven’t examined the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan anywhere nearly closely enough.

    Uh, guys? We wiped out the fourth largest army in the world with a small fraction of our total troops, in TWO WEEKS. Now, imagine how bad it could get if we really get mad.

    It will be as Allah wills it, but if there is a big enough attack on US soil – say a fuel-air explosion in Detroit that kills 50,000 – then Allah apparently will that Mecca glow in the dark, and the United States be ruled by the first of a new line of Caesars.

    I, personally, will be OK. I’m white and over 50. By the time the merde rolling downhill backs up to my level, I’ll be dead and gone. And I will certainly be fun to watch the same Liberal twerps who complained so loudly that Trump and Bush were dictators to deal with the real thing. But I will be sad for my country.

    1. the Progressivist twits have just about run out their possession of the ball
      You think they have a down limit or a shot clock? Pfft. They’re playing Calvinball!

      1. I would argue that, right up to the election, they THOUGHT they were playing Calvinball. Then the roof fell in on them. It was a thatch roof, so they aren’t crushed but they are running around like ants in a rainstorm.

        In each election cycle of the last several they have expended more political capitol than they gained. For example; they got Obama elected twice, but it exposed their media more fully even than protecting Clinton did and what they got in return was a bunch of questionable executive orders that are being overturned and a Health Care package that is widely despised. They got a chance for Shrillary to hold an important administrative office, presumably to bolster her credentials, and she was exposed as careless or criminal or both.

        Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they still have enough juice to win another Presidency. But right now they hold the coasts and a few cities, and are in serious trouble. And they seem to be losing hold of New England.

        1. I really have been impressed with the way Trump has been playing the Democrats. Especially the NFL thing. I would not be that surprised if the Democrats get shellacked in the midterms.

          1. having been one for so long he knows what they will play to.
            Guess we can be happy Trump is that much a spiteful SOB, he decided to “Really Get Back At” 0bama and Hillary for those insults at the press dinner.

            1. If Trump really hands them their heads in 2018 and 2020 it will be because, while he is by no means as fascist as the Left, he plays hardball like the Left….and they aren’t used to it.

              Poor little mama’s darlings!


              1. Sort of. He’s not winning because he plays hardball. He’s winning because the Left keeps trying to pretend that they aren’t playing hardball, and everyone can tell that that’s a lie.

              2. He plays them by their rules, and they hates him, hates him!
                Then again, he wasn’t totally popular with many of them when he was at his leftest, so no real surprise. He and the press have cordially hated each other for years.

    2. The jihadis tell themselves that they’re taking the long view. The Crusaders won at first, but were eventually defeated. Israel won at first, but will eventually be defeated. The US won at first, but will eventually be defeated.

      The Reconquista and Tours are conveniently ignored. That will change, though, if the demographics continue in the direction that they appear to be moving.

      So the US crushing the Iraqi army almost instantly is brushed off as a temporary setback.

  19. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I still hold myself bound by that oath. (And you know how I feel about oathbreaking.)

    Now, I might have some difficulty if the US turned its back on the Constitution and some foreign power were to actually follow Constitutional principles and then, for whatever reason went to war with the no-longer-Constitution-following-US. However, I find myself in no danger of that happening. As bad as the US is at following the Constitution, the rest of the world is worse and I do not see that changing any time soon.

    As a great man once said, “If we lose Freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.”

    1. Exactly. I joined OathKeepers a long time ago. They’re terribly maligned as some sort of militia/terrorists by the left, but I’ve found that they (or at least some chapters) are very serious about keeping the oath.

      1. I didn’t. I didn’t see the need as I know what my oath said. And, if someone claims “Oh, you’re one of those oathkeeper fanatics” I can honestly say, “No. I’m not.”

        1. No need to join, of course not. But if someone says to me, “Oh, you’re one of those OathKeeper fanatics,” I’ll definitely reply, “Anyone who takes an oath and doesn’t keep it isn’t worthy of my, or anyone’s respect.” As for “fanatics,” the reply would be, “So you just believe what you’re told rather than actually trying to learn the truth, eh?”

          1. Keeping one’s sworn word is a virtue. But is it the supreme virtue? The protagonist of The Pirates of Penzance believes, quite sincerely, that it is his duty to serve the Pirate King, even though the King is a villain. (The characters don’t know it’s a comedy; it’s dead serious to them.) And his beloved Mabel says “He has acted nobly.”

            If you were a German officer who swore a personal oath of allegiance to the Führer in 1936, would you follow his orders right down to the end? This is not a gotcha question. There were many who wrestled with it.

            Or another example, perhaps closer to home: divorce. The marriage oath is supposed to be permanent. But should it bind when the relationship between the parties has irretrievably broken down? Should it bind A when B is not honoring it? No one seems to think so anymore, and we are far down the slippery slope toward divorce for any reason at all.

            1. If you can no longer keep your oath, you can renounce or repudiate it to those you have sworn it to. But breaking the oath without first doing this (giving them notice) is dishonorable, to my way of thinking.

            2. If you will persist in arguing that human society is complex and contradictory there is no place for you in the interwebz.

      2. Being maligned by the Left is not quite equivalent to having a compass aligned to True North but it is about as close to that as one can get.

        Remember, the Left needs real Nazis and White Supremacists to make their denunciations seem credible.

        1. Nah. They’ll just as easily turn on their own, for not being quite ideologically pure enough, or for wearing the wrong socks, or because they didn’t kowtow to their social betters quickly enough…

          1. I am with TRX here. One of the queer things about the Charlottesville debacle was that the Ku Klux Klan march had taken place a few weeks earlier to no particular kerfuffle and these are the real deal with the hood and the sheets. The honest-to-Hitler NaziLARPers had marched the night before with their tiki torches quite peacefully. It wasn’t until the grab-bag of misfits, alt-Right fringe and assorted Dewberries showed up that a mob showded up and people started getting clubbed and having battery acid thrown in their faces.

            Red Bill Black claimed in one of her videos that the number of people showing up for Ku Klux Klan and play-like Nazis to preen and pose, is pretty much the same and was done with about the same frequency as under President Obama.

    2. Ah. Someone else who appears to believe a person is only as good as their word.
      “’tis better to be silent than to be foresworn.”

    1. I’ve read some history items lately that state that the American Revolution was nothing more then another phase in the English Civil War. A good case can be made for that, for it was a Civil War, just as much as that unpleasantness in the 1860’s was. The winners get to call it what they want.

      1. “The Cousins’ War” part two the sequel. With postscript in 1861, although I think the last bit might be straining a little. I freely admit I have not read the Civil War book, so the evidence presented might be better than what I think it is.

  20. Regarding civil wars, another big factor is “who’s supplying the guns and ammo”. As seen during the Spanish Civil War, the people sending soldiers, guns, and money get a big say in how your government will be run afterwards.
    Would some foreign power grab big swaths of the former USA? Maybe, maybe not- grabbing a close bit of land you have a historic claim on is popular, but most of the world has lost it’s appetite for classic overseas imperialism. But you can get cheap resources and handy ports & bases in a country with a tailor made government, without all the hassle that classic overseas imperialism brings.

    1. Justin Trudeau might send down legions of social workers and members of the Human Rights Councils to reclaim the land for the First Nations. 😛

      1. Meh, they can be scared off with a black looking rifle. The strong ones will flee in terror, the weaker ones will collapse into piles of quivering jelly. If they do try it, please try to winnow them like chaff? Make our jobs up here a lot easier.

      2. It is an interesting question: what parts of the US could other nations steal?

        I expect Mexico would grab California — they’ve already largely occupied it as is, and nobody expects the residents of LA or SF to put up any kind of effective resistance. They might also snatch off Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. I doubt they’d try to take Texas or Utah, as local militias would prove troublesome over time.

        I don’t really see anyone else likely to grab & hold land. Russia might claim Alaska although they may look at the locals and decide to simply pump out all the oil they can and leave. Actually occupy it? I don’t think so. Canada might actually mobilize their military to “drive off” the Russians and claim Alaska in turn.

        China probably doesn’t see anything here worth owning; they’d likely simply be happy to work their will in the Pacific absent our intervention.

        The more likely scenario seems to be a break-up of the nation into regional powers. I can imagine a Mormon nation centered in Utah, and maybe a New England polity. The South might secede again, if only to avoid being lectured to by Yankees, although I think the Mississippi-Missouri basin would hold together for pragmatic reasons.

        1. That would probably be followed up by various attempts to create a “Holy American Empire”, to greater or lesser degrees of success.

          1. Orrvan, about 30% of the people living within our borders actively or passively hate this country and everything it stands for. They have served as a very effective 5th Column, and will continue to do so unless the invaders fail to learn from the Ukrainian experience in WWII.

            Thinking we will be able to resist an external enemy without the civil war to remove that 5th Column is unrealistic at best.

        2. The Chinese would prefer to live in America instead of the chemical cesspool they’ve made of much of their country.

      3. Most of the First Nations would probably tell Trudeau’s legions to go take a long walk off a short pier. While I suspect a large number of them wouldn’t complain if they were independent again, I doubt they’d want a bunch of self-righteous SJW Canucks barging around “helping” them.

        1. There is a really good book out there that I can’t remember the title of, that explains how geographic divisions are more important than political ones. That Alberta and the other Prairie provinces have more in common with the Dakotas than with the Ottawa and the east of Canada. That the logical idea is to break up North America into several “Countries”. For example; “Cascadia” (British Columbia/Washington/Oregon/California).

          1. Sounds like The Nine Nations of North America, by Joel Garreau — which to my surprise was published in 1981!

            “He … argues that conventional national and state borders are largely artificial and irrelevant, and that his ‘nations’ provide a more accurate way of understanding the true nature of North American society.”

            From Wikipedia: wiki/The_Nine_Nations_of_North_America

  21. During WWII my family was in the resistance. My father, a child at the time, learnt such skills as how to use det-cord to drop trees across a road. The communist elements of the resistance had a habit of assassinating or turning in right wing resistance members who got too successful. This does tend to bias the results.

  22. Forgot to tick that box thingy – d’oh.
    Since I am here – my grandfather and great grandfather were assaninated, my father survived, his best friend did not (grenade). This is nothing special. If you do study resistance efforts then you will find that wherever the communists were they also operated against their real enemies, the right wing resistance. The only takeaway is to remember that there is *no* enemy of your country who the left hates more than they do you (name one).

    1. “their real enemies, the right wing resistance”
      No this is wrong.
      “their real enemies, the non-communists”
      This is correct.
      As Heinlein noted the Communists HATED the Socialists with a passion and were hated in return.

      1. Phil Ochs, author and performer of this song, was an admitted socialist, and expresses herein his view of Liberals.

        “In every American community you have varying shades of political opinion;
        one of the shadiest of these is the Liberals.”

  23. I’m going for loyalty to the Constitution, and I count anyone who stands for it as a friend and a fellow. The government at presently constituted is infested with career politicians who value their party above the public welfare; career bureaucrats who value their turf; and judges who either ignore the law or twist it to suit their own prejudices, and deserves the stinkeye, but I still think fumigation and aggressive pest control are better than burning it down.

    1. “judges who either ignore the law or twist it to suit their own prejudices”

      And Richard Posner, while still a moron, Is no longer a Judge (Lord be praised) so that number is reduced by one. So long as his successor does not follow in his footsteps, at least.

  24. Re: Build Under, etc…

    Today I spent a bit too much time reading some assertions about the history of Hollywood. Single source, so might be a nutjob or a gossip profiteer. My conclusion is that the Communism isn’t the whole problem, and that Hollywood needs to be destroyed.

    How to do that? Cheaper ways to make and sell movies or similar media that captures the same audience. I can’t promise to come up with and develop any good ideas where that is concerned.

  25. Some people in totalitarian states chose not to compromise an inch. That meant sacrificing themselves, of course, but much more painfully, they sacrificed their families, friends and everyone else around them.
    I have great respect for them, I truly do.
    But most people cannot make that choice. And I cannot fault them for that.

    I have compromised. Said all the expected things. Applauded when everyone applauded. After being asked by my late grandmother “You want to say WHAT in school?!? Do you want to lose your parents?”, I have cowardly rewritten my book report to toe the official line. Got a failing grade for it, too, it being so obviously forced and superficial. Was told that I had ruined it for the class (she counted on me arguing against the doctrine).
    But I never snitched. Never took what was being said in the kitchen to the outside world (it depresses me so much that I now have to teach that to my kids HERE!). My meaningless little acts of defiance consisted of reading samizdat and trying to listen to “enemy” radio broadcasts through all the jamming. A typical behavior of a scared little everyman.
    Nothing to be proud of. But I am not ashamed of it, either.

    It is easy to day dream about being an unbending defender of freedom while in a Western country.
    Choices are somewhat less appealing when you are behind the Iron Curtain, hoping that Chernenko would be an improvement over Andropov, and with an iron clad knowledge that the closest you will ever come to seeing the world would be courtesy Dumas, Conan Doyle and O.Henry.

    1. I once attended a lecture by a former Muslim who had converted to Christianity. What he said goes on in Muslim countries reminded me strongly of what I’ve heard about the former Soviet Union. In these countries, Muslims go to the mosque not primarily to worship, but to be seen going to the mosque. And so on with the five prayers a day, giving alms, etc. — all of it done for the sake of looking like a good Muslim. And so stories like yours help me make sense of the Middle East, because the same dynamic is at play there. Plenty of hard-working, decent people who hate what their society as a whole, or their leaders*, are doing. But they don’t dare speak up, because it would just get them ostracized or killed and wouldn’t change a thing. The scared everyman, keeping his head down because that’s all he can do.

      And since I know that, my thoughts on the right approach to take with the Islamic terror groups have changed drastically. I now advocate a much tougher military approach, because those statistics about how umpteen percent of Muslims support jihad? I bet they’re taken by open polling. That scared everyman is NEVER going to give the “wrong” response to a poll where anyone else will know what he said. But if his “leaders” are losing militarily against American forces and he can actually see the prospect of freedom, he’ll have hope. And he’ll continue keeping his head down until it’s totally safe, because he doesn’t dare stick it out too soon and have it chopped off when the next American President decides to withdraw troops (*spit* Obama has NO IDEA how many people he abandoned to their deaths by withdrawing. I bet that narcissist still thinks he did the right thing there.) But if the Americans actually persist and win, they’re not going to see nearly the amount of insurgency they thought, as long as they took the right approach to the Muslim everyman. Because most of them only give the right response to the “do you support jihad?” polls because they’re afraid, not because their hearts are truly in it.

      Some evidence for this can be seen in how the ISIS troops, when their back was against the wall in terms of logistics (no food, etc.) surrendered in droves rather than fighting to the death like good jihadis are supposed to. Even their fighters weren’t truly dedicated fanatics, so what about all the civilians? No, if we can keep our resolve and not back down like Obama did (*spit*), it is possible to defeat the jihadis, and free a billion-plus people from the oppression of their own evil governments.

      * Religious leaders in this case rather than party leaders, and I deliberately did NOT capitalize the “p” in “party” because they don’t deserve even that much respect.

      1. Some evidence for this can be seen in how the ISIS troops … surrendered in droves rather than fighting to the death …

        About those …
        There have been interesting reports about the drug cocktails with which ISIS plied their troops, so their ferocity and their surrounding both might owe less to commitment and more to pharmaceuticals.

      2. Hubby spoke to some folks who came back from overseas (insert dustbin hellhole name here) who were, frankly, enraged that the politicians had decided to ‘pull out’ just as they were starting to lay the foundations of real good there. The locals had had actual hope that the changes the Americans and Australians were putting in were going to help them resist (insert name of Islamic extremist group here) because the Everyday Muslim over there just wanted to live. They didn’t blame the soldiers for the political decisions that pretty much was abandoning them to the punishments of said extremists for ‘cooperating’, but I gathered they sort of just shrugged fatalistically in the ‘what can you do? They’re your bosses’ sort of way.

        Similarly, there’s a subset of Muslim here that want to live as “Australian first, Muslim second”. Apparently one of the (smaller) reasons is, this allows them to have dogs, because having a dog is ‘part of Australian culture.’ It seems like such a small thing, but they love their dogs…

        1. That’s actually one of the classic Muslim vs Islam conflicts. The Bedouins love their hunting dogs and watchdogs, but Mohammed didn’t like ’em. There are different hadiths/ahadith about whether dogs are more “unclean” and “hated by the Angel Gabriel, who can’t give Quran messages if a dog is around”, or more useful and helpful critters. (An awful lot of religions that seem to have demonic influences advocate killing dogs. Not a rule, but….)

          Other breaking points are “all secular music is evil” and “it’s totally okay to kill poets, even though poets are supposed to be inviolate in Mideastern societies.”

          1. I always attributed Mohammed’s hatred of dogs to be related to his inability to conduct surprise attacks if they were present.

            Didn’t know that about the supposed ‘Gabriel doesn’t like dogs’ idea. There’s a common folklore spread across several cultures that dogs can detect evil… I wonder if that would have helped ripped away the masquerade. *grim smile*

            1. Burglars tend to dislike dogs, and we only have Mo’s word for it that Gabriel hated them.

              I’m not saying Mo would lie, but if he said it was raining, before looking skyward I would first look down to check the status of his fly.

          2. Objectively, it makes sense for anyone malicious to urge folks to first violate the animal trust closest to human child-trust– which would be dogs.

            Heck, they even act like puppies for their entire lives, depending on upbringing.

            1. Hell, let’s just go with how Mo’s urges lead him.

              How many stories are there out there of dogs being the reason why parents found out their child was being abused by the babysitter because the dog ‘was hostile/didn’t like this person’?

              Mo had PLENTY of reasons to want to religiously ban dogs; whether it was for his raider/thievery, or pedophilia…

      3. In these countries, Muslims go to the mosque not primarily to worship, but to be seen going to the mosque. And so on with the five prayers a day, giving alms, etc. — all of it done for the sake of looking like a good Muslim.

        In other words, they act exactly like most humans (if to different degrees), very much including Americans who suddenly turned out to not be “with her”. Careful, you’ll knock over the “hurr, magical untermenshen envy ur freedomz” board. 😉

        I now advocate a much tougher military approach, because those statistics about how umpteen percent of Muslims support jihad?

        Right, because if they don’t, they surely will be happy to see a bunch of foreign chuckleducks about to run them over in several new and exciting ways?
        However trite, let’s return to WWII. And

        reminded me strongly of what I’ve heard about the former Soviet Union

        Also, if ISIS and their various clone-brothers weren’t happy puppets of certain American factions to begin with, and actually had goals in the outside world rather than just lord over their neighbours as petty juntas, they’d have an extremely obvious way to whip up jihad: translate more unhinged tumblrinas from US press about anything at all, and then statements about Muslims from… well, the same crowd, but cosplaying in KKK hoods. There’s no way for this to not have a great effect on anyone unused to the smell of this particular cesspool.

      4. I bet that narcissist still thinks he did the right thing there.)

        To be more precise, he doesn’t really care.
        Understanding the Obama foreign policy re: the Middle East is really simple: it was driven almost purely by domestic politics, and by 2009, most Americans wanted us out of Iraq, but not necessarily Afghanistan. So that’s why things went down the way they did.

        1. Heard a guy from USC giving a lecture pretty much on this exact idea. According to the lecturer (whose name I can’t recall off the top of my head), Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East was driven by the fact that he didn’t care at all about anything in the region. But he had supporters in the US who *did* want certain things to happen in the region (like a US pullout from Iraq), and Obama could support them in the Middle East (which he didn’t care about) in exchange for their support for his domestic policies (which, obviously, he did care about).

      5. As a rule, even those who are vehemently opposed to the ruling regime will fight for their country when it is under attack from the outside. Hence the unrelenting drumbeat of “they are about to invade” coming from such regimes.
        Them, if an invasion actually happens, internal differences are set aside, and dissidents being worked to dearth in the camps, for instance, start begging to be allowed to go fight the invader.

    2. and with an iron clad knowledge that the closest you will ever come to seeing the world would be courtesy Dumas, Conan Doyle and O.Henry.

      To “seeing the world”, really?

      1. Upon rereading, I see what you mean.
        What I tried to convey was “no hope of even ever having a peek of the world outside the Soviet borders, let alone a chance of escape.”

        Basically, that there was a hopelessness of no light to be seen at the end of that tunnel.

        1. well, and okay, but a nation without dirt is not a nation. Even if the spirit is alive. I don’t want the US to undergo the same fate, even if I foretold it in my future history.

  26. I’ve never really understood holy dirt. Why didn’t we just create Israel in Nevada and be done with it?

    The closest I’ve come was visiting Armenia and being taken to a 3,000 year old temple – on a cliff over a vastly older cavern. I could see that if I somehow considered that “mine”, it would be worth fighting to keep.

    I’d happily abandon the US and go elsewhere, if the governing system was sane. For example, an independent Lunar colony that used our constitution.

    There is nothing holding me to this particular piece of dirt other than its better governed than any other piece of dirt, which is rather appalling given how horridly we’re governed.

    1. The religion of Judaism is explicitly tied to that particular piece of dirt.
      Short of rewriting the Torah, there is no escaping that.

    2. The entire Bible is predicated on the idea that Israel is Eden. If you are leaving it, something has gone wrong. If you are going toward it, the Plan is coming together. (Unless you are leaving it only to make the whole world more of the same Eden.)

      Also, you are dirt. Hopefully, holy dirt. Possibly even a living stone, cut without hands.

    3. Well, when G-d says “THIS, right here. THIS is YOUR dirt.” That breeds a special sort of stubborn attachment to that particular piece of dirt. And given that same G-d has provided the cultural memes and mores, laws and prophecies and all that keep getting tied to this particular tribe sticking around despite being trampled and split, enslaved and deported by every empire passing through that crossroads since, oh, about since G-d Said “Right here!”?

      Well, that’s a very stubborn tribe, stubbornly still alive despite everything, and stubbornly returning to that same dirt. Even if I didn’t believe in the existence of the same G-d, the existence of a still-coherent tribal identity after all these thousands of years and empires would be a very convincing piece of evidence that I might be wrong. How do you explain the Jewish survival without the existence of G-d? So they come back to that dirt, that G-d gave them.

      Me, I wanna go to Mars.

      1. I don’t know about holy dirt, but when UNESCO declares the Cave of Machpelah — final resting places of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah — and Rachel’s Tomb are Palestinian Heritage sites, then somebody has their keffiyeh tied too tightly.

        Once you’ve asserted that dirt can be holy your only remaining argument is priority of title.

        1. Well, that’s how it works, because Muslims did it all and it’s part of their culture only and not the Christians or the Jews…

          Even if it’s from a previous culture, it’s the Muslims’ stuff now sod actual facts and history and truth. /snark

            1. Yep. But that doesn’t matter, because it ‘prooooooves’ that Muslims HELPS THE WORLD YES THEY DO


              I really hate the meme that maths and ‘zero’ is because Islam exists. It’s pretty pervasive, and wrong, but it’s one of those ‘everyone knows’ things that is crap.

              1. I’m pretty sure every advance credited to the “Golden Age of Muslim Civilization” was achieved in spite of Islam, not because of it.

                1. There’s also the simple reality that a number of these are outright lies. Ornamental gardens existed long before Islam existed, in various parts of the world. The earliest known recording of a recipe for soap came from ancient Babylon. The concept of null, nothingness, zero came originally from India and like many other things from there (such as sugar) was dispersed to the West via the Silk Road. Paper was a Chinese invention, and their histories cite around 105 AD as the year it was invented. The earliest textile is theorized to be felt, though I think it would vie rather easily with linens, and there are examples of flax cultivation from as early as 8000 B.C; cotton was cultivated by the Indus Valley civilzations 5000-4000 B.C. Plastic surgery was practised by the Egyptians. Bathing existed long before Islam (really, I have serious doubts about the claims that nobody bathed before Islam came along.) Or brushed their teeth (early ‘toothbrushes’ were crude, but dental hygiene existed long before Islam – the earliest examples I can think of were Roman era.

                  Pretty much, Islam plays the game of cultural and historical appropriation and previous culture erasure, laying claim to the successes of other cultures that existed long before Mohammed’s accursed existence came to be. Long story short, they stole and stole and stole, and then claimed it was theirs all along.

                  1. I was surprised to find the claim that Muslims discovered that the Earth was round. Now, I’m not a historian, but the Internet is my friend, and tells me that Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth in 240BC.

        2. The whole problem is that this is the worst sort of argument – a family fight over an inheritance. The descendents of Isaac and Ismail fighting over Abraham’s legacy.

  27. Agreed in the main — but you brought up an item that made me go Huh?

    Because trying to reform it in the middle of an existential struggle would be death for the nation, and bringing a nation back from the dead — in the only case we know — takes thousands of years.

    Poland alone has been erased from the map and then resurrected three times. Once for 130 years, once for 47, and in WW2 for only 6.

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