The Final Penalty is Death

Have you ever stopped to consider what would happen if you refused to submit in any way to even a small injustice on the part of the state? Let’s take a parking ticket, for example. Without bothering to create a specific scenario, let’s assume that you received the ticket in error and were not in violation. That’s the premised reality for this make-believe situation. You violated no established code, but received a citation for a violation just the same, and now you're unjustly bound up in the system—if only to a minor degree that’s little more than a troublesome annoyance.

Now, you waste more time and endure more annoyance to run through the established "due-process" to contest the citation. It falls on deaf ears. The citation stands. You refuse to pay. Eventually, a warrant to seize your vehicle is issued. One day, you’re returning to your car and there’s a tow truck in the process of hoisting it, and a cop standing guard.

You run to the car, and ignoring shouts of “HALT!…HALT!…HALT OR I’LL SHOOT!” you jump in the car, fire it up, and attempt to extricate yourself from the tow truck. The cop runs over and points a gun at you as you reach for the gun you keep next to you. BANG! You’re dead.

You’ve just paid the ultimate and final penalty for defiance of the state: death. The sate will not be defied, you see, for as sure as it’s your nature to be free, it’s the state’s nature to enslave, command obedience, and extinguish any who will not ultimately submit. Let’s not forget who initiated aggression in the above scenario. The state did. The state initiated aggression with the original citation and enforced it at every step while you were defending your right to not be tread upon at every step.

“But that’s an outlandish and fanciful story,” you protest. We’ll, sure. Most people would not risk their lives for the sake of a parking ticket. In fact, most won’t even take Patrick Henry’s wager: “Give me liberty, or give me death.” People will allow themselves to be unjustly locked up, even sentenced to death. Such is the pernicious power of master over slave.

The resolve of the state to kill those who will not bow to its will is not so exaggerated as you might think. Should I go on in attempting to convince you, or is a picture worth a thousand words?

elian gonzalez2
Elian Gonzalez

John Lopez at No Treason! Posts commentary about this article.

...As I was just sayin’ yesterday at the end of this post.

So, the next time you refer to America as a free country, take a moment to stop and reflect about what an idiot you are for saying such a patently stupid thing.

Now, for those of you waiting, asking, "Ok, so how do you propose to organize civil society if the state can't enforce its laws, to the death if necessary?" Hey, I'm no engineer of utopias. Smart libertarians get over devising ways to engineer the human species through the maze of life early on. My purpose is to point out how our rights are violated every day of our lives, and the biggest violator is the state. I don't require that you have an alternative way of getting through life. I require that you stop being party to it.

Because I Was One

Perhaps it's that philosopher and professor Kieth Burgess-Jackson was a liberal that he's so razor sharp effective at deconstructing them.

There is no reason to think there is a conservative conspiracy to thwart liberalism. There’s no need for a conspiracy. Liberalism contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. It denies the moral relevance of such things as desert and responsibility. It thinks in terms of groups rather than individuals. It is guilt-ridden to the point of incapacitation. It naively believes that human beings are infinitely malleable. These beliefs are so detached from reality—as given to us by science—that they ensure that liberalism will never get a grip on the popular imagination. Deep down, liberals know that they can secure the power they crave only by misrepresenting themselves to the American people. The American people, however, are too smart to be taken in by such dishonesty. Instead of acknowledging and accepting this, liberals persist in thinking that they fail because—and only because—of a conservative conspiracy.

The Power to Beg for the Whip

What's Billy Beck spewing venom about now?

In other words, you can all have your stupid opinions, out there. You get to have your ridiculous say. You can gang-up as you please and see what you can gouge and scratch out of each other. And then, we'll all get to deal with the increasingly disastrous consequences for a couple of years until the next Great Public Conspiracy after the next Peak of Cannibal-Pot Hysteria.

You rotten assholes. Americans. I used to really admire you. And if I came across a bunch of assholes at the end of your driveway getting ready to take a vote on whether to violate your rights, I wouldn't be telling them that we'd have to agree to disagree or any such weezily rot, like I hear all you bastards equivocating all the time while you're excusing yourselves for getting ready to gang-up and violate each others' and everybody else's rights, this November.

[bah] What on earth could be the point? They're all going to do it again this year: they're going to line up at the polls and endorse this rule of their lives, just like animals suddenly come upon the power of begging for the whip.

You can read the whole post here.

The reason I no longer participate in the vote has nothing to do with any individual's vote being relatively ineffectual. I don't vote because I don't believe in unjust coercion. The fact that you gang up with others in your effort to force your will upon those who do not see things your way—when they've done nothing to harm or threaten anyone—does not make your act of voting any less coercive. To the extent that such coercion is initiatory, i.e., not in legitimate self defense against unjust aggression, it is immoral.

I wonder if any who subscribe to the sanctity of the vote stop to realize that in all national elections to date, the non-vote has always “won.” There are about 210 million eligible voters. For national elections, about 110 million votes get cast nowadays; and they’re cast in roughly a 50/50 split for President. So, that’s 55 million votes for one Godfather, 55 million for the other mobster, and 100 million for nobody at all. None of you ever looked at it that way even once in your lives, did you? You can just barely claim majority support for your "right" of voting. What will you do when the turnout drops from 55% to under 50%? Talk about self-contradictory. I used to call it the tyranny of the majority, but upon realizing that the "majority vote” calls for nothing and nobody, I'll need to just call it the "tyranny of a mob" from now on.

Hey, Citizens! Step Right Up!…I’ve got a great deal for you: for today only; become a voter and you can have an entire 1/210,000,000th say in what values will be available to you throughout your life. BUT WAIT! If you act now, you can also spend up to 50% of your time and money in the service of the ideals decided upon by you and the other 209,999,999 people from here out! NOW WHA'D'YA SAY!?

This is the bargain you’ve purchased with your God-given liberty, Mr. & Mrs. Voter. Yes, you’ve been swindled and should indeed feel quite foolish about it.

Politicized and Tribalized

A friend alerts me in email that Alan Bromley gets No Holiday From Hate.

"Screw you!" someone shouted from across the porch. My daughter's head swerved to the yelling miscreant, then back to me, somewhat fearful of my reaction.

I said: "And to you sir, may I ask, don't you see the irony of the Democrats using 'restore trust' as their slogan. Did you not see their lineup of speakers?

"Let's count: we had Ted Kennedy, who lied about trying to save Mary Jo Kopechne. We had Hillary Clinton, who lied about her billing records, about her commodities trading prowess, about kissing Arafat's wife right after Arafat accused the Israelis of poisoning Palestinian children. We had Al Sharpton, of Tawana Brawley fame, who later incited an anti-Semitic riot in Harlem with fatal consequences--funny how you blindly embrace these leaders of liberty, isn't it?

"And then we had your sweetheart, President Clinton, who never saw a big hairdo or a little lie he couldn't resist. We had John Edwards, who made his fortune convincing juries of the evils of doctors, and finally, Kerry himself, who is living the biggest lie of all--marrying rich, then richer, and feigning empathy for the downtrodden as he jets from home to home to home. Are those the men and women in who's hands and hearts you want to place, if not restore, trust?"

...

"Let me ask you something," I said to those with grimaces. "Are you happy the employment figures were dismal? Are you happy that we are having more troubles than anticipated in Iraq?"

"Speaking for myself," the Philly wife declared, "any news that helps defeat Bush makes me happy." Hubby nodded, as did a couple of others swinging on the veranda.

"So let me get this straight: Without offering a remedy for perceived economic woes, or a plan to win the war in Iraq, it's OK with you if a couple hundred thousand additional Americans are unemployed, let's say for a year or so. Your liberal 'scales of justice, of humanity' say that's a beneficial scenario--presumably because it's their sacrifice, not yours. And if we continue to move slowly in Iraq, costing additional American lives, not to mention the lives and freedom of Iraqi's, you will be satisfied as long as President Bush isn't re-elected?"

"You're a fascist! We're leaving!" the husband shouted.

"Your freedom of speech, to preach hatred of President Bush and to hope for American setbacks, even if it costs Americans their lives and livelihoods, is fine," I said to their backs, "but my questioning of your shallowness is offensive, right? Enjoy your trip back to the City of Brotherly Love. I'm sure your neighbors will be happy to see you return."

It's a bit of a coincidence, but a quote from an email I wrote just this morning applies here. It was written to a hang-gliding discussion list about a long-time acquaintance of mine who publishes a hang-gliding-related daily e-zine, the Oz Report and gets blamed for just about every bad thing that happens in hang gliding, the world over.

One possible conclusion is that you get blamed for everything negative that happens in the market (the demise of the Millennium; the lackluster market performance of other CBRWs; etc.), but get zero credit for any good things that happen in the market, such as the tail on the ATOS and other developments. How about the continually improving software in some of the comp varios you've tested and reported on? Also, haven't heard of any spins on RWs in a long time. I wonder if your reporting drove home the notion that you can't just throw the bar anywhere you like on a rigid as you can on most flex wings.

Such is the politicized, tribalized world in which we live now. Everyone has a side, a team, an agenda. And when you're not of the correct tribe, everything you do is suspect, and you can certainly do no good. No lie, no deception, no out-of-context manipulation is beyond use against you, for you are the embodiment of evil.

Hoist By Their Own Petard

(Alternate title: The Law of Unintended Consequences)

I truly adore this political mud slinging by independent groups ("527s") that's arisen in the wake of "Campaign Finance Reform" plugging up a few outlets for private contributions. Of course, the very same money just found its way to other outlets, and when those are plugged, it will find its way to yet other outlets. Will all this evidence cause people to doubt the intellectual and “problem”-solving abilities of John McCain and his allies in the relentless struggle to "reform" political campaign finance?

Of course it won't. When new laws don't work, or work opposite of their intended goal, the solution is nearly never to get rid of the law. The [political] “solution” is always to spend more money, to add more complexity, to bolster it with more regulators and bureaucrats.

Want proof? See here.

President Bush wants to work with Republican Sen. John McCain to go to court against political ads by "shadowy" outside groups, the White House said Thursday amid growing pressure on the president to denounce attacks on John Kerry's war record.

"We want to pursue court action," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to New Mexico. "The president said if the court action doesn't work, that he would be willing to pursue legislative action with Sen. McCain on that."

So, there you go. This is what happens when you allow yourself to be guided by "good rules of thumb," rather than by principles. Here we have the President of the United States teaming up to get the government itself to silence political speech he disagrees with.

So, the next time you refer to America as a free country, take a moment to stop and reflect about what an idiot you are for saying such a patently stupid thing.

It’s a Start (Maybe)

In a striking admission, George W. Bush said the other day that that ''We actually misnamed the war on terror. It ought to be [called] the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies and who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world.''

From an article by Daniel Pipes in the Chicago Sun-Times entitled, ‘Terrorism’ battle is really fight against Islamism. You know, I said as much on September 11, 2001. Islam has not undergone an ideological and cultural renaissance as has Christianity and Judaism. That means, it has not undergone the transformation from taking doctrines and ancient texts literally, to taking them metaphorically—symbolically. Yes, I understand there are a lot of Christians who profess literal belief in the Bible and every word of it. But, alas, they too have been infected with some degree of rationality and reality, for few of them actually practice the literalness they preach. They’ve been infected with the American Spirit, which runs starkly contrary to every tenet of their dogmatism.

Perhaps herein lies the root cause of the reluctance to peg this conflict for what it really is—and what it really is—is a fight to the death. The human being is an animal with a unique propensity to fight to the death for ideas, for beliefs—correct ones or incorrect ones. What’s worse is that the most evil of false beliefs typically involve totalitarian regimes that compel citizens by the thousands and millions, if necessary, to die for the false official ideology. That happened in Nazi Germany; it happened in the USSR and China; it happened in Afghanistan, Iraq, and still happens in Palestine.

At least hundreds of thousands will die before this conflict is over. Observe how many millions died to effectively expunge the Nazi ideology and how many millions have died at the hands of the communists—a war that is by no means over. The USSR may be gone and China appears to be evolving, but the communist ideology is still alive and well all over the world. In many places, it’s most alive where your college-age kids are being formed.

Returning to the point I began to make about the root cause of the reluctance to peg this battle for the ideological, life & death struggle that it is, could it be that nations of predominately Christians and Jews are reluctant on a couple of grounds? …To wit:

1. It’s difficult to go too far in pronouncing religious beliefs ridiculous when proponents of your own belief system carried out similar campaigns just a few centuries ago.

2. Islam worships the same God of Abraham as Christianity and Judaism. Jesus Christ is one of their prophets.

3. There is simply no intellectually honest way to rail against Islam as primitive and whacked out, in need of serious reformation, without casting a woefully skeptical light on you own religion, recognizing that it too was once just as whacked out and those whacked-out beliefs constituted the original beliefs. I.e., if the foundation is so damned corrupt, then what does that say about the veracity of what it has evolved to?

4. This is quite unlike similar religious battles, such as Protestants vs. Catholics of times past. This battle is not and can not be over them "corrupting our doctrines." It is necessarily about declaring the fervent religious beliefs of millions of people evil.

Of course, as a non-believer with none of this baggage, I had no problem seeing the reality of the matter from day one.

Let me put it bluntly: This is a choice between whether hundreds of thousands, or even millions of fervent believers in Islam die, or whether you, loved ones, countrymen and allies die by the hundreds of thousands, or millions. These people will not stop until you are dead, enslaved and converted, or they are dead. I’d rather it be them, so let’s get on with it, shall we? Just so we're clear, I'm not talking about imposing religious beliefs or attempting to eradicate theirs. I'm talking about forcing their hand, but on our terms—just as we have done in Afghanistan and Iraq, and need to expand and continue.

(link and some inspiration via Greg Swann)

Juxtaposition

The opening voiceover in the HBO special Band of Brothers said:
I'm not a hero, but I served with a bunch of heros.

John Kerry's message is: 'I'm a hero, and I served with a bunch of war criminals.'

That was Lee Rodgers, during this morning's show on KSFO.

UPDATE: See Heroes Don't Shout. Via Michelle Malkin.

Las Vegas Monorail

Some testimony and commentary regarding my weekend trip to Las Vegas and riding the new Monorail, via Greg Swann at Pressence of Mind.

Then why not try freedom?

Yea, here’s a ringing endorsement of western European socialism. Seems former east Germans aren’t able to find enough essential differences between their current and past standing to realize that they’re “better off” now than they were under communism.

There’s a spiritual lesson here, folks. Human beings are born to be free. A cage with a lot of nice trappings is still a cage. America is becoming more productive and individuals are attaining a “higher standard of living,” but are individuals more free in the important ways that count? And if not, are they truly better off?

It reminds me of what I said to a taxi driver last evening during the drive from my hotel to the airport in Las Vegas: “I love Vegas because it’s the last bastion of freedom in America—it’s an illusion, of course, but I’ll take it for now.”

(link via Bruce McQuain, with a different take)

What’s worse: being a phony, or falling for one?

It's been my keen observation that one of the reasons conservatives generally have it tougher in American politics than liberals—in terms of media portrayal and public "persona"—is that conservatives have more of a tendency to be straight up. They are sooner to tell you, unabashedly, how they stand. Often, I sense that they sometimes even delight in stating a position they know someone else is likely to disagree with. On the other hand, I've observed liberals to have a greater propensity to tell you whatever it is they believe you want to hear if they sense you’re liberal, or if not, they stick to banal “crowd pleasers.” Next time you're at a social gathering talking with strangers, give off various telltales in matters of politics. If you investigate, you will find that the ones who parrot what they think you want to hear are generally liberals while the ones who tell you what they think in spite of the telltale are generally conservatives.

So, assuming you have some stake in a given matter, would you prefer to deal with someone with whom you have some disagreements, but who's straight up with you? Or, would you prefer someone whose statements amount to the equivalent of whispering sweet nothings?

A lot of people who would see Thomas Sowell walking down the street would assume him to find intellectual communion with the 90%+ of the black population who automatically—and seemingly instinctively—think in lock-step with one another on political issues. Of course, they would be wrong.

In this article, he explains why liberals have little choice but to be phonies. An excerpt:

You can't run on that platform and win a national election. Moreover, you cannot frankly state the underlying assumptions behind the liberal vision of the world, such as the notion that the liberal anointed need to impose their superior vision on the masses.

Politically, you have to pretend to be one of the people, even though the whole basis of your vision is that you are vastly superior to the people. Even when you are a pompous elitist who looks down on the average American, you have to project a political image as a regular guy by being photographed with a baseball bat or a hunting rifle in your hand -- or eating at Wendy's.

Disinformation is where it's at, if you are a liberal. Weakness on military defense, for example, has to be camouflaged by constantly using words like "strong," "strength," " tough" and the like, while clenching your fist and using a bombastic tone.

(link via Keith Burgess-Jackson)

Les Vacances

Well, the wife & I are outta here for a few days. Off to relax, camp, and "fly the rim." This is like our seventh consecutuve year, so you gotta know how much we enjoy it.

Back sometime Monday.

Lefty Gets Half a Brain Transplant

George W. Bush is an asshole, isn't he?

That's lefty Tom Junod, who gets half his brain transplanted and writes about it in Esquire Magazine.

Here's some telling excerpts:

What if he's right?

As easy as it is to say that we can't abide the president because of the gulf between what he espouses and what he actually does, what haunts me is the possibility that we can't abide him because of us--because of the gulf between his will and our willingness. What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion.

The people who dislike George W. Bush have convinced themselves that opposition to his presidency is the most compelling moral issue of the day. Well, it's not. The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he's not saying it's gay marriage. The reason he will be difficult to unseat in November--no matter what his approval ratings are in the summer--is that his opponents operate out of the moral certainty that he is the bad guy and needs to be replaced, while he operates out of the moral certainty that terrorists are the bad guys and need to be defeated. The first will always sound merely convenient when compared with the second. Worse, the gulf between the two kinds of certainty lends credence to the conservative notion that liberals have settled for the conviction that Bush is distasteful as a substitute for conviction--because it's easier than conviction.

...

"Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.' "

Today, of course, those words, along with Lincoln's appeal to the better angels of our nature, are chiseled into the wall of his memorial, on the Mall in Washington. And yet if George Bush were to speak anything like them today, we would accuse him of pandering to his evangelical base. We would accuse him of invoking divine authority for a war of his choosing, and Maureen Dowd would find a way to read his text in light of the cancellation of some Buffy spin-off. Believe me: I am not comparing George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln. The latter was his own lawyer as well as his own writer, and he was alive to the possibilities of tragedy and comedy—he was human —in a way that our president doesn't seem to be. Neither am I looking to justify Bush's forays into shady constitutional ground by invoking Lincoln's precedents with the same; I'm not a lawyer. I am, however, asking if the crisis currently facing the country—the crisis, that is, that announced itself on the morning of September 11, 2001, in New York and Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia—is as compelling a justification for the havoc and sacrifice of war as the crisis that became irrevocable on April 12, 1861, in South Carolina, or, for that matter, the crisis that emerged from the blue Hawaiian sky on December 7, 1941. I, for one, believe it is and feel somewhat ashamed having to say so: having to aver that 9/11/01 was a horror sufficient to supply Bush with a genuine moral cause rather than, as some would have it, a mere excuse for his adventurism.

We were attacked three years ago, without warning or predicate event. The attack was not a gesture of heroic resistance nor the offshoot of some bright utopian resolve, but the very flower of a movement that delights in the potential for martyrdom expressed in the squalls of the newly born. It is a movement that is about death—that honors death, that loves death, that fetishizes death, that worships death, that seeks to accomplish death wherever it can, on a scale both intimate and global—and if it does not warrant the expenditure of what the self-important have taken to calling "blood and treasure," then what does? Slavery? Fascism? Genocide? Let's not flatter ourselves: If we do not find it within ourselves to identify the terrorism inspired by radical Islam as an unequivocal evil—and to pronounce ourselves morally superior to it—then we have lost the ability to identify any evil at all, and our democracy is not only diminished, it dissolves into the meaninglessness of privilege.

...

As it turned out, though, his appeal succeeded all too well. We've found the courage to go shopping. We've welcomed the restoration of the rule of celebrity. For all our avowals that nothing would ever be the same, the only thing that really changed is our taste in entertainment, which has forsaken the frivolity of the sitcom for the grit on display in The Apprentice . The immediacy of the threat was replaced by the inexplicability of the threat level. A universal war—the war on terror—was succeeded by a narrow one, an elective one, a personal one, in Iraq. Eventually, the president made it easy to believe that the threat from within was as great as the threat from without. That those at home who declared American moral primacy were as dangerous as those abroad who declared our moral degeneracy. That our national security was not worth the risk to our soul. That Abu Ghraib disproved the rightness of our cause and so represented the symbolic end of the war that began on 9/11. And that the very worst thing that could happen to this country would be four more years of George W. Bush. In a nation that loves fairy tales, the president seemed so damned eager to cry wolf that we decided he was just trying to keep us scared and that maybe he was just as big a villain as the wolf he insisted on telling us about. That's the whole point of the story, isn't it? The boy cries wolf for his own ends, and after a while people stop believing in the reality of the threat.

I know how this story ends, because I've told it many times myself. I've told it so many times, in fact, that I'm always surprised when the wolf turns out to be real, and shows up hungry at the door, long after the boy is gone.

(Link to this article, and excerpts, stolen from Greg Swann.)

It’s not like anyone gives a damn, but…

For those of the left out there who pretty much get their news from the major networks, the morning paper, and one or more of the popular news weeklies, this is all going to be complete news to you (which, alas, is not news).

Here's a pretty comprehensive report on 59 "deceits" (I'd call most outright intentional lies, but why split hairs over that?) in Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 that even the left-winger Charles Hitchens hated, as I linked to here.

There's also a much shorter summary of those 59 lies, here.

To Hell in a Handbasket, I Tell Ya

I hope the readers aren’t suggesting that unless God exists, anything goes. Why would that be? Why can’t morality be concerned with human well-being, fairness, or respect for persons? Why must there be a supernatural dimension to it?

That's Keith Burgess-Jackson (again), with a post on the ties between religion and morality. Interesting.

At one level, there's a parallel in that excerpt to arguments I hear for the necessity of government. God and government, or we're to hell in a handbasket. Curious though, isn't it? In broadcasting such a warning, isn't one really saying that their motivation for believing in God and government is as a hedge against immorality and predation? If so, then are their alternatives to both that might work as well, or better?

The central point here is that God is not the source of morality and the State is not the source of security. The source of both is to be found in the nature of the human animal. He's just created God and the State in order to cope the two most profound issues of his life. Someday, the human animal will grow to learn that he needs neither fantasy in order to ensure his happiness and well-being.

Just For Fun

Play the game.

Why Vietnam?

Its all he has. If America were to really judge John Kerry's record, the real record, the one that makes a difference, his Senate record, they'd most likely reject him outright. But now, even his Vietnam record appears to be something other than he claims.

Bruce McQuain, in a thorough analysis of this.

Phony Compassion

Don’t fall for liberal propaganda. A rational person evaluates actions in terms of both costs and benefits. A rational person understands that there are costs to inaction as well as to action, and that one is as responsible for what one allows as for what one does. Liberals make it seem as though the war in Iraq has only costs and that not waging war there would have been costless. Both propositions are patently false. That doesn’t matter to liberals. They have an agenda. They are ruthless true believers.

Keith Burgess-Jackson, talking about the insincerity he perceives in the left's wringing of hands over the Iraq war. Don't lefties know that only a complete idiot would not have seen through such a facade from the first instant, or, is that the whole point of it?

So Be It

Of course that is 4 months more than you or I have spent in a combat zone.....................and certainly 4 more months than GW.

From an email. Well, no, no bullets were flying, but let me provide a few highlights of my service as a US Navy officer in the same surface warfare officer (SWO) corps as John Kerry:

I patrolled the Persian Gulf in warships both before (USS REEVES (CG-24)) and after (FNS COLBERT (C611)) the USS STARK (FFG-31) was hit with two Exocet missiles fired from an Iraqi F-1 Mirage fighter (both supplied by the French). 37 killed, 21 wounded.

While aboard USS REEVES (CG-24), I also patrolled 12 nautical miles from the USSR military seaport and airbase of Vladivostok for about 2 months. We were alone, asserting our claim that international waters extend to within 12 nautical miles of any territory regardless of claims of territorial waters that extend past that. We were shadowed the whole time by Soviet warships and aircraft with guns pointed our direction.

I was the US SEVENTH FLEET officer of the watch the night the USS VINCENNES (CG-49) shot down the Iranian Airbus (thinking, and reporting to us that they had taken out one of the F-14s the US had supplied the Shaw years earlier). Suddenly, I get a call to the "spook booth" and the intel officer on watch there tells me that the Iranians aren't looking for an F-14, but for an Airbus. We were the very first to know. I called to inform the Admiral, and hours later, it broke in the media.

I was aboard ship in the Persian Gulf after Iraq invaded Kuwait, during the buildup to the first Gulf War.

All in all, 10 years of service; 2 as a midshipman and 8 as an officer. In all my service, I was never stationed on US soil except for brief training periods.

So, what does that mean? Well, I wasn’t in Vietnam, so I have no firsthand knowledge of Kerry’s service. But I’ve been around servicemen, both enlisted and officers. I know the kind of officer who commands the respect of both his peers and his men. I was one of those and my FITREPS, all heads and shoulders above Kerry’s, prove it. I also know the kind of officer that has the respect of either some officers or some enlisted, but not both. Then there are officers who command the respect of virtually no one.

Kerry has seemingly asked us to focus on his 4 months in Vietnam more than 30 years ago, and not on his 20-year career as a US Senator. So be it. Of course, we’re not going to simply examine what he has to show us. We’re going to examine what others have to show us as well. A good place to start is with those he served. Switftvests.com is a good place to start. You can also see their recently released TV ad. It seems that numbered amongst the very few who knew Kerry in Vietnam and now honor and endorse him are the communist curators of the “war crimes” (read: our “war crimes” against the communist Vietnamese) museum in Saigon.

I knew guys like him in the Navy. I know the kind of guy, very well, that does not have the respect of his fellow officers or men, and I have never witnessed an officer so disrespected amongst fellow officers than Kerry. That says more to me than you can even imagine. Basically, it says that other officers fear that the guy is either going to fuck up, panic, or just be generally incompetent when things get serious, and you can't trust him with your back.

This is the kind of guy you want to stay far, far away from. I guarantee it.

There’s another aspect to this as well. We used to have a saying: “surface warfare officers eat their young.” Whereas, in the aviation and submarine communities, there’s a great deal of camaraderie that amounts to a helping hand to get started; for some reason, in the SWO community, you’re either in or you're out, and this determination is made within about 2 weeks of you reporting to your first ship. Once you’re out, you’re fucked and your career as a SWO is over, permanently. The others will make sure you fail and are put off the ship to a desk job on shore ASAP. How do I know this? Because I actively and enthusiastically participated in it. Two guys reported to my first ship the same week as I. I shared a stateroom with one of them and the other was a 4.0 GPA physics grad from some fancy college and cruised through SWO school (we were in the same class in San Diego).

They were both driving desks on land within about a year, and I, along with everyone else, helped make that a reality. No mercy. They were both nice guys, but just didn't have what it takes to run a division of men and equipment 24/7 at sea, all while enduring a 3-section watch rotation. What’s more, we reveled in and celebrated their failure, and mocked their incompetence at the thing we were good at. I went on to become the single top-ranked junior officer on REEVES, and as an O-3 Lieutentant on departure, went to an O-5 staff duty billet.

The above, that we could revel in the failure of others, is shocking only to those who’ve never shouldered serious responsibility in the military. In my first job, I was the assistant missiles officer, and I oversaw about 20 GMMs (gunners mate-missiles). I also shared responsibility for the maintenance and security of the 8 BTNs we carried (Terrier surface to air missiles with a nuclear warhead).

I don’t expect everyone to understand or accept this, but I’m telling you straight. I have never known a single military officer of any reasonable degree of competence whom I believe would, for one second, consider besmirching the reputation of any genuine military hero who has ever served. Just as equally, I’ve never known an officer of distinction who would grant distinction to another without good reason. The military can be life & death, and as such, we took it very seriously. That's just the way it was.

Bruce McQuain has up a very good post dealing with a lot of this same thing.

Am I a “Bushie?”

Well, it happened. Someone finally called me a "Bushie."

Do I prefer Bush over Kerry in this election? Absolutely. I’ve made no bones about it. Am I a fan of Bush? In general, absolutely not. In the narrow context of the war, yes. It's really all about the lesser of two evils, for me. Bush is just as much of a disaster on the domestic front as any democrat, spending like a drunken sailor. I've never once equivocated about this fact.

What of the charges of deceit and lying? Well, it pretty much goes with this territory, i.e., this particular context. I think it was strategically critical to take Iraq, and so did they. I also think that laying out all the real reasons for doing so would never fly politically. Pragmatism over principle? Yes, to a degree, but people running planes into buildings and swearing an allegiance to kill you if they get the chance constitutes an emergency situation where conventional morality does not always apply.*

The war against Islamism is the only reason I back Bush. Still, I will not be wasting my time voting.

What of the charges of horrible blundering? Has anyone stopped to realize that we invaded and took over two complete countries on the other side of the world and suffered less total casualties (1,037 total, so far) than in a few days in Viet Nam, and a few hours during WWII?

Perspective:

Revolutionary War (25,324)
Civil War (620,000)
World War I (116,708)
World War II (407,316)
Korean War (54,246)
Vietnam War (58,655)
Gulf War (293)
Afghanistan (130)
Iraq (907)

Try adjusting the Revolutionary War and Civil War for population growth, and see what real horror is. The Civil War lost us 2% of our population at the time. That would be like losing 5.5 million people today.

Oh, I realize there are some generals out there second-guessing everything. They get to be on TV, and they certainly aren't going to be on TV by saying that the Administration is doing an unbelievably superb and competent job. Having participated in countless complex military exercises, both at ground (sea) level and at staff level, I literally find the casualty rate unbelievable. This is why over 90% of all military personnel are solidly behind Bush.

I'm a single-issue guy right now. Plainly stated, kill as many Islamic nutcases as quickly as possible. I'm dead serious.

This is a religious and cultural war, and it's not going to go away until a lot more people die. Don't believe me? Witness the 10 Christian churches bombed in Iraq on Sunday. This is coming, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. It's critically important that it be dealt with before they get their hands on a nuke or bio weapons, if they haven't already.

They want to see you and your children dead. What does that mean to you?

Let's just hope that Bush can keep the fight contained over there, where we're killing thousands of would-be terrorists—people who could easily walk into any shopping mall in America any day of the week and blow themselves up, along with a lot of others. Just wait until that happens the first time, and it will.

I find the nitpicking—for naked political gain—on the very competent job Bush has done in prosecuting this war to be contemptible at every level.


* (Breaking into a cabin in the woods for food and shelter when you're cold and starving does not carry the same moral status as breaking into your neighbor's house when you have no emergency need of doing so. Moreover, a moral person will make good on any damage—just as we are now attempting to do in Iraq by rebuilding and stabilizing it.)

Diversions

So, I get this, by email from a brother-in-law just as I’m sitting down for lunch. No indication of its source. Don’t know whether it’s contrived, or an actual speech or letter. Nevertheless, it got me to thinking.

Bud:

Thanks. This turned out to be very enjoyable reading on my Blackberry during lunch. A quick search upon my return to the office yields that this letter was written by some retired attorney to his sons.

About the only real quibble I have with it is that I think our support of Israel is right up there on our list of why we're hated and attacked. No matter; no sane person can review the footage of 9/11 and not take seriously the threat. That we should continue to pansy-ass our way, in harmony with an ineffectual and corrupt United Nations (as Kerry would have us do) and weasels like France, Germany, and now Spain is unconscionable, to me.

It's remarkable to me how hatred of GWB can actually motivate sane people to overlook this sort of threat; and thinking Kerry can do any better is just unfounded, and probably totally wrong.

You want to know how shallowly nearly everyone sees all this? How about Iraq? How many times have you heard anyone name the principle value of taking Iraq vis-à-vis the overall war on terror? Nobody. Why?; because they don't think strategically. Iraq sits right between Syria and Iran, both far harder to take than Iraq. All these months, we have been staging gear in Iraq in case it ever becomes necessary to take Syria or Iran, the two largest sponsors of Terrorism. Moreover, Iran now sits right between Iraq and Afghanistan. We can take them from both sides (like we wanted to do in Iraq, had we had Turkey's cooperation). They know and understand this. The world public does not. It will not be until many years later when historians speculate that the biggest value of taking Iraq was that it kept Iran and Syria in check and convinced them that fighting terrorists was the best long-term move, just like Libya has recently decided. Moreover, it served as a magnet for terrorists all over the region who came into Iraq and were killed by the thousands (better to have the battlefield there than here). Why there and not here, when here would cause so much more terror? Logistics; I don't believe it's any more complicated than that. Remember, these nutcases believe that if they're martyred, they're going to place in the sky with a white man in a robe and chair, and 70 virgins--so why not make it easier. Even martyrs can be self-interested martyrs. It's so much easier for them to operate over there, to have shelter, cover, logistical and moral support over there.

Of course, you hear none of the above from the Administration because they are not going to talk about their overall geo-political game plan. For them to come out and say, publicly, "now we can take Iran or Syria when/if we need to," would be very destabilizing.

Anyway....